The city council of Glasgow, Scotland, has vowed not to sponsor any future military exhibitions in response to months of widespread protests against its decision to sponsor the Conference on Subsea Defence Technology. The city council also promised to “reconsider its guidelines” to ensure that they would reflect “Glasgow’s respect of human rights”.
This pledge came after the formation of a popular campaign to put pressure on the city council, a coalition that included the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Scotland against Militarism, as well as the Anti-Arms trading Campaign.
The military exhibition, which included Israeli weapon manufacturers, was held in Glasgow in late July under the sponsorship of BAE Systems and Babcock, the two major arms companies responsible for renewing the UK’s Trident program for the development, activation, and sale of nuclear weapons despite Glasgow’s declaration of being a nuclear-free Council in December 2017.
The exhibition that the city hosted stated Israel Defence, a media organisation promoting the arms industry in Israel, as an official media partner. The presentation was nevertheless attended by the Israeli company DSIT Solutions, involved in the ongoing brutal Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.
Israeli arms companies regularly market their weapons as “tested” and “field tested”, meaning that they are tested on the Palestinian people and then exported to facilitate the suppression of the army and police forces in the rest of the world.
The National Chairperson of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), Sofiah MacLeod, welcomed the city council’s statement and added that the campaign would work with other coalition members to ensure that the city council would implement its pledge.
MacLeod added that the popular pressure on Glasgow City Council and the House of Advisers would continue because the council still manages the Strathclyde pension fund known for its investment in arms factories and other companies that have been complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee welcomed the campaign’s success, according to its coordinator in Gaza, Abdul Rahman Abu Nahl. He said: “Such news increase our determination to step up our campaigns against companies involved in Israel’s human rights violations. What has been happening in local councils in Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Italy is a new indication of the growing impact of the BDS movement around the world and the growing isolation of the occupation and apartheid Israeli state.”
The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) continues to work with various groups such as the Unison Scotland and the Scottish Friends of Palestine, in the “Time to Divest” campaign to push local Scottish authority retirement funds to dispose of contracts of companies complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights. These banks include Hapoalim, the largest Israeli bank, which funds the construction of illegal settlements on usurped Palestinian lands, as well as companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and DXC.