Glasgow Stand up to Racism march: the Zionists could not pass!

The Revolutionary Communist Group was proud to stand with others in Glasgow on 17 March to successfully prevent the Zionist Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) from participating in the annual Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) march. This was despite the earlier decision of SUTR and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which runs the SUTR campaign, to allow these racists to join their annual demonstration (see our report of lobbying SUTR).

Under heavy Police Scotland escort (around forty police officers, three police vans and a car), 20 or so CoFIS supporters were herded through town alone; isolated, blocked and surrounded by Palestine supporters. Glasgow RCG/FRFI led and supported resistance to the Zionists and provided a sound system with chants and speeches. West Dunbartonshire Supports the People of Palestine made and used an excellent replica of an Apartheid wall to hem in the Zionists throughout the day while resisting Police Scotland pressure to move. Other campaigns and groups opposing the Zionists on the day included the Red Front Republic, Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist (Scotland) and Class War. While Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign (GPHRC) called for a boycott of the SUTR march, they left it up to their individual members to decide if they wanted to support the counter mobilisation against CoFIS and leading GPHRC members did oppose CoFIS on the day.

Having decided beforehand that the Zionist racists must be allowed to join their march, on the day, the SUTR stewards did not dare challenge us. Shamefully, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) refused to oppose CoFIS on the day, although a small number of their supporters defied them in order to join us. Under pressure from its members, the Muslim Council of Scotland, which a week before had voted to allow the Zionists to march, publicly withdrew their support for the SUTR march.

The SUTR march comprised a mere 4-500 people, nowhere near the 1,500 it is claiming. It was clear that many had been deterred because of its practical endorsement of Zionism as an anti-racist ideology. SUTR’s supporters and marchers included Human Rights lawyer Aamer Anwar; Deputy General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) Dave Moxham, and hated Labour Party figures such as Frank McAveety and Mat Kerr, Glasgow Labour councillor, who oversaw the closure and demolition of the Accord day care centre in Dalmarnock to create a bus park for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Police Scotland cut short the number of speakers at the SUTR closing rally in George Square as the handful of Zionists approached it, still completely surrounded by pro-Palestinian supporters and genuine anti-racists who numbered around 80 throughout the day. By the time we arrived, all the SUTR marchers had dispersed, and the Zionists had to be escorted from the square by Police Scotland.

Questions now need to be asked, both of the SUTR/SWP, and of the official pro-Palestine movement. How is it that the SUTR/SWP have decided that Zionism is now an acceptable ideology? The SWP says Zionism is racist – but it is clear that it will abandon a political principle in order to ally itself with the most reactionary figures in the official Labour movement. We must also ask why SPSC, SACC and the bulk of organisations on the left in Scotland such as RISE refused to openly oppose and/or confront SUTR and the SWP – even if this meant allowing the Zionists to march through our streets under an anti-racist banner.

But these questions should not detract from our victory. Despite the efforts of SUTR/SWP, the Zionists did not have the freedom to display their racism. We salute those who organised and stood against the Zionists on the day. These are the forces which stand in word and deed with the heroic people of Palestine.

From Glasgow, to Gaza, Victory to the Intifada! 

Join our discussion of ‘Zionism is racism’ and reflection on the SUTR march

Thursday 29 March, 7-9pm

Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre
6 Daisy Street
G42 8JL

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