Anti-semitism and the left - redux

Anti-semitism and the left - redux

This has been a hot topic on the forums of late, prompted in part by the spate of discussions in relation to Israel's assault on the Gaza strip. Here I'll try to pull together some of the arguments and provide a bit of background to try and understand the phenomenon.

Discussion of anti-semitism and the left is frought with difficulty, not least because of the efforts of right-wing groups like the Anti-Defamation League to paint all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic, and thus silence dissent. Then there's left-wing groups like the Anti-Deutsch who take opposition to leftist palestinian flag-waving anti-zionism to its mirror image, supporting the Israeli state and waving stars of David, claiming anything less than support for Israel is anti-semitic. There's also the related notion from a similar milieu that any criticism of capitalism that focuses on finance is not simply myopic, but 'structurally anti-semitic' (a term I actually think is worth reclaiming for a more sensible meaning, see below).

On the other hand, leftist anti-semitism does exist. Most infamous is the Adbusters article 'Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?' which lists a string of Jewish neoconservatives, claiming they're not being anti-semitic because the people the list really are Jews. If that's the case, we await their 'why won't anyone say they're grey haired?' sequel with baited breath! As moderators of this forum we've had to unpublish comments endorsing the article and going beyond it into bizarre anti-semitic conspiracy theories (such as painting the recent South Ossetia conflict as the work of rich Israeli Jews). The cartoons of Carlos Latuff often flirt with anti-semitic images and caricatures (such as the 'Jewish puppetmaster'). We've got an article by Kevin Keating in our 'best of the worst' section that peddles the casual anti-semitic conspiracy theory - basically indistinguishable from far-right ZOG ones - that "the US is effectively a pawn of its client state in Jerusalem." In this vein just a couple of days ago a statement - provoking much criticism - signed by several platformist groups and published on Anarkismo alleged that:

As far as the USA is concerned, there is no doubt. Apart from the important strategic and territorial alliance that Israel represents for American imperialism in the Middle East, it also has to deal with the powerful US Jewish economic lobby, which is strong enough to bring about a stong influence on US foreign policy.

Following criticism, the offending section (which only represents a fraction of the statement, although this is hardly the point) was revised to read:

As far as the USA is concerned, there is no doubt. Apart from the important strategic and territorial alliance that Israel represents for American imperialism in the Middle East, it also has to deal with the powerful US pro-Israel lobby, which is strong enough to bring about an influence on US foreign policy.

But this substitution of 'pro-Israel lobby' for 'Jewish economic lobby' raises more questions than it answers. For starters, the two terms are only synonyms according to questionable assumptions that equate 'Jewish economic' interests with Israel. The problem with the statement is not simply the specific terms used, but the whole structure of this particular assertion, which neglects a materialist, class (and evidence!) based understanding of the middle-east in favour of a tail-wagging-the-dog scenario of a US government manipulated against its own interests. Notably, we rarely hear US foreign policy in other areas - longstanding support for Saddam Hussein say - ascribed to a mysterious lobby. But the statement's authors and signatories, even after criticism insist that there's "no doubt" this is the case when it comes to Israel (See Django's blog post for a debunking of this position).

To an extent this reaction reflects the wider fallacy of political correctness; the essentialist idea that if 'discriminatory words' are suppressed, so is discrimination. Of course this ignores the fact that the meaning of words are context-dependent, and that terms like 'nigger' range from sickening racist abuse to terms of endearment or friendly humour depending on the context. The contemporary far-right has fully expolited this fallacy, re-inventing itself as the defender of the rights of indiginous people ('white Britons'), and using a whole host of politically correct euphemisms to peddle race-hate. So to understand how no-doubt sincere anarchist-communist comrades can come out with statements, even in 'error' that mirror far-right or Islamist anti-semitism, and furthermore fail to see what's actually wrong with it when criticised, we have to dig a little deeper (with the purpose of understanding and uprooting anti-semitic ideas rather than smugly denouncing comrades as anti-semites).

What needs to be considered is the legacy of the figure of 'the Jew' in the European cultural imagination (which includes European offshoots like North America). This figure is the shadowy, conspiratorial puppetmaster behind world events, the personification of the invisible forces of capital which shape our lives. This leads to a truncated critique of financial capital rather than capital per se (as in the recent 'blame the bankers' type propaganda around the economic crisis). While explicit anti-Jewish racism is now far less acceptable than it once was, it is not identical to or necessary for these historical anti-semitic narratives to find contemporary resonance. In the case of 'blaming the bankers' for instance, one has to ask why it has populist resonance? What narratives is it tapping into? It is in this context I think the term 'structural anti-semitism' makes sense, to describe rehashed classical anti-semitic arguments without the anti-Jewish racism, arguments that are structurally identical to anti-semitic ones only the term 'Jew' is subsitiuted with 'Zionist', 'financial elite', 'wealthy bankers', 'lizards' or whatever. I would argue the prevelance of these ideas among the left mostly reflects a lack of materialist class analysis, which in turn reflects the weakness of the class, rather than any thinly veiled Jew-hating.

While anti-semitism has a long and inglorious history, the discussion in relation to the left requires a little more historical background. As the left is defined in relation to capitalism, I'll address the development of anti-semitism alongside the birth of early capitalism. In medieval europe there were three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Bloody wars were fought between them and between sub-sects (such as following the Reformation), but religion was a major force structuring social life. Usury - the lending of money at interest - was prohibited by both Islam and Christianity, but not by Judaism. Consequently according the the historian Paul Johnson's 'A history of the Jews':

Catholic autocrats frequently imposed the harshest financial burdens on the Jews. The Jews reacted by engaging in the one business where Christian laws actually discriminated in their favour, and became identified with the hated trade of moneylending.

This is an example of how Jews occupied a place in Christendom that was simultaneously inside it but not of it, a cosmopolitan Other, an alien within. The expenses of imperialist competition increasingly led Europe's rulers into the arms of bankers who could lend them the capital necessary to finance their (potentially lucrative) overseas adventures. This largely meant Christians borrowing from Jews to finance their wars and conquests. (Restrictions on usury were eventually relaxed by the Christian churches, reflecting the material needs of emerging capitalism, and underlining that ultimately prevailing religious ideology is structured according to the needs of capital and the state).

Concurrent with this was the confluence of the existing 'miserly Jewish money-lender' archetype typified by Shakespeare's Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice', and a material basis for this ideology, as anti-capitalist sentiments were expressed as a truncated critique of emergent capitalism focused on banking and finance. Whilst merchants could be resented for buying cheap and selling dear, they also travelled the globe bringing many exotic commodities with them, seeming to do something to earn their riches. By contrast, usurers appeared as alchemists, conjuring profit from nothing but the neediness of their borrowers. Furthermore, this was sinning against the word of God, no small matter in a medieval world of Inquisitions and executions for heresy.

Thus the anti-semitic narratives emanating from parts of the left have a long history, and when reproduced - perhaps unthinkingly - they resonate with this unsavoury cultural heritage, mirroring classic anti-semitism in all but terminology - and sometimes in that too. In the case of many of the Trotskyist parties and their fellow-travelers, there is a Machiavelian, materialist explanation for the adoption of these narratives: pragmatically building electoral alliances with Islamic groups and pandering to the perceived anti-semitism of their constituencies. For anarchists however, satisafactory explanations, beyond 'bad analysis' are less forthcoming. To re-iterate however, I don't think such statements - certainly for the most part - are manifestations of a secret hatred of Jews. I certainly wouldn't make such claims without very good evidence. I think instead they can be understood as an expression of the ressentiment I have argued underpins leftist (as opposed to communist) politics.

In the case of Israel-Palestine, this ressentiment is structured as follows. Israel, a 'white', European democracy ('the only democracy in the middle-east' by its own boast) represents the most powerful party (if the parties to the conflict are understood in national as opposed to class terms). 'They' are like 'us', that is to say Britain and America, an imperial outpost of the West in 'someone elses' land. The inverse racism of white-mans burden guilt kicks in, and consequently leftists invert the values of the powerful into a slave morality which extols the virtues of the powerless. In practical terms, this victim politics manifests itself in the casual waving of Palestinian flags and support for Palestinian nationalism and 'self-determiniation' (practically, meaning rule by Islamic or secular-nationalist gangsters instead of Israeli ones, as will be the case unless there's communist revolution). A laudable humanitarian concern for the victims of barbarism becomes attached to the very ideologies that help perpetuate that barbarism.

This brings us to another important point. In all of this, that barbarism should not be forgotten in the haste to be critical of anti-semitism. As I write a horrific asymmetric conflict is unfolding in the Gaza strip, with the civilian population caught between the rockets of one of the most powerful militaries on earth and the much-inferior rockets of brutal Islamist gangsters quite content to murder civilians and repress Palestinian workers in pursuit of their own aims. This barbarism is to be unequivically condemned as the continued spiral of fratricidal violence offers the working class nothing but bloodshed; blood shed for their rulers. As communists we cannot content ourselves with being a critical appendage of the left. But neither does this mean we should not criticise those on the left who merit it.

An opposition to the unfolding barbarism requires and opposition to all nationalism, 'oppressed' or not. We should not be regurgitating anti-semitic arguments. We should not be siding with or muting criticism of Palestinian nationalists. If one doubts the nationalism of the left, a simple thought experiment should assist: imagine the consequences if one were to burn an Israeli flag on a demonstration. Then a stars and stripes perhaps. Then a Palestinian one. If the cheers didn't turn into jeers or violence I would be very surprised.1 Opposition to war rather than mere support for the underdog requires this principled internationalism - a rejection of all nationalism and of anti-semitism every bit as strong as a rejection of Zionism. Military asymmetry doesn't come into it.

