JTA — Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone called allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party “lies and smears” to bring down party leader Jeremy Corbyn and that it is “not anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel.”
Nine Labour lawmakers quit the party last month over its failure to tackle the problem of hatred toward Jews among party supporters and leaders.
Livingstone was suspended by the Labour Party in 2016 and quit last year over comments about Hitler and Zionism. He told a meeting of Labour Against The Witchhunt last week, according to the Sunday Mail, that: “This is endemic. If you have a genuine socialist leader who is going to transform things for ordinary people and make the bloody corporations pay their fair share of tax – they will do whatever is necessary to stop you…”
“That means lies and smears in most of the West. In other parts of the world it can mean assassination,” the Sunday Mail reported Livingstone as saying.
Livingstone said that Corbyn’s office did not support his suspension from the party in 2016, after he said that Hitler supported Zionism. He also asserted that he was suspended because the press had spread “lie after lie after lie” about what he said.
“It’s not anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel and you can’t have a proper functioning democracy in a world in which the media, whether it’s the press or internet, can just spread lie after lie after lie,” he said at the meeting, according to the Mail.
Speaking in April 2016, Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
Corbyn has faced repeated accusations of anti-Semitism and shielding anti-Semites in his party.
Most recently in a report by British lawmakers on the Home Affairs Select Committee, who accused him of doing too little to curb rampant anti-Semitism among party members and lawmakers, some of whom have been suspended for making racist and anti-Semitic statements on social media and in other public forums.
In October, a British parliamentary committee of inquiry upheld claims that the Labour party’s leadership was failing to confront seriously anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Raised persistently by leaders of British Jewry, the accusation was reaffirmed in the publication of a scathing report entitled “Antisemitism in the UK” compiled by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament.