Nicola Sturgeon, how welcome are Jews in Scotland?

Edinburgh - Jew friendly?August is festival month in Edinburgh. A massive celebration, delivered through a collective of independent arts and cultural festivals. Just one of these, the ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’, is the largest arts festival in the world.

At the ‘Fringe’ event this year, scheduled for August 17, is the ‘International Shalom Festival’. Described as a one-day celebration bringing together Jews, Arabs, Christians and other minorities, that all co-exist together peacefully in Israel. Yet once again, as Israeli artists perform inside Scotland,demonstrations are being arranged in protest.

Edinburgh protests

As far back as 1997, during the Oslo peace talks, antizionists attacked Israeli performers at the festival. In 2008 the Jerusalem Quartet concert was disrupted, in 2012 it was the turn of the Batsheva Dance Troupe. In 2014, anti-Israel activists called on the venue to cancel a show with Israeli performers, and local police forced the venue to incur additional security costs. In turn, the venue demanded additional funds from the performers.

So in 2015, Haaretz reported that for the first time in years, Israeli performances were not hosted at the festival at all.  This silencing of the Israeli voice is celebrated as a victory by the anti-Israel activists. The voice that seeks dialogue and accommodation is being silenced.

The festival is not the only place in Scotland such opposition is seen, less than two years ago a worker at an Israeli cosmetics stall in Glasgow had a ‘burning liquid’ thrown at her. The university space is also rabid, with events being called off due to protests, and Jewish students at universities are “denying or hiding” their identity because of discrimination. These events, including the protests at Edinburgh, are all connected.

Yet here is a simple fact. Israel is by far the most diverse nation in the Middle East. Despite the accusations of the protesters, there is not a single nation in the region that is as free, as democratic, as liberal or as diverse as Israel. Not one. What else sets it apart from all of its neighbours though, is another simple fact. It is the only nation in the world that is Jewish.

According to the 2011 census, there are just under 6000 Jews currently living in Scotland and this year marks 200 years since the first Jewish congregation was founded, ironically in Edinburgh. But in reality, how welcome are the Jews in Scotland? When I use the word ‘welcome’, I don’t refer to the lack of a Hitlerite doctrine, or wish to gauge whether gangs of antisemites seek out symbols that adorn Jewish houses to begin targeting the inhabitants. I simply ask how free are Jewish people to celebrate their Jewish identity publicly?


Which brings me back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The protesters suggest that Israeli money is funding the Shalom Festival and then embark on a sickening exercise to follow ‘Jewish money’, from the organisers back to the embassy of the only democratic nation in the Middle East.

So what is this protest, anti-Israel or anti-Jewish? Well primarily, it is clear that the protest is anti-peace. The essence of the Shalom Festival is co-operation, the diverse and inclusive nature of Israel. And support for dialogue, the underpinnings of the international position over a two state solution. What the protesters are standing against isn’t a settlement or Israeli army action, but rather a core element of Jewish belief – Zionism. The very existence of Israel.

There are two connected elements to Zionism, the religious and the political. Zionism is on almost every page of the Jewish bible, the land of Israel, the national home of the Jews. Carried with them throughout centuries of persecution, the religious aspect became political reality as Israel was founded as a state in 1948.  A fundamental shift in Jewish history.

93% of UK Jews believe that Israel plays a part in their Jewish identity, 90% believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Let me put this into perspective. Proportionally more UK Jews identify Israel as being part of their Jewish identity than UK Christians go to church, UK Muslims eat Halal or UK Jews who eat kosher. As a statistic, it would be hard to find any element of any religion that is as prevailing as the Jewish/Israel connection.


If a nation boycotted all Easter celebrations it would be considered religious persecution, so too banning or restricting the sale of Halal meat. Thus, although the theoretical opposition to the existence of a Jewish state may not cross the line, in actually boycotting the state of Israel and calling for its destruction, we are witnessing clear antisemitism in our midst. No surprise then, that the Jews become intimidated, frightened and unable to display their identity in public.

To counter this, the antizionists create a smokescreen around Zionism. Turning it from the realisation of national identity, into a description of some of Israel’s actions beyond the 1967 lines. They then use the small minority, the 7%, wherever they find them, to deflect all accusations they are being antisemitic. Illan Pappe, Ronnie Barkan, Max Blumenthal, can be no more legitimately used to strike against Israel, than you would find support for using a strange Christian sub group who deny the existence of Jesus. Their very use is an antisemitic act. Only with the Jews, only with Israel, do the 7% get given a microphone, a stage and finance.

To be an antizionist is to reject not just the religious and national elements of Zionism, but to reject international law, denounce democracy and side with the misogynistic, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, antisemitic neighbours that even today, seek to remove Israel from the map. Israel is the only nation in the region where all religions practice freely, the only one with a growing Christian population.

