Antisemitism and the new McCarthyism in our midst

There has emerged a new and ugly McCarthyism in our midst that if not confronted will ensure the ignominy and disgrace of the left in this generation and for generations to come.

Instead of fuelling a political witchhunt of supporters or sympathisers with communism, the modern variant of McCarthyism is fuelling a campaign to identify, smear and demonise opponents and critics of the state of Israel with the charge of antisemitism. The specific focus of this new McCarthyite campaign is the Labour Party. Even more specificially, its focus is the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.

The resulting media storm over incidences of alleged and actual antisemitism by a tiny number of Labour Party members, uncovered over the past few weeks, is conspicuously absent when it comes to the existence and activities of Labour Friends of Israel, a faction within the Labour Party committed to building and offering political support for Israel, which by way of a reminder is a racist, supermacist, apartheid state founded on a programme of terrorism and the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people between 1946-48. This ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestinian land has continued in the decades since, accompanied by illegal military occupation, home demolitions, siege, the theft of natural resources, and the periodic mass murder and slaughter of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, utilising the most advanced weaponry in the world today.

This aggressive witchhunt of ‘anti-semites under the bed’ we are witnessing is less to do with confronting a rising tide of antisemitism within and without the Labour Party, as important as that would be if it comprised the threat some are attempting to argue it does, and more to do with delegitimising solidarity with the Palestinians and their ongoing struggle for human rights, self determination, and liberation from the most sustained oppression of any people in modern history, outlined in the previous chapter.

It is the fact that Israel’s brutal subjugation of an entire people for the crime of daring to exist is allowed to go on year after year, with the support and connivance of the political mainstream in the UK and throughout the West, which leaves us in no doubt that those who have extended themselves in exposing and rooting out antisemitism are complicit in that subjugation.

Labour Friends of Israel counts among its members many of the party’s most senior politicians, officials, and donors. We are talking about the great and the good of a Labour Party establishment, people for whom Israel represents a beacon of democracy in a region beset by extremism and barbarism. The problem with this narrative, of course, is that Israel is a state whose democracy – democracy, that is, for the chosen few – itself rests on foundations of extremism and barbarism. This particular brand of extremism and barbarism, however, is packaged as modernity and security.

What these supporters of Israel are really responding to is not the recrudescence of the fascism-cum-1930s they would like us to believe is upon us. What they are responding to is the growing support for BDS and its success in highlighting the grotesque injustice that describes the day to day reality for the Palestinians, and in breaking through the political cordon sanitaire around Israel that had long prevented any serious challenge to its right to exist as an apartheid state. We know this to be the case because Western governments, still wedded to unconditional support for Israel regardless of its repeated violations of international law and refusal to budge an inch from the exceptionalism it has long exploited to be able to so with impunity, are intent on making boycotting Israel a criminal offence.

If allowed to obtain, such a legal stricture on one of the most precious of human attributes – namely the ability to act in solidarity with the victims of injustice – would constitute a monstrous violation of individual and moral conscience. It also lays bare the nauseating hypocrisy of those who speak the language of democracy and human rights while acting to protect and preserve the right of a particular state to trample both beneath an apparatus of oppression which stands as a rebuke to those who would have us believe that human rights are anything other than a gift to be bestowed rather than the universal rights enshrined in the UN Charter (1945).

Antisemitism is so serious, has led to some of the most heinous acts of human cruelty ever committed, that exploiting it in pursuit of censoring those who are committed to confronting the cruelty of apartheid and occupation in the name of its past victims, is the real offense. Here, it must be recognised that it is in the interests of Israel and its supporters to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism in order to attack their credibility and to deter others from joining them. Indeed, given the growing traction of BDS, this now constitutes a key front in the struggle for Palestinian human rights and liberation.

In the last analysis, there is nothing more contemptible than bigots taking the moral high ground against bigotry.

Step forward Labour Friends of Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

95 comments on “Antisemitism and the new McCarthyism in our midst

  1. A very timely article.

    By way of contrast:

    “There was a streak of naivety in Stokes. He was, for example, genuinely taken aback by the hostile reaction of many Jewish people to his suggestion that Leon Brittan should be replaced at the Trade Department by “a red-blooded, red-faced Englishman preferably from the landed interests”.

    (Daily Telegraph obituary of racist former Conservative MP Sir John Stokes).

    It is interesting to note that there were no demands for him to have the whip withdrawn from fellow Conservative MPs or from interviewers. Nor was his racism a problem when it came to a knighthood which he received just two years later.

    “Sir John Stokes, who has died aged 85, was a Tory of robust, if eccentric views”
    reported the Telegraph.

    In the 1930s “he rapidly established his Right-wing credentials as an ardent supporter of General Franco and appeasement.”

    No mention of racism or anti-Semitism in the Telegraph obituary at all.

  2. jock mctrousers on said:

    Abandon all hope ye who enter here: the Labour Party.

    Anything I could say about this is obvious anyway. Corbyn’s just one tired nice old guy in a sea of cutthroat assholes. If Ken Livingstone has to go for a banal conversational observation….? If Sadiq Khan, Jon Lansman, John Mann, to a name few, aren’t expelled soon… well, I’m cancelling my membership. And I feel I’ll have a lot f company.

    JEREMY! I don’t want to see this happen to you. It’s nearly too late! Leave the Labour Party now!

  3. John Edwards on said:

    Very interesting article on the Electronic Intifada by Asa Winstanley on how the allegations of anti Semitism are being faked. It is revealed for example that the individual who made the allegations about the Oxford University Labour Club is a former intern of BICOM, the British equivalent of AIPAC.

    The timing just before the local elections is unfortunate as the latest YouGov poll gave Labour a 2 point lead. Corbyn obviously can’t be allowed to succeed hence this coup attempt

  4. The timing suits the Tories, but it also suits the Blairites, who wish to undermine Corbyn as much as possible before Chilcot is published.

    The last thing they want is a buoyant Corbyn being in a position to trash their reputations and their legacy.

  5. Rowena Mason in The Guardian:

    “Adolf Hitler’s thoughts on Zionism was not a topic that Labour MPs and activists wanted to be discussing on doorsteps across the country on Friday”

    Quite!

  6. P Spence on said:

    It illustrates the power of the capitalist establishment. For days they have manufactured propoganda aimed directly at undercutting Corbyn. Ken’s mistake was to fall into the elephant trap set for him. The truth is that this is partly an organisational question; we need more collective discipline and accountability on the Left to anticipate our class enemy’s ( the Labour Right being a key division) next move. Easier said than done. However, we cannot rely on maverick talents such as Ken and George to get us by. Their careers are a reflection of how degraded socialism as a political force has become the last 30 years: in other words, they have not had the Party machine to integrate their extraordinary talent. We need organisation: a reloaded “What is to be done?”.

  7. P Spence on said:

    As Lenin said:
    “Yet subservience to spontaneously developing forms of organisation, failure to realise the narrowness and primitiveness of our organisational work, of our “handicraft” methods in this most important sphere, failure to realise this, I say, is a veritable ailment from which our movement suffers. It is not an ailment that comes with decline, but one, of course, that comes with growth. It is however at the present time, when the wave of spontaneous indignation, as it were, is sweeping over us, leaders and organisers of the movement, that an irreconcilable struggle must be waged against all defence of backwardness, against any legitimation of narrowness in this matter. It is particularly necessary to arouse in all who participate in practical work, or are preparing to take up that work, discontent with the amateurism prevailing among us and an unshakable determination to rid ourselves of it.”

  8. john Grimshaw on said:

    I agree with Andy that Livingstone should’ve had more self discipline, but then he’s not known for that is he. I see that Corbyn has now been forced to hold a general inquiry into antisemitism in the party whilst at the same time Watson is calling for a change in selection procedures and more robust rules. The Today programme which has become a mouth piece almost for the Labour moderates/right reports that a challenge to Corbyn’s leadership is almost inevitable in the summer. In my view Progress etc. Doesn’t want labour to have any success in the upcoming elections as this will ease their path to “palace coup”.

  9. john Grimshaw: I agree with Andy that Livingstone should’ve had more self discipline, but then he’s not known for that is he.

    Yes, but we have to keep this aspect of the issue in its proper place. The reality is that we have witnessed the comprehensive decimation and surrender of the Labour left over the past few days. Livingstone should never have been suspended and the fact that it’s been left to George Galloway to hold the line in the face of this onslaught says everything we need to know about Corbyn’s leadership.

    As Oscar Wilde says, ‘A true friend stabs you in the front’.

    At this rate JC will not last as Labour leader to the end of the summer.

  10. Andy Newman: Livingstone should have had more self discipline.

    So almost everyone says, and indeed it was one of my first thoughts on hearing the news, but I worry about the implications of this. One of the several aims of the witch hunt is to make people too scared to come out with anything but pale & insipid responses to the racist Zionist ideology and Israeli state terror etc, no doubt rinsed through a set of focus groups so that nobody could possibly contrive to claim to be offended.

  11. One useful bit of self-discipline that KL could exercise is not to speak publicly about things he knows next to nothing about. According to the Guardian today, his take on the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 is this: “in 1935 Hitler passed a law banning any flag being displayed except the swastika and the blue and white Zionist flag, which is pretty amazing.” KL’s apparent ignorance about the history and context of Nazism and Nazi racial laws is painful; his insistence on parading that ignorance in the service of “anti-Zionism” is inept.

  12. Francis King,

    ”According to the Guardian today, his take on the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 is this: “in 1935 Hitler passed a law banning any flag being displayed except the swastika and the blue and white Zionist flag, which is pretty amazing.”

    ###

    To be more accurate that seems to be Livingstone’s take on Lenni Brenner’s book about the subject.

    I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if that is an accurate account of what Lenni Brenner says.

    And if it is what he says I don’t know enough about the subject to know whether it’s accurate or not.

    But I suspect that Brenner does have a good understanding of the history and context of Nazism and Nazi racial laws.

  13. Felix Shepton on said:

    It is interesting to note that there were no demands for him to have the whip withdrawn from fellow Conservative MPs or from interviewers. Nor was his racism a problem when it came to a knighthood which he received just two years later.

    The Conservative party has never been a party to claim egalitarian values. Even if Margaret was a ‘Grammar school girl’. And a single Conservative saying something clearly antisemitic is hardly evidence of ingrained institutional antisemitism.

  14. anon,

    Why not look it up for yourself? “Nuremberg Laws, 1935” – there’s plenty of sources out there. But, to save you the effort, here is the text of the law to which KL was referring:

    3) THE LAW FOR THE PROTECTION OF GERMAN BLOOD AND HONOUR (15 SEPTEMBER 1935)
    Imbued with the knowledge that the purity of German blood is the necessary prerequisite for the existence of the German nation, and inspired by an inflexible will to maintain the existence of the German nation for all future times, the Reichstag has unanimously adopted the following law, which is now enacted:
    ARTICLE I: (I) Any marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are herewith forbidden. Marriages entered into despite this law are invalid, even if they are arranged abroad as a means of circumventing this law.
    (2) Annulment proceedings for marriages may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.
    ARTICLE II: Extramarital relations between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are herewith forbidden.
    ARTICLE III: Jews are forbidden to employ as servants in their households female subjects of German or kindred blood who are under the age of forty-five years.
    ARTICLE IV: (I) Jews are prohibited from displaying the Reich and national flag and from showing the national colors.
    (2) However, they may display the Jewish colors. The exercise of this right is under state protection.
    ARTICLE V: (I) Anyone who acts contrary to the prohibition noted in Article I renders himself liable to penal servitude.
    (2) The man who acts contrary to the prohibition of Article II will be punished by sentence to either a jail or penitentiary.
    (3) Anyone who acts contrary to the provisions of Articles III and IV will be punished with a jail sentence up to a year and with a fine, or with one of these penalties.
    ARTICLE VI: The Reich Minister of Interior, in conjunction with the Deputy to the Führer and the Reich Minister of Justice, will issue the required legal and administrative decrees for the implementation and amplification of this law.
    ARTICLE VI: This law shall go into effect on the day following its promulgation, with the exception of Article III, which shall go into effect on January 1, 1936.

  15. Why not look it up for yourself?

    Because spending a couple of minutes on the internet to pick out snippets of information is not going to give me the breadth and depth of knowledge which I feel would be required to reached an informed understanding of the subject.

    In any event none of what you’ve quoted contradicts Livingstone’s main point, which is that there was an ongoing dialogue between Nazis and Zionists. If there was (and I don’t know enough about the subject to know if that’s true or not) then I think it’s a relevant factor in trying to understand the history of Zionism.

  16. anon: I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if that is an accurate account of what Lenni Brenner says.

    I have the book here at home. Everything Ken says is absolutely true according to Brenner’s book, which btw is impeccably referenced.

    The passage in question reads as follows: ‘One aspect of the laws [Nuremberg Laws], now long forgotten but which attracted considerable attention at the time, was the fact that from then on only two flags were permitted in the Third Reich, the swastika and the blue-and-white Zionist banner. This, of course, greatly excited the ZVfD [Zionist Federation of Germany], who hoped that this was a sign that Hitler was moving closer to an accommodation with them. But for many foreign Zionists this was a searing humiliation…’

    Lenni Brenner, Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators, (Lawrence Hill & Co, 1983), p. 85.

    It’s important to stress that there was fierce opposition to the deal between the ZVfD and Labor Zionists in Palestine and the Nazis within the wider Zionist movement. Vladimir Jabotinksy and the Revisionists were opposed to it, for example, as it violated the anti Nazi boycott that was established in 1933 by American Jews and Zionists. Most historians attribute the 1933 assassination of Chaim Arlosoroff, a leading supporter of the deal and Ha’avara Agreement with the Nazis, to the Revisionists as a consequence.

    While it is true that this agreement existed, it doesn’t follow that Hitler supported Zionism. On the contrary, as Brenner also writes, Hitler said: ‘Just as we now have friendly relations with Soviet Russia…we shall take the same attitude toward the Jews, if they establish themselves as an independent nation, although we know they will always remain our enemies.’

    For the Nazis in the early 1930s, a period during which they were trying to build their state and armed forces, it was about resisting the boycott. Allowing German Jews to flee to the US or elsehwere in Europe would, they knew, only help to bolster support for the boycott, as those Jewish refugees would carry with them accounts of the persecution being suffered by Jews in Germany at the time. However, in sending them to Palestine in cooperation with a section of the Zionist movement this danger would be removed.

    It’s a fascinating history.

  17. “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”
    Lord Palmerston
    John,

  18. George Hallam on said:

    anon,

    I hold with respect to alliances, that England is a Power sufficiently strong, sufficiently powerful, to steer her own course, and not to tie herself as an unnecessary appendage to the policy of any other Government. I hold that the real policy of England—apart from questions which involve her own particular interests, political or commercial—is to be the champion of justice and right; pursuing that course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Quixote of the world, but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks that justice is, and wherever she thinks that wrong has been done…I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow… And if I might be allowed to express in one sentence the principle which I think ought to guide an English Minister, I would adopt the expression of Canning, and say that with every British Minister the interests of England ought to be the shibboleth of his policy.
    Speech to the House of Commons (1 March 1848).

