Tory David Meikle apologises for "dangerous" smear of minister @HumzaYousaf

Councillor previously flew an Israeli flag in protest from the balustrade of Glasgow City Council

GLASGOW'S ONLY TORY councillor has apologised for a "dangerous" accusation of bigotry against Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf for comments regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

David Meikle, famed for spawning internet meme 'Balustrade Lanyard' , implied that Yousaf was bigoted in a discussion of campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) Israel for occupying Palestinian territory.

Following requests for comment from CommonSpace, on twitter Meikle apologised for his comment and withdrew his claims.

Meikle lashed out after Yousaf shared a CommonSpace article on the BDS movement and divestment from arms companies .

Meikle described BDS - which seeks to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory through economic and diplomatic pressure - as "racist".

After Yousaf questioned this, Meikle replied: "It's amazing the folk who try to defend antisemitism. At the heart of the Scottish Government."

Yousaf, who has himself regularly been on the receiving end of vile racist abuse , replied: "That's terrible accusation to make David. I hope you'll have courtesy to withdraw. My question was genuine one."

"At its core the three BDS demands are for equality and an end to injustice: an end to occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and right of return for refugees." Sofiah MacLeod, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

The smear was also challenged by Sofiah MacLeod, chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. MacLeod told CommonSpace: "The pro-Israel tactic of implying or directly calling supporters of Palestinian rights anti-Semitic is very dangerous as it conflates opposition to the actions of the state Israel with hatred of Jews. While Meikle and others cry antisemitism, they are at the same implicating Scottish Jewish communities in the crimes of the Israeli state."

"The BDS call recognises the power of people to make change. It builds on the experience of the movement against apartheid South Africa and is made on the basis of internationalism and solidarity between people. At its core the three BDS demands are for equality and an end to injustice: an end to occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and right of return for refugees."

The Tory councillor for Pollokshields previously led a one man flag protest from the balustrades of Glasgow City Chambers, when he personally flew the Israeli flag in opposition to a council decision to show solidarity with attacks on Gaza, Palestine.

The Tory councillor for Pollokshields previously led a one man flag protest from the balustrades of Glasgow City Chambers, when he personally flew the Israeli flag in opposition to a council decision to show solidarity with attacks on Gaza, Palestine. Almost 3,000 people called on Meikle to resign for what they called his attempt to "ridicule the very serious issue of the Israel-Gaza conflict and the numerous innocent lives lost in it."

The Scottish Government called for an arms embargo on Israel following the 2013 bombing of Gaza, which killed 1,903 Palestinians including 450 children.

Controversy over the boycott, divestment, sanctions of Israel was reignited by Tory plans to ban ethical boycotts by local councils . The policy will not apply to Scotland as procurement rules are devolved.

Under procurement rules, updated in 2014 , the Scottish Government "strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements" and states that "exploitation of assets in illegal settlement is likely to be regarded as 'grave professional misconduct.'" This includes the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last month Tommy Sheppard MP backed a boycott of products from occupied Palestinian territory and, alongside MSP Alyn Smith, called for a debate on the policy with the SNP .

David Meikle did not respond to requests for comment from CommonSpace.

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Picture courtesy of Twitter

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.