Ken Livingstone has suggested that Jews who “are more likely to know about their history than anybody else” back his controversial comments about Hitler and Zionism.
In a new interview, the former Mayor of London claimed “30 or 40” members of the community have stopped him on the street to tell him “what I said was right”.
Speaking to the Independent news website, Mr Livingstone also said he did not regret insisting “Hitler was supporting Zionism”.
Justifying the claim he added: “No, it’s not incendiary. Boats were leaving Hamburg to get them to Palestine. That is supporting Zionism.”
Insisting he was regularly approached by Jews supporting his remarks, Mr Livingstone said “Jews have the highest standard of educational achievement of any group in the country. They are more likely to know about their history than anybody else. And what I said was right.”
Asked about attempts to have him expelled from the Labour Party, Mr Livingstone said he blamed just a “handful of strong pro-Israeli MPs like Wes Streeting”.
He said those MPs seeking his expulsion were “upset” he had spent his entire career criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
He added that 70 years after the creation of Israel “you’ve still got millions of Palestinian refugees living in squalor in Gaza and other refugee camps.”
The former London mayor was suspended last April for another year after being found to have brought the party into disrepute over his comments on Hitler and Zionism.
His suspension is to be extended beyond next month "pending the outcome of an internal party investigation."