Monthly Archives: June 2008

Released Guantanamo Detainee Responsible for Suicide Bombing

Standard

[Blast crater at Combat Outpost Inman. Photograph by Bill Roggio, Long War Journal]

If you follow the links, the first article from the Long War Journal (by Bill Roggio, March 23, 2008), describes a suicide car bombing in Mosul that killed 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 42. Roggio reports an “armored truck packed an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives through the gate of the outpost and detonated in a spot between the three main buildings of the compound. The blast destroyed the facades of the three buildings, including the building housing the battalion headquarters.”

The second article, also from Long War Journal (Bill Roggio, June 26, 2008), identifies released Guantanamo detainee Abu Juheiman al Kuwaiti, also known as Abdullah Salih al Ajmi as the likely perpetrator of the terrorist attack. Roggio writes Ajmi, “claimed he was tortured while at Guantanamo Bay” and wanted to “reconnect with the Jihad.” Whether Ajmi was telling the truth or is not, the radical left will likely focus on his claim of torture and explain this was what drove him over the edge to commit an unspeakable act. As if Ajmi had no connection to political violence prior to his getting locked up. Internet Haganah terms this behavior, Jihadi Recidivism 101. I agree. If he wanted to “reconnect with the Jihad” that tells me Ajmi was already, at the least, involved with these sorts of terrorist activities.

He sure was.

From WSJ:

Ajmi’s story is hardly unique. Some 500 detainees have been released from Guantanamo over the years, mostly into foreign custody. Another 65 of the remaining 270 detainees are also slated to go. Yet of all the prisoners released, the Pentagon is confident that only 38 pose no security threat. So much for the notion that the Gitmo detainees consist mostly of wrong-time, wrong-place innocents caught up in an American maw.

The Defense Intelligence Agency reported on May 1 that at least 36 former Guantanamo inmates have “returned to the fight.” They include Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar, who was released after eight months in Gitmo and later became the Taliban’s regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. He was killed by Afghan security forces in September 2004.

Another former detainee, Abdullah Mahsud, was released from Guantanamo in March 2004. He later kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Pakistan (one of whom was shot during a rescue operation). In July 2007 he blew himself up as Pakistani police sought to apprehend him.

Ajmi’s case now brings the DIA number to 37. It’s worth noting that these are only the known cases. It is worth noting, too, that people like Ajmi were among those the Defense Department thought it would be relatively safe to free, or at least not worth the hassle and expense of the litigation brought about by cases like Rasul.

All this should give some pause to those – John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton among them – calling for closing Guantanamo. The prison is helping to save lives by keeping dangerous men from returning to the fight against our soldiers.

Stranger still are those who argue that people like Ajmi were somehow a creation of Guantanamo. They might want to have a chat with a detainee named Mohammed Ismail, who told the press after his release from Gitmo that his American captors “were very nice to me, giving me English lessons.” Ismail was recaptured four months later while attacking an American military position in Kandahar.

So why was Ajmi released?

Leaving the Radical Left: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Jewish Response (Part 2)

Standard

[Part Two in a three-part work in progress series. Part One concerned the Soviet Union and Old Left and was posted on June 20, 2008. It is available here. The Third and final part (with bibliography) will be posted soon. The picture above is the cover of Joel and Dan Kotek's Au nom de l'antisionisme: 'image des juifs et d'Israël dans la caricature depuis la seconde Intifada. If you are at all interested in the intersection of contemporary anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist imagery you need to get this book.]

The New Left

In 1972, Joe Stork, the editor of the left-wing Middle East Research and Information Report (MERIP), wrote it was “difficult to point to official positions and articulated decisions in assessing the subject” of Israel and Palestine as “the white New Left has had very little to Say about Palestine or Israel.” For Stork, “the New Left groups and personalities have been conspicuous by their absence in any activity against Israel or US Middle East policy.”[1]

Perhaps this was the case in 1972 when Stork claims to have surveyed available New Left Literature on the subject published subsequent to the 1967 War. Yet a more comprehensive article written by two members of MERIP would refute Stork’s claim a mere two years after Stork’s article was published.[2] Today we have access to a variety of newspapers, reports, manifestoes, books and broadsheets, that clearly articulate an anti-Israel—and at times anti-Semitic—bias.

Unlike the Soviets, the New Left embraced a Third Worldist form of “guerilla romanticism,” a worldview described in the following manner by Paul Berman:

[S]ocial progress rested on a lie, a fear that prosperity was theft, and Western wealth was Third World exploitation; a fear that Western civilization comprised a system of manipulation designed to mislead its own people and everyone else-an iron cage cleverly designed to resemble the open air of freedom.[3]

The most extreme elements in the New Left declared that fascism—specifically Nazism—had never truly been defeated. In Europe and the United States, activists linked the actions of their respective governments to a “cleverly disguised, still flourishing Nazism.”[4]

The New Left embraced and synthesized various existing and moribund left tendencies including Marxism, anarchism, council-communism and so on. What most had in common was an uncritical and congratulatory stance—guerilla romanticism—towards the national liberation struggles occurring in the Third World. Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, all were viewed as interconnected struggles against imperialism. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) reflects this political ideology and strategy in one of its basic documents, “The Military Thinking of the Front:”

A basic condition for a true, radical revolution in our times is a revolutionary party, whose function is to orchestrate a national liberation war and lead it to victory. It is the party, with its sound perspective, that decides the strategy and tactics to be used in the battlefield…The great, global confrontation today is being played out by the exploitative imperialist camp and the Third World and Socialist camp. Only through an alliance with the liberation movements of Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, Asia, Africa, and Latin America can the Palestinian and Arab national liberation movements resist the imperialist camp… On the basis of this international strategy, we shall be able to encircle Israel, Zionism and Imperialism, and recruit all global revolutionary forces to support us in the battle. [8] See the document in Rubinstein [ed.] (1971) pp. 3-69.

The PFLP statement is nearly identical to any one of a number of political pronouncements of the era. All one needs to do is pick up a copy of The Black Panther, Revolutionary Worker, the Militant, Workers Vanguard, or the numerous pamphlets and newspapers common among the New Left of that time.

Publication in two successive issues of The Militant (October 1970) of an official Al Fatah document calling for the dismantling of Israel an including a broad attack on the Jews of all countries. The manifesto, carried by the Trotskyist paper, said in part:

Jews contributed men, money and influence to make Israel a reality and to perpetuate the crimes committed against the Palestinians. The people of the Book…changed roles from oppressed to oppressor.[5]

George Novack, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party, wrote an article that expressing:

…at the present time there is a deadly symmetry between the attitudes of the Israelis towards the Arabs and that of the American Jews toward the Afro-Americans and their liberation struggle…the upper and middle ranges of American Jewry, comfortably ensconced in bourgeois America, some of them bankers, landlords, big and little businessmen, participate in the system of oppressing and exploiting the black masses, just as the Zionists have become oppressors of the Palestinians Arabs. Jewish teachers in New York, reluctant to give up their small privileges, resist the Afro-American demand for the control of the schools in their own communities.[6]

At a Socialist Workers Party convention held August 8 to 12, 1971 in Cleveland, Ohio, a report was presented preceding a party resolution against Zionism and the state of Israel. The report emphasized:

…the major task confronting American revolutionists remains that of educating the radicalizing youth about the real history of the Zionist movement and the revolutionary character of the Palestinian and Arab struggle for destruction of the state of Israel.[7]

It’s hard not to notice that the stated goal is not “ending occupation” or a “one-state solution” but destruction of Israel. Radical leftists were much more open about their intentions in the 1970s because they truly believed a revolutionary wave was sweeping the globe.

