Ex-London Mayor Livingstone Blames Jewish Paper for Downfall, Though BBC Reported His Hitler Was Zionist Claim First

Labour's Ken Livingstone says Jewish Chronicle's 'lie' was what 'caused offense,' even though the paper covered his comments days after other major news outlets.

Ken Livingstone, defeated mayoral candidate, speaks after losing the 2012 London mayoral election at City Hall, in London, U.K. on Friday, May 4, 2012.
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The U.K.'s Jewish Chronicle published "a lie" that brought about Ken Livingstones' fall from grace in the Labour Party, the disgraced former London mayor claimed this week, despite the fact that the Jewish paper was not the first to report his outlandish claim that Hitler was a Zionist.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Livingstone said "What caused offense were those people who opened the pages of the Jewish Chronicle and saw the claim I said Hitler was a Zionist, the claim I said Jews were the same as Nazis and one week later the article saying I had said that hating Jews in Israel wasn't anti-Semitic," said Livingstone. "None of that is true."

Perhaps most puzzling about his accusation is the fact that Livingstone originally made his controversial comments not to the Jewish Chronicle, but in an interview with the BBC, saying Hitler "was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews"

Full interview: Ken Livingstone refuses to back down from 'Zionist Hitler' comments, says sorry for furor caused

They comments covered extensively by a number of news outlets before being published by the Jewish Chronicle, its editor Stephen Pollard said.

Pollard wasn't shy to question the former mayor's intention in a statement responding to the accusation. Explaining the Jewish Chronicle's printing schedule and the timing of Livingstone's comment to the BBC, Pollard pointed out that "it was not until a week after Mr. Livingstone had first started speaking about Hitler that the JC was first able to cover it in print.

"And yet somehow... he has decided it is all the Jewish Chronicle's fault. One might wonder what conclusion can be drawn from that."

Livingstone was suspended from Labour in April 2016 for his comments and reaffirmed his belief that Nazis had supported Zionism in a BBC interview in September. The former mayor is currently undergoing a series of hearings to determine whether he will be expelled from Labour and just last week, on his way to a hearing, said that: "Right up until the start of the Second World War," there was "real collaboration" between Jews and Nazis.

“The [Nazi] SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country," the Independent quoted him as saying.

"Mr. Livingstone is entirely the author of his own downfall (if indeed he is expelled from Labour)," said Pollard in his statement. "He had the opportunity to apologize and say his history had been confused. Instead, he doubled down, taking every opportunity to mention Hitler and the Zionists in his interviews - an opportunity he still continues to seize, convinced it seems that he is right and every serious historian wrong," he said.

"It's somewhat surreal to be accused by Ken Livingstone of fomenting an uproar against him by ... reporting his words," read the statement. "Mr. Livingstone's version of this very recent history appears to be as accurate as his version of 1930s and 40s history." 

While he has repeatedly defended his comments, Livingstone's accusation against the Jewish Chronicle on Tuesday was not the first time he has denied calling Hitler a Zionist, though he failed to explain discrepancy.

"I am being attacked by the right-wing of the Labour Party because I support Palestinian human rights and strongly back our leader Jeremy Corbyn," Livingstone claimed last week, adding that he "did not say or suggest that Hitler was a Zionist."