Jewish fans not beyond our Ken

JC columnist David Aaronovitch gives us a glimpse into Ken Livingstone's private world...

November 24, 2016 23:18

Ken was up before the Home Affairs Select Committee this week talking Hitler and related matters. He was sorry, he told Keith Vaz and the Home Affairs people, that the whole fuss had been started by those "bitter Blairites" and sorry if anyone had got the wrong impression and on the whole he wished it hadn't happened. But he wasn't sorry for what he'd actually said which had, after all, been true.

He clarified. He had never said Hitler was a Zionist. How could he when he knew "that would be rubbish!"? No, what he said was that "Hitler was supporting Zionism". Which was true and, not only was it true, but after saying it he had been approached in the streets by hundreds of people, including Jews, to tell him that his comments were accurate.

This gave an incredible insight into life on the streets around where Ken lives. Into Ken's everyday life. Take an average weekday. He nips down to Tesco Express for a banana and a bottle of Teachers and he's hardly got past the baskets when someone engages him in discussion.

"I'm a Jew", this person says - or if they don't they are wearing a kippah or a silver Magen David or full Polish 19th century regalia so as to be readily identifiable. "And I just want to tell you that you are absolutely right.

"I too have read the Lenni Brenner book in which he cites Zionist collaboration with the Nazis. Like Brenner and you, having carefully considered the situation of the Jews before and in the wake of the Nazi seizure of power, I conclude that the Zionists and Hitler had much the same aim in the early days.

"All that stuff about Hitler writing in Mein Kampf a decade earlier that he wanted no truck with a Jewish state in Palestine because it would enhance Jewish power, was just old Adolf sounding off. More power to your elbow Ken; you are the true friend of the Jewish people. We all think so. It's just that the Zionists use their financial power to intimidate us out of saying so, as brilliantly explained by Lenni Brenner on that Counterpunch internet site back in 2003. Now please excuse me, dear Ken, I have some Jewish things to do."

Ken makes his way to the checkout thinking: if only John Mann could have heard all that. He exits Tesco. And has barely got as far as Have I Got Newts For You to get a necessary brand of amphibian anti-fungal cream when he is stopped again.

"Oh Ken," says this next person, maybe a woman this time. "I am also a Jew, in case you were wondering. I have been studying pre-war Nazi policy for years and I have to tell you that even if the overwhelming weight of so-called scholarly opinion is against you and Brenner on this issue (which it is) , and accuses you both of gross and politically motivated over-simplification (which it does), I for my part have concluded that you are correct. And I wish you to accept this 100 page monograph in which I set out my reasons at length. I will leave you with these words: courage, my friend, courage! We, the Jews, are with you!"

Ken makes his purchase and, laden with whiskey and reptile curatives, heads for home.

He has barely gone 50 yards when a minibus draws up and a dozen Jews get out and surround him.

"We are all Jews", they tell him, "in case you couldn't tell from our general aura of being slightly wealthier than average."

"Hello Jews!" Ken says, unapologetically, if nervously. "Have you come to berate me for antisemitism, which you only ever do when I have been criticising the government of Israel?"

"No!" chorus the Jews. "Such an idea! Nothing of the sort! We saw you walking down the street and felt the need to congratulate you on your comments about Hitler before he went mad. We are all psychologists on our way to a psychologists' convention and we want to express our clinical agreement with your diagnosis. Brilliant! Insightful!

"It is simply not sufficiently recognised that there was a 'before Hitler' and an 'after Hitler'. That you, a layperson, should have managed to analyse the reality of his mental state –- and with such simplicity of expression! It's admirable!"

Ken finally makes it home. He is weary but smiling. A knock comes on the door. It is a man in a hat. "I am Rabbi Judenberg and….."

November 24, 2016 23:18

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