Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader, Jackson Carlaw MSP, underlined his support for Israel against boycott campaigns at the Scottish Parliament, in the in the first debate of its kind this week. The debate, under the headline of “Cultural Bridges not Boycotts” and tabled by the Conservative MSP, achieved cross-party support from all parties and the Government.
The motion acknowledged the October 2015 anti-BDS letter signed by over 150 high-profile cultural and political figures in support of the aims of Culture for Coexistence, which called for an end to cultural boycotts of Israel.
Highlighting why boycotts of Israel ought to be opposed, Mr Carlaw emphasised: “Israel is a great nation, which will celebrate its 68th independence day this year. Since 2004, Israeli scientists have won five Nobel prizes—a tally bettered only by four other nations. Between them, Israeli scientists and others produce some 16,000 key technical journals—more than the entire Arab world combined. Israel is a country of invention. Last year in the United States, Israelis lodged some 1,900 patents—just below two nations of far greater populations. Among those, Israel is number 1 in the world per capita for medical device patents and biotechnology patents. Among the other inventions that we use every day is the USB flash drive—how inconvenient to many if we were all to boycott that”.
The West of Scotland MSP had earlier commented: “The Scottish Parliament has unfortunately for too long been a megaphone for those who take an unthinking approach towards Israel and its role in the world [….] Against this background I felt it was time to table a positive motion about Israel, to seek to address much of the ignorance about Israel which I believe underpins the debate here in Scotland”.
He added further: “The Jewish community has contributed positively across Scotland and Israel’s role in the world is far more nuanced than The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement seeks to portray”.
Fiona Hyslop, MSP for Linlithgow Constituency, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs and Humza Yousaf, Minister for External Affairs and International Development, expressed opposition to any sort of cultural boycott and underlined that the Scottish Government opposes boycotts.
The Scottish Government called for both sides to resolve the conflict peacefully, expressed its opposition to obstacles such as firing rockets into Israel. It also condemned anti-Semitism and affirmed that cultural ties are an excellent way to foster and encourage an environment of understanding and dialogue.
The Israeli Embassy has announced that Chargé d’affaires, Eitan Na’eh will be the first representative of the Israeli Government to be officially invited by the Scottish Parliament. He will be hosted by the Presiding Officer MSP Tricia Marwick before participating in a series of meetings, observing the First Minister’s Question Time and the member’s business debate ‘Israel needs cultural bridges’.
Mr Na’eh said: “I am honoured to be the first Israeli diplomat to be invited by the Presiding Officer MSP Tricia Marwick. The visit continues to build on the good and historic friendships that exist between Scotland and Israel. These have recently been significantly strengthened through the ongoing work of the Israeli Embassy all across Scotland”.
Click here to read the debate in full.