  19. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    It may be a fascinating history, but the context of a deliberate right wing destabilisation of the Labour Party by main stream media and Atlantacist right in the party was not the right time for Livingstone to open that box of frogs

  20. P Spence on said:

    Noah: One of the several aims of the witch hunt is to make people too scared to come out with anything but pale & insipid responses to the racist Zionist ideology and Israeli state terror etc, no doubt rinsed through a set of focus groups so that nobody could possibly contrive to claim to be offended.

    Agreed. I expect the review will produce a formula prescription of antisemitism to include describing Israel a racist exceptionalist state. And where will that leave Corbyn?

  21. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: the context of a deliberate right wing destabilisation of the Labour Party by main stream media and Atlantacist right in the party was not the right time for Livingstone to open that box of frogs

    But when is there ever going to be a right time? When will there ever NOT be a ” deliberate right wing destabilisation of the Labour Party by main stream media and Atlantacist right “?

    Look on the bright side. Instead of dying on his knees, Livingstone has given us (probably unintentionally) a great piece of political theatre: last night there was a feature on mainstream news at peak viewing time on Lenni Brenner’s ‘Zionism in the Age of the Dictators” and even a short interview with Brenner. That’s incredible! That stuff has been out of bounds for ever! And now it looks like we’re going to have months more of it.

  22. Andy Newman:
    John,

    It may be a fascinating history, but the context of a deliberate right wing destabilisation of the Labour Party by main stream media and Atlantacist right in the party was not the right time for Livingstone to open that box of frogs

    On this I agree with Jock, Andy. This after all is not only about Corbyn’s leadership. It is also about a people, the Palestinians, whose longstanding and brutal subjugation and oppression is a stain on the conscience of a world that for far too long has stood by and wrung its hands.

    Ken unwittingly has opened up a debate about Zionism and what it really is and stands for. During Galloway and McTernan’s debate on CH4 News the other night, Krishna Guru Murphy described Zionism as a movement for the liberation of the Jewish people. What he neglected to add is that this liberation movement was and remains inhabited by racist killers whose many victims have also included British conscript soldiers.

    A Pandora’s Box has been opened and we have to fight the issue on that basis.

  23. brianthedog on said:

    The depths of the witch hunt by the right and supported by the Jim Denham and the AWL includes targeting someone who had been tweeting quotes from the film ‘The Infidel’ written by David Baddiel (who is Jewish). The tweets were then deliberately doctored by the Guido Fawkes who took out the #indfidel part and then splashed across the media where it runs and runs.

    The truth has here no place at the moment with this whipping up of hysteria and using it to attack Jeremy Corbyn and silence any criticism of Israel.

  24. brianthedog on said:

    McCarthyism alive and well on Jim Denham’s reactionary blog where he put a post where basically tells you what you can and can’t say. Get it ‘wrong’ and you are filthy and an anti-Semite.

    This included telling us that although Semites have historically meant jews and arabs it can now not be used to describe arabs. In particular when its in the context of being anti for that can only be used for jews.

    I am aware language and meaning can change but according to the bizarre post its selective and this does not apply to Zionism, which instead of being an criticism of people who support the cruel, racist, settler and occupying Israeli government is in fact anti semitic.

    It topped off by saying of course you can criticise Israel but the sub text is don’t and if you do we will target you.

  25. Sussexlabourleft on said:

    The Guardian newspaper (online version)

    Saturday 30.4.2016

    Letters page

    We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party and of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who wish to put our perspective on the “antisemitism” controversy that has been widely debated in the last few weeks (Labour’s antisemitism crisis as Livingstone suspended, 29 April). We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.

    We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week. As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties. We dissociate ourselves from the misleading attacks on Labour from some members of the Jewish community. We urge others, who may be confused or worried by recent publicity, to be sure that the Labour party, under its present progressive leadership, is a place where Jews are welcomed in a spirit of equality and solidarity.
    Kate Adams
    Julia Bard
    Labina Basit
    Shereen Benjamin
    Rica Bird
    Jenny Bloom
    Alice Bondi
    Elizabeth Carola
    Ron Cohen
    Judith Cravitz
    Dave Curtis
    Miriam E David
    Sue Dellett
    Ivor Dembina
    Professor Stephen Deutsch
    Merave Devere
    Shlomit Ferguson
    Mark Findlay
    Hava Fleming
    Dr William Fleming
    Roisin Francis
    Kenneth Fryde
    Lynda Gilbert
    Clare Glasman
    Alex J Goldhill
    Adam Goodkin
    Stuart Goodman
    Tony Graham
    Tony Greenstein
    Michele Hanson
    Rosamine Hayeem
    Abe Hayeem
    Jane Henriques
    Lorraine Hershon
    Becka Seglow Hudson
    Selma James
    Saul Jamuels
    Riva Joffe
    Michael Kalmanovitz
    David Kaye
    Richard Kuper
    Pam Laurance
    Leah Levane
    Rachel Lever
    Sue Lukes
    Eli Machover
    Beryl Maizels
    Miriam Margolyes
    Stephen Marks
    Helen Marks
    Karen Merkel
    Charles Shaar Murray
    Professor Mica Nava
    Diana Neslen
    Bracha Newman
    Rabbi Jeffrey Newman
    Susan Pashkoff
    Rina Picciotto
    Caroline Raine
    Roland Rance
    Frances Rifkin
    Dr Brian Robinson
    Denise Robson
    Jeff Daniel Rollin
    David Rosenberg
    Jonathan Rosenhead
    Stephen Sands
    Dr Ian Saville
    Amanda Sebastyen
    Glyn Secker
    Elizabeth Segal
    Lynne Segal
    Ray Sirotkin
    Steve Tiller
    Ray Sirotkin
    Inbar Tamari
    Tirza Waisel
    Sam Weinstein
    Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
    Benjamin Young
    Gill Yudkin
    Professor John Yudkin

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/29/labour-antisemitism-and-where-jeremy-corbyn-goes-from-here

  26. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    The whole furore is IMO reminescent of a “colour revolution” against Corbyn, due to the danger of Labour doing better than expected in the May ekections.

    The characteristics of colour revolutions is that they are are manipulated and nudged into existance by exploiting existing tensions.

    In this regard, the anti semitism row in Labour is NOT actually about the Palestinians, it is about the local elections, and an attempted coup against Jeremy, over an issue (Palestine / Israel/ Zionism) that the electorate dont cate about, but that the political commentariat (and the left) can be relied upon to follow a Pavlovian urge to follow the divisive and disruptive script.

    The issue of Anti-semitism is being used as a Zinoviev’s letter

  27. UncleAlbert on said:

    Andy Newman: the anti semitism row in Labour is NOT actually about the Palestinians, it is about the local elections, and an attempted coup against Jeremy,

    Spot on.

    A similar period of Blairite-driven destabiiisation occurred prior to the Oldham by-election, in which the Blairites expected Labour to perform badly or even lose.

    As it turned out Labour did better than expected.

    Even if Labour performs well in the local elections and the coup fails there will be further periods of destabilisation.

    However, the Blairites urgently want to prevent pro-membership rule changes at Conference so, as far as they’re concerned, the sooner Corbyn goes, the better.

