3 February 2016, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court
Sheriff Watson dismissed a charge of assault against Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Scottish PSC) member Mick Napier today following the collapse of the prosecution case.
Challenges to the prosecution proved that the case had no basis in evidence leading the sheriff to halt the trial before a defence case was presented.
The case arose from a protest against the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an Israeli parastatal organisation that is involved in Israel’s settler colonisation of Palestinian territories and in the institutionalised apartheid and racism that discriminates against Palestinians citizens of Israel. At the protest in June 2014, the last publicly organised fundraiser by the JNF in Scotland following years of protest by Scottish PSC, a JNF event steward and member of the Community Security Trust (CST) alleged assault by Mick Napier. CST is a UK charity whose mandate is to record anti-Semitic incidents but is also involved in providing political support to the state of Israel. Sheriff Watson upheld a no case to answer submission after Al Jazeera video footage demonstrated that no assault took place.
Scottish PSC Chair Sofiah MacLeod condemned the Crown’s decision to pursue the charge and expressed concern that “these charges appeared three months after the protest took place, following protests against Israel’s 2014 massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, protests in which Mick Napier was prominent as a Scottish PSC member. There appears to be a pattern emerging of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service taking action against Palestine solidarity and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigners that amounts to harassment and an attempt to criminalise our solidarity with the Palestinian people. We will be pursuing this matter with the Lord Advocate and Police Scotland.”
Five Scottish PSC members face a further two trials for BDS actions at Glasgow Sheriff Court. Full details will be posted on the SPSC website.
We need you – to join us in standing up for free speech, local democracy and to take forward the campaign for freedom and justice for Palestinians in the form of BDS.
Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University is the subject of legal proceedings initiated by an Israel-based organisation using allegations of racism in an attempt to criminalise support for BDS. Professor Lynch's refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic's application for a fellowship in Sydney University was based on the Israeli academic's link to the Hebrew University which is complicit with Israel's occupation, militarism and racial oppression.
The Shurat HaDin, the Israeli Law Center, filed a legal suit in the Federal Court of Australia against Professor Jake Lynch in October. BDS is, according to them "racist and discriminatory". The lawsuit focuses on Jake Lynch's refusal to sponsor an application for a fellowship in Australia by the Hebrew University academic Dan Avnon claiming a breach of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. Jake Lynch declined to sponsor the application because of his opposition to the fellowship agreement between the two universities given the Hebrew University's complicity in Israel's human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
The Hebrew University is complicit in Israel's occupation, militarism and racial oppression of the Palestinian people. The university's Mount Scopus campus and dormitories are built on land confiscated from the Palestinians by the Israeli authorities on 1 September 1968, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. The university is a militarized institution that participates in programs to train elite soldiers in the Israeli army. In 2012 the University prohibited the organization of the fifth Palestinian Cultural Festival; it also allows the police on to the campus to break up peaceful demonstrations by Palestinian students.
Solidarity with the Palestinian struggle must include mutual solidarity with all who are fighting Israel's apartheid and crimes against humanity. The situation in Australia is severe with a government who are pro-Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. This was demonstrated when, in November 2013, the Australian government abstained from voting on a United Nations general assembly resolution which called for an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
Please support Jake Lynch by taking the following action.
If you are an academic please fill in your details in the letter below and send it to the email address supplied; otherwise pass it on to any other academics you know.
This call for support was made by the group Australians for BDS. They also provided the letter of support.
Letter of Support
We the undersigned consider academic freedom to be a fundamental value in all our educational institutions.
We understand that Professor Jake Lynch from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, at the University of Sydney, refused to sign his name as a reference for Dan Avnon's application for a Hebrew University – University of Sydney Fellowship. In other words, Prof. Lynch refused to support an institutional relationship with an Israeli university that is deeply complicit in violations of human rights and international law.
The Hebrew University has part of its campus built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem; it has close links with the Israel military and arms manufacturer Elbit, and is complicit in several other ways in maintaining the Israeli regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.
