Friday, 20 August 2010

Israel/Palestine, anti-semitism and marxism

Article 22 of the Hamas charter, written in 1988, has this to say about the Jews:

“With their money [the Jews] stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there.”

Hamas are not the only anti-Semitic organisation to have claimed a link between Jews and Communism. Nazi publication Der Stürmer frequently and hysterically attacked ‘Jewish Communism’ii. The anti-Semitic pamphlet The Jewish Bolshevism, produced by the White Russians shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, purported to show how Jews had been the driving force behind the Revolutioniii.

Whilst it is true that a quick Google for ‘Jews Communism’ brings back a list of strange websites such as and all claiming to show Jewish/Communist conspiracies to take over America, it must be said that the perception of Jews has changed radically over the last 30-60 years. Today, much of the ‘left’ views Jews (or Israelis – more on that later) as a single reactionary bloc dedicated to oppression of the Palestinians and defence of neo-liberalism.iv

So, Jews as revolutionary Communists or Jews as right-wing defenders of a neoliberal world order? Is there any truth in either of these positions? Has there been a shift to the right amongst the majority of Jews?

Now that's the sort of thing I am looking for. I think.
Firstly, it hardly needs pointing out that the Jewish people are subject to the same forces that affect everyone else. Whilst conditions peculiar to the Jewish people mean these forces are expressed in a somewhat unique way, the roots of the changes in Jewish political views are in the great political convulsions that have shaken the world.

Following on from this, it is also important that the left intelligentsia, with its lack of grounding in Marxism and the class struggle, has always become disorientated and confused when presented with any sort of crisis. One common manifestation of this confusion is a need to ‘take sides’ when two reactionary forces are fighting each other. This is not a recent phenomenon – after the Second World War, after the reactionary nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy had become obvious, a number of ‘left’ intellectuals chose to side with the imperialist West, believing the Soviet Union to be the bigger impediment to socialism!
I like that - the comment about the apparent need to 'take sides' when two reactionary forces fight each other. I'm a big believer in the brain as a self-patterning system, and the way the brain hates unresolved issues, questions with no answer, etc. The brain insists on an answer, it does not easily vacillate and withhold its has to obtain a conclusion, that's what it does. (Hence stereotype, binary thinking, black and white, us and them, etc and thus a need to "take sides"?)

Anyway, more interestingly continues and casts the ADL etc as right-wing (Alex Jones crowd readers, please take note?):
The right-wing attitudes of the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center come as no surprise to anyone who understands the Jewish people not as a single bloc, but as a group riven by class divisions. As in any community or ethnic group, the ‘communal organisations’ have always represented the wealthy elite of the Jewish community, who adapted themselves to the ruling classes of the countries they settled in (particularly Britain and the US), and often had scant regard for poor and working-class Jews. Hence the British Board of Guardians (forerunner to the Board of Deputies) supported the notoriously anti-Semitic 1905 Aliens Act, aimed at curbing Jewish immigration to Britain, partly for fear that many of the Jewish immigrants were ‘Communists’ and would undermine the position of this communal elite, partly because they (as MPs and even peers) were thoroughly wedded to the British ruling class.

Similarly, the communal organisations in the US were set up, and funded, by wealthy Jews, and unsurprisingly reflect the interests of the wealthy. It is not that Jews are threatened by the Latin American revolution, rather the US ruling class feels threatened, and a section of the US ruling class claims to speak on behalf of all Jews.
Well, that seems to much better explain the situation than anything offered by these crazy conspiracists and nazis.

Somewhat reflecting my own sentiments on the subject's complexity, the writer concludes:
This essay may seem somewhat disjointed, but that is an inevitable consequence of the complexity of the subject matter. Simplistic denunciations of ‘Jews abandoning their morality’ and ‘turning from oppressed to oppressor’ (accusations hurled by Jew and non-Jew alike) are worse than useless. I’ve tried to chart the many dialectical forces that have affected the world population over the past 60 years, and show how, due to the special historical and material conditions of the Jewish people, these forces have affected Jews in a special way.

Some Jews became split from the left over the question of Israel, and this split will not be healed until a revolutionary movement develops which can unite the Israeli and Palestinian workers and poor against their imperialist oppressors, and provide a class-based solution to the problems of the Jews and the Palestinians.

As revolutionary Marxists, we concern ourselves little with the fate of the ‘left intelligentsia’ (whether Jewish or gentile), which has always splintered and fragmented when faced with any sort of political test. To borrow Trotsky’s phrase, they are ‘political eunuchs’, so of little interest to us.

As for the decline of ‘Jewish Bolshevism’, we feel sure that the emergence of a serious revolutionary movement, capable of challenging the capitalist system and its bourgeois ideologues, will attract many Jews to its banner, just as has happened in the past.
I'd like to find such sentiments echoed amongst pro_Palestinian movements. The American anti-Israeli movement, with its militia, patriot, christian identity and nazi wings just doesn't cut it. The problem is, no other voice is even heard amongst such crowds. Worse - no other voice is wanted amongst such crowds - such voices are driven out. Such people already know all the answers.


socrates said...

