Ken Livingstone, who was investigated but only lightly punished by the Labour Party for his repeated claims that Hitler “was supporting Zionism”, has participated in a special programme on Iranian propaganda station Press TV. Press TV was stripped of its broadcasting licence by Ofcom but Mr Livingstone was invited onto a show disseminated via social media, apparently to coincide with Holocaust commemoration ceremonies.
The programme began with a sickening propaganda introduction by presenter Roshan Muhammed Salih, who asked callers to call in and debate whether the Holocaust has become a weapon used by Israel, “with the accusation of antisemitism regularly thrown at its enemies”, or whether “the memory of the Holocaust has been exploited for political or financial gain” and “corrupted Jewish culture”.
Callers repeatedly claimed that Holocaust commemoration is used as a clever political device to distract from the supposed oppression of the Palestinians and to benefit “Zionists” without being challenged.
One caller from the UK, Maisoon, said that the word “Holocaust” had been “manipulated by the Jews”. She berated Mr Livingstone for talking about antisemitism because she accused him of failing to “mention the fact that Palestinians and Arabs are Semites”. Mr Livingstone only challenged her when she said that she did not distinguish between Jews and Zionists, at which point Mr Livingstone told her about the large number of anti-Zionist Jews that he said he knows.
Asked by Mr Salih why there are so many films about the Holocaust and not about the Palestinians, Mr Livingstone claimed that “anyone doing a film about that is going to be announced [sic] antisemitic”.
In a repetition of his previous claims, Mr Livingstone also said that when he was suspended by the Labour Party for claiming that Hitler “was supporting Zionism”, he “couldn’t walk down the street without Jewish people coming up to [him] and saying ‘We know all this is true, what is all this about? Don’t these MPs read their history?’ It’s not about antisemitism, it’s about political struggle inside the Labour Party.”
The presenter, Mr Salih, continually repeated the message that the Palestinians are being made to pay for the Holocaust and that modern “Zionists” are benefitting from the fact that the Holocaust happened. He also attempted to compare the Vietnam War with the Holocaust but Mr Livingstone took issue with that on the basis that the Vietnam War “was not a genocide”. Mr Livingstone also felt the need to contest Mr Salih’s wondering aloud whether two million, four million or six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, stating that the only “credible” number he had heard was six million.
Mr Salih also appeared to take up a position as an apologist for Hamas when blogger Richard Millett called the show to point out that the Hamas Charter proclaims that “The hour of judgement shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them”. Mr Salih cut Mr Millett off, chuckling incredulously: “Hamas do not call for the death of every single Jew in their charter, that is complete nonsense. They have a problem with Israel and the Jews who have come to that part of the world to take their land.” Mr Livingstone did not interject.
Mr Livingstone was investigated by the Labour Party in April last year over his claims that Hitler “was supporting Zionism”, but his punishment was so extraordinarily light that we branded it the Labour Party’s “final act of brazen, painful betrayal”. 107 Labour MPs subsequently wrote that they “will not allow it to go unchecked” but then they mostly fell silent.
It is despicable that Mr Livingstone participated in such a programme during Holocaust commemorations for the state-run propaganda outlet of a regime that even holds a Holocaust denial cartoon competition and has repeatedly threatened to bring about a new Holocaust. He should not have sat passively whilst the host and callers repeatedly accused Holocaust commemorations of being a means of justifying the supposed oppression of Palestinians. Every day that Mr Livingstone remains a member of the Labour Party is a further disgrace.