Sadiq Khan has “probably watched the large turnouts at last weekend’s pro-Palestinian protests in the capital and decided he must be, if not on the right side of history, then at least on the right side of voters’ judgement”, writes Tom Harris in the Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt.
The Israel/Hamas conflict presents a number of problems for today’s politicians, particularly in terms of language. How to criticise one side or the other without sounding like you’re taking sides? For those of us who are unapologetic supporters of Israel, the problem is less acute: Hamas are terrorists (as has been proved in the last three weeks) and must be neutralised; Israel has the same right as any other sovereign nation to defend itself against such terror.
But if you’re a mainstream politician, particularly on the Left, the task is that much more difficult. Keir Starmer has (so far) managed to stick by his robust support for Israel; others in his party, not so much. And among those “others” we find the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. In a video to his followers on Twitter/X, Khan has called for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. As with all carefully tested public positions, this is aimed at sounding eminently reasonable. Who could possibly object to an end to the killing in Gaza?
Sadly, calls for ceasefires are often thinly-veiled demands for Hamas not to be pursued. They are feints by which Israel’s critics seek to camouflage their denial of that nation’s right to security with candy-coated soundbites which, far from being the usual meaningless word salad of insubstantiality so favoured by politicians in a tight spot, actually say something important. And wrong. What, after all, is a demand for a ceasefire other than the notion that Israel cannot hound down the terrorists who oversaw such carnage on its southern border?
Lest Khan be accused of denying Israel’s right to defend itself, he explicitly states that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. So that’s that covered, then. He immediately goes on to warn Israel that it must respect international law – a criticism used by Israel’s opponents. Somewhat optimistically, he demands that the international community has a role to play in preventing the cycle of violence continuing. Its track record here is not particularly impressive, however.
Ironically, the “cycle of violence” that Khan deplores cannot end while the Islamist terrorists of Hamas continue to operate in Gaza and continue to be invited to present their vile antisemitic case to foreign Governments like Russia. In what way would allowing the culprits of the October 7th attacks to regroup and refresh themselves contribute to peace? This is an organisation committed to the murder of every Jew it can find – does Khan think there is something that should be discussed with them once the bullets and bombs have ceased?
This is a politician who, as a Labour MP, nominated none other than Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015. Let us not misjudge his motivations in that particularly egregious political misjudgment: he did so – as did all the then Labour MPs vying to be the candidate for London mayor (including the current shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy) – in order to ingratiate himself with the great swathe of Left-wing party members who would decide the outcome.
Worth reading in full.