Anti-semitism amongst the left and anarchists

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tough_crowd
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Dec 23 2008 20:24
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:
It does not logically follow that because he likes the idea of taking capital off someone he also likes nazis.

But it does logically follow that someone who argues that "Aryanization" was no tragedy is a Nazi sympathizer. And that´s what he said.

That he made some generic anti-nationalist statements makes it all the more peculiar. That´s all.

tough_crowd
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Dec 23 2008 20:28
Quote:
Rob Ray wrote:
he is very clearly anti-nationalist, and therefore logically can't be pro aryanisation.

Maybe he´s just illogical.

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Rob Ray
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Dec 23 2008 20:32

Maybe, but have you asked him?

tough_crowd
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Dec 23 2008 20:53

Excuse me sir, are you illogical?

mK ultra
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Dec 24 2008 02:34
Angelus Novus wrote:
By claiming that being "Anti-Zionist" or "Anti-American" is somehow legitimate, you are by default dividing nations into "good" and "bad". Communists are anti-national, period. The U.S. nation-state and the Jewish national project in the Levant do not, from a consistent anti-nationalist perspective, require any specific mention.

I live in the U.S. Are you saying I should avoid protesting Bush and explaining the genocidal land theft this country was founded on, because it might imply I'm soft on Mexico or Mongolia?

mK ultra wrote:
Sounds reasonable, but is it then wrong to focus on the states that are most apartheid like?
Angelus Novus wrote:
So I was correct, you do distinguish between "good" and "bad" states, or at the very least, between "bad" and "less bad" ones.

I am a libertarian communist, not only because I am critical of the current system but because I am active in struggles to create a new world. A critical analysis without an effective strategy is useless. That's the problem with gegenstandpunkt and much of left-communism today and it seems to be a problem you share.
There was a huge anti-apartheid movement in the U.S. in the 80s. I suppose you would have stood by the side and criticized. Today we see how you slander supporters of Palestinian movements and make apologies for Israel. Others refuse to support labor or community struggles because unions are involved or their rhetoric isn't revolutionary enough. Pathetic.

mK ultra wrote:
Yes, if someone kicked my grandparents off their farm and stole their land based on ethnicity and religion, I would have a claim to return to that land.
Angelus Novus wrote:
Ah, a state idealist.

Where did you get anything about either the state or idealism in what I wrote. Palestinians in exile who want to return to their land are expressing a materialist demand, not idealist. It is states (Israel the U.S. etc.) who are getting in the way of that demand.

mK ultra wrote:
What I'm surprised about is that someone who calls himself a communist can be such an apologist for imperialism.
Angelus Novus wrote:
Right. Stating the tautology that nationalists behave like nationalists is "apology for imperialism".

No, you support imperialism when you oppose Palestinian return and their struggle against Israeli apartheid and when you slander those who support Palestinians' struggle as anti-Jewish.

mK ultra wrote:
Yet a communist I am.
Angelus Novus wrote:
No, you're a liberal idealist who is disappointed when states don't behave according to your ideals.

You have an active imagination Angelus. What ever leads you to this claim?

mK ultra wrote:
Supporting the struggle of the oppressed against this = anti-zionism.
Angelus Novus wrote:
Anyone referring to struggles of the "oppressed", as opposed to social mediation via state and commodity, has no business referring to his- or herself as a communist.
Angelus Novus wrote:
If you're looking for a communist analysis of the state, you could do a lot worse than to look here:
http://www.gegenstandpunkt.com/english/state/toc.html

I took a quick look, but didn't see anything about the term "the oppressed" which would support your swipe at me. Though I suspect it's a semantic argument I am interested in your reasoning. Perhaps someone could spell it out for me.

akai
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Dec 24 2008 04:28

I think the original title of the thread was unnecessary but I see a problem in what was written and think a discussion of the issue is worthwhile.

I don't know how many of you follow your local nationalists and I don't know what brand of nationalists are common where, but in Poland we have followers of endecja and Doboszynski, who commemorate pograms against Jews every year and who portray these as protests of the "Polish workers" against the "foreign exploiter classes" (the Jews). These antisemites are very keen to pass off the pograms as some justifiable social uprising although if one studies the actions of those people or the nazis, you can clearly see that the criteria for "attack" was not based on anticapitalism or class warfare, but on national or religious criteria. Additionally, there were and are attempts to create a class of Jewish or "foreign" capitalists, separate from the other capitalists, In my opinion, anybody who thus choses to view the actions against only Jewish capitalists during such historic events as "anticapitalist" is in fact supporting the nationalist motivated campaigns and in this particular case is trying to relativize nazism.

Any question about whether Jewish capitalists should be "exempt" from "anticapitalist" actions is absurd considering the fact that there were no other "anticapitalist" actions, simply plundering of property and redistribution to new capitalists.

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Devrim
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Dec 24 2008 08:00
mK ultra wrote:
I am a libertarian communist, not only because I am critical of the current system but because I am active in struggles to create a new world. A critical analysis without an effective strategy is useless. That's the problem with gegenstandpunkt and much of left-communism today and it seems to be a problem you share.
There was a huge anti-apartheid movement in the U.S. in the 80s. I suppose you would have stood by the side and criticized. Today we see how you slander supporters of Palestinian movements and make apologies for Israel. Others refuse to support labor or community struggles because unions are involved or their rhetoric isn't revolutionary enough. Pathetic.

This seems to imply that left communists don't get involved in struggles where unions are involved. This is blatantly not true.

There is a difference though between workplace struggle and things like the anti-apartheid movement. Workplace struggle is situated on workers' terrain. The Anti-Apartheid movement was a bourgeois movement, which as 'Angelus' points out was operating entirely on the terrain of this capitalist state is worse than that capitalist state.

I don't make any excuses for Israel, but I do criticise the Palestinian movements because I believe that nationalism has nothing to offer the working class except war and slaughter.

Devrim

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 24 2008 08:58
Angelus Novus wrote:
Likening Aryanization to the expropriation of capital has anti-semitic "undertones"?

Well duh, if the comment had read ''I hate the jews'' then its openly anti-semetic, and one would assume that it would have been spotted quickly and deleted immediately. If it reads ''i support the plunder of capital'' then it has anti-semetic undertones, hence why it wasn;t noticed, lets be clear here it took you a month to notice it, why should the admins have some magical ability to spot it when you didn't?
Personally i tend to assume the best and go with the premise that the comment was hopefully more retarded than deliberately anti-semetic, hence why the admins are deleting the comment and probably i would assume PMing the poster for an explanation. No doubt if a satisfactory one is not forthcoming, the poster would be banned. Despite how much you seem to whip yourself into a frenzy on this subject, I don't realy see what other course of action you expect people to take.

Quote:
Oh darling, I love it when you get all populist. Of course, this particular "post-grad wanker" has no higher education to speak of and has spent almost his entire post-secondary school life inside of the trade union movement, but you get a point for effort. It's only the fourth time this smear has been lobbed at me. Never give up!

Well you've surprised me i mean everything you write on here makes you sund like one of those irritating liberals studying some appalling MA in sub-marxist philosophy. So i guess ill have to drop the ''post-grad'' part fo that description, it doesn;t stop your style of arguement being an increasingly tedious version of hysterical trot sectarianism which we've all seen a million times before.

tough_crowd
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Dec 24 2008 09:04
Jack wrote:
tough_crowd wrote:
Antisemitism on the left is quite common.

Except in the fertile minds of guilt ridden lefties, it is close to non-existant. In 8 years of being on the left, i have encountered genuine anti-semitism on 3 occassions.

Well you don´t even see wangwei´s rationalization of Nazi "Aryanization" policy as antisemitic, so you´re probably not doing such a good job counting.

no1
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Dec 24 2008 11:32
Devrim wrote:
Workplace struggle is situated on workers' terrain. The Anti-Apartheid movement was a bourgeois movement, which as 'Angelus' points out was operating entirely on the terrain of this capitalist state is worse than that capitalist state.

I don't make any excuses for Israel, but I do criticise the Palestinian movements because I believe that nationalism has nothing to offer the working class except war and slaughter.

I agree that no communist victories will be won on bourgeois terrain, but don't think it follows that communists should not get involved in Palestinian solidarity. Neither do I understand why opposition to Israeli imperialism is automatically and necessarily nationalist (in reality Hamas etc. are of course nationalist) - Palestinians faced with bulldozers and helicopter gunships don't get to choose the terrain they fight on, their only choice is whether they resist it or acquiesce in their condition.
Of course nationalism is a dead-end and can't bring about genuine liberation, but when you say "I do criticise the Palestinian movements because I believe that nationalism has nothing to offer the working class except war and slaughter", do you mean to say that Palestinian resistance invites inevitable Israeli repression and is therefore responsible for it? Apologies if I'm distorting your position, I'm genuinely trying to understand it by exposing what seems absurd and immoral to me.

In my opinion communists should involve themselves in Palestinian solidarity, for principled and strategic reasons (as a lower priority activity of course), and when doing so voice communist anti-nationalist positions. Or do you think it is impossible to articulate anti-imperialist politics that's communist rather than nationalist, fascist, stalinist or liberal?

