Well, I’ve just come back from the launch of the London Jewish Forum. Wine was excellent, the latkes were nice, but there weren’t enough of them. Far too much fishy stuff (salmon, I think) which I don’t eat.
Mayor Ken Livingstone gave a speech (the event was hosted at City Hall). That was the most interesting part.
He said London was second only to the United States in it’s diversity and tolerance of wave after wave of immigrant community. Contrasted with other parts of the country, the Capital was almost unique in letting people express their identities without interference. This is true, and I think he is quite right when he says this is London’s stregnth. This is not because of any policy he has made, he says, but because of something in the hearts of Londoners. Rousing stuff, and a reminder that when Ken hits his stride, he does have the power to move those hearts.
That he has an affection for London is beyond dispute. But there was a surprise.
He apologised for the offense he caused over the “nazi camp guard” jibe. He quoted a rabbi who said “Ken’s no antisemite, he’s just very rude”. He did not dispute this estimation. Ah, ‘the lovable rogue’ ploy. But I think this was a big step and I’m glad he took it.
Of course, the issue of Israel came up, and he explained that he will have differences with many in the Jewish community on that issue, but likened it to his disagreement with Tony Blair on foreign policy, saying that didn’t stop him working with the Prime Minister on other important issues, like housing. But his closing remark made me double-take and ask the people standing next to me if I’d heard correctly. I had.
Ken Livingstone says he supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. An equitable, viable two-state solution. Something else I agree with.
I guess in some people’s book, that would make him a “Zionist”. Apparently it made me one.