Israeli flag fails to fly at Scottish celebration

By Simon Rocker, May 16, 2008

Organisers of the main celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary in Scotland last week decided not to raise the Israeli flag for fear of provoking pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Ten years ago — for Israel’s 50th — the flag was raised on a flagpole in a ceremony outside the premises of East Renfrewshire Council where the event had been staged.

But after discussions between local organisers and the council, the decision was taken not to repeat the exercise this time. The 60th event was held at the same venue, in the south of Glasgow.

Adele Conn, co-chair of the Israel at 60 committee, said: “We didn’t want to have a political event, just a celebration. We didn’t want to make a political issue out of it.”

Hugh Humphries, secretary of the Scottish Friends of Palestine — which advocates a boycott of Israeli institutions — said the group was “pleased” at the decision not to fly the flag.

But it has called for the council’s external auditors to investigate any subsidy of the 60th celebrations.

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire said: “The council did not fly the flag of Israel and there was full agreement with the anniversary organisers.

“What happened is that Provost Alex Mackie attended at the start of the evening concert at Eastwood Theatre to wish all attending an enjoyable evening. He also dropped in early to Carmichael Hall to meet local Jewish families enjoying special celebrations for children. In both cases, the organisers of the events hired the premises from the council in the usual way.”

East Renfrewshire, explained the spokesman, “is home to Scotland’s largest Jewish community and Provost Mackie thought it right and fitting to wish members of the community a happy celebration.”

The council contributed a £500 firework display to the celebrations.

    Last updated: 10:54am, May 16 2008