18th February 2016
SPSC has for many years developed a tradition of active grass roots campaigning to win support for the Palestinian call for BDS against Israel. Our approach has drawn harsh criticism from Zionists and their supporters, praise from allies and, most importantly, has delivered a string of successes that has placed this small country firmly in the ranks of those delivering effective solidarity with the injured and violated people of Palestine.
This statement is a response to queries regarding the departure of SPSC members in Edinburgh. This episode has highlighted areas where we need to amend our processes and procedures, particularly with regard to education and communications. Notwithstanding these changes currently underway, we believe that essentially the disagreements are to do with a difference in political and campaigning approach. This statement reiterates SPSC policy and campaigning record on the matters in question.
SPSC is a volunteer based, BDS-focussed campaigning organisation. SPSC is not, has never been, and has no ambitions to become, an umbrella formation for everyone who is angry at Israel’s ethnic cleansing and British Government complicity. We are a campaigning organisation committed to building effective solidarity mainly by BDS.
In line with BDS principles, SPSC will not engage in dialogue, negotiations or hold joint events with Israeli state officials and their representatives in Scotland.
SPSC stands on our BDS record. SPSC has worked hard since 2001, even before the Palestinian civil society call for BDS in 2005, to organise boycott campaigns that have successfully challenged visits to Edinburgh by Israeli State-sponsored and promoted cultural, sporting and political ambassadors.
This has led to Israeli Embassy sponsorship money for cultural events being returned following widespread protests in 2006, 2009, and 2014 – strong protests against the Jerusalem Quartet and Batsheva dance troupe that has seen both avoid any return to Edinburgh. Protests at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe saw the two State-funded Israeli troupes ejected from the Fringe while two other Israeli troupes not connected to the Israeli State performed unimpeded. The message that our campaigns target the Israeli state and not Israeli performers per se has got through very clearly to Israeli artists.
Boycott since Captain Boycott has been a powerful weapon, a non-violent weapon but a weapon, to pressure the opposition to abandon an action that is profitable and take steps they would rather not. Non-violent BDS action forces even very powerful states and corporations to change their behaviour, usually very unwillingly. Others who support the Palestinian people advocate lobbying and persuasion rather than boycott and that is their right. SPSC, however, and the rising world-wide BDS campaign are committed to BDS as a central strategy to contribute to Palestinian freedom.
SPSC is committed to open discussion of varying views on how to deliver effective solidarity and encourages critical evaluation of all proposals and analyses. We encourage all SPSC members to engage with each other on an ongoing basis and to utilise the democratic structures of the organisation to amend or develop SPSC policy.
Israel has allocated 100 million shekels to combat the BDS movement and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson have added many millions of dollars. With Zionists well financed and increasingly organised, we need careful and critical evaluation of our work. That includes unequivocal support for the Palestinian opposition to normalisation and intensified pressure on our elected representatives to move from words to active support of the Palestinian people facing genocide.
On the basis of our record and our approach to solidarity campaigning, we ask you join SPSC to take that project forward in 2016 and beyond.
Edinburgh Branch Committee
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign