Ward Sutherland, a councillor in Ward 1 of Calgary, Canada, has drawn criticism from the Jewish community after he appeared to say “Johnny Jew from New York” in a debate.
Sutherland was talking about the funding of the Arts, and claimed that panels of artist would select artwork from “Johnny Jew from New York” without even looking at it.
His comments have been interpreted as antisemitic. New York has a famously large Jewish community, and there are indeed many Jews in the art world, which could be what the slur is attempting to reference.
However, Sutherland has claimed that he actually said “Choo”, despite it sounding far more like the word “Jew”, as local Rabbi Mark Glickman pointed out.
Rabbi Glickman remarked that the comments have “no place in civilised political discourse”.
He may have been referring to Jimmy Choo, who is a well known designer.
Sutherland apparently called Rabbi Glickman to speak of his disappointment at how the phrase had been interpreted and to restate his opposition to racism. However, he has since said that the accusations are “political and there’s an ulterior motive behind this”, due to the fact that elections are three days away. In doing so, he is painting may Jews who have complained as dissembling and attempting to manipulate Antisemitism for their own gain, something which is itself an antisemitic statement. Such statements have been frequently made against the Jewish community in the UK when Jews have voiced their legitimate concerns about Antisemitism in the Labour Party.
A video of the phrase, along with Sutherland’s statement denying the accusation, can be viewed here.