  • 1. Postscript 18/01/09: Conceive of a thought experiment and reality obliges. For instance see what the chair of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign - wearing a hat with the reactionary ressentimental slogan 'native pride' - did to a placard saying 'No to the IDF, No to Hamas//Solidarity with women, workers and the left' - all caught on camera.

Comments

Django
Jan 6 2009 17:16

Great post.

yoshomon
Jan 6 2009 17:26

In response to criticisms of the article on Anarkismo, one commenter replied by noting the "nigh numbers of Jews in the Bush and Clinton adminstration." I think that was a "manifestation of a [not so] secret hatred of Jews."

Joseph Kay
Jan 6 2009 17:29

such anti-jewish sentiments may well exist. i've seen no evidence they account for the majority of crap leftist politics with regard to israel.

bouncingsoul
Jan 7 2009 00:23

"An opposition to the unfolding barbarism requires and opposition to all nationalism, 'oppressed' or not. We should not be regurgitating anti-semitic arguments. We should not be siding with or muting criticism of Palestinian nationalists. If one doubts the nationalism of the left, a simple thought experiment should assist: imagine the consequences if one were to burn an Israeli flag on a demonstration. Then a stars and stripes perhaps. Then a Palestinian one. If the cheers didn't turn into jeers or violence I would be very surprised. Opposition to war rather than mere support for the underdog requires this principled internationalism - a rejection of all nationalism and of anti-semitism every bit as strong as a rejection of Zionism. Military asymmetry doesn't come into it."

Yes. What do you think ought to be done by us, in the UK right now? I went to a local demonstration yesterday, and of course all the speakers refrained from mentioning Palestinian nationalism, and the chants of god is great, and free palestine were present. While opposing all nationalisms in my head, I was still stood there with 200 or so people a lot of whom seemed to hold beliefs you rightly criticise.

Part of the problem is that for activists here on the ground demonstrations are against Israels actions only because Israel is an ally of our government (in fact a state only set up cause of this state's imperial meddlings). So as Chomsky puts it; our ability to restrict the violence and support for violence of our own govenment has real world consequences for people out there on the recieving end. Our government is not allied to Hamas, so demonstrations against Palestinian nationalism would just be pointless at this stage. This makes problems for us because solidairty actions are inevitably populated with leftists and nationalists However, if our government, in the face of public pressure condemns Israel and calls for a ceasefire, then that would still be good, and the best outcome on this issue right now, regardless of the dodgy politics of a lot of activists. So I guess I still think its worth going to those things, without agreeing with the speakers etc.

You think it would be worth handing out that "whats in a flag?" statement at next weeks demo?.

Joseph Kay
Jan 7 2009 00:42
bouncingsoul wrote:
Yes. What do you think ought to be done by us, in the UK right now? I went to a local demonstration yesterday, and of course all the speakers refrained from mentioning Palestinian nationalism, and the chants of god is great, and free palestine were present. While opposing all nationalisms in my head, I was still stood there with 200 or so people a lot of whom seemed to hold beliefs you rightly criticise.

it's a bit depressing, but our collective powerlessness at present means we can't really materially impact the conflict at all. all we can really do is influence those who are opposed to it, so leafleting demos with anarchist/communist internationlist positions and the like. there are some plans to do this in london on saturday being discussed on the forums.

bouncingsoul wrote:
So as Chomsky puts it; our ability to restrict the violence and support for violence of our own govenment has real world consequences for people out there on the recieving end.

what power do we currently have to restrict the violence of our government? 2 million on the streets exclaiming 'not in my name!' elicited little more than a 'fair enough' from the british state which proceeded anyway. if we want to impose restraint on 'our' government's support for Israeli barbarism we need to get ourselves in a position to excercise collective power (invariably by disrupting the normal functioning of society); then we could actually do something to end the conflict and simultaneously be putting into practice the kind of internationalism i'm talking about.

bouncingsoul wrote:
Our government is not allied to Hamas, so demonstrations against Palestinian nationalism would just be pointless at this stage.

i see your point, but i'm not sure it's any more pointless than demonstrations in general, which don't really impact government policy much if at all (see anti-Iraq war protests). certainly statements can condemn the cunts too, and express sympathy for all the victims regardless of nationality (i just got an email off a local group saying how terrible "palestinian deaths" are, implicitly excusing the odd Israeli casualites as collateral damage of anti-imperialism).

bouncingsoul wrote:
So I guess I still think its worth going to those things, without agreeing with the speakers etc.

fwiw i don't oppose going to such demos. i'm not that animated to attend myself, but that's less of a political criticism and more of a personal disdain for spectacular dissent in lieu of class power; i don't like to demonstrate my powerlessness (but i still go on these things, just in a cynical mood atm).

bouncingsoul wrote:
You think it would be worth handing out that "whats in a flag?" statement at next weeks demo?

if you're going, it's probably worth distibuting internationalist propaganda. that statement may be good (i like it), but may be too specifically aimed at israelis. like i say there was some talk on the gaza thread i think about attending with anarchist banners and distributing anarchist internationalist propaganda. probably the most that can be achieved at such demos at present, imho.

Anarchia
Jan 7 2009 07:18

Cheers for putting this all together JK.

no1
Jan 7 2009 19:42

Excellent post.

In a rather strange turn of events, a BNP website is accusing marxists for antisemitic attacks on European Jews, including an arson attack on synagogue in London, as Brighton trot Tony Greenstein writes : http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2009/01/neo-nazi-british-national-party.html
(the post on the bnp site is here: http:// thurrockpatriots.blogspot.com/2009/01/europes-jews-face-marxist-wrath-over.html)

qwertz
Jan 7 2009 20:35

Tony Greenstein does a weird thing there though, clearly misquoting Nick Griffin. He quotes him as saying:

Quote:
endless television coverage of dead or injured Palestinian children (the anti-Israeli bias of the leftist BBC is particularly marked) will inflame Islamist extremists against not only Israel but also against other Western states, including the UK and our soldiers currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Really Griffin writes

Quote:
A superficially logical argument has been made by several of our readers to the effect that the endless television coverage of dead or injured Palestinian children ...

It's true that as the BNP leadership is moving towards a more Islamophobe agenda, it's anti-Semitism comes second. But ultimately Griffin argues for nationalism, or 'ethno-pluralism':

Quote:
Beyond that, as nationalists and not imperialists, we recognise the right of every other people under the sun to seek to secure self-determination on a patch of earth that is their historic and spiritual homeland, and the duty of every government of such a nation-state to protect its citizens from terrorism or oppression

(not sure why that matters, but just thought I'd put it right)

tsi
Jan 8 2009 09:17

Thanks for putting this together.

I have one question on ressentiment however. Even assuming a sort of slave morality, why would self-described Anarchists be seeking to affirm nations as opposed to workers or some other category?? (not that they don't do this as well).

I agree that this comes in part back to a lack of Class power, but I think that we can probably ascribe a bit more of this to "bad politics". Of course years of (successful) concerted efforts by the bourgeoisie to both obscure and dominate the Class Struggle can't be ignored either.

Joseph Kay
Jan 8 2009 10:12
tsi wrote:
I have one question on ressentiment however. Even assuming a sort of slave morality, why would self-described Anarchists be seeking to affirm nations as opposed to workers or some other category?? (not that they don't do this as well).

it's a good question, and in trying to get my head round it i certainly don't claim to have all the answers. however, as you say leftist anarchists often do affirm workers, or women, or ethnic minorities too... i've argued in a previous blog that this is because their politics is based on supporting "the oppressed", they tend to affirm whoever's being oppressed in the terms of their oppression (whether that be as a 'nation', or support for black pride etc, an affirmative approach to class politics - trade unionism, calls for nationalisation to better manage capital etc - that isn't really aimed at concrete demands to help both meet our needs in the here and now, and ulitmately abolish ourselves as a class, but focuses instead on how capital should be managed to meet our demands, in the name of 'realism.')

tsi wrote:
I agree that this comes in part back to a lack of Class power, but I think that we can probably ascribe a bit more of this to "bad politics". Of course years of (successful) concerted efforts by the bourgeoisie to both obscure and dominate the Class Struggle can't be ignored either.

to the extent it's 'bad politics' people can be reasoned out of them - and i do spend more time debating leftist anarchists than members of the labour party, so i must think this to an extent (although the upshot of those discussions is often evasion and disingenuous misrepresentation, lurkers might be influenced). i'm not sure how much bourgeois propaganda figues, because leftists do have a class analysis even though 'class doesn't exist anymore', only it's an analysis, to borrow Dauvé's phrase that "glorifies and praises the proletariat as it is and claims for it the positive role of defending values and regenerating society" (just consider prolier-than-thou posturing and the like).

tough_crowd
Jan 8 2009 15:17

Thanks Joseph K for the worthwhile text.
Your comments about ressentiment are particularly interesting, but I would caution against seeing antisemitism as a mere by-product of it. The left doesn´t simply "support the underdog or the oppressed." Whenever attacks on Jews take place, there are always leftists who come to the defense of the perpetrators, usually on the grounds that Jews are responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict. This rationalization reveals the limitations of the antisemitism-as-byproduct-of-ressentiment argument. The conspiracist rationalization comes up and repressed Jew-hatred plays out indirectly, by identifying with the perpetrators of violence against Jews.
I appreciate your text, and think you´ve done a good job at naming ressentiment as a part of the puzzle. But I would caution about deploying it without an analysis of antisemitism, which has its own particular content as well.

Joseph Kay
Jan 8 2009 16:17

I think you're right that leftist anti-semitism can't be reduced to ressentiment. However, i've not come across leftist rationalisation for attacks on jews (i can believe it though), so i don't think that level of anti-semitism is as widespread. I think ressentiment may help explain why the palestine issue elicits the kind of leftist structural anti-semitism i listed, but it doesn't explain 'why the jews', at least adequately. That's a much bigger question, and goes beyond the left to anti-semitism per se.

tridaprotitride
Jan 9 2009 10:48

Thanks Joseph K. for this great article, really clear internationalist communist position.

"The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got."

yoshomon
Jan 9 2009 23:29

First - I don't understand the picture of Bush w/ the Israeli flag.

Second, Andrew Flood wrote about this here: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/gaza-sectarianism-and-anti-semitisim

Django
Jan 10 2009 09:30
Yoshomon wrote:
Second, Andrew Flood wrote about this here: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/gaza-sectarianism-and-anti-semitisim
Andew F wrote:
The Anarkismo editorial team initially hid the argument under the modified statement on the grounds that it was now an argument about something that no longer existed.

I tend to disagree with the argument that the neo-platformists are anarcho-trots, and pointed out before that many sharing in the criticism on Anarkismo were presumably platformists. But this kind of stuff doesn't help.

But its generally the same stuff as on the original thread, 'those bastard sectarians, they read through a statement and only pull out the bit about Jewish conspiracy. Bastards!'

Its also pretty weird that what he's presented as a post of his on the original thread is actually a load of different posts stitched together, re-worded and re-edited to look better. As was also made clear on the original thread, he was misrepresenting what everyone else had said, and was flagged up about it at every instance.

Andrew F wrote:
Such a discussion becomes impossible when any attempt to put forward the FdCA position is met by cries of 'anti-Semitism' from the sectarians on the sidelines of the argument whose only genuine interest is point scoring.

"Any attempt"? I just remember criticising the statement about rich Jews.And the blog post seems to be implying that there were "two sectarians" who were reacting strongly to it, where there were quite a number of objections. And linking to a number of resources for evidence is hardly 'criticism from the sidelines'.

The more he goes on about this dark plot to smear the FdCA by objecting to statments about rich jews behind US foreign policy the more he looks like a weird obsessive sectarian.

Devrim
Jan 10 2009 10:29
Django wrote:
The more he goes on about this dark plot to smear the FdCA by objecting to statments about rich jews behind US foreign policy the more he looks like a weird obsessive sectarian.

Last time there were 'international plots' against Platformists it was a left communist 'conspiracy'. I think the phrase they used was 'international campaign'.

I suppose it is the way some of them view the world, it is all conspiracies.

The question is Django, who gave your permission to criticise theAnarkismo current without first getting approval from ICSP* central control?

Devrim

* ICSP International Campaign to Smear Platformism

Joseph Kay
Jan 10 2009 10:29

unfortunately the 'sniping from the sidelines', along with 'sectarian' is one of those reflexive responses to criticism i see a lot. the fact this criticism has led to several statements and leaflets to be distributed on demos, by collaboration of members of both national feds and others doesn't seem sufficient to qualify the criticism as engaged in practice on a non-sectarian basis.

however rather than get into a public row in his absence i've PM'ed AndrewF my thoughts on this.

AndrewF
Jan 10 2009 11:24

Django is once more using the 'repeat a lie enough and it will be believed' technique. Sectarian is perhaps too kind a word for someone that attracted to filth and smears. I invite anyone interested in what was actually written to simply read the thread on Anarkismo. BTW its also a lie that I altered the quotes I used, they are simple cut and pastes but sure if your going to tell one lie you might as well tell a dozen.

I'm not sure why Yoshomon posted the link to the blog here, it wasn't written as a reply to this piece and doesn't reference it. I guess he is just shit stirring? I'm not inclined to agree with everything JK posted but like a number of other critical commentators JK manages to critque that statement without falling into the pit of sectarian filth that Django so clearly enjoys wallowing in. Even on the Anarkismo thread a couple of critical commentators managed to avoid the pit and I repeat what I said there, Django would do well to learn from them rather than repeat the same old sectarian method over and over.

Joseph Kay
Jan 10 2009 11:59

for what it's worth i really don't see anything Django's written here or on Anarkismo as "sectarian filth", i would also encourage people to read your exchanges for themselves and make up their own minds up.

Django
Jan 10 2009 15:37
AndrewF wrote:
Django is once more using the 'repeat a lie enough and it will be believed' technique. Sectarian is perhaps too kind a word for someone that attracted to filth and smears. I invite anyone interested in what was actually written to simply read the thread on Anarkismo. BTW its also a lie that I altered the quotes I used, they are simple cut and pastes but sure if your going to tell one lie you might as well tell a dozen.

I'm not sure why Yoshomon posted the link to the blog here, it wasn't written as a reply to this piece and doesn't reference it. I guess he is just shit stirring? I'm not inclined to agree with everything JK posted but like a number of other critical commentators JK manages to critque that statement without falling into the pit of sectarian filth that Django so clearly enjoys wallowing in. Even on the Anarkismo thread a couple of critical commentators managed to avoid the pit and I repeat what I said there, Django would do well to learn from them rather than repeat the same old sectarian method over and over.

Lol, have you even followed anything going on on this site? I don't see how someone who "wallows in sectarian filth" would be able to work on a statement on the war in Gaza with comrades in Solfed and Organise, and and express solidarity with left communist comrades and wish them good luck on distributing their internationalist leaflets. What a pit of sectarianism I live in eh?.

What is this sectarian method by the way? Thinking anarchist communists shouldn't put out anti-semitic statements? Or thinking that a statement describing the hand of a "Jewish economic lobby" behind US foreign policy is anti-semitic? Its hardly a smear if you removed the statement from your site. And given that I've said explicitly at least three times that this isn't the same as calling FdCA anti-semites you could learn from your own advice about reading the evidence. I don't see what I've said which is substantially worse than this article, in fact, this article continues to critique the current FdCA article, which I haven't done through lack of interest. So I think you're more interested in personal internet feuds than making any coherent point at this stage.

Django
Jan 10 2009 16:06

In fact, I'll help you out.

Django wrote:
I suggest you put your advice and actions in alignment. I described the statement that the US "also has to deal with the powerful US Jewish economic lobby, which is strong enough to bring about a stong influence on US foreign policy" as being an anti-semitic conspiracy theory, which it plainly is, and reads like something you'd get in far right literature, which it clearly does. I didn't say that FdCA is an anti-semitic organisation. Also, claiming that having "strong influence" over something is a form of "control" over it is hardly a "lie". I mean, do you honestly think that theres nothing anti-semitic about claiming that a) American Jews share the same interests as the Israeli state, and b)wealthy Jews can manipulate the actions of the government against its own interest, let alone your own view that "zionist" and "Jewish" are synonyms? Even if it were changed, the view that there is a Zionist lobby which manipulates the US in its own interests, beyond the imperial interests of the US state is plainly false.

Link

Django wrote:
Clearly you haven't read any of my posts. I hardly think "mentioning" the Israel lobby is "proof of anti-semitism" - I posted a link to an article I wrote discussing the issue at length! The "position" I have held consistently is saying that the "Jewish economic lobby" holds "strong influence" over US policy is a conspiratorial, anti-semitic statement. Most people would recognise it clearly is, irrespective of the intentions of the writers. The document didn't refer to the "Israel lobby" (which clearly does not hold "strong influence" over US foreign policy) but the "Jewish economic lobby", very, very different concepts. If individuals don't want to damage the anarchist movement maybe they could avoid circulating documents which contain statements like this and not go crazy and see "dark plots" about damaging relationships between organisations when other anarchist communists object to it. Or maybe you just think anyone criticising anything associated with Anarkismo is "sectarian"?

Link

Django wrote:
I mean, do you think that the idea that the "Jewish economic lobby" drives US policy isn't anti-semitic? This isn't the same as saying FdCA are anti-semites, for the reasons Angelus has laid out above.

Link

Django wrote:
But clearly a degree of intelligence, responsibility and sensitivity should be expected. Like I said on the Anarkismo thread, I don't think FdCA are anti-semites, though that comment is clearly anti-semitic and deeply inappropriate. I think it came as a result of a statement being thrown together under the pressure to have something out, likely by people with some difference of analysis, and class analysis in that instance lost out to conspiratorialism, and ended up being worded in the most offensive way possible. But I'm going to react differently to a sincere comrade who believes the "Israel lobby" argument because they haven't looked into the area in much depth, or been exposed to the wrong stuff, or are working out their ideas, and an international statement of Anarchist Communist organisations which talks about the "Jewish economic lobby" shaping US foreign policy.

Link

This probably adds up to the worst "sectarian" "smear" campaign in history.

Django
Jan 11 2009 03:05

A few other misrepresentations in Andrew "White Knight" Flood's diatribe against the "extreme sectarianism" of those he wants to feud with on the internet:

AndrewF on his blog wrote:
Things then got quite bizarre a (Jewish) Israeli anarchist also intervened in the row which outraged our sectarian friends so much that they declared him an anti-Semite as well!

