(JTA) — Newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan endorsed a pledge cosigned by dozens of American and European mayors to fight anti-Semitism.
Khan, a Muslim Labour politician who won the May 5 mayoral election by a broad majority, recently informed the Board of Deputies of British Jews of his decision to join the Mayors United Against Antisemitism initiative, the board said in a statement published Thursday.
The board and two other Jewish groups approached Khan to sign the pledge, the statement said.
“I am proud to sign the Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism pledge and I will encourage other mayors across the country and Europe to do the same, to help send the message far and wide that anti-Semitism is totally unacceptable and can never be justified,” Khan said, according to the statement. “Sadly, for many Londoners, antisemitism is a very present problem. As a British Muslim, I am no stranger to discrimination and prejudice.”
Developed by the American Jewish Committee in July 2015 and launched in Europe later that year, the initiative received its first European cosignatory in Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, followed by her counterparts in Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan and Copenhagen. In all, 150 mayors from 30 European countries have signed along with more than 300 mayors from 50 American states.
Khan has condemned members of his own party who engaged in hateful rhetoric against Jews and Israel. This vitriol within Labour has exposed the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to scrutiny in local media and by Labour members.
“Antisemitism is one of the greatest challenges facing Jews in London and across the country,”Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Jewish board, said in the statement. “This sets a very positive tone that we hope will be replicated throughout Khan’s mayoralty.”
Given recent concerns “expressed about currents within Britain’s Labour Party regarding antisemitism, this is a particularly welcome and important development, since he is such a prominent member of the Labour Party,” AJC CEO David Harris said of Khan.