The Star-linist school of demonisation

September 26, 2008 at 8:21 pm (anti-semitism, AWL, israel, Jim D, palestine, stalinism)

I ask you: don’t you know where you are, what’s going on around you? Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is detestable; it should be condemned in its detail, and in its totality, by counterposing to it the creation of an independent Palestinian state in contiguous territory.

“But the detestation of Israel on the ostensibly revolutionary left, and way beyond it – in the Guardian ‘liberal left’, for instance – is out of all proportion to what Israel does, as compared to other evils in the world.”

Sean Matgamna continues his masterly, Marxist demolition of Moshe Machover.

And, as if to prove Matgamna’s point, here’s an excerpt from the editorial in today’s Morning Star (daily paper of the remnants of the old Communist Party of Britain):

“What is it about being a superannuated, multimillionaire former member of the most famous pop group in the world tthat drives Paul McCartney to spew forth drivel about wanting to ‘help the peace process through music?’

“Does he think that posing for the cameras sporting a quirky grin and giving a peace V-sign with both hands is the vital ingredient missing from a Middle East peace settlement?

“Does he imagine that there is no material base for the conflict that shows no sign of resolution after 60 years since the establishment of the expansionist, racist, colonial state of Israel?”

Note how those glib terms “expansionist, racist, colonial” are used by these superannuated old Stalinists, without one single, solitary shred of explanation let alone evidence, as though they are self evidently true. Note too, how these miserable hypocrites, usually only too willing to praise any gesture about “peace”, from any quarter, suddely start sneering at McCartney when he talks about peace during a visit to Israel.

Interestingly, the same editorial goes on to talk about “the widespread but usually unspoken cultural boycott of Israel“: an “unspoken” boycott! How undemocratic and sinister is that?

McCartney, by the way, had planned to visit the music school (usually praised on the left as a progressive institution) set up in Rammallah by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, but had to cancel the visit because of a protest by some Palestinians (I’ve no idea how representative or spontaneous the protesters were). McCartney also faced protests by extreme right wing Jewish groups.

But to return to the Morning Star‘s increasingly hysterical demonisation of Israel (which not all CPB’ers agree with by the way – time to speak up, Mary Davis): it has a history – one that ought to worry anyone on the left who recoils from Stalinism…


  1. paul m said,

    You think that’s bad Jim, read the latest Stalinist drivel from Weekly Worker. It beggars believe that these idiots can claim that they are taking on the right of the labour movement (as well as the minnows of the AWL!), when, as far I can tell they do no actual work in the labour movement at all, and never have done, and spend most of their time spreading tittle tattle akin to a left wing version of Heat magazine.

    Corduroy wearers no doubt, and I presume Mark Fisher has a trick moustache.

  2. Dr Paul said,

    So Israel is not ‘expansionist, racist, colonial’? So it does not expand beyond the 1967 boundaries, it does not discriminate against its non-Jewish inhabitants, it did not establish itself on someone else’s land?

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Dr. Paul: its expansion has been, in large part, a response to Arab threats to wipe it out as a state. It *does* discriminate against its non-Jewish inhabitants, but every other state in the world discriminates against non-“native” inhabitants. Your points perfectly illustrate my and Sean’s case that Israel, while far from perfect, is subjected to dual standards on the “left”, and criticised on grounds that are not applied to other staes -even “settler” states like the US, Australia and Argentina.. And you know full well that I and the AWL oppose Israeli expansion beyond the 1967 borders: so what point, exactly, are you trying to make?

  4. chjh said,

    My miouth dropped open at It *does* discriminate against its non-Jewish inhabitants, but every other state in the world discriminates against non-”native” inhabitants. Is the AWL’s position now that there were no Palestinians in what’s now Israel in 1948, or is this just Jim out on a limb?

  5. modernityblog said,

    Chjh, what is the SWP’s position of Atzmon’s rantings?

