Identity

Antisemitism on the Left

Left-wing antisemitism is really pissing me off these days.
Last week I found myself backed into a corner on a Myspace forum, putting forth a right-wing Zionist argument only to provide a counterpoint to a deluge of anti-Zionism that breached the Judeophobic line. The main argument revolved around the idea that Israel is a client to the US, and that the state itself was formed for the sake of advancing Western imperialism and stifling the establishment of a pan-Arab union. I took umbrage with this characterization and from there things quickly heated up.
The antisemitic breach occured at the point where two of the people I was arguing with basically sought to invalidate the authenticity of my Jewishness, one providing an afrocentric argument that the real Jews were black Africans, the other stating that even if I’m 1/64th Jewish by the merits of genetics and my family tree, that I have no legitimate claim to Israel as my historic homeland. That’s when I started going a little batty, clearly feeling threatened by such remarks, regarding them as an attempt at the destruction of my identity. That’s when I pulled out the antisemite card — a place where I loathe to venture — and by Godwin’s Law, I soon lost the argument in the eyes of the forum’s participants.
I spoke to a few friends about the issue, one of whom is writing a book on the subject — a Jewish Left-winger’s take on Left-wing antisemitism — and another who is an Israeli activist who has also found himself consistently perplexed by this phenomenon.
The latter pointed me to a couple of essays: The first, “How to strengthen the Palestine Solidarity Movement by making friends with Jews” and the second (written by his partner) “Fear and loathing”. Both pieces attempt to articulate the moral failure of the Left in its interaction with the Jewish community.
I’m wondering if anyone else has any thoughts or resources on the subject — those that aren’t from Right-wing Lefty-bashers who’ll have nothing productive to add to the conversation — as it’s a subject I’m presently intrigued with and would like to make some headway in addressing. Any help in this area would be well-appreciated.

82 thoughts on “Antisemitism on the Left

  1. If you are looking for a really comprehensive sketch of the historical roots of the New Left’s anti-semitism, written by someone who became disillusioned with the community as a result, check out “The New Anti-Semitism” by Phyllis Chesler. Yes, she has somewhat become a darling of the Right, but her long history of work in the feminist community and subsequent abandonment by many feminsts because of her Zionism, really calls into question the irrational, fascistic, single-opinioned tendencies of the New Left.

  2. A woman named April Rosenblum, who’s firmly on the Left, is doing a great project on confronting anti-Semitism. From my few conversations with her, I think that she’s doing great stuff. Check her website at http://www.pinteleyid.com .
    There’s also some good work being done by a woman named Judy Andreas, director of a group called Catalyst to Coalition. She’s coordinated a few conferences titled “FACING A CHALLENGE WITHIN: A Progressive Scholars’ and Activists’ Conference on Anti-Semitism* & The Left.” They did one in 2004 on the West Coast and a smaller one this Spring in Newark, details of which are at http://www.facingachallenge.com.
    One note I recently learned is that this Judy Andreas is not to be confused with one other person named (or at least posting online as) Judy Andreas. The Judy who does work on anti-Semitism on the Left writes,
    * In my work confronting anti-Semitism I’ve encountered many attempts to demoralize me and others doing this work. There is now an attempt to confuse the progressive public about “Judy Andreas.” A person or persons unknown to me has been blogging and publishing under my name, and has even took out my name as a domaine name. In an attempt to interfere with the work of fighting anti-Semitism, they associate “Judy Andreas” with both Left and extreme Right Wing ideologies condemning Jews and Israel. Please contact me at the telephone number and email address on this site to determine the validity of any writing or activity associated with “Judy Andreas.”

  3. Great post. I think that there are criticisms of Israel that are fine, rational, decent, and then there are ones that are racist/anti-Semitic, nationalistic or otherwise creepy, without regarding to the truth-content of the claims.
    If someone criticizes Israel in the harshest rational ways–saying that it’s a racist, apartheid state engaging in ethnic cleansing–then the issue is on how they apply that criteria. If their criteria for apartheid and ethnic cleansing also criticizes, say, the United States or other first-world countries, then I’m all for it. I’ll be first to admit that the nation-state is creepy political form, that ethnic cleansing and apartheid seem to be conditions of modernization, etc., and to mince no words in calling out injustice.
    But if they only see Israel and South Africa as being guilty of this crime, then there’s something weird going on. There’s no standard that can condemn Israel and South Africa and ignore Europe and America, not to mention the rest of the world. The person arguing this isn’t necessarily anti-Semitic or racist, but I think that they hold a view which has the potential to create racist or anti-Semitic demonizations.
    Similarly, if someone’s criticism comes from an identity-position, I’m also creeped out. If you want to criticize Zionism, fine, I agree, I think it’s obvious that these 19th-century-style nationalisms are not so hot, that they’re often based in creepy racial theories, that there’s always going to be major issues of exclusion if you define a state as “Jewish.” But then you better be a pure Marxist, equally set against all nationalisms, set against all nation-states. And, I would add, if you’re really a pure Marxist living in America, you should not be concerned with Israel but with living conditions here, under your own boots.
    I guess this doesn’t really have any solutions to your problem, now that I think of it.

  4. I find this issue both fascinating and excruciating at the same time. My encounters with left wingers on this issue is the main reason I do not consider myself in that camp today.
    Tikkun magazine addressed the issue in the context of the anti-war movement in the May-June 2003 issue. I have a copy if you’d like to borrow it.

  5. Check this out: http://www.facingachallenge.com/
    It was a series of two conferences, the most recently held near NYC a few months ago. It was a wonderful, supportive environment, where progressives, Jews and non Jews, came together to discuss this very topic.
    I hope that the website posts more resources. It’s an important an interesting topic…. and the right wing – say Chessler and co – are unhelpful, since in defending Jewish interests they often ally with violent imperialists who justify war and bigotry. (Say, by invading Iraq or discussing ‘Islamo-fascism’ as on a par with Nazism.)
    You might ask your pals who wrote their take on left wing antisemitism what the impact of writing it was in the community it was addressed to, and how active they are at the moment inside that community.
    My impression – having fought anti-Semitism with UFPJ at thier two national conferences – is that being openly Jewish and willing to deal with anti-Semitism is anathema to ‘the left’ regardless of ones other political leanings. You might check out this essay, which I co-wrote after the first UPFJ conference: http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/83079/index.php
    It would be great to organize around this – but the costs are high, if you value being part of the organized left in this country.

  6. You might want to revisit http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/83079/index.php for some first hand accounts of anti-semitism at the founding national conference of UFPJ.
    You might want to know about facing a challenge, a great conference organized by allies of progressive jews, confronting anti-Jewish oppression in the left. http://www.facingachallenge.com/
    Finally, I have a question about the authors of the report you cite: where are they today in the movemement they sought to change from within? What personal costs did they endure as a consequence for writing it?
    My impression is that any out Jew who talks about anti-Semitism as a serious issue is treated as a pariah within the organized left circles. This has the impact of driving away good activists, but also helps undermine the left’s agenda, as it exposes it to the repeating, and often correct charge that they don’t take the issue seriously.

  7. But Charles, that is thoroughly unfair. Just because you disagree with someone’s point of view on one topic (say, Iraq), it does not discount their perspective on issues a, b and c. There are plenty of people who consider themselves Leftist AND supported the Iraq War, precisely because of their leftist ideology and dedication to human rights (Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens and David Brooks to name a few). Short-sighted, perhaps for whom they ally themselves with (though no more or less short-sighted than Jews allying themselves with the vitriolic dictator-supporters of ANSWER or UFPJ, I would dare say), but it is entirely unfair to discount someone entirely because you disagree with him/her on a certain issue. That is why so many (myself included) have become disillusioned with the New Left, because it tends to demand uniform, monolithic thinking on every issue rather than represent a way of viewing the world and deciding as an individual how to apply that world view. So yes, I consider myself progressive, I consider myself a Leftist (in traditional terms — 60 years ago it was the Left who advocated the link between human rights and international military interention, and the Right who was isolationist) AND I supported the need to liberate the Shia and Kurds of Iraq. The execution sure has been effed up, and I leave myself wide-open to be criticized for putting faith into the incompetents of Washington, but it is unfair and entirely belies the values of free-thinking and debate to label people as colonialist, racist or, heck, even capitalist (Trotsky anyone?) for their p.o.v. on military matters. While I personally disagree with your perspective on this specific issue, I accept that it is valid and would hope to learn from it. It’s not a matter of any single person being right and wrong as it is being open-minded enough to explore it all together as free-thinking, rational individuals.

  8. I have one suggestion, and I say this in a totally non-snarky way. I have my own Prime Directive when it comes to engaging with people I don’t know (and some I do): “Don’t argue with crazy people, cuz you’ll never win.” I would suggest that someone who tells you that the only “real jews” are black africans, well at that point you should just disengage, cuz that person has just revealed his/her crazy hand. You can’t make a rational argument to that person. Save your breath.

  9. rokhl: william s. burroughs had the greatest line — “do not proffer sympathy to the mentally ill. tell them firmly, ‘you are a terminal fool.’ otherwise they’ll make you as crazy as they are.”

  10. I have a proposal – honestly it may sound a little crazy, but think about it:
    Let’s set up a left wing jewish advocacy organization soley dedicated to advocating to left wing groups.
    the group should target educating left wing organizations. it should empower left wing jews to educate their non-jewish peers. it’s time to fight back.
    thoughs?

