Friday 16 April 2010
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Media Release
AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR SLAMS EDINBURGH PROSECUTOR FOR “RIDICULOUS” RACISM CHARGE
One of the few remaining survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp has criticised Edinburgh prosecutors for what he refers to as “taking sides with Israel”.
Hajo Meyer, an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, made his comments in support of 5 pro-Palestine campaigners who recently won their legal battle against a charge of “racially aggravated conduct” after a boycott protest of a concert by an Israeli group. The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), had interrupted the Aug 2008 Edinburgh Festival performance of the Jerusalem Quartet.
Throwing out the charges, Sheriff James Scott ruled last week that “the accused were engaged in political protest against the Israeli state and an organ of that state, the Israeli army, concerning crimes allegedly committed by the Israeli state and its army in Gaza.”
“Having concluded that continuation of the present prosecution is not necessary or proportionate, and therefore incompetent, it seems to me that the complaint must be dismissed”, he said.
Meyer, who took part in a speaking tour earlier this year organised by the Scottish group, described the charges as “ridiculous”. Said Meyer, “While Israel continues its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, it is our duty to criticise it. This racism charge is ridiculous.
“It worries me that while Palestinians are humiliated and discriminated against every day, western leaders including Gordon Brown not only appease Israel, they support it. Unfortunately, it appears as though the prosecutors too are taking sides with Israel.”
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.
SPSC chair, Mick Napier, is one of those who had faced the racism charge: “Hajo joined our campaign when he heard we’d been charged as “racists”. Even in his mid-eighties, he’s still fighting for human rights.”
After the ruling last Thursday, Napier told reporters at Edinburgh Sheriff Court: “The sheriff could have hidden behind generalities but today in court we discussed the state of Israel specifically and the sheriff ruled in open court that it is perfectly legitimate to criticise the crimes of the state of Israel and that does not in any way constitute racism of any kind.
“It is a constant, never-ending attempt by those who support the state of Israel to name those who support the Palestinians as anti-Semites. It never ends. Well it ended today and we will not be intimidated by this smear in the future.”
Procurator Fiscal Depute, Graham Fraser, said he would be appealing the ruling.
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. Hajo Meyer spoke at 10 venues across the UK and Ireland with Palestinian Professor Haidar Eid, between 21st and 30th Jan 2010.
The tour was organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network: www.ijsn.net
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.
3. Sheriff Scott’s ruling on the “racism” charges against the 5 SPSC members can be found here:
An SPSC media release on the ruling can be found here:
BBC News, *th April 2010: Israel protest at concert 'was not racist'
Scottish Television, April 8th 2010: Racism charges dropped against protestors
The Herald, 9th April 2010: Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, rules sheriff
Guardian, 9th April 2010: Activists who heckled Israeli quartet cleared of racism charge
Jewish Chronicle, April 12th 2010: Protesters acquitted of Jerusalem Quartet 'abuse'
The Times. April 9th, 2010: Racism case over Edinburgh Festival anti-Israel protest thrown out
The Scotsman, April 9th 2010: Hecklers at Israeli concert have 'racism' charge thrown out