The world can now see how fake claims to western leadership are. As political chiefs line up to absolve Israeli forces of crimes in Gaza, the concept of international law is discarded. Appallingly, Nicola Sturgeon has tied Scotland to this spectacle, argues David Jamieson.
People around the world are watching western political leaderships sink into total, amoral depravity.
Lindsey Graham, a leading figure in the US Republican Party, told Fox News, called for a “religious war” in which Gaza would be completely destroyed.
He was echoed from within Israel by Ariel Kallner, a member of the ruling Likud party, who raved: “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of ’48. Nakba in Gaza…”, referencing the mass killing and displacement of the Palestinian people launched in that year.
UK Government ministers have been more circumspect in their language, but they too are openly supporting ethnic cleansing in Gaza. Defence Minister Grant Schapps angrily told a BBC journalist that no one could have any doubt what he meant when he backed the declared Israeli policy of emptying the northern half of Gaza of Palestinians.
This cacophony of vicious rhetoric will be heard down the centuries. The grave crimes already unfolding will be remembered, and it must be recorded also that practically the entire western political class sanctioned this abomination.
Amid the obscenity, Humza Yousaf has stood out as a figure of moderation. Though he has failed to address the real context of events, he has at least spoken to the human suffering in Gaza. He cannot ignore that suffering, since the family of his Palestinian wife are trapped in the Gaza prison camp. In sharing the humanitarian pleas of his mother-in-law, Elizabeth El-Nakla, a retired nurse from Dundee, from inside Gaza, he has distinguished himself from this ugly scene.
Enter his predecessor and former political mentor, with malignant intentions. Nicola Sturgeon broke her silence with this: “My heart breaks for the people of Israel and for all the innocent civilians in Gaza who are also paying the price of Hamas’ appalling acts of terror. Closer to home, my thoughts are with my friends Nadia and Humza and their family, and also with Scotland’s precious Jewish community, at this unimaginably awful time.”
The words in this statement are very carefully chosen. The opening sentence is a straightforward sanction for Israeli military crimes.
Sturgeon’s words were released hours after the Israeli state informed the UN that it would be calling for 1.1 million Palestinians to remove themselves from half of the tiny territory of the Gaza strip. Sturgeon chose this time, of all times, when Israeli forces revealed the extent of their plans for ethnic cleansing, to absolve them of all responsibility. Like Graham, Schapps and opposition leader Keir Starmer, she has given the Israeli Defence Forces a free reign to commit atrocities. Like so many other politicians, she ignored the collective punishment of Gaza through the cutting off of life-saving water, food and medical supplies.
But she also clearly timed and ordered this statement to undermine her successor, Yousaf, and his calls for restraint. Most cynically, she chose to partially conceal this attack behind the person of Yousaf’s mother-in-law, trapped with her four small Palestinian grandchildren in the murder zone, and whose last video from Gaza she shared under her own statement.
We would need to be completely naïve to read this communication in any other way. Alternatively, Sturgeon would have to be an incompetent who didn’t understand how her words would be received.
She is no blunderer when it comes to political communication. As very many have noted over the years, she is highly skilled in this art. And everyone who knows anything about political history understands that statements by the former leader are always read in close relation to their successor’s policy.
Sturgeon, we know, is a war hawk. She has a hard-line Atlanticist conception of foreign policy, and her final years in office were marked by her militant posture in defence of US and western power. She took the most warlike position of Afghanistan, demanding the continuation of the 20 year occupation as US President Joe Biden ordered withdrawal. She called for a ‘no fly zone’ to be established over Russia, a policy which could easily have resulted in escalation and nuclear confrontation.
Now she is recapitulating this stance over Palestine, calling for impunity for the IDF as it prepares the most barbaric assault on civilians, and taking a swing at her predecessor for his failure to strictly follow the western line. As though she had not already lumbered Yousaf with enough problems, she now seeks to remind the foreign policy establishment of her arch loyalty, at a time when her own public reputation has taken a severe knock.
Sturgeon exemplifies the rot at the heart of Scottish politics. She is void of real character and leadership, has no political project beyond her personal interests, and is disloyal to all who have served her purposes for years. She worships power, even when it is wielded violently for the defence of the institutional order with which she is so enamoured. Her pleas for kindness in public life are fraudulent – intended only as condemnation of public criticism of the establishment.
She is both cause and product of the gross dysfunction and moral emptiness of the Scottish scene. Even in her political afterlife she continues to poison public life.
Sadly, she is still the most famous Scottish politician in the world. Her voice will, therefore, join the western chorus, and people around the world will think we Scots sanction mass murder, and award the murderers impunity.
If only our image could be that of Elizabeth El-Nakla – the image of bravery, compassion, and decency, representing what is best in human values. Since our political leaders refuse to manifest her example, ordinary Scots must. We should show the world we are not like Shapps, Starmer and Sturgeon – that we represent a true belief in the rights to life and freedom. To that end, join the protests around Scotland this Saturday – oppose the ethnic cleansing in Gaza.