I agree with Jack that there's virtually no anti-semitism on the left, but I think a section of the Palestinian solidarity movement is vulnerable to anti-semitism, as shown most clearly by the Gilad Atzmon. I think this is a consequence of a void being left by the increasingly discredited trot and stalinist anti-imperialism being automatically filled by a nationalist perspective (nationalist in the sense that it it views the bourgeois state as the authentic expression of the group they define as the nation). The best way to fight this are not the shrill denunciations of Angelus Novus here that see a disguised nazi behind every comment with an anti-semitic whiff about it, when there is often nothing more than political confusion. The best way to fight it is to discuss and articulate communist analysis which I'm confident to be superior to the nationalist perspective. In fact Angelus Novus's rather obsessive behaviour here reminds me of the liberal "Wehret den Anfängen" attitude that treats anti-semitism like a poisonous mental disease that will infect anyone who comes in contact with it, and that seeks to cleanse political debate from anyone who has ever voiced comments that could possibly be interpreted as anti-Semitic by a paranoid mind. Rational debate is far more effective than hysteria.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 24 2008 13:10
mK ultra wrote:
I live in the U.S. Are you saying I should avoid protesting Bush and explaining the genocidal land theft this country was founded on, because it might imply I'm soft on Mexico or Mongolia?

True to liberal moralist form, you have simply changed the topic from a conceptual determination of the terms "anti-Zionism" and "anti-Americanism" into a moral puzzle concerning what you "should" do.

Quote:
I suppose you would have stood by the side and criticized. Today we see how you slander supporters of Palestinian movements and make apologies for Israel. Others refuse to support labor or community struggles because unions are involved or their rhetoric isn't revolutionary enough. Pathetic.

More subject-changing and moralizing. Perhaps you think "libcom" stands for "liberal community"?

Quote:
Where did you get anything about either the state or idealism in what I wrote. Palestinians in exile who want to return to their land are expressing a materialist demand, not idealist. It is states (Israel the U.S. etc.) who are getting in the way of that demand.

Any claim to a "right" to a particular strip of land is contingent upon appeals to a sovereign instance that guarantees and enforces such rights. That's what a state is. This is even clearer in the German language, where das Recht denotes both "right" and "the law". More antiquated English usages also contain this inclusive meaning, hence English translations of "Hegel's Philosophy of Right".

Your issue is therefore not with the state as such, but merely with the fact that the state has guaranteed certain land claims to one particular constituency while denying them to another.

mK ultra wrote:
No, you support imperialism when you oppose Palestinian return and their struggle against Israeli apartheid and when you slander those who support Palestinians' struggle as anti-Jewish.

The fact that you even speak in terms of "Palestinian return" and "struggle against Israel" indicates what a state-affirming nationalist you are.

mK ultra wrote:
You have an active imagination Angelus. What ever leads you to this claim?

You write like a statist and reason like a statist.

Quote:
I took a quick look, but didn't see anything about the term "the oppressed" which would support your swipe at me. Though I suspect it's a semantic argument I am interested in your reasoning. Perhaps someone could spell it out for me.

"Oppression" is an analytically useless term that can only have a moral content, not a critical one. It says nothing about the mediation of social reproduction by commodity exchange and the extraction of surplus-labor time, nor about how the state sets the parameters of competition by guaranteeing the framework within which capital accumulation takes place.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 24 2008 13:09
no1 wrote:
I agree with Jack that there's virtually no anti-semitism on the left

Either you and Jack lead exceptionally sheltered lives, or you are defining anti-semitism in such a narrow way as to exclude 99% of what reasonably falls under the term.

Quote:
I agree that no communist victories will be won on bourgeois terrain, but don't think it follows that communists should not get involved in Palestinian solidarity.

Your advocacy of "Palestinian solidarity" is already a concession to nationalism. My solidarity is always directed towards concrete human beings, never "Palestinians" or "Israelis".

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Devrim
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Dec 24 2008 14:57
no1 wrote:
I agree that no communist victories will be won on bourgeois terrain, but don't think it follows that communists should not get involved in Palestinian solidarity. Neither do I understand why opposition to Israeli imperialism is automatically and necessarily nationalist (in reality Hamas etc. are of course nationalist) - Palestinians faced with bulldozers and helicopter gunships don't get to choose the terrain they fight on, their only choice is whether they resist it or acquiesce in their condition.
Of course nationalism is a dead-end and can't bring about genuine liberation, but when you say "I do criticise the Palestinian movements because I believe that nationalism has nothing to offer the working class except war and slaughter", do you mean to say that Palestinian resistance invites inevitable Israeli repression and is therefore responsible for it? Apologies if I'm distorting your position, I'm genuinely trying to understand it by exposing what seems absurd and immoral to me.

