I can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for Ken Livingstone. He obviously has a bee in his bonnet about Hitler (Matt is quite right that he now seems incapable of making any public statement without referring to the Fuehrer). And he is also an opponent of Zionism, though not, he says, of Jews. This combination gets him into endless trouble.
What was his latest offence? Well, it seems he declared that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism. He assures us he didn’t say that that meant Zionists were fascists. His point, I think, was that Zionists could be supported by fascists and may not, therefore, be wonderful people.
Mr Livingstone is very cross because he reckons his point is historically correct. He says Hitler, when he first came to power, encouraged German Jews to go to Palestine. That means he was a supporter of Zionism. Up to a point, of course, he is correct. Hitler did encourage German Jews to go to Palestine. But the suggestion that he did so because he was eager for a Jewish state to be created is obvious nonsense. All he wanted was to get rid of Jews from Germany. In the early days of his power he did not feel strong enough to resort to murdering Jews, so he urged them to leave instead. After a while he found he could change to a policy of murder.
I suspect that dear old Ken honestly does not understand that Hitler’s eagerness to remove all Jews from Germany was not brought about by a desire to help the Jews. He honestly does believe that Hitler was supporting Zionism. He is dotty to think that, but probably not evil. I wonder whether it really matters that he holds these barmy opinions.