Starmer and the Betrayal of the Fight Against Fascism.
By Gavin Lewis
The news that Kier Starmer’s Labour autocracy has forced Kim Johnson MP to apologise for describing the Israel regime as fascist, should concern us all. Rather than handing out political carte blanches, the people that actually fought the Nazis and/or were oppressed by them, demanded that we be ever vigilant against the rise of such politics again. As the German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt stated
“I left Germany guided by the resolution…Never again!”
(‘Never again’ invoked frequently by countless post-war human rights activists would also later be the campaign slogan of Rock Against Racism).
This also says a lot about our media/political ruling-classes and what you can get away with when, offering a service to power to such elites. The battle against fascism prior and during WWII was described as the ‘fight for freedom’. This included the leftist ‘popular front against fascism’. Eighty years later Starmer betrays this commitment, by supressing scrutiny of any potential return of fascism, as if religious heritage or colonial fanaticism is some sort of excuse.
Years after the Spanish Civil War and WWII sacrifices of our forebears against fascism, Starmer is the first Labour leader to ban freedom of speech. Dictator Starmer has banned freedom of association – banning activists for meeting the wrong sort of socialists.
Traditional socialist Labour leaders have described Party positioning and policy using the shared collectivist preface ‘We in the Labour Party’… This was practically a mantra for Harold Wilson. Starmer is the first Labour leader to use the fascist Fuhrer-type assertion ‘In my Labour Party’ – as if the Party was his personal property or fiefdom. Yet unsurprisingly in terms of bias, there is no media public condemnation. Imagine the hype, the outcry, the negative coverage if Jeremy Corbyn had Starmer’s anti-democratic record?
If the late Hannah Arendt might possibly find the modern British neoliberal political landscape a hostile place, then given Nelson Mandela’s position on Palestine/Israel you have to wonder if the Nobel Prize winner could also get into Starmer’s totalitarian version of Labour?
“If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenceless and innocent Arabs in the occupied [Palestinian] territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”
(Nelson Mandela, 1990).
And similarly, how would apartheid Israel critic Nobel Prize winner Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu, banned entry to Israel simply for documenting its racist oppressive policies, possibly be accommodated in Starmer’s Labour?
Not All Lives or Sensibilities Matter!
This also raises the question, if we were to be sensitive about prioritising the feelings of historic victim groups, why should this be restricted to just the white ethnic, west-European able-bodied and heterosexual? There is not a lot of census data on pre-war Gypsy Roma populations but it is generally accepted that at least 1.5mil were exterminated by the Nazis (given little recognition until the 1970s). Gay and Disabled people also experienced sterilization and later extermination. To these, we can add the slightly fewer than 2 million Poles that died at Nazi hands, and more than 3 million Soviets that died in Nazi camps.
Before the words ‘holocaust’ and ‘Shoah’ were mobilised in reference to Jewish victims, the public generally used the phrase ‘Nazi crimes against Humanity’ which included the collective totality of victims. This was usually accompanied by Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poetic list of victim groups ‘First They Came for the Socialists’ (according to Professor Norman Finkelstein in The Holocaust Industry, 2000 – this public relations prioritisation was invented in support of Israel’s 1967 war against its Arab neighbours, and continued thereafter).
Clearly, ‘other’ genocide victims, have suffered loss of public prominence in the propaganda public relations campaign designed to legitimise western colonialism in the middle-east. Nor by comparison, is the establishment similarly suggesting members of ‘other’ non-white, non-heterosexual groups, should be equivalently getting ‘get-out-of-jail-cards’ similarly exempting them from scrutiny for fascism.
Perhaps the most telling example of how history is being misrepresented, the public agenda manipulated and the colonialist origins of the holocaust suppressed, is a straight comparison of the Black vs west European, white-ethnic experience.
Black Colonial v white Holocausts?
A few years ago, David Baddiel appeared on Frankie Boyle’s tv show claiming that ‘anti-Semitism was analogous to cancer, racism was just the shingles’. Scandalously, particularly in light of Baddiel’s confessed previous history of racism, the BBC actually broadcast this. Clearly ignorant Baddiel was unaware or wilfully misrepresenting the fact that Black Mixed-Race Germans – at that time referred to as so-called ‘Rhineland Bastards’, also scapegoated as ‘Germany’s disgrace’ and ‘the half-apes’ by Adolf Hitler – were among the Nazi’s earliest victims (these were children fathered by French-African troops that occupied the Rhineland after WWI, from relationships with the children’s German mothers).
Years before eventually sending them and other Black people to the death camps, the Nazis engaged in a race against time to sterilize them all as young boys before they reached puberty, this in racist paranoid fear, they might produce children. In case any surgical operations proved a failure the boys had to sign a contract with the state, vowing never to have sex with white women.
Dachau concentration camp – on the right presumed to be Jean Voste, born in Belgium Congo.
According to Holocaust historians Benjamin Madley, Clarence Lusane and Tina Campt the policy model for Nazi crimes was actually colonial holocausts against Black people, and particularly the German slaughter of 80% of the Herero tribe of Namibia. Some of those – such as Eugen Fischer – performing human experiments on African victims, would later resume their activities during the European Holocaust, where a large number of their victims would be Jews.
Eugen Fischer: Credited with making The Final Solution possible, was previously prominent in the sterilisation of mixed-race German children, and prior to that Concentration Camp crimes in Southern Africa in 1904. Here viewing pictures of Black children.
