Jew-baiter Livingstone’s filthy and ignorant perversion of history

April 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, conspiracy theories, fascism, history, Jim D, labour party, Livingstone, reactionay "anti-imperialism", zionism)


John Mann MP denounces Livingstone; Livingstone claims history is on his side

As I made clear in the previous post, I have some sympathy for Naz Shah, despite her disgraceful Facebook posts. She seems to be genuinely remorseful and anxious to reach out to, and learn from, Jewish people. I hope she is reinstated as a Labour MP, a chastened and wiser person. No such sympathy can be extended to the scum-bag Livingstone, a virulent and gleeful Jew-baiter, who should have been expelled from the Party for his remarks about Jews, Zionism and Israel in 2012. The fact that he got onto Labour’s NEC as part of the left ticket speaks volumes about the degenerate state of what passes for the “left” in Britian today.

As for his ignorant and offensive statement that “Hitler was supporting Zionism” in 1932 (see transcript, below), see Sean Matgmana’s 2006 article dealing with these sort of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, at the end of this post:

Speaking to BBC Radio London, Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear all critics of Israel as anti-Semites, and claimed  Naz Shah was not guilty of any form of anti-Semitism – something he had never encountered in his 35 years in the Labour Party.

“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.

“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…

“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.

“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”

He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.

“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.

“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”

_________________________________________________________________________

With Hitler on the road to Samara

By Sean Matgamna

Of course you know the story. A man is in the market place, and he sees Death, and Death looks at him intently, recognising him.

In a panic, the man runs to his horse and gallops away desperately, taking the road to the city of Samara.

As he gallops off, Death turns to his companion. “Strange,” he said, “that was so-and-so. I was surprised to see him here, because I have an appointment with him, tonight, in Samara.”

Death is all-powerful. There is no escape when he reaches your name on the list.

Consider now, and the association is appropriate enough, the fate of poor Adolf Hitler. This heroic son of the German people understood early in life that the Jews were responsible for all the evil in the world.

He knew that the Jews were behind everything! He knew that socialism and communism were Jewish, and that the Jews were also behind finance capital.

He knew that modern art was pornography and corruption, and modern culture decadent — and he knew that the Jews were responsible, as they were for everything decadent and evil in the world. This genius understood that Jewish Bolshevism and “Jewish capital” were all one. Despite the appearance of difference and antagonism between these things, Hitler could see that all of them — communism, socialism, finance capital, cultural and artistic decadence, etc. — were really one thing. They were aspects of one tightly organised and minutely directed world Jewish conspiracy.

And so Hitler fought the Jews. He roused much of Germany against them. In the middle of the 20th century, he re-created the medieval Jewish ghetto in some of the main cities of European civilisation.

When the Jews who ruled in London, Paris, Moscow and Washington declared war on the German Reich, Hitler set out to do the job properly: he organised the killing of six million Jews.

A quarter of these were children: but Hitler refused to be deterred. He knew the extent of Jew-Zion power. He understood that sentimentality would be fatal. And Hitler — before the Jews finally got him — managed to kill two out of every three Jews in Europe.

Now, you wouldn’t think, would you, that Adolf Hitler could have underestimated the power of the Jews?

The left at the time of Hitler used to say he was a criminal maniac. But the left just didn’t understand.

And neither did Adolf Hitler. This great man understood a lot about the Jews. But he didn’t understand everything. The truth is that even Hitler underestimated the extent and power of the World Jewish Conspiracy.

Not only communism and finance capital — those seeming mortal enemies — were tools of the international conspiracy of Zion — so were the Nazis, themselves! Hitler and his valiant warriors against Zion — farsighted men like Himmler, and Heydrich, and Streicher — were themselves tools of the world Jewish conspiracy.

The Holocaust? That was just Hitler galloping off down the road to his own Samara. The Holocaust, too, served Jewish interests! It may well, in its entirety, have been part of a Jewish conspiracy, a Zionist Grand Design.

Without the great anti-Jewish warrior for one moment guessing what was going on, the guiding centres of the world Jewish Conspiracy helped him in this work of killing Jews.

The Jews helped Hitler in all sorts of nefarious ways. For instance, by instructing the US government, before, during and after World War Two, not to let refugee Jews into America*. They did many other things to help the Nazis, some of them things that would need one cleverer than I am to unravel and chronicle for you.

Why did “The Jews” help Hitler kill Jews? That, you see, was the easiest way they could win a Jewish state.

By a process of reasoning inaccessible to the ordinary human intelligence, the Jewish super-conspirators decided that the best way to secure Israel was to kill six million Jews.

This idea is of course difficult to grasp. It is the political equivalent of that category of Catholic doctrine — for instance, the Trinity, the doctrine that God is both One and also Three Divine Persons — which is classed by the Church as a “Mystery of Religion.” A Mystery of Religion is something which, though certified true by the Church, and therefore certainly true, is simply beyond ordinary human understanding.

Don’t waste your time trying to understand. Neither formal logic nor Marxist dialectics will help you. The subtlety in the evil of the Elders of Zion has always puzzled the ordinary man, who is doing well if he becomes aware that this conspiracy exists, and has the courage to raise the alarm about it. Rational explanations are neither possible nor necessary. This is a Mystery of the World Zionist Conspiracy.

After all, it was too complicated for even Hitler to understand, and he devoted his life to probing into the Jewish Conspiracy. Even Hitler could not save himself from being made into an instrument of the omnipotent, omniscient International Zionist Conspiracy that he spent his life fighting.

All you need to know is that the Jews proved too clever for poor Adolf Hitler, who died confused, a Jewish dupe. Israel came into being, and it has never in all its history done anything but evil in the world.