  11. truth be told, i’m actually putting together a panel discussion on this subject, though it likely won’t happen for several months. i like your idea tom, and it may be worthwhile to have a more serious discussion about it.
    i think it’s about time to add a discussion forum to jewschool…

  12. 1) I think the reason left-wingers are reluctant to talk about this is that they see antisemitism being used as a right-wing billy club. Since it’s such a prevalent rightist tactic, bringing it up automatically casts one under suspicion. I blame the right for this, but the left needs to face up to the fact that antisemitism is not the same as bringing up, oh, i don’t know, something like “weren’t women happier in the kitchen?” or something like that.
    2) I think a lot of this comes from the lefts in the U.S. and England, where Jews have not been recently institutionally persecuted. The left in other European countries is a little more careful, but to the U.S. and British left the Arabs are clearly the “underdog” group that they need to champion. And I would agree that anti-Arab sentiment is the more dangerous at the moment, since it is marshalled to support things like bloody wars that kill thousands of people. It doesn’t mean that antisemitism should be allowed to hold any sway whatsoever, though. (and NOT by including Arabs under the rubric of those hated by antisemitism – that’s a stupid tactic that should be ignored. the simple fact is that antisemitism has always meant hatred of jews. “semite” is a false racial category anyway.)

  13. yeah, i think a lot of my fellow Jews, both right and left wing, tend to claim that their side has no antisemitism.
    I’m tired of people within the community labeling politicians as anti-semites when there’s no real proof, just because they happen to be of a particular political persuasion.

  14. Sam says:
    ” I think the reason left-wingers are reluctant to talk about this is that they see antisemitism being used as a right-wing billy club.”
    So they’d rather cover their own rear ends than address a serious problem in their ranks. Sounds like a wonderful bunch of people (and these are the non-anti-semites!).
    “Since it’s such a prevalent rightist tactic, bringing it up automatically casts one under suspicion. I blame the right for this, ”
    Nice try, but that verges on self-parody. And if there really is an anti-semitism problem on the Left, as everyone seems to acknowledge, why assume that it’s a “tactic” when a right-winger points it out? Why is it not a sincere expression of disgust?

  15. Glad you talked with April, Mobius, though I’m sorry that means that one of my suggestions was less useful. I think that there are more and more discussions of this coming up, though slowly. I know that some folks in NYC are planning a discussion some time this summer (mostly within an anarchist context). Judy Andreas, who I mentioned above, is putting together a group called the Chavurah of Allies, made up of non-Jews on the Left who want to work on anti-Semitism. Here in Boston, Tekiah is putting together a discussion of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in response to worsening Jewish-Muslim relations around a new mosque in town. Our goal is to make clear that both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are issues that we as progressives Jews need t speak out on.

  16. And if there really is an anti-semitism problem on the Left, as everyone seems to acknowledge, why assume that it’s a “tactic” when a right-winger points it out? Why is it not a sincere expression of disgust?
    While I didn’t write the original comment, I personally believe that some opposition to anti-Semitism on the right is sincere, and some is a tactic. There’s certainly inconsistency, when legit opposition to Israeli policy is called anti-Semitism but mandatory Christian prayer in the Air Force is ignored. In the meantime, much of the left says nothing about real anti-Semitism around Israel, and it also ignores things like the Air Force, though it may be somewhat more likely to call out the Christian right.
    The left’s got a lot of failings on this, but I’m not too impressed with the right either.

  17. I know this sounds kind of silly, but I think a lot of the problems are a result of people not talking about anti-Semitism carefully.
    Something should be described as anti-Semitic if it plays into common stereotypes and canards against Jews. So focusing on a Jewish conspiracy directing events, or saying that Jews are eating Palestinian children, are anti-Semitic comments.
    A person should be described as an anti-Semite if they hold anti-Semitic beliefs in a systematic way. By systematic, I don’t mean that there’s a magic number of beliefs to hold, but that they hold a structured view of “Jews” that fits into anti-Semitic canards.
    I think that when we say “there’s a lot of anti-Semitism on the far left,” we need to be more specific. Does this mean that a lot of opinions on far-left websites and placards at demonstrations are anti-Semitic opinions? Or does it mean that a lot of people on the far left are systematic Jew-haters? It probably means both, but unless we recognize that it’s possible for someone with an anti-Semitic opinion not to be an anti-Semite, and for an anti-Semite to hold some opinions that are not anti-Semitic, we’re not going to get anywhere in recognizing and dealing with anti-Semitism.
    P.S. What do you call an aged skin-headed duck? An old anti-Semitic canard.

  18. A formerly dear friend of mine has, on more than one occassion, made scathing anti-semetic comments in front of me and my non-observant Jewish husband. When she caught wind of the fact that he and I celebrated Hanukka this year, we received sarcastic holiday card from her and her husband (how sweet!). She’s generally a smart, thoughtful, and well-informed woman, but her political views are very typically American far-left. A big part of this political perspective, as others have pointed out, is Israel = bad, Palastine = good. From there, it’s a very short step to Jews = bad and she has certainly taken it.
    My point is this: I don’t even think that she thinks about the fact that she has said these things, who she has said them in front of, or the implications of her statements. I think this mindset is very common among many left-leaning political organizations (A.N.S.W.E.R. comes immediately to mind). I think that conversations would help, if they could somehow be had without having to resort to direct accusations of anti-semitism.

  19. rb, I think that situation cries out for you to say something, if you’re comfortable doing it. if she really doesn’t realize what she says, then doing an, “It hurts me when you say…” could really help.
    What’s with the sarcastic Chanukah card?? Does she laugh at all religion, or just Judaism? Either way, it strkes me as very uncool, and if it’s the latter, that’s definitely beyond the pale.

  20. Well one issue is “What is anti-semitism?”
    From the Jewish point of view the standard seems to be “I’ll know it when I see it.” (i.e it is defined pretty subjectively and individually).
    Thus when some people encounter any opinon that deeply offends them (e.g. anti-Zionism) they will label it as anti-semitic.
    On the other hand most non-Jews interpret anti-semitism fairly narrowly (as in Hitler level hate) .
    There is bound to be a clash here.
    I think a minimal definition of Anti-semitism would be “the ascribing of negative characteristics to ALL Jews.” (e.g. “All Jews are greedy bastards”). A maximal definition could include just about any criticism of Israel! (since Israel is the “Jewish state” any criticism of Israel is hostile towards Jews. Right?)
    As to the examples given, I would label the first one as just “crazy talk” and the second one as classic antizionism. Whether they are also anti-semitic is an interesting question.
    Another interesting question is “antisemitic intention” vs. “antisemitic action/statement.” Sometimes statements are judged anti-semitic based more on the perceived intent rather than the plain meaning.
    Anyway, I think it is obvious that most of these current battles over anti-semitism (or “New anti-semitism” if you prefer) are actually battles over anti-Zionism. Thus the central question is “Is anti-zionism anti-semitic?”
    I think anyone can acknowledge that Zionism as an ideology goes against the grain of “modernity” which praises Universalism and downgrades the significance of religious and ethnic attachments.
    Thus people who are “pro-modernity” will tend to be somewhat disinclined towards Zionism since it doesn’t fit into their basic ideology.
    So all this examination of “New anti-semitism” is interesting, but I am not sure if it will get anywhere without examining some of these fundamental questions (e.g. “What is antisemitism?” and “Is antizionism antisemitic?”).

  21. Good comments. Yes, the prevailing anti-semitism on the Left effectively drove me out of any participation in activities opposing the current war. It’s very sad.

  22. [hijack]
    Matt –
    Thanks for your concern. I don’t know what the deal with the card was. It was surprising and hurtful. I do intend to say something to her about all of her behavior, but it’s going to be a *conversation,* so it’s all about timing. Right now, I’m just keeping my distance and choosing my words.
    She does have a problem with organized religion in general, but seems to have a specific axe to grind with Judaism. I assume that this has everything to do with Palestine. In order to make this post a little more universal and a little less giant hijack, I’ll say this: I think that the strong dislike of organized religion is really, really common among those who lean left. So I think Judaism and Jews have to counts against them in the eyes of the left (if I can speak generally): first, they’re relgious, second, they’re Jews. Just something to think about.
    [/hijack]

  23. Historically speaking, it is not as if this is a recent phenomena. The organized, far Left (though often disproportionately Jewish) has always had (whether the American Left’s blind eye to Stalin’s purges) a fascination with fascism and dictators (for the modern equivalent, see ANSWER’s, or Ramsey Clark’s connections and support of Slobodan Milosevic and Kim Jong Il). It is a shame that extremists hijack the productive, generally concerned nature of many a movement, across all parts of the spectrum. Personally I think that it should be so much more a concern for the Left, precisely because it runs contrary to the values that we supposedly hold dearest.

  24. I’ve run into this issue myself. Very frustrating. It’s not fun going to an anti-war march and encountering someone with swastikas and stars of David all over his costume.
    I think the anthology Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict touched on this subject…

  25. I think that the strong dislike of organized religion is really, really common among those who lean left. So I think Judaism and Jews have to counts against them in the eyes of the left (if I can speak generally): first, they’re relgious, second, they’re Jews. Just something to think about.
    I think that there’s truth to this, rb, and I think that the tensions between lefty chafing at religion and the religious left play out in various ways. I honestly don’t know, however, if it’s as strong today as it may have been, say, 30 or 35 years ago (and I don’t mean to presume that you were around then–I’ve no clue if you’re 18 or 80). In general, many parts of society are more open to religion now, in a clearly postmodern age, than they were when logical positivism and modernism were much stronger. It also helps when clergy are getting out and standing alongside strikers, queers, etc. Not to say that the crusty Marxists aren’t still crusty and dogmatic, but there’s less automatic assumption that religion is bad.
    Still, for those who’ve got that appraoch, it’s not good. And it sounds, from my inexpert perspective, like your friend has got that approach plus some anti-Jewish shit.
    Adam, it’s indeed not new, though I’m not sure if I would link anti-Semitism with the fascination of a few fringe groups for dictators who call themselves revolutionaries. One comes from a scapegoating urge–the other for a desire for heroes. Both, perhaps, reflect dogmatic thinking that wants a binary good and bad. But they’re not the same.

  26. Someone up there listed ANSWER and UFPJ in the same breath, as though both are on the same plane. They aren’t. And we can compare: UFPJ has resisted adopting a prescription for solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to support groups doing work on specific issues. ANSWER (and a minority of groups with UFPJ) prefer a litmus test approach that seeks to link everything to Israel, and call for Israel’s destruction.
    this is an important distinction, and why I still support working in UFPJ – sometimes with discomfort, but will never work with ANSWER.

  27. Charles,
    My bad for not specifying. I was grouping the two together external of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But, rather, linking the two in the groups that they derive from and associate with, (including the Communist Party USA, International Socialist Organization, International Solidarity Movement and the like). Groups who decry American tyranny and colonialism, while snuggling up to dictators and fascists around the world. And sure UFPJ also has groups like Greenpeace and NOW associated within its umbrella. I commend you for working within to change, I really do, but also always try hard to communicate to friends as to who they are actually alligning themselves with, because most often they are groups that the Leftists I know would not support for these very reasons.

  28. These comments reflect one of the most thoughtful and interesting discussions I have seen on Jewschool in ages. Can this middle-aged Jew with 35 years in various progressive movements (and also a child of progressive Jews) share a little?
    The Old Left (people active in the 1930’s-1950’s) in America was not anti-Semitic. In fact fighting anti-Semitism was a big issue for the American left at that time. Don’t forget, there were a lot of Jews active in the Old Left. The problem is, Jewish and non-Jewish Old Left folks were in serious denial (to put it mildly) about Stalin. It seems unbelievable to thinking people now, but evidence of Stalin’s antisemitism, as well as all of his other hideous crimes, did not seem to be credible to many of these folks–it was apparently considered to be right-wing redbaiting. (I still shake my head over this.) Support for the creation of the state of Israel had the support of many on the Left then. Even the Soviet Union voted for her creation.
    I thinks Tarz’s comments about left-wing anti-Zionism are terrific. If you can find a pure anti-nationalist that finds all national boundaries fascist then OK. If they criticize all ethnic/national groups who have aspirations for nationhood then OK. I think you”ll find maybe 10 people who honestly take this consistent position.
    By the way, I haven’t yet met or read anyone on the”Left” who supports the Iraq war. I like most of what you said, Adam, and please don’t think I’m being mean, but you may be the only person who considers Christopher Hitchens and David Brooks to be members of the Left, including themselves. As for Phyllis Chesler, as an old-timey feminist who remembers her earlier works, and as a Jew who recoils at any form of racism, I must sadly admit that she is now an embarrassment with her poorly written racist rants.
    I would never write off every member of the Left, let alone progressive political activism, because of the presence of a few genuine anti-Semites. I have met people who didn’t seem to understand that Jewish national aspirations are as valid as any other people’s–but we had discussions and I think sometimes I got through. I continue over the years to meet Jews active in progressive politics because we care about healing the world and I am Jewishly proud of every one of them
    I urge every Jew to reach out to non-Jews to talk about anti-Semitism, about the difference between criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and denying her right to exist, about how being “anti-racist” also means fighting anti-Semitism.
    But, on the other hand, sometimes I feel just like being with other Jews. When outreach to gentiles becomes exhausting, there are progressive jewish organizations in which we can do our political work.
    What’s the alternative? The status quo? Screaming at the evening news and doing nothing? How about our friends on the religious “Christian” right? “Support” for Israel to hasten the End Times when every Jew will convert to Christianity or die? Institute a Christian theocracy in this country? The right wing scares me. They are not our friends.
    Thank you for this important discussion. I loved every comment and am proud that our community can talk to each other like this.

  29. I could not agree any more. It really does just make me want to be active and engage only with those active Jews. But the problem is that those are the people who don’t need convincing. It just is maddening and nearly impossible at times to have to justify the legitimate national aspirations of Jews (and yes, still accept the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians) when every other minority group in the world has that right without question or disagreement. So while the Chomskys of the world decry the existance of a Jewish state, they have no qualms with defending Hezbollah for protecting Lebanese interests (please don’t even get me started on the issue of a trained linguist getting involved in discussions of history and politics). In short, I feel as if Jews have been sold up the river by the organized American left (certainly not individuals, but the groups that are both loudest and most active). And I feel like we should’ve learned our lesson a generation earlier about putting too much faith in any singular group or political movement. And yes, while there was genuine shock that Stalin and the purges were true, there also was plenty of evidence pointing towards such activities. In short, can we ever really trust anyone or group but ourselves?

  30. I could not agree any more. It really does just make me want to be active and engage only with those active Jews. But the problem is that those are the people who don’t need convincing. It just is maddening and nearly impossible at times to have to justify the legitimate national aspirations of Jews (and yes, still accept the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians) when every other minority group in the world has that right without question or disagreement. So while the Chomskys of the world decry the existance of a Jewish state, they have no qualms with defending Hezbollah for protecting Lebanese interests (please don’t even get me started on the issue of a trained linguist getting involved in discussions of history and politics). In short, I feel as if Jews have been sold up the river by the organized American left (certainly not individuals, but the groups that are both loudest and most active). And I feel like we should’ve learned our lesson a generation earlier about putting too much faith in any singular group or political movement. And yes, while there was genuine shock that Stalin and the purges were true, there also was plenty of evidence pointing towards such activities. In short, can we ever really trust anyone or group but ourselves?

  31. “the difference between criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and denying her right to exist”
    I rarely agree w/the chomster, but he raises an interesting point here. this is from ’89:
    http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/ni/ni-c10-s16.html
    The second point is a bit different. No state in the international system is accorded an abstract “right to exist,” though states are accorded the right to exist in peace and security. The difference is fundamental. Thus, the United States explicitly denies the “right to exist” of the Soviet Union in its present form (as demonstrated, for example, in Captive Nations Week, or in high-level planning documents such as NSC 68). But it agrees that the U.S.S.R. has the right to be free from foreign attack or terror, that is, to live in peace and security. For the Palestinians to agree to Israel’s abstract “right to exist” would be for them to accept not only the fact but the legitimacy of their dispossession from their land and homes. That is why Israel and the United States insist on this precise wording. “It is essential that these words be spoken,” a State Department Middle East expert asserts. It is not the “existence” of Israel but the “right” of existence that is at issue, National Security Adviser Colin Powell insists: “It’s the right of Israel to exist that is the essential acknowledgement that we need.”98 Israel naturally agrees. The U.S. media and intellectual community do so as well, for only such total humiliation and renunciation of even abstract rights on the part of the Palestinians will justify the attitudes that intellectual circles had displayed towards them for many decades.

  32. But Chomsky’s point denies the historical link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel (I feel like a TM sign needs to be put there or something? Copyright?). I would argue that there is, in fact, an inherent right to exist for a people in its historical and cultural homeland, just in the same way that Indian peoples have an inherent right to the land of India, Nigerians to Nigeria and so on. And THAT is the precise fundamental route of the problem vis-a-vis the Palestinian leadership, as best illustrated by Arafat’s refusal to accept a Jewish connection to the land (something that he said without skipping a beat while staring Bill Clinton in the eyes before the most recent Intifada). So, yes, if there was no Jewish connection to the land, then no, there would not be an inherent, natural right. But if national identity and connection were ignored in relation to all nations, then really the idea of nationhood would be deconstructed to oblivion. Something that I understand in a utopian, theoretical sense, but practically is contrary to many of our most primal, base desires.

  33. “there is, in fact, an inherent right to exist for a people in its historical and cultural homeland, ”
    I don’t know that chomsky would disagree w/that, tho Mobius might know better than me. I think chomsky defines himself as an old-school zionist favoring binationalism.

  34. the comments here, as others have noted, are awesome in their thoughtfulness and respect. i believe mobius had a lot to do with that by how he framed his post – ‘i want to learn about this’. i think the results are clear – a humble inquiry beats a sure pronouncement. reishit hochma yirat hashem – which i translate as, humility spawns wisdom.

  35. I agree wholeheartedly danno, it is nice to have an exchange and not have anyone feel compelled to yell over each other (umm, ok granted that is difficult when typing, but…you get what I mean).
    Chomsky proclaims to believe in the need for a Jewish homeland, but not for an explicitly Jewish state. Again, if that is the case, in order to be consistent there would also have to be no Saudi Arabia, etc…Without a Jewish state as established, Israel could demographically turn into any old state, just with many Jews living in it. I suppose the question at that point is, what happens to Jewish holy sites, etc…to be sure the current state of religion in Israeli politics is often scary, but I do not think that means that there should not be a state that exists excplicity as the Jewish state. There certainly is a difference between NC’s bi-nationalism, and that of Henrietta Szold, Judah Magnes or even Martin Buber. Given demographic realities a democratic, bi-national state would become an Arab and Muslim state quite quickly. And how, given the history of Jewish expulsions from Arab states, are we to believe that such a state would support its Jewish population?

  36. The following is quoted from the link:
    http://colours.mahost.org/articles/austriangoldman.html
    “A recent example of this dynamic happened at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001. The U.S. didn’t want to attend because its entire economic system is based on the racism and imperialism that the conference was confronting. But the U.S. declared that it wouldn’t attend because the conference would be critical of Israel. This manipulation sparked overt displays of Jew-hating in Durban that the media played up to discredit this crucial conference, obscuring the Palestinian cause and the resistance to Western imperialism. ”
    It’s never good enough is it? Who’s scapegoating whom?

  37. Quickly: Chomsky is not opposed to the existence of the state of Israel. He opposes it’s policies, and US support for those policies. He is under attack from the ultra left for NOT demanding an end to the existence of Israel. (Many Israelis wish to see thier state ‘de-ethnicized.’ Are they then self hating Israelis for wanting what the US has?)
    Left wing acronyms: Don’t lump the CPUSA with ISO, or either of them with say the PLP, MIM or RCP. CPUSA works well with Democrats and engages in electoral politics, unlike almost all other wacky lefties. Thier leading presence in UFPJ is precisely why UFPJ isn’t guilty of the sins of ANSWER.
    Um… not that it matters. I just enjoy knowing about these groups and reading thier papers…. Communists are infintesimally small and weak in the US, no matter what group they belong to.

