Thanks Ken

London Mayor Ken Livingstone continues his insistence of speaking truth to power. Back in March, he labelled Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a “war criminal”. “Israel’s expansion includes ethnic cleansing. Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state”, he said.

Now, in the wake of the London bombings, Livingstone has told BBC News that Western policies in the Middle East have greatly contributed to Islamic anger. “I think you’ve just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil. We’ve propped up unsavoury governments, we’ve overthrown ones we didn’t consider sympathetic.”

He called Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza “border on crimes against humanity”. During an interview with Sky News – and despite the dishonest Haaretz headline – Livingstone said: “Given that the Palestinians don’t have jet planes, don’t have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons.” He also rightly suggested that, “Likud and Hamas members are two sides of the same coin. They need each other in order to attract support. Each side emphasizes the extremism of the other in order to attract sympathy.”

Jewish groups are outraged by the comments, of course and some have called for his resignation. He won’t and he shouldn’t.

I await a similarly prominent Australian leader to echo Livingstone’s comments.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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