It would seem that Moshe Machover’s expulsion from the Labour Party has been rescinded, at least for the moment, and he reinstated as a member in good standing.
Machover tries to educate Labour people to believe that Zionists – that is the overwhelming majority of Jews – are like Nazis.
And he tries to educate Labour people to recognise those who oppose antisemitism as part of a campaign which is ‘carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government and the far right in the United States’, to de-legitimize criticism of Israel.
It is important to Machover to portray Labour Jews – those who refuse to disavow Zionism and Israel anyway – as being alien to the Party and alien to the left.
Read the article. That is what he does.
Zionism – a Jewish movement to create a life-raft state as the Nazis hunted them down for the machine gun pits and the gas chambers – is presented as being similar to Nazism.
And opposition to antisemitism is presented as a Jewish conspiracy to hurt Palestinians.
Machover says that Ken Livingstone was the first ‘scalp’ of this Zionist and right wing conspiracy. He says that Livingstone was right to declare that Hitler supported Zionism until he want mad. [For what Livingstone actually said, see ‘Whitewashed’ from 3.20].
Machover’s evidence that the Nazis supported Zionism? He relies on the word of the vilest, most murderous, most antisemitic of Nazis, Reynhard Heydrich. Machover circulates the words of Heydrich around our Party conference in an attempt to discredit today’s opponents of antisemitism within the Labour Party.
‘National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way,’ Heydrich reassures us. The lies of Nazi are put around our Party conference in order to ‘prove’ that Heydrich was, in 1935, an ally of Zionism.
Ten years earlier Hitler himself had stated clearly what the Nazis actually thought of Zionism:
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.
There should be no place in democratic Labour politics for this monstering of Jews and of Israel. Sure, many of us have criticisms of Israeli governments and of the occupation, as we do of Palestinian leaders and of the Jew-killing they have sanctioned. But this, from Machover, is not criticism of Israel, it is not rational politics. Antisemitism is not rational. And neither is the claim that Zionists are really as bad as the Nazis who were murdering.
Machover says that the Nazis only decided to kill the Jews at the Wannsee Conference in 1942; his clear implication is that before this time their policy was ‘Zionist’. In his zeal to mis-educate Labour people about antisemitism he leaves out the story of many hundreds of thousands of Jews who they murdered as they followed the German army deep into the USSR. The leader of this campaign of Jew-killing? Well, that was Reinhard Heydrich, the man Machover circulated around our conference promising that he only wanted Jews to go to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
- Machover says most Jews should be pushed out of the left but really antisemitism should be pushed out of the left.
- He says Jews are entryists but really he is the entryist.
- He says Zionists are in a conspiracy to fool Labour activists but really he is part of a conspiracy to fool activists.
- He wants to make Zionists politically homeless but actually our political home cannot also be home to those who push antisemitic nonsense.
There is a letter circulating on social media, from the Office of Jeremy Corbyn himself, saying: ‘I am glad that he is now a Labour Party member again’.
Corbyn needs to make it clear that it is no part of Labour politics to say:
- Those who worry about antisemitism on the left are part of a right wing and foreign conspiracy.
- Zionism is like Nazism
- The word of Nazis should be taken over the word of their Jewish victims or over the historical record
Even the rather hollow Chakrabarti Inquiry report makes clear that Nazi analogies and talk about Hitler in relation to the Israel/Palestine conflict are ‘incendiary’, ‘intended to be incendiary’, ‘bring the Party into disrepute’ and ‘undermine the cause of peace’.
At conference there were two things going on at the same time. Formally, the Party was taking good positions on antisemitism and changing the rules to make it easier to deal with antisemitism. But this happened while culturally, the Labour Party was becoming more and more a scary and forbidding place for those Jews who were not antizionist.
Machover is yet another test for Corbyn’s Labour Party. And so far, the Party is failing test after test. Machover’s rants about Nazis and Zionist conspiracies should not be judged appropriate in the Labour party.
David Hirsh is a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, a Labour Party member and is author of the book, ‘Contemporary Left Antisemitism’.
He will be speaking in Israel next week and in Germany the following week. Follow this link for his schedule.