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Defying Scottish law, football fans fly Palestinian flags during match with Israeli team

on 48 Comments

Scots Wallah hae!

Hundreds of fans of Glasgow’s Celtic soccer team defied Scottish law and risked arrest by flying Palestinian flags at a Champions league game against a visiting Israeli team, Hapoel Beersheba. Celtic won the game 5-2. The team faces potential punishment from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Celtic has long been the club for Glasgow’s Catholic working class, and have displayed Palestinian flags to counter their local rivals, the Rangers, the protestant favorite, who have brought Israeli flags. The flag fight mirrors similar loyalties in Belfast, across the Irish sea, where mostly Catholic Irish Republicans back the Palestinian cause as a matter of principle and sympathy. Their Protestant political opponents, the descendants of 17th century British colonialists, some remaining still fiercely behind the Queen, find more in common with Israelis, unsurprisingly. There is a popular misconception that conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been going on for centuries, when it’s really just decades. For destructive disagreement of a deeply ancient vintage, look to these ruddy headed rascals.

Threats of arrest didn’t stop Celtic fans from taking pamphlets and flags handed out by the Scottish Palestinian Activist group, Palestine Alliance. Some fans seem to have brought their own emblems, too.

There could be serious consequences for Celtic thanks to the protest, carried out in front of Israelis themselves. Fines and closures of their fans seating sections are possible, under UEFA rules. And a 2012 Scottish law against provocative political speech at sporting events makes the flag display an arrestable offense, although authorities reportedly did not take the offending fans into custody. There were dozens of them, photographs show.

Although the flag politics of the region are contrarian. The feelings of political solidarity are real.

“Since at least the late 80’s Palestine flags have been seen at Celtic Park and Celtic fans have shown their support for the Palestinians. Celtic fans have always had a radical history with support for Irish resistance to British rule and it is from there that support for Palestine stems. Also following support for Palestine among other football and sports fans and figures,” reads a Facebook page called Celtic Fans for Palestine, with about 3,300 members.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will weigh what could happen, but it might involve the closing of some of the stands in the stadium for a Champions league game, writes Neil Cameron in the Herald, a Scottish paper, in an opinion piece chiding protesters for risking the forfeiture of other fans tickets. European football carries out collective punishment against fans, apparently.

Cameron’s basic argument was that the Palestine fans at Celtic games should have a right to fly the flag, but in flouting both league rules and Scottish government laws meant to quell nationalist threats and incitement at games, they are threatening fellow fans, and making it potentially unsafe for them to travel to Israel to see their team play in Israel. Cameron is suspicious to some extent not of the sincerity of feelings for Palestine, but of the age of the fans preventing them from really understanding the meaning of the now positively retro IRA-PLO alliance.

“Both sides will tell you that’s it is part of their culture and the history of Ireland is something which deeply afflicts them. This is actually fair enough, although most of the singers look too young to remember the Troubles and very few are from Ireland, either north or south of the border. This is why the many football regulars who can’t be bothered with all of this roll their eyes when earnest young men talk about such matters as if they lived through it. That’s akin to watching Star Wars a bunch of times and claiming you know what it’s like to work in space,” Cameron put it.

But it’s also possible that some of the lads at the soccer game are there as advocates for Palestine, and not just as a proxy for Irish Republicanism. After all, those aspirations have been on hold for the last two decades, and the Troubles have subsided into the sad peace after the Good Friday accords. Meanwhile, Scotland’s government at Holyrood has made its own moves for independence from the United Kingdom, and offered Palestine a place in Edinburgh to found its first European consulate.

“Recognition of Palestine’s right to self determination is a vital step in advancing the peace process. The support of influential nations like Scotland provides legitimacy to our claims under international law, forces Israel to think twice before committing acts of aggression and will enable us to sit at the negotiating table as an equal state,” said Manuel Hassassian, Palestine’s envoy to the UK.