  6. Ed said,

    CHJH – Jim Denham can speak for himself. But “native” was in quotes. I took the point to be that Israel does discriminate against non-Jews, and that’s deplorable; but it is not uniquely deplorable in this respect, though people often talk about it as if it were.

    This seems true enough to me.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    This has not been widely reported:

    “Yesterday in Tel Aviv, amidst all the commotion in preparation for his concert, Sir Paul McCartney sat down with staff and youth leaders from OneVoice Israel.

    “At the meeting, McCartney said, ‘My father told me that regular people don’t like wars and don’t want conflict. I’m not a politician – I just want to bring a message of peace. In every place I perform I see that people want the same thing’ — echoing OneVoice’s stance that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are moderates who simply wish to live their lives in peace and prosperity, free from violence, conflict, and occupation.

    “In support of the movement’s mission – to empower ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to push for peace and a two state solution – McCartney and members of his band wore the OneVoice pin at last night’s concert.

    McCartney spent the day before in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, bringing his message of peace to Palestine as well. We are thrilled to have his support.


    “OV Europe will host its first IEP tour of the year to UK universities from 10-15 November. Email for more information.

    “OVI will be holding its Imagine 2018 award ceremony on September 26, 2008 in Tel Aviv. Email for more information.

    “The next IEP tour in the US will be in the New York-area from 12-17 October. Email for more information.

    “The OneVoice Teams in Ramallah, Gaza, Tel Aviv, London, and New York

    “For more information and to tell us what you think, please visit our blog:

    “You are subscribed to PeaceWorks Foundation’s OneVoice Movement Update List. For removal requests click here or e-mail and specify Unsubscribe in the subject line.”

  8. chjh said,

    Ed – my precise point was that the Palestinian people were “native” (by any useful definition of that term) to the territory that became the state of Israel. Jim’s formulation seemed to deny that. I’m asking if that’s the AWL’s position, or just Jim’s personal position.

  9. modernityblog said,


    do the SWP consider that Jews are “native” to the region?

    by the way, what is the SWP position on Atzmon’s racism?

    or doesn’t the SWP consider fighting anti-Jewish racism to be of any importance?

    is it the “wrong” type of racism for the SWP to fight???

  10. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    Don’t worry, this is just Modernity’s standard tactic when faced with questions he can’t answer. Accuse the questioner of being a Nazi.

    It just signifies (1) he can’t deal with the point being made, and (2) it conveniently diverts attention from his alleged fondness for kiddie-porn.

  11. Ed said,

    CHJH – Obviously that was your point. Mine was that ‘native’ was in quotes, cancelling the need for your question.

    If I say “Britain discriminates against non-‘natives’…” that suggests I mean non-natives according to the discriminators, not according to me. As I say, Jim Denham can speak for himself. But even by the standards of these idiotic on-line polemics, this seems especially stupid.

  12. Hamster said,

    I don’t get it; I don’t get why, as a Humanitarian Socialist you take this stance on Israel vs the Palistinians and the wider Arab world. Of course I don’t agree with the Morning Star rant quoted above but I’d like to point out, that Israel is a much richer and wealthier state than the surrounding Arab countries, i.e. Syria, fragile Lebanon, and Jordan. Israel has a much more powerful and efficient military. Israel’s ally is the US. The Palestinisans want their land back, and there’s a lot of “history” going back decades with the Israeli-Palestianian/Arab conflict.

  13. johng said,

    er no though. The quotes might show that Jim didn’t want to use the word prejoratively. But he does seem to be suggesting that Palestinian Arabs in some way don’t come from Israel. It is worth re-emphasising that even in 1948 Palestinian Arabs were the majority of the population in what is today Israel. There is nothing strange about Arabs living in Palestine. There was something novel about the numbers of Europeans who came to Arab Palestine in the proceeding three decades. This is just a demographic fact. They were not of course (in inverted commas) natives of Palestine. In fact their organisations explicitly rejected this designation in the 1920s as they did not wish to be classed with the ‘native’ Palestinian inhabitants under the mandate. They wished to be classed as colonisers. It is naive to think that this history does not have an impact on the shape of racism in Israel today, and it is wrong to constantly act as if there is something dodgy about pointing to this basic historical reality: which are of course the roots of the conflict itself. As with Slavery in the US, this is a past which effects the present. Its why that past is still relevent.

