The Morning Star: when “anti-Zionism” becomes anti-semitism

October 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm (anti-semitism, israel, Jim D, Marxism, Middle East, palestine, stalinism)

The Morning Star newspaper likes to present itself as a non-factional paper of the broad left of the British labour movement. In reality, it is the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Britain, the remnants of the old out-and-out Stalinist CP. True, plenty of non-CP’ers write for it, including union general secretaries, “left” (and not-so-“left”) Labour MP’s, Greens and various others including even the occasional semi-Trotskyist. But, ultimately editorial control resides in the hands of the CPB, via the so-called “Peoples Press Printing Society.”

None of this would be of any great interest to socialist activists in the British labour movement, except that the Star wields an influence within the broad left of British politics far beyond the depleted ranks of the CPB…and since the collapse of the USSR (which used to subsidise it), it is largely kept afloat by money from unions, including Unite.

All of which means that non-CP socialist and union activists have a legitimate interest in the contents of this publication and the attitudes it strikes on domestic and international politics. For some time, I have been concerned about the tone of the Star‘s coverage of the Middle East and Israel/Palestine. Not, of course, its sympathy towards the Palestinians – a sympathy that I and everyone associated with this blog would share. No, the problem is the Star‘s repeated slippage from proper support and sympathy for the Palestinians into what can fairly be  called “absolute anti-Zionism.”

“Absolute anti-Zionism” can be summed up as as a one-sided hostility to Zionism (ie: Jewish nationalism) that willfully refuses to place it in its proper historical context (the pogroms, persecution and genocide of the last century), that whitewashes bourgeois Arab nationalism and reactionary, fascistic Islamism, applies double-standards to Israel and ultimately winds up denying Israel’s right to exist, even behind pre-1967 borders. “Absolute anti-Zionism” frequently manifests itself on the readers’ letters page of the Star, for which I suppose, the paper cannot be held editorially responsible. But such views also appear, with increasing regularity, in articles, reviews, editorials and columns. Ex-editor John Haylett regularly writes columns that appear to deny Israel’s right to exist. He also, recently, launched an attack on the Israeli-born left-Zionist and union activist Eric Lee, who runs the world’s leading trade union website Labourstart. This is Haylett’s description of Lee: “He also runs the LabourStart website, which provides information on global trade union struggles, encouraging the perception of him as one of ours”: am I paranoid, or is that a distinctly sinister turn of phrase? You can read the rest of this unpleasant (actually, disgraceful) article here.

The irony in all this is that the CPB is, as far as I’m aware, still formally wedded to the traditional socialist (and PLO) position of “two states”, rather than the “destroy Israel” line that Haylett and other advocates of  what amounts to  ‘absolute anti-Zionism’  regularly espouse in the Star.

The latest manifestation of this is in today’s edition, in which a book reviewer, Dan Glazebrook, looks forward to the “inevitable” “defeat” (ie destruction) of Israel, and goes on to compare it not just to apartheid South Africa (a common, though politically illiterate, comparison), but also to…Nazi Germany:

“Indeed, the very fact of Israel’s senseless lashing out and the public support for it demonstrate a despair common to all illegitimate regimes which have realised their time is almost up.

“The worst massacres in both apartheid South Africa and in the lands occupied by nazi Germany during World War II happened in their very last years when defeat was clearly inevitable.”

What needs to be spelled out plainly is that this sort of stuff is anti-semitism, pure and simple. The fact that the people putting it about regard themselves as “left wing” is neither here nor there. Glazebook, significantly, also writes in what is probably the world’s leading “left” anti-semitic publication, the US magazine Counterpunch. The roots of this type of “left wing” anti-semitism are, of course, in Stalinism and the Stalinist bureaucracy’s campaigns against “Zionism” from the 1930’s through the 1952-3 “Doctors’ Plot” in the USSR and the “anti-Zionist” campaign in Poland in 1967-68.

In fact, given their political tradition’s foul history of promoting the “Socialism of fools“, Mr Haylett and his Stalinist colleagues really aught to be more careful about their pandering to ‘absolute anti-Zionism’: or, as it is more properly called: “left wing” anti-semitism.

50 Comments

  1. David D. said,

    We could call it the anti-zionism of fools, but that sounds too mild, too much like the criticism of a few blameless ignorants. They aren’t blameless and they aren’t ignorant. They are racist scoundrels. And they have infected the left with a disease that should have died in 1945, certainly by March 5, 1953.

  2. Andrew Coates said,

    Yes I noticed this (normally buy the Morning Star on Saturdays).

