Jewish Labor members withdraw support from ex-mayor (JERUSALEM POST) By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 03/26/12)
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London mayoral contender Ken Livingstone’s comments to a group of
Jewish Labor supporters – in which he implied that Jews are wealthy
so would not vote for him – has resulted in a prominent Jewish
journalist and group of Jewish Labor supporters vowing to not vote
Last week, Labor candidate Livingstone told a meeting of Jewish Labor
supporters that he does not expect Jewish Londoners to vote for him
in the May 3 election, as the richer a person is, the less likely he
is to vote for the Left. (Incumbent Conservative Boris Johnson is
seeking reelection for a second term. Brian Paddick is the Liberal
Livingstone, who was mayor of London from 2000 to 2008, made the
suggestion that as the Jewish community is rich, it would not vote
On Saturday, he brushed off the comments as a smear against him.
“I’ve just been subject to a smear campaign from the same sources who
have been doing it for 30 years,” he told the MayorWatch website.
Explaining what he meant, Livingstone said: “I pointed out that no
ethnic group or religious group votes monolithically and the main
defining issue in how everybody votes is the level of income.
“That’s why I get a lot of support from poor Jews in Stoke Newington.
I get much less support in Mrs. Thatcher’s old constituency in
Finchley. That isn’t to say that’s anything to do with any particular
Jewish group, every social group is primarily, its voting patterns is
determined by income levels,” Livingstone told the website.
His comments prompted a group of Jewish Labor supporters to write to
party leader Ed Miliband to convey their concerns with him.
In the letter, they said that Livingstone uses “Zionist,” “Jewish”
and “Israeli” interchangeably and in a pejorative manner.
“These words are not interchangeable and to do so is highly
offensive, particularly when repeated over and again as was done,”
the letter said.
At the meeting, which was called by the supporters to look for ways
in which Livingstone could connect with the Jewish community, he
said: “I am not against Israel, I am against Zionists.”
In the letter to Miliband, the Jewish Labor supporters said that his
language, when they discussed the Jewish community, Israel and
Zionism, was close to classic anti-Semitism.
“Ken determines Jews as a religious group, but does not accept Jews
as an ethnicity and a people, and did not respond on this, other than
to say that as an atheist he found this hard to comprehend. In the
same way that black, Irish and women groups are afforded the right to
determine their own identity, many of us feel that he doesn’t afford
Jews that right.
“Just as we do not have a right to tell Ken what he thinks about
Israel despite our many disagreements, he doesn’t have the right to
define who we believe we are,” the letter stated.
On Friday, respected Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland said he
would no longer support Livingstone because he shows a too-hardened
heart to the Jewish community while being consistently warm to other
“This week he went to Finsbury Park mosque, quoted Muhammad’s final
sermon and expressed the hope that as mayor he would educate
Londoners in the teachings of Islam – he doesn’t care what hurt he
causes Jews,” Freedland said.
While he said that he does not believe that Livingstone is a racist,
Freedland said: “When it comes to this one group of Londoners and
their predicaments, their hopes and anxieties, he simply doesn’t care.
“I can no longer do what I and others did in 2008, putting to one
side the statements, insults and gestures that had offended me, my
fellow Jews and – one hopes – every Londoner who abhors prejudice,”
The former London mayor is a seasoned anti-Israel antagonist who has
clashed with the Jewish community many times.
In 2005, he likened a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp
guard and in 2006, he suggested that two Jewish businessmen should go
back to Iran and see if they could do better under the ayatollahs.
Property developers David and Simon Reuben were born in India.
Livingstone also embraced the radical cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the
spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who supports suicide
bombing of Israeli civilians, female genital mutilation and the
murder of homosexuals.
Livingstone has also presented on Press TV, the Iranian regime’s news
In the letter, the Labor supporters said it seemed that Livingstone
was aligning himself with the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood and
Iranian regime, “whilst turning a blind eye to Islamist anti-
Semitism, misogynism and homophobia.”
A YouGov poll showed last week that almost one in three Labor
supporters are refusing to back the party’s candidate for mayor; 31%
say they will not vote for him. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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