Sammy Stein

Why does Humza Yousaf speak as if he is a global leader?

And why does he repeatedly put his foot in it with his anti-Israel obsession?


Humza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland (Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

February 19, 2024 12:23

It’s said that a good interviewer should be able to predict the answer to any question asked during an interview. That would not have been a difficult task for the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg when at the end of January she asked Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf if he thinks that “sometimes people place a different value on Palestinian or Muslim lives”, as she provided him with the answer in her question.

True to form, Yousaf replied: “Without a shadow of a doubt” and added that, “If you talk to anybody who's Palestinian, you speak to many people in the Muslim community, they feel that Palestinian blood is very cheap.” However the only “people” that may agree with Yousaf are the leaders and terrorists of Hamas who continually use Palestinians as human shields and have been responsible for the high death toll in Gaza since October 7.

So what is it about Humza Yousaf, who is not well known or understood outside Scotland, that causes him to put his foot in his mouth with such frequency?

Could it be frustration that the role of Scottish First Minister does not include foreign affairs - but he sees himself as a world statesman? Could it be because he is desperate to find issues that will provide opportunities for him to point out to the long suffering Scottish electorate that it is Westminster that is stopping Scotland from becoming another economic power house such as Norway?

Unlike the UK government, which is a staunch supporter of the Jewish state, the SNP has for many years been a strong critic of Israel. Since October 7, Yousaf has made numerous statements about the current Gaza war and has taken an unbalanced stance against Israel.

As early as October 10, three days after the massacre and before Israel’s response was underway, Scotland's First Minister was the first Western leader to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas by asking the British government to relay his message.

In mid-October, Yousaf announced that Scotland is ready to offer asylum to the people of Gaza, making it one of the first countries to welcome Palestinian refugees into a country that is failing to deal with its own problem of homeless people. He further called ⁠on the international community to "commit to a worldwide refugee programme" for the one million people displaced within Gaza.

In early November, the First Minister pledged £750,000 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

A couple of weeks later, following a vote by Scottish MPs who backed his motion in the Scottish Parliament for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza by 90 votes to 28, Yousaf urged the UK government to recognise a Palestinian state. He claimed that this would help to end the "political impasse" in the Middle East.

In mid-November, Yousaf said: “A ceasefire would enable a humanitarian corridor and the crucial delivery of immediate aid to those in desperate need. I am beyond angry that Scottish Labour MPs and others refused to back the calls for an immediate ceasefire. They are on the wrong side of history, which is unforgivable”.

In early December he said that the UK was “complicit in the killing of thousands of children” after the UK voted against a ceasefire in Gaza. He added that it was “incomprehensible” that the UK abstained from a vote at the UN Security Council.

In early January, Yousaf said that Israel's actions in Gaza are "tantamount to ethnic cleansing". He further urged the UK Government to make clear to Israel that its actions in Gaza have gone “way beyond a legitimate response” to the October 7 attack by Hamas and that it should push for an end to hostilities. He continued by stating that the UK government should make clear that Israeli officials - including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military commanders - must be held accountable for the deaths of civilians if the country does not "immediately cease indiscriminate attacks" in Gaza.

At the end of January, after a number of countries, including the UK, halted their financial support to UNRWA, Yousaf said that Scotland has not “paused or withdrawn” funding for the UN’s relief agency in Gaza. He confirmed that Scotland has already paid out £750,000 and, “We will always seek to do more where we can and urge others to continue to provide aid to the people of Gaza.”

It was recently disclosed that Scottish charities working in other poverty-stricken countries are concerned that Scottish government ministers have raided ring-fenced aid fund meant for them and sent the £750,000 to pay for humanitarian aid to be provided by UNRWA.

And as Israel is preparing to enter Rafah, Yousaf has said that an Israeli ground invasion of the city would cause “devastation beyond comprehension”.

For a politician without a foreign affairs remit, Yousaf clearly has an obsession with Israel and it is no surprise why he has recently been nicknamed First Minister of Gaza.

Could this anti-Israel rhetoric and endless demands that Israel should agree to an immediate ceasefire be due to his wife, Nadia El-Nakla, who is of Palestinian heritage and a past convener of SNP Friends of Palestine?

Last week the Scottish government revealed that Humza and Nadia are on their way for a holiday in Qatar. Perhaps they plan to meet the most senior leaders of Hamas who reside in Qatar and persuade them to release the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza by Hamas. Or perhaps not.

Sammy Stein is chair of Glasgow Friends of Israel

February 19, 2024 12:23

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