Labour and Anti-Semitism

Thomas Jones

You can’t discount an argument on the grounds that you suspect some of its proponents of ignoble motives for making it. It is almost certainly the case that some critics of the state of Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism, but that doesn’t invalidate all criticism of Israeli policy or actions. The occupation of the West Bank is illegal whether you're anti-Semitic or not.

Defenders of Israel sometimes ask – the international relations equivalent of a drunk driver telling the police to go after real criminals – why the left is so focused on Israel’s wrongdoings, rather than the often far worse crimes of other states. But the answer probably has less to do with anti-Semitism than the fact that, of the $5.7 billion the United States spends each year on foreign military financing, $3 billion goes to Israel.

You can’t police the way people think, only what they do, which may sometimes include what they say. There are two separate, if loosely connected problems facing the Labour Party in the fall-out from Naz Shah’s once throwaway, now notorious Facebook post. In 2014, before she was elected MP for Bradford West, and before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, she shared an image of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the United States – you can see it here on Norman Finkelstein’s blog, which may or may not be where Shah took it from – with the comment: ‘Problem solved.’ How wrong she was.

Labour’s first problem is that a small number of its members and elected representatives are given to making anti-Semitic remarks on social media. Five councillors, including a former mayor of Blackburn, have been suspended this week. To put the numbers in context: Labour has 228 MPs, one of whom (0.4 per cent) has been suspended for suspected anti-Semitism; more than 7000 councillors, of whom 0.07 per cent have been suspended; and more than 388,000 members, of whom 50 (0.012 per cent) have been ‘secretly suspended’, the Telegraph reported, ‘as officials struggle to cope with the crisis engulfing the party’.

Labour’s second problem, gestured at by the measured tones of that Telegraph piece, is its self-destructive infighting, which is dominating political coverage not only in the overtly Tory press but also on the BBC, at a time when Labour should be capitalising on divisions in the Conservative Party. Ken Livingstone (also suspended), who has done more than any other individual in the party to make a bad situation a lot worse, is completely wrong about Hitler’s alleged Zionism (and such ill-judged comparisons between Israel and the Nazis do absolutely nothing to help the Palestinian cause), and probably wrong to say there are no anti-Semites in the Labour Party, but he had a point when he said that the scandal was the fault of ‘embittered old Blairites bringing it up’.

Shah’s apology, the suspensions, and Corbyn’s announcement on Friday that Shami Chakrabarti would lead an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, suggest that the leadership is doing its best to address the first problem. But the second may well be intractable. Corbyn doesn’t have the authority to silence the embittered old (and not so old) Blairites, and it seems that they would rather bring Corbyn down, at any cost, than try to win any elections under his leadership. (I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons for their hostility to Corbyn, and to Labour’s recent shift to the left, is the danger of its exposing the hollowness of the entire New Labour project: it’s still widely accepted that Labour won the 1997 election because of Blair’s ‘reforms’, when the truth is that the Tories were doomed to lose, and it made little difference who the Labour leader was.)

The one place Labour has been expected to do well tomorrow is London. Sadiq Khan still leads Zac Goldsmith by a comfortable margin in the opinion polls but, as Khan says, the polls have been wrong before, and Livingstone’s recent interventions have made his job a lot harder. You could be forgiven for thinking that Livingstone – not entirely unlike the Blairites – has long been committed to a narcissistic project of preventing anyone else from the Labour Party ever being elected mayor of London. His scuppering of Khan follows his idiotic insistence on standing against Boris Johnson in 2012, only four years after Johnson had unseated him. The contest was close, and a different Labour candidate might have won.

Khan has been doing his best to distance himself from Livingstone as polling day approaches. He has said, quite rightly, that Labour needs to take anti-Semitism as seriously as it does other forms of racism. But the Labour Party is far from the only institution in Britain that’s guilty either of racism, or of thinking that some forms of racism are worse than others.

In March, the Tories distributed leaflets saying that Goldsmith was 'standing up for the British Indian community', while Khan (whose parents emigrated to Britain from Pakistan) 'supports a wealth tax on family jewellery'. In the Mail on Sunday at the weekend, Goldsmith wrote a ‘passionate plea’ not ‘to hand the world’s greatest city to a Labour Party that thinks terrorists are its friends’. The piece was illustrated with a photograph of the number 30 bus blown up in Tavistock Square on 7 July 2005. Goldsmith has since said he thought the headline and photograph were 'a mistake', but he 'stands by every single word' of the article (e.g. 'if Labour wins on Thursday, we will have handed control of the Met, and with it control over national counter-terrorism policy, to a party whose candidate and current leadership have, whether intentionally or not, repeatedly legitimised those with extremist views').

According to the Home Office statistical bulletin on hate crime in England and Wales last year, ‘Muslim adults were the most likely to be a victim of religiously motivated hate crime.’ There is no sign that Zac Goldsmith is in any danger of being suspended by the Conservative Party.

Read more in the London Review of Books

Judith Butler: No, it’s not anti-Semitic · 21 August 2003

Jacqueline Rose: Dreyfus in Our Times · 10 June 2010

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone · 10 May 2012


  • 4 May 2016 at 7:18pm
    streetsj says:
    I find the logic (?) of the second paragraph truly bizarre.

    The London Mayor election is not taken seriously by anyone and has little to do with party politics.

    And a question: is saying horrid things about Jews worse than saying horrid things about Tories?

    • 4 May 2016 at 8:33pm
      Alan Benfield says: @ streetsj
      (1) Yeah, me too. The criticism of Israel does seem a little unfocused.

      Perhaps a better criticism would be that, while none of the fascistic regimes like Saudi Arabia, Syria (as was), Iraq (as was) or the like claim to be democratic, Israel does, but is essentially a state which not only systematically discriminates against its own Arab citizens but also against the inhabitants of the illegally occupied territories (also largely Arabs). You see, if you claim a virtue which you don't actually live up to, the world will generally treat you with more disdain than those who don't claim such virtue in the first place.

      (2) Really? Do you live in London (I must admit I don't any more, although I was born there)? I think that the choice for Londoners between a rich guy (who seems not really to want the job and whose only tactic is to smear his rival as a closet Islamist) and the son of a bus driver who actually seems to care about his (and my) home town will soon become clear.

      (3) Yes. People choose to be Tories: apart from converts, being Jewish is not a choice, as far as I remember. Those of us who have read a little history will also remember that the Nazis went so far as to make clear that, as far as they were concerned, one drop of Jewish blood was enough to 'taint' a whole family. Similar attitudes could be found in the deep South of the US regarding what was then known as 'miscegenation' (i.e. inter-racial marriage).

      Anything else you want explained?

  • 4 May 2016 at 7:39pm
    Neil Foxlee says:
    I hold no brief for K

  • 4 May 2016 at 8:09pm
    Neil Foxlee says:
    I hold no brief for Ken Livingstone, but in his defence, this is the exchange which featured his controversial remark:

    Vanessa Feltz: ‘She [Naz Shah] talked about relocating Israel to America, she talked about what Hitler did being legal, she talked about the Jews rallying - and she used the word “Jews”, not “Israelis” or “Israel”. You didn’t find that anti-semitic?’

    Livingstone: ‘[…] It’s completely over the top but it’s not antisemitism. 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.’ (You can hear the full exchange here: )

    Livingstone did not raise the subject of Hitler and moving Jews out of the blue; he was answering (in his own inimitable way) a question which mentioned both. As for 'was supporting', this is surely different from 'supported': Hitler temporarily lent his support to the Zionist project as a way of solving the Jewish 'problem'.

    It should not be forgotten that the Naz Shah story was broken on the Guido Fawkes website, run by the right-wing political muck-raker Paul Staines, who also writes a column for the Sun on Sunday. The story relates to actions/remarks made by Shah in 2014 during the Israeli assault on Gaza. In theory, the story could have broken at any time since she became an MP last year. But it was broken in the week before the local and London mayoral elections, with the Conservatives in disarray on a number of fronts, and their mayoral candidate trailing his Muslim Labour rival. How very convenient.

    By far the most intelligent discussion of this sorry affair, it seems to me, has been a series of articles on the OpenDemocracy website ( ), notably those by the young Jewish journalist Jamie Stern-Weiner, whose most recent piece is an interview with Norman Finkelstein.


    • 5 May 2016 at 8:10am
      Joe Morison says: @ Neil Foxlee
      Hitler, absolutely, never supported Zionism. He may have supported some Zionists, because they shared the goal of getting Jews out of Germany, but never Zionism which is ‘a movement among modern Jews having for its object the assured settlement of their race upon a national basis in Palestine’. Hitler didn’t want Jews settled in Palestine, he wanted them out of Germany where they threatened him, preferably somewhere where they were all together and ill-defended which would make killing them later all the easier.

      Hitler’s anti-Semitism screams through the pages of Mein Kampf. Livingstone’s remarks were truly absurd, and the implication that Hitler was a good guy until he unaccountably went mad is grotesque.

    • 5 May 2016 at 9:02am
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Joe Morison
      Here's what Finkelstein says in his recent interview:

      'Livingstone maybe wasn’t precise enough, and lacked nuance. But he does know something about that dark chapter in history. It has been speculated that Hitler’s thinking on how to solve the ‘Jewish Question’ (as it was called back then) evolved, as circumstances changed and new possibilities opened up. Hitler wasn’t wholly hostile to the Zionist project at the outset. That’s why so many German Jews managed to survive after Hitler came to power by emigrating to Palestine. But, then, Hitler came to fear that a Jewish state might strengthen the hand of ‘international Jewry’, so he suspended contact with the Zionists. Later, Hitler perhaps contemplated a ‘territorial solution’ for the Jews. The Nazis considered many ‘resettlement’ schemes – the Jews wouldn’t have physically survived most of them in the long run – before they embarked on an outright exterminatory process. Livingstone is more or less accurate about this – or, as accurate as might be expected from a politician speaking off the cuff.

      He’s also accurate that a degree of ideological affinity existed between the Nazis and Zionists. On one critical question, which raged in the U.K. during the period when the Balfour Declaration (1917) was being cobbled together, antisemites and Zionists agreed: could a Jew be an Englishman? Ironically, in light of the current hysteria in the UK, the most vociferous and vehement opponents of the Balfour Declaration were not the Arabs, about whom almost nobody gave a darn, but the upper reaches of British Jewry.

      Eminent British Jews published open letters to newspapers like the Times opposing British backing for a Jewish home in Palestine. They understood such a declaration – and Zionism – as implying that a Jew belonged to a distinct nation, and that the Jewish nation should have its own separate state, which they feared would effectively disqualify Jews from bona fide membership in the British nation. What distinguished the Zionists from the liberal Jewish aristocracy was their point of departure: as Theodor Herzl put it at the beginning of The Jewish State, ‘the Jewish question is no more a social than a religious one . . . It is a national question’. Whereas the Anglo-Jewish aristocracy insisted Judaism was merely a religion, the Zionists were emphatic that the Jews constituted a nation. And on this – back then, salient – point, the Zionists and Nazis agreed.

      John Mann, when he accosted Livingstone in front of the cameras, asked rhetorically whether Livingstone had read Mein Kampf. If you do read Mein Kampf, which I suspect none of the interlocutors in this debate has done (I used to teach it, before the ‘Zionists’ drove me out of academia – joke!), you see that Hitler is emphatic that Jews are not a religion, but a nation. He says that the big Jewish lie is that they claim to be a religion; whereas in fact, he says, they’re a race (at that time, ‘race’ was used interchangeably with ‘nation’). And on page 56 of the standard English edition of Mein Kampf, he says that the only Jews honest enough to acknowledge this reality are the Zionists. Now, to be clear, Hitler didn’t just think that Jews were a distinct race. He also thought that they were a Satanic race, and ultimately, that they were a Satanic race that had to be exterminated. Still, on the first, not trivial, premise, he and the Zionists were in agreement.

      As a practical matter, the Zionists and Nazis could therefore find a degree of common ground around the emigration/expulsion of Jews to Palestine. It was a paradox that, against the emphatic protestations of liberal Jews, including sections of the Anglo-Jewish establishment, antisemites and Zionists back then effectively shared the same slogan: Jews to Palestine. It was why, for example, the Nazis forbade German Jews to raise the swastika flag, but expressly permitted them to hoist the Zionist flag. It was as if to say, the Zionists are right: Jews can’t be Germans, they belong in Palestine. Hannah Arendt wrote scathingly about this in Eichmann in Jerusalem, which is one of the reasons she caught hell from the Jewish/Zionist establishment.'

    • 6 May 2016 at 5:59am
      Joe Morison says: @ Neil Foxlee
      Agreement in some matters of policy is not the same as ideological affinity. An ideology is a 'systematic scheme of ideas', not selected opinions and policies that spring from that scheme.

      If two people agree that a Jew cannot be English; the one because Jews belong are of Israel in a similar way that English people are of England, the other because Jews are a subhuman race who seek only the overthrow and subjugation of any country they live in; then they share no ideological affinity.

      Livingstone's claim that 'Hitler supported Zionism', as opposed to cooperated with some Zionists, is as absurd as it is offensive.

    • 6 May 2016 at 7:29am
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Joe Morison
      What Livingstone said is 'when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism'

      '*His policy then*; *was supporting*, not 'supported'.

      'Support': 2. Give assistance to 2.3 Give approval, comfort, or encouragement to.

      'Since the conclusion of the Ha'avara agreement in 1933, the Nazis had favoured Zionism and assisted Jewish migration to Palestine'* (David Cesarani, Final Solution: The fate of the Jews 1933-1949).

      Cesarani was the leading British historian of his generation on the modern experience of the Jews.


    • 6 May 2016 at 10:42am
      Joe Morison says: @ Neil Foxlee
      Equally, ‘3. That gives assistance or relief; also, confirmatory, corroborative.’ And from ‘confirm’ we have ‘1. To make firm or more firm, to add strength to, to settle, establish firmly’ and ‘4. To strengthen spiritually’. When it comes to statements about Hitler’s attitude to Zionism, it’s a good idea to not to use language that is ambiguous between approval and approval of means to an unshared end.

    • 6 May 2016 at 2:17pm
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Joe Morison
      My mention of Jamie Stern-Weiner's excellent articles above omitted one on the Livingstone controversy on the Jews for Justice for Palestinians website ( ).

      Whatever you think about Ken (and as I said above, I hold no brief for him), he is not the sort of man to go back on what he's said, however controversial. Since the remarks which sparked the initial controversy have been very widely misquoted, twisted and decontextualised, here is what he said about them in subsequent interviews:

      “Back in 1932 when Hitler won the election that brought him to power his policy then was to deport all Germany’s Jews to Israel. That’s not because he was a Zionist, it is because he hated Jews." (Daily Politics interview)

      "I’ve not said that Hitler was a Zionist, what I said was his policy in ‘32 was to deport Germany’s Jews to Israel. I condemn that. I never said it, what I said was that was his policy." (World at One interview).

    • 6 May 2016 at 4:34pm
      Joe Morison says: @ Neil Foxlee
      Well, Neil, I have supported Livingstone since the GLC. He was not just a good mayor, he was admirable. I live in Kilburn and often sat opposite him on the tube as he came home, I loved the way he'd go through his papers with no one pestering him. I still see him, all affable, at the Queen's Park farmers' market; I like him.

      And you're right, he's not going to retract because so often he's been wrongly asked to. But this time he should; because, although he didn't mean to, he was grotesquely insensitive.

      This is a crucial time, so much seems in the balance. It doesn't matter what he meant, it's how it came across; and he should forget his pride and admit the truth before all that he believes in is weakened even more.

  • 5 May 2016 at 12:02am
    CasaCaliente says:
    Fulsome Solecism Blues

  • 5 May 2016 at 4:52am
    farthington says:
    The hysteria regarding so-called 'anti-Semitism' is, as per usual, a red herring. Everybody with a brain knows it - why pretend otherwise?
    The untouchable, unmentionable issues behind the pantomime are, as per usual:
    * Israel, that abominable apartheid state, cannot be criticised. (That there other pariah states, many of whom are 'our' allies, is irrelevant.)
    * The dominant 'representative' British organisations of British Jewry are unrepentant supporters of perfidious Israel.
    * The three major Parties lie prostrate before and a part of the pro-Israel chorus.
    * The tri-partisan Tory/Blairite Labour/LibDem commitment to unethical foreign policies and inegalitarian domestic policies cannot be criticised.
    * The British mainstream media, including the BBC, rigorously police the above state of affairs.
    * The major players who have constructed and reproduce the above engage in a self-referential, back-slapping closed loop into which no light of intelligence or integrity is allowed to intrude.
    Anti-Semitism my arse.

    • 5 May 2016 at 7:18am
      stettiner says: @ farthington
      Fart, my arse....

  • 5 May 2016 at 6:50am
    countrymile says:
    Ken has been accused of being wrong about Hitler's 'support' of Zionism. Does anyone have a link to documentary evidence to show either Hitler or the nazi party supporting the transfer of the Jews to another state?

    • 5 May 2016 at 7:47am
      Graucho says: @ countrymile
      The link in Neil Foxlee's post is pretty good on the topic. The fuhrer practiced the mafia principle "Never let them know what you're thinking" and his M.O. tended to be delegate and divide. Hard documentary evidence linking him directly to many events is often slim. One thing for sure is that his hatred for Jews was visceral.

    • 5 May 2016 at 9:10am
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Graucho
      It's the so-called Haavara agreement. The Wikipedia entry for this states:

      'The Haavara Agreement was thought among some Nazi circles to be a possible way to rid the country of its supposed "Jewish problem." The head of the Middle Eastern division of the foreign ministry, the anti-Nazi Werner Otto von Hentig, supported the policy of concentrating Jews in Palestine. Hentig believed that if the Jewish population was concentrated in a single foreign entity, then foreign diplomatic policy and containment of the Jews would become easier.[18] Hitler's own support of the Haavara Agreement was unclear and varied throughout the 1930s. Initially, Hitler criticized the agreement, but reversed his opinion and supported it in the period 1937-1939.[19]'

      See for the links.

  • 5 May 2016 at 10:32am
    Neil Foxlee says:
    The deputy head of the Israeli army, in a Holocaust day memorial speech on Wednesday:

    “The Holocaust must lead us to think about our public lives, and even more than that, it must guide anyone who has the ability, not only those who wish to bear public responsibility.

    “Because if there is anything that frightens me in the remembrance of the Holocaust, it is discerning nauseating trends that took place in Europe in general, and in Germany specifically back then, 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and seeing evidence of them here among us in the year 2016.

    “After all, there is nothing simpler and easier than hating the foreigner, there is nothing easier and simpler than arousing fears and intimidating, there is nothing easier and simpler than becoming bestial, forgoing principles and becoming smug.”

    He has since backtracked on his comments.

  • 5 May 2016 at 1:41pm
    Bernard Porter says:
    It's a shame that this issue can scarcely ever be discussed in a rational and semantically accurate manner. Here's my attempt to sort it out, posted on my own blogsite:

    • 5 May 2016 at 2:14pm
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Bernard Porter
      Two points (not criticisms) regarding your posts, here and on your blog. First, from a linguistic perspective, I'd argue that it's not a question of semantics (what words mean), but pragmatics (what people mean) - how terms like 'Zionism', 'anti-Zionism' and 'antisemitism' are *used* by different people in different contexts. I think most people would agree about the broad meaning of 'antisemitism', even if a precise definition proves problematic: the dispute is rather about whether it is applicable in specific cases (as here). Second, you write on your blog that 'a more enlightened and liberal surrounding population might allow them [Israel's Jews] to live again' in Poland. I wonder what Poland's right-wing national-conservative Law and Justice party and their supporters would think about that.

  • 5 May 2016 at 1:55pm
    Graucho says:
    If this is wrong then it will hopefully be corrected. My understanding is that in the first instance the Nazis did ship Jews off to Palestine having first stripped them of all their wordly goods. This Jewish immigration was extremely unpopular in the Middle East leading to riots and when the British realised that they might end up having to fight a war without the benefit of Arab oil they stopped it. At a result there was the terrible spectacle of Jews desperate to escape Germany and being turned down by country after country. The great depression hardly helped their plight. It was probably as a result of this that the idea of a Jewish state which would not turn people away really gained traction.

  • 5 May 2016 at 5:38pm
    rae donaldson says:
    Let's suppose that resettling Israelis of Polish origin were a practical possibility. How would that help matters given that most Israelis have family origins in North Africa, other parts of the Middle East and Russia? It also bears remembering-ironically in this context-that where your ancestors originate seldom retains much active relevance beyond the second or third generations. Expecting any community to uproot itself in line with this thinking would be daft and cruel.

  • 6 May 2016 at 7:42am
    Alan Benfield says:
    For completeness, we should not forget 'Plan Madagaskar' and 'Plan Ost'.

    The first was the idea that Jews could be transferred to Madagascar (which had apparently been around since at least the early 19th century), the second that all Jews and Slavs could be transferred to Siberia after the defeat of the USSR (for use as slave labour, or eventually for extermination).

    The first fell through largely because of the failure to invade the UK (and thus to take over the British merchant marine, logistically essential for the plan) and bureaucratic foot-dragging by, notably, Heydrich. It finally vanished forever when the allies re-took Madagascar in 1942.

    The second obviously foundered in the aftermath of the debacle of the invasion of the USSR: in December 1941 (approximately) the decision was taken by Hitler to proceed with extermination instead.

  • 6 May 2016 at 8:57am
    Fred Skolnik says:
    Just to make a marginal comment, the occupation of the West Bank is not illegal. Mr. Jones If it were, all occupations would be illegal, including the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II. Perhaps you wish to say that the settlements are illegal, which is another matter. That is a tricky question despite the consensus, since the West Bank did not really belong to anyone in 1967. The Palestinians said: We don't want it, we want everything; and Jordan annexed it, also illegally. I think the best word to use with regard to the settlements is "irrelevant," since their final disposition will be determined in negotiations, whose parameters are clear to everyone. Unfortunately the Palestinians refuse to return to the negotiating table, and it is also doubtful if Abu Mazen has the will or the standing to deliver a peace agreement, while Hamas is still committed to its declared aim of destroying the State of Israel.

    I doubt very much if American aid to Israel is the reason it is scrutinized so closely. The latest Gallup polls show that 62% of Americans are pro-Israel and 15% are pro-Arab/Palestinian. In any case, I invite you to consider the following analysis:

  • 6 May 2016 at 9:25am
    Fred Skolnik says:
    I also picked out the word "apartheid" with reference to Israel in one of the comments, not to mention "abominable," so I will point out that an occupation by definition entails separation between the occupying power and the occupied population and the existence of two different legal systems for occupying and occupied nationals. That is not the situation for which the term apartheid was coined. Other than that, all measures instituted by Israel are solely for purposes of security.

    On the other hand, if you are referring to Israel as such. internally, you may consider the fact that Arabs eat in the same restaurants as Jews, travel on the same buses and trains, are treated in the same hospitals, treat Jews in these hospitals as doctors and nurses, serve as lawyers and judges in Israel’s legal system, teach in and attend the universities, serve in the Knesset. No doubt there is unjustifiable discrimination but a good deal of it derives from the fact that the primary national identity of Israeli Arabs is with an Arab world that is hostile to Israel, and that is a very problematic situation.

  • 6 May 2016 at 9:28am
    Graucho says:
    Labour really have lost their bearings on this one. It's not about Jews, it's not even about Israel, it's about the Likud, a party of the hard right with deep roots in terrorism. These guys play in the same league as the Afrikaans National party, Sinn Fein, Le Front National, the BNP and the KKK. The right in Israel don't take prisomers. When Count Bernadotte tried to mediate he was assassinated, when Yitzak Rabin tried to make peace an Israeli settler assassinated him too. Left wing politics is about the weak pooling their resources to ward off the predations of the strong, right wing politics is about the strong trampling all over the weak. The respective positions of the Labour party and the Likud on this spectrum is clear. Gerald Kaufman is neither a Jew hater, nor an Israeli hater. At least he has not forgotten what the Labour party should stand for. We shall miss him.

  • 6 May 2016 at 4:55pm
    Timothy Rogers says:
    Re.: the fantastic idea of “Hitler as Zionist”

    Given the incredible amount of evidence concerning “Hitler and the Jews” that can be gleaned from the writings of professional historians, I am astonished that many of the contributors here imagine there are still open questions about the matter (and that the way to resolve them is to go to blogs – go to the damn library or order a book or two on the internet). The timeline and mechanics of the persecution and expulsion of Jews, followed by the mass-murder program is very well covered by Raul Hilberg’s several books, among many others devoted exclusively to this topic. As to Hitler’s speaking, writing and thinking about how he intended to deal with Germany’s (first step, then Europe’s) Jews, one could go to the appropriate sections of Ian Kershaw’s big Hitler biography or to Sebastian Haffner’s "The Meaning of Hitler" or John Kovac’s "The Hitler of History". All of these sources examine the matter thoroughly, including the origins and the development of Hitler’s thinking about the Jews.

    Hitler had not made up his mind about a “final solution” at the time he launched his war against Poland in 1939. He knew he could dump German and Austrian Jews there right away (while having his minions deal with problems like mixed marriages) and that he suddenly held another couple of million Polish Jews captive (The Russians acquired their fair share too as a result of taking their pre-agreed slice of Eastern Poland). He also hadn’t made up his mind about invading the USSR yet, allowing him to take advantage of the Pact to concentrate military efforts on France (and Denmark and Norway), so, for the time being the Jews’ prison had to be the General Government area of conquered Poland (later adding the “Ostland” area of the Baltic states and parts of Belarus). June 1940 added another element. Having defeated France, Hitler and his cronies toyed with the idea of acquiring French overseas colonies (but they hadn’t figured out how to do this in the face of British naval supremacy – thus Hitler’s offer of economic assistance to Franco was predicated on acquiring naval-bases in a deal that never worked out). It was during this in-between period that the same felons came up with idea of taking Madagascar and filling it up with Jews – not to be a “new Zion” but a vast work-prison administered by Germans (mostly military and police).

    Whatever nods any Nazis ever made to European and Palestinian Jews interested in a Zionist state on the old Jewish homeland, by 1941 this had changed too – now, high on Rommel’s success, they saw the possibility of a military breakthrough in the Middle East, requiring them to present themselves to local Arab populations as “liberators” from French and English domination; this too would mean no Zion in today’s Israel. It was the early success of operations in the USSR, followed by the do-or-die attitude of Hitler of not letting anything go in the East that led him (through Himmler, Heydrich, et al.) to approve of the new “solution” of mass-murder, disguised as “resettlement” – the vast spaces of the East would accommodate a multitude of sins and crimes, with the outside world having almost no access to what was going on (one should remember that probably 2 million Jews were shot by the Einsatzgruppe cops working in the Eastern “bloodlands”, as T. Snyder calls them, before the death camps and gassings came along). Once started, there was no stopping in the minds of the perpetrators, who held the prospect of military failure followed by their own criminal trials as a negative incentive to all involved. They’d burned one bridge too many to backtrack and expect a negotiated peace. As many historians note, by late 1942 Hitler suspected that he was not going to win his Eastern war, but failing that, he might be able to win his war against the Jews, which would give him immense satisfaction even as he went down in flames.

    This is all such commonplace knowledge (based on mounds of solid evidence, as it must be for historians) that I wonder why some of the readers here get tangled up in “Hitler and Zionism”. Hitler truly believed that not only were Jews “parasitical and degenerate” but also very dangerous – his anxieties on this point could only be relieved by extermination. Need we say that none of this actually made any sense?

  • 8 May 2016 at 11:15am
    stettiner says:
    Meanwhile, Mr Livingstone is busy spreading his BS in the fertile arab soil:
    Prior to the creation of the Jewish state, he said, “there were large Jewish communities that never suffered threats or attacks. They lived in peace alongside their Arab neighbors.",7340,L-4800423,00.html

  • 8 May 2016 at 6:43pm
    Fred Skolnik says:
    If it interests anyone, here is a partial ssorecard:

    The country that suffered from the worst series of massacres. In the 8th century whole communities were wiped out by Idris the First. In 1033, in the city of Fez, 6,000 Jews were murdered by a Muslim mob. The rise of the Almohad dynasty caused waves of mass murders. According to testimony from that time, 100,000 Jews were slaughtered in Fez and about 120,000 in Marrakesh (this testimony should be viewed with caution). In 1465, another massacre took place in Fez, which spread to other cities in Morocco.
    There were pogroms in Tetuan in 1790 and 1792, in which children were murdered, women were raped and property was looted. Between 1864 and 1880, there were a series of pogroms against the Jews of Marrakesh, in which hundreds were slaughtered. In 1903, there were pogroms in two cities, Taza and Settat, in which over 40 Jews were killed.
    In 1907, there was a pogrom in Casablanca in which 30 Jews were killed and many women were raped. In 1912, there was another massacre in Fez in which 60 Jews were killed and about 10,000 were left homeless. In 1948, another series of pogroms began against the Jews which led to the slaughter of 42 in the cities of Oujda and Jrada.

    A series of massacres occurred in 1805, 1815 and 1830. The situation of the Jews improved with the start of the French conquest in 1830, but that did nor prevent anti-Jewish outbursts in the 1880s. The situation deteriorated again with the rise of the Vichy government. Even before 1934, the country was permeated by Nazi influences, which led to the slaughter of 25 Jews in the city of Constantine. When it achieved independence in 1962, laws were passed against citizenship for anyone who was not a Muslim and their property was effectively confiscated. Most of the Jews left, usually completely penniless, together with the French (“pieds noirs”).

    In 1785, hundreds of Jews were murdered by Burza Pasha. Under Nazi influence, harassment of the Jews intensified. Jewish property in Benghazi was plundered, thousands were sent to camps and about 500 Jews were killed. In 1945, at the end of World War II, a program against the Jews began and the number of murdered reached 140. The New York Times reported the horrible scenes of babies and old people who had been beaten to death. In the riots that broke out in 1948, the Jews were more prepared, so only 14 were killed. Following the Six Day War, riots broke out once again and 17 Jews were slaughtered.

    a massacre occurred in Basra in 1776. The situation of the Jews improved under British rule in 1917, but this improvement ended with Iraq’s independence in 1932. German influences increased and reached a peak in 1941 in the pogrom known as Farhud, in which 182 Jews were slaughtered (according to historian Elie Kedourie, 600 people were actually murdered) and thousands of houses were pillaged.

    Those were the days of Haj Amin al Husseini, who preached violence against the Jews. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Iraqi parliament acted according to the Arab League bill and in 1950 and froze the assets of Jews. Sanctions were imposed on those who remained in Iraq. The Farhud massacre and the harassment from 1946 to 1949 to all intents and purposes turned the Iraqi Jews into exiles and refugees. The few thousand who remained in Iraq suffered from harsh edicts. In 1967, 14 Iraqis were sentenced to death on trumped up charges of espionage. Among them were 11 Jews. Radio Iraq invited the masses to the hanging festivities.

    The first blood libel in a Muslim country occurred in 1840, and led to the kidnapping and torture of dozens of Jewish children, sometimes to the point of death, and a pogrom against the Jews. In 1986, the Syrian Minister of Defense, Mustafa Talas, published a book, “The Matzah of Zion,” in which he claims that the Jews did, indeed, use the blood of a Christian monk to bake matzah. Same old anti-Semitism, new edition. Other pogroms occurred in Aleppo in 1850 and in 1875, in Damascus in 1848 and in 1890, in Beirut in 1862 and in 1874, and in Dir al Kamar there was another blood libel which also led to a pogrom in 1847. That year, there was a pogrom against the Jews of Jerusalem, which was the result of that blood libel. In 1945, the Jews of Aleppo suffered severe pogroms. 75 Jews were murdered and the community was destroyed. There was a resurgence of the violence in 1947, which turned most of the Syrian Jews into refugees. Those who remained there lived for many years as hostages.

    There was a pogrom against the Jews of Mashhad in 1839. A mob was incited to attack Jews, and slaughtered almost 40. The rest were forced to convert. That is how the Marranos of Mashhad came into being. In 1910, there was a blood libel in Shiraz in which 30 Jews were murdered and all Jewish homes were pillaged.

    There were fluctuations in relations that ranged between tolerance and inferior subsistence, between harassment and pogroms. The Rambam’s Letter to Yemen was sent following a letter he received from the leader of the Yemeni Jews, describing edicts of forced conversion issued against the Jews (1173). There were further waves of apostasy edicts which cannot be detailed here for lack of space.

    One of the worst milestones was the Mawza exile. Three years after Imam Al Mahdi took power in 1676, he drove the Jews into one of the most arid districts of Yemen. According to various accounts, 60 — 75% of the Jews died as a result of the exile. Many and varied edicts were imposed on the Jews, differing only in severity. One of the harshest was the Orphans’ Edict, which ordered the forced conversion of orphaned children to Islam. In nearby Aden, which was under British rule, pogroms occurred in 1947 which took the lives of 82 Jews. 106 of the 170 shops that were owned by Jews were completely destroyed. Hundreds of houses and all the community’s buildings were burned down.

    As in the other Arab countries, the Jews of Egypt also suffered inferior status for hundreds of years. A significant improvement occurred when Muhammad Ali came to power in 1805. The testimony of French diplomat, Edmond Combes, leaves nothing in doubt: “To the Muslims, no race is more worthy of contempt than the Jewish race.” Another diplomat added, “The Muslims do not hate any other religion the way they hate that of the Jews.”
    Following the blood libel in Damascus, similar libels began to spread in Egypt as well and incited mobs to carry out a series of attacks: in Cairo in 1844, 1890, and in 1901-1902; and Alexandria in 1870, 1882 and in 1901-1907. Similar attacks also occurred in Port Said and in Damanhur.

    Later on, there were riots against the Jews at the end of World War II, in 1945, in which 10 were killed and hundreds were injured. In 1947, the Companies Law was passed, which severely damaged Jewish businesses and led to the confiscation of property. In 1948, following the UN resolution on partition, riots began in Cairo and Alexandria. The dead numbered between 80 and 180. Tens of thousands were forced to leave, many fleeing and abandoning their property. The lot of those who remained did not improve. In 1956, a law was passed in Egypt which effectively denied the Jews citizenship, forcing them to leave the country with no property. This was an act of pure expulsion and mass property confiscation.

  • 9 May 2016 at 11:21am
    Neil Foxlee says:
    Of course it is of interest, Fred, and it is only right that people should be reminded of the long and appalling history of antisemitism. But if murderous antisemitism has been so prevalent in the Middle East, one might question the wisdom (as opposed to the legitimacy) of responding to the Holocaust by establishing a Jewish state precisely where it would be perpetually surrounded by actually or potentially hostile neighbours, and in such a way as to inevitably exacerbate their hostility.

    Mr Livingstone may be wrong in viewing Arab-Jewish relations before the creation of Israel through rose-tinted spectacles. But his belief that the creation of Israel was a mistake is not in itself antisemitic. Here is what he said during a panel discussion in London on January 2, 2013 (starting @10:21):

    "Nobody disagrees with the academic [sic] concept that the Jews have a right to a state. What they didn’t have a right to was the displacement of the Arab community. We now live in a world where the reality is there is an Israel. I would not have created an Israel, but there is an Israel there. I support the concept of the two-state-solution. I want to see the ending of the wall and the separation, so there is an economic link (inaudible) there now (as) exists between France and Germany.

    "But it was a travesty. And the main force driving American policy makers in actually getting the UN vote to create the State of Israel is they were too frightened of anti-Semitism in America and Britain to do what we should have done, which is open our doors to the refugees from Hitler and to welcome them into Britain and America; not, because of our fear of anti-Semitism, actually displace an established Arab population who have spent the last 60 years living in degrading conditions and subject to constant violence."

    From , which contains a link to the recording at

  • 9 May 2016 at 3:33pm
    Fred Skolnik says:
    The State of Israel was not created by displacing anyone. It was created through a partition plan that left the Arabs where they were, under Jewish sovereignty. Their response was an attempt to destroy the State of Israel and, if we are going to be honest, massacre its Jewish population.

    In the last analysis, all that is being said is that the State of Israel shouldn't have been created because the Arabs didn't want to see a sovereign non-Muslim state in the Middle East. That's not a good enough reason. The Arabs didn't own the Middle East. The Jews had a legitimate historical claim to a small piece of the Land of Israel and the same nations who created the Arab countries in the independence period agreed.

    • 9 May 2016 at 4:40pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Dear Fred,

      English wasn't my first subject, so if these people weren't displaced maybe you could provide me with the correct verb

    • 9 May 2016 at 4:41pm
      Neil Foxlee says: @ Fred Skolnik
      I hardly need to point out that the points you make are contentious, to say the least. I think I'll leave it at that.

    • 9 May 2016 at 5:03pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      While we are on the subject if 2,000+ years is the statute of limitations on "a legitimate historical claim", we should really hand most of Europe back to the Italians as well as most of the middle east including modern Israel.

    • 9 May 2016 at 5:07pm
      stettiner says: @ Graucho
      I read your recommended wiki entry and nowhere did I find any mention of 5 000 000 Arab refugees. But maybe that's because English wasn't my first subject neither....

    • 9 May 2016 at 7:20pm
      Graucho says: @ stettiner
      Mathematics was mine however and "by displacing anyone" equates to zero persons being displaced.

    • 10 May 2016 at 4:14am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      I think you understand what I'm saying: the establishment of the State of Israel as such did not displace any Arabs. It was the war they initiated that created the refugee problem, on both sides by the way, because an equal number of Jews was displaced from Arab countries as a direct result of the conflict.

    • 10 May 2016 at 4:20am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      Jews inhabited the Land of Israel continuously for 3,500 years, right up to 1948. If you think conquests such as the Arab conquest of the 7th century establishes sovereign rights, then you should have no onjection to Israel's occupation of the West Bamk and whatever comes out of it. But since the Arabs did not exercise sovereignty in the Land of Israel since the 13th century, maybe 700 years should be your statute of limitations if you are going to arbitrarily pick numbers.

    • 10 May 2016 at 7:37am
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Legality and morality are areas in which humans make up rules as they go along often to suit their own nefarious purposes. Sovereign rights in practice are established by force of arms, the rest is trying to pretend it wasn't a land grab when it's pretty obvious to anyone with a brain that it was.

    • 10 May 2016 at 7:46am
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      If the state of Israel had not been established the war you refer to would not have happened and these people would not have been displaced. The "well they started it" argument is neither here nor there.

    • 10 May 2016 at 8:12am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      This is nonsensical. If India hadn't been partitioned and independent India and Pakistan established there also wouldn't have been a war and the displacement of 15 million people. You are not the arbiter of who chould exist and who shouldn't.

      "Well, they started it" is not an argiment. it is a casus belli and is always here or there. like the German invasion of Western Europe and the Soviet Union.

    • 10 May 2016 at 1:57pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Actually it's perfectly sensical. Granting independence to India did result in people being displaced just as setting up the state of Israel did result in Palestinians being displaced. The state of Israel came into being because, after what happened in the camps on top of centuries of persecution, a substantial body of Jews concluded that the only way they could be secure was in a state they controlled and they were not going to let anyone get in their way. The Palestinians who were in the way knew what to expect, resisted and were crushed. These are the facts, inconvenient for some. Personally I have no interest in taking sides, but I do object to being subjected to a succession of spurious arguments seeking to wrap these events up in self righteous justification.

    • 10 May 2016 at 2:29pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      "The Palestinians who were in the way knew what to expect, resisted and were crushed" is not the fact, convenient or otherwise.
      The fact was enunciated very clearly by Azzam Pasha, the Secreatry-General of the Arab League, in Oct. 1947, in the name of the Arab nation:

      “The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It’s likely, Mr. Horowitz that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won’t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not sure we’ll succeed, but we’ll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost Spain and Persia. It may be that we shall lose Palestine. But it’s too late to talk of peaceful solutions.”

      That is what the Land of Israel was for the Arabs - another Spain or Persia, one more nation to conquer in the name of Allah.

      What the Arabs "expected" was that they would destroy the State of Israel. Read what they had to say on the eve of the invasion. What they got as a national minority, for all the problems. was a level of economic prosperity and political freedom unknown in the Arab world, and it is for this reason, according to polls, that Israeli Arabs would not consent to live under Palestinian sovereignty in any proposed land swap (involving Wadi Ara, for example). Not for all the money in the world.

    • 10 May 2016 at 4:55pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      ... ergo make the inhabitants of the Gaza strip Israeli citizens and everyone will be happy.

    • 10 May 2016 at 5:21pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Ergo you are misrepresenting the nature of the conflict, or maybe sincerely don't understand it..

  • 9 May 2016 at 5:22pm
    stettiner says:
    We've come long way from the topic of the Labour Party's descent into totalitarian, anti-Semitic bigotry... How convenient...

  • 10 May 2016 at 8:16am
    Fred Skolnik says:
    I have a brain and I have no idea what you're talking about and I have the feeling that you don't either. Who grabbed land? Israel in 1967? Not really. Hussein started a war and as a consequence the West Bamk was occupied. I can vouch for that. I was there. Where were you? In Sheboygan? Watching television? Fast asleep?

    • 10 May 2016 at 2:31pm
      Graucho says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Well as I recall the six day war started with an Israeli pre-emtive strike. Anyway, the point is that possession is nine points of the law and I am now confused as to whether you are arguing that the West Bank occupation is a matter of "Sovereign rights" and "a legitimate historical claim" or simply the spoils of war, the last description being one we might both agree on. As I said earlier I have no interest in taking sides, just applying reductio ad absurdum to the many arguments on sees on this topic. The line of argument that you appear to be proposing that living somewhere for a long time gives you a legitimate historical claim and sovereign rights is worrying. At what point will the Likud lay claim to Monsey, Spring Valley, Brooklyn and large sections of north London ? By the way Sheboygan looks like a really nice spot, I wish I had been there.

    • 10 May 2016 at 2:42pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Graucho
      I'm sure you're not confused. The West Bank is occupied territory and the occupation has nothing to do with sovereign rights or historical claims but with the fact that Hussein initiated a war, for reasons he has explained in his book on the war and elsewhere and which have nothing to do with Israel's preemptive strikes angains Syria and Egypt. If you are worried that living somewhere for a long time gives you sovereign rights, you are also undermining the Palestinian claim to sovereignty. Both sides made their claims, a compromise was offered, the Jews accepted it, the Arabs rejected it and chose war.

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