This was an Israeli anarchist who attempted to give empirical evidence of how rich Jews pull however many strings "strong influence" implies. This was replied to by a number of people, but given that according to Andrew my desire to wreck anarchism is so strong that "sectarianism" doesn't even begin to describe it, you'd think I'd be the one calling him an anti-semite. But no, once again I made the distinction between the identity of the writer and the content of the argument:

Django on Anarkismo wrote:
Additionally, saying that ethnic Jews can't make anti-semitic arguments is about as profound as saying that women can't have sexist views about women, or black people can't hold racist views about other blacks. Its like saying Anne Coulter can't have bigoted views about feminism because she's a woman.

I take it that when women make comments about all women being bitchy it would be the "sectarian approach" to point out that that their statements are sexist ideology in action, because according to Andrew and co as women they are utterly incapable of this ?

So what does he mean when he says

AndewF wrote:
I have very little understanding of the purpose of the sectarian approach to disputes such as these.The automatic reaction appears to be to rush in, exaggerate the disagreement as much as possible and denounce whoever you can in the most strident and often hysterical terms.

?

This is a pretty clear description of his frankly bizarre behaviour during this entire debacle.

Originally, according to him, the "sectarians" were pulling a problem out of the air, and there is nothing wrong with talking about the "Jewish economic lobby" because

Andrew F on the Anarkismo thread wrote:
clearly there are lobbies in the USA that self-describe as Jewish and that attempt to influence US foreign policy.

But after a good deal of criticism the admins aknowledged a "grave error" in the wording of the statement and took it down. So for all the bluster they accepted what the "sectarians" were saying all along. So who is seeking to "exagerrate the disagreement as much as possible" in the interests of point scoring? The same people claiming those who disagree with them are founts of "lies, distortions and straight forward stupidity."

Though as can be seen above I seperated the arguments about "Jewish economic power" and the "Israel lobby" as "very, very different concepts", Andew was keen to defend his rationalised version of what the FdCA statement said, against its words, and defend the idea of the Israel lobby exerting "strong influence over US foreign policy", which I disagreed with, with evidence:

Andrew F on the Anarkismo thread wrote:
I mean clearly there is an Israeli lobby and that lobby has an impact on US foreign policy (otherwise why would it bother) yet it seems now that even an Israeli Jew is not allowed to say this for fear of being labelled an anti-semite by some anonymous internet hero.

And yet in his crusading blog post against me and the other "sectarians" he writes on the Israel lobby argument:

Andrew F on his blog wrote:
Now while this was an improvement I think their analysis that the Israeli lobby has a strong influence on US Foreign policy turns reality on its head. The situation is much closer to one where Israel (and to a lesser extent today Egypt) is a strong regional power whose interests are very often those of the US.

So where did this about-face come from? Might it be the amount of evidence I posted to back up my arguments? Given that he is publically agreeing with me, he's clearly taken something from the discussion (my points), my contributions hardly qualify as meaningless sniping from the sidelines. In which case again he has conceded the veracity of my argument whilst publically "exaggerating the disagreement as much as possible and denouncing whoever you can in the most strident and often hysterical terms" (I think the stuff about wallowing in filth and smears above is a good example).

So it really points to the sheer cheek of Andrew representing himself as a voice of reason against the sectarian plots of people who criticise things on his site. What really drives the point home is that after the earliest posts on the site, by me and a libcom admin (followed by many more - around half the posts contained criticism), he immediately denounced the "idiocy" and "sectarianism" of his opponents and demanded that "libcom withdraw this slur". So to be clear, a critical post from a libcom admin and a libcom user who hadn't self-identified as such constitutes a smear from "libcom" as a whole which must be "withdrawn". Well, that attitude speaks volumes.

So in short then, "NO U".

You can read it youself:
http://www.anarkismo.net/article/11178

Joseph Kay
Jan 22 2009 15:39

Fuck structural anti-semitism, cop a load of this

Keith Parkins wrote:
the perverse and distorted logic of the Jews (...) The Jews are the new Nazis and must be treated as such (...) The Romans cleansed the Middle East of the Jews. The West let them back under the guilt of the Holocaust. The West thought they were establishing a Western enclave in the Middle East. They were not, they were sowing the seeds of destruction and we now all reap the whirlwind (...) The history of the Jews speaks for itself. They regard themselves as God's chosen people. They are not, they are God's cursed people (...) The Jews are led by a junta of inbred psychopaths. Generations of inbreeding have wrung the last drop of humanity out of their genetic makeup (...) Around the world Jews practice their knee-jerk reaction, not a whole lot different to a Nazi goose step (...) Governments will not take on the Jews. It has to be ordinary decent people around the world.

is that a rallying cry for a pogrom? jesus fucking christ. this guy's from brighton angry

jayn0t
Jan 24 2009 15:53

I disagree with this post. However, it is the most coherent ultra-left article about so-called 'left anti-semitism' so I wish to answer it. Here is my article about 'left anti-semitism and ultra-left purism': https://pacificaforumdotorg/posts/2

admin: link broken

Khawaga
Jan 24 2009 16:02

Too bad your blog post is incoherent, mis-quotes JK's blog post, don't understand the reference to a debate that happened on Anarkismo and confuses Jewish with Zionism. Pathetic.

