A far-left Scottish community group which boasted of its attempts to “block the Zionists” taking part in an anti-racism march have accused pro-Israel supporters of “playing the victim card”.
Balaclava-clad members of the Red Front Republic (RFR) group – which claims to be a community-based organisation fighting far-right bigotry– were involved in a stand-off with pro-Zionist supporters during Saturday’s Stand Up To Racism march in Glasgow.
The actions of RFR supporters – who are claimed to have chanted “stand up to racism, stand up to Zionism” - were condemned by community groups, including the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC), Glasgow Friends of Israel and the Confederation of Friends of Israel (Cofis).
But RFR attempted to justify the confrontation in a message placed on its website. Under the headline “Block The Zionists”, the group claimed Cofis supporters ”had attended the march waving Israeli flags, and trying to provoke a reaction while playing the victim card, and calling protesters ‘antisemitic’ for opposing them".
They also claimed that opponents were attempting to “label” RFR activists as “racist for standing up against the murderous, and oppressive Zionist State”.
Nigel Goodrich, the convenor of Cofis and chief executive of Scotland’s annual International Shalom Festival, described those who protested against the involvement of Israel supporters in the march as "people with hatred in their hearts and maybe nothing between their ears".
Micheline Brannan, chairman of SCoJeC, said: "We believe in the anti-racist message which has been hijacked by people ahead of us who are trying to stop our group from marching.
"They have turned it into a fight between Israel and Palestine. They've imported politics of the Middle East onto the streets of Glasgow."
Around 1,500 people attended the march which was organised at a protest against the "rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and the scapegoating of refugees and migrants".
The Muslim Council of Scotland had earlier withdrawn because of the involvement of Cofis, which it accused of being apologists for “apartheid and racism”.
On its website, RFR says its aim is “to oppose fascism, racism and bigotry on all levels. We aim to keep that tradition alive at all costs”.
It adds: "Whether you are black, white, Asian, Muslim, Jewish or any other colour, or creed you should be made welcome in Scotland.”