16 April 2017

Ken Livingstone’s Fainthearted Friends at the Morning Star, Socialist Worker & the Jewish Socialists Group

Lansman & Owen Jones Attacks on Livingstone Only Helps Tom Watson
The Right has begun to smell blood.  Corbyn was himself originally accused of anti-Semitism by consorting with holocaust deniers such as Paul Eisen.  He has been under attack by the Zionist lobby since day one.  See for example Jeremy Corbyn's 'long-standing links' with notorious Holocaust denier  ‘Anti-Semitism’ has been the Right’s chosen weapon. 

Letters in Morning Star objecting to their editorial
No one of course could point to anything actually ‘anti-Semitic’ that Corbyn said hence why they have directed their attention on to the one person who best exemplifies the fight against racism in the Labour Party.  Noone did more, at the Greater London Council to support and fund anti-racist initiatives than Ken Livingstone, as David Rosenburg of the JSG admits in his flabby and shallow article for the Morning Star. A Row With Its Roots in the Thatcher Years

Under relentless attack from the Right and the Zionists, Corbyn has abandoned the Palestinian cause and 30 years of support for the Palestinians which included at least 6 visits to Palestine.  At a Jewish Labour Movement debate last summer between Corbyn and Owen Smith when asked what he liked most about Israel, Corbyn could have mentioned child torture, mobs who chant ‘Death to the Arabs’, banning of Arabs from 93% of the land in Israel, a starvation siege of Gaza etc. etc.  He was spoilt for choice.  Instead he said:

I admire the verve and spirit of the towns and cities in Israel – the life and the way people conduct themselves, I admire the separation of legal and political powers and the system of democratic government that is there and I admire many of the technical and industrial achievements that Israel has made and its very advanced technology in so many way that it has developed in medical and telecommunications technology.  

Dave Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists Group article in the Morning Star attacking Ken Livingstone whilst purporting to support him
Why has there been this political collapse?  Because in supporting a 2 state solution, Corbyn was also supporting Israel as it is.  Support for Israel is support for the Right of the Labour Party in the UK.  Why?  Because Israel is the United States racist rotweiller in the Middle East.  If your foreign policy is based on the alliance with the US then it must involve uncritical support for Israel.

Given that Corbyn was himself originally attacked as an anti-Semite, not only by the Daily Mail but by The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem it is sad that he cannot see that bogus allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are a weapon of the Right.  The bigger a lie and the more often it is repeated the more it is likely to be believed.

The Right is quite open about what they desire.   A crowd-funding appeal has now been launched under the title ‘Expel Ken #Corbyn Out’.   These are supporters of the only apartheid state in the world, Israel.  When Tom Watson calls for the expulsion of Livingstone that is code for the removal of Corbyn.  

It is therefore to be regretted that the Morning Star, the only Left daily, has equivocated in its support.  In Fresh bid to attack the left it speaks of the ‘real offence’ caused when the Nazis ‘are compared to or associated with their victims’.  Except of course that Livingstone didn’t compare the Nazis to their victims.  What he did was say that the Nazi state and Hitler supported Zionism, a political movement.  Zionism in Germany was a tiny minority of German Jews.  It is a fact that the Nazis saw the Zionists as volkish (racial) Jews.  
The paper of the German Zionist Federation welcomes the Nuremburg Laws
On September 17th 1935, the paper of the German Zionist Federation welcomed the Nuremburg Laws which removed German citizenship from Jews and effectively made them stateless.  Judische Rundschau wrote that:

Germany ... is meeting the demands of the International Zionist Congress when it declares the Jews now living in Germany to be a national minority. Once the Jews have been stamped a national minority it is again possible to establish normal relations between the German Nation and Jewry. The new Laws give the Jewish minority in Germany their own cultural life, their own national life. In future they will be able to shape their own schools, their own theater, their own sports associations; in short, they can create their own future in all aspects of national life.

