British Labour Party Again Declines to Expel Ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone Over Antisemitic Comments
British Jewish leaders expressed frustration this week that a former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has yet to be expelled from the opposition Labour Party over his antisemitic outbursts.
A two-year suspension of Livingstone was renewed “indefinitely” the party’s National Executive Committee on Thursday, leading to a disappointed reaction from the head of Britain’s Jewish representative body.
“Ken Livingstone’s readmission to the Labour Party would have been a disaster for the already strained relationship between the Jewish community and the Labour Party, so it is fortunate that this possibility has been taken off the table,” Board of Deputies of British Jews President Jonathan Arkush said in a statement. “However, we continue to believe that Ken Livingstone should have been expelled long ago.”
Arkush said that Livingstone’s comments — which included the false statement that the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “supported Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” — “have been very public, frequently repeated and consistently offensive.”
“It is time for Labour to expel him for good, and as soon as possible,” Arkush said.
Livingstone’s latest outrage was timed to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, when he appeared as the sole guest on a program on an official Iranian propaganda network that asked, “Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others?”
The show — on broadcaster Press TV, which frequently promotes Western Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists — opened with its presenter explaining that Holocaust Remembrance Day “mainly commemorates the murder of Jews by the Nazis in World War II.” He went on to introduce a grinning Livingstone as “no stranger to being targeted by the Zionist lobby here in the UK.”
Livingstone’s combative relationship with British Jews goes back to his time at the helm of the left-wing Greater London Council in the early 1980s. A stalwart supporter of the Palestinian cause, Livingstone has throughout his career used the Nazi Holocaust as a political weapon, comparing Israel’s behavior with that of the Nazi regime and promoting the notion that Zionist leaders colluded with the Nazi authorities during the Holocaust.