On Friday July 14th in Glasgow Sheriff Court 17, Sheriff Barry Divers brought a three-year legal process to an end when he threw out charges of racism against two SPSC members, myself and Jim Watson. The seven members of the pro-Israel lobby sitting in the courtroom, a larger delegation than the usual two or three that attended every session of the near three-year legal process, were clearly very disappointed. They had hoped the intense lobbying of Scottish legal officials that had led to the absurd ‘racism’ charges being raised in the first place would lead to convictions that would deter others from supporting Palestinian rights.
16 July 2017
The PF had been adamant that the racism charges must proceed, so much so that he had rejected the offer my lawyer made to save everybody’s time and accept a guilty plea three years ago to the very minor aggravated trespass charges on condition that he dropped the ‘racial aggravation’ element. The offer was refused; the main aim as far as he and the Zionists were concerned was to join in the international effort by pro-Israel elements to smear Palestine solidarity activism as racist. (Now that we have seen how flawed and contradictory is the prosecution case, we now look forward to the appeal process with every chance of success.)
The latest defeat in Glasgow Sheriff Court for Zionist efforts to criminalise peaceful BDS campaigning and to silence opposition to the human rights violations of the State of Israel followed fast on the heels of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice ruling against the UK Government efforts to prevent local councils boycotting Israel.
SPSC has obtained copies of correspondence between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and various pro-Israel lobby groups that reveal a collusion between them that transgresses professional boundaries. The Zionists have made malicious, evidence-free accusations against Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, for example that we intimidate witnesses, that are accepted at face value by the Crown Office staff. During one court session, Depute Fiscal Ferguson, clearly influenced by his discussions with the pro-Israel lobbyists, made the bizarre claim that I was 'attempting to intimidate the witness'. On some emails, Crown Office staff contemptuously and ignorantly dismiss accurate statements that I had made concerning the collapse of previous trials.
The pro-Israel groups operate a division of labour, with the leaders of SCoJeC (Scottish Council of Jewish Communities) lobbying Scottish Government, legal, academic, church and other leaders while the somewhat cruder Friends of Israel groups work to close down spaces where Palestine advocacy can be discussed and debated. SCoJeC is a member of the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (COFIS) answering to the Israeli Embassy in London, whose anti-democratic ambitions were exposed when senior staff were caught on camera planning to bring down British Cabinet Minister Sir Alan Duncan.
What unites all of them is an unconditional support for Israeli massacres of Palestinians, indeed for the full spectrum of Israel’s criminality, and a record of blatant dishonesty in their project to smear Palestine solidarity activists. SCoJeC, for example, lobbies all and sundry concerning the alleged anti-semitism of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign; what they do not reveal is that a previous effort to smear SPSC collapsed when their dishonest behaviour was uncovered and the then-Scottish First minister ordered them to pulp all 6,000 copies of a book they had published. Scandalously, SCoJeC had secured a preface for the book from Alex Salmond and then, having obtained such an endorsement from the First Minister, subsequently inserted material alleging that SPSC organised events ‘demonising Jews’. SCoJeC retreated in haste at the prospect of a defamation trial where the First Minister would have had to take the stand and reveal their duplicity.
SCoJeC leaders have also been disingenuous in packaging their pro-Israel politics as the views of Scotland’s Jewish community, a dubious claim others challenge. SCoJeC conceal their commitment to political Zionism and defence of Israel-right-or-wrong, including their defence of massacres that the UN, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and many others have found to be war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Their weasel words suggest Scotland’s Jews support mass murder, although leaving just enough wiggle room (11m15s in) to retreat from that claim when challenged. Scottish Jews – many of whom honestly desire no harm to Palestinians – are ill-served by the hucksters of SCoJeC and the fanatics of Friends of Israel.
SCoJeC provides speakers for ‘political training days’ organised by the Centre for Scotland-Israel Relations together with other 'Israel-right-or-wrong' groups such as We Believe in Israel and StandWithUs UK. Israeli Embassy and Foreign Ministry staff join these political training days in Scotland where SCoJeC and other participants are trained in how to defend illegal occupation, massacres, and Israeli Apartheid, e.g. separate and unequal roads and legal systems for Jews and Palestinians, a ban on Jews marrying non-Jews in Israel, and state-financed mobs hunting down any Jew and Palestinian in a romantic relationship.
SCoJeC attended the AGM of the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland AGM in January as a ‘partner organisation’ together with We Believe in Israel, Yachad* Scotland, Christian Friends of Israel and ‘the twelve regional Friends of Israel teams in Scotland advocating for Peace’.
