As an integral part of BDS campaigning we ask supporters to raise their voices against this. Persuasion has not succeeded over the last two years and we ask you to join in exerting political and moral pressure on the demonstration organisers by emailing the organisations listed as march sponsors.
The power of letters
In a past BDS success that Hilary Clinton tried but failed to reverse, a waveof letters was important in pressuring the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return sponsorship money to the Israeli Embassy.
Some key points - but the ask is for your personal letter:
1. From its public postings it is clear that COFIS is committed to a system of apartheid, Jewish privilege over Palestinians.
6. To be clear:
From: David Myles
Sent: Saturday, March 2, 2019 4:13 pm
To: ***** ******
Subject: RE: Demonstration 17th March 
I am writing to you in your capacity as key correspondent of your organisation’s membership of SUTR. I accept that in the greater scheme of things, I’m a nobody, but I do have a care for justice and opposing racism, and in particular the Palestinians of Gaza as in my younger years I had a two years posting in the “Gaza Strip” (as it was known then). The experience opened my eyes to the daily lived apartheid racism of the Israeli state. At that time the Gaza Strip had a population of just over half a million, 80% of whom were refugees (or the children of refugees) from others parts of Palestine. Almost all of these people lived in tin shacks in the United Nations eight refugee camps to which I made daily/weekly visits. The conditions were terrible and outbreaks of cholera were all too frequent. Today the population stands at around 2m and the conditions are not only infinitely worse; but the people of the Gaza Strip have been under siege for the past 12 years with Israel controlling the movement of people (which is almost nil); the power supplies meaning electricity is usually only for a few hours a day; and the sanitation system has so broken-down that the UN are reporting the place will very shortly be uninhabitable.
This week the UN has published its report detailing Israel’s crimes against humanity in shooting dead some 189 unarmed Palestinians and wounding a further 6000 during the past 11 months.
The killed and maimed were protesting for the right to return to their homes. A right enshrined in UN law. The world-wide right for all refugees. A right that Trump and Israel wish to see disappear.
Although Israel controls all of Palestine; at the forthcoming Israeli election, apartheid policies will be applied to those who can vote excluding millions of Palestinians simply because of their religion/ethnicity.
So while Zionists proclaim that all Jews (including converts) have the “right of return”, Palestinians are still forbidden from going home. While I was in Gaza I visited former Palestinian homes that were now in “Israel”. Despite the Palestinians having the title deeds and the keys to the property they were of course militarily banned from accessing their own homes.
Finally, to avoid any doubt, I should clarify; my concern is about COFIS and GFI. It is not about individuals (Jewish and or even Zionist, they should be welcome if the seek to support SUTR); nor is it about the participation of Jewish groups. They too should be welcomed with the same caveat that they will stand with SUTR’s goals. I have a proud record of promoting Inter-Faith dialogue and have received civic recognition for this work; so I feel I can speak with some understanding if not authority. COFIS and GFI are groups that support a Zionist ideology. Such an ideology is embraced by people of all faiths and of none. It is neither the preserve nor the responsibility of Jewish individuals or communities. Indeed many Jewish people are avowedly anti-zionist and most Zionists are not Jewish. However because the purpose of COFIS and GFI is to be ambassadors and cheerleaders for the worst excesses of Zionism and the Israeli governance of Palestine it is entirely wrong for SUTR to either have invited them or not to have publicly make clear that they are not welcome; and that they should absolutely not be allowed to join the march as COFIS and GFI with their banners; including the Israeli flag which is seen by millions of Palestinians as the emblem of the white colonial settlers that “ethnically cleansed” them from their homes since the 1930’s until today.
In the light of this, last year I entered into correspondence with SUTR and received courteous responses (attached below). However, this year I have received no response. Accordingly, I would be grateful if you would use your good offices to have my concerns addressed by the SUTR leadership.
07*** *** ***
From: Jimmy Powdrell Campbell
To: ****** ********
Date: 4 Mar 2019, 06:40
Subject: Stand Up To Racism's refusal to ban racist flags and banners from this month's Glasgow march
I'm writing in a personal capacity to ask if ****** ******** would add its voice to persuade our comrades in SUTR not to repeat the mistake of allowing the racist flags and banners of Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) and Confederation of Friends of Israel, Scotland (COFIS) on Glasgow's anti-racism march.
