Palestine supporters to Edinburgh on August 17th!

The language of some UK pro-Israel organisations is getting very heated concerning their celebration of "all things Israel" during the Edinburgh Fringe on Wednesday August 17. The celebration of Israel is a celebration of violent ethnic cleansing - past, ongoing and planned.

rabbi eyal karim"All things Israel" includes war crimes and crimes against humanity, encouragement of rape of Palestinian women, burning of Christian churches, demolition of Bedouin villages, endemic torture in the Israeli Gulag

Israel continues to cross red lines of savagery. The thuggish ex-nightclub bouncer Avigdor Lieberman, now Israeli Minister of Defence, has appointed Col. Eyal Karim as the Israeli Army Chief Rabbi. The learned rabbi has publicly condoned rape of Palestinian women "to boost soldiers' morale".

August 17th in Edinburgh is a determined effort by all the front groups for the Israeli Embassy to use the world's biggest arts festival for propaganda for an Apartheid State whose army is morally guided by Eyal Karim.

Despite their deep pockets and UK Government support the Christian fundamentalist organiser is still a bit jumpy: "If we don't make it a success, the haters will have won - which is why it needs to be great." "Haters" is Zionist-speak for all those who support Palestinian rights.

Luke Akehurst of the Blairite Progress Group is also Director of We Believe in Isreal(sic). He writes that "Edinburgh on Wednesday August 17...is probably the most significant pro-Israel event of the year in the United Kingdom".

The Zionist mobilisation is international with supposedly "Ordinary people from Scotland England Ireland and Wales, and abroad" organising the event in support of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid. The pro-Israel thuggish element will be present for a celebration of ‘all things Israel’ because for the enemies of Palestinian freedom "It is vitally important that all of us play our part in making it the greatest success possible."

It is important that we oppose those who campaign in support of Israel's crimes

 


13 August 2016 - CONFERENCE: Settler Colonialism in Palestine

Speakers include Ilan Pappé, Ben White and Ruba Salih. Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement, now barred from leaving Israel/Palestine by the Israeli occupation, will address the conference by video-link.


Eventbrite - CONFERENCE: 'Settler Colonialism in Palestine'


17 August 2016 - PROTEST: No2BrandIsrael at Edinburgh Festival

The so-called 'International Shalom Festival Gala Concert' is nothing more than an explicit attempt to whitewash the crimes of a state, in this case the state of Israel. Edinburgh Festival Fringe should not be helping to promote an event that is openly being promoted by its sponsors as state propaganda, propaganda for a state that stands accused by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and other bodies of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.


Eventbrite - PROTEST: No2BrandIsrael at Edinburgh Festival 

The Confederation of the Friends of Israel Scotland has announced a provocative all-day event during the world’s biggest arts event, the Edinburgh Festival & Fringe; on Wed 17 August at Central Hall at Tollcross, Embassy-funded Friends of Israel and StandWithUs are organising a ‘Shalom Festival’ to promote Israeli 'democracy and tolerance of minorities'.

Don't Dance with Israeli Apartheid 2016The primary Israeli aim is to reverse the achievements of BDS campaigners over many years in Scotland that has seen defeat for efforts by the Israeli Embassy to insert Israeli State-promoted groups into Scottish cultural events. Will you help us to defend this record and, from August 13th to 17th, send a loud message to beleaguered Palestine (and around the world) that Israeli State-sponsored pseudo-cultural events cannot be held, or can only go ahead in the face of popular outrage?

The dispossession of the Palestinian people continues, with its attendant brutality – killings punctuated by periodic massacre, mass kidnapping, torture and the destruction of Palestinian homes and farms, the denial of water and the barbaric siege of Gaza. Israel’s war on Palestinian culture is not the least of its crimes; the promotion at this time of ‘Brand Israel’ as a part of the Edinburgh Fringe is an outrage and we ask you to join us in our opposition. PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) has issued an international call to support this initiative.

SPSC will arrange for local hosts to provide solidarity accommodation for those joining us from outside the city to campaign.

Text 0795 800 2591 for information.

