Blogmocracy in Action!
Guest post by: Richard Mather!
[This is a paper about anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist discourses on the left of the political spectrum (usually referred to as ‘the Left’). More specifically, it focuses on gentile hatred/fear of the Jews and the State of Israel. It is not my intention to examine the Israeli Left, which is far less anti-Zionist than its European and American counterparts. It is also beyond the scope of this paper to look at the various socialist philosophies of Jewish intellectuals in the 1920 and 1930s, some of whom were Zionists. Finally, the strange phenomena of Jewish self-hatred espoused by people like Gilad Atzmon is not discussed.]
Sinister intentions: The Left’s attitude towards ‘the Jews’
“With their own nationalisms off limit, many Europeans […] embrace vicariously the nationalisms of others – particularly Palestinian nationalism, which, in its most radical versions, allowed Europeans to reconnect with a discredited strand of European nationalism, anti-Semitism.” (Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe)
“[The Left is] indulging anti-Semites to an extent that is alarming and dangerous.” (Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism)
In the beginning
In the first half of the 20th century, there was a handful of British leftists who supported the idea of an independent Jewish state. In 1917, the Labour Party advocated the right of Jews to return to their ancestral homeland, a position that was soon echoed by the Balfour Declaration, which favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Chaim Weizmann, who became president of the British Zionist Federation in 1917 and helped formulate the Balfour Declaration, was on friendly terms with Guardian newspaper editor C. P. Scott. The paper supported the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Despite occasional words of support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, the Labour Party betrayed Israel at the earliest opportunity. Post-war British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin, who believed he was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy, embargoed arms shipments at a time when Israel was fighting for its life and refused to lift restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine.
In 1948, Bevin negotiated the “Portsmouth Treaty” (never to be implemented), in which Britain agreed to provide the Iraqis with weapons to destroy the impending Israeli state. According to then-Iraqi foreign minister Muhammad Fadhel al-Jamali, “the British undertook to withdraw from Palestine gradually, so that Arab forces could enter every area evacuated by the British in order that the whole of Palestine should be in Arab bands after the British withdrawal.” The post-war Labour government also sided with the Egyptians in the Arab-Israeli war. The British sent five reconnaissance aircraft to scout for Israeli positions but were shot down by the Jewish airforce.
Bevin was convinced that he in particular – and the British people in general – were the dupes of a Jewish conspiracy. Bevin’s paranoia was not unusual. Even before anti-Zionism became fashionable, left-wingers in the UK and Europe had a tendency to espouse outlandish theories and/or champion unpleasant ‘solutions’ to the ‘Jewish problem’. Here are some examples:
Karl Marx, author of ‘A World Without Jews’, stated that money was the “worldly god” of the Jews and that usury is the “object of the Jew’s worship.”
In the late 19th century, the Social Democratic Federation – the forerunner of the British Socialist Party – accused the Jews of being in control of every Foreign Office in Europe.
Marxist theorist Friedrich Engels claimed that he understood French anti-Semitism, “when I see how many Jews of Polish origin and with German names intrude themselves everywhere, arrogate everything to themselves and push themselves forward to the point of creating public opinion.”
The 19th century French Socialist Charles Fourier, who coined the word ‘feminism’, wrote: “Every government having regard to good morals ought to repress the Jews.”
French socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, wrote in 1847: “This race poisons everything by meddling everywhere without ever joining itself to another people […] Abolish the synagogues; do not admit them to any kind of employment, pursue finally the abolition of this cult [… ] The Jew is the enemy of the human race. One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.”
Pierre Leroux, who invented the term ‘socialism’ in the 19th century, opined: “When we speak of Jews, we mean the Jewish spirit, the spirit of profit, of lucre, of gain, the spirit of commerce.”
The term “anti-Semitism” was coined by radical leftist Wilhelm Marr. The word appears in his tract, ‘The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit’, published in 1880.
H.G. Wells, writing in 1940, said: “The hostile reaction to the cult of the Chosen People is spreading about the entire world to-day […] Until they [the Jews] are prepared to assimilate and abandon the Chosen People idea altogether, their troubles are bound to intensify.”
Interestingly, 35 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, Lenin expressed indignation that there were some Jews who were rejecting the class struggle in favour of a national identity. In ‘Critical Remarks on the National Question’ (1913), Lenin stated: “Whoever directly or indirectly puts forward the slogan of a Jewish ‘national culture’ is (whatever his good intentions may be) an enemy of the proletariat.”
The USSR and Zionism
There is a theory that much of today’s left-wing anti-Semitism stems from the Soviet Union. Although the Soviet Union voted in favour of partitioning ‘Palestine’ in 1947, Stalin’s paranoid anti-Semitism, which masqueraded as a campaign against the so-called ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ and the Zionists, is also well-documented. And like Hitler, Stalin was preoccupied with extracting Jewishness from society. Before he died, the Soviet leader was considering deporting two million Jews to Siberia.
