Sadiq Khan apologises to Chief Rabbi for ‘hurt caused’

The Mayor of London said he had ‘levelled his frustration’ over ‘unfair treatment’


Sadiq Khan (third from right) and Sir Ephraim Mirvis (second from right) are pictured together attending a Holocaust memorial event together (Photo: Getty Images)

Sadiq Khan has apologised to Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis for implying that when he criticised the Mayor of London’s call for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, he was motivated by Islamophobia.

According to a statement from the mayor, "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.”

The JC understands that Khan “deeply regrets” his comments, made in a YouTube interview with broadcaster and Guardian columnist Mehdi Hasan.

Hasan, a former talk show host for the American network MSNBC, asked Khan in his interview how he felt about the criticism he received from the Jewish community when he made his ceasefire call in the early weeks of the war last October.

Sir Ephraim said at the time that his call was “irresponsible”, and was “a stepping stone to yet more Hamas brutality”.

Khan told Hasan that he was “disappointed by some of the response from Jewish leaders, Jewish friends”, and claimed that it was partly motivated by the fact that unlike others who shared the same view, such as Labour’s Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, he was a Muslim.

But, Khan went on, when Burnham spoke out, neither Sir Ephraim nor the JC commented as strongly as when he did.

“I'd ask those Jewish people to just pause and reflect on their response to me calling for a ceasefire,” Khan said. “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."

The JC has been told that leading community figures were appalled by Khan’s remarks. “Sadiq is very strongly implying that the Chief Rabbi's criticism of him was motivated by Islamophobia”, one source said.

National political commentators have also expressed dismay. A post on X by Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges read: “Sadiq Khan is going to need to withdraw his assertion the Chief Rabbi was motivated by Islamophobia when he criticised his ceasefire stance. That would not be acceptable - without substantiation - at the best of times. But given current feeling within the Jewish community it’s inexcusable.”

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