Open Letter April 2010
21 April 2010
Ken Macintosh MSP
Edinburgh EH99 1SP
Dear Mr Macintosh,
You will have received much correspondence over the past few weeks in relation to your decision to sponsor an exhibition, at the behest of Scottish Friends of Israel, which allows the state of Israel privileged access to the corridors of Holyrood where, out of the public gaze, Israel will attempt a re-branding exercise.
Your apparent standard – and evasive – reply to much of this correspondence reveals, in the view of Scottish Friends of Palestine, an attitude contemptuous of public concerns over the possible abuse of a parliamentary system which allows the facilities of the Scottish Parliament to be used as a forum for community based interest groups.
Over and above the morality of giving “house room” to a regime (democratic or otherwise) which discriminates against its own citizens – Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel do not have the same rights – a regime which has denied the Palestinian people their rights for decades and which regularly reminds them of this fact by a strategy of continuing to remove what little rights are remaining, and by brutally subjugating and killing those under occupation, there is the concern over the direction that acts such as your sponsoring of this exhibition takes Scotland and the Scottish people.
At a no less an important level we have the fact that public money is being used to assist the promotion of an odious regime – and be rest assured this is exactly what your sponsorship is doing. The state of Israel is putting a lot of money, time and effort into re-branding itself. With this being an exhibition to which the public has no access it is crucial that transparency prevails. It is crucial that those many voluntary organisations in Scotland, and their supporters, who, with slender resources, eventually manage to have their exhibition publicly exhibited within the Parliament building are reassured that the Israeli state and big business interests are not abusing the services provided by the Scottish Parliament and the taxpayer.
The omens are not good. The scant information available on Scottish Friends of Israel indicates that it is a vehicle through which Israeli media and hasbara (propaganda) outlets channels the Israeli narrative and brand image. And part of this narrative and brand image is its industrial and technology base – where security products, armaments “death sciences” all prevail – with the Palestinian under military occupation the testing ground and /or source of inspiration for many of the products.
Again, you are asked “What assurances can you give to members of the Scottish public that the state of Israel (including its UK ambassador) and Israeli business interests have absolutely no input into this private exhibition. What assurances can you give that the exhibition is solely the product of a small voluntary group, no matter how misguided, using its own limited resources?”
In making reference to alleged “one-sided and hostile portrayal of Israel in the media and unfortunately occasionally in the Scottish Parliament itself ” you are clearly stating that your sponsorship is a political act of support for the state of Israel. Scottish Friends of Palestine suggests that the correct forum for this statement is within the debating chambers of the Parliament, in open debate, not in the privileged recesses of the Parliament’s Garden Lobby.
In the absence of this open debate, in the absence of any action to cancel this disgraceful exhibition, Scottish Friends of Palestine urges all MSPs and passholders to use the opportunity of the exhibition to question the ludicrous statement from yourself that “amongst the distress and grief there is also humanity, understanding, and a desire [for Israel] to contribute positively to human development”.
There is no need, here, to remind you of Israel’s regard and respect for the humanity, the human development and the human rights of the Palestinian people. However, April has been an interesting month with regard to the state of Israel’s actions in this regard:
*Israel promised to allow clothes and shoes into the besieged Gaza Strip – the first time in over 3 years. (note: Israel’s record on promises is such that there is no guarantee that shoes and clothes will be allowed in, and in sufficient quantity). Just what was/is the rationale for a state interested in “humanity” and “human development” for withholding shoes and clothes from a civilian population for over 3 years?
*On 7th April, Israeli Minister of Infrastructure, Uzi Landau, threatened to withhold water supplies to Palestinian industry and agriculture in the West Bank. Why? Because Palestinian industry is accused of polluting the land. Forget, of course, that the illegal settlements regularly pollute Palestinian farm land and that permits for Palestinian Authority treatment plants are refused by the occupation authorities. Just what is the rationale for allowing a people access to drinking water while, at the same time threatening to destroy their means of livlihood, their agricultural, industrial and technology base? Do you, Mr Macintosh, not spot the irony in this situation? Do you spot any humanity and the urge of the Israeli state to promote human development?
*On13th April Military Order 1650 “Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration” came into effect in the West Bank. The possible draconian consequences of this piece of military legislation places another layer of stress and fear on a population already dealing with a brutal military occupation and its tanks, F 16 fighters, Apache helicopters, unmanned drones, death squads, arrests, deaths and injuries. It opens up the possibility of any resident of the West Bank being deemed an “infiltrator”, arrested and deported by a state which you, Mr Macintosh, seem to treat as a harbinger of humanity and human development. Just what is the relevance of this exhibition to your parliamentary or constituency role?
All MSPs must resist and question the presence of Israel in the Scottish Parliament’s precincts. They owe their constituents no less.
Scottish Friends of Palestine is a firm advocate of the total boycott of all Israeli institutions, academic and cultural bodies and Israeli products – until as such times that the Israeli state ceases to boycott the rights of the Palestinian people, and international law as it pertains to the Palestinian people. Visit www.easi-piesi.org to find out what you can do.
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