Israeli ambassador voices concern to Alex Salmond over ‘extreme hostility’
Daniel Taub met Alex Salmond in Edinburgh to discuss co-operation between Israel and Scotland.
Israel's ambassador to the UK has held talks with the First Minister about "elements of extreme hostility to Israel in parts of Scottish society".
Daniel Taub met Alex Salmond in Edinburgh to explore the possibility of co-operation between Israel and Scotland, particularly in the fields of business, technology, health and renewable energy.
Israel's honorary consul to Scotland, Stanley Lovatt, said it was a "very convivial meeting" and confirmed that Mr Taub raised concerns about hostility to Israel in Scotland.
A follow-up meeting has been arranged between the Israeli embassy and enterprise minister Fergus Ewing.
A few hours after the meeting last week, Mr Taub's lecture to Jewish students at Edinburgh University was disrupted by activists from Students for Justice in Palestine.
Pete Ramand, of Edinburgh University Students Association, said: "Taub was here to defend the racist policies of the state of Israel. It is an unacceptable situation when someone with such abhorrent and dangerous views can be brought on to campus.
"It is threatening to students from a Palestinian or Arab background, who are then treated like criminals for attempting to voice their justified opposition to it."
Mr Taub told The Jewish Chronicle: "I gave the First Minister an update on the situation in the Middle East and shared with him my concerns about the elements of extreme hostility to Israel in parts of Scottish society.
"We also explored the possibility of co-operation between Israel and Scotland, particularly in the fields of business, technology, health and renewable energy."
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The First Minister held a courtesy meeting with the ambassador at Bute House on Tuesday of last week. The meeting was part of His Excellency's first official visit to Scotland and a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed, including the situation in the Middle East and the Scottish Government's support for international efforts to secure a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The First Minister also discussed with the Ambassador the Scottish Government's ongoing commitment to tackle and eradicate all forms of religious and racial prejudice in Scotland, wherever it occurs and whoever the victims are."
Mr Salmond has made several remarks condemning Israel in recent years.
In 2002 he attacked "those who flout the will of the international community," including Israel, and then attacked Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for exporting display units for F-16 fighters "used in attacks on Palestinians in the illegally occupied territories".
In 2004, Mr Salmond called Tony Blair "George Bush's toady" for backing a policy switch on "illegal" Israeli settlements, and then condemned "massacres in Gaza" during an Israeli offensive.
During the Holyrood election campaign that brought him to power in 2007, Mr Salmond attacked UK "inaction on Palestine", saying he was "appalled by the British approach that runs contrary to our Scottish view of the world".
In 2009, SNP MEP Alyn Smith accused Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman of being devoid of "any regard for human rights" and called Israel the "primary opponent" of the EU`s peace efforts. He called on the EU "to bring the Israeli government to account, and the only weapons we have at our disposal are economic ones".
The Scottish Government awarded £427,996 emergency funding for humanitarian aid to Gaza that year.
In 2010 Mr Salmond wrote to Israel condemning the "violence and deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara" vessel which took part in flotilla attempting to break Israel's blockade on Gaza, which led to the detention of several Scottish residents. A UN investigation into the incident found that Israeli soldiers who boarded the vessel came under pre-meditated attack but responded with excessive force in defending themselves.
Last month, the SNP reversed its 30-year opposition to military alliance Nato, against the wishes of almost half the party including former SNP MSP John Finnie who resigned over the issue.
During the debate, Mr Finnie said: "Vote to join Nato and there will be pressure on Alex Salmond and his deputy not to support the Palestinians and similar causes around the globe."
The First Minister has previously intervened in the issue of anti-Semitism in Scotland.
During his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in June, Mr Salmond said he had made representations on behalf of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities about antisemitic remarks posted in the comments sections of the websites of the Herald and the Scotsman newspapers. The First Minister said he wrote letters to the editors of the newspapers to highlight the matter.