Ken Livingstone should probably just give up talking about Hitler for a while, given the problems he’s caused for Labour thus far. Indeed, today his Party’s disciplinary panel reports back on his behaviour. But he’s Ken Livingstone, so he went on the Today Programme this morning to say “Hitler” a few more times just for good measure.
It wasn’t a very wise idea. Throughout the row, the line of Livingstone and his supporters has been that he isn’t trying to link Hitler and the Nazis to Israel in order to discredit the Jewish state, he is simply talking about the historical facts about Zionism in the 1930s.
Unfortunately, Livingstone himself blew a hole in this rather threadbare argument in his Radio 4 interview. Among other claims, he asserted that “the Gestapo worked with Israeli agents in Mossad”. This would have been quite difficult for the Gestapo, which was abolished in 1945, given that Mossad was founded in 1949.
Presumably Livingstone meant Mossad le Aliyah Bet, the Office for the Second Immigration, which worked to encourage and facilitate clandestine immigration into Palestine – a different organisation, though in some senses a partial forerunner of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. At the time that the Gestapo existed, Mossad le Aliyah Bet could accurately be described as Zionist, but not as Israeli.
The former mayor appears to have blown his own gaff – his critics have always argued that this endless focus on Hitler’s links with Zionism was about associating Israel with the Nazis, and he has just done so on national radio.