Festival in Scotland Celebrating Culture of Jewish State ‘Triumphs’ Over Disruption by Anti-Israel Protesters (INTERVIEW)
A festival in Scotland on Wednesday celebrating Israeli culture was a “triumph,” one of the event organizers told The Algemeiner, despite the presence of a vocal crowd of anti-Israel demonstrators outside the venue.
Nigel Goodrich, founder of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS), told The Algemeiner on Thursday that around 150 such protesters — waving Palestinian flags, chanting anti-Israel slogans through megaphones and playing the sounds of exploding bombs through a PA system — tried to disrupt the International Shalom Festival, whose aim was “to promote diversity; the culture of Israel, which is an ancient yet modern country; and to spread a message that co-existence is the best method for achieving peace.”
Goodrich said he was not surprised by the protest. “We totally expected a demonstration — a loud, aggressive presence — and that’s exactly what we got,” he said. “Israeli acts have appeared in the past [at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival], and two years ago, one was hounded out of the venue by protesters who ran amok during the performance. What we wanted to do was bring Israeli art and culture back to the Fringe, to give people an opportunity to enjoy it.”
Around 800 people turned out for Wednesday’s event, which featured a number of different Israeli artistic and cultural acts. The day’s program was carried on as planned, said Goodrich, despite the protest outside.
Nevertheless, he said, “Some of our visitors, particularly mothers with children, were very upset. One eight-year-old girl had to be rushed to the toilet in tears, because she didn’t like being called a racist, and didn’t like being told that her ticket was purchased with Palestinian blood.”
However, he added, “The police were superb; their bottom line was that our event was going to go ahead and no one would be impeded from entering the venue, unlike two years ago.”
Goodrich expressed deep satisfaction with how the day transpired. “It was a triumph because, A, it went ahead; B, it was packed; and C, everybody had such a good time,” he said. “It was like being in Tel Aviv. It was great. I’m delighted. This was a triumph for culture and artistic freedom.”
The International Shalom Festival, held as part of the month-long Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was organized by COFIS and the UK branch of the Israel-advocacy organization StandWithUs.