LONDON - U.K. Jewish leaders reacted with outrage to the latest comments of London mayor Ken Livingstone, and called him "a lackey of the Muslim agenda" in Great Britain and said he has "always had this extremist hatred of Jews and Israelis."
Their reactions came in response to comments by Livingstone Tuesday where he seemed to suggest he backs Palestinian terrorists.
"He is a lackey of the Muslim agenda in this country," Jon Benjamin, director general of The Board of Deputies, elected leadership of the U.K. Jewish community, told Ynetnews Wednesday. "Livingstone is prepared to say anything for his support base.”
Benjamin said the mayor’s comments verge on incitement.
“We are outraged,” he said.
Benjamin said there is a sharp contrast between Livingstone’s "watery eyes and quivering lips" following the London terror attacks on July 7 and now.
"He differentiates between terror in Britain and Israel. He’s clearly going on the offensive,” Benjamin said.
On Tuesday, Livingstone held a press conference in which he justified Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, saying, “The Palestinians don’t have jets and bombs, they only have their bodies to use as weapons."
Livingstone also compared Hamas to the ruling Likud party and laid into Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who as defense minister managed Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Israeli's ambassador in London Zvi Heifetz responded to Livingstone's comments by saying it is "outrageous that the same mayor who rightfully condemned the suicide bombing in London as 'perverted faith,' defends those who, under the same extremist banner, kill Israelis."
"Differentiating between the victims based on their nationalities is nothing short of shameful," Heifitz said. "Terror is terror - and nothing the mayor can say will change that."
Benjamin said there is an alarming difference between the Jewish community’s attempts to defend innocent Britons of all religions following the London terror attacks, and statements made by British Muslim leaders and London’s mayor.
“We are willing to speak against attacks on Muslims and are trying to prevent a backlash against the Muslim community here,” he said. “Yet we are seeing spokespeople for the Muslim Council of Britain, supposedly a moderate organization, justifying terror attacks in Israel, while denouncing the London bombers, which are an embarrassment to them. Livingstone is taking the same line.”
Benjamin said Livingstone is justifying statements by Yussuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood cleric in Qatar who promotes Palestinian suicide bombings.
“Qaradawi and many others would denounce suicide bombings outside of the Middle East, but not in Israel,” Benjamin said.
Mayor backs radical cleric
Henry Grunwald, the board’s president, said in a statement that “it is absurd that the mayor should parrot Qaradawi’s apologia for the indiscriminate mass murder of Israeli civilians.”
Speaking to Channel 4 News on Tuesday evening, Livingstone described Qaradawi as “one of the most progressive Islamic theologians in the world.“
When asked about the cleric's support for Palestinian suicide terrorism, Livingstone answered by saying that “Qaradawi is not prepared to say that Palestinians cannot fight back. And he makes it quite clear that he would much prefer that the Palestinians had the jet engines, the jet planes, and tanks….but they only have their bodies.”
Livingstone said a double standard has "infected" the way people view Britons who may join the IDF or embark on jihadist activities.
“If a young Jewish boy in this country goes and joins the Israeli army, and ends up killing many Palestinians in operations and can come back, that is wholly legitimate," he said. "But for a young Muslim boy in this country, who might think: I want to defend my Palestinian brothers and sisters and gets involved, he is branded as a terrorist. And I think it is this that has infected the attitude about how we deal with these problems.”
Ronnie Fraser, chairman of the group Academic Friends of Israel, said Livingstone's comments highlighted a tendency for extremist Islamist rhetoric to pass for mainstream discourse.
"The fact that he can get away with this says something about mainstream British society, where attitudes towards Israel have become anti-Semitic," Fraser told Ynetnews. "Ken Livingstone has always had this extremist hatred of Jews and Israelis. Why should we surprised? He has always been consistent in this."
Palestinian refugees an 'Islamic wound'
Livingstone said the “dispossession of the Palestinians” is an “Islamic wound.”
He added that the ongoing American and British campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as the effort to build a democratic government in Iraq have not quelled Muslim anger.
He concluded his press conference by saying that “what’s important is to not alienate Muslim opinion any further."