Opposing IHRA in Glasgow

FRFI supporters, Peter Gregson, and rabbi Aaron Cohen rally against the IHRA definition

FRFI supporters have been busy in Glasgow challenging the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which deliberately conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

On 13 December FRFI supporters raised the issue of Glasgow City Council’s (GCC’s) support for IHRA from the public gallery of the full council meeting. This intervention was made in response to the failure of local SNP and Labour councillors to answer basic questions over the process of GCC’s adoption of IHRA. Council security staff violently ejected FRFI supporters from the gallery and a formal complaint to the council is being pursued. See footage of the intervention here. The SNP, Labour and Conservative council groups have all committed to the full adoption of IHRA. The question of how the people of Glasgow are to be given a say remains unanswered

On 19 December Glasgow FRFI supporters helped mobilise for and support an all-day rally in defence of the suspended GMB union shop steward Peter Gregson, who was attending a GMB union disciplinary hearing, for calling Israel a racist endeavour – in contravention of the IHRA definition. Peter has a letter in the current issue of FRFI. The GMB moved the location of this hearing at short notice from their offices to the Millennium hotel in George Square as they claimed to fear for the safety of their staff against protests. This slander against those standing with Peter is just like the accusation of anti-Semitism made against him – nonsense! Aaron Cohen, the most senior rabbi of the Neturie Karta in the UK, an orthodox Jewish sect, travelled from Manchester to speak in defence of Peter at the hearing. In a display of cowardliness and contempt for democracy the GMB representatives refused to hear from the rabbi and scurried off for the exits saying that the meeting had run out of time, just before the rabbi arrived, and that Peter would be sent a letter with the decision of the hearing. It is likely he will be thrown out the GMB. In the end the rabbi read his statement out from the steps of the hotel. 

The adoption of the full IHRA definition by Britain’s leading political parties (Labour, the SNP, Tories) and trade unions (Unite, GMB, Unison, Usdaw…) has only made clearer the real capitulation of official pro-Palestine elements in this country. Despite mainstream media publicity over Peter Gregson’s case and a callout for solidarity neither the Glasgow left nor the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), who have an office in Glasgow city centre, came out to support him. Supporters of the FRFI and the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign (GPHRC) were the only organisations present at the rally and a small group of principled individuals also came out. Earlier this year FRFI and other grassroots Palestine supporters led opposition to a decision by Stand Up to Racism and the Socialist Workers Party to allow Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) onto their anti-racist march (see here) and subsequently led protest against GFI’s weekly stall in Glasgow against the wishes of the official Palestine solidarity movement (see here). FRFI supporters and allies subsequently forced the cancellation of an internal SNP members’ debate, scheduled for 25 November, after Sarah Glynn, of Scottish Jews against Zionism, agreed to share a platform with the arch-Zionist racist chairman of GFI Sammy Stein.

The need to build a new Palestine solidarity movement has never been more apparent. This movement must be based on grassroots democracy, unity and action in defence of the people of Palestine and against its imperialist backers with no concessions to Zionism.

Zionism is racism!

Israel is a racist endeavour!

Resist IHRA everywhere!

Free Palestine! Boycott Israel!