You can oppose Israeli political actions, you can support the Palestinian right to a state, and you can support Israel’s right to live in peace. This isn’t an either/or. Even terror groups such as the IRA in seeking an united Ireland, did not seek to destroy England. When it comes to pushing radical extremism, these protesters are off the map. They should not be allowed the unchallenged air of the mainstream. They have to be opposed.

Stand up and be counted

Edinburgh, Shalom FestivalThese people need support, this peace festival needs support. If we are ever to see real peace between Israel and all its neighbours, then we have to start supporting those movements that seek accommodation, negotiation, peace. The International Shalom festival is such an event.

We are a free society and we cannot stop a public protest in Edinburgh. What we can do is marginalise it, by highlighting the side that stands up for our values, those of peace, freedom, democracy. We need to stand by those who offer the promise of peace and reject those who beat the drums of perpetual war.

This Shalom Festival in Edinburgh needs your support. It promises to be an invigorating, fascinating insight into the life of Israelis and the vibrant diverse democracy that exists there. If you cannot make it, or will not be at the festival at all, it needs your vocal support, pass on the event details to your friends, bring it to the attention of others.

And if you are a politician, if you are the leader of the Scottish National Party, you need to choose what type of Scotland you wish to represent. So to Nicola Sturgeon I say this: You clearly want Scotland to be an independent Nation. So you need to stand up and publicly state that this festival, this inclusive celebration of diverse culture, is open to everyone. You need to give the International Shalom Festival your support. Don’t you think you need to show us just what type of independent Scotland the Jews can expect? Or are Scotland’s Jews only protected by Westminster?

So Nicola, are Jews weclome at the Edinburgh festival? Not shadows of Jews, scared to express their identity, looking over their shoulder, worried about what they can and cannot say for fear of persecution. But real Jews, proud, Zionist, Israeli flag waving Jews. Jews that are free to walk in the light. Are they welcome?

Do Jews in Scotland really have to hide every time they wish to celebrate the vibrant democracy that is Israel? Will you really accept the denial of such a fundamental part of their Jewish identity?

Your move.



Jews and Israel in a threatened, leaderless and delusional world

 June 22, 2016


The painful lesson of the Orlando massacre is that no place in the world is immune to fanatical religious extremists willing to kill themselves to achieve heavenly salvation.

The Western world is floundering in its pathetic efforts to confront the demonic global forces threatening to plunge it back into the Dark Ages.

Its failure is largely due to the inability of democratic countries to face reality and devise a united strategy to vanquish these Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

Instead, Western leaders bury their heads in the sand and cravenly resort to policies of appeasement, even though there is not a single recorded historical instance in which a millennial terrorist force has modified its behavior in response to such approaches.

Europe, where major cities are suffering suicidal attacks from crazed imported and home-grown Muslim terrorists, is now perversely absorbing millions of additional migrants from the Middle East killing fields – ironically rejected by Islamic countries as security risks. The demography of Europe is being permanently altered but any rational discussion of the subject is immediately condemned as Islamophobic.

Contrary to all evidence, most West European governments continue to blame the Israeli-Palestinian impasse as the principle factor inflaming Islamic terror. Currently, the French government– whose Muslim population is estimated to be over 15% and expanding dramatically – chooses to ignore the ongoing mayhem in the region and instead seeks to force Israel to retreat territorially to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.

Much of the current breakdown can be attributed to the influence of U.S. President Barack Obama and the policies he initiated. His overriding objective was to build a bridge between the U.S. and global Islam, and to this end, he has fawned on leaders of rogue Islamic states and humiliated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a low-level adversary rather than treating him as an ally.

Obama groveled toward the leaders of Iran, the world’s most intransigent terrorist entity, while they continued baying for the downfall of the U.S., the “Great Satan” – and succeeded in transforming Iran into a threshold nuclear state, which further emboldened the ayatollahs and outraged America’s traditional moderate supporters.

Obama’s indecisiveness is much to blame for the ongoing horrendous civil war in Syria, and enabled Russia to assume a position of critical leverage in the region. He displayed hostility to the Egyptian government which, backed by popular support, replaced the Muslim Brotherhood regime and is fiercely engaged in battling Islamic fundamentalists.

In his obsession to appease Muslims, Obama rejects all criticism of Islamic fundamentalism as Islamophobia. Even more bizarre, despite the fact that the vast majority of terrorist incidents throughout the globe were either orchestrated or inspired by Islamic fanatics, any reference to the link of terrorism to radical Islam is banned from the White House and State Department lexicon.

The perpetrator of the Orlando massacre was claimed by ISIS as “one of our soldiers in America.” During the course of the killings, he shouted “Allahu akbar” and even proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State. Yet Obama remained in denial, adamantly refusing to label the massacre as Islamic terror and misleadingly defining it as a “homegrown” anti-gay “hate crime” influenced by “extremist information disseminated over the internet.”

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of what policy Obama’s successor will adopt.

If elected, Donald Trump could make changes, but his raucous zigzagging statements and his call to ban entry to all Muslims – as distinct from limiting and enforcing tougher security entry screening – are populist demagoguery and hardly reassuring. Trump supporters claim that he would surround himself with good advisers and come down to earth. But many, including prominent conservatives, regard him as an unguided missile and remain deeply skeptical as to his presidential ability.

