A former Labour councillor in Northumberland has been criticised for sharing an allegedly anti-Semitic post on his Facebook page.

In a since deleted post, Graham Eastwood reposted an image of a blood-covered Star of David with a swastika in the centre. The image also featured the caption "The irony of becoming what you once hated".

Mr Eastwood, who recently resigned from Seaton Valley Parish Council and the Labour Party, has faced criticism from both Labour and the Conservatives for the post. He has denied allegations of anti-Semitism, but has accepted the post, shared in response to the Israel-Gaza conflict, was offensive and has removed it from his page.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, the chairman of Northumberland Conservatives and the deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, described the image as "deeply offensive" and called for Labour to conduct an investigation.

He said: "The Labour Party has been plagued with issues regarding anti-Semitism for a number of years. Images such as that posted by Coun Graham Eastwood are deeply offensive not just to the Jewish community but to all right thinking people in our community.

Richard Wearmouth, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council
Richard Wearmouth, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council

“Given Coun Eastwood's role as a Labour councillor and active Labour member I urge the Northumberland Labour Party to undertake an investigation into any anti-Semitism that is present in their party."

Responding to Coun Wearmouth's comments, Labour has said it is a "changed party" under the leadership of Keir Starmer following his pledge to root out anti-Semitism.

A spokesman for the party said: “Graham Eastwood is no longer a councillor, nor a member of the Labour Party.

"Under Keir Starmer, Labour is a changed Party. The first thing Keir said when he became Labour leader was that he would tear anti-Semitism out by its roots. We can see that has been his commitment ever since and that he has taken decisive action to achieve it.”

Mr Eastwood is a strong supporter of North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll, who dramatically left Labour earlier this year following a row over the selection process for the new North East Mayoral role. Mr Driscoll is gearing up for battle with his former party in next year's election, where he will be standing as an independent.

Mr Driscoll was quick to condemn the post as anti-Semitic.

Jamie Driscoll speaking at a rally in Morpeth in his campaign as an independent candidate for North East mayor.
Jamie Driscoll speaking at a rally in Morpeth in his campaign as an independent candidate for North East mayor.

He said: "The Star of David is a symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism worldwide, intertwining it with a swastika is anti-Semitic. There is no circumstance in which this is acceptable.

“Criticism of those who have committed war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel must not boil over into anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.”

Responding to the criticism, Mr Eastwood refuted any allegations of anti-Semitism. He said the post, which he has now removed, was aimed at criticising the Israeli defence forces and Government for their actions in Gaza following the terror attacks by Hamas on October 7.

Mr Eastwood said: "I strongly and totally refute any allegation that I am anti-Semitic. My views are unequivocal. There should be an immediate ceasefire to stop the bombing of hospitals full of sick and injured civilians, including babies dependent on intensive life support care.

"There must be an end to the indiscriminate killing of innocent people and children in reprisals for the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, including the release of all hostages and Palestinians held in military detention. I am opposed to the strategy and tactics of the IDF, who are supported by successive Israeli Governments, but believe in the same way as it would be wrong to suggest all Palestinians are Hamas, it is also wrong to suggest all Israeli people are the aggressors.

"The Facebook post shared was from another site and was not intended to be anti-Semitic. On reflection I can understand how some individuals may be offended from the post content, which includes a picture reflecting “victims” becoming the role of “aggressors”, whilst also being critical of the Israeli defence forces and Government but not, I stress, not towards those of Jewish faith.

"In recent weeks I have attended several demonstrations on this issue with people from the Jewish community standing alongside resolutely. Regardless of these facts, and in order to take every measure possible to protect those who may feel offended by this image, I have removed the post from my Facebook page.

"I agree that criticism of those who have or and are currently committing war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel must not boil over into anti-Semitism or Islamophobia and I have nothing more to say on this matter."

Israel is facing growing criticism as it continues its campaign against Hamas following the October 7 that saw around 1,200 Israelis killed and hundreds more captured or missing.

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