Don't Rock the Boat – A Critique of a Pamphlet Defending Zionism in the American LeftBy Guest Post • May 13th, 2010 at 20:28 • Category: Analysis, Grassroots Activism, Israel, Newswire, Religion, Zionism
WRITTEN BY JAY KNOTT, May 2010
"It seemed like that word 'anti-semite' had so much power over all the people in the gathering" – a reporter on KBOO radio describing the way the allegation of anti-semitism was used to shut up a major campaigner against support for Israeli war crimes, in a supposedly 'anti-racist' meeting, in Portland, in April 2010. As if to confirm the power of Zionism in the left, the report was censored.
This is a review of the pamphlet "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere" – by April Rosenblum, April 2007, available from http://thepast.info, subtitled 'Making resistance to antisemitism part of all our movements'. It's part of my ongoing effort to expose the blind spot the American left has for Zionism.
So why do I bother deconstructing crypto-Zionism? First of all, I've noticed that there are few people in the world smart enough to do this, and I'm one of them. I care about peace with the Islamic world, a clear priority for the inhabitants of Westen Europe and North America since September 11th 2001.
In some ways, April's pamphlet is the antithesis of my "The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism", http://pacificaforum.org/mass, which I produced a year later. I was unaware of April's effort at the time, otherwise I would have incorporated an uncompromising attack on her pamphlet into mine.
A Zionist thinktank called "The Israel Project" produced a booklet on how to fool the American pc left. April's pamphlet implements their recommendations. It is basically a Zionist tract in the guise of modern leftism, with lots of references to 'oppression' and so on.
I found out about it via a Zionist supporter of the violent leftist group 'Anti-Racist Action', accusing anti-war activists in Portland, Oregon, of being anti-semitic. Someone linked to April's pamphlet via a posting on Indymedia.
Though I reject the politics of "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere", I am grateful to this individual for having pointed me in this direction. This sugary concoction of self-serving Jewish particularism summarizes better than anything else I have read the attitudes which prevent the anti-racist left from opposing Zionism, by far the most important form of racial violence and discrimination in the Western world. There is more racism among Jews than among all other Western people combined. I can't speak about Sudan or the Amazon rainforest, but I know Western Europe and North America, I understand Israel, and I am familiar with the Left. I can't help being part of this society – it's my duty to fight against the terrible errors which lead us to participate in the genocide of the Palestinian people.
I am not advocating anti-semitism. I am advocating much less concern about it than there is at the moment. This is especially true of the Palestine solidarity movement – our aim is to support the Palestinians against the Jews, and that's it. Worrying about anti-semitism has not helped this movement: it only enables Zionists and anti-fascists to attack pro-Palestinian advocates.
Being concerned about anti-semitism means supporters of Palestinian rights spend a lot of time and energy defending themselves against this smear. In a left-wing meeting in America, it is enough for a Zionist to call someone 'anti-semitic' to shut down debate, divert people from the real problem of Jewish racism, and divide people. This gives power to Zionists. Our aim is to reduce Zionist power. Defending ourselves against the canard hasn't worked. We need a different approach. We need to flaunt our contempt for the charge of anti-semitism, and laugh at it. We need to not care about it. One example is to make a point of defending the freedom of speech of Holocaust revisionists. This exposes the Zionists hiding in the left, who call us 'fascists' just for listening to such controversial speakers. We need to challenge the official story of World War Two, on which much of Israel's cultural hegemony depends.
On to April's pamphlet.
The first thing to note is the pamphlet's style. It is written and laid out like the famous 'For Dummies' series (Theoretical Physics for Dummies, etc.). It uses a deceptively casual, friendly tone to try to dictate ideas to the reader, rather than explain them. It pretends it is possible to present complex ideas in a simplistic style with lots of assertions, sidebars and pictures, no attempt to falsify hypotheses, and statements too vague to be testable.
"In the basic ways that it plays out, antisemitism is not so different from the ways that many diaspora communities get scapegoated throughout the world." (page 4)
So does that mean it is similar to the scapegoating of the Overseas Chinese in Malaya in 1969, or that of Indians in East Africa? No, that is not what April means. If it were, it would mean that anti-semitism is an example of an ethno-economic entity being on the receiving end of resentment from the oppressed. Malays attacked Chinese and Africans attacked Indians because they were privileged. Their wealth was built on oppressing the poor. Admittedly, the ruling elites were even more culpable, but one can understand the resentment toward the middlemen without in any way justifying the violence. But try saying there was a 'grain of truth' in equivalent resentment against the Jewish middle class in Russia, Spain and Germany. Of course, that is not what April is saying. She's saying anti-semitism is special.