Here is one Friends of Israel team advocating for peace on Buchanan Street, Glasgow. The fellow in the middle facing the camera is one Matthew Berlow, who believes the road to peace runs through mass killings of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children. While Israel was actually carrying out the bloody massacre of Operation Cast Lead, he 'advocated for peace' by writing in the Sunday Mail to cheer on the Israeli Army. Friends of Israel also supported the mass killings of civilians.
Berlow is a Glasgow lawyer who ‘supports Palestine’ by endorsing Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, Palestinian humanity, the burning alive of defenceless human beings in the Gaza concentration zone as his road to ‘peace’. Lest anyone should be in any doubt as to his commitment to peace through putting Palestinians into cemeteries, while on a trip to Israel, he posed with a gun (note the large silencer) favoured by Israeli squads who assassinate Palestinians.
Seemingly aping Donald Trump, whom they much admire, Glasgow Friends of Israel and friends repeat obvious and easily disproven untruths, a dishonesty that fits with SCoJeC’s modus operandi. Repeat a lie and hope gullible, lazy or naïve individuals will buy it. Following the unequivocal ‘not guilty’ verdict to racism charges on Friday (July 13th) so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch published a childish graphic with the words “Court finds Mick Napier of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign guilty of Jew hate”.
In the same vein, after leading peaceful protests for many years against the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund), the Zionist CST (Community Security Trust) attempted a fit-up and I was charged with ‘assault’ three months after the June 2014 protest. Luckily, Al Jazeera TV had a film team following our BDS work that week; footage shown in Kilmarnock Court led Sheriff Watson on 8 February 2016 to rule that no crime had taken place and that there was 'no case to answer', i.e. the baseless charge of assault should never have been raised. Any ‘no case to answer’ is an embarrassment for the PF’s office. Such outcomes, though, don't prevent Scottish supporters of Israeli mass murder from incessantly labelling those organising peaceful, vigorous opposition to their genocidal state as 'thugs'.
On 8 April 2010 I was also one of five SPSC members facing charges of racism for Palestine solidarity activism who heard Edinburgh Sheriff John Scott reject the PF’s allegation that protesting against genocide in Gaza was driven by hatred of Jews. His words were understated: "It seemed to me that the procurator fiscal's attempts to squeeze malice and ill will were rather strained."
Equally strained was Deputy PF Ferguson's effort in Glasgow Sheriff Court to characterise denunciations of Israel's mass murder of thousands of Palestinians in summer 2014 as an antisemitic "blood libel", i.e. similar to primitive and savage Medieval anti-semitic claims that Jews killed Christ or that Jews used the blood of Christian children to bake matzos on Jewish feast days. It's shocking that such nonsense can be heard in a Scottish courtroom but the ugly implication was that no-one should ever be allowed to denounce Israeli savagery against Palestinians since it might upset an Israeli within earshot!
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is uncompromising in our support for human rights for the violated Palestinian people and we will not be deterred by the current well-funded campaign of harassment organised by the Israeli embassy through their agents in Scotland. Our record has been one of uncompromising hostility to the crimes of the State of Israel together with hostility - in every written and spoken word from this Campaign - to the folly and ugliness of anti-semitism. We fully endorse the 2012 statement from leading Palestinians situating the Palestinian struggle for freedom as a struggle against the racism of a settler colonial project and thus opposed to all racism, including hatred of Jews as Jews.
Virtually all Zionist activists work assiduously to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism, and claim the crimes against the Palestinian people are committed on behalf of the world’s Jews. Naïve individuals fall for these lies and some rightist ideologues cynically peddle the same notions. In addition, Zionist organisations shamelessly exploit the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocides to justify their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people; those victims of murderous state-enforced racism in Germany are used to justify Israel’s murderous state-enforced racism in Palestine.
We oppose the racist system of Jewish privilege over Palestinians that no honest person can deny exists in Israel/Palestine. Let’s make it stupefyingly simple: when we say we oppose…
|apartheid South Africa,||it doesn't mean we hate||white people.|
|ISIS or the Saudi State that birthed it,||"||Muslims.|
|The Ku Klux Klan and the lynching of Afro-Americans,||"||Christians.|
|the invasion of Vietnam and the killing of 3m Vietnamese,||"||the population of the USA.|
|the crimes of the British Empire, including genocides,||"||British people as a whole.|
|Zionism and the massacre of Palestinians,||"||Jews.|
The defenders of mass murder and ethnic cleansing, those who wish to suppress criticism of an increasingly genocidal state, have very deep pockets and are directed by, and answerable to, the Israeli Embassy in London which sees BDS as a serious threat to Israel's ability to crush all resistance by violence. We ask for your help to enable us to continue to build the BDS campaign initiated by the Palestinian people.
We assure you SPSC will not be intimidated but we can do still more with your assistance; a donation however small, will be welcome. If you can make a monthly donation, again however modest, it will help us to keep fighting for justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.
16 July 2017
Fb Mick Napier
*Yachad Scotland: Scottish Jews might want to think about the partners in pro-Israeli advocacy that SCoJeC and the Israeli Embassy have embraced; Nigel Goodrich, the leader of COFIS is a Christian fundamentalist of dubious theological persuasion who may have a nasty fate in store for his Jewish 'friends'. Yachad Scotland is a Christian fundamentalist group who want Jews to leave their homes and go to Palestine so that they can be converted to Christianity, i.e. "Jewish people would recognise Jesus Christ as their Messiah."
Not all Jews, though, for "prior to the return of Jesus Christ, God will regather the Jewish peoples and call a remnant back to Himself". Only a remnant - what does Yachad think will happen to all the others?
Worth remembering that these crazed Christian Zionists are committed ethnic cleansers, since for them "a pre-condition of Christ's second coming is the re-establishment of the state of Israel, [and] the removal of all non-Jews from the whole of that land". But don't forget that "the fundamentalist creed also holds that only Christians will survive Armageddon. For Jews, it will be a matter of convert or perish".
See also: short video - Why it's antisemitic to criticise Israel's nuclear weapons & more
There is no doubt that Lt. Col. Cristal sees himself in the front line of an attack on the political positions of all UK trade unions and even solidarity with Palestine generally. On August 18 he tweeted, “I'm going into the legal battle. Those who choose to boycot will pay the price”.
Edinburgh 23 September 2013
Another British trade union, this time UNISON, is under attack for adopting positions of support for Palestinian rights and responding to the Palestinian appeal for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. The Israeli Embassy in London is involved in the attack.
In March of this year, an employment tribunal rebuffed a claim by pro-Israeli members of the UCU (University and College Union) that the union was ‘anti-semitic’ for supporting Palestinian rights. That initiative failed dismally but the Israeli Foreign Ministry and London Embassy are again at work to smear trade union opposition to Israeli crimes as racist. In this current attack, Lt. Col. (Res) Moty Cristal, a high profile member in the Israeli Army Crisis Negotiation Unit, is suing UNISON as well as Manchester Mental Health & Social Care NHS Trust for withdrawing an invitation to him to speak, an invitation extended before UNISON members were aware of his role in Israel’s notorious army. Lt. Col. Cristal, who supports the use of white phosphorous against densely populated Gaza, is suing for exemplary financial damages for the “injury to feelings” the withdrawal of the invitation has caused him.
There is no doubt that Lt. Col. Cristal sees himself in the front line of an attack on the political positions of all UK trade unions and even solidarity with Palestine generally. On August 18 he tweeted, “I'm going into the legal battle. Those who choose to boycot will pay the price”.
A victory for Lt. Col. Cristal and the Israeli Embassy would shore up Israel's crumbling strategy of isolating Palestinians under Israeli occupation so that the bulldozers and death squads that Cristal defends can go about their grisly business. The UK Government works to keep Palestine out of the United Nations, and sells arms to the Zionist State, while the Israeli Embassy and its supporters try to use the UK legal system to criminalise solidarity with the long-suffering Palestinian people.
The effort to conflate support for the Palestinian BDS call with anti-semitism boils down to a claim that opposition to the crimes of the Israeli state is actually driven by hatred of Jews or hostility to all Israelis. It is counter-factual, but at least it switches the topic away from Israel’s indefensible crimes, an explicit Zionist aim.
Zionists work to portray the anger directed at genocidal Israeli settlers or the murderous Israeli Army as hostility to all Jews or Israelis – as if opposition to the Mafia was anti-Italian, or bringing certain war criminals to the Hague was hostility to Serbs as a people. Or, bizarrely, that opposition to South African apartheid involved hatred of all white people. Sometimes Zionist organisations fabricate anti-semitism for their own ends.
