Eric Lee answers Morning Star smear

June 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm (Champagne Charlie, israel, Middle East, palestine, stalinism, unions)

John Haylett, a prominent member of the Communist Party of Britain (the remnants of the old Stalinist CP), and former editor of its paper, the Morning Star, recently (June 26 in the print edition) wrote a vituperative attack upon Eric Lee, editor of LabourStart, the world’s leading trade union website. Eric is also a long-standing supporter of the “two states” position on Isreal/Palestine. The attack was significant because the CPB nominally adheres to a “two states” position rather than the “absolute anti-zionist” line of those, like the SWP and the Islamists, who seek the destruction of the state of Israel. But to read much of what appears in the Star (including Haylett’s piece) you’d never guess it. The article also includes a number of downright lies about Eric Lee and the organisation Tulip (trade unions linking Israel and Palestine) – indeed to read Haylett’s piece you’d get the impression that  the CPB positively opposes trade union links between Palestinian and Israeli workers. Here’s Haylett’s piece:

Trade unionists smeared over Gaza stance – John Haylett on Zionist attempts to misrepresent solidarity activists

Supporters of Israel’s efforts to colonise east Jerusalem and other occupied Palestinian territory are to go on the offensive to win back lost ground in Britain’s trade union movement.

LabourStart editor-in-chief Eric Lee made this clear in a fringe meeting at Unison conference in Bournemouth earlier this month.

Addressing the Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI) meeting, Lee accused those trade union leaders who have grown tired of excusing Israel’s crimes against human rights of either rushing ahead of their members and agreed union positions or of, bizarrely, following the lead of Guardian writers and BBC reporters.

He insisted that only a fraction of union members actually care about Palestine, suggesting that the issue is driven by “hard left” groups such as the Socialist Workers Party rather than, for example, by Muslim trade unionists.

Of course he may have been smarting a little as a result of Unison deciding, for the first time, to ban TUFI from having a stall at its conference.

In addition, Unison delegates voted to condemn the Israeli military attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, to reaffirm 2009 conference calls for an end to all UK arms sales to Israel, for recognition of the results of the 2006 Palestinian election and for an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of Israel, to condemn uncritical Histadrut backing for Israel’s attack on the flotilla and to suspend links with Histadrut pending a review of bilateral relations.

This response was, as Lee recognised, in line with trade union developments across the globe.

Unite and colleges union UCU have voted to boycott Israel and, in the case of UCU, for an end to its relationship with Histadrut.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has condemned the killing of civilian campaigners on the Mavi Marmara, urged an end to the blockade of Gaza and slammed expansion of Israeli illegal settlements on the West Bank.

At its annual congress in Vancouver this week, South African centre Cosatu put down an amendment urging support for boycott, disinvestment, sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Cosatu called BDS “the only remaining peaceful form of global resistance and practical expression of solidarity” and it commended the decisions taken by its SAMWU and SATAWU affiliates.

Transport union SATAWU members refused to unload Israeli shipping and municipal workers’ union SAMWU declared every municipality in South Africa “an apartheid Israel-free zone.”

Earlier this month, the International Transport Workers Federation executive board voted for stronger action in support of Palestinian workers and against the blockade of Gaza.

The Norwegian Ports Union responded to requests from Palestinian trade unionists by initiating a two-week boycott of Israeli ships, while its Swedish equivalent applied similar sanctions that lasted until this Thursday. Californian dockers also took a stand, boycotting an Israeli freighter last weekend.

As Cosatu international relations secretary Bongani Masuku said, the stronger ITUC position on Palestine “shows that the growing global tide of workers and peoples against Israeli apartheid is unstoppable and must be strengthened.”

However, according to Lee and his colleagues in Tulip (Trade unions linking Israel and Palestine) – the latest zionist ploy to pull the wool over trade unionists’ eyes, the willingness of more people than ever to criticise Israeli expansionism is because they don’t know the facts.

This patronising and misleading statement belies the difficulty that Palestinian solidarity campaigners have had being heard in the mass media.

Like the majority of Israel’s Cabinet, Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible.

Annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.

No, it’s the military threat posed to Israel’s very existence by “a potentially nuclear-armed” Iran, which is currently funnelling sophisticated weapons to Islamist resistance groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and Tehran’s aims are clearly “exterminationist.”

The idea that Israel, the most militarily powerful state in the region with its nuclear arsenal, fears annihilation at the hands of Iran and its paramilitary allies is strictly for the birds.

Equally, Lee clutches at straws in claiming that Palestine Solidarity Campaign members believe that Israelis should be “driven into the sea or sent back to Germany and Poland.”

Solidarity with the Palestinian people’s national rights is based on justice and internationalism not anti-semitism and it is shameful to suggest otherwise.

Similar short shrift should be given to Lee’s tendentious assertion that “we have the Palestinian trade union movement on our side” or that the Palestinian trade unions are “at best lukewarm on the question of BDS.”

Palestinian trade unionists do not need the Histadrut to speak on their behalf. They speak for themselves and welcome peaceful acts of solidarity such as BDS.

