A Statement of the Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 03.01.2019, http://www.the-isleague.com
This coming year will be a year of sharp contradictions among the imperialists themselves, and between the ruling class on one side and the growing resistance of the workers, the oppressed, women, youth and the lower middle class on the other side.
As we wrote in the RCIT’s Greetings for the New Year of 2019: Prepare for a Political Volcano Eruption:
"We are at the beginning of a new global wave of liberation struggles of the workers and oppressed. The popular uprising in Sudan, the ongoing liberation struggle of the heroic Syrian people against the tyranny of Assad, the mass protests in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran, the steadfast Palestinian people resisting the Zionist oppressor, the powerful Yellow Vests movement in France which is inspiring similar movements all over the world (as far as Taiwan!), the protesting low-income workers in Hungary, the popular insurrection in Nicaragua, ... all these are powerful signs that we are facing a massive upturn of the international class struggle!” (1)
The ruling classes and their servants are using all kinds of weapons, from bombing the masses in Syria and Yemen, to police brutality and more. One of the weapons is the Zionist’s and their supporter's propaganda smearing the progressive movement by calling them “Anti-Semites”.
The headquarters of this reactionary propaganda are in Jerusalem, coming from the right wing government of Netanyahu that is associated with the far right governments and fascist Anti-Semites movements around the world.
The Zionists, who claim that anyone who criticizes their reactionary positions is an Anti-Semite, are working very hard to split the progressive movement and isolate the Jews from the progressive struggle. This is very clear in Britain and the USA. This is an old strategy that began with Herzl. Herzl offered the Russian Tsar (who was behind the pogrom of Kishinev) his services to isolate the Jews from the revolutionary movement for supporting his plans for a Jewish state. These days the Zionists are using the same strategy in Britain and in the USA.
The attack on the working class in Britain
The British Zionists ally themselves with the right wing racists and fascists in Britain to vilify the leadership of the Labor party as “Anti-Semite”.
The Labor party has a long history of support for the Zionists. The Labor Party praised the Zionist labor party of Israel in spite of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian in the 1947-1948. Among the Pro-Zionists in the Labor party were Arthur Henderson, Josiah Wedgwood, Stafford Cripps, Ian Mikardo, Nye Bevan, Hugh Dalton, Richard Crossman, Manny Shinwell and Harold Wilson. "The Party’s Palestinian policy," Crossman wrote in 1946, "was the result of a profound conviction that the establishment of the national home is an important part of the Socialist creed." (2) This was purely social imperialist position.
Only in 1969, two years after Israel occupied the remaining parts of Palestine plus the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Height, the Labor Middle East Council led by Christopher Mayhew, former Minister for the Navy and MP for Woolwich, founded for the first time a pro-Palestinian network within the working class movement. Then in the early 1980s, the "Trade Union Friends of Palestine" led by George Galloway was formed. The "Labor Committee on Palestine" backed by Ken Livingstone’s was formally established within the Party in 1986. Mayhew in June 1971 published an article for the Fabian journal, "Venture" where he wrote: "support for Israel and Zionism is as difficult as support for South Africa and apartheid and for very similar reasons." (3) Later on Mayhew left the labor party and joined the Liberal Party.
While Jeremy Corbyn, the left-reformist leader of the Labor party has developed a pro-Palestinian position, the right wing in the Labor party – the Blairites – are openly pro-Zionists even today, and have joined the right wing attacks on Corbyn. He observes correctly, "I am now more careful with how I might use the term ‘Zionist’ because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by Anti-Semites as code for Jews". (4)
Identifying Jews with Zionism in order to attack the progressive and the revolutionary movement has a long history in Britain. Winston Churchill, the reactionary imperialist, wrote in 1920 that there are three of Jews. The first kind is the "national Jews", those who serve their country whether in England or Russia and the second kind is the bad Jews, “the International Jews".
"From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution".
The third kinds of Jews are the Zionists ones. “Zionism offers the third sphere to the political conceptions of the Jewish race. In violent contrast to international communism, it presents to the Jew a national idea of a commanding character. It has fallen to the British Government, as the result of the conquest of Palestine, to have the opportunity and the responsibility of securing for the Jewish race all over the world a home and centre of national life". (5)
The Zionists in Britain together with the far right, who are truly Anti-Semites, are in the front of the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for opposing the murdering of the Palestinians and stealing their properties. Their line of attack is that he is an Anti-Semite.
In the USA
The same line of attack on the progressive movement can be observed in the USA. The latest target is the Women March and in particular its black and Palestinian leaders.
In the 1960s many American Jews worked with the Black movement advocating equal rights. About half of the white civil rights attorneys in the South in the 1960s were Jews. More than half of the white freedom riders in the 1960s were Jews, and nearly two-thirds of the white volunteers involved in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964 were Jews. Two of them, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by right-wing racists. Jews also provided much of the funds for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, and other civil rights.
But then something happened and most Jews disserted the struggle of the Afro-Americans. So the question is why? In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza and has oppressed the Palestinians in those lands. Unlike the time after WWII when Israel was perceived as a safe place for the suffering Jews which blinded many people to the crimes of Israel against the Palestinians, the ethnic cleansing and the robbery of the Palestinian property, following the war of 1967 a growing number of people began to advocate solidarity for the Palestinians.
Among them were Black leaders like Jesse Jackson, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, who took a stand against Israel as a repressive state. He and other black leaders refused to repudiate Louis Farrakhan who made speeches against the rich Jews and their influence on the American administration. (90% of the American Jews did not vote for Jackson) Although Jackson repudiates the anti-Semitic remarks of Louis Farrakhan, Jackson refuses to condemn Farrakhan outright. In addition Jackson met with Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders, and urged the U.S. government to follow a Middle East policy that recognizes both Israel's right to peace and security and the rights of Palestinians to dignity and justice.
That was enough for the liberal Jews who joined the conservative Jews and turned their back on the discrimination of the blacks accusing them as being Anti-Semites. It is true that Farrakhan has expressed bias against Jews and women. However, equating Farrakhan with the right wing racist's Anti-Semitism is wrong. Farrakhan does not possess the power to organize pogroms nor has a history of calling to attack Jews physically. In some ways he is similar to Hamas and Hezbollah that the Palestinian citizen of Israel refuse to condemn by the demand of the Zionists who kill or support the killing of the Palestinians.
Liberals have a problem: they equate the oppressed and the oppressors. The logic of this position is to equate the uprising of Warsaw Ghetto (that among their fighters were right-wing Zionists) to the Nazis. Both killed is it not so?
Yet when it comes to the fighters against the Nazis the Liberals did not use the formal logic, probably because they supported the imperialist allies against the German imperialists. However, when it comes to black and Palestinians they sing a different song.
The position of the liberal Jews who supports Israel and for this reason split the struggle against racism are much worse than the positions of Louis Farrakhan and his prejudice toward Jews. By splitting the struggle these liberals joined in the real world the real racists. We can find today the same line aims directly at the leadership of the International Women’s Strike that among its leaders are black and Palestinians. There are articles promoted by Zionists who claim that Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and the black leader Tamika Mallory are anti-Semites.
The International Women’s Strike is an international day of action “by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced,” took an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist position, calling for the destruction of walls “from Mexico to Palestine.” Organizers of the strike wrote in its platform that the decolonization of Palestine is “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.”
For example, the day before the strike, Emily Shire, in a New York Times op-ed, who identifies as a Zionist, expressed her dismay over the platform’s stance on Israel and wrote that she felt like she was being forced to “sacrifice” her Zionism for the sake of her feminism. The Zionist women act to split the Jewish women from the International Women’s Strike to form separate protest that at the same time support Israel. (Below we attach an informative article on this issue which has been written by Daniel Sieradski and which was published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.)
The leaders of the Women march answer them by pointing out that Israel oppress Palestinian women and thus a Zionists cannot be a supporter of women rights.