True to form, the Zionist counter-attack airbrushes out the institutional links of Lt. Col. Cristal, and claims that he is being boycotted merely because he is an Israeli.
Lt. Col. Cristal, as it happens, is a deeply unpleasant character; in August, for example, he criticised Israeli PM Netanyahu from the right for releasing a hundred Palestinians from among the thousands held illegally in Israel’s prison system, calling the prisoner release an “evil”. He also advocates continuing the brutal siege of Gaza. His politics, however, is not an issue in this case; he is being boycotted for his status as a high ranking functionary in an army and state that commits war crimes and crimes against humanity. The BDS campaign ignores private Israeli citizens, even those with such nasty politics.
In a precedent-setting trial in Edinburgh in April 2010 Sheriff James Scott ruled that actions such as comments “clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army...” and not targeted at “citizens of Israel” per se were protected by Article 10(1) rights to freedom of speech. It is UNISON’s right and duty to refuse to provide a platform for a spokesman for the Israeli Army which is guilty of such egregious human rights violations.
It is worth noting the effrontery of those prosecuting UNISON. Dinah Rose QC is Lt. Col. Cristal’s legal representative. Ms Rose said her client’s treatment was a form of racial discrimination which bans unequal treatment on grounds of nationality. She is quoted as saying: “He is an Israeli national and of Jewish ethnic origin. This case is very important to Professor Cristal.” Lt. Col. Cristal himself said, “I’m...deeply disappointed from a national point of view”. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London told the Israeli daily Haaretz that “the embassy occasionally helps Israelis confronted with discrimination on the basis of their nationality”.
The QC ought to have carried out some minimum research into the case; she would have discovered that it is highly problematic for anyone to claim discrimination on the basis of their “Israeli nationality”. The Embassy spokeman and Lt. Col. Cristal know well that “Israeli nationality” is denied them by the law of Israel, where over 130 different nationalities are available to citizens of the State of Israel, including 'Burmese', 'Buddhist', and Russian, but not, under any circumstances, is “Israeli nationality” permitted.
Yes, you read that previous paragraph correctly! The State of Israel forbids “Israeli nationality” for any citizen. Each Israeli is forced to accept either “Jewish nationality”, which confers significant economic, social, political, and residential privileges, or one of over a hundred other “nationalities” that mark the individual citizen out as a non-Jew in a self-styled “Jewish State”. The more than one million Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel, for example, are excluded residentially from most of Israel’s land surface; huge areas are reserved for exclusively Jewish residence.
So UNISON is being attacked by an Israeli Army official who claims he is being discriminated against on the basis of his “Israeli nationality” - a status that is legally prohibited in Israel.
The attack on UNISON, however, is the second attack on a British trade union this year and is an attempt to smear all who support Palestinian rights, in unions, churches, Scottish local authorities, or campaigning groups.
An injury to one is an injury to all. Please move a resolution of support for the decision to withdraw the invitation to Lt. Col. Moty Cristal, in response to the BDS call from Palestine.
Zionist efforts are continuing to have laws instroduced to protect the apartheid structures of the State of Israel from attack. The UK and Scottish Governments have endorsed, "adopted", the flawed IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which would criminalise democratic political critiques of Israel as a racist project. A major fight for free speech is ongoing.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has submitted our views to the Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland under Lord Bracadale, as have a group of SPSC members who were dragged through Edinburgh and Glasgow Sheriff Courts for over four years on preposterous charges of ‘racism’ for BDS activities. This submission includes an important letter from ex-First Minister, Alex Salmond on the depths of deceit the pro-Israel gang in Scotland will go to smear Palestine solidarity activists as 'racist'.
We are also aware of an important submission to Lord Bracadale on behalf of the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland Original here
In tandem with the attacks from the Scottish legal authorities, SPSC has had to resist repeated Police Scotland infringements on our rights to free speech and free association. Not for the first time, Police Scotland is issuing an apology to Palestine solidarity campaigners. We expect more to follow.
The reason for the attacks is not a secret; a major project of the pro-Israel gang in Scotland* is to close down public spaces for discussion of solidarity with the Palestinian people; above all, spaces to organise in support of the Palestinian call for BDS.
Two Edinburgh churches, shamefully, capitulated earlier this year to Zionist smear-lobbying and cancelled bookings for Jackie Walker to speak about “Free Speech on Palestine”! Edinburgh City Council cancelled a booking for UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, Prof Richard Falk, on the grounds that his talk on “Palestine: the Search for a Just peace” was too “controversial” Edinburgh City Council are still impeding Palestine solidarity room bookings; our letter currently on a desk somewhere in Edinburgh City Council. we'll keep you postde on the responses.
