The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament has debated a landmark pro-Israel motion calling for renewed dialogue and an end to cultural boycotts.

The debate over the motion – entitled “Israel Needs Cultural Bridges, not Boycotts” – was the first pro-dialogue motion in a year that has seen a staggering total of 62 anti-Israel debates at Holyrood.

30 MSPs – of whom 17 backed the motion – attended the debate, along with Britain’s deputy Israeli ambassador Eitan Na’eh.

Its author, Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, praised Israel’s contributions to international science and criticised campaigners who “overtly personally blame ‘the Jews’… over the actions of a foreign country”.

Other Labour and Scottish Nationalist MSPs criticised the “depressingly illiberal” tactics pursued by the anti-Israel lobby – while Green MSP Alison Johnson claimed boycotts of Israel were “entirely consistent” with holding a “deep and unwavering commitment that none of us should ever downplay or forget the atrocities of the Holocaust”.

Speaking after the debate – which did not culminate in a vote – Carlaw stressed its importance to the Jewish community in Scotland.

He said: “I think today was a landmark day in Scottish Parliament because we were able to host the first positive motion in support of Israel since the Parliament was founded in 1999.

“I think that was important because it allowed us to actually show Israel in a much more rounded context and also to address the concerns of many who live here in Scotland within the Jewish community who have felt that the language of this parliament has been advertently hostile to Israel.

So to have culture for coexistence and the ability to actually talk about the consequences of cultural boycott and to demonstrate that there is a better way to do things.”The Scottish Parliament debated a landmark pro-Israel motion calling for renewed dialogue and an end to cultural boycotts.

The debate over the motion – entitled “Israel Needs Cultural Bridges, not Boycotts” – was the first pro-dialogue motion in a year that has seen a staggering total of 62 anti-Israel debates at Holyrood.

30 MSPs – of whom 17 backed the motion – attended the debate, along with Britain’s deputy Israeli ambassador Eitan Na’eh.

Its author, Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, praised Israel’s contributions to international science and criticised campaigners who “overtly personally blame ‘the Jews’… over the actions of a foreign country”.

Other Labour and Scottish Nationalist MSPs criticised the “depressingly illiberal” tactics pursued by the anti-Israel lobby – while Green MSP Alison Johnson claimed boycotts of Israel were “entirely consistent” with holding a “deep and unwavering commitment that none of us should ever downplay or forget the atrocities of the Holocaust”.

Speaking after the debate – which did not culminate in a vote – Carlaw stressed its importance to the Jewish community in Scotland.

He said: “I think today was a landmark day in Scottish Parliament because we were able to host the first positive motion in support of Israel since the Parliament was founded in 1999.

“I think that was important because it allowed us to actually show Israel in a much more rounded context and also to address the concerns of many who live here in Scotland within the Jewish community who have felt that the language of this parliament has been advertently hostile to Israel.

So to have culture for coexistence and the ability to actually talk about the consequences of cultural boycott and to demonstrate that there is a better way to do things.”

Loraine da Costa, Chair of Culture for Coexistence said: “It has been a privilege to spend a day in the Scottish Parliament hearing the motion ‘Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts’ debated. I believe that through our initiative, Culture for Coexistence is illuminating a path whereby such issues can be discussed in a positive manner looking at what can be done to move peace forward and how culture can help to do so.”

Chargé d’affaires, Eitan Na’eh said “I am honored to be the first Israeli diplomat to be invited by the Presiding Officer MSP Tricia Marwick. The visit continues to build on the good and historic friendships that exist between Scotland and Israel. These have recently been significantly strengthened through the ongoing work of the Israeli Embassy all across Scotland.”