Labour’s Star Chamber
Why do the witch-hunters refuse to deal with the content? Tony Greenstein comments on the Livingstone verdict
It says a lot about Jeremy Corbyn that he not only refused to condemn the witch-hunt of Ken Livingstone or the false anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party. After Livingstone was found guilty by Labour’s national constitutional committee of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended from standing as a party candidate for another year, Corbyn actually said that Livingstone’s repeated “offensive remarks” about Hitler having supported Zionism, and his refusal to “acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused”, left him open to “further action”.
Yet Labour’s witch-hunters are desperate to avoid any debate about the content of what Livingstone said. We were told a year ago that what Livingstone said about Hitler supporting Zionism and whether the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis was a heinous example of anti-Semitism. But Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, in setting out the accusations against the former mayor, stated that the case against him was not about the historical facts, but whether his conduct was “grossly detrimental” to the party, “especially given his defence of anti-Semitic Facebook posts by Bradford West MP Naz Shah”.
We should bear in mind that the ‘anti-Semitic Facebook posts’ by Naz Shah included a map of the United States with Israel transplanted to it. The map first appeared on the site of the Jewish Virtual Library,1 which is not known to be an anti-Semitic site!
The catch-all charge, favoured by McCarthyites, of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, is of course entirely subjective. It is a matter of opinion, depending on where you stand. Some of us think that if anyone brought the Labour Party into disrepute it was Tony Blair’s support for the Iraq war, but clearly being a war criminal is not seen as disreputable by the crooked McNicol.
But it seems that the truth is ‘anti-Semitic’. So it is useful to look at the argument of Rainer Schulze, an academic apologist for Zionism, to understand why McNicol fought shy of tackling the substance of what Livingstone said.
Livingstone was attacked a year ago by Schulze, who is professor of modern European history at the University of Essex,in an article reprinted in The Independent as ‘Hitler and Zionism: why the Ha’avara agreement does not mean the Nazis were Zionists’.2 Unfortunately being a professor of history does not mean you have to know much about your subject and this is often the case with ‘holocaust professors’.
When the Nazi government was put in power in January 1933, world Jewry reacted by setting in motion an economic boycott of Nazi Germany. Given that this was completely unorganised and spontaneous, it was remarkably successful.
Even in Palestine in the first few days of April thousands of orders for German goods in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were cancelled. However, the ‘socialist’ Zionists of Mapai, the Israeli Labour Party, were furious. They wanted to do business with the Nazis, not campaign against them. They immediately launched a campaign against the boycott of Nazi Germany. On May 18, they claimed in a broadcast that “Screaming slogans calling for a boycott … are a crime ... We are all anxious about our brethren in Germany, but we have no quarrel with the representatives of the German government in Palestine.”3
In the 1930s the same establishment worthies who today are opposed to the boycott of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’ were equally opposed to the boycott of Nazi Germany. The Board of Deputies of British Jews voted on July 23 1933 by 110-27 to oppose such a boycott.
Schulze puts forward the establishment view of Ha’avara, the agreement between the Nazis and Zionists, that there was nothing wrong with a trade agreement with the Nazis. In essence he is arguing that the Zionist policy of constructive engagement was the best policy.
He is, however, correct on one thing: Hitler was not a Zionist. Nor did Ken Livingstone claim he was. But it is indisputable that the Nazi regime supported and favoured the Zionist movement. Reinhardt Heydrich, Himmler’s deputy and leader of the police, security and Gestapo department, issued on January 28 1935 an order which stated: “The activities of the Zionist-oriented organisations [are in line with] the interest of the National Socialist state leadership” - before going on to say that Zionists “are not to be treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German-Jewish organisations (assimilationists)”.
Throughout the 1930s, as part of the regime’s determination to force Jews to leave Germany, there was almost unanimous support in German government and Nazi party circles for promoting Zionism among German Jews, together with Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine.
If Schulze is not aware of this then he has no business trumpeting his professorial credentials on the subject (if he is aware of it then he is an academic liar, an establishment poodle). The above quotes can be found in books by two Zionist historians, the late Lucy Dawidowicz’s War against the Jews and Francis Nicosia’s Zionism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.
Not once did Schulze even mention the boycott of Nazi Germany. This is academic dishonesty. You cannot understand the opposition from the overwhelming majority of Jewish people to Ha’avara without understanding that boycott. Its purpose was to force the Nazis to halt their persecution, so that Jews could continue to live in Germany. Ben Gurion and his associates, by contrast, wanted German Jews to settle in Palestine and they saw the Ha’avara policy as a means toward that end.
In other words, this was the old Zionist policy of welcoming anti-Semitism as an inducement to Jews to emigrate to Palestine. The Zionists did not want Jews to live in the diaspora. They saw the persecution of Jews in Germany as the inevitable outcome of Jewish ‘homelessness’ - living in the countries of ‘other peoples’. While the Nazis were frantic in their desire to destroy the boycott, the Zionist movement, by agreeing to Ha’avara, helped the Nazi regime survive. Ha’avara, far from being a rescue scheme for Jews, was a rescue scheme for the Nazi state. That the Zionist movement was guilty of collaboration cannot be doubted, even if the tame establishment historian, Rainer Schulze, suggests otherwise.
The idea that the Zionist Organisation or the Jewish Agency were concerned with rescuing German Jews in their own right is for the birds.
Rainer Schulze argues that “Zionism was a movement based on the right of self-determination. It originated as a national liberation movement ...” A question I have often asked Zionists is, when was it they first decided that Zionism was a national liberation movement? I have never received an answer. The founders of Zionism, from whatever political persuasion, described Zionism as a colonial movement at a time when colonialism was still respectable.
The founder of political Zionism, Theodore Herzl, when he wrote to Cecile Rhodes, the British colonialist and white supremacist in southern Africa, explained thus: “How, then, do I happen to turn to you, since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial.”4
Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of revisionist Zionism (the equivalent of Likud today), in his famous essay ‘An iron wall’, which was a polemic against his opponents in Labour Zionism, argued:
There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs … it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting ‘Palestine’ from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.
My readers have a general idea of the history of colonisation throughout the world. I suggest that they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonisation being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent.5
There is not even one instance of any reference to a ‘national liberation movement’ in the writings of the founders of Zionism. Zionism only became a national liberation movement when colonialism got a bad name! Today’s Zionists have decided to disguise what even the Zionists themselves used to admit was a colonialist movement in the apparel of the oppressed in order to deceive the innocent. Rainer Schulze’s history lessons are in reality an act of deception.
Rainer Schulze finished his article by indulging in a piece of straw-man rhetoric: “Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.”
That is, of course, true. But no-one has claimed that they shared common goals. Clearly the Zionists did not support the mass genocide of European Jewry. Marshal Pétain collaborated with the Nazis, but that does not mean he supported their aims. He collaborated because he did not want a Nazi occupation of France. When a weaker party collaborates with a stronger party they rarely if ever share the same goals.
Unfortunately professor Schulze, having very little knowledge or understanding of the topic he was writing about, decided to engage in an old debating tactic: attack something your opponent hasn’t said!
3. E Black The transfer agreement: the dramatic story of the pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine New York 2009, p144.
4. T Herzl The complete diaries of Theodor Herzl Vol 4: https://archive.org/stream/TheCompleteDiariesOfTheodorHerzl_201606/TheCompleteDiariesOfTheodorHerzl