  38. “Thus, the United States explicitly denies the “right to exist” of the Soviet Union in its present form (as demonstrated, for example, in Captive Nations Week, or in high-level planning documents such as NSC 68). But it agrees that the U.S.S.R. has the right to be free from foreign attack or terror, that is, to live in peace and security.”
    Yeah, when “Death to Israel” or “Destroy the Zionist Entity” is the topic of the Friday sermon at the mosques it must be “social reform” their talking about. Death and Destroy must be metaphors. Hamas must’ve been holding an open-mic.

  39. Formermuslim, the authors of that article were discussing a particular dynamic, and so taking their paragraph out of context is bound to make less sense. Still, I think that it’s relatively clear–when the US is able to point to Israel’s interests rather than discuss its own, it puts Israel (and Jews) out as an easy target. That itsn’t to say that the US is entirely to blame and those making the anti-Semitic statements aren’t, but it points to a function that anti-Semitism serves.
    And, as the authors point out, this sets back work to support Palestinians. That’s relevant here, since the piece is specifically aimed atpeople doing that work, as the title makes clear.
    Or maybe I’m misinterpreting your questions. I wasn’t sure what you meant by, “It’s never good enough is it?”

  40. Hey: Left-wing antisemitism has been really pissing people off for quite some time. And so you are in good company. I’m thinking of parts of the European left at the end of the 19th century and thereafter until, uh, now, and also in North and South America. There was a really bad spate of it during the years of the “New Left.”
    Of course people NOT on the left, however one defines “the left,” find additional vindication for dislike of “the left” of “leftists” whenever anti-Semitism rears its ugly head.
    At the end of 2002, plans began to hold a consultation on ANTISEMITISM AFTER THE COLLAPSE OF THE PEACE PROCESS.” It focused on voices critical of Israel “that have gone beyond legitimate criticism, and instead have employed anti-Semitic models and stereotypes” … and of course these have existed for decades before the creation of the State of Israel, much less the peace process of teh early part of this century.
    As Marx was once quoted as saying, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. But to help us in understand the current issue, it might be instructive to look at the response of the American left, broadly defined, to the 1967 Six-Day War, and the response of the American Jewish community to that phenomenon. One book that comes to mind is JEWISH RADICALISM, A SELECTED ANTHOLOGY, edited by Jack Nusan Porter and Peter Dreier. It’s a collection of articles, poetry and cartoons from the early years of the “Jewish student movement” that grew up to some degree as part of the larger counterculture of the 1960s, and to some degree as a response to the “Black Power” movement of the time.
    The left-wing Zionist youth / student groups – Hashomer Hatzair, Ichud Habonim [which merged with a similar group, Dror, to form Habonim Dror a while back], the young adult “Jewish Liberation Project” based in New York, the Radical Zionist Alliance based in California, and a good number of the publications of the Jewish student press of the late 1960s and early 1970s all had to address anti-Semitism among a number of sectors of the American New Left, and a number of ethnic power groups and “new politics” groups of the time.
    In this regard, a few other books spring to mind –
    • WHO IS LEFT? ZIONISM ANSWERS BACK, anon.
    • YOURS IN STRUGGLE: THREE FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON ANTI-SEMITISM AND RACISM, by Elly Bulkin, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Barbara Smith
    • THE LEFT AND THE JEWS: THE JEWS AND THE LEFT, by David Cesarani
    • THE NEW LEFT AND THE JEWS, by Mordecai Chertoff
    • THAT’S FUNNY YOU DON’T LOOK ANTI-SEMITIC: AN ANTI-RACIST ANALYSIS OF LEFT ANTI-SEMITISM, by Steve Cohen
    • SOCIALISM OF FOOLS: ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE LEFT, by Michael Lerner
    • JEWS AND THE LEFT, by Arthur Liebman
    • CHUTZPAH: A JEWISH LIBERATION ANTHOLOGY, by Steven Lubet, Jeffry Mallow and others
    • THE JEWISH 1960S: AN AMERICAN SOURCEBOOK, by Michael E. Staub
    • THE NEW LEFT AND THE JEWS, by Robert Wistrich
    Some of these books were put together, specifically in response to leftist criticism of Israel, but others explore the complex relationship between Jews and ”the left.” And others just explore Jewish cultural and political ferment on the margins of the maisntream …
    There are scads of articles, such as “The New Left, Israel, and the Socialism of Fools,” by Seymour Martin Lipset, from Encounter, of course. Not that it’s the best, but hey. Track it down.
    Towards the end of 2001, the Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot, invited senior historians to a round-table discussion “On The Character, Extent And Aggressiveness of the new anti-Semitism.” Chaired by Sever Plotzker, [former economics editor of Al Hamishmar, the daily newspaper of Mapam, Israel’s United Workers Party], the parcipants included Yehuda Bauer, Shlomo Ben Ami, Dan Dinar, Robert Wistrich, Yigal Carmon, Benny Morris and Dina Porat. A 15-page English translation of this discussion was available online at least in part here:
    http://www.aijac.org.au/updates/Feb-02/190202.html
    Naomi Klein, known around the world as a writer and activist in today’s anti-globalization movement, wrote an important article that appeared in the independent magazine In These Times, entitled “Sharon’s Best Weapon: The left must confront anti-Semitism head-on.” This article, which is in the April 26, 2002 issue of ITT, is available online at:
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/26/13/feature2.shtml
    This article was reprinted in the magazine Third World Traveler – again, it is available online at:
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Israel/Sharons_Best_Weapon.html
    Further to the left than In These Times, Z Magazine is rife with criticism of Israel – and Zionism that many might consider “beyond the pale.” The January 3, 2003 “Daily Commentary” of Znet, a web adjunct to Z Magazine, was entitled “Is anti-semitism an issue of the left.” By Judy Rebick, the item can be read online at:
    http://www.zmag.org/Sustainers/Content/2003-01/03rebick.cfm
    More to the mainstream, or perhaps right-of-center, aish.com recently published an article online, entitled “Anti-Globalization: The New Anti-Semitism,” by David Arenson and Simon Grynberg, available at:
    http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/middleeast/Anti-Globalization_The_New_Anti-Semitism.asp
    Something called the “Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism” put an English translation of a Ha’aretz article called “A Campaign of Hatred,” by Yair Sheleg, online at http://www.as.com. It might be reasonable to at the minimum know about what this group – an official Israeli Government website that “monitors antisemitism throughout the world” — to see what is doing, good, bad or indifferent, see its site:
    http://www.antisemitism.org.il/frontend/english/index.htm
    A peculiar side-issue of the challenge of anti-Semitism in parts of the anti-globalization movement is the troubling phenomenon of honest-to-goodness far-right-wing neo-Nazi groups trying, via deceptive web pages, and other means, to “lure” naïve anti-globalization activists / enthusiasts to their anti-semitic agenda. The ADL of B’nai B’rith has issued statements on this, including from last July 11th. Track them down: “Make Hate Not Globalization,” by Steve Kettman, in Wired News, Nick Mamatas’ article, “Fascists for Che: White Supremacists Infiltrate the Anti-Globalization Movement,” in In These Times …
    There were a number of projects aimed at responding as leftists to anti-Semitism on the left, although some of these groups did not have this as a central focus: these include the National Jewish Organizing Project of the mid-1960s, the Chutzpah Collective in Chicago in the 1970s, New Jewish Agenda in the 1980s, and others. The “Jewish New Left” described in JEWISH RADICALISM, described above, has “survivors: a number of people who were active on the political and cultural left in opposition to anti-Semitism on the left – and voices critical of Israel “that have gone beyond legitimate criticism, and instead have employed anti-Semitic models and stereotypes.”
    These “veterans” and others of those years who are still “alive and kicking” today would be worth breing in contact with for their insights. Here are a few:
    PAUL BERMAN – writer whose works have appeared in The Village Voice and The New York Times; edited book on African American – Jewish relations.
    SHIFRA BRONZNICK – former activist in the North American Jewish Students’ Network of the 1970s, currently consultant to Jewish and other groups on increasing meangful participation of women in organizational life of our community.
    ELLY BULKIN – radical activist, co-editor of bla, bla, bla.
    MITCHELL COHEN – editor of DISSENT magazine, former activist in Jewish student movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.
    STEVEN COHEN – political activist, editor of FUNNY …
    PETER DREIER – academic, co-editor of JEWISH RADICALISM …
    RUTH GRUNZWEIG – activist in radical Zionist movement of the 1960s; co-editor with Lipa Roth [and others] of WHAT IS LEFT: ZIONISM ANSWERS BACK [1968]
    STEFI KIRSCHNER – activist in progressive Zionist movement from mid-1970s, past director of the Givat Haviva Educational Foundation..
    NAOMI KLEIN – editor of No Logo, etc.
    JOANN MORT – activist within Democratic Socialists of America and predecessor group, DSOC, as well as Americans for Peace Now.
    JACK NUSAN PORTER – veteran activist within Jewish student movement of 1960s, co-editor of JEWISH RADICALISM.
    LIPA ROTH – activist in radical Zionist movement of the 1960s; co-editor with Ruth Grunzweig [and others] of WHAT IS LEFT: ZIONISM ANSWERS BACK [1968]
    Ellen Willis – academic, writer and political activist on the anti-authoritarian left.
    Enough for now. I’m leaving in a few days to participate in a conference in Tel Aviv of left Zionists associaed with the World Union of Meretz – the U.S.-associated organization is Meretz USA – see http://www.meretzusa.org – as we prepare for the upcoming World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. We are, more or less, the Left Faction, although there are other delegates and even small delegations who consider themselves on the left …
    >> Arieh Lebowitz [email protected]

  41. To #44
    Matt Borus. The United States takes a lot of crap from the rest of the world for their stance on Israel. The least, the absolute minimum, this writer could do was to show respect for that and not be all cynical about it.
    As for causes of anti-semitism. I’m among muslims all the time, who don’t know my alias on this website. Some of them suggested that Coca Cola sends money to Israel to keep the ‘occupation’ going. And that’s the needlesharp tip of the iceberg.
    These idiotic writers, probably secular as a tree, think there is a rational cause behind anti-semitism and blame the US for being one of the factors. The united states does not need to take such crap from them. To paraphrase Mobius: Screw Them

  42. A peculiar side-issue of the challenge of anti-Semitism in parts of the anti-globalization movement is the troubling phenomenon of honest-to-goodness far-right-wing neo-Nazi groups trying, via deceptive web pages, and other means, to “lure” na?ve anti-globalization activists / enthusiasts to their anti-semitic agenda.
    Thanks for pointing this out, Arieh–I’d actually say that it’s bigger than efforts of the far-right to infiltrate the global justice movement (a more accurate term than anti-globalization). While the mix of populist rhetoric and scapegoating is part of classic fascism, certain breeds of it are known as Third Positionism. Political Research Associates discusses the phenomenon here; you need to scroll down to reach it.
    There’s also been an effortfrom fascists to get into the anti-war movement, using (big surprise!) Israel as their lever. I was helping to coordinate peacekeeping for a large rally during the inital phase on the Iraq War in Spring 2003 (40,000 people or so, which is huge in Boston), when someone reported that there were a couple of skinheads approaching the rally. I didn’t think much of it, figuring that they were probably just folks with shaved heads, maybe SHARPs. But then I I got to see their patches, which told me they were from the World Church of the Creator. They were passing out flyers about how this was a war for Israel. I’m pleased to say that from what I saw, they were roundly rejected by everyone at the rally, without exception.

