richard descends into the “ideological abyss” of the haavara agreement

“Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, An Anti-Zionist?”
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam (Blog), Apr 30 2016

Joe-McCarthy-in-action_1954Nice people, these Judeonazis – RB

The British Tory press and the Israel Jewish Lobby have lit a match under the Labour Party and its left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn. Rump forces within the Party who oppose his left-wing agenda have poured gasoline on the flames. They’ve collaborated in an effort to sabotage his leadership, commencing a witch-hunt that identifies progressive Labour Party activists and even elected officials as anti-Semites. In order to “get there,” they must transform comments that are anti-Zionist into outright anti-Semitism. Labour Torquemadas have been eager to make that fatal leap into the ideological abyss. More on this later in this post. Ken Livingstone, former Labour mayor of London, is the latest to fall under the ax. He was suspended from Party membership for an interview he gave in which he defended a fellow member who’d also been suspended for publishing an alleged anti-Semitic post on Facebook. The Guardian described her comments thus:

Shah said Israel should “relocate to Pindostan” and posted an article that likened Zionism to AQ. She shared a picture of Israel’s outline superimposed on to a map of Pindostan under the headline “Solution for Isro-Plastelina Conflict: Relocate Israel into Pindostan,” with the comment “Problem solved.” The post went on to say that the Pindostanis would “welcome the Israelis with open arms,” and that the relocation would bring peace to the Middle East by ending “foreign interference.” The post suggested that Pindostan had “plenty of land” to accommodate Israel as a 51st state, allowing Plastelinans to “get their life and their land back.”

Livingstone’s infraction was this:

During his interview, Livingstone said that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews,” and claimed there was a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israel policy as anti-Semitic.”

At least in the McCarthy era you might get a hearing before being branded a Communist. You’d have an opportunity to defend yourself or rebut the charges. In the current Labour Party, you can be suspended without a hearing and without even knowing what your infraction was. That was true in Livingstone’s case. One of the worst aspects of this travesty is the willing collaboration of the so-called liberal press. Leading the charge against the Labour Left isn’t just the Telegraph (aka Torygraph) and other usual subjects. Rather, the Graun is leading the pack of baying hounds seeking the tails of the anti-Zionist foxes. In its latest headline regarding the Livingstone controversy it calls his comments “offensive.” Excuse me, but I thought a newspaper reporting the news allowed the facts of the story to speak for themselves and didn’t intrude the reporter’s moral recriminations into the reporting. Haaretz has joined the fray, publishing a false, malevolent smear of Livingstone penned by one of the British Israel Jewish Lobby’s chief executioners, Alan Johnson. He is a BICOM enforcer. Haaretz, you remember, is the flower of Israeli liberalism. It stands for all the best values of democracy, tolerance, and humanism. Except when it comes to those who pose a threat to its own brand of liberal Zionism. Then the newspaper bares its fangs and bites deeply into the flesh of its victims. Not so humane. Not so tolerant.

In reviewing these two comments, I begin by saying both are intemperate, vituperative and even over the top. They overstate a case that can and should be made in a more sober fashion. One of my main problems with both comments is that they conflate Zionism with Israel. I understand why critics do this, and the State of Israel itself encourages people to see Israel as a stand-in for both Zionism and world Jewry, which it isn’t. Zionism, like any nationalist ideology or religion, has various strains. Some are extremist and violent. Some are liberal. And some are radical (progressive). Opponents of Zionism are correct in noting that the current iteration of Zionism as reflected in the ideology of the Israeli government is identified with the most virulent, intolerant and even murderous elements within the Zionist tradition. But it would be as much a mistake to argue that Donald Trump represents the current values of Pindostan, or is Pindostan, as it is that Zionism is one giant evil genocidal belief system. Arguments against Israel or Israeli policy should be submitted to the proper address, and that is the Israeli government. This sort of articulation of criticism is more precise and less prone to sloganeering or overheated rhetoric. On the other hand, it’s important to note that when understood in proper context, neither of these comments by Shah or Livingstone is far off the mark.