Prof. Lynch refused to support Dan Avnon's application on the basis that Dan Avnon was acting as an official representative of the Hebrew University in seeking to take advantage of the official institutional relationship between the Hebrew University and the University of Sydney. Jake Lynch did not target Dan Avnon as an individual academic, nor did he reject collaboration with Avnon because of Avnon's religion, ethnicity, affiliation or origin. We do not endorse boycotting individual academics based on their ethnicity, religion, political principles or affiliation. We note also that Dan Avnon is not an applicant in the legal action against Jake Lynch.
We uphold Prof. Lynch's freedom of speech, academic freedom, and right to exercise his conscience in refusing to deal with an academic institution that violates international law. Many academics similarly refused to engage with South African universities during apartheid. A unanimous ruling in 2004 of the world's highest authority on international law, the International Court of Justice, established the illegality of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. This illegality is confirmed by a range of acknowledged experts. The International Court of Justice ruling also established that other states are obligated not to recognise nor support Israel's breaches of international law.
We also condemn the actions of the foreign agency, Shurat HaDin, whose director admits to taking direction from the Israeli government on who to prosecute in their cases and which has deep connections with Israeli intelligence services. We condemn this law firm's attempts to silence Professor Lynch in the Australian Human Rights Commission and in the Australian Federal Court by claiming that his actions contravene the Racial Discrimination Act.
We abhor foreign political interference in the democratic right of an Australian academic to hold opinions that are critical of the State of Israel.
We consent to having our name/s published in support of Professor Jake Lynch.
Today's Scotsman editorial slams inadequate police response by Lothian & Borders Police to the Police Complaints Commission Scotland (PCCS) ruling that they apologise to Scottish PSC chair in relation to wrongful arrest, handcuffing and injury. Scottish PSC video proves police lied in evidence to PCCS.
False Lothian & Borders Police claim #1:
L&BP claim “The constable asked for his details, but Mr Napier replied: ‘I am declining’."
Video evidence reveals, however, the following dialogue:
Police officer: [Not clear} details please
Napier: Can I ask why?
Police officer: Sorry?
Napier: Can I ask why?
Police officer: Because I am asking for your details.
False Lothian & Borders Police claim #2:
L&BP claim Napier was "being pretty loud on the pavement shouting about the treatment of Palestinians".
The video evidence, however, shows this to be a police fabrication.
False Lothian & Borders Police claim #3:
L&BP claim “the officer involved acted in good faith during a difficult operational situation”.
The video evidence, however, shows a very relaxed group of officers prior to the sudden attack and handcuffing.
Scotsman article follows:
Police finally apologise for wrongful arrest of protester
Published by The Scotsman (Gareth Rose), 23 September 2011
POLICE have been ordered to apologise for wrongfully arresting a pro-Palestinian protester, who was injured while being handcuffed, following a demonstration on an open top bus.
Mick Napier, 64, said he was pleased to have been vindicated after a three-year campaign, and hoped the decision will reinforce the importance of freedom of speech.
As well as apologising, Lothian and Borders Police were told to review handcuff training so officers check they are not too tight at the side of wrists, rather than just at the front and back.
Mr Napier, chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a title he held at the time of the arrest, said: "I'm very pleased with the commissioner's letter. It took three years to get justice. I was wrongfully arrested and handcuffed in a way that was excruciatingly painful. I'm glad that the Police Complaints Commissioner has vindicated my behaviour while finding the police behaved wrongly."
He added: "This highlights the need for people to be vigilant in safeguarding hard-won freedom of speech, expression and association."
The incident happened in May 2008, when demonstrators boarded a bus on Waverley Bridge, Edinburgh, with flags and banners, while Mr Napier followed in a car. "It was a lovely day," he said. "We saw people with Rangers or Hibs flags on buses, so my friends bought tickets and flew a couple of flags and a very small banner.
"It was just 6ft by 18ins - something like that - to highlight what was going on in Gaza. We were co-operating with officials at all times and it was only when we were stuck in traffic that the whole thing escalated."
Police were alerted by a supervisor of the bus company and a constable approached Mr Napier in St Mary's Street, Edinburgh.
He was described in the police report as "being pretty loud on the pavement shouting about the treatment of Palestinians". The constable asked for his details, but Mr Napier replied: "I am declining."
He was arrested under Section 13 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 and detained, but the procurator fiscal took no action against him.
Professor John McNeill, Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, found the arrest unlawful because the constable "did not have a reasonable suspicion that a person had committed or was committing an offence".
