Stephen Sizer and the Nazi-Zionist collaboration libel

This is a copy of page 243 of Stephen Sizer’s 2004 book Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon [1]:

Sizer brenner

The highlighted extract of the main text includes the following claim:

…in the 1930s the German Zionist Federation, the Stern Gang and Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of revisionist Zionism, were all sympathetic towards fascism, or collaborated with the Nazis.

Rev Sizer’s source for this claim, as indicated by the footnote, is a book by someone called Lenni Brenner.

OK, so he’s claiming that various people collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve heard of the Nazis. Who are the others?

They were various Zionist groups and leaders who were agitating for a Jewish state in Palestine. In the 1930s – before the state of Israel was formed, and at a time when Palestine was controlled by the British – they were trying hard to rescue German Jews from the growing Nazi threat, and get them to a place of safety in Palestine.

So he’s claiming that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. That sounds familiar – haven’t I heard it somewhere else?

Yes, you have – Ken Livingstone made a similar claim in 2016, citing the same source, Lenni Brenner. Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party as a result.

Thanks. So, what’s the problem?

There are two problems with the claim.

Firstly, it’s nonsense.

The Zionists were trying very hard to rescue Jews from Nazi Germany because they could see what was coming down the line. The Nazis wanted to destroy Jewish life. Of course the Zionists and the Nazis did not collaborate. The claim is a grotesque distortion of history. The fact that Lenni Brenner’s work was republished by the antisemitic Noontide Press, should tell you something. For more detail, please read these three pieces by Paul Bogdanor.

Secondly, it’s antisemitic. Zionism was a political movement invented by Jews in the nineteenth century as an answer to European antisemitism. The aim of Nazism was to destroy Jewish life in its entirety. Therefore, Sizer puts a movement designed to rescue Jews, on a moral par with a movement which was antisemitic to its core and which committed a genocide of Jews.

It’s a bit like claiming that Martin Luther King collaborated with the Klu Klax Klan. It would not simply be false, but it would be deeply hurtful and offensive to black people.

For obvious reasons, this claim cannot be construed as “legitimate criticism of the state of Israel”: the claim is about Jewish individuals and organisations; and the state of Israel was not formed until 1948.

Implications

When Stephen Sizer made this claim, he was not making “legitimate criticism of the state of Israel”.

The claim was antisemitic.

References:

[1] Sizer, S, 2004, Christian Zionism. Road Map to Armageddon, Inter Varsity Press, London

 

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