On the other hand, it is evident that from now on and for the future there can be no interference in questions connected with the Government of the German people... for Jewry in Germany itself, as for the Germans. Germany has given the Jewish minority the opportunity to live for itself and is offering State protection for this separate life of the Jewish minority: Jewry’s process of growth into a nation will thereby be encouraged and a contribution will be made to the establishment of more tolerable relations between the two nations.

Francis Nicosia's Zionism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany

The German Zionists, as was the case with the rest of the Zionist movement, believed that Jews were not part of the German people.  They were part of a separate Jewish nation.  It was therefore quite reasonable for the Nazis to say that Jews should play no part in German society.  It was a position rejected by the overwhelming majority of German Jews but it was music to the ears of the Nazis.  Alfred Rosenberg, the principal Nazi theoretician, who was hanged at Nuremburg, was fond of quoting the Zionists to support what the Nazis said.  As Francis Nicosia, Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University noted, Rosenberg

 ‘intended to use Zionism as a legal justification for depriving German Jews of their civil rights.’  He ‘sanctioned the use of the Zionist movement in the future drive to eliminate Jewish rights, Jewish influence and eventually the Jewish presence in Germany.’ [Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 25-26.  See also Edwin Black p. 173, The Transfer Agreement]

In his book The Final Solution (Pan Macmillan) 2016 (p.96) Professor David Cesarani quotes from a 1934 Gestapo report: “The efforts of the Gestapo are oriented to promoting Zionism as much as possible and lending support to its efforts to further emigration.” 

Having made one blunder, the Morning Star went on to concede the Right’s case when it said that ‘Livingstone should have acknowledged this and apologised’.   Why should anyone apologise because telling the truth has offended them?  It is a fact that the Zionists played a quisling role in the Jewish community in Germany (& elsewhere) during the Holocaust.

Having made this concession to the Right the Morning Star then concluded that It is outrageous that the most consistent and principled anti-racist ever to lead the Labour Party has been constantly harassed by bogus accusations of anti-semitism — which are clearly inspired by fear of the effect a supporter of the rights of the dispossessed Palestinian people could have on British foreign policy if he becomes prime minister.’

That is of course correct – these are bogus accusations which is why it is even more stupid of the Morning Star to give the time of day to their validity.

The real problem for the Morning Star is that it follows in the traditions of Stalinism, which in 1948 supported the establishment of the Israeli state and thus the legitimacy of the Nakba.  The Morning Star might be a supporter of the Palestinians but it refuses to oppose Zionism, the movement and ideology which created a settler-colonial state in the Middle East.

Jewish Socialist Group’s David Rosenberg Damns Livingstone with Feint Praise

It took a long campaign by this blog before the JSG finally came off the fence and in support of Jackie Walker [The Strange Silence of the Jewish Socialists Group] , the Black-Jewish woman who was suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’. [The lynching of Jackie Walker]. 

David Rosenberg has now done a wobble on Ken Livingstone too, in the Morning Star.  Whilst welcoming the fact that Livingstone wasn’t expelled, Rosenberg says that he ‘ought to have avoided a sorry affair which hasn’t helped Corbyn’ thus missing the whole point of the affair which was that Livingstone’s unremarkable opinions were deliberately blown up by the right-wing in the Labour Party.  Whatever he said would have been magnified. 

As Kipling’s poem Dane-geld put it ‘"once you have paid him the Danegeld/ You never get rid of the Dane."  In other words when you pay off a blackmailer you just encourage them to continue.  The more the Zionists and the Labour Right have been appeased over ‘anti-Semitism’ the greater the incentive for them to continue.

Rosenberg accepts that ‘Under Ken Livingstone’s visionary leadership from 1981, the GLC railed against both discriminatory practices and the mindset supporting them — racist, sexist, homophobic and disablist.’  Despite vociferous opposition from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the very body that is now campaigning loudest about ‘anti-Semitism’, Livingstone’s Greater London Council funded the Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project, set up by the JSG, of which Rosenberg was the co‑ordinator.

Rosenberg asks ‘How is it possible that, three decades on, the person who played such a pivotal role in these fights for equality is facing demands for expulsion by the Labour Party after making dubious comments about Hitler and zionism, and defending another MP’s comments about Jews, which she herself apologised for?’

