The Scottish Daily Record today reports on more dirty tricks from another leading member of Glasgow Friends of Israel: "Matthew Berlow played a key part in faking a graffiti attack at his home then used the bogus incident to smear the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign [for] Typical SPSC behaviour. criminal.” When challenged by a journalist, the Glasgow Friends of Israel activist conceded that he “named an organisation I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t my intention to blame the SPSC for a fictitious event.”
Berlow and Sutherland are a very small part of a wider dirty tricks campaign against a Palestine solidarity organisation that touched the upper echelons of three governments (four if we include Hilary Clinton's State Department). The Scottish criminal prosecution system played a sinister, if largely unsuccessful role, abetted by the Scottish right-wing press.
Berlow and his comrades at Glasgow Friends of Israel set up a fake Facebook page but one of GFoI's partners in the dirty tricks campaign took deception to the top of the tree. SCoJeC, the self-styled Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, carried out an audacious deception on Alex Salmond, then-First Minister of the Scottish Government, by persuading him to write a supportive preface for their 2008 publication, "Scotland's Jews", after which Ephraim Borowski and the other SCoJeC leaders surreptitiously inserted material into the text claiming that SPSC activities "demonised Jews". Caught in flagrante, SCoJeC pulped all 6,000 copies of the book, which had been published with support from Scottish ratepayers. The First Minister was furious at SCoJeC but the crooks were not sanctioned and continue to influence Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.
In February 2009, corrupt MP Denis MacShane promoted the London Declaration on Combatting Anti-semitism and its bogus definition of anti-semitism that aimed to criminalise BDS campaigns which "target the State of Israel". UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed it within a week and junior minister Sadiq Khan quickly announced the British Government had "set up a working group…to ensure that the recommendations were implemented." In a bizarre formulation, Khan stated that he was "aware that current rhetoric about Israel and Zionism employs antisemitic motives that are consistent with ancient forms of hatred towards Jews."
Within a few days of such gobbledegook which neither the speaker nor those applauding him understood, criminal charges of racism were levelled against five SPSC members for BDS activities. An Edinburgh sheriff (magistrate) later ridiculed and threw out the evidence-free charges, so why were they brought? Emails released under Freedom of Information rules show a sinister and unprofessional relationship between SCoJeC and Scottish criminal prosecution service (COPFS) personnel, where they discussed tactics to increase chances of a conviction. No smoking gun but FoI email releases taken together with the rapid progression from Prime Minister Gordon Brown signing the London Declaration to the levelling of racism charges against SPSC members is strongly suggestive of collusion.
In the years since, COPFS and SCoJeC have notched up a 100% record of failure in the racism prosecutions of SPSC members.
State of Israel
An Israeli Embassy diplomat told Haaretz that Scotland was considered to be "enemy territory" because of BDS campaigning there. Maps in their anti-BDS "war room" in the building were reported to show BDS hot spots to be tackled. One of those hot spots would be West Dunbartonshire, whose council adopted a BDS position in early 2009, during the Israeli massacre of Operation Cast Lead.
Matthew Berlow's crime-that-never-happened is just the latest example of the creativity of the pro-Israel crowd in Scotland. On 21 May 2011, more than two years into the Council's BDS policy, the Jewish Chronicle invented a story that "Books by Israeli authors could be removed from Scottish libraries" as part of the BDS campaign, which thus "aligned the Council with Iran and Saudi Arabia". The Scottish Daily Express reported this "boycott of Israeli books" and favourably quoted the Israeli Embassy's Amir Oftek, who compared the Council to Joseph Goebbels burning books by Jewish authors.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the "Israeli book ban may be imposed in Scottish libraries". Israeli YNet News Service told readers that bookshops were joining the censorship wave. Israeli Ambassador Prosor intoned that "A place that boycotts books isn't far from a place that burns them".
The Atlantic in the US detected "in Scotland, a hint of Goebbels", and the World Jewish Congress unearthed a plan in Dundee to "place a special sticker on products that are made in Israel". European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor condemned Israeli products being "distinctively marked in Scotland. These acts are eerily reminiscent of darker times and perhaps there is a level of hatred that connects them".
Four years later billionaire Kantor would employ Tony Blair ostensibly to fight anti-semitism by heading his European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. Oddly, Blair in his new role has never alluded to his boss' fear of anti-semitism in present day Scotland comparable in intensity to 1930s Germany.
This madness could not have gone so far unless some who should have taken a stand had determinedly looked away. A certain Michael Stewart, for example, a fantasist of St Andrews parish reported during a live broadcast of the 2017 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland that he had witnessed a large Palestine Solidarity demonstration blocking the main thoroughfare of the capital and screaming "Kill the Jews".
Similarly, the now-disgraced founder of COFIS and Glasgow Friends of Israel, Nigel Goodrich, broadcast on a UK Christian Zionist TV that an Edinburgh University professor had told a student (who told Goodrich) he was failing her essays because she was Jewish and supported Israel. Happy to fabricate examples anti-semitism, neither SCoJeC nor the self-styled "protectors of the Jewish community", the UK Government-funded Community Security Trust, bothered to investigate or comment on such claims.
A well-connected Israeli journalist specialising in intelligence activities, Yossi Melman, wrote in September 2016 about Israel's anti-BDS campaign: Propaganda and dirty tricks and warned of a major problem "when MoSA’s department of operations goes under the surface and tries to execute directly or indirectly 'special operations'. Dirty tricks can turn into ugly smearing campaigns."
A year before Melman's article appeared, the various parts of the pro-Israel campaign in Scotland attended a 'political training day' in Glasgow organised by the Centre for Israel-Scotland Relations to discuss how to counter the BDS campaign and how best best to defend Israel's record, including alleged crimes against humanity. An Israeli Embassy diplomat led the event, attended by Glasgow Friends of Israel, Nigel Goodrich, SCoJeC and others where the meaning of "special operations" and "dirty tricks" could be spelled out. We don't know the detail of what was discussed in the "political training day but it would have evaluated the lessons from fabricating and then condemning incidents of anti-semitism, whether it be Facebook posts, deceiving the First Minister, getting the authorities to launch criminal prosecutions of opponents, smearing a prestigious university or a whole country as virulently racist.
There is no point in getting angry at Matthew Berlow or Edward Sutherland for they are just foot soldiers in a legion of deception and dirty tricks that includes the degenerates of COFIS/Glasgow Friends of Israel and the more urbane but similarly deceitful leaders of SCoJeC.
The pro-Israel lobby are nonetheless telling us two things clearly; firstly, that they fear the BDS movement; secondly, by selecting Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for their sustained malign attentions they are also saying loud and clear that we have the potential to contribute to their ultimate defeat.
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7 September 2020
Jerusalem Post 8 Sept 2020
Electronic Intifada 8 Sep 2020