Scottish independence rejected, Jewish fears averted

The logo of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is behind the referendum on Scottish independence. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(  Scottish citizens rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a 55-45 percent referendum vote, a result that puts to rest the concerns of some Jews that independence would have been accompanied by a rise in anti-Israel sentiment. 

“The Jewish community [leans] more towards the no vote than the yes vote," said Paul Morron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, before the vote, according to Israel National News.

Morron explained that because anti-Israel sentiment is more prominent in Scottish politics than it is in the United Kingdom as a whole, many Jews feared the escalation of that sentiment if Scotland chose to become independent. There were also fears regarding manifestations of anti-Semitism in Scotland that are often connected to anti-Israel sentiment, especially in the wake of this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas.

"The indication is that the Scottish government would be rather more hostile towards Israel, and there would be far more attention given to that hostility in the media, and I think that would put added pressure on the Jewish community here,” Morron said. 

David Kaplan, who was born in Scotland, told Yedioth Ahronoth that “for more than 25 years, the country's professional unions and the liberal left have been running a pro-Palestinian campaign. I have watched numerous speeches by Parliament Member George Galloway against Israel."

Marc Livingston, a 26-year-old Jewish lawyer from Glasgow, told Yedioth that although the Scottish National Party, which was behind the independence bid, is "a liberal left-wing party, which has shown solidarity towards the Palestinian people, whether rightfully or not," party leader Alex Salmond "has always treated the Jewish community well and respects our contributions to the Scottish society."

"Unfortunately, the recent operation in Gaza led to a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland, but that has nothing to do with the referendum," said Livingston.

At the end of the day, "the [Jewish] community isn't united" on the independence issue, according to Livingston, who added that the matter was "a Scottish rather than a Jewish issue."

Posted on September 19, 2014 .