LONDON (AA) – Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has suspended a former mayor of London over a media interview in which he described Hitler as a Zionist.
Ken Livingstone, who served as the U.K. capital city’s first mayor and is a member of the party’s main decision-making body, was suspended amid claims Labour has become tolerant of anti-Semitism among its membership.
The former mayor made his remarks Thursday to support another Labour lawmaker, Naz Shah, who herself was suspended the previous day over allegations of making anti-Semitic remarks on social media.
Livingstone told BBC radio Thursday that he had never heard anyone in the Labour Party say anything anti-Semitic.
He continued: “Let’s remember, 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 6 million Jews.”
A Labour spokesman said Livingstone had been suspended for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
Shah was suspended from the party Wednesday for a 2014 Facebook post in which she shared a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed onto a map of the United States with the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”. Shah commented underneath: “Problem solved”.
The two are the most senior figures to be suspended in a growing controversy over Labour’s to the Jewish community. David Abrahams, a party donor, said the growth of anti-Semitism in the party was “a plague that has to be stamped out”.
He told the U.K.-based Jewish News: “Jews and others with values and principles need to work together within the movement to stop the rot.”
Livingstone served as the first mayor of London from 2000 until he lost re-election to Conservative Boris Johnson in 2008.