Palestinian children hold toy guns during a protest in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – The Welsh capital’s deputy Lord Mayor Ali Ahmed, who recently said that Hamas was only firing “toy rockets” at Israel, issued an unreserved apology and admitted he is considering resigning over the issue.
The Labor party councilor made the comment during a brief speech he gave at a “No to NATO” rally in Newport, South Wales on August 30, and which was subsequently posted on YouTube.
Israel’s honorary consul in Wales, Philip Kaye said members of the Cardiff Jewish community were outraged by the comments, could not accept Ahmed’s words of contrition and still believed he should resign. In particular he recalled it was one of those so-called “toy rockets” that caused the death of four-year-old Nahal Oz resident, Daniel Tragerman.
“He has brought the mayoralty into disrepute” Kaye said, adding “saying he was speaking in a personal capacity is irrelevant. It’s like an apology with a caveat. His outrageous comment got into the international press, bringing Cardiff into further disrepute.”
Ahmed, who represents Butetown district on Cardiff council, insisted he had been speaking in a personal capacity – despite clearly being introduced at the anti-NATO rally as the Welsh capital’s deputy lord mayor. He later maintained that as a private citizen he had a right to express his views.
Ahmed and Cardiff council’s monitoring officer, Marie Rosenthal, held a meeting over the incident after which she sent Kaye an email: “We have reviewed the complaints against Councilor Ali Ahmed under the council’s local protocol for dealing with member conduct.
“Councilor Ahmed has today made an unreserved apology for the language used in his speech at Newport and for any offence caused.
He wishes to make it clear the comments were made in a personal capacity and not in his role as deputy lord mayor.”
Rosenthal added that Ahmed had told her: “I accept that my comment referring to toy rockets was an error of judgment. The rockets fired by Hamas are not toy rockets and I do not condone the firing of rockets whether that results in one death or 1,000 deaths. I have apologized and hope that will be the end of the matter.”
Asked whether he would be resigning, however, as deputy lord mayor, all Ahmed would say was that he would decide whether he should stand down “but at the moment the answer is ‘no.’”