Beyond rhetoric, many revolutionary organizations in the United States and Europe provided material support for Palestinian groups engaged in armed struggle against Israel, or, in their words “the Zionist entity.” These groups included the Black Panther Party, the Weathermen, and the Red Army Fraction. The Palestinian groups engaged in terrorism that were supported by the left included the PFLP, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestine Liberation Front and Black September.[8]

Over time, the American radical left increasingly began to view the Jewish community and its institutions as part of the “Establishment”: an affluent, smug “liberal” obstacle to the growth of revolutionary consciousness. Indeed, Jewish voting patterns, attitudes, alliances—in short, the political behavior of Jews—had a decidedly liberal cast.

For New Left radicals, liberalism was the main obstacle to revolutionary victory. Liberalism was the force which sowed and perpetuated illusions that progress could be achieved steadily and peacefully through normal democratic processes. Liberalism, therefore, had to be rendered obsolete if society was to be polarized and revolutionary awareness replace the tolerant and optimistic attitudes that provide the cement of “the system.” Consensual domination or, “hegemony,” in the terminology of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, must be challenged. However, unlike Gramsci, the cadres would emerge from the lumpenproletariat.

Eschewing the Old Left’s emphasis on class and the Civil Right’s Movement emphasis on cross-cultural solidarity, the New Left embraced racial minorities—especially African Americans—as the groups with the most potential for achieving a revolutionary transformation of society.[9] Race was seen by the New Left as the most vulnerable aspect of American society at home and in foreign affairs the issue became the anti-imperialist struggle of the third world. Indeed, a single term, third world peoples, was coined to embrace the mass of humanity involved in both struggles. Again, over time, as the Jewish community was viewed as part of the liberal enemy at home, the Jewish nation, Israel, was cast in the same role abroad.[10]

Foster and Epstein note:

In this historical context the radical left chose to take sides against the Jews. It was not so much a matter of wanting to do battle with the Jewish community [or racism as with fascist anti-Semites--TNC] as it was a fixed determination to show the blacks, especially the most radical and nationalistic blacks, that in their struggles they could count on the total support of the revolutionary left.[11]

For most of the radical left, the backbone or heart of world capitalism was and remains the United States. To weaken and eventually destroy American influence in the world by battering it both at home and abroad is its most fundamental task and the prime requirement for the world victory of “socialism.”

To their credit, the New Left was not universally anti-Jewish. For example, when Daniel Cohn-Bendit was denounced as a “German Jew” by the leader of the French Communist Party, angry crowds of radical youths took to the streets chanting “We are all German Jews!” While at a right-wing rally one of the slogans was “Cohn-Bendit–to Dachau!”[12]

Arab Nationalism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

While undoubtedly stimulated by the modern Arab-Israel conflict, religious-based discrimination, harassment and murder have afflicted centuries-old Jewish communities in Muslim lands so severely in recent years that approximately 800,000 Jews from Arab lands have fled mostly to Israel, the lesser number elsewhere.

Anti-Jewish sentiment in the Arab and Muslim world has been well documented and is beyond the scope of this paper. Even Rodinson (no friend of Israel) admits “The very day after the partition plan was announced, on November 30, 1947, at dawn, Arab attacks announced the Arab refusal to accept the Jewish state.” [13]

Many Arab political leaders viewed Zionism as Socialist and pro-Communist, and later as the “foster child” of Western Imperialism – but not as a racist movement. The turnaround seemed to happen in May 1964 with the first wording of the Palestinian National Charter – Article 19 of the [original] charter defines Zionism as “a colonialist movement in its inception, aggressive and expansionist in its goals, racist and segregationist in its configurations and fascist in its means and aims.” The attempt to deny Jews the right of national determination and territorial independence accorded to all other peoples (and vigorously claimed by the Arabs for themselves) is a callous denial of 6,000 years of Jewish identity, more than a third of that time spent in involuntary exile.

Article 22 of the PLO Covenant explicitly liked Zionism with fascism.[14] Most on the New Left felt the condemnation was justified, given Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and territory seized during the 1967 war. They were either unaware or chose to ignore the fact that the Covenant was drafted and adopted in 1964 before Israel liberated Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

If anti-Israel bias was not apparent in the UN’s it certainly became evident by 1975. David Greenberg describes a 1975 United Nations conference on women’s rights which issued a declaration that calling “for the elimination of ‘Zionism, apartheid, [and] racial discrimination.’” To the best of my knowledge, this conference is the genesis of the “Zionism is apartheid” trope.

Throughout the summer, Soviet, African, and Arab leaders maneuvered to oust Israel from the international body. Ugandan dictator Idi Amin led the charge, calling for the “extinction” of Israel. Echoing the language which would be repeated by Third World sycophants for decades to come, he urged Americans “to rid their society of the Zionists,” who controlled the media and banks. These were caustic, but unsurprising remarks for a man like Amin. That fact that Amin’s speech reportedly drew a standing ovation from the U.N. delegates is alarming and displays broadening support for the linkage between Zionism and racism beyond the left to include non-aligned, non-Muslim, nationalist regimes

Unlike Greenberg, Foster, and Epstein, Yochanan Manor delineates between Arab anti-Zionism and its leftist counterpart. For Manor, Arab anti-Zionism “derives from the conflict and the frustration of the Arabs in the light of the successes of the Zionist movement and their failures.” In Manor’s analysis, Arab nationalists appropriated Soviet and Eastern European anti-Zionist propaganda that aimed to find a scapegoat for various internal crises related to state socialism. As Manor writes, “sometimes the Soviets found it expedient to add an international dimension and present Zionism as an international conspiracy responsible for these internal crises.”

Black Nationalism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

The association of Jews with the Civil Rights Movement is well documented. However, by the late 1960s, tensions and cracks were developing in the “black-Jewish coalition.” In addition to the notion of Jew as capitalist (described above) Benjamin Ginsberg notes the political tensions that existed in the coalition where Jews “were critically important to blacks when few other whites would help them.” Paradoxically, this made:

established black politicians vulnerable to attack by insurgent black political forces who could use anti-Semitic appeals as a way of charging that established blacks had sold out to whites and could not be trusted. The first major black politicians to successfully use this strategy were Malcolm X in the North, and Stokely Carmichael, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in the South.[15]

In The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, Howard Cruse asserted Jews were to blame for most of the major problems facing black intellectuals. He also expressed great hostility toward the establishment of the Jewish state.[16] Reminiscent of the arguments nativists had used against Catholics a century prior, Cruse questioned the loyalties of American Jews as agents of a foreign state. Thankfully, many African-American scholars responded with resounding disapproval. Reviewing the book in The Black Scholar of November 1969, editor Robert Chrisman wrote:

There is a vicious anti-Semitism throughout the work. When faced with complexity, Cruse finds the nearest scapegoat and furiously lashes his way out of the jam. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual is the crisis of Harold Cruse more than it is anything else.

Black nationalists adopted anti-Semitic stances, viewing Jewish business owners as “exploiters” of poor black communities. That many Jews had once been a majority in many of these communities mattered little to black radicals. As small business owners, teachers, landlords, principals, as social workers and hospital personnel, Jews and unions were seen as blocking the path to “community control of the black community.”[17]

Stork claims separatist elements in the Black Power movement combined with an increasing internationalist “Third-Worldist” perspective “led to the formulation of anti-Zionist positions and sympathies.”[18] This is in keeping with a common trope of the time among anti-imperialists that African Americans in the United States—as a domestically colonized population—were in the vanguard of the revolutionary movement.

However, as would be the case in later years, the early source of information that blacks in the New Left were receiving was not from leftist organizations but nationalist ones. In Stork’s words,

The first expression came right after the June War, in the July 1967 issue of the newsletter of the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC)…This was not leftist analysis, but reflected the only ready source of critical material, the Arab League.

The material contained a graphic depiction of a hand with the Star of David holding nooses around the necks of Egypt’s General Nasser and United States boxing sensation Mohammad Ali but “none of this was remotely anti-Semitic” to Stork. The next major fiasco was the New Politics Convention in Chicago in September 1967 where the black caucus “laid a set of non-negotiable demands before the rest of the convention, one of which called for condemnation of the ‘Imperialistic Zionist War’” leading to the walkout of some white individuals, but not groups.[19] According to Stork, these two events were alone responsible for “a new liberal orthodoxy asserting the ‘anti-Semitism’” of black separatists and radicals.

Again citing Stork:

The coincidence of two separate events—the Six-Day War in the Middle East and the emergence of the Black Power movement in the US—did most to break up the pro-Zionist consensus in America which had hitherto included the left. Within the black movement, this took the form of increased identification with Arabs as oppressed Third World people.

This was the worldview of internationalists like Malcolm X and Pan-African separatists. A perspective shared by Farsoun, Farsoun, and Ajay:

Coinciding with the development of an anti-imperialist upsurge within the United States concerning the US role in Vietnam, Latin America and elsewhere, the June 1967 War in the Middle East helped to undermine the US left’s myths about Israel.[20]

Moving outside the left, the Nation of Islam (NOI) has a long history of anti-Semitism. Through the Final Call newspaper, NOI leaders refer to Jews as “blood suckers” of the black community. In contrast to the message of established black organizations that emphasized integration and coalition building with whites, the Nation of Islam under Elijah Mohammed argued for black separatism and against collaboration with those he dismissed as “white devils.”

While it is clear that Malcolm X and the NOI held anti-Semitic views, what about anti-Zionism? In one speech, Malcolm declared:

The Jews with the help of Christians in America and Europe, drove our Muslim brothers out of their homeland, where they had been settled for centuries and took over the land for themselves. This every Muslim resents . . . In America, the Jews sap the very life-blood of the so-called Negroes to maintain the state of Israel, its armies, and its continued aggression against our brothers in the East. This every Black Man resents.

Malcolm X’s combination of black nationalism and a proto-internationalist ideological perspective transcended Pan-Africanism. Of course Malcolm X was not the first African-American nationalist to adopt anti-Semitic rhetoric. But, he was the pioneer when it came to connecting anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Ginsberg argues by:

attacking Israel and the Jews, Malcolm was, in effect, attacking his more established rivals for power within the black community who were closely tied to Jewish contributors and who were, as a result, forced to maintain a supportive posture toward Israel. This was now excoriated by Malcolm as behavior utterly inappropriate for a true leader of the African-American people.[21]

Secular cultural nationalists adopted similar rhetoric. The decomposition of positive attitudes toward Jews came in 1967 with the Six-Day War, which provoked SNCC’s Newsletter to condemn Israel for “massacres” inflicted upon the Arab population. Anti-Zionism, barely known until then in the African-American community, dovetailed with the criticism that SNCC’s program director leveled against Jewish rapacity.

SNCC’s stance was hardly unique, since Israel’s stunning military victory and occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank had the effect of undermining its international support elsewhere and especially among the left. While this writer has not been able to substantiate his claims, Ginsberg attests that NOI toughs assaulted SNCC field offices in the South, “to intimidate Jewish workers” and “to embarrass their black coworkers for relying upon the leadership of Jews.”

Outside of radical circles, relations remained strong. For example, for years the leaders of established black organizations signed Bayard Rustin’s annual Black Americans in Support of Israel Committee (BASIC) statement.[22] Rustin, through the A. Philip Randolph Institute, also did an amazing amount of organizing on behalf of Soviet Jewish dissidents who wanted to immigrate to Israel.

When the UN General Assembly UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring, “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”[23] Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, wrote a letter to the New York Times (November 5):

I am appalled at the grotesque attempt to equate Zionism and racism in the draft resolution…Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, seeking exactly what other national movements seek: statehood and self-determination. The attack upon Zionism amounts to the grossest form of anti-Semitism, since it is clear that the term Zionism is used by its opponents as a code word for Judaism and Jews.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also supported Israel.

A sense of identification with the Third World was reinforced by the benefits that African Americans could obtain from a Third World alliance. While Third World forces can offer little material help to African Americans, they can offer them a sense of power and association with the world’s majority, as well as status and legitimacy on the international scene as representatives of anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist groups in the United States. As Jim Sleeper has observed, some blacks are drawn to the international left, “not least for the very non-nationalist reason that here, at last, they find whites who treat them as people of importance.”

Delegations of African Americans attend international conferences, visit Third World capitals, and so forth. In these contexts, opposition to Israel and Zionism is universal. Very often African Americans participate in the drafting of resolutions condemning what are presented as the morally equivalent evils of racism, imperialism, Zionism, and apartheid.[24] Generally, Middle-Eastern delegations expect Africans and African Americans to support resolutions in opposition to Zionism in exchange for their support for resolutions opposing apartheid and racism in the United States.

It is surprising that Black Nationalists—many of whom are ardent supporters of Marcus Garvey and his ideas regarding repatriation—would be against the establishment of a Jewish state. Many Jews could not understand why Black nationalists should see their common bonds with a fellow diasporic people, longing for a national homeland in their historical and spiritual birthplace. After all, Jews were victims of Roman imperialism. Their state was demolished and they were driven to the four corners of the earth. Surely Black Nationalists could empathize with this situation. Also, African Americans have drawn parallels between their situation in the United States and the Jews’ struggles for freedom when they were slaves in Egypt to show Jewish Americans have often become involved in the black cause through their interest in social issues and association with liberal politics.

However, during the 1960s and 1970s, proponents of black community control of schools and education increasingly found themselves at loggerheads with city administrators and teachers’ unions. In an especially bitter battle over the Oceanhill-Brownsville school in Brooklyn, threats, intimidation, and physical violence was used against Jewish teachers. Ginsberg notes,

In their struggles against the Jews, organizations of black teachers and their allies made frequent use of anti-Semitic slogans, pamphlets, and epithets designed to frighten and intimidate Jewish teachers and principals and to encourage them to give up their positions – often in poor black neighborhoods where they already felt threatened and vulnerable. As early as the 1960s, groups like the Afro-American Teacher’s Association, an organization formed in 1964 to represent black teachers in Brooklyn, asserted, We are witnessing today in New York City a phenomenon that spells death for the minds and souls of our black children. It is the systematic coming of age of the Jews who dominate and control the educational bureaucracy of the New York public school system . . . In short, our children are being mentally poisoned.[25]

The New Left clearly sided with the clamors for community control. Declaring the strike “racist,” the CP-USA’s Hyman Lumer maintained that the strike was “directed against the Black and Puerto Rican peoples seeking to obtain some semblance of decent education in the ghettos through community control of the schools.”[26] What Lumer fails to mention is that the Ford Foundation funded these “grassroots” efforts.

[to be continued]


[1] Strok, 65.

[2] Karen Farsoun, Samih Farsoun, and Alex Ajay. “Mid-East Perspectives from the American Left.” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Autumn, 1974), 94-119.

[3] Berman, “The Passion of Joschka Fischer.”

[4] Berman

[5] “Al Fatah: Towards a Democratic Sate in Palestine,” October 9, 1970. in Foster and Epstein, 130.

[6] Foster and Epstein, 137.

[7] Foster and Epstein, 128.

[8] Black September committed its most dramatic terrorist attack, code-named Ikrit and Biram, at the Munich Olympics. Just before dawn on the morning of July 18, 1972, eight Black September terrorists slipped into the Olympic Village, forced their way into the apartment occupied by the Israelis and killed a weight lifter and a coach in the process. In a botched rescue attempt by West German police, all nine Israeli athletes were killed, as were five terrorists.

[9] ibid

[10] Foster and Epstein, 11.

[11] Foster and Epstein, 10.

[12] Berman

[13] Rodinson, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State?, 72

[14] Article 22:

Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.

[15] Ginsberg, 166.

[16] Foster and Epstein, 216.

[17] Foster and Epstein, 10.

[18] Joe Stork. “The American New Left and Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Autumn, 1972), 66.

[19] Stork, 67.

[20] Farsoun, Farsoun, and Ajay. “Mid-East Perspectives from the American Left” p. 95.

[21] Ginsbeg, 167.

[22] Ginsberg, 169.

[23] Hyman Lumer. “Zionism: Is It Racist?” Daily World, November 29, 1975 in Rubin, Anti-Semitism and Zionism: Selected Marxist Writings, 192.

[24] Zionism and Racism in Tripoli: Proceedings of an International Symposium. International Organization for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, 1979.

[25] Ginsberg, Benjamin. The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1993

[26] Hyman Lumer. Zionism: Its Role in World Politics in Rubin,14:1.

Saturday Miscellania: “Is Fidel Part of the Zionist Movement?”

Standard

The wife and I went to Carnegie Hall last night to see Al Green and Dianne Reeves. It was a fantastic show. Ms. Reeves’ filled the entire hall with her rich voice. And her band were no slouches either. When Mr. Green took the stage the place went wild. It felt more like a stadium than Carnegie Hall. He may be getting old but he still has his moves, grooves and oodles of soul. What a show.

What you should be reading this weekend:

Bob from Brockley: The Real Axis of Evil (an old post as Bob is on vacation)

But I am a Liberal!: Some positive developments

Contentious Centrist: Discusses Arthur Herman’s excellent article, “Why Iraq was Invetiable”, from this month’s Commentary.

Don’t Trip Up: Oppressors closer to home discusses a recent article by Farooq Sulehria in which he claims the Islamic world is not oppressed by the U.S., Israel, Europe, or the West but by terrorist organizations and governments who claim to be acting in the name of Allah.

Internet Haganah: Jihadi Recidivism 101

Israpundit: On the expected release of terrorist Samir Kuntar

Martin in the Margins: Rewriting history

ModernityBlog: Open thread on how to defeat the fascists

NeoConstant: All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Simply Jews: Abu Hamza The Hook is going places–final

The Stark Tenet: Obama is nothing but a politician

Sultan Knish: The Prostitution of Peace and The All-Powerful AIPAC

Always a bit strange to see how people find your blog. Some of the search terms are understandable but the strangest one this week was:

“is fidel part of the zionist movement”

Um, I don’t think so dude…

In other news, NeoConstant and The Stark Tenet were added to my blogroll.

Supreme Court Decision on Gun Rights: Individuals Over Collectivities

Standard

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.–United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Second Amendment

Legal scholars, political scientists, historians, and activists on both sides of the gun-rights/gun-control issue have debated the precise meaning of this sentence for as long as I’ve been alive and well before that. Gun-control advocates often refer to the “militia clause” of the amendment, claiming the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms only to government regulated bodies, state militias. Gun-rights organizations have continually countered that Framers notion of “the people” referred to individuals, not collectivities.

The Supreme Court, which has been close to silent on this issue for two centuries, has ruled a Washington, DC ban on handguns unconstitutional. The Court’s landmark 5-4 decision ruled the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. This is the first time the Court has placed gun rights on a similar plane as the right to free speech, a right accorded explicitly to the individual, not to groups.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the opinion for the majority said an individual right to bear arms exists and is supported by “the historical narrative” both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted. Scalia added, the ruling should not “cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

This decision opens the doors for similar bans to be overturned in New York, California, Massachusetts, and other states. The NRA is gearing up for lawsuits in Chicago in San Francisco. Gun-control advocates fear the ruling will facilitate the elimination of background checks, fingerprinting and registration fees. Columbia Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily, reflecting his disappointment with the decision said, “The NRA has its precedent, and now it’s going to use it to try to strike down various restrictions around the country.” Professor Persily added, “We don’t know what the next shoe to drop will be.”

March Sherman (AP) notes:

The reaction broke less along party lines than along the divide between cities wracked with gun violence and rural areas where gun ownership is embedded in daily life. Democrats have all but abandoned their long push for stricter gun laws at the national level after deciding it’s a losing issue for them. Republicans welcomed what they called a powerful precedent.

Given the general failure of gun-control in urban areas I am wonder why so many clear-thinking people would stick to these policies. Much of it is fear, the notion that more guns in the community cannot lead to any positive outcome and will only result in more gun violence. Yet DC has had gun-control for three decades and regularly leads the country in incidences of violent crime. And when the “assault-weapons” ban ended in 2004, there was no spike in violence associated with semi-automatic rifles. I suspect similar results in DC.

The strongest argument made by gun-control advocates are the statistics comparing the likelihood of using your gun in self-defense versus it being used accidentally or willingly by someone in your home. Watching the local news in NYC it is a fairly regular occurrence to read about a child killed accidentally, usually in play. These events are extremely tragic and for many, getting rid of guns is the answer. As Professor David Hemenway at Harvard’s School of Public Health states:

The scientific evidence is very strong that raising the speed limit increases deaths, as does repealing motor cycle helmet laws. The scientific evidence is also very strong that, all other things equal, more guns in the United States means more death– more homicide, more suicide, more unintentional gun deaths.

One thing that has been disconcerting to me is some of the discussions–among family, friends and colleagues, on C-SPAN and blogs–point to a fundamental misunderstanding about the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. First and Second Amendment advocates will often argue that these amendments provide their right to free speech or the right to own arms. However, according to the Declaration of Independence, the right to free speech and self-defense are ours naturally as human beings and given to us by our Creator:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

The First and Second Amendments delineate the role of government by proscribing what government cannot do. The Framers recognized the government is not granting anyone these rights as they are ours at birth. This is not simply a theoretical or semantic matter. It leads to fundamentally different conceptions about rights and where they originate. It also leads to a different idea about the state and the function of public policy than in many other countries.