This brings to mind the liberal middle class feminists who in the 19th century split the alliance between the feminists and the movement for the abolition of slavery as they demanded to recognize the women right to vote as more important than the liberation of the black slaves (that also included many women amongst them).
(5) Zionism versus Bolshevism Winston Churchill, http://library.flawlesslogic.com/ish.htm
Women’s March is the wrong target in the fight against anti-Semitism
Daniel Sieradski, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Nov 20, 2018, https://www.jta.org/2018/11/20/opinion/womens-march-wrong-target-fight-anti-semitism
NEW YORK — The same Jewish liberals who gave in to efforts by the Jewish right to divide the black and Jewish communities in the ’70s are back again to divide Jews from their would-be allies, and this time they’re dead set on being the breach in the dam that lets the Nazis through.
Not three weeks after the worst massacre of Jews by a white supremacist in American history, Jewish liberals and conservatives alike have found a target for their wrath, and it’s none other than Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour.
Here’s why I’m fuming:
Any day now the president of the United States can sign an executive order, as he has threatened to do, that will strip citizenship from those who were born in America to parents that were here illegally. Forgive me if I take this personally, as the son of a septuagenarian mother who was born to two Holocaust survivors who sneaked into the country by overstaying their tourist visas.
While this possibility simmers in the background, undocumented and documented immigrants are being rounded up, thrown in cages, having their kids taken from them and sent halfway across the country, and are then deported without their children. These kids, who when they are are lucky enough to be reunited with their parents, suffer from severe emotional and psychological trauma from which they may never recover.
In light of this and the administration’s attacks on the rights of transgender men and women, women’s right to choose, the rights of workers to organize in their workplaces and the right of black people to vote, it becomes clear that everything this administration stands for will result in the destruction of all that we as Jewish people of conscience purport to care about.
So when, inspired by a president who openly blames prominent liberal Jews for that which white nationalists refer to as “white genocide,” a neo-Nazi walks into a shul and kills a bunch of liberal Jews, you’d think that our energy would stay focused on the existential threat in the White House — something actually leading to Jews being killed.
Instead, the dishonorable Minister Louis Farrakhan says something abhorrent, and suddenly all of the energy and anger after Pittsburgh has been shifted away from the president and onto Farrakhan and the left that supposedly embraces him.
Farrakhan, as is well known, is not a leftist but a right-wing conservative religious fundamentalist who once said “I like what I see” in Donald Trump after Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition that they won’t support him because they “can’t buy” him. (As is usually the case, Trump was wrong on both counts.)
Farrakhan is also a virtual nobody with virtually no power in the broader American context, who has no hope of ever being in public office let alone president of the United States. He will never have the sway or influence the president has to inspire acts of anti-Semitic violence. And while Farrakhan may boast tens of thousands of supporters, Trump has tens of millions. Unlike President Trump and his white supremacist base, Farrakhan is not an existential threat to Jewish people.
Of course, Linda Sarsour has denounced Farrakhan’s rhetoric and the Women’s March has repeatedly issued statements saying that they find his views reprehensible and incompatible with their movement. But because Sarsour and her co-organizers won’t outright condemn him — due to the mostly positive role his organization is seen as playing in the black community and, in turn, how that may alienate a great deal of black people from their movement — they are seen as being on par with the likes of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
Never mind that Sarsour, even after being vilified and called a terrorist and all manner of degrading racist and Islamophobic insults by a significant portion of self-identified liberal Jews, continues to stand up against anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Never mind that she raised $150,000 to help with the funeral expenses of the Pittsburgh victims and organized a rally in front of the White House the day after the attack to call out our president for inspiring it. The real threat to American Jewry isn’t the guy in the White House inspiring neo-Nazi murders; it’s the woman in the hijab protesting him.
This is precisely what the right wing wants: For minorities to be at each other’s throats and demonize one another so that we never unify against them and they can continue on with their agenda unopposed.
