Morning Star and Abuse of the Holocaust

The following article is cross-posted from the CST. Readers may also like to read this previous post.

By Mark Gardner

Recent posts on CST Blog have included sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. (The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics.) The next section of the report that was due to be shown here, was that covering Abuse of the Holocaust. (These report pages 20-27 can be accessed here.)

By ugly coincidence, however, the Morning Star newspaper has recently featured an exchange of letters that epitomises some of the most challenging and upsetting aspects of Abuse of the Holocaust. The exchange led to the Morning Star’s 18 November edition publishing a letter under the disgusting headline

Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians

The letter-writer, George Abendstern, insists that he was correct to have previously depicted Israel perpetrating “a  final solution”. The evolution – or rather, degeneration – of this exchange of letters is a startling example, in miniature, of historical and moral inversions that all too often pollute anti-Zionist discourse.

The fact that the letter writer, George Abendstern, is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany (and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) merely adds to the suitability of this letters exchange as a point of wider comparison. Afer all, Jews (including Holocaust survivors and Israelis) have consistently played a leading role as theorists and activists in the demonisation of Zionism and Zionists: including Abuse of the Holocaust.

The fact that the headlines given to the letters are chosen by the Morning Star, serves to illustrate how Jewish concerns over Zionism and Israel are then understood and utilised by those around them.

(Note – dates given below are all as they appear in the Morning Star’s on-line edition.)

This little examplar began on 21 October when Professor Theodore Macdonald wrote

…Even before the abominable atrocities of the nazis, it was increasingly obvious that the Jews needed their own state in order to evade persecution. That truth was cynically used by British imperialism.

…Though the Balfour Declaration was unjust, we cannot keep revisiting historical errors. The Israelis need a recognised state. So do the Palestinians. An independent Palestine is an essential precondition for world peace.

(As an aside, it should be noted that despite the above content, the Morning Star called this letter Jewish state not valid“.)

Abendstern’s response on 4 November, included this

Theodore Macdonald writes (M Star October 22) that “it was increasingly obvious the Jews needed a state of their own.”

Why? The Jews are not a nation – as the Israeli writer Schlomo Sand said in his book The Invention Of The Jewish People.

They are an amalgam of people professing the Jewish faith.

…[Zionist Jews]…are going to Palestine not for economic reasons but because their extremist and racist views drive them to call the land of Palestine their own.

These people – many from Russia and the US – have no regard for the indigenous people of Palestine and may yet turn to the “final solution.” This the world has to prevent.

So, here we have the denial of Jewish nationhood (however you define that term), legitimised by an Israeli Jewish writer; the ommission of the Holocaust and all other antisemitism as a previous or current motive for Jews to emigrate to Israel; and a very deliberate warning that this “may yet turn to the final solution” – all by a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany.

Phil Katz, author of Freedom From Tyranny – Against Fascism And The Falsification Of History wrote to voice his concerns. His letter of 8 November was accurately titled

‘Final solution’ is not a term for casual use’

It noted

…George Abendstern (M Star November 5) plumbs new depths with his reference to an Israeli “final solution.”

…In [my book] I show what a “final solution” really is, while Mr Abendstern uses the term without a shred of evidence.

…the Prague Declaration Movement…uses historical revisionism, anti-communism and Holocaust denial and specialises in using terms such as “genocide” and “final solution” in a way which deliberately obscures their meaning….to erase the outcomes of Nuremberg by saying that the Soviet Union conducted “final solutions” in the Ukraine and Poland.

…The aim is to gut such specific terms of all meaning so that the real culprits go free and in order to confuse the young and those who want to oppose capitalism.

…We import its terminology and tactics of obfuscation into our pantheon of things to throw against Israel – and presumably other reactionaries – at our peril.

George Abendstern’s partner, Linda Clair, (also Jewish and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) responded in the next day’s paper. This time, the Morning Star didn’t beat about the bush with airy-fairy phrases such as “Final Solution”. Instead, (despite Clair not actually using the term) it saw fit to cut to the heart of the matter and abuse the Holocaust, titling Clair’s letter as

Israeli road could lead to a holocaust

To be semantic, Israel’s road would not lead to The Holocaust – that real Holocaust, after all, is already taken – no, Israel’s road “could” (not would) lead to “a holocaust”.Clair’s letter was along similar lines, but of course without the gut wrench of the holocaust sucker punch. Clair cited two Israelis, Ilan Pappe and Gideon Levy, and then got down to “final solution” business, premised upon her partner’s Jewish refugee identity

…The Israelis have massacred many thousands of Palestinians since 1947 and continue to do so.

