Press Release August 2017

Scottish Friends of Palestine condemns the presence of the Israeli government sponsored Shalom Festival at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Dismay is expressed that Scotland’s leading politicians should express their support for Israel’s cultural “bridge building” efforts. Such crass pandering to Israel’s apologists not only defies the imagination but defines their culpability.

In a hard hitting statement Scottish Friends of Palestine stated that building cultural bridges requires more than word laundering.

“Do Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson,  Kezia Dugdale and fellow travellers have any understanding of  the nature of this bridge and the barrier it represents to Palestinian aspiration? In 2016, the once in a lifetime opportunity given to the 15 year old Gazan musicians, Raslan Ashour (Trumpet) and Sofiya Radwan (Violin),  to travel to Scotland and participate in the UK tour of the Palestine Youth Orchestra was cruelly dashed when Israel denied them the right to leave Gaza because they had “insufficient reason to travel.”

Even now, a year later, both musicians are suffering from a second rejection when, last week, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition to allow the young musicians to participate in workshops and perform in Ramallah. In their wisdom, the judges noted “Musical development is not bound by location.”  It would seem that music can be done anywhere, even in the world’s largest outdoor prison. No cultural bridge out of Gaza for Raslan and Sofiya. Israel has the power of boycott over your talent and ambition.

It could be Nicola, Ruth and Kezia – along with the Fringe Festival Committee – have problems understanding the nature of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. To have your artistic and cultural aspirations trashed by a state which, through front organisations, tries to flaunt its cultural credentials is bad enough. But to then experience the physical brutality of this “cultured” state is to encounter the various guises of inhumanity offered by the Middle East’s “only democracy”.

13 year old Mohammed Qaddumi from Gaza shot 3 times by Israeli soldiers on July 30th.

Cancer patient, 7 year old Muhammad Habib, died in February when an exit permit for treatment was denied. The occupation authorities decreed that Mohammed’s father, the family’s sole breadwinner, was the only family member allowed to accompany Mohammed. Then there is the Fawaqa family and their four daughters — Ritaj, 9; Rimas, 7; Saba, 4; and Aya, a newborn. On May 4th, while the baby was attending a clinic news arrived that their house in the Sur Baher district of Jerusalem was being demolished. Just one out of nine family homes, in Jerusalem, to suffer the same fate that day.

The foundations of Israel’s bridge building are clear. On a daily basis Israel’s inhumanity is at work and on display. No amount of cultural whitewash will ever disguise it.

Scotland’s myopic political leadership should be ashamed of their support for Israel’s Festival of Propaganda.’

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