A Liberal Democrat candidate has apologised over a tweet sent in 2014 comparing Gaza to “Nazi ghettos in which Jews were trapped”.
Wera Hobhouse, 59, most recently served as the Lib Dems’ climate change spokesperson. Elected to represent Bath in 2017, she is standing in next month’s general election.
She told Jewish News: “I abhor antisemitism with every fibre of my being. My mother’s brothers and sisters had to flee the Holocaust because they were Jewish, and it destroyed their families. I had an uncle imprisoned in Dachau, and a great uncle murdered because he was mentally ill.
“This was the reality for my family in Nazi Germany, and we still live with the trauma. However, I apologise unreservedly for any offence I have caused. Looking back at these tweets I realise that trying to discuss hugely serious issues via 140 characters is a mistake.”
She tweeted in 2014 that “#gaza seems to remind terribly of Nazi ghettos in which Jews were trapped during Holocaust. For what reason do we remember Holocaust?”
Another tweet sent the following year read: “‘Israel cynically using memory of the Holocaust’. ‘Never again this suffering to anybody not just Jews’ #bbcthebigquestion.”
The Liberal Democrats adopted last year the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and its examples, which include comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Last week, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson defended a tweet sent by the party’s Chippenham candidate in 2014 which appeared to describe Israeli leaders as “psychopaths.”
The tweet by Helen Belcher appeared to suggest that Israeli, ISIS and Ukrainian leaders be sent to an “isolated place.”
“Trying to work out if there’s a way we can send psychopaths to an isolated place instead of them ending up in charge. #Ukraine #Israel #ISIS,” the tweet stated.
When approached for comment last week, a spokesperson said that “Helen’s tweet alludes to leaders whom she feels are behaving like psychopaths, it makes no reference to their ethnicity in relation to this.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.