The Centrist Politics of Tony Greenstein

I recently received a missive from Tony Greenstein, who is trying to fill in for the failure of Moshe Machover to refute the Marxist character of the views I have been arguing on the Jewish Question. Greenstein spends comparatively little time criticising my own views, though this is an improvement on Moshe, who spent none at all. Then he launches into another tirade against me for daring to engage politically with Gilad Atzmon. However, despite the mind-bending nonsense he comes out with on this, that will surely give anyone who attempts to read it a headache, he does make a couple of political criticisms of myself that are worth responding to, and hence gives me an opportunity to elaborate my views in more depth.

Actually, a meeting is in preparation at which these questions will be discussed in the Communist Platform. At that meeting, I intend to move a set of preliminary theses on the Jewish Question today, based on an extension of the insights of Karl Marx and Abram Leon into that very important question. It will be something of a challenge for those who are currently reacting to social pressures of the same kind that led to the criminal, violent assault on George Galloway, to argue that my views are not Marxist and in some way incompatible with Communism. I would contend that, to the contrary, the views of my opponents are incompatible with Communism and a capitulation to the pressures of modern imperialism, of which the Jewish/Zionist bourgeois layers in the advanced capitalist countries are a vanguard layer.

Greenstein accuses me of :

“[giving] a bastardised materialist or economistic ‘explanation’ for certain empirical facts.”

And then he continues

“He is no different from those who point to the prevalence of Asian men in child abuse rings in Rotherham and some other towns and make racist generalisations. Not once does he ask,, as any Marxist would do so, the question why? What are the factors that lead to the predominance of Asian men in specific circumstances, what is the explanation for the preponderance of Catholic Priests in child abuse in Ireland etc. etc.”

I not comment now on Greenstein’s apparent acceptance of the supposed ‘prevalence’ or ‘predominance’ of Asian men in child abuse cases, or his equation of these alleged ‘prevalent’ ethnic sex-offenders with Catholic priests in Ireland, who have real social power. I see no reason to accept either this ‘prevalence’ or this equation and indeed view them with some distaste. More to the point is that Greenstein is very coy about which ‘empirical facts’ regarding the Jewish bourgeoisie he is talking about.

The ’empirical facts’ I am talking about are centred on the massive overrepresentation of Jewish capitalists in the US ruling class, and to a lesser extent in the ruling classes of other Western countries also.

For one elaboration of this see http://www.jewishworldreview.com/joe/aaron101007.php3.  The United States is the most important, however, because it is the world imperialist hegemon, and Israel’s chief supporter both with finance and weaponry – used mainly for directly oppressing the Palestinians and less directly other Arabs along with other mainly, though not exclusively, Muslim peoples in the Middle East. One would think that anyone with the interests of the oppressed at heart, all such factors would be of major interest. But for Greenstein, such ‘empirical facts’ as to the composition of the imperialist forces ranged against the Palestinians must be ignored and those who criticise this bourgeoisie suppressed and witch-hunted.

Greenstein claims I do not ask why this over-representation exists. That this is nonsense is shown by the reading list that I circulated recently in which I cited the analysis of the historical evolution of the Jews put forward by Abram Leon in his work The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation. This characterised the Jewish as a ‘people-class’ engaged in mercantile commodity trading and later usury in the feudal period in Europe. I talked about what happened to this ‘people-class’ when feudalism became defunct; the Jews who in the early period of feudal decline became a class centrally of usurers were in the later period driven into ghettos. As capitalism became the dominant mode of production, the following process occurred:

“In the early capitalist period, a key achievement of the bourgeois revolutions was the opening up of the ghettos, and a beginning was made to the assimilation of the Jews, the logical outcome of the redundancy of this medieval trading class. However, with the end of the epoch of progressive capitalism, this came to a halt and you had the rise of racialised anti-Jewish sentiment. Leon witnessed the growth of this hatred, and the rise of Nazism, and projected that the Jews would remain pariahs, and that status would only be relieved through the overthrow of capitalism.

Unfortunately Leon did not live to see the foundation of the state of Israel, and thus to be able to analyse the Jewish Question in the post WWII period. He perished in Auschwitz in 1944, at the age of only 26. His writings about history were spot on; his speculations about future developments were not, since Jews are no longer pariahs but have been re-absorbed by later imperialism in a different political situation. But given that his historical analysis was correct, it ought to be possible to pick up the threads from where he left off and, using the same method, analyse the current situation correctly.”

This contains an implicit answer to the question Greenstein posed earlier, as to why the Jews became overrepresented in the bourgeoisie, but does not explicitly answer the point (which of course had not been made in any case). So I will address it fully here.

The redundancy of any class, including even a people-class, results in its dissolution and its members’ absorption into other classes. This process began with the emancipation of the Jews after the bourgeois revolutions as laid out by Leon and referred to above. Members of the former people-class were absorbed into the bourgeoisie, the working class (particularly as an artisan-proletariat), and of course various layers of the urban petty-bourgeoisie.  As a people with centuries of experience of trade in commodities – that is, in the operation of merchant’s capital – prior to the capitalist era proper, they had major cultural advantages for operation within the bourgeoisie. They had more accumulated ‘cultural capital’ in the spheres particularly of trade and finance than the mainstream ‘native’ bourgeoisies of the nations they were beginning to integrate into.

In the early stages of capitalism, this did not matter, as the system was growing so strongly that there was room for many in the developing capitalist classes that were coming to dominate what became the Western countries. Jewish bourgeois prospered together with other bourgeois and assimilation appeared to be making good progress. But with the beginning of capitalist decline in the late 19th Century, suddenly it was not so rosy. With the narrowing of capitalist growth, the advent of depression, something similar to what happened in the mid-medieval period recurred.

In mid-medieval times the Jews were seen as insidious competitors by a rising ‘native’ class of merchants, who proceeded to drive them out of the mercantile field and into the degraded field of usury. In the later 19th Century, Jewish capitalists were seen in a similar way by many ‘native’ capitalists in Europe, and though they were not driven out in the same way, this hostility became one of the source components of modern anti-semitism.

This would probably have died down in time without another source component of the same anti-semitism – bourgeois hostility to the role of the Jews in the working class movement.  Because the Jews had been an oppressed pariah class under late feudalism, those sections of the former people-class who did not make the transformation into the bourgeoisie itself became among the chief exponents and subjects of a genuinely progressive, working class radicalisation. Both Jewish workers and Jewish intellectuals played a crucial role in the revolutionary wing of the labour movement in many countries.

