Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Once More - Beyond Our Ken
The statement which led to Ken Livingstone's suspension from Labour Party membership (and now to his resignation) was his claim that Hitler had "supported Zionism" when first coming to power in Germany "before he went mad and killed six million Jews". This is a clumsy reference to a deal which the Third Reich struck with leaders of the Zionist Movement on 7th August, 1933. Hitler engaged in the deal in order to remove many Jews from Germany. It was a prelude to events such as resorting to prison camps, Kristallnacht (and the like) and then to his fully fledged mass extermination programme. The words used by Ken to described the early start of such developments clearly need to be have been adjusted.
For Hitler was "mad" in terms of the depth and nature of his anti-semitism (and on many other matters) well before the above deal was ever agreed to. For instance, Mein Kampf was published in two volumes back in 1925 and 1926 and contained clear anti-Semitic claims and attacks upon Judaism. It claimed that Aryans were the master race.
The 1933 development which Ken expressed briefly and badly is, however, contained in great detail in Edwin Black's book "The Transfer Agreement'. The introduction to the 1984 edition of his book stating that - "On August 7, 1933, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million...to Jewish Palestine".
Edwin Black is himself Jewish. His grandmother was murdered in Treblinka, having pushed her young daughter (who was later to become Edwin's mother) out of the train that was taking them to the camp. The young man who was to become Edwin's father escaping from a group of Jews who were being led to their execution by Nazis in Poland. Edwin's book is solidly researched and he is certainly in no way anti-semitic. If Ken had stuck with its approach, he would not have upset the apple cart. Yet the fact that he badly expressed the nature of this significant historical arrangement does not by itself make him anti-semitic. Nor can I find other evidence to substantiate this claim. But he could have conceded my point.
Informaton on Edwin Black's book and extracts from it can be found via this link.
22 May : According to a Guardian report, Ken Livingstone has now "apologised for his controversial remarks" on Hitler and Jews. If he had done this some time ago (even pointing to what actually happened), it would have been helpful and might have saved a lot of hassle within the Labour Party by cutting the ground from under his opponents.
25 May : Link here for a two year old Foreign Office definition of anti-semitism, although others may employ other definitions as useages often only share family resemblances. But on which items in the Foreign Office's criteria was Ken Livingstone and some other 80 Labour Party members accused ?
28 May : Link here for 39 cases of claimed anti-semitism in the Labour Party, although one is the late Gerald Kaufman who himself had Jewish parents. Another is Ken Livingstone. But it provides numbers of claims that can be further checked out.
29 May : Link here for Ken's full statement on his resignation from the Labour Party, which I have just discovered.