    This seems the right analysis of Glazebook’s nasty piece.

  3. johng said,

    Jim could you explain how its ‘pure anti-semitism pure and simple’ as opposed to ‘simply’ asserting it over and over again?

  4. Mike Killingworth said,

    I have no doubt that a few Union branches do make donations to the Morning Star, but I was under the impression that it is still financially afloat because Anita Halpin inherited an Impressionist painting (which had been looted from her family by the Nazis) which she sold at the end of 2006 for $38 million, money which she said she would use to keep the Star going. Even allowing for the gallery’s rapacious take, it seems unlikely that she has managed to get through all of it in four years.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/THE+ART+OF+WAR%3B+As+prices+go+through+the+roof,+restitution+of…-a0155674632

  5. skidmarx said,

    Jimbo’s “absolute anti-Zionism” link goes to an article by Pierre-André Taguieff, about whom Wikipedia says:Pierre-André Taguieff wrote Les Contre-réactionnaires (Denoël, 2007) in which he opposed both antiracism and antifascism. He considers them as ideologies which are instrumentalized by far-left groups (p. 576) « aiming to regularize as many illegal immigrants as possible without any regulation » .

  6. Ludwik Kowalski said,

    You quoted “The worst massacres in both apartheid South Africa and in the lands occupied by nazi Germany during World War II happened in their very last years when defeat was clearly inevitable.”

    This is not true for the Soviet Union; the worse massacres were decades before this.

    I have two short books about Stalinism. They are now ON-LINE and FREE. Anyone can read them by using a browser. The titles and the links are shown below.

    1) “Hell on Earth: Brutality and Violence Under the Stalinist regime.”

          http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/father2/introduction.html

    2) “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

          http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

    Some have said that my books are “imperialist propaganda” and “cold war relics.” How can this be? I was not commissioned to write them. The books are dedicated to my parents, and to all other victims of Stalinism. Writing was a moral obligation for me.

    The first book was written for Americans who know very little about Soviet history. In addition to easy-to-read descriptions of Soviet proletarian dictatorship, the book discusses communist morality (Section 3.7), and the results of a survey of American students’ knowledge about Stalin (Section 4.5). Chapter 7 illustrates how Stalinism has been discussed by professors at one American university.

    The second book is an autobiography illustrating my evolution from one extreme to another–from a devoted Stalinist to an active anti-communist. This testimony is based on a diary I kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

    Please share the links above with a potential reviewer, and with others who might also be interested, especially young people, and their teachers. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance,

    Ludwik Kowalski
    Professor Emeritus
    Montclair State University (USA)

  7. maxdunbar said,

    John

    ‘He also runs the LabourStart website, which provides information on global trade union struggles, encouraging the perception of him as one of ours’

    If you can’t recognise the racism in that, you don’t recognise racism, full stop.

  8. BenSix said,

    I don’t know this Haylett bloke so yes, he could be a racist. On the other hand, is it not within the bounds of possibility that by “one of us” he means “the workers”, as opposed to, I don’t know, “the bourgeoisie” or “the establishment”?

    • Ludwik Kowalski said,

      In other words, it can the following strategy:

      An enemy of my enemy is my friend, probably for the time being. I will take care of him later. That is what Lenin and Stalin did, on numerous occasions. I am thinking of Mesheviks, Social Democrats, Anarchists, Kadets, leftist opponents, right opponents, etc.

      Ludwik Kowalski, the author of “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality,” at

      http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

      Fellow travelers, be aware!

      “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

  9. entdinglichung said,

    also in the Morning Star:

    Palestine hosts own Oktoberfest

    West Bank: Taybeh village celebrated Oktoberfest at the weekend, even though it’s a tiny Christian enclave in a Muslim-majority area under Israeli occupation.

    And on Saturday Israeli Jews were among those sipping the honey-coloured Palestinian beer.

    “Normally I go to demonstrations. It’s nice to drink beer instead,” said Israeli Natasha Dudinski, a pro-Palestinian peace activist who has attended weekly protests for years.

    Taybeh – the name of the village and the beer – means “tasty” in Arabic and the two-day beer festival attracted thousands of Palestinians.

    “I thought it would be cool to help bring about peace in the Middle East one beer at a time,” added Dalal Khalil, a Syrian-American.

  10. Karen said,

    Don’t forget that Roger Waters Pink Floyd arse. He too has been exposed as an anti-semite of the first water.

    • Kucing Hitam said,

      Opposing Israel’s land- and resource-stealing ‘separation barrier’ does not make anyone an ‘antisemite,’ even a tragic old hippy wamker like Waters.

      • Mike Killingworth said,

        KH, as I understand it the policy of the Israeli government is, first, that an anti-semite is anyone who opposes any action, past, present or future, of the Israeli government, second, that this includes anyone who queries – even in the mildest way – the Israeli government’s total monopoly on the definition of anti-semitism and thirdly that all anti-semites are also Holocaust deniers.

  11. Kucing Hitam said,

    But, but, but, Bibi Netanyahu — who appeared at rallies next to posters of Yitzhak Rabin dressed in an SS uniform — is clearly qualified as an arbiter of what does or doesn’t constitute antisemitism.

  12. Kojack said,

    CYcloPh0bia is the new anti-semitism.

  13. skidmarx said,

    Kojack – is that hatred of cyclists or cyclones or economic cycles? Probably a more constructive question than the nonsense of the post. As Chomsky said (which I discovered following the Socialism of Fools link, which goes to a wikipedia article on August Bebel when perhaps it might have gone here):
    There have long been efforts to identify anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in an effort to exploit anti-racist sentiment for political ends; “one of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all,” Israeli diplomat Abba Eban argued, in a typical expression of this intellectually and morally disreputable position (Eban, Congress Bi-Weekly, March 30, 1973). But that no longer suffices. It is now necessary to identify criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitism — or in the case of Jews, as “self-hatred,” so that all possible cases are covered.
    Or as Norman Finkelstein puts it:
    Whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle such as the Intifada or international pressure to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, American Jewish organizations orchestrate this extravaganza called the ‘new anti-Semitism.’ The purpose is several-fold. First, it is to discredit any charges by claiming the person is an anti-Semite. It’s to turn Jews into the victims, so that the victims are not the Palestinians any longer. As people like Abraham Foxman of the ADL put it, the Jews are being threatened by a new holocaust. It’s a role reversal – the Jews are now the victims, not the Palestinians. So it serves the function of discrediting the people leveling the charge. It’s no longer Israel that needs to leave the Occupied Territories; it’s the Arabs who need to free themselves of the anti-Semitism.
    Or as the article sums up:
    Legitimate criticism of Israel, based on its policies against the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as inside Israel cannot be called anti-Semitic. Such an accusation deliberately mis-uses the term, aimed at awakening fear of anti-Semitism, rather than diminishing it. It would represent the silencing of freedom of speech.[

    • Harry Tuttle said,

      Skidmarx,

      Here’s the full quote:

      One of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all. Anti-Zionism is merely the new anti-Semitism. The old classic anti-Semitism declared that equal rights belong to all individuals within the society, except the Jews. The new anti-Semitism says that the right to establish and maintain an independent national sovereign state is the prerogative of all nations, so long as they happen not to be Jewish. And when this right is exercised not by the Maldive Islands, not by the state of Gabon, not by Barbados… but by the oldest and most authentic of all nationhoods, then this is said to be exclusivism, particularism, and a flight of the Jewish people from its universal mission.

      The other example given in the main post is Counterpunch. Last year it published an article defending the blood libel charge. Is that legitimate criticism of Israel. Or how about the self-proclaimed anti-Zionist site Dissident Voice. Here’s one gem from that site:

      Are these revisionist contentions so odious as to cause those who believe them to be reviled, beaten, and imprisoned? More importantly, is it possible that revisionist contentions are true, or even partially true, and that they are despised because they contradict the story of the Holocaust, a story which has been elevated to the level of a religion in hundreds of films, memorials, museums, and docu-dramas?

      Is it sacrilegious to ask, “If Hitler was intent on extermination, how did Elie Wiesel, his father, and two of his sisters survive the worst period of incarceration at Auschwitz?” Wiesel claims that people were thrown alive into burning pits, yet even the Israeli-trained guides at Auschwitz refute this claim.

      Is it really “beyond international discourse” to question the efficacy and the forensic evidence of homicidal gas chambers? If other myths, like making soap from human fat, have been dismissed as Allied war propaganda, why is it “unacceptable behavior” to ask if the gas chamber at Dachau was not reconstructed by the Americans because no other homicidal gas chamber could be found and used as evidence at the Nuremburg trials?

      Is that anti-Zionism or antisemitism? Is it legitimate criticism of Israel?

  14. resistor said,

    Can’t take the truth eh Max?

