Livingstone says creation of Israel was ‘great catastrophe’


Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone described the creation of Israel as “a great catastrophe”, it has been revealed - a week after he was being suspended from the Labour party for claiming Hitler was a “Zionist”.

Speaking on London-based Arabic TV station Al-Ghad Al-Arabi in a broadcast aired on Wednesday, Mr Livingstone claimed that Israel was responsible for the expulsion of Jewish communities from Arab countries.

In the interview, translated by non-profit research group Memri, he said: “The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years.

“The creation of the state of Israel was a great catastrophe.

“We should have absorbed the post-Second World War Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for many more wars, potential for nuclear war.”

He repeated earlier calls for international boycott of products from the Jewish state, saying he would “never buy anything” from Israel.

He said: “I like dates, but I don’t buy dates that come from Israel.”

During the interview, which was filmed on April 20, Mr Livingstone also claimed that Israel had caused a rift between communities in the Middle East.

He said before Israel was created, Jewish communities “lived in peace alongside their Arab neighbours.

“But all of this was destroyed with the establishment of the state of Israel.”

The veteran politician also appeared to blame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for terrorism across the globe.

He said: ““I have always believed that the failure to resolve the [Palestinian] problem fuels the terrorist attacks,” he said. “What makes a 15- or 16-year-old boy go and fight with Isis, or carry out the barbaric attacks that we saw in Paris or Brussels?

"They don’t do it because they enjoy killing, but because they believe that they are the victims of injustice.
The West must deal with the injustice, or will continue to fuel terrorism.”

Mr Livingstone’s comments were condemned by Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush, who called on Mr Livingstone to “leave politics, for good”.

Mr Arkush said: "It is beyond comprehension that Ken Livingstone should disgrace himself with his crank history, littered with revisionism and distortion to justify his bigotry - particularly on the eve of crucial elections.

“Before he does any more damage to his reputation or that of the Labour party, he should leave politics, for good."

Mr Livingstone was suspended from the Labour last Thursday after he claimed Hitler was a “Zionist”.

Speaking on Vanessa Feltz's BBC Radio London show after the suspension of Bradford West MP Naz Shah, Mr Livingstone said the Nazi dictator had supported moving Jews to Israel “before he went mad”.

This week, Mr Corbyn’s brother, Piers, came out in support of Mr Livingstone.

In an interview with the Evening Standard on Wednesday, Piers Corbyn said: “I think Ken has been misunderstood, because he has been talking actual history which now looks incomprehensible.

"We can't understand now the context those things happened in, but there is numbers of historical documents around which seem to bear out some things that Ken has said.

"But they've been taken out of context."

When asked if Mr Livingstone's comments were antisemitic, Mr Corbyn added: "You have to look into the whole history of what happened in Germany.

"The relationship between Nazis and the Jews, and Russia, have been complicated and there have been serious alliances, or mutual supports, or dealings which are difficult to understand now.

"But there have been arrangements that went on, or certainly some type of understandings going on between Hitler and Zionists."

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