    But if Corbyn is still leader in the run-up to the 2020 general elections, and looks to be in with a chance of winning, we should expect mass defections by the PLP, supported by mainstream media, as they attempt to prevent a Corbyn-led Labour Party from winning.

  28. anon on said:

    It’s not just the forthcoming elections though, it’s also the imminent publication of the Chilcot report.

  29. John on said:

    Andy Newman: In this regard, the anti semitism row in Labour is NOT actually about the Palestinians, it is about the local elections,

    The timing may well be about the local elections, however the actualite of the issue is clearly to do with BDS, I think. It is part of the ongoing campaign to delegitimise BDS and, with it, soldiarity with the Palestinians and their struggle.

  30. P Spence on said:

    Andy Newman:
    John,

    The whole furore is IMO reminescent of a “colour revolution” against Corbyn, due to the danger of Labour doing better than expected in the May ekections.

    The characteristics of colour revolutions is that they are are manipulated and nudged into existance by exploiting existing tensions.

    Correct. I had exactly the same thought this morning listening to Len McClusky on Radio 5 Live. And of course A Very British Coup comes to mind. Corbyn is simply beyond the pale for the imperialist establishment.

  31. John Edwards on said:

    I have spent an interesting afternoon reading Zionism in the age of the dictators. I downloaded it from Lenni Brenner’s Wikipedia page. I recommend it

    I remember when it was first published and he came to Britain to promote it on a speaking tour security had to be organised to prevent meetings being disrupted and broken up by protesters who didn’t like what he said. So not much has changed in 30 years

  32. John on said:

    John Edwards: I have spent an interesting afternoon reading Zionism in the age of the dictators. I downloaded it from Lenni Brenner’s Wikipedia page. I recommend it

    I remember when it was first published and he came to Britain to promote it on a speaking tour security had to be organised to prevent meetings being disrupted and broken up by protesters who didn’t like what he said. So not much has changed in 30 years

    Yes, isn’t it interesting how Brenner is now being traduced as a marginal, disreputable loon in light of this row and his book being touted as Livingstone’s main source material on the subject?

    I have the book here and it is exhaustively referenced throughout.

  33. John Edwards on said:

    John,

    As the review published in The Times on February 11 1984 described the book “it is short, crisp and carefully documented. Mr Brenner is able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-semitic regimes including Hitler’s”

  34. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    The substantive issue is neither here nor there, other than it is an issue where a minority on either side will be guaranteed to become highly exercised about, and which they will feel overrides the need for unity and self discipline leading up to these key elections.

  35. Vanya on said:

    I’m not very familiar with this specific issue, so could anyone tell me if Jim Allen’s Perdition was influenced by Brenner’s research?

  36. The relationship between Nazism and Zionism is a legitimate subject of historical enquiry. Illiterate thugs like John Mann would try to suppress such historical enquiry; God help us if Mann ever became Minister of Education – he would be worse than Gove.
    Having said that, it seems to me extremely unwise (I’m trying hard to be kind in my choice of words) to raise such a complex issue in a hostile context (a broadcast interview) where one is confined to mere soundbites.

  37. John on said:

    Andy Newman: The substantive issue is neither here nor there,

    No, I think you’re missing the wider point Andy. As I have just written in an article for another publication, in subjecting Ken Livingstone to trial by media his detractors have also unwittingly placed Zionism on trial. One of the results of this media firestorm will undoubtedly have been millions of people wanting to know more about Zionism, people who otherwise were uninterested in the subject. Lenni Brenner’s book will be enjoying a boon in sales as we speak, given the extent to which it’s been highlighted.

    The issue of Palestine is as important to me as the local elections, even Corbyn’s leadership. Speaking of which, his unwillingness to fight on these issues will be his undoing. Naz Shah was not guilty of antisemitism and neither was Ken. Simple as.

    Now we have an independent inquiry into antisemitism within the Labour Party. This is tantamount to waving a white flag of surrender.

  38. John on said:

    Ian Birchall: it seems to me extremely unwise (I’m trying hard to be kind in my choice of words) to raise such a complex issue in a hostile context (a broadcast interview) where one is confined to mere soundbites.

    I agree. On this though I don’t think we can overlook Ken’s age as a factor. As with most 70 year olds he is perhaps lacking the discipline and self control he used to have.

  39. John: As with most 70 year olds he is perhaps lacking the discipline and self control he used to have.

    John,

    Given that I shall be 77 in a few days I’m not quite sure how to take this. Are we over-70s all sliding into senility? I hope not. And while ageism is clearly not comparable to racism, it would be nice if we could avoid it. Perhaps Livingstone’s reactions are not quite as sharp as they used to be – but on the other hand he has a vast experience of the media and their dishonesty and ruthlessness. He really should have known better. There were so many simpler points he could have made. Even if he wanted to argue that it is possible to be simultaneously anti-Semitic and pro-Zionist, there are many better illustrations – for example Winston Churchill.

  40. that other guy on said:

    Option 1. Recognise that Zionist collaboration with the Nazis is an argument that does nothing other than gift the Right with a stick to beat us and that Ken therefore should have known better.

    Option 2. Dig the hole deeper by defending Ken’s use of this argument while describing Right wing politics and organisation as a conspiracy.

  41. John on said:

    Ian Birchall: Given that I shall be 77 in a few days I’m not quite sure how to take this. Are we over-70s all sliding into senility?

    Not at all. Everybody ages differently but I merely ponder if Ken Livingstone of ten years ago would have put his foot in it like this?

    I do agree on your substantive point. Whatever the reason he ventured into territory he shouldn’t have. However in doing so he has opened up a debate leading to people being informed about a history that was hitherto largely unknown.

    This article in Haaretz is a case in point: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.717126

  42. jock mctrousers on said:

    John,

    I agree with Ian Birchall. I get enough of that ‘senile old codger ‘ bit myself. Not nice. But I DO wonder if his hearing is what it used to be, or if he just wasn’t really paying attention – it’s such a strange response.

    I had labour party people at my door this morning, because I’m a member, trying to rally my vote for that Khan guy. I told them I wasn’t voting (actually I’m voting for Galloway) because I couldn’t support Khan because of the Livingstone expulsion. They immediately assumed I was worried about antisemitism rather than the witchhunting of one of Labour’s finest by shameless careerists. When I explained, they asked me if I was going to leave London to the Tory Goldsmith. I asked what’s the difference between Goldsmith and Khan – they told me Khan’s going to give us more ‘affordable’ housing! Yerv gotter larf!

    Anyway, let’s not overlook:

    http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/30/nobody-bothered-to-check-who-created-that-anti-semitic-image-naz-shah-retweeted-did-they/

    Wouldn’t it be nice to see Norman Finkelstein on primetime mainstream UK tv along with Lenni Brenner. At the moment you have to go to RT for that.

  43. UncleAlbert on said:

    anon: It’s not just the forthcoming elections though

    Indeed.

    Let’s recall Miliband’s cooked-up Falkirk ‘crisis’ – used by Miliband and his Blairite cronies to end Labour’s collective link with the trade unions.

    Of course, the Blairites didn’t just want to hamper the ambitions of a few trade unionist PPCs, also they wanted to distance the trade union membership from the Labour Party.

    Amusingly, the rule changes that followed the Falkirk ‘crisis’ led directly to the election of Corbyn as leader. As with the Oldham by-election, the Blairites played with fire and got burnt.

    Today the main focus is the removal of Corbyn. But the anti-Corbyn campaign is, in effect, a war against those who put him where he is: the membership.

