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London mayor: Sharon a war criminal

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    Report: London mayor brands Sharon a war criminal Haaretz, Israel 04/03/2005 http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/548073.html The dispute between London
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2005
      Report: London mayor brands Sharon a war criminal
      Haaretz, Israel
      04/03/2005
      http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/548073.html


      The dispute between London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Britain's
      Jewish leaders was reignited Thursday night when Livingstone branded
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a war criminal, the Independent reported
      on Friday.


      Livingstone launched a provocative critique of Israel with
      accusations of "ethnic cleansing" and demonizing Muslims before
      calling for the imprisonment of Sharon, according to the British
      daily.

      He also claimed in his article that the Israeli government presented
      a "wholly distorted picture of racism and religious discrimination
      in Europe in order to convey the impression that Jews suffer most
      discrimination.

      "The reality is that the great bulk of racist attacks in Europe
      today are on black people, Asians and Muslims - and they are the
      primary targets of the extreme right."

      The comments were made two weeks after the London mayor
      controversially likened a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration
      camp guard.

      Livingstone has refused to apologize for his comments, repeatedly
      emphasising his anti-racist stance and denying that his words were
      anti-Semitic, the Independent reported.

      His comments on Israel came to light in a written response to
      criticism levelled at him by the Board of Deputies of British Jews
      which was published in Friday's Guardian.

      "Israel's expansion includes ethnic cleansing," he
      wrote. "Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were
      driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically
      cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state."

      He added: "Today the Israeli government continues seizures of
      Palestinian land for settlements, military incursions into
      surrounding countries and denial of the right of Palestinians
      expelled by terror to return.

      "Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is a war criminal who should
      be in prison not in office."

      In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the mayor's
      comments "aren't even worthy of an Israeli response."

      His comments are unlikely to ease already fraught relations between
      the mayor and the Jewish community in Britain.

      Tensions came to light last year when Livingstone invited the Muslim
      cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak at a conference in London, the
      Independent reported.

      However, at the crux of the current conflict are comments made last
      month by the mayor to Finegold, a reporter at the Evening Standard.
      His refusal to apologise for his remarks led to a media storm that
      culminated in the demand by Zvi Heifetz, Israel's ambassador to
      Britain, for an apology for "abusing" the memory of the six million
      Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

      "By using such flippant language, Livingstone not only seriously
      abused the memories of all those Jews who survived the concentration
      camps, but also the British troops who died fighting the Nazis and
      their families," he said.

      Livingstone has stood by his decision that he was not going to
      apologise for his words. At one stage, he said that his words
      were "not intended to cause offence" and had no intention of
      trivialising the Holocaust. But he added: "The form of words I have
      used are right. I have nothing to apologise for."

      On Thursday, there was again no sign of apology in Livingstone's
      comments.

      A spokesman for the Board of Deputies told The Guardian: "Once again
      the mayor has shown an inability to understand and show
      consideration for the Jewish community."

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