In 1946, dozens of Jews were killed in the Polish city of Kielce, after Soviet-backed communist security forces spread a (false) story of Jews ritually killing children. Local people, joined by communist party workers, police and army personnel, savagely attacked the Jewish community, murdering around 40 people, including women and children.
Soviet-sponsored anti-Semitism also influenced communist attitudes towards the Holocaust. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Jewish victims in east Germany were considered less deserving than their communist brethren. The left-wing authority in east Germany was reluctant to recognise the severity of the Holocaust. Moreover, anti-capitalist sentiment was still closely tied to anti-Semitic prejudice. The debate in east Germany as to who should be granted “victim-of-fascism” status, for the most part, excluded the unique suffering of the Jewish people. In fact, there was a widespread belief that the Jews were somehow responsible for their suffering because they did not actively resist the Nazis. (This claim was not only unjust, it was also untrue.)
The Soviet Union kick-started an international campaign against Zionism when it broke diplomatic relations with Israel following the Six-Day War. Zionism was both a proxy for American imperialist interest and a modern incarnation of Nazism, according to the Soviets. Of course, this was during the time of the Cold War and the Soviets needed to win over the support of Arab regimes and reach out to socialists in the West. This was clearly evident in the Soviet’s support of the infamous ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution by the UN in 1975 (and rescinded in 1991).
It is well documented that as well as courting Arab leaders, the USSR also armed and trained the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) during the 1970s. Hezbollah and Hamas also had links with the USSR. But according to James Simpson, writing in the Washington Examiner, Russia is still waging a covert war against the West by backing Islamic radicals. He bases this assumption on a number of claims made by Russian dissidents, the most notable being Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium in 2006. Litvinenko apparently asserted that Ayman Al-Zawahiri, now the current leader of al-Qaeda, was recruited by the KGB. It is unclear, however, whether Al-Zawahiri is still working for the Russians.
Even if this is the case, the Russians themselves have been victims of terrorism. The two most notable examples are the seizure in 2002 of a Moscow theatre by Chechnyan militants and the Beslan school massacre in which 1,100 people were taken hostage, the majority of whom were children. Over 380 people died in what was perhaps Russia’s equivalent of 9/11. This has not stopped the Russian leadership being on friendly terms with the equally dangerous Hamas.
Putting aside the situation in modern-day Russia, it is true to say that Soviet-sponsored anti-Semitism did not disappear with the collapse of the USSR but continues to manifest itself in left-wing grassroots organisations, the trade union movement and anti-imperialist organisations, all of which seek to justify Islamic radicalism and violent Palestinian nationalism.
The New Left: Apostles of (in)tolerance
“Recently we have witnessed the rise of the New Left which identifies Israel with the establishment, with acquisition, with smug satisfaction, with, in fact, all the basic enemies … Let there be no mistake: the New Left is the author and the progenitor of the new anti-Semitism.” (Abba Eban, Foreign Minister of Israel, writing in the American Jewish Congress Bi-Weekly in 1973.)
In the 1960s, the New Left was born. Suspicious of both Soviet authoritarianism and Western post-war establishment values, this new generation of socialists drew much of its power from the counter-culture, the campuses, black radicals such as the Black Panthers, and the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. Although many Jews were involved in social activism and the civil rights movement, Zionism was getting an increasingly bad press, especially after 1967. Israel’s astounding victory in the Six-Day War, especially the capture of East Jerusalem, was proof that the Jewish State was a force to be reckoned with.
This was too much for the Left’s anti-war ideologues, who were becoming increasingly distrustful of Western foreign policy. But what really upset the Left was the fact that Israel was no longer prepared to “lay down and die while his door is kicked in”, as Bob Dylan put it. The New Left’s commitment to helping (or patronising) the oppressed peoples of the world had taken a massive knock. The most persecuted people in history – the Jews – had executed the most impressive military operation since World War II.
The Jewish people had broken free of their chains, effectively rejecting the victim status imposed upon them during and following the Holocaust. Now that Israel had lost its ‘moral innocence’ by carrying out a pre-emptive (but necessary) strike against the Arabs and capturing territory beyond the 1948 border, the Jewish State was now considered an imperialist oppressor like the USA. In a return to the anti-Semitic tropes of pre-war Europe, the Zionist was portrayed as the parasite, the victimiser, the monied manipulator of power.
