Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone says he doesn’t believe it’s anti-Semitic to hate Jewish citizens of Israel — the bulk of the population in the Middle East's only democracy.
Livingstone, known as "Red Ken" for his left-wing policies during his 2000-2008 mayoralty, is among a cadre of Labour officials, who are open and virulent critics of the Jewish state. Livingstone has aligned himself with the Labour leader of the opposition in Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn. Their supporters have tried to portray them as victims and truth-tellers, forming a group to bolster such views, Labour Against the Witchhunt.
“It’s not anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel and you can’t have a proper functioning democracy in a world in which the media, whether it’s the press or internet, can just spread lie after lie after lie,” Livingstone said during a meeting of Labour Against the Witchunt last week, according to the Daily Mail.
Last month, nine members of Labour left the party over Corbyn's refusal to punish members making statements seemingly supportive of terrorism against Israel.
Livingstone says the allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party are “lies and smears” meant to bring down Corbyn, the JTA reported.
Eight of the nine former Labour Party members, along with three lawmakers who left the Conservative Party, say they are now working together as part of an Independent group.
Livingstone was suspended by the Labour Party in 2016 over allegations of anti-semitism — a move the former mayor says Corbyn did not support. Livingstone last year quit the party he joined a half-century earlier, saying he would continue to work for a “Corbyn-led government to transform Britain.”