Sadiq Khan: 'Hamas are terrorists, end of.'

The mayor of London met with members of Jewish community in Golders Green yesterday


London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called the parading of Palestinian flags, “free Palestine” graffiti, and the celebration of Hamas in the last few days on the streets of London, “distasteful at the very least”.

Talking to the JC on Tuesday, Khan said these actions “sow division, incite hatred, and there should be no place in London for it. While many of these activities stop short of breaking the law, I would encourage those guilty of carrying them out to stop it.”

Khan met on Tuesday with Progressive Judaism leaders Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy in Golders Green for a conversation that he said was “heart-breaking and moving.”

Asked about Monday’s pro-Palestine demonstration outside the Israeli embassy, in which speakers blamed Israel and called for the country's destruction, Khan said: “I think it’s possible to be pro-Palestinian rights and to condemn unequivocally the actions of Hamas.

“I know how distressing it must be to see the actions of those people outside the Israeli embassy and the ripples of fear that must have caused in the Jewish community in London and across the globe.”

On whether he thought the pro-Palestine movement in the UK is doing a disservice to the Palestinian movement by not condemning Hamas, he said: “If you’re in favour of a two-state solution, if you’re truly in favour of peace, if you want a de-escalation of violence, then the way Hamas has behaved and the way some people have celebrated the massacre of men women and children, it’s the opposite of achieving that.

“Nothing at all justifies the actions of Hamas and people should say so.”

Asked whether he would condemn the BBC for not using the word “terrorists” when referring to Hamas, and instead calling them “militants” and “fighters”, Khan said: “Hamas are proscribed, they’re a terrorist organisation. End of. It’s simple to me.

“I wish I could influence these media outlets when it comes to reporting this stuff, but the law is quite clear. Hamas is proscribed. It’s the dictionary definition of terrorism.”

Khan said the atrocities committed against Israel in the last few days has to him highlighted “How small the Jewish community is in London, how scared they are and vulnerable they feel. And that’s why it’s really important for non-Jewish people to show allyship.

“Because the Jewish community is small, they’re scared. They can be scared walking the streets, going to the shops, going to a restaurant, places of worship and education, and that’s why those of us that are not Jewish, must support them.”

To support the Jewish community at this time, Khan says he is taking several actions:

“Obviously showing solidarity is important. I was proud to see buildings across London lit up in the colours of the Israeli flag. I was also really pleased to see hundreds of Londoners turn up at the vigil, Jewish people and non-Jewish people.”

More practical actions, he said, are also being taken such as “increased policing presence in and around those communities affected. But there’s a lot more work to be done.

“We know that, as night follows day when there’s a disturbance in the Middle East, hate crimes go up.”

He was proud to see the “Free Palestine” graffiti in Golders Green cleaned up overnight. “The longer things like that stay up in these communities the more harm it does. It’s provocative, it incites hatred, divides communities, and so we’re going to carry on removing them,” he said. “To the Jewish community, I say please report anything that gives you concern. Report it and we’ll take action.”

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