by Martin Odoni

A couple of articles on this blog have received ‘pingbacks’ from a German blog that was, in turn, reblogging a post from a site called the ‘Jewish Concerns Forum‘. The reblogger clearly thought that the articles he linked to were related to what was under discussion.

I traced back to the original post, and, being the sort of person I am, I felt I had to respond to it. It discusses the ongoing conflation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in current discourse, and tries to argue that activists who criticise Israel are usually just anti-Semites trying to rationalise their prejudices.

The author of the post makes no attempt to identify him/herself, but my cross-examination of their post follows.

NB: This is a very long article.

“Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa – A Guide to the Anti-Semitism/Anti-Zionism Debate”

This title implies that no one would condemn African Governments headed by black men or women in the same way they condemn Israel. This is made explicit by the author writing,

“I will attempt to shed light on the problem through satirical illustration of how the phenomenon plays itself out, if we were to apply the ‘anti-Zionist, not an anti-Semite’ logic to a different minority group, the Black community for example.”

The problem with this ‘I’m-being-persecuted!!‘ argument is that it ignores long stretches of modern reportage. Brutal black African Governments headed by the likes of Idi Amin have in fact been subjected to excoriating, damning condemnation for long years, and with good reason. The writer is saying, “This would never happen,” when there is comprehensive evidence that it not only would, but has.

The writer’s further speculation as to how an anti-Zionist argument might translate to an anti-African-Government critique is based on a fundamental flaw. The critique, as worded by the writer, is suggested to be approximately as follows; –

“I am not racist, I am in fact a life-long anti-racist. No one should be discriminated against based on their skin colour. I have nothing against Black people (Jews), I am anti-Africa (anti-Zionist) and critical of the policies of African governments (the Israeli government).”

The flaw is so obvious, it should not need pointing out, but just in case any readers have missed it, here it is: The writer is suggesting that being ‘anti-Africa’ is comparable to being anti-Zionist i.e. the only difference would be a change of parameters. But that is clearly ridiculous. Being ‘anti-Africa’ is about being hostile to a continent, and by extension its peoples and cultures. Being anti-Zionist, by contrast, means being hostile to an ideology. They are scarcely comparable at all.

The speculative nonsense then goes up a scale, as the writer puts into the mouths of Israel’s critics words that they almost never say, be it about black people or Jews. He suggests they would say something on the lines of,

“Africans (Israelis) behave in a primitive, tribal, manner, they are rude, aggressive and barbaric, brutal murderers of children. Their mentality is backward compared to modern nations in the west. With all the aid that is given to African countries (Israel) they use it to wage war and violence and do nothing to advance the stability and well being of the peoples who live in the region.”

Yeah, okay. Give me ten examples of anti-Zionist statements meaning such things about Israelis.

The writer then goes on to claim that anti-Zionists

“ascribe evils to Israel, such as Nazism or Jewish supremacy as well as classical anti-Semitic stereotypes that have traditionally been ascribed to all Jews. However, these types of anti-Zionists insist that they are not anti-Semitic, they are just opposed to Israel and Zionism and those who support this supposed ‘evil’ state. Let us return to how this might play out with our anti-Africans.”

Just because criticisms of Israel occasionally chime with vintage anti-Semitic tropes does not necessarily make the criticisms untrue or unfair. It also does not mean that the criticisms are based on the ‘Jewishness’ of Israel. And if the criticisms resemble descriptions of Nazism, maybe a reassessment of Israeli actions genuinely is required?

More of the same speculative made-up quotations then follow, to which my response is much the same.

To digress for a bit, the German reblog also sources other articles, including a history lesson provided by a website calling itself The British Observer. This too is somewhat flawed.

“Up until the post-war period, Jews were a stateless diaspora who resided predominantly in Europe and Russia, and throughout the 19th century the desire for a nation state of their own gathered momentum as a reaction to real or perceived antisemitism.”

This is misleading at best, as what ‘momentum’ was gathered by the Zionist movement was slight. The reality of Zionism in its early era was that it was notable for its unpopularity with Jews. There was a recognition among the diaspora that it simply proposed co-operating with anti-Semite wishes to see the Jews cast out of their then-home countries.

This dearth of enthusiasm is evidenced by the movements of Jewish communities in that era. The brutality of the Russian Pogroms, for instance, forced many Jews to retreat from the Baltic lands in great numbers. However, it is reckoned that, while around four million Jews left Europe between 1880 and the First World War, a bare one hundred thousand of them settled in the Holy Land. So The British Observer’s suggestion that Jewish nationalism ‘gained traction’ in the nineteenth century is dubious.

Indeed, a telling detail about the drafting of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 is the response to it of the British Cabinet. There was almost unanimous approval for it, but not quite. Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, was notable as being the only Minister who opposed the Declaration. He was also the only Jew in the Cabinet. He knew, as other British Jews did, that starting the process of re-creating Israel would only serve to increase pressure on the Jewish diaspora to leave their then-present homelands. He described the Declaration as a “rallying ground for anti-Semites”. That danger would be demonstrated all-too-clearly in Nazi Germany less than twenty years later with the creation of the Haavara Agreement.

Another article sourced is written by David Hirsh, and is an excerpt from a book called, The Livingstone Formulation.

“Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, said at a fringe meeting of her party’s conference:

‘The pro-Israeli Lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party (Hirsh 2006).’

“This seems to be an antisemitic claim because it articulates a mindset in which a Jewish conspiracy controls the western world through its financial muscle. It is not a claim about influence or lobbying, but about singular and global financial control.”

It is rather circular reasoning on Hirsh’s part that he tries to explain that anti-Zionism is largely just rationalised anti-Semitism, but when trying to prove it, he simply makes a claim that depends on the assumption in the first place. In the quoted text, Tonge makes no mention of Jews but only of the Israeli lobby. Sure, there will be a high representation of Jews in that lobby, but Hirsh is still making a conflation. That many Israel supporters are rich is just fact, not prejudice. It is prejudice however to assume they are all Jewish, or that the rich sub-section of them are rich because they are Jewish. Tonge makes no suggestion of either, but what we can argue with some justification is that Israel supporters, both rich and poor, do tend to put considerable pressure on the media not to sound critical of Israel’s policies, especially towards the Palestinians.

