Victory in Glasgow as Racist COFIS Kept Off Anti-Racist March
Victory in Glasgow as Racist COFIS Kept Off Anti-Racist March
The Shame of
the SWP/SUTR as they accept the Zionists’ ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative
A replica of the Apartheid Wall was used to keep the racist COFIS away from an anti-racist march
Despite attempted obstruction from the march stewards Mick Napier of Scottish PSC captures what happened
Yesterday in Glasgow, despite the
best attempts of the SWP/Stand Up to Racism leaders, the Zionists of the Confederation
of Friends of Israel Scotland were kept off an anti-racist march. Scottish PSC, Palestine solidarity supporters
and anti-racists were sufficiently incensed by the arrogant and dismissive
attitude of SUTR/SWP that they built
their own model replica of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in order to keep the Zionist
racists away from the march. The Zionists
got a taste of what it must be like when you face a wall separating you from
where you want to go!!
The Zionist contingent was cordoned off
How the Zionists saw their predicament
The march itself, was apparently
only a few hundred strong and it set off almost immediately after the time
scheduled for the marchers to rally. It
is clear that the leaders of the SWP/SUTR realised the counterproductive nature
of their decision to allow racists onto
an anti-racist march and were determined to get it all over with as soon as decently
How did it happen? The SWP formed
a ‘united front’ (in fact a popular front) against racism appealing to the
lowest common denominator politically with the Labour and Trade Union
bureaucracy and just about anyone who would have them. The SWP is anxious to
keep the support of the Labour bureaucracy at any price and is fully aware that
much of that bureaucracy has fallen for the lie that being Jewish and being Zionist
is one and the same thing.
When the question arose of the
participation of Zionists, supporters of the world’s only apartheid state, in
their annual racist march, the SWP took fright.
If they told the COFIS that Zionist racists were not welcome on an
anti-racist march it would mean the usual allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and
the possibility of the Labour bureaucrats taking away their ‘support’. So the SWP decided that they would buckle
first by swallowing their principles.
This is of course not the first
time that the SWP has found its principles to be a flexible and moveable
feast. When they were in Respect they
kept quiet about abortion. In Stop the War
Campaign they kept quiet about gay rights.
Ten years ago they gave their support to Gilad Atzmon, an open anti-Semite
and turned a blind eye to his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. ‘Anti-Zionist’
holocaust denier, Time to say
COFIS’s Facebook page talks of ‘euthanising’ Palestinians
Five years ago the SWP was
embroiled in a crisis when a woman made allegations of rape against the
National Secretary Martin Smith. Instead of Smith being suspended and the
matter investigated or, if that were not possible, the Police being asked to
investigate, the woman herself was penalised and made to feel responsible. Another woman, a victim of serious sexual harassment
was effectively sacked for making such allegations.
In the front groups it sets up like Stand Up to Racism
it replicates this lack of democracy.
None of its previous groups, Globalise Resistance, Unite Against
Fascism, the Anti Nazi League etc. were remotely democratic. They consisted of hand picked sponsors from
the Labour Party, like Peter Hain in the ANL and SWP permanent full timers who
effectively controlled the organisation.
In the Socialist Alliance they deliberately destroyed its democratic
It is little wonder that when Palestinian supporters
made demands on SUTR that an openly racist Zionist organisation should not be
allowed to participate in their annual march, the SWP panicked. Knowing full well the way that the false anti-Semitism
campaign of Zionism had impacted on the Labour movement they took the decision
that COFIS could participate because otherwise any decision would be painted as
‘anti-Semitic’. This was a deliberate concession to reformist and
pro-imperialist currents in the Labour Party because the alternative was to
stand up for international solidarity and anti-imperialism. It is a concession to social chauvinism.
The lies of the Zionists who, by their own admission, couldn’t take part in the march – calling Mick Napier a ‘criminal’ is like calling Ghandi a criminal, since he too was convicted of defying the British
Of course the obvious way out was simply to declare
that Jews, whoever they were, were welcome on an anti-racist march but that
supporters of Israel and Israeli flags in particular were not welcome. Instead of confronting the Zionists’ attempts
to confuse the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism the SWP simply
caved in and made the situation worse.
Even worse the SWP then went to the leaders of unions
like the EIS (teachers union in Scotland) asking them to back them up, which unsurprisingly
they did. Equally unsurprising the
Muslim Council of Scotland backed out of the march. So the main representative of the community
which is hardest hit by racism, the Muslim community, was not represented. So Zionists, whose sole raison d’être
is support of the Israeli state and who are not affected in any way by state racism, were welcome to
participate on the march whereas the victims of state and fascist violence,
Muslims, were forced into a position where they were not welcome.
Hemmed in an isolated in order to protect the public – Zionist racists
The dunderheads of the SWP, who parrot their
opposition to Islamaphobia, fell at the first hurdle. Islamapobia is the consequence of imperialist
interventions in the Middle East and Afghanistan primarily. A racism imported back to Britain in the same
way as the racism used to justify the British Empire found is reflection in the
anti-Black racism of the 1950’s and 1960’s as symbolised by Enoch Powell.
However anti-Muslim racism is also spearheaded by Zionist
groups, their neo-conservative and far-Right allies and the State of Israel. It is no accident that some of the leading
Islamaphobic groups, in Britain and internationally, love Israel so much. Whether it is Geert Wilders of the
Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France or Heinz Christian Strache of the neo-Nazi
Freedom Party in Austria, all are agreed that Israel is the first line of
defence of the Western world against the Muslim hordes. Indeed the neo-Nazi founder of the alt-Right
in the USA, Richard Spencer, declares
that he is a White Zionist. In Britain a similar line is taken by the British National
Party and Britain First – Holocaust denial groups at home but Israel supporters
to Wilders, his film ‘Islamization in the West’ will show “how
the forces of Islamization are specifically targeting Israel in a fight against
all free societies.” The leader of
Netherland’s fascist Freedom Party explains that ‘The film will demonstrate that the fight against Israel is not
territorial, and hence Israel is only the first line of defense for the West.’ But the SWP is too stupid to understand the
relationship between Zionism and anti-Muslim racism and because it lacks any
internal democratic structure such decisions cannot be challenged.
The racist CoFIS repeats the myth that the Arab refugees who were ethnically cleansed left voluntarily at the urging of the Arab states – this lie has been repeatedly shown by people like Erskine Childers to be false
What the debacle over the Glasgow SUTR march
shows is that the SWP’s formal anti-Zionism and pro-Palestinian politics are a
dead letter. When the crunch comes they
simply abandon them in an opportunist and unprincipled attempt to retain the
allegiance of the labour and trade union bureaucracy.
Practically this means that the SWP’s
credibility in the Palestine solidarity movement is about zero. They have totally discredited themselves.
Brighton PSC affiliated to Stand Up to Racism but I would not wager that that
affiliation continuing much longer.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign nationally sent
a letter to SUTR asking them to issue a statement that organisations
participating in their march ‘need to
stand on a platform of opposition to all forms of racism – which includes
resistance to or, at the very least, not supporting the policies and laws
of any state that are clearly racist.’
COFIS hold their own demonstration after everyone has gone home!
Instead they received a cursory, insulting
response which addressed none of their concerns and merely informed PSC who SUTR
supporters are and what their criteria are, namely ‘opposition to the rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism and
the scapegoating of refugees and migrants.’ This response completely failed to address the question of the
participation of an openly racist, pro-Israel organisation in a supposedly
One of the problems with the SUTR response is
the crude equation it draws between racism, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism. Racism
is not simply a prejudice but is closely related to the class division of
labour in society. It is about the
exercise of power and the role of the state.
Anti-Semitism today is not directed by the state. Jews do not suffer from state racism. For example there are no Jewish deaths in
custody. Jews are not subject to stop
and search or immigration controls or even fascist violence. Jews are not the subject of economic discrimination
such as low wages. Whereas Mosques are
attacked with firebombs and an attempt was made at Finsbury Park mosque to run
over worshippers, killing one, no such attack has been mounted on a
Yet the bulk of State funding for the
protection of religious premises goes to the Zionist Community Security Trust not
Muslim organisations. Jews are also not
demonised like Muslims in the press. It
is noticeable that all Britain’s
racist papers – from the Express to the Sun and Mail – throw up their hands at ‘anti-Semitism’
in the Labour Party. All of them are
opposed to ‘anti-Semitism’ when the question of Israel arises. Jews are not subject to the Government’s
Prevent Strategy. Jews are, for the most
part, a privileged section of the White population. Anti-Semitism is a marginal prejudice.
Anti-semitism in the UK and internationally is far less than other forms of racism
This is born out by the Pew Global Attitudes
Survey 2016 where by 7% of people hold negative attitudes about Jews compared
to 28% in respect of Muslims and a whopping 45% when it comes to Roma. The figures in the Netherlands, Germany and
Sweden are similar. The failure of the
SWP/SUTR to take this on board testifies to the crude simplicity of their
anti-racist strategy. It is a simplicity
that hit the buffers last Saturday in Glasgow.