Well there is a simple answer.  Unfortunately it is one which escapes Rosenberg.  It is that far from being ‘dubious’ Livingstone’s comment that the Nazis supported Zionism was a simple statement of fact.  He also asks why Livingstone was defending Naz Shah when she herself admitted her comments were anti-Semitic?

Again there is a very simple answer.  Naz Shah, in the middle of the slaughter of 2,200 people in Gaza, including 551 children, remarked by way of a tongue-in-cheek joke how much better things would be if the United State’s racist rotweiller in the Middle East were transplanted to the USA, which helps fund it.  There was nothing anti-Semitic about this joke at all.  The cartoon which Naz Shah used came originally from Yad Vashem’s Jewish Virtual Library

Why did she admit to anti-Semitism?  The same reason that the victims of Stalin’s purges admitted their ‘guilt’.  It is quite possible to intimidate people, who know little about anti-Semitism, into admitting their guilt because they are guilt-tripped.

I have read a number of things by David Rosenberg over the years and this is hardly his finest hour.  He says that he is reticent to come to Livingstone’s defence.  Why?  Because ‘his controversial and completely unnecessary intervention has undermined Corbyn, been detrimental to the Palestinian cause.’  This is what is known as political cowardice.  Anything that Corbyn said would, like Jackie Walker, have been twisted and distorted as ‘anti-Semitism’.  Jackie said that she hadn’t heard a definition of anti-Semitism that she could agree with.  This too is ‘evidence’ of her anti-Semitism.  Apparently Livingstone has ‘handed a free gift’  to the Labour Right and assorted Tories and Zionists. 

These are the politics of timidity and cowardice.  What David should be doing is calling out a politics of denunciation by misquoting people.  Instead of going on the defensive about every word we say, Dave should be calling out those who defend the Israeli state right or wrong.

For example the Jewish Labour Movement, which Rosenberg has become quite sympathetic too, calls itself the ‘sister’ party of the racist Israeli Labour Party.  A party that ethnically cleansed ¾ million Palestinians in 1948 and which has been every bit as racist as its Likud equivalents.  A party whose current leader, Isaac Herzog can say that his nightmare is waking up to a Palestinian Prime Minister and 61 Palestinian MKs.  A man who declares that he doesn’t want the ILP to be seen as an Arab lover’s party.  Yet Rosenberg remains silent about the ILP.

It is the failure of the Left, Rosenberg and Jon Lansman included, to call out the ILP and the witch-hunters, that has led to the situation of people cowering lest they say the wrong word.  One does not need to know any more about the JLM than that it voted by 92-4% in favour of Owen Smith in the summer.  Corbyn was stupid for even having agreed to allow the JLM to host a debate.  What did he think he gained?  He didn’t allow Progress to become a host why the JLM? 

As  an indication of the political collapse of the JSG, Rosenberg says that it was beyond me’ why Tories such as Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush or Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ‘feel entitled to comment on Labour’s internal disciplinary processes’.  The answer is obvious.  They are batting for Israel and attacking the Left in the Labour Party is part of that defence.  As Rosenberg pointed out, Arkush ‘rushed to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the US election’ and Ephraim Mirvis attacked Labour in the Daily Telegraph, a paper that openly supported the Tories’ ‘openly Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan.’  So it should be obvious that the Zionists’ concern is neither racism nor anti-Semitism.

Surely it isn’t beyond the ken of Rosenberg to work out why Jewish racists oppose Livingstone?  Rosenberg  provides the answer to his own question,  He describes how the GLC’s Ethnic Minorities Unit provided a grant to the JSG despite what he calls the Board’s ‘unsolicited “reference” on the JSG which was ‘full of lies and unfounded smears and allegations linking us to organisations described as “terrorist.” Dave was grateful that ‘the GLC disregarded it, but it revealed the BoD’s methods.’  So grateful that he takes to the Morning Star to make what amounts to a thinly veiled attack on Livingstone.

