We reminded the First Minister of her statement to the recent packed public meeting in the Glasgow Community, that "There is nothing that happens in Israel or Palestine that can be justification for antisemitism or any racial or religious hatred. That is a point that has to be made at every level of Scottish society very, very strongly", and we have requested her to convey that message to Sandra White.
Sandra White has now deleted the message and issued an apology which she has also circulated on Twitter.
As we reminded the First Minister, our What’s Changed about Being Jewish in Scotland project, which was funded by the Scottish Government, provides empirical evidence that the Scottish Parliament’s disproportionate focus on Israel is one of the reasons why the Community is, as she acknowledged during the public meeting, “anxious, worried, scared”. Sandra White is foremost amongst the MSPs responsible for this disproportion. In total 62 of the 355 Motions about foreign countries since the last election have been about Israel, compared with only 13 about Syria and 15 about Iraq, and she has proposed 9 (the highest of any MSP) and supported 20 of the Motions strongly condemning Israel.
When asked about this at the public meeting, Ms Sturgeon denied that “there is an antisemitic culture in the Scottish Parliament”, but, as we emphasised in our letter, Sandra White’s circulation of this image, has made the First Minister’s claim more difficult to sustain.
Responding to our letter, the First Minister referred to the recent public meeting at which she assured the Community that “so long as a single person is a victim or feels they cannot celebrate their Jewish identity, we still have work to do”, saying "Regarding the original tweet itself, I find it and the image it contained abhorrent. As I stated at Giffnock, I will not tolerate anti-Semitism or religious or racial hatred of any kind at any level in our society. I look forward to continuing to work with you and further strengthening the links between the Scottish Government and the Jewish community in Scotland, which is and always will be an integral and highly valued part of Scottish society."
SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski commented:
"We welcome Sandra White's apology for circulating an image she now describes as "repellant and offensive". Her original post was exceptionally public, broadcast on Twitter to an international audience, and remained there for 3 days before being deleted. We are glad she has now, as we requested, made her apology and unqualified condemnation of antisemitism in all its forms, wherever it may be found, equally public, by posting that on Twitter too.
It is also welcome that Police Scotland have recorded this as a "hate incident", albeit not a crime, and have issued Sandra White
with a formal warning. We trust that the publicity that this case has
received will help to underline the uncompromising assurances of the
Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service,
and the police that Scotland has zero tolerance of hate crime in
general and antisemitism in particular.
We are grateful to the First Minister for her unequivocal condemnation of the original post as "abhorrent" and "completely unacceptable", and for making unambiguously clear her refusal to tolerate any form of antisemitism in Scottish society. We have replied expressing the hope that we will continue to maintain a constructive relationship with her Government to the benefit of the Jewish Community and Scotland as a whole."