Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth) (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Ken Livingstone

The UK Labour party suspended the former London mayor for a year over his Jew-baiting remarks. Jewish leaders and lawmakers say he should have been expelled.  

The British Labour party on Tuesday banned former London Mayor Ken Livingstone for a year over comments he made in 2016, when he claimed that Hitler supported Zionism before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

However, the party did not expel him, as initially expected.

Livingstone was temporarily suspended from the Labour Party following an April 2016 interview with BBC radio, in which he said, “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.”

The UK’s Jewish Leadership Council blasted Labour for falling short of expelling Livingstone, saying it was “extremely disappointed and shocked” by the decision.

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said relations between the Labour party and the Jewish community “have reached a new all-time low.”

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused Labour of failing the Jewish community, saying, “This was a chance for the Labour party to show that it would not tolerate willful and unapologetic baiting of the Jewish community by shamefully using the Holocaust as a tool with which to inflict the maximum amount of offense.”

“Worryingly, the party has yet again failed to show that it is sufficiently serious about tackling the scourge of anti-Semitism,” he added.

A number of Labour MPs were also dismayed by the verdict. Yvette Cooper, the former Labour leadership candidate, said the party must review the decision not to expel Livingstone.

“It’s not enough to say the words ‘zero tolerance’ on anti-Semitism – Labour has to put them into practice,” she said. “Shameful decision today. If our rules are weak enough to allow today’s decision then our rules and enforcement codes aren’t strong enough and must change urgently.”

Livingstone: SS set up training camps for Jews to help them

Livingstone criticized the party’s hearings process, insisting that he had nothing to apologize for and that he plans to launch a campaign to overturn the suspension.

Just before the hearing, the former mayor defended his offensive statements. “I simply said, back in 1933 Hitler’s government signed a deal with the Zionist movement, which would mean that Germany’s Jewish community were moved to what is now Israel,” he said.

“When the Zionist movement asked the Nazi Government, would they stop the rabbis doing their sermons in Yiddish and make them do it in Hebrew, he [Hitler] agreed to that. He also passed a law that said only the Zionist flag and the Swastika could be flown in Germany. The SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there,” Livingstone claimed.

By: United with Israel Staff

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