On 6 November, SNP MSP Sandra White retweeted a particularly vile antisemitic “cartoon” commonly used by US neo-Nazis.
The “cartoon” portrayed a pig labelled “Rothschild”. A picture on the pig portrayed Rothschild himself (above a blood-red Star of David), Bush and Obama. On either side of the picture were clawed hands and hooked noses. Such details would not have been apparent in the tweet of the “cartoon”.
Even so, the very visible word “Rothschild” showed that this was “classical” 19th/20th century antisemitism. So too did other elements of the “cartoon”, including its headline: “Why Murdoch and Rothschilds Push for War”. Five piglets were suckling the pig. They carried the words or flags: MI6/Union Jack; Mossad/ISIS; Al-Qaeda; CIA/US flag; Israeli flag; Boko Haram. In other words: rich Jewish bankers (the Rothschilds) control the world. A German student at Glasgow University (in White’s constituency) launched an online petition calling for White’s resignation. He explained: “In Germany, where such propaganda resulted in the dehumanisation and eventual killing of European Jewry, a politician would not only resign but face a criminal charge.”
Three days later, after complaints to the SNP by the Jewish Chronicle and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCJC), an SNP spokesperson issued a pro forma apology: “This tweet was retweeted in error and has been removed from Sandra White’s account. Sandra apologises for any offence caused.”
White had no comment to make. And no direct public apology. And no tweet to her 6,500 followers to criticise her antisemitic retweet and flag up its removal. At this point SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon intervened. By 11th November both White and Sturgeon had issued full and public apologies, including ones directly to SCJC. SCJC director Ephraim Borowski, who had initiated complaints to the SNP about the retweet, commented: “No-one is seriously going to suggest that Sandra White is personally antisemitic.”
Despite the vile nature of White’s retweet, Borowski was right. White is not personally anti-semitic. But she is certainly exemplary of, and blind to, the political anti-semitism inherent in much of what passes for Palestinian solidarity campaigning, especially in Scotland. White herself supports a “two-state solution” in the Middle East. But she uncritically backs campaigns committed to the destruction of Israel (i.e. Jews are not entitled to a state of their own) and demands in pursuit of that goal (i.e. boycott the Jewish state, even though it lags well behind a lot of other states in breaching human rights). White regularly speaks on platforms of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), despite a litany of complaints from the SCJC about the public statements and conduct of at least some of the SPSC’s members. Nor is there any evidence that White has ever spoken out against any of the worst examples of the politics and demagogy of the SPSC – such as “commemorating” Holocaust Memorial Day with readings from the anti-semitic play “Perdition”, or its endless denunciations of Israeli “genocide”. But at least White has been forced to confront and acknowledge the antisemitism of her retweet, even if as a result of action by her party leader rather than in response to complaints by the SCJC.