“David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, took the opportunity of Holocaust Memorial Day to announce that

” ‘he was saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… (Quinn 2013).’ “

It is a little odd that Hirsh has decided to put this statement by Ward with Tonge’s, as there is no perceptible link between them bar the implied condemnation of Israel. While I would agree that Ward’s use of the term ‘the Jews’ where he should be referring to ‘Israel’ does raise suspicions about his outlook, that is hardly Tonge’s responsibility.

As for what Hirsh says about Ward’s follow-up remarks, framed by quotations from Lesley Klaff and labelled ‘Holocaust inversion’, no clear explanation is provided as to what is wrong with the implications of what Ward said. Hirsh quotes Klaff,

inversion of reality (the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews), and an inversion of morality (the Holocaust is presented as a moral lesson for, or even a moral indictment of ‘the Jews’)…

Casting the Israelis as the new Nazis and the Palestinians as the new Jews may be hyperbolic, but there remains a legitimate parallel. It is only an ‘inversion of reality’ if we are to assume, quite preposterously, that the world is much the same now as it was in the early-1940s. It is not. Israel’s very existence is just one example of how much has changed since the time of the Holocaust. In the Holy Land today, the Israelis are the Government, just as the Nazis were the Government of ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. In the Holy Land today, the Palestinians are a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery, just as the Jews were a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery in ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. The establishment of Israel in 1948, and its subsequent annexation of Palestinian territory, was the turning point that allowed the previously oppressed to become the oppressors. The description is therefore not an inversion of reality, but a description of a reality that had eventually become inverted by physical events.

Equally, the reference to ‘inversion of morality’ is quite, quite ridiculous. No one is suggesting that the Holocaust is an indictment of the Jews at all. They are saying that the mistreatment of the Palestinians is an indictment of Israel, and that there is a danger of that mistreatment evolving into another Holocaust. It is not because the perpetrators of the crimes against the Palestinians are mainly Jews that they are being condemned, it is because the perpetrators are committing crimes. The fact that Jews were the victims of persecution so extreme that it led to a genocide, and that Israel repeatedly claims to be acting in the name of Jews globally, means it is doubly legitimate to point out that what the Government in Israel is doing is unforgivable – precisely because many survivors of the Holocaust came to live in Israel, and brought the full knowledge of those horrors with them. If any nation should know, therefore, that mass-killing, ethnic persecution is wrong, it is a self-proclaimed ‘Jewish State’.

Anyway, back to “Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa”, whose author has more claims that need answering.

“Israel is central to the identity of the overwhelming majority of Jews not just in Britain, but all over the world. The reason is because it is central to Judaism.”

This claim is unproven – perhaps uncheckable – rubbish. A great many Jews, myself included, have never so much as set foot in Israel, let alone seen it as ‘central’ to our identities. It means no more to me on a personal/identity level than, say, Papua New Guinea, and if I ever chose to live in Israel, which I cannot see ever happening, I doubt I would feel particularly at home there. It is possible that the writer means the ancient Israel of the Bible, but that means there is an equivocation fallacy at play here, because anti-Zionists are not discussing the Israel of Roman Empire days, they are discussing the Israel of the modern world, and it is that Israel that the writer is also trying to defend.

Moreover, if Israel is so central to the Jewish identity, then logically, there can have been no such thing as a ‘Jewish identity’ from late in the first century AD, when the Jews were cast out of the Holy Land, until 1948. To repeat the earlier point, Zionism has always faced its greatest opposition from among the Jews themselves, and even today, it is opposed by many more Jews than one might expect. Zionism’s implied acceptance of an anti-Semitic assumption – that Jews cannot safely co-exist with gentiles – would lead ultimately to Jews casting themselves out of all other societies, and exiling themselves from the human race.

Israel was the result of that sadly nihilistic vision, and so if it is ‘central’ to the Jewish identity, it follows that it is part of the Jewish identity to consider oneself to be not really human. It is thus more than a little ironic that many Israel supporters like to taunt Jewish opponents of their country with the crude insult, “Self-hating Jew”. What could be more self-hating than a human being who endorses an ethnic ideology that thinks its own subjects not to be human?

And of course, even if this identity issue really were so prevalent, it would not make Israeli policies towards the Palestinians any more acceptable, and so the criticisms of it would not become anti-Semitic.

“Even if a Jew or non-Jew does agree with an Israeli government policy which is unpopular abroad, this doesn’t make it legitimate to unleash hatred against them.”

Of course not. But then in most cases by far, nobody is. They are just criticising the Israeli Government. Nothing that the writer has described – bar the quotations he or she openly admits are made up – sounds like someone ‘unleashing hatred’ towards Jews for reasons of them being Jewish. They are simply criticisms of the Israeli Government, and the way its supporters try to shut down discussion of what that Government does. That is quite different from unleashing hatred.

On the contrary, most of the aggression and bullying in my experience is coming from quite the other direction. Long-time followers of this blog will be aware of very nasty remarks thrown my way by the likes of Jonathan Hoffman, supporter of the (almost entirely-misnamed) Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who last year called me a ‘Shill’ for speaking out against Israel.

In recent weeks, an Israeli put an unsolicited comment on one of my articles, calling me and other Jewish critics of Israel “Kapos”, a slur that may not be familiar to gentiles, but is in fact on of the most vicious and hurtful insults that can ever be directed at a Jew. (It implies a Jewish Prisoner-of-War in Nazi Germany who co-operates with the Holocaust. I would argue that it is comfortably worse than calling a Jew a “K*ke“.)

I am far from alone, even among Jews, in experiencing that blind, bigoted hostility either. Remember Max Blumenthal almost being physically assaulted by Zionists at a book-launch event I attended in Manchester three years ago? Or how about the incredible tidal wave of Zionist hate directed at young members of Jewish communities in the UK, when they have dared to demand an end to Palestinian persecution? (“When a British Jew steps out of line, the full weight of the community will fall on them.”)

This is another reason I get so angry and frustrated at all the largely-manufactured fuss about ‘Anti-Semitism-In-The-Labour-Party’. It is not just because very little of it is real, although that is bad enough. It is also that so much of the media are cheerfully ignoring the enormous waves of hostility, abusiveness and thuggish yobbery coming from the very people – British Zionists – who are painting this gargantuan picture of ‘socialist anti-Semitism’ to begin with. No attempts to impress the other side of the story onto the media seem to have any effect.

“British Jews have other connections to Israel beyond religious reasons. Many have family members who live there.”

I find it very difficult to see what point the writer is trying to make with this. ‘Many British Jews have family in Israel, therefore do not criticise Israel’? Or something? Nope, not following this point at all. I myself have family who live in Israel, cousins of my mother. They are quite patriotic Zionist Israel-supporters, and I often get into very heated and unhappy arguments with them over social media over how Israel treats the Palestinians in Gaza. So you see, it is perfectly possible to criticise Israel, even though I have family there, without insulting me or offending my ‘identity’. You would only be doing what I already do myself.

“Like many other minorities in Britain, such as Indians and Greeks for example. They have strong connections to the culture of these countries and to family and friends who live there.”

Not that this is particularly relevant either, but there is an important difference that the writer misses. Greeks and Indians have emigrated to Britain over the last few generations from Greece or India. British Jews, by and large, have not emigrated to Britain from Israel. Instead, their families have been mostly British for many generations, frequently dating back to long before Zionism was even thought of. So the family and friends in the main have moved to Israel, usually in living memory, and Palestinians have often been unsentimentally thrown off the land to make room for them. It is a bit much to appeal to sentiment over links to Israel, when those links have been created by acts stemming from a complete lack of sentiment.

“The anti-Zionist assumes that being Jewish is just a faith, rather than an ethnicity, that doesn’t need to have any connection to a particular land or people. Therefore, one should be able to completely divorce Israel from their Jewish identity.”

This is a wild generalisation. Some anti-Zionists assume that, some do not. And yes, not only should a Jew be able to divorce Israel from their Jewish identity, they very much are able to. My Jewish identity is divorced from Israel by default, because I have never been there. The identity of Jews before the 1940s was also divorced from Israel by default, because the country had not existed for nearly two thousand years. The integration of a ‘Jewish identity’ into Israel is a completely recent artifice, and is only as important to any Jew as they allow it to be.

“The anti-Zionist, essentially mimics an earlier version of anti-Semitism through the notion of a good Jew and a bad Jew. They have to demonstrate their ‘worthiness’ by denouncing Israel.”

This complaint by the writer is kind of rich, seeing what he/she says later about the “type of Jews Jeremy Corbyn associates with”, whom he describes as “like the Hellenists of our time”, which clearly implies that the writer has definitions of his own for ‘good Jew’ and ‘bad Jew’. The writer’s prejudices are profoundly insulting in their own right. That underlines the point I made above about Zionists being the really abusive ones.

“In the past a good Jew abandoned the beliefs of the Jewish community, i.e. Rabbinic Judaism and converted to Christianity. The Christians then would have said similarly, they do not hate Jews as people (in the way the Nazis did) they are just anti-Judaism and what Jews believe in, if they abandon their beliefs and practices and become Christians then they would accept them.

In our day, anti-Zionists similarly expect Jews to abandon the beliefs that the majority of them hold, which are central to their identity. The beliefs that were condemned in both periods are different, but what they share in common is that they are and were both beliefs that were central to Jewish identity in their time.”

This again, is the paranoia of the persecution complex. Very few people who criticise Israel care one way or the other what ‘beliefs’ or ‘practices’ Jews adhere to in their own lives. Hardly any of them care whether modern Jews convert to Christianity, or any other faith. They just think Israel should stop dispossessing Palestinians of their land, or trying to starve Palestinians into leaving the region altogether. If supporting these Israeli ‘practices’ is the writer’s idea of ‘Jewish beliefs’, then he/she is clearly a disciple of a very strange and remote school of Jewish thought, one that I have never encountered.

Likewise, the conflict between the Jews and ancient Greece was similar. The Greeks were fine with a Hellenized version of Judaism that would inevitably lead to its downfall but felt threatened by a Judaism as it was and the Zealots who refused to have their identity colonized by Greece. The Greeks banned Brit Milah (circumcision), Shabbat observance and the New Moon.

And who is trying to stop practising Jews today from observing rituals in the way the Greeks tried to? Okay, there is talk of stopping circumcision being practised on infant children, but that is not proposed for reasons of anti-Semitism, but for concerns over possible child abuse. As I was circumcised as a baby, long before I had a voice to protest against it, I happen to agree with putting a stop to it.

Anti-Zionists know that in our day, what keeps the Jewish people strong and proud is Israel.

Do they? How many of them has the writer asked?

This is, in large part what the Jewish festival of Chanukah is about, a victory against an effort which began with a Greek Hellenization of Judaism which became an internal struggle between Hellenized and non-Hellenized Jews, with the latter reigning victorious.

Yes, but Chanukah does not take place in the spring, so what that has to do with current developments is quite unclear.

Today that battle takes place with efforts by those who seek to undermine the source of Jewish identity and strength, the state of Israel and Zionism by appealing to, tokenizing and misrepresenting fringe groups and individuals as mainstream, that have internalized anti-Jewish tropes or are detached from the mainstream Jewish community for one reason or another and do not speak for the majority of the Jewish community.

As I pointed out the other day, most of that practice is done on behalf of Zionism, by the media projecting the views of prominent Jewish/Zionist organisations onto Jewish people as a whole. The proclamations of the Board of Deputies, Labour Friends of Israel et al are always being presented as the views of British Jews altogether, when in truth they do little to consult the wider Jewish population of the UK.

The type of Jews that Jeremy Corbyn associates with, for example the anti-Zionist Jewdas and other fringe Jewish groups are like the Hellenists of our time.

See my reply to this offensive snobbishness above.

The anti-Zionists also know very well, that without the state of Israel, the Jews will once again be defenceless in what is clearly still a world which is hostile to them, giving them free reign again to oppress the Jews as they wish. The state of Israel stands in their way, as it allows Jews the dignity and strength to stand up for themselves.

More paranoia, completely divorced from what is happening in the real world. Again, I must refer to a point I have made previously. Far from what the writer indicates here, Israel is not necessary to the survival of the Jewish people, and Zionism is in fact a failed ideology. Were Israel so necessary, why is there still a Jewish diaspora at all? Why have Jews like myself, who not only do not live in Israel but have never even visited it, not been slaughtered by this ‘world which is hostile’ to us? How does the State of Israel ‘protect’ us in countries all around the world, far beyond its reach?

Indeed, I would argue, and have done before, that Jews in Israel are in more danger of violence than I and my family are here in Britain. Israel is surrounded by countries like Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, all of whom, rightly or wrongly, are usually hostile towards Jerusalem. That hostility is the justification that Israelis always use for their Government’s policies, so they can hardly change that story now. The founding of Israel has created the hostility with which it is immediately faced. Here in the north-west of England, I do not have to worry about rockets being fired across the Welsh border, meant to wipe out the large Jewish community of Manchester. But Israelis insist that Hamas is hurling rockets their way from the Gaza Strip almost daily. (This claim is enormously exaggerated, but nonetheless, it is still more anti-Jewish violence than I can generally expect to face.)

I will even suggest that the writer’s own existence appears to be an absurdity. He/she clearly, from what is in the article, writes as an Anglo-Jewish Zionist. But such a person is innately absurd. As are American-Jewish Zionists. Or German-Jewish Zionists. Or Australian-Jewish Zionists. In fact, any Jewish Zionist who does not live in Israel is an absurdity. Given Zionism’s ideology is grounded in the idea that Jews trying to live among gentiles cannot be safe, and therefore need to move to Israel to survive, how can any Jewish Zionist possibly live anywhere other than Israel? By living in Britain, the writer is clear evidence that Jews can co-exist safely with gentiles. The writer disproves his/her own ideology by his/her own location.

Sure, some parts of the world remain dangerous places for Jews to venture into, but by no means all of them.

Our anti-African example would take people like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela and those who fought for rights for Blacks and turn them into African Supremacists and racist trouble makers.

No it would not, because Luther-King and Mandela were struggling against oppression in their respective societies. Israel is imposing oppression on Arabs on the fringes of its society.

They would be ok with Blacks as victims or collaborators in their hatred towards their fellow Blacks/Africans but they would oppose those who have self dignity and stand up for themselves.

Imposing an eleven-year blockade on the walled-in inhabitants of an autonomous region that has little access to clean water or electricity, while frequently launching missile attacks on their heads, can be called many things. “Self-dignity” or “Standing up for themselves” are not among them.

would conflate any mistake or wrongdoing by such rights groups or leaders as being as bad as slave owners, turning them into their own oppressors and perpetrators of their own persecution. They would point to the fact that slavery didn’t begin with America and that Africans sold slaves for centuries as well. This would then get misconstrued as Africa being the true arbiter of the slave trade.

The tragic irony of this prediction is that it is precisely what Israel and its supporters do to Palestinians desperately fighting for their freedom.

For all the criticism one might have, we all know, that most decent people would not dare say something as offensive as to equate a Black person with a slave owner, as Ken Livingstone casually, knowing he was a Jewish, compared journalist Oliver Finegold to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Well firstly, it would depend on the record-of-behaviour of this hypothetical black person. The worst of the slave trade in history by far was the handiwork of white men, but there have been black slave owners too. If the hypothetical black person the writer is speaking of happened to be one of them, or at least one who has a history of very bullying or coercive behaviour, then yes we would.

As for the reference to Nazi concentration camp guards, again, this is rich given the aforementioned habit of Zionists of calling Jewish opponents “Kapos”.

But our hypothetical anti-Africans would, like Ken Livingstone, refuse to see it as racist, not care that it was offensive or insensitive or apologize, its their right to free speech.

I repeat, its ‘racist’ or ‘offensive’ qualities depend entirely on the behaviour of the person being accused of being a slave owner. Just as Israelis should know better than anyone that ethnic persecution of a people is wrong, so black descendants of Africans who were shipped to the West Indies should know better than anyone that slavery is wrong. If they do it anyway, it is quite reasonable to point out to them why they should intimately know better.

I could go on and provide other analogies and equivalences, but I hope that what I have discussed above has provided some insight into how many Jews currently experience the type of remarks that are made about them and Israel emanating from the ‘anti-racist’, anti-Zionist left.

What you have provided is an insight into how fallacious, paranoid, and muddled your thinking is.

by Martin Odoni

I have received a comment on the article I put up yesterday. I am unsure whether the person who posted it – an Israeli Jew and presumably a Zionist – was aware of the irony, but in posting it, he demonstrated precisely the point the article was making.

NB: I considered concealing the name of the commenter from this screenshot, but then I thought, “What would be the point? He was happy singing out his name when making the comment in the first place, and he hardly deserves his privacy to be protected anyway.”

zionist malice

(Where Jacobs says “he”, he means Jeremy Corbyn.) The Jews to which Jacobs refers were the group ‘Jewdas’ and the fact that he put speech marks around the word “jews” shows that he cannot tolerate the idea that ‘Jewdas’ are Jewish people at all. They are “the wrong kind of Jew”.