Interviewed in the 90s, Annegret Ehmann of the Wannsee Memorial Centre pointed out the Nazis did not invent the racial hierarchies they used but these originated in and were based on Germany’s pre-existing colonial model.
“The racial theories of the Nazis were not an invention of the Nazis. They date back to the colonial administration. Mixed marriage, Mischling, Race-disgrace, all these terms were already in use during the colonial time. And there was already a law already made in the colonies prohibiting mixed marriages”
(quote at approx 9mins THE BA BA ZEE: HITLER’S FORGOTTEN VICTIMS Dir David Okuefuna, Wr Moise Shewa, Channel 4, 1997).
There is obviously a strategic public relations reason why the pro-Israel establishment wants to create an IHRC (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) taboo, blocking the reporting of similarities between Nazi and Israeli practices. All the more reason, given what we know about methods of colonialism and Nazi crimes against humanity, that we demonstrate how easy Kim Johnson’s statement about Israel’s fascism, is to substantiate.
Palestinians will no doubt cite Al Nakba – the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ comprising the extermination and displacement of the indigenous people of the region by settlers. Palestine had been Arab, for 1,300 years – in and outside the Ottoman empire – prior to its western conquest. There is also the annual death tolls of Palestinian children at the hands of Israel’s security forces to add to the equation, plus the Israeli practice of collective punishment. After Nazi crimes, the UN outlawed the collective punishment of whole communities for suspected individual acts. On Sky News, Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely recently defended the collective punishment practice of the wholesale demolition of Palestinian homes, whose family members had not actually even been convicted of anything.
Hotovely has a certain amount of infamy due to her views on racial purity and contamination – in the tradition of German colonists of Namibia and then the Nazis, she is a vociferous opponent of mixed marriage. On this basis, even the pro-Israel Jewish News condemned her appointment. Mixed-race people of the UK all add up to nearly 3% of the population but regardless of them Starmer treats Hoovely as respectable and condemns protests against her.
Sadly despite the enormity of the crimes against Palestinians, the establishment media treats their grievances as child-like complaints. This too echoes the mindset of colonialism by attributing a primitive nature to the conquered. Sometimes too, the biased establishment commentariat even suggests Palestinians are racially oppressing their conqueror.
However, the nature of Israel’s crimes against Jewish people of colour are harder to dismiss and even more closely replicate the Nazi and Colonialist playbook. Among these have been forced contraception injections imposed on Black Jews suppressing this group’s reproduction by up to 50%. No doubt if the victims had been white this story would have been accompanied by enormous high-profile outrage. However, this was still reported by Haaretz, The Times of Israel and a large of part of Israel’s media. Some international news outlets such as News Punch took the story and Forbes magazine apparently appreciated the Nazi-like implications describing the practice as
“mandatory contraceptive injections, effectively amounting to forced (if temporary) sterilization”.
If it was perpetrated by a nation with a less powerful lobby then, ‘The Yemenite Children Affair’ would have been the story of the decade, when it broke back in 2016. As it was, Jonathan Cook for Al Jazeera covered it in detail. Followed the next year by the Jewish news agency Mondoweiss. The BBC gave it little broadcast prominence but at least did write it up on their news website. It was revealed in the early days of Israel’s settlement the country’s doctors had taken babies away from Yemeni Jewish mothers at birth – telling them their offspring were dead, stillborn – actually appropriated for forced adoption to childless western settler couples. Yemeni Jews were also subject to human experimentation and then buried together in collective graves, against Jewish tradition. “And even worse there are healthy babies who died from an experimental treatment. It’s a crime, it was on purpose, and it led to their death.”
A fully sourced catalogue of Israeli fascist-type offences against Jewish people of colour can be found here.
So clearly even before the country’s recent sudden surge to the even more extremist right, Kim Johnson’s charge of Israeli fascism was easy to substantiate.
What is significant is despite this, just how much illogical ideological engineering particularly around the theme of the holocaust, goes into supporting the colony. As the activist Jackie Walker alluded to, in apparent support of the notion of Israeli exceptionalism, the 60 million victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the entire western colonial tradition, and the Black holocausts that have arisen from it, have all been absented from the Holocaust Memorial Day website.
While Israeli propaganda asset David Baddiel who already has a history of confessed racism against Black people, bullying of the disempowered, rhetorical abuses of young women and Gypsy Roma people, now stands accused of Black holocaust denial issues. And no one in the corporate media raises this, or the fact, that even the most forgiving analysis of his rhetoric suggests he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
THE BA BA ZEE: HITLER’S FORGOTTEN VICTIMS Dir David Okuefuna, Wr Moise Shewa (1997)
Madley, B (2005)
From Africa to Auschwitz: How German South West Africa Incubated Ideas and Methods Adopted and Developed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe
Lusane, C (2003)
Hitler’s Black Victims The Historical Experiences of European Blacks, Africans and African Americans During the Nazi Era
Campt, T (2003)
Converging Spectres of an Other within: Race and Gender in Prewar Afro-German History
Cook, J – Al Jazeera (2016)
The shocking story of Israel’s disappeared babies
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gavin Lewis is a freelance Black British mixed-race writer and academic. He has published in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States on film, media, politics, cultural theory, race, and representation. He has taught critical theory and film and cultural studies at a number of British universities. He is a member of the British trade union Bectu.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Labour Heartlands or its editors Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, individual or anyone or anything.
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