The Guardian, Ken Livingstone And That Row Over Zionism

As the English council election results began flowing into newsrooms across the UK on Friday and showed that far from reeling in defeat, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was actually holding up quite well (the disaster in Scotland being the fault of Corbyn’s Blairite predecessors and therefore not a subject for polite media discussion) there can have fewer glummer faces than in that once proud bastion of left-wing – and rational – journalism known as The Guardian.

I must say that I have been both surprised and dismayed by the fervour with which The Guardian’s writers have taken up cudgels on behalf of an old Labour leadership that brought us the Iraq War and the disasters that followed, buckets of neo-liberal economic policies and a neglect of the NHS such that it has paved the way for its demolition by Cameron’s Tories, and against a new Labour leadership that held out a little hope that these devastating trends might be halted or reversed, even if only slightly.

So it was that The Guardian seized upon the Livingstone affair with almost indecent glee, seeing in it another gaping manhole through which Mr Corbyn might fall (or be pushed).

A reporter by the name of Ben Quinn excelled himself. Livingstone’s claim that Hitler and Zionists had made a deal to export German Jews to Palestine in 1933, he wrote, was based on a book written by, wait for it, an American Marxist, in fact a Trotskyist called Lenni Brenner.

Quinn then assembled rival academics to pour ridicule on Brenner’s research.

He wrote:

Thomas Weber, a professor of history and international affairs and an expert on the Hitler era, Jewish relations and German history, said he was not immediately familiar with Brenner’s book.

However, he added: “Brenner’s book lies well outside academic mainstream. It is mostly celebrated either by the extreme left and by the neo-Nazi right.”

Brenner’s book is cited by, among others, the Institute for Historical Review, which is widely regarded as antisemitic and is listed by the US Southern Poverty Law Center as a group that has engaged in Holocaust denial.

So Red Ken relied upon another leftie, an academically discredited one at that, whose work is cited by neo-Nazi’s.

He continued:

A 1983 review by CC Aronsfeld, a respected scholar of the Holocaust, in the journal International Affairs was critical of Brenner’s book.

“Brenner has produced a party political tract that unhinges the balance of history by ignoring too many difficulties, especially psychological. For once Stalinists will be pleased with the work of a Trotskyist,” he concluded.

Had Mr Quinn widened his circle of research just a little and consulted the people at the Shoah Research Center at Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, there is a chance that the people there may well have pointed him in another direction. After all when it comes to the Holocaust and all that preceded it in Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe, the people at Yad Vashem are the go-to guys.

If Mr Quinn had done that he might well have been directed to Yad Vashem Studies Vol. XXVI, Jerusalem 1998, pp 129-172, where he would have read a lengthy article by Yf’aat Weiss, titled: ‘The Transfer Agreement and the Boycott Movement: A Jewish Dilemma on the Eve of the Holocaust‘.

Look at the date: 1998. The article has been around for nearly twenty years, Mr Quinn!

Courtesy of Scribd, I have reproduced the entire Yad Vashem article below but it is worth extracting the opening paragraph:

In the summer of 1933, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the German Zionist Federation, and the German Economics Ministry drafted a plan meant to allow German Jews emigrating to Palestine to retain some of the value of their property in Germany by purchasing German goods for the Yishuv, which would redeem them in Palestine local currency. This scheme, known as the Transfer Agreement or
Ha’avarah, met the needs of all interested parties: German Jews, the German economy, and the Mandatory Government and the Yishuv in Palestine. The Transfer Agreement has been the subject of ramified research literature. Many Jews were critical of the Agreement from the very outset. The negotiations between the Zionist movement and official representatives of Nazi Germany evoked much wrath. In retrospect, and in view of what we know about the annihilation of European Jewry, these relations between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany seem especially problematic. Even then, however, the negotiations and the agreement they spawned were profoundly controversial in broad Jewish circles. For this reason, until 1935 the
Jewish Agency masked its role in the Agreement and attempted to pass it off as an economic agreement between private parties.
I suggest to Mr Quinn that he should pay particular attention to the final line, which reads:
‘For this reason, until 1935 the Jewish Agency masked its role in the Agreement and attempted to pass it off as an economic agreement between private parties.’
Maybe that is why, even though many years have passed since then, some people are still reluctant to admit that the agreement existed. A shoddy piece of journalism Mr Quinn, redolent of the worst type of red-baiting. Shoddy. If he ever gets the heave from The Guardian, there’s a cozy little nest waiting for him over at the Daily Telegraph.
Thanks to LA for pointing me in the direction of this information.


One response to “The Guardian, Ken Livingstone And That Row Over Zionism

  1. Nonetheless you should treat this document from Yad Vashem with due diligence. It too is tendentious.
    The agreement was NOT about saving German Jews nor did it. It was, as Edwin Black wrote in the standard book ‘The Transfer Agreement’ about saving the wealth of the German Jewish community NOT the Jews themselves. This is critical to understanding its importance.

    According to David Rosenthall in an article ‘Chaim Arlosoroff 65 Years After his Assassination’ in Jewish Frontier, May-June 1998, p. 28, Ha’avara accounted for 60% of capital investment in the Yishuv’s economy between 1933 and 1939. In other words it was crucial to developing the Palestinian Jewish economy.

    It brought some 20,000 German Jews to Palestine. But they had to have £1,000 to enter because they weren’t entering via the certificate system between the Jewish Agency and the British Government. £1,000 was a lot in those days and they could easily have gone elsewhere.

    The purpose of agreeing to Ha’avara, which was tiny compared to the German economy but did result in a net transfer of assets to the Zionist economy, was to destroy the Jewish Boycott of Germany. This was frankly admitted by the Nazis who had become very worried at the success of the Boycott. As early as March 25 Goering had summoned 3 German Jewish leaders to a meeting where he instructed them to go abroad to get a massive rally at Madison Square Gardens on the Boycott called off. He also wanted them to pressure Jewish organisations abroad not to support a Boycott. They made various excuses as to their lack of clout but the Zionist Federation ZVfD secured themselves an invitation, despite being a tiny part of the Jewish community and eagerly promised to do all they could to undermine the Boycott.

    The Zionists kept their promise and Histadrut in Palestine and other JA organisations went around attacking the Boycott that 99% of Jews supported.

    I have copies of Jewish Chronicle articles at the time attacking the Zionist ha’avara despite the JC being an early supporter of Zionism and a mouthpiece for the Jewish bourgeoisie here.

    There is useful information in this paper from Yad Vashem, which is the prime propaganda organisation of the Zionists, but its conclusions should be treated warily.

    Contact me if you want copies sent to you

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