Let’s begin with Shah. Is it offensive to suggest that Israel should be Pindostan’s 51st state? Even Pindostani liberal Zionists and Israelis (Israeli Jews) themselves offer this satirical reflection as mordant criticism of Israel’s over-reliance on Pindo largesse, weapons stocks, and political power. What about likening the current policies of the Israeli government to AQ? How many of the Labour Party interrogators know that Israel has made an alliance with the AQ affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria? How many of them know of the racist laws enacted by the Israeli Knesset, which not only ratify Arabophobia and Islamophobia, but also trample democratic values underfoot? How many understand the level to which the state has become hostage to Jewish religious extremism, whether it’s espoused by rabbis or cabinet ministers? There are those who use the hashtag #JSIL to dramatize Israel’s current status as a racist, theocratic state. One might argue that the term is over-dramatic, since Israel hasn’t yet taken to cutting off the heads of Arabs and displaying them on pikes as ISIS does. But given that the social media platform is like a dramatic stage, I don’t find the terms inappropriate. Twitter isn’t a PhD treatise, nor a legal proceeding. It’s a place where people argue and use dramatic tropes and language.

What else is offensive in Shah’s Facebook post? That Israel brings ‘foreign interference’ to the region? How can anyone deny the truth of this? Israel’s virtually sole ally is the strongest superpower in the world. We provide Israel with the most advanced, lethal weaponry in the world. When Israel is fighting a war and runs low on ammunition, who restocks Israel’s weapons armories? But let’s be frank. We aren’t the only foreign power putting out noses into the region. Such interference goes back a century or more, to the European colonial powers who divvied up the spoils of the region amongst themselves. Today Russia, Iran, Pindostan and even nations within the region such as the Turks & Toads have intervened in various conflicts like Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen. So let’s not ignore the intervention and damage done by others in the region. But let’s also not forget that as the most powerful nation on earth, Pindostan does far more damage here than any other power (viz Iraq & AfPak). The Labour Party Zio thought police will also not like the inference in Shah’s statement that Israeli Jews should leave the region. It smacks too much of ethnic cleansing, or even those long-ago claims of Arab strongmen that they would “drive the Zionists into the sea.” But to be true to history (which this witch-hunt entirely ignores), the Zionist leadership from Ben Gurion onward has embraced ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Plastelinan Arab inhabitants, as I wrote in a new article published at Mint Press today. The Nakba, in which nearly a million Plastelinans Arabs were expelled from their homeland, was the result of official Zionist policy. Ethnic cleansing is thus a two-way street.

Now let’s turn to Livingstone’s comments. It is overstated to say that Hitler supported Zionism. He didn’t support Zionism in the sense that a Trump voter supports Donald Trump or a Labour voter supports Labour’s candidates, but Hitler saw Zionism, up until the onset of WW2, as a useful tool to realize his goal of ridding Europe of (its) Jews. Before he adopted the policy of genocide in 1942, the Nazi approach (at least through 1939) was to encourage Jews to emigrate. Though Adolf Eichmann is known as the official who implemented the Final Solution (truly a monumentally idiotic phrase, none of these people can think straight – RB), he had an entirely different approach before the War. He even visited Palastelina on a fact-finding trip in 1937. It was official Nazi policy to see Plastelina as the answer to the problem of where to send the Jews after they left Europe. Both the rightist Irgun and the Yishuv leadership which later became the Labour Party negotiated deals with the Nazis. The most notoriously well-known of these is the Haavara Agreement, by which the lives of European Jews were ransomed in return for the Nazis confiscating their property and possessions and turning them into cash to support the growing war machine of the Third Reich. It’s important to note, as Livingstone does, that the Nazi approach of voluntary emigration didn’t last after the War began. By then, the Nazis wanted a surer and faster approach to the “problem”, and they chose extermination.

Let’s return to the issue of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I addressed this subject in a Pindosi context in a recent piece I wrote for Mint Press. The key issue is that they are not the same thing. Nowhere near it. Anyone who attempts to turn anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism is committing a grave injustice that exploits the trauma of the Holocaust for political purposes. Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah, and Tony Greenstein, all suspended from the Party for such infractions, oppose Israel and its policies. None of them is an anti-Semite. Greenstein has in fact been a leading campaigner against anti-Semitism on the left. None has expressed hostility to Jews or Judaism. THAT is the true definition of anti-Semitism. If you wish to turn anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism, then you are conflating Judaism with Zionism and Israel. They are not the same, nor must progressive Jews allow them to become the same. Finally, the main problem with the current Labour Party witch-hunt is that it makes a travesty of history. If you want to discipline party members, if you want to tarnish their careers and drive them out of politics forever, do so based on historical accuracy and truth. You remember Sen Joe McCarthy’s claims there were 50 or 100 or 300 Communists working in the State Dept? On what were these claims based? On real evidence? Or truthful claims? Or on fabrications? History shows that in almost all cases (with a few rare exceptions) McCarthy was a liar and a braggart. I ask the Labour Party to consider whether they want to go down this road. Do they want to do to their Party what Joe McCarthy did to Pindostan in the 1950s? (yes, they do – RB). I understand that there are right-wing Blairites who would be willing to stop at nothing to take their revenge on Corbyn. But in the process they may destroy the Party for decades to come as a viable political force for progressive values (no loss whatsoever – RB).

