It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks as scandals involving the UK Labour party once again hogged the headlines. However, those same events have also prompted some solid commentary.
Writing at ‘Fathom’, historian Professor Jeffrey Herf discussed ‘Hitler and the Nazis’ Anti-Zionism’.
“Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and a long-standing prominent figure on the British left, has now repeated the myth of Nazi support for Zionism. However, what was a required and standard slogan of the Communist regimes, parties and the Western far-left during the Cold War, now faces opposition from some members of the British Labour Party. That a man as prominent as Livingstone, whom the citizens of London elected as their Mayor for eight years, repeats such rubbish says a great deal about the ideas that have been circulating in what presents itself as a major cosmopolitan city. At least parts of Britain’s left have sunk to the status of a provincial intellectual backwater. Livingstone and those who agree with him are oblivious of the following well-established historical facts.”
The Chief Rabbi of the UK, Ephraim Mirvis, contributed a timely and forthright article to the Telegraph titled ‘Ken Livingstone and the hard Left are spreading the insidious virus of anti-Semitism‘.
“It is astonishing to see figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum presuming to define the relationship between Judaism and Zionism despite themselves being neither Jews nor Zionists. The likes of Ken Livingstone and Malia Boattia claim that Zionism is separate from Judaism as a faith; that it is purely political; that it is expansionist, colonialist and imperialist.
It is unclear why these people feel qualified to provide such an analysis of one of the axioms of Jewish belief. But let me be very clear. Their claims are a fiction. They are a wilful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism. Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the centre of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.”
Over at the Tower, Jamie Palmer takes a look at ‘The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate‘.
“Jews and Europeans drew different lessons about nationalism from the experience of World War II. On a continent disfigured by the mayhem of conquest, occupation, collaboration, and genocide, Nazism and fascism were perceived to have been nationalism’s logical endgame. As chauvinism and self-glorification gave way to introspection and self-doubt, a new universalism and internationalism emerged from the rubble—the establishment of the United Nations, the adoption by its General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a rise in anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist feeling that eventually led Western democracies to dismantle their empires.
But for European Jews, nationalism, in this case Zionism, was now a matter of liberation and a guarantor of survival. So they moved in the opposite direction.”
Mosaic has the interview with Howard Jacobson (parts of which were aired on BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ on April 29th) shared by the BBC’s Chris Cook.
“Responding to the series of anti-Semitic outbursts from Labor-party politicians in Britain—for which some 50 members have been suspended—the novelist Howard Jacobson picks apart the disingenuous argument that “criticism of Israel” or “anti-Zionism” must be distinguished from “anti-Semitism.” Of course, argues Jacobson, these things are in theory distinct, but the “criticism of Israel” being defended generally consists of lies, distortions, and fervid denunciation. And for Europeans to denounce Zionism, the “liberation movement of the Jewish people,” is “ḥutspah with blood on it.””