Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Labour's Andrew Little deletes anti-Semitic hate speech from his Facebook page

Labour Party leader Andrew Little. Photo / Ben Fraser
Labour Party leader Andrew Little. Photo / Ben Fraser

Labour leader Andrew Little says Labour will monitor his Facebook page and remove any "hate speech" after anti-Semitic comments were posted on it.

After Mr Little posted about his visit to the Jewish Community Centre in Auckland this week it prompted a spate of other Facebook users to comment, including one who said "they didn't learn much from the Holocaust in the way they're treating Palestinians ... shame on them".

When another user challenged whether all Jewish people should be blamed for Israel's actions, the first replied "death to them all" followed by an obscenity.

The comments have been slated by Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy and have since been deleted by Labour, which says in a comment below the post: "We condemn the anti-semitic comments posted on this photo and are actively removing any hateful comments."

Mr Little said as soon as his staff became aware of it, they began to remove the comments.

They would continue to monitor the page. "We do not tolerate hate speech."

Labour's move to remove the comments was also criticised on his page - one person wrote, "if anyone sides with Palestine you delete it? Gutless racist National lite".

Mr Little said such comments were one of the risks of using social media and there was little he could do beyond being vigilant and removing such comments as soon as possible.

"You can't really control it. You have to have a social media presence, I do all sorts of activities and part of keeping people in touch with with what I do is to put it up on social media. It is unfortunate that some people think that is licence to make some comments that completely cross the line."

He had not spoken to the rabbi he met at the Jewish Community Centre since the comments were made, but said Dame Susan was right to raise it.

"I think she's relying on us to take active steps to take comments that clearly cross the line off the feed. We just have to make sure we are vigilant and take appropriate steps to deal with that and I think we have done that."

The post went up on Wednesday and Labour started deleting the comments later that day.

National Party-aligned blogger David Farrar posted screenshots of some of the worse examples saying it showed anti-Semitism was "alive and well".

"Quite sickening that such a positive post by Andrew Little gets such vile comments."

The rabbi at the Jewish Community Centre has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Dame Susan said the Jewish community had a productive meeting with Mr Little but decried "hateful, bigoted" posts made by other social media users in response to it.

"The posts demonstrate the prejudice they continue to face." She said Holocaust survivors had told her "hate starts small" .

"They were right. We need to stand up and call hatred out whether it's on Facebook or in front of us in the street."

She said Anzac Day was a time for New Zealanders to remember what their ancestors fought and died for and to stand up against intolerance and prejudice.

"We think we've come a long way since our grandparents time but when Jewish kids tell me of anti-semitic social media posts made just this week it reminds us we still have some way to go. People who spread vicious hatred about Jews dishonour brave New Zealanders who went to fight against hatred, genocide and totalitarianism."

Mr Little's post said he had a tour of the centre and was told about Judaism and the Passover festival which begins on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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