I joined the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) after witnessing the slaughter and terrorising of innocent civilians in the 2009 Gaza massacre. Abundant evidence of a pervasive dehumanising culture of racism in the state of Israel lay in the overwhelming popular support for the collective punishment of the people of Gaza and for the grossly disproportionate force used. It lay also in the pattern of sadistic cruelty rehearsed daily to the dismay of all decent people who watched that catalogue of atrocity unfold:
• The United Nations (UNRWA) claimed that the IDF had intentionally burned its food stores in Gaza
• Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spoke of the illegal deployment of white phosphorous airbursts in densely populated areas
• The International Red Cross described the deliberate prevention of medical attention reaching the injured and reported strikes on medical crews
• Israeli journalist Amira Hass wrote of the killing of people flying white flags, the annihilation of entire families
• British MP Gerald Kaufmann described Israel’s mass killing as ‘Nazi’
• The UN General Assembly President called for a world-wide boycott of ‘apartheid Israel’
I can hardly explain how I feel about the importance of solidarity with Palestinians except by recounting the words of the young Palestinian mother who asked a question that I will never forget. All she said, as all hell was raining down all around her home was, "how can the world stand by and let this happen?" I had never felt shame on that level before and it was in that moment that I acquired a visceral sense of the urgency of Palestine. I didn't join the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign because I love Palestine, I did it for self-respect.
If we do not stand up to racism, in all its forms including its worst excesses, we know only too well where that can lead. Our strength lies in our unity but it lies also in our compassion and our integrity. As pointed out in SUTR's statement, "sections of Jewish people may be sympathetic to Israel but still want to oppose the fascists." Absolutely correct and these as individuals should be welcome on an anti-racist march, of course! It should go without saying. I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder, as we have done so many times in the past, with Jews and Muslims, and all who are moved by an anti-racist impulse to protest the media-led rise of racism, xenophobia and fascism in the UK, and to remember the Sharpeville massacre.
The fact that some members of GFI and some members of COFIS are Jews is completely beside the point. Every honest person privy to the history of this tragic disagreement between the SPSC and SUTR knows that that has never been the issue except in that it has been the basis of one of several straw-man arguments that we have been confronting as SUTR, doubtless with the best of intentions, tried vainly to defend an indefensible position.
The disgusting affront to every pro-Palestine activist is, as everyone must know, the sight of the banners of GFI and COFIS, these deeply pro-racist organisations, on an anti-racist march. These are militantly pro-Zionist organisations which exist only to fight BDS - it is literally their entire raison d'etre and their sole reason for wishing to join the march. Oblivious to the racist content of language such as the reporting of "the murder of three Jews in Halamish and the euthanizing of three rioters in Jerusalem," GFI's blind love for apartheid Israel and wilful denial of every Israeli atrocity is equalled only by their anti-Arab bigotry. After the murder by Israeli army sniper of 21-year-old medic Razan al-Najjar, the following GFI tweet was not only allowed to stand, it was pinned to the top: "Paramedic Razan Najjar was a human shield whose purpose was to get killed while shielding other(sic) terrorists. To what extent she was willing or coerced/bribed/raped by Hamas is still unclear." Such disturbing deviance from the feeblest grasp on reality is actually typical of almost all supporters of Israeli war crimes - they have a stark choice when confronted with the truth of the depth of Israel's racism: invent an alternative universe or abandon their allegiance to their terrorist state - but if every member of GFI and COFIS were to turn up as individuals and march alongside us (especially if genuinely) to protest racism, we would have no objection - we would be profoundly confused but we would have no objection! It is the presence of the symbols of arch racism - the Zionist banners and Israeli flags - that we object to, not the individuals.
It is an insult to every decent anti-racist on the march to have these racist flags and banners flying in our midst - it makes a mockery of the march itself - and it flatly precludes the participation of pro-Palestine activists. Can you imagine if images of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign members on a march alongside Israeli flags were to be transmitted to Palestine?! What kind of sickening message would that send to our brothers and sisters living under the racist regime of Israeli oppression and dispossession? It also succeeds in presenting these deeply racist organisations, GFI and COFIS, as belonging to an anti-racist movement to which they are in truth diametrically opposed, which is their intention. By refusing to ban them from the march, SUTR would once again be unwittingly allowing the anti-racist movement to be exploited for the political ends of the defenders of the most egregious racism of our time.
