Sal­mond takes flak over SNP’s stance on Mid­dle East

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY LIFE - BY LINDY MARKSON GLAS­GOW

SCOT­TISH FIRST Min­is­ter Alex Sal­mond was pressed on his Scot­tish Na­tional Party’s per­ceived lack of sup­port for Is­rael when he ad­dressed 200 Glas­gow Jews last Thurs­day at Mearns Cas­tle High School in New­ton Mearns.

Mr Sal­mond had re­marked that the Pales­tini­ans needed to be “more self-sus­tain­able”, adding: “I am pes­simistic on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and be­lieve that agree­ment be­tween the par­ties i s less likely now than eight years ago. There may have been a so­lu­tion had [Yitzhak] Rabin lived.”

How­ever, when an au­di­ence mem­ber asked why the SNP had not pub­licly backed Is­rael, he could re­spond only that “for­mer SNP stal­warts such as Winnie Ewing and Wil­lie McRae had strongly sup­ported Is­rael’s cause”. He ac­knowl­edged that the cur­rent lead­er­ship had shown sym­pa­thy to­wards the Pales­tinian po­si­tion. Mr Sal­mond was on safer ground when

he de­clared that “the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment and East Ren­frew­shire Coun­cil had reached agree­ment on the pro­vi­sion of a Holo­caust me­mo­rial to be in­au­gu­rated in Jan­uary 2009”. The pro­posal is for a Holo­caust cen­tre to be es­tab­lished in Rouken Glen Park in Giffnock.

In the meet­ing, or­gan­ised by the Glas­gow Jewish Ed­u­ca­tional Fo­rum, he also said that “im­mi­gra­tion brings noth­ing but ben­e­fit to a coun­try and our univer­si­ties gain greatly from over­seas stu­dents” — there are cur­rently 40 Is­raeli stu­dents reg­is­tered with Scot­tish univer­si­ties. Mr Sal­mond started his ad­dress by apol­o­gis­ing for hav­ing to can­cel the orig­i­nal date for the meet­ing and be­ing un­able to at­tend on a sec­ond oc­ca­sion due to “be­ing called to West­min­ster to vote on the Euro­pean Ref­er­en­dum”.

Com­ment­ing that “free ed­u­ca­tion was the fun­da­men­tal part of the suc­cess of Scot­land and Jewish com­mu­ni­ties through­out the world”, he paid trib­ute to Calder­wood Lodge Jewish Day School, which he had re­cently vis­ited. “The next gen­er­a­tion of Scot­land’s in­no­va­tors may emerge from Calder­wood.”

He went on to high­light Jews’ “large con­tri­bu­tion to Scot­tish life. The Scot­tish gov­ern­ment recog­nises the im­por­tance and dis­tinc­tion of the Scot­tish Jewish com­mu­nity and re­spects and val­ues its his­tory.”

He strongly rec­om­mended Scot­land’s Jews, a soon-to-be pub­lished book by Dr Ken­neth Collins, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Glas­gow Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil and an author­ity on Scot­tish-Jewish his­tory.

Alex Sal­mond at the meet­ing

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