Just to be clear before we start, I am not one of those people on this thread who is screaming 'anti-Semitism'.

no1 wrote:
Neither do I understand why opposition to Israeli imperialism is automatically and necessarily nationalist (in reality Hamas etc. are of course nationalist)

I think that opposition to Israel is ' automatically and necessarily nationalist' because it can't have any other perspective. The only other perspective that is possible is an internationalist class based one, which I see very little possibility of emerging within probably the weakest working class of the region.

The very weakness of the working class means that it is currently impossible for anything other than 'nationalist' opposition to the state of Israel to emerge. A class based opposition would be equally opposed to a Palestinian state.

no1 wrote:
Palestinians faced with bulldozers and helicopter gunships don't get to choose the terrain they fight on, their only choice is whether they resist it or acquiesce in their condition.

No they don't, and there are things that people do in awful situations to survive. The problem starts to emerge when you start to see these things as some sort of 'communist' policy. To give an example, the vast majority of the leftist groups, from Trotskyist to anarchist*, called for the national defence of Lebanon in the last war with Israel. Some of the anarchist versions came down to a similar sort of argument 'what do you do when people attack your village?' type of thing. This doesn't mean that this movement had any sort of working class basis. In fact it was dragging workers in to die on behalf of different powers.

no1 wrote:
do you mean to say that Palestinian resistance invites inevitable Israeli repression and is therefore responsible for it?

No, it isn't about making people morally responsible. I say that it has nothing to offer the working class.

no1 wrote:
In my opinion communists should involve themselves in Palestinian solidarity, for principled and strategic reasons (as a lower priority activity of course), and when doing so voice communist anti-nationalist positions. Or do you think it is impossible to articulate anti-imperialist politics that's communist rather than nationalist, fascist, stalinist or liberal?

I don't think that it is possible to voice anti-national positions while involving yourselves in a campaign of 'national' solidarity.

Devrim

*This doesn't include all anarchists.

akai
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Dec 24 2008 16:05

Virtually no antisemitism in the left? I do understand that when some people are speaking on this forum they are dealing exclusively within the reality of a few countries, usually anglo or western european. Granted, the acceptable levels of antisemitism differ in western and eastern europe, but it still happens from time to time. (We had a British member of PGA here at an international meeting a couple of years ago claiming that all the Jews escaped from WTC, proving it was an Israeli plot, etc. etc. ) Somebody here made a point that maybe somebody is missing the antisemitic remarks because they have a different standard as to what qualifies. I think that is the actual topic for discussion: how does antisemitism appear, what are some typical comments, ideas.

Back to the context of the exhibition, this should be a no-brainer.

It becomes much more complex on the everyday basis. In any case, we have lots of discussions since antisemites constantly go onto our website and try prenicious ways to introduce antisemitic content. Usually then they introduce the "Mel Gibson defence", claiming that the politically correct police doesn't allow them to criticize Jews meaning that we would be "zionists".

This is where the question gets awfully manipulated, at least here. Because people can either chose to criticize the actions of the Israeli state or use the term "Jew" which is not indicative of the Israeli state and in my opinion can either be simple carelessness or something deeper. Sometimes a wider context is needer to determine the intention of the speaker - sometimes not. But it certainly would be worth pointing out the problem with using those terms interchangeably.

Any implication however than anticapitalist actions can take the form of national redistribution is total crap though.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 24 2008 18:38
Jack wrote:
But go on, for the sake of argument, please show me an article from any uk lefty group that contains anti-semitism from the past 5 years.

My own personal favorite, from that endless source of hilarity, the Socialist Workers Party, from a leaflet against the BNP:

Quote:
"They deny the holocaust where thousands of LGBT people, trade unionists and disabled people were slaughtered..."

Notice anything missing there?

Angelus Novus
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Dec 24 2008 18:43

P.S. Why only the UK? Because the stupidity of North American groups provides too many ready examples?

How about West Germany 30 years ago, when the Tuparamos West Berlin planted a bomb in the Jewish community center? Or the Entebbe airplane hijacking in 1977, when members of the Revolutionary Cells specifically selected Jewish passagers for execution? Or is that all "ancient history"?

akai
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Dec 24 2008 20:49

I think the SWP example given is just typical of the type of clueless accidents made when people aren't thinking. But the question about why we should be talking only about the UK is quite valid. One can add an incident which is not such ancient history in Poland: in 1990 some national liberationist "anarchists" tried to bomb LOT offices as a protest against the airline transporting Soviet Jews to Israel. Nowadays there are some people trying to resurrect this nationalist movement and promoting this as a good example of anti-imperialist direct action.

