ZIR Coalition protest as Stand Up to Racism / Socialist Workers Party defends Friends of Israel, Glasgow

The Palestine solidarity movement took a great step forward by organising a loud, militant and sustained challenge to Stand Up To Racism’s (SUTR) demonstration on Saturday 16 March in Glasgow. The Zionism is Racism (ZIR) coalition continually barracked and drowned out SUTR’s speakers. Chants in support of Palestine and against the SUTR’s open capitulation to Zionism echoed through George Square and Glasgow City Centre.

The ZIR protest was in fact the real anti-racist demo which united principled Palestinian solidarity groups and activists from across Scotland: Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! , West Dunbartonshire Supports the People of Palestine, Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign, Class War, anti- fascists from Glasgow Red Resistance and Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance, Celtic Fans for Palestine, Kids not suits, Unite the Community Tayside branch, Dundee Against Austerity and International Solidarity Movement - Scotland. Several individual campaigners and Solidarity Scotland gave support. The ZIR counter protest was heavily policed by riot trained cops, horses, vans and video surveillance in a failed attempt to intimidate and provoke supporters.

The first victory to be claimed was to stand in principled unity in the face of appalling Scottish winter weather to challenge SUTR’s sell out to Zionism and abject sell out of the Palestinian people.

A second victory was to democratically reject a suggestion from the police liaison officers that we move to another area of the square, where later as the protest ended, one hundred tooled up riot cops protected two lone fascists who were appropriately standing by a great pile of horse shit. These fascists, including ex BNP organiser Max Dunbar who is now involved with Britannica, have been openly associating with Glasgow Friends of Israel in recent weeks and any reading of GFI’s facebook comments will demonstrate the most appalling and violent racism expressed there. Zionism is moving towards an alliance with fascism.

Shouting: ‘Zionists Out! Join Us Now!’, the ZIR protest welcomed those who came out from the discredited SUTR event to stand with the supporters of Palestine. Among them was the banner of the Fire Brigades Union in Scotland. It was the FBU that last year hosted a group of Palestinian firefighters in Glasgow. These brave people, who have seen so much misery and destruction in their homeland were shocked to learn that the flag of racist Israel was to be flying on SUTR’s Glasgow march last year. Other folks who did come over to the anti – Zionist demo proudly carried the flag of Palestine, but it was disturbingly absent from SUTR’s sorry parade.

henry maitles sammy Stein

A public facebook exchange between SUTR / SWP’s Henry Maitles and Glasgow Friends of Israel’s Sammy Stein and CoFIS on 23 and 24 February discussed the idea of excluding national flags from the SUTR march in the ‘spirit of unity’. It appears that this suggestion was followed up as neither SUTR / SWP nor Friends of Israel flew the Palestinian or Israeli flag on this year’s march. This would fit perfectly into the SWP’s position of leaving ‘the politics of the Middle East’ out of the anti-racist movement in Britain. The racist Friends of Israel organisations, who numbered about 20/30 people, carried placards such as ‘Anti Zionism is anti-Semitism is a crime’. This year they were escorted onto the back of the march by dozens of police and with the support of SUTR / SWP march stewards.

For a second year running, the ‘official’ Palestine solidarity movement led by the Palestine Alliance (representing groupings such as the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities) refused to join and exhibited hostility to any active opposition to Friends of Israel participation in the SUTR march. SPSC leader Mick Napier called for a boycott of the SUTR event and under pressure said that SPSC would ‘decorate’ the route of the SUTR march with pro Palestine placards but would not join the ZIR coalition protest. To confront the Zionists would risk confrontation with its Labour left allies. This shows very clearly that a new grassroots solidarity movement must be built with the interests of the people of Palestine coming before any concerns over ‘winning’ support from the British Labour left and trade unions.

Victory to the Palestinian People!

Zionism is Racism!

Michael MacGregor

In Glasgow we will join the international day of action on 30th March in solidarity with Palestinian Land Day and the first anniversary of the Great March of Return. Exist, Resist, Return!

Join the rally

Saturday 30th March, 12-2pm
Royal Concert Halls Steps,
Buchanan Street


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