PACBI call for Edinburgh in August: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2774

 

 


13 August 2016 - CONFERENCE: Settler Colonialism in Palestine

Speakers include Ilan Pappé, Ben White and Ruba Salih. Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement, now barred from leaving Israel/Palestine by the Israeli occupation, will address the conference by video-link.


Eventbrite - CONFERENCE: 'Settler Colonialism in Palestine'


17 August 2016 - PROTEST: No2BrandIsrael at Edinburgh Festival

The so-called 'International Shalom Festival Gala Concert' is nothing more than an explicit attempt to whitewash the crimes of a state, in this case the state of Israel. Edinburgh Festival Fringe should not be helping to promote an event that is openly being promoted by its sponsors as state propaganda, propaganda for a state that stands accused by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and other bodies of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Eventbrite - PROTEST: No2BrandIsrael at Edinburgh Festival

"UK Minister of Justice Michael Gove opposes a welcome to refugees fleeing war and seeking sanctuary here and he fights against Palestinian refugees who do not want to come to Europe but desire to return to Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed."

2banners in oneThe Zionist programme of occupation, colonisation, Apartheid and dispossession of the Palestinian people continues. Periodic massacres of scores, hundreds and sometimes thousands of Palestinians has been Israeli policy towards Palestinians in the territories conquered and occupied by Israel in 1967 and earlier in 1948.

The commitment of political Zionism to removing Jews from Europe creates common ground between Zionists and the worst anti-Semites. Zionism’s founder, Herzl, believed “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies." Zionism incorporated many of the anti-Semites’ racist views of European Jews. This working alliance with anti-Semites included Balfour, Churchill, extreme xenophobes in Europe today.

The self-proclaimed Jewish State of Israel is based on past successes, ongoing campaigns, and plans for future ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  This state is based on Jewish privilege over Palestinians from birth to death in legal, political, economic, residential, and employment fields. Opposition to a racist state is a duty, as is solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for their freedom against that racist state.

Most people are horrified by the cruelty and violence of Israel’s programme to eliminate as many Palestinians as possible and replace them with Jewish immigrants from around the world. Scottish Minister Humza Yousaf joined the Scottish Government’s voice to many around the world in condemning “the depth of inhumanity” of Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in 2014.

We reject the idea of collective guilt and distinguish on principle between the crimes of the Apartheid State of Israel, and the citizens of that State (as we hope others make the same distinction for UK citizens). Jewish communities in Scotland or elsewhere are not responsible for Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Under bombs, bulldozers, mass imprisonment for resistance, Palestinian civil society issued a call in 2005 for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to force Israel to concede Palestinian human rights. Worldwide support for that call is seriously worrying the regime in Israel and its supporters around the world, whose considered strategy is to attack BDS as anti-semitic. This idea is being pushed ever more shrilly by pro-Israel elements around the world, usually the same groups who support every Israeli crime against the Palestinian people. Tony Blair for example, Chair of the so-called European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), is one of those who agrees with Cameron on the need to criminalise those who answer the Palestinian call for practical solidarity, i.e. BDS.

At a conference in Berlin this week, Michael Gove, UK Minister of Justice has attacked those who answer the Palestinian call for BDS as anti-Jewish and called for “solidarity with the Jewish people - and in solidarity with their right to national self-determination."

Addressing the same conference Bundestag President Norbert Lammert smeared arriving refugees as anti-semitic and declared that their integration will involve “accepting Israel’s right to exist.” It is Gove and Lammert who are being racist and anti-semitic in claiming that Jews form a separate nation from the people they live amongst, that all the Jews of the world have a right to “national self-determination”.

Gove and Lammert demand that refugees – and all of us – accept the right of Israel to continue to dispossess and massacre Palestinians. They both oppose the rights of Palestinians to freedom from occupation, for an end to siege and massacre, second class citizenship inside Israel. They demand we accept a state based on Jewish supremacy and the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return.

UK Minister of Justice Michael Gove opposes a welcome to refugees fleeing war and seeking sanctuary here and he fights against Palestinian refugees who do not want to come to Europe but desire to return to Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed.

