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The Ken issue

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2005-02-22

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

What is really a personal matter between London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Associated Newspapers seems to have escalated all out of proportion and what is being talked about as anti-Semitism is not really the issue.

There is no denying that what he said to a Jewish journalist is offensive, that is comparing what he is doing with that of being a concentration camp guard, but was Ken being anti-semitic?
Ken has a long history of conflict with Associated Newspapers and some of its publications including the Daily Mail.  Ironically, a few years ago Ken was writing for the Evening Standard and is said to have made over £30,000 from them.  Strange that while he has held deep feelings against the Associated Newspaper owners that he felt comfortable enough to write for them and make money out of them?
But that is one side issue.  The important issue is that this is a personal matter being played out in public between himself and the owners of Associated Newspapers and using anti-semitism as the issue.
Ken is far from being anti-semitic.  In fact, calling him anti-semitic degrades what anti-semitism is about.
Ken may be pig headed, he may be left-wing, he may also sometimes let his own ego get the better of him.
But he is not an anti-semite.
Do we need to drag this issue on and on.  Isn't it time to actually move on and focus on real issues of concern rather than a personal issue between Ken and Associated Newspapers.
Ken has said:  "I wish to say to those Londoners that my words were not intended to cause such offence and that my view remains that the holocaust against the Jews is the greatest racial crime of the 20th century.’
Ken has admitted that his words can be seen as causing offence, but they were in context to his feelings about the newspaper group he has an issue with.
For me and for many Jews in London and indeed across the UK that is good enough.
We need to focus on far more important issues facing the Jewish community in London and indeed the UK.
The real rise of anti-semitism and hate crimes against Jews, the poverty that is facing members of our community and also the internal fighting and bickering between various sections of the Jewish community.
These are real and more important than a personal comment that has nothing to do with anti-semitism.