Scottish MSP condemns ‘astonishing’ refusal to debate with Israel supporters

Scottish MSP condemns ‘astonishing’ refusal to debate with Israel supporters

Philip Chetwynd refused to debate pro-Israel individuals, calling Zionist representatives 'ideological terrorists'

Stickers calling for a boycott of Israel
Stickers calling for a boycott of Israel

The Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Palestine has condemned as “astonishing” the conduct of its own treasurer, who refused to debate anti-Semitism with “representatives of three Zionist organisations”.

In a stinging rebuke to one of their own, the pro-Palestine group rounded on Philip Chetwynd after a meeting last week in which he was accused of calling Zionist representatives “ideological terrorists,” and called for him to be sacked.

It follows a meeting on 25 April, in which Chetwynd refused to give a presentation

Jackson Carlaw, a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), speaking on behalf of eight other Cross Party Group on Palestine (CPG-P) members, tabled a motion slamming Chetwynd’s comments as “potentially anti-Semitic”.

The motion “notes with astonishment” Chetwynd’s purported statements, including his suggestion that he felt “intimidated” by the presence of “Zionist representatives,” including the Scottish Council of Jewish Representatives (SCoJeC), who attended the 25 April meeting as observers.

Carlaw said the CPG-P members felt that “Scotland’s Parliament must be open to all and that political debate is weakened by an unwillingness to engage with those with whom we disagree”.

He added that Chetwynd’s comments “could potentially be construed as anti-Semitic given that, of the three representatives referred to, one was Jewish and another an Israeli national living in Scotland”.

Carlaw’s motion concluded by slamming “Chetwynd’s unwillingness to act in a manner appropriate to maintaining the reputation of the Parliament,” adding: “He should be removed from his position forthwith.”

Jewish groups in Scotland say they regularly have observers at CPG-P meetings, and that they attend to “listen and learn”.

SCoJeC chair Micheline Brannan said: “I consider that SCoJeC has a legitimate interest in any discussion on anti-Semitism in Scotland and was astonished at this attempt to exclude us.”

She added that she was “distressed by Mr Chetwynd’s attack” but “proud that the MSPs present stood up for us, and the members of the public who supported us”.

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