Last week Glasgow City Council lowered the Scottish Saltire and instead flew the Palestinian flag above Glasgow City Chambers as a mark of solidarity with it’s twin city Bethlehem. The flag was flown on Friday 8th August between 08:00 and 17:00.

Whilst I condemn the deaths of innocent civilians on both sides, I felt the Council’s decision lacked both foresight and intelligence and would only serve to hurt the Jewish communities of Scotland.  To this end, I wrote (below) an open letter to the Lord Provost of Glasgow City Council in response to her letter to the Mayor of Bethlehem.

The flag of Palestine flying above Glasgow City Chambers  (photo credit: CC BY Gilah Samuels, via facebook)

The flag of Palestine flying above Glasgow City Chambers
(photo credit: CC BY Gilah Samuels, via facebook)


Dear Lord Provost Docherty

I write in utter disgust at your decision to raise the Palestinian Flag at the Glasgow City Chambers on the 8th August.  I am proud to consider myself a Glaswegian who lives in Tel Aviv, but find myself embarrassed by this gesture. What do you think this will achieve? I see this move as blatant hate-mongering, a one-sided action in a complex conflict.

Where in your letter to the mayor of Bethlehem do you condemn Hamas activities in Gaza?

At what point do you sympathise with the residents of Gaza who have been used as human shields by Hamas?

Where do you disapprove of Hamas’ use of schools, hospitals, Mosques and densely populated residential areas to launch rockets against Israeli civilians? See for example video evidence of this from India’s NDTV and France24, and even an admission from a Bishop in Gaza that Hamas was using a Church to fire rockets on Israel. If that still does not suffice, you can read more about the issue from Hamas’ very own manual.

I am also puzzled as to why you did not sympathise directly with the distress that residents of Bethlehem have been put under as a result of the conflict – not from Israel but from Hamas (on at least two separate occasions, where rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas and intended to hit Israel, have actually hit Palestinian areas in Bethlehem and Hebron. See here and here.

On top of this, 475 Hamas-launched rockets from Gaza actually landed in Gaza.  We can only speculate about the death toll and damage caused as a result of this (just as we can only speculate about the true number of civilian casualties).

It is clear for all to see that Hamas do not care for life. They seek the death of both Israelis and Palestinians.  Every Israeli life lost is celebrated and hailed as a victory against a people and state they wish to destroy; every Palestinian life lost is used in a vicious world-wide PR campaign against Israel.

In your letter, where do you express empathy for the millions of Israelis who have lived in trauma for the last month, under constant threat from hate-filled rockets and tunnel attacks? Perhaps the Israelis do not deserve empathy as they are not dying in such great numbers?  You should try living with the air-raid sirens leaving you between 15 and 60 seconds to find shelter!

If the City Council wants to support the people affected in this conflict then it should also be raising the Israeli flag. This would show that this is not a political move but a genuine act of sympathy towards all who suffer in the Middle East.

What has happened in Gaza is truly tragic, civilian casualties are a dreadful result of war and you can see this all around the world; perhaps you need to remind yourselves of what is happening in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Mexico, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Nigeria. Where are flags showing support to civilians caught up in these conflicts? Why does the Gaza war take precedence?

I simply see your actions creating more polarised opinions and causing huge rifts within Glasgow and the wider-Scottish community. The resulting anti-Zionist demonstrations and boycotts will feed anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate-crimes targeted toward the upstanding Glasgow and Scottish Jewish communities.

I strongly recommend you to reverse your decision, or to fly the Israeli flag alongside the Palestinian flag, as well as the flags of all other nations who see warfare take innocent life on a daily basis. I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Steven Winston