Media Release: Wed Jan 20th 2010
Holocaust Survivor starts UK tour at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
One of the few remaining survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp will begin a ten-day speaking tour of the UK and Ireland at Edinburgh Sheriff Court tomorrow.
Hayo Meyer, an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, is expected to attend court to show support to 5 pro-Palestine campaigners accused of “racially aggravated conduct” for their disruption of a concert by an Israeli group.
The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), stood up during the Aug 2008 Edinburgh Festival performance of the Jerusalem Quartet and made statements including “End the Siege of Gaza—Boycott Israel!” They were originally charged with Breach of the Peace, but in the wake of last year’s violence in Gaza which took the lives of 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, the charge was changed to the more serious one.
A statement from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, of which Meyer is a member, backed the campaigners: “As Jews for whom the State of Israel does not speak, we commend the actions of the SPSC. In these actions we see a consistent commitment to anti-racist politics and practice. Demonstrating against Israel is not the same as demonstrating against Jews.”
Meyer survived almost a year in the notorious Nazi death camp, after being caught by the Gestapo in 1944. It is estimated that of the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, around 1 million died in Auschwitz. Most died in the gas chambers, but many others died of starvation and forced labour.
SPSC chair, Mick Napier, is one of those facing the racist charge: “We are delighted to have the support of Hajo Meyer in the courtroom, and Palestinians are happy to have him as an ally in their cause. Hajo knows that Israel has a long history of abusing the tragic history of the Holocaust in order to suppress legitimate criticism of its own crimes. Especially since Gaza, people are no longer taken in by their claim that anyone that criticises Israel is anti-Semitic.”
The speaking tour, entitled “Never Again—For Anyone” will begin properly in Glasgow University on Thursday evening before taking in Dundee University on Friday and returning to Edinburgh for an afternoon meeting on Saturday. The tour ends in Dublin on Jan 30th after visiting various venues across the UK. Meyer will be joined by Dr Haidar Eid who will speak via live-link from his Gaza university.
The meetings are all open to the general public and entry is free. The three Scottish venues include:
Thurs 21st, 7.30pm: Glasgow University, Charles Wilson Building
Fri 22nd, 7.30pm: Dundee University, D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre
Sat 23rd, 2pm: Edinburgh, Augustine Church, George IV Bridge
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland and elsewhere.
For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591
2. The speaking tour lasts ten days and includes the following venues:
21/1: Glasgow, 7.30pm, Glasgow University, Charles Wilson Building
22/1: Dundee, 7.30pm, D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Tower Building, Perth Road (hosted by Dundee University Stop the War Society)
23/1: Edinburgh, 2pm, Augustine Church, George IV Bridge
3. Dr. Hayo Meyer was born in 1924 in Bielefeld, Germany. Not allowed to attend school there after November 1938, he fled to the Netherlands, alone. In I944, after a year in the underground, he was caught and subsequently survived 10 months at Auschwitz. He lives in the Netherlands, where he works as publicist and essayist. A member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), Hajo Meyer is on the board of the Dutch group “A Different Jewish Voice”, part of the coalition of European Jews for Just Peace. He is the author of three books, on Judaism, Holocaust and Zionism.
4. Dr. Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr. Eid is a founding member of the One Democratic State Group (ODSG) and a member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
5. The case against the 5 SPSC members will be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday and Friday 21st + 22nd January 2010 at 10am for a Diet of Debate.
6. The Jerusalem Quartet performs around the world as cultural ambassadors of Israel. Their August 29th 2008 performance took place at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. As well as the disruption inside the venue, a simultaneous protest took place outside the event.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) fully endorses the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign's call on the Edinburgh Festival to withdraw its invitation to the Jerusalem Quartet. Members of this Israeli Quartet began their career with active service in the Israeli army, where they served as "Distinguished Musicians," enjoying the sponsorship of mainstream Israeli cultural institutions such as the Jerusalem Foundation, which regards them as "prestigious cultural ambassadors, representing Israel and Jerusalem."
From the beginning, the Quartet's international tours have been actively promoted by the Israeli government. As such, and since the Quartet has not taken any clear position on the various forms of oppression of the Palestinian people, PACBI supports the Scottish PSC's call to boycott the Jerusalem Quartet as an institution that is complicit in maintaining Israel's occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.