Of course you know the story. A man is in the market place, and he sees Death, and Death looks at him intently, recognising him.
In a panic, the man runs to his horse and gallops away desperately, taking the road to the city of Samara.
As he gallops off, Death turns to his companion. “Strange,” he said, “that was so-and-so. I was surprised to see him here, because I have an appointment with him, tonight, in Samara.”
Death is all-powerful. There is no escape when he reaches your name on the list.
Consider now, and the association is appropriate enough, the fate of poor Adolf Hitler. This heroic son of the German people understood early in life that the Jews were responsible for all the evil in the world.
He knew that the Jews were behind everything! He knew that socialism and communism were Jewish, and that the Jews were also behind finance capital.
He knew that modern art was pornography and corruption, and modern culture decadent - and he knew that the Jews were responsible, as they were for everything decadent and evil in the world. This genius understood that Jewish Bolshevism and “Jewish capital” were all one. Despite the appearance of difference and antagonism between these things, Hitler could see that all of them - communism, socialism, finance capital, cultural and artistic decadence, etc. - were really one thing. They were aspects of one tightly organised and minutely directed world Jewish conspiracy.
And so Hitler fought the Jews. He roused much of Germany against them. In the middle of the 20th century, he re-created the medieval Jewish ghetto in some of the main cities of European civilisation.
When the Jews who ruled in London, Paris, Moscow and Washington declared war on the German Reich, Hitler set out to do the job properly: he organised the killing of six million Jews.
A quarter of these were children: but Hitler refused to be deterred. He knew the extent of Jew-Zion power. He understood that sentimentality would be fatal. And Hitler - before the Jews finally got him - managed to kill two out of every three Jews in Europe.
Now, you wouldn’t think, would you, that Adolf Hitler could have underestimated the power of the Jews?
The left at the time of Hitler used to say he was a criminal maniac. But the left just didn’t understand.
And neither did Adolf Hitler. This great man understood a lot about the Jews. But he didn’t understand everything. The truth is that even Hitler underestimated the extent and power of the World Jewish Conspiracy.
Not only communism and finance capital - those seeming mortal enemies - were tools of the international conspiracy of Zion - so were the Nazis, themselves! Hitler and his valiant warriors against Zion - farsighted men like Himmler, and Heydrich, and Streicher - were themselves tools of the world Jewish conspiracy.
The Holocaust? That was just Hitler galloping off down the road to his own Samara. The Holocaust, too, served Jewish interests! It may well, in its entirety, have been part of a Jewish conspiracy, a Zionist Grand Design.
Without the great anti-Jewish warrior for one moment guessing what was going on, the guiding centres of the world Jewish Conspiracy helped him in this work of killing Jews.
The Jews helped Hitler in all sorts of nefarious ways. For instance, by instructing the US government, before, during and after World War Two, not to let refugee Jews into America. They did many other things to help the Nazis, some of them things that would need one cleverer than I am to unravel and chronicle for you.
Why did “The Jews” help Hitler kill Jews? That, you see, was the easiest way they could win a Jewish state.
By a process of reasoning inaccessible to the ordinary human intelligence, the Jewish super-conspirators decided that the best way to secure Israel was to kill six million Jews.
This idea is of course difficult to grasp. It is the political equivalent of that category of Catholic doctrine - for instance, the Trinity, the doctrine that God is both One and also Three Divine Persons - which is classed by the Church as a “Mystery of Religion.” A Mystery of Religion is something which, though certified true by the Church, and therefore certainly true, is simply beyond ordinary human understanding.
Don’t waste your time trying to understand. Neither formal logic nor Marxist dialectics will help you. The subtlety in the evil of the Elders of Zion has always puzzled the ordinary man, who is doing well if he becomes aware that this conspiracy exists, and has the courage to raise the alarm about it. Rational explanations are neither possible nor necessary. This is a Mystery of the World Zionist Conspiracy.
After all, it was too complicated for even Hitler to understand, and he devoted his life to probing into the Jewish Conspiracy. Even Hitler could not save himself from being made into an instrument of the omnipotent, omniscient International Zionist Conspiracy that he spent his life fighting.
All you need to know is that the Jews proved too clever for poor Adolf Hitler, who died confused, a Jewish dupe. Israel came into being, and it has never in all its history done anything but evil in the world.
The tale I have here sketched in is, of course, mad. Mad as Hitler? Madder than Hitler! It is a long stretch further down the road into the dark lands of paranoia and lunacy.
Yet one variant or another, one facet or another, of the crazy stuff which I have just set out in the form of a simple, straightforward story is now very widely accepted on the revolutionary left.
It is not usually expressed either as crudely or as candidly or as coherently as I have expressed it here.
The thesis of much of the “left” - the “left” that sees nothing wrong in “allying” in Britain with the British offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Association of Britain - is that “the Zionists” are and always were, racists; that they collaborated with the Nazis, and, therefore, that they - and the state of Israel which they created: that in particular - share more or less in the practical and moral responsibility for what Hitler did to Jews, and others. That is: they share responsibility with the Nazis for the massacre of Europe’s Jews, for the Holocaust. They are themselves the true heirs of the Nazis.
That’s what the Morning Star (like its high-Stalinist predecessor, the Daily Worker which pioneered such ideas in Britain), Socialist Worker and their smaller satellites, such as Socialist Resistance, say.**
Originating with the Stalinist rulers of the USSR, this sort of stuff has become part of the folk wisdom of the kitsch left.
To traduce Hitler’s victims, and those who were his potential victims, to blame Jews and Zionists even in part, for the Holocaust, outrages both common sense and known history; it outrages decency. It is plain bonkers!
How does the “anti-Zionist” “far left” attempt to make its case for such ideas?
• They indict “the Zionists” in the manner of a police prosecutor, and an especially unscrupulous one at that, selecting and presenting facets and shards of truth that serve to blacken the character of the accused. Some of the things they select are true, or half-true, or would be necessary aspects of a true and full historical picture.
• They isolate snippets of real history, stripping them of their social, historical and military context, and use them to misconstrue and misrepresent the thing as a whole. They use them to weave large, grotesque, lies. Here, their polemics are entirely Stalinist in character, typically: disloyal, tendentious, mendacious, unscrupulous, utterly contemptuous of truth, understood even on the level of the legal formula, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
• The Zionists, the Jewish nationalists, they tell you, wild eyed with surprise and indignation, were… nationalists and as narrow as other nationalists. Most of what they say is like that: banal. The critical cutting edge is given to the banality by the insistence that Jewish nationalism is not a “legitimate” nationalism; and by identifying it with racism and fascism.
• They wax indignant on the fact that the Zionists, in concentrating their efforts on building up the Jewish nation in Palestine, were sometimes short sighted, factional-minded, politically sectarian and always combative towards their political opponents, Jewish political opponents included.
• They denounce them because they steered a single-minded Jewish nationalist political course through the rocks and reefs of a world hostile to Jews, and large parts of it murderously so.
• They present “Zionism” as some sort of historical deus ex machina on the Jewish people, not as what it was, something rooted in their experience and one legitimate response to it, and a response shared from some time in the 1940s by most surviving Jews. Jewish nationalism, they insist, and it is a pillar of their entire outlook on the Middle East, is an especially poisonous illegitimate nationalism.
• They insist that by choosing a nationalist response to anti-semitism, the Zionists thereby endorsed the racism of the anti-semites. Zionist nationalism is therefore, in its most fundamental notion, genetically, so to speak, racist. Jewish nationalism is and always was, essentially, a form of racism. It can not be anything else. It was racist when, fighting against great odds, the Israeli Jews defended themselves against Arab invasion in 1948. It is racist now.
• The early Zionists, they tell you, eyes blazing with horror and self-righteousness, did not scruple to try and harness to their own purposes the will of anti-semites - even, that of the Nazis - to be rid of the Jews.
They did that in the 1940s, when it was a matter of trying to rescue some Jews from the murder machine in which the Nazis and their allies had most of Europe’s Jews trapped and marked for death.
