“Those who profess to favour freedom and yet deprecate agitation…want crops without ploughing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”
SPSC since its inception has not been short of critics for our approach to campaigning. We prioritise popular involvement, vigorous and angry BDS campaigning, assertive defence of our rights to organise and protest, and, on occasion, direct action against targets linked to the Israeli State, which we view as a settler-colonial project with the standard built-in potential for genocide of all settler-colonial projects and states.
. Popular protests, including direct action, made Israeli State cultural ambassadors stay away, sending a strong solidarity message to Palestine. Haaretz reported that Israeli performers also grasped a key aspect of our message: "...all the artists who spoke to Haaretz said the BDS protests were aimed solely at works or troupes supported by the Israeli government, not at Israeli creators and actors specifically".
We have recently seen a significant breakthrough in divestment efforts (the ‘D’ in BDS) as well as the withdrawal from this year’s Edinburgh Festival and Fringe of the Israeli Peace (‘Shalom’) Festival. The organisers fronting for the Israeli Embassy, the Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland (COFIS) have failed to stage their Israeli apologetics at the 2018 Fringe, an aftershock of a large and vigorous all-day protest(1) at their August 2016 launch in Central Hall, Tollcross, a prime Fringe venue.
COFIS were told after the 2016 clash that Central Hall would not be available to them in future. Their lavish funding allowed them, however, to attempt a three-day event at the 2017 Fringe, but in a venue well away from any significant Festival traffic, Drummond High School. If the aim was to reduce the size and impact of protests it also minimised attendance and resulted in such a costly failure that they have not returned to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.
COFIS’ 2016 vow to have annual Fringe events has come up against widespread popular revulsion at Israeli barbarism channelled into collective action.
Getting rid of a state-sponsored "Israeli Peace Festival" is a clean air act at the Edinburgh Fringe given that the organisers are Trump worshippers who support every Israeli massacre of Palestinians and even discussed euthanizing Palestinians on their main Facebook page. This did not stop the leaders of the three largest Scottish political parties, Nicola Sturgeon and her Labour and Lib Dem counterparts, each issuing statements backing the "Israeli Peace Festival".
The absence of any 2018 Israeli Peace Festival is yet another success for the strategy of large angry protests against Israeli state-sponsored targets such as the sustained ten-hour demonstration that drove them out of the Central Hall in 2016. That ban led to their 2017 washout at the fortress-like venue well beyond the outer fringes of the Fringe and their absence in 2018.
This is a clear success for the Palestinian initiated BDS campaign, and a significant defeat for organised supporters of Israeli snipers and other mass murderers. It builds on a string of cultural BDS successes in Edinburgh since we started to focus on that aspect of cultural BDS in 2005.
In both 2006 and 2009 the Edinburgh International Film Festival returned sponsorship money it had accepted from the Israeli Embassy, as did other institutions under BDS pressure. With the EIFF, on both occasions the tainted money was returned to the tainted Embassy in response to huge public pressure locally, threats of an international boycott, and grass-roots agitation by supporters of Palestinian freedom that alarmed the organisers sufficiently for them to return the Israeli money, very much against their will. The efforts of Hillary Clinton in Washington and others failed to overturn that boycott victory.
Determined protests including direct action have driven the uber-Zionist Jerusalem Quartet and Israeli State-promoted Batsheva Dance group out of Scotland and, in Batsheva’s case, out of the UK never to return. The success of direct action tactics used appropriately, i.e. as part of a wider strategy, has generated sustained and sometimes sympathetic public debate over cultural boycott in the mainstream media and thus involving very large audiences.
Boycott, since its naming in 19th Century Ireland, has been a weapon, a peaceful and democratic weapon but a weapon to pressure institutions into changing behaviour they cannot abandon by their own efforts. In a time of Israeli genocidal violence our resistance must be proportionate if it is to be effective. The BDS strategy is the result of decades of complete failure of lobbying the great and the good, presenting compelling cases to elected representatives that fall on deaf or impotent ears.
