Zionism’s Court Historians – Reinventing the past in order to manipulate the future
Zionism’s Court Historians – Reinventing the past in order to manipulate the future
Lying in the service of the Israeli state
Oxford’s Professor Jane Caplan Attacks Ken Livingstone
the “Beitar Heart” Instagram account of Jerusalem’s Beitar fan club featured an image of a candle lit to commemorate Israel’s Holocaust
Remembrance Day. The image was tagged with #Death to Arabs!
Jane Caplan, Emeritus Professor of History in Modern European History
On April 8th the Guardian printed
a letter by Jane Caplan, an Emeritus Professor of Modern European
History no less, at Oxford University, attacking Ken Livingstone for having ‘travestied’
historical facts concerning the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany.
I am still bemused by how one can ‘travesty’
a fact. Either a fact is true or not
true. I suspect it is an attempt
to impress by using what is a meaningless phrase.
Ms Caplan is an establishment historian, eager to
affirm the Establishment’s current nostrums. The role of historians, with few exceptions, is to provide the ideological and moral justification for the ruling class. The Holocaust and the whole era of the Nazi era has been depoliticised and stripped of any radical meanings. You can weep over the death of 6 million Jews without once mentioning the fact that Britain and the USA erected immigration barriers against the entrance of any Jews able to escape. You can pass over statements by British and American civil servants that asked what they would do with a million refugees and like Theresa May oppose the entrance of 3,000 child refugees from France at the same time as condemning ‘anti-Semitism’ and affirming the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Asia Komisarov’s father was killed by the Nazis in Russia. She and her mother survived and she moved to Israel as part of a wave of Russian immigration in the 1990s. She lived in a crumbling flat in Jaffa but was forced out when her landlords wanted to raise prices Photo: Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors
In a very real sense the Holocaust has become part of the identity of the European ruling classes. It is a narrative designed to shore up support for Israel, a military superpower in the Middle East. It has little or nothing to do with anti-racism. This nauseous hypocrisy reached its epiphany in the statement by one of the leaders of the alt-Right in the USA, after Trump’s holocaust day message had failed to mention the Jews, that the Holocaust needed de-Judaification! And why not. Israel makes study of the holocaust compulsory from the age of three! What happened to the 6 million is embedded in national consciousness whilst at the same time those holocaust survivors still alive are given the choice between eating or keeping warm. [Tens of thousands of Israeli Holocaust survivors are living in abject poverty]
Some historians, like Niall Fergusson or
Andrew Roberts, two conservative pro-imperialist historians, are open about their agenda. Others like Caplan do it by
hiding behind trite and seemingly progressive but empty phrases. Zionism is no longer a racist, settler
colonial movement. It is a movement of Jewish
self-determination ‘aspiring’ to form a state. Caplan may be a
professor of European history but she knows next to nothing about either Zionism
or its record during the Hitler years.
On April 8th the Guardian published
a letter from you criticising Ken Livingstone.
Directly underneath your letter was another letter from me. I was intrigued by your suggestion that your
view had particular validity because you were a Professor of History.
You said you wrote your letter, not as a Jewish Labour
Party member but as a historian. I
suggest that you did neither. It was written from the perspective of a political
Zionist who was using her academic title and Oxbridge credentials to impress
people that her political views merited particular attention.
History is a social science. Unlike for the physical sciences there
is no right or wrong. Different
academics disagree with each other vehemently.
Historians select facts according to their viewpoints and they are forged into a narrative
dependent on their political outlook.
The Nazis struck a coin to celebrate their alliance with Zionism
historians such as Niall Fergusson and Andrew Roberts see the British Empire as
an example of selflessness, good government and colonial administration, all
of which were carried on for the benefit of the natives. Small matters such as e.g. the deliberate engineering
of widespread famine in Bengal in order to test the theories of free market
economics are omitted from most imperial history.
Your letter and the politics that lie behind it is part
of the construction of a narrative designed to exculpate and whitewash the record of the Zionist movement. Instead
of Zionism being seen as a Jewish quisling movement that collaborated with anti-Semitic
movements in general and the Nazis in particular, you portray it as some kind
of humanitarian Jewish endeavour. It would be
interesting to know how you explain away the effusive welcome given by the Zionist
movement to Donald Trump, notwithstanding his anti-Semitic outriders such as
Steve Bannon of Breitbart.
The role of a historian is neither neutral nor objective. You typify those who are there to provide an alibi for those
with influence and power in society by explaining away their role in the
past. Yours is the construction of a
seamless tapestry of obfuscation. Zionism
today plays the part of a ruling class ideology embraced by the Tory Party and
the European and American ruling classes and you play the part of its court historian.
The Zionist’s paper Judische Rundschau of 17.9.35 welcomes the Nuremburg Laws
Your letter reminds me of what Rudolf Vrba once
said when criticising Zionist holocaust historians such as Yehuda Bauer. Vrba escaped from Auschwitz in April 1944. He co-wrote the Auschwitz Protocols which
revealed the secret and details of Auschwitz as an extermination rather than a labour camp.
The Auschwitz Protocols were suppressed by the Zionist
movement in Hungary because of a deal which was made with Eichmann to provide a
train carrying 1684 of the Zionist and Jewish elite to safety out of Hungary in
return for active complicity in the rounding up of nearly ½ million Jews. The leader of Hungarian Zionism, Rudolf Kasztner
was the subject of a four year long trial in Israel (1954-8), which branded him
like Livingstone and Hannah Arendt before him, insisted on telling the story of
how the Zionist movement betrayed the Jews of Europe, their own members
included, he was made a non-person by Zionism’s Holocaust historians. He was removed from history books, anonymised
and forgotten about. His autobiography I Cannot Forgive, a powerful account of his escape from Auschwitz and subsequent developments remained untranslated into Hebrew until 2001 because it didn’t fit Zionist holocaust historiography.
In 1994, at a conference at the US Holocaust Museum,
Vrba asked who was the better historian: ‘those
of us who saw the Nazis in action in Auschwitz’ or ‘those who did not have direct experience with the Nazis’? Vrba’s crime was ‘disrupting the logic of
events’ because he was not a historian. Eventually Bauer, Gutman and the other Zionist historians were forced to concede that the Auschwitz Protocols had been suppressed by Kasztner, the Hungarian Zionist leader. [Ruth
Linn, Escaping Auschwitz – A Culture of Silence, p.108]
You said in your letter that to claim Hitler was
supporting Zionism ‘travesties the fact
that the Zionists aspired to create a Jewish state in Palestine’. I’m not quite sure how you ‘travesty’ a fact,
but surely Hitler supporting Zionism and the Zionists building their racial
state are entirely compatible? If you desire an explanation of this conundrum you will find the explanation in the official biography of David Ben Gurion by Shabtai Teveth (The Burning Ground – 1886-1948). In it Teveth quotes Ben Gurion as saying that where there was ‘a conflict of interest
between saving individual Jews and the good of the Zionist enterprise, we shall
say that the enterprise comes first.’ (p.855)
That is the simple truth which you try to evade with all the dignity that your academic titles entitle you to. The Zionist movement in the war counterposed building a Jewish state to saving Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.
It is incidentally a fact that the Nazis supported
Zionism. Francis Nicosia, Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University wrote
in Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany (p. 79) that:
‘Throughout the 1930s, as part of the regime’s determination to force
Jews to leave Germany, there was almost unanimous support in German government
and Nazi party circles for promoting Zionism
among German Jews’ (my emphasis)
In The Final Solution 2016(p.96) Professor David Cesarani
quotes from a 1934 Gestapo report: “The
efforts of the Gestapo are oriented to promoting
Zionism as much as possible and lending support to its efforts to further
emigration.” (my emphasis)
In War Against the Jews Lucy Dawidowicz
describes how on 28th January 1935 Reinhardt Heydrich issued a
directive stating that:
‘the activity of the Zionist-oriented
youth organizations that are engaged in the occupational restructuring of the
Jews for agriculture and manual trades prior to their emigration to Palestine
lies in the interest of the National Socialist state’s leadership.’ These organisations therefore ‘are not to be
treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of
the so-called German-Jewish organizations (assimilationists)’.
can there be any doubt that the Nazis supported the Zionist movement?
your wittering about how and why the Nazis supported Jewish emigration from Germany
is entirely besides the point. Likewise
their on-off support for a Jewish state in Palestine.
was it the case that the Zionists were primarily interested in Jewish emigration
from Germany. Edwin Black makes it clear
in The Transfer Agreement that the
reason for Ha’avara, the trade agreement between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany
was not saving Jews but saving their wealth.
Ha’avara only applied to the richest Jews.
Segev, a dissident Israeli historian (as opposed to a conformist historian like yourself) cites Werner Senator, a member of the Zionist Organisation Executive warning
the Jewish Agency in Germany that ‘if it
did not improve the quality of the “human material” it was sending, the Agency
was liable to cut back the number of certificates… set aside for the German
capital.’ The Seventh Million, p. 44. Note the term ‘human material’. Even the language of the Zionists and the Nazis was similar.
natural reaction of most Jews when the Nazis came to power was to launch a Boycott
of Nazi Germany. The Jewish bourgeoisie
and the Zionist movement were fiercely opposed to the Boycott. It is no surprise that an Oxford historian
such as yourself should seek to exonerate the then Jewish Establishment.
agreed to Ha’avara because it undermined the Boycott. The Zionists wanted it because it resulted in
60% of capital investment in Jewish Palestine’s economy between 1933 and 1939
coming from Nazi Germany. Hitler literally
built the economic foundations of pre-state Israel.
Edwin Black wrote, ‘the Nazi party and
the Zionist Organization shared a common stake in the recovery of Germany. If the Hitler economy fell, both sides would
be ruined.’ [Black, p.253]
Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi Party’s chief theoretician, who
was hanged at Nuremburg, wrote in the early 1920’s how he ‘intended to use Zionism as a legal justification for depriving German
Jews of their civil rights.’ He ‘sanctioned the use of the Zionist movement
in the future drive to eliminate Jewish rights, Jewish influence and eventually
the Jewish presence in Germany.’ [Nicosia, The Third Reich and the
Palestine Question, pp. 25-26. See also Edwin
Black p. 173, The Transfer Agreement] It
is this, the ideological symmetry between Zionism and Anti-Semitism that ‘experts’
like you ignore.
Alone among German Jews,
it was the paper of the German Zionist Federation, Juedische
Rundschau, No. 75,
September 17, 1935 which welcomed
the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. In its
Editorial it explained how:
speakers at the Zionist Congress stated that the Jews are a separate people
and once again put on record the national claims of Jewry.
Germany has merely drawn the practical consequences
from this and is meeting the demands of the International Zionist Congress when
it declares the Jews now living in Germany to be a national minority.
Germany has given the Jewish minority the
opportunity to live for itself and is offering State protection for this separate life of the Jewish
For a professional historian, even an
establishment one from Oxford University, to attack Ken Livingstone, a politician
with a long anti-racist record, for telling the truth about the Zionist movement’s
record in the 1930’s is despicable. Defending the Zionist movement, which betrayed Jews as surely as they murder Palestinians
today, is an example of how some academics, even Jewish ones, are prepared to
prostitute themselves for the benefit of the British establishment.