Antisemitism? Let's concentrate on the real issues.
In recent days, interventions by several people, including many Jewish left wing activists, have begun to deconstruct the ‘problem with antisemitism’ that the Left, and members of the Labour Party in particular, are charged with, mostly by people with nefarious agendas. It has also been acknowledged that there are a small number of real incidents that must be addressed. Make no mistake: Ken Livingstone’s crass intervention was a massive setback for those efforts, and a free gift to those manipulating the issue for right wing purposes.
Everything that was so wrong about what he said is way too long to put in a brief post but in headlines – Hitler’s poisonous attitudes to ALL Jews regardless of their political leanings, his portrayal of them as a cancer and a danger to humanity that he wanted to remove from German life, were well established long before 1932, when he wrote Mein Kampf (1925 and 1927). The Holocaust was not about one person suddenly going ‘mad and killing 6 million Jews’. Like elsewhere in Europe, Zionists were a weak and marginal force in Germany’s Jewish community. Any talk of ‘Nazi-Zionist collaboration’, ‘Nazi Zionist deals’ etc without reference to the massive power imbalance is nonsense. Some Zionists tried to exploit Nazi intentions to remove Jews from German society. The vast majority of German Zionists shared the same fate as most German non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews – they were reduced to ashes.
My plea to fellow anti-racist, anti-Zionist, socialist activists is:
Don’t waste any of your precious time today trying to rationalize, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments. Concentrate instead on challenging the terms of the debate as set by the right-wing alliance that are exploiting this whole issue. Concentrate on how to persuade and split off those who are genuinely worried about rising antisemitism from those exploiting the issues. Concentrate on showing how the Left can demonstrate that the fight against antisemitism is tied up with the fight against all racism including Islamophobia; concentrate on exposing how those feigning sympathy for Jews are implicated in racism against others; and concentrate on ways to ensure free speech and rational debate about the realities of what Zionism and Israeli policy is enacting daily against the Palestinians.