Sidney Coles, the NDP candidate for the riding of Toronto-St.Pauls is under fire today for tweets where she suggested that millions of unaccounted COVID vaccine doses in the United States had somehow been shipped to Israel.
In a series of now-deleted Tweets, caputed by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre suggested without evidence that "millions of unaccounted COVID vaccine doses" had gone to Israel, replying to a user that "uh I think Israel can help solve that mystery" in January, 2021. A month later, in a separate reply, Ms. Cole doubled down on the accusation, tweeting in reply that "[The vaccine doses] went to Israel, I keep saying this."
In a statement to Twitter, the FSWC slammed Sidney Coles for "outrageous tweets in which she repeatedly accused Israel of misappropriating US supplies of the coronavirus vaccine. A retraction and apology for these false offensive remarks, which have hurt members of the Jewish community, are in order.
Coles' comments are particularly concerning given the global rise in antisemitism- including ongoing efforts to blame Israel and Jewish people for creating, exploiting or worsening the coronavirus pandemic- and escalating incidents of Jew-hate in her Toronto-St.Paul's riding.
Ms. Coles issued a retraction and an apology: "In the past I posted unsubstantiated theories about vaccine supply linked to Israel. These comments weren't based on evidence. I recognize this frame is a common anti-Semitic trope, though that was never my intent. I should not have made this link and apologize and retract those statements. I will continue to stand firmly against anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination in all its forms."
It remains unclear where Ms. Cole got this baseless information from, or what the "intent" of her Tweets was.
Bnai Brith, a Jewish human rights organization stated that the apology was a "welcome first step" and added that "there is no place for antisemitism on the left or right of Canadian political discourse."
At the NDP Policy Convention in 2021, nearly 50 NDP riding associations endorsed a motion opposing the working definition of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on the grounds that it silenced 'legitimate criticism of Israel'. And during this election campaign, several Liberal Jewish candidates have seen their campaign material defaced with antisemitic graffiti, while Green Party leader Annamie Paul, just the second Jewish leader of a major federal party in Canadian history, has seen her party engulfed with infighting around the Arab-Israeli conflict and accusations of antisemitism.
At time of writing, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has yet to comment.