Because the arrest was unlawful he also upheld Mr Napier's complaint about the handcuffing, which his GP found "caused tenderness to his right wrist".
The commissioner said handcuff training should include "tightness checks as they apply to the structure of the wrist, and in particular the radial nerve".
The commissioner published 23 reports this month, but chose to highlight ones relating to wrongful arrest or detention, with the one involving Mr Napier the only to be upheld.
Prof McNeill said: "There can be no greater test of public confidence in the police than the way they exercise their power to detain and arrest citizens."
A police spokesman said: ?"We note that the commissioner accepts that the officer involved acted in good faith during a difficult operational situation.
"We will now review the findings of the report and report back to the complainer and the commissioner."
Read The Scotsman editorial 'Half-hearted police apology unhelpful' (pdf):
Ten complaints of "antisemitic" harassment were brought by a UCU member, Ronnie Fraser, who is Director of Academic Friends of Israel and fights the union's policy of support for Palestinian rights. All ten points were rejected outright despite, or perhaps because of, the case being promoted by highly-paid lawyer and Zionist activist Anthony Julius. The Tribunal was contemptuous of this attack on free speech: "the proceedings are dismissed in their totality" and "we greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means...underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression...It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated."
"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." (Voltaire)
As God answered Voltaire's prayer, so have supporters of Palestinian human rights been similarly rewarded. The Zionist “All Palestine Activists are Antisemitic Brigade” have suffered a precedent-setting defeat that will reverberate to our advantage for a long time to come. The judgement by the employment tribunal is a delight to read. The website of the 120,000-strong University and College Union carried an article yesterday, UCU cleared of harassment in landmark tribunal. Not only were the union and union members cleared; they were resoundingly vindicated during the two-week hearing into the claim by the vexatious litigants that the union is “institutionally antisemitic” for taking a stand in favour of Palestinian rights.
Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Leadership council gave untrue testimony, according to the Tribunal, thus being publicly branded a liar and the Tribunal gave a scathing assessment of John Mann MP and former MP, militant Zionist and disgraced crook, Denis MacShane:
'Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Repsondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti-Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, "It's clear to me where the line is..." but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.'
An example of the farcical nature of the Zionist case was the claim by Fraser that anti-Semitism by delegates best explained why he received no applause after he spoke at the union conference. Had he won his case, to avoid accusations of antisemitism, union delegates in future might have had to applaud boring Zionists, like North Koreans at a rally.
Part of the proceedings were absurd, but some elements were sinister. Fraser revealed during cross-examination that the so-called Fair Play Campaign Group, set up by the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews to coordinate activity against boycotts of Israel had given £50,000 to Engage, a website set up by his lawyer, Anthony Julius, to smear all left-wing and trade union support for Palestine as “the new anti-Semitism”.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign had two links to the Fraser v UCU victory. The UCU case builds on a precedent in 2010 in an Edinburgh Court that was equally a disaster for those working to conflate anti-semitism with anti-Zionism. The UCU legal team cited in its defence the 2010 judgement on five SPSC members similarly accused of “racism” after acting in solidarity with Palestine who had all charges thrown out, while the legal officials who brought the charges were ridiculed in open court for their efforts to restrict rights to free speech. It is worth remembering that a Zionist success in Edinburgh in 2010 would have made the uttering of the words “End the siege of Gaza” a criminal offence.
Three years earlier , in late 2007, Anthony Julius’ law firm Mishcon de Reya also threatened legal action to silence reports by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign that the Caledonian Hilton Hotel on Princes Street, Edinburgh was Israeli-owned. We defied them and they backed off.
Real anti-Semitism is a species of racism and to be deplored and vigorously opposed. Anti-Zionism today is opposition to a supremacist state and a commitment to political democracy, i.e. a state where all citizens are formally equal regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Jews ought to be concerned for several reasons that defenders of Israeli barbarism are working, albeit so far unsuccessfully, to implicate all Jews in Israel’s crimes. Firstly, it’s important not to support apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Secondly, the nightmare of Zionism will one day end in Israel/Palestine and all who helped to end it will be overjoyed while those who worked to sustain it will be shamed. Like Ronnie Fraser.