Trade union members in Britain should prepare themselves to be smeared and misrepresented in the hysterical zionist campaign to derail the movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

It illustrates the weakness of zionist arguments, not their power, and shows that the movement for justice is growing.

Now, Eric Lee has replied:

Reply to John Haylett’s article in the Morning Star

John Haylett accuses me of being part of a “hysterical zionist campaign” in his Morning Star article of 25 June (“Trade unionists smeared over Gaza stance”).

Indeed, he goes further and says that Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP), which I helped to found, is “the latest zionist ploy to pull the wool over trade unionists’ eyes”.  He calls myself and those who agree with me “Tel Aviv mouthpieces”.

I’ll leave it up to readers of the Morning Star to decide who is being hysterical and who is being smeared.

Let’s first of all correct a few facts:

Haylett calls us “supporters of Israel’s efforts to colonise east Jerusalem and other occupied Palestinian territory”.

We are no such thing.

Haylett says that “annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.”

Really?  Where did we say that?  Or have we not said the exact opposite, repeatedly?

For example, speaking in Belfast in March and representing TULIP, I opened my talk saying that we oppose settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, have supported every Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories so far, and support a two-state solution based on withdrawal from those territories.

TULIP’s founding statement speaks of “Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, within secure and recognised borders” — which is identical to the viewpoint of the TUC and British unions in general.

I have devoted years of my life, both in Israel and abroad, supporting a two-state solution including Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories.

To say otherwise is a libel.

Haylett says we criticized “trade union leaders who have grown tired of excusing Israel’s crimes against human rights.”

This is not true.

I don’t actually know trade union leaders who have excused “Israeli crimes” and have now grown tired of doing this, but would be happy for Haylett to tell us who they are.

What we did criticize is those trade unionists who have forgotten what we have always stood for (a two-state solution), and have instead embraced the view of the reactionary Iranian regime (a one-state solution).

Haylett quotes me as saying that “only a fraction of union members actually care about Palestine” — but doesn’t challenge this.

If there is any evidence that rank-and-file union members in their millions (or even their thousands) are engaged with these issues, produce it.  It doesn’t matter what side of the issues you fall on.  The fact is that only a tiny minority of trade union members in the U.K. care about Israel and Palestine.

Haylett writes that “Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible”.

Really? Every act?

TULIP has played a key role in getting across to the world the Israeli Histadrut’s call for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

TULIP and TUFI have both consistently called for an independent Palestinian state, even when the right-wing government in Israel does not do so.

And I personally have long played an opposition role within Israeli politics which is well documented and goes back nearly thirty years.

Haylett seems unaware of these bare facts, so I have only one word of advice for him: Google.

Furthermore, he is convinced that there is no nuclear threat from Iran.

The fact that the entire international community — including Russia and China — have agreed to impose even more severe sanctions on Iran carries no weight.

He writes with authority that “the idea that Israel, the most militarily powerful state in the region with its nuclear arsenal, fears annihilation at the hands of Iran and its paramilitary allies is strictly for the birds.”

So there is no Iranian nuclear program?  The Iranian regime is not committed to the extermination of Israel? Its proxies in the region — Hamas and Hizbollah — have not repeatedly expressed their commitment to destroying the Jewish state?

Israel has nothing to worry about, according to Haylett.  Some of us might beg to differ.

Haylett is so convinced that he is right, and is so poorly informed, that he chose to tell Morning Star readers that “at its annual congress in Vancouver this week, South African centre Cosatu put down an amendment urging support for boycott, disinvestment, sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

Ignoring the fact that the international trade union congress is not an annual event, Haylett’s article appeared after the world’s unions rejected the COSATU amendment.

Instead of calling for a boycott of Israel and isolation of its trade union movement, the world’s unions voted last week to support a two-state solution, rejected Hamas extremism, reinforced their commitment to Israel’s right to exist and so on.

Instead of throwing the Histadrut out, it elevated Histadrut leader Ofer Eini to the post of vice president of the International Trade Union Confederation and made him a member of the organization’s highest bodies, including its 25-member Executive Board.

Haylett quotes favorably from COSATU international relations secretary Bongani Masuku, who speaks of an “unstoppable” tide of support for the Israel boycott — a tide that apparently was stopped in Vancouver last week.

He neglects to tell Morning Star readers that Masuku was convicted last year by the South African Human Rights Commission of hate speech directed against the country’s Jewish community.  Masuku is anti-Semite and racist, but Haylett quotes him favourably.

Haylett says that we are “hysterical Tel Aviv mouthpieces” who exist to “pull the wool over the eyes” of honest trade unionists, that we uncritically support everything the Israeli government does including the settlements in the occupied territories.

Haylett says that we have “smeared and misrepresented” the views of others.

There is not a grain of truth in what he writes.

Shame on the Morning Star for running such a dishonest and libelous article.

52 Comments

  1. shug said,

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/06/the-one-state-solution-sounds-like-a-good-idea-but/.

