1. PRESS RELEASE
Mon 2nd March 2009; For Immediate Release
“Criticism of Israel is not Racist”
Four Palestinian human rights campaigners look set to be charged with “racially motivated conduct” after the activists welcomed the Procurator Fiscal’s motion to drop the original Breac h of the Peace charge in favour of the more serious one at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.
The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), were arrested last August after disrupting an Edinburgh Festival concert by Israeli musicians, the Jerusale Quartet, and were due to be tried next week. Along with a fifth SPSC campaigner, Mick Napier, due to appear in court at a later date, the four stood up one at a time during the performance and made statements such as “End the Siege of Gaza”, and “Boycott Israel!”
“We had been ready to argue that our non-violent action does not constitute Breach of the Peace because our intention was to highlight and therefore help prevent the atrocities being committed by the sponsors of the Jerusalem Quartet – the state of Israel”, said Sofiah Macleod, Secretary of the SPSC, and one of the four accused.
“However, we welcome the opportunity to fight instead the absurd charge of “racially motivated conduct”; it is the state of Israel, and Zionism, the political ideology upon which it is founded, that is racist. We will resist any attempt to de-legitimise the Palestinian struggle for justice and to criminalise the growing campaign of boycott and divestment from Israel.”
Local Jewish writer and journalist, Marion Woolfson, is honorary president of the SPSC, an organisation that supports the right of the Palestinian people as a whole to self-determination. Before the concert, she had called on Edinburgh Festival organisers to rescind the invitation to the Israeli musicians. In a letter to the Queen’s Hall venue, she wrote, “I simply cannot understand why you should have invited the representatives of a country that practices ethnic cleansing and a form of apartheid which even those who have lived in South Africa have said is worse than anything thought up by the former rulers of their country.”
Woolfson described the latest charges against her fellow campaigners as “ridiculous”, and continued, “the anti-Semitism charge is the last resort of those who try to defend the indefensible. This is the equivalent of labelling all those who criticised and boycotted the white-supremacist state of Apartheid South Africa as anti-white.”
Campaign Chair, Mick Napier, said, “We thank the Procurator Fiscal for providing us with the forum to explain that opposition to the violent, racist state of Israel is motivated by a commitment to universal human rights. We support the Palestinian people faced with Zionist savagery and we are contemptuous of attempts to smear such a struggle for justice with the taint of racism. I hope these charges are not quietly dropped and we will have the opportunity to meet our critics in open court.”
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (intifada). For further information, contact:
Campaign Chair: Mick Napier 0131 620 0052; 07958 002 591
2. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign protested the event at the Queen's Hall, 87-89 Clerk Street, on Friday 29th Aug from 10am.
3. General Background
The Jerusalem Quartet performs around the world as cultural ambassadors for Israel, and in celebration of Israel’s founding amidst the bloody ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.
The state of Israel inflicted the ‘Nakbah’, or catastrophe, upon Palestinians, expelling hundreds of thousands who today are still refused their rights under international law to return to their home. The crimes committed against the Palestinian people did not end in 1948. With daily theft of land and resources, Israel continues to push forward its policy of replacing the Palestinian people with Jewish immigrants from around the world.
4. Marion Woolfson is the author of many books and articles including:
Prophets in Babylon: Jews in the Arab World, London, 1980, Faber and Faber;
5. For details of the 9 July 2005 call by Palestinian Civil Society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights, see:
6. The protest was endorsed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI): http://www.pacbi.org/campaign_statement.htm
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.
7. Hundreds of international civil society organizations and networks endorsed the Position Paper titled “United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People” on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The strategic position paper was launched as a basis for anti-racist intervention at and beyond the UN Durban Review Conference.
For more information: http://www.badil.org/Publications/Press/2008/press495-08.htm
Read the Position Paper: English-BNC_Position_Paper-Durban_Review.pdf
2. Scottish PSC Event:
South Africa & Palestine: Long Roads to Freedom
GLASGOW: Friday 20 March, 6pm, Room 514, Graham Hills Building, Strathclyde University (Joint meeting with Action Palestine, University of Strathclyde)
EDINBURGH: Sat 21 March, 2pm, Augustine Church Centre
(tickets £3 for Edinburgh event, email email@example.com to register - Glasgow event is free)
During the years of apartheid rule in South Africa, Ronnie Kasrils was actively involved with the banned ANC, its military wing Umkonto we Sizwe and the South African Communist Party. Hunted by the Security police, he was described by them as armed and dangerous. In the first ten years of a democratic South Africa Kasrils served as Deputy Defence Minister (1994 to 1999), as Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry (1999 to 2004) and then as Minister for Intelligence Services (2004 to 2008). Kasrils is an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Committee, South Africa.
Join Scottish PSC- we are all volunteers with no paid staff - or make a financial donation to help us continue campaigning work:
Send a cheque to:
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
c/o Peace & Justice Centre
2 Princes Street
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ
SPSC is affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK) www.palestinecampaign.org