READ MORE:

District of Columbia et al v. Heller

LA Times: Supreme Court Affirms Gun Rights

New York Sun: After Nine’s Gun Ruling, N.Y.’s Gun Laws May be Next

NPR: McCain Praises Gun Ruling, Obama More Cautious

Dave Workman: Court ruling protects our gun rights

Cuban Independent Libraries Need Your Help

Standard

[h/t to Friends of Cuban Libraries]

The 2008 annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) begins this week in Anaheim, California. Three members of the ALA Council, Barbara Silverman, Shixing Wen and Cristina Ramirez, have introduced a resolution condemning the persecution of Cuba’s independent library movement and calling for the release of imprisoned librarians. The resolution also takes note of the burning of confiscated library books in Cuba and demands that surviving books be returned to their lawful owners.

While support for this resolution should be unanimous among those dedicated to freedom of thought and expression, there is an organized pro-Castro faction within the ALA. This group denies the existence of censorship, library persecution and book burning in Cuba.

As is often the case the majority is in the middle and uninformed about the specifics. ALA Councilors are unaware of Cuba’s grim reality and receive much of their information from biased committees dominated by the pro-Castro faction, with results that could be expected.

But thanks to the new resolution on the ALA Council’s agenda, now is the time to change ALA policy. Ms. Silverman, Mr. Wen and Ms. Ramirez are being attacked for daring to speak the truth about Cuba. We need to let them know how much we appreciate their principled support for intellectual freedom and justice. They need our encouragement in standing up for truth and freedom.

ACTION NEEDED… PLEASE ACT IMMEDIATELY TO SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO:

Barbara Silverman (kidzread@aol.com)

Shixing Wen (shwen@umich.edu)

Cristina Ramirez (cdramirez@vcu.edu).

You don’t need to be an ALA member, a librarian or a U.S. citizen to make your voice heard on this crucial issue.

Every message counts. Your message can be short or long, but the main thing is that you send a message today! And please express support for the principle of intellectual freedom, avoiding any language that could be regarded as “political.”

Among the points you can make in your messages are:

* The issue of library repression in Cuba is a matter of principle, not politics
* Express thanks for their defense of jailed library workers who cannot defend themselves
* The ALA has a duty to speak out against book burning wherever it takes place

Support Ariel University Center of Judea and Samaria

Standard

[h/t to Engage]

In the June 11 online edition of Haaretz:

The Council of Higher Education has ruled that it will not recognize the degrees awarded by The Academic College of Judea and Samaria (ACJS), Army Radio reported Wednesday, after the college, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, unilaterally declared itself a “university center.”

The heads of the college said that the upgrade from “college” to “university center” represents an interim phase ahead of its evolution into a full-blown university.

However, the state has announced that in the next five years, no new universities will be established in Israel, and that is does not recognize the category “university center.”

Representatives from the Council of Higher Education emphasized that should the college rescind its unilateral decision, the degrees it issues will be recognized again, according the report. Nahum Finger, the council’s deputy chairman, called on students to rethink their future plans should the college resist the council’s orders.

Army Radio also reported that Ariel students have threatened to strike, or to turn to the High Court of Justice, should the sides fail to reach a compromise.

Boaz Toporovsky, the chairman of the National Student Union, promised that he and his colleagues “won’t leave the Council of Higher Education alone in order to prevent the students from being harmed.”

“We’re fed up that every conflict in the higher education system comes at our expense,” Army Radio quoted Toporovsky as saying. “All that interests us is that the degree of a student who studied in Ariel be recognized by every institution in Israel.”

The Council of Higher Education has warned that additional, harsher sanctions will be placed on the college should it not obey the council’s directive.

Representatives from the Student Union and the Council of Higher Education will meet on July 1 in order to discuss the fate of students who will be affected by the decision.

I read about this on Engage. Most of my readers are probably aware Engage is devoted to challenging anti-Semitism on the left, and many of the individuals affiliated with the project describe themselves as leftists. I really appreciate all the positive work they do.

However, I was disappointed to read David Hirsh’s perspective in the comments. He views Ariel as a “settler-college” and while he is a dedicated opponent of the academic boycott of Israeli educational institutions, he claims, “If the Palestinian trade unions argued for a position of boycotting Ariel, on the basis that it was illegitimate because in the occupied territories, then this would be worth listening to.” Mr. Hirsh is not alone in this perspective, but most Jews continue to view Judea and Samaria as liberated, not occupied.

I think this move by the state speaks to the need for more private universities and colleges in Israel. I noted this in a comment at Engage but my comment was never posted. Not sure if it was deleted as SPAM or what happened…

The Jewish Press reports:

The College of Judea and Samaria (CJS), located in the city of Ariel, is really quite an incredible phenomenon. Established in 1982 in Kedumim, it began by offering evening classes to area residents. The school steadily grew and in 1991 relocated to its present location in Ariel.

With more than 9,000 students, CJS is now Israel’s largest public college and its fastest growing academic institution.

READ MORE:

Israel Today: Stifling coexistence in the name of peace and Arabs studying at “settler” college

Jewish Virtual Library

Ariel: From a college to a university

Israel Democracy: From Star Wars to Medicinal Marijuana: the College of Judea and Samaria

One Jerusalem: Biggest educational experiment in Israeli history is taking off

For more information:

In Israel

The Ariel University Center of Samaria
The Office of University Center Foundations
Ariel, 40700
Tel. 972-3-937-1418
Fax. 972-3-906-7440
E-mail. lmoshe@yosh.ac.il
Web site. Moving From a College to a University

In Israel

Israeli Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
The Ariel University Center of Samaria
Ariel, 40700
Tel. 972-3-937-1418
Fax. 972-3-937-1418
E-mail. lmoshe@yosh.ac.il

In the United States

American Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
National Office
P.O. Box 235029
Encinitas, CA 92023-5029
Tel. 760-634-8458
Fax. 760-477-7009
E-mail. office@afcjs.org

American Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
New York Regional Office
3145 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Tel. 718-891-9102
Fax. 718-891-0062
E-mail. ny@afcjs.org

In Canada

Canadian Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
4936 Yonge Street, Suite 220
Toronto, ONT M2N-6S3
Tel. 416-818-5444
E-mail. cfcjs@yosh.ac.il

In the United Kingdom

UK Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
c/o Education in Israel Trust
90 Northgate, Regents Park
London, NW8-7EJ
E-mail. development@yosh.ac.il

In Europe (Continental)

European Friends of the Ariel University Center of Samaria
E-mail. dhoffer@yosh.ac.il

Gaza Aid and Hamas Cease-Fire

Standard

H/t to the Contentious Centrist and Snoopy the Goon for bringing this article by ZioNation‘s Ami Isseroff to my attention. If you are not visiting all three blogs, you should. In the U.S., Radical anti-Zionists (are there any other kind?) often claim Israel is able to “get away with murder” because most Americans are unaware of the support we provide to Israel. “If only Americans knew,” goes the refrain, we would not be “turning Gaza into a prison.” Well, Mr. Isseroff is here to set the record straight.