Apologies for the length of this but the same SUTR statement made the interesting point that "we cannot build a united anti-racist movement if the politics of the Middle East are imported into the movement." Yet another straw-man argument although surely no-one in SUTR is naive enough to believe that what has been going on in Palestine for the last seventy years is the "politics of the Middle East"? But more to the point, the "politics" are already here in Scotland: GFI and COFIS and their otherwise futile efforts to counter the momentum of Scottish BDS.
"It’s absolutely crucial" the SUTR statement went on, "that we build a mass anti-racist and anti-fascist movement around issues that unite us." We agree and we're with SUTR 100% in that aim. But Palestine is not Brexit. Palestine unites the left, it doesn't divide it! (Unless someone imagines that Blairites - the deluded remnants of faux-Labour that took us by deception into the Iraq war, now desperately trying to undermine their own leader and their party's future prospects with a McCarthyist campaign of disingenuous and baseless smears of anti-Semitism - are part of the left?!)
An anti-racist movement cannot divorce itself from its duty of international solidarity. It is also a personal duty of every one of us who has an understanding of the realities of capitalism and the racism that, far from springing to life spontaneously in the fresh air, is stirred up to advance the interests of its beneficiaries. British racism and British imperialism created and sustained the gross injustice that was inflicted upon the people of Palestine. The interests of British elites are served by maintaining that injustice. Every day, more and more people are coming to an awareness of that simple truth and of the crucial urgency of Palestine. Please advise SUTR not to close the door on them; they are many!
We want to work for unity, and if the will is there, we shall achieve it, but not at the price of such a betrayal of the victims of Israeli (and British) racism, a betrayal that, in the name of unity, would render our purpose vain, insincere and meaningless.
Our ask is unambiguous: Jews, welcome, of course! Even Zionist supporters, including the bizarre Christian Fundamentalists of GFI waiting for the end of days, welcome as individuals! But Zionist banners and flags are recognised across the planet as symbols of settler-colonialism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and the worst instance of state-engendered racism in the modern world. They should be banned from any anti-racist march, of course! And that is all we ask, in solidarity, and for unity against racism and fascism.
In the fight against racism, the Palestinians are on the front line, not us. I hope you'll agree that they of all people should be able to count on our solidarity.
Please help in any way you can.
Jimmy Powdrell Campbell
I am writing to you about my concern that The Confederation of Friends of Israel (COFIS) and Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) are planning to join the Glasgow SUTR march on 16th March. These groups support Zionist ideology which promotes settler colonisation and the violation of human rights of the Palestinian people.
COFIS supports what a report by UN Human Rights Council recently called war crimes by Israeli snipers that killed 189 and maimed over 6,000 Palestinian demonstrators. The UNHRC report states: "Victims who were hundreds of metres away from the Israeli forces and visibly engaged in civilian activities were shot, as shown by eyewitness accounts, video footage and medical records. Journalists and medical personnel who were clearly marked as such were shot, as were children, women and persons with disabilities".
As a Palestinian myself and a campaigner for human rights, I cannot march alongside the banners and flags of an organisation that discusses the “euthanizing” of Palestinians and laughs at their children and other relatives being killed by snipers, murdered for demonstrating for their right to return. My father, who was born in Jerusalem was never granted the right of return in his lifetime. I have always hoped that the situation for the Palestinians would change for the better, but unfortunately things have got progressively worse, especially for those living in refugee camps, Gaza and the West Bank. We cannot close our eyes to the atrocities being carried out by the Israeli government, for fear of being branded anti-Semitic.
COFIS is an extreme racist organisation led by Christian fundamentalist Nigel Goodrich. It is not, as many believe, a Jewish community organisation and has links to the far Right. GFI announce on their Facebook page that they are an organisation "made up of members of all faiths and none." Whilst campaigning in Glasgow city centre recently, I was approached by Max Dunbar, former treasurer of The BNP and now a member of the so-called Britannica Party, who told me he supported Israel. He reappeared shortly after accompanied by Mr. Sammy Stein, chair of GFI, who stood filming myself and my colleagues for several minutes, trying to intimidate us whist we were talking to members of the public about support for Palestinians.
Israel is today a close ally of the Far Right movement and governments such as that in Brazil and Israeli PM Netanyahu has just forged an electoral alliance with an openly genocidal party, Jewish Power.
This annual SUTR march marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and forms part of worldwide demonstrations called to combat all racism, including state-enforced racism. An organisation that represents and works on behalf of apartheid Israel cannot be allowed to participate, in a city that prides itself on the internationalism and solidarity that led to the naming of Mandela Place. This is not a plea for any individuals to be thrown off the march, but for organisers and stewards on the day, to tell COFIS and GFI that their organisations are not welcome.