Like wild-eyed ultra-lefts or understand-nothing anarchists (though the SWP is a long way from ultra-left or anarchist) they denounce such activities on principle and scour the records for instances of it on which to mount charges of “collaborating with the Nazis” and as proof that “Zionism” shares the responsibility for what the Nazis did.
• In hellish situations, such, for instance, as in Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944, some Zionists attempted to manoeuvre and negotiate with the powerful enemy at whose mercy they stood. Not only were some such things possibly misguided, actions by desperate people, but, say the kitsch left, they were ipso facto treachery and collaboration with the Nazis.
• In some such efforts, the distinction between actively striving to save some Jews, when only some could be saved, and implicit acquiescence at the fate of the others may sometimes got blurred.
In some cases, manoeuvrings by Zionists and others to save what could be saved, and compromises with Nazis and others (at gun point!) blurred the distinction between responsible efforts to save what might be saved and seeming to take responsibility for what the Nazis did, and collaboration in it, as for instance in the activities of the Zionist official Kastner in 1944 Hungary? The anti-Zionists, naturally, use such unfortunate things to smear all Zionists, everywhere.
• In the Nazi-controlled and Nazi-surrounded East Europe Jewish ghettos, some Jewish bourgeois and “notables” behaved as their class - of all creeds, nations and races - typically behaves. This too proves the affinity of “Zionists” and their persecutors. In some of the outpourings of the anti-Zionists the distinction between “Zionist” and “Jew” more or less vanishes. And so on. And so on.
The history of the Jewish people in the 20th century is an indescribably tragic one. The kitsch-left approach this history with all the empathy and sympathy with which one would look upon a head of cabbage ground under a ten-ton truck. And with all the understanding and breath of historical outlook, and empathy with the victims of Nazi mass murder. which that head of cabbage could be expected to bring to understanding the history of either cabbages or human beings.
• Incongruously, as we have said, they use ultra-left and anarchist attitudes - as in their opposition to Jewish nationalism. But they are not consistent opponents of all nationalism and nationalists. Indeed invariably they are people drunk on Arab nationalism and vicarious Arab chauvinists, who use their arguments against nationalist narrowness in general as tools of virulent Arab nationalism, and as the basis of an argument for destroying the Jewish national entity in the interest of the Palestinian Arab nation.
They present the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 as unique and uniquely evil. They ignore the 600,000 Jews displaced from the Arab countries to Israel in the late 40s and after. They ignore such things as the displacement of 13 million ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe (10 million from what is now western Poland). They ignore the role of Arab states in denying the Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to work and integrate - in keeping the refugees and their descendants refugees.
Their political conclusion? Not that the Palestinian nation should have its own independent state side by side with Israel, but that Israel must be eliminated! The Israeli Jewish nation forged in the terrible history of the Jewish people in the 20th century, must be deprived of self determination, in the only way that such a thing is now conceivable, by being conquered. What remains of the Israeli Jewish people after their conquest by the Arab states, will be incorporated against their will in a single Arab state, where they may have religious rights, but not national rights. They want not justice for Jews and Arabs, but the situation of Jews and Palestinians reversed.
This pile of ideological dung, laid down by the Stalinists in the 40s and 50s, is now domicile and diet to the “anti-Zionist” “Trotskyists”, who have lost both Marxist overview and working class historical perspective; who deal neither in historical truth nor in honest historical record.
In short the dominant “left” culture now is a culture in which necessary and legitimate criticisms of Israel are amalgamated with root and branch condemnation of the Jewish nation in Palestine for having come into existence at all and for defending its existence now.
A culture which purveys a malignant Arab-Islamist chauvinist account of modern Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern history in which the Jewish victims of the convulsions of mid-20th century capitalist Europe are demonised for seeking a refuge from persecution in Palestine and for defending themselves against the invasion of five Arab armies in 1948. Demonised most of all for winning the right to survive in 1948 and after.
A culture in which the ostensible left is one of the main bearers of the most important modern version of anti-semitism, under the name of “anti-Zionism”. That is, hostility to the idea of a Jewish state, to its existence now, and to those, especially Jews, who accept and defend the Jewish state, critically or otherwise.
