A crowdfunding campaign for a Jewish solicitor in Scotland has almost raised enough money to cover his fine, after he was ordered to pay £1,750 and attend “diversity training” following a spat with Palestinian supporters over an Israeli shop.
Matthew Berlow, a criminal lawyer, was involved in the online altercation after protests outside a store selling Dead Sea products in an Aberdeen shopping centre last year, calling the protesters “scummy racists”.
Dr Karolin Hijazi, a pro-Palestinian campaigner and lecturer at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Dentistry, is understood to have complained to the Law Society of Scotland, which issued the £1,750 fine and ordered Berlow to attend “diversity training”.
In response to enquiries, the organisation said it did not comment on individual cases and that it has not produced a written judgement following the ruling.
A crowdfunding effort to pay the solicitor’s fine has been set up, and by Wednesday lunchtime it had covered almost the full amount. Supporters hope to raise a total of £4,000, allowing Berlow to appeal to the Scottish Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Berlow said: “I accused them on social media of being racists, cowards and bullies… Unfortunately I have been exposed to risk in that I am a member of a profession and therefore prone to spurious complaints made by those with such an agenda.”
David Hirsh, a Jewish lecturer at Goldsmiths University, sided with Berlow on the matter, saying: “The Law Society should side with real anti-racists against antisemites, not try to ensure fair play between the two. This decision is a humiliation for and a provocation against all Jews and all genuine anti-racists.”