Ken Livingstone has shown his colours once again in a talk he gave at the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London in which he used every opportunity to demonise Israel and repeat his claim of Nazi support for Zionism.
The event took place on 28 January 2018 but the video for the event was published mid-February. This is the same event where George Galloway stated that Israel “should be no more”.
Ken Livingstone’s talk looked at the history between Israel and the Palestinians. It is clearly his own perspective, but as you listen more to his speech you start to understand that every major historical event he mentions has an anti-Israel or anti-Zionist slant and sometimes even anti-Jewish.
Overview of what Livingstone said:
- Talks of “the support there was in Hitler’s government for Zionism in Germany” and claims there was “real collaboration” between the Nazis and Zionists.
- Compares Israel’s actions in 1948 to what is happening today with the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Yet he fails to mention the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands.
- Claims the Israeli government is “not prepared to lift a finger to make life easier for a single Palestinian”.
- Accuses Netanyahu of wanting to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, saying, “I am certain in his heart… he would like to drive the remaining Palestinians out of that area”.
- Shows a one-sided view of Israel’s history by highlighting “terrorism from extremist Zionists”, but fails to mention a single act of Palestinian terrorism.
- Paints Israel’s leaders, past and present, as terrorists while showing Yasser Arafat as a man of peace.
- Falsely claims the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was part of Netanyahu’s political party.
- However, in an ironic admittance, Ken says the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement doesn’t really work, saying, “It had a minor impact, if even that, on the South African economy.”
Watch the full video of the talk here:
He accused Israel of ethnic cleansing whilst ignoring the ethnic cleansing of Jews
Early in his talk, Livingstone seemingly compares the genocide and ethnic cleansing that is currently taking place against the Rohingya in Myanmar to what Israel is falsely accused of having done to the Palestinians in 1948.
Livingstone: “All around the world, people saw the Roginhya Muslims being driven out of their land, 650,000 into refugee camps. It was an intense debate on every radio and television programme. Politicians have denounced the leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing anything to stop that horror. But of course back in 1948 there weren’t thousands of camera crews running all around and filming what was happening in Palestine. And I think one of the things we’ve got to recognise is that there are still vast numbers of people on every country in every country on this planet who have no knowledge of that history. And people try and raise it, as you just heard, tend to be a bit denounced. And most politicians just say it isn’t worth all the pain and all that we’re going to get that comes from this. But I believe it is time to start making certain that people know about their history.”
This is not just a one-sided recollection of history, but a gross distortion of it.
The “Nakba”, as it is commonly referred to, is the Palestinian false-narrative that the Jews of Israel forcefully removed the Palestinian population from their homes in 1948 during the creation of the State of Israel. Some 650,000 Palestinians left Israel at that time. The claim is that Israel was ethnically cleansing the land, but the reality is that it was the Palestinian leaders who were urging their people to leave the land so that the Arab armies that surrounded Israel could wipe out the Jewish state. Hence the Israel-Arab war of 1948.
Israel won that war and all Palestinians that had stayed in Israel were allowed to live peacefully and received full rights as equal citizens, countering the narrative that Israel “ethnically cleansed” the land.
In contrast, Livingstone failed to mention the real ethnic cleansing that started in 1948, which was the forced expulsion of more than 850,000 Jewish people from their homes in North Africa and throughout the Middle East. Today, very few Jews remain in the Islamic nations and there is still persecution of those who remain.
Unfortunately, Livingstone’s biased retelling of history is what he later told his audience to share, saying, “so let us educate the world, let people know what happened in 1948.”
He ignored Palestinian terrorism
Livingstone: “But I believe it is time to start making certain that people know about their history. What we saw were appalling acts of terrorism. How many people living in Britain know about the bombing of the King David Hotel? Which was Britain’s colonial headquarters. Which was blown up by the extremist wing of the Zionist movement with over 90 people killed.”
The bombing of the King David hotel was clearly a horrific attack. However, it is one of few attacks carried out by “extremist Zionists” as Livingstone put it. Throughout his whole speech he failed to highlight or even mention the vast number of Palestinian terrorist attacks that have occurred over the past 70 years.
He denounces Israel’s leaders whilst praising Yasser Arafat
At one point Ken speaks of Yitzhak Rabin, saying that Rabin, “was guilty of some pretty bad crimes”, one of which Ken claims was Rabin being “one of those military commanders driving Palestinians at gunpoint out of their homes and marching them over the border” in 1948.
“But he had the courage to recognise after a lifetime in Israeli politics that Israel was going nowhere if there isn’t a solution that’s acceptable to Palestinians. And therefore there’s the picture of him shaking the hand of Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn”, he said.
