Ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel ‘a great catastrophe’

Marcy Oster

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone at the 2013 Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Flickr Commons)

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone at the 2013 Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Flickr Commons)

(JTA) — Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the Labour Party for saying Adolf Hitler was a Zionist, called the creation of Israel “a great catastrophe.”

Livingstone said the existence of Israel in the Middle East could lead to nuclear war and advocated an international boycott on Israeli products during an interview Wednesday with the London-based Arabic-language television station Al-Ghad Al-Arabi. The interview, which was dubbed over in Arabic, was translated by the MEMRI watchdog group and posted on its website.

“The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years,” Livingstone said in the interview.

“The creation of the State of Israel was a great catastrophe. 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.”

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Livingstone said the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problem led to the rise of Middle East terror.

“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,” he said. “The West must deal with the injustice or will continue to fuel terrorism.”

In response to a question about whether he supports the movement for an international boycott against Israel, Livingstone said he never buys Israeli products.

Livingstone doubled down on statements he made in an interview last week in which he stated that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was a Zionist and that in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel, not killed. Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party on April 28 for the remarks.

“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,” Livingstone said in the interview. He likely meant Palestine, since Israel was established in 1948.

The ex-mayor said that Islam’s prophet Muhammad “recognized that the Jews could live alongside the Arabs in the Middle East.”

“All of that was destroyed” by the formation of the State of Israel, he said, “and I think it was catastrophic.”

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