  15. jim denham said,

    It’s not Max, it’s me (who is deleting your comments). Resister: you’re not only an anti-semite, but a bore. Now be a good little anti-semite, and bugger off, eh?

    • skidmarx said,

      When you are insulting in this manner, is it any wonder people try to wind you up by mistaking you ethno-religious background?

  16. Rosie said,

    This bit from Dan Glazebrook’s review seemed to me the height of fatuity:-

    Indeed, the very fact of Israel’s senseless lashing out and the public support for it demonstrate a despair common to all illegitimate regimes which have realised their time is almost up.

    The worst massacres in both apartheid South Africa and in the lands occupied by nazi Germany during World War II happened in their very last years when defeat was clearly inevitable.

    How is Israel’s present regime “illegitimate”? It was voted in by democratic process. It may have some rotten policies and carry out some rotten actions but how is it illegitimate?

    Also, when “illegitimate” regimes are about to be defeated, is that inevitably precluded by massacres? That happened all over Eastern Europe in 1989, did it? when those illegitimate regimes changed? The ruling parties must have known “despair”.

    Also, when eg the British Empire lowered their flag to peoples demanding nationhood, was that inevitably preceded by massacres? Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t.

    And of course when regimes do some “senseless lashing out” (eg China at Tiananmen Square, Iran at present) does that mean we can look forward to those regimes crumbling? Nice to think that, but not very likely.

    I’d say that Dan G‘s view of history is highly selective, and about as useful for prediction as a horoscope. History repeats itself as wishful thinking.

  17. Kucing Hitam said,

    Jim, how long are you going to hang around with people who think objecting to being mown down on the sidewalk by cyclists is the ‘new antisemitism’? Do you like sharing a platform with the likes of Ezra and Standing? Do you enjoy being vitiated by your apolitical liberal ‘co-bloggers’?

    While you are protesting outside the Tory party conference, they are more than likely to be inside having tea and a slice of Victoria sponge with Call-Me-Dave.

    Tanks on your lawn? More like an aircraft carrier in your bath.

  18. Kucing Hitam said,

    Also Jim, you should ask yourself why readers are no longer allowed to criticise capitalism at a ‘blog’ with the word ‘Socialist’ on the masthead. Why is admonishing a racist now too controversial for a ‘blog’ with ‘Socialist’ on the masthead?

    Supercalifragilisticexpialimassiveblackhole.

    Liberals are the enemy.

  19. resistor said,

    I wonder why Denham can’t accept the truth about his mate Eric Lee?

    Lee wasn’t born in Israel, he was born in New York.

  20. Kojack said,

    Kucing, it is quite obvious that Jim Denham is now part of the problem – he has been infected by the liberal virus, he is contaminated. His little popular front with bourgeois liberals has led him to the absurd position whereby he is happy to host comments from racists, financial gangsters, anti-communists and so forth whilst deleting “impolite” comments from the revolutionary socialists that call them out. The centrist Denham is cretin who probably has never read a single piece of work by Marx. I bet he couldn’t even explain Marx’s theory of the commodity form for instance.

    Jim’s dumb understanding of communism has its roots in pre-Marxist utopian socialism. On the one hand his analysis is seeped in idealism – stressing the primacy of ideology over material social relations, and on the other he posits a sort of vulgar teleological materialism that emphasises a predetermined and linear unfolding of social processes in which bourgeois democratic capitalism represents a necessary transitional period between various post-colonial political deformations and socialism – Stalinist stages theory in other words. He is all over the place. And clueless. And a fuckwit. He deserves his new found rightist allies.

    • Sarah AB said,

      I say – that’s most awfully funny. Thanks Kojack!

  21. maxdunbar said,

    Resistor

    Why is that relevant?

  22. resistor said,

    The first time I posted that fact, Denham deleted it – and another post with more easily verifiable facts about Eric Lee.

  23. jim denham said,

    I fail to see how or why Eric Lee’s place of birth is of any possible relevance or interest, even to a dyed-in-the-wool anti-semite like “resister.”

  24. maxdunbar said,

    Perhaps Resistor meant it in the Powellite ‘a cat born in a kipper box is still a cat’ sense’

  25. johng said,

    Israel is regarded as an illegitimate regime by many because a) it was founded on the dispossession of the Palestinian people whom it continues to deny self determination to and b) because it maintains a brutal military occupation of the same (and has done since 1967).

    Now Jim seems to believe that those who believe a) or b) or both are guilty of antisemitism ‘pure and simple’.

