Livingstone’s Leaving Potshots

It has been widely reported that Ken “Hitler was a Zionist” Livingstone has quit the Labour Party. The long statement he wrote when he did so has been less widely publicised. Jewish Voice for Labour of course posted the statement on their website. It’s worth taking a look at the below quotes from that statement. You can read the whole thing on the JVL website.

“It is wrong to accuse someone of antisemitism because they make a historical argument about a part of the Zionist movement’s relations with the Nazi regime in the 1930s. I believe that a major reason for the attacks on me is that I support the Palestinian people’s human rights, which can in no way be equated with being anti-Jewish. I have strongly criticised the policies of successive Israeli governments, and campaigned for Palestinian rights for decades as part of a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is renowned. In 2008-9 and 2014 several thousand Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed by Israel’s military assaults on Gaza. This violence continues to this day, as demonstrated when hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Gaza were gunned down by the Israeli army this month, with scores killed, including children. I am an opponent of the political regime that is responsible for these crimes, not the Jewish people.”

“What is misguided is the cynical exploitation of the issue for the political end of attacking Jeremy Corbyn and others who are rightly concerned at the plight of the Palestinians who have been unjustly driven from their lands and kept in conditions of discrimination and repression for the past 70 years.”

“These accusations are utterly false. Had I said Hitler was a Zionist I would have apologised, as it is an evidently ridiculous idea. Hitler loathed Jews all his life and I would never suggest he was ‘a Zionist’. I simply stated the historical fact that Hitler was, for his own loathsome reasons, prepared to do a deal with Zionists to remove Jews from Germany.”

“It is quite clear that this campaign against me has nothing to do with antisemitism, for which no evidence has been produced, to the point that the legal representative for the Labour Party at my NCC hearing did not accuse me of it. This campaign is in fact because of my criticism of the massacres and discriminatory actions carried out by the leaders of the Israeli state and is using the pretext of my accurate statement of historical fact, that a practical agreement was arrived at between Hitler and some Zionists in the 1930s.”

“However, I recognise the fact that the way I expressed a historical point caused real offence and upset in the Jewish community, and I deeply regret that.”

“In the hearing, I was supported by Jewish witnesses and many others signed a letter in my defence.” (note these witnesses were: Jenny Manson, Diana Neslen, Jonathan Rosenhead, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Walter Wolfgang)

“In the 11 months the party spent investigating this issue no evidence was found to confirm any allegation of antisemitism against me, which is why at the NCC hearing this accusation was never made. This was never about antisemitism but about undermining Jeremy.”

“But in the run-up to Jeremy’s second leadership victory the bureaucracy wasted a vast amount of time investigating 70,000 Labour members for suspension. Those thousands of hours should have been spent preparing for the general election. So, I would urge Labour to stop its staff wasting their time in this way and instead concentrate on preparing for the next election.”

“I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.”

It’s worth adding this interview on Press TV:

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