“Scotland’s recognition of Palestine and the support we receive from its people has long been way ahead of what we are seeing from Westminster today. It is vital, because with every action from the continued land grabs to its attempts to drive the Bedouin out of the Jordan Valley, Israel is demonstrating that it has no interest in negotiating a solution at this stage.”

Wilson Dizard

Wilson Dizard is a freelance reporter and photojournalist covering politics, civil rights, drug policy and everything else. He lives in Brooklyn with his bicycle, camera and drum set.

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48 Responses

  1. Ossinev on August 18, 2016, 10:10 am

    Oh flower of Palestine
    When will we see your like again
    Who fight and die for
    Your wee bit hill and glen

    Obvious comparisons between the Scottish and Irish native peoples who who were subjected to brutality,ethnic cleansing,evictions,expulsions,house demolitions and occasionally outright slaughter by English colonisers and the Palestinian natives who are being subjected to the same on a daily basis by the JSILi colonisers.

    Scottish Zionist representatives will of course “flag” this incident up as “sporting terrorism” and flagrant anti – semitism. Big yawn for the latter.

    • Froggy on August 18, 2016, 8:28 pm

      Big yawn indeed. In my experience, Scots are immune to intimidation.

      The Declaration of Arbroath (1320) was written by Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath (Scotland), the King’s Chancellor on behalf of the barons and community of the realm of Scotland, which was delivered to the Pope in Avignon in France.

      The letter, which can be thought of as Scotland’s Declaration of Independence, sets out Scotland’s determination to fight for both her king and her independence. The nobles offered help in a future crusade if the Pope would urge England to make peace with Scotland. Eight earls and thirty-eight barons put their seals to the Declaration. Their names were written by a clerk at the foot of the parchment.

      Included in this medieval document is the following statement: “… cum non sit Pondus nec distinccio Judei et Greci, Scoti aut Anglici” [Translation: “….there is neither bias not distinction between Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman….”] It was a declaration of civil rights.

      At a time when the Christian world believed it was right, just, and even holy, to slaughter Jews, only the Scots were brave enough, and sufficiently far-seeing to draft a declaration of nationhood which included the rights of Jews to dwell in peace in their country, and then deliver this declaration to the pope, of all people.

      Through the centuries the Scots never violated the declaration made in 1320. There is no history of anti-Semitism in Scotland.

      The zionistas and hasbarists would do well to pay a bit more attention to Rabbie Burns, the great Scottish poet, who wrote :

      O wad some Power the giftie gie us
      To see oursels as ithers see us!
      It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
      An’ foolish notion:

      With their lame arguments the zionistas just further expose themselves even for being what they are.

  2. pabelmont on August 18, 2016, 10:21 am

    Amazing resilience, interesting Scots law, and ever-helpful European football association (UEFA).

  3. Froggy on August 18, 2016, 11:39 am

    With songs and poetry like this as part of the school curriculum, it’s no surprise that so many Scots think as they do :

    For those who find the Scots language incomprehensible…

    Sung by the brilliant Dick Gaughan :

    Then there’s always the poet, Robert Burns :

    A prince can mak a belted knight,
    A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
    But an honest man’s abon his might,
    Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    Their dignities an’ a’ that;
    The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
    Are higher rank than a’ that.

    This Neil Cameron is an ass.

    • annie on August 18, 2016, 11:45 am

      This Neil Cameron is an ass.

      my sentiment exactly! i was writing my post below and didn’t see yours til just now. and this crap about kids not remembering the troubles. i mean please!

      • Froggy on August 18, 2016, 6:58 pm

        Annie, anyone who knows Glasgow would immediately pick up on this man’s ignorance.

        Glasgow is a poor city, and it would be highly unlikely that the Celtic supporters flying those Palestinian flags would ever have the means to fly to Israel for any reason, much less to watch a football match.

        Add to that, the sectarianism that even now divides the city. It’s brutal, though it isn’t as bad as it used to be.

