Double standards on freedom of speech?

I represented SJJP at a public meeting last night organised by Amina, the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre in Glasgow. Under the title ‘The War on Islam and the Double Standards of Freedom of Speech’, the panel consisted of Aamer Anwar — Scotland’s leading Human rights lawyer, Amal Azzudin — one of the ‘Glasgow Girls’ who is a community activist and campaigner, and Shaykh Abdal-Aziz Ahmed — an Islamic Scholar and teacher. Around sixty people attended and participated in a lively discussion about the impact of the Charlie Hebdo killings and related attacks on Jewish people in Paris and Copenhagen. The panel focused on the implications for minority communities in the wake of the attacks and the consequences for greater levels of Islamophobia within a context of growing racism in Europe. The audience raised questions ranging from how to tackle racism to the challenges of achieving community integration with panel members responding about the need for unity and avoiding wedges being driven between Muslim and Jewish communities as a consequence of the attacks. Continue reading Double standards on freedom of speech?

ICAHD in Scotland

Edinburgh Liberal Jewish CommunityNot many people here have heard of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. That’s a pity, because although their name makes them sound like a niche campaign, in fact ICAHD is a very dynamic and effective peace group; although they take house demolitions in the Occupied Territories as their primary campaigning focus, they are active on many issues, and have succeeded—unusually for an Israeli peace group—in building something of an international network in Europe and the USA: I’m aware of this because I attended the ICAHD-UK national conference two years ago, and was very impressed by the breadth and enthusiasm of their support in the UK. The first event of our Sukkat Shalom 2013 Israel/Palestine human rights trip was an extremely informative orientation tour of East Jerusalem conducted by Jeff Halper, ICAHD’s director. Continue reading ICAHD in Scotland

Gaza update

Gaza tends to drop out of the news when there isn’t a shooting war on. An exception during the last week was the resignation of the head of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) enquiry into the 2014 Gaza war. As Gideon Levy wrote in Ha’aretz:

Through persistent surveillance, Israel’s intelligence and propaganda branches revealed that Schabas had once received a $1,300 fee from the PLO. Conclusion: he sold his soul to the devil. The ref sucks. Q.E.D.

So the ref is gone, according to himself “in order to prevent Israel’s accusations against him from distracting attention from the writing of the report and publication of its findings.” He emphasised that the commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report and he did not want the issue to overshadow the work of the inquiry that “is at a decisive stage.” Continue reading Gaza update