The UCU victory will embolden BDS campaigners and sap the morale of those defending the indefensible - Israel’s routine murder, farm burning, house demolition and general brutality across Palestine.
In an article entitled Anti-Israel union case was 'act of epic folly', the Zionist UK weekly Jewish Chronicle discussed the prospects for any appeal: it would be highly problematic, said human rights lawyer Adam Wagner, to persuade "an appeal court to wade into the vexed and arguable political — that is, not legal — question of whether anti-Zionism can plausibly amount to racism. Given the court's comments about this 'sorry saga', this may be the last we hear of that argument for some time."
In an opinion piece, Legal Ruling Shines Unflattering Light on the Anti-Zionism Equals Racism Campaign, Adam Wagner reveals just how harsh was the rejection of the "anti-Zionist = anti-semitic argument" and those who argued it. Adam, however, mistakenly argues that British Jews might feel "just a little bit ashamed" at the behaviour of leading British Jewish figures. No need for you to feel ashamed, Adam. Angry and contemptious, yes. No collective guilt, and no need for shame at these hubrisitc, posturing, pseudo-victims working to cover up Israeli crimes.
Edinburgh 26 March 2013
For humorous commentary see New Left Project - Anthony Julius is Rubbish
Embargo: Tuesday May 10th 2011.
Two St Andrews University students facing racially aggravated conduct charges after allegedly making comments and gestures critical of Israel and its flag are due to be tried at Cupar Sheriff Court tomorrow.
Samuel Colchester (20) and Paul Donnachie (18) both deny the charge, which Donnachie considers an infringement of his freedom of political expression. They are alleged to have rubbed their hands on an Israeli flag after putting their hands down their trousers. They also deny an alternative charge of acting in a threatening or abusive manner.
Last year, similar charges were thrown out of an Edinburgh court after five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had interrupted a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet, making comments such as “They are Israeli Army musicians”, “End the Siege of Gaza”, “Genocide in Gaza”, and “Boycott Israel”.
Sheriff James Scott ruled that their “comments were clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians”, and not targeted at “citizens of Israel” per se. “The procurator fiscal’s attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained”, he said.
The Edinburgh Sheriff also expressed concern that to continue with the prosecution would have implications for freedom of expression more generally: “if persons on a public march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, it would render worthless their Article 10(1) rights. Presumably their placards would have to read, ‘Genocide in an unspecified state in the Middle East’; ‘Boycott an unspecified state in the
SPSC chair, Mick Napier, said the charge against the two students was equally “absurd”: “The Procurator Fiscal in Cupar should be reprimanded for ignoring the precedent that was set in
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish
For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591
2. Samuel Colchester and Paul Donnachie face two alternative charges:
racially aggravated conduct, contrary to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (
behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, contrary to Section 38 (1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (
3. The trial takes place at
St Catherine Street
Map and directions: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/locations/index.asp?crt=cpr&val=contact
4. Similar charges of racially aggravated conduct were alleged against five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign after their Aug 2008 disruption of a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet in
After an 18-month legal process, on April 8th 2010, Sheriff James Scott dismissed the charges. See the Sheriff’s ruling: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3286&catid=332:trial&Itemid=200248
An SPSC media release on the ruling can be found here:
After the trial, the Herald’s front page reported, “Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, rules sheriff”
The Herald, April 9th 2010:
BBC News, 8th April 2010:
Scottish Television, April 8th 2010: Racism charges dropped against protestors
Guardian, 9th April 2010: Activists who heckled Israeli quartet cleared of racism charge
Jewish Chronicle, April 12th 2010: Protesters acquitted of Jerusalem Quartet 'abuse'
The Times. April 9th, 2010: Racism case over Edinburgh Festival anti-Israel protest thrown out
The Scotsman, April 9th 2010: Hecklers at Israeli concert have 'racism' charge thrown out
The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not unique -- whatever the news media may suggest. Lorenzo Veracini argues that the conflict is best understood in terms of colonialism. Like many other societies, Israel is a settler society. Looking in detail at the evolution of other colonial regimes -- apartheid South Africa, French Algeria and Australia -- Veracini presents a thoughtful interpretation of the dynamics of colonialism, offering a clear framework within which to understand the middle east crisis.