    If the Blairites are successful and Corbyn is ousted another campaign becomes necessary. The Blairites will only be able to protect their gains by initiating a campaign against the tens of thousands who joined the LP after Miliband resigned as leader. Mass expulsions and suspensions of Corbyn-supporting/non-Blairite CLPs will follow.

    if Corbyn is ousted, it will most likely be a hollow victory for the Blairites. We saw what happened to Blairite-led Scottish Labour. There is no reason to assume the same thing won’t happen in rUK.

  44. It is natural to compare what has happened in the UK with the AIPAC domination in the US. I would be interested in the views of others. My own reading is that the Labour Friends of Israel do indeed form a kernel of what might become a British AIPAC. As we all agree, this incident has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-semitism. But is it a blend of support for Israel, or largely a pretext to drive Corbyn out of the leadership ? I have gotten into a furious argument with a friend who is somewhat of a Labour Tribalist but on the left. I claim that Corbyn’s response was disastrous. That in his panic he has legitimised the zionist claim of anti-semitism within Labour and started a witch-hunt, which has turned out to be an inquisitional attack on anyone who criticises Israel. Corbyn responded just as the zionist lobby had hoped, and now that they have tasted blood, I imagine that they will redouble their attacks. I wonder how far this can go in intimidating the British population against any criticism of Israel. I am new here, and look forward to any responses.

  45. Mahrooq on said:

    P Spence,

    My copy of What is to Be Done? uses the term “rustic craftsmanship”. I think Lars Lih has “artisanal limitations”. I’ve always wanted to write a pamphlet entitled “Rustic Craftsmanship: What it is and how to fight it”

  46. UncleAlbert,

    Well the local elections are important in their own right, but I was using that as short Hand for the longer argument that an induced crisis that would damage Labour’s chances in the local elections would be used as a component of a broader narrative of “moral crisis” surrounding the Labour leadership, which as you rightly say is reminiscent of the Falkirk fiasco.

    Labour is an electoral party and the election results this ThursdaY simply DO matter, and some circumspection is reasonably required from people with positions of influence in the party not to prolong the crisis.

  47. Porter Mayfield on said:

    The antisemitism row might actually have worked in Labour’s favour for the local elections had Corbyn stood up to the bullies who so obviously over-played their hand instead of suspending Livingstone for basically telling the truth. The Zionist poison is what needs purging from the labour movement not those who oppose Israel’s wretched criminality and racism.

  48. Omar on said:

    Might I suggest that this very site helped sow the seeds of the shit-storm currently engulfing Labour’s left ? All the hand-wringing, a year or two ago, about alleged “rampant” anti-Semitism on the Left has helped lead us to this point. Did we not warn you about how this would be exploited by our opponents and opponents of Palestinian liberation ?

  49. Omar:
    Might I suggest that this very site helped sow the seeds of the shit-storm currently engulfing Labour’s left ? All the hand-wringing, a year or two ago, about alleged “rampant” anti-Semitism on the Left has helped lead us to this point. Did we not warn you about how this would be exploited by our opponents and opponents of Palestinian liberation ?

    You may suggest it but you would be wrong. Iirc a lot of it was to do with George Galloway uncritically hosting the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon on his Sputnik TV show and some posters on here getting banned and suspended for fairly unsubtle anti-Semitic tropes. It was hardly a case of predicating the current crisis, just some principled comrades pushing back.

  50. Omar on said:

    JT,

    Well, it was about more than just GG/GA, it was about supposedly endemic anti-Semitism on the Left which simply didn’t jive with many of our own experiences. But once that kind of crap gains credence, the Owen Jones’ and Howard Fullers of this world will take it and run with it. And it starts to resonate, particularly in the ears of right-wing journalists and Blairites unhappy with their inability to positively influence the direction of the Party.

  51. Andy Newman on said:

    Omar: it was about supposedly endemic anti-Semitism on the Left which simply didn’t jive with many of our own experiences

    Nonsense, it was about incidences of anti-Semitism that are thankfully rare, and that we would expect to be rare, given the left’s record of opposing all forms of racism.

    However, what is too common is the toleration of anti-Semitism, for example from the likes of Gilad Atzmon.

    I have only banned one person from this blog over the issue, who was someone who did some very unsubtle coat trailing using traditional anti-Semitc tropes, and has since been implicated as being a possible agent for the Bundesnachrichtendienst, after being arrested in Turkey at the HQ of a terrorist organisation

    In any event, I think you overestimate the influence we have

  52. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: However, what is too common is the toleration of anti-Semitism, for example from the likes of Gilad Atzmon

    I’m not going to get into this. Personally, I wouldn’t invite the flakstorm from GIYUS and HARRY’S PLACE, so I can’t blame you for giving it a wide berth, but consider: any political culture in which a jew can be called an anti-semite is just plain ridiculous; it is an Orwellian slave-culture.

    I am sorry to see this happen to Corbyn, but as things stand the best you could say of the performance of him and McDonnell over this, is that they have ( deservedly or not) allowed themselves to appear as spineless. That’s going to take a lot of clawing back.

    Are they worth any more of our time?

  53. jock mctrousers: any political culture in which a jew can be called an anti-semite is just plain ridiculous;

    From a May 1st 2016 entry on Atzmon’s website entitled, “The Protocols Of The Elders Of Labour”:

    By Gilad Atzmon – “Now that Jewish domination of the Labour Party has been clearly established, Jewish power is no longer a vague or mysterious concept. We should listen to the words of a few of the prime Elder Jewish oligarchs and learn from them about the future of the Labour party and its political role.”

  54. Vanya on said:

    What I find interesting about Atzmon’s peculiar brand of ant-semitism is how similar the sentiments he expresses are to those of many of the early 20th century zionists quoted by Brenner in his book.

  55. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: Gilad Atzmon does not consider himself to be a Jew, I think you will find

    Are you saying that jewish identity is ‘elective’, a matter of choice, not a ‘born this way, like being a negro or a polar bear? That sounds like ANTISEMITISM to me! Expect a Labour Party compliance team to abseil through your window any moment – no-one expects the compliance team!

  56. Omar on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Andy, you know as well as I do that Gilad Atzmon is not exactly a well-known figure in mainstream Labour Party discourse, so pointing to him as being representative of anything within that milieu is an utter red herring.
    Face it, in the wake of the revulsion at Gaza’s destruction and the reinvigorated BDS campaign and the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn, pro-Israel campaigners concocted a fairy-tale about rampant ,left-wing anti-Semitism aided by the exaggerated narrative you and the likes of Owen Jones (who’s fallen for it again recently) helped to construct. I know you rarely admit to being wrong but for God’s sake show some humility and admit that you and your fellow hand-wringers helped get a ball rolling that has done a fair bit of damage to the LP and to constructive discourse with regard to justice for the courageous Palestinian people.

  57. What I’m about to say has very little to do with the Labour Party and a lot to do with how people behave in the face of oppression and persecution. No matter what we think of Zionism, the fact that zionists tried to do deals with the Nazis should come as no surprise. Many people of liberal and left persuasion have testified to the fact that many of them thought that the Nazis wouldn’t and couldn’t last. Some of them thought that they were jokes or just jumped-up criminals.

    However, in the face of the Nazi programme of persecution, the ‘Jewish’ response (if it’s possible to call it that) showed a huge range of approaches, some of which the Nazis did indeed accommodate. So, of course, the Communists and Socialist Parties had plenty of Jews in them, and the Nazis had no accommodation with them because the first two laws the Nazis passed were specifically political and not anti-semitic. As a consequence, the whole left leadership went off to Dachau (if they couldn’t escape). However, in order to put the accommodation with zionists into focus, please bear in mind that the Nazis paid for and supported a specifically and intentionally diaspora institution, the Jewish Culture League. Thousands of musicians, actors and cultural workers were supported by Goebbels’ department to put on specifically Jewish concerts and shows. The leadership of the League had a relationship with Goebbels’ assistant and he supported these shows right up until 1941.