The racists are those who support and arm a sectarian state based on the denial of the human rights of Palestinians, and who talk of Jewish citizens of Scotland being a separate nation, not those who argue for universal human rights and political equality in a state where religion is no business of the government.
Racism – including anti-Semitism – is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.

Mick Napier
18 March 2016
West Calder

As A B Yehoshua, one of Israel’s foremost novelists, explained in a lecture to the Union of Jewish Students, ‘‘Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’ (Jewish Chronicle 22.1.82).

Tony Greenstein
18th March 2016

One despairs of Owen Jones. The brain of the Guardian’s resident life-style leftist seems to turn to jelly whenever he approaches the issue of anti-Semitism. Instead of anything in the way of an insight, still less meaningful analysis, all we get is a series of platitudes linked together by Jones’ urge to demonstrate how concerned and right-on he is. It is as if Jones is so guilt-tripped by the legacy of anti-Semitism that he cannot think straight

latuffWithout anything in the way of substantiating, Jones asserts that 'this centuries-old sickness infects progressive circles'. This reminds me of what Abram Leon, the leader of the Fourth International in Belgium, who died in Auschwitz, wrote in his classic book 'The Jewish Question - A Marxist Interpretation' p.247: ‘Zionism transposes modern anti-Semitism to all of history and saves itself the trouble of studying the various forms of anti-Semitism and their evolution.’ Anti-Semitism wasn’t a ‘sickness’ it was a political, economic and social phenomenon that changed in different eras. Jews in Europe weren’t only persecuted at particular periods they were also oppressors of the peasantry for long periods.

The Zionist Community Security Trust, aided by the Home Office, tried to get Raed Salah deported for 'anti-Semitism'. The case collapsed when the evidence was shown to be forged. He has since been sentenced to 11 months imprisonment in Israel on trumped up charges whilst genuine Israeli racists get off scot free
When right-wing Labour MPs, led by John Mann, and assorted Zionists orchestrate a campaign about ‘anti-Semitism’ in order to destabilise the Corbyn leadership, Jones abandons what few critical faculties he possesses to write yet another slushy mushy article for the Guardian.

In his latest article Jones complains that when people read his article they will say ‘ah, but what about Israel’. He complains that it’s not possible to raise the issue of anti-Semitism without people talking about Israel. Indeed it is ‘victim-blaming (people are apparently being compelled to hate Jewish people by the actions of a foreign state)’ whereas it is the exact opposite. Palestinians are accused of hating Jewish people by daring to protest at their treatment.

latuffIt doesn’t seem to occur to Jones that the reason Israel and ‘anti-Semitism’ are conflated is because this is a deliberate strategy of Israel’s supporters, who regularly and repeatedly accuse anti-Zionists of being anti-Semitic. See for example Anti-Zionism Always Equals Anti-Semitism, by Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary.

Indeed any support for the Palestinians is deemed anti-Semitic. According to Jeremy Corbyn’s new junior Foreign Office minister, Fabian Hamilton, 'boycotting the Jewish state without taking action against other countries is simply anti-Semitic'.

As Brian Klug, one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices and an Oxford don who has written extensively on anti-Semitism noted, ‘[W]hen anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing—the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance’

Given the controversies over the now-defunct European Monitoring Committee Definition of anti-Semitism, you might have thought Jones would address some of the issues that were raised. This was a definition drawn up by the Zionist movement, whose main purpose was to provide some legitimacy to accusations that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. It held that comparisons between Zionism and Israel’s behaviour with Nazi Germany were anti-Semitic and that someone who opposes the existence of the racist, apartheid State of Israel is anti-Semitic.

What does Jones have to say about the EUMC or ‘new anti-Semitism’ which includes ‘singling out Israel for criticism’? Nothing. To be fair he probably isn’t even aware of these debates.

