According to media reports last week (see, for example, here and here) Scott Harrison, a Scottish anti-Israel activist, was sentenced last week to a year in jail.

Back on October 25, 2014 he threw acid in the face of an 18-year-old woman manning a stall in Glasgow shopping center. The stall was owned by the Israeli cosmetics company Kedem.

The victim, Greek-born Iona Georgianna, said she felt like her face was “melting” during the horrible attack. Luckily, a quick-thinking co-worker had the good sense to throw water on her head, sparing Georgianna from the worst of the acid’s effects.

A Scottish court handed down the 12-month sentence for assault to injury. Harrison will be held in custody pending the results of an appeal filed by his lawyers.

Based on his online profile Harrison fashions himself as a “lover of peace, freedom” and a free speech supporter. The blogger Aussie Dave of Israellycool managed to capture some of his Facebook pages before they were removed, proving once again that anti-Israel propagandists seem to be oblivious to the saved screenshot:

Aussie Dave, pic from tweet 2

Scotland: A BDS Hotbed

Scotland has long been a “hotbed” of anti-Israel sentiment, with an active BDS movement—the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC)—involved in repeated threatening and intimidating “bully-boy tactics”.

As documented in a post for the pro-Israel UK-based website Harry’s Place, SPSC leaders believe Zionism to be a “racist and fascist ideology” and think that the “Holocaust was a joint venture between Zionists and Nazis”. Senior members of the group have a disturbing penchant for neo-Nazi websites and routinely condone terror attacks on innocent Israelis (including minors) as legitimate acts of “resistance”.

Last spring BDS activists affiliated with the SPSC pressured a prominent British photography gallery in Edinburgh to cancel its co-sponsorship with the Israeli embassy in London of an exhibit featuring Israeli multimedia artist Yael Bartana. The Stills gallery reportedly returned the 1,300 British pounds that the embassy had contributed to the show after multiple threats were lodged against it by the SPSC. The SPSC reportedly threatened to “mount non-stop demonstrations outside the gallery for the three-month duration of the exhibit if the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship was not cancelled”.

Scottish BDS, Feature Image

Ironically, Bartana’s work is well-known for its “critical treatment of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians”. That was obviously an irrelevant factor for SPSC Israel haters though.

The blackmail brought to bear on the Stills gallery last year isn’t a one-off incident.

There’s actually a long track record of similar episodes involving SPSC pro-Palestinian activists acting to shut down Scottish Jewish events that involve Israeli groups and Israeli involvement in Scottish cultural events.

Here’s another illustrative example: Back in April 2013 the SPSC prevented the University of St. Andrews’ Jewish Society from holding a charity ball after the venue’s staff reportedly received a slew of “threatening emails and calls” from SPSC activists. The hotel canceled due to “health and safety concerns for staff and hotel guests”.

Scottish hotel

Jewish students had planned to hold the black tie event at a prestigious location—the St. Andrews Golf Hotel—with over 100 expected to attend from around the UK. The proceeds were to be sent to a number of charities, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). However, Save a Child’s Heart, which spares the lives of children worldwide (including Palestinian children) would’ve also been a beneficiary—proving once again that BDS activists are typically oblivious to the real needs of the people that they profess to care so much about.

In the end, the charity ball was held a month later. But it had to be scheduled for a different, secret location, guarded by plain-clothes police officers.

More such instances happen regularly from year to year.

Now we can add a horrible anti-Semitic hate crime to the list.

From Hateful Speech to a Hate Crime

The heinous attack on an innocent young woman selling makeup at a Glasgow mall says a lot about Scotland’s BDS scene. But its implications are also generalizable.

What’s important to note in this particular case of “vicious criminality” is that BDS activists affiliated with the SPSC had been aggressively targeting Kedem outlets throughout the UK for weeks prior to the attack.

SPSC had even “encouraged freelance harassment by passersby” in order to “drive them out”.

SPSC Facebook page

Speaking last week to the UK’s Jewish Telegraph, Glasgow’s Jewish Representative Council President Paul Marron said “It shows the dangers of anti-Israel sentiment when it gets out of control”.

Critics of the anti-Israel boycott movement—especially on American colleges and universities—have long been raising these concerns.

It’s now well-documented that there are higher rates of anti-Semitic hate crimes (from physical assaults and the defacement of property to the questioning of Jewish students’ suitability for government service) on campuses experiencing active BDS campaigns.

Writing a few months ago for a local California newspaper, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit that combats campus anti-Semitism says that:

It is hardly surprising that the University of California—ground zero for campus-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activity—provides an unfortunate case study. There has been a huge uptick in anti-Semitic incidents and many are tied directly to anti-Israel BDS campaigns. Countless acts of anti-Semitism have plagued several UC campuses this year, including swastikas spray-painted on a Jewish fraternity house immediately following an anti-Israel divestment campaign, protests of a Hillel-hosted LGBT event by anti-Israel activists and signs blaming the Israeli army and all Jews for 9/11. And such acts are often concurrent with contentious anti-Israel BDS demonstrations that include flagrant anti-Semitic rhetoric”.

UC Davis Swastikas

It’s a critique of BDS that’s shared by Mark Yudof, president emeritus of the University of California and the chair of the advisory board of a new organization, the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) that aims to bring administrators and faculty together to address the challenges of the campus anti-Israel movement.

In an important recent op-ed, Yudof argues that “BDS can be appropriately described as anti-Semitic” for a variety of reasons, among them the fact that:

whether deliberate or not, whether outliers or mainstream BDS advocates, the epiphenomena of BDS are anti-Semitic incidents”.

Bottom line: Last year’s sickening acid attack on a young woman in Glasgow offers a sobering tutorial on the dangerous consequences of unchecked anti-Israel vitriol.

Aussie Dave, pic from tweet


Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She is the editor of five books and the author of over 60 journal articles, book chapters, and government reports on topics related to international and national security, religion and politics in the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman


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