Liberal Jews have unfortunately been all too eager to estrange themselves from those on the left who offer even the slightest expression of solidarity with Palestinians. In just the last decade and a half, liberal Jews have abandoned not only their fellow Jews who have come to embrace the Palestinian-led BDS movement, but most major progressive movements including the anti-war movement, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dyke March, the Bernie Sanders campaign and now the Women’s March, each for unapologetically defending the rights of Palestinians.
(Some may recall that the original objection to the leadership of the Women’s March was not Tamika Mallory’s association with Farrakhan, but Sarsour’s interview with The Nation wherein she said that a true feminism cannot overlook the suffering of Palestinian women, which was clickbaitingly and misleadingly titled “Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Linda Sarsour Says No.”)
This increasingly universal support for Palestinians on the left has been turned into a wedge by those on the right, used to vilify and demonize the left as anti-Semitic and an unsafe home for Jews. But the left isn’t violently attacking Jews — it’s making Zionists feel uncomfortable, which is probably how you should feel if you are providing tacit support for the denial of another people’s human and civil rights going on half a century.
Yes, there is anti-Semitic violence that transpires in the name of solidarity with Palestinians, but that violence is generally committed out of ethnic or religious hatred, not as an expression of leftism — unlike white supremacist violence, which is firmly rooted in the ideology of the right. It is not left-wing anti-Zionists who have hopped into bed with Donald Trump and fascist leaders around the world, emboldening anti-Semites like Viktor Orban, or who sought to downplay the threat of far-right anti-Semitism after the Pittsburgh attacks. It is the right-wing government of the State of Israel that has done this. It was Israel’s Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett and Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer who told mourning congregants at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that Trump was not to blame for inspiring the massacre of their friends and loved ones, but rather laid fault with the nonviolent BDS movement and their own complacency as American Jews.
Like Louis Farrakhan, members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration are spotlight-seeking religious conservatives and ethno-nationalists with a long history of racist vituperations, and whose offenses are overlooked by their communities out of tribal loyalty. Some are even outspoken admirers of the late Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn rabbi who established a political movement in Israel that was ultimately banned for its open advocacy of anti-Arab violence and placed on the U.S. terror watch list. Yet somehow this doesn’t stop liberal Jews from associating with individuals and institutions that fete obnoxious and racist Israeli politicians, be it their local elected officials, Jewish federations or Hillel chapters. Indeed, when such repugnant and polarizing figures appear on American college campuses and are met with vibrant protest, liberal Jews wring their hands over the “hostile environment created for Jewish students.”
We shouldn’t have a double standard for people who fraternize with bigots, whether inside or outside of our community. Neither Trump, nor Farrakhan, nor a member of Knesset’s hate should be tolerated and the rules should apply equally, just as many liberal Jews have asserted in op-ed upon op-ed.
But while that may be ideal, it also completely ignores that the rules never apply equally to black people and other marginalized communities because the rules were written to disenfranchise them. One needn’t infantilize minorities, rob them of agency nor lower one’s expectations to recognize the disparities in power. The Torah says to judge rich and poor by the same measure, but our society has entirely different measures for black and white, male and female, gay and straight, cis and trans, and above all rich and poor. How can you demand we hold the disenfranchised to the same standards as the wholly enfranchised, empowered and in-control? And how can you demand they do that which you’re unwilling to do in your own community?
Jewish liberals insist that their Zionism be accepted and not be held to account for the offensive associations or troubling policies of other Zionists. But they’re not willing to extend the same courtesy to their would-be allies.
It’s a cliché but people are human beings and they have warts. If we expect purity and perfection from everyone all the time, we’ll never get anywhere. That doesn’t ever mean accepting bigotry from anyone. But it does mean forgiving people for having complicated relationships to things that sometimes have ugly sides to them — particularly when you’re asking for the same forgiveness.
The day my mom’s birthright citizenship is called into doubt, I know that Linda Sarsour will be there to have my back and to stand with me and my family against the full power of the state, because Linda Sarsour is my ally and committed to all minorities coming together as one united front against white supremacy, no matter what intemperate thing she has to say about Israel nor how receptive she is to the Nation of Islam.
Sadly, I have zero confidence that liberal Jews will be there alongside us.