A newly-released 160-page report has confirmed widespread antisemitism inside the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). The report, titled “Jew Hate and Holocaust Denial in Scotland” is the result of two years of research and investigation into the activities of the SPSC, particularly on social media, by researcher David Collier. The report corroborates our own report into antisemitism inside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign released in February.
Predictably, instead of investigating and taking action over the report’s revelations, the SPSC responded by dismissing it. In a statement published on its website, the SPSC said that it “is not inclined to take seriously the so-called ‘research’ of a pro-Israel blogger whose primary purpose is to smear organisations that support Palestinian rights”.
According to Mr Collier: “At every event checked, on every high street, at every demonstration, those pushing hard-core antisemitic ideology were at the very front of SPSC activity. Two separate case studies suggested that between 40% and 50% of SPSC front line activists (at a minimum) engage in sharing Jew-hating material.”
In one case study, the investigation uncovered that of the sixty-one activists listed as present at the “No to Brand Israel at Edinburgh Festival” protest organised outside the Shalom Festival by the SPSC, thirty-one of them posted antisemitic content on social media. This included antisemitic images, promoting the conspiracy theory about global Jewish domination and Holocaust denial. This breaches the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the British Government.
The report found numerous activists sharing everything from far-left claims that ISIS is an oil-stealing apparatus of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, through to claims about the Holocaust which the uninitiated would consider to be the preserve of the far-right.
The report found: “The inevitable conclusion is that antisemitic tendency is a primary driver of anti-Israel activism…There is a strong probability that those who are introduced to anti-Israel material by SPSC activists on the streets are being influenced by people who adhere to an antisemitic mindset…Much of this activity seeks to spread antisemitic thought.”
Mick Napier, the Secretary of the SPSC, was a key focus of the report. Last month, Mr Napier was found guilty in court of aggressive behavior at a protest outside an Israeli-owned cosmetics store in Glasgow during the 2014 Gaza war. Mr Napier was also a speaker at the pro-Hizballah Al Quds Day march in Central London on 18th June. Campaign Against Antisemitism has submitted formal complaints over the “Al Quds Day” march.
We commend David Collier, and Jewish Human Rights Watch which commissioned the report, for producing such an important study.
Whilst the International Definition of Antisemitism clearly states that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”, it is very evident that in the anti-Israel movement, flagrantly antisemitic prejudices are widely-held and publicised.
The line between legitimate political discourse about Israel and antisemitism was expertly analysed in the legal opinion commissioned by Campaign Against Antisemitism, but sadly it is a line that many anti-Israel activists appear to be happy to cross, and which too major anti-Israel organisations appear to tolerate. It would seem from its response to the report that SPSC can safely be added to that list. Indeed, the SPSC website includes a section on antisemitism (a word which it places quotation marks around) and that section is subdivided into sections entitled “smears” and “legal attacks”.
SPSC appears to enjoy the support of numerous MPs and MSPs. Until the organisation takes credible steps to address the antisemitism within their movement, starting with the formal adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, support for the SPSC should be considered beyond the pale.