London’s new Mayor is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

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The anti Israel mainstream media seem as confused by Sadiq Khan as I am. Like a typical labour politician he has immediately made an issue of gender equality by appointing women to three top roles.

Khan ? who promised to ?put the fight for gender equality? at the heart of his mayoralty ? had already announced his statutory deputy is Joanne McCartney, meaning three of his four deputies are women.?

What has bamboozled the media and confused me is his apparent support for Israel. The media support the vicious BDS movement which has cost so many Palestinians their jobs. They cannot understand why Khan would support Israel. If a non-Muslim mayor had done this the press would have ripped him apart but because he is Muslim they are caught between a rock and a hard place. No reporter wants to be accused of racism or Islamophobia, since that is exactly what Khan’s opposition was accused of in the lead up to the election.
What really amuses me is the reporter’s concern that he is not being ‘ inclusive, ‘ because her idea of being inclusive is supporting Muslims not pro-Israel Jews. It is only okay to support minority rights if they are Muslims is the message I get from her article.

What I want to know, is whether Khan is genuinely pro-Israel or whether this is a political attempt to improve the Labour party’s image, given the anti-Semitic scandal that has so recently rocked them? He really is an enigma. One thing I do feel certain of is his ambition. Sadiq Khan has his eye on the leadership of the Labour party and the way he is going he just might achieve it

…A few weeks into his mandate and the politician continues to enjoy positive coverage from a normally hostile press.

Yet for all the personal ?praise he attracted as a result of his victory – it was described as historic – his first acts in office reveal another side to the man.

When his candidacy was first announced back in September, the Tooting MP insisted his campaign and consequent term in office would be focused on the issues that mattered to London. He said ?international issues such as the Palestine-Israel conflict would not feature in his programme.

Yet a week after being chosen as the Labour Party’s candidate, Sadiq Khan gave an interview to the Daily Mail where he outlined his plan to support a festival showcasing ?Tel Aviv. He vowed ?to oppose the initiative launched to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land – the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

He also stated that his party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to engage with Palestinian and Lebanese organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah?would turn London into a potential terror target.?It rapidly emerged that what he meant when he said that he refused to be drawn into foreign affairs was that he refused to acknowlege the Palestinian narrative in the Middle East.

Siding with the Israeli narrative , and what it does and stands for, was obviously going to make life safer for a prospective mayor of London.

…While his leader failed to rein him in, London’s Muslims ?became increasingly divided ?over his one-sided and increasingly divisive discourse.

Desperate to court one tranche of the electorate, he ?blatantly neglected another.

…At a time when Islamophobic attacks are on the increase and hijab-wearing women are primary targets, Khan painted them as “suspicious” and alien to the London he was familiar with…

Had similar statements been uttered by any other candidate, accusations of Islamophobia and bigotry would have been flying. Instead, media coverage focused on the racist campaign of his opponent Zac Goldsmith , which turned Khan into a victim.

Many factors played into Khan’s comfortable victory.

For one thing, many saw in a vote for Khan a means to support Jeremy Corbyn, who was by the time of the mayoral election bogged down in a fabricated scandal over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

…In the run-up to the elections, Khan told the Jewish Chronicle that his commitment to Israel could not be challenged.

A worrying statement if ever there was one. The Jewish electorate, relatively small in number, is ?split over the issue of Israel and many London Jews would recoil at the idea of being associated with a state that is in violation of 67 UN resolutions.

…The ambitious Khan was in fact never really courting the “Jewish” vote which is relatively small, but rather the pro- Israel lobby which is embedded in the highest echelons of Britain’s political establishment.

Sadiq Khan realised which side his bread was buttered on and decided to court one lobby at the expense of the vast majority of his voters. ?His first official engagement as Mayor of London was alongside the former face of Israel’s operation Cast Lead, Mark Regev, a face many Holocaust survivors or their descendants would deplore being associated with.

Khan, who made his father’s profession a major feature in his campaign maintained that his working-class credentials – he is the son of a bus driver in case anyone missed this – would make him the “inclusive” mayor par excellence.

Yet when the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) invited him to an event commemorating the Nakba or catastrophe, marking the expulsion and ethnic cleansing in 1948 of Palestinians, Khan ?ignored it.

Perhaps ?more revealing ?was his response to a question from a listener to a radio show he was on. Asked why he had ignored the PSC’s?invite despite claiming to be an inclusive mayor, he launched an interminable explanation about attending a Holocaust memorial ceremony.

…forces one to ask serious questions about Khan’s ability to be London’s “inclusive” mayor simply by virtue of being from an ethnic minority.

Time and again Khan has openly sided with Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians, whose cause Londoners have been increasingly supportive of.

As the anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism row continues to rock the Labour Party, one thing at least has emerged since May’s election: you do not have to be Jewish to be Zionist, in fact, you can be a Muslim too. Mayor Khan is the proof of this.

– Hafsa Kara-Mustaphais a journalist, political analyst and commentator with a special focus on the Middle East and Africa.