A pro-Israel group in Scotland has issued public statements disassociating itself from a former member of the British National Party (BNP).
Dunbar was also filmed alongside Sammy Stein, chair of Glasgow Friends of Israel, after they approached campaigners with the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street.
After the SPSC posted a photograph and footage of Dunbar and Stein on Facebook, Glasgow Friends of Israel tweeted that it wished to “dissociate ourselves from Max Dunbar”. Stein also told The Ferret that they have no links with far right groups.
Based on information which has come to light in the past few hours, GFI and COFIS wish to make clear that we dissociate ourselves from Max Dunbar. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us to identify and resolve this issue.
— Glasgow Friends of Israel (@GlasgowFOI) January 20, 2019
According to the anti-fascist organisation, Hope Not Hate, Dunbar was treasurer for Glasgow BNP. He is now listed by the Electoral Commission as treasurer of a political party called Brittanica which was registered in 2011.
“The party is essentially the core of the BNP Glasgow branch under a new name,” according to Hope not Hate, who also photographed Dunbar at the weekend.
Mick Napier of SPSC was protesting outside a branch of HSBC on Saturday when Dunbar and Stein appeared.
He said: “We were telling the story of Palestinian citizen of Israel, Faisal Abu-Binniyah, who was forced on his wedding day to destroy his own home in Wadi Al-Naam or an Israeli bulldozer would do it and he’d be hit with an enormous fine. HSBC invests in Caterpillar who supply bulldozers to the Israeli Army.”
Napier wrote on Facebook that Dunbar requested a leaflet, then walked away saying: “I am pro-Israel”.
Hope not Hate Glasgow also posted photographs of Dunbar on Saturday at the Glasgow Friends of Israel stall.
Hope not Hate said on Facebook: “Ex-BNP Glasgow Branch Treasurer and Britannica Party member; Max Dunbar, was seen at the weekend helping out at the Glasgow Friends of Israel stall on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street. Dunbar… not a very good advert for Glasgow Friends of Israel claiming to promote peace & combat intimidation, hatred & violence in the middle east?”
Both Glasgow Friends of Israel and the Confederation of Friends of Israel-Scotland have posted statements disassociating themselves from Dunbar.
Confederation of Friends of Israel-Scotland wrote on Facebook: “Based on information which has come to light in the past few hours, GFI and COFIS wish to make clear that we dissociate ourselves from Max Dunbar. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us to identify and resolve this issue.” Glasgow Friends of Israel tweeted the same statement.
In reply to The Ferret’s questions, Stein wrote in an email: “With regards to Mr Dunbar, I must reconfirm that within a few hours of receiving information about his activities, we publicly announced that our group has disassociated itself from him.
Our group has never had any association with any far right groups. Sammy Stein, Glasgow Friends of Israel
“As to your questions, he has not attended any of our meetings and he has never been a member of our group. Our group has never received any donated money from Mr Dunbar, Britannica, or the British National Party and we have never received any services from any of them.
“Just to be very clear indeed, our group has never had any association with any far right groups and within hours of finding out about Mr Dunbar, our group disassociated itself from him.”
Stein also accused the SPSC of hypocrisy, claiming the group had failed to act against some if its own members who were accused of racism in a 2017 report.
He said: “Your new story is based on information you have found on the SPSC facebook page, a group that proudly states that it is opposed to racism. If that is the case, why by this time have they not acted against their racist members even though the information about these individuals has been available since 2017. How hypocritical of the SPSC to criticise groups about attitude to racism when they do nothing about their own racist members.”
Edward Sutherland, of the Confederation of Friends of Israel-Scotland, said: “I can confirm that Mr Dunbar was someone who turned up at the stall, seemingly keen to help out and, upon learning of his history, we took immediate steps to have no further dealings with him.
“As Sammy has pointed out, this stands in marked contrast to the inaction of the SPSC and its sister group, the PSC, both of which have had a number of members named in reports by David Collier as being antisemitic, Holocaust deniers or otherwise racist.”
Napier said in reply to the above allegations levelled at the SPSC: “Collier’s two main claims are without foundation. Most of the individuals he identified who posted antisemitic materials were not and are not members of SPSC. Others we challenged and parted company with. Our record is consistently antiracist.”
The Ferret contacted Britannica but had not received a comment at time of publication.
Photo thanks to Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Max Dunbar is pictured on the left, with Sammy Stein on the right.