Ken Livingstone has published his defence as he prepares to face Labour’s disciplinary committee on Thursday. He says Nazi policy “had the effect of supporting Zionism” and condemns “Israel’s ethnic cleansing”.
“The 1933 Transfer Agreement is a mater of historical record. It was a plan, drafted in the summer of 1933, involving the German Economics Ministry, the German Zionist Federation and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, to allow German Jews emigrating to Palestine to retain some of the value of their property in Germany by purchasing German goods.Understandably many Jews were critical of the Agreement from the outset, particularly because one of the principal goals of the Nazi authorities, in negotiating with the Zionist movement, was to fragment the Jewish boycott of German goods.
Much authoritative material has been written about the Agreement and the opposition to it by Jewish people. One such source is an excellent article for the Holocaust Memorial centre at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem by the historian Professor Yf’aat Weiss. The article is called ‘The Transfer Agreement and the Boycott Movement: A Jewish Dilemma on the Eve of the Holocaust“. Another useful examination of these issues can be found in Professor Francis R. J. Nicosia’s article ‘Zionism in National Socialist Jewish Policy in Germany, 1933-39’.”
This agreement, between the Nazis and a section of Zionism, was not referred to in order to express hostility to Jewish people. The Transfer Agreement was a major political issue at the time as the Jewish movement to boycott German goods was a huge international campaign to turn public opinion against Nazi Germany.
In my remarks to Vanessa Feltz, I was just pointing out the Nazi policy in relation to the Transfer Agreement had the effect of supporting Zionism. I did not say or suggest that Hitler was a Zionist. I did not make any equation of Hitler and Zionism. I neither criticised the Transfer Agreement or the section of Zionism that participated in the Agreement. I did not draw any historical parallels with the situation today anywhere, including with the conﬂict between Israel and Palestine.
Any suggestion that my intention was to draw equivalence between Nazism and Zionism is entirely false. I do not believe that Zionism or the policies of Israeli governments are at all analogous to Nazism. Israeli governments have never had the aim of the systematic extermination of the Palestinian people, in the way Nazism sought the annihilation of the Jews. There is a gigantic difference between Israel’s ethnic cleansing and the Nazis’ extermination policies.
He ain’t sorry…As I have said before, my view is that the holocaust against the Jews is the greatest racial crime of the 20th Century.”