German-educated Twitter user asks what’s anti-Semitic about Ken Livingstone’s comments

The German education system is very careful about how it discusses the Holocaust – and a person who has been through that system has said they cannot see what Ken Livingstone said (for example, on the BBC’s Daily Politics – above) that would cause offence. Interesting! How are those clamouring for his head going to explain THAT away, short of defaming that person’s character?

In this week’s regular BBC Question Time hate slot for the Labour Party, the question was:

Of course, the flurry of responses on the social media was only to be expected, especially after Diane Abbott said her piece, which claimed Mr Livingstone had quoted history inaccurately (we all know he was right – right?) but stopped short of calling for his expulsion from the Labour Party.

This Writer certainly had a few things to say:

(For balance, I did also add that, as far as Mr Livingstone’s more recent claims were concerned, the proof has yet to be seen and he may need to eat those particular words.)

My remarks attracted criticism, of course, but look at this:

I’ve done a little research on this. For a nice introduction to the way German school pupils are educated about what happened to Jewish people in Nazi Germany, there’s a good piece in the New York Times. It says, among other things:

“The Holocaust remains a subject taught as a singular event and obligation here.”

Also:

“Ask many Germans now in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and they will describe elementary and high school history classes that virtually cudgeled them into learning about Nazis and the Holocaust.”

And:

“‘Students had to fight to talk freely about the war,’ [one person] recounted, ‘and, being confronted in class by the emotions of the teachers, there wasn’t any space to feel for ourselves.'”

Another person is quoted as follows:

“‘Teachers with good will used to make German children feel it was somehow their fault, that they had a weight on their shoulders. The war was still a fresh wound.'”

We may, therefore, conclude that German students are given an intimate knowledge of exactly what constitutes anti-Semitism, from an education system that is determined to ensure that it never re-occurs in that country.

Now, here’s a person who was educated in Germany, under these conditions, saying Ken Livingstone’s comments were neither untrue nor anti-Semitic.

Perhaps it’s time we all saw through the lies and examined the real reason he has been attacked?

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11 thoughts on “German-educated Twitter user asks what’s anti-Semitic about Ken Livingstone’s comments

  1. Susan Thomas

    Are we no longer allowed to talk about history in politics? are we getting too politically correct. . I think Jeremy supporters on the front bench including Diane Abbot have taken the stand to try and stop Ken as they want unity . The right of the party just want rid of Jeremy Corbyn. see the following independent The Labour Candidate for Gorton is in the Independent today. Who has also jumped on the band wagon to criticise Ken where he has himself accused Israel of genocide etc . Talk about pot calling the kettle black if I am allowed to say that. Unbelievable.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-gorton-by-election-candidate-afzhal-khan-israel-genocide-audio-leak-ken-livingstone-anti-a7670546.html

  2. Rusty

    Shameful questions time! The host couldn’t or wouldn’t control the conservative woman from talking over miss abbott! Allowing this shameless tory to pout untrue comments about corbyn and livingstone unchallenged! Is there any point in the bbc anymore? It has become the mouthpiece for the tory government!

  3. gerry

    Only politicians and their gropies can make a story out of this nonsense. Labour needs to get a grip and sink the Tory boat.

  4. John Thatcher

    Corbyn with a short term political fix for the elections,has handed the right in the party and their zionist friends a perpetual weapon to use against us,by in effect accepting the argument that being anti zionist is the same as anti semitic.This is both wrong in fact and a monumental political blunder.

  5. Dez

    Yes it does seem at this point like a covert witch hunt which I cannot understand why with all the historic information that abounds cannot be proven one way or the other so that Labours real core business can move on instead of crawling slug like into todays fast moving real world. If his facts are true….its just a political witch hunt and further internal political questions need to be asked of the perpetrators.

  6. Ornette Wilson

    I think there’s an important aspect we’re missing here in this debate.

    “Why did he turn it into an issue of Hitler supporting zionism? True or not true, what was its relevence in this context?”

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Ken Livingstone could only meant one thing when he spoke on this issue – he was attempting to point out, by use of analogy, that being anti-zionist IS not the same as anti-semitism

    In your article http://­voxpoliticalonline.co­m/2016/04/30/­this-hysteria-over-hi­tler-anti-semitism-a­nd-ken-livingstone-h­as-to-stop/ you mention that
    “The BBC put a curious spin on it. Presumably trying to find a rationalisation for Livingstone’s comments to Vanessa Feltz, a report states: “Mr Livingstone defended the Bradford West MP, saying anti-Zionism was not the same as anti-Semitism.””

    Although you indicate you could not find a source for Livingstone explicitly stating this, it would seem from the BBC report that they attempted to gain clarification on this issue, possibly through Vanessa Feltz herself, and this was the response they received privately.

    This is important I think, because the only charge of Livingstone that holds any water is that his comments were inappropriate & inflammatory. Without context, it’s recognisable his comments could be perceived as wholey gratuitous.

    As per your article: http://­voxpoliticalonline.co­m/2017/04/05/­livingstone-suspended­-for-another-year-wh­ile-his-detractors-t­ry-to-re-write-histo­ry/
    “Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, accused Mr Livingstone of “inaccurate and antagonistic comments””

    Norman Finkelstein’s perspective: https://­www.opendemocracy.net­/uk/­jamie-stern-weiner-no­rman-finkelstein/­american-jewish-schol­ar-behind-labour-s-a­ntisemitism-scanda
    “I can understand his motivation, because I’m of roughly his generation. If he was ‘baiting’, it was a reflexive throwback to the factional polemics in the 1970s-80s.”

    Unfortunately this point has not been clarified, to the extent that every further comment he adds only compounds the sense of “insult to injury”. The question would be, why has he not made this clarification bold and clear, but instead retreated into a position of intellectual intransigence?

    Just for clarification, here is the full exchange of the comments between Feltz & Livingstone, which in context I think you can see the unspoken theme is indeed “anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism”:

    F: You will have seen yourself written about in the Telegraph today. It’s their editorial. It says: “Others are furious about the conduct of Mr Corbyn’s friend and ally, Ken Livingstone, who says Naz Shah’s comments were not antisemitic.” Now she’s profusely apologized for them, said she made a mistake. If she’s apologized for them, presumably she acknowledges they are antisemitic. Do you still maintain they were not?

    L: No, she’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not antisemitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say something antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of the Palestinians but I’ve never heard someone be antisemitic.

    F: She [Shah] talked about relocating Israel to America, she talked about what Hitler did being “legal”, and she talked about the “Jews” rallying, and she used the word Jews not Israelis or Israel. You didn’t find that to be anti-semitic?

    L: It’s completely over the top but it’s not antisemitism. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I think it’s generally accepted that he was saying anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism aren’t the same. And I’m sure you’ll agree that he’s right in saying that. Right?
      Anti-Semitism and opposition to the actions of the Israeli government aren’t the same either.
      It doesn’t negate the fact that he responded to one issue of forced-transfer by mentioning another. I reckon I read it right.
      Bear in mind, of course, that Vanessa Feltz was asking highly misleading questions, stripped of their proper context.

  7. claudiahector

    What Livingston said is true but it is insensitive to refer to the Havaara agreement. I know he is thoroughly anti racist but some historic facts are best left to history.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      So logically you would be happy for people to repeat the mistakes of history, today. Is that what you’re saying? That is certainly what was being discussed.

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