Then, there is Jacobs’ use of the slur ‘Kapo’. This is a particularly malicious and dirty insinuation. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Jacobs is accusing myself and other Jewish opponents of Israel of being prisoners in a World War II concentration camp who help the Nazi officers to run the facility, including by informing on any fellow prisoners who disobey the rules. It effectively implies a Jew who co-operates with the Holocaust. I am a Jew who dares criticise Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinians, therefore I am the enemy-within. That makes me “the wrong kind of Jew” as well.

Is everyone clear just how cruel, and yes, anti-Semitic this topic of ‘undesirable kinds of Jews’ really is yet? And how vicious, bigoted, and aggressive hardcore Zionists can be, especially towards Jews themselves? Can you imagine the public uproar there would be if a Zionist had received remarks similar to these from someone in the Labour Party?

Zionism as a whole is anti-Semitic in tendency; it accepts the anti-Semitic notion that Jews cannot co-exist with gentiles (which is plainly untrue given how large the Jewish diaspora is) and so should be sent elsewhere, and its frequent intolerance of non-conformity of Jewish opinion is oppressive to Jewish people.

Zionists are not the victims in modern Britain, they are the aggressors in Palestine, and it is high time that the current establishment-narrative was exposed for the deceit it is.

by Martin Odoni

Denying the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews is a crime in some countries. Whether it is right for Holocaust-Denial to be outlawed is debatable, but there is no doubt that it is a horrible behaviour brought about by anti-Semitism. In particular, it comes from a hatred of Jews so severe that it leads to resentment of seeing any Jew receiving sympathy. When there is evidence to demonstrate that such sympathy is merited, the evidence must simply be denied. That the Holocaust happened is incontrovertible to any reasonably objective eyes. Sadly, anti-Semitism – indeed all forms of racism – is prejudice, which by definition is not objective, and so the incontrovertibility of the evidence is simply denied.

Holocaust-Denial is sometimes even called ‘a revisionist industry’, given the vast, comprehensive library of ugly, deeply-misleading literature attempting to distort the facts. Perhaps the most notorious ‘scholar’ at the apex of this industry is David Irving, a man who has never heard of me and knows nothing whatever about me, but plainly would nonetheless be very happy if I were dead. Because I am an ethnic Jew.

Even were I not an ethnic Jew, I would still see Holocaust-Denial as disgusting. As I am a Jew, I find Holocaust-Denial completely abhorrent.

But there is another industry that has thrived from the Holocaust, not by refusing to acknowledge it, but by exploiting its irrefutability. That industry is simply referred to by the controversial Jewish author, Norman G. Finkelstein, as ‘The Holocaust Industry’.  I do not think that name is specific enough. I think it should be referred to as ‘The Holocaust-Manipulation Industry’.

The ‘profit’ for this industry is political expediency, and it trades, not in lies about the past, but in using the truth about the past to blot out the present. More specifically, it uses the memory of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in the 1940s to draw attention away from the misdeeds of the State of Israel in the present day.

This industry prevails in Europe and North America in particular. In the United Kingdom, its most despicable exponent is probably the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a supposed ‘charity’ whose real title should probably be ‘The British Wing Of The Israeli Thought Police‘. As I have asserted in the past, the organisation’s behaviour is not only deceitful and far more focused on silencing criticism of Zionism than combating prejudice against Jews. It is also effectively anti-Semitic in itself, due to the way it reduces Jewry to a political tool rather than a human condition, and the way it tries to compel British Jews to support Israel. I have personally been accused by one of its most aggressive supporters, a particularly unpleasant individual called Jonathan Hoffman, of being a ‘shill’ for supposed Arab prejudice against Jews. (What I would have to gain by ‘selling out’ in such a fashion was never explained. Perhaps the CAA imagine that a ‘shill’ is merely someone who does not take the ‘side’ that might be expected at first glance.) It should be noted that Hoffman has a history of collusion with the English Defence League, making the CAA support-base’s own opposition to Nazism less consistent than they would have people believe.

Long-time readers of this blog (yes, all seven of you) may remember a declaration of support I wrote last spring for Mike Sivier, the writer of the Vox Political site, after the CAA had written a cynical hatchet-job attack on him. Today, Mike was hatcheted again, this time in the national media, especially by a characteristically distorted report in the Sunday Times. (Subscription required.) Mike posted an article on Saturday detailing what he really said to the reporter from the Times, in wise anticipation of being misrepresented, and today Mike has posted a response to what he correctly sees as libellous journalism. I wish to add my ha’penny’s-worth.

Firstly, to address the Labour Party’s own very inadequate investigation into the allegations of anti-Semitism, there is a detail about it that I think needs to be put on record; –

In October, a few months after Mike’s Labour membership was suspended, he asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed by the party about my involvement in the dispute, which had become quite significant by then. I happily agreed to speak to the National Executive Committee’s disputes panel, and Mike gave them my contact details. It is an indication of how lacking in rigour, and how narrow-ranging, the ‘investigation’ was that the disputes panel never contacted me. Not once.

Secondly, and more pertinent to my general point about Holocaust-Manipulation, after seeing what happened today, it is quite clear to me that it is time for this industry to be taken every bit as seriously as Holocaust-Denial. Perhaps even taken more seriously.

Not only did the Times help the CAA to sully Mike Sivier’s name with implications of Holocaust-Denial. Robert Peston did the same on his ITV programme this morning, in a manner that was as unprofessional and irresponsible as it was unfair. Peston described Mike as ‘vile’, clearly without ever checking that the allegations against him stand up to scrutiny.

The CAA and other Manipulator groups have politicised the Holocaust in a way that shames their (and of course my) ancestors. And sadly, as the Sunday Times and Robert Peston have so comprehensively demonstrated, the mainstream media are either too lily-livered to take them to task over it, or too lazy, or too biased.

Mike Sivier has never written anything I have seen – and I have been following his blog for something like six years – that could be sensibly construed as anti-Semitic. The CAA deliberately targeted him with accusations through cynical quotemines in order to influence a council election unfairly – therefore illegally. They did it because they are scared of Jeremy Corbyn and his history of support for the Palestinians, and because Mike Sivier in turn supports Corbyn. The fewer Corbyn supporters there are in positions of authority at a national or local level, the weaker Corbyn’s position as a potential Prime Minister will become.

That is what this is really all about. And influencing elections in this way is explicitly against the law. The CAA’s behaviour is not only deceitful, it is politically corrupt.

Therein lies the reason why I believe Holocaust-Manipulation is now a more urgent issue than Holocaust-Denial. Denial is terrible and hurtful, and has long-term dangers. But at present, its influence is tiny. Holocaust-Deniers are widely regarded with contempt, even mockery. There must be guards against it, to make sure it does not recapture the public imagination, but the short-term danger of that is minimal.

Holocaust-Manipulation, on the other hand, does not just pose a threat of exerting political influence, it already does exert political influence. Corrupt, probably illegal political influence. It is distorting the political process, and tilting the electoral playing field in favour of the right wing.

The false conflation of Jews with Israel (I am a Jew and I have never set foot in Israel – so how can I or others like me possibly represent both?) is not the only aspect that is corrupting. The Holocaust was one of the worst crimes of the Twentieth Century beyond question, but it is doubtful that it is even particularly relevant when discussing the matter of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

Moreover, frenzied cries of ‘ANTI-SEMITE!‘ when such treatment is condemned could, paradoxically, be manipulated into a horrifying defence of the Holocaust. After all, if it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to criticise Israel for its violent repression of Palestinians, it could be countered that it is ‘anti-Aryan’ to criticise Nazi Germany for its violent repression of the Jews. Such an argument of course would be as disgusting as it is absurd, but groups like the CAA have to face the fact that they are the ones opening the door to it in the first place.

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Mike Sivier is innocent of what he is accused of, I am completely confident of that.

The CAA are not innocent of manipulating a crime for propaganda purposes, a crime that was so heinous that no human being should even consider exploiting it in such a way.

by Martin Odoni

One of the things about Godwin’s Law is that it is only supposed to apply to discussions that take place over the Internet. It asserts that the longer a discussion lasts, the higher the chances of someone mentioning Nazi Germany, usually as an insulting comparison to a debating opponent. (In truth, this is something of a redundant point when looked at broadly. Think about it – the longer a discussion lasts, the higher the chances are of anything being mentioned.)

But invocation of the Nazis does very much happen in spoken-word discussions too, and not always as an insult. Sometimes it happens as a result of history-paranoia. This can be seen particularly among the lunatic fringe of the Far Right in the USA; the likes of Glenn Beck and Louie Gohmert play the ‘Nazi card’ almost as a matter of reflex. If you are in the mood for a good laugh, by the way, see what Lewis Black made of Beck five years ago.

Trying to compare the behaviour of modern people to the behaviour of the Nazis is therefore something of a lazy hot-button. But the phenomenon sometimes takes a subtler, but no less insidious, appearance. It is the ‘warning from history’, not about behaving like the Nazis, but about behaving in a way that opens the door to the Nazis. One of the most frequent forms this takes is the ‘Beware-The-Mistakes-Of-The-1920’s’ argument.

This refers to the aftermath of World War I, in which the German Empire was given exclusive blame for the War starting*, and the brief history of the Weimar Republic that followed. The warning focuses on how the phenomenon of ‘Hyperinflation’ supposedly killed it off. (This common understanding of it was given voice in the revived TV series Yes, Prime Minister two years ago, when Jim Hacker declared that the Germans are “terrified of runaway inflation because that’s what destroyed the Weimar Republic and brought them Hitler”.)

This is a commonly-held view, and is often held up as one of the great lessons of the early Twentieth Century – that ‘Hyperinflation’, as it is sometimes called, must be avoided, even at the expense of all other aims.

It is not entirely without foundation. There was indeed a bewildering period of out-of-control inflation in the Weimar Republic in the early-1920’s, and it led to terrible hardship for its people. The notorious ‘Reparations’ that the British and French Governments had imposed on Germany in the Treaty Of Versailles required regular payments of vast quantities of money and raw materials, more than the fledgling Republic, itself still struggling to recover from the War, could afford.

When Germany fell behind in its payments in 1923, French and Belgian forces invaded and occupied the region of the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland. With the Germans unable to muster remotely enough troops to defend their borders, they were swiftly strong-armed into resuming payments, even though the Weimar Government did not have enough capital in its reserves to do so. It therefore resorted to the only option it had available; it simply printed vast quantities of new Deutschmarks and shipped them straight to the French and British Governments. The Ruhr’s industries were largely idle due to the ongoing occupation – the Government had even ordered the workers in the region to go on a general strike in protest against the invasion – and were thus not producing many saleable goods. Therefore, the range and the amount of goods that could be purchased with the German currency were both getting very small, making it a less useful form of money, and thus less valuable. And with so many extra marks now in free circulation, having been freshly printed by the Government, the ease with which they could be obtained encouraged markets to put prices up, knowing that at least some potential customers would have enough marks to meet the cost. Prices going up, by definition, meant that the value of the money was going down even further, as purchasing the same item one day required more money than it had the previous day.

The value of the German currency was receding so rapidly in fact that people soon found that prices were climbing many times per day. This caused public panic, and motivated tides of ‘rush-buying’; many Germans were desperate to buy as many goods as they could as quickly as possible, fearing that if they waited more than a couple of hours, the prices would go up again and the money they had in their pockets would no longer be enough.

But of course, when everybody is buying goods in a panic, that means general demand is going up. At a time when the country’s manufacturing industry was limping, there was no chance that supply could ever meet such a surge in demand. Goods on German markets rapidly became scarcer and scarcer, which in turn made them more valuable, and this again caused prices that could be charged for them to go up even faster. Soon, no purchase was possible for any goods worth less than thousands of marks. So in response – if nothing else it might have reduced the amount of paper being used – the German Government issued fresh notes with extra zeroes added to the ends of the sums e.g. a 100 mark note could be replaced with a 100,000 mark note. But this just made it easier for people to possess and carry tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of marks in their pockets, and to spend them quickly, and therefore made it likely that prices would go up still faster.

The international outlook for the mark was no better. Foreign goods cost more and more to import, as there were so few German goods even being manufactured, let alone being made available for export, that foreign traders saw very little use in possessing marks in any quantity – thus an importer had to offer gigantic sums just to bring in a few basic items.

The Hyperinflation was a dizzying, disastrous cycle that rendered the Deutschmark worthless in less than two years. To illustrate; for most of 1922, an ordinary loaf of bread would have cost about 160 marks. By September the following year, it cost 1,500,000 marks. And just two months after that, it cost an unimaginable two hundred billion marks.

Most of the stories you have probably heard about the Weimar Hyperinflation are true. Widescale starvation, people unable to afford fuel or clothing, money often being carted around in wheelbarrows just to buy small quantities of food, paper actually becoming far, far less valuable when turned into banknotes than it had been when it was blank, basketsful of money being left in the street and only the baskets being stolen by passers-by, the money just being tipped all over the pavement.

In this light, it becomes understandable that people in Germany ended up rejecting democracy and adopted authoritarianism in the years ahead. The Republic had, after all, been the country’s first real experience of liberal democracy, and after just five years Germany was in the grip of destitution, starvation, poverty – a total catastrophe. Thus an uprising of extremism is entirely predictable, yes?

There is just one problem with this interpretation of the time. It is completely untrue.

It involves directly and immediately linking two events that in reality were over half-a-decade apart, and ignoring everything that happened in between times. And a lot of very significant events did happen in between times. There was no inevitability whatever during Hyperinflation that an extremist right-wing Government would take over, and for some years after 1923, the possibility became very much more, not less, remote.

Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ (‘Nazi’) Party did attempt an uprising in Bavaria late in 1923, but the so-called ‘Beer-Hall Putsch’ was an abject failure, not least because it had very little support. Hitler spent nine months in prison for it, and the odds at that stage were that that would be the last history would know of him.

In September, Gustav Streseman became the new Chancellor of the Republic, and he introduced a new raft of policies that pulled the country out of its rut with impressive speed. He ended the strike and ordered a fullscale return to work in the Ruhr. He also formally abandoned the old mark as a currency, and introduced a brand new version called the Rentenmark, which was immediately given a very high, stable starting value through the backing of US gold. This quickly brought the Hyperinflation screeching to a halt. But at least as important, the following year, employing fine political skills Streseman managed to negotiate a new, more realistic arrangement with Britain, France and the USA for the payment of Reparations. Taking proposals from the American diplomat Charles Dawes, a framework was drawn up that reduced the total that had to be paid from the wildly-punitive two billion pounds demanded at Versailles to a much more reasonable fifty million pounds. Streseman also managed to secure a loan of two hundred million dollars from the USA, to inject into the ailing German industries.

(This had the bizarre upshot that the USA was sending money to Germany, so that Germany could produce enough industry to make payments to Britain and France, so that Britain and France could pay back war-loans owed to… the USA. Yes, I know, I think it sounds as potty as you doubtless think too. But it did work for a while.)

With German manufacturing back on its feet, the loans from the USA providing much-needed support, and a strong, restored national currency, the Weimar Republic in fact spent most of the rest of the 1920’s doing very nicely indeed. New factories were built rapidly, high employment rates were re-established, and a cultural revival, especially in Berlin, made Germany seem one of the most elegant and refined nations in Europe once more.

So you see, the years 1924-1929, far from being a period of ‘Nazification’, were a period of real prosperity in Germany. The period was even referred to as the ‘Golden Age Of Weimar’. If you had told a German trader in, say, 1928, that the now-flourishing Republic would cease to exist within five years and be replaced by a military dictatorship, he would probably have given you a sad look and told you how much he pitied you your pessimistic outlook. The very notion of Hitler and his extreme ideas being the way forward would have seemed absurd, and he and his Nazi followers were viewed as rather silly and embarrassing cranks. (In fact, the Nazi Party had very nearly gone bankrupt that very year.)

What could possibly go so wrong from this position as to bring Hitler to power?

Well, there was one drawback to the Dawes Plan; the fate of the big economies of Western/Central Europe were now heavily-locked into the fate of the US economy, because Britain, France and Germany all owed large amounts of money to the US banks. While the American economy remained in the rudest of health, this would not be a problem, as it meant the banks could be as patient about receiving the repayments from Europe as conditions required.

The problem was that, of course, the US economy was not to remain in the rudest of health. Instead, in 1929, it was to enter the most unhealthy condition in its history. When the London Stock Exchange crashed in September, in response to the notorious Clarence Hatry scandal – a fraud involving millions of pounds-worth of fake share certificates – the news filtered through to Wall Street, causing panic, especially among bankers who were still owed money by the British Government. Related holdings suddenly looked very unpromising, and stocks started being sold off at ‘cut-the-losses’ prices. All foreign investments now looking distinctly unsafe, and average stock-prices started to go down.

After weeks of nervous instability, it was at the end of October that the US economy finally choked in a crazed spree of panicked any-cost selling. On 29th October 1929, over sixteen million shares were sold off at rock-bottom prices in a desperate bid by investors to separate themselves from what they now believed were worthless stocks, and just to get anything they could in exchange for them.