“If Only Americans Knew” – What every American and everyone else needs to know about Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinians, aided by “humanitarian” organizations and UN officials, have insisted that Gaza is under siege by Israel and that there is a “humanitarian crisis” perpetrated by Israeli actions. The truth is, that the Gaza leadership of the genocidal Hamas has been waging a propaganda war against Israel and a humanitarian war against its own people. Fuel meant for hospitals is commandeered for “police” vehicles and terrorists who drive around launching rockets at Israel.

Gaza will go down in history as a unique “siege” in which a country that was being pounded by rocket fire provided food and fuel to a vicious genocidal enemy bent on its destruction. It is also unique because it is the only time in history that a country has been condemned for “human rights” violations because it was defending itself against a rogue regime. Below is the record of shipments of humanitarian assistance to Gaza from Israel. Let’s not forget that Hamas terrorists shot up the fuel depot to prevent fuel supplies.

Let’s set the record straight about the “Gaza Siege.” The record is below.

24,358 trucks; 571,852 tons Humanitarian assistance to Gaza since Feb 27 escalation in terror

13 Jun 2008

Ministry of Defense Unit of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Total (June 16, 2007June 13, 2008): 24,358 trucks; 571,852 tons “No humanitarian crisis and no hunger in the Gaza Strip”

The Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories reports daily on the general humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

The data for the supplies transferred via the Karni and Sufa crossings is based on the reports of Palestinian merchants.

Two-way traffic at the Erez Crossing of international organizations’ staff, patients seeking medical treatment and people accompanying them (“medical evacuations”), and Palestinian civilians has been permitted for humanitarian and medical aid since 18 January 2007 and occurs almost daily.

Via the conveyor at the Karni Crossing, hundreds of tons of grain – wheat, barley, soy beans, corn and animal feed – are transferred from Israel to the Gaza Strip every week.

Via the Nahal Oz fuel depot, diesel fuel for transportation and the local Gaza power station, petrol, and gas for cooking and heating are transferred from Israel to the Gaza Strip, according to an assessment of civilian needs mandated by the Israeli court.

Via the Sufa Crossing, the following supplies are transferred by truck from Israel to the Gaza Strip: food, including: baby formula and food, rice and legumes, fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken and fish, dairy products, flour and yeast, oil, salt and sugar; hygiene products; raw materials for essential infrastructures; medicines and medical equipment; and a myriad of other items – ranging from school books to wheel chairs – needed by the civilian population.

The Kerem Shalom Crossing has been closed since 19 April 2008, due to terrorist attacks directed at it.

[much more here]

In light of the recent “cease-fire”, the number of trucks crossing into Gaza has increased from 60-70 a day to 90. The UN and other organizations are calling for greater access as weapons, ammunition and explosives continue to be smuggled via the tunnel networks linking Egypt and southern Gaza.

Since the Hamas take-over of Gaza one year ago, Israel has provided approximately 580,000 tons of humanitarian aid. Divided evenly among Gaza’s 1.4 million residents, a family of ten would receive 1 ton of food and supplies per family. A family of five, two tons. The IDF estimates Hamas has smuggled over 100 tons of explosives into Gaza during the same period. I realize this is a crude way to understand the volume of aid but it helps to put things into perspective. Keep these numbers in mind the next time you watch the BBC.

I’ll be posting something on the cease-fire soon. In the meantime have a look at these:

Contentious Centrist on the Cease-Fire

Jonathan Dahoah Halevi: The Hamas interest in the Tahdiya (temporary truce) with Israel

NYT: Hamas says it will not police truce with Israel

Noah Pollak: The Cease-Fire is Over (or Should be)

Sultan Knish: The Prostitution of Peace

Zimbabwe Crisis Reveals Contradictions of United Nations System

Standard

As the economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe worsens, with Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai seeking refuge in the embassy of the Netherlands and political thugs roaming the streets and murdering MDC activists, the United Nations Security Council produced a condemnation of the regime of Robert Mugabe. The VOA reports:

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said President Robert Mugabe and “his thugs” made it impossible to hold the run-off election and “now we face a critical crisis of legitimacy.” He said that “the only people with any shred of legitimacy are the people who won the March 29 first round and that was the opposition,” Miliband told reporters.

While some diplomats applauded the UN statement, the U.S., U.K., France and other democratic governments attempted to include language asserting Tsvangirai be considered the legitimate president until another fair election can be held. The final version claimed a free and fair election was impossible in the face of political violence. The Telegraph (UK) describes the statement as a “watershed…the first time that South Africa and its allies, Russia and China, have put their names to any statement of condemnation of Robert Mugabe’s regime.”

Is this a watershed moment? If so, what actions by Russia, China and South Africa will follow in the wake of this statement?

I want to focus on the second sentence/section of the UN statement as it reveals a contradiction at the core of the UN system and point to the need for a League of Democracies to supplant the discredited organization. The sentence begins, “The Security Council further condemns the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe that have denied its political opponents the right to campaign freely…” The full text of the statement is available here.

How does China, a single-party state (or even Russia for that matter) have the moral and political authority to put their signature on a document supporting free elections and allowing political opponents the opportunity to operate freely? Do you think they will allow this to happen at home? Don’t read this the wrong way, I think it would be fantastic if the PRC allowed free and fair elections and allowed more parties than the Communist party to operate. But we all know this is not happening.

So what does a document like this mean when the signatories do not support what is stated in the document? It is worse than simply a piece of paper, it is a farce. The UN system routinely perpetuates farces of this sort because it elevates dictatorships and authoritarian regimes to the same plane as liberal democracies. Look at the Commission on Human Rights for more evidence of this lunacy. It regularly contains some of the worst violators of human rights. The UN is past reform. New forms of international organization are needed and a League of Democracies would be a step in the right direction.

ADDED: The always astute Norman Geras (Normblog).

More from VOA:

Interview With Morgan Tsvangirai – Download (MP3) audio clip
Interview With Morgan Tsvangirai – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Report By Irwin Chifera – Download (MP3) audio clip
Report By Irwin Chifera – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Interview With Thokozani Khupe – Download (MP3) audio clip
Interview With Thokozani Khupe – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Statement By Tom Casey – Download (MP3) audio clip
Statement By Tom Casey – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Interview With George Chiweshe – Download (MP3) audio clip
Interview With George Chiweshe – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Interview With Princeton Lyman – Download (MP3) audio clip
Interview With Princeton Lyman – Listen (MP3) audio clip
Interview With John Makumbe – Download (MP3) audio clip
Interview With John Makumbe – Listen (MP3) audio clip

American Hardcore: A Personal Tale

Standard

My last longish music post regarded springtime, the nice weather, the birds and bees, all that wonderful stuff. This entry is about my roots. Bob from Brockley‘s posts on music, in particular the one on “rockism” had me thinking about my youth. Just so I’m clear, I had a “Disco Sucks” t-shirt when I was eight and by the time I was eleven I was listening to rock n’ roll.

But this post concerns hardcore punk, the music of my teens. A good friend in San Diego turned me on to “the scene.” Being a metal kid, I thought punk music was crap. But there were bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and Battalion of Saints which really caught my ear. I liked the speed, the power and the insanity of the music. We saw Black Flag and the Meat Puppets at the Adams Avenue Theater and that was it.

