An unholy row has arisen in the UK which threatens to engulf the Labour Party at a significant election time. Once again the theme of anti semitism has risen its ugly head. Or has it? Accusations have been made relating to comments by Ken Livingstone, a former
mayor of London, in which he referred to Hitlers support for a repatriation scheme through which German Jews emigrated to Palestine. This has been interpreted as a slur against the Jewish people, the resulting furore should give us pause to consider the definition of the term ‘anti semitism’. The definition of Semitic: ‘relating to the peoples who speak Semitic languages, especially Hebrew and Arabic.’ Few would question that this includes Palestinians yet the term ‘antisemitic’ is now accepted as prejudice or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic or racial group. In fact what was being referred to was Hitlers support, if lukewarm, for the negotiations which took place between Zionist Jewish political leaders and the pre war Nazi government.Something now being denied.
Definition of Zionism: The Jewish political movement founded by Theodor Herzl in 1896. Its ultimate goal being the return of Jews to Zion, the Jewish synonym for Jerusalem. In order for this to occur there had to be a Jewish State and this was founded by the Zionist movement in 1948. All Jews are not Zionists, many reject the political ideology and find themselves at odds with Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. Opposition to Zionism is however frequently defined, deliberately or otherwise as anti semitism, an effective way of stifling debate.
Since Zionism relates to political beliefs rather than to race or religion it can not properly be defined in anti semitic terms. We might best look to the Jewish people themselves for a true definition. ‘The relatively new concept of Zionism began only about one hundred years ago and since that time Torah-true Jewry has steadfastly opposed the Zionist ideology. Zionism has not only denied our fundamental belief in Heavenly Redemption it has also created a pseudo-Judaism which views the essence of our identity to be a secular nationalism. Accordingly, Zionism and the Israeli state have consistently endeavoured, via persuasion and coercion, to replace a Divine and Torah-centered understanding of our peoplehood with an armed materialism.’ (Quote: Torah Jews)
It is always best to check facts before voicing opinions especially loud or dangerous ones: The Haavara Agreement is an undisputed document negotiated between Nazi Germany and German Zionist Jews, finalized on August 25th 1933 by the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestinian Bank (under the directive of the Jewish Agency and the economic authorities of Nazi Germany. Through this agreement Jews, persecuted under Hitlers new Nazi regime were able to flee to Palestine, then governed by the British under the Palestine Mandate. Under this British regime severe immigration restrictions existed for Jews wishing to emigrate to Palestine.
While there can be no doubt concerning Hitlers determination to rid Germany of the Jews, the period in question preceded the horrific Holocaust. Initially critical of the Haavara Agreement he vacillated but reversed his opinion and supported it for whatever reason, in the period 1937-1939. The Agreement therefore continued in effect until 1938 following the German invasion of Poland and the start of WW2.
Sam Cohen a Polish Zionist Jew represented Zionist interests in direct negotiation with the Nazis beginning in March 1933. In late March Leopold von Mildenstein,an SS officer, was sent to Palestine on a fact-finding mission and began to write reports for the Nazi newspaper Der Angriff which favoured the Zionist cause. In May 1933 permission to transfer capital from Germany to Palestine was sought and after three months of negotiation the Haavara Agreement was signed.
Under the Agreement German Jews were forced to surrender much of their wealth but allowed to salvage some of their assets to purchase German manufactured goods for export. It allowed German Jewish emigrants with capital of £1,000, (about $5,000 in 1930s values) to move to Palestine under an immigrant Investment programme. Some 39 percent of an emigrant’s funds were given to Jewish communal economic development projects in Palestine. After administrative and shipping costs emigrants were left with 43% of the value of whatever assets they had been allowed to transfer out of Germany.
German factories in British-ruled Palestine benefitted from a substantial export market under the Transfer Agreement. With the start of World War II, the programme ended, by which time the total export currency value had risen to some 35 million dollars in 1939 values. The new State of Israel was declared by the Zionist movement in 1948 on the eve of the termination of the Palestine Mandate.