When former Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone was asked by a BBC interviewer if what Hitler did was legal, his response included the historical facts about a deal between the Nazis and the German Zionist movement. Coming as it did at the height of the 2016 “Labour anti-Semitism” crisis concocted by the media, his comments caused outrage. He was suspended from the Labour Party, and remains so to this day.
Livingstone was referring to the 1933 Haavara agreement, between the German Zionist movement and the Nazi government. The agreement facilitated the emigration to Palestine of some Jews with their wealth. The removal of Jews from Europe, of course, was a common aim of both Zionists and the Nazis.
In arguing that the Nazi expulsion of Jews from Germany was, in effect if not intention, supportive of Zionist aims, Livingstone was invoking uncontroversial historical fact. Nevertheless, right-wing Labour MP and Israel supporter John Mann stalked Livingstone with a Channel 4 News crew and slandered him as a “Nazi apologist” and a Holocaust denier in front of the cameras.
Livingstone has since been persona non grata in the Labour Party, with even former allies distancing themselves from him. He may be guilty of being a loudmouth and not knowing when to hold his peace, but he is not guilty of anti-Semitism.
It is worth comparing the fury of pro-Israel lobbyists and supporters over Ken Livingstone with their silence or active defence of Israel’s modern day alliance with fascists and neo-Nazis. It’s important to defend Livingstone’s right to talk about the historical facts relating to extreme right-Zionist collaboration, not least because an alliance with anti-Semites has been a crucial strategy of Zionist ideology ever since the late 19th century. It started with anti-Semitic Protestant Christian Zionists and later expanded to the Nazis.
Today, Israel is a key part of the global extreme-right alliance. Its greatest friend is the Trump administration, which has openly embraced the white supremacist “alt right” and staffed the White House with Nazi sympathisers. Even the leader of the Israeli Labour Party welcomed Trump’s ascension to the White House.
Most of the extreme-right groups in the world today are supporters of Israel, while the government of Israel is in cahoots with its right-wing counterparts in Poland and Hungary, which have encouraged Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
Despite Israel’s claim to be a bulwark against anti-Semites, the historical and current reality is that the Zionist regime has never cared about anti-Semitism globally. Or more accurately, it actually encourages and benefits from anti-Semitism. When there were anti-Jewish attacks in France, Netanyahu visited the country, claimed to be the Prime Minister of all Jews and called for French Jews to “come home” to Israel. The Jews in the synagogue where he was speaking responded by singing the French national anthem. Netanyahu, it seemed, apparently wanted the “Islamic State” fanatics responsible for the anti-Semitic attacks to succeed in their aims of ridding France of its Jewish citizens.
The Jews of Iraq, who mostly left in 1950, claim that attacks on their community were actually a plot by Israeli agents to drive them out of the country and head for Israel. Iraqi-born Israeli historian Avi Shlaim once recounted that, despite the fact that he’s yet to find evidence in the state archives for this, all of his Iraqi relatives believe that the bombings were carried out by Zionist agents. Whoever was behind the bombing campaign, Israel certainly benefited from it.
The anti-Semitic tendency stretches all the way back to the origins of Zionism. As Theodor Herzl himself predicted, “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” He could have been talking about the situation today.
Moreover, Israeli moves extend this trend. As writer Natasha Roth put it in +972 Magazine recently, the Israeli government’s blacklist banning 20 activist and human rights groups which support BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, means that Israel has banned Jewish leftists, while welcoming Nazi groups.
“While Jews who support the boycott movement are now barred from visiting the country,” she wrote, “members of Nazi-allied organisations and anti-Semitic political parties continue to be allowed into Israel — including at the invitation of government officials.”
Sebastian Gorka is one example; a sworn member of a Hungarian fascist organisation which was allied with the Nazis during the war, and a former Trump advisor, he was a keynote speaker at an “anti-terror” conference in Israel last year. He is only one of many such right-wingers welcomed to the Zionist state.
These right-wing groups have not let go of their anti-Semitism, but are generally friendly towards Israel, because the existence of a “Jewish state” means that the Jews native to their own countries can be sent there, away from them.
The BDS movement, on the other hand, has made it clear that it is an anti-racist movement, opposed to all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. That is why there are so many Jews in the movement, and why it continues to attract support, much to the chagrin of Israel and its right-wing support base.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.