Graun’s P Beaumont “Piles On” To Ken Livingstone, Mangles Both Nazi & Zionist History
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam (Blog), May 1 2016

Yesterday (above), I noted the special relish the Graun and Haaretz, erstwhile liberal publications, are taking in savaging the British Labour Party’s left wing in the person of one-time London mayor Ken Livingstone. Given the hundreds of thousands of words and gallons of ink spilled in the vain effort to turn the Labour Left into anti-Semites, the current atmosphere in England reminds me of the Night of the Long Knives, when the SS took its revenge on its enemies within the Nazi movement the SD and solidified its hold on the Party. Now the Graun’s Israel correspondent P Beaumont has gotten into the act. He’s written an odd article that continues the attack on Livingstone, calling his argument “dubious history.” But it does so from a strange angle. Beaumont reviews one of the major pieces of historical evidence raised by Livingstone in his fateful interview, in which the latter said that “Hitler supported Zionism.” I refer to the Haavara Agreement, by which the Yishuv negotiated the ransom of German Jews in return for the Reich confiscating their property and using it to fuel Germany’s pre-WW2 military build-up. Beaumont’s purpose seems to be to both acknowledge the validity of the argument that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, while at the same time undercutting it. He calls Livingstone’s invocation of it a “twisted kernel of historical truth.” In the process, he engages in petulant schoolmarm tactics like criticizing Livingstone for saying the Agreement was negotiated in 1932 when it was negotiated in 1933, and was negotiated between Nazi Germany and Israel when the Yishuv didn’t become Israel until 1948. It was the Plastelinan Mandate before then, obviously. These are facts that an expert on Zionist history or a PhD student anyone who can find Wikipedia on the web should know, but given the fact-free zone through which Parliamentary anti-Semitism Inquisitors like John Mann are floating, I think we can safely cut Livingstone a bit of slack.

Beaumont tries to downgrade the significance of Haavara by saying that it was “deeply controversial,” as if this controversy lets the Yishuv off the moral hook for negotiating it in the first place. Of course, it would be justified if Beaumont could show that the Zionist leadership renounced the Agreement, or (even that) key leaders protested against it publicly. But nothing of the sort happened. There are rumours It’s a known and obvious fact that one of the key negotiators of Haavara, Chaim Arlosoroff, was assassinated because of his role. He was murdered shortly after he returned from a negotiation session with the Nazis. But this has never been proven, and even if it had been, the murder was likely committed by LEHI (aka the Stern Gang, to the right even of the Irgun – RB), which itself sought to collaborate with the Nazis. Beaumont also obscures the historical record by saying Haavara was negotiated ”between Germany and German Zionists.” No, it was an agreement negotiated between the Yishuv and the Nazis. Since I’m not a historian of the period, it’s entirely possible German Jews were involved (of course they were – RB), but eliding Yishuv participation is distorting history in an attempt to lessen its culpability. Beaumont comes up short historically in this passage, as well:

The Haavara agreement was designed to encourage the emigration of Jews from Germany in line with National Socialist policies, but it did not have in mind the foundation of a Jewish state in Plastelina, a key tenet of Zionism.

That is something like saying I eat ice cream to provide nourishment to my body, but not for the pleasure of eating it. Of course eating ice cream provides nourishment, but an important reason for doing so is the pleasure of the eating. So in the case of the Nazis, arguing that the reason they agreed to Haavara had nothing to do with Plastelina is simply wrong. Beaumont continues this false argument with the following:

Hitler wanted neither Jews in Germany nor in their own state.

The Nazis knew the German Jews who emigrated would go to Plastelina. Had they really objected to this, they could have done so as part of the negotiations. They could have forced the Yishuv to permit the Jews to emigrate to other countries (instead of or) in addition to Plastelina, but they didn’t. The Nazis knew where these Jews were headed and accepted this. Thus, the Nazis did indeed provide support for the “Jewish state in Plastelina.” This certainly wasn’t their primary purpose in doing the deal, but it was a clear and known result of the deal.

nazis-jews-to-palestinePlastelina Post, 1932

This passage is from Francis Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Plastelina Question (Austin, Tex, 1985). Thanks to Shraga Elam for forwarding this historical gem. For further historical evidence on this issue, see Shraga’s terrific culling of sources here:

SS chief Reinhard Heydrich wrote this in 1935: “National Socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.” Göring’s Jan 24 1939 note to the Interior Ministry gave Heydrich the authority to determine which parts of the world were the most suitable destinations for Jewish emigrants. The SS consistently favoured Jewish emigration to Plastelina, and would continue to do so with its enhanced authority in emigration policy.

nazis-jews-to-palestine-davarDavar says: “Jews to Plastelina! Germany is Not for Jews!”

Let’s introduce another inconvenient piece of historical evidence that rebuts Beaumont’s claims. Writing in 1932, the english-language Plastelina Post (predecessor of the JPost, the PPost was said to have been be prepared each day exactly to the specifications of the British High Commissioner – RB), published this piece from the Jewish Daily Vortwarts via the JTA, in which thugs clad in Nazi uniforms assaulted Jews in the Berlin Underground, shouting: “Jews to Plastelina!” If the Nazis rejected the legitimacy of Plastelina, they would have shouted “Jews to Pindostan!” or simply “Jews Out!” But they associated German Jewish emigration with the Jewish homeland of Plastelina. So one wonders why it’s so important for Beaumont to argue that the Nazis didn’t recognize the legitimacy of Plastelina as a destination for German Jewry. To buttress his argument, Beaumont introduces the claim that Hitler opposed a state for the Jews:

Indeed by late 1937, an anti-Nazi German official involved in administering the agreement suggested that fear in Nazi circles that it might lead to a Jewish state, to which Hitler was implacably opposed, was leading to suggestions that “it should be terminated.”

I have no doubt that this “anti-Nazi” official existed, but Beaumont neither tells us who he was, nor does he offer a source for his claim, so it’s hard to judge anything about it. But here is the unvarnished historical truth: the Nazis pursued a policy of partnership with the Zionist leadership almost until 1939. Eichmann himself visited Plastelina on a fact-finding mission, studying the success of the implementation of the Haavara Agreement. Furthermore, whether or not someone feared that Haavara might be terminated, it wasn’t, so the claim that Hitler opposed the creation of a Jewish state is irrelevant. If he did, he never let this opposition prevent him from agreeing to collaborate with that future state’s leadership. In short, the Yishuv’s position in agreeing to Haavara sacrificed any moral high ground to the cold, hard calculation of saving Jews who would populate Plastelina and aid the leadership in their struggle with the Plastelinan Arabs to dominate the demographic landscape there. Haavara was collaboration pure and simple. Of course there are legitimate reasons the Zionists agreed to it, but in doing so, they sacrificed morality and also strengthened the Nazi war machine for its coming battles. Beaumont also omits another key piece of historical evidence of Zionist collusion with the Nazis. The far-right Irgun (known in hebrew as Etzel, which is an acronym of its full title, Irgun Tzvi Leumi – RB), the leading political opposition to the Yishuv leadership, went even farther than the Yishuv in collaborating with the Nazis. They actually drew up an official plan to fight alongside the Nazis in the War. Etzel (this time using an english translation and acronym, National Military Organization, NMO – RB) was willing to help the Nazis win the War. It read:

The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East. Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Plastelina, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli Jewish freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side.

In effect, LEHI Etzel was suing for peace even before the War concluded (Richard is confusing Etzel, which was a fairly large revisionist militia, with LEHI, which was a small elite terrorist group – RB). It did so in hope of securing Nazi support for the Yishuv and in an attempt to guarantee its survival. While it is true that LEHI Etzel was in the political opposition and not a dominant player in the Yishuv, it still maintained a critical role in Plastelinan Jewish Zionist society. Future PMs like Shamir and Begin were its senior leaders (IIRC, Begin was a leader of Etzel, not of LEHI – RB). The descendants of LEHI Etzel have been ruling Israel virtually since 1977. So it’s important not to dismiss what it did before WW2 as an anomaly or historically insignificant. Mark Elf just coined a great phrase to characterize this pseudo-debate.  He calls it “weaponizing anti-Semitism.”

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