This week, top Labour politician and former London mayor Ken Livingstone attracted widespread criticism after saying in an interview that:
"when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism - this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."
Unfortunately, calling Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler a "Zionist" is also the official position of Nick Griffin, the former leader of the anti-Semitic, neo-fascist British National Party.
The controversial far-right politician, who was convicted in 1998 of "publishing or distributing racially inflammatory written material", made his position clear in a rambling 2013 "in-depth investigation" report that spreads conspiracy theories about rival far-right groups. In the report, Nick Griffin wrote:
"Not all Zionists are Jews. Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler, for example, were both Zionists - the former because he greatly admired Jews and believed that they had as much right to their own state as any other people, the latter because he believed they were subversive parasites who should be thrown out of Germany."
Of course, what Ken Livingstone and Nick Griffin said is substantively worlds apart, even though both statements are absolutely, unacceptably inaccurate historically. Ken Livingstone was speaking while being a member of a political party that sees itself as democratic and anti-racist. Meanwhile Nick Griffin for over a decade led a party that was infested with vile neo-Nazism. Ken Livingstone qualified his statement, acknowleged and condemned the despicable, genocidal nature of Hitler's anti-Semitism. Nick Griffin did not do so in his "in-depth" report. But does the fact that there are certain linguistic similarities between the comments made by a prominent hard-left politician and those made by an unequivocally far-right one bode well for democractic values? Or does it perhaps suggest that under the deceptive guise of anti-Zionism, anti-Semitic, extreme-right narratives have been able gain a dangerous foothold among those gullible and naive people on the political left who would never knowingly use them if they were able to recognise them for what they are?
The historical truth is that Hitler was a life-long, mass-murder-obsessed, genocidal Jew-hater, who at no point endorsed Zionism, not even before coming to power in 1933.
In fact, in his hate-filled, delusional 1920s autobiography, Mein Kampf, Hitler explicitly claims that Zionism is part of an imagined international Jewish conspiracy for world domination. He wrote:
"The Jew's domination in the state seems so assured that now not only can he call himself a Jew again, but he ruthlessly admits his ultimate national and political designs. A section of his race openly owns itself to be a foreign people, yet even here they lie. For while the Zionists try to make the rest of the world believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb [non-Jews]. It doesn't even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindle...."