This pamphlet is an example of what Gilad Atzmon calls 'crypto-Zionism' – a failed attempt to separate Jewish identity from Jewish racism. It is Jewish supremacy disguised as schmaltzy left-wing morality.
April really believes Jews are oppressed. Everything they do, they are victims. When they become rich and rip off other people, it's because the ruling classes are using them as scapegoats, to divert the poor from their real enemies to the Jews. She says that attacking 'the Jews' is a way of diverting people from their real enemy – capitalism. But this simply isn't true for the Palestinians. Noam Chomsky uses his fame and eloquence to divert people in the opposite direction – he tries to deny the existence of the Israel Lobby, blaming everything on US imperialism.
The idea that anti-semitism is a form of oppression in the Western world today is absurd. There is class oppression, obviously: people mostly go to work because they have no property. There are also irrational forms of hatred, like homophobia. There are hangovers from the past, like racism against black people. But for a Jew to promote the idea that anti-semitism in the West today has anything in common with these real forms of hate against innocent people is hypocritical whining.
The most important form of racial discrimination in the Western countries today is pro-semitism, or philosemitism, to give it its correct name – discriminating in favor of Jews. Whereas the West ditched white apartheid twenty-five years ago, it still supports Jewish apartheid to the hilt, sending the Jewish racist state more money than all other countries combined.
Jews are often involved in campaigns for civil rights for others, as April's pamphlet reminds us.
"An amazing ½ to ⅔ of the whole Civil Rights workers who went south for instance, are estimated to have been Jews – despite being just 2-3% of the US population… We fought not only because we longed for a better, more beautiful world, but out of deep faith that freedom for all peoples would also, finally, bring freedom and safety for Jews" (page 16).
Not only did Jews want a better, more beautiful world, but in addition, they wanted safety for Jews.
It wasn't the other way round. They didn't fight for a better, more beautiful world because it is in Jewish interests to undermine white dominance by advancing the interests of other minorities. Never mind the fact that American Jews are liberal on the US immigration question and not so liberal when it comes to immigration into Israel. Anyone who says that is anti-semitic, aren't they? So there's no need to even think about the double standard involved.
In the 1930's, American Jews were left-wing. So what changed? Why did they move to the right?
Why is the most important Jewish movement in the world today Zionism, and the most important in the USA, neo-conservatism? According to "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere", it's because Jews were persecuted during McCarthyism – two of them were even executed for "supposedly" passing nuclear secrets to the Russians.
April effectively says – if the left allows such vicious anti-semitic pogroms as the execution of the Rosenbergs for handing over nuclear weapon secrets to Russia, well, it can only expect Jews to move to the right, exert influence in the media, use everyone else's money to support Israel's war crimes, and send our sons and daughters to die. It's all because we allow the oppression of Jews.
I oppose the death penalty, but Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were traitors, and April is being dishonest in implying otherwise. In fact, they were Jewish commie traitors. Nothing wrong with that, but it's true.
She only notices when the Soviet Union was anti-semitic. Never mind when it was pro-semitic, supported the foundation of the state of Israel, and helped Jews oppress other inhabitants of Eastern Europe. If she admitted this, she would say the Jews were being 'used' by the Stalinist apparatus. She perpetuates the story we have all heard about the Eastern Front – everyone was guilty, except the Jews, who were always victims. Finally, after 1945, they'd had enough, and founded the state of Israel.
It gets worse.
"Any Jew who comes to understand the nature of their oppression – and who realizes that the liberation of their people touches them more deeply than any clinging attachment to the status quo – cannot help but become a radical. Plenty of Jews haven't yet had that 'click' of awareness" (page 17).
So the problem with Paul Wolfowitz, the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel Corrie, and supporters of the Anti-Defamation League, is that they don't realize that 'the liberation of their people' 'touches them more deeply' than the advantages they gain by supporting, or presiding over, ethnic cleansing, by Jews, of Palestinians, using the wealth of white Europeans.
They haven't yet had that 'click' of awareness.
But April and other radical Jews have had it. They 'realize' that the 'liberation of their people' is better served by combatting anti-semitism in the left.
At least white South Africans were honest. They were either honest racists, or honest anti-racists. They didn't join the anti-apartheid movement in order to cure it of any anti-white prejudice it might contain.
April asks us to 'bring an understanding of Jewish oppression into Israel/Palestine work'. Surely that would exclude an understanding of Jewish supremacy?
How does the "understanding of Jewish oppression" help the Palestinians get their rights? Not at all. The problem with the left is not that it tolerates anti-semitism, but that it cares about it.
The traditional anti-racism of the West – undermining white privilege – has failed completely to make a dent in Jewish privilege, Jewish apartheid, and the tremendous support for it in the Western world.
It's time to ditch that approach and try another. White ethnic interests do not always coincide with Jewish ones. This is certainly true on the Israel/Palestine question, so why should pro-Palestinian activists be afraid of pointing this out? Christianity, whether liberal or conservative, is no friend of Israel. So why not say so? If there are conservative interests opposed to Zionism, then they should be utilized. Never mind the pious humbug called 'principles'. You know what they say about making an omelette.
According to this pamphlet, part of the problem with anti-Jewish oppression is 'it allows Jews success': "Many oppressions rely on keeping the targeted group of people poor" (page 8). Conversely, oppressors tend to be successful. Success makes you an oppressor, whereas failure makes you oppressed. Except for Jews. Jews are victims, even when they are successful.
The 'middleman' in early capitalism and the 'court Jew' in late feudalism were victims too. When they exploited the poor, they were being used. Perhaps they were. So were the Chinese middle class in Malaya, the Indians in East Africa, the Koreans in Compton, and so on. But they were active agents of oppression too – they weren't just victims. This ambiguous position is easy to explain in relation to all these middle-class ethno-economic entities – except for the Jews. If you apply the same principles to the Jews you apply to Asian middle classes, you are threatened with loss of your job or even violence. I have clear examples of both of these forms of discrimination.
April claims reasonable liberal complaints about Zionist power are anti-semitic – for example, the argument that the deaths of Jewish children are reported many times more than the deaths of Palestinian children in the media. This is one of the most obvious indicators of Jewish power in the US media, publicized by such moderate organizations as "If Americans Knew". But for April, it's an age-old anti-Jewish smear. Never mind the Palestinian children – what's important is to protect Jews.
According to April, Jews in America after World War II "knew they'd better not rock the boat". Try telling that to the survivors of the USS Liberty, attacked by Israel in 1967, with the loss of thirty-four men. The Jews didn't just 'rock the boat', they nearly sunk it. American Jews are so powerful, the attack was covered up. What would happen to any other nation attacking an American spy ship?
"For Jews who struggle for social justice, that means we often stay quiet about anti-Jewish oppression" (page 9). You could have fooled me.
The Naqba, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 by the Jews, was caused, naturally, according to April, by anti-semitism. The poor Jewish survivors of the Holocaust could hardly help themselves emigrating to Palestine and driving out the population of the area. April believes the oppression of the Palestinians is not caused by pro-semitism, but by anti-semitism.
April explicitly says you can criticise some Israeli policies, but not the nation itself. You should not say 'Zionism is a form of racism'.
She complains bitterly about 'anti-semitism' at the UN Conference on Racism, which was boycotted by the major powers because of their pro-Israel stance. because it would contain 'Israel-bashers'.
They were not concerned about 'South Africa-bashers' at conferences against apartheid. Britain, the USA, Australia etc. all condemned South African apartheid, and boycotted it until it fell down. The white countries got rid of the most egregious example of white racism. They find it much harder to get rid of the blatant Jewish racism of Israeli apartheid.
Still, April complains of being oppressed, and I think she believes it. Self-deception is the best form of deception, and it has been a very successful Jewish strategy.
"Zionism is not an insult… it's a nationalism, and, as so often happens with nationalisms, it has not fully liberated its people and has oppressed others in the process" (page 22). Poor Palestinians. Oppressed in the process of 'not fully liberating' Jews.
She tries to tie valid criticisms of Israeli barbarism, such as a cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating children, to 'blood libels' such as those used against Jews in Russia and Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. A similar argument was used against those who accused Israel of stealing organs from Palestinians. All I can say is, if you want to stop anti-semitic stereotypes, stop conforming to them.
The weakest point in her pamphlet concerns the Lobby. There is a well-documented idea that politicians have to obey a small clique of powerful Jews, the Israel Lobby, when deciding Israel policy, even when it goes against the USA's interest. She says this idea is anti-semitic. I hope not, since it's true. Mearsheimer and Walt's 'The Israel Lobby', which defends this 'tail wagging the dog' hypothesis, is a well-referenced, moderate, academic work, not a piece of Nazi propaganda. If we follow April's advice, we will be unable to consider the Israel Lobby theory, and a host of other valid questions, because we will be afraid of what these ideas might 'lead to'. This would impede our attempts to understand, and undermine, the USA's unconditional support for Israeli aggression. Conversely, if we do want to understand, and undermine, this support, we must reject her call to 'make resistance to antisemitism part of all our movements'.
Perhaps realizing the danger of this conclusion, she tries to blackmail us into agreeing with her position; if we don't 'make resistance to antisemitism part of all our movements', Jews will feel bad and move to the right. And it will be our fault. We must therefore stop 'anti-Jewish rhetoric' among pro-Palestinian campaigners, by saying Jews will feel isolated, and support "building up a militarized Israel, with rights reserved for Jews". We wouldn't want them to do that, now, would we?
Ethnic cleansing, racial supremacy and mass murder by Jews are the fault of everyone else, April would have us believe. For how long have Jewish activists sung this refrain? How much longer are we going to put up with it? Do we have to wait 'til the last Palestinian is expelled from Palestine, it is illegal to criticize Israel in Europe, and American Muslims are rounded up and put in camps?
She doesn't attempt to argue against the explanation for the 2003 invasion of Iraq that the US government was maneuvered into it by the Jewish neo-conservative movement. She doesn't need to – since it's anti-semitic, it can't possibly be true.
Same with the 'myth' that Hollywood and the media are under Jewish control. She doesn't provide statistics to refute this idea – she doesn't need to – she informs us that it makes her feel oppressed, so it can't possibly be true.
Notice that I am not saying that all these stories about Jewish power are true. I'm saying that, in order to investigate whether they are true, we have to become less concerned about anti-semitism. And I am saying that we should investigate them, since they are a matter of life and death for Palestinians.
April and her friends, whether they know it or not, provide left cover for Israel. Their efforts are holding back the creation of a new anti-apartheid movement.
Like all crypto-Zionists, April refers to 'the Occupation' – the idea that Israel's rightful borders are the ones she had before the six-day war in 1967, when she annexed the West Bank, etc. – the idea that ethnic cleansing was OK up 'til 1967 but not thereafter. This is a fallback position, in case Israel has to give up the 'occupied territories', to make it look like a Jewish racist state with the 1967 borders is legitimate. It's like the position of some of the Afrikaaners who wanted a small white state after the fall of apartheid. Jewish progressives are the equivalent of white racists – except they want the lion's share of Palestine, not just a fair slice of the pie. Actually, they want the whole enchilada, but they might have to make do with the main course, leaving a few crumbs for the Palestinians.
In some ways, April's pamphlet is a parody of itself. If Israel is allowed to continually flout international law, she claims, "some activists start to mistake Jews for a vast powerful network" (page 20). Yes, I must admit to making that mistake myself! Thanks for the correction, April!
The way April uses universal humanism and socialism to cover up her Jewish chauvinism, you might think there was something in the age-old canard about Jews using universalism to cover for their particularism.
I don't draw that conclusion. I don't reduce radicalism from the Bolshevik Revolution thru the Vietnam War to 'Jewish leftism'. But, like anti-semitism, I can only say the best way to oppose this idea it is not to conform to it.
"There's no shame in thinking critically toward Zionism. But in a world of unresolved antisemitism, there's also no getting out of fighting this oppression head on" (page 22). I beg to differ. I've gotten out of fighting anti-semitism completely, not just 'head on'. So, according to April, I should feel shame in thinking critically toward Zionism. But somehow, I don't. I must have something wrong with me.
"There are real reasons why Jews around the world fear losing majority control of Israel. If you fight for the Right to Return, understand the implications it could have for Jews in a world where anti-Jewish oppression has not been solved" (page 23).
In other words, if you don't consider how Jews feel about it, you have no right to support the Right of Return for Palestinians! This means the 'Right of Return' isn't a right at all. The United Nations resolutions, unconditionally asserting Palestinians' right to return to the land they were kicked out of in 1948, are wrong, because they don't consider the implications for Jews.
She argues that "the idea that Jews control the government of the world began with traditional Church authorities passing down images of Jews as a group in league with the Devil" (page 25). Look more closely. First, it takes the most exrteme anti-Zionist position as being mainstream, then it asserts, without evidence, where it 'began'. This is irrelevant. Present-day analyses of Jewish power should be evaluated on the basis of evidence, not whether they remind us of age-old canards (a canard is a calumny against a cabal).
"It was like somebody flipped a switch", said a leading campaigner for a boycott of Israeli goods, when she was accused of 'anti-semitism' and the audience at a left-wing anti-racist gathering turned against her.
We need to reject this traditional anti-racism. It's time to rock the boat. And break some eggs.