20 July 2005
Mayor of London
London SE1 2AA
In my letter to you of 8 July I expressed, on behalf of the Jewish community, the shock and outrage felt by us all at the suicide bombings against innocent civilians in London. I went on to say that "there is no excuse for terrorism, and we can have no truck with those who seek in any way to justify it." In writing those words, I sought to express what I imagined we all felt and continue to feel about acts of terrorism. I did not think that sentiment was in any way contentious. Regrettably, it seems that in light of your recent comments, you do not agree with this basic principle of civilised society.
During your interviews with Sky News, Channel 4 News and the BBC Today programme, you referred to factors which you felt had prompted the London attacks and, notwithstanding those factors, you rightly condemned the bombings. In startling contrast, you cited factors behind Palestinian militancy and yet, rather than condemn terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens, you consider them to be excused by those factors. Once again you also referred in approving terms to Sheikh al-Qaradawi who, on his own website, not only justifies suicide bombings but also calls upon Palestinians, by a fatwa, to lay down their lives in order to murder Israeli civilians, men women and children.
I stood with you at Trafalgar Square last Thursday and, along with many Londoners, I had hoped that the awful events of 7 July would have underscored the fact that such repugnant attacks on civilians must be condemned, wherever they take place in the world, but this clearly seems not to be your view.
I understand that the Mayor of Jerusalem wrote to you last week to offer his condolences and sympathies and also to offer practical assistance for the victims of the London bombings. From what you say about attacks on Israelis, the inevitable conclusion must be that if a similar outrage was perpetrated in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel, you would offer no such message of support and condolence.
I must also refer to your extremely worrying comment about "young Jewish boy[s] in this country... killing many Palestinians". Your statement is highly irresponsible and directly links involvement in the tragic conflict in the Middle East with British citizens purely by reason of their faith. I really have to question how you, as the elected representative of Londoners, can act so rashly, when we are all working so hard alongside other communities to counter the spurious connections being made between decent law-abiding British citizens of all faiths and the troubling events in other parts of the world.
If you retain any regard for the Jewish community in London you will let me have your response as a matter of urgency.
Henry Grunwald QC
Notice - This letter has been reproduced with permission from the BOD. A PDF is available on their website (Board of Deputies Letter to Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London).
Why I am a Zionist
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Do not treat Israel like apartheid South Africa - The comparison with South Africa is intellectually lazy, morally questionable, and possibly even mendacious
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