German chancellor Adolf Hitler looks out at a rally staged by the Nazi Party.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ken Livingstone, the veteran Labor Party official who earned himself a suspension and widespread condemnation for insisting that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist, invoked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial statements about the Holocaust in his defense on Saturday.
The former mayor of London told a British radio network that his suspension from Labor was the handiwork of political operatives loyal to former party head and prime minister Tony Blair.
When pressed to retract his comments, Livingstone repeatedly refused.
He told LBC on Saturday that while he was sorry if his statements hurt Jews, he was simply making a "statement of fact" that was buttressed by Netanyahu.
"I never regret saying something that is true," he said. “How can I have hurt and offended the Jewish community when the prime minister of Israel said exactly the same thing?"
Last year, Netanyahu ignited controversy
when he told a World Zionist Congress gathering in Jerusalem that Hitler initially had no intention of massacring European Jewry
but was only persuaded to do so by the Palestinian leader at the time, the mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
In his speech, the premier claimed that Hitler's original intentions were solely to expel the Jews.
According to Netanyahu, the Fuhrer changed his mind at the insistence of the mufti, who argued that the expulsion of the Jews would result in their arrival en masse to Palestine, which at the time was under British Mandatory rule.
Netanyahu made the claim as part of an effort to illustrate the Palestinian propensity to use the holy places in Jerusalem as pretexts for committing acts of violence against Jews.
"My grandfather came to this land in 1920 and he landed in Jaffa, and very shortly after he landed he went to the immigration office in Jaffa," Netanyahu told delegates. "And a few months later it was burned down by marauders. These attackers, Arab attackers, murdered several Jews, including our celebrated writer [Yosef Haim] Brenner."
"And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution," the premier said.
"He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said, 'Burn them'."