Joseph Kay
Jan 24 2009 16:37

indeed

jayn0t's blog wrote:
Now, suppose contributors, instead of referring to the Jewish economic lobby, complained about the powerful traditional White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, who, according to some lefty types, run the USA. I bet the moderators would not react in the same way. They would say something along the lines of 'capitalism has a history of white racism, and the WASP elite is a reality, however, it is not particularly important; what really matters is for workers to unite as a class against the capitalists of all colors and creeds'. In other words, a reasonable answer to a reasonable argument. But substitute Jews for WASPs, and reason goes out the window.

well the whole point of my argument is that hardly anybody does argue about "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" lobbies, or if they do, their arguments don't resonate in the same way as 'Jewish lobby' ones do (personally i've never heard the term WASP on indymedia or wherever - is it an actual conspiracy/lobby theory?). i try to understand why this is. of course my argument is also aimed precisely at the whole structure of the 'lobby' argument, not the usage of the term 'jew' itself. so you haven't really responded to what i've argued at all, only a caricature.

jayn0t's blog wrote:
getting hysterical about it and suppressing debate

i presume this i in reference to us unpublishing comments, and the out of context quote you take from my blog to suggest we "silence some dissent." this is a libertarian communist website, not a free speech project. we are under no obligation to provide a platform for anti-semitic views any more than scab, far-right or social democratic ones, so we don't. we don't have the power to "silence dissent" because libcom is just one website of millions. the tone of my blog certainly isn't hysterical, if you're aiming that at me.

jayn0t's blog wrote:
It is not left anti-semitism which burned the children of Gaza - it is pro-semitism, the powerful sympathy for the Jews which permeates Western society.

well nobody's claiming anti-semitism burned Gaza (well maybe israel is, blaming hamas), and the counter-claim to this non-claim is ridiculous. western "sympathy for the jews" didn't do it either, the IDF did, acting in the interests of the israeli state, allowed to do so because they align with the interests of US imperialism. that's a materialist understanding, blaming the sentiments of western societies is both idealist and betrays a questionable assumption that western state policy reflects the sentiments of the population, rather than the interests of their national capital.

Joseph Kay
Jan 26 2009 15:58

it's since been pointed out that jayn0t says elsewhere on their site that "anti-semitism, if it exists at all, should not be seen as a problem", if i'd have known that i wouldn't have dignified it with a response. they've now been banned.

Django
Mar 19 2009 08:37

O look, more batshit antisemitism on Indymedia.

Link

Quote:
Is it not in fact true that some American Jews especially advocate for war with Iraq because it was especially useful for Israel’s benefit—and that even now they advocate for extended commitment to the area while propaganda machines further advocate for war with Iran and Iran’s neighbors of Afghanistan and Pakistan, even threatening to throw the entire world into another world war to get their Israel-centric way—while bankrupting the American government almost like a fifth column? Was it not true that a minority of right-wing Zionists participated in false intelligence to manipulate our country into war with Iraq, that seemed to dovetail with creating a “Clash of Cultures” for a supposed decades of war, by attempting to motivate Christian countries to go to war against Muslim countries via the propaganda campaign of a War on Terror? Is it not true that even so called Ivy League academics like Alan Dershowitz engage in deliberate distortion of facts and attitudes as Israel’s supposed lawyer?

Have not many acted in manner construed as silent passivity, such as not becoming more active in protesting the war, or donating to non-profits that otherwise would—knowing in their minds something was not right or fair about what was going down? Are we as a nation expected to be so blind that we cannot perceive legitimate reasons for righteous indignation toward some Jews?

...

Therefore is it not expected that a “resentment” of an “excess” of Israeli and Jewish influence in our own governance? Or why would not Goyim “resent” the percentage of Jews who get appointed to high office in the United States, for the apparent purpose of pushing Israel’s right-wing agenda, personality, and politics? Naturally with more legitimate criticism would you also expect less legitimate prejudice—but whose attitudes are at fault with Israel and diehard supporters?

etc etc

Lumpen
Jan 20 2011 07:36

Two years too late, but just wanted to say this article was/is excellent. I was looking for articles for an anarchist reading group about the Israel/Palestine conflict and this is totally on the money. And by 'on the money' I mean 'I agree with 100% therefore it is great.'

laborbund
Mar 25 2013 14:50

Hey, I just wanted to mention that I was banned from the Anarchist Memes facebook page for pointing out the hypocrisy of their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They accused me of being an agent of hasbara which seemed... anyway, this is a great article. smile