If knowingly bombing populated areas with white phosphorus does not stem from the same mentality as the gas chambers did I would like to know the difference.

Methods of mass killing have moved on since 1945. The effect is the same.

…Mr Abendstern (M Star November 5) was born in Germany in 1930 and is not unfamiliar with the term “final solution.”

His commitment to justice for the Palestinians and his understanding of zionism mean he knows only too well where the Israeli road could lead if the world stands silently by.

Then, on 18 November, two more letters. One, from Roger Fletcher, accused Phil Katz of

pedantry and sectarianism against a valued Palestine activist

…It is patently obvious and is in fact documented that zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people.

Note, Fletcher states “exterminate”. This is no longer about colonialism or imperialism, dispossession and replacement. It has degenerated to being about extermination. It is not that Israel’s actions “could lead to a holocaust”: it is, rather, that “Zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people”. (Indeed, this is allegedly“patently obvious” and “in fact documented”.) 

George Abendstern now also uses the “H” word: but in a manner that suggests he understands its importance, had deliberately refrained from previously doing so, but has now been provoked beyond all patience

Phil Katz (M Star November 10) writes about all things except the matter in hand – the brutal and genocidal colonisation of Palestine.

…I would urge Mr Katz to turn to his history books.

Long before the nazis coined the phrase “final solution” the zionists at their 1897 Basel conference made no secret of what they had in mind for the Palestinians.

Had they had the means they would by their own admission have finished them off in 1948.

What the zionists are presently undertaking is slow strangulation.

…Finally Mr Katz obviously has a problem with the term “final solution.”

Fine by me – shall we call it a “holocaust” instead?

Abendstern’s letter is bad enough in its own right, but the Morning Star sees fit to degrade the exchange even further, because this is what it chose to entitle as

Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians

Of course, Abendstern’s letter says nothing about smiling Israeli conscripts happily herding Palestinians into gas chambers. If, however, the Morning Star is unable to empathise with Jewish perspectives on Holocaust abuse, they could consider the catastrophic destruction wrought by the Nazis’ hatred of communism and socialism, including the fact that the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were initially tested upon 600 Soviet prisoners-of war and 250 sick Poles.

(The originally intended blog post, a summary of the Abuse of the Holocaust section from CST’s Discourse Report will follow in coming days.)

17 Responses to “Morning Star and Abuse of the Holocaust”

  1. Tamara Says:

    “The fact that the letter writer, George Abendstern, is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany (and a long standing anti-Zionist activist).”

    Gosh, where’s Jacqueline Rose when you need her?

  2. Thomas Venner Says:

    The thing that surprised me most is that the Morning Star is still going. I had no idea.

  3. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    One of the main problems of some communist parties in Europe seems to be one of the many conflicts of the Middle East. In reality the problem is not that conflict but the conflict in their party between “antizionist” anti-imperialists and those of their comrades who have not lost completely touch with reality.
    While conflicts in the Middle East are bridgeable, those between comrades are not.

  4. Morning Star’s Dallas denounces Pete Seeger… « Shiraz Socialist Says:

    […] The ever-accelerating degeneration of the Morning Star into “absolute anti-Zionism” is well documented here. […]

  5. Pro-lifer Says:

    This site is engaging in Stalinist airbrushing. And here is the evidence for the prosecution:


    • David Hirsh Says:

      ha ha ha

      an accusation of Stalinist airbrushing from the Morning Star…

      You couldn’t make it up

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        “You couldn’t make it up”

        Sorry, David, but they clearly could and did. But it’s intriguing that quoting directly from the Morning Star, including the letter that offended in the first place from Phil Katz, is now defined as “Stalinist airbrushing”. What would Pro-lifer have called it had Engage merely linked to the whole exchange, before commenting? Stalinist fabrication? Linking us to 3 letters (out of how many?) that the Morning Star chose to publish as “evidence” of its, umm, “liberalism”(?) hardly negates the original exchanges.

        An analogy might be the Netanyahu government publishing an exchange between Lieberman and (let’s say, for argument’s sake) Netanyahu in which they plainly agreed on the necessity of Lieberman’s “loyalty oath” programme, and then published, later, a couple of comments by back-bench Likud MKs disagreeing.

