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NDP MLA Apologizes for Liking Post With Slogan Some Find Antisemitic

The human rights critic for Saskatchewan’s Opposition NDP apologized Monday for liking a social media post featuring a slogan that some people, including Premier Scott Moe, say is antisemitic.

Jennifer Bowes, who represents the Saskatoon University constituency, issued a statement Monday saying she recently liked an Instagram carousel post — a post that features multiple photos or videos — that called for a ceasefire in Gaza, without viewing all of its content.

The post featured a video in which people chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

The phrase is common at pro-Palestinian rallies and was uttered during demonstrations at the legislature last week. Jewish advocates previously told CBC News the phrase is antisemitic because it insinuates hate and violence against Jews, particularly those living in Israel. Palestinian advocates have said it is about human rights, while not diminishing those of Jews.

In her statement, Bowes condemned Islamaphobia and antisemitism in all their forms and apologized for any pain the post caused, adding that she has since unliked the post.

The matter comes amid conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group in control of the Gaza Strip. The war started after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, then Israel retaliated.

The fighting resulted in thousands of casualties, but disproportionately so in Palestinian territories — especially Gaza. The region is currently experiencing a days-long ceasefire, as the sides swap prisoners and hostages.

The Saskatchewan government openly supported Israel in the days following Hamas’s attack. Last week, Premier Scott Moe accused the Opposition NDP of supporting antisemitism because Bowes liked the Instagram post in question.

Bowes has since heard from “multiple different people” about the phrase used in the post, she said in her statement. Members of the Jewish community find the slogan offensive and antisemitic, while others “genuinely use the slogan as a call for the full rights and equality of all people, including Palestinians.”

She said her intention wasn’t to cause further division.

Bowes has and will keep connecting with members of the Jewish and Muslim communities, respectively, because she’s committed to building “mutual respect, dialogue, and understanding as we work towards an end to all forms of violence and oppression,’ she said.

Source : CBC