Official Report

  • Scottish Parliament Wednesday 22 January 2003 (Afternoon)
    • [The Presiding Officer opened the meeting at 14:30]

    • Time for Reflection
      • The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): To lead our time for reflection this afternoon, we welcome Mrs Dianna Wolfson, who was formerly head teacher at the Jewish primary school in Glasgow.

      • Dianna Wolfson (Former head teacher, the Jewish primary school, Glasgow): About a year ago, I translated some articles from French to English. I was fascinated by the subject matter: the first musician in history, Jubal, to whom reference is made in Genesis 4:21. He is credited with inventing the harp and the flute. As a shepherd, he used the instruments as tools of his trade, either soothing the cattle to help them graze quietly or stimulating them to move on. He was in complete harmony with nature.

        For some reason, that made me think how I react to music. When I am abroad, the sound of Scottish music evokes nostalgia for home. Music can speak to the heart. As a second-generation Scot on my father's side, I am amazed at how easy it is to feel part of the culture and tradition of this country. If I hear a Scottish accent when I am waiting at a foreign airport, I need to speak to that person. Who are you? Where are you from? As if someone from Inverness is going to know me!

        As national Holocaust memorial day is almost upon us and the national event will be here in our own capital, I reflect on the history of anti-Semitism that stretches back to the Bible. Set in the 4th century before the common era, the book of Esther, which Jews read on the festival of Purim, records that Haman, who would have been the equivalent of the First Minister of his day, said to King Ahasuerus of Persia:

        "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from every other people's. They do not observe the King's laws; therefore it is not fitting for the King to tolerate them. If it pleases the King let it be recorded that they be destroyed."

        Echoes of the Wannsee conference.

        The Jews of Germany played their part in all aspects of civil life. They loved German music, poetry and art. Yet we know what was to be their tragic fate. The media of the day ensured that they were vilified, that the loyal, law-abiding citizens were seen as pariahs—Untermenschen, lowlier even than animals. It would all have turned out so differently had placards proclaimed: "One Germany, many cultures". We are fortunate that we live in a society that values the worth of every individual.

        I pray that we can all live together in harmony in the Scotland that is dear to people of many faiths and cultures, all of us proud of being Scots and at the same time proud of our own traditions and heritage. I pray that your deliberations will continue to help realise this goal. Sir David, I thank you for the privilege of addressing the Parliament today. [Applause.]

    • Business Motion
    • Land Reform (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3
    • Parliamentary Bureau Motions
    • Decision Time
    • Diesel Spills (Safety Campaign)