Letter from PSC to SUTR:
We wanted to follow up our telephone conversations with a written note
about our concerns over the presence of the Confederation of Friends of Israel
Scotland on the SUTR Glasgow march on Saturday.
We are aware that a range of groups in Scotland including Scottish
Friends of Palestine and SNP Friends of Palestine have raised their worries
about the participation of the Confederation. These include the fact that this
places Palestinians – including a group of Palestinian firefighters currently
being trained by the FBU – in a hostile environment on a march they had
intended to a join.
Whilst we understand that SUTR want to build a broad coalition of
partners wishing to fight racism – including anti-Semitism, a brief visit to
the Facebook page of the Confederation reveals them as propagators of the most
offensive anti-Palestinian narratives. These include denying the Palestinian
Nakba and posting material stating that no Palestinian villages and towns were
destroyed prior to and after the establishment of the state of Israel; denying
the status of Palestinian refugees and posting an article from the CEO of AIPAC
which states that any Palestinian state is incompatible with Israel’s security.
The Confederation is also part of a campaign to have student activism on UK
campuses under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ closed down. The
Confederation has links with groups in the UK who – alongside Britain First and
the EDL – have attempted to disrupt PSC marches and meetings.
We understand that the Confederation has framed its desire to attend
within the context of an opposition to anti Semitism and that there is a
concern that to indicate that their presence is not welcome will leave
organisers open to the charge of anti-Semitism.
There are many definitions of racism, but to promote prejudice,
discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of a different race,
ethnicity or culture, as the Confederation does, must surely give you as
organisers cause for concern.
We would hope that there could be a clear statement that all of those
organisations participating in a SUTR march need to stand on a platform of
opposition to all forms of racism – which includes resistance to or, at
the very least, not supporting the policies and laws of any state that
are clearly racist. As organisers, we would hope that you would agree that
anyone who cannot sign up to these basic principles would not be welcome and
that behaviour designed to intimidate other participants will not be tolerated.
We would hope it is not too late for such a statement to be issued.
Notwithstanding this, after the events of this weekend, we would wish – as the
PSC – to have a more detailed conversation with SUTR about the long term
strategy to address these issues.
Ben Jamal, PSC Director, and Hugh Lanning, PSC Chair.
Dear Ben and Hugh,
For your information the SUTR Scottish Steering Committee
unanimously agreed the following statement:
Stand up to Racism is a broad coalition comprising many civic
organisations, refugee and migrant communities, as well as trade unions,
political organisations and individuals. The key criteria are opposition to the
rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the scapegoating of
refugees and migrants. If you support these principles please come and join us
Signatories: Scottish Trades Union Congress, Unison Scotland, Unite
the Union Scotland, Educational Institute of Scotland, University and College
Union Scotland, Scottish Labour Party, Church of Scotland, Justice and Peace
Scotland, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Scottish Refugee Council,
Muslim Council of Scotland, Scottish Faiths Action For Refugees, Show Racism
The Red Card, City of Edinburgh Unison, Glasgow City Unison, Unison South
Lanarkshire, Edinburgh College EIS-Fela, Unite Scottish Housing Associations
branch, Unite NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Unite GPM and IT Branch, Unite Glasgow
retired members, MEND, Afghan Human Rights Foundation, Social Work Action
Network, The People’s Assembly Scotland, Govanhill Baths Community Trust,
Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, Govanhill Against Racism, Maryhill
Integration Network, Perth Against Racism, Women for Independence Glasgow,
Scottish Jews For A Just Peace, PCS Scotland, RMT Scotland, FBU Scotland,
We urge the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to join us.
The depraved racist views of COFIS (Confederation of Friends of Israel
Scotland) have not been a sufficient barrier to organisers allowing them to
participate in the march tomorrow in Glasgow. COFIS, working in partnership
with the Israeli Embassy, share posts about “euthanising”
Palestinians, and jeer at a people under illegal occupation whom they call
“Fakestinians”. COFIS suppports EVERY Israeli crime against the
Palestinian people – massacre, mass incarceration, home demolitions, and the
brutal siege of Gaza.
