Alex Salmond denies he compared Israel with Islamic State


Alex Salmond has rejected suggestions that he made a comparison between the Islamic State terrorist group and Israel’s policies during the Gaza conflict.

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme last Sunday, Mr Salmond said: “The Muslim community of Scotland isn’t responsible in any shape or form for atrocities or extremism, just like a few weeks ago the Jewish community of Scotland wasn’t responsible for the policies of the state of Israel.”

The First Minister was speaking about the need for community cohesion after Scottish aid worker David Haines was murdered by IS terrorists in Iraq.

Some observers felt that Mr Salmond was drawing a parallel between the IS terror organisation which the US government describes as “apocalyptic” and the Jewish State.

But Mr Salmond’s office issued a strongly worded statement denying that this was the case.

“The First Minister was making clear that any aggravated racial or religious attack against any community will be met with the full force of the law and will not be tolerated,” said a spokesperson.

“There is not, and he did not intend to draw, any moral equivalence between the actions of ISIS and the conflict in Gaza.”

Jewish leaders and Israeli diplomats in the UK also played down any suggestion that the First Minister had drawn a parallel.

A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said: “It is inconceivable that Alex Salmond meant to equate Israel's actions facing an internationally-designated terror group, with those of Islamist extremists.

“The only linkage that can be made in this case is between Hamas itself and its ideological allies, Al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram and others.”

Israel’s honorary consul in Scotland, Stanley Lovatt, said he had no concerns at all over the First Minister’s comments.

“It’s a simple statement of fact. I don’t see anything wrong with it,” he said.

“What he said is correct - we’re not responsible for what happens in Israel. Scottish and British Jewry is not responsible for anything that Israel does.

“I don’t think there is any hidden innuendo in it at all, or drawing any parallel. I’m not a supporter of Mr Salmond at all but I have to say my interpretation is that what he said was OK.”

Ephraim Borowski, the director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said: “The Scottish Government has always been extremely supportive of the Jewish community, and just last week the First Minister reiterated that ‘any aggravated racial or religious attack will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law.'

"We are certain that the First Minister did not intend to equate the brazen terrorist acts of ISIS with a democratic country's obligation to protect its citizens from that same avowed terrorism.”

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