Scottish politician attacked over ‘appalling antisemitic comment’

First Minister Humza Yousaf urged to suspend the SNP’s John Mason over remarks made during a debate on war in Gaza


MSP John Mason, known for raising controversy over his employment of theological reasoning in politics, has come under fire again for his comments on 'the Jews' in a debate on Thursday. (Photo: Screenshot via X)

Humza Yousaf is being urged to suspend an SNP politician who said criticism of “the Jews” was admissible during a debate over Gaza.

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, said: “Most of the Jews I know in Scotland and in England as well have family and friends in Israel.

"It is the only Jewish state in the world and, according to the Bible, is the land which God gave his chosen people.

“Now, having said that, it does not mean that we cannot criticise the Jews or Israel.

"God himself is hugely critical of his people in much of the scriptures, not least when he punished them by exiling them to Babylon and elsewhere.”

Mason concluded by adding: “It is not antisemitic for some to say that the present Israeli offensive has been over the top and has possibly crossed the line from defence to revenge.”

Mason’s comments have led other members of parliament to urge First Minister Yousaf to suspend him.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservative Chairman, said: “This is an appalling antisemitic comment from an SNP MSP that has no place in a mainstream political party.

“John Mason’s slur could not be more explicit – or ignorant. He must apologise immediately for the gross offence he has caused and Humza Yousaf must take action against his colleague.”

It is not the first time that Mason, a devout Christian and MSP since 2011, has sparked controversy.

In 2015, he called for Scottish children to be taught creationism in school, claiming it “cannot be disproved by science”.

Mason has also been vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage, transgender rights and abortion. In 2020 he put forward a motion called “Both Lives Matter”, which called for the restriction of abortion rights, and received criticism in 2021 for attending an anti-abortion protest outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

In 2022 Mason called abortion clinics “conveyer belts” and, in April 2023, he was seen attending another anti-abortion protest hosted by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

Mason also came under fire in 2020 for breaching Covid 19 regulations and keeping his parliamentary office open despite government advice. Addressing the subject, Fergus Mutch, a former SNP press officer, said: "When I ran the SNP press office, I often felt I was defending the indefensible with John Mason. In the past, however, he’s only brought the party into disrepute. This time he’s risking lives. Typically stubborn and deeply arrogant.”

The public seem to hold equally unfavourable views of Mason. In response to his latest comments on Israel, one X user wrote: “People expecting the SNP to suspend John Mason for saying something idiotic and offensive clearly haven’t paid attention to anything John Mason has said over the duration of his bafflingly long career.”

When asked about his comments, Mason told the Scottish Sun: "I think my speech in today’s debate was the most sympathetic towards Israel of all the SNP speakers, was it not?

"I am a bit puzzled what the criticism is about."

In response to the JC’s request for comments, the SNP sent the following statement from Mason: "If any of my wording has caused offence, I am sorry about that. I think everyone knows that I am supportive of both Israel and the Jewish community.

“I completely agree with [Scottish Council of Jewish Communities] that much criticism of Israel is antisemitic and that was the theme of much of my speech yesterday. I have a good relationship over the years with SCoJeC and the wider Jewish community and I certainly hope that will continue.”

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