Tuesday 27th April 2010

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: media release

Holyrood faces protests over Israeli exhibition
 
The Scottish Parliament is braced for three days of protest this week over Holyrood’s hosting of a controversial exhibition on “Israel’s Contribution to Medicine, Science and Technology”.
 
The showcase by the Scottish Friends of Israel was condemned last month in an open letter by a group of leading doctors as a “shameless PR exercise”, and a parallel petition on the parliament’s website urging its cancellation attracted over a thousand signatures.
 
Labour MSP Ken Macintosh, who is sponsoring the exhibition, hoped it would counter the media portrayal of Israel which he said was “often damaging and one-sided”. “I thought it would be better to show [the] positive side of Israel and acknowledge the huge contribution it has made”, he added.
 
Discussing the petition in the parliament’s Public Petitions Committee last week, Green MSP Robin Harper described Israel as a “rogue state”. “This is simply not the right time in history for us to be celebrating Israel’s contributions; this is the time when we should be continuing to put the pressure on Israel to behave themselves properly”, he said.
 
The exhibition starts today and is set to run until Thursday in the parliament’s Garden Lobby, but will face competition throughout from a protest and counter-exhibition focused on the “impact” of Israeli technology on display near the main entrance. Politicians from all parties are expected to address a protest there today at midday. Alex Salmond recently called for a review of “trading relationships” with Israel after the Mossad passport assassination scandal, but it is not known whether he will speak at the rally.
 
Another committee member, John Wilson (SNP) stressed that “the [one] international issue that this parliament has united on is the issue of condemnation of the Israeli state”, and added, “many of [Israel’s] developments have actually been to the detriment of people in neighbouring countries.” Party colleague, Anne McLaughlin said, “if we’re talking about not taking trade missions to Israel, I think we also have to be looking at not having demonstrations of support for [Israel’s] achievements”.
 
Labour’s Pauline McNeil said she did “not want to see us normalise our relationships with a state which has broken hundreds of [UN] resolutions.”
 
However, in a written submission that left little room for manoeuvre, the parliament’s Chief Executive, Paul Grice, advised the committee that “Given that the exhibition has an MSP sponsor” and “complies with the agreed criteria”, it “will take place” as planned.
 
The committee reacted by agreeing to Labour MSP Bill Butler’s proposal to request that the “agreed criteria” be reviewed in light of the fact that current rules allowed the Israeli exhibition to go ahead.
 
Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which raised the petition, was disappointed that the “propaganda” exhibition was going ahead but pleased at the support of the committee. “White phosphorous on built-up areas is not the kind of science we should celebrate. As noted by the committee, if the rules permit a ‘rogue state’ to promote its capacity for death and destruction, then clearly the rules need to be changed.”
 
ENDS
 
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
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (default reply to this email)
Website:
www.scottishpsc.org.uk
 
 
2. The open letter “by a group of leading doctors” is reported in the Scotsman, 24th March 2010:
Holyrood slated over Israeli exhibition
http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Holyrood-slated-over-Israeli-exhibition.6175052.jp
 
 
3. Petition PE1324, presented by Sofiah MacLeod on behalf of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, urges the cancellation of the exhibition, describing it as “nothing more than a shameless PR exercise to promote Israel in a positive light while the Report by the UNs Judge Goldstone calls for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court for its war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Full text here:
 
 
4. Details of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here:
 
The committee discussed PE1324 on April 20th 2010
Official reports including the official transcript (available from April 27th) can be found here:
 
The official video of the meeting can be watched here:
The relevant section starts at 02:01:06
 
Full quotes and their location in the video are detailed here:
 
 
5. Written submission by Scottish Parliament Chief Executive, Paul Grice, can be found here:
 
 
6. Exhibition organisers, Scottish Friends of Israel (SFI), note on their website that
As well as challenging articles which portray Israel in a detrimental light through misinformation and misunderstanding, SFI is actively engaged in promoting Israel in a positive light and is at present preparing plans to mount an exhibition in the Scottish Parliament in 2010 which will promote “Israel’s Contribution to Medicine, Science and Technology”. This was previously seen in Glasgow during the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel.
 
 
7. Ken Macintosh is a Labour MSP who has represented Eastwood since 1999.
 
He is quoted in the Jerusalem Post on 8th April 2010:
Scottish parliament to go ahead with Israel exhibition
“I’m very conscious that portrayal of Israel is often damaging and one-sided,” he said. “When violence and tension increases in Middle East it tends to have an effect in this country thus for many reasons I was more than happy to sponsor the exhibition,” MacIntosh said.

The MSP said he wanted to counter the damaging rhetoric and acknowledge the contribution Israel has made.

“We have a lot of negative views on Israel that are not helpful, many are poisonous and damaging. Rather than responding to the rhetoric, I thought it would be better to show positive side of Israel and acknowledge the huge contribution it has made.

“I hope will the exhibition will help redress the balance, counter the negative and stereotype notions of Israel and broaden the debate,” MacIntosh said.

 
 
8. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for a review of “trading relationships” with Israel after the Mossad passport assassination scandal. He spoke on the BBC’s Question Time in Glasgow, 25th March 2010:
 
Salmond’s statements come 3 minutes into above clip (55 mins, 16 secs)
 
 
A 30th March 2010 SPSC media release includes a transcript of the relevant section in the editor’s notes:
 
See also, The Jewish Chronicle, 8th April 2010:
Alex Salmond calls for Israel trade rethink
 
 
 
9. . Details of Sheriff Scott’s 8th April 2010 ruling dismissing charges of “racism” against 5 SPSC members can be found here: 
Salmond’s statements come 3 minutes into above clip (55 mins, 16 secs)

 

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