A MEMBER of a Bournemouth-based pro-Israel organisation claims their volunteers were verbally abused and branded as fascists at a Dorset community event.

Rosalind Schogger from Bournemouth Action for Israel alleges that they were verbally abused at the Toldpuddle Martyrs Festival, which ran from July 17-19, by supporters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

She claimed that volunteers, Henry Schachter and Paul Muslin, were branded as ‘fascists, racists and like the BNP’ and people from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign stall threw the organisation’s leaflets on the floor.

She said: “I knew that we would encounter negativity, but I never thought that it would be to this extent.”

She added that they had experienced negativity in the past “but people don’t normally scream ‘You’re racists, you’re fascists and you’re like the BNP’ at us."

Rosalind said in a post on their Facebook page that they had attended the festival ‘to combat the rhetoric of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’ with the aim of ‘promoting Israel’s side of the narrative.’

“The thing is, in all of this, there is not a Palestinian in sight.It’s all white Anglo Britains. I have spoken to Palestinians and they are not like this.”

When members of Bournemouth Action for Israel arrived at the event on Sunday, July 19, Rosalind said that they were advised to leave by staff from the festival, organised by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), due to safety concerns.

A Trade Union Congress spokesman said: “Tolpuddle is a family-friendly festival, staffed by volunteer stewards, and we took the best judgement available to us at the time to stop tensions escalating.”

Sarah Colborne, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “The Tolpuddle Festival is a place to share progressive ideas and, as the festival’s website states, to celebrate trade unionism. Progressive ideas include equality for all and freedom for all."

She said that members of Palestine Solidarity Campaign and numerous other non-Palestine related organisations objected to the presence of Bournemouth Action for Israel at the grounds for a number of reasons, but “namely that their values did not fit the values of the festival".

“These issues were raised peacefully with the festival organisers and dealt with in the proper way."

She continued that to suggest otherwise is ‘a slur on all the progressives and trade unionists present who voiced their concerns’ on the group being there.