The elevation of this tissue of a-historical nonsense, one-sided anti-nationalism, one-sided anti-racism, into the place it now holds on the left is the index of what has happened to the left, or, better, perhaps, to the once upon a time left.
Just as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was forged by the Tsarist secret police, this contemporary “anti-Zionist” thesis, in its turn, was formulated by the anti-semitic Stalinist state in the USSR. It spread first, in the 1940s and 50s, to the Stalinist parties around the world, and then to a wide spectrum of the anti-Stalinist left. Books like Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators recycle them; so did Jim Allen’s play, Perdition; so have dozens of articles and pamphlets.
Why have such ideas spread amongst otherwise rational people of good will and socialist aspirations?
Proper emotional solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs, and therefore emotional hostility to Israel, is the living root of the credulity with which the fantastic tales and the Hansel and Gretel “history” of grotesque constructions on real events are accepted on the left.
It is the source of the emotional and intellectual “demand” which “anti-Zionism” supplies, and of the willingness and even eagerness to identify Zionism and Israel with Nazism, or to come as close as sense can be stretched and often way beyond - to identifying them. In a weltering of righteous “anti imperialism”, “anti-racism” and, in some respects justified, but incoherent and hysterical, indignation against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the kitsch left, is like the hero in an old Hollywood film, who, sword-fighting with the villain in the final reel, moves closer and closer to the quicksand, or perilously close to the edge of a precipice. Except that the kitsch left long ago pitched itself head first into the pestilential morass.
Nihilistic “anti-imperialism” plays a central role here. Israel is identified as a mere stooge of Washington.
There is another root to the kitsch left’s identification of the Jewish nationalists with the Nazis. It is a way to escape the compelling logic, and the political conclusions, which 20th century history gave to the pre-war disputes on Zionism; a way to escape the obvious conclusions of modern history.
In Trotsky’s time, his movement opposed Zionism on two grounds. The whole project was possible only under license from the British imperialist overlord of Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Aden, etc. The Zionists would be compelled therefore to ally with the British against the revolt of Britain’s Arab semi-colonies.
The second reason was that the Zionist project in Palestine was not in their opinion an answer to the mortal threat with which the Jews of Europe were faced. Trotsky, who had a sharp pre-vision of what Europe’s Jews faced was tragically proved right. (Trotsky was influenced perhaps in this by his pre-World War One experience as a war correspondent in the Balkans, where he had witnessed terrible ethnic and sectarian massacres.)
The colonisation of Palestine simply could not in the short term provide a refuge for all the threatened Jews of Europe. (Though it could have saved many more than were saved had they been allowed to go there.) Only the socialist revolution, argued Trotsky, can save the Jews. Two out of every three Jews alive in Europe on Sept 1, 1939, were not saved.
The experience of the war and the Holocaust, however, threw a new light on the old disputes about Palestine. The Palestinian Jews survived. They might not have. The Nazis might, even temporarily, have overrun the area. The Jews might not have survived, but they did; and most of the Jews in Europe did not.
Importantly too, the charge that the Zionists - that is, today, Israel, which is the point - “collaborated” with the nazis, bear a share of responsibility for the holocaust, are themselves nazi-like, etc works to free people who start out with decent socialist and liberal instincts and attitudes from the tremendous moral pressure in favour of Israel which the fact of the holocaust engenders. If Zionism-Israel share responsibility for the Holocaust in any degree then the Holocaust can be removed as a powerful argument for a Jewish state now.
The whole thing is radically incoherent. But if, the various “stories” now widely accepted and spread by so much of the ‘left’ are taken as true, that “the Zionists”, even while six million Jews were being killed, were nevertheless able to control such things as whether or not the US government let in Jewish refugees, and as a movement, calculatingly, for their own long-term “Zionist” purposes, helped the Nazis kill one million Hungarian Jews in 1944, and so on (and there is a lot more of it, and one or other bit of it is widely accepted on the left) - then “they” had a high degree of manipulative control over what happened - even over the Holocaust.