Their presence on the march tomorrow has nothing whatsoever to do with
anti-semitism – which they equate with opposition to Israel’s crimes – but is
part of the Israeli Embassy’s psychological war against the Palestinian people
and their supporters. It is an integral part of the Israeli State’s war against
the Palestinian people, and against their supporters in Scotland and
That well known anti-racist Rupert Murdoch’s The Times today provides a
platform to COFIS to cover up their nauseating racism. COFIS has announced they
will bring their members from across Scotland for the march tomorrow. The same
publication that promotes uber-racist COFIS ran a Goebbels-like attack piece
some months ago calling Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign “an open
sewer”. The Murdoch press are drawing a line.
And some people are on the wrong side. The Israeli Embassy was shown in
Al Jazeera’s The Lobby series putting millions into shifting domestic UK
politics, not only against a Tory Minister but especially the Labour Party and
wider labour movement. It is simply unacceptable that SUTR organisers to fail
to acknowledge this and to attack as “obssessed with COFIS” and
“dividing the movement”.all those who want the Palestinian people to
be acknowledged among the victims of racism.
We want anti-racists to oppose state-enforced racism of an increasingly
genocidal type. SUTR has quietly removed the name of the Muslim Council of
Scotland from their published list of supporters for the march but have refused
to engage with the MCS concerns, or the pain shared by all Palestinians in
Scotland and communicated eloquently to SUTR Scotland by APCS. Along with
anti-racist Jews, UK Palestine Solidarity groups, they are being ignored while
COFIS prepares to exploit an ANTI-racist march in Israel’s war against the
A letter below was signed by a huge number of South African activists in
a very short time and it should be some balm on Palestinian wounds caused by
Israeli State agents marching and gloating about the surrender of Scottish
anti-racist organisers to their intimidation. We remember that Stephen Hawking
supported BDS and refused to attend an event in Israel in solidfarity with the
Palestinian people. SUTR are now allowing the active enemies of the Palestinian
people, extreme racists, to march with them in Glasgow posing as ANTI-racists.
Members of Nelson Mandela’s family are shocked that a march passing near
Mandela Place will fly Israeli flags while Palestine is occupied. They urge
that “demonstrations on the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre should
oppose all racism that blight our planet, especially the brutal apartheid
system that still holds sway in Israel/Palestine.” They acknowledge the
role international solidarity played in their own struggle for liberation from
state-enforced racial segregation and urge that we accept our “duty on
this anniversary to build another example of successful international
solidarity for the long-suffering Palestinian people.
Yet SUTR turns a deaf ear to all these concerns and seems determined to
turn the march tomorrow into a dark farce by excluding Palestinians and their
supporters (for how can we betray our principles of consistent anti-racism by
marching alongside those who would “euthanise” Palestinians?) in
order to admit a group onto their march that they acknowledge is racist and
complicit in Israel’s settler colonial regime.
The message from SUTR is clear and unambiguous: ‘We are afraid to stand
up to the false and weaponised accusations of anti-semitism that have led to
anti-Zionist Jews being hounded out of the Labour Party. We will treat a racist
pro-Israel campaign group as if it were a Jewish community group.’
Statement of Scottish Palestine Solidarity
The Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland
should be a pariah as we march in Glasgow, write MARGARET PACETTA and JOHN
15-year-old Muhammed Tamimi was shot in the head at point blank range and his sister Ahed has been in a Zionist prison for 3 months for slapping his attacker
ISRAEL is becoming increasingly isolated as worldwide criticism mounts
over its illegal occupation, its siege of Gaza and its apartheid crimes. The
rising support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and widespread
condemnation of Donald Trump’s endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has
seen the Israeli state also step up its external lobbying and media campaigning.
This is evident in the propaganda offensive against the Palestinian
teenager Ahed Tamimi, who was labelled a “terrorist” for slapping a soldier.
Ahed and her mother — imprisoned for filming the incident — have had their
trial, before a closed military court, continuously delayed.
Those criticising Ahed have to explain the awkward fact that an Israeli
soldier had just shot her 15-year-old cousin, Muhammad Tamimi, removing part of
his skull. While awaiting surgery, Muhammad was again arrested in a night raid
and forced to “confess” he had sustained his injury from falling off a bike.
Even after his doctors had shown medical proof of the shooting, the lobby has
continued to malign the Tamimi family.
This is all part of a relentless hasbara seeking to intimidate anyone
inclined to criticise Israel. US comedian Sarah Silverman has been denounced
for urging fellow Jews to stand up for Ahed. Over here, the lobby has turned on
Gary Lineker for daring to question Israel’s brutal treatment of children.
