Thursday, March 02, 2006

DAVID HIRSH ON KEN LIVINGSTONE

Over at the Engage website, David Hirsh gives Ken a right royal roasting - What is Ken Livingstone Up To?:
In today’s Guardian, Livingstone portrays himself as the victim of an undemocratic coup. “The fundamental issue” he writes, “in this whole affair is not whether or not I was "insensitive", it is the principle that those whom the people elect should only be removed by the people or because they have broken the law.”

Who is behind the undemocratic coup? In recent days Livingstone’s attack has shifted from Associated Press to the Board of Deputies for British Jews, because the Board was one of the organisations that referred his absurd and eccentric behaviour, and his wilful failure to apologise, to the Standards Board.

The Board of Deputies, he argued at his press conference yesterday, has pursued this vendetta because Livingstone is critical of the Israeli government.

"For far too long the accusation of anti-semitism", writes Livingstone in today’s Guardian, "has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been." Notice the use of the passive – "has been used". This circumlocution enables Livingstone to make an accusation without saying who he is accusing. The perpetrators of this crime of accusation are left hanging – left to our imagination. He is talking about “the Zionists” and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Livingstone does more than "criticise the policies of the Israeli government". For thirty years now, he has been part of a movement in the UK that seeks to demonize Israel as a pariah state and that seeks to hold "the Zionists" responsible for much that goes wrong in the world. In the 1980s Livingstone was associated with the Workers Revolutionary Party – a party that railed against global Zionist conspiracies and that was partly financed by the Libyan state.

This is why Livingstone is happy to treat the antisemite Qaradawi as an honoured guest. This is why Livingstone is happy to employ low-level racist abuse against a Jewish journalist even when he has been told that the journalist finds this offensive. This is why Livingstone chose to make such a big issue out of this story rather than back down quickly and pragmatically. This is why he reacted with a tirade against Sharon to claims that his conduct was offensive. This is why he opposes suicide bombing of buses in London but excuses the suicide bombing of buses in Tel Aviv.
Good stuff. Read it all.

And a letter in today's Times made me chuckle:
On appeal

Sir, Presumably Ken Livingstone’s statutory appeal (report, Mar 1) has been brought before a democratically elected judge?
Heh.




UPDATE (5:26pm 02/03/2006)

David T of Harry's Place makes a very good point in the comments over at Engage:
I do, however, think that constitutional machinery which removes - or perhaps even censures - elected representatives who have acted in an offensive manner to cultural groups, merely encourages cultural groups to outcompete each other in registering their offence. The politics of offence has a uniquely corrosive nature.

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