Zionism, anti-semitism, ex-public schoolboys and the left

February 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm (Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, capitalist crisis, iraq war, israel, Jim D, left, Middle East, palestine, thuggery, United States)

Anti-semitic attacks in Britain in 2009 reached their highest level since they were first recorded in 1984.  Reported and verified attacks (physical, verbal abuse, bullying of schoolchildren, desecration of graves, etc) on Jewish people, properties and symbols because they were Jewish, numbered 924 – a 55 per cent increase on the previous peak of 598 attacks in 2006.

This dramatic increase in racist violence and abuse, recorded by the Community Security Trust (a Jewish organisation: how long before the usual suspects start questioning its bona fides ?), has passed with little mention in the media. To its credit the Morning Star (Feb 6-7) carried the story, noting that “almost a quarter of the incidents included references to the invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces in January 2009.”

Tellingly, however, the Star (paper of the British Communist Party and still quite inflential within the Britsh trade union movement)  quotes one Paul Collins from the (stridently anti-Zionist) Jewish Socialist Group who, after a perfunctory standard-issue condemnation of anti-semitism, then goes on at much greater length about the crimes of Israel and those (like Gordon Brown) who support it.

Come to think of it, the Star article’s headline, “Israel’s Gaza attack leads to hate crime rise” almost suggests that Israel is responsible for anti-semitism, not the anti-semites themselves.

Anti-semitism is unique amongst good liberal/leftish folk in being the only form of racism not to be denounced out of hand – the only racism where context is considered relevant and condemnation is softened with a degree of understanding. Sometimes this can be as crude as ‘they’ve brought it on themselves’ – meaning ‘by their support for Israel.’

Barbara Ellen, writing in the Observer makes a further point:

“…it’s almost as if some people are unaware of how easy it is to slip into antisemitic stereotypes. There’s just this jumble of alleged Israel/Jewish paranoia (“They’re constantly harping on about being victimised”), as well as the spurious feeling that: “They can look after themselves – aren’t they all rich and powerful and best mates with Stephen Spielberg?”

Then there were the comments on the Chilcott inquiry by former British ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles in the Independent on Sunday (22 November):

“(not much attention) has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war…Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism.”  This classic example of conpiracy theorising was – predictably – backed up by veteran public school  anti-semite Richard Ingrams in the Independent of 28 November in an article entitled “Will Zionists’ links to Iraq invasion be brushed aside?”

Incidentally, I draw your attention to Miles’ use of “Jews” and “Zionism” as virtually interchangeable terms; Ingrams has made it clear before now that he takes the same approach, though like most modern-day anti-semites he usually restricts his remarks to “Zionists.”

In this atmosphere, the wise words of  Marxist academic Moishe Postone, interviewed by Martin Thomas in the present issue of the AWL’s paper  ‘Solidarity’  are timely, to say the least:

“…More generally that ideology (percieved control by the “Jewish / Israel Lobby” of US foreign policy, etc – JD) represents what I call a fetishised form of anti-capitalism. That is, the mysterious power of capital, which is intangible, global, and which churns up nations and areas and people’s lives. The abstract domination of capitalism is personified by Jews. This approach might also explain the spread of anti-semitism in the Middle East in the past two decades. I don’t think it is a sufficient explanation only to point to the suffering of the Palestinians. Economically, the Middle East has declined precipitously in the past three decades. Only sub-Sharan Africa has fared worse. And this has occured at a time when other countries and regions , thought of as part of the Third World fifty years ago, are developing rapidly. I think anti-semitism in the Middle East today is an expression not only of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but also of a hightened general sense of helplessness in the light of these global developments.

“On the German right a century ago, the global domination of capital used to be considered  that of the Jews and Britain. Now the left sees it as the domination of Israel and the United States. The thought pattern is the same.

“We now have a form of anti-semitism that seems to be progressive and ‘anti-imperialist;’ which is a real danger for the left.

“Racism is rarely a danger for the left. The left has to be careful not to be racist, but it isn’t an ongoing danger because racism doesn’t have the apparent emancipationary dimension of anti-semitism.”

Read the rest here.

50 Comments

  1. FlyingRodent said,

    I certainly heard a long piece on this report plus an interview on the morning Radio Scotland show. I also saw it on the BBC’s website and in the Metro, IIRC.

    (Pops off, checks Google News)

    Yes, there you go – reported on the Beeb, the PA, Reuters, in the Express, the Independent, the London Daily News and the Yorkshire News, plus a supportive opinion column in the Daily Telegraph, and one for the report’s author at Comment is Free. A pretty pisspoor response I supppose, but I thought that might cheer you up a little bit.

    Oh, and hang on – I read the executive summary on that, and I’m sure that the CST themselves attribute the rise in racist attacks to Operation Cast Lead. I’m unsure what the politics are here, but their conclusions are essentially identical to the Morning Star’s, aren’t they?

  2. maxdunbar said,

    I think CST’s grievance is not with the link between Cast Lead and racist attacks so much as the identification of all Jews with the crimes of Israel in Gaza.

  3. FlyingRodent said,

    Yes, that’s what I was trying to say.

  4. here we go again said,

    Not a flying rodent … just the plain old scuttling variety, and ‘ratsistor’ and the bubonic johng can’t be far behind.

  5. maxdunbar said,

    Fair enough FR

  6. Jim Denham said,

    I think the Rodent (along with the MS and much of the “left”) conflates “cause” with “blame” and “justification”.

    After all, immigration “causes” (or, at least, results in) racist attacks on black and Asian people: no civilised person would argue that blacks and Asians are to “blame” as a result, or that immigration “justifies” or in some way makes such attacks “understandable”…would they? But that’s exactly the line of ‘reasoning’ that a lot of the liberal/left use with regard to Israel/Gaza/anti-semitic attacks.

  7. FlyingRodent said,

    With respect Jim, the CST themselves are saying that Cast Lead was … (Google) …a “trigger event” for racist attacks. Is this materially different to “cause”? I’ve certainly never seen anyone worth taking seriously claim that racist attacks are “justified”. I’ve also seen a few people take flak for making precisely the same argument that the CST themselves are making, but that’s generally just a tiresome semantic game designed to put words into people’s mouths for political reasons. After all, a person can “comprehend in his/her mind” why military action (x) leads to racist attack (y) without endorsing the latter, no?

  8. maxdunbar said,

    ‘Criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic’ is the far left equivalent of ‘I’m not racist, but there are too many immigrants’

  9. Wot Evah said,

    ‘Criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic’ is the far left equivalent of ‘I’m not racist, but there are too many immigrants’

    Um, no it’s not. It’s the equivalent of saying criticism of Saudi Arabia is not necessarily Islamophobic – oh and it’s true aswell. The antisemitic equivalent of ‘I’m not racist, but there are too many immigrants’is ‘i’m not antisemitic, but there are too many jews’. It’s not rocket science.

  10. Dr.Dawg said,

    Criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic’ is the far left equivalent of ‘I’m not racist, but there are too many immigrants’

    So the logic here must be that criticism of Israel is necessarily antisemitic? Just trying to get on the same page here.

  11. Lobby Ludd said,

    Maxdunbar:

    ‘Criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic’ is the far left equivalent of ‘I’m not racist, but there are too many immigrants’

    What are you saying Max? Looks like ‘criticism of Israel is antisemitic’, to me. Is that what you meant?

  12. FlyingRodent said,

    In fairness, the content of what I’m saying is probably a bit obscured by the subject matter. There’s every reason to believe that poverty can be a cause of crime, but acknowledging that fact isn’t the same as excusing or endorsing burglary, if that’s any clearer.

  13. Dr.Dawg said,

    The problem is that pesky French phrase, tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner. It’s nonsense, but it’s caused no end of problems, because people have really taken it to heart. So those who looked for “root causes” for 9/11, for example, were supposedly apologizing for 9/11. Better to see it as pure metaphysical Evil, erupting into history.

    Can’t we, once and for all, separate the moral from the observational? I can appreciate that reactions to Operation Cast Lead included anti-Semitic ones, but that doesn’t mean I approve of them. Quite the contrary. At the same time, I am offended when some suggest that all such reactions are anti-Semitic.

  14. Gene said,

    Can’t we, once and for all, separate the moral from the observational? I can appreciate that reactions to Operation Cast Lead included anti-Semitic ones, but that doesn’t mean I approve of them. Quite the contrary. At the same time, I am offended when some suggest that all such reactions are anti-Semitic.

