London mayor defends the use of Palestinian suicide bombers
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
Less than two weeks since the London terror attacks, the city's Mayor Ken Livingstone has sparked controversy by defending the use of suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and charging that Israel had indiscriminately slaughtered Palestinians in acts that "border on crimes against humanity."
"Given that the Palestinians don't have jet planes, don't have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons," Livingstone told Sky News in an interview.
"In an unfair balance, that's what people use," said Livingstone, who has often been strongly critical of Israel in the past.
On July 7, more than 50 people died in four London bombings believed to have been carried out by suicide terrorists.
At the time, Livingstone was uncompromising in his condemnation of the terror acts.
Livingstone said that Israel has "done horrendous things which border on crimes against humanity the way they have indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children in the West Bank and Gaza for decades."
Livingstone also said that he does not distinguish between members of Likud and Hamas, branding them "two sides of the same coin."
"I think it is the Israelis who are leading the stubborn line," said Livingstone. "The Likud and Hamas members are two sides of the same coin. They need each other in order to attract support."
"Each side emphasizes the extremism of the other in order to attract sympathy," Livingstone said.
Livingstone agreed to the interview in the wake of the media frenzy surrounding the possible visit of controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has voiced support for Palestinian suicide bombers and has been banned from entering the United States.
Livingstone denied that Qaradawi will visit London,.
"I believe it is forbidden to take human life," Livingstone said. "I will welcome and meet with senior members of the Israeli government if they come here because they serve their country's government even though I believe they have done terrible things bordering on crimes against humanity."
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA
To the Right Honourable Mayor of London, Mr Ken Livingstone:
I can imagine that your comments (as reported in Sky News, July 20, 2005) equating the Hamas and the Likud and justifying Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians have provoked considerable response. Accordingly, this letter may end up in the trash bin, but my hope is that either you, or one of your close aides, will nonetheless take the time to read it.
It is tragic that precisely at this momentous juncture in history, when leaders in the Muslim community in the UK and worldwide are at long last issuing unequivocal and unconditional fatwas against the murder of innocents, that a man in your position has once again found reason to condone the slaughter of my people.
From your equation of the Hamas with the Likud, one can only deduce that you are either ignorant of the historical facts and political realities of the conflict in the Middle East or impassioned by the blind hatred that has inspired so many totalitarian leaders throughout the ages to rationalise the extermination of Jews.
In the sincere hope that the moral flaw revealed through your statements is in the first category, may I remind you of the following:
- The so-called "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967 following a defensive war that saw Egypt blocking the Gulf of Aqaba and 500,000 troops from five Arab armies poised on Israel's borders with the publicly declared aim of its destruction.
- Following the conquest of these armies, Israel did what Egypt and Jordan-- the former "occupiers" of the West Bank and Gaza from 1949 -1967 who deliberately left the Palestinian refugees in squalor-- had never done; it built roads, hospitals. schools and housing. Having lived in Israel during that time period and having visited the territories, I can assure you there were no roadblocks, checkpoints or IDF raids. The Palestinians enjoyed the benefits of tourism and an unprecedented economic prosperity that continued until the outbreak of the Intifada. (It is for these economic reasons that 70% of Jerusalem Arabs are today opposed to giving up their Israeli citizenship to live under the corrupt rule of the PA).
- Hamas and Islamic Jihad are fundamentalist organizations that reject the concept of a two-state solution and the existence on a Jewish state. Its leaders, like the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, have publicly endorsed the murder of innocent Jews, in Israel and worldwide, as legitimate tools of resistance to the "occupation". (Take note that there are 26 states officially described as "Islamic" and that the tiny sliver of the Jewish State of Israel occupies but a fraction of a percent of these vast Arab lands stretching from Morocco to Iraq.) On the contrary the Likud is a nationalist political party that, in the past, has given up territories conquered in 1967 to make peace with Egypt and Jordan, and, on numerous occasions under different governments has-- unlike the Islamic terror groups you implicitly support-- accepted the notion of a two-state coexistence.
- Your spurious claim that a people without an army has no recourse but to target innocent civilians is outrageous and, as mentioned previously, reinforces a repugnant ideology that responsible Muslim leaders are only now attempting to repair. It may be somewhat understandable, though in my mind still unacceptable, to stage attacks on IDF troops stationed in what is perceived by the Palestinians as their land (technically, according to international law, it is not their land; as there never was a Palestinian state, it is legally speaking disputed rather than occupied territory.) How can any decent human being, however, justify the killing of innocent people in restaurants, busses, discotheques, synagogues and wedding halls? Furthermore, leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, who also lacked military forces at their disposal, managed to achieve independence through altogether non-violent means. If the Palestinians had had such leaders, an independent Palestinian state and peaceful co-existence would long ago have become realities rather than wistful dreams.
- Intelligence from all sources, Palestinian included, reveal that the Intifada ignited by the late Yasser Arafat begun in the year 2000 was not, as many mistakenly believe, in reaction to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount (Jewish people visit the Temple Mount all the time); but rather to Ehud Barak's offer to grant the Palestinians their very wish of an independent state on 99% of the territories with Jerusalem as its capital! Unable to co-exist with Israel, because of the same rejectionist philosophy that the Palestinian Authority, despite its public declarations, shares with its Islamofascist brethren, the response to a proposed two-state solution was the predictable bloodshed against hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children.
- Finally, the alleged "Jenin massacre", where the IDF at great risk to its safety fought dozens of jihadists in hand-to-hand combat in the casbah, was exposed by both UN and Palestinian sources to have been a fabricated media myth. Your declarations notwithstanding, I challenge you to find even a single instance where Palestinian civilians have been deliberately targeted by the IDF or one policy statement by the Israeli government that would endorse such killings. On the contrary, soldiers are periodically brought to trial in Israel when perceived individual violations do occur. In contrast, the murder of innocent Jews is the policy of the jihadist groups; those who commit such crimes, rather than being brought to trial, are exonerated and publicly lauded as "martyrs" with the great reward of 72 virgins in paradise.
Given these indisputable facts, your seeming ignorance of them precludes you from making any political commentary on the situation. In fact, in the opinion of many, an ignorance of these truths would debar you from political office entirely, particularly in a metropolitan city like London that has large Jewish and Moslem populations.
If, however, you are aware of these facts, your declaration equating the Likud with Hamas and the justification of Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians is nothing more than racial incitement. If that is the case, rather than occupying the mayoral seat of London, your place should be behind bars, where any criminal who foments the killing of innocent people belongs.
I hope that you, or some of your more responsible associates, will take the time to read this letter, and that you will reflect on the grievous error you have made. Your insidious statements demand nothing less than an immediate retraction and apology-- not only to the government of Israel but to all peace-loving peoples worldwide who eschew the ugly, murderous ideology of terrorism.
PO Box 222
Bangalow NSW 2479