Sadiq Khan has repeatedly clashed with Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey during a wide-ranging hustings for the community.
The two candidates were joined by the Green Party challenger Sian Berry and the Liberal Democrat hopeful Luisa Porrit for a lively Jewish Community Hustings event on Monday which saw subjects such as rising antisemitism and the capital’s housing crisis amongst the issues debated.
In one particularly feisty exchange Mr Khan heaped praise on the way “London’s Jewish community came to my defence during one of the most divisive campaigns London has seen in 2016, when I was attacked by Trump and the extreme right.”
Making direct reference to Mr Bailey he added:”The way the Tory candidate for mayor retweeted an Islamophobic tweet that called me, and I quote the ‘mad Mullah of Londistan'”
Mr Khan again thanked the Jewish community before adding:”That’s what Cable Street teaches us – solidarity. I am the keeper of my brother and sister. I am not going to walk on the other side of the road.
“I have seen too many examples over the past five years of Jewish people, of black people of Muslims of women, of many others being treated differently because of things outside their control. ”
Responding Mr Bailey, who said he would visit Israel in his first term if elected, said: “I think it’s important to clear up. When I retweeted that, what I retweeted was (in reference to the) failed bus contract. I wasn’t party to what other people wrote on it.”
In further clashes the Conservative candidate attempted to blame the Labour mayor for a variety of issues including housing shortages and a rise in crime.
Earlier all four candidates had given their backing to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Sian Berry proved particularly powerful in her defence of the definition, despite opposition to IHRA amongst many in the Green Party.
She said:”I think it is really important – just adopting it as a symbolic gesture isn’t really the point.
“The point is to use the examples and the definition to actually determine things. Within Camden we adopted the guidance and the definition within for holding public meetings.
“We had problems in the past in Camden with the far right trying to hire public buildings so we had this guidance. It has proved really successful with making sure when to draw the line. And when something is simply about free speech.
” It is a really useful thing and I think everybody should get more educated about. To me this all stems from this process of adopting and then using the examples. It is really important in recognising antisemitism and racism in general.”
Labour’s Mr Khan then praised Ms Berry’s response saying he agreed with her “very thoughtful answer.”
He then recalled how he had challenged former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over his failure to adopt IHRA in his party.
“I stood up to the party I belonged to and said you’re wrong,” he said. “The IHRA definition with examples is important.”
Earlier the Lib Dem candidate Ms Porritt said her own party had taken the lead “when the rapper Wiley did antisemitic tweets.”
She said:”My whole party joined in standing up online and boycotting social media platforms until they took action, which is something I personally advocated for.
“I know that as mayor the best thing I can do is to work with the Jewish community organisations cross the board.”
She praised the “amazing work” done by the Community Security Trust to protect buildings.
Mr Bailey repeated his demand for the banning of the annual Al Quds Day march in central London and repeated his opposition to Israel Apartheid Week on university campuses.
He also recalled a visit to Poland saying:”I remember being in Poland and being taken through 800 years of antisemitism, which even for someone like me was a surprise.”
Khan repeated his comments made last week to the Jewish News in which he confessed to seeking advice from the Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai and pledged to visit Israel in his second term.
Monday night’s event, which was organised by the London Jewish Forum, and hosted by Adrian Cohen. It was supported by the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies and media partnered by Jewish News.
You can rewatch the debate here:
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