Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ken Livingstone has appeared more than once on my weblog ( see here, here, here, and here ). When his suspension was suspended yesterday I did not feel a specific need to waste words on the man, except for the fact that I found it interesting, hearing and seeing Mr L. during his press conference, that he talked so much about pro-Israel activists accusing everyone who criticizes Israel of being an anti-Semite, whereas the incident with the Evening Standard journalist and the mayor's - suspended - suspension had not really anything to do with his continuous one-sided Israel-bashing. At least he did not directly accuse any Jewish cabal of plotting his downfall, maybe we should be grateful for that.
The abuse of the A-word ( and the H-word ) by rightwing Israelis when criticism of Israel is concerned is a subject that I have written about frequently. In the case of Ken Livingstone I have serious doubts, though. Whether his unhealthy obsession with everything Israeli is inspired by more than 'simple' anti-Zionism is not always very clear. The reason why I did decide to dedicate a posting to Mr L. today was this article on Ynet ( yes, sorry, that is an Israeli website ). A major Islamist cleric, Youssef Qaradawi, ranted once again about Israel and the Jews, saying things like "They [ local Muslims or Muslims in general ] must not allow anyone to take a single piece of land away from Islam. That is what we are fighting the Jews for. We are fighting them... Our religion commands us... We are fighting in the name of religion, in the name of Islam, which makes this Jihad an individual duty, in which the entire nation takes part, and whoever is killed in this [Jihad] is a martyr. This is why I ruled that martyrdom operations are permitted, because he commits martyrdom for the sake of Allah, and sacrifices his soul for the sake of Allah." Of course this is nothing new, the man really tells it like it is, not only about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but also about Iraq, Afghanistan and the war between the West and certain parts of the Muslim world. What is a bit troubling, though, is the fact that Mr Livingstone once called Qaradawi, who condones wife beating and defends the killing of gays, "a progressive figure who is moving that religion [ Islam ] in the correct direction", and "the most powerfully progressive force for change and for engaging Islam with western values". He even apologized to Qadawi on behalf of the people of London for "the outbreak of xenophobia and hysteria in some sections of the tabloid press which demonstrated an underlying ignorance of Islam", and accused MEMRI and - of course - Mossad of deliberately and falsely blackening the reputation of the respected Islamist scholar. Ken Livingstone and Youssef Qaradawi agree definitely when it comes to the legitimacy of Palestinian terror ( oops, resistance ) against Israelis. While Qaradawi does not approve of "martyr operations" against civilians, he certainly does not condemn such actions against Israeli civilians, as long as they are carried out within Israel or the territories: "I do agree with those who do not allow such martyr operations to be carried out outside the Palestinian territories. Instead we should concentrate on facing the occupying enemy directly. It is not permissible, as far as Islam is concerned, to shift confrontation outside the Palestinian territories." Londoners - Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and all others - should be proud and feel safe with a mayor who embraces such a cleric as someone who moves Islam in the correct direction.

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