One has only to mention Marx, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Jogiches, Joffe, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Abram Leon, and many more sterling leaders of the working class who were of Jewish origin. Thus the revolutionary Jews were hated by the bourgeoisie at the same time as the bourgeois Jews became regarded by many ‘native’ bourgeois as dangerous upstarts who were too successful in business for their liking. Then you can add a third component to this: the fact that Jews had played a significant, if secondary, role in earlier emancipatory events such as the French Revolution earned them the enmity of forces that still existed that were hostile to the legacy of the bourgeois revolutions themselves, such as most notably the Tsarist regime in Russia, as well as elements of the aristocratic Junkers class in Germany.

Then there was yet a fourth component, which was then subordinate but is much more important today with the existence of Israel and its role in the world. There is an undeniable element of anti-gentile hatred and bigotry among quite a few Jews that is symmetrical to anti-semitism, a belief that non-Jews are not ‘chosen’ and therefore inferior, and can be treated with contempt. This comes from Rabbinical teachers and some scripture.  Obviously the progressive, revolutionary Jews did not hold with that, but it existed among the rabbis and the more conservative Jewish elements, and could be caricatured by the proponents of anti-semitism in roughly the same manner that Islamophobes today caricature some of the more strident passages from the Qu’ran, Hadiths, etc. to demonise Muslims.

These are the four main factors that gave anti-semitism its potency from the late 19th Century onwards. They gave birth, quite logically in a way, to that ideology that seems very strange today; the belief that a conspiracy of Jewish capitalists and Jewish communists was seeking to rule the world, as laid out in that semi-literate, obvious forgery titled the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, courtesy of the Tsarist secret police.

This narrative can be extended at some considerable length, which is why it probably needs a book to spell it out in full, but to cut a long story short the proletarian component of what the classic anti-semites saw as the joint conspiracy of the revolutionary and bourgeois Jews was wiped out in Europe by the Nazis and their supporters in other countries particularly in Eastern Europe. In Germany the bourgeois Jews were largely wiped out also, but not in the rest of the world, and not particularly in the United States, where the Jewish bourgeoisie was already quite influential and became much more so as time went on, particularly since WWII.

It could be argued that Hitler did the Jewish bourgeoisie a big favour in exterminating a large section, perhaps the major component, of the genuinely progressive and revolutionary Jews in Europe, and laying the basis for their dominance. He also provided them with desperate Jewish cannon-fodder for the creation of the state of the Jewish bourgeoisie.

There is no moral judgment contained within the observation that Jews are overrepresented in the bourgeoisie of the United States and other advanced countries. It is simply a material fact with certain implications for politics. If there were no quasi-nationalist consciousness, no sense of common purpose, it would have no significance whatsoever. What makes it significant is that they do have such a common purpose today, and also a common project, which is manifested in Israel and Zionism. This is significant to those on the receiving end of Israeli oppression, and their sympathisers.

Virtually all accounts of the birth of Zionism in the 19th Century, including that of  would be Marxists, talk of Zionism as simply a reaction to the birth of anti-semitism, and do not seriously analyse the class nature of the Zionist project. This is not spelt out; the birth of Zionism is simply put down to amorphous ‘Jews’ in general, making a mistaken response to anti-semitism that has reactionary implications.

This is not enough in terms of analysis. The fact is that Zionism always was a quasi-national movement of the Jewish bourgeoisie, which as I pointed out was initially pretty painlessly successful in gaining a major share of the fruits of expanding capital in the era of progressive capitalism, only to see it come under threat when the imperialist epoch began. The problem is that this bourgeoisie did not have a territory to build a nation around. And in any case, it was not necessarily in favour of migrating and tearing out its roots in other countries even if a territory were somehow miraculously given to it. But it felt it needed a territorial asset, a home base to call its own even if it did not want to reside there all the time. This is easily comprehensible in terms of bourgeois consciousness and a Marxist understanding of the national question, it just demands a degree of flexibility in the understanding and application of Marxist tools of analysis, that can be most effortlessly applied to other, more straightforward national questions.

In the early period of Zionism, obviously this quasi-national project appeared problematic and there was not unity among the Jewish bourgeoisie as to whether it was viable or not. But the project was bourgeois, and was extensively funded by part of the Jewish bourgeoisie abroad, particularly in the USA. The lack of unanimous Jewish bourgeois support for the Zionist project in the earlier period meant that it had to rely on support from various pseudo-left Zionist currents, those who manifested nationalist deviations from the revolutionary impulses that drove the genuine elements of the communist and socialist movement who happened to be of Jewish origin. Thus when Israel was founded, its original leaders were dominated by the fake-left nationalist trend. But despite that, the real nature of the Zionist project was thoroughly bourgeois and reactionary; that disjunction between consciousness and reality has long since been resolved through the decay of the fake-left Zionists and the dominance of the open right. The ‘left’ always served a cover for the right, but now they are a pathetic fig-leaf for it.

The Jews are not a nation, but they have a pan-national bourgeoisie that had national aspirations and wanted a territorial asset to give expression to that. Once that territory was actually created, through manoeuvres with the imperialist powers, it led to a transformation of the situation. Israel’s ‘Law of Return’ gives all Jews who fit Israel’s criteria of who is a Jew, anywhere in the world, automatic citizenship rights. That legal right to Israeli citizenship is a material force, which gives some people power over and in preference to other people. It gives Jews overseas implicit power over the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. It does not make Jews a nation in the sense of Stalin’s famous definition of a nation in Marxism and the National Question, which I still think contains the correct Marxist definition of a nation. But it is a material change that confers legal, national rights. It therefore means that Jews, under the hegemony of their own bourgeoisie as most other peoples of the world live under the hegemony of their own bourgeoisies, constitute a semi-nation under that hegemony.

Obviously there are questions of degree here. Consciousness and loyalty to a state plays a major role. There are Jews who do identify with Israel who may be often sickened and angry about the crimes of the Israeli state, and may issue quite strong and harsh criticisms of its atrocities, while remaining loyal to the project itself.  These are the left Zionists, both in the diaspora and in Israel.

Some individuals of Jewish origin (who fit the Israeli criteria) outside Israel who reject this and have no intention of ever exercising this right, or who renounce it, can be treated as in practice not part of this semi-nation. Then there are others who are further left, and may consider themselves Marxists and anti-Zionists. Among these are people like Moshe, and further left still, Tony Greenstein. They are outright opponents of the Zionist project and subjectively seek its destruction by revolutionary means, involving the Arab working class.

In the case of Moshe, he envisages some kind of ‘self-determination’ for the supposed ‘modern Hebrew nation’ separate from the Jews internationally, as part of a negotiated solution in the context of an Arab working class revolution. This is in one sense admirable, but there is a big flaw in it. It imagines the existence of a ‘modern Hebrew’ nation when the members of that putative nation – Israeli Jews – do not have any consciousness of their membership of such a nation. In terms of Stalin’s definition of a nation, one key requirement for a nation is that it should have a ‘common psychological makeup’.

