(JTA) – Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London whose membership in the Labour Party has exposed the British political party to allegations of anti-Semitism, said he would leave it.
Livingstone has been suspended since 2016 over his repeated claims that Adolf Hitler was a supporter of Zionism.
“I am loyal to the Labour Party and to Jeremy Corbyn,” he said in a statement to the BBC, naming the man who has been the party’s leader since 2015. “However, any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies. I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.”
British Jews have accused Corbyn, a hard-left supporter who in 2009 called Hamas and Hezbollah representatives his “friends” whom he was “honoured” to host at the British Parliament, of whitewashing, encouraging or ignoring the party’s anti-Semitism problem.
Corbyn has vowed to kick out of the party anyone caught engaging in hate speech, including about Jews. But the Board of Deputies of British Jews have cited the failure to expel members like Livingstone, among other issues, as proof that Corbyn was failing to do so.
Speaking in April 2016, Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
Jeremy Corbyn said that Livingstone’s resignation was a “sad moment” but it was the “right thing to do,” the BBC reported.
But Joe Glasman, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism watchdog, said following the resignation that “the Labour Party is growing worse.” Corbyn, he said, has already rubbed salt into the wound” by expressing sadness and is promoting a defender of Livingstone, Martha Osamor, to the House of Lords, the parliament’s upper house.