Glas­gow pro­gresses its mis­sion for di­a­logue

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

Sammy Stein en­gages in di­a­logue with a passer-by at the city cen­tre stall run by the Friends of Is­rael group

GLAS­GOW FRIENDS of Is­rael has been in­flu­enc­ing opin­ion since set­ting up its street stall in the city cen­tre in the sum­mer.

The group has cam­paigned ev­ery Satur­day since July and ar­ranged meet­ings with politi­cians in­clud­ing SNP leader Ni­cola Stur­geon.

It is the third of seven pro-Is­rael groups set up by Chris­tian ac­tivist Nigel Goodrich and the Glas­gow group co-founder, Sammy Stein, said it was bring­ing much-needed bal­ance to the Mid­dle East de­bate.

“We’ve had a great re­ac­tion from peo­ple over­joyed to see the other side of the story,” he said. “We’ve be­come a fix­ture on the street. We tend to have long dis­cus­sions with visi­tors, even those who dis­agree with us. Un­like the pro-Pales­tini­ans, who only want to speak to agree­able peo­ple, we en­cour­age peo­ple who dis­agree with us to come and talk.”

One visi­tor had re­fused to be­lieve what he was told about the 1979 Egyp­tIs­rael peace treaty, in which Si­nai was given up by Is­rael. “We told him to go look it up and come back the fol­low­ing week. He ac­tu­ally did come back, wrapped in a Pales­tinian flag, with his friends, and said: ‘Sorry, you were right.’ We talked about it and ended by shak­ing hands.”

The multi-de­nom­i­na­tional group wants to en­cour­age more Chris­tians, Mus­lims and Sikhs to join its ranks and has a sec­ond Glas­gow con­fer­ence planned for early next year.

Mr Stein said a high­light of the group’s ac­tiv­ity had been a farewell re­cep­tion for Is­rael’s first Be­douin diplo­mat, Ish­mael Khaldi.

“We gave him a spe­cially made skean dhu [tra­di­tional Scot­tish knife] made of Damascus steel with a ram’s horn han­dle. He was over­whelmed by that.”

He added that Mr Khaldi had done “in­cred­i­ble work. He didn’t want to go back to Is­rael be­cause he felt so use­ful in the UK. We want him to stay be­cause with all the ac­cu­sa­tions of apartheid that Is­rael re­ceives, he’s a sym­bol that it’s not true.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.