The tale I have here sketched in is, of course, mad. Mad as Hitler? Madder than Hitler! It is a long stretch further down the road into the dark lands of paranoia and lunacy.

Yet one variant or another, one facet or another, of the crazy stuff which I have just set out in the form of a simple, straightforward story is now very widely accepted on the revolutionary left.

It is not usually expressed either as crudely or as candidly or as coherently as I have expressed it here.

The thesis of much of the “left” — the “left” that sees nothing wrong in “allying” in Britain with the British offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Association of Britain — is that “the Zionists” are and always were, racists; that they collaborated with the Nazis, and, therefore, that they — and the state of Israel which they created: that in particular — share more or less in the practical and moral responsibility for what Hitler did to Jews, and others. That is: they share responsibility with the Nazis for the massacre of Europe’s Jews, for the Holocaust. They are themselves the true heirs of the Nazis.

That’s what the Morning Star (like its high-Stalinist predecessor, the Daily Worker which pioneered such ideas in Britain), Socialist Worker and their smaller satellites, such as Socialist Resistance, say.

Originating with the Stalinist rulers of the USSR, this sort of stuff has become part of the folk wisdom of the kitsch left.

To traduce Hitler’s victims, and those who were his potential victims, to blame Jews and Zionists even in part, for the Holocaust, outrages both common sense and known history; it outrages decency. It is plain bonkers!

How does the “anti-Zionist” “far left” attempt to make its case for such ideas?

• They indict “the Zionists” in the manner of a police prosecutor, and an especially unscrupulous one at that, selecting and presenting facets and shards of truth that serve to blacken the character of the accused. Some of the things they select are true, or half-true, or would be necessary aspects of a true and full historical picture.

• They isolate snippets of real history, stripping them of their social, historical and military context, and use them to misconstrue and misrepresent the thing as a whole. They use them to weave large, grotesque, lies. Here, their polemics are entirely Stalinist in character, typically: disloyal, tendentious, mendacious, unscrupulous, utterly contemptuous of truth, understood even on the level of the legal formula, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

• The Zionists, the Jewish nationalists, they tell you, wild eyed with surprise and indignation, were… nationalists and as narrow as other nationalists. Most of what they say is like that: banal. The critical cutting edge is given to the banality by the insistence that Jewish nationalism is not a “legitimate” nationalism; and by identifying it with racism and fascism.

• They wax indignant on the fact that the Zionists, in concentrating their efforts on building up the Jewish nation in Palestine, were sometimes short sighted, factional-minded, politically sectarian and always combative towards their political opponents, Jewish political opponents included.

• They denounce them because they steered a single-minded Jewish nationalist political course through the rocks and reefs of a world hostile to Jews, and large parts of it murderously so.

• They present “Zionism” as some sort of historical deus ex machina on the Jewish people, not as what it was, something rooted in their experience and one legitimate response to it, and a response shared from some time in the 1940s by most surviving Jews. Jewish nationalism, they insist, and it is a pillar of their entire outlook on the Middle East, is an especially poisonous illegitimate nationalism.

• They insist that by choosing a nationalist response to anti-semitism, the Zionists thereby endorsed the racism of the anti-semites. Zionist nationalism is therefore, in its most fundamental notion, genetically, so to speak, racist. Jewish nationalism is and always was, essentially, a form of racism. It can not be anything else. It was racist when, fighting against great odds, the Israeli Jews defended themselves against Arab invasion in 1948. It is racist now.

• The early Zionists, they tell you, eyes blazing with horror and self-righteousness, did not scruple to try and harness to their own purposes the will of anti-Semites — even, that of the Nazis — to be rid of the Jews.

They did that in the 1940s, when it was a matter of trying to rescue some Jews from the murder machine in which the Nazis and their allies had most of Europe’s Jews trapped and marked for death.

Like wild-eyed ultra-lefts or understand-nothing anarchists (though the SWP is a long way from ultra-left or anarchist) they denounce such activities on principle and scour the records for instances of it on which to mount charges of “collaborating with the Nazis” and as proof that “Zionism” shares the responsibility for what the Nazis did.

• In hellish situations, such, for instance, as in Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944, some Zionists attempted to manoeuvre and negotiate with the powerful enemy at whose mercy they stood. Not only were some such things possibly misguided, actions by desperate people, but, say the kitsch left, they were ipso facto treachery and collaboration with the Nazis.

• In some such efforts, the distinction between actively striving to save some Jews, when only some could be saved, and implicit acquiescence at the fate of the others may sometimes got blurred.

In some cases, manoeuvrings by Zionists and others to save what could be saved, and compromises with Nazis and others (at gun point!) blurred the distinction between responsible efforts to save what might be saved and seeming to take responsibility for what the Nazis did, and collaboration in it, as for instance in the activities of the Zionist official Kastner in 1944 Hungary? The anti-Zionists, naturally, use such unfortunate things to smear all Zionists, everywhere.

• In the Nazi-controlled and Nazi-surrounded East Europe Jewish ghettos, some Jewish bourgeois and “notables” behaved as their class — of all creeds, nations and races — typically behaves. This too proves the affinity of “Zionists” and their persecutors. In some of the outpourings of the anti-Zionists the distinction between “Zionist” and “Jew” more or less vanishes. And so on. And so on.

The history of the Jewish people in the 20th century is an indescribably tragic one. The kitsch-left approach this history with all the empathy and sympathy with which one would look upon a head of cabbage ground under a ten-ton truck. And with all the understanding and breath of historical outlook, and empathy with the victims of Nazi mass murder. which that head of cabbage could be expected to bring to understanding the history of either cabbages or human beings.

• Incongruously, as we have said, they use ultra-left and anarchist attitudes — as in their opposition to Jewish nationalism. But they are not consistent opponents of all nationalism and nationalists. Indeed invariably they are people drunk on Arab nationalism and vicarious Arab chauvinists, who use their arguments against nationalist narrowness in general as tools of virulent Arab nationalism, and as the basis of an argument for destroying the Jewish national entity in the interest of the Palestinian Arab nation.

They present the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 as unique and uniquely evil. They ignore the 600,000 Jews displaced from the Arab countries to Israel in the late 40s and after. They ignore such things as the displacement of 13 million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe (10 million from what is now western Poland). They ignore the role of Arab states in denying the Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to work and integrate – in keeping the refugees and their descendants refugees.

Their political conclusion? Not that the Palestinian nation should have its own independent state side by side with Israel, but that Israel must be eliminated! The Israeli Jewish nation forged in the terrible history of the Jewish people in the 20th century, must be deprived of self determination, in the only way that such a thing is now conceivable, by being conquered. What remains of the Israeli Jewish people after their conquest by the Arab states, will be incorporated against their will in a single Arab state, where they may have religious rights, but not national rights. They want not justice for Jews and Arabs, but the situation of Jews and Palestinians reversed.

This pile of ideological dung, laid down by the Stalinists in the 40s and 50s, is now domicile and diet to the “anti-Zionist” “Trotskyists”, who have lost both Marxist overview and working class historical perspective; who deal neither in historical truth nor in honest historical record.
In short the dominant “left” culture now is a culture in which necessary and legitimate criticisms of Israel are amalgamated with root and branch condemnation of the Jewish nation in Palestine for having come into existence at all and for defending its existence now.

A culture which purveys a malignant Arab-Islamist chauvinist account of modern Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history in which the Jewish victims of the convulsions of mid-20th century capitalist Europe are demonised for seeking a refuge from persecution in Palestine and for defending themselves against the invasion of five Arab armies in 1948. Demonised most of all for winning the right to survive in 1948 and after.

A culture in which the ostensible left is one of the main bearers of the most important modern version of anti-Semitism, under the name of “anti-Zionism”. That is, hostility to the idea of a Jewish state, to its existence now, and to those, especially Jews, who accept and defend the Jewish state, critically or otherwise.

The elevation of this tissue of a-historical nonsense, one-sided anti-nationalism, one-sided anti-racism, into the place it now holds on the left is the index of what has happened to the left, or, better, perhaps, to the once upon a time left.

Just as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was forged by the Tsarist secret police, this contemporay “anti-Zionist” thesis, in its turn, was formulated by the anti-semitic Stalinist state in the USSR. It spread first, in the 1940s and 50s, to the Stalinist parties around the world, and then to a wide spectrum of the anti-Stalinist left. Books like Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators recycle them; so did Jim Allen’s play, Perdition; so have dozens of articles and pamphlets.

Why have such ideas spread amongst otherwise rational people of good will and socialist aspirations?

Proper emotional solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs, and therefore emotional hostility to Israel, is the living root of the credulity with which the fantastic tales and the Hansel and Gretel “history” of grotesque constructions on real events are accepted on the left.

It is the source of the emotional and intellectual “demand” which “anti-Zionism” supplies, and of the willingness and even eagerness to identify Zionism and Israel with Nazism, or to come as close as sense can be stretched and often way beyond — to identifying them. In a welthering of righteous “anti imperialism”, “anti-racism” and, in some respects justified, but incoherent and hysterical, indignation against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the kitsch left, is like the hero in an old Hollywood film, who, sword-fighting with the villain in the final reel, moves closer and closer to the quicksand, or perilously close to the edge of a precipice. Except that the kitsch left long ago pitched itself head first into the pestilential morass.

Nihilistic “anti-imperialism” plays a central role here. Israel is identified as a mere stooge of Washington.

There is another root to the kitsch left’s identification of the Jewish nationalists with the Nazis. It is a way to escape the compelling logic, and the political conclusions, which 20th century history gave to the pre-war disputes on Zionism; a way to escape the obvious conclusions of modern history.

In Trotsky’s time, his movement opposed Zionism on two grounds. The whole project was possible only under license from the British imperialist overlord of Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Aden, etc. The Zionists would be compelled therefore to ally with the British against the revolt of Britain’s Arab semi-colonies.

The second reason was that the Zionist project in Palestine was not in their opinion an answer to the mortal threat with which the Jews of Europe were faced. Trotsky, who had a sharp pre-vision of what Europe’s Jews faced was tragically proved right. (Trotsky was influenced perhaps in this by his pre-World War One experience as a war correspondent in the Balkans, where he had witnessed terrible ethnic and sectarian massacres.)

The colonisation of Palestine simply could not in the short term provide a refuge for all the threatened Jews of Europe. (Though it could have saved many more than were saved had they been allowed to go there.) Only the socialist revolution, argued Trotsky, can save the Jews. Two out of every three Jews alive in Europe on Sept 1, 1939, were not saved.

The experience of the war and the Holocaust, however, threw a new light on the old disputes about Palestine. The Palestinian Jews survived. They might not have. The Nazis might, even temporarily, have overrun the area. The Jews might not have survived, but they did; and most of the Jews in Europe did not.

