Livingstone’s sanitised reading of Ha’avara agreement distorts facts

The explosive cross-ideological responses to Ken Livingstone’s ludicrous remarks about historical Zionism, Hitler, and National Socialism encapsulate the vicious dichotomy at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Livingstone’s sanitised reading of Ha’avara agreement distorts facts

Are criticisms, by the global pro-Palestinian movement, of Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank legitimate, objective, and motivated by a genuine empathy towards the Arab population, or propelled by a sinister, anti-Semitic psycopathy?

The immediate threat to life, security, and peace have, on occasion, prompted an overzealous Israeli reaction. Consequently, it is clear that some of these actions are a legitimate target for global criticism.

Livingstone’s interjection into the British Labour Party’s disciplinary procedures against MP Naz Shah, for her odious comments about “transporting” (a term laden with Holocaust undertones) Israelis to America, is a blatant and sectarian example of modern-day anti-Semitism.

Livingstone’s horrendous and ahistorical claim that “Hitler was a Zionist” defies credibility, and distorts the historical record, in a repulsive revisionism that demeans the murdered millions.

Livingston’s argument is based on the 1933 Ha’avara agreement, in Germany, which allowed Jews to take a small proportion of their wealth to Palestine, providing they signed everything else over to the Nazi state.

This was a desperate attempt by the Zionists of the Yishuv (the Jews of the British Mandate of Palestine) to save a remnant of Germany’s Jews from what they could already discern as a Nazi eliminationist project. It was not, as Livingston attempts to depict it, a partnership of equals.

This line of argument was continued by Livingstone, as he defended himself in an interview with the leftist Guardian newspaper, on Friday, by, once again, depicting Hitler as an almost benign protector of German Jews. He cited the 1935 Nazi Act, which banned any flag being displayed, except the swastika and the blue and white Zionist one, as an example of Nazi cordiality, by describing it as “pretty amazing”.

It was not amazing. It was a manifestation of the hateful Nurenmberg Laws, which declassified Jews as citizens and consequently demanded they had a separate flag to the swastika. As the biographer of Robert Briscoe, the Irish State’s only Jewish TD, who became a senior member of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s New Zionist Organisation (Revisionists), it is clear to me, and should be to anyone who works the archives, that Livingstone’s revisionism is a horrendous distortion.

Dr Kevin McCarthy,


Co Cork

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

  • 1
  • 14
  • 18
  • 23
  • 30
  • 32
  • 4

Full Lotto draw results »