Everyone needs to read David Baddiel's thoughts on Ken Livingstone's Hitler comments

Louis Dor
Thursday 06 April 2017 14:00
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Picture:(Getty/edited by indy100)

The comedian David Baddiel has perfectly articulated why Ken Livingston's comments on Israel are unacceptable.

His main point of argument is that a common defence of Livingstone's comments, is that 'Ken stated a fact':

Ken Livingstone did not state a fact.

The statement “Hitler supported Zionism” is not a fact. It’s an interpretation. An interpretation of a particular historical moment, which is that, in the 30s, the forced emigration of Jews from Germany was pushed further along by various Nazi economic incentives allowing those who fled to Palestine to get some of their stolen assets back once in Palestine.

So that is not Adolf Hitler supporting the idea of a Jewish state (even writing that sounds ridiculous). It is the Nazis taking advantage of the terror and despair of fleeing refugees, so as to get more of them to leave more quickly. It is just the thin edge of the wedge of Nazi horror. And the real problem, in a way, is the tone, of Livingstone, when giving this interpretation.

There’s no sympathy. No compassion – no sense of the tragedy behind this. It’s just complacently presented as a deal, that Hitler made with German Zionists, and therefore – and this of course is the point, the banal, shit point – a way of consolidating that Zionism is bad. Through an association with the top bad thing, Hitler.

You can read the full essay on Facebook, and you really really should.

It's received a lot of praise on social networks, shared for its timeliness and the eloquence of its argument.

Ken Livingstone was suspended from the party for a further year for his comments, originally made in April 2016, in which he claimed that Hitler supported Zionism.

Many have called for a more severe punishment, such as expulsion from the party, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who said that it was “deeply disappointing” that the suspension didn't match the verdict's severity.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader and long time ally of Ken Livingstone, said at the time:

Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community. 

It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.

Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the national executive committee after representations from party members.

More: Ken Livingstone, Adolf Hitler and the Labour party's absolute nightmare week: a story told in fourteen gifs

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