The problem with this is that Livingstone purposely demonises Israel’s political leaders while failing to highlight any wrongdoing of the Palestinian leadership, in this case Yasser Arafat, who is responsible for far more destruction, violence and terrorism than all Israeli leaders in history combined.
Later in his talk he again mentions Yasser Arafat saying:
“If you think back to that, think how Yasser Arafat was perceived in the global media before that deal was done. Before an American government thought it was worth trying to get that deal. I was at the Labour Party conference… when for the first time ever we had a resolution saying that the Labour party should recognise Yasser Arafat’s PLO. And it was the most intense debate. I remember seeing Israeli Embassy officials lobbying trade union leaders to cast their bloc vote against this. And we won that vote by one-tenth of one percent. And the vast majority of Labour MPS weren’t prepared to go along with that at all. They were scared that if they recognised Yasser Arafats PLO they’d be denounced as anti-Semitic. But then 15 years later there he is on the White House lawn, shaking hands with the Israeli Prime Minister. So however difficult things seem now, in politics anything can change in any direction.”
Yasser Arafat led terrorist organisations, incited thousands to carry out violent attacks against Israelis, and in particular Jews, and died a billionaire at the expense of his impoverished people, yet Livingstone is portraying Arafat as a man of peace.
He falsely claims that PM Rabin’s assassin was part of Netanyahu’s party
The demonisation does not end there. Talking of Prime Minister Rabin, Ken highlights his assassination shortly after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed,
“Virtually just a few months after that first stage in the deal, one of Netanyahu’s party members on the extreme wing of his party, assassinated Rabin in order to stop that process.”
This is a clear attempt by Lvingstone to associate Netanyahu and the Israeli government with terrorists. However, the assassin, Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old student, was not a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party and his actions were denounced by Netanyahu at the time.
During police questioning, an officer said to Amir that even the most extreme political groups in Israel would denounce his actions. Amir responded that he didn’t do it for them. So he said in his own words that he was not doing it on behalf of ant of Israel’s political parties.
In recent years, however, Yigal Amir has given support to a rival party, Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), which is the fourth largest political party in Israel. This support by Amir has drawn criticism from Netanyahu’s Likud party who claim that Amir’s endorsement proves Bayit Yehudi is extreme.
Clearly there is no connection to Netanyahu’s Likud party, however, none of these facts matter to Livingstone as long as he can smear Netanyahu.
He accuses Netanyahu of wanting to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians
The demonisation of Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t stop at simply claiming he is guilty by association. Instead, Ken Livingstone makes some rather outrageous statements about Netanyahu.
“Now of course we have the most horrendous government in Israel in its history,” he claims, saying Netanyahu is “unbelievably right wing, not prepared to lift a finger to make life easier for a single Palestinian.”
“And I am certain in his heart he wants to see, I mean, he would like to drive the remaining Palestinians out of that area,” Livingstone concludes.
This is again a gross distortion of reality. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has invested more money than any previous Israeli government into developing and supporting the Arab-Israel community, in the form of education, housing and lowering poverty. Under Netanyahu they have made it mandatory for all students, Jews, Muslims and Christians, to learn Arabic as part of their national curriculum. This is to encourage coexistence and understanding.
Netanyahu has always held an open hand of peace towards the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, however, Abbas has refused to even talk about peace with Israel.
He repeats his equation of “Zionism” with “Nazism”
As you can see from all the above, Livingstone’s recollection of each historical event is a one-sided account that demonises Zionists whilst ignoring the atrocities of the Palestinian leadership. However, this retelling of history is the most reprehensible.
Livingstone defends his outrageous claims that Hitler and the Nazis supported Zionism. He does this in an attempt to tar Zionism, the belief that Jews have a right to their homeland, with the same brush as Nazism, the group responsible for murdering more Jews than anyone else in history.
Livingstone said, “If you think back to April the 28th, I was being interviewed on BBC Radio and I was asked what Hitler did illegal. And I pointed out well there two phases, in the 1930’s he signed an agreement with the German Zionists and then he in 1941, we think, changed the policy and went for genocide.”
Livingstone then lists some sources which he claims shows “the support there was in Hitler’s government for Zionism in Germany because the Zionists wanted to move all Germany’s Jews to Palestine. And over that period they moved something like 60,000 and when the British government just because the Second World War banned any more Jews going to Israel. It was actually the German government that helped the German Zionists hide away on boats leaving Hamburg and another 10,000 German Jews got in there. So there was a real period of collaboration.”
Livingstone continues, “That isn’t to say that Hitler liked Jews, he loathed and feared them all his life. But this was what he saw as the way of getting out of that. And anyone who just checks their history will see that is true.”