    Of course not all negative reactions to the conduct of Cast Lead were antisemitic. Anyone who says otherwise should be dismissed out of hand. What was problematic for me and many other critical supporters of Israel was the suggestion that Israel had no right at all to act militarily against those attacking its civilians. If you say that the world’s one Jewish-majority state is the only country in the world not allowed to defend itself, then the burden is on you to explain why you’re not antisemitic.

  15. Jim Denham said,

    OK: to cut through the crap, can we at least agree on the following basic propositions:

    1/ *Whatever* your attitude to the state of Israel, there can be *no* excuse, mitigation or “contextualising” of anti-semitic attacks. They should simply be condemned out of hand;

    2/ Anti-semitism is a form of racism and just as morally repugnant and poltically poisonous to the left as any other form of racism;

    3/ Whilst the holocaust cannot (or, at least *should* not) be used as a ‘trump card’ to de-legitimise criticism of Israel, equally any critique of Israel and/or Zionism that does not take account of the holocaust and recognise it as a unique evil in recorded human history, is bound to be one-sided, insensitive and and unjust;

    4/ Sections of the “left” and the pro-Palestinian movement (for instance some trade unions) often *do* come across as hostile to, and uninterested in, the sensitivities of Jews who are not willing to denounce/disown Israel and/or Zionism;

    5/ “Zionism” is no more and no less than Jewish nationalism: the Leninist left has, since Lenin, been generally (but critically) sympathetic to nationalism: sections of the left’s virulent hostility to Zionism suggests dual standards, to say the least;

    6/ Some anti-Zionists are honourable, principled internationalists. But modern anti-semitism also, invariably now describes itself as “anti -Zionism” and the substitution of the word “Zionist” for “Jew” does not preclude an anti-semitic agenda;

    7/ Solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people and support for their demand for a viable nation state alongside Israel should be the priority for the left, not the demonisation of the state of Israel.

  16. Dr.Dawg said,

    @Jim

    1) Absolutely. But the problem has been the widening of the term “anti-Semitism” to include criticism of Israel. It’s become almost a floating signifier. If we were to restrict the term to the EUMC definition, I’m good with that:

    Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals, and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

    2) Strictly speaking, anti-Semitism is a form of ethnocentrism, not racism, but within the common-or-garden usage of the term “racism,” these days, I would agree with you.

    3) While the effect of the Holocaust on Jewish (and one hopes non-Jewish) sensibilities cannot and should not be underestimated, I would take issue with the “unique event” remark. Ask the Roma, the Armenians, the Tutsi, the Dinka. The Holocaust was not, unfortunately, a “unique event” at all. And it is that fact that should make us aware that the possibility of genocide is part of the human condition and must be faced down as such.

    4) I would need examples. Much of this criticism is from people who aren’t actually listening to what unions and “the left” are saying. Sensitivity to all sides, in any case, is important. Too much of the Right seems utterly uninterested in the brutal treatment of the Palestinians. OK: what do we do about insensitivity, also part of the human condition?

    5) I agree with you about Zionism–except that there are several Zionisms. Lenin’s sympathy for nationalism was for nationalism of the progressive kind. The word Zionism covers quite a lot of the political spectrum. Personally I don’t find the word very useful, and being “anti-Zionist” even less useful.

    6) The fact that anti-Semites can mingle with crowds is not a criticism of the crowds.

    7) Of course no nation should be “demonized.” But I smell a small army of strawmen approaching. Could you provide examples of such “demonizing?”

  17. martin ohr said,

    Dr Dawg, on #1, let me give you a tiny but fairly typical example though. Bloke at working in a meeting ( I work in IT) discussing a technical problem, jabs his finger towards me and says “the problem is that we’re dependent on all these Israeli companies like Microsoft and HP”. I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive in thinking that this is thinly vieled anti-semitism (which was presumably directed at me)- from someone who is clearly (politically) nuts. If pressed I’m sure he would have been able to give chapter and verse of legitimate criticisms of Israel.

    I could go on with many such examples- regular criticism of Israel when people even suspect that you are jewish is pretty common- obviously if I have time to explain my basic programme for a two-state solution I do so.

    #3 The problem is with this approach that it’s a slippery slope to saying that really the holocaust wasn’t all that bad.

    The 2 unique things about the holocaust were that it was an attempt to destroy all traces of anyone with jewish ancestry from anywhere in the world- starting with europe, the 2nd was it almost suceeded. It wasn’t a civil war or a localised massacre, but a concerted continent wide push.

    The impact of that is for many jews that Israel is seen as a barrier to prevent anything similar occuring in the future; “as long as we have Israel we have somewhere to go” is the feeling.

    #7 For example see the socialist unity website and compare any articles on china or iran with any articles on Israel/Palestine.

  18. FlyingRodent said,

    Again, I can’t help but feel this is chasing obvious-sounding but highly conditional arguments down the rabbit hole here. Gene’s contention that those who argue that only Israel shouldn’t defend itself have to explain why they aren’t racist is superficially logical, but exactly how many people are arguing that Israel has no right to self-defence? I’ve seen the odd mental commenter say similar things here and there, but such people are surely idiots and their arguments can be dismissed as idiocy.

    This is a species of the same argument as Those who say that burglars should be forgiven because of their poverty-stricken and crime-riddled social backgrounds should explain… On the surface, that’s perfectly reasonable – anyone arguing for forgiving burglars would be a fool. OTOH, it describes the opinions of a very small number of irrational people and as such, Gene’s argument just represents a doubling down upon the original idea that linking Cast Lead and racist abuse, grafitti and violence is inherently suspect.

    I don’t ask this stuff to annoy, BTW, although it generally has that effect. The idea that observing provable facts on anything from crime and terrorism to racism is inherently suspect is rife in media coverage and political debate, and nearly every time I’ve ever tried to address this, the original contention is withdrawn and a neverending succession of equally flawed propositions erected in its place.

    To reiterate, the CST themselves state that Israeli military operations can and do cause an increase in racist incidents in Britain. This is a horrible state of affairs, but to pretend that the observation of this fact is an offensive case of blaming the victim – as the post does – is surely false. If it isn’t, then the CST surely have some serious questions to answer.

  19. Dr.Dawg said,

    @Martin

    On your first point–or the anecdote, at least–I.m in full agreement. That seemed quite gratuitous. Why should all Jews anywhere be held accountable for Israel? It’s precisely that conflation that drives me nuts. I like to be able to criticize the government of Israel with a will, without being accused of anti-Semitism.

    But I take strong exception to this:

    The problem is with this approach that it’s a slippery slope to saying that really the holocaust wasn’t all that bad.

    The very opposite is true. Ask any Roma about the Porrajmos. The Armenians might differ with you that what happened to them “wasn’t all that bad.”

    When we start talking about “singular events” we are no longer talking about history but about metaphysics. Perhaps the most dreadful truth of the Holocaust is that it could happen again, to any group of people. We need to understand the Holocaust as an historical event, not as an eruption of pure Evil that, terrifyingly, unaccountably, just happened.

  20. skidmarx said,

    I wouldn’t have considered that aparthied South Africa had a right to self-defence, so wouldn’t have thought that Israel had a similar right. Does that make me an idiot?

  21. Matt said,

    Yes.

  22. Shachtman said,

    Dr Dawg “Can’t we, once and for all, separate the moral from the observational? I can appreciate that reactions to Operation Cast Lead included anti-Semitic ones, but that doesn’t mean I approve of them. Quite the contrary. At the same time, I am offended when some suggest that all such reactions are anti-Semitic.”

    But very few people do. For every person who says that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic , there are many times more people making the false claim that anybody who criticises Israel is called an antisemite.

  23. Christopher W said,

    Jim,

    Dr. Dawg is the blogger who cried strawman. Don’t be fooled; Israel is bashed on his blog ceaselessly and monotonously to the near complete exclusion of any non-North American (he’s based in Canada) country, often with inflammatory illustrations from Latuff. As for antisemitism, Dawg’s position is that “the specious charge (of ‘anti-Semitism’) is regularly used against those of us who dare to be critical of the state of Israel and the word ‘anti-Semitic’ has now been successfully drained of all meaning.” So when a Canadian parliamentary committee is set up to explore antisemitism, even before hearings are held, it is denounced as a witch hunt and just another attempt to deflect criticism of Israel. On the other hand, when the IDF-is-snatching-Palestinian/Ukrainian-organs blood libel was being promoted by Iran and its useful idiots, Dawg came out with a post in which after carefully weighing the “evidence” and after oh so sadly confiding that he was “at a loss for words and sick at heart”, had to conclude (in the words of the headline) that “Truth is a Defence”.

    http://transmontanus.blogspot.com/2010/01/organ-harvesting-scare-mutant-offspring.html

  24. John Meredith said,

    “To reiterate, the CST themselves state that Israeli military operations can and do cause an increase in racist incidents in Britain. This is a horrible state of affairs, but to pretend that the observation of this fact is an offensive case of blaming the victim – as the post does – is surely false.”

    No, it isn’t. This is a racist claim. Israeli actions are a pretext for a lot of antisemitism but to say that they ’cause’ it is racist, unwittingly or otherwise. For an analolgy, think of the upsurge of racist attacks in then wake of the black rights movment in the US in the 60s. Would it be fair to say that the actions of MLK (say) ’caused’ those attacks? No, that would be ‘blaming the vicitm’ and an example of racism, and I think most people can see this. Were the brutal, repressive actions of the South African police ’caused’ by the ANC’s political organising? They would say ‘yes’ but then they were racist. It is the plea of the wife beater: ‘why oh why do you make me do these terrible things to you?’ We should look out for it.

  25. Christopher W said,

    To be fair (to Dr. Dawg)…

    The quote above, which I took from a secondhand source, leaves out words and links two sentences. The full second sentence actually reads “Since the word ‘anti-Semitic’ has now been successfully drained of all meaning by the Right (and the occasional Liberal), maybe we need a new term to describe those folks, and I can think of a few–but this is a family blog.”

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2008/11/fox-news-anti-semite-is-honoured-guest.html

  26. Wot Evah said,

    So, in that case Meredith are you going to denounce the Community Security Trust as antisemites?

  27. Dr.Dawg said,

    Christopher is an example of what I’ve been talking about. He’s a neo-McCarthyist sniffing around for “anti-Semitism” wherever he can find it, and if extending the definition to near-meaninglessness is required, you can count on him to do it. He exemplifies everything that is wrong with this debate.

    Note his hectoring style right here. Take part in the discussion? Nope. Offer a McCarthyist sliming of myself? Of course. Ad hominem is a convenient way to head the debate off at the pass. In Canada it’s used far too often to do just that.

    Note that he doesn’t link to my post at all, but to the blogsite of an equally sleazy neo-McCarthyite in Canada who spends most of his time looking for cultish three-person groupuscules to denounce as typical of “the Left.” Folks here are welcome to check my place out for themselves–I cover mostly Canadian news, contrary to Christoper’s lie–and to have a look at my post on the organ-harvesting question in particular.
    Here it is, with updates as they arrived: http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/12/truth-is-defence.html.

    Not a word out of Christopher about Dr. Yehudah Hiss, who is a disgrace and an embarrassment to a considerable number of Israelis. My point, of course–a simple observation–was that his malpractice fed right into the Blood Libel trope. I had been asked earlier what I thought of that Swedish newspaper report that caused quite a stir a few months back. I said then that it was a classic instance of the Blood Libel, and I don’t take that back. But I was gobsmacked, frankly, to discover that there was a kernel of truth in there. And that news came via JTA: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/12/21/1009830/report-israel-admits-to-harvesting-organs .

    The reaction of some to this observation on my part is paralleled by what happened to some Italian scientists who discovered various heavy metals at the periphery of bomb craters in Gaza. “Aha!” said the propagandists: that’s a new variant on the old mediaeval lie that Jews poison wells.

    I don’t know about others here, but that’s quite a leap. In fact these hoary anti-Semitic tropes have been bent entirely out of shape by those who react to all criticism of the government of Israel by using the a-word, or–as in the case of Christoper–employing innuendo and half-truths. Point to civilian casualties in Gaza, including children? Blood Libel. Note that, at least in Canada, there is a powerful pro-Israel lobby? Jewish Conspiracy.

    I’d say the aim is to silence, except that even to say that is considered “anti-Semitic” these days. It’s the “Livingstone Formulation.”

    Time to get back to the debate. Martin?

    [@Shachtman: I think you meant to say “nobody,” but can you in any case point to anyone claiming that no critic of Israel is anti-Semitic? Because that’s a foolish claim, and easily refuted.]

  28. Dr.Dawg said,

    Just caught Christopher’s “fairness” coda. In his disingenuous fashion, he gives the impression that “these folks” refers to Jews. I was referring to Nazis.

  29. FlyingRodent said,

    No, it isn’t. This is a racist claim. Israeli actions are a pretext for a lot of antisemitism but to say that they ’cause’ it is racist, unwittingly or otherwise.

    Again, I suggest you take this up with the CST. This “racist” claim is theirs, unwittingly or otherwise.

  30. Shachtman said,

    Dr Dawg Sorry i stand by what is say ” For every person who says that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic , there are many times more people making the false claim that anybody who criticises Israel is called an antisemite.”

  31. Dr.Dawg said,

    Sorry, Schactman, I missed your meaning the first time.

    Why is that a false claim? What we get in my country of residence is the following formula: “Of course, legitimate criticism of Israel is acceptable, but…” followed by a bitter denunciation of someone or other for offering allegedly illegitimate criticism.

    I would like to know precisely what a “legitimate” criticism of Israel might be. Bad weather in Ashdod? Slow bus service in Tel Aviv?

    Because I have been called an “anti-Semite” at my place–by a senior B’nai Brith operative–for indicating support of the Goldstone Report and mentioning the well-documented mistreatment of Palestinians in the West Bank by the IDF and settlers. Goldstone himself has been called an anti-Semite by a Minister in the Israeli government. A union friend of mine has been called an anti-Semite for being critical of Operation Cast Lead. And a parliamentary coalition in Canada is conducting a farcical “inquiry” into anti-Semitism, having telegraphed its conclusions in advance that campus activity on behalf of Palestinians is part of the “new anti-Semitism.”

    And the problem–Christopher arrived just in time to illustrate it–is that we never actually get to a debate. We’re kept occupied fending of endless ad hominem attacks by neo-McCarthyites. It is ironic that the only place where a full debate appears possible is–in Israel.

  32. Christopher W said,

    “But we never actually get to a debate” …. ???

    This from a man who posts at least one virulently anti-Israel item every week on his blog, rain or shine.

    What’s next? “They’re trying to shut us up”? “The media is pro-Israel and the Palestinians never get a fair hearing?” Oh, I forgot… “You’re just bringing up antisemitism to deflect criticism of Israel.”

  33. Dr.Dawg said,

    I just went back two weeks: found a post expressing some envy that a real debate on Israeli politics could be had more easily in Israel than in Canada, and another one taking note of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    I have also been following a story about the destruction by our government of a Canadian non-governmental organization called Rights and Democracy. Certainly ME politics are at the very core of this, but so are Conservative politics in Canada– fair game, I think, for a Canadian political blogger.

    In other words–Christopher is a liar. Unfortunately, as I’ve noted before, there are squads of such people infecting the Canadian blogosphere and making it virtually impossible to have a civilized debate–which we were having here, I think, until Christopher followed me over.

    I apologize to the others here, as a new commenter, for taking up so much bandwidth on this, and I shall stop it and return to the debate if possible, but lies and defamation must be countered.

  34. charliethechulo said,

    I’ve thought the debate here has been fairly civilised and surprisingly well-informed and thoughtful, and would welcome its continuation (including further thoughts and coments from “Dr. Dawg”). My only disappointment has been that no-one has yet commented upon the interview with Moishe Postone – as I understand it, the main intended “meat” of Jim’s article (linked to at end of the article).

  35. Red Maria said,

    Ahem,

    I think you should take a look at averypublicsociologist.

    And then get to crystal ball gazing.

  36. Jim Denham said,

    Maria,

    Ahem,

    thanks for that, but…I’ve checked “A Very Public Sociologist” and not found anything relating to this subject. Wold you be so kind as to provide a link?

    Jim

  37. Dr.Dawg said,

    @charlielechulo

    Good point.

    Initial impressions:

    If Jewish nationalism was resisted in the USSR in some single-minded fashion, how do we explain this? Lenin (can’t find the reference at the moment) called for a “tireless struggle” against anti-Semitism. (Stalin was a psychotic killer who hated everybody, regardless of race, creed or colour.)