The very idea, bluntly stated, is self-evident lunacy. But if “they” could do that during the war, then the Nazi theories of a powerful Jewish conspiracy before the war were wrong only in being understatements.
The prevailing “left” thesis about Zionism-fascism-Israel can rest on no logical ground except that of the pre-war Nazi world Jewish conspiracy theories.
Denouncing the Zionists as “Nazis”, they reproduce the old right wing and Nazi thesis, or at any rate a recognisable dialect of it, about the world Jewish conspiracy.
Hysterically identifying Israel (because of its treatment of the Palestinians, but not only that) with Hitler and Nazism, they embrace and propagate the core of the Nazi theories about the International Jewish Conspiracy!
Of course nobody on the left would explicitly tell the story I told about Hitler. The anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist feeling of the anti-Zionist left prevents them from grasping and understanding, from seeing it whole, and from spelling out, coherently, what, nevertheless, so many of them implicitly believe and propagate…
Yet - to repeat - that is the tale sections of the left implicitly tell now. Try to spell out, clearly and honestly, what is said about Zionist collusion with the Nazis to secure a Jewish state; open out the implications which are plainly there in what is said - then you must come up with some version of the story I told above. That is the real and only possible relationship that what is now said by the left can be seen to have with what Hitler said on the same subject.
And it is not a matter of parallels that never meet. The assertion about the Zionists’ co-responsibility, or part-responsibility, for the Holocaust ties it all together. An honest historical balance sheet from that point of view would have to place Hitler himself in the perspective of history, that is, of the post-Holocaust working-out of the “International Jewish Conspiracy”. Hitler lost: the Third Reich fell and Israel rose!
If those who demonise Israel would confront the logic of some of the things they say now. If they dared think it through without the constraint of powerful inhibitions rooted in our common hatred of Nazism, and of racism in general, then what the left says now would compel it to recognise that Hitler was informed and insightful and, in essence, correct on the “Jewish question”.
Most of the reasons why the “anti-Zionist” left do not tease out these conclusions speak in their favour, of course: horror of Nazism, disgust with racism, and so on. They are, after all, socialists, whose basic impulses and aspirations are the same as ours. Such people must denounce articles like this as foul slander.
Having done that, they will feel free to go on as before.
But this “good side”, which stops the kitsch-left thinking through the meaning of what they say, has a very bad consequence here. It allows them, fuelled by sympathy with the Palestinians and hatred of Imperialism, blithely to continue peddling a disguised and sanitised version of ideas and facets of ideas they would recoil from in horror if ever they were forced to look at what they say, in its wholeness, and to understand how what they say now relates to what the murderers of six million Jews - and many millions of others, too - said to justify their anti-semitism.
An anti-semitism that is now reproduced in the kitsch-left commitment to the destruction of the Jewish nation in Israel, and the comprehensive hostility to most Jews alive to which this inescapably commits them to.
There is a shift from what the German socialist, Bebel, said was “the socialism of the fools” to “the anti-imperialism of the idiots”, but hostility to Jews, and to the Israeli Jewish nation which emerged out of the terrible events of the 20th century is central to both.
We should support Israel’s right to defend itself; support the Palestinian Arabs in so far as it is a matter of them trying to gain control of their own territories from the Israeli army; and back the Israeli anti-chauvinists who want a just settlement with the Palestinians.
We should stand against the Islamist clerical fascists.
We should stand against the present upsurge of hysterical “anti-Zionism”. We should strip off the masks and the illusions behind which lurk ideas, like those I have explored here.
We are fighting for political sanity and against unreason on the left: therefore we should not let delicacy stop us from confronting our misguided comrades, brutally, with the brute - Nazi - logic, implications and ancestry of some of the ideas they have adopted from putrescent Stalinism. We must insist:
No, Hitler was not right!
The text here is an expanded version of the article first published in Socialist Organiser 472, 23 January 1991.
** That sad gossip sheet, Weekly Worker - whose publishers say they are for a Two State solution to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict - recently devoted reams of print to recycling foul old Stalinist polemics against “Zionism”, and against the Jewish people, employing as their “guest writer” Tony Greenstein.