Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

First Minister meets Jewish Community leaders

 

12 June 2018

Jewish community leaders meeting with the First Minister

SCoJeC Chair Micheline Brannan met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP at St Andrews House, along with Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl who had spoken at SCoJeC's AGM the previous day, Board of Deputies Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, and Glasgow Jewish Representative Council Co-President Evy Yedd, to discuss antisemitism, Scotland's Jewish community, and the impact that attitudes to Israel have on Jewish people living in Scotland.

The Jewish community representatives raised concerns about antisemitism, noting that, as SCoJeC found in our Scottish Government-funded inquiry into What's changed about Being Jewish in Scotland, Jewish people in Scotland had, for the first time in recent memory, started to feel uncomfortable about openly identifying as Jewish. The group praised the First Minister's lead on the Scottish Government's adoption of the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism, which gives examples of how delegitimisation, demonisation, and double standards applied to Israel can cross the line into antisemitism.

Jewish community leaders meeting with the First Minister

On the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the group asked the First Minister to ensure that her Government adopts an even-handed approach that recognises the security threats that Israel faces, and urged her to support the 'Invest in Peace' initiative, which brings together grass roots voices from both sides of the conflict.

Responding to the delegation, the First Minister expressed her "unequivocal and very strong intolerance" of antisemitism, and said that it must be called out no matter where it appears. She welcomed the close relationship with the Jewish community, which enables her to have frank discussions with leaders on issues of concern. She emphasised that Scotland's Jewish community is an important part of our national life, and repeated that she wants everyone to feel safe and valued in Scotland, and comfortable to say openly who they are. Ms Sturgeon added that while people must be free to criticise the Israeli Government, they must not make Jews and Israelis feel unsafe by the way they do so. She did not foresee any change in the Scottish Government's refusal to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

After the meeting the First Minister said:

"I was clear that my Government will not tolerate antisemitism in Scotland and will work with the Jewish community and all others to defeat it. We were very proud to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism and we would call on all others who have not yet done so to do so. I re-emphasised my Government's commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, leading to a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable Palestinian state. I look forward to continuing these valuable conversations. The Jewish community is a vital part of our national life in Scotland."

Micheline commented:

"We had a wonderful reception from the First Minister who listened very carefully to everything we said, and reaffirmed her warmth towards the Jewish Community. It was reassuring to hear yet again her firm rejection of antisemitism, no matter what the source, and her willingness to take action to prevent it. We thanked her for her support through meetings and participation in community events, and she was enthusiastic for that to continue in future. Notwithstanding the occasional difficulties faced by members of the Community, we assured her that Scotland is a good place to be Jewish."

 

   
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