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.
Note: Hat-tip to The Electronic Intifada for some of the factual material included here
The British government’s blatant attempts to exploit the murder in France of the Charlie Hebdo staff and the other killings associated with it are both sinister in their implications, staggeringly hypocritical, and virulently racist in their own right. While Theresa May talks about the need to ‘wipe out anti-semitism’, David Cameron condemns the liberal Pope Francis as being too soft on Muslims who are outraged by pornographic depictions of Mohammad in Charlie Hebdo, and issues his own Downing Street encyclical on the ‘right to be offensive’ to Muslims (but not to Jews, obviously).
This reflects official practice: Muslim-baiting in this country has state-sanction, but not just bigotry against people of Jewish origin per se (which is reprehensible, but very marginal today), but also meaningful criticism of Jewish/Israeli racism against Arabs and Muslim people, or expressing appropriate, even though non-violent, anger against Israel and those who support it’s crimes against Arabs, is to be stigmatised and persecuted.
Launched today, at a protest at the American Embassy this afternoon commemorating the 13th grim anniversary of the creation of the US imperialist concentration camp at Guantanamo: the hard copy edition of Communist Explorations. 24 pages of genuine communist politics and programme. Also distributed, a hard-copy version of the statement ‘Muslim-baiting Charlie Hebdo slaughtered by vengeful Islamists‘, issued on the day of the attack.
Will Self, a contemporary thought professor, tells Channel 4 News that satire should only target “people in power”. Writer and cartoonist Martin Rowson says “total freedom of expression is ludicrous”.
Will Self in particular, a prominent writer and broadcaster of Jewish origin who is another one of those highly advanced individuals of Jewish origin who have renounced the secular Jewish identity in the cause of universalism and humanism, talks some basic good sense here. He puts many of the hysterics among the Islamophobes and capitulators to Zionism on today’s left, to shame.
It should go without saying that the killing, apparently by militant Islamists, of the editors, journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, should be condemned by the working class movement. The people responsible are guilty of some pretty heinous crimes and obviously need to be caught and prosecuted. As humanists, communists are opposed to such wanton killing of unarmed people, with the suffering that it will undoubtedly cause to those close to them. That much and no more should the working class movement stand formally with the mainstream politicians who are loudly condemning these killings.
We must condemn this action, not because it ‘outrages’ the sensibilities of the French government or its imperialist allies regarding ‘free speech’ or the alleged sanctity of human life – they have no respect for these things themselves. But we condemn it not least because it will inevitably result in an increase in anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred, and will lead to the victimisation of Muslims in France and elsewhere. Those who took this action, who appear to have had military know-how and training, no doubt will welcome such a reaction as it tends to further drive angry and alienated young Arab and African people of Muslim background towards them.
Down with all racial hierarchies!
There is a major contradiction at the heart of modern capitalist ideology today when it comes to questions involving the social construct of ‘race’. One pole of the contradiction is that advanced capitalist governments in the West are increasingly insistent that racism is a thing of the past, that unlike their predecessors, they are opposed in principle to racism, and that racism is against the essence of liberal capitalist meritocratic ideology. This strain of bourgeois ideology depends on an abstract model of a market economy where someone’s money, no matter their colour or origin, is as good as anyone else’s, and anyone can enjoy the rewards of the ‘hard work’ which supposedly enables capitalist ‘success’.
But while this ideology is propagated, massive racial inequalities persist, hierarchies remain and are unyielding for nearly all ethnic minority populations. It is still true that particularly non-white minorities in all the advanced capitalist countries all suffer from disproportionate rates of unemployment, low-pay when employed, precarious employment, lack of access to quality education, disproportionate levels of ill-health and greater difficulty accessing quality health care. Such minorities are also disproportionately subjected to police and state violence, to deaths in custody and at the hands of the police in general.
In the United States, where America’s first black President is in his second term, the recent protests against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri, have once again underlined that for American blacks, despite Obama and all his works, racial oppression very much remains and continues unabated. The Missouri case is one of so many over so many years and decades; it is telling that even now such things can explode into significant struggles. If society had really changed for the better in some fundamental sense, as the ideologues of capitalism claim, then there is no way that such major conflicts could erupt between large sections of a traditionally oppressed minority and the forces of the state.