On 30th April Ken Macintosh, Labour MSP for Glasgow Eastwood, is hosting a celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) in the Scottish Parliament. A protest will be held outside the Parliament, and an online petition has 1300 signatures at the time of writing. SJJP has also protested in writing against the celebration, with an explanation from our own viewpoint of why it should not be taking place. This letter was sent on 29th April to Ken Macintosh, to the Presiding Officer of the Parliament, and to the press:
Scottish Jews for a Just Peace (SJJP) Statement on Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration at the Scottish Parliament
SJJP notes that on 30th April Ken Macintosh MSP is hosting a 2015 Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) event at the Scottish Parliament in conjunction with representatives of the Israeli Government.
Of course, we support the right of Jews to celebrate religious festivals and events—whether connected or not to the State of Israel—in any way they choose. But we also recognize that Yom Ha’Atzmaut is not a religious event but a celebration of Israeli statehood, and we oppose a celebration that recognises only the official Israeli narrative of the creation of the state while ignoring the disastrous impact it has had on the Palestinians now living in the Occupied Territories, Gaza and refugee camps in the region.
SJJP argues for a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict based on peace and equal rights for all, regardless of their ethnic or religious identity. So we see the recent debate in the Scottish Parliament about recognition of a Palestinian State as a stimulus towards a negotiated solution between Israel and the Palestinians. By contrast, an unbalanced celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut hosted in the Scottish Parliament provides tacit support for the State of Israel while ignoring the claims for statehood and political rights of Palestinians. The Scottish Parliament can play a positive role in fostering constructive and peaceful relationships between communities in Scotland; and in contributing towards peace in the Middle East. But hosting this Yom Ha’Atzmaut event is not the way to achieve these aims.
(Signed) Lisa Barcan, Alex Benchimol, Liz Elkind, Marion Hersh, Naomi Junnor, Laura Kandle, Barrie Levine, Catherine Lyons, Henry Maitles, John McArdle, Maurice Naftalin, Suzanne Senior, Mark Symonds, Philip Wadler