When presenting his show on the Iranian regime’s Press TV, Ken Livingstone expressed the remarkable view that the barriers to conversion to Judaism evidenced the religion’s “racial exclusiveness”, that these requirements arose in the 1880s, that this was similar to the racist notion of the importance of “German blood”, and that this racism was the origin of Zionism.
Here he is:
[Part 3/3.24] Is not the problem here that when Zionism was conceived of back in the 1880s, the world was one that accepted racial division… The Germans talked about anyone of German blood, even if it had been a thousand years since they left, able to come back. The world broadly accepted this racism at all levels, and that was the origin of Zionism – ‘every other group is racially selective, we will do it’.
Here is Livingstone’s evidence to support his claim of Zionism as Jewish racism:
[Part 3/3.53] We see that today in this ridiculous situation that that whereas Christianity and Islam massively goes out there to convert people to its [sic] faith, it’s very difficult to convert into Judaism. I think it’s a real problem, there’s this racial exclusiveness that has its origins in that dreadful time… 1880s, when all nations suffered from it.
I’ll leave it to you in the comments to respond to this.
But for starters:
- The contemporary rules on conversion to Judaism most certainly didn’t arise during the 1880s.
- What precisely does Ken Livingstone think would have happened to Jewish communities, living in societies which persecuted Jews for religious reasons, if they had actively sought converts?
- The Jewish position on conversion is not premised on “race”, in any event. Conversion by Orthodox ritual is designed to be difficult, but it is open to anybody.
Remember: Ken Livingstone expressed these views while taking the pay of the genocidally racist Iranian regime, on their TV channel.
The very best you can say about Livingstone’s performance is that he knows nothing about the history of Judaism or the history of antisemitism. But frankly, when a man starts railing against the problematic nature of the supposed “racial exclusiveness” of Judaism, I’m inclined to think they’re an actual antisemite.
Thanks to Joseph K in the comments.
Also, read Adloyada