BY SHARON MAIL
A MOB of Israel-haters failed to prevent a group protesting against antisemitism from taking part in last Saturday’s Stand Up to Racism march in Glasgow.
Members of the Confederation of Friends of Israel and Glasgow Friends of Israel took part in the march, despite calls for them to be barred.
Even when the Muslim Council in Scotland withdrew its support the night before because of the ‘participation of Zionists’, the organisers held firm.
On the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland website, lawyer and Glasgow University Rector Aamer Anwar said: “Like many I am angry at those who shout antisemitism when Zionism is challenged as an ideology or when one demonstrates against the State of Israel for their Apartheid laws and genocide of the Palestinian people.
“I have no time for an organisation such as CoFIS. I would prefer they did not attend the march.”
Mr Anwar called on demonstrators to take Palestinian flags and all speakers to mention ‘Palestine’.
Addressing the crowd at the rally, Mr Anwar said: “I stand with the Palestinian people and condemn without condition the racist, barbaric, apartheid system of the State of Israel.”
A CoFIS group of 35, including three Israeli Arabs, assembled ready to take part in the march, some carrying banners against antisemitism and others with Israeli flags.
They were confronted and surrounded by dozens of Israel-haters, including many with their faces covered, shouting racist slogans.
They faced shouts of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, ‘From Glasgow to Gaza, victory to the intifada’ and ‘There’s no place for Zionists on the streets of Glasgow’.
As the march began, the organisers ordered the CoFIS group to go to the back.
GFoI chairman Sammy Stein reported: “As we started to march, dozens of people from extremist groups surrounded us, blocking the road, jostling us and threatening violence.
“A number of masked individuals made it clear that protection from violence and hostility did not apply to members of our group.
“Our female colleagues were targeted with one assaulted and her flag snatched from her hands while another received a death threat and others in our group spoke of being assaulted.
“The thugs and Israel haters started chanting ‘these are our streets’ in a clear statement that we had no right to walk in Glasgow, while our Israeli Arab friends were met with the vilest verbal abuse and threats.
“As the main body of the march made its way to George Square, we were impeded and obstructed at every step by the haters, hoping we would not continue to march.
“It was clear that Police Scotland were caught by surprise and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and tactics deployed by the anarchists and thugs.
“The police eventually reorganised and provided a human wall, dividing our group from the group of antisemites ahead of us.
“As we walked, we sang Avenu Shalom Aleichem and adopted peaceful replacement words as the haters shouted abusive chants.
“The most sinister calls were the repetitive shouts of ‘From Glasgow to Gaza, Victory to the Intifada’, which sounded like a call for the introduction of violence into our city.”
Mr Stein added: “The thugs and haters did not achieve their objectives. Instead of being prevented from marching in our streets, we were able to walk for more than two hours rather than the planned 30 minutes.
“As we made progress, we were supported by well-wishers who were astonished by the vile behaviour of the Israel haters in Glasgow streets.
“We did pass and we did arrive in George Square. We held firm and we were not frightened or intimidated by our opponents, who confronted us with anger and hostility at every opportunity.
“As organisations, CoFIS, GFoI and all the other Friends of Israel groups in Scotland will continue to advocate for peace for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. We will continue with our positive efforts and the thugs and haters will never win.”
CoFIS convenor Nigel Goodrich said: “One of our aims is to oppose antisemitism so, as last year, we joined the march.
“Thank you to the 35 who formed the CoFIS contingent. We had representatives from member groups Highland, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries & Galloway Friends of Israel, which was brilliant, together with our Israelis Christian, Bedouin and Druze guests.
“Members of the public joined us, too.”