        Stalinist airbrushing for omitting to include the dissenting comments in the first place?

    • ABS Says:

      I am not sure I understand your point Pro-lifer, or maybe you have been misinterpreted here? The links you provided are to letters that were published after this post. This post was from the 22nd and the letters in the Morning Star were from the day after.

      If you were trying to suggest that this post deliberately kept them out as it didn’t suit the argument, then without a time machine, that wouldn’t be possible.

      If you have been misunderstood by the previous posters, and was actually trying to suggest that the Morning Star were trying to airbrush by quickly publishing those 3 letters the next day in response to this post, then maybe you are right.

  6. mark gardner Says:

    pro-lifer, I know that it can sometimes be tricky for Stalinists to predict the past – but really, in this case it was quite simple. My post was written and posted before the publication of the subsequent letters.

    also – you are airbrushing the far more substantive part of my article, which is not so concerned about the actual usual suspects’ letters, but rather how those trigger a degeneration all around them: in this case, in the Morning Star electing to print headlines that went considerably further than the letters they depicted.

    and – I have since been told a couple of details about Morning Star funding that would suggest they really ought to behave far more respectably in future. (Hate to get all capitalist about it, but such are the facts of life.)

    I’d welcome your response.

  7. The CST » Blog Archive » Morning Star readers: don’t abuse the Holocaust Says:

    […] I would like to thank “Pro-lifer” for bringing these letters to my attention in the comments chain at Engage, where he/she said in relation to my original article, “This site is engaging in Stalinist […]

  8. Absolute Observer Says:

    “I know that it can sometimes be tricky for Stalinists to predict the past.” Superb!

  9. Israel/Palestine: decent and sane letter published in ‘Morning Star’! « Shiraz Socialist Says:

    […] This anti-semitism is particularly nasty in the Star‘s letters column. Engage has been monitoring this. […]

  10. Phil Katz Says:

    I sense some of your contributors also miss the point. This was an exchange on a letters page of a newspaper with an unrivalled eighty years of consistent opposition to racism and fascism. The editorial columns in the Star epitomise that record and have, in additon, never by any stretch of ones imagination questioned the right of Israel to exist. Though it has been equally consistent in denouncing illegal occupation, settlements and aggression against civilians.
    My intervention came when some sought to use the letters page in the Star to tarnish all Israelis as settlers and claim all were complicit in what the writers contended was a ‘Holocaust’ and a ‘ Final solution’. This in my view was both shameful and unhistorical and amounted to the same kind of historical revisionism used by the Prague Declaration Movement to promote its own brand of neo liberal, anti communist and holocaust denying politics.
    You also ommitted to mention the subsequent letters which, in
    my opinion left the original letter writer’s argument in tatters.

    • modernityblog Says:

      Fascinating, perhaps Comrade Katz, you might care to remind us of what the Morning Star printed concerning Soviet antsemitism?

      And how exactly that relative silence fitted in with your notion that the paper had “an unrivalled eighty years of consistent opposition to racism and fascism. “

      Again, please tell us what criticism the Morning Star made of Soviet antisemitism in the past 50 years?

  11. Steve Silver Says:

    I thought Phil Katz’s letter, and his subsequent letter (and those of others), did a good job dealing with Abendenstern and Clair’s arguments.

  12. jim denham Says:

    Phil Katz: good luck, comrade, in your efforts to drag the Morning Star back from the brink of outrigyht anti-semitism, and denial of Israel’s right to exist. But have you read ex-editor John Haylett’s recent columns on the Middle East? Not much support for a two state solution there. Or from regular contributors onn the subject like Karl Dallas and Ramsay (? sorry – can’t remember his second name), not to mention one John Wight whose October 8 2009 article in the Star was entitled “A state born in sin” , quite claerly suggests that Israel is a uniquely illegitimate stae that has no right to exist. Such “absolute” anti-Zionism is rarely countered in the Star (apart from the occasional article by Uru Avnery), and the casual reader would never guess that the Star and the CPB are, nominally, for a two state solution.

    So good luck Phil: but I fear you’re fightging a losing battle against the anti semites at the Star. And the Stalinist movement does have a certain rather unpleasant record on anti-semitism, doesn’t it?

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