        Among Proddy Dogs and Papes :

        As a child I was raised on salted oats
        And tales of the savage past
        I learned to love the drifting rain
        And winter’s icy blast
        And all day long on the Holy Isle
        Far out in Lamlash Bay
        I walked the hills in creaking shoes
        Where the bones of the old ones lay
        And at night the head of Wallace bled
        On solemn floral drapes
        And the flower of Scotland bloomed again
        Among Proddy dogs and Papes

        I was taught in school how Britannia’s rule
        Was forced on the Scots of old
        Bought and sold by a parcel of rogues
        For a handful of English gold
        Till our fate was sealed on Culloden field
        When the blood of the clans ran down
        Through the twisted sea of history
        To the streets of Glasgow town
        Where at night the head…

        On the long summer nights when the northern lights
        Burned the sky like acetylene
        The prods and tykes they fought on the dykes
        That ran round the housing scheme
        With sticks and stones we broke our bones
        For the sake of the good old cause
        That has kept our country bound and chained
        Under English laws
        But at night the head…

        And the old men lilt how the blood was spilt
        On the banks of the river Boyne
        Three hundred years of hate and fear
        Clutched like a miser’s coin
        And at Ibrox and at Parkhead too
        On the first day of the year
        See full-grown men drag it all out again
        While the fans on the terraces cheer
        And at night the head…

        (Parkhead is where Celtic FC have their stadium. Ibrox Stadium is home of the Rangers FC. Of course, Celtic is the Catholic club and Rangers is the Protestant club.)

        Even now most children are divided by attending denominational schools.

        From my own experience I could tell you some very ugly stories.

        A lot of it wasn’t so ugly or hostile as just plain weird. For example, when discussing a project the other engineers might say something like ‘the architect is from Kelvingrove. Nice bloke. Protestant. Does only commercial work. Specialises in….’ I never could figure out where the ‘Protestant’ (or Catholic) fit in.

        Oddly enough, I never saw even a hint of anti-Semitism. Both my late husband and older Jewish Glaswegians assured me that it didn’t exist. My husband’s best and oldest friend was Jewish. They were boys together and remained friends throughout their lives.

        If you are ever in Glasgow be sure to go to the magnificent Grade A listed Garnethill Synagogue. It’s well worth seeing.

      • inbound39 on August 18, 2016, 10:46 pm

        Being Scots and a proud member of a Clan that took a Front line position in the rebellion against the English I can tell you that to this day no child is too young to remember. Our history is passed on generation to generation like our fathers did and our grandfathers and their fathers before them. It is how we know who we are and what we stand for. Clan Law will always take precedence over Royalist laws.

      • annie on August 19, 2016, 2:40 am

        I can tell you that to this day no child is too young to remember.

        i believe you.

    • oldgeezer on August 18, 2016, 12:26 pm


      My handle on the language ends at it’s braw bricht moonlicht nicht. Only part of the language I picked up from the Edinburgh mother of a woman who holds a special place in my heart.

    • John O on August 18, 2016, 12:33 pm

      Thanks, Froggy. I love Dick Gaughan and Hamish Henderson, but I’ll have to listen a few more times to understand the lyrics properly :-)

      • Froggy on August 18, 2016, 7:47 pm


        -LOL- It won’t help if you don’t understand Scots.

  4. annie on August 18, 2016, 11:41 am

    go celtics! the celtic will probably get socked with a high fine from UEFA. they are not the only team in UEFA who do this, dunlauk and the saints fans do it too (to name a few). i’ve written about this before (a couple times as i recall). this one in more detail about the fines:

    aside from scotland’s laws, UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee has deemed Palestine’s national flag to be “a political symbol”. (under pressure no doubt)

    neil cameron is full of crap as far as i am concerned. what is this:

    Celtic have a long tradition of flying the Flag of the Arab Revolt at games and there does seem to be some sincerity in their politics.

    there does seem to be some sincerity in their politics??? lol, gee ya think!

