A question time session with the Scottish government minister for community safety, Fergus Ewing, was part of a forum for young Jews on racism and stereotyping in Glasgow on Monday.
Fifty young people, including a small number of non-Jews, attended the Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum and UJIA Community Programmes event at the Eastwood Park Theatre in Giffnock. A larger crowd observed a workshop conducted by Edie Friedman, director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality. Participants were surprised to learn that the UK was home to two per cent of the world’s asylum seekers, having believed the figure to be far higher.
Mr Ewing MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, then answered questions on a variety of topics, ranging from the need for more Holocaust education to whether political correctness had gone too far.
He had been shocked at the level of racist incidents quoted by Jcore and called for greater action to combat them. “There’s no place in Scotland for racism and antisemitism,” he said. “They spring from ignorance.”
But he went on to ask: “How do you change the behaviour of a racist? They aren’t here tonight.”
The meeting end on a note of positive action when Rabbi Moshe Rubin of Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue took to the stage to urge the youngsters to mark Mitzvah Day on November 15 by asking supermarket shoppers to buy extra items for distribution to shelters for asylum seekers. “Our Mitzvah Day will be a continuation of tonight,” he said to cheers.
Fourteen-year-old Emily Wolfson was quick to offer support. “Now I get to join in Mitzvah Day and it’s so cool.”