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UK's Labour criticized over response to Nazi comments

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/04/2017 By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press
FILE - In this Thursday, April 5, 2012 file photo, Labour's Ken Livingstone arrives on Regent Street for a visit to Hamleys toy shop in London. Jewish leaders in Britain are accusing the opposition Labour Party of tolerating anti-Semitism after it failed to expel a senior politician who said Adolf Hitler had been a supporter of Zionism. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was been declared in breach of party rules on Tuesday, March 4, 2017 and suspended until April 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Thursday, April 5, 2012 file photo, Labour's Ken Livingstone arrives on Regent Street for a visit to Hamleys toy shop in London. Jewish leaders in Britain are accusing the opposition Labour Party of tolerating anti-Semitism after it failed to expel a senior politician who said Adolf Hitler had been a supporter of Zionism. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was been declared in breach of party rules on Tuesday, March 4, 2017 and suspended until April 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file)

LONDON — Britain's main opposition Labour Party faced criticism from Jewish leaders and a deepening internal feud Wednesday after it decided not to expel a senior politician who said Adolf Hitler had been a supporter of Zionism.

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from holding party office a year ago after claiming Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s before he "went mad and ended up killing six million Jews." On Tuesday Labour officials extended his suspension for another 12 months.

Livingstone, who has repeatedly asserted collaboration between Zionists and Nazis before World War II, said the party hearing had been "like sitting through a court in North Korea."

He said he would appeal his suspension.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Labour "has yet again failed to show that it is sufficiently serious about tackling the scourge of anti-Semitism."

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said Livingstone's suspension was "a slap on the wrist for a serial offender.

Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since pro-Palestinian socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain's main opposition party in 2015.

Some in the left-of-center party say Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.

Deputy leader Tom Watson said the failure to expel Livingstone "shames us all, and I'm deeply saddened by it."

"My party is not living up to its commitment to have a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism," Watson said. "I will continue the fight to ensure that it does, and I will press my colleagues to do so too."

Amid the growing furor, Corbyn said the party's governing executive council would investigate comments made by Livingstone in the wake of his suspension.

Corbyn said "it is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologize for the hurt he has caused."

Corbyn, a longtime ally of the former mayor, said "Ken Livingstone's comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community."

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