That said, it may be true that no leftist groups in the UK have issued overtly antisemitic texts in years, but one has to be aware that the positions of groups and individual statements made at meetings or on the internet are different things. That said, there are still strains of antisemitism to be found around the world, particularly as you get into nationalist oriented ideas and national liberation ideologies. Black nationalists in the US have crossed over on numerous occasions, even in the anarchist movement. (I have some crazy Joffree stuff in the archive worth study.smile) In some Eastern European there is quite a lot of tension over the national issue.

It seems I agree with Devrim's attitude towards these movements. It is good that he pointed out how even anarchist groups get into these national "self-defense" modes - there are many examples. Maybe some people remember how Love and Rage in early 91 printed something to the effect of "yeah Saadam, kick American asses" or the jerks in Poland cheering for Basayev. Stupid positions.

But on the front of antisemitism and the left, I think it's best to give concrete examples and is worth discussing - only people might not see any immediate importance if they don't have to deal with it on a more or less regular basis. I know the comrades from Russia have had numerous encounters with the problem as well.

tsi
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Dec 24 2008 21:27

How did the level of debate on here get so awful?

To be clear, I agree that the comment in question can definitely be read as expressing antisemitism, and I think that removing it was the right thing to do. It's author should be warned, questioned, and possibly banned depending on their defence.

However, the way Angelus went about addressing the issue (or rather, not addressing it) by resorting to what I can only refer to as something like forum-shock-journalism really hasn't helped much.

I do agree with Angelus' debunking (from an internationalist/communist perspective) of various posters' defense of National Liberation stuff.

I agree that we need to be critical of the left in this regard, because any (even unintentional and tacit) support we give to Nationalism does significantly damage and weaken our praxis. However, I think that it is entirely paranoid to assume that there's nazis lurking under all our beds, or that every stupid uncritical remark made by a leftist harbours secret antisemitic intentions. We do need to root out stupidity and sharpen our Class Struggle praxis, but hysteria is probably not a good way of doing this.

Laureakai is quite right to point out that it's not always hysterical to do this, particularly in segments of the continental left.

However, taking every stupid utterance spoken by an uninformed self-described "anarchist" and examining it for hidden antisemitic agendas so that we can label and smear large groups and movements without any clear evidence for doing so seems entirely counterproductive.

How about making some internationalist prop that exposes the stupidity of finance-centric "anticapitalism" (which I maintain is not, in of itself antisemitic), and national liberation for ____'s sake instead of engaging in this sort of smear campaign stuff.

tsi
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Dec 24 2008 21:40
Quote:
What a load of Blut und Boden crap. People have territorial claims on the basis of their lineage? What is this, Stormfront?

If you want to avoid the academic-baiting that you seem to keep inciting, when dealing with an english speaking audience you might want to use terms like "Blood and Soil" rather than Blut und Boden. Yes, I know that german is your first language, but you are obviously competent enough in the use of english to avoid making yourself sound like a namedropping post-marxist TA.

And I completely agree, that [blood and soil] is very much the logic that was being discussed and is inherently nationalistic and possibly worse. You are 100% right for pointing this out, but you might get more lefty flies with honey than vinegar. Make the case for internationalism and debunk this nationalistic claptrap, rather than just calling everyone else a nazi.

edit: added for clarity

akai
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Dec 24 2008 22:01

Libcommers, actually, by coincidence we can practice on a text. Just some minutes ago, some comrade from our website forwarded me a link to a text which they are discussing, trying to determine whether or not it crosses the border between antizionism and antisemitism.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415994.html

As it turns out, I'm staying in Bing with people who know the author and will meet more or them later on tonight, so I will hear some opinions from people who have had more contact. But so far what I'm hearing are opinions that the author has on numerous occasions crossed the line, even in some writing.

It would be interesting to get opinions on this piece. While I certainly agree with his criticism of the asses who voted for Obama, I think that Middle East politics cannot be reduced to pro-Zionism, which is what it seems like Petras is doing. On the other hand, he is clearly being antizionist, not antisemitic. My personal opinion was that the antizionist / antisemitic question is not so clear here, but the analysis of the real motives and dynamics behind the war machine is rather off the mark. Also, by focusing on Israel where it is not the main factor, one is mirroring the arguments of rather primitive antizionism and focusing on the wrong thing. In Poland this would be picked up by the antisemites very quickly as more "proof" of the "look at how the Jews rule the world" theory.