IMPORTANTLY too, the charge that the Zionists — that is, today, Israel, which is the point — “collaborated” with the Nazis, bear a share of responsibility for the Holocaust, are themselves Nazi-like, etc works to free people who start out with decent socialist and liberal instincts and attitudes from the tremendous moral pressure in favour of Israel which the fact of the Holocaust engenders. If Zionism-Israel share responsibility for the Holocaust in any degree then the Holocaust can be removed as a powerful argument for a Jewish state now.

The whole thing is radically incoherent. But if, the various “stories” now widely accepted and spread by so much of the ‘left’ are taken as true, that “the Zionists”, even while six million Jews were being kilied, were nevertheless able to control such things as whether or not the US government let in Jewish refugees, and as a movement, calculatingly, for their own long-term “Zionist” purposes, helped the Nazis kill one million Hungarian Jews in 1944, and so on (and there is a lot more of it, and one or other bit of it is widely accepted on the left) — then “they” had a high degree of manipulative control over what happened — even over the Holocaust.

The very idea, bluntly stated, is self-evident lunacy. But if “they” could do that during the war, then the Nazi theories of a powerful Jewish conspiracy before the war were wrong only in being understatements.

The prevailing “left” thesis about Zionism-fascism-Israel can rest on no logical ground except that of the pre-war Nazi world Jewish conspiracy theories.

Denouncing the Zionists as “Nazis”, they reproduce the old right wing and Nazi thesis, or at any rate a recognisable dialect of it, about the world Jewish conspiracy.

Hysterically identifying Israel (because of its treatment of the Palestinians, but not only that) with Hitler and Nazism, they embrace and propagate the core of the Nazi theories about the International Jewish Conspiracy!

Of course nobody on the left would explicitly tell the story I told about Hitler. The anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist feeling of the anti-Zionist left prevents them from grasping and understanding, from seeing it whole, and from spelling out, coherently, what, nevertheless, so many of them implicitly believe and propagate…

Yet — to repeat — that is the tale sections of the left implicitly tell now. Try to spell out, clearly and honestly, what is said about Zionist collusion with the Nazis to secure a Jewish state; open out the implications which are plainly there in what is said — then you must come up with some version of the story I told above. That is the real and only possible relationship that what is now said by the left can be seen to have with what Hitler said on the same subject.

And it is not a matter of parallels that never meet. The assertion about the Zionists’ co-responsibility, or part-responsibility, for the Holocaust ties it all together. An honest historical balance sheet from that point of view would have to place Hitler himself in the perspective of history, that is, of the post-Holocaust working-out of the “International Jewish Conspiracy”. Hitler lost: the Third Reich fell and Israel rose!

If those who demonise Israel would confront the logic of some of the things they say now. If they dared think it through without the constraint of powerful inhibitions rooted in our common hatred of Nazism, and of racism in general, then what the left says now would compel it to recognise that Hitler was informed and insightful and, in essence, correct on the “Jewish question”.

Most of the reasons why the “anti-Zionist” left do not tease out these conclusions speak in their favour, of course: horror of Nazism, disgust with racism, and so on. They are, after all, socialists, whose basic impulses and aspirations are the same as ours. Such people must denounce articles like this as foul slander.

Having done that, they will feel free to go on as before.

But this “good side”, which stops the kitsch-left thinking through the meaning of what they say, has a very bad consequence here. It allows them, fuelled by sympathy with the Palestinians and hatred of Imperialism, blithely to continue peddling a disguised and sanitised version of ideas and facets of ideas they would recoil from in horror if ever they were forced to look at what they say, in its wholeness, and to understand how what they say now relates to what the murderers of six million Jews — and many millions of others, too — said to justify their anti-semitism.

An anti-semitism that is now reproduced in the kitsch-left commitment to the destruction of the Jewish nation in Israel, and the comprehensive hostility to most Jews alive to which this inescapably commits them to.

There is a shift from what the German socialist, Bebel, said was “the socialism of the fools” to “the anti-imperialism of the idiots”, but hostility to Jews, and to the Israeli Jewish nation which emerged out of the terrible events of the 20th century is central to both.

We should support Israel’s right to defend itself; support the Palestinian Arabs in so far as it is a matter of them trying to gain control of their own territories from the Israeli army; and back the Israeli anti-chauvinists who want a just settlement with the Palestinians.
We should stand against the Islamist clerical fascists.

We should stand against the present upsurge of hysterical “anti-Zionism”. We should strip off the masks and the illusions behind which lurk ideas, like those I have explored here.

We are fighting for political sanity and against unreason on the left: therefore we should not let delicacy stop us from confronting our misguided comrades, brutally, with the brute — Nazi — logic, implications and ancestry of some of the ideas they have adopted from putrescent Stalinism. We must insist:

No, Hitler was not right!

32 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

    Comrade Matt writes:

    I have a review of Livingstone’s recent book Being Red that I will put on my blog some time soon (I need to proof read it, which is probably evident form the extract below). However, I thought I would share the material in in on anti-Semitism since this now blown up in a big way:

    [Snip]

    … This dovetails with the persistent accusations of anti-Semitism that have been directed as Livingstone. These are dealt with briefly in Being Red but only in Livingstone’s response to an Evening Standard reporter who attempted to interview Livingstone after an evening function in 2005. Livingstone responded to some anodyne questioning by asking, “Were you a German war criminal?” Livingstone’s response to the reporter telling Livingstone he was Jewish was “you are just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it ’cause you’re paid to, aren’t you?”[1] While it is understandable that Livingstone takes a combative role against the press that, it is indicative of a deeper-seated issue with Livingstone.