    Dont know if that is going to work,run out of custatd creams,and fuck that gets me ropeable.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      Is that article a parody of every bad idea that’s passed through Gilad Atzmon’s brain? In the comments, the author writes:

      There will be no semblance of peace in the Middle East (which in this sense now stretches as far as Pakistan) as long as an atavistic, judeofascist state continues to exist in any form.

      That’s something you’d expect to read on Stormfront, not a left-wing site.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      Nevermind.

      A little digging and it turns out that site hosts a number of articles written by Gilad Atzmon. It all makes sense now.

  2. shug said,

    Palistine besides our interferenace,is a being.Sad that us would be socialists should argue the point of being or existance.Are we not us socialists without borders.Ive run out of custard creams.

  3. Steve said,

    Personally I think Haylett has it spot on. Thanks for bringing this guy to my attention.

    Support the boycott!

  4. skidmarx said,

    That Eric Lee appears to believe that Iran is going to use nuclear weapons (it doesn’t have) on behalf of Hamas or Hezbollah against a state that surely does shows that he is is a bit of a fantasist.

  5. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Skidmark, I know you’re a bit of a moron, but the above remark shows that basic comprehension is beyond you. Lee’s point is that (1) Iran is in breach of its NPT commitments, (2) that it is officially committed to Israel’s destruction, and (3) that Hamas and Hezbollah share the same goals. Only a cretin would adopt your version of his argument.

  6. skidmarx said,

    (1) It hasn’t even got nuclear weapons, unlike Israel, Pakistan or India.
    (2) As a non-nuclear weapon state it is unlikely to attack a nuclearised Israel, that it is itself not under existential threat from. And even if it did have them, when it is in favour of Israel’s destruction as a state so that the Palestinians can get there homeland back, it could scarcely achieve this by reducing the place to a radioactive wasteland.
    (3) Hamas and Hezbollah don’t have any nuclear weapons, and even if Iran had them, it is inconceivable that they would let them out of their own control.

    So before you use words like moron and cretin, STOP BEING AN UTTER FUCKING IDIOT

  7. charliethechulo said,

    Skidders: “when it is in favour of Israel’s destruction as a state so that the Palestinians can get there homeland back, it could scarcely achieve this by reducing the place to a radioactive wasteland”: Oh, that’s reassuring for Israelis, then. Or do Israelis not have the same rigght to national survival as every other nation in the world?

  8. skidmarx said,

    Charlie, I think that all nations are a fiction designed to convince people that what unites them with those of the same ethnicity or territory is more important than what they have in common with others. The Israeli state, based as it is on racist dispossession has even less right to national survival than I’d accord to most states. But the point you’re trying to avoid is that nuclear weapons are irrelevant to any attempt to bring justice to the Palestinians, though that’s obviously not a priority for you.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    Skidders condemned out of his own mouth:

    “The Israeli state, based as it is on racist dispossession has even less right to national survival than I’d accord to most states. ”

    Very few anti-Israel bigots openly admit that they single out the Jewish state for special hostility.

    • skidmarx said,

      There you go with your political anti-semitism crap again.

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Oh yes: ” I think that all nations are a fiction designed to convince people that what unites them with those of the same ethnicity or territory is more important than what they have in common with others”: I presume, then, Skidders that you think Lenin was wrong and Luxemburg was right on the national question, and that “the Socialist Revolution and The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” is a thoroughly misguided pamphlet?

    Funny how so many “Leninists” come over all Luxemburgist when discussing Israel (and *only* Israel).

  11. skidmarx said,

    No I don’t. When people suffer oppression as a nation, it is important that socialist support their demands for national self-determination. Like with the Palestinians. Not supporting their oppressors, like what you do, which has a lot more in common with Stalinism than any variety of Marxism. With the greatest respect I can muster, stop being full of shit and stop constantly complaining that those who oppose the Zionist theft of Palestinian land are making Israel a special case, because it has no traction with anyone but your zionist buddies, who only tolerate you because they think you help to divide the far left. And on present evidence they’re right.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      Skidmarx:

      …When people suffer oppression as a nation, it is important that socialist support their demands for national self-determination.

      Do you support Jewish national self-determination?

      • Down with Israel said,

        Absolutely not. No religion is never entitled to national expression or state power. Democracy was achieved in opposition to such reactionary feudal excrescences. Do you support Christian self-determination? Islamic self-determination? If so you are one reactionary individual. If you think Islamists support a one state solution then you are either tripping or a liar, probably both. Down with the reactionary colonialist imperialist satrap state of Israel. For a unified democratic Palestine.

      • Harry Tuttle said,

        The Israelis have a shared culture, language, and history. That makes them just as legitimate as any other people. And the Jews are a people, Judaism is a religion.

        Islamic self-determination?

        Bosnian Muslims were defined by their religion. This despite a lack of commitment to Islam among a large number of Bosnian Muslims. I’m sure many Chetniks had no problem seeing them as a religion rather than a people when it came time to dispossess them of their land.

  12. skidmarx said,

    No.They are a people, part of which has been constituted as a nation only by the oppression of the Palestinians. As Marx said:
    “A nation that oppresses another can never itself be free”, and Israel, based as it is on the dispossession of the Palestinians can never represent freedom for Jews.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      I agree that Jews can never truly be free in Israel as long as the Palestinians remain oppressed, but at the same time, the Jews cannot be free as long as they remain subject to the goodwill of whatever host nation tolerates them.

      Israel and the Israeli people are a fact, there’s no way around that Skidmarx. Erasing Israel and making its people stateless would be a crime, even though it would reverse the crime perpetrated against the Palestinians. That’s why their has to be a balance, why a two state solution, as bad as it, is still the only option.

      • skidmarx said,

        Establishing a bi-national state in Palestine would by definition not render the Israelis stateless.

      • Harry Tuttle said,

        Do you believe the Israelis would accept a solution that may eventually see a Palestinian majority?

      • skidmarx said,

        If as socialists we stand with the oppressed rather than the oppressors, isn’t it a rather more relevant question to ask if the Palestinians would not resent anything less?

      • Harry Tuttle said,

        The Israelis are going to give up their sovereignty, something they’ve expended countless lives defending, to live in a Palestinian state, run by a majority of people they’ve been at war with for seven decades. Uh-huh. I don’t think the Israelis, many of whom have memories of being expelled from Arab countries, are going to agree to this idea. I also doubt they’d be willing to put their security in the hands of another, given the past.

        How exactly would you convince them to accept what looks like collective suicide?

      • skidmarx said,

        I also doubt they’d be willing to put their security in the hands of another, given the past.
        Isn’t that what you’re asking of the Palestinians? This is why Israelis will never be free as long as Israel exists as a state, their state’s existence is based on the oppression of Palestinians.

  13. Jim Denham said,

    “No”: thanks for that frank answer on Jewish national self-determination , Skidders. I presume that you apply the same criteria to the Americans, the Australians and the Argentinians (for starters).
    And Marx’s dictum “a nation that oppresses others can never itself be free” has nothing to do with the rights of nations to self-determination. I repeat, on the question of Israel, Skidders, you appeat to reject Lenin and embrace Luxemburg. Nothing wrong with that iin principle, but why *only* apply it to Israel?

    There you go with your political anti-semitism crap again.

    • skidmarx said,

      Russian nationalism in the context of the break-up of the Soviet Union has been used to oppress those nations trying to break away from its domination, Chinese nationalism in the context of Tibet or East Turkestan similarly. When you start campaigning seriously for the removal of settler populations in the Americas I might start taking your remarks on that seriously, as it is it is just a “we can’t do anything about that, so let’s do nada about the nakba”.

      There you go with the political anti-semitism nonsense again. I can understand that you really want to call anyone who disagrees with you a racist, but are confined by worries about libel actions (good luck if you’re still fighting one, by the way, I don’t think it’s the correct way to respond), but dressing up the accusation by putting “political” in front of it is illiterate and unproductive.

  14. Down with Israel said,

    Denham is a tool of religious reaction as well as just a tool.

    The US, Australia, New Zealand achieved self-determination in opposition to the colonial mother land and held on to it in the teeth of imperialism. That they subsequently became imperialisms themselves is neither here nor there. In fact it was only the achievement of democracy and/or self-determination that prevented the complete extermination of the indigenous populations. Israel is an imperialist satrap state and will be as long as it survives because democracy and religious obscurantism, privelege and domination are incompatible with democracy and every day it continues to exist threatens the continued existence of the Palestinians. It is an expansionist state and an expression of self-determination of nobody except finance capital and its armies.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      The US, Australia, New Zealand achieved self-determination in opposition to the colonial mother land and held on to it in the teeth of imperialism.

      Self-determination that came at the expense of the rights, and even lives, of the aboriginal population. The methods used to oppress these peoples, at least here in the States, continue to this very day. Now you say “privelege and domination are incompatible with democracy”, and yet how do you think the European settlers of the states mentioned managed to build and maintain control of these states?

      Are you at all aware of the national struggles taking place in Chiapas in democratic Mexico? Or the Kurds in democratic Turkey? When the American Indian Movement pressed for its rights, did it succeed, or was it undermined by the agents of a democratic state maintaining the privilege and domination of a once foreign peoples? Was Canada not a democracy during the periods it operated the discriminatory residential schools?

      Israel is not unique in that it oppresses another people with legitimate ties to the land, yet it is only one of a handful of such states that the world pays any attention too.

  15. Down with Israel said,

    Denham is a rationalizer of genocidal violence. He thinks the murderous violence of the israelis against the Palestinians is justified by what US did to the native americans, or the spanish slaughters, or australias treatment of the aboriginals. Unfortunately for him and his zionist chums the Palestinian national democratic revolution remains undefeated and will not go the same way as those struggles. The zionists must be stopped and they must be stopped now.

  16. Jim Denham said,

    “Down with Israel”: anti-semites like you (and “resister”) should at least learn to read…then read some history.

