by Justin Cohen
Sadiq Khan has spoken for the first time about the prospect of being barred from holding talks with counterparts in America should he become London mayor and Donald Trump wins the White House.
The Labour candidate for City Hall said he would like to visit America to “bat for London”, as well as to follow in the footsteps of Boris Johnson in leading a trade mission to Israel.
Speaking to the Jewish News at Chanukah in the Square, he said: ‘I’ll be the most pro-business mayor London’s ever had. That means going to visit Israel, America and other parts of the world in the middle east and elsewhere. That’s why the comments of Donald Trump are so divisive and so offensive because if he was to become, god forbid, the president of the United States of America, me as the Mayor of London couldn’t go to speak to the mayor of New York or the mayor of Chicago to discuss issues. What’s been great is the way the Jewish community has been outspoken in its criticism of the comments from Donald Trump.”
“In every community, in every faith, there are a small number who do things in the name of that faith but they don’t represent the entire faith. What’s been so disappointing about Donald Trump’s comments is that there are lots of American of Islamic faith – including members of my own family – who are American born and raised. What’s he implying by his comments? His comments don’t reflect those of the vast majority of Americans. I’m not going to judge all Americans by Donald Trump’s comments and I wish he wouldn’t judge all Muslims by the actions of a few terrorists.”
Saying the republican frontrunner “needs educating”, the Tooting MP said he would like to show Trump there are no no-go areas in the capital and introduce him to progressive Muslims “who love being British, love London but are proud of being Muslim too”. But he warned: “Some people use these comments to justify Islamophobic behaviour – language is important – when he says these sorts of things I’m afraid some people act on them.”
Khan, who is the bookmakers’ favourite for City Hall, is hoping to win support from members of the Jewish community despite tensions between the last Labour mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Anglo-Jewry and ongoing concern over Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Israel. But Khan said he had been met with “warmth and generosity” from Jewish Londoners and spoke of how he had broken his Ramadan fast on three occasions at synagogues. “Where else in the world can that happen?” he asked.
Turning his attention to the rise of anti-Semitism, he added: “It’s a source of embaressment and shame that in some schools in London in 2015 they need protection just because they’re jewish schools. Its’ a source of shame and embarrassment that in places of worship in London they need protection because they happen to be synagogues. Anti-Semitism will be unacceptable for me – it’ll be a priority for the police I’m in chage of.”
He urged the community to “judge me on my experiences, my record, judge me on how I treat people. I want to be everyone’s mayor – whether you’re Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, whether you’re not a person of an organised faith, whether rich, poor, old or young, north Londoner, south Londoner, east or west.”