This meant that the Left needed a ‘new Jew’ to patronise. And what better than the newly-identified Palestinian people? The invention of Palestinian nationalism was a stroke of genius. Arab anti-Semites, like the Cairo-born Yasser Arafat, were able to whip up anti-Jewish feeling by fabricating an ethnocentric national liberation movement that had never existed until the 1960s. It is important to note that the Palestinians are not an indigenous ethnic sub-group but are Arabs and are no different from the Jordanians or the Syrians. The Palestinian refugee population comprises of immigrants from neighbouring Arab countries, many of whom came to the Holy Land after the Jewish settlers arrived to drain the swamps and redeem what was largely empty land. The PLO has readily admitted that Palestinian nationalism is a faux ethnicity designed to undermine Jewish claims to the land of Israel.
The Left swallowed the invention of the Palestinian people hook, line and sinker. Over the years, the Palestinians managed to convince the Left – and the rest of the world – that they had, in fact, always existed, even before the time of Mohammed. In fact, some Palestinians claim that their people existed on the land of Israel before the Israelites. Hence, the highly dubious claim that the Palestinian Arabs are the offspring of the biblical Jebusites and Canaanites.
The red-black alliance
It is hard to establish whether the relationship between the Left and Islamic radicalism is deep and long-standing, or a temporary marriage of convenience. As things stand, the Left and Islam are both at loggerheads with the dominant culture and so for now at least seek ‘solace’ in each other. As Caldwell asserts, in his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, “Anti-Israel rhetoric not only unites Muslims with each other. It also unites them with an important segment of native Europeans, particularly on the political left. In an odd way, it is an avenue of integration.”
It is self-evident that alliance between the Left and Islamofascists is one of mutual convenience. The mutual desire to overthrow Western democracy and dismantle Israeli statehood has thrown the two parties together, despite the fact that both partners hold completely different views on the status of women, gays and the role religion in public life. This red-black alliance is not about creating peaceful conditions on the ground but eroding the Judeo-Christian values of the West, as well as destroying Israel’s reputation and undermining its security.
The desire to undercut American hegemony was made clear by British socialist firebrand George Galloway at the start of the Iraq War. He stated it was “vitally necessary” that the Left ally itself with radical Islam. This is possible, he said, because both “have the same enemies”. These enemies include the “Zionist”, American and British “occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries.” Both the Left and Islam share the same goal of opposing the “savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world”, he added. Likewise, the far left journalist John Pilger endorsed the killing of American troops by the Iraqi resistance for the simple reason that the US was an occupier and that the Left “can’t afford to be choosy” in obtaining allies.
Lynn Stewart, who works for the left-leaning National Lawyers Guild, was more explicit about the need to cooperate with Islamists. Stewart, who was convicted of smuggling messages to Islamic radicals, said: “They [extremist Islamic movements] are basically forces of national liberation. And I think that we, as persons who are committed to the liberation of oppressed people, should fasten on the need for self-determination.”
Caldwell offers another explanation as to why the Left is pandering to Muslim anti-Semites. Ironically, it is born out of a well-meaning but misguided attempt to avoid another genocide in Europe. Caldwell believes that the need to avoid racism at all costs following the Holocaust has resulted in a contest for the prize of top victim. Sections of the Muslim community have manipulated left-wing sympathy and the political elite into believing that Muslims are the victims of Islamophobia and of Israeli and American policy.
The European political elite’s unwillingness to integrate immigrant Muslim populations, as well as its obsession with political correctness, have become “the means through which anti-Jewish fury was re-injected into European life”, state Caldwell. He continues: “Far from forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust, anti-Semites and anti-Zionists were obsessed with them. They were a rhetorical toolkit. If the Muslims were the new Jews, apparently, then the Jews were the new Nazis.”
Most people don’t associate the Left with racial discrimination, but it is clear socialists are engaging in anti-Israel discrimination and a subtle form of Third World racism, as well as outright anti-Semitism.
One of the ways the Left is racist is because it singles out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena, expecting it to conform to an impossibly high moral standard that would endanger Israel’s well-being. When Israel inevitably falls short of these impossible standards, it is accused of indefensible behaviour. In contrast, the Palestinians, who have the backing of around 1.6 billion Muslims and several Arab armies, are not held up to any standard at all.
No other nation in the world is singled out for criticism the way Israel is. Israel is condemned for human rights abuses even when such allegations are proved to be untrue (e.g. Jenin). It is accused of ethnic cleansing when it builds Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. It is dubbed an apartheid state even though Israeli Arabs have full voting rights. It is accused of being an occupier even though Jews had lived on the West Bank for hundreds of years before they were evicted by the Jordanians. It is accused of doing nothing to promote peace when it is the Palestinians who have turned down the opportunity for statehood on numerous occasions (1948, 1967, 2000, 2008).
At the same time, the Left, along with the United Nations, treats the Palestinians like children (the child is the victim par excellence). Such children, of course, don’t know any better and should not be punished or chastised for their mistakes because nothing is ever their fault. This shades in to a form of neo-primitivism, where Third World populations are allowed to (literally) get away with murder. The Left, along with the mainstream media, have adopted the racist stance that when the Palestinians kill each other or kill Jews, it is a legitimate expression of a Third World ‘will to power’ and are therefore absolved of responsibility. When Israelis take military action or assassinate a terrorist leader, it is dubbed fascist or racist.
