Edinburgh councillor accused of anti-Semitism amid criticism for 'Zionist free' tweet linked to Leith Gaza event

Message described as ‘concerning for Jewish people’ in capital

An Edinburgh councillor has been accused of anti-Semitism after sharing a graphic online that called for Leith to be declared a “Zionist free zone”.

The image was sent on Monday afternoon in a message on X by Susan Rae, a Scottish Greens councillor. It stated: “How can Leith come together to support Gaza? Join us to discuss the many ways that our community can help Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied Territories.”

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The image attached to the tweet captured a graphic depicting someone waving a Palestinian flag. However, it is the wording on the graphic, which also carried an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) logo, that caused offence. It stated: “Declare Leith a Zionist free zone.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted by Ms Rae, but several people on X had screen-grabbed the post before it was removed, prompting users to repost it and complain to the local authority. One user tagged the City of Edinburgh Council, writing: “I would like to complain about @susan4leithwalk. She sent this tweet today which is obviously very concerning for Jewish people living in her constituency #CouncillorSusan #Antisemitism”

One user tweeted Ms Rae, asking her: “Why did you delete your tweet? I have contacted Edinburgh Council and asked them if they think it’s appropriate for you to use public libraries to spread your hate.” Another user asked her: “What does this mean that you want to make Leith a Zionist free zone? Are you looking to remove all Jews and anyone who supports Israel from Leith? If so how? It sounds very threatening and looks like incitement to violence and anti-Semitic.”

Others suggested Ms Rae’s tweet would constitute an offence under the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which is due to be introduced next month. One Twitter user wrote: “Come the first of April ... this type of communication is likely to be caught by the Hate Monster legislation and subject to multiple complaints.”

The Tuesday evening event is also promoted on the Edinburgh Greens site, which states the organiser is IWW. It describes it as a gathering of the Leith community to “discuss and plan how we can best show support for our Palestinian brothers and sisters”.

Councillor Susan RaeCouncillor Susan Rae
Councillor Susan Rae

The website of IWW features the same graphic that was tweeted by Ms Rae. It was originally used in an article earlier this month to mark the 150th day of the conflict, in which it stated its Edinburgh branch was “launching a campaign to turn Leith into a ‘Zionist Free Zone’.”

The IWW article explained: “This campaign will help us transform our community into a space of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for freedom by breaking local links of complicity and hopefully inspiring other Palestine Solidarity organisations to set up similar campaigns in their areas.”

Ms Rae, who did not respond to enquiries from The Scotsman, is a councillor for Leith Walk. She was first elected in 2017, and received the highest number of first preference votes in her ward when re-elected two years ago. The Edinburgh Greens website describes her as “an activist and feminist with a record of campaigning on local, national and international issues”.

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Edinburgh City Council leader Cammy Day said: “When considering whether any proposed event should go ahead, we’re clear that everyone has the right to freedom of expression – but, equally, that this must be done within the law, in line with relevant public safety requirements, and the terms and conditions of use for our libraries. This applies to meeting attendees, council staff, library users, and the wider community.

“Regarding this event, council officers are seeking assurances from the event organisers who have been reminded of their responsibilities so that this event can be carried out safely.”



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