Anti-Semitism should not be ‘weaponised’, says Sturgeon

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The First Minister has urged MSPs not to “weaponise” issues such as anti-Semitism for “petty, party political reasons”.

Nicola Sturgeon was responding to calls from Scottish Labour to suspend SNP councillors who shared a link to a Grouse Beater blog post attacking GMB official Rhea Wolfson over her role in public sector strikes in Glasgow.

The article referenced Hitler “accusing ‘the Jew’ of gradually assuming leadership of the trade union movement”.

The author, Gareth Wardell, who denied claims of anti-Semitism, has now been suspended by the SNP.

Meanwhile West Lothian councillor Frank Anderson has apologised after he was criticised for sharing a link to the post on social media.

Addressing the issue during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon: “The author of that blog was suspended from SNP membership earlier this week. Obviously there be due process that has to be gone through, so I won’t say any more about that at this stage.

“What I will say is that the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definitions around anti-Semitism will be used in the consideration of that disciplinary complaint.

“The councillor in question has written to the young woman mentioned today with an unreserved apology… fully recognising that he made a significant error of judgement and that error of judgement arose out of a lack of understanding and knowledge.”

Ms Sturgeon said she had discussed the issue with members of the Jewish community during a trip to Auschwitz earlier this week.

She said the SNP also consulted with the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) in determining its response.

“Where people do get things wrong through a lack of understanding and knowledge, it is sometimes important that we give them a chance to learn, because education and learning is an important part of combating anti-Semitism, intolerance and racism of all forms,” she said.

The First Minister said she could “run through a whole list of alleged failures of Labour and other parties to take these things seriously, and indeed to act as seriously we have done this week”.

“Yes in democracy it is really important that we hold each other to account, that we check each other’s behaviour and we call out unacceptable behaviour,” she added.

“But I think it’s equally important that we don’t rush to weaponise these things against each other for petty party political reasons, because on the fundamentals of this it is really important that we stand united to say that anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, intolerance in any form is completely unacceptable.”

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