Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated her Government’s commitment to the International Definition of Antisemitism, even as one of her Party’s candidates in upcoming local elections has been accused of breaching it.
Responding to a comment that her Government included two ministers from the Scottish Greens (the Scottish branch of the Green Party), which was described as having “out-Corbyned Corbyn”, the First Minister and SNP leader told the assembly of 250 Scottish Jews: “I am not able to speak for another political party. But I do speak for and am accountable for every minister in my Government. My Government is a signatory to the IHRA [International] Definition of Antisemitism and all ministers have to be clear that they sign up to that and accept that — and that includes the two Green ministers. There is no tolerance in my government for antisemitism or discrimination, prejudice, racism of any kind. I want to assure you of that very, very clearly.”
Ms Sturgeon also praised Jewish students, whom she had met recently, for their frankness in discussing the discrimination that they had faced on campus. “I want to make this point very forcibly,” she said, “So long as anyone feels discriminated against, we as a Government have more work to do.”
The First Minister also spoke about Holocaust education, saying: “As generations pass, it is vital that future generations understand what happened. However, understanding the Holocaust is not the same as understanding what it’s like for Jewish communities in countries across the world today.”
On the subject of antisemitism in politics, Ms Sturgeon conceded that the SNP had faced problems. Indeed, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s latest Antisemitism Barometer has shown that 39% of British Jews believe that the SNP is too tolerant of antisemitism.
As it happened, at around the same time, her Party was being urged to fire an SNP candidate in the upcoming local elections after it emerged that he had allegedly tweeted that it was “sickening that Israeli Jews bring up their kids to hate and kill,” using a photo of an American-Jewish family.
The picture in the seven-year-old post is of Bill Bernstein, a kippah-wearing former gun shop owner from Nashville, posing with his daughter Gertrude, both with guns.
Wullie Graham, who is standing in Pollok ward in south Glasgow, was accused by political rivals of having published an antisemitic post and his Party was called on to remove him as a candidate.
In a statement, the SNP said: “Mr Graham has apologised for a post in 2015 that he readily admits was stupid and indefensible. He has taken steps to reach out to the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities as he seeks to make amends and learn from this.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.