  43. These idiotic writers, probably secular as a tree,
    Well, formermuslim, I actually know one of the authors, who is quite observant. I’d originally written which one, but I’ve taken that out, because there’s no reason that I should represent anyone’s level of observance to justify some point to an anonymous board poster. It’s absurd for you to make any assumptions about their levels of observance based on an essay you’ve read. It’s also obnoxious for you to use “secular” as a way of dismissing people, particularly when i suspect that many on this board would identify as secular (I don’t, but I respect those who do).
    The authors clearly state that “Anti-Jewish prejudice is everywhere.” For you to write that they “think there is a rational cause of anti-Semitism” is a major distortion. Do they point to those in power, including the US, manipulating anti-Semitism to achieve their own ends–yes. That’s a different thing.
    I’d invite anyone to read the essay, which is in Mobius’ initial link. They can make their own assessments.

  44. i produce dub music and participate in this online music forum. there have been several postings on the site around anti-semitism and the israeli/palestinian conflict that really frustrated me and sent me into the following tirade:
    anti-Zionism advocates the denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination (this is the face of contemporary anti-Semitism in my opinion). Israel is a democracy that encourages vibrant debate and seeks to provide for all of its citizens (but like all government systems it falls short to say the least), therefore criticism of Israel’s policies is totally acceptable (despite dominant trends in the media that seek to ghettoize the mind — in democratic societies—dissent is patriotic—), however, the argument that Israel has no right to exist (i.e. anti-Zionism) is inherently anti-Semitic. perhaps post-Zionism is the term you seek instead of anti-Zionism… in israel/palestine there are more than just 2 people- there are secular and religious jews from ashkenazi, sephardic, mizrachi (middle-eastern “arab” descent), ethiopian and mixed backgrounds, israeli arabs- both christian and muslim, palestinian arab christians, palestinian arab muslims, druze, bedhouin, armenians, samaritans, bahai, people of divergent social classes across ethnic boundaries and well.. the diversity and means of self and other identification are constantly changing and stretch far beyond the narrow lens of the mediated reality many of us are exposed to (photos, soundbites, editorials, etc., tanks vs. children throwing stones) comparison of suffering and the distortion of suffering for political purposes is abhorrent – but it is done all the time (thats why they call it politricks i suppose). on the ground- the oft-exploited binaries of perpetrator and victim, colonizer and colonized, native and foriegner, soldier and terrorist, believer and infidel, rich and poor, management and working class, do not really exist in the forms that are fed to us–rather, truth reflects multiplicity and humanity. to what extent are our identities imagined? what is it that makes our experiences real and defines our cultures? what makes us different, what makes us the same? this is at the core of your “jewish question.”
    existentialist philospher jean paul sartre argued in “Anti-Semite and Jew” that: while the anti-Semite sees only the Jew, projecting all that he loathes upon his notion of the Jews (as other)- he refuses to recognize their humanity (the anti-Semite creates the Jew in order to destroy him), the democrat (believer in reason and the universal rights of man, champion of the Enlightenment) negates the Jew (and only sees the human) in order to pretend the problem of anti-Semitism does not exist. i believe this “democratic” (leftist? new?) anti-Semitism dwells within the anti-Zionist refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist. we live in a world where the boundaries of nation states are becoming less and less significant- so why the conversation? because people are killing each other and there is nothing liberating about that. if you are a minority (or have been) and can identify with the experience of other minorities you may understand, but if you can only identify with your own group or your own political perspective, you will not be able to see how difference can actually unify us. how universal suffering and loss can be turned into a bridge toward understanding, compassion, and social change. hillel said “if i am not for myself, who am i? if i am only for myself, what am i?”
    i was charged with “conflating” anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

  45. “we should always offer a compelling, radical, alternative vision of Jewish liberation, in which Jews would thrive safely as equal citizens, everywhere in the world, at all times. ”
    Been there, done that! It is not a viable solution in the 21st century.
    What is so disturbing on the left is the lack of self-awareness and self-examination.
    I have read anti-Zionist editorials by British MPs who are members of Scottish and Welsh Nationalist Parties. The left has a long tradition of hostility to Jewish collecitivity.

  46. To Mister Goat.
    I apologize for the secular remark. It has no connection to the rest of my post. But I do stand by the rest of my remarks.
    Like I said the united states takes a lot of crap from the rest of the world for supporting Israel, and part of the crap is that they’re being targeted for terrorism by muslims (don’t try to deny it) . Despite that they don’t relent. That deserves our respect and admiration. Not spite.
    I wonder what those authors would have written if the US did send a delegation to Durban.

  47. “By the way, I haven’t yet met or read anyone on the”Left” who supports the Iraq war. ”
    A new anthology of essays by Leftists who supported the war.
    There’s also the Euston Manifesto. Not everyone who signed supports the war, but the thrust of the group is to critique the Left from within for its antisemitism, sucking up to totalitarians, etc.

  48. “But to help us in understand the current issue, it might be instructive to look at the response of the American left, broadly defined, to the 1967 Six-Day War, and the response of the American Jewish community to that phenomenon. One book that comes to mind is JEWISH RADICALISM, A SELECTED ANTHOLOGY, edited by Jack Nusan Porter and Peter Dreier.”
    LOL. I am glad I read through to the end of the comments, because I was going to recommend that book. I’m sure it is out of print but maybe aLibris.com or some other used book site has it. I bought it at a used book table on Upper Broadway.
    It’s pretty depressing to read because it really is the same shit all over again. No one has learned a thing. Or else the older generation has not been able to pass its hard-won knowledge to the younger generation.
    Of your list, Paul Berman is one of the signatories of the Euston Manifesto and is known for his editorship of Dissent, which was always an iconoclastic journal not shy to critique the excesses of the Left discussed here.
    Ellen Willis wrote some wonderful essays on Left antisemitism in her collection Beginning to See the Light. She’s one of my favorite feminist writers.

  49. I want to make a few comments about the two articles that are linked to Mobius’ original piece – esp because it seems that no one else in this discussion has done so (altho I may have missed a reference to them as I did not read each and every comment with a fine tooth comb).
    I found “Fear and Loathing” to be extraordinarily moving and perceptive – and I thank you for the link to it, Mobius. However, the other article, “How to strenghten the Palestinian solidarity mvt by making friends with Jews”, was highly problematic…and I was quite surprised by the fact that you posted it given the main thrust of what you wrote. Before criticizing “How to strenghten…”, I do want to say that I think the two co-authors are well intentioned and have their hearts in the right place – and that much of what they have to say is of real value. And yet…..they are caught up in a very rigid, dogmatic, and overly ideological view of the world. In fact many of the views that they express have been key contributing factors in the growth of the very anti-Semitism that they rightly condemn.
    For example, they characterize the founding of Israel as having primarily resulted from a sinister plot on the part of “imperialist powers” to control the Middle East! They then go on to crudely oversimplify the Zionist leaders who helped to helped found the Jewish homeland by calling them “racists and colonialists.” Furthermore, the authors lend their support – however politely they might have done so – to the Zionism = racism accusation. They also throw in their support for the “right of return” which – if it remains a demand by the Palestinians – would render any and all prospects for a permanent peace – to be be uttterly hopeless for decades to come.
    Good intentions are well and good. But dogmatic ideology can, and usually does, fatally undermine such intentions. If we need any proof of this, all we need to do is open up our daily newspapers – any day of the week, 365 days a year.
    Ken Brociner

  50. So I was reading this at my local cafe, and had a progressive-minded gentile friend ask, “Whatcha readin’?”
    I told him.
    And an argument ensued.
    Ultimately, his contention was that the Jews needed to be like everyone else and drop the whole nationalism thing.
    My contention was that nationalism is essential to Jewish (or at least religiously Jewish) identity, so hell no. It might work for other religio-ethno-cultural groups, but not for us.
    I cited an episode of “Kumars at No. 42” in which the Hindu family celebrates Christmas.
    He said that he got my point but believed that Zionism was primitive and detrimental to a worldwide progressive agenda.
    I said that when an event like one of the most civilized nations in the world being seized by a belief that it had to commit mass murder for the good of humanity was no longer visible in our rear-view mirror, we could talk about what is and is not primitive.
    I think I won.

  51. The left has a long history of Jewish collective identity. Jews were supposed to fade away like the state. Shalom Lappin wrote an article about this in Dissent Magazine. You can find it in the archive section.
    The left also has a short memory. Jews have tried this strategy before. German Jews were the most assimilated Jews anywhere. They fiercely rejected Zionism. Most of the non-Zionist Jews died in the Holocaust.

