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.
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.
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 orHa’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 theJewish Agency masked its role in the Agreement and attempted to pass it off as an economic agreement between private parties.
‘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.’