Scottish Friends of Palestine (SFoP) says it will boycott the anti-racism demonstration scheduled for Saturday 18 March 2023 in Glasgow. The annual march organised by Stand Up to Racism has attracted criticism in recent years because the organisers have allowed groups that SFoP describes as "pro-Israel, racist groups" to participate in the march.
The first of the annual Glasgow "Stand Up To Racism" demonstrations was held on Saturday 22 March 2014. It was organised by Unite Against Fascism and supported by a wide range of organisations, including SACC. Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) and the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) made their first appearance on the march in 2018. In 2019 SACC pressed for these groups to be be told that they were not welcome. Following the refusal of Stand Up to Racism to take this step, SACC and other organisations withdrew their support for the march. This position has been maintained ever since.
In February 2023 Wael Shawish wrote to Stand Up to Racism on behalf of Scottish Friends of Palestine, saying:
"The executive committee of Scottish Friends of Palestine (SFoP) discussed the above proposed event at its February meeting. As Secretary of SFoP I have been asked to contact the organising committee for SUTR Scotland with our concerns.
The position of SFoP when it comes to your forthcoming demonstration is quite unequivocal. Once again the demonstration will be boycotted. On the current information available SFoP will recommend to it members, friends and associates that under no circumstances should they participate as long as SUTR consents to the participation of pro-Israel, racist groups in the demonstration. We cannot ask any supporter of Palestinian rights to march in company with individuals whose racist attitude and beliefs are proudly accompanied by a flag which, for the Palestinian people, has long been the trademark of a brutal, racist regime intent on totally depriving them of their land, their heritage, their rights. It is a symbol which no Palestinian or Palestinian supporter in Scotland should ever be asked to march behind.
It is not too late for the organising committee of SUTR Scotland to come to its senses and show solidarity with those who oppose racism in all its forms."
No reply to the letter has yet been recieved.
SACC and other organisations issued a statement in 2020 saying that GFI and similar groups are "part of the Israel lobby network" and that their presence on the march is "incompatible with Stand Up to Racism’s intention of celebrating International Day Against Race Discrimination - a day proclaimed by the UN to commemorate the 1960 massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa, of 69 people who were protesting the apartheid regime there."
Photo: Protestor raises Palestinian flag, Nablus, 10 February 2023 © SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News