Livingstone is hated by the Zionists because he wasn’t prepared to treat the BOD, which is based on synagogue going Jews only, as Corbyn and McDonnell do, the sole legitimate representative of Jews in Britain. 

Rosenberg harks back to a cartoon in the Daily Herald, which Livingstone was involved in in the early 1980’s, ‘which published crude denunciations of Israel and cartoons of prime minister Menachem Begin dressed in nazi uniform’.  There was nothing that was anti-Semitic in this.  It was making the point that those who claimed they were the heirs of the Holocaust victims were behaving in ways similar to the Nazis.  These cartoons occurred at the same time as Israel’s invasion of the Lebanon, whose purpose was to defeat the PLO and install as President Bashir Gemayel of the fascist Phalange.  When Gemayel was assassinated by the Syrians, the Israelis let loose the Phalange’s militias on the unarmed and defenceless refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla.  Some 2,000 mainly women and children were massacred.  This and the death of 20,000 Lebanese richly deserves the title of ‘Nazi’. 
Letter from Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt compares the party of future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to that of the Nazis
If Rosenberg is still cowering at the thought of comparing an Israeli Prime Minister as a Nazi he should remember that no less than Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt amongst other prominent Jews made this comparison on the occasion of Begin’s visit to the USA in 1948. 

 ‘Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

David Rosenberg really goes off the edge when he refers to the source of Livingstone’s quote about Hitler ‘supporting zionism’, the  book ‘Zionism in the Age of the Dictators’ by Lenni Brenner.  Rosenberg argues that Brenner makes ‘crude allegations of zionist-nazi collaboration, treats the actions of some zionists as representing all zionists, and utterly distorts the power relations between zionists and nazis.’ 

Rosenberg admits that ‘There were attempts by some zionist Jews in Germany in 1933 to make deals with the nazi dictatorship’ but  says that they were criticised by other Jews, including many zionists.
Yes most Jews did criticise the collaboration with the Nazis by the Zionist leadership.  This included individual Zionists but it is a fact that the Zionist movement, including its leadership, were wholly in favour of collaborating with the Nazis over Ha'avara. 

Rosenberg cites a meeting in 1983 when Brenner spoke to a JSG meeting and says that ‘When audience members labelled some of his comments anti-semitic’, he responded that he couldn’t be anti-Semitic because his wife was Black . Apocryphal or not, this is hardly a serious critique of Brenner, with whom I have certain differences in terms of his analysis.  However it is a fact that even Zionist historians such as Lucy Dawidowicz, Francis Nicosia and David Cesarani came to the conclusion that the Nazis had supported Zionism.  There is no need to reference Brenner’s book to reach this conclusion.   As it happens the book is a good one even it is limited in its analysis and on occasions wrong.

Rosenberg references other examples of Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites such as the talks that the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl held with von Plehve, the Czarist Interior Minister in August 1903.  Herzl promised that ‘Jewish revolutionaries would cease their struggles against tsarism for 15 years if he would grant a charter for Palestine.’  Dave however misses out the salient point that it was von Plehve who had personally organised, some 4 months earlier, the pogrom at Kishinev when 50 Jews were murdered and hundreds were injured. 

Rosenberg concludes that ‘this whole effort to dig out evidence of zionists behaving badly in the 1930s in order to expose the way zionism behaves today is such a shoddy way of supporting the just demands of Palestinians and rests on crude generalisations.’

It is true that one doesn’t have to reference what Zionism did in the 1930’s to challenge what Israel does today to the Palestinians.  However the refusal of the Zionists to oppose genuine anti-Semitism, whether it was in the 1900’s when they supported the Tory anti-alienists who opposed the immigration of Jewish refugees into this country or the 1930’s, when they sabotaged the boycott of Nazi Germany, is relevant.  The Zionist idea that Jews did not belong in the countries of their birth is the mirror image of the idea that the Palestinians have no right to live in the land of their birth.  It is blood and soil nationalism, a Jewish form of German volkism The racism of Zionism towards Jewish people is mirrored in its treatment of the Palestinians today. 