I doubt if there is a single Palestine solidarity activist alive who hasn’t, at one time or the other, been accused of ‘anti-Semitism’. When York University Palestine Society is accused of anti-Semitism because it showed Caryl Churchill’s 7 Jewish Children, then it should be obvious, even to an intellectual lightweight like Jones, that the issue of anti-Semitism cannot be separated from anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians. [see Pro-Palestinian students perform 'antisemitic' playas part of Israel Apartheid Week, Jewish Chronicle 25.2.16.]

latuff27 Jewish Children is a short but quite moving and stimulating play, which is on the Guardian’s own web site. It makes the connection between hiding a Jewish child in an unnamed Jewish ghetto under Nazi occupation and the death of her relatives and the bombardment of Gaza in 2008-9 during Operation Cast Lead. According to the idiot Zionist novelist Howard Jacobson it is nothing more than “Jew-hating pure and simple” Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is, Independent 18.2.09.

Oxford University Labour Club was recently accused of anti-Semitism when it voted to back the Israel Apartheid Week. The only example of anti-Semitism was the fact that people sometimes used the term ‘Zio’ for Zionist.

As the former Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, Antony Lerman observed, the almost automatic accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ drains the term of all meaning. Like the boy who cried wolf, the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism render people immune to the real thing. That is the real problem, but it isn't one Jones is capable or able to address.

If Jones wants to find a real example of anti-Semitism it’s not the hapless Vicki Kirby, whose expressions owe more to clumsiness and stupidity, coupled with an inability to discern the difference between Zionism and being Jewish, than overt anti-Semitism. A far more convincing target would be Aviv Bushinsky, a former aide to Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently described the American Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, as a ‘little Jew boy’

Jones only alludes to it, but the last 8 months have been dominated by allegations of anti-Semitism surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. Leading the charge against Corbyn has been the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who ironically has a record of defending anti-Semites who are pro-Israel. Michal Kaminski is the reptile who opposed a national Polish apology for the burning alive of up to 900 Polish Jews by fellow Poles in the village of Jedwabne in his constituency. He suggested that it was the few Polish Jews who weren’t exterminated by Hitler who owed the country an apology! None of this prevented the Israeli state from feting this fascist and anti-Semitic MEP.

Contrary to Jones' assertion, all the evidence is that anti-Semitism is not on the increase. Even the avowedly Zionist Community Security Trust’s ‘Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2015’ recorded 924 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015, a fall of 22% from the 2014 level. As the CST’s report admits, the two highest annual totals for anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2009 and 2014 when there were ‘significant trigger events in the form of conflicts in Israel and Gaza’.

Jews in Britain are living in a golden era of tolerance. The same is not true in relation to racism against Muslims. Arson and physical attacks, including murder, are at an incomparably higher level for Muslims than Jews, leaving aside the question as to how the CST define an anti-Semitic incident. Anti-Semitism is not a form of state hatred. Synagogues don’t have fascist goons demonstrating outside them unlike the East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road which has faced three demonstrations by Britain First in the past month.

The elephant in the room is the relationship of Zionism itself to anti-Semitism. Zionism was founded on the belief that Jews did not belong in the Diaspora. Negation of and contempt for the Diaspora was a fundamental part of Zionism’s founding ideology.

It is the Zionist movement that has often found kindred spirits among anti-Semites. The founder of Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl explained that ‘the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries, our allies’.  Herzl himself had friendly relations with anti-Semites including the leader of the anti-Dreyfussards, Eduard Drumont.

In his Diaries, Herzl relates how on a visit to the cousin of the German Kaiser, the Grand Duke of Baden, the latter explained how he supported Zionism as a means of weaning Jewish workers away from revolutionary politics but he was worried that if he openly supported the Zionist movement he might be accused of anti-Semitism.

Anyone acquainted with the writings of early Zionists know that they were full of anti-Semitic caricatures. Israel’s first Justice Minister Pinhas Rosenbluth described Palestine as ‘an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’. An expression that would not have been out of place from the editor of the Nazi Der Sturmer, Julius Streicher. Zionism began from an attitude of contempt for the Jewish Diaspora which was little different from mainstream European anti-Semitism.

Today in Europe some of the most racist and far-right parties are, at one and the same time, supporters of Israel. They combine Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism and support for Israel. This includes both the British National Party and the English Defence League. As Ruth Smeed, spokesperson for the Board of Deputies admitted: ‘‘The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel’.

As A B Yehoshua, one of Israel’s foremost novelists, explained in a lecture to the Union of Jewish Students, ‘‘Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’ (Jewish Chronicle 22.1.82).