    “Israel is an imperialist satrap state”: embargoed by the UK and US in 1948 and able to defeat the Arab ruling class’s genocidal attack only by arms supplied by the USSR and Czechoslovakia. I suppose if you consider the USSR and Czechoslovakia to have been “imperialist” in 1948, then the description might fit. But somehow I don’t think that’s what our ignorant anti-semite “Down with Israel” means.

  17. Down with Israel said,

    Denham, you are the only anti-semite round here. Your insistence on a homeland for jews is very sinister indeed. How many people do you think you could crush into Israel?

  18. Jim Denham said,

    An anti-semite writes: ” Your insistence on a homeland for jews is very sinister indeed”…

    Down with Jews: I think you’ll find that it’s not me who “insists” on a homeland for Jews…but the vast majority of jewery internationally, following a minor occurence called the Holocaust.

    And what exactly, is “sinister” about that, Down with Jews?

  19. Down with Israel said,

    Denham wants to tar all jews with the brush of zionist war crimes. You never cease patronising jewish people you anti-semitic clown. Truly a useful idiot of both zionism, imperialism and anti-semites everywhere not to mention the feudal arab theocrats and bourgeoisies who depend on Israel as an excuse for their wretched dictatorships. Israel is no more than an aircraft carrier for US and European imperialism. You claim to be a socialist. You are a freak you sad apologist. Why don’t you go and find a darkened room and go an listen to some 70 year old jazz and never come out?

    The vast majority of jewery internationally insist on a homeland for jews to they Denham. Let us allow you that unsubstantiated claim for the moment. What, however, about the rest of the jews who are not in favour of a homeland or even against zionism and Israel? Does your phenomenal anti semitic arrogance entitle to characterise them as anti-semites too you self appointed guardian of what is good for the jews?

  20. Jim Denham said,

    Down with Jews: I don’t know whether you’re simply a typical Christian anti-semite, an anti-semite who happens to have been born Jewish (like, say Gilad Atzmon or Tony Cliff), or simply a crazed, right wing absolute anti-zionist. Whatever: you’re of no interest except to demonstrate the hysteria of modern anti-semites masquerading as “anti-zionists.” Fuck off and don’t come back.

  21. skidmarx said,

    As I said before Jimbo, when you make silly claims like the one that Tony Cliff was anti-semitic, you bring a low level of debate on yourself.

  22. Jim Denham said,

    Cliff was asked (in his last interview, Socialist Review magazine 100), if there was anything in his political history he regretted? His replied, “yes”, going on to cite having supoported Jewish immigration into Palestine in the 1930’s…think about it, and what Cliff’s reply actually means. Cliff has played an absolutely terrible role on the British and international left with regard to Israel/Palestine, his Jewish origins and carefully-maintained Jewish persona and accent, warding off accusations of anti-semitism that would have been directed at anyone less obviously Jewish. Nevertheless, some of us rumbled him and have no hesitation in brandinmg him an anti-semite.

    Sean Matgamna put it well, in an open letter to Cliff (http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/06/22/anti-semitism-and-left-open-letter-tony-cliff):

    “Your stance, I contend, is anti-semitic. Not, of course racist – but it packages a comprehensive hostility to most Jews (that is, what has always been the content of anti-semitism) in socialist and anti-imperialist verbiage Those in the Second International who tried to express hostility to capitalism through hostility to Jews (“the Rothschilds”, etc) were aptly described as preaching a ‘socialism of idiots.’ What much of the left says today about Zionism, Israel and imperialism is thge anti-imperialsm of idiots.

    “A central part of your political work for decades, comrade Cliff, has been to cultivate and spread that idiocy.”

    Matgamna’s case against Cliff is unanswerable. I will, however, concede one point to you, Skidders: I shouldn’t have referred to Cliff and Gild Atzmon in the same breath, as though their crimes are the same; they’re not. Cliff propogated *political* anti-semitism, not racism towards Jews. Atzmon is a crude, anti-Jewish racist who invokes (for instance ) the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and now questions the reality of the holocaust. That is qualaitively different, and I was wrong to equate Atzmon with Cliff.

  23. skidmarx said,

    What illiterate nonsense Sean talks. It’s anti-semitic but not racist. Opposition to Israel is comprehensive hostility to most Jews. His case against Cliff is so laughable as not to be worth answering.
    And “carefully-maintained Jewish persona and accent” sounds like an anti-semitic slur, look what the clever Jew does to stop us seeing through his anti-semitism.

  24. Jim Denham said,

    Skidders: I would submit that it is you who is politically “illiterate”: Sean’s case is sound, and based upon personal experience (of the Healyite SLL) and the history of the Marxist and anarchist movement. Classic anti-semitism (including the well documented anti-semitism of the anarchists in the C19th and C20th and the Stalinists, was never based upon (or, at least *solely* upon) personal hatred of individual Jews: it was based upon hostility to Judeism, and now “Zionism.” If the Jews could only be persuaded to convert, all would be well…

    Cliff’s deliberate and cultivated Jewishness served a pupose, and it’s no slur to point that out.

    I have, previously on this blog, told a true story about a meeting at Birmingham University I helped organise in the 1970’s at which Cliff spoke and deliberately bated and upset Jewish people present by mocking their ethnic and historic sensibilities (including a jibe about gas chambers) in a way that no socialist would ever dream of doing to any other minority ethnic group, and we IS’ers laughed because we felt we were untoucheable, given Cliff’s obvious Jewishness. Later on I thought some more about this episode and felt dirty.

  25. skidmarx said,

    Sean’s case is sound, and based upon personal experience (of the Healyite SLL) And transferred to the SWP, where no such case can reasonably be made.
    Classic anti-semitism… was never based upon (or, at least *solely* upon) personal hatred of individual Jews
    Never or solely? Make up your mind. In any case an extreme sleight-of-hand to label political opposition to Zionism as anti-semitism because in the past there have been completely different movements in completely different circumstances that have rhetorically attacked Judaism rather than Jews. Even here I think your argument fails to stand up: the attacks on Jewish bankers are very much on a par with modern American rightist attacks on the Z.O.G., seeing those individuals as part of a conspiracy in which all Jews are implicated. And how about Marx? There’s enough in his writings attacking the economic role of Jews (again in very different circumstances). Shouldn’t he be posthumously knocked off your Christmas card list?
    If the Jews could only be persuaded to convert, all would be well…
    Nobody on the Left is asking Jews to convert, or sign your imaginary loyalty oaths, so stop fantasising.

    Cliff’s deliberate and cultivated Jewishness served a pupose, and it’s no slur to point that out.
    But it doesn’t sit well with making accusations of anti-semitism every time the Jewishness of Israel’s supporters comes up. You have a double standard.

    Cliff spoke and deliberately bated and upset Jewish people present
    Funny the way you tell this. Just ordinary Jewish people who had happened to attend the meeting, possibly because your enormous charisma had pulled them there? Or just possibly, members of the UJS who had gone along and had been deliberately provocative?

    in a way that no socialist would ever dream of doing to any other minority ethnic group
    As Marcel Berlins pointed out in the Guardian once “ethnic minority” is far more literate than “minority ethnic”. And there is a long tradition of members of particular minority groups saying things that others could not. Cf. blacks and the “n” word.

    Later on I thought some more about this episode and felt dirty.
    I think the first two words are key here. Later on, presumably after Madgamna decided there was a political niche in deriding the left as racists ( sorry, “political anti-semites”). The Nazis were big on hygiene, you know.

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      Skidmarx wrote:

      Nobody on the Left is asking Jews to convert, or sign your imaginary loyalty oaths, so stop fantasising.

      He may be referring to this:

      Conference invites members to consider their own responsibility for ensuring equity and non-discrimination in contacts with Israeli educational institutions or individuals and to consider the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from such policies.

      From Worker’s Liberty:

      As Jon Pike, the AUT member who initiated the successful campaign for a special AUT conference to overturn AUT’s “boycott” policy last year, writes on the “Engage” website: “198C seeks NATFHE endorsement for a private or individual boycott of Israeli academia. It doesn’t say which universities, so we must presume that it refers to all the universities in Israel. It does so, disingenuously, because it couches the boycott call in terms of individual responsibility… [it also] asks that people consider their responsibility (in relation to) “contacts with Israeli … individuals”.

      “It is clear that the proposers of 198C think that it is appropriate to cut off links with Israeli individuals, but they dont, yet again, have the guts to say so. It is clear, once again, that the proposers of 198C think it is appropriate to introduce a… test [of] public disassociation from ‘apartheid policies’ as a precondition to ordinary academic interchange. And, once again, this runs flat up against a concern with academic freedom. And it is clear that they want to endorse a private, covert, boycott…

      “What the proposers of this resolution want is union endorsement for actions [such as those] of [Manchester academic] Mona Baker, who sacked members of the editorial board of her journal because they were affiliated to Israeli Universities…

      “The resolution… may well be ruled out of order: there were procedural irregularities in its proposal, and it also seems to come up against the non-discriminatory clauses of NATFHE’s constitution. This specifies that the aims and objectives of the association are… to oppose actively all forms of harassment and unfair discrimination whether on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic or national origin…

      “But the resolution specifically advocates discrimination on a national basis: it applies to only one nation: Israel”.

      • skidmarx said,

        But the resolution specifically advocates discrimination on a national basis
        Like Jimbo’s conflation of “Jewish people” with an organised group of Zionists, this confuses a proposal for action against a particular state and its institutions with discrimination against a paticular ethnic group. On this basis, any union resolution that calls for action against a particular governments policies is discriminatory if it doesn’t equally refer to every government in the world.

        It is clear that the proposers of 198C think that it is appropriate to cut off links with Israeli individuals, but they dont, yet again, have the guts to say so. It is clear, once again, that the proposers of 198C think it is appropriate to introduce a… test [of] public disassociation from ‘apartheid policies’ as a precondition to ordinary academic interchange.
        It is clear that Jon Pike is putting words in the mouth of others, and knows what they think better than they do. And even if what he says contains an element of truth, it is the actual contact with Israeli state instutions, not the beliefs of individuals and their right to hold them that is being targeted. Noone is preventing British Jews from holding academic posts in the UK on the basis of their views on Israel. This is a million miles from McCarthyism, and it doesn’t convince anyone but yourselves to claim that it isn’t.