  5. oldgeezer on August 18, 2016, 11:48 am

    How odd it is, and conditioned we are, to accept that a simple Palestinian flag is provocative political speech. Provocative to whom? Israeli supporters and citizens. Yet the Israeli flag is not considered provactive. It surely is equally provocative to Palestinian supporters and citizens. Additionally the Israeli flag is the flag of a rogue state and abuser of human rights of millions of people.

    • eljay on August 18, 2016, 12:09 pm

      || oldgeezer: How odd it is, and conditioned we are, to accept that a simple Palestinian flag is provocative political speech. … Yet the Israeli flag is not considered provactive. … the Israeli flag is the flag of a rogue state and abuser of human rights of millions of people. ||

      Yup: Of the two, the Israeli flag is the one that should be considered provocative.

    • Jon66 on August 18, 2016, 2:02 pm

      I think it becomes a political act when the flag being flown does not represent either team playing. If someone flew a Ukranian flag at a Russia/Poland game or a Pakistani flag at an India/France game those would also be viewed as political.

    • JWalters on August 18, 2016, 8:08 pm

      It’s the long arm of the wealthy war profiteers. Online in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”

    • DaBakr on August 20, 2016, 9:34 pm


      guess you were too old to understand the article. the flag waving is a little fan-war to being fought with opposing flags instead of team banners. protestants try to taunt with the israeli flag. wether either or both mirror the political or national symbolism of the flags is not entirely clear. but obviously-as usual-football fans in GB are pretty insane bunch.

      unless your intention is to link the rivalry of the glascow protestant and catholics to the i/p conflict.

  6. Kay24 on August 18, 2016, 12:15 pm

    What a heart warming sight! I continue to be impressed with Ireland AND now Scotland, for the way they keep supporting human rights, not just empty talk, but with action.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see such amazing support in every part of the world, not controlled by the zionists?

    • Sage on August 19, 2016, 8:46 am

      I so agree.

    • Citizen on August 19, 2016, 10:17 am

      @ Kay24
      Yes; considering the # one white ethnic group in US is German extraction, & #2 is Irish…by numbers in our population

    • inbound39 on August 19, 2016, 7:09 pm

      Shalom Gala Festival in Edinburgh held by Pro Israeli’s has been confronted by Scottish Palestinian Supporters……..

      • Kay24 on August 20, 2016, 9:33 am

        Interesting info from that article:

        “There is a long history of boycott activism around Israeli state-funded events at Edinburgh’s various festivals. A 2009 campaign in which renowned film director Ken Loach played a prominent role led to the Edinburgh International Film Festival returning funding that had initially been accepted from the Israeli Embassy.
        During the 2012 Edinburgh Festival activists disrupted the tour of the Batsheva Dance Company, whilst the planned 2014 Fringe Festival shows by both the Incubator Theatre Company and the Pola Dance Company were cancelled following campaigning and protests.”

  7. Ossinev on August 18, 2016, 1:46 pm

    Just a thought. If there are as claimed 6,000 Scottish Jews then there is a distinct possibility that one of them , a male , has the surname “Burns” and that he possibly was nicknamed “Rabbi” Burns by his classmates which would be a classic example of blatant Gaelic Anti – Semitism and certainly no laughing matter given what the Romans and the Germans did.

  8. ritzl on August 18, 2016, 4:16 pm

    Pretty colors!

    This publicity is a great benefit of inexplicably including Israel in UEFA.

    • John O on August 18, 2016, 6:01 pm

      Israel’s participation in European soccer tournaments is a convenient fudge. Including Israel in the Middle Eastern group would result in endless upheaval as most countries would simply refuse to play them. In European competitions – and in the qualification stages of the World Cup – matching Israel against the big boys ensures their early elimination from any international competition. Problem solved.

  9. Elisabeth on August 18, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Yeah, whatever.
    In the Netherlands soccer fans from Amsterdam fly Israeli flags, and soccer fans from Rotterdam then sing “Jews to the gas”. Fake anti-semites against fake jews.
    All of this is just stupid soccer tribalism: Before long Rotterdam fans will sport Palestiniand flags.

