Sadiq Khan: ‘You can be passionate about Palestinian rights AND condemn Hamas’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Sadiq Khan: ‘You can be passionate about Palestinian rights AND condemn Hamas’

London mayor pledges to create a Transport Hate Crime Taskforce to tackle antisemitic crime in the capital at packed London Jewish Forum mayoral election event at JW3

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Picture: X/JW3
Picture: X/JW3

Sadiq Khan has addressed a packed mayoral election event with the Jewish community, insisting: “I can say quite frankly and unequivocally it is possible to be somebody who is passionate about the rights of the Palestinians, and to condemn unequivocally the atrocities committed by the terrorist group Hamas.”

In an opening statement to the audience at JW3 at the latest London Jewish Forum (LJF)  breakfast event, the Mayor of London said he had not met a Jewish Londoner unaffected by the events of 7 October, and admitted “fear” was still present over the impact of the massacre on Israel six months later.

Khan added: “All of us, whether Muslim, Jewish or any other faith, are praying for the safe return of the hostages still being kept by Hamas. ”

Asked directly about the negative impact that near weekly pro-Palestinian demos were having on the community, along with claims policing of them could be tougher, the mayor pointed to the fact that there had been around 1000 arrests, both for incidents impacting on the community and since the protests begun after 7 October.

Packed audience for Sadiq Khan London Jewish Forum mayoral election event at JW3

He said some of these arrests had been made as a result of footage placed up on social media, which could be “distressing” to the community who feared action was not being taken.

“To reassure you, the police are taking action,” said the mayor. “It’s important though, that politicians aren’t telling the police who to arrest, and so forth.

“There has got to be operational independence. Because what’s to stop somebody else who we dont like as a politician telling the police who to arrest.

“It’s a really important rule, and I’m afraid we’ve got national politicians who are giving the impression that the reason why police aren’t arresting is because the mayor happens to be a Muslim and he’s telling the police to go soft. That is not the case.”

But Khan also openly criticised the conduct of some of those attending pro-Palestine demos who used banners and placards, or chants, that while not breaking the law, did “cause anxiety and distress to neighbours and colleagues.

“Whether it’s projecting things onto the side of Big Ben, these kind of things, you may not be breaking the law, but why do that when you are causing distress, anxiety and fear to your friends , neighbours and colleagues.”

Khan added, in responser to the question from Brent councillor Neil Nerva, “Particularly, because once the conflict is over, and God willing it will be over, we have got to carry on being friends, neighbours and colleagues.”

He also stressed he was not someone who said one thing to one audience, and something else to another.

JW3 chief executive Raymond Simonson introduces Sadiq Khan at packed London Jewish Forum mayoral election event

The mayor also responded to a question about the annual Al Quds Day march in London and concerns about support for proscribed organisations, saying he would raise the issue in a meeting scheduled to be held with home secretary James Cleverly in the forthcoming week.

In response to a question put to him by respected Board of Deputies representative Jerry Lewis, the mayor also confirmed he had been due to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories during his current term in City Hall, but that trip had been postponed due to the impact of the pandemic.

But on the prospect of rearranging a visit to the region if he is re-elected the  mayor said he would be “keen to go, as soon as we possibly can.”

LJF has staged events, partnered by Jewish News, with all of the candidates taking part in the mayoral election on 2 May, but with the Liberal Democrat candidate still to have their event, it was clear that Khan, seeking to become mayor for a third time in the capital, who attracted the biggest turn-out, at an event starting at 7.30am.

Acknowledging that London’s cohesion and diversity was placed under severe strain in the aftermath of 7 October, Khan noted the “public transport isn’t as safe as it should be for Jewish Londoners” and he pledged to create a Transport Hate Crime Taskforce to tackle hate crime on London’s transport network

He said he had been informed of a “heartbreaking story of Jewish Londoners travelling between Stamford Hill and Golders Green who had been on the receiving end of antisemitism in Finsbury Park.”

The task force will help Jewish and Muslim communities to identify areas of risk and plan improvements, he said, noting that new CCTV cameras had just been installed at north London bus stops.

Work already underway includes responding to concerns raised by Jewish community groups around safety in Finsbury Park, when travelling between Stamford Hill and Golders Green.

Extra patrols have also been arranged and additional bus shelter CCTV cameras fitted at Finsbury Park Station for onward routes to Stamford Hill (253 and 254), sending real time footage to MPS and TfL.

Khan said: ‘No part of London should feel unsafe or unwelcoming to any Londoner, especially our busy transport network. There has been a deeply worrying rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime in London and across the country since 7 October, and we need to do everything we possibly can to address this.

“TFL and the police have been doing all they can to target offenders, but there’s always more we can do. We need to be even more proactive in preventing incidents happening in the first place and targeting the worst hotspots. This new Task Force will work directly with London’s public bodies, helping them bear down hard on violence, hate and intimidation, particularly against women and girls.

“This will always be a priority for me as Mayor. There must never be any complacency when it comes to fighting hate crime across our city.”

There was also a further £250,000 of extra funding pledged for organisations combating hate – on top of the £14.8 million Khan has  invested in helping victims of hate crime and combating hate.

In response to further questions, Khan expressed solidarity with the Union of Jewish Students after president Edward Isaacs spoke of the weak response his organisation had received from other student bodies after seeking allyship in the face of rising antisemitism.

Khan also praised the significant contribution of female voices in both the Jewish and Muslim communities in seeking to unite rather than further divide communities here in response to the events in the Middle East.

The mayor also spoke of his plan for more affordable housing, and expressed his support for Jewish Labour councillor Joshua Garfied, who was subjected to antisemitic taunts at a recent Newham Council meeting.

Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall had appeared at Monday’s LJF breakfast event, with the Liberal Democrat challenger Rob Blakie answering questions on Thursday.

Last week saw Green candidate Zoe Garbett take part.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: