Jewish Londoners need their mayor to do his job

When terrorist flags are being flown openly in your city and antisemitic slogans are being shouted from street corners, any mayor worth his salt should want to do something about it.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (photo credit: REUTERS)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘Will you, Mr. Mayor, look after the interests of the Jewish population of London and write to the home secretary to ask for the clarification of the rules on what is a banned organization?” That is the very simple request that I made of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, at our meeting last week.
When terrorist flags are being flown openly in your city and antisemitic slogans are being shouted from street corners – as they were during the recent al-Quds Day march in London – any mayor worth his salt should want to do something about it. Whilst freedom of speech is precious, nobody should have to feel intimidated walking around their own city, or put up with racist abuse being hurled at particular groups.
The problem here is that British law is unclear about whether the Hezbollah flag is legal or not – due to a bizarre distinction between the “military” and “political” wings of this terrorist group. Therefore, police were unable to arrest people who openly displayed what is generally agreed to be a terrorist flag.
So I asked our mayor to do something very straightforward, which was to take this up with the government so that this issue can be clarified. This would be helpful to the police – of which the mayor is in charge – in doing their job to protect Londoners and keep public order. And the protection of Londoners is an important part of the mayor’s job description.
Yet, as you might have seen from the widely shared video of our exchange, for some reason the mayor did not take this request too well. Rather than agreeing to do something asked of him by someone from an opposing party – however simple and straightforward – he preferred to dismiss these concerns as a “rant” and to tell me to “calm down.”
Why does this matter? So what, you may ask, if a Labour mayor has an argument with his Conservative opponent? The answer is that there is something more at stake here. For London’s streets to play host to those who would threaten large numbers of its residents is a despicable stain on an otherwise great city.
If all London’s mayor has to do to resolve this is write a letter, it does not seem too much to ask. The fact that Sadiq Khan refused speaks louder than his words in the chamber.

The writer is a Conservative London Assembly member.
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