Labour-supporting Jews in London have written a devastating private letter to the party leader, Ed Miliband, after a group of them including Jewish Labour councillors, Labour members of the Board of Deputies and Labour Friends of Israel met Ken this month to try to build bridges. Previous discussions, they said, had been “acrimonious” and this one doesn’t sound any better.
In the letter, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle, the Labour supporters write: “Many of us had just about managed to vote for [Ken] in 2008. Today, many of us who would otherwise normally vote Labour are finding it harder and harder to consider voting for Ken, despite agreeing with his policies for London.”
Part of their problem, they said, was that
Ken determines Jews as a religious group but does not accept Jews as an ethnicity and a people… [though] black, Irish, women and LGBT groups are afforded the right to determine their own identity, many of us feel that Ken doesn’t afford Jews that right…
At various points in the discussion Ken used the words Zionist, Jewish and Israeli interchangeably as if they meant the same, and did so in a pejorative manner. These words are not interchangeable and to do so is highly offensive, particularly when repeated over and again as was done. For example, when discussing Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s extreme views on homosexuality, Ken said “one would expect the same views on homosexuality from extreme Christians, Muslims and Israelis” and using the word “Zionist” as an adjectival negative to criticise much more widely than what can be attributed to the ideology of Zionism…
Ken toward the end of the meeting stated that he did not expect the Jewish community to vote Labour as votes for the left are inversely proportional to wealth levels, and suggested that as the Jewish community is rich, we simply wouldn’t vote for him. When we pointed to research undertaken by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research that demonstrates the Jewish community in the UK has a propensity to vote much more radically than its wealth, and this is attributed to Jewish values and sociology and history and also alluded to Democrats in the USA, Ken begrudgingly accepted this.
The real and more pressing issue is that of the strong perception that Ken is seeking to align himself with the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian regime, whilst at the same time turning a blind eye to Islamist antisemitism, misogynism and homophobia, even when overt and demonization of Zionism and the derogatory use of the word Zionist and use of antisemitic memes.
We are concerned that this is more about infantile far left politics, being seen to take a stance against whatever the anti-establishment or anti-imperialism cause of the moment is. Boiled down, it’s hard to interpret this in any other way than Ken basically having no sympathy for those that he perceives as bourgeois , which is why he isn’t really attempting to appeal to, and perhaps why he is losing progressive as well as Jewish votes.
Ken’s continued defence of al-Qaradawi (pictured) has been condemned even by Val Shawcross, his own running-mate. It is chilling that Livingstone gave no ground even in a private meeting and instead invoked the stereotype of the fat, rich, selfish Jew – a favourite of anti-semites throughout history. This document is testimony to the fact that relations between Ken and one of London’s most important minorities have quite simply broken down.