Haaretz: The British Left can’t tackle anti-Semitism if it doesn’t want to understand it

May 02, 2016

This cartoon, published in The Times of London on Saturday, shows former London Mayor Livingstone (left) and current Labour Party leader and would-be British Prime Minister Corbyn (right)

 

* Tom Gross: There has been a great amount of coverage in the British media in recent days concerning the furious row that is engulfing Britain’s main opposition Labour party about anti-Semitism within its ranks.

The vast majority of readers of this list live outside the UK, so for those interested, I attach seven articles below. (By coincidence, the authors of these articles are all subscribers to this list: four are left-wingers; three are on the right.)

 

* Niall Ferguson (London Sunday Times): Former London mayor Ken Livingstone’s claim that “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel” is nonsense and based on the claim of the [self-hating Jewish] American Trotskyist Lenni Brenner, who at an anti-Israel meeting in Connecticut, said that Jews were as “crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.

As early as April 1920 Hitler called for Jews “to be exterminated”. In Mein Kampf he wrote: “If at the beginning of the [First World] war and during the war 12 or 15,000 of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas . . . the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain.”

Germans who voted National Socialist in 1932 and 1933 were therefore not voting for a Zionist resettlement programme. At a torchlit parade on February 6, 1933, in Hamburg 20,000 brownshirts chanted: “Death to the Jews,” and – according to one eyewitness – “sang of the blood of the Jews which would squirt from their knives”.

 

* Leading British historian Andrew Roberts: The sole reason Ken Livingstone brought up the Fuhrer in his interview was to be as vicious and loathsome as he possibly could to any Jews listening.

 

* Leading British World War Two historian Antony Beevor: For Livingstone to describe Hitler as a Zionist is “grotesque”.

 

* Liam Hoare (Haaretz) : Anti-Semitism is indeed anti-Jewish racism – but it is also a unique form of prejudice, at once a virus and pathology. Anti-Semitism is a condition where Jews are the eternal antithesis. The hatred against them survives by constantly mutating. Christian anti-Judaism flowed into race-and-blood anti-Semitism. The accusation that Israelis murder Palestinian children and harvest their organs is the freshest incarnation of the old blood libel. Jews have been held responsible for both capitalism and communism, modernity and backwardness, powerfulness and powerlessness, sexual prowess and sexual inadequacy, extreme wealth and extreme poverty.

 

* Charles Moore (Daily Telegraph) : Jeremy Corbyn has refused to share a platform with David Cameron over the EU referendum, although they both advocate a Remain vote. [But Corbyn happily] shared a platform with Sheikh Raed Saleh, who (elsewhere) called Jews “bacteria”; with representatives of the British Muslim Initiative, which plays the anti-Semitic card of comparing Jews with Nazis with its “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” placards; with what he calls his “friends” from Hamas, whose charter calls upon Moslems to kill Jews. And Corbyn has shared platforms with others who claim that “the Jews” that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

 

* Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian): “So this is my plea to the left. Treat us the same way you’d treat any other minority. No better and no worse. If opposition to racism means anything, it surely means that.”

* Jonathan Freedland: Israel was deemed a “disease” by a caller to a 2010 show on Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster, without objection from the host, Jeremy Corbyn.

 

* Tom Gross: The Guardian itself (though not Jonathan Freedland), along with the BBC, has been contributing to British anti-Semitism for decades now, as I have documented on countless occasions, for example here in my time showing the Guardian editor parts of Israel and the West Bank and here.

I have also many times in the past, documented the anti-Semitism of Mayor Livingstone on this list, for example, here.

 

* David Hirsh: Last month Livingstone said that in his 45 years in the Labour Party he had never once seen any anti-Semitism. On that occasion he was jumping to the defence of Gerry Downing, a Labour Party member who wanted to “re-open the Jewish Question” and Vicki Kirby, a Labour member who tweeted that the Brits “invented Israel when saving them [the Jews] from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher”. He was also trying to douse the scandal in Oxford University Labour Club after its Chair resigned, saying that members seemed to have “some kind of a problem with Jews”. These were the students who taunted Jewish members calling them “Zios” and singing “Bombs over Tel Aviv”.

 

* Nick Cohen (The Observer): “Allow me to state the moral argument as baldly as I can. Not just in Paris, but in Marseille, Copenhagen and Brussels, fascistic reactionaries are murdering Jews – once again. Go to any British synagogue or Jewish school and you will see police officers and volunteers guarding them. I do not want to tempt fate, but if British Jews were murdered, the leader of the Labour party would not be welcome at their memorial. The mourners would point to the exit and ask him to leave.”

 

WORTH WATCHING

For those who haven’t watched these clips, I recommend watching them:

* Labour MP John Mann -- a longtime non-Jewish critic of anti-Semitism (and a subscriber to this list) -- speaks his mind to former left-wing London mayor Ken Livingstone after they walk out of a BBC interview: “You’re a Nazi apologist and a f---ing disgrace, Livingstone”

* The BBC’s (almost only non-left wing news) presenter, Andrew Neil, interviews Livingstone in the interview that led to Livingstone’s suspension from the Labour Party.