Mike Harman
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Dec 24 2008 22:17

I think Jack's "the left isn't really anti-semitic" comment depends on a de-facto exclusion of conspiracy theorists from 'the left'.

tsi
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Dec 25 2008 05:23
laureakai wrote:
Libcommers, actually, by coincidence we can practice on a text. Just some minutes ago, some comrade from our website forwarded me a link to a text which they are discussing, trying to determine whether or not it crosses the border between antizionism and antisemitism.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415994.html

...In Poland this would be picked up by the antisemites very quickly as more "proof" of the "look at how the Jews rule the world" theory.

Wow. Just, wow. I tend to avoid indymedia most of the time, and I guess it's easy to forget that things this moronic actually exist.

I find it almost humorous to see the way that he talks about Obama's "populist" campaign, given the content of his own article.

As for whether or not this is best characterized as "antizionist" or "antisemitic" I'm not really sure what to say. However, either way would make him equally un-Communist.

What I think is more important to say, is simply that anti-zionism and all other conspiracy nonsense has nothing to do with, or offer to, Class Struggle, Anarchism or Communism. All nationalisms (which include anti-zionism, third worldism, "anti-imperialism" etc.) are incredibly harmful to the working class as they serve to divide workers and get them to identify with their bosses/leaders/rulers etc.

As it is said "We are the working class, who strive to abolish both work and Class." We should not be concerned with internal squabblings (real or imaginary) of the ruling class. We oppose all states, and all bosses, and we cannot be made to identify with these forms through the various bourgeois deceptions of nationalism.

Anti-Zionism has nothing to offer the working class. Support for Anti-Zionism logically entails the belief that a Palestinian state would somehow be better for us, which of course it wouldn't.

We should not be speaking of "unjust" wars, or rationalizing wars on the bourgeoisie's terms, because we must oppose ALL wars. "We are against all wars; All wars are against us."

I think that putting these sorts of things forth is probably the best way that we can combat stupidity and nationalism within the left.

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Devrim
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Dec 25 2008 06:35
Angelus Novus wrote:
Jack wrote:
But go on, for the sake of argument, please show me an article from any uk lefty group that contains anti-semitism from the past 5 years.

My own personal favorite, from that endless source of hilarity, the Socialist Workers Party, from a leaflet against the BNP:

Quote:
"They deny the holocaust where thousands of LGBT people, trade unionists and disabled people were slaughtered..."

Notice anything missing there?

This in itself is not anti-Semitism. I would say that it is possibly pandering to anti-Semitism, but it is not anti-Semitism itself.

A couple of details about it; The actually text can be found here: http://www.workersliberty.org/system/files/attachment-0001.jpeg
It was produced by the local SWP, and not the centre (possibly an argument for tighter central control in those sort of parties smile )

One does really have to ask how it came about. If we disregard the possibility that the members of the Derbyshire branch are a bit thick, one can only imagine that it has to come down to an awful opportunism in trying not to alienate possible supporters from Muslim backgrounds who the local SWP thought might be offended (It is a shame that they didn't realise about the lesbians and gays, and try to be consistent when pandering to reactionaries, but maybe they are a bit thick).

It is awful. It is quite possibly pandering to anti-Semitism, but it is not outright anti-Semitism itself.

Devrim

no1
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Dec 25 2008 11:31
Angelus Novus wrote:
Your advocacy of "Palestinian solidarity" is already a concession to nationalism. My solidarity is always directed towards concrete human beings, never "Palestinians" or "Israelis".

I took the liberty of using the word 'Palestinian' as short-hand for Khalil, Fatima, Hanadi, Salama, Said, Yasser, Mahmoud, Jamad, Nadia, Sami, Ghada, Nur, Marwan, Ahmad, Hannan, Farouk, Rashid, Ussama, ...... (list of 4 million). In fact my solidarity is with the concrete human beings who have collectively been subjected to systematic dispossession. Since these concrete human beings tend to describe themselves as 'Palestinians', and since this use of the word has been accepted by 99.999% of people talking about the relevant issues, I thought it would be in the interest of effective communication and common curtesy towards these concrete human beings if I used the same word they use themselves.
Also, I don't think I believe you ... presumably your efforts to purge the world of anti-semitism is out of concern for the group of all people who share as a characteristic their being Jewish? Or are some concrete Jews more worthy of being protected from anti-semitism than others? Or maybe it is now OK for concrete bourgeois Jews to be subjected to anti-semitism? You're confusing me...