    Overall, Postone’s piece bothers me, for the simple reason that alleged “left” anti-Semitism is nowhere explained. It is hardly a secret that many of the original Communists at the time of Lenin were Jewish–that doesn’t seem to square with the almost metaphysical Jew-hatred that Postone claims to find on the Left.

    Of course Stalin was a virulent anti-Semite, and the word “Zionism” was code in the USSR and Poland and so forth. That’s all old news. What I would have liked out of Postone is some kind of hypothesis. Not to mention evidence that we leftists who take up the Palestinian cause are in league with the Islamists. One Galloway doesn’t make a politics.

  38. Jim Denham said,

    Dr Dawg,

    Re Postone: I don’t know how it is where you are (Canada, I believe, but correct me if I’m wrong), but here in the UK the overwhelming bulk of “anti-Zionist” / “Palestine Solidarity” propaganda (from the far-left like the SWP, the Stalinist “left” like the ‘Morning Star’ and the Palestine Solidariy Campaign and their boycott Isreal / Israel is the same as apartheid South Africa propaganda, that is now gaining some ground in the unions), is against a two-states solution, against Israel’s right to even exist bhind 1967 borders, and generally subscribes to the idea that anti-semism is a trivial, contrived matter, worthy of “having fun” about:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/neumann0604.html

  39. Red Maria said,

    Not that subject, Jim. href=”http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.com/2010/02/lindsey-german-resigns-from-swp.html”>THIS subject

    You must have something to say about it.

  40. Red Maria said,

    darn it, link went wrong.

    Anyway.

    Lindsey German resigns from SWP. That’s the story.

  41. Dr.Dawg said,

    It’s not all or nothing, Jim.

    I’m happy with the Abdullah proposal (1967 borders in return for a guarantee of security) not that this is in the cards now, with expanding settlements and the forced evictions from East Jeruslem. I think there are similarities with South African apartheid that shouldn’t be ignored, and I explored the matter here:

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/03/israeli-apartheid-calumny-or-reality.html

    Incidentally, when we were urging a boycott of South Africa back in the day, no one thought to accuse us of denying South Africa’s “right to exist.”

  42. Jim Denham said,

    Can’t agree with you, Dr Dawg: Apartheid South Africa was a matter of the denial of democratic rights *within* a state; Isreal/Palestine is a matter of the denial of *national rights* to the Palestinians.

    Having said that, the “greater Israel” movement *could* eventually result in an apartheid-type situation, which is why all Israelis (including Zionists) should support a two-state solution.

    Uri Avnery, the veteran Israeli peace activist explains why simplistic comparisons with apartheid South Africa are wrong and politically misleading:

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/uri-avney-on-why-israel-isnt-south-africa-and-a-boycott-wouldnt-work/

  43. Dr.Dawg said,

    If you actually read my post on the subject, I don’t think you’d find it “simplistic.”

  44. Jim Denham said,

    I *have* read your post, and would admit that it’s one of the better-argued and more reasonable cases for “Zionism / Israel = Apartheid” that I’ve come across.

    I also wouldn’t deny (as I’ve already stated, above), that if present trends continue in Israel, some sort of “apartheid” situatuion could, indeed, arise.

    But, at present, such a compaison is wide of the mark. And to say that is *not* to say everything is OK with Israel – far from it.

    But for Marxists, the essential difference is that in Apartheid South Africa the economy was based upon he super-expoitation of native, “helot” labour: in Isreal, the Zionist ideal (to a large extent achieved) was to *exclude* “native” (ie: Palestinian) labour: that’s not necessarily *good* but it’s *not* apartheid. In fact it’s more or less the *opposite* of apartheid. Therefore:
    1/The economic and social basis of the two states were entirely different;
    2/ Whereas there was no meaningful white South African “working class”, there *is* an Israeli working class, and an Israeli trade union movement (the Histradut) that though unusual in its history and politics, is a genuine workers’ organisation. Socialists therefore have a movement to relate to, in a way that we didn’t amongst the whites (even white workers) in apartheid South Africa.

  45. Dr.Dawg said,

    Well, I’m a Marxist too, and I would agree about the economic differences between the two states. Perhaps “apartheid-like features” would be more accurate.

