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Toby Lichtig
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Thanks Adrian. The carelessness, for me, was in your description of Hitler's belief in a distinct Jewish 'nationality' and in the implication that he and Herzl were somehow after the same thing. As for 'chosenness': this may be used as a justification for expansionist policies by some of today's settlers; and these are words and actions I completely oppose. But for the vast majority of people over the past century Zionism has had nothing to do with any perceived superiority. It's been a question of establishing - and then protecting - a homeland, following many centuries of discrimination. As for NS and KL, I'm satisfied that there is at best a sinister undertone to the way in which talk about the situation,
Toggle Commented May 2, 2016 on Hitler and the Zionists at The TLS blog
Many thanks again for all your comments. When I wrote this blog I didn't know that the book Ken Livingstone had in mind was Lenni Brenner's. For those interested in Brenner, here is a cool appraisal of his work that I have recently been pointed to by a colleague: Brenner is not the only person ever to written about the Haavara Agreement as an act of "collaboration" - a word that has been used a great - and troubling - deal in connection with this debate. The idea that Zionists were "collaborating" with Nazis to get Jews out of Germany stretches the term in deeply unpleasant and offensive ways. The Zionists behind it were doing what they could to save people who were already, by the time of the agreement, being persecuted and who clearly faced worse to come, even without the benefit of hindsight. That the emigration of these Germans to Palestine aided the Zionist cause does not make this an act of Nazi "collaboration" and the suggestion that it does so is the root of much of the understandable anger with Livingstone (and Brenner). Adrian, I appreciate your long response and much of what you say - about Zionism in its current incarnation; about what does and does not constitute anti-Semitism in terms of criticism of Israel - I agree with. But I'd be very careful about your use of language when you say that Hitler and Herzl were "at one in seeing Jews as having a distinct nationality". You're right with the word "distinct" but Hitler regarded Jews as racially inferior, with an emphasis on the racial. He wasn't much interested in Jewish nationhood and any support for shipping Jews to Palestine was certainly not born out of Zionist sympathy. With the focus on Livingstone's poor understanding and/or interpretation of history - and his pathetic subsequent attempts to defend himself - we are also losing sight of something else: why on earth was he invoking Hitler to defend Naz Shah? The suggestion, presumably, was that Zionism is so appalling that even Hitler supported it. This is enough, in my view, to make Livingstone ripe for suspension. As I tried to explain in my blog, there is a genuine debate to be had about the "fascism" prevalent in certain strains of Zionism at the time (and, it could be argued, today). But this sorry story only makes this debate less possible.
Toggle Commented May 1, 2016 on Hitler and the Zionists at The TLS blog
Thanks for your comments, Adrian and Steve, but I'm afraid you've both missed the point. Hitler was no more a supporter of Zionism in 1932 than he was in 1937. And whether Livingstone said Hitler was a 'Zionist' or a 'supporter of Zionism' is also moot: he didn't support, embrace or endorse the ideology in any meaningful way as envisioned by Herzl and co. Hitler didn't want an independent and sovereign homeland for the Jewish people; he wanted the Jews out of Germany. It is true that Zionist leaders negotiatied with members of the Nazi Party to arrange the passage of Jews from Germany to Palestine right throughout the 1930s and even, in a few cases, into the early 40s. But it is wilfully misleading to equate these negotiations with any support for Zionist ideology. What on earth Livingstone was doing dredging up this piece of history in support of Naz Shah's own little 'joke' about forced Jewish population transfer is quite another mystifying matter.
Toggle Commented Apr 29, 2016 on Hitler and the Zionists at The TLS blog
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Dec 11, 2012