Anti-Israel demos at technology show

Anti-Israel demonstrations took place outside the Scottish Parliament for three days this week as an exhibition promoting the Jewish state's technological achievements prompted mass opposition.

The small exhibit, Israel's contribution to medicine, science and technology, was organised by the Scottish Friends of Israel group and sponsored by MSP Ken MacIntosh.

It opened on Tuesday at Holyrood. Protesters from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Scottish Friends of Palestine groups gathered outside the parliament building.

Calls to cancel the exhibition were also backed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress which passed an emergency motion at its annual meeting in Dundee.

Arguments over whether Holyrood should be the venue for the exhibition were also played out in the letters page of The Scotsman newspaper.

Hugh Humphries, secretary of Scottish Friends of Palestine, last week wrote to Mr MacIntosh saying: "There is concern over the direction that acts such as your sponsoring of this exhibition takes Scotland and the Scottish peopleā€¦ public money is being used to assist the promotion of an odious regime."

But Mr MacIntosh said the exhibition was "simply a positive statement about Israel and the Israeli people and the contribution they have made to our lives here in Scotland.

"I find much of the debate and the coverage of Israel to be one-sided, unremittingly negative and hostile. I also worry about the impact of such coverage on the Jewish community here in Scotland, who I know have to cope with direct and indirect attacks as a result."

Myer Green, of Scottish Friends of Israel, said: "The exhibition is intrinsically non-political.

"Admittedly, it was motivated by the unending torrent of petitions presented at Holyrood making allegations against Israel. We thought it would be useful to take remedial action against that.

"The hostile atmosphere outside Holyrood was in complete contrast with the warm welcome we received from parliament staff, who expressed interest in the exhibition and wished us good luck. I hope this will rebound on the protesters."

Following its annual meeting, the STUC said it "deplored Parliament's acquiescence to this blatant example of Israeli state propaganda".

    Last updated: 3:18pm, April 29 2010