    Take, for example, the section in his memoirs where he defends himself against these accusations (and specifically against the case put together by Hosken in this chapter on Livingstone’s relationship with the WRP). Here Livingstone launches into a peculiar two page defence of an interview that Labour Herald carried with Lenni Brenner at the time the publication of Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of Dictators. Brenner (who is Jewish) argued that that right-wing Zionists in the 1930s actively collaborated with anti-Semites, particularly the Nazis, in order to achieve a Jewish homeland. While this is not the place to unpick the arguments of Brenner’s book (which I would suggest are so one-sided and distorted as to be plain wrong), what is notable is how Livingstone uses the argument. Livingstone extends the book’s view that some far-right Zionists collaborated with the Nazis first to all Zionists and then Jews in general. Thus, Livingstone inserts into his argument the suggestion that in the 1930s mainstream Jewish leadership in Britain, the Board of Deputies, shared these pro-Nazi views. This led to them, Livingstone suggests, not opposing Mosley’s British Union of Blackshirts, which he the elides with the assertion that there was a Zionist-Nazi link.[2]

    There are three problems with this. The first is that this that there is the classic movement from criticising Zionism to criticising Jewish organisations in general. The motivation of the Board of Deputies was not Zionist, it was not a Zionist organisation in its outlook at that time, but was based on the conservative long-established Jewish elite in Britain.[3] Secondly, Livingstone, it his enthusiasm to pursue Brenner’s theses goes further than Brenner. Brenner’s book is careful and considered in its evidence (before drawing the wrong conclusion from it), so he correctly points out that while both the Board of Deputies and British Zionists (the two were separate) where cautious in opposing British fascism before it became anti-Semitic, by 1936 some Zionists were involved in the community self-defence Jewish People’s Council Against Anti-Semitism and Fascism (JPC).[4] Thirdly, Livingstone’s blanket statement that the Board of Deputies did not oppose fascism is simply not true. This was a moderate, small-c conservative organisation that sought to operate by compromise and accommodation. They did not oppose Mosley early on when before his anti-Semitic turn and thought that seeking assurances from Mussolini that Jewish people could continue their lives unmolested in Italy was the way forward. They were opposed by other in Jewish people in Britain, who sought confrontation with Mosley at Cable St. and established the JPC which was politically opposed to the Board of Deputies. It is not that the Board of Deputies did not oppose the British Union of Fascists after their anti-Semitic turn in 1935, but that they sought to do so by limited legalistic means, particularly state bans on their activities (the Labour Party leadership had the same position).[5] As Brenner recognises this, and that the Board of Deputies, based on the more prosperous elements of the longer established Jewish community had much to lose from the left-wing radicalism of the Jewish working class East End,[6] but as anti-Semitism became more threatening reached an accommodation with the more JPC in 1938.[7]

    In effect what Livingstone is doing is accusing Jewish people of been complicit with anti-Semites for the purposes of furthering Zionism, seeing Zionism as an unmitigated wrong (rather than an understandable reaction to European anti-Semitism) and compounding being Jewish with being a Zionist. These all characteristic of a left-wing version of anti-Semitism (that it, judging people Jewish people by different criteria, and more negatively, than other groups in society).

    Left-wing anti-Semitism has a long history. In the late 19th and early 20th century is was took the form of the “socialism of fools” where Jewish people (sometimes just some Jewish people) were identified with the worst elements of capitalism, and while this has not entirely disappeared from the left it has largely been replaced one based on attitudes to the Israel/Palestine conflict[8] (although this sometimes contains elements of the older anti-Semitism when it is linked to supposed networks of powerful Jews). Livingstone is certainly not the worst example of it (the worst examples in Britain may have been his erstwhile supporters in the WRP) and there is no suggestion that that he has any personal antipathy towards Jewish people. But is associated with some carelessness when he comes to deal with anti-Semitism, suggesting that it may be have less important in his concerns than anti-black and anti-Muslim forms of racism.

    This is seen in Being Red when Livingstone makes the claim that when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 his criticism of Israel as London mayor meant that anti-Semitic incidents went down in London whereas they went up elsewhere in the UK.[9] This is the kind of off-hand comment which abounds in Being Red, and another one which turns out to be inaccurate.[10] The war in Lebanon lasted from July – September 2006. According the figures from the Community Security Trust (CST), the monthly average of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the same period the previous year (July to September 2005) had been thirty-three. The average for those three months in 2006 was seventy-nine, so in 2006 during the war there was increase of 140 per cent in attacks nationally. The CST does not publish a monthly breakdown of figures by region, but in 2005 as a whole there were 213 incidents in London (47 per cent of the total); in 2006 there were 300 incidents in London (51 per cent of the total).[11] The indication is thus that there was a slightly greater increase in attacks around the war in London than there was nationally. Thus the claim that the level of anti-Semitic incidents decreased in London is simply untrue. Livingstone’s assumption that the change was caused by his pubic views on the matter is also wrong, the incidents in London increased in line with the national trend. But the comment does show how Livingstone is both careless with the facts (here on anti-Semitism) and that he has an inflated sense of his own importance in determining the course of the events. (It is notable that there continues to be an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in London. The figures peaking at well over 1,000 in 2014. The number in London has remained at around 50 per cent of the national total,[12] which is slightly lower than the proportion of British Jewish people who live in London, which is around 60 per cent).

