Labour Suspends Former London Mayor After He Said Hitler Supported Zionism

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Labour politician Kenneth Livingstone photographed in 2008.Credit: AP

Former London mayor and veteran Labour politician Ken Livingstone is the latest Labour politician to be suspended for controversial remarks on Zionism, one day after lawmaker Naz Shah's suspension for her anti-Israel comments.

Labour MPs called on Thursday to suspend Livingstone from the party after he rushed to his colleague's defense and allegedly calling Hitler a Zionist, the BBC reported.

Sky News said that Livingstone, a former lawmaker and mayor of London, had also angered colleagues by asserting Shah's remarks comparing Hitler's policies to those of Israel toward Palestinans and for suggesting Israel be relocated to the United States, were not anti-Semitic.

Shah had made these suggestions in social media posts two years ago before being elected to parliament, and apologized for them after a right-wing website posted about them in a blog on Tuesday.

Livingstone alleged there was a "well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticized Israeli policy as anti-Semitic," Sky News said.

In an interview with BBC, Livingstone also said that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”

Ten lawmakers including the London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, have since called for Livingstone’s removal from Labour.

MP John Mann shouted at Livingstone that he was a "******* disgrace." Khan has called the politician’s comments “appalling and inexcusable,” and demanded Livingstone’s expulsion from the party.

The former London mayor was accused by Labour MP John Mann of being a "Nazi apologist" as he arrived at the BBC's Westminster studios.

Lawmaker Jess Phillips has tweeted: "Ken Livingstone must be suspended from the Labour Party."

But Mr Livingstone stood by his comments, also insisting that ejected lawmaker Shah was not an anti-Semite. He cautioned against "confusing criticism of the Israeli government policy with anti-Semitism."

In 2005 Livingstone was also embroiled in an anti-Semitism row after asking Jewish reporter Oliver Finegold if he was a "German war criminal" and telling him: "You are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?"

A number of Labour MPs have called on the Labour leadership to crackdown on anti-Semitism in the party after a number of comments made by members after a wave of controversial remarks in the past couple of months.

Shah apologized on Wednesday for her comments, but was suspended after Prime Minister David Cameron added his voice to the controversy and called it "extraordinary" that action had not been taken against her.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of not taking firm enough action against anti-Semitism in the party, allegations which Livingstone has denounced as part of a smear campaign against the party leader.