Sadiq Khan’s apology to the Chief Rabbi shows he thinks we were all born yesterday

His constant warm words about the Jewish community are shown, yet again, to be meaningless by his slur against Sir Ephraim Mirvis


London mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

April 26, 2024 12:35

I’ve a question for you, and it’s a bit personal: when were you born? I don’t really mean for you to all answer me – my email inbox would never forgive me. What I really mean is this: were you born yesterday?

Sadiq Khan clearly thinks you – the Jewish community, that is – were indeed born yesterday, because he is up to his usual trick with us.

This time, instead of meaningless bromide about what an ally he is, it’s an apology to the chief rabbi.

To recap: Khan has recorded an interview with that other notable friend of the Jewish community, the journalist Mehdi Hasan, who infamously was once recorded comparing non-Muslims (“kaffir”) to “cattle” and who included “homosexuals” in a long list of transgressive behaviour alongside paedophilia, incest and bestiality.

Khan implied to Hasan – well, he pretty much asserts it as fact - that when Sir Ephraim Mirvis criticised the London mayor’s call back in October for a cease fire in Gaza, the Chief Rabbi was motivated by the fact Khan is a Muslim: “Very shortly after I’d called for a ceasefire, the Mayor of Greater Manchester called for a ceasefire. I’ve not seen the Chief Rabbi say comments said against me, in relation to my calls for a cease fire. I'd ask those Jewish people: just pause and reflect on their response to me calling for a ceasefire. What motivated them to come out in the way they did against the Mayor of London, and the Mayor of Greater Manchester? I'll give you a clue, he's not called Ahmed Bourani, he's called Andy Burnham, whereas I'm called Sadiq Khan."

That’s about as clear and unambiguous a statement of his view as you can imagine. But not, now, according to Khan. No, he doesn’t really think that at all, according to an apology he has just released: "I have been in contact with the Chief Rabbi to apologise for my comments, which I deeply regret. He has, along with other Jewish leaders, been a friend to me, and we have worked hard together to unite our city and celebrate our diversity. At times it is clear to me, and others, that as a mayor of London of Islamic faith, I am held to a different standard and that can be frustrating - particularly during a divisive election campaign. But, it wasn’t fair of me to have levelled that frustration at the Chief Rabbi. I am sorry for any hurt this has caused and will continue working with Jewish leaders to build a safer London for everyone.”

Let’s look at what Sir Ephraim actually said. On 31 October, four days after Khan had called for ceasefire, the two men met in the mayor’s office. Afterwards, the Chief Rabbi issued a statement: “This afternoon at City Hall, I thanked Sadiq Khan for his ongoing, unequivocal commitment to fighting antisemitism across London and I also explained to him why I believe that a ceasefire now would be an irresponsible stepping stone to yet more Hamas terrorist brutality.”

According to Sadiq Khan – the pre-apology Sadiq Khan that is - this revealed a deep-seated prejudice against Muslims, because Sir Ephraim didn’t also mention Andy Burnham in the tweet. I don’t think you need me to explain that it would have been utterly bizarre for the Chief Rabbi to make reference to the Mayor of Greater Manchester in a statement following a meeting with the Mayor of London, in which the Chief Rabbi told him why he was wrong about a ceasefire.

But Khan wants us to forget about all of this now, because he is “sorry for any hurt this has caused”. Oh well, that’s ok then. It’s all about hurty feelings, isn’t it? And he doesn’t want us to have hurty feelings, so everything is fine.

Doctoral theses could be written about that apology and what it reveals about Khan’s utter shamelessness. But let’s focus on that last phrase, that he “will continue working with Jewish leaders to build a safer London for everyone.” Ever since he first ran for the post in 2016, Khan has trumpeted his allyship with the Jewish community. He has visited shuls regularly, and his first engagement as mayor was a Yom HaShoah ceremony at the Barnet Copthall Stadium in north London.

And it turns out to have all been meaningless, because the moment we actually needed the mayor for something more than a photo-op – the moment Jews started to feel properly threatened in London and wanted him to deliver “a safer London for everyone” – he didn’t just ignore us, he actually agreed with those calling for a ceasefire.

In similar vein to that last phrase of his apology, Khan had the gall to tell this paper in 2016 that ““What’s important to me is that we have zero tolerance of antisemitism.”But over the past six months, hate marches have become a regular feature of London life. Calls for the elimination of Jews, for intifada and jihad have been normalised. And what has the man who is responsible for policing done? Nothing. He has – like the police – stood and watched.

The call for a ceasefire, the supposed purpose of the hate marches, is in reality a call for Israel to lay down its arms and let Hamas run riot and slaughter Jews as often as it wishes. It is perhaps not unreasonable for the Chief Rabbi to point out his objection to that demand. For doing so, Sir Ephraim was accused by the mayor of being an anti-Muslim bigot.

So what’s going on here? Might, do you think, it have something to do with next week’s mayoral election, and the fact that 15 per cent of London’s voters are Muslim, as opposed to 1.6 per cent who are Jewish? Khan has revealed his true colours, and more fool anyone who now takes seriously his warm words about the Jewish community. We are simply re-election fodder for him. At least that should now be clear to everyone.

April 26, 2024 12:35

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive