I consider Nandor Tanczos a friend. Or rather, I am friendly with him. He did provide an ear for me when I was going through a troubling time a few years ago and in conversation, I feel comfortable sharing intimate details about my life with him. He’s a warm guy.
But I don’t want to overstate this. I can’t pretend my waking up to see him defending an antisemitic politician in his former party, The NZ Greens, is akin to Fredo’s betrayal of Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part 2. Tanczos is a politician first, and clearly very loyal to his comrades.
For context, Chloe Swarbrick, the Auckland Central MP, led an antisemitic chant that every thinking person understands as a call for a Judenrein (cleansed of Jews) Levant.
To say the chant is calling for only ethnic cleansing is a generous interpretation.
In the reeking mouths of Hamas, it means outright annihilation.
We have to assume Chloe, a talented and diligent politician, would know this, otherwise, we give her no credit.
For further context, she chose to lead this chant immediately after Labour MP Phil Twyford – himself no fan of the Jewish state – was booed off the stage and required a Police escort for daring to condemn the genocidal attack by Hamas that claimed 1500 Jewish lives, including young people at a music festival and families, many of whom were slaughtered in front of each other.
So, to set the scene, we’re talking as putrid and racist a gathering as New Zealand could feasibly muster.
And yet, Chloe chose to whip up an already threatening crowd by screaming the slogan of the demon architects of the pogrom.
To call it racism is an understatement. This was racial incitement from Swarbrick, rivaling – if not surpassing – the indulgences of neo-Nazis.
And yet, Nandor swooped down into X to defend her, by trying to reclaim the slogan, applying to it a painfully Western spin in an act a Jewish friend I thought aptly described as feigned naivety.
Intellectually crippled, as many of the far-Left are today, by the power-imbalance theory, Tanczos kicked off by saying we cannot allow the oppressor to define the words of the oppressed. And that enormous efforts were being put in to smear any criticism of that country’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians as ‘antisemitic’. Well, my friend, two can play this game. A white politician, with a sizable following, essentially telling them that a minority group are inclined to lie about racism, strikes me as a particularly miserable relationship for an oppressed minority (Jews) to find themselves in. And to his first point, Jews aren’t defining or redefining this slogan. That is precisely what Tanczos is doing.
Nandor wants to separate the slogan from Hamas by reminding readers that it long predated the group. And yet, so did the terror. So did the denial of peace deals that would have freed Palestinians (for the price of sharing the land). The Arab cause, in the Levant has almost exclusively been set on the end of Israel, and the concessions of the Oslo Accords, a capitulation as many saw it, started Fatah’s decline and Hamas’ rise. The idea that the slogan means ‘coexistence, but with adequate civil liberties’ or is a simple cry for statehood alongside Israel is historically uninformed.
But Tanczos’ cynicism was about to plumb new depths. Only if you think that Palestinians are genetically deficient &/ or that Israel’s existence depends on their neverending subjugation… can you think that Palestinian freedom is a code for destruction.
By this stage, the writer in me was starting to admire Tanczos’ piece as a masterpiece of comic irony, rivaling O. Henry or de Maupassant. This tweet obviously isn’t an argument, and in fact, after bemoaning Jewish insincerity in accusations of antisemitism, Tanczos seems to be doing just that, by labeling those opposed to Chloe’s chant the true racists.
Tanczos ends with more conspiratorial tropes about Jewish power – that Israel is supremacist (a very popular world with the kids, don’t you know) and that the state cannot persist with subjugation and survive, ignoring, once again that multiple peace deals have been rejected that would’ve ended any subjugation and that no viable peace partner currently exists, certainly not in Gaza. The whole thread was an exercise in omission and disinformation. And for what?
To shield a particularly putrid politician.
But ultimately, even if we were to accept Tanczos’ defense of the slogan 100% what matters is how Islamists define it considering Israel is currently in a war with Islamists. A month after the pogrom the framing can only be the interpretation held by Hamas. Again, how could this possibly be lost on Chloe?
While many have tried defending Swarbrick by accusing people of crying racism to distract from the conflict, Chloe’s sound and fury in itself is a distraction from the Left’s abject failure to offer anything resembling a sensible solution to this conflict.
All the bluster, the taunts, and the controversy cannot hide the fact that the organized Left has no serious contribution to peace.
BDS is based on a fantasy that Abbas and Hamas are without sin, and resisting the temptation of SodaStream long enough will force Israel to completely compromise their security and create a pair of Palestinian states without any preconditions.
They demand the siege of Gaza be ended, when Oct 7th proved that the only thing between Jews and further bloodbaths is going to be far more walls and a dramatic increase in security.
They scream and froth at the mouth for the end of Israel, or a single secular state, as if a nuclear state could ever be dismantled without a calamity to rival Stalingrad.
Tellingly, what they never say, or work toward, is bringing all the parties to the table to negotiate a final settlement, that you would think would be first on the list for alleged peaceniks. If these talks took ten years, not a moment would be wasted, if we finally got to peace.
But their conditions, schemes, and madcap suggestions, along with an open contempt for negotiations and compromise betray what this movement is really about: the further normalizing of antisemitism. After all the far Left has swung dramatically to the Right and identitarianism and antisemitism has proved a handy tool through time for embedding anti-democratic through the ages.
I don’t believe that Nandor wants this (and I sincerely hope I don’t become his Fredo once he reads this) but I do think Chloe Swarbrick does. And, as her performance at the rotunda showed (along with her refusal to give up the slogan) she seems in her element playing her part.