Celtic Could Not Afford To Be Associated With The Extreme Side Of The Palestine Debate.

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Earlier today, I posted a piece on the Catiline Conspiracy and how Celtic had only one option when facing what basically amounts to an insurrection from the stands.

The ban on home match tickets which follows the ban on away tickets was not a great shock.

Last night, I was on Graham Spiers podcast discussing the ban with Harry Brady of The Celtic Underground, and one of the subjects – though I don’t think the main one – was the political stance that the Green Brigade has taken on Palestine.

All three of us were agreed on how we feel about the Palestinian cause.

Those sentiments are echoed across the world and have been clearly expressed in protests, marches and demonstrations.

No doubt, we are on the right side of the argument and on the right side of history. Israel cannot forever treat the Palestinian people like animals in cages whilst the world does nothing.

There is no act of terror which justifies it. The historical suffering of the Jewish people cannot forever be used in mitigation.

In fact, it should be shaming.

The politics of The Green Brigade are often used in mitigation for their own bad behaviour. It is instructive, therefore, to examine their political views because I think those views have become warped and extremist.

Nothing signifies this more than the appearance at recent matches, including on the afternoon of 7 October and at the Atletico game, of a banner promoting the organisation called The Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine.

Support for the PFLP goes beyond merely standing up for the Palestinian people. The PFLP is an extremist organisation, regarded as a terrorist group by the EU and in the US and elsewhere.

Formed in 1967 by a man named George Habash, they were responsible, from the 1970’s onward, for a spate of hijackings, assassinations and bombings across the world but mostly targeted on Israeli companies and businesses, and indiscriminately against Jews.

They targeted, for years, El Al flights.

They carried out attacks at international airports against people trying to get on those flights.

In September 1970, in one of their most audacious attacks, they hijacked four airliners in one day and tried to hijack a fifth … a strategy which would later be used to terrifying effect on 9/11.

As Harry Brady pointed out last night on the podcast, during these and other attacks they separated the passengers into Jews and non-Jews.

Note that I didn’t write Israelis and I didn’t mean Israelis. Jews and non-Jews.

On 30 May 1972 (I mistakenly said 74 on the podcast last night) the PFLP, using members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, launched an attack on a terminal at Lod Airport, in Tel Aviv, which killed 26 civilians and two members of the assault team.

They used Japanese Marxists to fool the Israeli security forces who they rightly surmised would not expect it. 17 of the dead were Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico. Eight were Israelis. One was a Canadian tourist.

The PFLP’s military wing are known as the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the Red Eagles. They took part in the Al Aqsa Intifada, including a spate of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens.

The PFLP were the second largest faction, after Fatah, in the PLO, but in 1974 left that organisation in disgust at the PLO’s “ten-point plan” which formally endorsed the two-state solution. They reject the two-state solution.

The PFLP openly calls for the eradication of Israel itself.

Supporting the PFLP is to endorse that view, one of the most extreme on the fringes of politics.

There are those who have claimed, disingenuously, that the Kilmarnock banner does not imply support for the 7 October attacks.

Of course, it does.

But there’s enough ambiguity in the wording to give people wiggle room, although The Green Brigade itself has never disavowed those attacks or expressed sympathy for the victims.

However, the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades took part in that attack and so a banner extolling the PFLP cannot be deemed as anything other than approval of and support for the events of that day.

The link between the banner and the PFLP flag could not, therefore, be more explicit.

The Green Brigade by virtue of those banners directly linked the Celtic support and the Hamas atrocity.

Nobody should underestimate how damaging that association would be if left unchecked.

There have been Palestinian flags at Celtic Park for as long as I’ve been going there, along with the flags of the Basque separatists and others. Celtic has never attempted to stifle this. The Green Brigade’s position here goes far beyond what is justified.

Celtic, as an organisation, cannot allow our support to be seen as supporting such an extremist position as that endorsed by a group which believes Israel should be wiped off the map.

I think, therefore, that The Green Brigade’s political views have played a role in the ban, but not in the manner their publicists would have you believe.

You can listen to the Graham Spiers podcast on Patreon at this link.

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  • Patrick says:

    If GB is using Celtic park to support PFLP than they should be binned permanently.

  • Frank Speirs says:

    Are you looking for a job with the MSM….or the board…ill informed rubbish.. the GB are highlighting Racism and Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing….and that could morth into full Genecide.
    You sir, by condoning Israel behaviour are now a fully fledged Zionist.

    • James Forrest says:

      I’m nothing of the sort.

      The Green Brigade have been banned by Celtic for HOOLIGANISM … not their politics.

      But since they bring it up, I thought I’d look at their politcs.

      Do you believe that a PFLP banner belongs at Celtic Park? Simple question. I await your answer.

      And whilst you’re on that, do you think we should permit hooliganism amongst our fans, regardless of the political views they hold? I’ll be very keen to hear the answer to that one.

  • H. McNamara says:

    The EU UK and the USA have declared the PLFP terrorists . Well that settles it then . the above authoritises fund Right Sector , Azov and other assorted “freedom fighters” .So giving full support to their football representatives S. Donesk is fine in your eyes ,you gave them your unqualified support last year. You are a perfect fit for today’s labour party

    • James Forrest says:

      Odd then that I left Labour decades ago … and over what? The Iraq War.

      You see? See how little YOU understand?

      I’ve charted the history and the politics of the PFLP … if you think that banner belongs at Celtic Park I think you’re the one with the warped world view, not me.

  • Thomas Davidson says:

    Your comments are cogent, James. However, there has to be more to the suspension than explicit support for a terrorist organisation and I believe Celtic’s reasons as set out in the official statement. The War of Independence ended a century ago and Sinn Fein believes in the peaceful and negotiated unification of Ireland, yet we hear pro-IRA songs at every match; what’s worse, the disgraceful words “Soon there’ll be no Protestants at all” have crept back in to the repertoire. I’ve been in the vicinity of the Green Brigade at away matches and wouldn’t wish to repeat the experience, not least for fear of the flares. The Green Brigade’s support for Celtic is highly conditional; it exists to promote its own agenda. The Green Brigade has been given special treatment over the years, for reasons I can’t fathom; Celtic doesn’t and shouldn’t need such “supporters” and I hope the ban is made permanent.

  • steven jesner says:

    I almost stopped reading the remainder of your article which may have been interesting when I read this:-
    Israel cannot forever treat the Palestinian people like animals in cages whilst the world does nothing
    That comment is of course complete and utter rubbish and profoundly abusive
    Obviously you have no knowlege whatsoever of what REALLY happens in the region (I do I live there)

    • James Forrest says:

      Wow! On a day where I’m getting tons of stick for not standing up for the Palestinians enough, for being a heartless bastard who doesn’t care about them (false charges by the way) this is the FIRST post accusing me of dissing Israel! I bet it’s the last as well. For the record, I know what goes on there because I don’t spend my life with my head up my own arse. I have a certain amount of sympathy for Israel’s position … but to say that the treat the Palestinians like animals is entirely accurate and has been borne out in number UN Resolutions down through the years.

      Thanks for reading!

  • goodghuy says:

    That banner was a disgrace, they would have been as well having a Nazi German and holicaust denying flag. The hypocrisy is scandalous, and shows their brain dead views. They had a banner opposing fascism, yet one of the clowns who probably didn’t even know what that horrific banner at kilmarnock represented, is equally anti Jewish. Celtic have done the right thing in banning them, they have become a militant , extremist group. No extremists in any form are welcome at Celtic park, we are a club open to all, and all means every person on earth.

  • Roonsa says:

    This is dodgy territory for me. If we are going to actively pursue the Green Brigade on that ticket (rather than stuff like pyros which has no political repurcussions) then watch as Celtic and Celtic fans are pursused for not voicing disapproval or taking action for our perceived support of the Provosional IRA.

    And before any clowns have a go for me not knowing my history, let’s make this clear. I am talking about the Provisional Wing of the IRA who set themselves up in 1969 to take a more “confrontational” approach against what they perceived to be the occupying forces in the six counties. The organisation who carried out a campaign of terror in England and Northern Ireland.

    And by “perceived support” I mean those complete morons who cannot hear or sing a song about the original organisation without pitching in with their own wee silly and ill thought out “add ons”.

    And why don’t we have this discussion about songs we hear every week about Bobby Sands? Regardless of the fact that he took it to the Tories by becoming an MP and a martyr which furthered the Republican movement … he was still a member of the organisation which targeted innocent civilians.

    We have to stay away from this conversation in my eyes. It might seem disingenous but I’d rather be called disingenuous than a hypocrite.

    • Seosaimh says:

      And the British/Loyalists didn’t target innocent civilians? You’re a revisionist

      • Roonsa says:

        No. A revisionist is someone who amends history to suit their own ends. The clue is in the word itself. What you need is a word called “omissionism” but, unfortunately for you, that word doesn’t exist.

        It’s a silly point you are making anyway. There is no justification for murder whether it is sanctioned by a sovereign state or otherwise. You cannot criticise the actions of one whilst defending the other.

