Former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Wednesday called the creation of Israel “fundamentally wrong,” and “a great catastrophe.” The existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East, he said, could ultimately lead to nuclear war.
“The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong, because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years,” Livingstone told an Arabic language TV station based in London, in a clip posted and translated by the watchdog MEMRI group.
“The creation of the state of Israel was a great catastrophe,” he repeated. “We should have absorbed the post-World War II Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for many more wars, potential for nuclear war,” Livingstone told Al-Ghad Al-Arabi.
He also advocated for an international boycott on Israeli products, telling his interviewer that “I never buy anything” that comes from Israel. “I like dates, but I don’t buy dates that come from Israel,” he said.
The former mayor was last week suspended by the Labour party for saying that Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.” He has refused to apologize for the comments and even claimed that previous remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the relationship between the grand mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler supported his argument.
He repeated his claims on Hitler and Zionism on Wednesday, saying that “When Hitler won the elections in 1932 and came to power, his policy was not directed toward killing the Jews. He wanted to deport all the Zionists to Israel [sic].” The State of Israel was created in 1948, three years after the end of the Holocaust.
Livingstone also attributed the mass expulsion of Jews across the Arab world to Israel’s founding.
Prior to the creation of the Jewish state, he said, “there were large Jewish communities that never suffered threats or attacks. They lived in peace alongside their Arab neighbors. But all of this was destroyed with the establishment of the State of Israel, and all the Israeli [sic] communities in the Arab world were deported to Israel.”
The veteran politician also blamed Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians for global terrorism, including the recent brutal Islamic State attacks in Paris and Brussels.
“I have always believed that the failure to resolve the [Palestinian] problem fuels the terrorist attacks,” he said. “What makes a 15- or 16-year-old boy go and fight with ISIS, or carry out the barbaric attacks that we saw in Paris or Brussels? They don’t do it because they enjoy killing, but because they believe that they are the victims of injustice. The West must deal with the injustice, or will continue to fuel terrorism.”
His latest comments came as Labour struggled to deal with multiple suspensions of members for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks and posts on social media, a scandal that threatens to reduce Jewish support for the party. He was also speaking on the eve of Thursday’s local elections in the UK, in which Labour’s MP Sadiq Khan was seeking to win back the London mayoralty for the party. Britons went to the polls on Thursday to select local leaders across the country, including for London mayor. Khan, a Muslim, is facing off against Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, who is of partial Jewish ancestry.