Together, however, we will be victorious in helping to secure Palestinian human and national rights - if we stand our ground and fight back collectively.
The UNHCR is threatening to publish a list of 150 names of companies complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights. Israel and Trump know the boost this would give to the BDS movement and are pulling out all the stops to prevent the publication of this dangerous list. Theresa May and the Tory/DUP government support Trump and Israel, as usual.
Some of the companies on the UN blacklist appear on Scottish local authority pension fund investment holdings - SPSC is campaigning to end the complicity of our pension funds in Israel's violations of Palestinian rights.
Join and help Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign to defeat these attacks. We need your assistance to press ahead with the Time to Divest campaign to end Scottish local authority pension funds’ investments in arms companies that supply Israel to massacre Palestinians and the brutal ally of Britain and Israel, Saudi Arabia, to massacre Yemenis.
Defence of those campaigning for BDS is not a peripheral issue, since smearing BDS as campaigners is the main activity of the pro-Israel gang around the world, and certainly in Scotland.
*The official Friends of Israel Facebook pages carried posts praising the “euthanizing” of Palestinians and sinister depictions of Palestinians as “Fakestinians”, i.e. pushing the old Zionist claim that Palestine was a “land without a people” and thus open to humane Zionist colonisation. There is no dispossession” if the native people are “fake” people.
"...in May 2010 then-First Minister Alex Salmond rightly attacked the idea that Scottish Jews "should be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies”. It is therefore troubling that the Lord Advocate has now accepted the Zionist claim that the Israel State represents in some way Scottish Jews. Having officially endorsed this central tenet of Zionism, the Lord Advocate’s office cannot now offer justice to the victims of Zionism, the Scottish-Palestinian community, nor to political opponents of Zionism".
Today (12 Oct 16) in Glasgow Sheriff Court charges that SPSC members Jim Watson and I have faced for the last 25 months, including aggravated trespass and racial aggravation arising out of BDS campaigning in Braehead Shopping Centre were deserted due to the presiding Sheriff’s illness.
That now means that four vicious legal attacks over eight years on SPSC members have failed (with two feeble efforts outstanding ). Ally Coutts in Aberdeen is still charged with saying ‘Viva Palestina’ within earshot of an Israeli Dae Sea cosmetics stall that was selling goods made from materials pillaged from occupied Palestinian land. Four members who protested inside Barclays Argyle Street, Glasgow Branch against investments in arms companies face charges of aggravated tresspass that would seem to have little chance of succeeding.
It remains to be seen whether a senior legal official, called a Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, will raise fresh "racism" charges within the next two months but the fact is that Jim and I currently have no racism charges that require to be disclosed. No charges mean bail conditions fall.
Disturbingly, FoI (freedom of information) requests from SPSC to the Procurator Fiscal offices reveal an overly-cosy relationship between legal officers in Scotland and pro-Israel lobbyists. The Israeli Embassy successfully sought a meeting with Scotland’s most senior legal official, the Lord Advocate, and legal experts of the Apartheid State to discuss “Jewish relationships in Scotland” and the “Israeli and Scottish prosecutorial systems”.
It is not clear why the Lord Advocate would meet with the diplomats of a foreign state to discuss issues affecting a Scottish community nor how Scottish legal experts could learn from experts running an openly racist legal system.
It’s one thing for Polish, Chinese or Israeli diplomats to meet Scottish officials to discuss the Polish, Chinese or Israeli communities living in Scotland but in May 2010 then-First Minister Alex Salmond rightly attacked the idea that Scottish Jews "should be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies”. It is therefore troubling that the Lord Advocate has now accepted the partisan Zionist claim that the Israel State represents in some way Scottish Jews. Having officially endorsed this central tenet of Zionism, the Lord Advocate’s office cannot now offer justice to the victims of Zionism, the Scottish-Palestinian community, nor to political opponents of Zionism.
At stake is our right to campaign peacefully for boycott against the genocidal State of Israel, a right the Westminster Government has openly said it will try to revoke, building of previous efforts by PM Gordon Brown. The trials of SPSC members past, ongoing and future are our contribution to the worldwide campaign for BDS and the lavishly financed worldwide campaign against BDS being waged by the Israeli Government with, possibly, support from the Lord Advocate on behalf of the Scottish Government.