    So, to say ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ or even ‘Hitler supported Zionism’ is pretty crap history, because the Nazis also supported a diaspora separate presence of Jews within Germany. Of course this was as a dispossessed, persecuted, contained and controlled minority between 1933 and 1940 or so, and there was every intention to get as many as possible out of the country. Even so, this institution existed and it received support from the Nazis.

    To repeat, this has virtually nothing to do with the Labour Party, other than to add to the chorus that Livingstone is no historian.

  58. John on said:

    Michael Rosen: So, to say ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ or even ‘Hitler supported Zionism’ is pretty crap history, because the Nazis also supported a diaspora separate presence of Jews within Germany.

    I agree completely. And during the period concerned no one foresaw the Holocaust. I think that it is even arguable that the Holocaust was not a firm policy of Hitler’s until the Nazis began to suffer military reverses in Eastern Europe in late 1941, with the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942.

    It is also important to establish, as Brenner does in his book, that there was fierce opposition to the Haavara Agreement even with the Zionist movement. Vladimir Jabotinky’s Revisionist faction in particular were fierecely opposed and were thought to have been behind the assassination of Chaim Arlosoroff, a leading champion of the agreement, as a result.

    As for the wider Diaspora, opposition to the agreement was unanimous, as it served to break the anti-Nazi boycott initiated by the US Jewish community when Hitler came to power in 1933 and which had gained universal support.

    Brenner, btw, also takes pains to point out that though the Nazis entered the agreement, Hitler in no way was a supporter of Zionism, citing a quote by Hitler on the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine in which he affirms that such a state will always be the enemy of the German people to prove it.

    Hitler also entered an agreement with Stalin for a brief period, yet no one in their right mind would use that to suggest that Hitler ever supported communism.

  59. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Are you saying that jewish identity is ‘elective’, a matter of choice, not a ‘born this way,

    I often have problems with understanding this. Benjamin Disraeli was born into a Jewish family but when his father had a row with the Synagogue they converted to Anglicanism. So from the age of 12 Disraeli was a practicing Christian. So was he then an Anglican or an Anglican-Jewish person? I mean I can see that despite being an Anglican member of the establishment that because he did have the Jewish background people who knew that could still attempt to discriminate against him (in his case pretty unsuccessfully), but does that mean to be Jewish is simply defined by other people’s views? That doesn’t sound right either.

  60. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: does that mean to be Jewish is simply defined by other people’s views? That doesn’t sound right either.

    Yes, it’s confusing. As I understand it there are some differences about the criterion for jewhood within Judaism, but I think all accept that you are a Jew if you have one Jewish grandmother and have never converted to another religion.

    So Disraeli ceased to be a Jew. I don’t know if Disraeli had or continued a preference for Jews in business and socially; if so, it could be argued that he remained effectively or culturally a Jew. But the slurs against him were likely just name-calling, like the Kenyan charge against Obama.

    Why do some insist on calling Marx a Jew, though he was raised a Protestant and had NO such pattern of Jewish social, cultural, political preference? This hardcore racial definition of Jewishness isn’t accepted by any of the major threads of Judaism.

    Yet most self-defining Jews are secular atheists (the nice thing about them in my book), whose only claim to Jewishness is through parentage or ancestry, so would they call Marx and Disraeli jews? Would they be thrown out of the Labour Party for it? A slippery customer.

  61. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: but I think all accept that you are a Jew if you have one Jewish grandmother and have never converted to another religion.

    Thanks for the reply Jock. I understand this bit. But presumably as you say if a once Jewish person converts to another religion then I don’t know whether they can be Jewish still. To me it doesn’t seem to make much sense. If you can self identify as Jewish presumably you can as any other religion?

    jock mctrousers: if Disraeli had or continued a preference for Jews in business and socially; if so, it could be argued that he remained effectively or culturally a Jew.

    Why though. Lots of people of different religions over the centuries have done “business” with practicing Jews, but that doesn’t mean they are “culturally” Jewish.

    jock mctrousers: But the slurs against him were likely just name-calling, like the Kenyan charge against Obama.

    To me in the case of Obama and the slurs you mention that’s just racism.

  62. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Why do some insist on calling Marx a Jew,

    Presumably because they are racially discriminatory against Jews even though Marx was not Jewish. Also because back in those days not only was anti-semitism totally acceptable but our rulers could use the slurs to “blacken” the name of people who are againbst the establishment like communists.

  63. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Hitler also entered an agreement with Stalin for a brief period, yet no one in their right mind would use that to suggest that Hitler ever supported communism.

    Although you could’ve argued that if he was a real communist he would never entered into this in the first place..

  64. John Grimshaw: Although you could’ve argued that if he was a real communist he would never entered into this in the first place..

    Does this mean that because Hitler agreed to a non aggression pact with Stalin that he really wasn’t a nazi?

  65. George Hallam on said:

    Nick Wright: Does this mean that because Hitler agreed to a non aggression pact with Stalin that he really wasn’t a nazi?

    You have misunderstood. JG he was suggesting that if he [Hitler] was a real communist he would never entered into this [i.e. a deal with the evil Stalin] in the first place..

  66. Anon LP on said:

    John: Brenner, btw, also takes pains to point out that though the Nazis entered the agreement, Hitler in no way was a supporter of Zionism, citing a quote by Hitler on the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine in which he affirms that such a state will always be the enemy of the German people to prove it.

    Actually, we have the benefit of Brenner’s own comment on this affair, as quoted recently:

    ***
    In a phone interview on Friday, Brenner told The Intercept that he has been friends with Livingstone since a U.K. book tour in 1983. He added that he was certain that when the former mayor said Hitler “was supporting Zionism,” that was “shorthand for ‘the Nazis supported’” the Zionist project in 1933 through the haavara agreement, which also permitted the transfer of some Jewish wealth to Palestine. “A German Jew would give money to the Nazi government,” Brenner explained, “the Nazi government would then send German goods to Palestine, where the Zionists would sell them, then give most of the money to the German Jew when he arrived in Palestine.”

    “Hitler had to know some of that,” Brenner argued. “You don’t do things like that in a dictatorship without the dictator knowing — and on so central an issue to them as the Jews.”

    https://theintercept.com/2016/04/29/british-fight-critics-israel-anti-semitism-matters-rest-us/

    NB, Ken’s actual words were “Hitler was supporting zionism”, which is rather different from “Hitler supported zionism” and of course very far from “Hitler was a zionist”. I wish that people on the left would be a bit more wary of the traps set by right wing & media manipulation.

    “Hitler was supporting zionism” suggests a contingent relationship, much as the Haavara Agreement indicates.

  67. The categories ‘Jew’ , ‘Jewish’, ‘Judaism’, ‘antisemitic’ and ‘zionist’ can’t really be so very different from other categories that exist in language to describe peoples, but they appear to give rise to a lot of problems. I guess it’s because they mark points at which several features interact – venn diagrams and all that and people often don’t like such ‘fuzziness’.