The Left does not view the Palestinian as a full human being, with all the rights and responsibilities this entails, but is regarded as some kind of special case. In general, the Left has been uninterested in the emancipation of Arabs. The gathering of Stop the War protestors in London prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq, with their “not in my name” placards, reveals much about the left-wing mentality. The opportunity to free the Iraqis from one of the worst tyrants in modern history was dismissed by the Left, who cynically used the impending war as a way of lambasting George W Bush and Tony Blair. If Blair and Bush had caved in to this pressure, Saddam would still be in power and the Iraqi people would still be oppressed and tortured. Despotic and cruel regimes in the Muslim world are of no interest to the Left, except when they are forced to defend them. (Notably, the date chosen by the Stop the War coalition for one of their demos was 28th September 2002, the second anniversary of the second intifada. This was the march where some of the protestors chanted “death to the Jews” in Arabic and where there were placards that juxtaposed the Star of David with the swastika. Coincidentally (or not) the September 2003 Stop the War demo took place on the Jewish festival, Rosh Hashanah.)
But when it comes to Palestinian freedom, the Left is positively drooling. Why? Because it fits the anti-American and anti-Israel narrative. If the Palestinians were being “oppressed” by the Egyptians or Jordanians, you wouldn’t hear squeak from the Left. (In fact, when Jordan and Egypt annexed the West Bank and Gaza respectively, neither the Left nor the Palestinian Arabs talked of ‘occupation’. That’s because the Jordanians and Egyptians are Arabs, not Jews.)
So the Left wants a free Palestine. Putting aside the fact that the Palestinians have rejected a state of their own on several occasions (twice in the past 12 years), does the Left really expect Palestine to be a place of tolerance and equality, with functioning democratic institutions and trade unions? If the Left wants these things for the Palestinians, why is it so cosy with Hamas, which considers homosexuality to be a moral sickness, when it imposes a strict Islamic dress code on women and executes those whom it considers traitors. Hamas, which has turned Gaza into a one-party state, espouses Holocaust denial on its website, diverts humanitarian aid from those who need it most and uses civilians as human shields.
Anyway, why should the Left condemn Hamas? Hamas represents exactly what the hard Left relishes. Violence! Extreme ideology! Anti-Semitism! Anti-Americanism! Of course, if this means suspending its commitment to gay rights and gender equality, then so be it. The fetishization of Arab and Muslim violence is one of the Left’s hallmarks. And it works both ways. Islam expert Olivier Roy believes that Al-Qaeda’s tactics of abducting and beheading persons via live broadcasts were inspired by extreme left-wing antics in the 1970s. Both the Left and Islamic terror groups share the same penchant for undermining stability and intimidating their enemies.
As things stand, the Left does not expect the Palestinians to do anything to resolve the crisis. Everything depends on Israel, which means Israel is always to blame. But what more can the Israelis do? The Palestinians have had several chances to build a state on the West Bank and Gaza and on each occasion they either turned it down or just simply walked away. As recently as 2008, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians almost all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (in addition to Gaza). Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, received the plans but never got back to Olmert. Yet it is Israel that is being subjected to boycotts and international criticism.
When the Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005, did the Palestinians make an effort to build a state? No, they destroyed the infrastructure left behind by the Israelis. When the Gazans send rockets into southern Israel, does the Left criticise Hamas? No, they blame Israel for the blockade, which is only in effect because of the rocket attacks. Does the Left hold the Egyptians accountable for their blockade of Gaza? No, because it doesn’t fit the anti-Israel narrative.
The Left also holds some unsavoury racist attitudes regarding white people, even if they are white themselves. The Left’s fetishization of black and/or Arab power, combined with a disgust of the West’s colonial past, has resulted in a bizarre white guilt complex. This may explain why the Left supports the nationalisms of Third World peoples – aborigines, native Indians, the Palestinians – but actively seeks to deconstruct the nationalisms of Europe, Israel and the US. (It’s an interesting turn of history that the Jews and Israelis are now considered fully paid-up members of the ‘white’ race.) This dismantling of the nation state in Europe is in large part due to lax EU immigration laws. America-bashing is also a fun sport for the Left, which considers most white protestant males to be uncultured, unintelligent, hamburg-munching reactionaries. The smearing of George W Bush, who was actually a well-read compassionate man who boosted AIDS funding in Africa and had several ‘black’ people in his government, is a case in point. Unfortunately, his folksy demeanour and cowboy swagger, and the fact that he was a Christian Republican, made him a figure of fun for self-proclaimed intellectuals and atheists around the world.
(cross posted from Defence of the Israeli People and I recommend you READ IT ALL)
Tags: Richard Mather