Letters to the editor have been published in the Swindon Advertiser accusing the Jewish community of appropriating “ill feeling toward Semites”, and attacking the “pro-Israel lobby and their bogus campaign against antisemitism.”
The letters appeared under the headline “The perpetrators need to be opposed and condemned, not pandered to” and were in response to an article in the Swindon Advertiser about Kate Linnegar. Campaign Against Antisemitism had condemned Ms Linnegar in a BBC exposé. Ms Linnegar, Labour’s candidate for Swindon Borough Council, as well as its prospective parliamentary candidate for the North Swindon seat at the next general election, had shared articles arguing that false allegations of antisemitism were being manufactured or “weaponised” to discredit Jeremy Corbyn.
In a statement, she told the BBC that: “I sincerely apologise for having liked or shared these posts in the past and for the offence this has caused” adding that she has since “developed a deeper understanding about the issue”. Labour said the posts were published in 2016, before the UK government and the Party adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism and that Ms Linnegar was “committed to tackling antisemitism within her own party and society” but regardless of when the definition was formally adopted, it pointedly failed to apologise or commit to taking any kind of disciplinary action.
In one letter to the editor titled “Antisemite or anti-Zion,” the writer said that: “The original definition of antisemitism has been amended to such a degree that the original concept of ill feeling toward Semites (people who speak a Semitic language, which would include Jews and Arabs) has been appropriated by the Jewish community and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (in 2016) to include criticism of the State of Israel.”
In another letter to the editor titled “Political cave-in,” the writer said that: “How sad to see my local Labour Party parliamentary candidate caving in to the pro-Israel lobby and their bogus campaign against antisemitism.” They added that: “Palestinians have suffered 70 years of ethnic cleansing, expropriation, assassination, brutal military aggression and daily harassment and humiliation. The perpetrators need to be opposed and condemned, not pandered to.”
One has to question the editorial process at the Swindon Advertiser that would allow these letters to be published. The editors should never have allowed these letters to be published in the first place. We call on them to remove the letters from the website and apologise for it.