 

You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches (including on this subject) if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

 

CONTENTS

1. “Islamists and Trots are hijacking the opposition: of course it’s anti-Semitic” (By Niall Ferguson, London Sunday Times, May 1, 2016)
2. “The British Left can’t tackle anti-Semitism if it doesn’t understand it” (By Liam Hoare, Haaretz, May 1, 2016)
3. “How the Labour Party embraced an ideology that has race hate at its heart” (By Charles Moore, London Daily Telegraph, April 30, 2016)
4. “Livingstone gets the history wrong on anti-Semitism and Hitler” (By Andrew Roberts, CapX, April 28, 2016)
5. “The Livingstone Formulation finally fails to rescue Ken Livingstone” (By David Hirsh, Jewish Chronicle, April 28, 2016)
6. “My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority” (By Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, April 30, 2016)
7. “I never thought it would get this dark” (By Nick Cohen, The Observer, May 1, 2016)


ISLAMISTS AND TROTS ARE HIJACKING THE OPPOSITION: OF COURSE IT’S ANTI-SEMITIC

Islamists and Trots are hijacking the opposition: of course it’s anti-Semitic
By Niall Ferguson
The Sunday Times (London)
May 1, 2016

I am a philo-semite. The disproportionate Jewish contribution to western civilisation – not least to science and the arts – is one of the most astonishing achievements of modern history. I am also an anti-anti-semite. The murder and mayhem perpetrated by anti- semites throughout history, and above all in the 20th century, deserves its special place in the annals of infamy.

I’d assumed anti-semitism had no place in British life, aside from the odious antics of skinheads on the fringes of the far right. There are therefore few things that depress me more than the resurfacing of anti-semitism on the British left, and not on its fringes.

In an interview on BBC London last week, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, claimed that “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 6m Jews.”

It turns out that Livingstone’s source for this claim is a book entitled Zionism in the Age of the ­Dictators by the self-proclaimed American Trotskyist Lenni Brenner. This is not a book cited in scholarly works, not least because Brenner is not a scholar but a political activist. (At an anti-Israel meeting in Berlin, Connecticut, he said that Jews who made political donations were as “crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.) Far more reliable accounts exist of the contacts between the Nazi regime and certain Zionists that led to the 1933 Havaara Agreement, which allowed German Jews to transfer property from Germany to Palestine, then a British-controlled “mandate”.

Some Nazi officials did indeed favour emigration as the “solution to the Jewish question”. But Livingstone’s claim that this was Hitler’s preferred option is simply wrong. As early as 1919 Hitler stated that he saw the Jews as “the racial tuberculosis of peoples”. In a speech he gave in April 1920 he called for them “to be exterminated”. In Mein Kampf he wrote: “If at the beginning of the [First World] war and during the war 12 or 15,000 of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas . . . the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain.”

Germans who voted National Socialist in 1932 and 1933 were therefore not voting for a Zionist resettlement programme. At a torchlit parade on February 6, 1933, in Hamburg 20,000 brownshirts chanted: “Death to the Jews,” and – according to one eyewitness – “sang of the blood of the Jews which would squirt from their knives”.

This latest controversy is, of course, not really about the history of 1930s Germany, but about the much more recent history of the British Labour party. Since the late 1960s – the era when both Livingstone and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, joined the party – a significant element of the British left has aligned itself with the Palestine Liberation Organisation and other groups hostile to Israel.

Close to half a century of anti-Zionist rhetoric lies behind Livingstone’s complaint that “there’s been a very well- orchestrate­d campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-semitic”.

This is why Corbyn dithered last week before acquiescing to Livingstone’s suspension. It also helps explain Corbyn’s defiant assertion “that much of this criticism . . . about a ‘crisis’ in the party actually comes from those who are nervous of the strength of the Labour party at local level”. Whom did he mean? True Labour supporters who see both him and Livingstone as Trotskyists hellbent on hijacking their party? Or some other group?

Yet Livingstone and Corbyn are no longer the devious “entryists” of their militant early years. Rather, they have become the useful idiots of an entirely new generation of Labour infiltrators.

Remember: Livingstone’s comments were made in defence of two 2014 Facebook posts by Naseem (“Naz”) Shah, who became the Labour MP for Bradford West last year. One stated: “Solution for Israel-Pales­tine conflict – relocate Israel into United States. Problem solved.” The other explicitly equated “apartheid Israel” with Hitler’s Germany.

“Naz was not anti-semitic,” in­sis­ted Livingstone last week. “She was completely over the top, very rude, but that does not make her an anti-semite . . . A real anti-semite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel; they hate their Jewish neighbours in Golders Green or Stoke Newington; it’s a physical loathing.”

Let’s leave aside the implication that it’s fine with Red Ken to “hate the Jews in Israel”, as long as some of your best friends in England are Jewish. Let’s instead consider why Shah was systematically using the Palestinian issue to mobilise voters.

It is not that Shah is herself an Islamist. If she were, I doubt she would appear with her head uncovered in the House of Commons. It is just that bashing Israel appears to be an effective way of mobilising Muslim voters, who account for roughly half the electorate in Bradford West. Nor is Bradford the only place in Britain where this goes on.

It was a difficult week for Sadiq Khan, the MP for Tooting, who is also the Labour candidate in next Thursday’s mayoral election in London. Khan lost no time in distan­cing himself from the last Labour mayor, condemning Living­stone’s comments as “appalling and inexcusable”. Yet Khan has done a few inexcusable things of his own.

In September 2004, for example, he attended a meeting under the banner “Palestine – the suffering still goes on”, hosted by Friends of al-Aqsa and the Tooting Islamic Centre. Invitations said “all welcome”, but a sign at the door made it clear that the sexes would be segrega­ted.

Other speakers included Daud Abdullah, then deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, who in 2009 signed the Istanbul declaration in support of Hamas’s “victory” in the “malicious Jewish Zionist war over Gaza”; the preacher Ibrahim Hewitt, whose book What Does Islam Say? likens homosexuals to paedophiles; and the academic Azzam Tamimi, who two months after the Tooting meeting told the BBC that sacrificing his life for justice for the Palestinians would be “a noble cause . . . the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity”. Also on the platform was the Tooting imam Suliman Gani, whom the prime minister has named in the Commons as a supporter of Isis.

Khan has argued that he attended this meeting in his capacity as a human rights lawyer, but he was in fact billed as a “Labour parliamentary candidate”. And this (if polls are to be believed) is the next mayor of London?

Forced last week to face its own long-standing problem with anti-semitism, Labour is frantically trying to turn the tables by accusing David Cameron and the Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith of “Islamophobia”. But the real issue is Labour’s dangerous flirtation with a new and very different generation of anti-semites. Trotskyists and Islamists make strange bedfellows, to be sure. But perhaps only slightly stranger than the anti-Marxists and German racial theorists who together created National Socialism.

(Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard.)

 

THE BRITISH LEFT CAN’T TACKLE ANTI-SEMITISM IF IT DOESN’T UNDERSTAND IT

The British Left can’t tackle anti-Semitism if it doesn’t understand it
By Liam Hoare
Haaretz
May 1, 2016

It’s an odd tick of Jeremy Corbyn’s that he can’t talk about anti-Semitism without tying in other issues.

Review the raft of generic statements the British Labour Party leader made in response to case after case of anti-Semitism within his own ranks. By and large, they are all a version of “The Labour Party is opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism,” as Corbyn said on Wednesday amid the Naz Shah affair. “Where there is any racism in the party it will be dealt with and rooted out. I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life,” he added Thursday after former London mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that Hitler supported Zionism.

Corbyn is a serial offender, but he is not the only leader on the hard left incapable of seeing anti-Semitism in isolation. Malia Bouattia – the new and already besieged leader of the [British] National Union of Students – wrote in The Guardian, in response to charges of anti-Semitism against her, “I’ve always been a strong campaigner against racism and fascism in all its forms.”

Now, if the British hard left really did believe anti-Semitism was racism, or a prejudice akin to Islamophobia, then neither Labour nor the NUS would be in this mess. Jeremy Corbyn clearly views anti-Semitism as a lesser offense – a marginal issue. “No, there is not a problem,” he said Thursday, adding unbelievably, “I suspect that much of this criticism that you are saying about a ‘crisis’ in the party actually comes from those who are nervous of the strength of the Labour Party at local level.”

Perhaps Livingstone – now suspended from Labour, pending investigation – rather gave the game away on Thursday when, appearing on LBC, he appeared to say it was over the top to think of anti-Semitism and racism as “exactly the same thing.”

But the reason the hard left is unable to rein in anti-Semitic tendencies is not that it sees anti-Semitism as another form of racism – if indeed it does. Rather, as Corbyn epitomizes, it refuses to grapple with anti-Semitism in and of itself. Anti-Semitism is indeed anti-Jewish racism – but it is also a unique form of prejudice, at once a virus and pathology.

Anti-Semitism is a condition where Jews are the eternal antithesis. The hatred against them survives by constantly mutating. Christian anti-Judaism flowed into race-and-blood anti-Semitism. The accusation that Israelis murder Palestinian children and harvest their organs is the freshest incarnation of the old blood libel. Jews have been held responsible for both capitalism and communism, modernity and backwardness, powerfulness and powerlessness, sexual prowess and sexual inadequacy, extreme wealth and extreme poverty.

As a hatred that manages to be pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-historical, and pseudo-scientific, anti-Semitism tends towards the conspiratorial. Playing on the theme of Jewish power, anti-Semitic myths are rife with bogus theories of hidden hands and secluded meetings, undisclosed connections, closed groups, and secret books, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” being the most obvious example. Name an event in modern history and someone, somewhere, has likely blamed Jews for it.

If the hard left understood all this, then they would be able to recognize that phrases like “Zionist-led media” (Bouattia) or “a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby” (Livingstone) are obviously anti-Semitic. Merely replacing the word “Jewish” with “Zionist” or “Israeli” – wrapping anti-Semitism in the veil of anti-Israelism – does not sever these phrases’ roots from the soil out of which these ideas grew: the old lie of Jewish omnipotence.

Similarly, Livingstone should have known what he was doing when he drew associations between Zionism and Nazism. “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 6 million Jews.” Setting aside the idea that Hitler had a kinder, gentler early period where he wasn’t psychotic, in mentioning Israel and Adolf Hitler in the same breath Livingstone managed, the historian Andrew Roberts observed, “to offend the maximum amount of Jews to the maximum extent.”

Livingstone said Thursday morning, “I’ve been in the Labour Party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic.” Evidently, he hasn’t been listening to himself.

Within the Labour Party, and the British left at large, there are tireless campaigners against anti-Semitism. John Mann, who confronted Livingstone Thursday on his way from one shambolic media appearance to the next, is an excellent example – although there are many others. Unless the hard left faction listens to them more, and can divorce itself from its tendency to minimize anti-Semitism, then they will never been able to tackle a problem they don’t understand.

(Liam Hoare is a graduate of University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.)

 

HOW THE LABOUR PARTY EMBRACED AN IDEOLOGY THAT HAS RACE HATE AT ITS HEART

How the Labour Party embraced an ideology that has race hate at its heart
By Charles Moore
Daily Telegraph (London)
April 30, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to share a platform with David Cameron over the EU referendum, although they both advocate a Remain vote. Mr Corbyn’s stated reason for this refusal is that “We are not on the same side”.

In his long career, Mr Corbyn has shared a platform with – among many other such – Sheikh Raed Saleh, who (elsewhere) repeated the “blood libel” against the Jews, and called them “monkeys” and “bacteria”; with representatives of the British Muslim Initiative, which plays the anti-Semitic card of comparing Jews with Nazis with its “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” placards; and with what he calls his “friends” from Hamas. Hamas’ Charter refers to “the Jews’ Nazism” and quotes approvingly the saying of the Prophet that when Jews hide from Moslems behind stones and trees, “The stones and trees will say: ‘O Moslems…, there is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him’.”

Sharing a platform with the above, Mr Corbyn presumably believes that he and they, unlike he and Mr Cameron, are on the same side.

It is in this context that one must place Ken Livingstone and his Zionists = Hitler outburst and Naz Shah’s suggestion (which Mr Livingstone was excusing) that the entire population of Israel should be deported to the United States. Both of them must feel bewildered by the condemnation heaped upon them, because they inhabit a party whose leader has, over his 40 years in politics, spent hundreds and hundreds of hours sharing platforms with virtually every sort of Muslim anti-Semite and advocate of terrorism that one can imagine. They may have thought they had permission.

There is, of course, an important difference between Mr Livingstone and Mr Corbyn. You can tell by the way the former drags Hitler in, by his bad-taste references to hating Jews as if it were half-funny, that he actually is personally anti-Semitic. You can find no such thing, to be the best of my knowledge, about Mr Corbyn.

But I’m not sure that makes things better. If Labour’s problem was individual, oddball anti-Semites, they could simply be removed. If it is about an ideology so wide and deep that its adherents don’t even realise what they are supporting, then you really have got trouble. If perfectly pleasant people like Mr Corbyn, with no personal malice, nevertheless make common cause with such extremism, then you have got, to use a concept beloved of the Left, institutional racism.

This story is less to do with individual wickedness than with what has happened to the Left. The stuff that Mr Livingstone garbled about Hitler supporting Zionism comes from a book by Lenni Brenner called Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. Brenner, a Trotskyite who renounced his own Jewish upbringing, sought to prove that Zionism in the Thirties was a Jewish collaboration with Hitler. In the early Eighties, when the book was published, Mr Livingstone was in charge of Labour Herald, the newspaper vehicle for his hard-Left takeover of London Labour (printed with the help of money from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya). Labour Herald gave Brenner’s book an ecstatic review. It was part of a growing trend.

During the Sixties, much of the Left moved from its traditional concern with the organised working class to a greater focus on “the wretched of the earth”. The phrase was the title of a book by the Marxist philosopher, Franz Fanon, who heavily influenced, among others, the young Barack Obama. In this picture, the greatest enemy was colonialism, and the perpetual victim was the Third World, or what is nowadays called the Global South. Violent struggle by the victims to cast off their shackles was advocated.

In the same period, the Soviet Union, which had frequently used anti-Semitic propaganda to reinforce its internal repressions, began to export the stuff. In the Middle East, where it sought advantage against the United States and the West, such tropes were particularly effective. Many in the Muslim world craved support for the idea that Israel, which had so amazingly trounced its Arab neighbours when they attacked it in 1967, was part of a global plot by Western power and money to keep them in subjection.

Until then, in countries like Britain, Jews and Israel had usually been well treated by the Left and seen as allies in the fight against fascism. Now this shifted. The Young Liberals, taken over by leftists such as Peter Hain, who much later became a Labour Cabinet Minister, were the first grouping to become militant about the Palestinian cause. Then the ideology spread, and gradually broadened into the all-encompassing account of dispossession and oppression – applicable from Bethlehem to Belfast to Birmingham, Alabama – which it is today.

One might have thought that September 11 2001 would have made this movement pause. If blood-crazed theocrats had started the 21st century by blowing up themselves and a couple of thousand ordinary citizens in the name of Allah, might it not be time for a bit of secular modernity? But no, instead these events seemed only to assist the narrative of burning grievance against the West, and the conspiracy theories that go with it. Many of the chaps and organisations with whom Jeremy Corbyn has shared platforms have ever since promoted the brilliant idea that it was actually the Jews who destroyed the World Trade Centre. I have not heard Mr Corbyn rebuke them for saying this.

Although people like Mr Corbyn have never shown belief in Islamist doctrines about chucking homosexuals off cliffs or imposing sharia law or torching synagogues, they have found themselves absolutely unable to confront such things. In doing so, they would have to question the most sacred tenet of the “anti-imperialist” Left, that the Western powers are always wrong. Besides, why should they consider accusations that they are anti-Semitic? In their minds, anti-Semitism, like all other racism, is a product of fascism. They are anti-fascists, so they simply can’t be racists.

By electing Mr Corbyn as leader, Labour in effect endorsed this paranoid narrative of grievance and conspiracy that has developed over the last 50 years. So its new recruits are drawn from that school of thought – more Islamists and anti-Semites; fewer Jews, or, come to that, ordinary working people. Unlike in the Eighties, the party has not been infiltrated in a calculated manner (though Mr Corbyn’s lieutenants are now making up for lost time). It has simply decayed so much that its immune system can no longer resist the infection. One of our two main parties has adopted, almost without thinking about it, an ideology of which race hate is an intrinsic part. This has never happened before in Britain.

Next week, London will elect a new Mayor. Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, is astute. He was quick to condemn Mr Livingstone on Thursday. But he too has done a good deal of platform-sharing. In 2004, for example, he appeared on the same bill in Tooting as prominent Holocaust deniers, Hamas supporters, misogynists and supporters of violence against Israel. He now says he “regrets giving the impression” that he shared their views The other main performer on the platform that day was a backbench Labour MP, one Jeremy Corbyn. Today, regrets are too late.

 

“TO BE AS VICIOUS AND LOATHSOME AS HE POSSIBLY COULD TO ANY JEWS LISTENING”

Ken Livingstone gets the history wrong on anti-Semitism and Hitler
By Andrew Roberts
CapX
April 28, 2016

Ken Livingstone’s characteristically outrageous intervention in the debate over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – denying it existed while simultaneously proving that it does – was wrong on all sorts of levels, but one of them was in his grotesque mangling of the historical record. “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932,” he told BBC Radio London, “his policy was then that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

First, Adolf Hitler absolutely did not “win” either the July or the November 1932 elections in Germany; in the latter he only gained 33% of the vote, giving the Nazi Party 196 seats in a Reichstag of 584. More centrally, however, insofar as Hitler had a stated rather than inferred policy towards Germany’s Jews at all, it was to force them to leave Germany, but not specifically to Palestine, which was then governed by the British under League of Nations Mandate and was not accepting European Jews in significant numbers.

The Nazis couldn’t frankly care less where the Jews went, so long as they left Germany, preferably with as few possessions as possible. Later on they conceived ideas such as the Madagascar Plan of July 1940 which would they hoped involve mass migration to places where the Jews would suffer and eventually die of disease and malnutrition, all long before the full-scale genocidal programme conceived at the Wannsee Conference in 1942. Jews were being killed in large numbers as soon as the war began, but especially after Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941. The idea that Hitler ever wanted a fully-functioning successful Jewish state in Palestine – the dream of Zionists – is ludicrous, as Mr Livingstone undoubtedly knows.

The sole reason Ken Livingstone brought up the Fuhrer in his interview was to be as vicious and loathsome as he possibly could to any Jews listening, rather than genuinely intending to make some valid historical point about the migration policies of the putative Third Reich in the 1930s. He must know perfectly well that the very insertion of the word “Hitler” in the context of a debate over anti-Semitism would create precisely the effect that it has. It was therefore a totally cold-blooded attempt to offend the maximum amount of Jews to the maximum extent, and was said to a Jewish interviewer Vanessa Feltz.

Filthy politics, of course, but Mr Livingstone has such a long record of this kind of thing that we shouldn’t be surprised, even if we must still be outraged. Likening a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard was a similar attempt at dragging the Holocaust into the discourse. Accusing Jews and what he openly refers to as “the Jewish lobby” – of “obsessing” about his links with hate preachers such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is all part of the same playbook. Whether Labour finally acts remains to be seen, and this might be clever politics in terms of the mayoral election, but when it comes to history, Mr Livingstone gets an “F”.

(Andrew Roberts is a historian.)

 

THE LIVINGSTONE FORMULATION FINALLY FAILS TO RESCUE KEN LIVINGSTONE

The Livingstone Formulation finally fails to rescue Ken Livingstone
By David Hirsh
Jewish Chronicle
April 28, 2016

Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party today. He has been a significant figure as leader of the Greater London Council, a Member of Parliament, and the Mayor of London, for decades.

He is famous for the Livingstone Formulation: the insistence that Jews raise the issue of antisemitism dishonestly in order to silence criticism of Israel; he thinks they don’t even believe it themselves.

Talk of antisemitism on the left, he thinks, is a conspiracy to mobilize Jewish victim power against the Palestinians.

Last month Livingstone said that in his 45 years in the Labour Party he had never once seen any antisemitism. On that occasion he was jumping to the defence of Gerry Downing, a Labour Party member who wanted to “re-open the Jewish Question” and Vicki Kirby, a Labour member who tweeted that the Brits “invented Israel when saving them [the Jews] from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher”. He was also trying to douse the scandal in Oxford University Labour Club after its Chair resigned, saying that members seemed to have “some kind of a problem with Jews”. These were the students who taunted Jewish members calling them “Zios” and singing “Bombs over Tel Aviv”.

There is no kind of hostility to Israel which Livingstone would recognize as antisemitic. Not even if somebody called for the forcible “transport” of every Israeli Jew to Nebraska, as Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West did; Livingstone would say it was criticism of the Israel. Of course, he would not have the same leniency with Jews who call for the transport of Palestinians out of the West Bank. Do you think he would find that racist, or just critical of the current Palestinian leadership?

Today Livingstone said that Hitler supported Zionism. Most people know that Zionism was in fact a response to antisemitism; most people know that Hitler wasn’t in the business of responding to antisemitism but was himself the greatest antisemite of all time. Livingstone smears Jews, at least those who refuse to identify as anti-Zionist, by saying that they’re like Nazis. He encourages people on the left and in the student movement to relate to Jews as though they were Nazis; unless they disavow Israel. Antisemitism? No, not at all. Just criticism.

One of the key things that progressive people in the UK understand is that making an accusation of antisemitism attracts more suspicion than having an accusation of antisemitism made against you.

The Livingstone Formulation is named after Ken Livingstone. Back in 2006 Livingstone got into an argument with a Jewish journalist, Oliver Feingold. Feingold asked Livingstone for a comment about a birthday party from which he had just emerged. Livingstone got angry and Feingold responded that he was “only doing his job”. Livingstone latched onto this phrase, replying that Feingold was like a Nazi war criminal for using that defence. Feingold told him that he was Jewish and he objected to that. Livingstone told the journalist that his paper was “was a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots” and that it had a record of supporting Fascism.

The Livingstone Formulation conflates anything allegedly antisemitic, in this case repeatedly insulting a Jewish reporter by comparing him to a Nazi, into the category of legitimate criticism of Israel. Secondly, it goes further than accusing people who raise the issue of antisemitism of being wrong; it accuses them of being wrong on purpose; of crying wolf, of playing the antisemitism card. It alleges an intent, often a collective intent and so a conspiracy, to mobilise Jewish victim-power for illegitimate purposes.

Ken Livingstone was neither the first nor the only one to respond to a person, typically a Jew raising a concern about antisemitism, with an angry counter-accusation of “Zionist! Protector of Israel, oppressor of Palestinians!” The function of this response is to evade a reasoned discussion of the issue and instead to place the person who wants to discuss it outside of the democratic community.

So what did Livingstone say after Naz Shah was called on her antisemitic posts on social media? She apologised. But Livingstone said that she was a victim of a “well-orchestrated campaign by Israel lobby”.

Livingstone’s antisemitism problem goes back decades, but he has only been suspended today. In 1981, when he was already leader of the Greater London Council, he was made the figurehead editor of a left wing Newspaper called Labour Herald. Already in the 80s, Livingstone’s paper was running cartoons depicting the Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, wearing a Nazi uniform and doing a straight arm salute.

When Livingstone was the Mayor of London he hosted Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi at City Hall. He is pictured cuddling up to the Islamist ideologue. Livingstone insisted that Qaradawi was “one of the leading progressive voices in the Muslim world”. Qaradawi is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian affiliate. Qaradawi speaks in favour of wife-beating, Female Genital Mutilation and the execution of gay people. He says that Hitler put the Jews in their place; he described the Holocaust as both exaggerated and also as divine punishment.

On March 21 2012, a group of life-long Jewish Labour supporters sat down in a meeting with Livingstone to try and come to some agreement so that they could back him in the Mayoral election. They reported that at “various points in the discussion Ken used the words ‘Zionist’, ‘Jewish’ and ‘Israeli’, interchangeably, as if they meant the same, and did so in a pejorative manner.” They also raised the issue of Livingstone having taken money for fronting the antisemitic Iranian propaganda channel Press TV. Livingstone told the group that Jews are rich and so are not likely anyway to vote Labour.

Ken Livingstone says antisemitic things; he leaps to the defence of antisemites and antisemitic movements; he supports the positions of political antisemitism; he gave his name to a particular variant of antisemitic conspiracy theory whereby those who stand up against antisemitism are accused of doing so in bad faith; he recycles antisemitic tropes. He loves getting into a fight with the Jews. He crosses the street to pile in. He’s hungry for the spotlight in this fight.

Ken Livingstone and a significant minority of people in the UK still do not see that there is a problem of antisemitism. They see a right wing Zionist witch-hunt against good people who oppose austerity, imperialism, the Israeli occupation and Islamophobia. They are enraged by the injustice of the antisemitism smear. They are entrenched in their position that the influence of Israel, and the Jews who support it, is toxic. They are worried how this influence seems to seep into the dominant ideology of the ruling class and the mainstream media. Their blood boils more and more intensely about Israel, its human rights abuses, its vulgarity, and the racism that is to be found there; their anger is mixed with shame at this European Colonial outpost, created under British rule.

They see Islamophobia, imported from Israel and America, as the poison of the post national Europe hope. They feel that everybody has learnt the lessons of the Holocaust except for the Zionists, who, having rejected Christian forgiveness and love, find themselves stuck more and more in the Nazi era.

In spite of the fact that these people oppose Nazis and skinheads with all their hearts, and in spite of the fact that they stand in the tradition of Cable Street, these people are antisemites. But they think they are opponents of antisemitism.

I spoke to a Labour activist earlier, somebody who has been fighting antisemitism in the party for that long. She was absolutely jubilant: “We’ve been after the bastard for 30 years. We finally got him”.

Footage was going round the internet today of John Mann challenging Livingstone in a corridor and on a staircase, jabbing his finger in the direction of the now un-masked Livingstone: “You’ve lost it mate. Facutally wrong. Racist remarks. You have lost it. You read the Nazi history. What did Mein Kampf say about Zionism?”

And what will the Labour leadership do? Jeremy Corbyn shares many of the same core values as Livingstone regarding Israel and the Jews who are held to support it. Corbyn also supports Hamas and Hezbollah; Corbyn has also fronted for Press TV; Corbyn has also jumped to the defence of antisemites.

But Corbyn isn’t jumping to the defence of Livingstone.

 

MY PLEA TO THE LEFT: TREAT JEWS THE SAME WAY YOU’D TREAT ANY OTHER MINORITY

My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority
By Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian
April 30, 2016

Let’s imagine for just a moment that a small but vocal section of the left was consumed with hatred for one faraway country: barely an hour could pass without them condemning it, not just for this or for that policy, but for its very existence, for the manner of its birth, for what it represented. And now let’s imagine that this country was the only place in the world where the majority of the population, and most of the government, were black.

You’d expect the racist right to hate such a country. But imagine it was that noisy segment of the left that insisted it would be better if this one black country had never been created, that it was the source of most of the conflict in its region, if not the world. That its creation was a great historical crime and the only solution was to dismantle it and the people who lived there should either go back to where they – or rather, their grandparents or great-grandparents – had come from; or stay where they were and, either way, return to living as a minority once more. Sure, living as a minority had over the centuries exposed them to periodic persecution and slaughter. But living as a majority, in charge of their own destiny – well, black people didn’t deserve that right.

And now imagine that the people who said all these things insisted they had nothing against black people. On the contrary, they were passionately against all forms of racism. In fact it was their very anti-racism that made them hate this one black country. Their objection was only to this country, its conduct and its existence, not to black people themselves. You surely were only inventing this horrible accusation of racism to divert attention from the wicked black country and its multiple crimes.

Most on the left would give such a view short shrift. They would be suspicious of this insistence that loathing of the world’s only black country was separate from attitudes to black people in general, especially because most black people had a strong affinity with this country, seeing it as a constitutive part of their own identity. The left would not be swayed by the fact these critics could point to a handful of black activists who shared their loathing of this country and wished it gone. They would want to listen to the mainstream black community and be guided by them.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Jews have watched the events of recent days with a weariness that might surprise many, given how shocking they must seem: the sight of Ken Livingstone suspended by the Labour party over antisemitism, along with the Bradford West MP, Naz Shah. Weary because they have known of these attitudes, indeed warned that they had found a warm space to incubate on the left, for many, many years.

I’ve written about this subject long enough that I think I can anticipate the counter-arguments. The hardcore anti-Zionists will tell me that my analogy of a hypothetical sole black country to Israel, the world’s only Jewish country, only works if this imaginary land was guilty of in-built discrimination against a non-black minority and was founded on the forced dispossession of the indigenous people who already lived there.

This, we are told, is what makes Israel a special case, uniquely deserving of hatred. This is what animates Livingstone’s long-held hostility to Israel and what lay behind Shah’s past call for the “transportation” – a word with a chilling resonance for Jews – of Israel to America.

All but the most blind supporters of Israel will acknowledge the country’s discrimination against its Arab minority: indeed, among the most effective, practical campaigners against it are pro-Israel groups such as the New Israel Fund. The same goes for the post-1967 occupation of Palestinian territory.

But neither of these problems are rendered logically inevitable by Israel’s existence. Israel could define itself as a Jewish country and still be inclusive towards its non-Jewish minorities, just as Britain is still shaped as a Christian country – with a Christian calendar, an established church and with the cross at the centre of its national flag – and yet has managed to become, after centuries of struggle, an equal home for non-Christians too.

As for the notion that Israel’s right to exist is voided by the fact that it was born in what Palestinians mourn as the Naqba – their dispossession in 1948 – one does not have to be in denial of that fact to point out that the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and countless others were hardly born through acts of immaculate conception. Those nations were forged in great bloodshed. Yet Israel alone is deemed to have its right to exist nullified by the circumstances of its birth.

The point is, mainstream British Jews – including the 93% who told a 2015 survey that Israel forms some part of their identity as Jews – can take criticism of Israeli governments and of Israeli policy over many decades. Lord knows, they dish it out themselves.

But what they hanker for is a left that treats Israel the way it treats any other country with such a record – as a flawed society, but not one that is a byword for evil, that is deemed a “disease” (as it was by a caller to a 2010 show on Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster, without objection from the host, Jeremy Corbyn), whose very right to exist is held to be conditional on good behaviour, a standard not applied to any other nation on Earth.

And here’s why. Because though Israel’s creation came at a desperately high price for Palestinians – one that Israel will one day, I hope, acknowledge, respect and atone for through word and deed – it is impossible for most Jews to see it as a mistake that should be undone. And in his perverse way, Livingstone showed why.

His version of history was garbled and insulting, suggesting that the Hitler who had already written Mein Kampf had not yet gone “mad” and was “supporting Zionism” – as if there is any moral comparison between wishing to inflict mass expulsion on a minority and the desire to build a thriving society where that minority might live.

But his key mistake was also the most telling. Livingstone said Hitler had wanted to pack Germany’s Jews off to “Israel” in 1932. But there was no Israel in 1932. It would not come for another 16 years – too late to provide refuge for the 6 million Jews, including 1 million children, who by then had already been murdered by Hitler.

The question to Livingstone and all the other anti-Zionists is this. Given their belief that Israel’s creation in 1948 was a mistake (or a “travesty” in Livingstone’s words), do they believe it would have been a mistake for Israel to have been established in the 1930s, when the world’s nations had made it clear they had no intention of taking in the Jews? If the answer to that question is yes, that Israel should never have been created, then Livingstone and those like him are saying they would have denied those 6 million the one lifeline that might have saved them.

Bad form, I know. Jews are not meant to “play the Holocaust card” in these discussions. Even though it explains why most Jews will defend Israel’s existence even when its daily reality can sometimes fill them with despair.

And this is what we want from the left. Some understanding and even empathy for the experience that gives us this connection to – this need for – Israel. While we’re at it, what would also be welcome is the same courtesy the left admirably extends to other minorities.

On the left, black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism; women can define sexism; Muslims are trusted to define Islamophobia. But when Jews call out something as antisemitic, leftist non-Jews feel curiously entitled to tell Jews they’re wrong, that they are exaggerating or lying or using it as a decoy tactic – and to then treat them to a long lecture on what anti-Jewish racism really is.

The left would call it misogynist “mansplaining” if a man talked that way to a woman. They’d be mortified if they were caught doing that to LGBT people or Muslims. But to Jews, they feel no such restraint.

So this is my plea to the left. Treat us the same way you’d treat any other minority. No better and no worse. If opposition to racism means anything, it surely means that.

 

“THE LABOUR PARTY AND MUCH OF THE WIDER LIBERAL-LEFT HAVE A CHRONIC CONDITION”

I saw the darkness of antisemitism, but I never thought it would get this dark
By Nick Cohen
The Observer (the Sunday sister paper of The Guardian)
May 1, 2016

Racism is not a specific illness but a general sickness. Display one symptom and you display them all. If you show me an anti-Muslim bigot, I will be able to guess his or her views on the European Union, welfare state, crime and “political correctness”. Show me a leftwing or Islamist antisemite and, once again, he will carry a suitcase full of prejudices, which have nothing to do with Jews, but somehow have everything to do with Jews.

The Labour party does not have a “problem with antisemitism” it can isolate and treat, like a patient asking a doctor for a course of antibiotics. The party and much of the wider liberal-left have a chronic condition.

As I have written about the darkness on the left before, I am not going to crow now that it has turned darker than even I predicted. (There is not much to crow about, after all.) I have nothing but respect for the Labour MPs who are trying to stop their party becoming a playpen for fanatics and cranks. It just appears to me that they face interlocking difficulties that are close to insoluble.

They must first pay the political price of confronting supporters from immigrant communities, which Labour MPs from all wings of the party have failed to do for decades. It may be high. While Ken Livingstone was forcing startled historians to explain that Adolf Hitler was not a Zionist, I was in Naz Shah’s Bradford. A politician who wants to win there cannot afford to be reasonable, I discovered. He or she cannot deplore the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and say that the Israelis and Palestinians should have their own states. They have to engage in extremist rhetoric of the “sweep all the Jews out” variety or risk their opponents denouncing them as “Zionists”.

George Galloway, who, never forget, was a demagogue from the race-card playing left rather than the far right, made the private prejudices of conservative Muslim voters respectable. Aisha Ali-Khan, who worked as Galloway’s assistant until his behaviour came to disgust her, realised how deep prejudice had sunk when she made a silly quip about David Miliband being more “fanciable” than Ed. Respect members accused her of being a “Jew lover” and, all of a sudden in Bradford politics, that did not seem an outrageous, or even an unusual, insult. Where Galloway led, others followed. David Ward, a now mercifully forgotten Liberal Democrat MP, tried and failed to save his seat by proclaiming his Jew obsession. Nothing, not even the murder of Jews, could restrain him. At one point, he told his constituents that the sight of the Israeli prime minister honouring the Parisian Jews whom Islamists had murdered made him “sick”. (He appeared to find the massacre itself easier to stomach.)

Naz Shah’s picture of Israel superimposed on to a map of the US to show her “solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not a one-off but part of a race to the bottom. But Shah’s wider behaviour as an MP – a “progressive” MP, mark you – gives you a better idea of how deep the rot has sunk. She ignored a Bradford imam who declared that the terrorist who murdered a liberal Pakistani politician was a “great hero of Islam” and concentrated her energies on expressing her “loathing” of liberal and feminist British Muslims instead.

Shah is not alone, which is why I talk of a general sickness. Liberal Muslims make many profoundly uncomfortable. Writers in the left-wing press treat them as Uncle Toms, as Shah did, because they are willing to work with the government to stop young men and women joining Islamic State. While they are criticised, politically correct criticism rarely extends to clerics who celebrate religious assassins. As for the antisemitism that allows Labour MPs to fantasise about “transporting” Jews, consider how jeering and dishonest the debate around that has become.

When feminists talk about rape, they are not told as a matter of course “but women are always making false rape accusations”. If they were, they would suspect that their opponents wanted to deny the existence of sexual violence. Yet it is standard in polite society to hear that accusations of antisemitism are always made in bad faith to delegitimise justifiable criticism of Israel. I accept that there are Jews who say that all criticism of Israel is antisemitic. [Subscriber to this list Jonathan Hoffman adds: “This is a complete myth continuous repeated in the British media. Show me one Jew in the UK who does?”] For her part, a feminist must accept that there are women who make false accusations of rape. But that does not mean that antisemitism does not exist, any more than it means that rape never happens.

Challenging prejudices on the left wing is going to be all the more difficult because, incredibly, the British left in the second decade of the 21st century is led by men steeped in the worst traditions of the 20th. When historians had to explain last week that if Montgomery had not defeated Rommel at El Alamein in Egypt then the German armies would have killed every Jew they could find in Palestine, they were dealing with the conspiracy theory that Hitler was a Zionist, developed by a half-educated American Trotskyist called Lenni Brenner in the 1980s.

When Jeremy Corbyn defended the Islamist likes of Raed Salah, who say that Jews dine on the blood of Christian children, he was continuing a tradition of communist accommodation with antisemitism that goes back to Stalin’s purges of Soviet Jews in the late 1940s.

It is astonishing that you have to, but you must learn the worst of leftwing history now. For Labour is not just led by dirty men but by dirty old men, with roots in the contaminated soil of Marxist totalitarianism. If it is to change, its leaders will either have to change their minds or be thrown out of office.

Put like this, the tasks facing Labour moderates seem impossible. They have to be attempted, however, for moral as much as electoral reasons.

Allow me to state the moral argument as baldly as I can. Not just in Paris, but in Marseille, Copenhagen and Brussels, fascistic reactionaries are murdering Jews – once again. Go to any British synagogue or Jewish school and you will see police officers and volunteers guarding them. I do not want to tempt fate, but if British Jews were murdered, the leader of the Labour party would not be welcome at their memorial. The mourners would point to the exit and ask him to leave.

If it is incredible that we have reached this pass, it is also intolerable. However hard the effort to overthrow it, the status quo cannot stand.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.