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STUC protests meet with opposition at Celtic Park
Scotland TV News and the Jewish Chronicle
There were arguments outside Celtic Park last night (Wednesday 2nd) as pro-Palestinian supporters attempted a “peaceful protest” during the Europa League match against Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
Security officials attempted to move on the 60 or so protesters who were distributing placards branded with the Palestine flag within the Parkhead grounds.
Officials said no permission had been given for the protest.
The demonstrations were vocally opposed by some fans who saw the trade union’s call to action as a political hijacking of the club.
The actions followed on from calls from the Scottish Trade Union Congress for Celtic fans to show their support for the cause during the match.
STUC Deputy General Secretary Dave Moxham said: “We hope that Celtic fans will join with us in a demonstration of support for a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on a safe and secure Palestinian homeland living side by side with Israel.”
He continued: "I am today writing to Celtic FC and Hapoel Tel Aviv FC outlining the reasons and purpose of this call and making clear that we attach no blame either to Hapoel Tel Aviv players, nor their fans, for the outrageous actions of their government.”
The Scottish Trades Union Congress has been widely condemned for “politicising football” after it handed out thousands of Palestinians flags at the Hapoel Tel Aviv/Celtic match at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Campaigners from the STUC and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign took 10,000 Palestinian flags to distribute to fans entering Celtic’s ground as an “act of solidarity” with Palestinians...
Mick Napier, chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, described the flag initiative as a”an opportunity to let the Palestinians know that we have not forgotten their ongoing suffering.”
But the club strongly opposed the calls for a demonstration. Its spokesman, Iain Jamieson, said: “Celtic Football Club believes in football as a powerful medium for social integration. Celtic has always been a club for all people, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, politics or ability. We therefore believe Celtic Park is no place for a political demonstration”.
Outside the ground on Wednesday night around 60 volunteers from STUC and SPSC tried to hand out rolled-up Palestinian flags and anti-Israel material to supporters. But each campaigner was immediately surrounded by a large crowd, furiously debating the issue, with many fans shouting: “We don’t want you here.”
Match stewards approached the campaigners telling them to stop handing out flags and fliers on Celtic FC property.
Some flags were taken inside, though not anywhere near what the organisers had hoped. More than 300 Hapoel Tel Aviv supporters, with a dedicated high security presence, flew Israeli flags and banners.
At the end of the match a campaigner tried to run on to the pitch with a Palestinian flag. He was quickly escorted away by police, and booed by Celtic fans.
Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, wrote to the STUC to express his “disgust” at their using a football match for political purposes.
David Links, a trustee of JNF/KKL Scotland, which hosted a reception for the Hapoel team and Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor at Celtic Park, is a long-time Celtic fan. He said: “I think it is totally wrong for the STUC to be involved in a football match. I feel disappointed at the fans who did pick up flags. There could have been serious aggravation here.”
Celtic fan Alan Levy said: “It was disgraceful to see campaigners handing out the flags. People didn’t even understand what they meant, and it was very worrying to see people accepting them.”
Israeli ambassador Mr Prosor said: “Sport prevailed over politics. Since Hapoel were originally a team based on the Israeli unions, it seems ironic that people demonstrated against them.”
That is because British Trade Unions, even more than the "Labour" Party no longer exist to represent the people they were founded by and for.
My own former union, of which I was a member for 32 years and a Branch Secretary for 5 of them, refused to give us any help whatsoever when our jobs were being axed last year. All I received from them during that distressing period was a recorded telephone message urging me to vote to crush the BNP. Indeed when, on the advice of the TUC (Trades Union Congress), I wrote directly to the General Secretary to express my disappointment that we were so abandoned his response was to ignore three polite and reasonable letters. The next I heard of him he was calling for any Civil Servant found to be a member of the BNP, which for all that I find some of their views obnoxious is a legal party, with democratically elected representatives, sacked.
Good for Celtic FC to resist this intrusion.
Now for the important bit. My husband watched some of the match on TV - didn't notice any Palestinian flags at all - said what he saw was a good exciting game. Celtic won 2-0, Samaras and Robson scored.