2 election candidates from Scottish parties suspended over alleged anti-Semitism
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2 election candidates from Scottish parties suspended over alleged anti-Semitism

SNP candidate apologizes for post equating Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with fate of Jews during Holocaust; Labour drops would-be MP over past Facebook posts

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Neale Hanvey, a former SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath who was dropped over alleged anti-Semitism, September 27, 2019 (Screen grab via YouTube)
Neale Hanvey, a former SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath who was dropped over alleged anti-Semitism, September 27, 2019 (Screen grab via YouTube)

The Scottish National Party and the Scottish Labour party each suspended one of their candidates in the coming UK general election over past social media posts that were allegedly anti-Semitic, the Guardian reported Thursday.

Allegations of party anti-Semitism have played a role in shaping Britain’s upcoming December 12 election, with the leading opposition Labour party in particular being accused of not doing enough to root out anti-Semitic sentiments.

Neale Hanvey, an SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, apologized Thursday for posts made over two years ago.

In a letter posted to his Twitter account, Hanvey admitted that in August 2016 he shared an article from the Kremlin-backed Sputnik news agency about Jewish Hungarian financier George Soros, saying he has since been advised that it “contained an image which is considered an anti-Semitic trope.”

Illustrative: A member of the public walks past a window display of Scottish National Party branding displayed in Glasgow, Scotland, May 7, 2015. (Scott Heppell/AP)

According to the Guardian, it was illustrated with an image of Soros holding puppets of world leaders.

Hanvey wrote “I apologize unreservedly for any offense caused,” and noted that while it was not his intention, he accepts full responsibility for “this serious misjudgment.”

He also admitted that on another occasion he “drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2.”

Doing so was “insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive” as well as in direct contravention of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, a widely accepted standard.

He wrote that he fully supports the decision to suspend him.

“Although I do not in any way consider myself anti-Semitic, on reflection the language I used was, and this is clearly unacceptable,” Hanvey said.

A representative of the SNP, Kirsten Oswald, confirmed to the Guardian newspaper that candidate Hanvey had been suspended.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in Scotland and no place in the SNP,” Oswald said. “Neale Hanvey is no longer an SNP candidate and his membership has been suspended pending disciplinary action. All support for his campaign has been withdrawn.”

The SNP said it had spoken with Jewish community leaders about the case, The Guardian reported.

Although suspended from the party, Hanvey’s name cannot be removed from the ballot and he cannot be replaced, as nominations closed on November 14.

Also Thursday, the Scottish Labour party dropped one of its candidates, Safia Ali, over alleged anti-Semitic social media posts.

Scottish Labour is the division of the UK Labour party that sits in the Scottish parliament.

“Safia Ali is no longer the Labour Party’s candidate for Falkirk, a party spokesman told the Falkirk Herald. “We have taken immediate action on this matter. We deeply regret Safia Ali was selected.”

Scottish Labour general secretary Michael Sharpe told the Herald that “there is no place for anti-Semitism, or any form of racism and bigotry, in our party. That is why Labour is taking robust action to root it out of our movement and the wider society.”

A party source told the Guardian that the comments had slipped past the candidate screening process because they were made on an old Facebook account that Ali no longer uses. There was no further information on the content of the posts.

Illustrative: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis gives a speech as he attends a Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony at Central Hall Westminster, January 27, 2015. (AP/Chris Jackson)

On Monday, UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, in a column published in The Times, urged voters to see the “new poison” of anti-Semitism that has taken root in Labour, and expressed fear for the fate of Jews in the country should its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, become prime minister.

After repeatedly declining to apologize to the Jewish community for his handling of anti-Semitism in his party during a Tuesday interview with the BBC, Corbyn said Wednesday that his party had already done so.

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