The former mayor of London Ken Livingstone has defended his explosive claim that Adolf Hitler was ‘a Zionist’ by citing Lenni Brenner’s book Zionism in the Age of Dictators. According to Livingstone – now suspended from the UK Labour Party – ‘Lenni’s book shows a shared common belief between the Nazis and the Zionists … they wanted to preserve their ethnic purity and that’s why they had a working relationship.’ In this comprehensive critique in Fathom 13 Paul Bogdanor skewers Brenner’s many factual manipulations and pseudo-scholarship and explains why his work is a fixture of antizionist and antisemitic propaganda about the Holocaust on both the far left and on the far right, avidly followed by those convinced that ‘Zionists’ are to blame for all evil in the world.
In April 2016, Britain was rocked by scandals involving antisemitism in the opposition Labour Party. There were complaints that student members had been dismissing Jewish colleagues as ‘Zios’. Numerous party activists were suspended or expelled for offences such as stating that Jews had ‘big noses’, that Hitler was the ‘Zionist god’, that socialists had to address ‘the Jewish Question’, or that Jews were behind the slave trade and ISIS. A Member of Parliament was obliged to issue an apology after proposing the ‘transportation’ of millions of Israeli Jews to America.
Into this maelstrom stepped former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who denied the existence of any antisemitism in the party, and volunteered that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.’ For this, and for related comments, he too was suspended from the Labour Party.
To justify his claims, Livingstone invoked Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, a book published by Lenni Brenner in 1983. Livingstone had written in his memoirs that Brenner’s work ‘helped form my view of Zionism and its history’ (Livingstone 2011: 223). The book is a fixture of antizionist and antisemitic propaganda about the Holocaust on both the far left and on the far right, and Brenner has a cult following among those convinced that ‘Zionists’ are to blame for all evil in the world. READ MORE