Socialist Worker

Packed Scottish Stop the War conference prepares for resistance

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2140

Delegates were inspired by students who occupied colleges (Pic:  Joshua Brown)

Delegates were inspired by students who occupied colleges (Pic: Joshua Brown)

Over 350 people gathered in Glasgow for the annual Scottish Stop The War Coalition conference.

Delegates, including representatives from Palestinian, Pakistani and Afghan communities in Scotland, addressed the conference.

They warned that the dangers posed by the “war on terror” are increasing.

In a discussion of Israel’s bloody assault on Gaza, Labour MSP Pauline McNeill recounted her experiences as an international observer of the 2005 Palestinian elections that Hamas won.

“They were free and fair elections,” she said. “Over 70 percent of voters made their choice of government.”

McNeill also pointed out that the “illegal” tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt were a response to Israel’s blockade of the territory and “were part of the dignity of the Palestinians”.

Sandra White, an MSP from the ruling SNP party, drew applause when she reiterated the Scottish government’s pledge to offer treatment to Palestinians who were wounded by the Israeli attacks.

During the debate a Palestinian representative argued that the only way to bring peace to the region is a single state for both Jews and Arabs.

His call was taken up by many other speakers and became part of an open debate on the question.

Scottish TUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham reported that the union federation was sending a delegation to the Occupied Territories to meet Palestinian trade unionists.

This delegation, he said, would then report on whether the STUC should back calls for disinvestment, sanctions and a boycott of Israel.

Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said, “Our movement is still in its beginning.”

“And their are important lessons we can learn from the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

“Those of us who were active in that movement were told we were a minority, that we could not change anything. But we were proved right.”

Barry Levine, the chair of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, told the conference, “Jews must stand up and tell the Israeli government ‘not in our name’.”

Student delegates from the university occupations in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde all recounted their experiences to a packed session on anti-war activism in the colleges.

Many reported winning their demands from college management.

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Tue 24 Feb 2009, 18:21 GMT
Issue No. 2140
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