SNP politician claims it is acceptable to ‘criticise Jews’ during Gaza debate

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SNP politician claims it is acceptable to ‘criticise Jews’ during Gaza debate

First Minister Humza Yousaf is under pressure to act after MSP John Mason made inflammatory comments about Jews in debate in the Scottish Parliament

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

SNP MSP John Mason
SNP MSP John Mason

AN SNP politician is at the centre of antisemitism claims after suggesting it is acceptable to “criticise the Jews” because of what is written in the bible.

In a debate about Gaza in the Scottish parliament the MSP John Mason discussed Israel saying:”“It is the only Jewish state in the world and, according to the Bible, is the land which God gave his chosen people.”

But he then added:”“Now, having said that, it does not mean that we cannot criticise the Jews or Israel. God himself is hugely critical of his people in much of the scriptures, not least when he punished them by exiling them to Babylon and elsewhere.

“So, it is not antisemitic for some to say that the present Israeli offensive has been over the top and has possibly crossed the line from defence to revenge.”

Humza Yousaf

Mason, who represents Glasgow Shettleston, said it was possible not to be antisemitic while criticising the Israeli state.

But he added that “neither are the two completely distinct and unconnected” because most Jewish people in the UK had relations or friends in Israel.

First MInister Humza Yousaf is under pressure to discipline an MSP who has already tried the patience of the party’s whips.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservative chairman, said: “This is an appalling antisemitic comment from an SNP MSP that has no place in a mainstream political party.

“John Mason’s slur could not be more explicit — or ignorant. He must apologise immediately for the gross offence he has caused and Humza Yousaf must take action against his colleague.”

Mason told The Times: “Of course, not all Jewish people are in Israel, and not everyone in Israel is Jewish. However, there is a big overlap. And many Jewish people in Scotland or the UK have friends and relatives in Israel.

“So, as I said in my speech … ‘Clearly, antisemitism is not the same as valid criticism of Israel, but neither are the two completely distinct and unconnected’.”

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