I find it incredible that someone can project that such a makeup can exist without including the conscious belief in being part of the would-be nation being discussed, or even of its existence! In fact, the Israeli Jews both in terms of official ideology and mass consciousness believe that they are part of the Jewish ‘nation’ and the Jewish state, which is supposedly the state of all Jews. The fact that this state is objectively only a semi-nation, and is a reactionary formation counterposed to democracy, does not mean that this consciousness is not a material factor of the highest importance. It means this ‘modern Hebrew’ nation does not actually exist.

Tony Greenstein is to the left of Moshe in that he rejects such a fictitious construction, and simply calls for the dissolution of Israel into a single state based on equal rights for all irrespective of ethnicity or religion. This would produce an Arab majority state, but in which there is no reason why there should be an oppression of Jews. This is correct. However, both Machover and Greenstein disappear the pan-imperialist Jewish bourgeoisie from their analysis, which renders their ‘leftism’ moot. The reason for this has to be some kind of residual belief that the Jews are some kind of oppressed people, and do not hold a whip hand over the Palestinian Arabs, etc.

Thus when Greenstein writes:

“Since when are Jews one homogenous lump of humanity. We differ. We are not collectively responsible for what other Jews   may do. My comrades and myself, in anti-Zionist groups have more in common with our non-Jewish comrades and friends than other Jews.”

It is very revealing. Note the ‘we’. No English, French or American communist would use the collective ‘we’ to refer to their own people in the context of a war being waged against an oppressed population. Even though it is obvious that communists do not hold all English, French or Americans responsible for the actions of their respective bourgeoisies, this kind of expression of collectivity is itself chauvinistic. By this ‘we’ Greenstein dissociates himself from the crimes of the Israelis, to be sure, but not from the broader politically-Jewish bourgeoisie with its quasi-national consciousness and communal loyalty to Israel. On the contrary, he denies that this social formation exists, by a piece of sophistry that is characteristic of a novel form of what Trotsky called ‘centrism’ – espousing revolutionary ideas in words while contradicting them in deeds.

Here is the sophistry:

“Donovan states that there is a common project between Jewish/Zionist layers of the US and Israeli ruling class. He looks down the telescope through the wrong end. Israel is certainly a prized asset of the neo-conservative element of the US ruling class in imperialism’s desire to impose its physical presence on the Middle East. They see it as a stable base amidst regional uncertainty, Alexander Haig’s unsinkable aircraft carrier. That is what the far larger Christian Zionist group represents. American Jews are far more divided today and becoming increasingly so with the latest Gaza blitzkrieg.

[…]

“The US Jewish segment of the ruling class has remained more or less faithful, though the significance of J-Street should not be overlooked or George Soros and similar liberals (because  American Jews also remain more liberal than their white counterparts) but I have no doubt that if ever there was a major conflict between the US ruling class and Israel  then they would rapidly abandon Israel. The love-in between ruling class  Jews and the US ruling class has only been possible as long as the US bourgeoisie sees Israel as a strategic asset.”

This disappears the fact that the Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie itself is a major component of the US ruling class, and that it overlaps with the Israeli ruling class. This makes a major conflict between the Israeli ruling class and the US ruling class much more difficult, and more problematic, than a mere falling out between national ruling classes. The social weight of Jews in the US ruling class, expressed in the numbers of its wealthiest representative: billionaires, which different, sometimes Jewish, bourgeois sources put between 40% and 48%, i.e. nearly half, is a major material factor in making this the case.

Another facet of Greenstein ‘s polemic is the following assertion about John Mearsheimer,  a conservative bourgeois critic of the so-called ‘Israel lobby’ whose work nevertheless contains much useful factual data:

“Mearsheimer’s argument that the US’s pro-Israel policy is as a result of the ‘Jewish lobby; is absurd. Nowhere does he explain how some 3 million people can exert such pressure. It is fundamentally anti-Marxist. In support of his case Donovan asks people to look at Jewish/Zionist websites that boast about their success.  Well they would say that wouldn’t they?”

But Mearsheimer’s use of the term ‘the lobby’ is a piece of shorthand and an unconscious euphemism on his part. As a non-Marxist, he is hardly going to talk about the bourgeoisie, is he? He also is particularly cagey because he fears being falsely accused of racism for criticising the Jewish/Zionist-American bourgeoisie. Obviously, in material terms, it is not the 3 million [in fact there are 6.5 million] strong Jewish-American population that exerts this influence, but the massively overrepresented Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie that even Greenstein admits remains ‘more or less faithful’ to Israel. Thus Greenstein, the proclaimed Marxist (in fact fearful centrist) is actually more evasive than the conservative bourgeois Mearsheimer in covering up for the role of the Jewish bourgeoisie.

As for putting faith in George Soros to change this situation, need I say more? This is utterly fatuous for a Marxist to project!  Talk about “revolutionary in words, reformist in deeds”!!

Greenstein provides a litany of quotes from Atzmon that really are largely irrelevant to whether or not my views are Marxist, or not. Again, as with Moshe, this is a smokescreen. He has a pathological obsession with Atzmon to the point that anyone who does not share his hatred and obsession, and is prepared to engage with Atzmon from any other standpoint other than utter hatred, becomes an ‘Atzmonite’. This is despite any political differences than exist between the person so denounced, and Atzmon himself. Such a bizarre method of polemic is reminiscent of McCarthyism, or the rantings of the Moscow Trials Prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky, or other such bizarre phenomena.

An example? How about this for wackiness?:

“No one can be responsible for what their collaborator does after (or even before) their death. The fact that Norton Mezvinsky is an Atzmon supporter is irrelevant. Israel Shahak wouldn’t have been, unless he jettisoned his previously expressed views. And even if Shahak had done a 180 degree somersault that would not invalidate his previous writings.” (my emphasis)

Truly bizarre. Norton Mezvinsky is an Atzmon supporter, is he? Presumably this is why he said:

““There can be no reasonable doubt that Atzmon’s views are provocative. They can be legitimately questioned and reasonably opposed.”

“To reiterate, questioning and/or disagreeing fully or in part with Atzmon’s views is legitimate.”

Then there are more substantial criticisms

“Atzmon addresses in The Wandering Who?, as previously mentioned, important issues that deserve careful consideration by everyone—Jews, Palestinians and others—who are concerned with the interrelated topics of Zionism, the Jewish state, Palestinian oppression and Jews. Jewish identity politics, as coined by Atzmon, may or may not be the best term to use as the contextual framework for discussion of these issues. But Atzmon is not the first person to draw attention to them. Many of his interpretations and explanations can be challenged—thus the need for and value of further discussion. With this in mind, and realizing that many more questions can be raised about what Atzmon has presented, I offer the following five comments:

“1) The three main categories of Jews mentioned in The Wandering Who?, and cited above, are somewhat ambiguous and overly limiting. The first category, allegedly comprising Jews who follow Judaism, is unclear. Atzmon neither mentions nor discusses the various branches and/or different theological interpretations of Judaism. Some members in some of the groups, who presumably fall into this category, do not believe that people in other groups, also presumably in this category, are true believers in Judaism. A number of American Jews maintain memberships in various synagogues within different branches of Judaism and in reality are not religious believers. Other Jews, who attend synagogue, are not sure they believe in Judaism.

“The second category, allegedly consisting of Jews who regard themselves as human beings who happen to be of Jewish origin, is even more confusing. Do not Jews in Atzmon’s other two categories consider themselves human beings of Jewish origin?

“Atzmon’s third category, consisting of those who put their Jewishness over and above all other traits, also is unclear. Jews differ in their understanding and definition of Jewishness. What about Jews who sincerely believe that they put what they understand to be their Jewish traits on the same level as their other human traits? Atzmon directs his criticism at Jews in this category. His generalizations about them may not be valid. We are most likely unable to determine who most of these Jews are. Atzmon may think he knows who all these Jews are, but the rest of us may not. The bottom line here is that it is difficult, indeed impossible, to fit an indeterminate number of Jews into Atzmon’s designated categories of Jewish identity.

“2) As a follow-up to the above comment, it appears that at times Atzmon, with insufficient empirical evidence, over-generalizes about Jews from many perspectives and about how the Zionist apparatus works in the United States. What Paul Wolfowitz, Milton Friedman and a few others did or observed, for example, does not necessarily prove the totality of what Atzmon infers. Additionally, Atzmon, in a creative but not necessarily compelling way, attempts to use analogy to illustrate a Jewish continuum for a more than two-millennia time period that has allegedly helped Zionists do their work in the 20th and 21st centuries. His most striking attempted use of analogy is related to the suggestion about what Queen Esther did in the story of the Jewish festival of Purim. Her lobbying of King Ahasuerus in order to save the Jews and kill their enemies allegedly taught Zionist lobbyists in Washington how to influence the Franklin Roosevelt administration in the 1940s and how to influence later administrations as well. It may be an understatement to say that such an analogy is a stretch.

“3) In The Wandering Who?, Atzmon describes Zionism as largely a Jewish diaspora discourse that is of little concern to Israeli Jews. Yet, he also criticizes and condemns the Zionism of Israel’s character and its manifestations, which not only affect but also oppress the indigenous Palestinian population. Atzmon also writes that Israel should be de-Zionized. There appears to be a contradiction here.

“4) In his book Atzmon maintains that he is not criticizing Judaism, the religion, but is rather confronting the Judaic code. He thereafter refers to the “Judaic God, as portrayed by Moses” to be an evil deity who leads his people to plunder, rob and commit theft. Atzmon also cites other biblical passages calling for theft, murder and plunder. He calls this Judaic law and makes an analogy to how the current state of Israel is oppressing Palestinians.

“Despite his statement to the contrary, however, Atzmon does indeed seem to be criticizing Judaism. By emphasizing Judaic law, Atzmon is referring to a cornerstone of traditional Judaism. In that regard, however, he is off-base, because he neglects to use rabbinical interpretation of the biblical text in this instance. Rabbinic interpretation, which is essential in determining what traditional Judaism is, actually tempers what Atzmon here cites from the biblical text.

“If Atzmon is actually commenting upon Judaism in his book, he needs to refer to the prophets, who envisioned peace, harmony and universal humanitarianism. In addition, he needs to discuss Reform Judaism, which presents an interpretation, and perhaps a theology, distinct from and different than traditional Judaism.

“5) Atzmon praises and relies heavily upon Shlomo Sand’s recent book, The Invention of The Jewish People (available from the AET Book Club).There Sand, a history professor at the Tel-Aviv University, negates the idea that Jews ever existed as a nation or race or had a common origin. The idea of a people came late, he argues, probably in the 19th century, and was a made-up notion. Sand denies the Jewish exile and accepts the argument about the Khazars put by Arthur Koestler is his book The Thirteenth Tribe. Although Sand mostly repeats some points made by others in the late 19th and 20th centuries, he does present some additional insights and contributes a well put-together case.

“Although understandably impressed by what Sand wrote, Atzmon probably should have included in The Wandering Who? some references to the learned, scholarly refutations of Sand’s book by numerous scholars and scientists in many fields of study. These refutations contain impressive historical and scientific evidence. Referring to much of that evidence, Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty at the Hebrew University and the author of the book,Cossak and Bedouin: Sand and People in Jewish Nationalism, wrote a devastating response to Sand’s book in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in July of 2008.

“Numerous additional comments could be made about Gilad Atzmon’s ideas and the total substance of The Wandering Who?. Perhaps it is enough and best to suggest again that Atzmon is creative and provocative. His book deserves a careful reading. He and his ideas should be engaged.” (http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/507-washington-report-archives-2011-2015/may-2012/11161-gilad-atzmon-and-the-wandering-who.html)

Whatever anyone thinks of these criticisms of Atzmon by Norton Mezvinsky, they indicate that he is not a ‘follower’ of Atzmon at all. Greenstein comes over simply as a crank for making this allegation, against someone who has been politically active as an anti-Zionist since the 1950s, whereas Atzmon has been politically active so far as I know only since the 1990s. As if someone with 40 years more such experience is likely to become a ‘follower’ in some sycophantic sense of such a less experienced person , outside of the cult mentality that infests so much of the far left.

Greenstein’s pathetic slur against Norton Mezvinsky is a sign of political laziness and a lumpen, degenerate attitude to political debate worthy of the worst elements of the SWP , Healyites or Sparts. He just hates Atzmon, and seeks through a torrent of psychotic lies to smear anyone who engages in any rational political debate with Atzmon.  In political terms, his behaviour is utterly pitiful and contemptible.

But his hysteria comes, in the end, not from mental degeneration (although that may exist) but from the contradiction of a person who aspires to Marxist politics but who nevertheless, through a capitulation to communalism and the kind of semi-separatist politics typified by the Jewish Bund (which he admires), is compelled to deny the resistance of the bourgeoisie that in fact leads the Jewish community that he identifies politically with. He thus believes he has the authority to enforce communalist ‘discipline’ on Jewish heretics like some bigoted old Rabbi.

He may delude himself that he does it in the name of fighting ‘anti-semitism’ and particularly ‘Jewish anti-semitism (!!!)’. But the fact that most of the ‘anti-semites’ that he targets are indeed Jewish indicates that in the real world, as opposed to his fantastic self-conception and self-delusion, he does it on behalf of the Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie. That is the ultimate role of centrism, when push comes to shove, it acts on behalf of the bourgeoisie.

Another example of his pitiful politics is his remarks about Israel Shahak (see above). Presumably, if Israel Shakak had lived long enough to have engaged with Atzmon and had come to similar conclusions to Mezvinsky, he too would have been denounced as an ‘Atzmon supporter’ by Greenstein. So a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Belsen would have been Nazi-baited in this pathetic manner. I wonder how polite his response would have been if he had ever come across this little Rebbe and his ramblings?

In any case, Greenstein is still damning Shahak with faint praise. He never quotes the passages from Shahak that drew the admiration of both Atzmon and Mevzinsky. It is that that really makes them capable of engaging in a rational debate, instead of a sub-WRP hate-fest that is all Greenstein is capable of. Such passages as the following:

“Why should some American Jews display chauvinism, sometimes extreme, and others not? We should begin by observing the social and therefore also the political importance of the Jewish organisations which are of an exclusive nature: they admit no non-Jews on principle. (This exclusivism is in amusing contrast with their hunt to condemn the most obscure non-Jewish club which refuses to admit Jews). Those who can be called ‘organised Jews’ and who spend most of their time outside work hours mostly in the company of other Jews, can  be presumed to uphold Jewish exclusivism and to preserve the attitudes of the classical Judaism towards non-Jews. Under present circumstances they cannot openly express these attitudes towards non-Jews in the USA where non-Jews constitute more than 97 per cent of the population. They compensate for this by expressing their real attitudes in the support of the ‘Jewish state’ and the treatment it metes out to the non-Jews of the Middle East.” (Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: the Weight of Three Thousand Years, p102).

This sounds suspiciously like what I have been arguing about Jews in the USA and indeed here playing a role in the oppression of the Palestinians.

Or how about this:

“How else can we explain the enthusiasm displayed by so many American rabbis in support of, let us say, Martin Luther King, compared to their lack of support for the rights of Palestinians, even for their individual human rights? How else can we explain the glaring contradiction between the attitudes of classical Judaism towards non-Jews, which include the rule that their lives should not be saved except for the sake of Jewish interest, with the support of US rabbis and organised Jews for the rights of the Blacks? After all, Martin Luther King and the majority of American Blacks are non-Jews. Even if only the conservative and Orthodox Jews, who together  constitute the majority of American organised Jews, are considered to hold such opinions about non-Jews, the other part of organised US Jewry, the Reform, had never opposed them and, in my view, show themselves to be quite influenced by them.

“Actually the explanation of this apparent contradiction is easy. It should be recalled that Judaism, especially in its classical form, is totalitarian in nature. The behaviour of supporters of other totalitarian ideologies of our time was not different from those of the organised American Jews. Stalin and his supporters never tired of condemning the discrimination against the American or the South African Blacks, especially in the midst of the worst crimes committed within the USSR. The South African apartheid regime was tireless in its denunciations of the violations of human rights committed either by communists or by other African regimes, and so were its supporters in other countries.  Many similar examples can be given. The support of democracy or human rights is therefore meaningless or even harmful and deceitful when it does not begin with self-critique and the support of human rights when they are violated by one’s own group. Any support of human rights in general by a Jew which does not include the support of human rights of non-Jews whose rights are being violated by the ‘Jewish state’ is as deceitful as the support of human rights by a Stalinist. The apparent enthusiasm displayed by American rabbis or by the Jewish organisations in the USA during the 1950s and 1960s in support of the blacks in the South, was motivated only by considerations of Jewish self-interest, just as was the communist support for the same Blacks. Its purpose in both cases was to try to capture the Black community politically, in the Jewish case to an unthinking support of Israeli policies in the Middle East.

“Therefore, the real test facing both Israeli and diaspora Jews is the test of their self-criticism which must include the critique of the Jewish past. The most important part of such a critique must be a detailed and honest confrontation of the Jewish attitude to non-Jews. This is what many Jews justly demand from non-Jews: to confront their own past and so become aware of the discrimination and persecutions inflicted on the Jews. In the last 40 years [now 60 years: this was written in 1994 – ID] the number of non-Jews killed by Jews is by far greater than the number of the Jews killed by non-Jews. The extent of the persecution and discrimination against non-Jews inflicted by the ‘Jewish state’ with the support of organised diaspora Jews is also enormously greater than the suffering inflicted on Jews by regimes hostile to them. Although the struggle against antisemitism (and all other forms of racism) should never cease, the struggle against Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism, which must include a critique of classical Judaism, is now of equal or greater importance.” (ibid, p 102-3)

Or how about this passage?:

“The conclusion from this consideration of Israeli policies, supported by an analysis of classical Judaism, must be that analyses of Israeli policy-making which do not emphasise the importance of its unique character as a ‘Jewish state’ must be mistaken. In particular, the facile comparison of Israel to other cases of Western imperialism or to settler states, Is incorrect. During apartheid, the land of South Africa was officially divided into 87 per cent which ‘belonged’ to the whites and 13 per cent which was said officially to ‘belong’ to the Blacks. In addition, officially sovereign states, with all the symbols of sovereignty, the so-called Bantustans, were established. But ‘Jewish ideology’ demands that no part of the Land of Israel can be recognised as belonging to non-Jews and that no signs of sovereignty, such as Jordanian flags, can be officially allowed to be displayed.  The principle of Redemption of the Land demands that ideally all the land, and not merely, say, 87 per cent, will in time be ‘redeemed’, that is become owned by Jews. Jewish ideology prohibits that very convenient principle of imperialism, already known to Romans and formulated by Lord Cromer: ‘We do not govern Egypt, we govern the governors of Egypt.‘  Jewish ideology forbids such recognition, it also forbids a seemingly respectful attitude to any ‘non-Jewish governors’ within the Land of Israel. The entire apparatus of client kings, sultans, maharajahs and chiefs or, in more modern times, of dependent dictators, so convenient in other cases of imperial hegemony, cannot be used by Israel within the area considered part of the Land of Israel. Hence the fears, commonly expressed by Palestinians, of being offered a ‘Bantustan’ are totally groundless. Only if numerous Jewish lives are lost in war, as happened both in 1973 and in the 1983-5 war aftermath in Lebanon, is an Israeli retreat conceivable as it can be justified by the principle that the sancitity of Jewish life is more important than other considerations.  What is not possible, as long as Israel remains a ‘Jewish state’, is the Israeli grant of a fake, but nevertheless symbolically real sovereignty, to non-Jews within the Land of Israel for merely political reasons. Israel, like some other countries, is an exclusive state, but Israeli exclusivism is peculiar to itself.”

“In addition to Israeli politics it may be surmised that the ‘Jewish ideology’ influences a significant part, maybe a majority, of the diaspora Jews. While the actual implementation of Jewish ideology depends on Israel being strong, this in turn depends to a considerable extent on the support which diaspora Jews, particularly US Jews, give to Israel. The image of the diaspora Jews and their attitudes to non-Jews, is quite different from the attitudes of classical Judaism, as described above. This discrepancy is most obvious in English-speaking countries, where the greatest falsifications of Judaism regularly occur. The situation is worst in the USA and Canada, the two states whose support for Israeli policies, including policies that most glaringly contradict the basic human rights of non-Jews, is strongest.

“US support for Israel, when considered not in abstract but in concrete detail, cannot be adequately explained only as a result of American imperial interests. The strong influence wielded by the organised Jewish community in the USA in support of all Israeli policies must be taken into account in order to explain the Middle East policies of American administrations. This phenomenon is even more noticeable in the case of Canada, whose Middle Eastern interests cannot be considered as important, but whose loyal dedication to Israel is even greater than that of the USA. In both countries (and also in France, Britain, and many other states) Jewish organisations support Israel with the same loyalty which communist parties accorded to the USSR for so long.  Also, many Jews who appear to be active in defending human rights and who adopt non-conformist views on other issues do, in cases affecting Israel, display a remarkable degree of totalitarianism and are in the forefront of defence of all Israeli policies. It is well known in Israel that the chauvinism and fanaticism in supporting Israel displayed by diaspora Jews is much greater (especially since 1967) than the chauvinism shown by an average Israeli Jew…” (ibid,  p 100-102)

The latter point, which contradicts both Moshe and Greenstein’s tepid form of ‘anti-Zionism’ which amnesties the pan-imperialist Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, is identical in substance to the theses of Mearsheimer/Walt, Atzmon et al as well as my own rendering of it into a materialist, Marxist form, that Greenstein habitually denounces as ‘anti-semitic’ on behalf of his own bourgeoisie. Yet Greenstein claims that:

“ … even a self-confessed liberal, the late Israel Shahak, a renowned civil libertarian, Professor at the Hebrew University and a childhood survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Bergen-Belsen, understood that only a materialist analysis of history could make sense of the role of the Jews historically (what Atzmon terms ‘Jewish ideology’) .

The passages which I cited above show that Shahak in 1994, long before anyone political heard of Gilad Atzmon, was using the term ‘Jewish ideology’ in pretty much the same way that Atzmon uses it now. This alone exposes Greenstein as a dishonest charlatan. But he also terms Shahak’s analysis a ‘materialist analysis’. I would not go so far, since as is characteristic of non-Marxists, there is no real class analysis in the above paragraph. It is, however, the starting point for a correct materialist analysis. But far from hailing this as a ‘materialist analysis’, Greenstein should be denouncing the above as ‘anti-semitic’ as he does when he comes across the same basic points made by other thinkers such as Mearsheimer/Walt and … Atzmon. This again exposes Greenstein as a centrist charlatan, who is seeking to wrap himself in the aura of Israel Shahak as a heroic genocide survivor and defender of Palestinian rights within Israel while deliberately crapping on his most trenchant insights and engaging in vile slander against anyone else who attempts to take them up and develop them.

Greenstein does however give away his real politics when he writes:

“The best Marxist account, in my opinion, of Zionism is Nathan Weinstock’s Zionism:  A False Messiah’. Today Weinstock is a Zionist who has done his best to suppress his own book. But does that invalidate it? No, a piece of work or art can be      divorced from the personality and vulnerabilities of its creator. It has, if you like, a life of its own.

I have actually read this work, and found it, unlike the works of Shahak and Leon, for example, both turgid and shallow. It is the archetype of the colonial-settler state analysis, along with the book of that name (i.e. Israel: a Colonial-Settler State by Maxime Rodinson), which is less tedious but still unsatisfactory. But what can one say of the worth of a writer whose commitment to the cause he espouses is so shallow that he goes over to the other side of the barricades and tries to suppress his own previous work? This alone raises serious doubts about the commitment of the author in the first place, and therefore is also grounds in turn to give rise to severe doubt as to the real insight of his analysis. That Greenstein pathetically and falsely implies that Mezvinsky has betrayed his collaboration with Shahak and then blithely confesses his preference for the work of an author who really did betray the positive things that he stood for will strike people as a bit strange, no doubt. I find it symptomatic of the weakness of Greenstein’s own politics.

There are so many parallels with Shahak’s points in the series of quotes from Atzmon that Greenstein regurgitates in order to shock people, that I have included Greenstein’s original turgid piece of prose as an appendix to this document, for those who have not read it. Thus when Greenstein complains that Atzmon criticises Jews and Jewish ideology in a manner that is supposedly racist, you can find similar formulations in the writings of Israel Shahak (see above). The only difference is Shahak’s style, which is sober and has an academic method, as befits a University Professor, as opposed to the flamboyant style of Atzmon, the world-renowned artist. Atzmon’s questioning of the Israeli version of the Holocaust, which clearly does not involve denying the overall historical truth of the Nazi genocide (though some of the criticisms appear confused), is the only element in Atzmon that is absent in Shahak’s work. But this can obviously be explained by the fact that Shahak had direct personal experience of the genocide and thus no need to grapple with the question himself – he preferred to concentrate on contemporary matters such as Israeli crimes and the ideology that drives them now. And Shahak was writing before Norman Finkelstein’s ground-breaking work The Holocaust Industry propelled this issue to prominence.

Greenstein’s  hypocrisy is shown by his earlier use of a quote from Shahak to attack Atzmon, while purposely not citing the material above (and no doubt hoping he can put people off reading and studying both Shahak and Atzmon’s writings with his bluster).  He quoted Shahak as saying:

“‘there has been a great deal of nonsense written in the attempt to provide a social or mystical interpretation of Jewry or Judaism as a whole.  This cannot be done, for the social structure of the Jewish people and the ideological structure of Judaism have changed profoundly through the ages” (ibid,  p50)

He claims this is an implicit reproach to later critics of Jewish ideology like Atzmon. He quotes dishonestly, however, as is clear from the fact that this sentence occurs at the beginning of a chapter that dates the Jewish ideology Shahak is criticising from around the year 1000 AD, which is the earliest time Shahak considers that enough evidence exists as to practice, as oppose to mere scripture, to make a judgement. The reason Shahak does not date it earlier is not because it is necessarily wrong to do this, but because in his view the evidence to do so is too sparse. This is a sign of his integrity as a scholar, but some may call this excessively cautious. Many other scholars consider that the matter he is discussing, which he dubs ‘classical Judaism’ dates back further, to the dawn of Rabbinical Judaism around 200 AD. The scriptures that Shakak, Atzmon and many other critics quote are widely believed to have been rendered into their present form, or close to it, around that period as I understand it. So once again, this appears like a pathetic distortion from Greenstein – grasping at straws to misrepresent Shahak, exploiting Shahak’s cautious approach in order to avoid the peculiar situation of having to denounce a survivor of the Nazi genocide and principled long-term critic of Israeli crimes as an anti-semite, which even Greenstein knows would make himself appear to be some kind of maniac.

He is not actually a complete maniac, though he often does a good impression of one. He is a centrist, whose politics are characterised by what Trotsky called ‘crystallised confusion’. The confusion, however, is really a rationalisation for capitulation to the bourgeoisie, it is not really sincere confusion, but more cynical than that. He has an ‘attachment’, so-to-speak, to this kind of confusionism. So I don’t really believe that he does not understand my ‘shark analogy’ as he puts it. Others who have read my earlier reply to Moshe titled ‘Materialism and Diversions’ will understand it, I am confident. However, Greenstein’s arguments are so full of illogical constructions and non-sequiturs that it is hardly surprising that he instinctively jumps to the defence of Moshe’s own examples of the same. But he lapses into incoherence as he does so, as he writes:

“Most people do not defend tragedies, regardless of their own culpability. A few will however justify them and want to repeat them whilst, at the same time, denying what has happened when necessary.

This is remarkably non-specific given Greenstein’s usual spitting of accusations against all and sundry. Who knows what it is about – he does not say! It appears to be an example of his being reduced to fulminating against nothing in particular.

Greenstein’s confusionism and dishonesty is obvious in his conclusion:

“In order to avoid having to debate my ideas Donovan blatantly lies. I am not and never have been ‘in alliance’ with Zionists. I adopt the anti-fascist strategy that in the fight against fascism I will unite with anyone, including Zionists. However Zionists, because of their   politics, have never been involved in anti-fascist work (at least since the early 1950’s). If a Zionist wants to go on an anti-war demonstration I will encourage them, because that way they can be broken from Zionism. I and others went out of our way to break supporters of the NF and British Movement to break from fascism. Were we wrong? Although I made my views known in an e-mail, I did not initiate (another lie) a campaign to prevent Atzmon playing at Raise Your Banners. Clearly Donovan is desperate.

“The idea that I find Atzmon’s   views more repugnant than Israel’s attacks on Palestinians is yet another sign of Donovan’s political dishonesty. On the contrary I have always stressed that removing Atzmon from the  Palestine solidarity movement was a way of removing a Zionist cuckoo in the nest. Leading Palestinian campaigners like Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti agreed with me not Donovan.”

“I have never been in alliance with Zionists” says Greenstein, but he does not seem to deny either that he was in alliance with Hope not Hate, or that Hope not Hate are Zionists who also picketed the East London Mosque against a Palestinian speaker they disapproved of. He says that he is prepared to ally with Zionists against fascism – presumably to slanderously imply that Atzmon is some kind of fascist – he has bizarrely said this in the past. Yet in the same breath he says that Zionists (including Hope not Hate, presumably) have never been involved in anti-fascist work since the 1950s – presumably this includes HnH, meaning by deduction that Atzmon cannot be a ‘fascist’ after all! Clear as mud. The only way he can square this is by feebly accusing Atzmon of being a Zionist, presumably for his attacks on ‘Jewish ideology’ and his refusal to accept that Israel is a colonial-settler state. But Shahak did not accept that either, and explicitly criticised it, so logically Shahak must have been a ‘Zionist’ also.

The bottom line of this is that Greenstein considers it principled to ally with Zionists to ‘no platform’ the most consistent opponents of Zionism, the followers of Israel Shahak (which Gilad Atzmon is one of). But he does not dare to say this openly as it would mean political death. So he resorts to an old Stalinist trick to justify himself, re-defining his opponents as being in the enemy camp. Stalin, when he wanted to find ‘communist’ excuses to persecute the Trotskyists, redefined them as ‘Trotsky-fascists’ and falsely accused them of being agents of Hitler. Greenstein uses the same technique to define Atzmon, as a follower of Shahak, as being a ‘Zionist’.

He also claims he did not ‘initiate’ the failed attempt to ‘no platform’ Atzmon in 2012 that was carried out by HnH. Yet he admits that “I made my views known in an e-mail”. This is all it takes to initiate such a thing. It does appear that the email in question brought this matter to the attention of HnH, which ran with it. And once this happened, as is a matter of record, Greenstein supported the HnH campaign to the hilt.

Is this sophistry, self-contradiction and slander not utterly pathetic? What the centrist Greenstein does not have, which Stalin has, is state power. He cannot enforce his bizarre views onto others. That is his misfortune. He is a centrist charlatan, whose revolutionary words are belied by the strident service he offers to the unique imperialist formation that provides political leadership to the Jewish people in the imperialist countries at least, and which today as I previously elaborates plays the role of a kind of reverse ‘vanguard of the bourgeoisie’. Like all centrists, therefore, despite his revolutionary rhetoric at times, Tony Greenstein serves the interests of the capitalist system he claims to oppose.

Ian Donovan

31 August 2014

 

 

Appendix: Greenstein’s extended polemic against myself

It is difficult to understand how Ian Donovan can consider himself, or others treat him as, a Communist. All that he does is give a bastardised materialist or economistic ‘explanation’ for certain empirical facts.

He is no different from those who point to the prevalence of Asian men in child abuse rings in Rotherham and some other towns and make racist generalisations. Not once does he ask,, as any Marxist would do so, the question why? What are the factors that lead to the predominance of Asian men in specific circumstances, what is the explanation for the preponderance of Catholic Priests in child abuse in Ireland etc. etc.

Donovan states that Moshe has to show that his views aren’t genuinely Marxist. I would have thought his defence of Atzmon was proof enough.

Donovan claims that Atzmon’s works provides ‘useful information that could be incorporated into a Marxist analysis. Quite what this self-described reactionary essentialist has to offer begs the imagination.  But maybe I have missed something in the following jewels?

‘‘it is the Jewish Left which turns Zionism into the official voice of the Jewish people.’

Jewish anti-Zionists are a fifth column ‘who will convert (to Zionism) in the next anti-Semitic wave… who makes Zionism into an eternal struggle for ‘Jewish salvation’.

  ‘Britain would never allow a bunch of German exiles to control its rhetoric at the time of a war against Germany.’

