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Jewish Labor Loyalists Found Livingstone Really Obnoxious

Labor's Ken Livingstone wants his old job back as mayor of London, but even Jews on the left cannot stomach him.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 3/25/2012, 10:58 AM

David Miliband (l)
David Miliband (l)
Reuters

Labor Party leader David Miliband, who has not been an extraordinary ball of fire as opposition leader, has campaigned personally for the party's mayoral candidate in London, Ken Livingstone (known as "red Ken").

Should Livingstone avenge his 2008 defeat at the hands of London's conservative mayor Boris Johnson and recapture the mayoralty, it will be considered a success for Miliband and will quiet the voices calling for his replacement.

As Labour's first Jewish leader, Miliband has been put in a delicate position given Livingstone's toxic relations with the Jewish community, but he has soldiered on, claiming - somehow - that the former mayor has "no prejudiced bone in his body".

Miliband, however, is finding it difficult to sway even Jewish Labour supporters. After a meeting with Livingstone, they wrote Miliband that despite their general sympathy for Labour positions, they could not bring themselves to vote for Livingstone.

At a meeting with members of the Jewish community, Livingstone was asked about his support for a radical Islamic cleric and a TV station that takes Tehran's party line. Livingstone  according to the letter "used the words Zionist, Jewish and Israeli, interchangeably, as if they meant the same, and did so in a pejorative manner".

Livingstone also claimed that as the Jews were rich, they could not be expected to vote for the left.

Jonathan Freedland  a columnist for both the Guardian and the Jewish Chronicle, attended the meeting and in a column in the Guardian  announced that having tolerated Livingstone's questionable remarks, enough was enough, and he could not support Livingstone.

Freedland claimed that the meeting was sympathetically disposed and was merely looking for reassurance from the candidate. "The meeting that night was packed with people who desperately wanted Livingstone to reassure them they could vote Labour. One explicitly said he sought no recantation of past remarks nor a change of position on Israel, just reassurance that 'you won't put us through another four years of this'"

Livingstone could not bring himself to do that.

For Jews without the deep commitment to the left, there was no need to wait for Livingstone or Freedland. The majority had already voted for his opponent London's mayor Boris Johnson in 2008. However, even the Jewish left could not stomach him that evening.

Livingstone recently declared: "I want to spend the next four years making sure that every non-Muslim in London knows and understands [Mohammed's] words and message. That will help to cement our city as a beacon that demonstrates the meaning of the words of the Prophet."

He chose to utter these remarks in one of London's notorious mosques with ties to the Moslem Brotherhood and Hamas.

Livingstone embraced Sheikh Yousouf Qadrawi who had given the fatwa legitimizing suicide bombings.

There are a million Moslems in London and they vastly outnumber the Jews.