    [1] “Transcript of the taped exchange between Ken Livingstone and Oliver Finegold outside City Hall”, The Guardian (online) 25th February 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/feb/25/localgovernment.politicsandthemedia (Accessed 15/4/2016). For some of the criticism after that incident see Jonathan Freedland, “I’ve backed Ken Livingstone for mayor before, but this time I just can’t do it”, The Guardian (on line), 23rd March 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/mar/23/backed-ken-livingstone-mayor-before; “The letter to Ed Miliband from Jewish Labour supporters”, The Jewish Chronicle 22nd March 2012; http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/65426/the-letter-ed-miliband-jewish-labour-supporters; “Ken Livingstone and anti-Semitism”, Solidarity, 28th March 2012, http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2012/03/28/ken-livingstone-and-anti-semitism

    [2] Livingstone (2012), p222

    [3] Raphael Langham, 250 years of Convention and Convention and Contention: A History of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1760-2010 (London, Vallentine Mitchell, 2010), pp122-138

    [4] Lenni Brenner (1983) Zionism in the Age of Dictators, p159-169 [note: references here to a Brenner’s PDF mark-up of the book at http://solargeneral.org/wp-content/uploads/library/Jews/zionism-in-the-age-of-the-dictators-lenni-brenner.pdf (accessed 6/3/2016)]

    [5] Nigel Copsey (2000) Anti-Fascism in Britain (Houndmills: Macmillan Palgrave), pp60-75

    [6] Brenner (1983), p56 (PDF edition)

    [7] Langham (2010), p153.

    [8] William I. Brustein and Louisa Roberts (2015), The Socialism of Fools?: Leftist Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism, (New York, Cambridge University Press), chp 4 and pp190ff.

    [9] Livingstone (2016), p40

    [10] This judgement may be based on Metropolitan Police data on racists incidents (Livingstone (2012), p505)

    [11] Community Safety Trust, Antisemitic Incidents Report 2005 p14, https://cst.org.uk/docs/Incidents_Report_05.pdf (accessed 29/2/2016); Antisemitic Incidents Report 2006m https://cst.org.uk/docs/Incidents_Report_06.pdf (accessed 29/2/2016)

    [12] Community Safety Trust, Antisemitic Incidents Report 2014, https://cst.org.uk/data/file/5/5/Incidents-Report-2014.1425053165.pdf (accessed 29/2/2016); Antisemitic Incidents Report 2015, https://cst.org.uk/data/file/1/9/Incidents_Report_2015.1454417905.pdf (accessed 29/2/2016)

  2. Scott Reeve said,

    Livingstone should immediately resign from the Labour Party. Giving time for another comrade to be added to the left slate for the NEC elections. Candidates have to be nominated by June 24th. Corbyn should tell him to resign he has undermined the Labour Party and more importantly Jeremy’s leadership. Racism exists under the cloak of anti Zionism and solidarity with the Palestinian People.
    .

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    Blimey, I hope the Tory press didn’t take Red Ken’s words out of context. I mean, they’d never do that to a left-wing politician would they?

    “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism ”

    Right, so if this factually correct or incorrect?

    • Nick.W. said,

      Steven, it is you who removes the context. Ken was not speaking to a lecture theatre noting political policy changes in 1930’s Germany. He was speaking about Naz Shah’s posts & suspension in a modern day context. She has apologised for her posts, rightly so. The damage done by Ken’s disgusting intervention can now only be limited by the left being united in it’s condemnation. Playing silly diversionary nonsense won’t suffice.

      • seditionsquare said,

        What the hell kind of a response is that? Why is it disgusting?

    • Lamia said,

      Hitler’s policy ideas on this vacillated. At one point he did indeed consider deporting all German Jews to Palestine. But forcing them to relocate there is not the same as Zionism. And when in 1938 a senior Nazi did suggest doing a deal with Zionists in Palestine to transport Jews voluntarily, Hitler refused, because he did not want to do any deal with Zionists. He, not Jews, would decide what happened to them.

      Hitler’s general attitude did not change: he might or might not deport Jews (whether they liked it or not) to Palestine, but he would not let them go there out of their free will.

      Those who suggest that Hitler supported Zionism, and that Zionists were in a sense allied to the Nazis, are sick and dishonest. It is really perverse the way that a section of the Labour left have tried to twist this.

      • Lamia said,

        As an analogy:

        1. Rastafarians believe in a return of people of African ancestry to that continent.
        2. There white racists who believe that all people of African ancestry should be deported to Africa.
        3. That doesn’t make the second group ‘supporters of Rastafarianism’, nor does it make supporters of Rastafarianism supporters of a policy of forced ‘repatriation’.

        Forcing people to go and live somewhere is not the same, by a long way, as allowing/enabling them to go and live there of their own volition.

        There is a studied, malicious refusal to see this difference by some people (that’s not aimed at you, Steven).

      • Makhno said,

        You’ve stolen my analogy. Give me back my analogy.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haavara_Agreement

    Is this the agreement Livingstone was referring to?

    • Boleyn Ali said,

    • charliethechulo said,

      Read comment no 1 above, re Lenni Benner and this kind of nonsense.

      In addition, does the fact that the BNP advocates all black people being sent to Africa make them Garveyites?

      • Hound of Tindalos said,

        No, but it does mean that the Garveyites and the BNP have some ideas in common. I would point you to George Lincoln Rockwell’s cooperation with the Nation of Islam

  5. Steven Johnston said,

    The left will never be united, over this and every other issue and even if you could get unity on this issue, why would that stop the press from milking this one?

    • Nick.W. said,

      Throw in another conspiracy theory, why not?
      If the left can’t unite in opposition to clearly offensive & anti-Semitic comments such as Ken’s then one has to presume it’s not really a ‘left’ at all.

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Conspiracy? I thought it was pretty obvious, the left has more varities than Heinz.

  6. Lamia said,

    That is an outstanding piece by Matgamna.