Angelus Novus wrote:
no1 wrote:
I agree with Jack that there's virtually no anti-semitism on the left

Either you and Jack lead exceptionally sheltered lives, or you are defining anti-semitism in such a narrow way as to exclude 99% of what reasonably falls under the term.

There really is no point discussing with you if you use a different definition than the commonly used one. Of course terms often need to be redefined if we're talking about revolutionary politics, so it's fine to use different definitions than the commonly accepted ones, but in that case one has to make them explicit. Please give us your definition then, maybe that will enlighten our discussion.

laureakai wrote:
Libcommers, actually, by coincidence we can practice on a text. Just some minutes ago, some comrade from our website forwarded me a link to a text which they are discussing, trying to determine whether or not it crosses the border between antizionism and antisemitism.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415994.html

I stopped reading here:

Quote:
Yes, indeed, “our greatest intellectual critics”, our ‘libertarian’ leftists and academic anarchists, used their 5-figure speaking engagements as platforms to promote the con man’s candidacy:

This article by James Petras is really tedious, he is one of these people who think it's a sign of strength to substitute incisive political analysis with self-righteous condemnation and bluster. I remember reading articles by him that were close enough to anti-Semitism. In fact, he's a contributor to counterpunch, who I stopped reading a couple of years ago as they increasingly drifted into anti-semitic territory (eg. with their defense of Gilad Atzmon). But I think that's inevitably linked with abandoning a progressive political perspective.

Another significant example of the left drifiting towards anti-semitism was after John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published an article on how the 'Israeli lobby' is shaping US foreign policy, which found support among some on the left. Yet again this is linked with an abandonment of a progressive perspective. Mearsheimer and Walt's concern is that the interest of US imperialism may be harmed by too strongly aligning with Zionism, and if you agree with that perspective you're no longer on the left.

So in conclusion, I think where there is anti-semitism on the left, it is either the result of political confusion or of abandoning left politics. But there is virtually no left anti-semitism, because the two are incompatible.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 25 2008 12:08

Unfortunately the entire debate surrounding antisemitism on the left is always skewered by various factors. I think Jack is right to highlight the problems of discussing the issue in Germany. Also, I was always told that the term Semite included Arabs too?

Incidentally, to move this away from Angelus' cockwaving and perhaps into practical territory, what are people's thoughts on the proposed/attempt academic boycott of all Israelis? I don't think it's anti-semitic but it is a load of bullshit. The onus is on some of the pro-Palestinians on here (of which there are several, I've met at least 2 Libcommers who've been there with ISM) to demonstrate that there is no space within Israeli academia to criticise the mainstream political discourse. Trots I've spoken to have pointed to the example of one "anti-zionist" (which is a such a poor term btw) academic who has suffered repression, is this institutionalised?

akai
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Dec 25 2008 17:12

The proposed academic boycott is at least 6 years old. It is a good example of a rather bad idea. It was, I believe started by Jews and is not motivated by antisemitism - rather by a desire to take action against the problems in Israel. But I think it approaches the matter perhaps in the wrong way. (It probably would be interesting to examine the effects of the South African boycott, but I only ever read one historical assessment. If anybody here knows more, it may be interesting.) The main question is to assess whether such actions really create change or if they just feed reaction.

We could also ask how come Israel and not any other country? (Why not the US? ) Is this because the crimes of the Israeli state are especially more heinous than any other? Not to justify them in the least, but I think we can find at least a few other states that qualify. The ones funding the Israeli military to start with. What is the reason to single out the Israelis, and why the academics and not for example businesses? (During the South African boycotts some people argued that it made more sense to target businesses only.) The assumption that all academics are complicit in the system? I believe that there may be no space within academia to challenge the mainstream political discourse - this happens all over the place, not just in Israel. In some countries the control is even worse. There are documented and known cases of academics around the world who are fired or otherwise repressed for political reasons and it would seem that boycotting probably does little to support them. I mean, what did the boycott do? I remember they even fired some people in Britain a few years back, one guy because he served in the Israeli army. Why not fire all people who were in the army? Why not boycott the Russians who were in Chechnya? Or anybody else? Sure it would be fine if academics denounced the politics of their states - why though is this limited to Israelis?

I remember that some Israeli left-wing professor had his article rejected by a left-wing magazine once. (Maybe it was Neve Gordon but I don't remember exactly.) Gordon has argued that the boycott calls don't help people like himself and only fuel the pro-government nationalists and give them more support.

It's an interesting question.

About the Petras article, I should point out it was submitted to our anarchist website for consideration. That means that some anarchists didn't see a problem with it. After rejecting the article, some accusations of being "zionists" where made. Some person pointed out that Petras has his website on LaHaine, the article was originally published there and that apparently nobody saw anything strange about this either: http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1768&more=1&c=1

There were similar problems about two years back with some shady material on the Israeli lobby.

