Scottish Palestine festival raises ‘serious questions’

Scottish Palestine festival raises ‘serious questions’

Community figures urge West Dunbartonshire Council to reconsider their decision to allow the Palestinian Weekend Festival to take place

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

A Scottish council has “serious questions to answer” over its decision to allow a Palestine festival linked to activists who have shared anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Jewish leaders have said.

Community figures have urged West Dunbartonshire Council to “review their decision” to allow the planned ‘Palestinian Weekend Festival’ to go ahead next weekend at the council-owned Denny Civic Theatre and East End Park, Dumbarton.

The event is organised by the ’West Dunbartonshire Supports the People of Palestine’ (WDSPP) group and promises a weekend of Palestinian and Scottish music, sport, dance and art.

But a blog by pro-Israel activist David Collier has revealed posts by in which one figure involved in the event shares a posts suggested Mossad involvement in the death of Princess Diana and in the 7/7 bombings.

Others linked to the group shared posts to wildly anti-Semitic sites and to articles claiming Israel trained IS terrorists.

When asked if they was concerned about hosting the event, due to be held between 29-30 July, a West Dunbartonshire Council spokesperson said: “The Denny Civic Theatre and East End Park are both public facilities and are available for use by the public, provided they agree to the standard terms and conditions.”

But the Board of Deputies said it will be contacting the council to ask them to review their decision.

The Community Security Trust added: “The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the local Council have serious questions to answer, given what has been shown about the views of some of these activists.

Whether either party actually cares about anti-Jewish racism is of course another matter altogether.”

A joint statement from The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and Glasgow Jewish Representative Council outlined concerns, saying that “some of the organisers seem to have posted some rather shocking examples of anti-Semitic imagery, tropes, and conspiracy theories on social media, and we hope that none of this will be reflected in the event itself.

“If such imagery or ideas were to be part of the event, we hope that West Dunbartonshire Council would reconsider their relationship with the organisations involved.”

Former MP Michael McCann, director of Israel Britain Alliance called for the event to be “cancelled immediately” due to the organisers’ views.
The former Scottish councillor between 1999-2010 said: “Like every other local authority in Scotland West Dunbartonshire Council has a duty to operate to the highest standards to uphold equality legislation and avoid discrimination.”

“The event, if it is allowed to go ahead, has a high likelihood of bringing the council into disrepute.”

“With that knowledge and in order to protect the councils reputation the event should be cancelled immediately. A failure to do so would be a gross dereliction of the councils public sector equality duty.”

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