So one dude gets turned on to some bone-headed music. Big deal. But what happened was pivotal for me and a lot of other testosterone driven males of my generation. At that time, the mid 1980s, California (and the entire country) was experiencing if not an explosion, an incredibly large creative boom in this form of hardcore music. More importantly, where this was happening was in your home town. The bands were composed of people who looked like you (young), who were interested in the things you did (skateboarding, etc.), and who were not trying to do the whole rock star thing. They were not distant, they were right there, whether pulling people on stage, or spitting in their face.

One place that typifies this boom in creativity is Oxnard, California, a rural town about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. Oxnard is an agricultural and covered by commercial farms. The population is largely Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants. Oxnard birthed the Nardcore scene (Oxnard + Hardcore = Nardcore) and bands like Agression, Ill Repute, Stalag 13 and Dr. Know.

The original (U.K.) punk scene had working-class origins, but the same could not be said for U.S. punk. Many of the bands were composed of members of the middle-class (or higher) and their songs reflected that reality.

Marginalized working-class Americans found their expression through a genre known as “hardcore punk” or simply, “hardcore.” While the genesis of this musical form is difficult to pin-point, many would start the scene with the seminal D.C. band Bad Brains who started in the late 1970s. By the early 1980s a variety of bands had developed on the East Coast (Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Minor Threat, S.S. Decontrol, etc.) and West Coast (Battalion of Saints, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles [DRI], Suicidal Tendencies) and throughout the country (Big-Boys from Texas, Jody Foster’s Army [JFA] from Arizona, etc.).

The scene was incredibly varied and included blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos, people sporting skinheads, crew cuts, mohawks, and even the occasional long-hair. What bound the hardcore scene together was the music as well as a somewhat juvenile/macho credo:

1) Support the scene: By attending shows, buying records and trading tapes.

2) Defend yourself and your friends: Always be ready, willing and able to fight, when necessary.

3) Have fun: Skateboard, surf, and, for some, beer drinking and other imbibing.

4) Anti-Politics: For me that meant anti-totalitarianism (both communist and fascist varities) combined with an extreme cynicism towards representative democracy.

I embraced all of this willingly and wholeheartedly. In the process I made some stupid decisions that I regret. But I do not regret the lessons learned or the friends I made. Most of us have married and moved on, some have passed away, but we old farts keep that fire in our hearts and whenever I meet someone who is down, it’s like meeting an old friend from past.

Here are some songs in alphabetical order. Turn it up as loud as you can…

Agnostic Front (NYC): “Public Assistance

Non PC hardcore at its finest. My favorite tune by these guys is “Shoot his Load.” An ode to Bernhard Goetz

Bad Brains (DC): “I Against I”, “Soulcraft” and “Hired Gun” all in one.

Battalion of Saints (San Diego, CA): “Fighting Boys

Cro-Mags (NYC): “Hard Times” Poor video quality but it captures the energy of their shows quite well.

Dead Kennedys: “Kill the Poor

Rich Kids on LSD–RKL (Montecito, CA): “Scab on my Brain

Bonus: “Blocked Out” Peep the drums (Bomer) and bass (Joe) on this track:

RIP Bomer, Jason and Derrick. You are missed…

Stäläg 13 (Oxnard, CA): “Conditioned

Nardcore. Awesome. One of my all time faves. Cover of the album is by Jaime Hernandez. Wetto, you rock!!!

VOID (DC): “Who Are You?” Void was totally out of control. If you know where I can find a vid of “Black, Jewish and Poor” let me know. RIP Sean Finnegan.

Great stuff:

More here and here.

Hope you liked the tunes…

Leaving the Radical Left: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Jewish Response (Part 1)

Standard

[This is Part One in a series. A rather rough work in progress but what the heck. The New Left will be discussed in Part Two...]

Preface

This article is a response to growing anti-Semitism in the left after the attacks on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks I was distressed by the prevalence of anti-Jewish diatribes on a variety of websites and periodicals that were ostensibly devoted to progressive causes. To my dismay, leftists were advocating the wildest conspiracy theories that linked the Mossad and “the Jews” as the culprits behind 9-11. Unfortunately, leftists were displaying key elements of the “paranoid style” of American politics once prevalent on the extreme right. Richard Hofstadter writes:

…the fact that movements employing the paranoid style are not constant but come in successive episodic waves suggests that the paranoid disposition is mobilized into action chiefly by social conflicts that involve ultimate schemes of values and that bring fundamental fears and hatreds, rather than negotiable interests, into political action. Catastrophe or the fear of catastrophe is most likely to elicit the syndrome of paranoid rhetoric. [1]

While the most extreme rhetoric may be dismissed as “paranoid” I seek to display a deeper level of anti-Semitism in elements of the New Left, directly related to their ideological interpretation of past events and current phenomena. As Paul Berman states,

Everyone knows what the Nazism of the 1930s and 1940s was. But what was the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s, in its motives, instincts, and goals, in its spirit? The decades come and go, and on that question no consensus has been achieved, none at all, not in Europe and not in America. [2]

Introduction: Why Have Jews Left the Radical Left?

Prior to World War II, Jews were prevalent in the revolutionary movements of every European nation and the United States. From anarchism and socialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to communism through the 1920s, 30s, and 40s Jews were in the vanguard. Their names are familiar: Marx, Berkman, Goldman, Trotsky, Volin, and many others who names remain unknown to even the most serious scholars of revolutionary history. Even Lenin admitted in 1917:

The Jews furnished a particularly high percentage (compared with the total Jewish population) of leaders of the revolutionary movement. And now, too, it should be noted to the credit of the Jews, they furnish a relatively high percentage of internationalists, compared with other nationalities. [3]

Secular Jewish identity, both within and outside the Jewish community was closely linked with these revolutionary movements. Indeed, a common epithet was “anarchist (or communist) Jew.” More recently, Daniel Rubin, a Communist Party USA spokesman and editor stated, “Jewish-Americans had long been considered one of the most progressive ethnic-religious groups in helping to build the labor movement, the old Socialist Party, the International Workers Order, the American Labor Party, and the Communist Party, USA.” [4]

After WWII, Jews were increasingly integrated into mainstream American society. While already established in academia, law, printing, and publishing, Jews attained political offices and other increasingly public positions. Jews were seen less and less as an “other” and in effect gained “white” status just as the Italians and Irish before them. Concurrent with this development was a shift in mainstream secular Jewish homes away from radicalism and towards liberalism. The apex of this phenomenon was the large Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights struggles occurring in the Southern United States.

However, in the past 40 years there has been a distinct shift in Jewish opinion—if one may even say such a thing exists—away from radical and progressive left movements. What happened? Are there any causal factors that spring to mind?

The easiest materialist answer is that Jews were benefactors of assimilation. The historian of the anarchist movement, Paul Avrich, slyly notes that anarchism as a movement and ideology was a victim of the “American Dream.” What he meant is the children of anarchist immigrants went off to college, pursued professional jobs, and became middle class. They, in turn, adopted the ideology of that class and forsake their parents’ anarchism as an anachronism. After the Holocaust many Jews became disillusioned with the utopian aspirations of proletarian socialist universalism and focused their energy on the reality of building the state of Israel. Indeed, Israel became the focal point for the Jewish community in the United States.

