Stand Up To Racism sit down to Zionism! Report of Lobby of SUTR, 10/03/2018

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On 10 March, a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) steering committee meeting in Glasgow overwhelmingly voted down a motion calling on SUTR to tell the Confederation of Friends of Israel – Scotland (CoFIS) that they are not welcome to join the SUTR march in Glasgow on 17 March. CoFIS had been allowed to take part in the 2017 SUTR march, complete with a banner and Israeli flags, despite the opposition of Palestine supporters present at the time.

The Revolutionary Communist Group in Glasgow mobilised supporters of Palestine for a lobby of the SUTR meeting. In torrential rain, around 20 people lobbied SUTR with lively chants of ‘Stand Up To Racism – Stand Up To Zionism!’ and ‘Free, Free, Palestine!’. The lobby was called to put pressure on SUTR to publicly state that CoFIS, and all Zionist organisations, would not be welcome on the march. Over 1,000 people had supported our open letter to SUTR online and on street stalls and protests. Despite aggressive hostility from SUTR representatives, lobbyists invaded the building and continued their chants in the lobby.

The motion, put in the name of Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) said:

"That this meeting of the SUTR (Scotland) Steering Committee notes the serious concerns raised by affiliates and supporters, particularly by campaigners for Palestinian equality, justice and freedom including the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, that the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (CoFIS) joined and raised their banner and Israeli flags at the SUTR demonstration in 2017.

The Committee understands that the aims of CoFIS, an organisation that works in partnership with the Israeli government and international pro-Israel organisations such as Christians United for Israel (led by John Hagee who is known for his antisemitic and racist outbursts), are incompatible with the principles and aims of SUTR.

The Committee notes that CoFIS was founded in order to counter the work of Palestine solidarity campaigners in Scotland, and that their tactics include intimidation by smears of racism and lobbying local authorities to use and abuse hate crime legislation in order to protect the state of Israel.

The Committee resolves to inform CoFIS that they are not welcome to join the SUTR demonstration on 17 March 2018.

The Committee resolves to write to affiliates and supporters, and those organisations that have contacted SUTR with their concerns on this matter, to confirm that this action has been taken and to invite them to build and join the 17 March 2018 demonstration in Glasgow."

Palestine campaigners from local groups and those involved in the lobby were barred entry to the meeting on the basis that they were not ‘affiliated to SUTR’. Not surprisingly: of the 11 people present in the meeting only one committee member, Sandra White, a Scottish National Party (SNP) MSP, voted in support of SACC’s motion, which was presented to the meeting by John Porter and Sofiah MacLeod who is also national chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). Those who voted against the motion included Socialist Workers Party (SWP) members Penny Gower, Jim Main, Talat Ahmed and Keir McKechnie, who also serves as the leading spokesperson and ‘chief steward’ for SUTR; Jock Morris of the Glasgow Campaign To Welcome Refugees; a representative from the Muslim Council of Scotland; a representative from the Afghan Human Rights Foundation; SUTR National Committee member and former RISE candidate Pinar Aksu. A letter from the president of the EIS teachers’ trade union, Nicola Fisher (also of the Stop The War Coalition and a friend of the SWP), was read out threatening that if the SACC motion was accepted by the steering committee, the EIS would remove all funding and support from the march.

The SUTR Steering Committee used the bogus argument SWP always advances to justify its recruitment of Zionist support for its ‘anti-racist’ fronts: that support for Palestine has to be treated as separate from any anti-racist movement inside Britain. To connect these struggles would be ‘divisive’ to the anti-racist movement. In practice this is a whitewash of the racist character of Zionism at the time when it is on the offensive against supporters of Palestinian freedom. SUTR has now placed itself in a position where it will fight Palestinian supporters for the right of Zionists to come on its march.

The RCG is committed to building a principled, democratic and united solidarity movement inside Britain with the people of Palestine in their struggle against racism. This will necessarily mean confronting the imperialist British state which supports Israel. The struggle for a free Palestine cannot be separated from the struggle against racism inside Britain and globally. We call on all supporters of Palestine to beat back these attacks on the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by opposing CoFIS participation on the march on the day. The people of Palestine demand no less of us!

The SUTR march will assemble at Holland Street in Glasgow city centre at 11am and depart at 11.30am. RCG and other Palestine campaigners will be making our presence felt and heard at the beginning and end of the march with ‘Zionism is racism’ rallies. Look out for the Palestine flags.

See Glasgow FRFI facebook for updates.

The Zionists shall not pass!