"Today, much of the ‘left’ views Jews (or Israelis – more on that later) as a single reactionary bloc dedicated to oppression of the Palestinians and defence of neo-liberalism."

That's what you wrote. You buy into too many stereotypes based on time spent on the internet. You are dismissive of things like cointelpro, so you assume groups like ANSWER truly represent the Left. You also seem a bit too dismissive of Israeli oppression against Palestinians. That's not kosher. Pun intended. You need to step back and stop being so one-sided. It's also unfortunate you tend to disappear on threads, once a question arises you can't answer. It's odd how much you are slanting Israel-Palestine as a topic. Heck, the other day you seemed to be sticking up for the US military.

socrates said...

Ok, sorry, I see you didn't write that but was just sloppy with quotation marks. Though it sounds like you think that, for you've promoted blogs saying the same thing. I think anything you have to say on Israel and Palestine is a waste of time, unless you start covering the Israeli oppression side. It's actually kind of disturbing how you conflate what you see with people like Mike Rivero into even more grandiose works of fiction. I guess it's no surprise you are turning into a big fan of pro-Israeli bloggers like Karmafish. This is more annoying than your overuse of question marks. And copying and pasting Lenin and Trotsky doesn't make any of this leftyish. It just makes it more confusing.

the_last_name_left said...

I do believe much of the left sees Jews/Israelis as a single reactionary bloc dedicated to protection of neo-liberalism and suppression of Palestinians. I think that's true. How much of the left exactly? I don't know - but it's a lot - and it's a position that is non-left.

There are infinite places criticising Israel. I don't see any especial need to join them, nor do I have sufficient knowledge with which to add anything. I just accept it's being (more than) taken care of. Why? Because I'm much more interested in anti-semitism than I am in I/P. That's my interest approaching I/P conflict - that's what is expressed here (imo)

I welcome criticism: you're welcome to criticise my position however you like. If it makes an impact on me doubtless I'll reflect on it and adjust. So, by all means....criticise?

I'm not sure where you get the idea I am turning into a 'big fan' of karmafish etc. For one thing, I have no idea whom karmafish is, what they stand for, or anything.

My experience is of having seen endless critiques of Israel and a dearth of pro-Israeli perspectives. I have no need to add to the chorus, especially when it reflects (and incorporates) a growing anti-semitism. I am well-used to being branded MOSSAD for my position - i think it's ridiculous and a mis-understanding of my position. Just my view of myself, of course. Other views are available.

Of course my position is going to appear pro-Israeli, as my interest is anti-semitism, rather than I/P per se. On I/P - I'd like a peaceful resolution but I have no commitment to any particular form of settlement other than it be equable and peaceful. I don't have an agenda for what the settlement should be - I don't think it's even my place to say what it should be, especially as I am so ignorant of the matter. I don't feel any need to join the chorus of disapproval - the chorus exists already. I'd like a settlement to happen but I have nothing to offer on what it should be exactly. I don't much care, either, aside from the proviso it be peaceful and equable. On the other hand, anti-semitism is a worldwide phenomena - one with implications for every other ethnic group and something heavily tied into the rise of fascism and exterminationism. I/P is a local contemporary conflict, anti-semitism is eternal and global. Further, efforts to make I/P a global issue seem to me essentially anti-semitic, riding with the cover of humanitarianism and progressivism.

Aside from anti-semitism, why don't I comment on Chechenya? Or Kurdistan? Or Sri Lanka? I criticise parties to those conflicts as little as I do Israel in I/P conflict. But no beef there? It's odd, to me.

The fact is, Palestinian leadership (hamas) is anti-semitic.....this fact transcends any issues to do with details of the conflict. It's a truism that states act as complete bastards.....why repeat it? We all know it.

Doubtless I will get to better know the details of the conflict (though I am loathe to learn about it, tbh). In due course my vision may clear, and I might more clearly 'take sides', I might criticise Israel more, I might not. I don't know as I don't know the facts. Simple?

You appear to have a more definite view - though why you do, I don't know: I don't know what your position is - you don't blog about I/P, right? You haven't taken a public position (at least I haven't seen it). You have several times stated flatly that Israel oppresses Palestinians....I don't know why you say that. How could I know?

Anyway, like I said, I welcome criticism - you have an invitation to criticise as much as you like. It's more interesting than agreeing all the time. ;)

socrates said...

You see no need to criticise Israel, yet you link to pro-Israeli websites and take pot shots at the pro-Palestinian side. Then to top it off, you say from time to time that you don't really know what's going on there. You're living in an internet bubble world. Karmafish is on the blog roster for that HuffPo Monitor link you shared. You're in bed with the noisy crowd of the pro-Israel side, while you're saying you haven't the desire to get involved with it.

socrates said...

I think you're conflating numbnut, internet anti-semitism into support of Israel in regards to its beatdown of the Palestinians. I don't think you realise you're even doing this.

socrates said...

Of course it's cool to have some disagreements. As long as it doesn't get personal like Larry and others go, it's all good.