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'Nazi' row Mayor hosts Hanukkah ceremony

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Publisher:  Ian Morgan
Published: 2005-12-29 09:27:47
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London Mayor Ken Livingstone has brushed off suggestions that his decision to host a ceremony to mark the Jewish festival of Hanukkah was an attempt to wipe the slate clean after his "Nazi" jibe to a Jewish reporter earlier this year.

Mr Livingstone, who landed in hot water after his outburst comparing Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold to a concentration camp guard, said the event to celebrate the sacred eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights should not be overshadowed by a political issue.

Asked if he thought his presence would go any way to easing relations between himself and the Jewish community following his comment he said: "London is like a great big family and that means we have great big rows like most families do about political issues.

"But nobody doubts the strength of this city is the fact that all faiths are here assembled that is what we celebrate today. We will still have a row about political issues tomorrow.

"There are political rows ongoing all the time. There always have been, there always will be. The important thing is we have those rows but they don't force us to divide in terms of turning against one another and that is what we celebrate today."

He was joined by members of the Jewish community, including Rabbi Gershon Overlander, to light a sacred Menorah to mark the festival at London's City Hall.

Mr Livingstone added: "This isn't just a Jewish Christmas, it's absolutely essentially about the survival of Judaism in the world and we celebrate all faiths in London."

Rabbi Gershon Overlander said: "It is very gratifying and highly appropriate that the capital of this great country which vigorously protects the religious freedom of all its citizens has chosen to erect a Menorah here in London City Hall.

"The City Hall Hanukkah Menorah now joins a long list of cities throughout the world that proudly proclaim the great lesson of religious freedom. From Washington to Paris, from Sydney to Sao Paulo and now along the Thames and Tower Bridge, the light will shine reminding us all of the power of light over darkness and freedom over tyranny."

Copyright Press Association 2005

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