The Wall Street Crash had shifted the very geography of world economics. All of a sudden, the stockmarket was flooded with goods that were of no apparent value. Banks that had lent to the investors who had purchased the stocks now found that repayments halted. Many investors who had taken advantage of easy credit that had previously been made available now could not pay it back. Other people who held shares that were now worthless could no longer afford to buy general, even day-to-day goods, and so all across the US economy, business spiralled downwards. Goods could not even be sold at the price of manufacture, and many retailers either folded, or turned to banks in a desperate bid for emergency loans. The banks did not have enough capital available to support the number of loans being requested. All they could do, therefore, was to call in debts already owed to them. Including foreign debts.

Britain, already reeling from the smaller crash on the London Stock Exchange, now found the creditors who had sent loans during the War were demanding their money back. France faced similar demands, and so both countries, in need of money quickly, now decided to call a halt to the Dawes Plan and to make a demand of their own – that Germany resume paying full Reparations.

The German position was not helped by the fact that Streseman had died shortly before the Wall Street Crash. He had warned not long before of the danger to the German economy if the American loans were recalled: “If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy could collapse.” Now, just as they had lost his leadership, the German Government received a demand for renewed Reparation payments, and a ninety-day notice for the first repayment of the 1924 loan from the USA.

Crippling taxes now had to be raised to start the repayments, at a time when frightened American investors were withdrawing their capital from the country. Many German businesses folded under the strain of consequent lost revenues and an increased tax burden, and with that, unemployment began to rise. With every worker who lost his job, money was lost to those businesses he had previously purchased goods from, and so those businesses faced the strain of paying increased amounts while selling fewer and fewer goods. The only solution for many of them was to lay off staff to reduce the wage-bill, repeating the cycle.

A new economic downward spiral had set in, and by September 1930, unemployment had leapt from about one-point-two million a year earlier to over three million. Over the next couple of years, the jobless total would race past six million. With huge numbers of increasingly-desperate people out-of-work, and resentful of what they saw as foreigners taking their misfortune out on Germany once again, extremism was on the up – the Nazis took over one hundred-and-forty seats in the 1930 Reichstag Election – and the rise of Adolf Hitler and The Third Reich was finally under way.

The interesting aspect of this part of the story though is that there was no particular Hyperinflation of the rentenmark. Inevitably, with the value of US gold declining, there had been significant inflation of the mark, but nothing remotely resembling what was seen in 1923. Now it is probably fair to suggest that the terrifying memory of Hyperinflation might have played a psychological role in the growing radicalisation of the German working class in the early-1930’s, but that was about as much a part as the phenomenon had to play in Hitler’s accession. In reality, the Hyperinflation problem had been solved by 1925, and since then the country had gone through a boom period. What really caused the collapse of the Weimar Republic was a financial over-dependence on one country that was suddenly having trouble just supporting itself. The ‘trigger’ was not Hyperinflation at all, but the Wall Street Crash. (And the Crash was, in a manner of speaking, the reverse phenomenon; a collapse in stockmarket prices is a form of rapid deflation, as the same amount of money is able to buy more goods as time passes – if only anybody had wanted them.)

The worry of the “Hyperinflation-gave-the-world-Hitler!!!!” scare-story is that it still plays a substantial role in economic thought even today. Now, I am certainly not trying to make light of Hyperinflation as a phenomenon, it is horrendously damaging when it happens and causes unthinkable misery and hardship. But that is a problem in itself. There should be no need to add a horn-headed demon at the foot of the path, with warnings of “Hyperinflation will lead to Nazism” or some other such Godwin’s Law mimickry. It quite emphatically did not lead to any such thing in Germany – the Beer Hall Putsch failed completely. But the myth causes many a mind at the Exchequer to think that any amount of inflation is undesirable, and to imagine that it is the one danger, above all others, that must be guarded against at any cost. Hence George Osborne’s smug pride in recent very low inflation figures, even though inflation this low is, as Alex Little has recently explained, no less a problem than high inflation. And let us keep in mind that the Wall Street Crash had a deflation element to it.

In the interest of preventing inflation, lock-stock-and-barrel, neoliberal ideology argues that there should always be a substantial standing army of the unemployed, as the more that the working classes are competing with each other, the less able they will be to band together to bargain for better wages (the questionable assumption being that improved wages are what causes inflation). This school-of-thought fails to consider that it was in fact precisely when unemployment – not inflation – was spiralling out-of-control in the Weimar Republic that large numbers of dispossessed workers started turning to extremist political parties and rejecting classic liberal democracy. Surely therefore, neoliberalism has learned exactly the wrong lesson from history, and encourages the very folly that fuelled the extremism it supposedly wants to avoid i.e. over-dependence of the British economy on the USA, and high unemployment?

Surely if we wish to take the real lessons from inter-war-period Germany, we have to accept that large-scale unemployment (and probably starvation-wage employment as well) is the true danger that we need to avoid at all costs. With the Government’s constant figure-fiddling to get around that issue, they could well be sleepwalking into precisely the terrible danger that the Friedmanite handbook tells them it will prevent.

Indeed, that may well be a key factor in the rise of Far Right groups in Britain such as the UK Independence Party. Far be it from me to trigger Godwin’s Law, but by consciously telling ourselves not to, we are in fact behaving in the way that once opened the door to the Nazis.

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* I am of the view that, while it is grossly wrong and unfair that Germany took all of the blame for the First World War, the reckless policies adopted by Kaiser Wilhelm II probably were the chief, most immediate cause of the conflict. Written evidence shows that the Habsburg Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Francis-Joseph I, did not move to avenge the assassination of the Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand until the Kaiser’s Government pushed him into declaring war on Serbia. Furthermore, when Germany and Austria were faced with a consequent invasion by the Russian Empire, Wilhelm ordered a pre-emptive invasion of France, who, in spite of their alliances, still might have stayed out of the War if left alone. The Kaiser also endorsed the scheme to make the invasion via Belgium, which was a clear violation of a Belgian neutrality agreement that the German provinces had signed up to in the previous century, and which made British intervention pretty much unavoidable. At every trigger-point of conflict, the German Empire was one of the key players driving events, and in ways that violated treaties and International Law.