Alongside other groups and individuals committed to Palestinian freedom and in line with the Palestinian call for BDS, I cannot participate in the March 16th march if racist COFIS will be allowed to present itself as an anti-racist group on the march with a banner and Israeli flags.
I would appreciate your help with this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Date: 03/03/2019 19:45 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: SUTR 16th March 2019 letter
Dear SUTR / SUTR Affiliate
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and concern at the decision taken by Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) to welcome racist organisations such as Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) and Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) on to the anti-racism march and demonstration planned for Saturday 16th March in Glasgow.
This decision has been taken by SUTR regardless of significant and laborious opposition from local human rights organisations, campaigners for Palestinian rights and similar concerns expressed by local Jewish and Muslim communities.
COFIS and GFI are supporters of the apartheid Israeli regime validated by the recent Jewish State Law legislation in the Knesset. This promotes and allows the self determination of one group of people in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories at the expense of another, i.e. the indigenous Palestinian population.
COFIS and GFI regularly post material indicating their support for the apartheid system in Israel and often refer to the Israeli regime as a democracy which seems rather bizarre considering this would indicate equal rights for all which is clearly not the case in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
COFIS and GFI claim to be pro-peace organisations and have Palestinian flags displayed on their weekly stall in Glasgow. It was therefore surprising to say the least that the sea of Palestinian flags at Labour’s most recent conference was described on their Facebook page as a ‘disgusting display’.
I will not bore you with their consistent and heinous racist attempts to dehumanise the people of Palestine but if I may I would like to draw your attention to this particularly openly racist and hideous article discussing birth rates of groups of people with differing ethnicity and the apparent threat they pose to Israel.
COFIS and GFI support a regime who are in constant violation of international law and of numerous United Nations resolutions.
Most recently the UN Human Rights Council published a report stating,
“the Israeli security forces killed and maimed Palestinian demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities”
189 Palestinians have been killed, 46 of them children since the protests began in March of last year. More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week at the protest sights by the separation fence.
The UNHRC report states that,
“Israeli forces… have intentionally shot children, they've intentionally shot people with disabilities, they've intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists"
The presence of racist organisations and their flags and banners on an anti-racist march is clearly abhorrent. Those of us who oppose racism in all its forms cannot march alongside and beneath symbols of Israeli oppression and apartheid regime. While I understand it is difficult to deter individuals with particular beliefs from joining a public event, I ask that SUTR make it clear that these organisations are not welcome on the march by issuing a statement stating Israeli symbols of oppression and apartheid regime are not welcome on a stand up to racism march.
After participating in the St Andrew’s Day Trade Union Event in Glasgow last year and joining the indoor rally at the end, I noticed a poster promoting the event which included, among other prominent human rights activists, Ahed Tamimi’s picture. I considered at the time and I pose to you now how do you think she would feel walking beneath the flag of her oppressors on a Stand Up To Racism march on 16th March 2019?
I look forward to hearing from you.
From: Gerry Coutts <***********@**********.com>
Sent: 05 March 2019 12:40
Subject: Letter to SUTR
I am writing to you as I believe your organisation has an affiliation/membership of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR).
I am an active campaigner for Palestinian human rights in Scotland and I have made many friends in the occupied Palestinian Territories through my visits there.
I see that SUTR has once again made a decision to either allow the Confederation of Friends of Israel’s (CoFIS and GFI) participation in the SUTR March or are not prepared to oppose their participation. I am surprised and shocked that CoFIS participation has gone unchallenged by SUTR even after being made aware of CoFIS support for apartheid, bigotry and racism against Palestinians and CoFIS support for continued ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israel’s Apartheid regime.
I decided to have a look at the Twitter posts from COFIS and GFI (Glasgow Friends of Israel) as I wanted to be clear why I oppose their inclusion in the SUTR march. I was appalled at the dehumanising language that these organisations use and I have reported them to Twitter. The sexual smears that they posted against a young Muslim medic (Razan al-Najjar) who was killed by an IDF sniper in Gaza last year is too vile to repeat in this letter. They have made jokes about the death toll of Palestinians killed by the IDF on the Great March of Return demonstrations. I have documented their abusive tweets.
Glasgow Friends of Israel dismissed the deaths in tweets saying that the deaths in Gaza are a fiction acted out for the cameras (Pallywood as they call it) contrary to the UN’s published report detailing Israel’s crimes against humanity in shooting dead some 189 unarmed Palestinians and wounding a further 6000 during the past 11 months.
CoFIS is an organisation that partners with the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups such as Christians United for Israel and European Coalition for Israel. CoFIS is affiliated to StandWithUs UK. They were established to counter and work against Palestine solidarity activity and BDS in Scotland.
CoFIS, together with the Israeli government and their allies, are aligned with racist, far right and fascist organisations / governments in order to support Israel’s oppression and murder of Palestinians.
I am not against individuals going on the march I am not totally opposed to Zionists marching but these organisation are in my opinion overtly racist in their modus operandi. This annual march marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and is part of worldwide demonstrations called to combat all racism, including state-enforced racism.
I personally cannot march alongside an organisation that represents and works on behalf of apartheid Israel in a city proud of the internationalism and solidarity that led to the naming of Mandela Place.
I therefore urge you to oppose the inclusion of CoFIS in this and future SUTR marches.
From: Mohamad Issa
Date: 07/03/2019 11:04 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: RE: Participation of COFIS in SUTR demonstration
RE: Participation of COFIS in SUTR demonstration
Dear Sir/ Madam
I am writing to you in your capacity as key correspondent of your organisation’s membership of SUTR. I am a Scottish Palestinian whose parents in 1948 lost their home, land livelihood and Identity and became refugees. The trauma of this event lives with me to this day, yet, like many others, we haven’t lost the hope that justice will prevail someday.
I have been following the debate regarding the participation of the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland ( COFIS) in the SUTR demonstration on 17th March with interest.
The claim of COFIS members to be anti-racist is only partly true. On the face of it they appear to be anti-racist but when confronted with the question of Palestinians, COFIS adopts a visibly racist posture and outrightly denies the very existence of the Palestinians. The going phrase: We are liberals except Palestine.
In order to be brief and put things in perspective, let me highlight the issue of Palestine/Israel. For the last 52 years Israel has been controlling all the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean. In this land Israeli Jews are about 6 millions, Palestinians with Israeli passport about 2 millions and there are 4 million Palestinians ( Muslims & Christians) under extreme harsh military rule to the extent that they can’t plant their vegetables without the military permit. They can’t move about without a permit. The Isreali state controls these territories to the last detail. International human rights organisations have repeatedly compared the prevailing living conditions in occupied Palestine worse than those in prisons. Besides, there are about 5 other million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world whom Israel has denied them the right to return to their homes. All the spectrum of Israeli politicians are floating the idea of Palestinian expulsion from their homes which has grievous consequences and will lead to another genocide as happened to my parents during the 1948.
COFIS members not only overlook the Israeli criminality with regard to the Palestinians, they also condone Israeli excesses on ordinary Palestinians and have consistently acted in concert with the voices on Israeli-far right to dehumanise Palestinians and stoke Islamophobia. I highlight two brief examples to support this observation:
1- COFIS members has time and again referred to London as Londonstan which is a pejorative, antimuslim reference to the multi-ethnic metropolis. It disrespects the ethos and emotions of not only the people of London but millions across the country who view London as a proud and open city.
2- COFIS members have invoked a discredited messianic interpretations to justify the systematic injustices against Palestinians and have conformed to the anti-Palestinian bigotry. Their so-called pro-Israeli face is pitted against Palestinian self-determination and provides ammunition to those who deny the reality of Palestinian suffering on the basis of ‘messianic’ conjectures .
In short, COFIS and its members as they stand with regards to Palestinians’ rights are not compatible with the noble idea of anti-racism. I am not against the participation of individuals in any event, but COFIS do not fulfil the moral criteria of SUTR and what they stand for.
If COFIS come out in public declaring their recognition of the Palestinians’ right for self determination in their own country or call for a one democratic country for the two people with equal rights for all regardless of race, colour, or religion then this will bring harmony for the people in Palestine/Israel and also will create the harmony on the streets of Scotland.
Until then, COFIS remains nothing but a far-right Israeli conformist organisation which unwittingly empowers the Israeli occupation-machine to carry out inhumane extermination of Palestinians. SUTR will only sully its name if it allows an apartheid practising group to join the SUTR demonstration on 17th of March.
I trust that you stand in support of your values against racism in all of its forms.
Dr Mohamad Issa