Leader of Bury Conservative Group insists they are ‘friends of Israel’ despite recent revelations

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Leader of Bury Conservative Group insists they are ‘friends of Israel’ despite recent revelations

In an unprecedented statement Councillor Nick Jones says he is "appalled" and adds there is "no place for antisemitism within the Council Group".

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Nick Jones canvassing in local ward, Bury, 2022 (Twitter)
Nick Jones canvassing in local ward, Bury, 2022 (Twitter)

The Leader of the Bury Conservative Group has announced an investigation into the “ignorance regarding the State of Israel” amongst prospective local election candidates in his party.

In an unprecedented statement, Councillor Nick Jones said he was “appalled” by revelations about social media posting by a succession of candidates ahead the May election on issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians.

Cllr Jones then insisted the local Tory Party “are friends of Israel and we fully support the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

He added there was “no place for antisemitism within the Council Group.”

His announcement, made on Tuesday evening, came after further revelations about candidates selected to represent the Tories in Bury -which has a large Jewish population – came to light.

Shaf Mahmood, standing as candidate in the Redvales ward in the Greater Manchester council, was revealed to have written “Jews r at it again” in a 2017 social media post relating to an incident involving ISIS in Libya.

Jewish News can also reveal that Mahmood backed George Galloway’s Workers Party in last year’s by-election in Batley and Spen.

Mahmood shared a post by Galloway which labelled Sir Keir Starmer a “Zionist” and praised the former Respect Party leader as the only candidate “fighting for Palestine.”

On Monday, Bury Conservatives revealed they were no longer endorsing another local election candidate over his social media posts accusing Israel of false atrocities.

Issuing his statement  Jones said: “I am appalled at such ignorance regarding the State of Israel and I have asked the Conservative Association to investigate these matters immediately.

“As a Party we accept different views but it’s how these views expressed when the line is crossed is our challenge and investigation must be robust. As these statements have come to the attention of the association, I welcome that they have been dealt with robustly and on the day of them arising.

“The Conservative Council Group on Bury Council are friends of Israel and we fully support the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

Jones added that the state of Israel “is a beacon of democracy where Arabs have the same rights as the Jewish community and Christians.”

He added:” I would suggest anybody who criticises the state political system pays a visit to Israel and finds out for themselves. “

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