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Posted Friday, March 4, 2005

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[images and captions added by this website]Haaretz2
Israel, Friday, March 4, 2005
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London mayor brands Sharon a war criminal

By Haaretz Service

THE dispute between London mayor Ken Livingstone and Britain’s Jewish leaders was reignited Thursday night [March 4, 2005] when Livingstone branded Ariel Sharon a war criminal, the Independent reported on Friday.

Livingstone launched a provocative critique of Israel with accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and demonising Muslims before calling for the imprisonment of its Prime Minister, according to the British daily.

The comments were made two weeks after the London mayor controversially likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.

Livingstone has refused to apologize for his comments, repeatedly emphasising his anti-racist stance and denying that his words were anti-Semitic, the Independent reported.

His comments on Israel came to light in a written response to criticism levelled at him by the Board of Deputies of British Jews which was published in today’s Guardian.

“Israel’s expansion includes ethnic cleansing,” he wrote. “Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state.”

He added: “Today the Israeli government continues seizures of Palestinian land for settlements, military incursions into surrounding countries and denial of the right of Palestinians expelled by terror to return. “Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Prime Minister, is a war criminal who should be in prison not in office.”

His comments are unlikely to ease already fraught relations between the mayor and the Jewish community in Britain.

Tensions came to light last year when Livingstone invited the Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak at a conference in London, the Independent reported.

However, at the crux of the current conflict are comments made by the mayor to Finegold, a reporter at the Evening Standard, last month. His refusal to apologise for his remarks led to a media storm that culminated in the demand by Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, for an apology for “abusing” the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

“By using such flippant language, Livingstone not only seriously abused the memories of all those Jews who survived the concentration camps, but also the British troops who died fighting the Nazis and their families,” he said.

Livingstone has stood by his decision that he was not going to apologise for his words. At one stage, he said that his words were “not intended to cause offence” and had no intention of trivialising the Holocaust. But he added: “The form of words I have used are right. I have nothing to apologise for.”

Thursday, there was again no sign of apology in Livingstone’s comments. He also claimed in his article that the Israeli government presented a “wholly distorted picture of racism and religious discrimination in Europe in order to convey the impression that Jews suffer most discrimination.

“The reality is that the great bulk of racist attacks in Europe today are on black people, Asians and Muslims – and they are the primary targets of the extreme right.”

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies told The Guardian: “Once again the mayor has shown an inability to understand and show consideration for the Jewish community.”square

 

related 250

pp Tumult of pained Holocaust survivors, outraged Board of Deputies, Holocaust Educational Trust, community leaders, and their journalist- and politician-sycophants Mayor of London Ken Livingstone still won’t abase himself before bad-mannered journalist 
pp Gilad Atzmon asks, Why should he? Or Rather, Who should apologise?
pp Mr Irving writes a Radical’s Diary: Support for Livingstone over his retort to a journalist who turned out to be a Jew
pp Princess Michael (Austrian born) hints at problem-ownership of the British press. Quote: “If [Prince] Harry had worn a hammer and sickle, nobody would have got excited. . . . The press has a different sensibility because of its ownership structure.” German press screams: “anti-Semitism!” – Yes, but is it true?

 

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