        It’s almost as silly as the eejit who called the author of the article a Zionist for, you know, not really being up for the murder of innocent Jews.

        Let me spell it out. Speaking out against the actions of one does not equate to defending the actions of the forces they are reacting to.

        In terms of the situation in Israel, there are far more clever ways of making the point. As per the story James wrote about pertaining to the statement made by the fans of St Pauli.

        In terms of highlighting the situation in Northern Ireland, it’s Poppy Nazi season. There’s a clever way to do things and there is a stupid way to do things. I would suggest glorifying the Provos as a reaction to remembering those who died in the two World Wars (and all other conflicts) is a stupid way.

  • Johnno says:

    Watching Celtic football club has always been a great source of bringing enjoyment into many peoples lives past and present.
    Also a great escape from all the shite that goes on within this world of today.
    No one who attends a celtic football match is in a position to change any of the mountain of shite that’s ongoing within the world at home and abroad.
    Don’t believe it’s a very pleasant world we currently try to operate within these days, where the value of life is decreasing by the day.
    So for myself anyway, Celtic gives myself a massive form of enjoyment, that world politics could never provide.
    With that in mind, I totally disagree with Celtic Park being used as a place to demonstrate against such world politics, and can not ever be used or displaying any form of terrorism that is so rampant within the world of today.
    Celtic offers that escape, and hope it remains the case in doing so as well imo.

  • Paddy says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your views on this topic.
    There must not be a way back for the The Green Brigade in it’s current form, which opens the door for a n other group of noisey young followers whom wish a standing area all to themselves.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    What a depressing time, for most people alive this conflict has gone on all of their lives and there seems to be no end in sight. I’m convinced that Israel will not stop their expansion until all Palestinians are refugees or dead.
    This conflict is now so out of control that discussing flags at a football match now seems so pointless. When a population like the Palestinians has no Army, Navy or Air Force to defend themselves against a Military power like Israel, then they’re most likely going to turn to terrorism. Israel has refused to accept numerous UN resolutions to stop their expansion over the years with the support of the US and UK.
    The GB should be taking their protests away from Celtic Park onto the streets with like minded demonstrators.
    We need the football to be a bit of escapism from the depressing World we live in at the moment.

  • Gordon Raeburn says:

    The Green Brigade seem to think they speak for the whole Celtic support but I can assure you they do not speak for me or many others. A lot of them know nothing about the Palestine/ Israel situation and are led by those who are the most vocal. I abhor all lives lost in this current war and want to see a ceasefire immediately. Celtic, as a football club, did what they had to as the Green Brigade have definitely become more extreme. I know at the game tonight there may be a quieter atmosphere but at least I will enjoy myself without having other people’s politics rammed down my throat. May I add, though, that I do not like the Tories on the board.

    • Woodyiom says:

      “May I add, though, that I do not like the Tories on the board”

      Gordon – the question is whether you don’t like them or don’t think they are entitled to be there at all? Our club social mission statement says and I quote – “Celtic is a club for everyone who believes in football as a medium for healthy pleasure, entertainment and social integration.”

      Not liking someone is perfectly valid, and tbh human, as none of us likes everyone we know in life (albeit I think its pretty weak to not like someone simply because their political view doesn’t align with yours especially if, as I imagine is the case here, you’ve never actually met the person) but I imagine you have stopped short of believing said Board members don’t belong at CP. The GB think that anyone who doesn’t agree with their views do not belong at CP full stop which is simply outrageous and has no place in a civilised society.

  • John S says:

    What does ‘Free Palestine’ mean ? Free from Hamas ? Eradicate Israel ? Or is it just a slogan to conceal Anti-Jewish hatred with most ? Never mind Celtic, the world itself cannot afford any continuation of what seems an eternal motion towards Holocaust. Jews made unwelcome in nation-states are to be denied any haven anywhere, especially the right to self-determination in their own historical lands. The very word “Occupation” is actually an Iranian propaganda term for their leaders who refuse to utter the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Jew’.
    We all have views and I doubt there’s any right or wrong in history, only winners and losers. What this has to do with Celtic football club is beyond me, excepting that if Iran requires nuclear strike capability (which is very close) there’ll be no football anywhere for a very long time.

  • SSMPM says:

    I will listen to the podcast later given what you’ve just written and with interest. I recognise and associate myself with it. You are definitely on the right side.
    How could any reasonable minded individual not be? The difference between the average decent Jewish person and the extreme actions of the Israeli state right now, Netanyahu being the example of just that I would have thought, is I assume a gaping wide chasm.
    I have shifted my left wing position on this after the last few weeks, to an even more left wing position. In no way though do I condone the appalling barbaric actions of October 7th by Hamas.
    The concentration of such a vast amount of Palestinian people in such a small area, as is the case with Gazza, with no exits other than those patrolled by Israeli soldiers, tanks and missiles must surely be a heartbreak for decent family people to live within and bring your children up in.
    Add to that the denial of food, water, medical resources, etc, etc. That now constant fear of murderous bombing slaughter raids, and the seemingly uncaring, though promoted as civilised, West’s humanitarian inaction and support for its perpetrators with further and ongoing missile replenishment and that word concentration takes a not so new and heinous meaning.
    I simply can’t understand why a decent fair minded country or individual would be in support of it. Shame on our governments.

  • Robbie says:

    I’m a Jewish Celtic supporter and one of the challenges of the Israeli-Hamas conflict is the meaning behind the symbols we chose to use at Celtic Park.

    As an example, I wouldn’t wave an Israeli flag at a Celtic match because my concern would be that it could make our supporters who come from an Arab, Muslim, or Christian background uncomfortable.

    Personally, I feel terrible for all Palestinian citizens both living in the West Bank, Gaza, as well as the diaspora overseas. The situation is hell on earth, and it’s incredibly stressful. My hope is for both Israeli and Palestinian citizens to be able to share the land in peace and help one another.

    James, I agree with you that the settlements in the West Bank are completely inappropriate and need to be stopped. I also agree that Israel needs to respect international law and that their government needs to answer many questions for their conduct against humanity.

    The challenge that I find with waving a Palestinian flag personally is the same challenge that I see if a Tottenham fan wanted to wave an Israeli flag out of solidarity for the Jewish community in North London (Last I checked, Tottenham is not allowing their supporters to wave Israeli flags at this time.)

    If I saw a supporter wave an Israeli flag my initial thought would be that they support that country and to an extent the far-right government in the Knesset. The challenge waving the Palestinian flag during this particular conflict is it does come across as support for Hamas because Hamas represents the Palestinian people as their government in Gaza.

    That’s the tricky thing about this conflict: Islamophobia and Antisemitism have a tendency to hide behind these national symbols (The GB with their ‘Victory to Resistance’ banner and the PFLP flag as an example.)

    While I understand our club’s history and am a part of that history (I’m a Celtic supporter because my Irish Catholic ancestry from County Antrim immigrated to the Gorbals during the famine before eventually coming to America), there are stark differences between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the British-Irish conflict.

    Too often I see solidarity from some Celtic supporters for the Palestinian cause due to the comparison with the one that has happened across the Irish Sea. While there are similarities, they are not the same conflict.

    Thank you so much for allowing us Celtic fans a space here to voice our opinions respectfully and please keep up all the great writing. Hail Hail!

    • James Forrest says:

      That’s a wonderful post my friend. I hope you’re well and enjoyed our three points last night!

      • Robbie says:

        Thanks James! I did-looking forward to reading the work you’ve put out now on the Atletico match.

        Also I hope you continue to get the opportunity to to be interviewed by Graham Spiers on his podcast.

        It’s so important to keep putting forward great Scottish and Celtic football material. Hail Hail!

  • SSMPM says:

    As I’m sure you know well enough, there is contradiction and hypocrisy here, there and everywhere.
    Many of the countries or states that name these groups as terrorists organisations have been exactly that themselves at times in history and in some cases still are; terrorising greedy grabby terrorist states.
    Maturity has mellowed this old dog but I’ve never seemed to completely get rid of the bitterness.
    Good luck tonight to the Hoops, it would be good to get the wheels back on track. HH

    • goodghuy says:

      They are a terrorist organization.. they murdered Israeli citizens at a concert for being Jewish. They are bigots and racists. I support both Palestinians and Israelis, Hamas started it and that’s the reason this is happening the now. I’m pro west, the west don’t always get it right. but I back them here. Hamas need to be destroyed , once that’s done then have the ceasefire and get both sides talking again.

  • SSMPM says:

    That’s a very short sighted and time limited view of the history of this conflict and very one sided too. Its 70 years plus since the west helped kick the Palestinians off their land, that increasing land grab and slow destruction of a people has continued ever since.
    Aye Hamas sure as hell need to be ousted for the recent slaughter of those innocent Jewish people, they weren’t in existence 70 years ago though.
    Shame somehow it’s alright and accepted by the west to obliterate cities and towns in Gazza, and to kill near enough 10,000 Palestinian citizens to get a couple of hundred terrorists, if even that. That’s not alright or worth supporting

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