  14. modernity said,

    agreed the past does affect the present

    so JohnG, could you give us the SWP’s position on Atzmon’s anti-Jewish racism and how it fits in with the SWP’s overall “anti-Zionist” approach to things?

  15. Jim Denham said,

    No, John (and others who objected to the term ‘native’): my point is that *all* nations have their own definitions of who and who is not, a citizen, national or ‘native’. The criteria vary: some are based upon ancestry, some upon residence, some upon former colonial status, some upon religious and/or racial family background. In every case, these criteria mean that there are ‘natives’ and non-‘natives’: in every case non-‘natives’ receive less favourable treatment, even when they are allowed residence and citizenship. Israel is no different from any other state this regard, and I find it extraordinary that socialists single out Israel for doing the same as every other bourgeois state, albeit using somewhat different criteria.

    And, Hamster: is Israel (with no oil) really “richer and wealthier” than surrounding, oil-rich Arab states? In terms of GDP? I don’t have the figures to hand, but I’d be very surprised if that were true. And even if it were: so what?

  16. Alan Laurence said,

    Israel is richer in terms of gdp and percapita gdp too.
    Israel is about the 45th largest economy, Syria 75th.
    Israel’s percaptial gdp is c£26k, the UK’s £36k and Lebanon £12k

    As you say, so what?

  17. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    “Israel is no different from any other state this regard”

    but it is, apparently since….

    “albeit using somewhat different criteria.”

    You can say that again!

    It is precisely the different criteria that makes Israel different. A state created by ethnic cleansing of a previous majority has to have different criteria to a ‘normal’ state. Generally, the exact opposite.

    Israel’s criteria for deciding who is ‘native’ and who is not could have come from George Orwell’s 1984. i.e black is white, war is peace, truth is falsity, etc. Armed colonists are ‘natives’; the indigenous people of the ‘wrong’ type whom they expelled are ‘non-natives’.

    Orwell’s satire of the USSR thus has its relevance to Israel also. The expelled are ‘foreigners’. The invaders who expelled them are redefined as native. Radovan Karadzic has nothing on this, he only wanted to shift the borders around a bit in the final analysis.

    To accept Denham’s logic, you need a totalitarian mentality, the type that can indeed assert that black is white. Plenty of that here, I see.

  18. modernityblog said,

    “A state created by ethnic cleansing of a previous majority has to have different criteria to a ‘normal’ state. “

    let’s think of states created by ethnic cleansing:

    New Zealand
    the US
    India and Pakistan
    large bits of the Balkans
    Bits of Eastern Europe

    oh and Saudi Arabia

    there’s probably plenty more, but it’s late and I can’t think too well

    please feel free to add any others that you think of

  19. Alan Laurence said,

    You write, ‘The Palestinians want their land back’. Yes, that is the political programme of some Palestinaian organsiations. But they cant have it.
    Nothing short of military conquest of Israel by united Arab armies would acheive such an outcome. And that is not going to happen. The Arab states have shown more or less no inclination to come to the real and lasting material aid of the Palestinians – not as yet.
    Nor would such a conquest of Israel be desirable . It would be a blood bath on a far greater scale than accumulated over the last 70 years . It is not possible or desirable to roll back history and wipe out the last 70 years.
    Facing up to the impossibility of a return to pre 48 (or whenever you want to date it) does not require ditching the Palestinians. It means a negotiated settlement which includes two states, some right of return and compensation.
    So far as I see it – the only alternative to such a settlement is either the continued national subjectation of the Palestinians or a huge war.

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