 ‘acting politically under a Jewish banner is in fact the very definition of Zionism.’

  ‘I was blown away by President Obama. I wasn’t prepared for it and I simply couldn’t believe my ears…. After years of Western leaders dancing to Israeli cacophony composed and orchestrated by different types of repulsive Wolfowitzes, listening to Obama’s extended humanist cadenza was indeed music to my ears.’ The mood music must have been overpowering. ‘In spite of the credit crunch inflicted on America by the enemy within, [the Jews – TG] there is a scent of cheerfulness in the air.’

 Obama ‘is a million years ahead of most Palestinian solidarity campaigners’ and ‘is now marching America towards humanism. He reclaims the American ideology of liberty. I salute the man, I salute the great intellect, I salute the humanist. Gladly I am to admit that God blessed America.’’

‘Zionism is inherently a racially oriented “homecoming” project driven by spiritual enthusiasms’

Zionism is no more than ‘robbery of the indigenous Palestinians following a cultural and religious heritage that is overwhelmingly documented in the Judaic Bible.’

‘Bundists believe that instead of robbing Palestinians we should all get together and rob who is considered to be the rich, the wealthy and the strong in the name of working class revolution.’

 “We are therefore entitled to assume that Machover’s ‘settler state’ is just another Judeo Marxist spin that is there to divert the attention from the clear fact that Israel is the Jewish state.

‘Since America currently enjoys the status of the world’s only super power and since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, [there is a list of Jews in the Bush White House – TG] we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.’ ‘the Jewish people’ later became ‘Zionists’.

 ‘American Jews do control the world.’ Became ‘American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.’

 The J’s are the ultimate chameleons, they can be whatever they like as long as it serves as some expedient. As soon as you criticise their expansionist militant national beliefs (Zionism) you hurt them as a race (Semites),… When you condemn their racist tendencies, they are transformed immediately into an innocent cultural identity… when it was right to be a Socialist they were right there in the forefront of the Bolshevik revolution, now when it is hard capitalism that sets the tone, you read about them in the Wall Street Journal, they are the new prophets from Manhattan. Life is never boring for ‘J’ people.’ It’s one never ending (Jewish) conspiracy.

 Jews have been unable to ‘internalise the real meaning of the conditions and the events that led towards their destruction in the first place.’

I agreed & wanted to be an ordinary human being, which is very unusual for a Jew (laughs) and it’s still not easy for me, I’m still practising.’ Talk in Brighton (32.51:6)

‘(Shraga) Elam the crypto-Zionist is acting as an ethnic campaigner Greenstein… Shell report them to the Jewnited Nation.’.

 ‘If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein – free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?’ ‘If the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? [‘We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative…’ ‘Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next-door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East.’

 I must admit that I have many doubts concerning the Zionist Holocaust narrative. Being familiar with many of the discrepancies within the forcefully imposed narrative, being fully familiar with the devastating tale of the extensive collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists before and throughout the Second World War, I know pretty well that the official Holocaust narrative is there to conceal rather than to reveal any truth. …

Clearly Atzmon has a lot to offer!

Donovan states that there is a common project between Jewish/Zionist layers of the US and Israeli ruling class. He looks down the telescope through the wrong end. Israel is certainly a prized asset of the neo-conservative element of the US ruling class in imperialism’s desire to impose its physical presence on the Middle East. They see it as a stable base amidst regional uncertainty, Alexander Haig’s unsinkable aircraft carrier. That is what the far larger Christian Zionist group represents. American Jews are far more divided today and becoming increasingly so with the latest Gaza blitzkrieg. That is also true of British Jewry, to a lesser extent, which has refused to join the Board of Deputies pro-Israel stunts (for   the first time ever that has been no rally in support of Israel nationally, after the 2012 conflict when numbers were down to 5,000). The US Jewish segment of the ruling class has remained more or less faithful, though the significance of J-Street should not be overlooked or George Soros and similar liberals (because    American Jews also remain more liberal than their white counterparts) but I have no doubt that if ever there was a major conflict between the US ruling class and Israel         then they would rapidly abandon Israel. The love-in between ruling class    Jews and the US ruling class has only been possible as long as the US bourgeoisie sees Israel as a strategic asset.

Mearsheimer’s argument that the US’s pro-Israel policy is as a result     of the      ‘Jewish lobby; is absurd. Nowhere does he explain how some 3 million people can exert such pressure. It is fundamentally anti-Marxist. In support of his case Donovan asks people to look at Jewish/Zionist websites that boast about their success.  Well they would say that wouldn’t they?

No one can be responsible for what their collaborator does after (or even before) their death. The fact that Norton Mezvinsky is an Atzmon supporter is irrelevant. Israel Shahak wouldn’t have been, unless he jettisoned his previously expressed views. And even if Shahak had done a 180 degree somersault that would not invalidate his previous writings. The best Marxist account, in my opinion, of Zionism is Nathan Weinstock’s Zionism:  A False Messiah’. Today Weinstock is a Zionist who has done his best to suppress his own book. But does that invalidate it? No, a piece of work or art can be      divorced from the personality and vulnerabilities of its creator. It has, if you like, a life of its own.

I confess to    not understand the ‘shark analogy’ of Donovan. Most people do not defend tragedies, regardless of their own culpability. A few will however justify them and want to repeat them whilst, at the same time, denying what has happened when necessary.

The paragraph beginning ‘The suppression of anti-Jewish feelings’ is outrageous and itself the product of a racist mentality. Since when are Jews one homogenous lump of humanity. We differ. We are not collectively responsible for what other Jews   may do. My comrades and myself, in anti-Zionist groups have more in common with our non-Jewish comrades and friends than other Jews.

In order to avoid having to debate my ideas Donovan blatantly lies. I am not and never have been ‘in alliance’ with Zionists. I adopt the anti-fascist strategy that in the fight against fascism I will unite with anyone, including Zionists. However Zionists, because of their   politics, have never been involved in anti-fascist work (at least since the early 1950’s). If a Zionist wants to go on an anti-war demonstration I will encourage them, because that way they can be broken from Zionism. I and others went out of our way to break supporters of the NF and British Movement to break from fascism. Were we wrong? Although I made my views known in an e-mail, I did not initiate (another lie) a campaign to prevent Atzmon playing at Raise Your Banners. Clearly Donovan is desperate.

The idea that I find Atzmon’s   views more repugnant than Israel’s attacks on Palestinians is yet another sign of Donovan’s political dishonesty. On the contrary I have always stressed that removing Atzmon from the    Palestine solidarity movement was a way of removing a Zionist cuckoo in the nest. Leading Palestinian campaigners like Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti agreed with me not Donovan.

Tony Greenstein

 

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