    Solidarity with Palestine? Don’t you believe it. It is just choosing symbols that annoy your opponents the most: Literally EVERYONE knows about this particular conflict as it just goes on an on and on, longer than any conflict we have known in our lifetimes. So, even the dumbest of the dumb know about it. (Oooooh, am I discriminating against soccer fans now?)

    • Froggy on August 18, 2016, 11:37 pm


      What do you know about Glasgow? You really don’t have a clue.

      Do you have any idea how much a fool you look?

      • DaBakr on August 20, 2016, 9:39 pm

        thats rich consider this blog site is filled to the brim with commenters who don’t “really have a clue” about what Israel is about. (by your reasoning anyway)

        do you have any idea how much a fool you look to assume nobody but a glaswegian can know anything about its workings? if you believe that then 80% of the commenters here are fools as well.

      • inbound39 on August 21, 2016, 8:20 pm

        DaBakr….to the contrary good sir. I would suggest that most of the commenters here know far more about Israel’s nefarious activities than you would like and more than you are capable of defending. Scots have a long history of oppression and subjugation by the English which puts them in a prime position to understand the Israeli lies. Israel is doing nothing new. They conduct themselves as older antiquated colonialists did. Antiquated being the operative word here. Colonialism and Right of Conquest was outlawed decades ago and as such it makes defending Israeli actions totally indefensible given Israel ratified and signed the Fourth Geneva Convention and signed the UN Charter and declared its borders as defined by Resolution 181. Therefore Israel conducts itself knowing full well its actions are illegal and indefensible. Every single settlement beyond Israel’s borders and on Palestinian territory can legitimately be pulled down and its occupants removed by Israel at Israel’s expense under threat of sanctions….and THAT DaBakr is very much on the cards in the near future.

  10. Elizabeth Block on August 19, 2016, 9:30 am

    Two things occur to me.
    One: A comment re the growing solidarity between Palestinians and North American First Nations. (Bob Lovelace, a Canadian Indian leader, was on one of the boats to Gaza.) “Gaza is the biggest Indian reservation in the world”

    Two: My late friend Elliot Rose, who taught history at the University of Toronto, once said that bad laws aren’t changed by protests, petitions, etc. They are changed by people disobeying them.

  11. DavidDaoud on August 19, 2016, 12:22 pm

    Looking at the picture of the crowd, did anybody else notice that some of the flags are upside down? The black stripe goes at the top!

    • inbound39 on August 22, 2016, 10:37 pm

      A flag upside down in naval terms means a ship in distress seeking help. Sends an honest and truthful message either way you look at it.

  12. Down under girl on August 20, 2016, 2:04 am

    Absolutely disgraceful

    • John O on August 20, 2016, 7:17 am

      Care to tell us why? We’re all ears here.

    • glaikit on August 21, 2016, 5:16 am

      Seriously, if you’re going to comment on anything to do with flags as being ‘disgraceful’ you should at least have the common sense not to be displaying as your gravatar two flags that are steeped in shame.

    • eljay on August 21, 2016, 3:25 pm

      || Down under girl: Absolutely disgraceful ||

      I agree: Everything about Zio-supremacism is absolutely disgraceful.

  13. sawah on August 20, 2016, 12:34 pm

    Why is a country in the middle east playing in a European tournament?
    That is worth protesting.

  14. glaikit on August 22, 2016, 7:06 am

    Celtic fans have raised £25k for Palestinian charities in less than 24 hours.

  15. glaikit on August 22, 2016, 10:01 am

    The sum raised is now over 38K

  16. glaikit on August 23, 2016, 4:24 am

    Over 80k raised. So proud of my fellow Celtic supporters.

  17. glaikit on August 23, 2016, 8:34 am

    It has smashed through the £100,000 mark.

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