A photograph of a meal is poor nutrition and discussing boycott, even adopting a policy of boycott in a time of genocidal Israeli violence, is not active boycott, i.e. exerting collective pressure to force change. The numerous BDS victories we celebrate are the fruits of active struggle and not a result of seeking the ethical transformation of those who are actively supporting or turning a blind eye to Israel’s murderous violence and a deaf ear to the cries of Palestinians who resist that monstrous State.
Inclusive, grass roots organising, involving cleaners as well as composers, can help to avoid defeats such as Reykjavik and Tricycle Theatre where top-level management was persuaded of the case for BDS and announced their commitment, before massive external pressure, including from donors, forced a retreat and apology in the absence of any mobilisation to counter it. These defeats are costly - unless we learn the lessons of how to avoid them in future.
Israel continues to massacre unarmed Palestinians, kill children with advanced drone technolgy; in response Britain is increasing arms sales to the genocidal state, including sniper rifle parts. Anger and even rage are necessary but not sufficient responses to Israel's mass murder of Palestinians; we need also to be strategic and politically clear in our efforts to deliver solidarity. If anger is a necessary fuel, a strategic approach to boycott - one that has delivered success after success - is essential for success, i.e. delivering blows to the Apartheid State that is a barrier to Palestinian freedom and a threat to all the peoples of the Middle East.
13 August 2018
Note 1: The protest against racist murders by the Apartheid State led to the Jewish Chronicle journalist inventing “Nazi salutes [and] Sieg Heils” from the protestors (which Police Scotland are clear could not have occurred given their close monitoring of the all day protest).
One talented SPSC member some years ago would ask people to join SPSC with a singular appeal, “We’re rubbish, join us and make us better”. He is a proud member but his point is: we have many weaknesses we need to deal with, multiple are our failings and we need you to contribute to improving things. On many aspects, some Palestine group somewhere is (much) better than us but we have some positives and offer them here, a far from inclusive list. After all, not many campaign groups engender their own committee in Hillary Clinton’s State Department! (See below)
1. SPSC pioneered boycott in Scotland before it was mainstream
Since SPSC was founded in 2000 at the start of the Intifada, we have sought to mobilise opposition to the Scottish bases of support for Israel. Not everyone agreed with this approach. Some on the left were interested mainly or exclusively in: building street demonstrations; awareness-raising; humanitarian aid; lobbying MPs; an eclectic mix of the last four. Some didn’t want to venture outside the safe zone of boycotting only illegal settlement goods.
The launch of the Palestinian BDS Call in 2005, one year after the ICJ ruling criminalising the Apartheid Wall, clarified matters greatly for all those committed to effective solidarity action.
Our response in Scotland was: to enthusiastically support the principles and practice of the Palestinian BDS Call; debate how to optimally implement the Call in Scotland; frame our activities around the three core demands of the Call. For an audience in a country with a brutal history of racist colonialism, we stress the Palestinian source of the BDS call, the most representative Palestinian voice for decades.
2. We take political ideas seriously - holding major conferences
3. We take political ideas seriously - speakers
4. We take political ideas seriously - consistent anti-racism
An Israeli saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, works hard to inject hostility to Jews as a population into the Palestine solidarity movement. Supporters invited him to speak at a secretive event in a Palestine-themed café in Edinburgh in 2015. SPSC asserted its position of no truck with racists in 2007 and our commitment to opposing the Israeli occupation as well as the Apartheid and settler-colonialism of the Zionist project in Palestine, in 2015
SPSC endorses and participates in anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrations in Scotland.
Should Palestine solidarity supporters appear on fascist or White supremacist media? Of course not, we said, but many US activists think otherwise.
5. We have had some successes in sports boycott
Hamilton 2002: More than 600 protesters disrupt Scottish-Israel international football match in Hamilton. In September. The cops banned Palestinian flags so we took in loads of balloons in Palestinian colours, inflated them
up and had a big Palestinian flag. So noisy were our protests that the game was broadcast in Israel with no sound and some Palestinians quickly found out what was going on. The Israeli team manager was spitting nails. The pro-Zionist report was headed ‘outside’ but it was 2 hours non-stop inside.
