Introduction & addition
8th March 2018
"We say that the organisers have no mandate to violate and corrupt this international commemoration. Scotland must not be the back door for supporters of Israeli Apartheid to promote their racist segregation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Were this effort to be successful it would shame Scotland internationally and make Mandela Place a meaningless relic."
No place for organised supporters of apartheid on a demonstration against apartheid and racism
The demonstration organised for Glasgow on March 17th is one small part of a UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination established to commemorate the massacre on 21st March 1960 of 69 peaceful demonstrators protesting against apartheid in Sharpeville, South Africa. The UN states the commemoration is to demonstrate “solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination”.
The Palestinian people suffer under an Israel apartheid system much worse than the South African version.
Some organisers of the Glasgow demonstration on March 17th, which is promoted as part of the UN day of solidarity, are determined to allow onto this march a group called Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland set up to defend and support Israel’s apartheid system and its frequent massacres of Palestinians.
We are expected to commemorate the heroes and martyrs of the struggle against South African apartheid by marching alongside the banners and flags of the defenders of Israeli apartheid. Desmond Tutu and other South Africans have declared that the horrors of South African apartheid were “a picnic” compared to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today.
Ronnie Kasrils is a Jewish veteran of the ANC and was a Minister in the South African Government from 2004-2008. At SPSC meetings in Scotland he developed his view that “Any South African who goes to Palestine today and visits the West Bank and Gaza, or Palestinians living in the State of Israel, come away shocked and, shaking their heads saying ‘This is far worse than the apartheid we knew’."
(Jewish) co-author of the latest UN-commissioned report identifying Israel as an apartheid state, Prof. Richard Falk, spoke at the 2017 SUTR demonstration on behalf of SPSC and was warmly received. Now we are expected to welcome defenders of the apartheid State on the 2018 demonstration.
We say that the organisers have no mandate to violate and corrupt this international commemoration. Scotland must not be the back door for supporters of Israeli Apartheid to promote their racist segregation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Were this effort to be successful it would shame Scotland internationally and make Mandela Place a meaningless relic.
Statement from Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign on forthcoming anti-racism demonstration
19 February 2018
The Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (COFIS) joined the 2017 Stand Up to Racism demonstration in Glasgow and a clutch of members marched for some distance as part of that demonstration. They carried a banner of their racist organisation and Israeli flags, causing offence and consternation to many of those on the march.
COFIS works closely with the Israeli Embassy to close down public discussion of Israeli crimes and to impede organising for the Palestinian-led BDS movement, the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel until the crimes against the Palestinian people are ended.
COFIS opposes the demands of the Palestinian BDS Call: for Israel to
1. end the occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall
2. recognise the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality
3. respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
COFIS defends and supports every Israeli war crime and crime against humanity, including Israel's Operation Protective Edge of summer 2014 which slaughtered over 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza. That indiscrinate mass killing led the Scottish Government to call for an arms embargo againt Israel.
COFIS works to smear Palestine solidarity activists as racists for opposition to the apartheid State of Israel, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the theft of Palestinian land and water resources, the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, mass arrests and the killing of Palestinians purely on the basis of their nationality.
Yet some continue to defend the right of COFIS to participate in anti-racist marches despite COFIS' active defence of the state-enforced racism, i.e. apartheid, under which the Palestinian people suffer.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign considers that this policy is inherently wrong, but also that, if unopposed, it would greatly weaken the struggle against the racism that blights Scottish society.
On any political demonstration it is never clear how many of those positioned behind a specific banner are associated with it. Throughout the world an Israeli flag is seen as a symbol of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and the genocidal siege of the people of Gaza. Flying such a symbol of apartheid on a demonstration makes it impossible for most Palestinians and Lebanese, as well as many Scots to participate, for how can Palestinians be expected to march behind the flag of the settlements which steal their land, the military outposts which fire on their family and friends, the checkpoints that creatively make their lives miserable, the symbol of a government which is openly committed to completing their disposession and copper-fastening their inferior status throughout the whole of Palestine.
Our solidarity with the Palestinian people and our opposition to the forces that work to violate them has to extend to the streets of Scotland. A people who suffer ritual humiliation from a rabble of Israeli soldiery at the checkpoints that blight their lives should not be further humiliated in Scotland by asking them to march alongside their violators and the repugnant symbol of their violators.
Seeing the parallels between their own oppression and that of the Palestinian people, anti-racist movements around the world such as Black Lives Matter in the United States have enthusiastically integrated support for the Palestinian freedom struggle into their official aims. Anti-racists in Scotland should do no less.
Some few are afraid of being labelled 'anti-semtic' if they bar an active campaign for Israeli apartheid from an anti-racist march, but this is itself a racist position because it implies that all Jews are complicit in the crimes of the State of Israel. SPSC rejects any notion of collective guilt and insists that Scottish Jews are not to be held responsible for the crimes of the State of Israel.
In any case, anyone who becomes actively involved in the struggle for Palestinian freedom understands that malicious and false accusations of anti-semitism follow as night follows day, and that the only way to avoid such politically-driven smears is to scale down support for the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid.
Israeli flags commonly fly in the ranks of fascist marches in Scotland and elsewhere; are we to have Israeli flags flying on both sides of racist and anti-racist mobilisations? The proposal would be very strange.
Permitting Israeli flags and an active campaign on behalf of Israeli apartheid onto anti-racism initiatives will divide and weaken any struggle against racism.
We call upon SUTR and its affiliates to bar any group that exists to defend state-enforced racism in Israel/Palestine as having no place among anti-racist campaigns.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
19th February 2018