Labour’s Peterborough by-election candidate apologises after ‘liking’ anti-Semitic Facebook post

Lisa Forbes
Lisa Forbes

The Labour candidate for the by-election in Peterborough has apologised after ‘liking’ an anti-Semitic Facebook post, but emphasised she did not agree with the views expressed.

Lisa Forbes said she “apologised wholeheartedly for not calling out these posts” and will “deepen” her understanding of anti-Semitism whether she is elected or not, so she can challenge it in the future.

Her comments come after investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin posted a screenshot of Ms Forbes liking a post last month which described Theresa May keeping her “Zionist Slave Masters agenda alive”, which was posted alongside a video on the recent Christchurch shooting.

She also commented on a post from September 2014 which accused the CIA and Mossad, “supported by British imperialism”, of funding and creating extremists such as ISIS.

She wrote: “I have enjoyed reading this thread so much. So much that trys to divide us, but there is much more that unites us all.”

Ms Forbes explained that she liked the video accompanying the Christchurch post because there were children playing, and that she had not read the text.

Her comment on the second post was to linked to the comments underneath it discussing prejudice and hostility towards Muslims and about divisive rhetoric, it was explained, and not about Mossad or ISIS.

Ms Forbes said: “I apologise wholeheartedly for not calling out these posts. I liked a video of school children praying in solidarity with the Christchurch attacks, not the views expressed in the accompanying text. I am sorry.

“Anti-Semitism is abhorrent and has no place in our society. Standing up against hatred toward one group of people must never be allowed to become hatred of another. Regardless of whether I am elected, I will deepen my understanding of anti-Semitism so I can act as an ally, challenging anti-Semitism wherever it occurs.”

Ms Forbes is one of 15 candidates standing for the by-election which sees voters go to the polls on Thursday.

The by-election was triggered when voters recalled former MP Fiona Onasanya after she was jailed for perverting the course of justice after lying about speeding points.

A Recall Petition was signed by more than 27 per cent of constituents, far in excess of the 10 per cent needed to oust her from Parliament.

This is not the first accusation of anti-Semitism against Peterborough Labour members.

The party in 2017 suspended city council candidate Alan Bull after he shared an article on his private Facebook account, without commenting, which suggested the Holocaust was a hoax.

He said this was to find out his friends’ views on the article, and that he had never denied the Holocaust in his life.

Labour city councillors Richard Ferris and Matthew Mahabadi, who resigned last year for several reasons, issued a statement accusing the Peterborough Labour Party of failing “to take seriously the disease of anti-Semitism we have diagnosed”.

They also alleged they were pressured into keeping quiet over the issue.

The Labour Party said in response: “The Labour Party is wholly committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations. We are taking action against anti-Semitism, standing in solidarity with Jewish communities, and rebuilding trust.”

Ms Forbes was joined by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for campaigning today ahead of the by-election.

It was announced this week the party was being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over allegations of anti-Semitism.

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