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Tuesday 5 June 2007

Ken Livingstone visit to Sternberg Centre

Livingstone knocks them in the Aisles – Adrian Needlestone

He is the original cheeky chappie of politics. A self-proclaimed rascal
whom everyone loves. Ken Livingstone is like a professional boxer who
telegraphs his punches the only difference being we the victims don't
want to get out of the way

The contest at the Sternberg Centre on Wednesday was a no contest. In
one corner an invited audience of Reform and Liberal Jews plus assorted
movement bigwigs. In the other corner was Livingstone.

After the usual formalities were completed by the movement leaders the
Mayor Of London took the stage. He immediately told it "like it is," but
in such a charming style one was reminded of the story of the King's New
Clothes. You thought you were hearing and seeing something different.

It wasn't like our Ken didn't give fair warning as he threw his
haymakers: "I have been a professional politician for 36 years," he told
his audience. code for: if a liberal open minded group seeking common
ground think they can get the better of me they are on another planet.

That was exactly what the audience thought. A series of potential
embarrassing questions had been submitted to the chair before the
meeting but Livingstone swatted them away like flies
On anti Semitism he said he wasn't, probably true. On the whole he has
an aversion to journalists of any religious persuasion and none. On
Israel, he was a friend but a concerned critic, doubtful.

It wasn't until the arranged questions had literally run their full
course that Livingstone was made to feel a little uncomfortable when a
member of the audience went into an eloquent rant pointing out that not
only was the Mayor no friend of Israel but he had pointedly said that if
60 years ago we could see what was happening to day it would have been
better if the state hadn't come into existence.

A roar of approval supported by thunderous handclapping rose from the
body of the floor. But it was a little late in the night for the mouse
to roar, and the sound soon dissipated.

The evening was capped off by Reform movement leader Rabbi Tony
Bayfield in his winding up address saying he was "pleased to hear that
Ken was against the boycott of Israel," when what Livingstone in fact
had said was he was against the boycott of Israel, "at the moment,"
because "unlike South Africa there were still a lot of avenues to try."

Doesn't evenhandedness suggest that if a boycott can ever be considered
than the Palestinians must be considered equally culpable? No mention of
that from Ken.

At the conclusion of the evening all adjourned for drinks and biscuits.
Most of the young people in the audience swarmed round Livingstone as
they scoffed their Jaffa Cakes. The young can spot a visionary miles
away. Too bad when it comes to Israel the Mayor is myopic.


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