Anti-Israel activist Allister “Ally” Coutts has been convicted of acting in a in a racially-aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm over his attempts to intimidate a Jewish businessman in Aberdeen.
Nisan Ayalon, the owner of Jericho Skin Care, told Campaign Against Antisemitism that protesters had repeatedly visited his stall, which sells beauty products from the Dead Sea, and attempted to intimidate, him, his pregnant wife, his customers and staff.
On 16th August 2016, when Mr Ayalon arrived at his stall, he told us that Mr Coutts approached him shouting “Free Palestine” with his fist upheld. When Mr Ayalon asked him to leave, he says that Mr Coutts responded: “You’re not welcome here.” Security officers from the shopping mall then asked Mr Coutts to leave for 25 minutes whilst he continued his abuse, until police officers arrived and arrested him. Mr Ayalon says that the nature of Mr Coutts’ motivation was clear to all during his exchanges with security and police officers, whom he allegedly told that ISIS really stands for “Israeli Secret Intelligence Service” and that it was supported by Mossad.
On 9th September 2017, Mr Coutts entered a plea of “not guilty” at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, but was convicted on the strength of evidence from the security guards’ body-worn video cameras and he was fined £175 two days later on 11th September. Mr Ayalon was supported throughout by the Jewish community in Aberdeen and Jewish Human Rights Watch.
Mr Coutts is now the third member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign to be convicted of an offence due to the use of intimidatory tactics. Earlier this year, an investigation by researcher David Collier uncovered widespread antisemitism amongst activists of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, however the group dismissed his detailed findings, predictably publishing a statement announcing that it “is not inclined to take seriously the so-called ‘research’ of a pro-Israel blogger whose primary purpose is to smear organisations that support Palestinian rights”.
Now that the one of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s activists has a hate crime conviction to his name, it will be harder to shrug off such accusations.
However, Campaign Against Antisemitism is dismayed that such a small fine has been imposed. It will hardly deter those who use anti-Israel discourse to disguise their criminal antisemitism. Research by Campaign Against Antisemitism published in August found that 78% of British Jews consider boycotts of businesses selling Israeli products to constitute intimidation.
We sought comment from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Mr Coutts, but we did not receive a response.