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May 12, 2016 3:31 pm

London’s New Muslim Mayor Expresses Public Opposition to Antisemitism, Vows to ‘Build Bridges’

avatar by Lea Speyer

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, pictured,  suggested that he would be open to visiting Tel Aviv. Photo: Twitter.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, pictured, suggested that he would be open to visiting Tel Aviv. Photo: Twitter.

In his first days in office, London’s newly elected Labour Party mayor has been expressing public opposition to antisemitism, and has even said he might visit Israel.

In a New York Times interview published on Wednesday, Sadiq Khan — London’s first Muslim mayor — criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for failing to deal with antisemitism within his party.

“I’ve been the victim of hate crimes because of my ethnicity and my faith,” he said. “If somebody is saying views that are appalling, disgusting and clearly antisemitic, I’ve got to call it out. The fact that that person happens to be from my party, the fact that the leader of my party is failing to call it out, that’s irrelevant. I have to call it out.”

Khan’s comments are in line with previous moves he’s taken to distance himself from Corbyn, who is currently engulfed in a widening scandal of antisemitic actions and remarks by Labour officials. Corbyn did not attend Khan’s official swearing-in ceremony on Saturday.

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In a nod towards the Jewish community, Khan’s attended a Sunday Holocaust memorial ceremony in north London, alongside British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev. “I am honored that my first public engagement will be such a poignant one,” he said during his remarks.

In an interview with Jewish News following the ceremony, Khan said he would use his time as mayor to build bridges between peoples of different faiths. “We’ve got to accept there are some people who say they’re Muslim, some people of the Jewish faith who don’t like the fact I’m here,” he said.  

My message to those people is we live in the greatest city in the world and have to go get along. I’m the mayor of London, the most diverse city in the world and I’ll be everyone’s mayor. No preferential treatment but I have a role to build bridges. My signing in ceremony was deliberately designed to show the sort of a mayor I’ll be and I started as I mean to go on,” Khan said.

The mayor also indicated that he would be open to visiting Israel. “I’ve not even had my first Monday at work, to be fair, I’ve had six hours sleep since Wednesday. But I’m keen to make sure I’m the most pro-business mayor we’ve ever had and that means going on trade missions, including to Tel Aviv,” he said.

Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch Center in Gants Hill, told the Ilford Recorder, “We would like to think we can be confident Mr. Khan. it is a new experience for the whole of London.”

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