‘We’re worried about the Labour Party, not a Muslim mayor’

May 8, 2016  

Rabbi Yonatan Abraham, the head of London’s rabbinic court and Vice President of the European Jewish Congress, responded on Saturday night to news that Labour UK candidate Sadiq Khan had been certified winner of London’s mayoral election.

Khan, the first Muslim Mayor of London, won the election after eight years of Conservative control, despite ongoing scandals involving anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

Rabbi Abraham acknowledged the Jewish community’s anxiety over the election, but emphasized that the concerns were not targeted at Khan personally or his religion.

“We’re worried more by the fact that a Labour man was chosen than the fact that he is a Muslim,” said Rabbi Abraham.

“The Labour Party concerns us, since there are people within it who have shown themselves to be very hateful of Israel.”

Abraham tempered his criticism, however, suggesting that Khan would expand welfare services and benefit lower income residents.

“We also have to remember that Labour is a left-wing party, one which is headed by [Jeremy] Corbyn, a left-wing radical; in that sense the party supports less fortunate sectors of the population and the poor, and favors providing extensive [welfare] benefits to people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale. In that sense, I think that as the mayor-elect, Khan actually may be able to do a great deal for the less-fortunate.”

“The fact that Sadiq Khan is a member of a minority group is a good thing, and there’s no reason to worry about him discriminating against the Jewish community in any way, God forbid. Let’s not forget that the mayoral election was between a man who came from the people – that is to say… a self-made man who worked as a lawyer  – and a man born of great wealth,” a reference to Khan’s election opponent, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.

Noting Goldsmith’s Jewish heritage, Abraham emphasized that the election was over policy, not the religion of the candidates.

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