We have covered this previously, but it is important to counter this argument once again.
Hitler was not a Zionist and his government did not support Zionism. Likewise, the Zionists of Germany did not support the Nazi regime, they instead tried to make a deal with the Nazis in order to save Jewish lives.
In Hitler’s book Mein Kampf he clearly lays out his feelings of the Jews, and includes his thoughts about Zionists which are as follows:
“While the Zionists try to make the rest of the World believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organisation for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”
Just to clarify, the above paragraph was written by Adolf Hitler in 1925, years before he supposedly “supported Zionism” and before he “went mad”, as Livingstone put it in a previous interview. The words above are not the words of a Zionist.
TV personality and novelist David Baddiel summed up exactly what the problem is with Livingstone’s views on Hitler and Zionism.
“The real problem, in a way, is the tone of Livingstone when giving this interpretation. There’s no sympathy. No compassion – no sense of the tragedy behind this. It’s just complacently presented as a deal that Hitler made with German Zionists, and therefore – and this, of course, is the point, the banal, **** point – a way of confirming that Zionism is bad. Through an association with the top bad thing, Hitler.”
Ken explains the backlash, insinuates the “Jewish Lobby”
Here is what Livingstone said about the backlash he received:
“But just 3 hours later you have the Labour MP John Mann screaming I’m a Nazi apologist and claiming I said Hitler was a Zionist. This was taken up by the media. Most of you will remember him screaming at me as I walked up the stairs. I think he was hoping I would hit him or something like that then they’d be able to expel me.”
“I’m then suspended from the Labour party without anyone asking what I actually said or anyone checking it out.”
“And I’m surrounded by journalists for days and I said to all these journalists. Have you checked what I said it true? One had said they had. I said, well, when are you going to put this out. Oh I can’t do that, can’t do that. And this is the situation. You can’t have an honest and open debate. If anyone actually talks about the history about what has happened to the Palestinians it is denounced as anti-Semitic. And when you look at the scale of abuse you can understand why most politicians say “I’m not going to touch this issue.”
At this point, Livingstone is explaining that not only was what he said true, but that anyone who speaks out is labelled an anti-Semite and are therefore silenced. However, this is another distortion of reality.
Anti-Semites often claim that there is a powerful “Jewish lobby” that controls politics and the media, silencing any criticism of Israel. However, we just don’t see any evidence of that.
Most media sources show a considerable bias against Israel. They are constantly overlooking Palestinian terrorism whilst highlighting any wrongdoing of an Israeli, painting the entire nation in a bad light.
In UK politics we see debates about Israel and the Palestinians in parliament often with a bias against Israel.
He says BDS doesn’t work
In the latter part of his talk, Livingstone admits to the ineffective actions of the BDS movement saying, “Now one of the debates at the moment is, should a boycott of Israeli goods go ahead. And there are people that are practicing that. All I would say was that I spent decades boycotting South African goods during the years of that apartheid regime. But I have to say the boycott, although it was, you know, lefties all around the world were advocating it. It had a minor impact, if even that, on the South African economy.”
He instead supports pressure on America to stop supporting Israel
Instead of BDS he says that “What brought an end to the apartheid regime was… the American government, which had been propping up South Africa because it was a military ally, it controlled a key part of the oceans… the then president Bush… basically pulled the rug out of support and immediately the South African government had to negotiate to get a shift effectively giving up its own power and handing that over to the Black majority. And that’s actually what we’ve got to look at. The support of the American government to the State of Israel is massive… start to mobilise the pressure so that one day we will have an American president who threatens to pull the rug out from under Israel…”
He places all the blame on Israel
“…pull the rug out from under Israel, if the Israeli government isn’t prepared to finally do that deal which will give Palestinians the right to live like every other free peoples in their own country.”
Here he places all the blame on Israel alone. He fails to see that it is the Palestinian leaders who are denying the Palestinian people their freedom because they refuse to live peacefully alongside their Israeli neighbours and instead incite violence and terror, rejecting all notions of peace.
One again Ken Livingstone has claimed that Hitler “supported Zionism”. While he claims he is not anti-Semitic he shows that he holds Israel to a different standard to the Palestinians. This is in fact anti-Semitic according to the definition of antisemitism adopted by the UK government.
Not only that, but Ken Livingstone fails to show any compassion to the Jewish community who he has offended with his comments.
Ken Livingstone continues to speak historical inaccuracies and misinformation, especially about Israel’s history whilst ignoring all the wrongdoing of the Palestinian leadership. The reason for this is because it serves his purposes of demonising and delegitimising the world’s only Jewish state.