SCoJeC Chair Micheline Brannan met the First Minister, met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP at St Andrews House, along with Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl who had spoken at SCoJeC's AGM the previous day, Board of Deputies Public Affairs Director Phil Rosenberg, and Glasgow Jewish Representative Council Co-President Evy Yedd, to discuss antisemitism, Scotland's Jewish community, and the impact that attitudes to Israel have on Jewish people living in Scotland.
The Jewish community representatives raised concerns about antisemitism, noting that, as SCoJeC found in our Scottish Government-funded inquiry into What's changed about Being Jewish in Scotland, Jewish people in Scotland had, for the first time in recent memory, started to feel uncomfortable about openly identifying as Jewish. The group praised the First Minister's lead on the Scottish Government's adoption of the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism, which gives examples of how delegitimisation, demonisation, and double standards applied to Israel can cross the line into antisemitism.
On the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the group asked the First Minister to ensure that her Government adopts an even-handed approach that recognises the security threats that Israel faces, and urged her to support the 'Invest in Peace' initiative, which brings together grass roots voices from both sides of the conflict.
Responding to the delegation, the First Minister expressed her "unequivocal and very strong intolerance" of antisemitism, and said that it must be called out no matter where it appears. She welcomed the close relationship with the Jewish community, which enables her to have frank discussions with leaders on issues of concern. She emphasised that Scotland's Jewish community is an important part of our national life, and repeated that she wants everyone to feel safe and valued in Scotland, and comfortable to say openly who they are. Ms Sturgeon added that while people must be free to criticise the Israeli Government, they must not make Jews and Israelis feel unsafe by the way they do so. She did not foresee any change in the Scottish Government's refusal to support boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.
After the meeting the First Minister said: