London’s Muslim mayor reaffirms plan for Israel trip

(JTA) – Sadiq Khan, who was sworn in as London’s first Muslim mayor last week, reiterated plans to lead a trade delegation to Israel.

In an interview with London’s The Jewish News published Monday, Khan, the first Muslim mayor of any Western capital city and London’s first Labour Party mayor in eight years, also said he believes it is important to improve Jewish-Muslim relations in the UK capital. 

During his campaign, Khan criticized Labour for not doing enough to confront anti-Semitism among some of its members. Accusations of anti-Semitism have roiled his party in recent months, with dozens of members suspended in the past few weeks allegedly for making anti-Semitic remarks. London’s former Labour mayor, Ken Livingstone, was suspended for anti-Semitic remarks in late April following a series of interviews in which he claimed that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.

A self-described moderate Muslim, Khan took office on Saturday. He attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis the following day in his first official appearance as mayor.

“We’ve got to accept there are some people who say they’re Muslim, some people of the Jewish faith who don’t like the fact I’m here, that I’m sitting next to the chief rabbi,” he told The Jewish News.

“My message to those people is we live in the greatest city in the world and have to go get along. I’m the mayor of London, the most diverse city in the world, and I’ll be everyone’s mayor. No preferential treatment, but I have a role to build bridges. My signing-in ceremony was deliberately designed to show the sort of a mayor I’ll be and I started as I mean to go on.”

Asked when he will fulfill a campaign promise to visit Israel, Khan said, “I’ve not even had my first Monday at work to be fair, I’ve had six hours sleep since Wednesday. But I’m keen to make sure I’m the most pro-business mayor we’ve ever had and that means going on trade missions, including to Tel Aviv.”

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