    The gleeful alighting upon the Haavara Agreement – which as Matgamna and plenty of others have noted was a desperate attempt at a bargain to save ‘at least some’ Jews from those who would happily kill all of them – demonstrates how disingenuous and plain sadistic a lot of Livingstone’s apologists are.

  7. Steven Johnston said,

    Blimey! Would John Mann, if he’d been around in 1938, have confronted Churchill over his actual support for Hitler? Or is this worse?

    • Lamia said,

      The only substantial ‘actual support for Hitler’ came from the Soviet Union.

      • Nick.W. said,

        Who later provided for his downfall.

  8. John R said,

    “The fact that he got onto Labour’s NEC as part of the left ticket speaks volumes about the degenerate state of what passes for the “left” in Britian today.” – Jim D

    Malia Bouattia is part of that “anti-Zionist” Left who wish to destroy Israel yet she received the support of the AWL in the NUS vote. She also supports Cage and received the (albeit critical) support of the AWL. In most of the student Left, support for the destruction of Israel and uncritical support for Islamist politics are expected.

    But the AWL will still back them against the Labour Right.

    If Ken Livingstone had not made his comments yesterday and remained on the Left Slate, I think it fair to say, he and the rest of the Slate would get the critical support of the AWL. The way things are in Labour, it’s still not beyond the possibility that he’ll get back in, just in time, to be able to stand for the NEC. What will happen then?

    Livingstone still features on the “Left Futures” site as being on the Slate despite Jon Lansman and Owen Jones distancing himself from him. The venom directed at Owen Jones yesterday on Twitter was quite staggering.

    So, who decides if Livingstone should be replaced on the Left Slate? Momentum? The LRC? The CLPD? If he does get back in, that will be the next inter left battle.

    Most of the Labour Right and Centre “Big Guns” (e.g. Benn, Watson) are keeping quiet at the moment. It’s a case for them, I guess, to just watch Corbyn supporters eat themselves in the same manner that has happened in the Far Left over decades. It’s just playing out on a national stage now.

    So, let’s see what happens. One things for sure, a split will come at some point. It is inevitable. If, as I hope, another credible person comes forward to replace Corbyn, I just wonder what the state of Labour will be.

  9. Keri said,

    Thank you for reprinting the Matgamna piece, long but worthwhile.

  10. seditionsquare said,

    Exactly the unfocused, hysterical response I expected from this blog, and I’m sad to see my expectations met. Livingstone didn’t say Hitler was a Zionist, nor that Zionists are Nazis – he said that at one point Hitler supported Zionism (by wanting to eject Jews to Palestine). That’s fact. True, it might not have been a particularly relevant thing to say – but his broader point was that anti-Zionists are being smeared as anti-Semites. Look how correct you (and Mr Mann, and all the others) just proved him to be.

    • Makhno said,

      It was more than “not particularly relevant”, it was insanely counter-productive and idiotic. His broader comments also weren’t without dog-whistle anti-semitism. What good did he think he was doing?

      The semantics of whether “Hitler supported Zionism” are also irrelevant, and utterly pointless. Hitler hated the Jews, he wanted rid of the Jews, he didn’t “support Zionism”.

      John Mann is an equally egregious arsehole, it has to be said. The only (again, pretty irrelevant) defence of Livingstone is that he was in no way being a “Hitler apologist”. Dishonest and offensive, yes, just not that.

  11. seditionsquare said,

    What Livingstone said shouldn’t be controversial, and his reputation for anti-semitism is built around some comment about concentration camp guards to a journalist (who turned out to be Jewish) and being imprecise in his wording a couple of times – nothing, really. If he hated Jews he’d have accidentally said so hundreds of times, because that’s just what he’s like.

    He’s certainly no ‘Nazi apologist’, anyway, and it says so much about what a messed-up country we are that John Mann hasn’t been suspended for that straight-up lie. There’s counter-productive and idiotic for you.

  12. Sam Kincaide said,

    Tonight’s Standard says Livingstone is planning to rely on Lenni Brenner’s book in his defence. It says Livingstone met and was convinced by Brenner (described as ‘an obscure Marxist writer’ and ‘bearded American historian’) in 1985, that is at the height of Livingstone’s association with the Healyites.

    That his defence is that his remarks are historically accurate is an attempt to obscure what’s really going on and a red herring . More to the point is why he chose to make those remarks when he did. They hardly constitute a defence of Naz Shah, which is what he was supposed to be talking about. This and the earlier incident with the reporter, indicates that he has a reflex of saying something offensive to Jews when he sees an opportunity or is challenged. That is, he ‘has a problem with Jews’.

  13. Jim Denham said,

    Sean Matgamna in 2005, on Livingstone’s altercation with the reporter; it remains highly relevant today, though I’d now say Matgamna was being overly-charitable to Livingstone when he wrote “Livingstone is surely no racist. It is very unlikely that he is prejudiced against individual Jews, simply for being Jewish”;

    **

    Livingstone is a man of contradictions. Most of the time he is a conniving, ruthlessly self-serving career politician. But inside the slick careerist there is always another Livingstone trying to escape. This Livingstone is a bit of a nut.

    It is the Livingstone who has over many years linked himself to some of the most bizarre sects in the “Trotskyist” archipelago. He worked for years, and long after it was to his advantage to do so, with an organisation, the Workers Revolutionary Party, which was financed by Arab governments, variously by Iraq, Libya, some of the sheikhdoms (and he could not but have known or suspected it).

    The Livingstone who abused the reporter was Livingstone in nut mode. And, seemingly, a Livingstone who is losing his grip.

    The campaign against Livingstone is contrived and half-spurious. It is not all spurious.