For the record:
On Monday, 11th Sept, at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, Sheriff Charlotte Coutts found SPSC member Ally Coutts (no relation) guilty of ‘acting in a racially aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm’ for saying ‘Viva Palestina’ when walking past the Jericho Dead Sea Cosmetic stall in Union Square, Aberdeen. During the course of the trial, evidence was heard from three prosecution witnesses; the stall franchise-operator (Nisan Ayalon), a Union Square security guard, and a police officer. Audio and video footage of events was also shown to the court.
When prompted by the Procurator Fiscal, both the police officer and the security guard said that their personal impression was that the incident on the day was “racially motivated”. When asked why, the police officer said he could not provide any evidence for this, other than that ‘Israel’ and ‘Israeli’ were mentioned. Even more sinister was the testimony of the security guard, who claimed to have heard Ally use the terms ‘Nazi’ and ‘babykiller’. Audio from the guard’s own chest camera subsequently shown in court proved that Ally had not in fact uttered these words. When challenged, the guard agreed that he had been mistaken. In a strange coincidence, out of all the random terms he could have misremembered, he chose ‘babykiller’ - a term also used in court by Ayalon during his testimony.
What became abundantly clear over the two days of evidence was that all of the ‘corroborated’ evidence (i.e. witnessed by more than one person, or captured on CCTV/ chest cam footage and audio) not only completely backed the defence’s description of what had taken place and Ally’s testimony, but also disproved some of the claims made by prosecution witnesses on the stand. For example, CCTV footage showed quite clearly that Ally did not aggressively punch the air with two fists and shout in the face of the stall operator (as claimed by Ayalon on the witness stand, under oath). Instead, Ally is seen walking past the stall, pausing briefly to raise one clenched fist, then carrying on past. Footage goes on to show Ally then being pursued by Ayalon as he walked away, aggressively attempting to force Ally out of the shopping centre. Yet despite this, and the numerous other examples of inconsistency and false testimony from the prosecution, when it came to deciding whose version of the initial off-camera exchange between Ayalon and Ally to accept, the Sheriff chose to ‘prefer’ the former’s.
During the testimony given by Ayalon in court, much use was made of a so-called ‘investigative report’ on SPSC by pro-Israel blogger David Collier. Collier works incessantly to conflate antisemitism with criticism of the State of Israel, and both he and his work have been publically discredited on numerous occasions – something not mentioned in court. His ‘investigation’ into SPSC was commissioned by Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), an extreme fringe organisation that works to criminalise criticism of Israel and legitimate BDS activity [pictured left: JHRW harassing SPSC and members of the public]. An Aberdeen member of JHRW (Debbie Taylor) was present in court for the entire trial. While Taylor’s presence was not unexpected (given her presence as a JHRW ‘observer’ at local SPSC events), what was highly unusual – and deeply concerning – was the interaction between Taylor and the Procurator Fiscal, who were witnessed disappearing into a side-room together for a discussion. Evidence of correspondence between the Scottish Crown Office and the Israel lobby obtained by SPSC has shown an unacceptable and unhealthy close relationship, and it would appear this continues.
The verdict passed down by Sheriff Coutts represents a serious miscarriage of justice. We know that the Israel lobby has been dismayed by the growing support for the Palestinian cause as the general public become more aware of the brutal reality of the plight of the Palestinians, and the extent of Israel’s violations of human rights, complete disregard of international law and outright war crimes. The JHRW came into being in 2015 as a direct response to public outrage at the 2014 massacre in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, supposedly to monitor examples of antisemitism, but in reality to undermine BDS and Palestine solidarity activity. An important component of its strategy is to attempt to criminalise pro-Palestine activity and JHRW has previously tried and failed to secure prosecutions. They are just one of the groups working to criminalise BDS campaigning and to silence opposition to the human rights violations of the state of Israel.
The conviction passed by Sheriff Coutts in Aberdeen is being claimed as a victory by the Israel lobby. It sets a dangerous precedent, one that should set alarm bells ringing with all those who campaign for Palestinian rights, as well as those who value our rights to free speech and to protest. When such inconsistent evidence is accepted, when false statements are exposed yet glossed over, when police officers class actions as ‘racist’ simply because Israel is mentioned, when our judicial system allows itself to be lobbied and influenced by supporters of Israel’s war crimes – we will only see more such miscarriages of justice. We must challenge and resist all attempts to prevent free speech on Israel and criminalise support of Palestinian rights. Viva Palestina!
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
16 September 2017