LAST week, figures in the Scottish National Party helped to establish a “pro-Palestine, pro-Israel” group called Friends of a Two State Solution. Given that this rivals the already-existing SNP Friends of Palestine group, it looks a lot like a move to further establish an internal right-wing on international issues. It’s a worrying trend for SNP members, I’m sure, particularly because one of the SNP’s undoubted moral advantages over Westminster parties has been their stance on the Middle East.

Stewart McDonald MP used an editorial for STV’s website to outline why the SNP needs such a group. The article follows most mainstream journalism in insinuating a massive culture of anti-Semitism on the “anti-imperialist” Left, a term McDonald uses in scare quotes. Indeed, McDonald makes it quite clear that his article’s real purpose is a dig at Jeremy Corbyn when he quotes the “friends in Hamas” line.

These sentiments, however, simply follow the mainstream conventions of unoriginal and lazy thinkers. The most worrying part of the article is the approval for the idea that Scottish nationalism can learn something from Israeli nationalism. Either McDonald is ill-informed on the conflict’s history or he is making a jaw-dropping move away from civic nationalism towards an oppressive ethnic nationalism.

McDonald’s official purpose is to promote a two-state solution and to argue that one can be pro-Palestine without being anti-Semitic. These vanilla sentiments aren’t problematic in themselves. A two-state solution is supported by everyone from Donald Trump to Noam Chomsky, from Netanyahu to, reportedly, leaders of Hamas.

The devil, ultimately, lies in the detail. Israel was established out of the forceful expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians. Today their refugee descendants number more than five million, or about the same population as Scotland, scattered across the planet. Every year since 1948, the UN has ratified their right to return to their homes. And, according to a 2005 poll in Lebanon, 96 per cent of refugees wish to retain their right of return to homes and lands bulldozed and colonised by Israeli forces.

That’s one complication. Do we tear up international law and find some other way of compensating Palestinian refugees so Israel can retain its goal of ethnic dominance in whatever it considers to be its territory? Or do we allow the right of return and thus redefine Israel as a non-ethnic state? Any supporter of a two state solution must solve that conundrum.

Israel is also perhaps the only country in the world that refuses to recognise limits to its borders. It has aggressively settled in the West Bank so as to cut the already limited territory into little bits and pieces, effectively taking its most precious resources by right of conquest. What sort of state can Palestine hope for under these circumstances? And how can Israel’s neighbours ever expect security from the country’s colonial ambitions? Here, we need detailed proposals, not slogans.

Last, Israel drastically outguns its Palestinian counterparts. Occasionally, they engage in “wars” that make a nonsense of the term, since the casualty figures are so drastically one-sided. In the last “war”, for example, 1,492 Palestinian civilians died, 551 of them children. Five Israeli civilians perished, as did 66 soldiers.

This military disadvantage makes “negotiations” decidedly difficult, particularly when Israel simply removes Palestinian governments it disapproves of.

Moreover, such a military disadvantage is funded by the West. America sends Israel $3 billion in military aid annually, more than it sends to all other countries in the world combined. Under these circumstances, how can the West present itself as a neutral party of peace?

So, hardly anyone disagrees with the slogan “two state solution”. Like I said, the devil lies in the detail, and so far, the SNP Friends of a Two State Solution seem to offer little except insinuations aimed at the English Labour leadership. A few of us hold out doubts that any measure of justice for Palestine is unlikely while Israel continues to define itself by ethnic dominance and by unlimited powers of conquest. I hope that McDonald is not implying that such doubts make us anti-Semitic.

The ultimate problem here is that these ‘friends of a two state solution’ are trying to present the conflict as two equal parties. That is preposterously false. The Palestinian population are dirt poor and oppressed, and the wealthy Israeli state is their oppressor. You don’t have to be an avid reader of Frantz Fanon to acknowledge this basic reality.

McDonald counters that putting the stress on these inequalities is “inimical to finding a solution to the suffering of the Palestinian people”. The real allies of Palestinians are “liberal, progressive” people like himself.

I doubt this. If “liberal, progressive” people had their way, Palestinians would have been thrown in the dustbin of history. Instead, leftists and Palestinian nationalists have kept their memory alive when they could have disappeared as a nation like the Native Americans. Historically, liberals have seen the Palestinians as an inconvenient nuisance.

There’s a good deal of old-fashioned red baiting in McDonald’s perspective. Let’s be clear, without the hard work of the Western “anti-imperialist” (scare quotes not my own) Left, without the Pilgers and Chomskys, the Apartheid conditions in Palestine would never have been publicised in the West, and McDonald wouldn’t be discussing it.

McDonald’s scariest point, however, is where he approvingly quotes Winnie Ewing on “the backdrop of the Six-Day War and the self-reliance of the young Israeli state” and of the “inspiration for Scotland she saw in Israel” she discovered while travelling in a limousine.

The Six Day War involved vast colonial seizures of territory, widely condemned by international law ever since. These included the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Without this, a two state solution would be ten million times simpler.

More pointedly, Israel is perhaps the defining case in today’s world of an “ethnic nationalist” state. Its army, its communities and even its trade unions have been forcibly, rigidly, divided on racial lines. The state, moreover, was established by a horrifying display of violence in 1948 in a tragedy that still defines world politics today. Since then, Israel has acted as America’s main proxy in the region, and as an ally of tyrannies worldwide from Apartheid South Africa to Latin American Contras.

What can Scotland learn here? Nothing, I very dearly hope.

I don’t profess to offer simple answers, because they don’t exist. Palestinians, in all likelihood, will need to negotiate with the Israeli Right for any freedom they can get. True justice might be just a dream, but we won’t help this by forgetting their oppression or by making peace with Israel’s colonial project.

The best thing we can do in the West for Palestinian freedom is to stop funding the Israeli war machine and to stop Saudi Arabia and its allies. That’s no silver bullet, but it’s a damn sight better than opportunistic slogans.