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Nicola Sturgeon tells Scottish Jews: 'one instance of antisemitism is one too many'

    Nicola Sturgeon
    Nicola Sturgeon

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recognised the fears of the Jewish community over rising antisemitism, telling a meeting at Glasgow's Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue complex that one instance of antisemitism was one too many.

    Answering questions for more than an hour from a capacity audience of 300, Ms Sturgeon condemned "anyone who threatens the existence of Israel. It has a right to exist and a right to exist peacefully".

    She accepted that the cases of antisemitism recorded did not tell the whole story, but highlighted the strengthened law on hate crime and the commitment of Police Scotland to apprehend offenders.

    Speaking afterwards to the JC, Ms Sturgeon said the exchanges with the audience had been "pretty uplifting".

    She said: "This is a community that are scared in many respects but are nevertheless determined to stake their claim to the country they live in and say to me that they want these concerns addressed. I hope that the message I was giving them of solidarity was well received."

    As for concerns over the high number of anti-Israel motions put forward by MSPs, the First Minister said: "I don't believe there is an antisemitic culture in the Scottish Parliament. There is absolutely, emphatically not.
    In any Parliament, members have a right to put down motions. Any constituent of an MP has a right to ask them not to."

    But whatever "the rights and wrongs of the Israel-Palestine situation", it should never be used "as some kind of justification for attacks on Jewish people, or abuse towards Jewish people, or Jewish people in any way being made to feel responsible for the actions people are disagreeing with. That's a point that has to be made at every level of Scottish society very, very strongly."

    Ms Sturgeon, who during the meeting stressed a commitment to a two-state solution, was coy on whether she would go to Israel. "I am not going to say that I will definitely visit Israel as First Minister, but nor am I saying that there is a reason for me not to do it.

    "What I am not going to do here is to create some litmus test for myself of my commitment to the Scottish Jewish community over whether or not as First Minister I visit Israel."

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