A member of the Scottish parliament (MSP) has sparked outrage by suggesting that the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians when Israel was founded in their land in 1948 was “self-inflicted”.
The remark by Richard Lyle, of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was made in a proposed amendment to a parliamentary motion marking the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe).
More than half of the indigenous Palestinian population was expelled by Zionist militias and the nascent Israeli army between 1947 and 1949 in a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing known as “Plan Dalet”. Historians explain that this was intended to gerrymander a Jewish majority in Palestine through violent means. The Nakba is marked annually by Palestinians and their supporters around the world.
Lyle, who is the deputy convener of the cross-party group called “Building Bridges With Israel” (BBI) and has visited the Zionist state at the invitation of the Israeli embassy in London, made an amendment to a Nakba Day parliamentary motion submitted by fellow SNP member Sandra White MSP.
The motion recognised the “mass eviction of over 750,000 people from historic Palestine land, which included the destruction of over 500 towns and villages” which “led to generations of pain for the Palestinian people, who continue to live under a state of occupation.”
However, Lyle’s amendment peddled an Israeli propaganda trope blaming the victims. The Nakba, he added, was “sadly a self-inflicted tragedy, which must, after all these years, be finally resolved by peaceful means and discussions between the parties involved.”
This triggered a backlash. Some SNP members have condemned the move, calling the motion an “insult to every Palestinian worldwide” and describing it as a “disgusting piece of revisionist history.”
“It is disgraceful to suggest that the Nakba and subsequent occupation which has led to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children is somehow self-inflicted,” insisted Nadia El-Nakla, the convenor of SNP Friends of Palestine, whose family members were and are victims of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of their land. El-Nakla added that Lyle’s comments are “abhorrent… racist and hate filled.” She called for the amendment to be withdrawn and for Lyle to apologise.
The amended motion has apparently garnered the support of just one other MSP, Conservative Adam Tomkins.
Lyle is a controversial figure in Scotland on the issue Palestine and Israel. In 2018 he was part of a BBI delegation to the occupation state. According to the Times, the trip was valued at £2,200 ($2,716) per person and was paid for by the Israeli Embassy in London. The visit was criticised sharply, especially as it coincided with Israel passing the so-called Nation State Bill. Critics, including traditional supporters of the Zionist state, have denounced the legislation as “racist”.
The MSP may face disciplinary action by his own party for his comments. SNP affiliate groups are said to be reporting Lyle to the party’s national secretary.