Glasgow 2006: It was a slight consolation when demonstrations forced an Israeli cricket team out of Glasgow in August, leading them to play in a remote location the Scottish Highlands under armed guard. Since the Israeli State so often puts Palestinians behind barbed wire, it was appropriate that the Apartheid State’s sporting ambassadors had themselves to play behind barbed wire due to popular outrage at Israel’s ongoing murderous attack on Lebanon. The Lebanese resistance gave the invading army a very bloody nose, and we registered a small supporting victory.
Edinburgh 2012: “It wasn't much fun being an Israeli footballer at Tynecastle yesterday”, said The Herald in June, against a “noisy backdrop of protests about the imprisonment of Palestinian footballers”. A two-minute video - Without guns they’re rubbish. “A seriously uncomfortable afternoon" for Israel's sporting ambassadors in Scotland
6. We took on the racist JNF when it was not easy
The racist JNF is a fundamental pillar of the Israeli apartheid system, current Honorary Patrons - Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Every Scottish JNF (Jewish National Fund) public event was protested between 2001 and 2014, after which the JNF ended pre-publicity for their events.
Large protests greeted the glitzy Israel fundraisers, Israeli Ambassador and guest speakers at the Glasgow Hilton in 2001 (Bill Clinton), 2002p11 (Shaul Mofaz), 2004 (Ruby Wax), 2006 (Colin Powell), 2008 (Goldie Hawn). 2002 really set the tone!
Following the 2004 protests Ruby Wax pulled out of the Israeli Independence Day events in London a month later. Zionist Federation President conceded, "Miss Wax had a bad experience at a JNF function and after that she was thinking of pulling out."
In 2006, hundreds protested the JNF fundraiser at Glasgow Hilton with guest speaker Colin Powell. Sadly, despite emails to UK Palestine groups and individuals and months lead-in time to organise, the JNF event in London with war criminal Powell was virtually ignored, only Friends of Al Aqsa mobilising about 30-40 protestors. Significant UK-wide protests against the JNF developed later.
Following discussions in Geneva in May 2009, Habitat International Coalition (HIC), IJAN (the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and SPSC issued a public call to set up the Stop the JNF. These three were joined by the Palestinian BNC, BADIL (Palestinian Refugee Rights Centre) for a two-day conference one year later in St Georges West, Edinburgh to launch Stop the JNF. The STUC, Green Party and scores of MPs then endorsed the new organisation.
In 205, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 vigorous all-day protests at Bonnyton Golf Club led to the JNF finally parting company with the golf course. Equally noisy all-day events in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at Cowan’s Law shooting range led to the termination of the JNF’s activities there.
In 2011 an unprecedented final tally of 68 Westminster MPs shocked the JNF by signing Jeremy Corbyn's and Gerald Kaufman’s EDM 1677 welcoming the joint work of “Palestinian Boycott National Committee, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign” in launching Stop the JNF Campaign, David Cameron resigned as a Patron of the increasingly toxic JNF, and Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband also broke with tradition by not signing up as JNF patrons after becoming mainstream party leaders.
7. We have been scoring cultural boycott victories for a decade
8. Economic boycott achievements
9. We have defended our right to fight for BDS…
10. …and seen off highpowered legal threats
11. Democratic campaigning and protest on Scottish campuses
12. Partners and friends around the world speak positively
13. Our enemies have been truly inspirational!
14. International cooperation
Highland Regional Councillors voted today in full Council to condemn “the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza”. The Councillors, departing from UK Government policy, also welcomed “the decision of the United Nations on 29 November 2012 to grant ‘non-member observer State’ to Palestine.” This decision of the Council provides a basis for current work across the region to extend the BDS campaign.
19 December 2013
Scottish Zionist leaders reacted to the impending vote in their usual irresponsible and reckless manner, defending Israeli crime by manipulating the fears of Scottish Jews. Three days before the vote, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities spokesperson Linda Martin warned darkly in the local press of possible physical attacks on Jews if Israel was criticised.
Ms Martin claimed somewhat disingenuously that “The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has no collective view on Israeli policies.” Their claimed neutrality towards Israel’s crimes is manifestly untrue, however, since SCoJeC’s leaders never criticise any Israeli massacre and miss no opportunity to smear criticism of Israel with wholly fabricated claims of anti-semitism. These antics have laid SCoJeC’s leaders open to severe criticism from within the Scottish Jewish community.
