On Tuesday 4th June the racist Jewish National Fund (JNF) held their annual national fundraiser at the luxury outdoor centre at Cowans Law in Ayrshire, Scotland. The JNF, who are responsible for the destruction of Palestinian homes, the theft of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of Palestine- were met with a strong, visible and vibrant protest calling for an end to the racist practices- which have resulted in the charity commission launching an investigation into their status as a ‘charity’.
The event was publicised as a ‘family day-out’ and included a day of clay-pigeon shooting and other outdoor activities, all in aid of raising money to allow the JNF to continue its racist practices. It was expected to be attended by over a hundred people but could only be described as a massive disappointment on their part, with less than half of that actually attending.
The demo began early with the first protestors arriving at half past six, they were immediately met with a police van and car with a number of officers. They began hanging banners and flags up, only to have one of them taken down and stolen by private security guards who are thought to be members of Community Security Trust (CST) (for more information see here) who later ran scared and returned it after it was reported to a member of the large police presence. More demonstrators arrived closely followed by approximately 30-40 police officers, who stood and laughed and joked with the private security guards.
The protestors were then allowed to head up the road, that had previously agreed with the police; the demonstrators, now about 25 in number, split into two groups, one of which demonstrated at the entrance to the centre – aiming to inform attendees of how their money was being used to ethnically cleanse large swathes of Palestinian land, and the others protesting at the side of the shooting area.
As cars arrived they were faced with many banners and protesters informing them how they and the local community felt about hosting the JNF, with a deafening silence from the attendees. Over at the shooting area, a large sound system played the sounds of bombs being dropped, homes being demolished and bullets being fired – something that the Palestinians have to endure every day– as well as Palestinian poetry, songs of solidarity and traditional Palestinian Dabka music.
The group of solidarity activists were also joined by Mahmoud Sarsak, the Palestinian footballer and hunger striker, who was released after almost 3 years in prison following a 92-day hunger strike. Sarsak is in Scotland as part of a UK Wide Tour organised by Palestine solidarity campaigns.
The demonstration will join a string of recent victories, including a St Andrews hotel cancelling an event which was fundraising for the JNF and Friends of the Israeli Defence Force (FIDF) as well as Bonnyton Golf Club refusing to allow the JNF to fundraise using their facilities. We must continue to hold the JNF to account over their racist practices and support of ethnic cleansing and we must continue to show that Scottish civil society stands with the Palestinians and against the racist JNF and against the apartheid state of Israel.