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Sadiq Khan urged to apologise over ‘flowery rhetoric’ comments following Gove's speech on antisemitism

22 May 2024, 07:00

Sadiq Khan has been urged to apologise over ‘flowery rhetoric’ comments following Michael Gove's speech.
Sadiq Khan has been urged to apologise over ‘flowery rhetoric’ comments following Michael Gove's speech. Picture: Alamy

By Freddie Hall

Sadiq Khan should apologise for dismissing Michael Gove’s antisemitism warning as ‘flowery rhetoric’, campaigners have said.

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In response to what the Mayor of London told LBC, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) described Mr Khan’s comments as “extremely concerning” and accused him of “gaslighting” the Jewish community over the levels of antisemitism seen in London since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It comes after a speech in north London by the Communities Secretary in which Mr Gove suggested the UK was “descending into darkness”, likening the threats and abuse to Nazi Germany.

“We have seen where the unchecked growth of antisemitism has led in the past,” he said.

“We all know that what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. It’s an ironclad law of history that countries which are descending into darkness are those which are becoming progressively more unsafe for Jewish individuals and the Jewish community - the Spain of the Inquisition, the Vienna of the 1900s, Germany in the Thirties, Russia in the last decade.”

When asked if he agreed with the sentiment, Sadiq Khan brushed it off, saying he didn’t want to get involved in “flowery rhetoric”.

Speaking to LBC, Gideon Falter - Chief Executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism – said the Mayor’s comments were “completely inappropriate and he should apologise for them”.

Read more: 'Genuinely dangerous to be Jewish' near London's pro-Palestinian marches, Michael Gove says

It comes after Michael Gove suggested the UK was “descending into darkness” over antisemitism.
It comes after Michael Gove suggested the UK was “descending into darkness” over antisemitism. Picture: Alamy

"By reportedly dismissing this warning as mere 'flowery rhetoric', Mayor of London Sadiq Khan betrays either an ignorance of history or a callous indifference to what Jewish Londoners are experiencing right now", the CAA said.

Later in his speech, Communities Secretary Michael Gove said that the chant “From the River to the Sea”, heard at pro-Palestinian marches across UK, envisages the erasure of the Jewish people’s home.

Sadiq Khan said he agreed that demonstrators should rethink the use of the chant, acknowledging that it causes a great amount of anxiety among Jewish communities in London.

Mr Gove’s speech came on the same day a report by a Government adviser who has claimed “extreme political activists are targeting core elements of Britain’s democracy”.

Lord Walney warned demonstrations by ‘extreme’ groups should be restricted or banned, if organisations use criminal offences - such as the destruction of property or serious disruption - to influence public debate.

He also recommended that protest organisers should contribute to the costs of policing if they hold a significant number of large demonstrations that cause disruption or repeatedly break the law.

Read more: Relatives of hostages held by Hamas after October 7 attacks urge Israeli government to reach ceasefire

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