Scots win 'no fly' zone after flag row


The outgoing Glasgow City Council leader has told Jewish community members that the Palestinian flag will never again fly above the city chambers.

At a meeting at Glasgow Reform Synagogue on Monday, Gordon Matheson expressed regret over the upset caused by the flying of the flag during last year's Gaza conflict. He said that, at the time, his motivation had been to highlight the humanitarian issue and the feeling had been that it was the least contentious option.

Answering an audience question, Mr Matheson revealed that, as a result of the subsequent outcry, Glasgow had changed its policy and that only three flags could now be flown from the civic building - Scottish, Union Jack and "disaster and emergency".

In his opening remarks, he acknowledged "the deep sense of anger, hurt and insecurity that this decision [to fly the flag] created among the Jewish community. I deeply regret that."

But, from that low point, bridge-building efforts with the community leadership over the past year had brought about improved relations.

The issue had caused a 'deep sense of anger, hurt and insecurity'

"Many of you were at a meeting of the representative council that I attended, indeed requested, shortly after the flag incident.

"It was a difficult, raw discussion but it was a good meeting because it was open and honest."

He added: "We have worked together for a number of months to help ensure a more effective policing response to antisemitic attacks. And we have together opposed those who pursue a policy of economic harassment and boycott as part of a delegitimising of Israel - an agenda I have never supported."

The meeting - Mr Matheson's last speaking engagement as council leader - was also addressed by former East Renfrewshire MP and Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy, who was presented with a Chanukiah in recognition of his long-standing support for the Jewish community.

Glasgow Jewish Representative Council president Paul Morron said the event - a week after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed another communal gathering - demonstrated "strong support and a strong understanding of the campaign against Israel. People left on a high."

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