CND Scotland condemn pro-Israel group trying to recruit SNP members

CND Scotland says pro-Israel targeting SNP are defenders of “cruel and heartless” policies

CAMPAIGNERS for nuclear disarmament have distanced themselves from the pro-Israel group trying to form within the SNP after concerns were raised by its supporters. 

CND Scotland members complained to its leadership after the group’s mascot was pictured at the pro-Israel stall at the recent SNP conference. 

One supporter of the pro-Israel group – which has been accused of “misleading” the public with claims of neutrality – Micheline Brannan, defended the bombing of Gaza when speaking to CommonSpace at the SNP conference, while another, Professor Joe Goldblatt, contradicted the Scottish Government’s definition of illegal Israeli settlements in previous comments published on CommonSpace.

“It is my view shared by many peace movement activists that these policies which include the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land are cruel and heartless.” Arthur West

Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, released a statement on the controversy, highlighting the group’s connections to pro-Israel campaigning: “I understand that the ‘SNP Friends for Peace in the Middle East’ group has similar membership to a group called Glasgow Friends of Israel. 

“I also understand that unfortunately both these groups support current Israeli Government policies toward the Palestinian people. It is my view shared by many peace movement activists that these policies which include the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land are cruel and heartless.”

He added that it was “unfortunate that the group Called SNP Friends of the Middle East and Glasgow Friends of Israel seem to be trying to imply that their activities are endorsed by Scottish CND”. 

The emotive divisions of the Israel-Palestine conflict have led to various concerns being raised about the group. SNP Friends of Palestine, which has the backing a majority of the party’s MPs, stated that the pro-Israel group “fails to acknowledge...basic principles necessary to underpin a just peace”.

Connected reporting

“There is no conflict”: Israel group to challenge SNP support for Palestine

Israeli Government consul welcomes anti-Palestine campaign inside the SNP

Jewish community leader speaks out over SNP ‘Israel front group’

“My support for the people of Palestine is long-standing, well-documented and absolutely unwavering,” he said.

“As a Member of Parliament, I was sworn in wearing a lapel pin with Palestine and Scotland flags woven together as a display of solidarity. I am a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine - the first one I joined upon my election - and was a founding member of the SNP's Friends of Palestine.”

Delegates, who spoke to the group’s stall, said they felt it was “misleading”, as it claimed to be a broad campaign in relation to all Middle Eastern nations - despite all its founders involvement in various pro-Israel causes.

Co-chair of the Glasgow Jewish Education Forum Jeremy Stein also warned that the group was “a front for a pro-Israel lobby group”. 

SNP members challenged the group over its position on the occupation and bombings of Palestine. 

All of the group’s three founding members are linked to pro-Israel activism. One of the three, Sammy Stein (no relation to Jeremy Stein) also faced a recent SNP disciplinary hearing over a campaign targeting SNP MSP Sandra White. 

The Israeli government consul also promoted the group, describing its activity as “waving the flag” for the country’s controversial political record.

SNP Friends of the Middle East did not respond to requests for comment.

UPDATE 20/12/2016 8.36AM: Changes have been made to this article following a complaint about accuracy. In the third paragraph, we have altered a general description about "supporters of the group" to specify individuals and specific comments made. We deleted a reference to Jeremy Stein as a "Jewish community leader". We added a section at the end of the article to note that a right of reply had been offered to SNP Friends for Peace the Middle East at time of original publication but no response was received. We also deleted a reference to the group paying "thousands of pounds" for a stall at the SNP conference. While it is public knowledge that the SNP was charging in the region of thousands of pounds for stalls at the conference, CommonSpace was unable to verify whether this group paid the full price as advertised to other groups. We would like to apologise for the errors contained within this article.

Picture courtesy of Scottish CND

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