    If you take the category, ‘Irish’, clearly there is a legalistic definition but that doesn’t explain why millions of people all over the world regard themselves as having some kind of link to Ireland. The link is, strictly speaking, via ancestors. If, for some reason I can’t concoct, an authority wanted to persecute the ‘Irish’, then they could quickly do stuff around surnames, grandparents’ surnames, great-grandparents’ countries of origin. They wouldn’t bother about people saying, ‘But I’m not Irish’. The state would define it for them. Suddenly the category ‘Irish’ would start to matter in a way that hadn’t mattered so much before the wave of persecution. As a result, some people would try to falsify their origins. Some would make deals with those persecuting them in order to get away, and some would say, ‘We deny nothing. We’re proud to be Irish’.

    Now, if you put into the mix that part of this category ‘Irish’ is a form of Christianity called Irish Catholicism. (I know it isn’t in reality, just play along with me here), then we complicate things further especially when some people might say, ‘I’m Irish but I’m not an Irish Catholic. My grandparents were believers, but I’m not. And I don’t have an Irish passport. I just live in Boston and have an Irish name.’ Others might say, ‘So you’re some kind of self-defining ‘racialist’ , are you? You call yourself ‘Irish’ but you don’t do Irish Catholicism, and you’re not Irish. It’s just some rubbish about your grandparents and wearing a green shirt when Ireland play in the World Cup..’

    And carrying on with this tortuous analogy, what if a leader figure emerged who claimed that the only way Irish people could escape persecution was to ‘return’ to Ireland and in so doing this wave of ‘returners’ displaced many non-Irish people who were living there….(I know this part of the analogy really breaks down in many ways!)

    Anyway, pressing on: leaders of Irish Catholicism away from Ireland, spoke out and said that anyone who opposed what the ‘returners’ were doing was ‘anti-Irish’.

    I won’t go on.

    All I’m saying here is that the categories around Jew and Judaism and the rest are mostly complicated by the fact that up until 1948, Jews existed as simultaneously religious and secular minorities. The real reasons why this matters is because of a) persecution and attempted genocide, even after the persecution has been allayed for a few generations by ‘toleration’ and b) the creation of a nation state which displaced hundreds of thousands inhabitants, and goes on expanding and c) demands of allegiance from everyone travelling under that category name and d) great efforts made to imply that anyone who opposes any of this are ‘self-haters’, ‘racists’, ‘perpetrators of persecution’ and so on.

    In an ideal world most of it would matter no more than whether you like your bagpipes played with bellows or with a bag inflated by breathing into it.

  68. Everyone has been citing Lenni Brenner, who was indeed the source of Ken’s comments on Hitler and Zionism. But the leading academic expert on Nazi-Zionist relations is Francis Nicosia, who’s been writing about this for decades. He’s the author of two substantial books on the subject, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985) and Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany (2008).

    This is from the abstract of an article (Zionism in National Socialist Jewish Policy in Germany, 1933-39) that Nicosia published in the Journal of Modern History back in 1978:

    “The Zionist movement attracted considerable encouragement and support from anti-Semitic circles in Germany and elsewhere from the second half of the nineteenth century to World War II. From its beginnings early in the 1920’s, the National Socialist movement sought to utilize Zionist ideology and the Zionist movement to achieve the dissimilation of the Jewish community and to promote its emigration from Germany.

    “After 1933, the Hitler regime actively supported the efforts of the German Zionist movement in a variety of ways which included preferential treatment for German Zionists over other German Jewish organizations, encouragement and support for Zionist efforts to retrain German Jewish emigrants destined for Palestine, and active cooperation with underground Zionist groups in the so-called illegal immigration of Jewish refugees into Palestine between 1938 and 1940.”

    So, even on the basis of this short summary, it can be seen that Nazi support for Zionism went well beyond the Haavara agreement.

    I have no information on Prof Nicosia’s political allegiance. But we can only hope he isn’t a member of the Labour Party. Otherwise his study of Nazi support for Zionism would presumably get him suspended too.

  69. Contrary to Francis Nicosia’s analysis, we’re told by John that “Hitler in no way was a supporter of Zionism”, because he opposed “the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine” on the grounds that it would “always be the enemy of the German people”. But to equate Zionism in the 1930s with the demand for a Jewish state is ahistorical.

    It’s true that the Nazis opposed an independent Jewish state in Palestine (not least because they believed it would serve as the headquarters of the international Jewish conspiracy). The Nazi position was, to quote Nicosia, “for unhindered Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine, and for the Jewish National Home under British authority”.

    But in the 1930s that was the official Zionist position too – to establish a Jewish National Home under the British Mandate, in line with the Balfour declaration. It wasn’t until the Biltmore conference in 1942 that the mainstream Zionist movement came out in support of a Jewish state.

    In the aftermath of the Peel Commission’s report in 1937, which the Nazis feared would pave the way to an independent Jewish state, some of them did advocate ending or at least substantially revising the policy of promoting Jewish emigration to Palestine. But Hitler personally intervened to ensure that the policy was maintained.

    Nicosia quotes an official Nazi report from February 1938 which emphasised that “in a recent decision, the Führer, after consultations with Reichsleiter [Alfred] Rosenberg, has decided that Jewish emigration from Germany should continue to be promoted with all possible means, and that it should be directed in the first instance to Palestine”.

    The reason the Nazis supported a Jewish National Home in Palestine was that they wished to remove Jews from Germany but were worried that if Jewish refugees went to other European countries or the USA, they would use their influence to turn the host countries’ governments against Germany. If Jews were directed to Palestine (or Madagascar for that matter) the reasoning was that they would be able to do less harm to German interests.

    It’s also clear that some leading Zionists viewed the Nazis’ policies towards German Jews quite cynically, as presenting an ideal opportunity to further their settler-colonial project in Palestine. Hence David Ben-Gurion’s notorious statement in 1938: “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter….”

  70. Bob,

    Bob, no matter how true this is, it leaves out a) the environment of persecution at the time, which at the very least Ken could have acknowledged. As is well known, one response to persecution is to come up with millenarian ideals. History is full of them.
    b) it leaves out the support that the Nazis gave for the very antithesis of zionism, diaspora culture – as I outlined in an earlier post. So rather than deciding whether Hitler supported zionism, was a zionist etc etc, can’t we get a 3D view of what people do under persecution ie they have hopes, dreams, fight back, cut deals, and sometimes all four at the same time. People wielding total power will be looking to every means available to disarm, neutralise, scapegoat and terrorise. If adopting some part of the oppressed’s programme as a means to an end, why not?, they might think. I’m sure it’s in Machiavelli somewhere. If not, it should be.

  71. Michael Rosen,

    Nazi policy towards German Jews in the 1930s had two elements. The ultimate objective was to force the Jewish population to emigrate, preferably to Palestine, through a combination of repression (the Nuremberg Laws etc) and incentives (the Haavara agreement). In the meantime, however, the aim was to exclude Jews from public life, pending their removal from Germany.

    The Kulturbund der deutscher Juden was set up in 1933 to provide employment for Jewish actors, musicians and artists who lost their jobs due to antisemitic discrimination, and entertainment for Jews who were excluded from regular theatres. The Gestapo forced it to delete the word “German” from its title in 1935, renaming it the Jüdischer Kulturbund, but as you say permitted and even encouraged its activities.

    This was entirely in keeping with the Nazi policy of separating and excluding German Jews from mainstream society. Michael Brenner (in Francis Nicosia and David Scrase, eds, Jewish Life in Nazi Germany: Dilemmas and Responses) writes: “The Kulturbund was perhaps the most blatant symbol of Nazi Germany’s cultural ghettoization of Germany’s Jewish community. Jews performed before exclusively Jewish audiences, with the exception of the notorious Gestapo spy in attendance at these performances.”