The establishment of the state of Israel was highly contentious. Within Israel, the most secular and left leaning truly believed Jews could exist in solidarity with the Arabs within Israel and neighboring Arab states. They advocated a “two people, one state” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict i.e. integration. This was a distinct contrast to either South Africa or Rhodesia where racialist regimes were in power. At the other extreme, right wing religious Jews felt the land was theirs as mandated by God in the Torah. Right wing secularists claimed the land rightfully theirs as a result of political agreements and as reparations for the crimes committed against the Jewish people in the Holocaust.

Internationally, the establishment of Israel was variously viewed as the righting of a past wrong (European socialists), imperialism (the Soviet government) and a continuation of the crusades (Muslims). Americans by and large, supported Israel as a fledgling democracy with similar cultural values and in accordance with their own spiritual beliefs. [5]

It is my thesis that the widespread adoption of a synthesis of revolutionary New Left “third-worldist” ideology with elements of pan-Arab and black nationalism marginalized Jews and drove many of them away from the radical left. Another decisive factor was the rupturing of the Black-Jewish coalition that was a corner stone of the Civil Rights Movement. Arnold Foster and Benjamin Epstein note:

In the middle and late sixties, for some objective reasons (the agonizingly slow pace of economic improvement, the squalor of life in the ghetto, the apparent immutability of the welfare cycle) and for some subjective reasons (agitation by “black power” militants, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy), much of black America went through a turning inward of black interests and energy toward nationalism. The result was a break up of the civil rights coalition… [6]

The Soviet Position

During the heyday of the old left, nascent Zionism was seen as reactionary because it would worsen Jewish otherness by impeding their assimilation, distract Jews from the more worthy goal of revolution, and promote capitalism. The latter assumption came from Marx’s view that Jews were a crude people synonymous with the evils of profiteering. [7] Indeed the historical problem with Zionism for the left has not been the oppression of the Palestinians but Zionism’s perceived “reactionary role in diverting the Jewish masses from the class struggle in their respective countries.” [8]

Following in Marx’s rhetorical footsteps the Soviets defined Zionism as chauvinistic, bourgeois and reactionary (conservative) – but not racist, even though they claimed from time to time that Zionist leaders co-operated with the Nazis. In Rubin’s words, Zionism is “an extreme form of Jewish bourgeois nationalism.” [9]

The Soviet line was political Zionism—whose aim is the creation and perpetuation of a Jewish state—had its origins in the last decades of the 19th century, animated by the upsurge of anti-Semitism in Europe which accompanied the rise of modern imperialism. Zionism had, in fact, developed in close relation to modern imperialism as did all forms of nationalism. While the Zionist case is usually viewed as exclusive, there are other nationalist movements who sought the support of rival imperialist powers in their struggle for independence. The relationship between the Indian Ghaddar movement and Germany is one example.

By the mid-20th century, Soviet propaganda identified Zionists as “the agents of US imperialism…in the Middle East.” [10] Functioning “to police the area in order to protect US corporate interests” and “preventing Arab peoples from achieving national liberation, and on liquidating [emphasis mine] the just rights of the Palestinians.” [11] Interesting choice of words from the originators of that particular term.

Dr. Hyman Lumer, a prominent spokesperson for the Communist Party, USA and editor of the official party ideological journal, Political Affairs believed there would eventually be no synagogues left in the Soviet Union:

Will this mean that the Soviet Jewish people have suffered cultural genocide? Not at all. What it will mean is that they, like other Soviet citizens, have advanced beyond adherence to religious superstition, that they no longer have any use for religious institutions and practices, that religious distinctions between Jews and non-Jews have vanished. [12]

After the 1967 War, Foster and Epstein note:

The Kremlin became what might be called the central switchboard of ‘permissible,’ government approved anti-Semitism, exporting its views to the Arabs, to its East European satellites, to Western Europe and to the United States—in the latter two instances under both its own auspices, including the Soviet embassies, missions, and news agencies abroad and those of its radical Left adherents and Arab propagandists. [13]

One particularly odious propagandist, Trofim Kichko published Zionism: Enemy of Youth (1972) in which he claimed “The killing of the young, not only goyim but also of the Jewish young, is preached in the Torah and was long practiced by the believers of Judaism, forerunners of the Zionists.” [14]

In another publication, Judaism and Zionism, he stated:

Judaism has always served the interests of the exploiting classes. In our times, it’s most reactionary expostulates have been taken up by the Zionists—the Jewish bourgeois nationalists. Judaism and Zionism have become the ideological foundations of the militaristic, semi-theocratic regime in Israel and it’s aggressive actions against the Arab people in the Near East. [15]

Kichiko’s virulent anti-Semitism is not surprising, he was Ukrainian Nazi sympathizer.

Lastly, at the same time, Kremlin policy sought to undermine the very survival of Israel by continuing to provide men, money and materiel—especially the latter—to the enemies of the Jewish state, including governments and terrorist groups. To be fair, the CPUSA and the USSR did not view Israel as a “settler state,” this perspective would develop among the organizations of the New Left. In fact, many Communists felt that hostilities would cease if Israel were kept within her pre-1967 borders. As Farsoun, Farsoun, and Ajay write:

[T]he conflict is seen not as that of a settler colonial state against the indigenous population it has uprooted; rather, it is considered to derive from the antagonism toward Israel of the neighboring Arab peoples (including the Palestinians of the West Bank) whose territories were occupied in 1966. [16]

[to be continued...]

[1] Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

[2] Paul Berman. “The Passion of Joschka Fischer.” The New Republic. August 27, 2001.

[3] V.I Lenin. Collected Works 23:250 in Daniel Rubin, Anti-Semitism and Zionism: Selected Marxist Writings. New York: International Publishers, 1987, 3.

[4] Daniel Rubin, Anti-Semitism and Zionism: Selected Marxist Writings, 4.

[5] This sentiment was not shared by all Americans. The extreme right John Birch Society viewed Israel as part of an international communist conspiracy. They also shared Secretary of State Robert Lansing’s opposition to Zionism, who expressed widespread “Christian resent[ment of] turning the Holy Land over to the absolute control of the race credited with the death of Christ.” See Stephen Witfield, “An anatomy of black anti-semitism,” Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought; Sept. 1994.

[6] Arnold Foster and Benjamin R. Epstein. The New Anti-Semitism. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1974, 9.

[7] See “On the Jewish Question” in The Marx Engels Reader.

[8] Farsoun, Farsoun, and Ajay. “Mid-East Perspectives from the American Left.” Journal of Palestine Studies. October 1974, Vol. 4, No. 1, 96.

[9] Daniel Rubin, Anti-Semitism and Zionism: Selected Marxist Writings, 9.

[10] See Daily World, October 10, 11, 17, 18, 20 and 23, 1973 and November 2 and 17, 1973.

[11] Hyman Lumer. Zionism: Its Role in World Politics. New York: International Publishers, 1973, 82.

[12] Lumer. Lenin on the Jewish Question. New York: International Publishers, 1974.

[13] Arnold Foster and Benjamin R. Epstein. The New Anti-Semitism, 222.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid, 227.

[16] Farsoun, Farsoun, and Ajay, 100.