Edinburgh councillor reported to ethics watchdog over 'anti-Semitic' post about 'Zionist-free zone' meeting

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An Edinburgh Green councillor has been reported to the ethics watchdog over an alleged "anti-Semitic" tweet about a meeting in a city library tonight.

Leith Walk councillor Susan Rae posted an image of a poster saying "Declare Leith a Zionist Free Zone" alongside a message about the meeting at McDonald Road Library. Her message read: "How can Leith come together to support Gaza? Join us to discuss the many ways that our community can help Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories." She later deleted the tweet after being inundated with comments.

The IWW poster calling for Leith to be declared a Zionist-free zone.The IWW poster calling for Leith to be declared a Zionist-free zone.
The IWW poster calling for Leith to be declared a Zionist-free zone.

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Former Leith Tory candidate Iain McGill has lodged a complaint with Ethical Standards Commissioner and called on the city council to stop the meeting from going ahead at the library. He said the publicity for the meeting were anti-Semitic and not what was expected from a councillor.

He accused Cllr Rae of "putting out toxic anti-Semitic views". And he added: "Her views are unacceptable and she should be representing her whole community." Mr McGill continued: "Libraries should be a safe space for everybody. Having meetings for Zionist-free Leith is just beyond the pale. I don't have high expectations for Green councillors, but I have high expectations for the city council and I would have hoped for clearer leadership."

Cllr Rae denied her tweet was anti-Semitic.  She said: "The poster is from the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) and the meeting is being held by the IWW. I'm attending the meeting because the meeting is to discuss what people in Leith can do to help with the situation in Gaza, given that we're now facing a famine there. That's what the tweet said. I'm afraid a lot of people just looked at the picture and didn't read the actual text."

She said she had taken the tweet down after discussions with colleagues because she was being inundated with comments. "I realised the error I'd made, not thinking that people would look at the picture and not the tweet."

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But she said she did not regard the idea of a Zionist-free zone as being racist or anti-Semitic.  She said: "Zionism and Judaism are two very different things. Being a Jew is not the same as being a Zionist at all." Cllr Rae said she had worked in the West Bank and Gaza many years ago. "I have been in the Palesinian cause for most of my life and I do have quite a lot of understanding and knowledge of the subject."     

Tonight's meeting is still due to take place as planned. Council leader Cammy Day said: “When considering whether any proposed event should go ahead, we’re clear that everyone has the right to freedom of expression – but, equally, that this must be done within the law, in line with relevant public safety requirements, and the terms and conditions of use for our libraries. This applies to meeting attendees, council staff, library users, and the wider community.

“Regarding this event, Council officers are seeking assurances from the event organisers who have been reminded of their responsibilities so that this event can be carried out safely.”   


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