Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is under growing pressure over the SNP’s deal with the Scottish Greens due to the Party’s opposition to the International Definition of Antisemitism and other controversial policies revealed by Campaign Against Antisemitism and others.
In 2015, the Scottish Greens adopted a motion, which has never been rescinded, condemning “Israel’s claim to be ‘the Jewish State’” and “Zionism as a racist ideology.” According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is an example of antisemitism.
The motion also committed the Party to opposing “Aliyah” (Jewish immigration to Israel, including by British Jews) and Israel’s Law of Return, the Jewish state’s answer to centuries of persecution of Diaspora Jewry. The motion further called for the removal of Hamas, an antisemitic genocidal terrorist organisation, from its designation by the British Government 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.
The debate on this motion 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 recently joined 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. The two leaders of the Scottish Greens—Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater—are now ministers in Ms Sturgeon’s Government.
Although the agreement between the 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.
Prior to inviting the Scottish Greens into her administration, Ms Sturgeon sought to reassure the Jewish community that she is “committed to tackling” antisemitism after the recent surge in racism against Jews in the UK.
Now, Ms Sturgeon is under pressure over her agreement with the Scottish Greens, with the Conservatives calling on the SNP to scrap the deal. Campaign Against Antisemitism remains deeply troubled by the aforementioned policies of the Scottish Greens, the Green Party’s branch in Scotland.
In a statement, the Scottish Greens said: A spokesman for the Scottish Green Party said: “The Scottish Green Party abhors antisemitism. There is absolutely no place for any anti-Jewish prejudice in society. Green politics is rooted in environmentalism, peace, social justice and democracy. Our party’s position on international affairs, including Palestine and Israel, is guided by these pillars. We will continue to raise our voice in support of a human rights based outcome that allows everyone in the region to live in peace, free from oppression or occupation.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We remain absolutely committed to action to address antisemitism, which is utterly unacceptable. There is no place for it in Scotland.”
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.