But despite his attempt to get into the good books of Britain's Zionist lobby, Jones is savaged in this week's Jewish Chronicle (17.3.16). David Hirsh, the junk Zionist academic from Goldsmiths College, argues in Jew hate and today’s Left

'We remember the shoddiness, one-sidedness and the ferocity of Jones’ own condemnation of Israel at the time of the Gaza conflict; we remember his failure to speak out against the campaign to boycott Israel. ... Jones needs to take to heart that there is a relationship between hostility to Israel and antisemitism. Hostility to Israel is partly caused by antisemitism and is also itself a cause of further antisemitism.'

Whether he tries to avoid it or not, the fact is that the Zionist definition of anti-Semitism rests on support for Israel and opposition to Palestine solidarity. This is not the first vacuous article Jones has written on anti-Semitism. Nor I suspect will it be the last.

Tony Greenstein's Blog
18th March 2016

According to the front page headline in the Scotsman of Saturday 8 August 2015, Hillary Clinton weighed into Edinburgh film festival row, the court-mandated publication of her emails from 2009 reveal that the US Secretary of State worked from Washington to mobilise support against an SPSC boycott initiative, while Hollywood film makers were being asked to boycott the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and intimidate - 'lean on' - other film makers to do likewise.

Mick Napier
9 August 2015

scotsmanfrontpageThe effort to get the EIFF to join the international boycott of Israel was one of a number of campaigns that have seen Israeli Government sponsorship moneys returned as part of protests against Israel's massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Such protests are part of a world-wide response to the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS - boycott, divestment and sanctions against all institutions linked to the Israeli State until Israel recognises Palestinian human and national rights.

Hillary Clinton intervened after protests against Israel's massacre of Palestinians in Operation Cast Lead and a Scottish boycott campaign grew to the extent that, according to the Scotsman, "the pressure exerted by campaigners led to the festival returning the money to the Israeli Government". The Israeli Embassy's projection of 'soft power' was successfully challenged though the US and UK Governments replenished Israel with the hard power to massacre Palestinians

Due to a quirk of US elite politics, a court has ordered the release of some of Clinton’s emails that reveal how the US Government intervened to defeat a modest Scottish boycott campaign. The content of Clinton’s emails, which were not intended for publication, is a vindication of the effort put into the BDS campaign in Scotland and beyond. The focussed work of BDS campaigners is producing a sense of panic in the ranks of some of our opponents such that the return of £300 (roughly what Clinton spends on a meal) to the Israeli Embassy generated panicked transatlantic efforts to try to force the EIFF to backtrack and accept Israeli Embassy money it had returned a week earlier.

It is crucial that the secret of our collective power remain concealed from us, and that most are persuaded most of the time that they are helpless victims of the rich and powerful, unable to challenge their crimes, impotent and weak against their armies, press, publishing houses and bought-and-sold elected representatives in a corrupt political system. That sense of powerlessness must be constantly drummed into the majority, the 99%, and part of that effort is concealing from us those occasions when our rulers are forced to work hard to defeat us, while keeping up the "swan" illusion - seemingly able to ignore and glide effortlessly above our impotent efforts, all the while under the surface they are paddling furiously to cope with strong currents, our grass-roots campaigning. Such knowledge is empowering, showing us that our rulers, those who arm the Israelis to crush the people of Palestine, who invade and devastate countries that pose no threat to us, can be challenged and defeated. (1)

scotsmanp7Thanks to the publication of Clinton's emails we now know that she wanted pro-Israel UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Scottish Government to pressure the EIFF to reverse its decision and accept the £300 sponsorship money from the Israeli Embassy.

Clinton was approached by Brian Greenspun of the Nevada-based Greenspun Media Group who forwarded her an article from a week earlier on the Edinburgh boycott success. The newspaper article had originally been emailed to Mr Greenspun by his brother-in-law Bruce Ramer, a Hollywood lawyer whose client list includes Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. Ramer is also a former president of the Zionist-led American Jewish Committee.