  26. Jim Denham said,

    Skidders: I haven’t time at the moment to answer all the points you’ve raised, but I’ll deal with a few of the most important (and, I think, outrageous) ones:

    On Marx: he was a product of his time. I don’t like a lot of his comments about Jews (eg the editor of the Times’ nose) but it isn’t serious anti-semitism of the sort you find in a lot of socialist (and particularly) anarchist literature of the time.

    You say “Nobody on the Left is asking Jews to convert, or sign your imaginary loyalty oaths, so stop fantasising.” Oh yes they are! All the time! The “left” simply loves anti-Israeli Jews and “anti-Zionist” Jews. So long as they have “converted” and are willing to say so. The late Steve Cohen was good on this and is worth checking out.

    Yopu ask whether bthe Jewws who attended the Cliff meeting I mentioned were “, “members of the UJS who had gone along and had been deliberately provocative? ” What an extraordinary question! What makes you assume that they were being “provocative”? Because they were members of UJS? And what’s wrong – for us leftists – in being “provocative” anyway? And even if they had been “provocative” would that have justified Cliff’s Jew-baiting? As it happened, they were UJS members, invited along by us with the promise of a serious debate (!). And they behaved impeccably: unlike the jeering mob of IS’ers who confronted them.

    Your snide remarks about my feeling “dirty” , “after Madgamna decided there was a political niche in deriding the left as racists ” is simply insulting, offensive bollocks. I felt that way about what had happened shortly after the meeting, which was years before I’d even met Matgamna.

    I’ll ignore your disgusting closing comment about Nazis.

    • skidmarx said,

      but it isn’t serious anti-semitism
      But Cliff telling some ethnic jokes is?

      So long as they have “converted” and are willing to say so. The late Steve Cohen was good on this and is worth checking out.
      Why the quote marks around “converted”? Because this is an imaginary process concocted by Zionists? Because there is no persecution by the Left going on, merely an opposition to those who support Israel, an indifference to those who express no view, and a welcoming of those who see a racist state for what it is? I’ve checked out the late Mr. Cohen’s website, and he provides no more evidence for his assertions than you do.

      As it happened, they were UJS members
      So why did you refer to them simply as “Jewish people” without mentioning this obviously pertinent fact? Because you are utterly unable to relate an account of any event without distorting it beyond recognition? It makes it impossible to accept the veracity of any anecdote you come out with when you behave like this.

      I’ll ignore your disgusting closing comment about Nazis.
      My point here, and with your anti-semitic slur on Cliff further up the thread, is that this is exactly what you and your comrades do in lieu of serious debate all the time: pick apart the political points people put forward to find imaginary racism underneath. You just don’t like it when it’s turned back on you. As I suggested on a previous thread, why don’t you grow up and stop with the tendentious nonsense.

  27. John Haylett said,

    UNLIKE Eric Lee, who believes that it was shameful of the Morning Star to carry my feature in its June 26-27 edition, I am pleased that the editor published Lee’s response in full on July 1.

    And I welcome Lee’s Google challenge to research his position on the issues raised in my piece, but it’s equally necessary to examine the wider picture and to judge where words conflict with deeds.

    Most zionist leaders pay lip service to the idea of a two-state solution while engaged simultaneously in ethnic cleansing to expand colonial settlements on the West Bank, including illegally annexed east Jerusalem.

    Lee states that he supports “a two-state solution including Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian authorities,” but he sees no contradiction, as an Israel Defence Forces combat unit reservist, to serve 24 days a year in the occupied territories.

    He justified this stance on his blog in August 2006, writing: “I believe that Israel won control of the Gaza strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem and the Sinai peninsula in a war of self-defence in June 1967.

    “Israel, then under a government of the democratic left, was not interested in doubling the size of its territory or bringing under its control hundreds of thousands of hostile Palestinians, many of them refugees from the 1948 war of independence.

    “Following its military victory, Israel held on to those territories, not annexing them (except for east Jerusalem) and most of us assumed that it would be willing to exchange them for genuine peace. Israel’s acceptance of UN security council resolution 242 confirmed that belief.”

    Such idealism may have washed in the immediate aftermath of 1967, but it’s well past its sell-by date.

    And while revealing that he has yet to fire his rifle, Lee explains his role in enforcing the illegal occupation.

    “Regardless of what I think of Jewish settlements in the territories, so long as there are children there, someone has to protect them. I’m willing to do that job.”

    The assumptions here are revealing. Israel didn’t want the 1967 war. It didn’t want to colonise the territories it occupied. I don’t want to be an occupier, but I’m forced to by the threat to Jewish children’s lives in settlements that are illegal under international law.

    Israel and its armed forces are constantly forced to do bad things against their will, recalling Golda Meir’s comment — epic in its chutzpah — that “we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”

    This attitude was echoed by Lee on January 25 2009 in justifying the murderous Israeli assault on Gaza.

