Posts Tagged ‘Haavara’

Fascism, Anti-Semitism and Zionism

May 2, 2016

Dominating the news this weekend has been the controversy surrounding Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, who have been accused of anti-Semitism. Shah has been criticised, because she retweeted a graphic about Israel becoming popular if it was relocated in America. ‘Red’ Ken has been accused after he said that the embryonic state of Israel had made a deal with the Nazis to take in Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. This resulted in the Labour MP, Mann, screaming at Livingstone that he was a Nazi apologist as Livingstone went into a building and almost up there stairs. Livingstone also said that ‘everything the Nazis did was legal’.

In fact, as Mike has pointed out on his blog, ‘Red’ Ken is factually correct. The Nazis did make a deal with an Israeli organisation, Haavara, to send German Jews to Palestine. This might seem surprising to some, that the Nazis should give any support to a Jewish state, but it was part of an attitude common to many pro-Nazi, Fascist and anti-Semitic groups at the time. The anti-Semites of the European extreme Right didn’t want Jews in their countries, and were ready to use any methods to remove them. This included pogroms and their extermination. It could also involve setting up a ‘Jewish homeland’ as far away from the rest of the gentile population as possible. Richard Thurston in his book, Fascism in Britain, discusses the plans some of the Nazi and Fascist groups in Britain had in the 1920s and 1930s for setting up a Jewish homeland in Madagascar. Critics of the Christian Zionist Right in Britain and America have also pointed out that some of the Christians advocating a Jewish homeland in Palestine were not necessarily pro-Jewish. For some, it was a way of getting them out of Britain.

There was a similar movement in Stalin’s Russia. Stalin was viciously anti-Semitic and there was a similar culture of vehement anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire. Under the Tsars, Jewish settlement was only permitted within an area of territory known as the Jewish Pale. Jews were also fiercely discriminated against, and subject to terrible pogroms. After the Communist Revolution, Stalin and his lackeys decided to create an autonomous oblast (Soviet administrative region) for the Jews in Siberia, and many Jews were deported there. This was part of the old thugs general policy of deporting any Soviet nation or minority group he didn’t like further east. It’s been said that the only reason he didn’t try to do it to the Ukrainians was because there were 8 million of them. The fact that Stalin gave the Jews a nominally autonomous Soviet homeland doesn’t mean that he was pro-Jewish, although that was undoubtedly the spin he put on it at the time. Rather the opposite. It just shows that murderous anti-Semites will support Zionism and Jewish nationalism, when they believe that doing so will allow them to deport their own Jewish population.

Then there’s Ken’s statement that ‘everything Hitler did was legal’. This is also factually correct. Mike’s pointed out that this phrase first appeared in American ads against racial discrimination and the Jim Crow laws segregating Blacks and seeking to keep them in their place at just about the bottom of society. If I remember Mike’s article correctly, the point of the ad was to show that under an unjust legal system, moral acts – like White and Blacks folks helping each other, are illegal.

And there’s another, general point that needs to be made here. Everything Hitler did to seize power was legal. He, and Mussolini in Italy, achieved their ends through constitutional means. Hitler even got a nickname when he pursued this tactic – ‘Adolf Legalite’, given him by his loyal stormtroopers. This point has been made by anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist historians and political scientists. They point this out because of the danger posed by people uncritically accepted the Fascists’ own propaganda, that they seized power through a militant uprising. Both the Nazis and Italian Fascist liked to talk of their ‘revolution’. In fact neither group were in a position, at least not originally, to overthrow the state by force. So they adopted constitutional tactics, and co-operated with ruling elites and political groups, who helped them into power.

There is also the problem that Israeli nationalists also collaborated with the Nazis and Fascists in other ways. Guy Debord’s Cat has pointed out in one of his articles that during the 1920s there was a group of Israeli extremists, the Maximalists, who were deeply impressed with Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. They wanted to create a similar Fascist state in Israel, complete with a corporatist social system. This was at a time when the Italian Fascists were extreme nationalists, but before the turn to anti-Semitism after the rise of the Nazis.

Then, during the British Mandate in the Second World War, one of the sections of the Irgun also collaborated with the Nazis in waging war against the British forces in Palestine. Irgun wanted to combat what they saw as an occupying imperialist power, while the Nazis obviously also wanted to do whatever they could to cripple the British war effort.

None of this means that Jews or Israelis somehow secretly support Fascism or Nazis. Rather, it means that some committed revolutionaries will collaborate with their bitterest enemies if it means that it will help them reach a desired goal. As for the Maximalists and their attempts to copy Musso’s Italy, all this means is that Israelis are human, like everyone else, and ultra-nationalist, militaristic thugs exist in all countries.

As for Ken Livingstone, he’s been accused of anti-Semitism before because he supposedly described a Jewish reported as someone who would have served in the SS, or some such, and then tried to throw him off a wall. This was how it was reported in the press. Mike put up an article a year or so ago showing how the press reports were grossly distorted and the full truth very different. I suspect something similar is happening here.