Scottish Palestine solidarity activists on trial for 'racism'
Five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign are charged with 'racially aggravated conduct' following a protest against the Israeli siege of Gaza. They interrupted a performance during the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival by an Israeli musical ensemble, the Jerusalem Quartet, whose admirers had written of them that, 'holding a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement'. The four enjoyed the double official status of 'Cultural Ambassadors' of the State of Israel and 'Distinguished IDF Musicians'
British Government complicity in Israeli crimes
The trial of the five Palestine solidarity activists on trumped-up political charges of 'racially aggravated conduct' is part of the British Government’s response to rising support among the public for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and the wave of anger at British complicity in Israeli crimes. The trial is, indeed, one aspect of this comprehensive British Government complicity in Israeli crimes, and indicates official endorsement of the tired Zionist strategy of trying to intimidate opponents of Israel with the anti-semitic ploy.
It should come as no surprise that the same Government that cooperates with Israel to criminalise and punish Palestinian people as a whole, should work at home to criminalise those in active solidarity with a people resisting military control and refugees demanding their rights to be repatriated.
Far from being driven by malice towards Jews or Israelis, the rising world-wide campaign of BDS is driven by anger at the crimes of the Israeli State and its supporting Zionist institutions. The BDS campaign is no more racist than opposition to the crimes of the Mafia is anti-Italian. The Mafia, Zionism and the British Government engage in atrocious crimes; the great majority of Italians, Jews and British citizens have harmed no-one.
Among the witnesses we shall be calling during this trial, are a number of Palestinians, Israelis and Jewish supporters of human rights. They will shed light on the assertions of the Procurator Fiscal (the Scottish Prosecutor) that Palestine activists are driven by 'malice and ill will' towards'‘members of an ethnic group' rather than opposition to ethnic cleansing across Palestine and genocide in Gaza.
The absurd charges of racism, in the unlikely event that they were successful, would criminalise activities that are perfectly legal at the moment and should remain so and would constitute a threat to freedom of expression.
During the struggle against South African apartheid, Margaret Thatcher’s Government in Britain passed legislation that made it illegal for local authorities and other institutions to boycott that apartheid state; opponents of BDS still, as in the case of Scottish Universities and Edinburgh City Council, hide behind that Thatcher-era legislation to defeat calls for BDS against Israeli apartheid. The discredited New Labour Government is now supporting moves to brand as racist the entire idea of boycott of the Israeli apartheid State.
When representatives of the Scottish PSC accepted an invitation recently from Lloyds TSB Head Office to meet in a Glasgow Hotel, the Lloyds TSB representatives claimed that they had no choice but to damage the banking facilities of Interpal, a charity sending desperately needed aid to Gaza. Their 'hands were tied' by the US Government. We replied that we feel 'our hands are tied' equally, by pledges we made to Palestinians we met in what a Vatican spokesman recently called the Gaza 'concentration camp'. Many of those we met are now in cemeteries. We have no choice but to campaign to the limit of our abilities against the complicity of the British Government in Israel's atrocious crimes.
The appeal for BDS comes from Palestinian civil society, all of it. We have no choice but to pick up the weapons of non-violent protest, including that of non-violent civil disobedience, in a situation where the British Government colludes in the crime.
Israel's bulldozers are still working at full throttle, devastating Palestinian lives to make way for Jewish settlements across the whole of Palestine. The current Israeli Tourist Association map on the London Tube reveals the end plan, an Israel covering the whole area including bits of Syria. Extreme settler and Army violence continues in order to make life hell for Palestinians, in order to persuade as many as possible to leave, in order to make way for incoming Jewish immigrants. Israeli Ministers openly discuss getting rid of remaining Palestinians.
British complicity is consistent, from open support for the strangulation of Gaza, the supply of weapons parts for Israeli aircraft involved in the devastation of Gaza, and support for Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall.
As part of his campaign of 'combatting anti-semitism', Dennis MacShane MP works, with the support of the British Government, to criminalise certain political ideas as well as aspects of Palestine solidarity activities. MacShane supports the EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which makes it racist to point out Israel's apartheid structure and the racist programme of political Zionism towards Palestinians.
MacShane and his Zionist allies want the British police to treat as anti-semitism both:
- "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour", and
- "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis."
Sadiq Khan, Parliamentary Secretary of State to Hazel Blears, anounced that the British Government intends to implement MacShane's proposals:
"Following on from the All Party Inquiry into Antisemitsm (2006) - chaired by the Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP which made 35 recommendations to Government - we set up a working group with representatives from across Government, the Jewish Community and the Parliamentary Committee against Antisemitism to ensure that the recommendations were implemented."
The quality of the investigations of this Committee is best assessed by their assertion that "we received no evidence of the accusation of antisemitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organisations and leaders". The Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Enquiry into Antisemitism, published in September 2006, lists the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities among the bodies that submitted written evidence to the Enquiry. SCoJec might want to inform the Enquiry that they had to pulp 6,000 copies of one of their publications last year after the Scottish PSC initiated legal action for defamation. This challenged smears in the book that we 'demonised Jews' by pointing out Israel's murderous crimes.
Scottish PSC is committed to full human rights for all; we oppose a Jewish supremacist State in Israel/Palestine as others opposed a White supremacist state in South Africa or Alabama. In those cases anti-racist campaigners did not have to put up with absurd allegations that they were racist.