Palestine Solidarity Groups call for peaceful protest against Fringe Festival event organised by defenders of Israel’s illegal military occupation
15th August 2016 – Edinburgh Action for Palestine  will be holding a peaceful silent, banner protest outside the pro-Israel ‘International Shalom Festival’ on the evening of Wednesday, 17th August. They will be demonstrating against what they regard as a whitewashing of the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and the well-documented systematic abuses of human rights and international law by the Israeli government.
Edinburgh Action for Palestine supports the Palestinian civil society call for a cultural boycott of Israeli institutions , which is backed by over 100 UK artists, including Liz Lochhead, Alexei Sayle, Mike Leigh, Miriam Margolyes and Michael Rosen , and which is directed exclusively at Israeli institutions and at non-Israeli bodies that serve political propaganda purposes in favour of the Israeli government policy. Cultural boycott is not targeted at individual Israelis because of their nationality, and it respects the universal right to freedom of expression.
The International Shalom Festival is organised by the UK branch of the US organisation StandWithUs , whose slogan is ‘Supporting Israel Around the World’, and by the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland, who are funded by and affiliated to StandWithUs . StandWithUs publicly defend the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Israeli wall built on occupied Palestinian territory, and Israeli military attacks on Gaza , all of which breach international law.
The ‘International Shalom Festival’ Exhibition and Gala feature Israeli companies and musicians, without any mention of Palestine and the millions of Palestinian people, most of whom have been either forcibly evicted from their homes or are living under an illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Exhibitors include a cosmetics company which is exploiting salts from the northern shores of the Dead Sea, located in the occupied West Bank – a breach of international law , and an exhibition that promotes Krav Maga, a deadly martial art, used by the Israeli Military .
Evelyn McGregor from Edinburgh Action for Palestine explains: “Calling this festival ‘Shalom’, the Hebrew word for Peace, is a travesty because it is a blatant celebration of a state which consistently violates the human rights of Palestinians and breaches international law. Such breaches include the cruel blockade of Gaza, repeated military aggression against civilian populations, illegal Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank territory, and the impunity with which Israeli soldiers and armed settlers can kill and injure Palestinians, including children. This festival is using the arts as a tool for normalising human rights violations”.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi from Artists for Palestine UK, who delivered a letter of protest to the Fringe organisers , noted: “There is no mention by name of the Palestinians who make up one fifth of Israel’s population as well as the entire population of the occupied territories, besieged Gaza and numerous refugee camps across the Middle East, nor of those in exile around the world. Israel’s “cultural bridges” bypass the people it has dispossessed, seeking “international friendship” with those prepared to ignore a decades-long injustice to collaborate in an empty dance of dialogue.”
 Edinburgh Action for Palestine is an Edinburgh-based group affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which works locally to raise awareness of and campaign against the injustices suffered by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government and to support the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. See edinburghaction4palestine.org
 StandWithUs main public resource, to which both their US and UK websites link can be downloaded from www.standwithus.com/booklets/i l101/ .
 See http://www.btselem.org/jordan_ valley/other_resources , written by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem