Humza Yousaf's humane and liberal response to Israel-Gaza conflict is an example to all – Scotsman comment

Israel’s war against Hamas is too serious to be reduced to another strand of Scotland’s ‘culture wars’

The news from Israel and Gaza has been unrelentingly grim since Hamas began the mass murder of 1,400 people on October 7. The group, whose slaughter of innocents has drawn comparisons with Isis, knew that Israel would have little choice but to respond in an attempt to remove this threat to the lives of its citizens. So it should be clear to all who is responsible for the current conflict – not Israel, not the Palestinians, not Muslims or Jews, but the terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The situation has prompted far too many people in Scotland and beyond to essentially pick sides, importing a hugely complicated conflict to these shores for their own reasons. In some cases, it is being used as a deadly proxy for domestic political disputes. And when lives are being lost, exchanges of rhetoric can descend into hatred and, potentially, violence.

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However, amid the storm, Humza Yousaf has provided hugely impressive leadership to everyone in Scotland and, no matter what political disagreements we might have with the First Minister, all should listen to his words. Last week, he attended a service of solidarity at Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue where he told the people there “your grief is my grief”. Most movingly, he embraced the grieving mother of Bernard Cowan, one of Hamas's victims. At a time when members of his wife Nadia’s family are trapped in Gaza, where they remain at risk, he said: “I stand in solidarity with Scotland’s Jewish community.”

And in his SNP conference speech, he spoke directly to Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian people in Scotland, saying “you are communities I love, and I want you to know that as First Minister and as a fellow human being, I share the pain and sorrow you are feeling”.

This liberal and humane response to a terrible crisis is an example of how to act: not by picking sides or by attempting, shamefully, to use the situation as a political football or new strand in our ‘culture wars’, but by emphasising the shared humanity of the innocent people who make up the vast majority of those caught up in this conflict.



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