Voice of the Jewish News: Ken’s end brings relief more than joy
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Voice of the Jewish News: Ken’s end brings relief more than joy

This week's editorial reflects on the departure of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party

Ken On the tube, being interviewed by the Jewish News's Justin Cohen
Ken On the tube, being interviewed by the Jewish News's Justin Cohen

Whisper it quietly, but on some things Ken Livingstone was right. His campaigning for LGBT rights in the 1970s, for instance, while provoking angry comments from Londoners at the time, proved him on the right side of history, and should be applauded.

Perhaps it went to his head, because it was his cynical, selective and wholly misplaced history lesson on live radio two years ago that so offended Jews up and down the land, regardless of their political stripe.

The MPs who waved goodbye to the former London mayor this week made two points, both of which we agree with. The first is that Ken should have been expelled two years ago. The second is that this is not the end of it. Labour has to do more. It has to cleanse itself not just of the people who hold such views but of the views themselves.

The goodwill has gone, such that Ken’s exit this week was more a moment of pain-relief than of joy. Labour is the ideological home of the progressive, but for Jews that home no longer feels safe. It is the job of the Labour leadership to make it such once again. Ken’s exit is a start.

The tone of our debate

When the leader of progressive Judaism in the UK warns that the way we disagree with each other risks ripping apart the Jewish community, you listen. That was exactly the caution from Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner this week. Intra-communal tensions have been high – when are they not in the Jewish community? That we differ isn’t bad.

Yes, the judgement of those that took part in the Kaddish for Gaza must be seriously and severely questioned. What a foolish thing to do after Hamas confirmed most of the victims were its terrorists, intent on murder.

Janner-Klausner’s point is that the way we’re treating those we disagree with is now so odious as to be turning people away from the community, away from Judaism, likely lost forever.

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