Netanyahu has approved a new $75 million “public relations commando
unit” to counter BDS, with Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan
leading a ”black-ops” campaign against BDS.
Among those targeted for supporting BDS are Roger Waters, with pressure
on sponsors to close down his shows, and New Zealand singer Lorde, who has
refused to play in Israel. Two young New Zealand women — one Jewish, one
Palestinian — who sent a letter asking Lorde to support BDS are being sued by
pro-Israel legal group Shurat HaDin.
Online Palestine activists are being censored as part of the corporate
clampdown on “fake news.” Glenn Greenwald notes how Facebook executives
approved Israel’s requests to delete huge numbers of pro-Palestine accounts.
Escalating fears over BDS and Israel’s deteriorating image has also
placed the US lobby on heightened political alert. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act,
now before the US Congress, will make any support for a boycott of Israel a
criminal offence in the United States.
The same US lobby has also launched a vociferous attack on Al Jazeera’s
forthcoming exposé of US lobby activity.
Here, a previous undercover Al Jazeera investigation revealed
connections between lobbyists and the Israeli embassy.
With disgraced former international development secretary Priti Patel’s
recent “family holiday” in Israel and co-lobbyist Lord Stuart Polak now
exposed, Conservative Friends of Israel are working overtime with Michael
Gove’s shrill warning of Palestine activists’ “dark and furious energy.”
The enduringly Blairite Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) remains
on-message too, with Emily Thornberry delivering a speech to LFI that could
have been written by a pro-Israel lobbyist.
The lobby’s relentless smearing of Jeremy Corbyn for “harbouring
anti-semitism” goes on, no matter how much he denounces such tendencies.
Encouragingly, newly founded Jewish Voice for Labour now provides a strong
counter while Jews for a Just Peace has declared its support for BDS.
However, all this pressure on Israel has spurred other zealous lobbying.
A replica of the Apartheid Wall was used to keep racist COFIS away from an anti-racist march
One group pursuing that kind of mission here in Scotland is the
Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (Cofis). Ignoring multiple UN
resolutions and international law, Cofis defends Israel’s illegal acts.
It approves of Israel’s apartheid wall, blames Israel’s mass killing in
Gaza on Hamas and fails to condemn Israel’s shooting and incarceration of
children. It applauds Trump and his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s
capital. It denounces BDS and artists such as Waters and insists that Ahed be
punished as a “terrorist.”
Besides evangelising for Israel and whitewashing its crimes, Cofis
consistently attacks Palestine solidarity groups in Scotland, as does Glasgow
Friends of Israel (GFI).
Much of the literature Cofis hands out to the public comes from the same
visceral right-wing group in the US, Stand With Us.
Film director Ken Loach, writer Paul Laverty and actor Tam Dean Burn
were among the signatories of the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, organised by
Artists for Palestine UK, which in 2017 opposed Cofis’s “misnamed Shalom
Festival, which promotes, not peace, but the apartheid state of Israel and its
Their letter stated that the festival, organised by Cofis founder Nigel
Goodrich and GFI’s Sammy Stein, and endorsed by Stand With Us, was “part of the state of Israel’s attempts to
counter BDS.’ It claims to support ‘peaceful
coexistence’ in Israel/Palestine, while whitewashing Israel’s violations of
Cofis claims to be anti-racist, while denying the inhuman effects of the
occupation, the calamity of Gaza and Israel’s colonial settlements. This
mirrors the very same deception Israel has peddled for generations with its
contrived “peace process,” using every opportunity to extend the settlements,
imprison Gaza, and deepen its racist treatment of Palestinians.
Cofis has no support from Palestinian civil society. While it speaks of
“shared interests” and “open dialogue,” drawing in unwary
progressives, serious observers see this supposedly “pro-peace” line for what it is: a cynical charade serving to
normalise Israel’s land thefts and prioritise its “security concerns.”
People of conscience, whatever their background or religious beliefs,
should reject any organisation which seeks to defend Israel’s apartheid state.
And they should be particularly alert to any group which seeks to conceal their
real purpose through stealth insertion into parliamentary life, mainstream
parties or civil movements.
There should be no place for Israel-protecting bodies like Cofis at any
authentic anti-racism event or demonstration.
The left must defend its position with principled argument rather than
capitulate for fear of being falsely labelled.
Campaigns which help hide Israel’s mass crimes have to be resisted with
moral resolve and tactical intent. You cannot stand up to racism while lying
down to Israeli apartheid.