Because Rosenberg doesn’t understand the racist nature of Zionism he believes that it is sufficient to “use the modern universal language of human rights’.  Citing Shami Chakrabarti, Rosenberg would rather that we talked of ‘dispossession, discrimination, segregation, occupation, persecution and leave Hitler, the nazis and the Holocaust out of it.”

This is the major problem of Rosenberg’s analysis.  If the Palestinian Question and Zionism is merely one of human rights, then there are other places in the world where human rights are far worse – South Sudan, Syria, the Congo, Burma – the list is endless.  In terms of straightforward abuses of human rights Israel is not the worst offender by any measure.

What makes Israel unique though is the fact that it is the world’s only Apartheid state.  Coupled with that, Israel is the central pillar of US foreign policy in the Middle East.  It is the primary agent of counter-revolution in the Arab East.  That is why the United States gives it $4 billion a year, more than every other country put together.  Israel is the bastion of imperialist domination in the Middle East and that is why allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are made in this country.  It is Rosenberg’s inability to understand the political nature of Zionism and the ruling class’s attack on anti-Zionists and the Palestinians which explains his reduction of support for the Palestinians to one of human rights.  It is this lack of any class or political analysis which led him and the JSG in 1993 to support the disastrous Oslo Accords. 

Socialist Workers Party Cowardice

Charlie Kimber, their National Secretary wrote that Livingstone ‘has made life easier for the supporters of Israel.’  In what is little more than an echo of what David Rosenberg wrote, he cites the SWP’s Middle East ‘expert’ John Rose as saying that Livingstone walked into a trap set by his opponents.  The argument about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis has been around for a long time. It is rightly ignored by solidarity activists with Palestine.’

This is what they call a lie.  The evidence is overwhelming.  The agreement over Ha'avara for example is extremely well documented by Zionist historians.  There are many other examples of Zionist Nazi collaboration such as the suppression of the Auschwitz Protocols by two Auschwitz escapees Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler.  The Protocols revealed, for the first time in April 1944, that Auschwitz was an extermination not merely a labour camp.  The subsequent deportation of nearly ½ million Hungarian Jews in May 1944 as Germany was collapsing militarily, occurred because Kasztner reached an agreement with Eichmann for a train out of Hungary for the Zionist elite.  In return he not only suppressed the Protocols but his ‘Rescue Committee’ and the Judenrat actively deceived those boarding the trains as to where they were heading.  This was the subject of a four year long trial in Israel itself.  The findings of the Jerusalem District Court in 1955 that Kasztner was a collaborator have stood the test of time.

Rose suggests that the Ha'avara agreement ‘bitterly divided the Zionist movement.’  No it didn’t.  It was supported by all except the Revisionist (fascist) wing.  His argument that “Many young Zionists, in particular, were outraged” is unsupported by anything in the way of evidence.  This is in contrast to when Tony Cliff, who had experience of Zionism in the second world war was the leader of the SWP.  When in 1977 the Zionists attacked the Anti-Nazi League, which was then a mass movement set up to fight the National Front, Socialist Worker had a double page spread about Nazi-Zionist collaboration in WW2 as an explanation for why they attacked anti-fascists whilst leaving the fascists alone.

Rose considers himself a historian and bowled over by having met and reprinted The Ghetto Fights by the Bundist leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance, Marek Edelman, he is unable to understand that the Zionists who fought in the Jewish Fighting Organisation did so not because of Zionism but in spite of it.  In short the SWP is peddling junk history.

Unfortunately, lacking all internal democracy, these things are not debated in the SWP but handed down from on high by the leadership.  As with the affair of the rape allegations that nearly destroyed the organisation, there is no effective way of people inside the SWP challenging their own leadership.
At a time when Livingstone is under attack for making statements of fact about Zionism, it is incumbent upon us to defend him because if we don’t do so then we actually leave the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party even more vulnerable to attack.

Unlike the Morning Star, the SWP and the JSG/Dave Rosenberg the Right understands this simple concept.

Tony Greenstein

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