Hillary Clinton is also a fearful prospect. Setting aside the hostility to Israel that she displayed when she served as secretary of state, the influence of the Bernie Sanders elements on the ongoing radicalization of the Democratic Party is deeply troublesome.

It is significant that even in the wake of the Orlando massacre, Clinton still played down Islamic extremism and blamed the failure on a lack of gun control. Whereas there is every reason to prohibit the sale of automatic weapons to the public, blaming “gun violence” obscures the real source of the problem, which is global jihad. Indeed, in Israel, since the wave of “spontaneous lone wolf killings,” Israeli citizens licensed to use weapons have actually been encouraged to carry them and have succeeded in foiling many attacks.

How can governments confront global terror when they refuse to objectively assess and identify the source of the threat?

It is an indisputable fact that the bulk of global terror emanates from Muslims. Thus, to protect lives, immigration and entry visas should be reviewed rationally. Let us assume that of the 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world, 95% are law-abiding citizens. Yet all opinion polls indicate that the majority nevertheless harbor sympathy toward the terrorists and yearn for Muslim global domination. A worldwide Rand Corporation study three years ago estimated that 100,000 were potential terrorists but today the number would be far greater due to the substantial increase of jihadists in the wake of the ISIS caliphate.

Additional security procedures must be adopted. There is an urgent need to expand and share global intelligence.

Civil liberties should not be understated, but political correctness must be overridden by the duty to protect the life and limb of innocent civilians. Yet even after Orlando, the media was enjoined to understate the Islamic factor as it would “distress” the Muslim community.

Law-abiding Muslims cannot be permitted to stand aside or merely condemn terrorist acts. They must understand that it is their obligation to identify to law enforcement officials all clerics and mosques that engage in promoting radicalism and jihad, such as the mosque attended by the Orlando terrorist, Omer Mateen. If the authorities are serious in their efforts to curtail terrorist attacks, then there is no choice but to restore surveillance of Islamic societies, which was curtailed in the U.S. in recent months when the government was accused of discriminatory behavior and Islamophobia.

The ongoing threat of terror attacks is impacting on political attitudes. With the Islamic extremists boasting of sleepers embedded in Western society and poised to inflict further terrorist attacks, much of the population has lost confidence in its leaders. A genuine revolt against the established order is reflected in the radical disillusionment emerging across the entire spectrum. In Western Europe there is a dramatic rise in populist right-wing support, which is clearly a response to fears from Islamic terror, and in the U.S., populist appeal of Trump from the right and Sanders from the left signify a revolt against all establishments.

In this constellation, despite all the challenges facing it, Israel is in a remarkably strong position. The U.S., the Europeans and the U.N. will undoubtedly continue pressuring and passing discriminatory resolutions demanding further unilateral territorial concessions that would undermine our security.

Netanyahu noted that the strength of shared values and popular support outweighs the tensions, and that the U.S. remains our closest ally. But we have also made extraordinary progress extending relations with countries beyond North America and Western Europe, such as India and China. The warmth exuded toward Israel and the Jewish people by Russia has been remarkable. The Algemeiner newspaper even suggested that Putin may use Russia’s veto at the U.N. to protect Israel should the U.S. abandon it. I would not hold my breath on this.

Israel is better positioned today than at any time to resist those willing to sacrifice it in order to appease the jihadists. The reality is that in an increasingly tough world in which no city is immune from terrorism, Israel can provide an example of security that other countries could well emulate and may ultimately assume an important role in the effort to strategize and neutralize the global jihad.

 Isi Leibler may be contacted at


Jew Hatred – A warning from History Revelation TV

Part 1

Revelation TV has produced an excellent new series of programmes, entitled Jew Hatred: a warning from history, that looks at the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Join presenter Simon Barrett as he travels to France, Belgium and Israel, where he meets Jewish leaders across Europe to discover what lies behind some of the most horrific anti-Semitic attacks that we have witnessed since World War Two. He visits Paris, the scene of the ISIS terror attack on the Jewish Supermarket in January 2015, that shook France. He interviews Jewish leaders and experts to discover the extent of anti-Semitism, and the reason why so many French Jews are fleeing to Israel. He also investigates the role that the French media has played in anti-Israel sentiment, through their portrayal of the Israeli –Palestinian conflict.

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Part 2

Revelation TV has produced an excellent new series of programmes, entitled Jew Hatred: a warning from history, that looks at the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Join presenter Simon Barrett as he travels to France, Belgium and Israel, where he meets Jewish leaders across Europe to discover what lies behind some of the most horrific anti-Semitic attacks that we have witnessed since World War Two.

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Part 3

This final episode takes us to Jerusalem to attend a conference organised vy the Israeli foreign ministry to combat ant-semitism where the World’s leading experts on anti-semitism are in attendance.

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Bron: Revelation TV