Ken Livingstone sparks fresh row with SS, Zionist collaboration claim
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Ken Livingstone sparks fresh row with SS, Zionist collaboration claim

Prior to hearing for saying Hitler was a supporter of Zionism, ex-London mayor now says Nazis set up training camps for German Jews

Former London mayor and senior UK Labour Party official Ken Livingstone reiterated claims Thursday that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was a Zionist supporter and that there was “real collaboration” between the Nazis and German Zionists prior to World War II, during a disciplinary hearing over similar comments made in the past.

Livingstone, who last year claimed that Hitler helped German Jews move to pre-state Israel “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” said that German Zionists received assistance from the SS and were close collaborators of the Nazi regime.

“The SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there,” he claimed. “When the Zionist movement asked the Nazi government would they stop Jewish rabbis from doing their sermons in Yiddish and make them do it in Hebrew, [Hitler] agreed to that.”

Livingstone’s comments were made as he arrived to a Labour Party hearing to determine whether he will be kicked out of the party for his previous comments regarding Hitler and Zionism, that led to his suspension from Labour by the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn last year.

On Tuesday, he released a letter in which he denied saying that Hitler was a Zionist, but said that he just claimed that Nazi policy “had the effect of supporting” Zionism. He also denied drawing any comparison between Nazism and Zionism.

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, outside Millbank in Westminster, London, April 28, 2016. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)
Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, outside Millbank in Westminster, London, April 28, 2016. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP)

But on Thursday, he appeared to play up the purported link between Nazis and Zionists, saying that Nazis “passed a law that said only the Zionist flag and the swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany.”

“Then of course they started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army,” he added.

“So you had right up until the start of the Second World War real collaboration.”

He also said that “when, in July 1937, many senior Nazis gathered at their foreign office saying we should stop sending Jews to Palestine because it could create a Jewish state, in the middle of that meeting a directive comes specifically from Hitler saying ‘no, we will continue with this policy.'”

“Everyone who studies history just knows this, it’s true,” he said.

Livingstone was arriving at the hearing to discuss his suspension from the party since an April 2016 interview with BBC radio in which he said, “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks along Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks along Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

Livingstone has defended his statements several times since making them.

“I did not say or suggest that Hitler was a Zionist. I did not make any equation of Hitler and Zionism,” he wrote in the letter published Tuesday. “Any suggestion that my intention was to draw equivalence between Nazism and Zionism is entirely false.”

Naz Shah with former London mayor Ken Livingstone in Bradford, April 2015, before her election as a Labour MP. (Wikimedia Commons, goodadvice.com, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Naz Shah with former London mayor Ken Livingstone in Bradford, April 2015, before her election as a Labour MP. (Wikimedia Commons, goodadvice.com, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Livingstone’s comments last year were made in defense of Labour MP Naz Shah, who Corbyn reluctantly suspended from the party after she called for the dismantling of Israel and compared Israelis to Hitler.

Since becoming the head of Labour in 2015, Corbyn — a bitter critic of Israel who has referred to Hamas and Hezbollah representatives as “friends” — has faced charges that he has not done enough to combat anti-Semitism in the party.

In October, Corbyn ally Jackie Walker was suspended from the party after questioning whether the national day to honor the Holocaust should be solely about Jews.

Times of Israel Staff and JTA contributed to this report.

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