Greens' futile gestures on Gaza - John McLellan

Until Lord Provost Dobie Aldridge stepped in and councillors voted to block their inflammatory motion, the anti-Zionist Edinburgh Greens hoped to use today’s full council meeting to call for the Palestinian flag to be hoisted over the City Chambers amongst other futile gestures which will make no difference to the war in Gaza.
Councillor Susan RaeCouncillor Susan Rae
Councillor Susan Rae

Amongst them is Councillor Susan Rae, who this week was defiant about her use of a poster calling for Leith to be declared a Zionist-free zone to promote a meeting about Gaza in the McDonald Road Library. Claiming to be knowledgeable about the subject, Cllr Rae said Zionism and Judaism are distinct, so to be anti-Zionist was not antisemitic.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC), which I’ll take as more of an authority, begs to differ. “Zionism has been a central tenet of Judaism for thousands of years,” it says, defining anti-Zionism as, “the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland.”

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It’s true that thousands of Jewish people do not want to live in Israel, and thousands of Israelis oppose Benjamin Netanyahu and the way the war is being fought, but few reject the homeland principle.

“In light of the Jewish people’s history of persecution,” says the WJC, “Israel ensures that Jews have control over their future”. Dr Martin Luther King was torn about Israel’s actions after the 1967 Six Day War, and was no apologist for its government, but as someone who fought prejudice, he knew it when he saw it. "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism,” he said.