I am taking the liberty of republishing this, not because I agree with everything in it, but because it contains a great deal of profound material that Marxist critics of Zionism and its supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, in the advanced capitalist world, ought to find invaluable.
This is despite Atzmon’s jaundiced view of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and his erroneous belief that it had something in common with the crimes of Israel and Zionism today. This is a serious flaw in his often very sharp and perceptive understanding of the crippling of Palestinian solidarity by Jewish chauvinism and capitulation to Zionism. In my view Atzmon’s prejudice against Bolshevism is most likely derived from a narrow reading of a very disgraceful history in which pseudo-radical left-Zionist currents, many of which indeed had their origins in currents derived tangentially from the Russian Revolution, played a barbaric role in the Naqba while continuing to preach about working class unity and speak a debased form of pseudo-internationalist language. Continue reading
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.
Reproduced below are two letters from myself that were recently published in the Weekly Worker. These are published, in this particular case, without any intention of either praising or blaming the editors of that publication, but simply because there is material in those two letters that readers here might have missed. This material is worthwhile in addressing contentious questions relating to the Middle East and the Jewish Question, and making some observations about the progress of discussions on these questions.
The first item was published in the 5th March issue. It is worth noting, since the letter is a reply to a previous invective-filled letter from Tony Greenstein, that it is published alongside a further letter from the same author, mainly addressing in a moderately interesting and thoughtful manner some aspects of analysis concerning ISIS. However, at the conclusion of his letter, Greenstein makes the following remarks about previous exchanges between us:
“On another topic – the recent exchanges with Ian Donovan – I have informed the editor of the Weekly Worker that I have no intention of responding to any further letters which indulge in ad hominem attacks, as I don’t wish to feed what is clearly a personal obsession.”
In a recent discussion on the left blog Socialist Unity, about the events surrounding George Galloway’s February appearance on BBC Question Time, its initiator Andy Newman made an important political point. Galloway’s appearance was the occasion for a blatant attempt by Zionists to attack the right of an elected Member of Parliament to propagate his views and those of the Respect Party in a national, televised forum.
During the Socialist Unity discussion, the question of Galloway’s interview and political engagement with Gilad Atzmon, the ex-Israeli Jazz Musician and outspoken critic of Israeli racism and ‘Jewish ideology’ was also discussed. It should be noted that, unlike many others on the left, Socialist Unity do not go along with the Zionist demonisation of Galloway and its mainstream trend are virtually uncritical supporters for some of his weaker sides politically, i.e. his left reformist politics. However, the positive side of this is that the poisonous Zionist-influenced hysteria against Galloway and Respect is absent.
The following exchange illustrates the pointless and self-defeating effect of political dishonesty in communist politics. In bourgeois, i.e. capitalist politics, the point of political activity is to bolster and defend the position of a small, exploiting minority, the owners of capitalist property, against the great mass of the population who have no such wealth. It is obvious that this kind of politics would necessarily be replete with corruption and mendacity, since the maintenance of injustice and social and economic inequality requires fooling the mass of the population to acquiesce in their own victimisation and exploitation. The only way to do this is by systematic lying, in order to create and promote myths, and also to create and maintain divisions among the working-class majority.
Communist politics, on the other hand, has truth as its only weapon. In order to understand the real situation, the mass of the population need to have a accurate picture of political, social and economic relations, which can only be developed over a long period by a political leadership that uses truth as its main weapon. Such a politics is fundamentally different from bourgeois politics. Whereas bourgeois politics promotes mystification and lies in the interest of a minority, communist politics must ruthlessly tear away mystification and expose all social lies. If a would-be communist organisation begins to engage in lying itself, it digs its own political grave, since the only basis on which it can garner and keep support on a healthy basis is through this process of exposing difficult truths.
A shortened version of the letter below was published in the Weekly Worker of 22nd Jan. Given the evasive response of Peter Manson, and the furious but even more evasive (and apolitical) response from Tony Greenstein in this week’s paper, I reproduce the original here. As people will see, it was radically cut, despite being solicited in this form by the editor of the paper himself. Which is of course the editor’s prerogative, in a way. Though one slightly unsavoury aspect of the way the paper is put together is that material is sometimes trimmed in a way as to blunt or distort their political content, and a ‘reply’ is then put together that exploits the problems caused by the editing.
Be that as it may, a reply will be sent to Manson’s evasiveness on the main point: the contradiction between claiming to stand for the Palestinian ‘right of return’, and the demand for the ‘right of self-determination’ of Israeli Jews, i.e. their right to maintain a state created by the exclusion of the Palestinian majority from their own country. It is not possible for even the most evasive centrist confusionists to do both in the real world.
This is a significant political event, that will no doubt lead to further demonisation of George Galloway by the ruling class, the Zionists, and the various capitulators to Zionism, philo-semites and Islamophobes on the left. It is a fascinating interview, between two important and prominent left-wing but non-Marxist figures, notably Britain’s most radical left-reformist MP and the famous artist/musician whose insights into the Jewish/Israeli question need to be critically but positively engaged with as part of developing a Marxist programme that takes account of the concretes of world politics today.
George Galloway and Gayatri Pertiwi interview ex-Israeli political writer/thinker and jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon, Sputnik (Russia Today) #59, Jan 3 2015. Followed by Miss H, soul singer and DJ.