The Middle East, Zionism and the Jewish Question
The following is the second reply to the RCIT referred to in the introduction to ‘Party, Programme and Practice’ earlier. The letter from the RCIT being replied to is again included as an addendum.
Thank you for your letter on Israel and the Jewish Question, and my apologies for not replying to you earlier. I replied to you on other matters earlier, and hopefully we can discuss those matters and indeed these when the opportunity arises, …
I do appreciate your anti-Zionist positions and had no intentions of saying anything against them. [Particularly your position] on the nature of Israel in denying that it can be called a real nation, despite some features in common with nations in the classic sense, because of its denial of its own nationhood. That seems to me to be correct.
Reply to the RCIT – 1
Correcting Errors Trotskyism inherited from the Third International
The following is the first of two replies to comrades from the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, a international grouping of Trotskyists from various traditions, which is a split from the international tendency around the British Workers Power Group, the League for the Fifth International. This tendency has also the adherence of an Israeli grouping, the International Socialist League, whose main leader, Yossi, has a long and complex history of associations, including with the Spartacists, the Grant/Woods tendency, and the US League for the Revolutionary Party.
This first item tries to address, among other things, the flaws in contemporary communism that have led to such a dazzling array of splits, which itself is deeply damaging to the left. The second item takes up some of their positions on Israel and its relationship with US imperialism and its other imperialist allies, and has particular relevance to the views of their Israeli group.
The following letter was published in the Weekly Worker of 12 June. The context is the CPGB’s belated adoption of a self-contradictory position on the Rabina Khan election issue in Tower Hamlets. The content in that regard is fairly self-explanatory.
However, the headline that they put on it, reproduced above, is too clever by half. It seeks to mock the criticisms of Jewish chauvinism made in the letter against the CPGB and some of its political friends, by a sly implication that it is anti-Semitic to make these criticisms.
In his presentation and summary to the day-school of Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) last Saturday afternoon (30 May), broadly devoted to the negotiations between Iran and the United States and the continuing possibility of an attack on Iran by Israel and the United States, Moshe Machover, the would-be Marxist Israeli professor and supporter of the Communist Platform of Left Unity, was compelled to make significant concessions to the analysis of the Jewish Question put forward by Communist Explorations.
Machover was engaged in a polemic against those who ostensibly believe in the so-called “tail wagging the dog” thesis regarding the power and influence of Israel over United States policy in the Middle East. He criticised Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, authors of the famous book on the Israel Lobby, as well as the left-wing author James Petras, for their arguments for the idea that the level of Israeli influence on American foreign policy and its actions contradicted some way actual US interests in a bourgeois sense. It has long been the contention of some on the left like Machover, who wish to avoid a concrete debate on this question, that these contentions amount to some kind of bizarre ‘conspiracy theory’ and thereby transcend rationality, if they do not actually amount to ‘anti-semitism’.
The following leaflet was distributed at a London dayschool of HOPI this afternoon. A fuller report of some of the discussions at this meeting will be posted when time allows. But this content of the leaflet speaks for itself in terms of the politics of HOPI’s initators, the Communist Party of Great Britain/Weekly Worker.
This day-school of Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) epitomises the politics of its initiators, the CPGB/Weekly Worker. A body dedicated to solidarity with the working class in Iran is in principle a good, if narrow, project.
The working class of the entire Middle East needs solidarity in many ways, against imperialist aggression and despotic and dictatorial regimes, pro-Western and ‘radical’. That Iran, not even its working class, but its ‘people’ is singled out as more deserving than elsewhere, reflects the CPGB’s ‘third camp’ ideology that treats ‘radical’ bourgeois regimes targeted by imperialism as co-equal with the imperialists themselves.
The outcome of last Thursday’s general election victory represented an historic defeat for the working class in the UK. That seems like a startling statement, as it was only a parliamentary election after all, and the class struggle is not won by electioneering. That is a Marxist truism that is worth bearing in mind in most circumstances. But sometimes election results highlight trends on the ground in a very dramatic manner.
There has already been a beginning to social protest by youthful sections of the working class, against the new Tory government. The 4000 strong London demonstration on May 9th, which was unsurprisingly pushed around by the cops, demonstrated that. The advent of a unalloyed Tory government, minus the discarded and destroyed Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems, whose project is to declare war against all of the remnants of social security and post-WWII gains of the working class that Thatcher failed to smash in her offensive in the 1980s, as well as against migrants and refugees, will force the working class to fight back. But we had better be aware of the real significance of current events on the relationship of class forces, as part of preparing the working class on a wider level to resist.
The following statement was issued by Left Unity in support of the candidacy of Rabina Khan for the position of elected mayor of Tower Hamlets in the upcoming mayoral election, which takes place in less-than-democratic conditions in the context of what amounts to a racist coup against the elected Mayor and council of Tower Hamlets, led by the Tory/Zionist minister Eric Pickles.
Some political background on this anti-democratic coup can be found in the recent Communist Explorations leaflet on this, and further useful material is to be found in this article by the Trotskyist group Socialist Fight on the same events.
The following letter is in reply to a question about the nature of Israel from a comrade who is a serious Marxist.
Regarding your question about whether Israel is an imperialist country (or not), there is nothing synthetic available about this that I know of. But the logic is inescapable when you look at the alternative to Israel being an imperialist power.
I will deal with the theoretical aspect of this, and then bring together evidence to back it up, from a number of sources.
The following exchange of views, on Twitter, between myself and the comrade who uses the name Southpawpunch, is worth reproducing as it illustrates how even some of the most revolutionary-minded elements on the existing left have crucial political blindspots and preconceptions about political events, that prevent them from seeing the obvious when it is before them.
Southpawpunch objects violently to my headline describing the removal from office of Lutfur Rahman, the elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, as a “Neocon/Zionist coup” and argues that to make such a characterisation is a sign of ‘leaving the left’ on behalf of the person who made it (i.e. myself).