Livingstone suspended from Labour over Hitler remarks: An overreaction?

Ken Livingstone [Image: Justin Tallis/AFP/GettyImages].

Ken Livingstone [Image: Justin Tallis/AFP/GettyImages].

What a shame Ken Livingstone didn’t know when to hold his tongue.

Much of what he said today about the Naz Shah controversy was perfectly reasonable and deserving of debate – but this will now be buried.

Why? Because he had to add comments that his opponents could use to discredit him.

His claim that the Israeli government could avoid criticism of its actions because of “double standards”, that allow it to claim anti-Semitism when people are not attacking the Jewish people, seems reasonable.

If somebody wants to criticise Benjamin Netanyahu for an entirely disproportionate military strike on Palestinians, that is not an attack on the Jewish people or their religion, it’s a criticism of a political decision.

And while some may want to nitpick the numbers, Livingstone’s claim that between 60 and 100 Palestinians are killed for every Israeli is more or less accurate. See what I mean about military strikes being “disproportionate”?

Likewise with the alleged smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. This Writer has seen a certain amount of commentary suggesting that Corbyn is anti-Semitic – and dismissed it as an over-reaction to criticism of the government in Tel Aviv.

Livingstone’s assessment of the Israel government as “one of the most brutal regimes going” is his own opinion – an objective assessment would have to consider it in the context of Middle East politics generally – and should be treated as such.

However, the claim that Hitler supported Zionism because he wanted Jews moved to Israel was the first This Writer has heard of it. I admit I haven’t read Mein Kampf, but subsequent comments by others seem to support my belief that it isn’t accurate.

It seems highly unlikely that Hitler wanted to do anything other than kill Jews, due to a resentment dating back to the First World War – and it was foolish to mention the Nazi leader in connection with the current issue. Why does discussion of anti-Semitism always have to mention the Shoah?

Was the reaction against Livingstone too strong? It’s debatable. It isn’t anti-Semitic to be mistaken about Hitler’s early beliefs, nor is it anti-Semitic to criticise the government in Tel Aviv, and I don’t think he has any inherent prejudice against Jewish people.

But there is an argument that Livingstone was connecting Nazism with Zionism (which was originally simply the movement to re-establish a Jewish nation).

As Rabbi Danni Rich from Liberal Judaism, a progressive Judaism body, stated: “Claiming Hitler was a Zionist is not only a huge historical perversion, but it directly equates Nazism and Zionism. It suggests they share objectives and values; it is guilt by association. It is hard to think of a more offensive linkage.”

He added: “Livingstone is a symptom, not the cause.”

This seems to be the heart of the matter, with the cause being: Ignorance. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as the saying goes – and it seems likely that too many people have heard snippets of information but never actually researched the facts.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Rich went on to suggest Labour has an “institutional problem” which, in my opinion, is mistaken.

Labour has suspended Livingstone, “pending an investigation” for bringing the party into disrepute. I don’t know about that; it’s possible the Labour politicians who reacted to him have done more harm in that respect.

That being said, some of the comments made in response have raised good points, such as Chris Bryant’s tweet, using his Shadow Leader of HoC account: “Frankly, it is no better when a senior politician looks at the President of the United States and only sees the colour of his skin and his ‘part-Kenyan ancestry’. Or when Tory candidate for Mayor of London runs a deliberately racially charged campaign against his Labour opponent. It is profoundly irresponsible. It offends the fundamental decency of the British people. So I say to racists in my party and every party – leave, go, you’re not welcome.”

Then again, I would agree with attacks on Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith that echo my own words on the matter, wouldn’t I?

David Cameron’s claims are a different matter. He’s just jumping on a bandwagon to divert attention from his own party’s problems.

I await your comments with interest. My brother blogger, Beastrabban, may be particularly knowledgeable.

Labour has suspended the former London mayor Ken Livingstone“for bringing the party into disrepute” after he was accused of antisemitism and making offensive comments about Hitler supporting Zionism.

More than 20 MPs, including Sadiq Khan, Labour’s current London mayoral candidate, had called on Jeremy Corbyn to expel or investigate Livingstone over remarks made while trying to defend suspended Bradford MP Naz Shah.

The chief whip is also calling in John Mann, a Labour MP and the chair of the all-party group on antisemitism, to discuss his conduct after he confronted Livingstone at the BBC and called him a “disgusting Nazi apologist”.

A Labour spokesman said: “Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour party, pending an investigation, for bringing the Party into disrepute.

“The chief whip has summoned John Mann MP to discuss his conduct.”

Source: Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour after Hitler remarks | Politics | The Guardian

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21 thoughts on “Livingstone suspended from Labour over Hitler remarks: An overreaction?

  1. Tony Dean

    I cannot help but wonder what Tory government cock-up is being covered up by the wall to wall attack on Livingstone by the media/press.

  2. mrmarcpc

    Although anti-Semitism is wrong and what the Jews suffered was horrific, it doesn’t give Israel the right to say and do whatever the hell it likes, like treating the Palestinians like s**t and wanting to eradicate them, that’s what Benjamin Netanyahu and some other Israelis would like to do, he is a hypocrite and a fascist, ironic I know, but if he could wipe out both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without receiving international condemnation for it, he’d do it in a heartbeat and then he would become what he chastised both Hitler and Germany and Stalin and Russia of being, genocidal monsters, just because you speak out against Israel’s actions, doesn’t make you anti-Semitic!

    1. jeffrey davies

      you said it would have been my words also i wonder how cams is doing hiding away his dirty linen while this goes on jeff3

  3. Roland Laycock

    Ken and Naz spoke the truth and got kicked out of the Labour Party I’m glad that I didn’t re join and I am disappointed with JC bowing to a very small crowd and the tory media

  4. Colin Bannon

    A far better comparison for the current Israeli government would be the South African apartheid regime: the Arabs being the subjugated people.

  5. Terry

    It has transpired that Ken was right that the was an agreement between Zionists and Germany before WW11 but to mention it seems to have been unwise rather than anti-semitic. A rabi taking offence should hold no more weight than any other person especially when he is in fact historically incorrect.

    1. O Lucky Man!

      Interesting to see how that wikipedia page has been revised just today to reduce elements that support the way Ken expressed himself, and add ohers that contradict him. Take a look for yourself –

      History bending before your eyes on wikipedia? Well Whoda thunkit…

  6. John

    Livingstone has a point, though he might have found a better way to express it.
    Zionists and Nazis collaborated with one another through the Ha’avara or Transfer Agreement (see for details).
    At the time of his trial in Tel Aviv, Adolf Eichmann stated ‘”[H]ad I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine being anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable.” There is more in similar vein to be seen at, including zionist and British frustration of attempts to save jewish lives.
    The zionists today have turned into their own worst nightmare. They are now nazis.
    They too encapsulate blood, soil and liebensraum (living space) in their ideology.
    Daily, they routinely maim and murder young and old Palestinians, male and female.
    Why are the zionists’ daily acts of murder and war crimes not being publicised?
    Is it because a stupidly compliant mass media is being diverted away from the issue?

  7. casalealex
    Nazi Propaganda was Based on What Zionists Said


    As far as Zionism is concerned, the founder of Zionism and apostate, Theodor Herzl, sought to intensify hatred of the Jew in order to enhance the cause of political Zionism. Here are some of his “pearls”:

    “It would be an excellent idea to call in respectable, accredited anti-Semites as liquidators of property. To the people they would vouch for the fact that we do not wish to bring about the impoverishment of the countries that we leave. At first they must not be given large fees for this; otherwise we shall spoil our instruments and make them despicable as ‘stooges of the Jews.’ Later their fees will increase, and in the end we shall have only Gentile officials in the countries from which we have emigrated. The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” (The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl. Vol. 1, edited by Raphael Patai, translated by Harry Zohn, page 83-84)”.

    Additional words from the vivid imagination of this dreamer, from p. 68 of Part I of his Diary.

    “So anti-Semitism, which is a deeply imbedded force in the subconscious mind of the masses, will not harm the Jews. I actually find it to be advantageous to building the Jewish character, education by the masses that will lead to assimilation. This education can only happen through suffering, and the Jews will adapt.”

    Hateful views of Jews as being subhuman did not have to be invented by Nazi theorists such as Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg and Streicher. This ideology was simply adapted from statements of political Zionists such as those found in the writings of the Zionist Yehezkel Kaufman in 1933.

    In 1920 there were statements hostile to Jews expressed at Heidelberg University. These statements, arguing that Jews of Germany had caused the turmoil that followed the war; that the Jews of Germany had nothing in common with Germans, and that Germans had the right to prevent the Jews of Germany from intruding into the affairs of their volk were not made by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, but by Nahum Goldmann, who went in to become the President of the World Zionist Organization and head of the World Jewish Congress, and, indisputably, the most influential political Zionist in the world, second only to the Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

  8. John

    If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter—because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.” – Ben-Gurion (1938).

    (As quoted in Benny Morris’ Righteous Victims, p. 162)

    – See more at:

  9. Phillip Watson

    ‘However, the claim that Hitler supported Zionism because he wanted Jews moved to Israel was the first This Writer has heard of it’

    My advice? Read about the Transfer Agreement set up by the Nazis and the Zionists after Hitler came to power.

    By no means was Hitler a supporter of Zionism but both sides were as pragmatic as each other. Hitler wanted rid of the Jewish population in Germany and the Zionists wanted to resettle Jews in Palestine so they did a deal to that effect. It is not an hidden event and a quick Google finds it but is generally not well known. Livingstone was actually factually correct here.

  10. Neilth

    Ok so there was an agreement. The attacks on Ken and Nas are really about the right of the party attacking Corbyn and stupidly adding to the media feeding frenzy.
    It is impossible to criticise the Israeli Government or the Israeli Defence Force or Mossad without being accused of anti semitism. Mike you are quite right, criticism of political decisions to demolish people’s homes and build illegal settlements on other peoples land or to shoot youngsters who are in the wrong place at the wrong time is not anti semitism it is anti injustice.
    Criticism of a regime that fails to prosecute people, civilian or military, who commit crimes against others is not antisemitic it is support for the rule of law.
    I am equally critical of other regimes which behave in this way eg Apartheid South Africa, the Assad Regime, the USA treatment of detainees in Guantanamo or executing young people or people with learning difficulties, Russia’s repression of dissidents and it’s treatment of homosexuals, the list, sadly seems endless.
    I am a socialist and believe in the rights and dignity of all my fellow human beings irrespective of faith or no faith, colour, gender,sexuality or ability and I oppose and will criticise those who seek to limit the freedoms and dignity of my fellow humans. I am not an anti Semite but I am probably an anti Zionist where Zionism seeks to impose itself on others in the same way as I am anti IS but not anti Moslem and anti facist or anti tea party where their intolerance seeks to attack other people’s freedoms.
    If people are racist, anti Semitic and intolerant I fully support their expulsion from the Labour Party, we should not harbour small minded bigots and provide them with a platform or validation but we should not be frightened to criticise when we see injustice in case we are labelled as something we are not.

  11. Pablo

    Livingstone just got it the wrong way round. The extreme right of the Zionist movement, did propose an alliance with the Nazis in the hope of unseating the British from Palestine and being permitted to create an exclusively Jewish state. The same people, many of whom achieved prominence in the Israeli State, were prepared to use extreme violence and ethnic cleansing (such as Dier Yasim) to achieve this end.

    Of course, the despicable Labour right are prepared to use any stick to beat Corbyn including dragging the reputation of their own party through the dirt.

    1. mohandeer

      Well said Pablo. Mann has an axe to grind and Livingstone was a means to an unscrupulous and treacherous end. You obviously know your history, shame Mann doesn’t (or did he?).

  12. Damien Love

    Interesting article. About the only balanced one i’ve found. The media has blown this way out of proportion. The handling reminds me very much of how the Americans talk about Israel. Any negative comment about Netanyahu, Israel, Mossad, treatment of Palenstinians all boils down to “anti-Semitism” which is simply not true. Meanwhile the London Mayor makes an offensive comment about the President and it seems to just blow over.

  13. Hanna Kawas

    It is well documented that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis:

    1- Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany by Faris Yahya
    Second Printing, Palestine Distribution Centre, Vancouver, Canada, October, 1980
    (Original Printing: Palestine Research Center, Beirut, Lebanon, January 1978)

    2- 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis
    by Lenni Brenner (Editor)/ Paperback/ September 2009

    Internet Resources:

    3- Zionism in the Age of Dictators
    Copyright 1983 by Lenni Brenner

    4- The Holocaust Victims Accuse
    Copyright1977 by Reb Moshe Shonfeld

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