  52. I can give you an example of two MPs of the UK Parlaiament who are member of Scottish and Welsh Nationalist Parties who both have called Zionism racism.
    There is also the disturbing problem that so much of the antisemitism on the left sounds so much like classic right wing antisemitism. Far too many on the left believe that the “Jewish lobby” has too much power. They sound like David Duke.
    There was an incident on at an American University where Palestinian student were handing out a leaflet with an editorial by David Duke. Jewish students objectd, but no one did anything until Black students objected.

  53. if anyone reads this- it is probably too late – but if you do i recommend “the Marxists and the Jewish Question by Enzo Traverso, which is part of the Revolutionary Studies series published by Humanities press international. it unfortunately does make clear that the problem of antisemitism on the left is an old one, not a recent reaction to actions by israel, and discusses this from a progressive perspective. if anyone, does know of any conferences or activities planned around this issue, it would great to hear about.

  54. It is a no-brainer: leftism emphasises rationality and universalism. Judaism is not rational, and Jews are a tribal people. All of that was supposed to go away, and it hasn’t, and part of the problem is that Jews LIKE being no-rational, and LIKE being tribal, and think all the fighting is worth the price. Ergo, we’re the problem. The logic is iron clad.
    The only problem with the whole scene is the idea that rationality and universalism are better than anything else, and will solve any problems. There is precious little evidence of that…………………
    (I realise some people won’t like me saying that Judaism is not rational, but that isn’t a slam: religion is non-rational. Intense emotion is non rational. Its just a fact.)

  55. I understand what you mean in terms of rationality, poikilotherm, but I wonder how far your point goes. Couldn’t it be applied to other religions as well? Judaism probably has a stronger rational tradition than many types of Christianity, for instance. And while there’s some left-wing disdain for Christianity, it’s of a different nature.
    I also think that the extent to which the left–and our entire society–emphasizes rationalism is decreasing. Rationalism is a very modernist value, and it doesn’t have much place for a lot of the emotions that drive leftism today. What’s the place for passion, for solidarity, for love in a traditional rationalist worldview? I’m not saying that rationalists don’t believe in those things, but that someone who calls him or herself a rationalist today is likely to come from a different place than a rationalist sitting in an Ethical Soceity meeting fifty years ago.

  56. Well. the Left is very hypocritical in this regard, because any tribe of non-white people in underdeveloped countries is treated with reverence. Don’t taint their ancient ways with American pop culture! Globalism is bad! Let’s all wear funky handmade native costumes paid with Fair Trade and go slumming in poor but picturesque parts of the world! if any of those groups would like to modernize a bit, it must be because they are brainwashed by global Western hegemonic ideas!
    However, Jews are the only tribe which doesn’t get this respect. In contrast to other delicately-treated indigenous people, Jews must assimilate. All other tribes’ myths and historic roots are accepted, Jews’ are not. No, we didn’t come from israel, no, Jerusalem isn’t that important to us, or if we insist it is, then that’s bad and wrong of us. No other ethnic group gets told by outsiders who they are. In fact it is a cardinal rule of political correctness to accept uncritically anyone’s self-definition. Except for Jews.
    So rationality vs religion has nothing to do with it. if you are considered “white” and European (even if you aren’t historically), any religion you have is suspect and derided. If you are non-white and non-European, your religion is romanticized and defended. (which is kind of racist in itself, right out of 19th c. British imperialism: White people are supposed to be rational, dark people are supposed to be irrational.) If dark people want to be rational, they must be brainwashed by globalism. if white people want to be irrational, they should only do that by taking on non-white religions. If they are white and Christian or Jewish, they must be reactionary.

  57. I was one of the participants disagreeing with Mobius and arguing against his position on Israel’s relationship to US imperialism. The original text of the discussion can be found here and the most recent post, where I refute an article that was posted there, can be found here. I posted under the pseuydonym “Fedaykin”.
    I do not believe any of my positions anti-semitic. My assertion that Mobius refers to [re: the “1/64th” thing] was clearly not an attempt to “invalidate” his Jewishness. It was an attempt to state that any cultural orientaiton didn’t legitimize defending the denial of an entire people their right to self-determination.
    Using the accusation of anti-semitism is a slippery slope, and in the case of our debate I believe it was wrongly applied. This is a problem because there are instances in which political grups [and I would never say “the left” because you cannot ascribe such motives to such a diverse and hetergenous group] are anti-semitic and do use certain argumental tactics and topics to further their agenda. However because the vast majority of ideologies criticizing the Israeli occupation of Palestine are *not* anti-semitic, it is fairly crucial to take arguments in good faith until there is a clear, obvious example of anti-semitism being displayed.
    Many may think that the Palestine issue was being picked above all other “social ills” occuring around the world because it specifically targets Jewish people. It was not, and I only became involved in the debate after Mobius made some assertions I disagreed with.
    I read through many of the posts here and disagreed with most. There were a lot of characterizations of the “new left” and the “granola crowd” that fetishizes the racist noble savage stereotype, but for those who have read the thread in question, these elements don’t even come into play.
    I challenge anyone on this forum to read the debate, respond to the points I make [which were never responded to by anyone for the most part, unfortunately], in particular the rejoinder I made against the article claiming “the left” was anti-semitic, but in particular about my argument that Israeli foreign and domestic policy is primarily determined by US foreign policy interests, and only secondarily by the interests of the class in power within the state of Israel.
    Thoughts?

  58. Great stuff!
    Well said, Rokhl. I imagine that, in general, “MySpace” is an even greater waste of time than Indymedia.
    One good blog that I’m sure you’re familiar with is Harry’s Place (http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/) and one website active in confronting left-wing anti-Semitism is Engage (www.EngageOnline.org.uk). Have a look at the Union of Progressive Zionists as well (www.upzshalom.org).
    Sam says, “I think the reason left-wingers are reluctant to talk about this is that they see antisemitism being used as a right-wing billy club. Since it’s such a prevalent rightist tactic, bringing it up automatically casts one under suspicion.”
    Yes, this is absolutely the case. Many left-wingers do feel this way. In particular, many are parroting the claims of left-wing public intellectuals who state that supporters of Israel (Zionists) condemn any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Any regular visitor to this site would know this clearly is not the case and Zionist groups have routinely said so. What matters is the nature the critique. Is Israel held up to a double standard? Are anti-Semitic tropes and caricatures used in left-wing media? etc.
    However, putting Israel and the issue of anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism aside, there is a history of anti-Semitism on the left going back to the early French utopian socialists and continuing through the anarchist, democratic and revolutionary socialist movements to the contemporary left. In other words, left-wing anti-Semitism far predates the foundation of the state of Israel. I high recommend reading David Cesarani’s “The Left and the Jews/ The Jews and the Left” (London: Profile 2004). I don’t have a url at hand but it is available on the Internet. Arieh provides an excellent explanation as to why the current generation of left-wing activists professes such a hard-line anti-Zionism and seems oblivious or uncaring about Jewish (and others) concerns about anti-Semitism. The “Third-Worldism” of the New Left led the luminaries of that movement, or more properly movements, to support some rather grievous anti-Semitism and some rather barbarous regimes. Paul Berman has written on this.
    I also don’t blame the right for this situation. I don’t blame the right for highlighting the hypocrisy of a left-wing that claims to support self-determination for all peoples but denies that right to the Jewish people. I do agree with Matt who writes that some of this is sincere and some is a tactic on the part of the right. Yet I don’t blame the right for bringing up these faults any more than I blame the left for bringing up the faults of George W. Bush. This *is* a fault on the left.
    Tarz, right on the money. We do need to be more specific. But if people on the left in the United States can view anti-African American racism with enough nuance to realize the difference between individuals holding prejudiced opinions and an institutionalized system of prejudice, they can see the same nuance in other concepts and for other peoples, like anti-Semitism in the case of Jews.
    Fiftysomething, I think they are some articulate “pro-war” leftists, particular in the UK. The aforementioned Harry’s Place being a good place to start. Adam Michnik supported the war as did Havel. Are you familiar with the work of Norman Geras? In the U.S. there is Michael Walzer at “Dissent”? He wrote “Can There Be A Decent Left?”
    http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Politics/Waltzer.htm
    Hitchens most certainly was a mad of the left at one time (remember his writings on Palestine? Mother Teresa?). However, he feels as if the left has abandoned its core values and the contemporary left holds no appeal for him.
    David, you will always be “charged with ‘conflating’ anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism” as long as the left fails to acknowledge Jewish national self-determination. I think that is one common thread to this discussion. The left has, for the most part, always opposed Jewish national self-determination in Israel. That includes the anarchists and the communists. That includes Marx, Proudhon, Bakunin, Lenin, Che, Mao, Castro and the rest of the pantheon. And if you claim to be for the rights of all peoples and you deny the right of self-determination to Jews, you can cloak it in whatever ideology you like but it’s fairly clear to Jews that this is anti-Semitic.
    Elijah writes, “I would never say “the left” because you cannot ascribe such motives to such a diverse and hetergenous group.” Fair enough. Do you refuse to say “the right” because they are a diverse lot as well?

  59. Your “1/64” remark was beyond stupid. Clearly, you have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. I can’t stand when ignorant people like yourself with no background population genetics attempt to analyze the ethnic/racial aspect(s) of the conflict. Not only is it irrelevant 99% of the time, but, as in this case, your argument is categorically false.
    Put simply, even after 1000-2000 years in the diaspora, Ashkenazi Jews are primarily Middle Eastern. For you to assert that they have no right to reestablish a state in their ancestral homeland because they aren’t Arab is utterly absurd.

  60. Great stuff!
    Well said, Rokhl. I imagine that, in general, “MySpace” is an even greater waste of time than Indymedia.
    One good blog that I’m sure you’re familiar with is Harry’s Place (http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/) and one website active in confronting left-wing anti-Semitism is Engage (www.EngageOnline.org.uk). Have a look at the Union of Progressive Zionists as well (www.upzshalom.org).
    Sam says, “I think the reason left-wingers are reluctant to talk about this is that they see antisemitism being used as a right-wing billy club. Since it’s such a prevalent rightist tactic, bringing it up automatically casts one under suspicion.”
    Yes, this is absolutely the case. Many left-wingers do feel this way. In particular, many are parroting the claims of left-wing public intellectuals who state that supporters of Israel (Zionists) condemn any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Any regular visitor to this site would know this clearly is not the case and Zionist groups have routinely said so. What matters is the nature the critique. Is Israel held up to a double standard? Are anti-Semitic tropes and caricatures used in left-wing media? etc.
    However, putting Israel and the issue of anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism aside, there is a history of anti-Semitism on the left going back to the early French utopian socialists and continuing through the anarchist, democratic and revolutionary socialist movements to the contemporary left. In other words, left-wing anti-Semitism far predates the foundation of the state of Israel. I high recommend reading David Cesarani’s The Left and the Jews/ The Jews and the Left (London: Profile 2004). I don’t have a url at hand but it is available on the Internet. Arieh provides an excellent explanation as to why the current generation of left-wing activists professes such a hard-line anti-Zionism and seems oblivious or uncaring about Jewish (and others) concerns about anti-Semitism. The “Third-Worldism” of the New Left led the luminaries of that movement, or more properly movements, to support some rather grievous anti-Semitism and some rather barbarous regimes. Paul Berman has written on this.
    I also don’t blame the right for this situation. I don’t blame the right for highlighting the hypocrisy of a left-wing that claims to support self-determination for all peoples but denies that right to the Jewish people. I do agree with Matt who writes that some of this is sincere and some is a tactic on the part of the right. Yet I don’t blame the right for bringing up these faults any more than I blame the left for bringing up the faults of George W. Bush. This *is* a fault on the left.
    Tarz, right on the money. We do need to be more specific. But if people on the left in the United States can view anti-African American racism with enough nuance to realize the difference between individuals holding prejudiced opinions and an institutionalized system of prejudice, they can see the same nuance in other concepts and for other peoples, like anti-Semitism in the case of Jews.
    Fiftysomething, I think they are some articulate “pro-war” leftists, particular in the UK. The aforementioned Harry’s Place being a good place to start. Adam Michnik supported the war as did Havel. Are you familiar with the work of Norman Geras? In the U.S. there is Michael Walzer at “Dissent”? He wrote “Can There Be A Decent Left?”
    http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Politics/Waltzer.htm
    Hitchens most certainly was a mad of the left at one time (remember his writings on Palestine? Mother Teresa?). However, he feels as if the left has abandoned its core values and the contemporary left holds no appeal for him.
    David, you will always be “charged with ‘conflating’ anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism” as long as the left fails to acknowledge Jewish national self-determination. I think that is one common thread to this discussion. The left has, for the most part, always opposed Jewish national self-determination in Israel. That includes the anarchists and the communists. That includes Marx, Proudhon, Bakunin, Lenin, Che, Mao, Castro and the rest of the pantheon. And if you claim to be for the rights of all peoples and you deny the right of self-determination to Jews, you can cloak it in whatever ideology you like but it’s fairly clear to Jews that this is anti-Semitic.
    Elijah writes, “I would never say “the left” because you cannot ascribe such motives to such a diverse and hetergenous group.” Fair enough. Do you refuse to say “the right” because they are a diverse lot as well?

  61. I am aware that some Jewish groups continually denounce any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Most do not. Even AIPAC and the ADL have repeatedly issued statements that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic per se. The allegation of anti-Semitism should not be taken lightly and is often used as a barrier to dialogue. However, time and again, I’ve found a repeated failure of my leftist friends to even address anti-Semitism in the historic revolutionary socialist movement let alone admit that leftist anti-Israel forces could possibly be anti-Semitic.
    To be blunt, left-wing anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic at its roots. I am not talking about people who are critical of Israel’s domestic or international policies, people who support Palestinian rights, or people calling for Israel’s withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza. Forcefully stating that Israel should abandon the settlements is not anti-Semitic. Recognizing the objective and undeniable reality of Palestinian suffering is not anti-Semitic. I am referring to something deeper, something ideological that leads people to refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate political entity. Simply stated, the root of left-wing anti-Zionism is a refusal to recognize Jews as people worthy of support in our struggle for self-determination.
    From the establishment of the First International, the nascent Zionist movement was seen as reactionary by most socialists because it would increase Jewish “otherness” by impeding their assimilation, promoted capitalism through the formation of commercial farms, cooperatives, and collectives (not state-controlled enterprises) in Palestine and ultimately distracted Jews from the supreme goal of socialist revolution. These assumptions came from Marx’s view that Jews were a crude race associated with the evils of capitalism (see “On the Jewish Question”). Indeed, the problem with Zionism for the revolutionary left during the 19th century was not the oppression of Palestinians but Zionism’s perceived reactionary role in diverting the Jewish masses from the class struggle in their respective countries.
    When faced with Jewish demands for autonomy within the socialist movement of Russia, Lenin proclaimed that Jews were not a “nation” or “people” and thus, did not qualify for support or recognition in their attempts to establish their own state. Other groups, by contrast, were supported in their anti-imperial struggles. Jewish self-determination—Zionism—was deemed petit bourgeois and counter-revolutionary. In fact, most Jews in the Pale were quite poor and Poale Zion faced consistent difficulties raising money.
    Anti-Zionism is unique in that it is directed against Jews who live as a democratic nation in Israel, seeking to undermine and destroy the legitimacy and legality of the Jewish State and all communal Jewish national activity. To a certain extent this is a discrimination of Jews qua Jews. Besides Israel and Zionism I am not aware of a single case in leftist ideology where the self-determination of a people has been achieved and the left wishes to cancel it. But, if you do not view Jews as a “people” it makes it easier to deny them a national home.
    Zionism, with all its faults, is held to be a legitimate political aspiration by most Jews and as racism, colonialism, and fascism by most of the organized far left. Given this context, it is extremely unlikely that the radical left will reassess their position on Zionism. Either the radical left will need to abandon their formulation that Zionism equals fascism and racism or Jews will have to accept it. Neither is likely to happen in the near future.
    My understanding of the unfortunate strain of anti-Semitism running through various left-wing ideologies comes from studying the intellectual and social history of leftist movements in Europe, Latin America and the United States for the past 15 years or so and seriously examining anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on the left for about five. Over the past two decades I’ve been on both sides of the debate regarding whether anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism and have concluded that anti-Zionist anti-Semitism derives from its ideological foundations in the revolutionary socialist movement.
    In the contemporary context, much of the leadership of the alphabet soup left: ANSWER, ISO, UFPJ, SWP, etc. were politically educated during the heyday of the New Left when the widespread adoption of a synthesis of revolutionary “third-worldist” ideology combined with elements of pan-Arab and black nationalism was in vogue. This ideological posturing—in addition to some particularly nasty “direct actions” and statements made in leftist and black nationalist organs about Jews and Israel—distanced liberals in generral, and Jews in particular, from the radical left. It also spurred some radical leftists to leave the left for good. Some shifted towards liberal centrism others neo-conservatism.
    A similar process is occurring today. At this point my evidence is anecdotal but the explicit anti-Semitism and affinity among large sections of the organized far left for Islamist terrorism combined with the impact of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 and subsequent bombings in London has led liberals in general, and Jews in particular to reconsider their relationship to and with the radical left. We’re beginning to see some movement in this direction in the UK with the establishment of Communities United Against Terror (http://www.unite-against-terror.com/) and the Euston Manifesto. It would be encouraging to see similar endeavours emanating from the United States and elsewhere.
    Lastly, to the articles posted by Mobius, “Fear and Loathing” was excellent. The piece was interesting because it linked the anti-globalization, anti-war, and Palestine solidarity movements together. This is important as anti-Semitic tropes, notions and imagery flow through each. I recommend having a look at the issue of “New Internationalist” (No. 372, 2004) where this article was published (http://www.newint.org/issue372/contents.htm). The theme of the issue is Judeophobia.

  62. You should also have a look at “L’image des Juifs et d’Israël dans la caricature depuis la seconde Intifada” by Joël and Dan Kotek if you can find it. For those who require blatant and grotesque anti-Semitic iconography to be convinced that there is anti-Semitism on the left, look no further. The book contains anti-Zionist political cartoons with plenty of graphic imagery: from the blood libel and the Protocols to Jewish control of the banks and media it’s all in there. There is a healthy dose of deicide and infanticide as well. It’s an interesting and disturbing examination of how classically European anti-Semitic images and concepts have travelled to the Islamic world and returned to Europe as “anti-Zionism”. Much of the material in the book is from media sources in the Muslim world although there are plenty of examples from left-wing newspapers in Europe and a few gems from Indymedia.

  63. Mobius, peep this:
    Journal of Israeli History – Special Issue on Convergence and Divergence:
    Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective
    After the Holocaust, anti-Semitism began a gradual decline and loss of respectability in Western Europe and the United States. Though the communist governments in Europe claimed to be undergoing a similar shift, the “anti-cosmopolitan campaigns” and then anti-Zionist campaigns of the period from the 1950s to the end of the Cold War gave new life to anti-Semitic stereotypes. The hostility of the Western New Left to Israel and then the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism in recent decades have led to renewed concern that the secular anti-Zionism of the radical left is making common cause with the religiously inspired anti-Semitism of the radical Islamists.
    The articles in this special issue address issues raised by such concerns. They were first presented at a conference entitled “Convergence and Divergence: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective” held in March 2004 at Brandeis University. The conference was organized by the editors of this journal with the support of the Chaim Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel at Tel Aviv University, the Sarnat Center for the Study of Anti-Jewishness at Brandeis University, and the American Jewish Committee. Contemporary events — especially the second Intifada and its global consequences—overshadowed the gathering and were an impetus for its organization. The sobriety of these essays reflects the realities of the moment in which they were written.
    Jeffrey Herf, Introduction
    Derek Penslar
    Anti-Semites on Zionism: From Indifference to Obsession
    David N. Myers
    Can There Be a Principled Anti-Zionism? On the Nexus between Anti-Historicism and Anti-Zionism in Modern Jewish Thought
    Shulamit Volkov
    Readjusting Cultural Codes: Reflections on Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism
    Jeffrey Herf
    Convergence: The Classic Case Nazi Germany, Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism during World War II
    Andrei S. Markovits
    An Inseparable Tandem of European Identity? Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism in the Short and Long Run
    Joseph, Bendersky
    From Cowards and Subversives to Aggressors and Questionable Allies: US Army Perceptions of Zionism since World War I
    David Cesarani
    Anti-Zionism in Britain, 1922–2002: Continuities and Discontinuities
    Pierre Birnbaum
    The French Radical Right: From Anti-Semitic Zionism to Anti-Semitic Anti-Zionism
    Darius Stola
    Anti-Zionism as a Multipurpose Policy Instrument: The Anti-Zionist Campaign in Poland, 1967–1968
    Anita Timm
    Ideology and Realpolitik: East German Attitudes towards Zionism and Israel
    Arieh J. Kochavi
    Israel and the International Legal Arena
    Anita Shapira
    Israeli Perceptions of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism
    Meir Litvak
    The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holocaust: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

  64. “historic homeland”
    When you tap into essentialist, racial destiny like that, its YOU my friend that are the racist.