Ms Martin (left) is not only dishonest; she is extremely reckless. She claims on behalf of SCoJeC who claim to speak for all Scottish Jews that she is “concerned at recent research findings that reveal verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Jewish people in Scotland because of their perceived identification with Israel”. Such efforts to implicate the Scottish Jewish community in the crimes of the state of Israel have been vigorously repudiated by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. She also claims that “disproportionate criticism levied at Israel by some politicians makes people feel alienated and vulnerable.” There is, however, no reputable research in the public domain that Scottish Jews are “physically...attacked because of their perceived identification with Israel”. If this were proven to be true, rather than manufactured by committed Zionists, Scottish PSC would vigorously condemn such violence. Perhaps Ms Martin can share her evidence with the public, bearing in mind that Zionists have a long record of exaggerating and welcoming real anti-semitism to support their efforts to persuade Jews to emigrate to Israel/Palestine. Political Zionists, open supporters of Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, also whinge loudly and claim 'anti-semitism' to deflect the severe criticism their racist and violent ideology merits.
Highland Regional Council covers over a third of the Scottish mainland and is the seventh out of thirty two Scottish councils in population size.
While the Council stopped short of supporting BDS on this occasion, the Council vote took place without any preparatory work beforehand and thus casts a very bright light on the current state of British opinion at local government level. Zionists are acutely aware of the pariah status of Israel in popular opinion across the world and throughout the UK. How much longer will Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and the Charities Commission be able to protect the apartheid state from popular opinion as Israel crosses red line after line of sustained criminality? Only today the Zionist editors of the UK Jewish Chronicle warn of Israel's fears of a "sanctions tsunami" which Israeli Government advisors have warned "possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years".
The lessons, therefore, are clear for those who support Palestinian freedom from Israel's mass and casual killings and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people - organise across Scotland, the UK and internationally to build the BDS campaign that is the ONLY thing that scares the killers and ethnic cleansers.
19 December 2013
This trip is an opportunity to visit Palestine to learn more about the reality Palestinians face every day, in order to provide effective solidarity back in Scotland. The project will include collective preparation and research prior to the visit, as well as the production of materials and presentations following the visit.
SPSC has organised a number of delegations to Palestine over the years. These have been highly successful in informing the work that the SPSC does in Scotland and maintaining links with Palestinian civil society organisations and activists. Our aims are to educate ourselves, to investigate the role of corporations and institutions in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and to mobilise Scottish public and civil society in support of the Palestinian call for BDS (a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel) upon our return.
FIRST LIST OF REASONS :
SPSC launched in Scotland the Palestinian call for boycott of Israel and has worked with some success to promote it. SPSC built support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel into a mainstream position in Scottish politics. We co-founded the broad-based Boycott Israel Network (BIN).
As a result pf this work,
SPSC consistently opposed the effort to conflate opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism. Successes here include:
Cultural boycott: SPSC
Economic boycott: SPSC
Countering pro-Zionist economic boycott in UK: SPSC campaigned against banks working to damage Palestine solidarity efforts.
Sporting boycott: SPSC
Racist JNF (Jewish National Fund): SPSC
helped build large protests at every gala fundraising event of the JNF (Jewish National Fund) at the Glasgow Hilton. These events stopped after 2008. SPSC co-founded both the UK and International Stop the JNF Campaigns.
Legal fights: SPSC
faced legal attacks , successfully defying threats to sue from the Israeli-owned Caledonian Hilton, the racist JNF. The 'SPSC 5' saw off the effort by the Edinburgh Procurator Fiscal to effectively criminalise all Palestine solidarity as 'racist'.
In other campaigns SPSC
The situation in Palestine continues to worsen, with continuing dispossession, mass imprisonment, house demolitions, illegal settlement building, burnings and killings by the Israeli State
British Government complicity with Israel is total and the Scottish Government has financed an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, with £200,000 of taxpayers' money.
SECOND LIST OF REASONS: (the bad news) SPSC remains too small to achieve our goals. We need your active support
I want to join Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
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