antisemitism,  Labour Party

Momentum Speaker Franco Berardi and the New Nazis

Momentum’s “The World Transformed” conference in Liverpool later this month will be an ugly assembly.

Have a look at Franco Berardi, for example. The Italian Marxist is billed as a “writer and theorist of contemporary media, culture and society, working mainly around the aesthetics of the contemporary psychosphere” at the “No Pasaran: International Antifascism” session.

The Nazis are on the march again, Berardi will have you know. But last year his stark warning was rejected in Germany:

In a one-hour performance called “Auschwitz on the Beach,” planned for Thursday at the Documenta in Kassel, Italian author Franco “Bifo” Berardi accuses Europeans of setting up “concentration camps” on its own territory and paying smugglers in Turkey, Libya and Egypt to do their dirty work. “Salt water has replaced Zyklon B,” reads one line of the performance.

But after hefty complaints from politicians in Germany and the Jewish community, the Documenta won’t be staging the show as planned, a spokesperson confirmed to DW on Tuesday.

“We respect those who feel offended by Franco Berardi’s poem. We don’t want to add to their pain”, curator Paul B. Preciado said in a statement.

City and state politicians in Kassel and the state of Hesse, where the city is located, had sharply criticized the planned performance. Hesse’s state minister for science and art, Boris Rhein, recommended its cancellation, while Kassel Mayor Christian Geselle called it a “horrible provocation.”

“The question of how we deal with the Shoah and the terminology associated with it and how we teach future generations about this incomprehensible crime is something that impacts all of us,” commented Illan Katz, chairwoman of the local Jewish organization, while urging political leaders to take a stand against “Auschwitz on the Beach.”

Berardi quite likes this theme. He pushed it again last summer in a letter to the Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis, dragging Israel into his Nazi nightmare as a Gauleiter:

Europeans are building concentration camps on their own territory, and they pay their Gauleiter of Turkey, Libya, Egypt and Israeli to do the dirty job on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where salt water has replaced Zyklon B.

Europeans should be “swept away”, really, he continued:

Five centuries of colonialism, capitalism and nationalism have turned Europeans into the enemy of human kind. May they be cursed forever! May Europeans be swept away by the storm they have generated, by the weapons they are building, by the fire they have ignited, by the hatred they have cultivated!

Berardi went much further in 2016 in this shocking piece. With his students awaiting his remarks on Holocaust Memorial Day, he mused about the new Nazis in Israel:

I will not be able to talk about the terrible violence that struck the Jewish people in the 1940s without referring to the terrible violence that strikes the Palestinian people today.

In comes the Warsaw Ghetto:

How can I stay silent about the analogies between the siege of Gaza and the Warsaw ghetto? It is true that the Jews killed in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 numbered 58,000 while the Palestinian dead number only a few thousand at present. But as Woody Allen says, records are made to be beaten. The logic that prepared the ghettoisation of Gaza (which a Catholic cardinal has called a “concentration camp”), is it not perhaps the same logic that guided the ghettoisation of the Jews of Warsaw? Weren’t the Jews of Warsaw perhaps forced to pile up in a restricted space that quickly became an anthill? Wasn’t a containing wall built around them, perhaps, 17 kilometres long and three metres high, the exact height of the wall Israel built to lock up the Palestinians? Weren’t the Polish Jews blocked from exiting the crossings controlled by military checkpoints?

The Jews of Warsaw did what they could. Well, so do Palestinians:

The Jews of Warsaw too used pistols, grenades, Molotovs, and even a machine gun to combat the invaders. Completely inadequate arms, as are the Qassam rockets and the kitchen knives. And yet no one can condemn the desperate defence of the Jews of Warsaw.

Israel, he opines, is engaged in nothing less than “the extermination of a people”. Indeed, swastikas have been found in IDF barracks, he claims.

By the way, individual Israeli politicians or policies are not the problem. No, for Berardi, the issue is Zionism tout court, which has become a “political monstrosity”.

Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn could have a word with Momentum?

ITN Productions boss Chris Shaw, who identified himself as the son of a Holocaust survivor, asked Corbyn whether it was legitimate to compare the state of Israel to Nazi Germany. The Labour leader said doing so was “completely out of bounds and I would never do that.”