Letter to a Lansmanite – Mike Phipps – Telling the Truth About Zionist Relations with the Nazis is not anti-Semitic – Especially Given How They Have Weaponised the Holocaust
There is only one question? Is it true that the Zionist movement betrayed the Jews who died in the Holocaust or is it untrue?
Mike Phipps was a member of the Labour Briefing editorial board, which he left in a huff to set up his own Labour Hub. On it he has written a glowing review of Dave Renton’s Labour’s Anti-Semitism Crisis.
Renton, an ex-member of the Socialist Workers Party and ex-Etonian, wrote a book accusing Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson of anti-Semitism. Curiously enough he didn’t mention me perhaps because even he found it difficult to accuse a Jewish anti-Zionist of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Mike regularly attends though he has not spoken at the weekly Not the Andrew Marr Show which I thoroughly recommend to people. It takes place every Sunday at 10.30 a.m. In the chat though he has put himself across as an opponent of Labour’s ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt whilst describing Renton’s book as ‘nuanced’, which is pretty much like saying that the Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy was nuanced.
I have therefore written a letter to Mike which I’m happy to share! My own review of Renton’s book is here.
Open Letter to Mike Phipps of Labour Hub
Dear Mike Phipps,
I am sure that you won’t mind me writing to you out of the blue but if there’s one thing I value above all else it is political honesty and integrity, especially in these fraught times when Starmer is putting the finishing touches to the Blair Project. Unfortunately you fail the test at every opportunity. However I live in hope that the sinner will repent and see the light, if not on the road to Damascus then on the road to Tel Aviv.
I welcome the fact that you turn up to the Not The Andrew Marr Show. I only wish more Lansmanites engaged in debate. It is a pity that your contributions have been disingenuous attempts to defend those on the Momentum ‘left’ who ran with the ‘anti-Semitism’ smears. I am blind copying this to a number of your ex-comrades.
Last week Asa Winstanley was a guest on the show. Asa’s exposure of what lay behind the witchhunt is unsurpassed. I recommend How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti semitism crisis.
Your comment in the chat last week ‘Can’t agree with Asa here. If the only takeaway from his research is that it was all the fault of the Corbynites he is really out of touch.’ As Jackie Walker wrote in response this was not what Asa was saying. But of course Jon Lansman and his supporters played the role of the enemy within. They ran with the Right’s smears.
When I challenged you over your favourable review of Dave Renton’s Labour’s Anti-Semitism Crisis you responded by saying that ‘Renton’s book is very nuanced. I highly recommend it.’ and then went on to describe Renton’s critics as being engaged in ‘the perennial search for traitors’. I also reviewed Renton’s book but I confess to not sharing your misplaced praise for this shallow and worthless effort.
Not only is Renton’s book error strewn, for example describing Ruth Smeeth as storming out of the Chakrabarti press conference ‘in tears’, (I suggest you look at the video). In particular:
1. Renton devoted a whole chapter to the ‘bullying’ of Luciana Berger without once mentioning the fact that she was Director of Labour Friends of Israel. A relevant fact would you not agree? Yet at the same time he failed to ask why one of the few Black Jewish women in the Labour Party, Jackie Walker, should have been targeted by the Jewish Labour Movement and be on the receiving end for vile racist abuse (which he didn’t once mention). Clearly Renton did not consider Jackie a victim
2. Renton uncritically quotes Smeeth’s attack on Marc Wadsworth for ‘invoking antisemitic stereotypes of Jewish conspiracy’ and then says that he ‘should not have used an event intended to prove Labour’s commitment to fighting antisemitism to attack a Jewish MP.’
Dave Renton – the Old Etonian ex-socialist barrister who refused to debate his abysmal book with me!
Marc invoked no anti-Semitic stereotypes because he didn’t even know Smeeth was Jewish. In her Introduction to the Report Chakrabarti stated that Corbyn ‘asked me to conduct this Inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism.’ Note the words I have highlighted. To have failed to appreciate this crucial fact suggests that Renton’s book was written hurriedly with next to no research.
3. It is over Ken Livingstone and his comment that Hitler supported Zionism that Renton excelled himself. Renton asserted, as did you, that the purpose of Ha’avara, the trade agreement between the Nazis and the Zionists, was to save Germany’s Jews rather than their wealth. That it was devised as a means of getting Germany’s Jews out of Germany. This is a convenient post hoc lie.
4. Unlike Renton I have studied Ha’avara in depth. In March 1933 world Jewry launched a spontaneous boycott of Nazi German. The Zionist movement, a tiny minority at that time, and sections of the Jewish bourgeoisie, were the only ones to oppose it. The Zionists were vehement in their opposition. As the German Zionist Federation (ZVfD) wrote on 21st June 1933 to Hitler,
Boycott propaganda is in essence fundamentally unZionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build…
You can find the whole memo in Lucy Dawidowicz’s Holocaust Reader.
5. Far from wanting to evacuate as many German Jews as possible, the Zionists were careful to screen out all but the fittest and ideologically committed Zionists. David Werner Senator of the Jewish Agency Executive warned that if the (ZVfD) ‘did not improve the quality of the “human material” they were sending, the number of immigration certificates to Palestine would be cut.
6. Eliahu Dobkin, a fellow member of the Jewish Agency Executive was even more explicit. German Jews who were given immigration certificates ‘merely as refugees’ were ‘undesirable human material’. You can find this in Tom Segev’s ‘The Seventh Million – The Israelis and the Holocaust p.44). You will note the term ‘human material’ because this is how the Zionist movement saw Jews. As fodder for their racial project.
7. Ha’avara was signed in August 1933, five months later. Why did the Nazis agree to it? Quite simply because it was seen as the only way to destroy a Boycott that was aimed at toppling the Nazi regime in its infancy. Correspondence between Heinrich Wolff, the German consul in Palestine, and the Foreign Ministry showed that destroying the boycott was the main reason for the Nazis’ agreeing to Ha’avara. [Yfaat Weiss, The Transfer Agreement and the Boycott Movement, p.2.] This was the real crime of the Zionist movement that Renton and you defend.
8. Edwin Black, a Zionist historian, wrote that Ha’avara was ‘a reprieve for the Third Reich, a let-up in the anti-German offensive… (it) could not have come at a more decisive moment.’ For Hitler that is. [The Transfer Agreement, pp. p.213].
9. German Zionism at the time represented just 2% of German Jews. They were considered the volkish Jews and were termed by some as Hitlerjuden.
10. Far from rescuing German Jews, Ha’avara condemned them to Auschwitz. As Boris Vladeck, Editor of Forward and the Jewish Labour Committee said, in a debate with Berl Locker of the Zionist Executive,
The whole organized labor movement and the progressive world are waging a fight against Hitler through the boycott. The Transfer Agreement scabs on that fight.’
Vladeck contended that
The main purpose of the Transfer is not to rescue the Jews from Germany but to strengthen various institutions in Palestine.’
He termed Palestine ‘the official scab agent against the boycott in the Near-East’.
Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor and an ardent Zionist apologist, was nonetheless a forthright critic of the Zionist record during the Holocaust. He wrote:
Surely, Jewish Palestine… needed money to finance its development, but this brazen pragmatism went against the political philosophy of a majority of world Jewry. There developed a growing perception that instead of supporting and strengthening the boycott, Palestine was, in fact, sabotaging it. [ ‘The Land That Broke Its Promise : The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust,’ LA Times, 23.5.93. https://tinyurl.com/nx2sd74c ]
11. According to Renton’s nuanced poisonous book, Wiesel was accusing the Jews of murdering themselves. Yet it was the Zionist Executive itself that declared that Ha’avara was ‘the sole way of bringing into Palestine the maximum amount of German Jewish capital.’ [Jewish Chronicle 13.12.35] It was Zionist activists who spoke of ‘saving the wealth’ and ‘rescuing the capital from Nazi Germany.’ [Black pp. 257-8]
12. Yet when Karl Sabbagh suggested that the Zionists were concerned, not with saving Jewish lives but Jewish wealth, Renton accused him of ‘falling into old ideas of Jewish perfidy.’ This is of course anti-Semitic since it conflates Zionism with all Jews. Zionism was a Quisling Jewish movement. Yet out of ignorance or worse your review doesn’t have a word of criticism for Renton’s book.
