Rabbi Danny Rich’s statement on Ken Livingstone and Labour

28 April 2016 – 20 Nisan 5776

28 April 2016

As the Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism, and a long-term member of the Labour Party in a personal capacity, I am certainly not someone who Ken Livingstone can write off as one of his “usual critics”.

But today, like Jews and people of all faiths, I was disgusted by his comments as he toured radio and TV stations – including those that Hitler had been a Zionist “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”.

If anyone has gone mad, it is Ken Livingstone. His comments get more offensive and unworthy every time he is interviewed.

Claiming Hitler was a Zionist is not only a huge historical perversion, but it directly equates Nazism and Zionism. It suggests they share objectives and values; it is guilt by association. It is hard to think of a more offensive linkage.

Suspending him from the Labour Party is not the end of the matter. Livingstone is a symptom, not the cause.

I am nervous that by focussing on one large personality, we are not dealing with the issues which lead him to make such a statement.

The first step is to admit you have an institutional problem and then to set out strategies to deal with that.

Anti-Semitism in British politics is quite simply unacceptable, from whatever quarter it may come.

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