The man the Hollywood Reporter categorised as one of its Power Lawyers 2012 wrote (24 May) to Greenspun, who had shared a room with Bill Clinton at college. This supporter of the recent Israeli massacre in Gaza splutters with 'outrage' at the boycott 'abomination' and demands the US Government exert pressure to neutralise the boycott success which, inevitably, he calls “anti-semitic”:

I hope you can enlist Hilary’s support (and please give her my personal best). We need, for many reasons, to have the US protest and condemn this outrageous boycott and to oppose the anti-Semitism inherent in it. The organisers of the festival must be convinced to reverse themselves....if it succeeds it will encourage and motivate those who fomented the boycott to other, probably even worse, action...This is truly appalling and serious.

The Hollywood 'Power Lawyer' replied to Greenspun that the return of the Israeli Embassy money was so "truly appalling and serious" that he "earnestly solicit[ed] your assistance with the Secretary".

He also asked Hollywood film makers, including “Michael”, to boycott the Edinburgh International Film Festival and to bully other film makers into also pulling their films:

Dear Michael,
This is disgusting and outrageous. If you have any films in the festival or can lean on(2) anyone else who does, please get them withdrawn. We would not boycott the films of any other nation, even those we consider outlaws. Neither should they. And they should learn that boycotts beget boycotts.
Thanks for whatever help you can be.
Warmest regards. Bruce

Clinton responded the following day to promise that US Government pressure would be forthcoming but also asks her US correspondents to mobilise in London and Edinburgh to pressure the Scottish Government and Gordon Brown (who doesn't need any pressure to sing the praises of apartheid Israel) in order to get them to intervene:

Thanks for the headsup on this. We are working to decide the most effective way forward, and I’ll keep you informed. We have some good ideas as to what our govt can do, but we also want to see pressure from local people brought on the British and Scottish govts. Can you and Bruce reach out to the community in London and Edinburgh to urge them to raise this w PM Brown and other govt officials? We’d like to see top down and bottom up pressure. Let me know what you think.

Clinton mobilised a number of her staff, including one Andrew J Shapiro who was a senior adviser to Clinton and would soon become US Government Assistant Secretary of State for Political-military affairs. The pro-Israel gang in the US must have been hitting the keyboards, for Clinton emailed her staff: "Pls read Brian’s message and all the email traffic below. What can we do about this? Let me know if you have ideas." Her Deputy Chief of Staff mailed back that “We will confer in the morning and come up with a plan.” It's not clear what kind of plan they came up with but it was singularly unsuccessful. The pressure that radiated out from Washington via the UK Government and "the community" to the EIFF had no visible effect.

In fact SPSC campaigns on cultural boycott in the Scottish capital have maintained an unbroken record of success in thwarting efforts by the Embassy of apartheid Israel to promote Brand Israel through sponsorships of cultural events in Scotland.
The Scottish Government said it had not pressurised the EIFF at all and a spokesman said: "Any decision on funding and other earned income is for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Their reasons for returning this money were well documented at the time.” The EIFF, on the other hand, refused to comment on whether they had come under pressure from the US government to reverse the boycott, which suggests that there was indeed pressure.

I can reveal, however, that the EIFF’s decision in 2009 to issue an unambiguous public statement came during a phone conversation I had with the EIFF Managing Director Ginnie Atkinson at 3.30pm on the afternoon of Friday 15 May. An evasive and platitudinous email from Ms Atkinson the day before had ended with the brusque and seemingly final "We will not enter in to further dialogue."

The sequence of events is revealing, since this peremptory dismissal followed the wide circulation of an open letter from supporter of Palestine and renowned film-maker Ken Loach, as well as a flood of powerful and articulate letters to Ms Atkinson calling for the Embassy money to be returned. The EIFF seemed, however, to be determined to tough it out. (2)

SPSC accepted Ginnie Atkinson’s Thursday decision to end dialogue and issued a call for protests and shamings at every film showing during the 2009 EIFF, including a permanent presence outside one of the main venues.

The EIFF Managing Director called on Friday to enter into further dialogue to persuade us to call off the planned protests while they still held on to the £300 from the Israeli Embassy. We explained gently that we had committed to the Palestinian call for support in a time of Israeli massacre, i.e. boycott of Israel, and would be going into full campaigning mode over the weekend for an early start outside venues on the Monday. Spitting feathers, through gritted teeth, the EIFF finally issued that same afternoon a clear public statement that the money they had accepted from the Israeli Embassy was being returned. Victory.(3)

SPSC was successful in having Israeli Embassy sponsorship money returned in both 2006(4) and again in 2009 by the EIFF, and in early 2014 by the Stills Gallery. In addition, vigorous boycott campaigns have been successful in persuading Israeli Army musicians, the Jerusalem Quartet (2008) and Batsheva Dance Company (2012) not to return to Scotland and face inevitably stronger protests following Israel’s 2014 summer massacre of over 2,200 Palestinians. Two Israeli state-sponsored theatre groups were protested out of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 (and two others performed unimpeded since they were not sponsored by the apartheid state).

All of these efforts were multi-facetted, involved leafletting and letter writing efforts backed up by a readiness to carry the Palestinian call for active boycott onto the streets and into venues.

We are confident that an aroused popular anger at Israel's criminality, if channelled and clear as to goals and methods, can withstand a campaign from the offices of the US Secretary of State. What could SPSC not achieve in solidarity with the injured and violated Palestinian people if we were ten times bigger and had a little bit of money? We are an entirely volunteer Campaign and run on the energy and commitment of all our members and supporters. Please support our work in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and against Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and massacre.(5)

 


(1) A similarly felicitous revelation brought into the public domain a Scottish Government grant of in October 2010 of £200,000 to Israeli settler company Eden Springs explicitly to deal with a growing boycott campaign organised by SPSC that was “threatening the future of Eden Springs UK”. The Jerusalem Post repeatedly accused Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign of fabricating reports that Eden Springs had been damaged by the boycott, but a letter disclosed through Freedom of Information showed that Eden Springs “being targeted by the SPSC” had caused a “wave of protests and cancellations of contracts” that threatened its future across the UK.

(2) Conclusive proof that US Zionists mobilise their industrial and financial muscle to intimidate theatre managers and artists in this country. When the play Perdition by Jim Allen was withdrawn by the Royal Court Theatre immediately before its first night in January 1987, the widespread allegation that this was done under pressure from the USA were rejected.

(3) Sir Jeremy Isaacs, ex Chief Executive of Channel Four smeared the campaign to return Israeli Embassy money as “censorship”, a constant of all attacks on cultural boycott campaigns. Isaacs said he was “disgusted “ at this “denial of a film-maker's right to show her work”. This despite Ken Loach expressing views shared with SPSC:

To be crystal clear: as a film maker you will receive a warm welcome in Edinburgh. You are not censored or rejected. The opposition was to the Festival’s taking money from the Israeli state.

Lord Janner of Braunstone, a Labour peer, former chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and now facing a trial for serial rape offences against children, also attacked the boycotters: "By banning the Israeli Embassy from supporting a film-maker the festival is helping to exclude Israelis from British cultural life, something that is clearly unfair."

(4) We had the same resistance, and the same outcome, with the 2006 EIFF. Opposing the boycott call, the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival Shane Danielson wrote to all those who complained that he had "almost had my bottom teeth knocked out with the butt" of an Israeli rifle recently in Occupied Palestine, but that he was eager to assist those Israeli filmakers who stood "above all the gunfire, and the shouting of thuggish soldiers."

(5) More than the headlines around the world and in Israel about the EIFF re-joining the boycott, the letter from a group of 27 film-makers from across the Arab world was gratifying - SPSC received a message from them showing that the vile actions of the UK Government towards the Palestinian people had not closed off all doors to communication; BDS is the international language of solidarity. It keeps doors open our rulers are closing by their repeated aggressions and support for Israeli massacres.

Mick Napier

West Calder
08 August 2015
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

See also  

Festival chief Jonathan Mills warns protesters 'stay away from Israeli dancers'
Israel closes Palestinian festival as part of 'ban on political activity'
JQ: Media reports of "racism" case against SPSC members being dropped
2006: Edinburgh International Film Festival Returns Israeli Money in response to Boycott Plans

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