13. Renton writes that ‘‘the pact saved 53,000 lives.’ No it didn’t. Most German Jews came to Palestine with ordinary immigration certificates. About 20,000 came under Ha’avara. To qualify they had to have £1,000 in cash and in practice at least another £1000 in frozen RMs. In other words they were the richest Jews who could have found safety elsewhere. What Ha’avara did was to sacrifice the poor Jews for the rich Jews. It also guaranteed the stability of the Nazi regime at a time when it was weakest. If the Boycott hadn’t been destroyed by Ha’avara it is possible that millions of Jews would not have perished. Anyone who defends Ha’avara really is a racist and a reactionary.
14. According to Renton, Livingstone was ‘finding excuses to blame the victims.’ He was suggesting that Jews had contributed to the holocaust. This atrocious lie, anti-Semitic in itself, is the defence of Zionist apologists have today for their abysmal record in the 1930s and you, out of ignorance or worse, defend it as ‘nuanced’. Quite unbelievable.
15. Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a leader of the German Zionist Federation, and later President of the American Jewish Congress admitted that:
It was morally disturbing to seem to be considered as the favoured children of the Nazi Government, particularly when it dissolved the anti-Zionist youth groups, and seemed in other ways to prefer the Zionists. The Nazis asked for a ‘more Zionist behaviour. [Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents, p. 101]
Rabbi Jacob Bernard Agus went even further and asked if
the Zionist programme and philosophy contribute(d) decisively to the enormous catastrophe of the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis by popularizing the notion that the Jews were forever aliens in Europe? [‘Meaning of Jewish History’, New York, 1963 Vol 2 p.447]
Zionist historians Lucy Dawidowicz and Francis Nicosia described how, in May 1935 Schwarze Korps, newspaper of the SS, wrote that
‘the Zionists adhere to a strict racial position and by emigrating to Palestine they are helping to build their own Jewish state…. The assimilation-minded Jews deny their race and insist on their loyalty to Germany or claim to be Christians because they have been baptised in order to subvert National Socialist principles.’ [Randolph Braham, The Politics of Genocide – The Holocaust in Hungary, p. 484]
Nicosia, Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University, spoke of the ‘illusory assumption’ that Zionism ‘must have been well served by a Nazi victory’. Hitler’s victory ‘could only bolster Zionist fortunes.’ [Nicosia, The Yishuv and the Holocaust, p. 534]
So positive was its assessment of the situation that, as early as April 1933, the ZVfD announced its determination to take advantage of the crisis to win over the traditionally assimilationist German Jewry. [Nicosia, Zionism & Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, p.146.]
And this was true. The Zionist leadership in Palestine was positively enthusiastic. Berl Katznelson, David Ben Gurion’s effective deputy, saw the rise of Hitler as “an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have ever had or ever will have”. [Ibid. p.91] Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, was even more enthusiastic: ‘The Nazis’ victory would become “a fertile force for Zionism.”’[Segev, The Seventh Million, p.18]
Ben Gurion’s official biographer, Shabtai Teveth wrote that
If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one. [Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion – The Burning Ground, p.851]
Etan Bloom in his PhD thesis at Tel Aviv University quoted Emil Ludwig. the world famous biographer, as saying that:
‘Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine. You know, the coming of the Nazis was rather a welcome thing. … Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him.’ [Arthur Ruppin and the Production of the Modern Hebrew Culture, p.417, see also https://tinyurl.com/y4bqt3wf]
The Zionist national poet Chaim Nachman Bialik volunteered that ‘Hitler has perhaps saved German Jewry, which was being assimilated into annihilation.’ [op cit. 415, 417] This was somewhat ironic given what happened.
