The Battle for Buchanan Street – Friends of Israel and the Palestinian Human Rights group protest on Glasgow’s city centre

Intimidation, lies and ‘street deceit’: the struggle for the hearts and minds of Glaswegians.

Buchanan Street has become the political heart of advocacy in Glasgow, two groups have turned this bustling consumer street into a political battleground. On one side the ‘Friends of Israel’ on the other the ‘Palestinian Human Right’ group.

Since this year marks the 100th year anniversary of the Balfour declaration, we went down to talk to the two groups and compare their messages.

Sammy ,70,  from Friends of Israel, said “The reason we’re in the street today is there are 3 pro-Palestinian stalls in this area and although they call themselves pro-Palestinian, I think they are more anti-Israel than pro-Palestine, when you talk to them they tend to talk about how bad Israel might be rather than how good Palestine is. We are trying to have a more balanced picture

“There’s only one way to have peace and that’s to support both sides, you can’t support one at the expense of the other. Obviously peace is not an easy question or situation or it would have been fixed by now. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I’m not here to say what the peace solution should be because I think the people who are involved should decide what the peace should look like

“The reason there hasn’t been peace is the Arabs don’t want to accept an Israeli state. If they were willing to accept an Israeli state there could also be a Palestinian state.

“I do think there’s a conversation to be had about racial attitudes in Israel but I do not think Israel is an apartheid state. I often ask people if they’ve been to Israel and they say no and I ask well how do you know it’s an apartheid state, go there and find out for yourself”

The Palestinian group claim that the ‘Friends of Israel’ are perpetrating ‘street deceit’ and say they have no interest in peace, the group also claims that Simon, one of its Jewish members has been intimidated by the group.  

Glasgow Palestinian Human Rights group spokespersons, said “I believe their assertion of a two party solution is false, first of all they say they are pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli but they do not recognise Palestine as a sovereign state, they are funded by the Israeli government so how can they be impartial. I mean Sammy is an ex-Israeli soldier

“Simon’s grandfather was born in Palestine in 1899, he was cornered in a shop by them. They really don’t like Jewish people speaking out against Israel.

“They use the words ‘pro-Palestinian’ to disguise their true agenda of protecting Israel. They claim to be pro peace but they say nothing about Israel’s refusal to engage in meaningful negotiations, end the occupation, cease settlement expansion, or stop the assault on Gaza. Every single piece of the land [Israel] was stolen, yard by yard they just keep taking.

“We’ve all been over to Palestine, one of our members lost partial hearing in one side due to flash bangs used by the army, we’ve been at checkpoints and seen babies in incubators and they wouldn’t let them through. We’ve had guns pointed at us. Of course Israel is an apartheid state, even Jimmy Carter [former US president] agrees”

The official stance of the Scottish government on the conflict is:

“The Scottish Government continues to believe that a two state solution based on the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as a shared capital is the best solution for a peaceful resolution. We stand with international partners to condemn any expansion of settlements which we view as illegal and an obstacle to peace, furthermore we call on the blockade of Gaza to be lifted immediately”, from the Scottish Parliament report dated March 2014.

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