    To go from vaguely calling Finegold a “German war criminal” when he thought he was a mere employee of the Evening Standard, to pointedly comparing him with a Nazi camp guard when he learned that he is Jewish, does exhibit the typical pseudo-left reflex of identifying Israelis or Jews whose politics or activities you don’t like with some aspect of Nazism. The impulse is to hurt, wound, kick in the crotch, without being restrained by fact, decency, sense of proportion or awareness of your own hysteria on the question.

    However fuddled Livingstone’s wits were, what he said came straight out of the culture on the Middle East of the pseudo-left.

    It is a culture that accepts and expounds the crazed account of 20th century history in which “the Zionists” are identified as voluntary collaborators with the Nazis, as being themselves Nazi-like racists — the Zionists asserted that the Jews were a distinct nation, didn’t they? — and sometimes as co-authors of the Holocaust (for example, in the play by “Trotskyist” Jim Allen, for example, which was based on a book by “Trotskyist” Lenni Brenner). A culture in which necessary and legitimate criticisms of Israel are amalgamated with root and branch condemnation of the Jewish nation in Palestine for having come into existence at all and for defending its existence now.

    The culture which purveys a malignant Arab-Islamic chauvinist account of modern Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history in which the Jewish victims of the convulsions of mid-20th century capitalist Europe are demonised for seeking a refuge from persecution in Palestine and for defending themselves against the invasion of five Arab armies in 1948. Demonised most of all for winning in 1948 and after.

    A culture in which most of these in Britain now who call themselves revolutionary Marxists ally with the political Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood to advocate the destruction of Israel and an end to self-determination by the Jewish nation there.

    A culture in which the ostensible left is one of the main bearers of the most important modern version of anti-semitism, under the name of “anti-Zionism”. That is, hostility to the idea of a Jewish state, to its existence now, and to those, especially Jews, who accept and defend the Jewish state, however critically.

    It is not racist anti-semitism. Livingstone is surely no racist. It is very unlikely that he is prejudiced against individual Jews, simply for being Jewish.

    The Jews the pseudo-left is hostile to are those who will not agree that in the cause of “anti-imperialism” and “anti-Zionism” and “anti-racism”, the Jewish state should be done away with. Only, that is the overwhelming majority of Jews alive today. That is the point. The “anti-Zionism” now dominant on the left is a form of anti-semitism because it foments a comprehensive hostility towards almost all Jews.

    It brands as “racist” all those Jews who are for Israel’s right to survive and defend itself. No matter how critical of aspects of Israel they may be. No matter that many, or most, of them want to see a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace.

    Ken Livingstone’s instinctive, fuddle-witted, hate-filled torrent of incoherent abuse of a Jewish reporter, is a typical example of the dominant mindset on the pseudo-left and of its loss of all sense of scale, proportion, decency, and, finally, of reality on this issue.

    The most significant thing about the Livingstone-Evening Standard episode is that it shows how deeply in the mind even of a normally slick career politician such attitudes can penetrate and take root.

    Of course he should apologise!

    Solidarity has repeatedly warned the left to re-examine its own attitudes on this issue. The growth in overt anti-semitism in society shows how urgent this is.

  14. socialistfight said,

    Reblogged this on Socialist Fight and commented:
    Look at how this Zionist bigot Jim Denham, Nathanyahu’s British spokesman, attacks Livingstone. The comments include speculation on how to get rid of Corbyn and who to replace him with. It’s a vile far right attack. He has been a member of the AWL forever and had a letter in the Workers Liberty a few weeks ago supporting the Tory Prevent attack on Muslim. This follows Eric Lee’s “I’m Proud to be a Zionist” last week which created such furore amongst the group’s younger members

    • Makhno said,

      Well, you’re quite clearly insane, so thanks for that.

      • Nick.W. said,

        Unless “Nathanyahu” played with Dizzy Gillespie at some point.(?). In which case still insane but, possibly correct about the ‘spokesman’ bit.

  15. redkorat☭ (@red_korat) said,

    As a comrade said recently the left should just forget it ever heard the Z word and stick to (entirely proper) criticism of the Israeli government, its policies and actions … but it’s a code, isn’t it?

    …And a signifier that class analysis, dialectics and all fucking reason have been thrown out the window.

  16. John R said,

    What’s the difference between “political” anti-Semitism and “racist” anti-Semitism?

    It would appear to me that making this distinction gives a reason to allow (critical) support to a Labour Left (e.g. Ken Livingstone) against a Labour Right (e.g. Luke Akehurst) because they are “politically” anti-Semitic and not “racist”.

    Here’s a Tweet from Northants Momentum –

    “Livingstone vindicated: There WAS a Nazi-Zionist agreement and Hitler DID support it.”

    Here’s another pro-Palestinian, pro-Livingstone Twitter account who thinks that linking to a Holocaust denial website is helping the cause of both –

    This latter account has a blog where the latest piece quotes Gilad Atzmon saying the Labour Party is a “piece of Zionist-occupied territory”.

    https://uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com

    There is a rather heady stew brewing in the Labour Party in the moment which is being reflected on Twitter. There are many attacking the “Blairites” for “lying” about anti-Semitism in the Party while at the same time re-tweeting anti-Semitic cartoons, linking to Holocaust denial websites and talk of a “Jewish cabal” being behind it all.

    Is it “political” anti-Semitism or “racist” anti-Semitism?

    I just see unthinking Jew-hate myself.

  17. Steven Johnston said,

    Well the left are united, united against John Mann, last I heard over 10 000 lefties had signed a petition stating he was wrong to do this to Livingstone

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