But it is in discussing Chris Williamson’s suspension that Renton excels himself. He writes:
At its heart were complaints that he had used his social media account to promote the standing of other people who had been accused of antisemitism.
This is just a bare faced lie. Chris was suspended because of the distortion of his speech to Sheffield Momentum which was twisted into its opposite.
What is curious though is that Renton rejoined the SWP despite them promoting the anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon. He has given no reason for this and one suspects that his current enthusiasm for fighting ‘anti-Semitism’ owes more to his shift to the right than any genuine commitment. Renton deals abysmally with the long-erased mural by Mear One that was resurrected in 2018 by Luciana Berger writing that
The most important step in the re-emergence of Labour antisemitism crisis was the re-discovery that, several years before, Corbyn had supported an artist Mear One (Kalen Ockerman) after his mural was effaced for its antisemitic associations.
This mural was not an innocent discovery. It had been held in reserve in order to attack Corbyn at an opportune moment. But Renton, who ruled out the involvement of state forces in the confected ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign, shows his mettle when he writes that the far-right Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, was ‘a journalist who is cited several times in this book for the care he took to expose left-wing antisemitism’.
Unbelievable that a founder member of the Henry Jackson Society and a defender of Michal Kaminski, a prominent fascist member of the European parliament, who spent his youth in neo-Nazi groups, could be so described. Leaving aside all the 4 successful libel actions and IPSOS judgments against the JC. If you really think that Renton’s book is ‘nuanced’ then that says more about you than the book.
Renton also attacks Jewish Voice for Labour:
The problem in leaning on JVL to provide an objective view of the crisis was that no matter how bad the allegations were, it always found a way to excuse those who were criticised: each of Walker, Williamson, and Livingstone was defended by JVL.
This is a calumny. JVL has never defended anyone who was actually anti-Semitic. It’s just that Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth weren’t anti-Semites. Something you seem to find difficult to get your head around.
Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has always been on the right. Genuine anti-Semitism has never been criticised by the JLM/Poale Zion. In October 1942, Herbert Morrison, the wartime Home Secretary, received a delegation of public figures asking for visas for 2,000 Jewish children and elderly in Vichy France. Morrison refused. Anti-Semitism ‘was just under the pavement.’ A month later, the Nazis overran Vichy France and these Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Like the Zionists, Morrison was said to doubt that there was a holocaust.
The Board of Deputies never made any criticism of Morrison because it too didn’t want refugees from Nazi Germany coming to these shores.
The attitude of the Zionists to rescuing Jews was laid down by Ben Gurion when the British proposed the Kindertransport scheme which brought 10,000 German Jewish children to safety in this country. The Zionists opposed it. In a speech to Mapai he said:
‘If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel.’ [Yoav Gelber, ‘Zionist policy and the Fate of European Jewry,’ Yad Vashem Studies (1939-42) p.199
And how did this ‘nuanced’ book deal with the EHRC Report? Well Renton informed us that
‘The EHRC report did little to convey the extent of antisemitism within the Labour Party.’ In other words, the EHRC findings should have been more critical! Renton fails to mention that the Commissioner who produced the EHRC Report, Alasdair Henderson, tweeted in support of Roger Scruton and attacked the use of the term ‘misogyny’. Henderson is clearly of the far-right.
It was an atrocious book and your review was equally atrocious. It is because of politics such as yours that the Corbyn movement was led to defeat as instead of fighting back against the attempts of the Right to pin the label of ‘anti-Semitism’ on anti-racists they ran with the false narrative. This is what identity politics have done and the Zionist movement knew full well that this accusation would cause havoc on the left.
Today with allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ being directed at the Amnesty report on Israeli Apartheid it should be clear, even to you, that ‘anti-Semitism’ is a weapon deployed against Israel’s critics.
I have not written this in the expectation of a reply because I know that you have nothing to say on the subject. It is for the enlightenment of others.