    I don’t see how the Nazis’ backing for the Kulturbund somehow undermines or contradicts the well-established fact that they supported Zionism. Both were part of the two-pronged Nazi strategy to eradicate the Jewish community from Germany.

    I take the point that there were different motives for German Jewish organisations who cooperated with the regime. In the case of the Kulturbund, it seems obvious that its leaders were trying to make the best of an utterly desperate situation. However, in the case of German Zionists, the situation was more complicated.

    There was an obvious overlap between Zionist ideology and Nazi antisemitism. Zionists and Nazis agreed that German Jews were not really Germans but part of an entirely different Volk. Zionists and Nazis agreed that the solution to the “Jewish question” was for Jews to leave Germany and move to their National Home in Palestine. So there was an objective basis to Zionist-Nazi collaboration.

  72. Bob,

    The content of zionism is about settlement of Jews in ‘zion’. The content of ‘diaspora’ existence is to not live in ‘zion’. If a regime supports both these two positions, it…er…supports both positions. I don’t really care what you call that – ‘contradicting’ or ‘undermining’ or ‘twin-tracking’. Whatever they are is not the same. The actual destinies of Jews at the exact moment of these two policies were in place meant that some were leaving and some were staying.

  73. Vanya on said:

    I think there is an aspect to this that we can overlook and which occurred to me following a conversation I had yesterday with a Jewish Labour supporter.

    Most people are fed politics in soundbites. The form in which a message is delivered, particularly on these kind of issues, is sometimes as important as the content, because if there is a problem with the form the content will never be examined.

    1) Hitler killed 6 million Jews. That’s straightforward.

    2) The Palestinian people are oppressed by Israel, and our governments are complicit. That’s (fairly) straightforward.

    3) What Hitler did to the Jews does not justify what the Israeli state does to the Palestinians. Again, straightforward.

    The complexities and factional battles of zionist factions and non zionist Jewish factions and their relationships with nazism are interesting to those who are interested in those kind of things. Not to most people.

    They are certainly not straightforward.

    For politicians in the media spotlight, talking about Hitler in any other context in relation to these issues than (1) and (3) above is so open to the waters being deliberately muddied, it’s best to be left alone.

  74. Vanya,

    I don’t disagree with this, but the central problem we face is not that potential supporters of the Palestinian cause within the Jewish community are alienated by Israel-Nazi comparisons. The problem is that militant Zionists are demanding that Israel-Nazi comparisons should be treated as by definition antisemitic and that Labour Party members who make such comparisons should be subjected to disciplinary action.

    That argument should be firmly rejected, irrespective of what we think about the tactical merits of comparing Netanyahu’s actions to those of Hitler.

    Here is what David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, had to say on this subject in his sub-report for the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, as a contribution to its inquiry into antisemitic incidents arising from Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in July-August 2014:

    “Analogies between Israel’s actions and those of Nazi Germany are grossly misleading. The deaths inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza during Operation Protective Edge took a dreadful toll but they were different from the Nazi assault on Europe’s Jews in their intent, their scale and their consequences….

    “These analogies offend Jews because they diminish the Holocaust by declaring it similar to events which were, in fact, of a different order. The analogies are doubly offensive because they take a disaster inflicted on Jews and use it as a stick with which to chastise the State of Israel, established in 1948 as ‘a Jewish state.’ Not only are these analogies painful to Jews, it is possible that those who make them know this and deliberately use them for this reason.

    “Yet the fact that these uses of the Holocaust are wrong and hurtful does not render them antisemitic. Misleading analyses and hurt feelings are significant. They should be named for what they are….”

    Prof Feldman goes on to point out that exaggerated comparisons to Nazism are regularly used by Zionists as well as anti-Zionists:

    “At the same time as we deplore inappropriate and upsetting invocations of the Holocaust, we should acknowledge that they are an expression, in a particularly charged context, of a much used rhetorical device…. Israel’s leaders have frequently and controversially compared the nation’s enemies and the threat they pose to the Nazis and the Holocaust.

    “Analogies to the Nazis also featured in the writings and speeches of public figures who spoke and wrote in support of Israel during Operation Protective Edge. In a speech which decried the ‘revival of antisemitism’ across Europe, the government Chief Whip, Michael Gove, told listeners ‘we need to remind people that what began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives.’

    “The association of the present-day boycott campaign directed against Israel with the Nazi persecution and genocide of Jews was, at best, tendentious. Despite Mr Gove’s aim of criticising those who ‘trivialise’ and ‘pervert’ the Holocaust, he appeared guilty of these same errors.

    “We find a similar muddle when the ‘Campaign Against Antisemitism’ likened the boycott movement as well as the Tricycle Theatre’s refusal of sponsorship money from the Israeli embassy to the ‘Nazi boycott of Jewish enterprise after Hitler’s election.’”

    To the indignation of the Jewish Chronicle, and criticism from the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, Prof Feldman has been appointed vice-chair of the Labour Party’s inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism. You can see why militant Zionists might not be too happy about that, can’t you?

    Personally, I was against the Labour Party setting up the inquiry into antisemitism in the first place, because it conceded there might be some substance to the hysterical campaign that has been whipped up by opponents of the current leadership. I think these people should be defied, not placated.

    But at least Prof Feldman’s presence will help to ensure that the accusations of antisemitism are dealt with objectively. Which is more than can be said for the other vice-chair, Baroness Royall.

  75. Andy Newman on said:

    Bob: I don’t disagree with this, but the central problem we face is not that potential supporters of the Palestinian cause within the Jewish community are alienated by Israel-Nazi comparisons. The problem is that militant Zionists are demanding that Israel-Nazi comparisons should be treated as by definition antisemitic and that Labour Party members who make such comparisons should be subjected to disciplinary action.

    I note that an article in the latest edition of Searchlight, under the headline “The most dangerous threat for 40 years” or some such, and written by Gerry Gable argues that the threat from the far right has never been stronger, and then dedicates the final two paragraphs to … …. *drum roll* … Tony Greenstein, with some heavy coat-dragging hints that Tony is a Ba’athist spy, or similar.

    Now there are a lot of things I disagree with Tony about, but Gable has really lost the plot when he thinks that Tony Greenstein can be contextualised as part of a resurgent rise of facsism, just because Tony has a bee in his bonnet about political Zionism.

  76. I haven’t read Searchlight in years but the fascists in the UK have never been weaker. The BNP has degenerated into a money making scam involving the Wills of elderly members, the edl and Pegida get tiny turnouts and most visible group is the openly Hitler worshipping weirdos of National Action. Even Griffin talks of Britain being finished (from a fascist POV) and that the future for them is Eastern Europe.

  77. John Grimshaw on said:

    JT,

    Well. In general yes but I note that the EDL turned up in Coventry at the weekend and that various far right groups are targeting Dover and have been there recently on two occasions. Also Britain First whilst hardly large keep showing there faces outside the east London mosque.

  78. JT: I haven’t read Searchlight in years but the fascists in the UK have never been weaker.

    I thought that Gable’s article was a very thinly veiled example of special pleading for Home Office funding, bigging up their unique talents at finding information about the admittedly worrying though relatively rare examples of far right Eastern European military trainers teaching unarmed combat etc to the flotsam and jetsam of the British far right, allegedly with support from the Russian state.

    The Home Secretary may well take the view that they already have a police force with considerable expertise, and don’t need Gable

  79. Maybe the State has better things to do with its cash than to pump it into a publication that now only appears infrequently, whose main contributor will be 80 next year and has the air of steady and terminal decline about it. It should be acknowledged though that Searchlight has done good work in the past.