    Yes we’re all familiar with nonsense apologetics ranging from claims that because other regimes are also guilty of comparable crimes its in some weird way anti-semitic to talk about Israeli ones, all the way through to metaphysical hocus pocus about how criticism of Israel is the new form of antisemitism (thankfully meaning that the recipient of an ADL award for outstanding statesmanship doesn’t have to be criticized for telling anti-semitic jokes about the holocaust because he is at least a supporter of Israel, not to mention a general enthusiast for US wars, I speak of that wonderful statesman Berlesconi).

    But ‘pure and simple’? Surely not.

  26. Oscar's EbAY always open for business said,

    i would leave a long-winded reply to gameboY here but it will be deleted by DumBAr so i won’t bothER.

  27. charliethechulo said,

    As a mamber of an anti-semitic organisation that has championed Gilad Atzmon, Father John Gameboy Coughlin isn’t really in a very strong position to lecture anyone on this subject, is he?

  28. Oscar's EbAY always open for business said,

    GameboY always and everywhere strikes the characteristic pose and prose of much contemporary hostility to Israel and the Zionist cause/Zionism — when challenged on his or other idiots’ utterences and squeaks and the antisemitic aspects of them are pointed out, his modus operandi is (i) outright denial, (ii) to downplay, and even (iii) justify them by employing antisemitic polemics/tropes himself (which are claimed to be anti-Zionist). And so on and on and on it goes. Gameboy is a fantasist, a member of a cult (and not even a very successful one at that), and a very very dishonest interlocutor. Waste of time engaging with him — best ignored or ridiculed one or both — depending on your mood at the time.

    Bonus:

    who said this on the telly in an interview? No cheating mind (hint – a best mate of Gameboy’S mob until fairly recently).

    “I was re-elected despite all the efforts made by the British government, the Zionist movement and the newspapers and news media, which are controlled by Zionism”

  29. Oscar's EbAY always open for business said,

    Current Affairs Quiz: Hamas are…

    *A 1970s Palestinian dance troop.

    *A liberation movement for mankind in its entirety .

    *Deeply upset by the recent demise of Norman Wisdom.

    *A public spirited social charity along the lines of Cameron’s BIg SociEty ethos.

    *Merely playing with cheap fireworks that would bounce off you if you wore a thick felt coat, even if they fired in the right direction.

    *Our fault, of course.

    A stormtrooper in a teacup. Old boy.

    A flat-packed shelving unit from IKEA.

    Fighting to reduce carbon emissions.

  30. resistor said,

    jim denham said,
    October 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm
    ‘I fail to see how or why Eric Lee’s place of birth is of any possible relevance or interest’

    It was Denham who described Lee as an ‘Israeli-born left-Zionist’

    Wrong on both counts.

  31. Oscar's EbAY always open for business said,

    here is your yOOtUBes link Mr BleRg (you missEd a H offfs oV the front).

  32. Oscar's EbAY always open for business said,

    heAR iSs anerthEr 1 — features a cat commOditEe

  33. Blerg commenntyatrr said,

    THIs one featres sunny hundel and the wilberalcuntspiracy gagn:

  34. Kucing Hitam said,

    @20 Blerg commenntyatrr

    After a restorative Laksa Lemak and a few Tigerzz I is back in black. Only two words Blerg commenntyatrr?

    ‘One should like it most awfully — snort snort’

  35. Blerg commenntyatrr said,

    trhe last 20 oldd comoments hae not been nearly racist enbougj for a thread about israel and pealstine. that is why max wiill delate them. only racst commetns are welcom on IZONIMS threads.

    e.g. ZIONIST CONTROLLED MEDIA

    or

    ISLAMICS ARE SURROUNDING ISRAEL

    Such comments are welcone on palesitne/sirael threads -they wiell be left. the anti racists will be delated -fucking ideoltic liberal covnetion worshiping cuntkersbs.

  36. Blerg commenntyatrr said,

    JOhn GaiM said “metaphysical hocus pocus”

    JohN GaiM si a ballsack.

  37. Batter down the hatches said,

    I could beat any of you up. Any of you punk ass muthafuckers wanna test me? Meet me outside 10 downing street tonight. Bring weapons.

  38. Blerg commenntyatrr said,

    dont u mena “batten down the hatches”? must improve yor spellign and presnetation ii recon.

  39. Batter down the hatches said,

    Nah, was a deliberate pun. Honest.

  40. Blerg commenntyatrr said,

    faier eunuff.

  41. Will said,

    (….)

  42. Will said,

    (boring, predictable abuse)

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