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(photo credit: Associated Press)
Mayor Ken Livingstone has gone on the offensive, attacking his critics and refusing to apologize for his comments Tuesday that two Jewish developers should go back to where they came from.
"I would offer a complete apology to the people of
Iran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn't meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran," Livingstone said during the mayor's question period on Wednesday.
Conservative London Assembly member Brian Coleman told The Jerusalem Post that he was shocked by the mayor's response.
Livingstone has "a blind spot when it comes to
relations with the Jewish community. He has an
antipathy, an antagonism, a personal dislike for the Jewish community," Coleman said, while campaigning in his constituency on Wednesday.
The mayor's office did not respond to queries.
On Tuesday, Livingstone said of the Reuben brothers, Jewish members of the syndicate building the 4 billion pound Olympic City in East London for the 2012 Olympic Games, "perhaps if they're not happy they can always go back [to their own country] and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs."
Asked by reporters to clarify his remarks, he said, "If they're not happy here, they can go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs, if they don't like the planning regime or my approach."
Livingstone also attacked Coleman on Wednesday for
calling his Tuesday remarks "anti-Semitic," denouncing him as a "Dr. Goebbels." Coleman was "dancing on the memory of the Holocaust," Livingstone charged.
By way of explanation of his Tuesday remarks, the
mayor claimed not to have known the Rueben brothers were Jewish. Coleman doubted his sincerity. "You have to be either very na×Ÿve or very ignorant, which is it Mr. Mayor?" he asked.
During the mayor's question period, Livingstone
returned to his attack. The Reubens were the "main
impediment" to the successful completion of the
Olympic City project, he charged.
Taxpayers may have "to pick up the bill of 600
million to 700m. because of the actions of the Reuben brothers," Livingstone said, and "that's completely and utterly unacceptable."
In a statement given to the Post Tuesday evening, the Reuben brothers said the mayor's charges were "inaccurate" and "unsubstantiated" and that they were "working extremely hard to deliver the development for the long-term benefit of London and Londoners."
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