  65. Have a look at Enagage:
    Issue 2 – May 2006
    From ‘Judas’ to ‘Jewish Capital’: Antisemitic Forms of Thought in the German Communist Party (KPD) in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933
    Olaf Kistenmacher
    On the occasion of an event initiated by the KPD, Wofür starb Schlageter? Kommunismus, Faschismus und die politische Entscheidung der Studenten [Why did Schlageter die? Communism, fascism and the students’ political decision] in Berlin in the summer of 1923, Ruth Fischer, who was the head of the party’s Zentrale [Central], in an attempt to win over to the KPD the nationalist students who had gathered there, used this argument:
    “You cry out against Jewish capital [Judenkapital(2)], gentlemen? Whoever condemns Jewish capital, gentlemen, is already engaged in the class struggle, even though he doesn’t realize it. You are against Jewish capital and want to eliminate the stock manipulators. Rightly so. Trample the Jewish capitalists under foot, hang them from the street-lamps, stamp them out. But what do you want to do with the large capitalists, the Klöckner, Stinnes…?”(3)
    [article continues]

  66. There has been a major misconception on the part of the left and of many other people about the Jews and Israel. The Jews did not just show up in what is now Israel at the beginning of the 20th century. Jews have lived in the area formerly known as Palestine since the destruction of the temple. Yes they were dispersed throughout the world but there was always a remnant of Jews living in Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine. Yes, there was a major inflow of Jews after World War II but this was not an entirely new group. Furthermore the Muslims did not control the area until the 8th or 9th centuries. The entire Middles East was under the control of the Byzantine Christians.
    To the extent that the left frowns upon Jewsih/Israeli nationalism why are the Palestinians and other Arabs exempt from being criticized for extreme nationalism. Consider the fact that there has never been a Palestinian state controlled by the Palestinians. Until World War I the entire area was part of the Ottoman Empire. These were not independent countries. Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon all came into existence as a result of the boundaries and nation building by the British and French. The initial king of Iraq was a Hashemite from what is now Saudi Arabia; he was installed by the British. Similarly the king of Jordan is a great grandson of the Shariff of Mecca who was deposed by the current Saudi royal family. He was a British ally and the British created Jordan for him. After all we can’t have a king without a country.
    Until 1967 the left generally supported Israel. It was when the Israelis ceased beinmg the underdogs that the left switched sides.
    The left has always accused the Jews of being the major business owners and the capitalists while the right has accused the Jews of being the backbone of the leftwing revolutionaries. In fairness, Jews existed in both camps; they were no different than the Christians or Muslims. However neither the Christians nor the Muslims ever had to fear for their lives.
    The Arab antipathy is toward the Jews and not Israel per se. For the past 1,500 years there have been many wars between the Muslim armies and the Christian armies. At one point the Muslims controlled Spain, parts of Italy and the Balkans and other areas inhabited largely by Christians. Sometimes the Christians won the wars and they were in control of the countries and hence its Muslim inhabitants. Other times the Muslims won the wars and they became the soveriegn authority. However the Jews were never in control or had a position of sovereignty. It was not until 1948 when the Jews were able to defeat the Arab coalition and establish Israel that any Muslims became subjects in a Jewish state. The idea of Jewish sovereignty has become a craw in the throat of the Muslims and hence its anti-Semitism is even more severe than in the past.
    What you are presently witnessing is blatant anti-Semitism; it is not anti-Zionism. If it were anti-Zionism why is there no attack of the Palestinians who want to set up a Palestinan state and want to excludes Jews from residing in it?

  67. I think it’s likely the conflation between Zionism as a “people’s aspiration” with a “colonial project” as well as with “Jew-squatters on Arab land”. “Zionism”, along with “anti-Semitism” as well as “anti-Zionism” have been so poorly defined in discourse that they’re too easy to throw around as projective epithets.
    Why is Zionism necessarily defined as “aspirations for Jewish peoplehood”? Doesn’t this negate other definitions of Jewish aspiration, such as the classical Reform tradition of empowering Jews in the Diaspora? (Okay, the classical Reform position is much more nuanced than that…) What of the “Galutism” used by (hate to choose these guys) Neturei Karta? One dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and empowering Jews in their countries of origin? I believe that the ADL as it was founded in reaction to the Leo Frank lynching did just that. In fact, the “Galutism” as a reaction to Zionism was pretty strong until its major proponents were killed in the Holocaust, and then history ran its course in favor of Zionism.
    I think that “the far left” (and I use this term carefully, seeing as even extreme forces of any side have their diversities) has an adverse reaction to Zionism over pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism (assuming all of these are simply “aspirations of peoplehood” and nothing more) is because while the latter seek to undo the false borders set by the West, the Ottomans, and other guilty parties, Zionism has allowed the West to enforce its “meddling” since even before the founding of the State of Israel. Let us not forget that Israel would not be here today if not for the British who controlled that land. The accusation that Israel is a “colonial project”, while wildly unfair, probably isn’t that far off the mark.
    Let’s say that instead of the Jews, another highly-persecuted diasporic group that nearly perished in the Holocaust wanted its own state, like, say, a more brown one. And this group had a dominant ideology of returning to an ancient homeland – one that also happens to be on British territory. So what do you think the anti-Imperialist left factions would think of the creation of a Romany Homeland – nay, a Romany STATE in Punjab, already home to millions of Sikhs? What would you think Jews would think, for that matter?
    Would the Left have been more supportive of Jewish aspiration for peoplehood if a Diaspora-oriented ideology dominated over Zionism? We would never know, and it’s pretty useless to dwell on these hypothetical scenarios.
    In any case, what’s so special about such terms as “Zionism”, “Colonialism”, “anti-Semitism”, and “anti-Zionism” is that they are mainly used by different sides to project their own hatreds as distorted images onto their opposing sides. Frankly, if we are to seriously weed out genuine racism/anti-Semitism anywhere, let alone the left, we must examine these epithet-like terms seriously, and take a BIG look in the mirror.
    As for the “leftists”, it’s perfectly fine to bash whatever Israeli policies they may feel is anti-human. In fact, contrary to the views of some commenters here, it’s perfectly okay to critically examine Zionism as a movement and philosophy (or rather, and more accurately, a collection of movements and philosophies). But when these faults are projected onto the Israelis as a whole, or Jews as a whole for that matter, we have a problem – a huge, anti-Semitic problem.

  68. I can only, sadly, agree. I’m a leftist myself but I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with my so-called fellow travellers over this issue and a few others, namely the cameraderie the hard left has with Muslim extremist groups. Never mind that these Muslim extremist groups want to institute a form of governance that would put the right-wing American Christian theocrats to shame, many of them hold positions on the Jews that wouldn’t be out of place at a Hindenburg rally. What’s a lefty to do?

  69. I continue to be dismayed and frustrated at the depth of which anti-semitism has permeated so many leftist-oriented peace and social justice groups. And after years of attempts at dialogue and constructive confrontation within activist groups I was involved in, I’ve found myself withdrawing from much of “activist life.”
    At first I was at least a somewhat sympathetic with the shifts I saw. After all, there are some nasty examples of “anti-semitism” being too casually tossed around as a way to give a blanket vilification of what may be fair and important critiques of the behavior of the state of Israel. But ultimately I found that, even after I started raising my concerns with long prefaces about how I shared the view that anti-semitism was sometimes wrongly used to squelch debate, and how I too saw deep injustices in the some of the behavior of Israel, that it was still all for not. People’s minds and hearts were closed to hearing what I and many Jews were experiencing, the troubling and alienating rise of anti-semitism in the left.
    For me, the saddest and most disheartening thing hasn’t been the extremists and “wackos”. It’s not the daft few who think “zionazi” is a clever or fitting term, or who seem to have a near fetish for using Nazi imagery and rhetoric as the wellspring for their dissent. No, it’s the many folks who aren’t overtly anti-semitic, who “have many friends who are Jews,” but who–in the face of the terrible behavior in the activists groups they are members of, and in the face of Jews raising their concerns–sit quietly by and do nothing. I know, it’s not a new pattern. But I expected better from my partners and cohort in the left, and it’s been very hard to realize that it was a misplaced trust.

  70. After university I lurched to the left and actively supported the radical proselytising of British groups such as the Socialist Workers Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party (the latter was at that time widely derided as the SWP “with hair gel”). For years I felt that I was doing my bit to change the system so that poor people – I mean really poor, living in squalid conditions in one on the world’s richest countries – would get a better deal. And I enjoyed the fantastic friendship of a sensitive and highly intelligent man, my closest friend and Marxist mentor. When, after several years abroad, I walked away from radical, ideological politics (but still felt myself to be more sympathetic to the Left than Right) and started to explore my Jewish roots in a religious way, I was shocked by my dear friend’s reaction. “Just don’t start going on about how all your people were killed in the Holocaust,” he said. It was a pivotal moment in my life, one which has underpinned my scepticism of the Left as a moral force for good.

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