Campaign Against Antisemitism is deeply troubled by certain policies of the Scottish Greens, the Green Party’s branch in Scotland which as of this week sits in the Scottish Government.
In 2015, the Scottish Greens adopted Policy Motion 2 (which has never been rescinded), which “condemn[ed] Israel’s claim to be ‘the Jewish State’” and “condemn[ed] Zionism as a racist ideology based on Jewish supremacy in Palestine.” The motion went on to declare that “Israel’s claim to be a Jewish and democratic state, the home of all Jews in which non-Jews have inferior rights, constitutes apartheid and is unacceptable. It is not supported by the Scottish Green Party.”
The Party also “call[s] on Israel to repeal its ‘law of return’ as this is incompatible with the full exercise of human rights and is discriminatory” and the Scottish Greens pledge to “work towards…repeal of Israel’s law of return (Aliyah).”
The motion also called for “the removal of Hamas from the designation as a terrorist organisation” and supported the BDS movement—the campaign to boycott the Jewish state—the tactics of which an overwhelming majority of British Jews find intimidating.
Hamas is an antisemitic genocidal terrorist organisation, and Campaign Against Antisemitism has written to the Home Secretary calling on her to proscribe Hamas in full, and has urged all MPs to do the same.
The debate on Policy Motion 2 was held on a Saturday, when observant Jews would be unable to participate, and it passed easily. It became Party policy and remains so even as the Scottish Greens join the Scottish devolved Government for the first time. Indeed, it is the first time that a Green Party has joined any Government in the United Kingdom.
Recently, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who invited the Scottish Greens into her administration, sought to reassure the Jewish community that she is “committed to tackling” antisemitism after the recent surge in racism against Jews in the UK. The Scottish Greens are currently led by Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater.
Although the agreement between Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP and the Scottish Greens excludes international relations, as one journalist has pointed out this is the worst of both worlds, as it means that the two parties and their politicians can speak freely on the subject, allowing the Scottish Greens to promote their Party’s positions without the hindrance of collective responsibility.
Joe Glasman, Head of Political Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The positions adopted by the Scottish Greens in 2015 and not since rescinded are abhorrent to British Jews and to opponents of antisemitism everywhere. All decent Scots will have been appalled by the surge in racism against the Jewish community during the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, which saw demonstrations featuring antisemitic chanting and the display of the Hamas insignia. Now, as campaigns for Hamas to be proscribed in full by the British Government are in full swing, a Party whose stated policy is the very opposite now sits in the Scottish Government.
“The Party’s rise to national prominence in Scotland demands immediate review of its position on Zionism, ‘aliyah’ and Hamas. With the privilege of participation in national government comes the responsibility to govern on behalf of all Scotland, including its minorities.
“Nicola Sturgeon, who invited the Scottish Greens into her administration, must also urgently clarify the policy of the Scottish Government. If she fails to control the extremist elements of her new governing partner, she will be to blame for elevating those views into Scotland’s national conversation and giving such views standing within the UK polity.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism has extensively documented alleged antisemitism among officers of the Green Party of England and Wales, including the Party’s former Equalities and Diversity Coordinator who now holds the International Coordinator portfolio, on which the Green Party has failed to act. We are also monitoring the Greens’ leadership primary, where differences on whether and how to address antisemitism have arisen.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.