Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond, a senior SNP MP in the commons.

by Stephen Oryszczuk

Leaders of Scottish Jewry have said the large number of Scottish nationalists now sitting in the House of Commons will have “very little direct impact” on the Jewish community north of the border. 

Concerns have been raised by the spectre of a huge bloc of 56 Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) Members of Parliament who support the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, with some of the party’s politicians in Brussels having previously called for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. 

But Ephraim Borowski, the president of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said the SNP had been “very sympathetic to the concerns of the Jewish community”.

He added: “On issues such as accommodating the requirements of Jewish divorce, supporting our Jewish primary school, Holocaust restitution, expediting burials and tacking hate crime, they have generously supported our work.”

SNP leaders recently funded an extensive inquiry which “shows a clear connection to radical and obsessive anti-Zionism and a worrying increase in reported levels of fear and anxiety,” the report of which will be published later this month. 

However, Jewish community leaders in London said the SNP delegation returned to Westminster amounted to “an unknown quantity,” triggering a flurry of activity.

“They have a policy to recognise Palestine unconditionally, but so do Labour, so it’s not necessarily a huge negative,” said Board of Deputies’ presidential candidate Jonathan Arkush. “On both sides of border, we now have a very important task, to sit down with individual MPs, talk through the issues and explain the perspectives.”

Another senior leader, speaking anonymously, sounded the alarm, saying: “The SNP contingent may boost the numbers of the anti-Israel brigade at Westminster, because it is a bit of a cause celebre for the government in Holyrood.”