He can’t re­sist go­ing to an­other level

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DAVID HIRSH

KEN LIV­ING­STONE has been sus­pended from Labour mem­ber­ship for two years, counted from last April, when he said on the ra­dio that Hitler “was sup­port­ing Zion­ism — this was be­fore he went mad and ended up killing six mil­lion Jews”.

But he is un­re­pen­tant. On the steps of his tri­bunal, he gave in­ter­views say­ing that Hitler in­ter­vened on be­half of the Zion­ists against the Yid­dish speak­ing rab­bis in Ger­many and the SS was giv­ing train­ing to Jews to help them in Pales­tine.

Why should the two years not be­gin when he went on Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme on the morn­ing of this ver­dict, when he said these al­le­ga­tions of an­ti­semitism were in­vented by the JC to si­lence crit­i­cism of Is­rael and to smear Jeremy Cor­byn?

Why not start the sus­pen­sion from 1982, when Mr Liv­ing­stone, who was edit­ing a Work­ers Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party front pa­per, pub­lished a car­toon of Me­nachem Be­gin giv­ing a straight armed salute, wear­ing an SS uni­form and stand­ing on a pile of Pales­tinian skulls? Why not start the sus­pen­sion from 2004, when the then Mayor of Lon­don hosted, at City Hall, Yusuf Qaradawi, a cleric who thinks Hitler “put the Jews in their place”?

Why not start the sus­pen­sion from 2005, when Mr Liv­ing­stone ac­cused a Jewish reporter of be­ing “like a Ger­man war crim­i­nal”? Why was Mr Liv­ing­stone’s sus­pen­sion not started when he pre­sented pro­grammes for the Ira­nian state pro­pa­ganda chan­nel Press TV? Or when he said Jews were rich and so were not likely to vote Labour?

There is a de­bate to be had about how hos­til­ity to Is­rael, anti-Zion­ism and boy­cotting Is­rael relate to an­ti­semitism. Mr Liv­ing­stone is part of this pol­i­tics of Is­rael ha­tred; he is part of the mi­lieu which sees Is­rael as a key and unique evil on the planet and as a key­stone of global im­pe­ri­al­ism.

But Mr Liv­ing­stone is one of those fig­ures who can­not re­sist tak­ing it to an­other level. He is of­ten tempted to fo­cus his cri­tique on Jews; he is espe­cially at­tracted to ac­cus­ing Jews of be­ing like Nazis.

Mr Liv­ing­stone has spent half a cen­tury try­ing to cul­ti­vate the view among the gen­eral pub­lic that Zion­ism and Nazism are some­how sim­i­lar and that they were in ca­hoots against the or­di­nary in­no­cent Jews.

Of course this is not true. Hitler was clear in Mein Kampf in 1924 that the Jews did not want a state “so as to live in it”. They wanted one, said Hitler, to “es­tab­lish a cen­tral or­gan­i­sa­tion for their in­ter­na­tional swin­dling and cheat­ing”.

Mr Liv­ing­stone has be­come the mouth­piece for a new kind of re­vi­sion­ist his­tory. He wants to mix up Zion­ism with Nazism. Nazism, which rounded up, se­lected on ra­cial grounds and mur­dered the Jews of Europe, is sym­bolic of all that is evil in the world. Mr Liv­ing­stone wants peo­ple to think of Zion­ism as be­ing linked, sim­i­lar and in al­liance with it.

This is not only non­sense, it is also an­ti­semitic — to say Zion­ists are like Nazis des­ig­nates the na­tional lib­er­a­tion move­ment of the Jewish peo­ple as pure evil; it de­monises Jews and it nor­malises Hitler; it li­censes and en­cour­ages peo­ple to relate to Zion­ists, that is the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of liv­ing Jews, as they would relate to Nazis.

Mr Liv­ing­stone has even be­gun to re­sem­ble David Irv­ing in the way he fixes on par­tic­u­lar grains of half-truth about Hitler and weaves them into one big lie. But he does it with con­fi­dence and with charisma.

He keeps re­peat­ing the Liv­ing­stone for­mu­la­tion, for which he is fa­mous. All of this storm about an­ti­semitism, he says, is man­u­fac­tured by Zion­ists and Blairites to si­lence crit­i­cism of Is­rael and to smear the left. They know there is noth­ing to it, but they do it in or­der to gain ad­van­tage. The al­le­ga­tion of an­ti­semitism is, to­day, por­trayed as the root of Zion­ist power.

Mr Liv­ing­stone won’t rest un­til peo­ple be­lieve that the Zion­ists col­lab­o­rated with the Nazis and un­til peo­ple be­lieve that Zion­ists who re­mem­ber the Holo­caust are do­ing so out of some ul­te­rior mo­tive. He keeps re­peat­ing that his Jewish friends agree with him, and there is in­deed a small but noisy co­terie of Jews ready to bear wit­ness against the Jewish com­mu­nity and to white­wash their hero.

Mr Liv­ing­stone is not a jolly, harm­less old bloke who is ba­si­cally on the right side and who sup­ports the Pales­tini­ans; he has spent much of his life craft­ing an­ti­semitic dis­course for mass pub­lic con­sump­tion.

There is a big­ger prob­lem of po­lit­i­cal an­ti­semitism in Labour than Mr Liv­ing­stone — the lead­er­ship of the party it­self is im­pli­cated in the kind of pol­i­tics which cul­ti­vates it. And now, Labour is not even able de­ci­sively to dis­tance it­self from Mr Liv­ing­stone by ex­pelling him. No doubt, he will still be in­vited to do me­dia work and he will be treated as a re­spectable and ex­pe­ri­enced po­lit­i­cal leader — be­cause even now, that is how he is seen by many.

David Hirsh is a lec­turer at Gold­smiths Col­lege and author of the book ‘Con­tem­po­rary Left An­ti­semitism’


Con­tro­ver­sial Mus­lim cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi with Ken Liv­ing­stone in 2004

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