Former London mayor Ken Livingstone speaks to the media after giving an interview to the LBC radio station in London in which he refused to apologize for comments suggesting Adolf Hitler supported Zionism.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The British Labour Party decided Friday to defer its ruling on whether or not to expel Ken Livingstone over a claim he made last year that Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s. The two-day internal party hearing was held on Thursday and Friday, but Labour’s National Constitutional Committee won’t deliver its verdict until Tuesday.
As the former London mayor entered the hearing on Thursday, he repeated claims of the same kind that landed him in the disciplinary hearing in the first place.
Fielding questions from reporters Livingstone defended the remarks he made in April 2016
, which led to his suspension amid accusations that the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had not done enough to curb rampant antisemitism among party members.
“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 – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” Livingstone said during an interview with BBC radio.
“I simply said that back in 1933, Hitler’s government signed a deal with the Zionist movement which would mean that... the Jewish community would be moved to what is now Israel,” he reiterated Thursday, in comments to reporters that were filmed and posted to The Telegraph’s website.
“That’s what support is,” he said, though he denied saying Hitler was himself a Zionist, adding that he would need to be checked for dementia if he made the latter claim.
Livingstone made the original remarks in defense of Labour lawmaker Naz Shah, who was suspended a day before over a Facebook post in 2014 suggesting Israelis should be moved en masse to the United States. She apologized a day after the remarks came to light.
Asked during the interview whether he regarded her statement as antisemitic, Livingstone said, “No, it’s completely over the top, but it’s not antisemitic.”
Livingstone has defended his statements several times since making them.
He said: “I have broken no Labour Party rule. I am being attacked by the right-wing of the Labour Party because I support Palestinian human rights and strongly back our leader, Jeremy Corbyn. There is no real evidence against me, so hopefully the Labour panel will dismiss the charge against me. Only a biased and a rigged jury could find against me.”
On Tuesday, Livingstone posted a 17-page summary of the defense he would present before the party’s National Constitutional Committee.
Five Jewish members of the Labour Party spoke in his defense at the hearing.
JTA contributed to this report.