Scottish Conservative Chief Whip, John Lamont MSP, underlined “BDS activists are not representative of Scots”, following CFI’s first ever delegation of Scottish Conservatives to Israel this month, in an article published in the Jewish News and Times of Israel this week.
He underlined that the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign must be challenged and that links between the UK and Israel must be strengthened even further: “The UK-Israel relationship is stronger than ever, but we must do everything we can as a government and party to take that relationship to even greater levels. That means more trade, scientific cooperation and cultural exchanges. It means challenging the anti-peace message of the so-called boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement”.
The Chief Whip emphasised Scotland’s increasing role to play in building further links: “Scotland can play an important role in this. Following a lunch with the Israel-Britain Chamber of Commerce, we have pledged to look into the possibility of creating a new trade body in Scotland to work more closely with our Israeli partners. It means encouraging and enabling more Scots to visit Israel since only by visiting can one can truly appreciate all it has achieved in a mere 70 years”.
He said that “These are not simply empty promises. Before even leaving the country, the delegation had sent a joint letter to each airline that flies between the UK and Israel to encourage them to explore the viability of operating a route between Scotland and Israel. This would enable all Scots to visit the Jewish state and see what a fantastically vibrant and exciting country it is”.
Mr Lamont said that the “narrative of debate around Israel in Scotland has for too long been dominated by a vocal and hardline minority of anti-Israel activists. They are simply not representative of the vast majority of Scots. Sadly, there was a perception in Israel that Scotland is a hub of BDS and Israelis are not welcome in the country. A concerted effort is needed to challenge this misguided view”.
Concluding his article, he said: “I look forward to encouraging more of my colleagues, including my party leader Ruth Davidson MSP, to visit Israel in the coming years. A page has been turned and we are determined to change Israel’s perception of Scotland by building a positive and steadfast relationship”.
He also described the group’s experiences on the CFI trip: “In Tel Aviv, we discovered Israel’s booming start-up scene, and saw how Israeli charity Save A Child’s Heart offers free life-saving heart surgery to children in the Palestinian Territories and the developing world. Standing on the Syrian border, we listened in horror to the sounds of explosions from the brutal civil war tearing the country apart, while we saw Hezbollah’s flags flying mere metres away from Israel in southern Lebanon. In Jerusalem, we celebrated Israel’s democracy in meetings with cross-party Knesset members, and wandered the historic streets of the Old City”.
Click here to read Mr Lamont’s full article.