    “Right now, Hamas is an obstacle to peace, as it proved by unilaterally ending its ceasefire with Israel and launching the rocket barrage last month that compelled (my emphasis) Israel to act with lethal force.”

    Lee also took issue with Palestinian casualty figures, calling the figures indicating a high death toll among children and a 20:1 fatality ratio of civilians to actual Hamas fighters “ludicrous.”

    “If it were true, either the Israeli air force and army would have the worst aim in the world or Hamas fighters really are protected by divine intervention but civilians are not or the Israelis were behaving like nazis, deliberately trying to kill Palestinian civilians, especially children.”

    By phrasing alternatives in this farcical way, Lee transfers IDF responsibility to Hamas.

    Lee demonises Iran and its “proxies” — Hamas and Hizbollah in Lebanon — for pushing a one-state solution, for extremism and being committed to “destroying the Jewish state.”

    There is nothing intrinsically extremist about advocating a single-state solution, provided that the rights of all citizens are guaranteed equally. Nor is there anything progressive about the racist concept of a “Jewish state,” which consigns 20 per cent of Israel’s population to second-class citizenship at best.

    Not content with regional whipping boys, Lee singles out South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku for character assassination.

    He notes that the Cosatu international relations secretary was found guilty by South Africa’s Human Rights Commission of hate speech directed at the country’s Jewish community last year, following a complaint by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

    I was introduced to Masuku by South African liberation leader Ronnie Kasrils in London last December, days after the SAHRC ruling, which Kasrils clearly viewed as tainted.

    The idea that someone of Kasrils’s background and record would consort with an “anti-semite and racist,” as Lee demeans him, is risible.

    Cosatu pronounced itself “shocked and appalled” by the SAHRC decision, calling the board’s categorisation of Masuku’s statements “a pack of lies.”

    “It is through such lies and intimidation that the SAJBD, the South African Zionist Federation, and other apologists of Israel have sought to chill free expression in South Africa and to prevent any critique of Israeli war crimes,” Cosatu added.
    Those who back the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom against the zionist apartheid regime must expect to be traduced as Masuku has been.
    Supporters of the South African people’s armed resistance to apartheid faced similar abuse, but no-one repeats any more, for example, Margaret Thatcher’s description of Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist.”

    Despite the refusal of Lee and the International Trade Union Confederation to back the boycott, disinvestment, sanctions campaign against Israel, this form of peaceful pressure will escalate.

    And, as with the South African victory over apartheid, the Palestinian people’s struggle to surmount zionist apartheid to win justice and independence will succeed.

  28. Egg on your face said,

    “Oh yes they are! All the time! The “left” simply loves anti-Israeli Jews and “anti-Zionist” Jews. So long as they have “converted” and are willing to say so.”

    I didn’t know that Zionism was supposed to be a religion that you can ‘convert’ to (or from). I thought, in my ignorance, that Judaism was a religion.

    If they have ‘converted’, then they are not Jews, except in an ethnic sense. But if they have not ‘converted’, then they are still Jews.

    You cannot ‘convert’ from being Jewish in an ethnic sense, any more than you can ‘convert’ from being of any other ethnic origin.

    Denham has obviously had so much to drink that he is confused about what a religion is.

    Next he will be telling us that alcoholism is his religion.

  29. Jim Denham said,

    Eggface: learn to read. Then learn to think.

  30. Jim Denham said,

    John Heylett’s reply to Eric Lee doesn’t actually respond to any of Lee’s specific points and makes do with generalised personal attacks and seems to call into question

    1/ The CP’s traditional support for two states in the Middle East
    2/ Israel’s right to even defend itself

    Heylett’s dismissal of the very well documented case against Bongani Masuku and his anti-semitic hate-speec, seems to be based upon the fact that Ronnie Kasrils likes him. Not good enough, comrade!

    The analogy with apartheid has been taken apart on this site and elswhere, from a Marxist perspective, too many times for me to be bothered to repeat yet again. Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom explained why the analogy is wrong and misleading about a year ago in an article that appeared in…The Morning Star!

    • skidmarx said,

      Heylett’s dismissal of the very well documented case against Bongani Masuku seems to be based upon the fact that Ronnie Kasrils likes him.
      And a statement by COSATU.

      seems to call into question
      1/ The CP’s traditional support for two states in the Middle East
      2/ Israel’s right to even defend itself

      He seems to put his position clearly in the original article:
      “Like the majority of Israel’s Cabinet, Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible.
      Annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.”

      The analogy with apartheid has been taken apart on this site
      I take apart, they dispute, you flounder. Is that the correct conjugation?

  31. Egg on your face said,

    “Then learn to think.”

    He means ‘learn to drink”

  32. skidmarx said,

    For a far more level-headed view on the “Iranian threat” than Eric Lee’s, try here.

  33. shug said,

    Amazing how the so called British,this disunited entity,has the answer to others problems.Is Britain,arrogant.

  34. The Stalin school of falsification continued « Poumista said,

    […] On the Morning Star’s smear of trade unionist Eric Lee. (Previously on Lee here.) […]

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