Board of Deputies calls on Metro to apologise for publishing 'antisemitic rant' letter

The UK's most widely distributed paper ran a letter stating that 'the Jewish people' hate Palestinians


The Board of Deputies has called on the UK’s most widely distributed newspaper to apologise after it ran a letter asking why “every criticism of Israel is considered antisemitic” and stating that “the Jewish people” hate Palestinians.

Metro, a free daily weekday paper with a circulation of approximately 1.4 million, ran a letter on Friday attacking Dame Margaret Hodge, a Jewish Labour MP who has been outspoken in her criticism of her party’s failure to adequately deal with antisemitism.

Dame Margaret had described Labour’s readmission of Chris Williamson, the highly controversial MP, last week, as showing that the party’s “complaints process is a complete sham…this is letting your political pals back in and turning a blind eye to Jew hate”. Mr Williamson was later re-suspended from the party.

The letter in Friday’s Metro, which was published as being sent in anonymously by email, claimed Dame Margaret was guilty of “double standards” and asked whether the Jewish MP could explain “why every criticism of Israel is considered antisemitic? What about the Jewish people’s hatred towards the Palestinians?"

Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Anonymous, antisemitic rants are not worthy of publication by any national newspaper.

“The Metro ought to apologise for printing this awful letter, and explain what policies it has in place regarding the printing of racist correspondence.”

The paper published a number of responses on Monday, under the headline “Not all Jewish people back Israel’s policies”.

One respondent demanded an explanation as to “why you published unambiguous antisemitism”, describing herself as “absolutely appalled”.

Another wrote that publishing a letter referring to “Jewish people” instead of “Israelis who support the current government”, the paper had promoted language which “actively harms and causes fear in the Jewish community in the UK.

“Jews are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government any more than all those who are Church of England…are responsible for [Theresa] May’s government.”

In a statement from Metro, a spokesperson said the paper "regret[ted] very much if we have caused any offence to you and can assure you Metro does not endorse religious or racial bigotry of any kind." 

The paper admitted that "in hindsight the letter should not have been anonymous...we apologise for any offence caused but we’re also very grateful to you for bringing this issue to our attention, because hearing from readers is the way of judging what is and what is not suitable for publication in a letters page."

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: "We do not understand why a respectable newspaper like Metro would publish anonymous letters?

"If people want to criticise Israel or minimize anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party, surely they should be willing to supply a name? Otherwise, perhaps they have something to hide."

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