The Justice of Small Things

To the City Chambers yesterday afternoon to stand alongside Professor Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador, as he made a visit to the city. The Lord Provost received him and a small party in her rooms and gave us tea and biscuits and her attention.

The Lord Provost is a class act, and I’ve enjoyed meeting her several times. She was excellent when the leader of the council was nudged into a very public coming out. Indeed, her broadcast at the time made me proud to be in the city. Yesterday she gave us her time and listened carefully to what was being said, and told us a little about the friendship arrangement, which may turn into a twinning agreement, between Glasgow and Bethlehem.

My part yesterday was to stand alongside Professor Hassassian and those who had organised his visit. We all posed for photographs at the end. I had never realised the importance of that kind of gesture until someone in the Anglican Communion Office once refused to be photographed with me. They were happy to meet me and those with me, but ashamed to be seen to have met us. It was a small act that undermined the previous meeting entirely.

People need justice in small things. To know your water supply will be there in the morning, that you can go about your business without being stopped arbitrarily at a checkpoint, that you can talk to who you like, that you are able to learn, to trade, to keep a family together.

Standing up for a photograph in the City Chambers felt like a very small thing in comparison with all that, but those small things sometimes matter.


  1. Cary Parker says

    It might be of interest to see/hear Prof Hassassian justifying the launching of missles from Palestinian territories into Israeli civilian populations:

    I’ll hope you were just standing next to him and not beside him.

    Cary Parker

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