Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party

  • By Arial Zingler

Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party after defending a colleague accused of antisemitism

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Mayor of London (2000-2008) and long serving MP Ken Livingstone, has been suspended from the Labour party after he waded in on a row over antisemitism in a series of media interviews.

Initially defending fellow Labour MP Naz Shah, who was suspended for alleged antsemitic comments, Mr Livingstone was ultimately accused of antisemitism himself.

Talking to Vanessa Feltz on BBC London when asked whether Naz Shah was antisemitic Livingstone replied:

“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over-the-top but she’s not antisemitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic.”

“The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians; and there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War. Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as antisemitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”

Following on from these comments talking with BBC2’s Daily politics show:

“Literally I’ve been a member for 47 years I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of Israel. If I was to criticise the South African government as riddled with corruption you wouldn’t say I was racist – you’d say I was being critical of that government. “

“I think blurring these two things undermines the importance of antisemitism because a real antisemite doesn’t hate Israel, they hate Jews, their Jewish neighbours in Golders Green or Stoke Newington, it’s a physical loathing.”

When asked directly about Shah:

“It’s completely over-the-top and rude, but who am I to denounce anyone with all of that. It was wrong. I don’t think she is antisemitic, it was incredibly rude but I don’t believe she is an antisemite. When the NEC investigation is finished they’ll say it was rude and over the top but they won’t find any evidence that she actually hates Jews. We’ve got to investigate all these charges and the context in which they are made. If she is antisemitic like the other three or four members we’ve found who are antisemitic, she’ll be expelled.”

When challenged about Shah’s comments suggesting that the actions of the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930’s were legal at the time under German law:

“That’s a statement of fact – Hitler, I’m sure, passed all those laws that allowed him to do that … it’s history … literally, Hitler was completely mad, he killed six million Jews. She’s not saying it’s legal to kill six million Jews: what they were doing in that country allowed them not just to kill six million Jews, kill all the communists, kill all the leftists like me, my father almost died when a Nazi sub sank his boat. I have no sympathy with Hitler.”

Livingstone earned himself accusations of antisemitism after he repeated an alleged historical fact first published by the current Israeli leader Netanyahu, in which Netanyahu claimed Hitler was a supporter of Zion but not Jews. The comments by the Israeli leader suggested that Hitler although wanting to eradicate Jews along with many other ethnic and political groups such as Romani and Communists first ordered the removal of Jews from Europe to be relocated in Palestine. History shows us that if this order was indeed given, then it was soon changed to the order of total eradication through ethnic cleansing.

Anti-Zionist and anti-apartheid protests are very common in the UK capital, London. However, in recent times, particularly over the course of the current Mayoral election build up, any comments critical of the genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, invasions and apartheid in Israel or the UK government’s support given to Israel lands any critic facing legal criminal charges of antisemitism. It is important to rationalize logically and calmly with such sensitive issues. Forget trying to involve Rothschild, Bilderberg the population relocation and formation of Israel in the mid 1900s or Hitler into the picture, forget the religious element, Israel is a political entity, not a religion, Muslims, Jews and Christians live in Israel on both occupied Palestinian and Syrian land. Purely look at this as a humanitarian issue, if this was any other country how would you think? Britain has imposed sanction on and even invaded other countries for far less serious issues before. Asking what makes Israel immune to international law is not a debate which involves religion in the slightest and should never stoop to antisemitism, islamophobia or any other form of degradation, religious, racial or otherwise.


 A.Zingler@theinternational.org.uk