December 1, 2022 at 12:00 pm | Published in: Article, Europe & Russia, Israel, Middle East, Opinion, Palestine, UK
While the daily persecution of Palestinians by Israel’s so-called “Defence” Forces is well documented, perhaps less well-known is the persecution of their supporters elsewhere in the world. In this connection, MEMO has been given sight of court documents which read like a comedy of errors. However, far from being a laughing matter, the documents show how pro-Palestine campaigners are ruthlessly targeted, prosecuted and persecuted with the same sort of zeal and venom that the Palestinians face.
One such victim of the pro-Israel lobby is Mick Napier, a co-founder of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). This week he began to catalogue every encounter he has endured at the hands of Police Scotland over the past two decades. To our mutual astonishment, the persecution of Napier could make him Britain’s most prosecuted individual and a familiar face in Glasgow and Edinburgh courts where he has appeared on scores of occasions over the years.
The first charge of racial aggravation took more than a year and a half to be resolved, and involved more than 20 court appearances, which Napier angrily described as being “beyond preposterous”. The ludicrous charges, more often than not thrown out of court or leading to the collapse of trials, expose the desperate efforts of pro-Israeli lobbyists and their lackeys as they try to destroy college lecturer Napier and his co-accused.
His first trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in front of Sheriff John Scott came to a grinding halt soon after the procurator fiscal told a packed courtroom that it was racist to say the words “End the Siege of Gaza! Genocide in Gaza!” on a public street; the crime, the Scottish legal official added, would be made more serious by repetition. Sheriff Scott ridiculed the PF’s case.
“Our Article 10 free speech protections would be rendered useless and we would have to march in a demonstration carrying placards saying ‘End war crimes in an unnamed Middle Eastern state’,” said Napier. The charges were literally laughed out of court although, on a more serious note, Napier and his family were put through a stressful few months leading up to the trial.
The initial charge of breach of the peace were ramped up to the far more serious “racial aggravation” a couple of weeks after the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown signed a precursor to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. By then retired, Napier went back to court in process that took a total of three years at Glasgow Sheriff Court because the first presiding sheriff became gravely ill almost two years into the case.
“The Glasgow procurator fiscal’s case was that a placard we carried a few weeks after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was racist because it included some ‘blood’ symbolising the 2,200 Palestinians killed in that murderous offensive,” explained Napier. “The procurator fiscal, however, claimed that the blood symbol alluded to — he made no mention of Palestinians — a medieval blood libel against Jews that they used the blood of Christian children in religious ceremonies. The sheriff threw out that charge without taking the trouble to explain why.”
Napier’s first assault charge arose out of a final successful protest against the controversial Jewish National Fund (JNF), a registered charity, during a fundraiser that it held at a shooting range in Ayrshire. Three months after the annual protest, a summons was delivered charging the SPSC official with assaulting two security officers on duty that day. The court was handed some footage from an Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast crew that had been filming on the day of the alleged assault. On viewing the footage as evidence produced in court, the sheriff ruled that no assault had taken place and that the case should never have been brought against Napier.
Freedom of Information material obtained later by the SPSC revealed something that Napier believed to be quite sinister. “The FOIA documents showed ‘unprofessional collusion between the procurator fiscal’s office and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) cooperating to try to ensure a conviction and sharing jeers at my expense’. The wrongful arrest and therefore assault by the arresting officers on St Mary’s Street in Edinburgh took place while I was standing on the pavement near an open-top tourist bus stuck in traffic on the top of which were around a dozen SPSC members who had bought tickets for the tour and draped a banner about the siege of Gaza over the side as they rode around the City.” The arresting officer was thus captured on video being asked why he was asking for Napier’s name and address. “Because I asked for it,” he replied.
“A complaint to Police Scotland was suppressed and then handed to the complaints body about the police who found in my favour, the only support for complainers that month out of 36 complaints in total from the public.”