    Histadrut needs its own thread. :)

  46. Dr.Dawg said,

    Well, I shouldn’t leave it at that:

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=167193

    The full report should be interesting. I raise this only because you brought up Histadrut.

  47. skidmarx said,

    #21 Actually Matt, I was hoping for a reply from our pigeon like friend, who talks a lot more sense than is typical here.
    And making a comparison with South Africa might not have been the best way to make my point. Rather it might have been better so say that it is peoples rather than states that have the right to self-defence, though in cases of attempted foreign occupation they may often overlap. But this does get onto the point of what they have the right to defend, and in the case of Israel’s seizure of a large proportion of historic Palestine I don’t see why defending expropriated property should be a right.

  48. Dr Paul said,

    Jim D wrote: ‘But for Marxists, the essential difference is that in Apartheid South Africa the economy was based upon he super-expoitation of native, “helot” labour: in Isreal, the Zionist ideal (to a large extent achieved) was to *exclude* “native” (ie: Palestinian) labour: that’s not necessarily *good* but it’s *not* apartheid. In fact it’s more or less the *opposite* of apartheid.’

    The exclusion of Arab labour is ‘not necessarily good’? Does this not actually make it, at least in a formal sense, worse than apartheid, in that the basis of the Israeli labour market legitimises the total exclusion of non-Jews from the economy and thereby from society?

    Jim D again: ‘Whereas there was no meaningful white South African “working class”, there *is* an Israeli working class, and an Israeli trade union movement (the Histradut) that though unusual in its history and politics, is a genuine workers’ organisation. Socialists therefore have a movement to relate to, in a way that we didn’t amongst the whites (even white workers) in apartheid South Africa.’

    There were no white workers in South Africa? There were, and they had unions, the role of which was to ensure that black workers were kept in an inferior position. This is not so different from the role that Histadrut has played in Israel vis-à-vis Arab labour. Histadrut has been central to the establishment and maintenance of the distorted labour market in Israel. The Alternative Information Center, an Israeli human rights group, has calculated that Arab workers in Israel have been cheated of 8.3 billion sheckels through various deductions that they have to pay but which they cannot receive because of their ethnicity.

    In an earlier post, Jim wrote that much of the left questions the right of Israel to exist. Now let us expand on that: the right of Israel to exist as a state affording rights depending upon one’s ethnicity and/or religion, or one affording rights on an equal basis for all its population? If you defend Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, then you are defending its consitutional right to discriminate against non-Jewish population. Since when have socialists supported institutional discrimination?

    Surely, socialists cannot defend that. Whether one supports a two-state solution or a monostatal solution, the left should insist upon equal national and religious rights for all the people concerned within either of those frameworks.

  49. Jim Denham said,

    Israel can’t win, can it Doc: I demonstrate that in socio-economic terms, it is the *opposite* of apartheid and you reply that my description (which you don’t dispute) merely goes to show that it’s “worse than” apartheid.

    My point about the white South African working class wasn’t that they didn’t exist, but that they were so enormously priviledged over black and coloured workers, that the idea of working class unity was virtually out of the question and white unions were completely tied into the ruling class and apartheid and (to the best of my knowledge) had *never* made common cause with black workers and black unions. They certainly didn’t have black members.

    Whereas the differentials between Israeli workers and Arab workers in Israel (yes there are quite a lot of them, but they’re not essential to the Israeli economy) are nothing like so vast. Also the Israeli unions not only have been known to support Arab workers, but have Arab members. Nothing like Apartheid, and most certainly not “worse.”

  50. voltairespriest said,

    It’s not “the opposite” of apartheid in human terms though, is it? That would suggest to the layman that it is a humanitarian paradise, and it plainly isn’t.

    Taking the literalism which skews this debate (on both sides) aside, one would have to be politically myopic not to note the obvious discrimination against Israeli Arabs, not to mention the Palestinians – an “issue” that did not exist in South Africa because there was no one population with a persistent claim to the land occupied by the apartheid state, which was expelled en masse to beyond its borders,

    In that sense, Israel’s behaviour could be said not to be the “opposite” of apartheid, but rather something different that is qualitatively not a hell of a lot better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 514 other followers

%d bloggers like this: