A motion entitled ‘Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts’ was debated in Scottish Parliament today, Thursday 25 February.
This motion was the first positive motion on Israel to ever be debated in the Scottish Parliament.
The motion, put forward by Jackson Carlaw MSP, was signed by 17 MSPs. It calls for cultural links with Israel and dialogue instead of boycott and hostility. It acknowledges the letter written by Culture for Coexistence to the Guardian in October, signed initially by 150 cultural figures. The motion shares Culture for Coexistence’s view that “cultural engagement builds bridges, nurtures freedom and positive movement for change.”
The debate was well supported and attended by 30 MSPs, with 10 MSPs speaking to the floor. There was general consensus that there needs to be an end to hostility both in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and between the two sides campaigning in Britain. Silencing the other side will not achieve peace.
This pro peace and dialogue motion stands in contrast to an extraordinary 62 anti-Israel motions debated this parliamentary year in the Scottish Parliament.
Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“I think today was a landmark day in Scottish Parliament because we were able to host the first positive motion in support of Israel since the Parliament was founded in 1999 and I think that was important because it allowed us to actually show Israel in a much more rounded context and also to address the concerns of many who live here in Scotland within the Jewish community who have felt that the language of this parliament has been advertently hostile to Israel. So to have culture for coexistence and the ability to actually talk about the consequences of cultural boycott and to demonstrate that there is a better way to do things was the best result of the debate we held today.”
Loraine da Costa, Chair of Culture for Coexistence said:
“It has been a privilege to spend a day in the Scottish Parliament hearing the motion ‘Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts’ debated. I believe that through our initiative, Culture for Coexistence is illuminating a path whereby such issues can be discussed in a positive manner looking at what can be done to move peace forward and how culture can help to do so.”