Labour’s ex-mayor of London: Hitler was a Zionist

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) –British anti-racism activists and Labour Party politicians demanded the expulsion from that party of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.

In  a radio interview with BBC Thursday, Livingstone said: “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.”

He said this in defending a Labour lawmaker, Naz Shah, who was suspended Wednesday over remarks she posted on Facebook in 2014, suggesting Israelis should be moved en masse to the United States. She has apologized for her remark.

Asked during the interview whether he regarded her statement as anti-Semitic, Livingstone said: “No it’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic.” He also said there was a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticized Israeli policy as anti-Semitic”.


Livingstone’s controversial remarks came at a sensitive time for Labour, which in recent months has seen the suspension of several members, including senior ones, for anti-Semitic hate speech which critics say party leader Jeremy Corbyn is not doing enough to curb.

Corbyn, a harsh critic of Israel who in 2009 called Hezbollah and Hamas activists “friends” after inviting representatives from both terrorist groups to visit the British parliament as his guests, is also accused of encouraging vitriol against Israel and Jews by not distancing himself from groups like Hamas.

John Mann, a Labour lawmaker and central figure in the fight against anti-Semitism in Britain, confronted Livingstone on Thursday morning and shouted at him, calling him a “disgrace” and a “Nazi apologist”. He has called for him to go. He told Sky News that Livingstone’s comments were “insane”, branded him an “anti-Semite” and said the Labour veteran had “gone totally mad”.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s contender in the London mayoral elections, joined a growing chorus of Labour politicians calling for Livingstone’s expulsion.

Gideon Falter, Chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism watchdog, said in a statement: “The Labour Party must expel Ken Livingstone. Today he has claimed that Hitler was a Zionist and that antisemitism is not racism. Enough is enough. He should not be suspended, he should be expelled today.”

Livingstone served as mayor twice, once from 1981 to 1986 and again in the years 2000-2008.

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