I suspect that there are actually quite a number of people who get into these cruder versions of antizionist politics.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 25 2008 18:33
Devrim wrote:
This in itself is not anti-Semitism. I would say that it is possibly pandering to anti-Semitism, but it is not anti-Semitism itself.

At what point does pandering to anti-Semitism become actual anti-Semitism?

no1 wrote:
I took the liberty of using the word 'Palestinian' as short-hand for Khalil, Fatima, Hanadi, Salama, Said, Yasser, Mahmoud, Jamad, Nadia, Sami, Ghada, Nur, Marwan, Ahmad, Hannan, Farouk, Rashid, Ussama, ...... (list of 4 million).

So, in other words, your solidarity is with an abstract national collective, and not with concrete individuals. Thank you for confirming and repeating what I already said.

no1 wrote:
Also, I don't think I believe you ... presumably your efforts to purge the world of anti-semitism is out of concern for the group of all people who share as a characteristic their being Jewish?

No, my attempts to "purge the world of anti-semitism" is motivated by a desire for communism. Anti-semitism is detrimental to the struggle for communism. As somebody who has an interest in communism, I also have an interest in combatting anti-Semitism. It's that easy, really.

It's the same reason why I find it essential to combat the discourse of anti-Muslim racism in Europe. Not because I am an advocate of Islam, or because I am in "solidarity" with Muslims, but because anti-Muslim racism, especially in Germany, represents a "culturalization" of the social question that is ultimately detrimental to the goal of communism.

Angelus Novus
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Dec 25 2008 18:31
laureakai wrote:
We could also ask how come Israel and not any other country? (Why not the US? ) Is this because the crimes of the Israeli state are especially more heinous than any other?

Yes, I think it is essential pose this question to self-describe "Anti-Zionists". The United States has undertaken a massive militarization of its southern border in the last decade, while Germany has one of the most vicious and reactionary citizenship and residency laws in the world. Where are the academic boycotts of the United States and Germany?

Not that I would advocate such boycotts, mind you. I just think the argument from the perspective that Israel is an "apartheid" state is extremely weak. Every nation-state operates according to these mechanisms of exclusion. Whoever does not belong to the national collective is going to have a shitty time. That is not exclusive to Israel.

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Devrim
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Dec 25 2008 18:43
Angelus Novus wrote:
Devrim wrote:
This in itself is not anti-Semitism. I would say that it is possibly pandering to anti-Semitism, but it is not anti-Semitism itself.

At what point does pandering to anti-Semitism become actual anti-Semitism?

I wouldn't say that something like this makes the SWP an anti-Semitic organisation. I think it has reactionary pro-nationalist politics, but I don't think it is anti-Semitic.

Or do you think that this makes them an anti-Semitic organisation?

Devrim

mK ultra
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Dec 27 2008 01:09
laureakai wrote:
Libcommers, actually, by coincidence we can practice on a text. Just some minutes ago, some comrade from our website forwarded me a link to a text which they are discussing, trying to determine whether or not it crosses the border between antizionism and antisemitism.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/12/415994.html

James Petras wrote:
He promised peace in the Middle East to the majority of young Americans and slavishly swears undying allegiance to the War Party of American Zionists serving a foreign colonial power (Israel).

Petras echos a view commonly held among government critics here: US support for Israel is not in the interest of US power, Israel as well as US Jews are manipulating the US government to support Israel.

It's amazing how common this view is, even among people who otherwise have good politics. I think in most cases it can't be blamed on an individual's prejudice against Jews, but it certainly opens the door to a whole range of reactionary ideas.

Even in a traditional anti-imperialist framework it makes no sense. It's akin to claiming in the 1950s that French Algeria and its supporters were manipulating French foreign policy at the expense of French power and denying that French Algeria was a creation of French colonialism. It's claiming that the settler-colony controls the empire, that the tail wags the dog.

I can only imagine a few possible explanations of such mis-characterization, either the writer:
- is anti-Jewish
- wants to pander to bigots
- supports US imperialism, but wants it to realign with Arab interests (and maybe those of continental Europe)
- is sloppy
- or is an idiot

the 2nd Petras article mentioned by Laura is even worse: http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1768&more=1&c=1

Petras's views are not entirely marginal here. They serve as evidence that anti-Jewish prejudice is a problem in the US left.

Here's a good pamphlet about the issue. While it is certainly not perfect, it is easy to follow and gives a good background on some of the issues here:

"The Past Didn't Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All of Our Movements" by April Rosenblum