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Monday, 2 May 2016

Hitler the Zionist?

I always assume that the hard left's willingness to demonise Israel is never just about how the Israeli government behaves; I believe it to be an anti-American, anti-capitalist thing. Consequently, I had never considered anti-Semitism to be that big an issue, but some things I’ve read and heard recently have changed my mind. Certain cynical alliances have altered the political landscape, to the extent that the ‘anti-West’ thing may indeed have morphed into something uglier. The hard left, for political reasons, decided some time ago to court the Muslim vote; it is, sadly, axiomatic that these votes would come with a generous side-serving of anti-Semitism.

I have no idea whether or not Ken Livingstone is an anti-Semite, but he supports Hamas and Hezbollah and I know what they think of Jews. Although I would generally regard him as a self-serving, publicity-hungry buffoon, his recent description of Hitler’s initial policy as ‘Zionist’ seemed like something more sinister than mere buffoonery; it sounded like a grubby attempt to conflate Israel and National Socialist Germany.

One might be able to argue –as his supporters have done- that Mr Livingstone is technically correct. At the time of the so-called Haavara Agreement (August 1933), the National Socialists wanted the Jews out of Germany and so appeared to support the creation of a Jewish state. But Hitler only supported that putative state because, at the time, it was not politically viable for him to start killing Jews; he’d get the power to do that later. Mr Livingstone’s supporters may be right to claim that some folk in the Labour Party are using this issue to undermine the current leader (who has a track record of consorting with unsavoury characters), but that’s a separate point. They are arguing (somewhat feebly) that Mr Livingstone is technically correct, but it is not possible to argue that he is morally correct.

Hitler ‘supported’ the rights of Jews to form a Jewish state in the same way that I would now ‘support’ Ken Livingstone’s right to go forth and multiply.

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