Moreover, Napier pointed out that The Scotsman newspaper ran an editorial in his support and criticised the police for an apology given through gritted teeth that did not go far enough. “During the supposed investigation of my complaint, a senior officer offered to change police training on the use of handcuffs if I withdrew my complaint.”
It was inevitable, I suppose, that if enough mud was flung at Napier some of it might stick eventually. “Sure enough,” he admitted wryly, “The procurator fiscal scored only one victory I suppose after a large number of us protested inside Barclays Bank on Argyle Street Glasgow and five were charged with obstruction and trespass. Two of the five were medical professionals and one had just graduated from university and was seeking job interviews. His chances of getting a successful interview would be greatly reduced because he would have to state on his application that he was facing pending criminal charges.”
Napier recalled that the Glasgow procurator fiscal offered a plea bargain. “He said that if I pleaded guilty he would drop all charges against the other four. The case against us was very weak which is probably why he offered the plea deal, but in an outburst of nobility I sacrificed the pleasure of a day in court and winning yet again in order to allow a young comrade to get a job rather than wait a year or more without one.” Given that the charges were trivial, the punishment matched the alleged crime. “I greatly enjoyed the ‘punishment’, which was community service teaching English to Syrian refugees,” said a triumphant Napier.
Happily, this robust defender of Palestinian rights has emerged from his years of trials victorious with most charges being dropped or cases thrown out of court. However, others have not been so lucky, and have had their careers ruined and futures jeopardised by vindictive Zionists who refuse to accept any criticism of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.
In England, Mick Napier’s legal record is being challenged by the equally robust Palestine Action pressure group whose members have seen off a bevy of charges in court appearances. Dozens of arrests and charges since 2021 have been made, but the trials have collapsed because the prosecution continually fails to produce witnesses to testify to the damage caused by Palestine Action’s activists who occupy drone factories run by the Israeli-owned Elbit Company here in Britain.
Most of the activists walk free because of an “unrealistic chance of conviction”. Four walked free in February after shutting down Elbit’s Shenstone factory. The charges were dropped after three activists were acquitted at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court in December last year after locking themselves to the gates a couple of weeks earlier and throwing paint at the same factory.
Elbit is said to supply over 85 per cent of Israel’s drone fleet. It uses the Shenstone site for the manufacture of drone engines and parts, including the Watchkeeper drone sold to the British government for use in foreign military interventions. Palestine Action says that the drones are also used for the surveillance and repression of migrants and others by the UK Border Force and police agencies.
“Even though they were discourteous enough to drop the charges ‘after’ I booked my train tickets,” said an activist called Randeep at the time, “this further confirms what we already knew: we are not the criminals, and frustrating Israel’s colonisation of Palestine is not only a moral duty but a legally sound one.”
Just a couple of months ago, I wrote about the vicious persecution of Professor David Miller and some Jewish members of Britain’s Labour Party. At the time there was an almost unprecedented attack on high-profile supporters of Palestine resulting in a concerted effort to silence some of Israel’s most vocal critics once and for all. While this blatant attack on free speech has been rolled out it has also served to divert attention from a hard-hitting TV investigation exposing a campaign to undermine democracy and pro-Palestine support in Labour.
The damning three-part Al Jazeera documentary based its findings on the content of the largest-ever document leak in British political history. “The Labour Files: The Purge” exposed how a small number of unelected officials plotted to bring the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s political juggernaut to a shuddering halt.
While the antics of Scotland’s bungling Zionist groups colluding with the procurator fiscal’s office have caused great mirth and hilarity among the ranks of the SPSC as well as Mick Napier himself; and Palestine Action has been able to expose the hypocrisy behind Israel’s weapons industry in the UK, there is a far more sinister side to the continued persecution of individuals who simply dare to criticise Israel.
If there is a price to pay for telling the truth about Israel’s brutal occupation the real losers are those who uphold justice, equality and freedom of speech. These are all values which we are supposed to cherish in the West, but the apparent willingness to cast them aside in order to protect the Zionist state of Israel at any cost not only threatens pro-Palestine activism here and abroad, but also the democracy that we all hold dear.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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