Sadiq Khan faces pressure to sack advisors for Israel genocide remarks
Pressure intensifies on Sadiq Khan after it is revealed his advisers said they ‘can never respect Israel’ and accused the country of ‘genocide’ – two weeks after Mayor of London defied Keir Starmer to call for ceasefire
Sadiq Khan is facing a fresh wave of pressure amid claims his advisers accused Israel of ‘genocide’ and said they ‘can never respect’ the Jewish state.
The London Mayor has been criticised after it was revealed three of his advisors had taken controversial stances on Israel. The news comes just weeks after Mr Khan himself called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
One adviser, responsible for scrutinising reform of the Metropolitan Police, said he could ‘never respect Israel as a settlement or a country’. While a second, who helps to shape Mr Khan’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, has previously accused Israel of ‘genocide’ in a series of inflammatory remarks on social media.
A third adviser has also come under fire after sharing a post suggesting Palestinians have faced a ‘brutal settler colonial occupation’ for 75 years and are now embroiled in an ‘anti-colonial and anti-apartheid’ battle.
The comments, reported by The Telegraph, come as Israel continues its offensive against Hamas after militants from the terror group stormed the country and slaughtered more than 1,000 civilians last month.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is facing pressure to sack three of his advisors
READ MORE: Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis says Sadiq Khan’s call for a ceasefire is ‘irresponsible’ as Labour’s row over Israel deepens
The Campaign Against Antisemitism branded the remarks by Mr Khan’s advisers as ‘startling’, with the group now demanding the mayor sacks all three and ‘publicly reject’ their views.
A spokesman for the group told MailOnline: ‘The views in these posts would be of concern coming from any member of the public, but coming from people in charge of equality, diversity and inclusion in London, and even of overseeing policing in our capital, they are totally out of order.
‘The Mayor must publicly reject these views and remove these individuals from their positions.’
Mr Khan’s team told MailOnline the advisors’ comments weren’t something London’s first citizen backed.
‘The Mayor does not agree with these views and comments. These board members are very much independent from the Mayor and will therefore have a variety of opinions that will not be in line with the Mayor’s,’ a spokesman added.
Among the advisers facing criticism for their statements is Sayce Holmes-Lewis. He is a member of the London Policing Board and is tasked with helping Mr Khan scrutinise ‘urgent reform’ of the Met Police after a damning report accused the force of being institutionally racist, homophobic and sexist.
As well as his role on the policing board, Mr Holmes-Lewis says he also trains Scotland Yard on how to engage with the black community.
However, it has emerged Mr Holmes-Lewis claimed he could ‘never respect Israel as a settlement or country’ in a post made last year – before the policing board was established.
Sayce Holmes-Lewis. He is a member of the London Policing Board and is tasked with helping Mr Khan scrutinise ‘urgent reform’ of the Met Police (pictured in 2020)
His comments of social media (pictured) have prompted criticism from the Campaign Against Antisemitism
READ MORE HERE: Sadiq Khan fears a ‘disproportionate’ Israeli response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks could lead to ‘inexplicable suffering’ in Gaza
Retweeting a clip that appeared to show Israeli forces attacking a Palestinian journalist’s funeral procession, he wrote: ‘Absolutely sickening and disgusting. I can never respect Israel as a settlement or a country. The occupation of Palestine is unlawful & inhumane.
‘We are witnessing a genocide of innocent people. We are all being oppressed by the same system of colonialism #PalestinianLivesMatter’
In a separate tweet, also from last year, entrepreneur and mentor Mr Holmes-Lewis also appeared to suggest that Israel should face stringent boycotts, like Russia, for ‘war crimes’.
‘I’m just wondering when all these Western administrations, organisations & sporting governing bodies are going to boycott Israel for their war crimes & the continual oppression of Palestinian people. Russia has been boycotted globally in record time. Don’t forget Israel either,’ he wrote.
Mr Khan previously said he was ‘reassured’ all the ‘proper checks’ had been carried out in the vetting process for those sitting on the policing board.
The other two advisors facing criticism are Asma Shah and Peter Wieltschnig. Both sit on the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group.
The panel ‘shapes, influences and guides’ the delivery of the mayor’s equality and diversity strategy, the group’s website boasts.
But on October 26, charity leader Ms Shah lashed out and accused Israel of genocide, shortly after Israeli forces launched a ‘targeted raid’ on Gaza.
Asma Shah sits on sit on the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group
Some of Ms Shah’s comments on X, formerly known as Twitter
‘Watching from the sidelines and going mad as genocide is committed in 2023 to the applause of western leaders, and humanitarians are arrested for protesting for the lives of #Palestine #settlercolonialism #Apartheid_Israel #CeaseFireInGaza,’ she tweeted.
Ms Shah later hit out at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for refusing to call for a ceasefire, accusing him of ‘egging on genocide’.
In a tweet, London Mayor Mr Khan was also among those calling for an end to hostilities. In a split for Sir Keir’s stance, Mr Khan said he backed Israel’s right to defend itself but warned that military escalation could have dire humanitarian consequences.
‘I join the international community in calling for a ceasefire. It would stop the killing and would allow vital aid supplies to reach those who need it in Gaza,’ Mr Khan said in a video posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Speaking to The Telegraph about her comments regarding Israel, Ms Shah said she didn’t ‘express’ her calls for a ceasefire as a member of the EDI but as a ‘human who is really troubled’ at the number of ‘innocents being killed’.
‘My concerns are for a ceasefire in order for the killing of children and other innocents in Gaza to stop,’ she told the paper.
Meanwhile, Mr Wieltschnig has been criticised for sharing a statement from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain which claimed that ‘over the past 75 years Palestinians have faced a brutal settler colonial occupation’.
Palestinians including children are brought to Nasser Hospital for treatment in the aftermath of Israeli attack in Khan Yunis on November 13
An Israeli soldier takes position, amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Hamas, in Gaza
It added: ‘We reject the proposition that anti-Zionism and criticisms of Israel equate to anti-semitism. The struggle for the liberation of Palestine is an anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle and as such is supported by millions of workers of all faiths and backgrounds, including Muslim and Jewish communities, across the world.’
Although the Mr Wieltschnig did not attack Israel in his own words, the sharing of the statement by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain concerned the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
A spokesman added: ‘The Mayor’s EDI Advisory Group does not seem to be particularly inclusive when there are members who do not recognise the legitimacy of a Jewish state, especially the assertion that Israel, since its inception 75 years ago, has represented a “brutal settler colonial occupation”.
‘Moreover, for someone on the London Policing Board to appear to hold similar views is even more disturbing, particularly at a time of such scrutiny in relation to the Met’s controversial handling of the recent protests. If Mr Holmes-Lewis “can never respect Israel as a settlement or a country”, how can he and those he oversees respect the Jewish community that identifies so closely with the Jewish state?’
MailOnline has approached Mr Holmes-Lewis, Ms Shah, Mr Wieltschnig and the Met Police for further comment.
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