Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 6, 2014

Anti-Jewish hostility provoked by the Gaza offensive: Is antisemitism the right word for it?

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 1:24 pm

Antony Lerman

With his permission, I am publishing on my blog a Facebook post by Dr Steven Beller, an independent scholar based in Washington DC, which presents an alternative analysis of the anti-Jewish hostility currently being experienced in Europe as a result of Israel’s offensive against Gaza. Dr Beller was a visiting scholar at George Washington University and a Research Fellow at Peterhouse College Cambridge. He is the author of major books on Austrian and Jewish history and also an expert on the history of antisemitism. He authored Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press (2007). The post was written in response to a New York Times article, which appeared on 2 August, entitled ‘Antisemitism rises in Europe amid Israel-Gaza conflict’. All antisemitism is unacceptable, but Dr Beller questions whether it’s the right term for the hostility in Europe to Israel and Jews. It’s important to hear this view…

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16 Comments »

  1. The rise of anti Semitism in Europe is a deplorable canard, timed to justify criminalising, at least morally, those who take to the streets to show their disgust at the actions of the terrorist state of Israel. It is merely apologia for Israel in another guise. The latest tactic if you like. It shows how much they are getting worried by the increasing hostility to their beloved racist terrorists, they hope throwing this accusation into the mix will put off the wobbly members of polite society.

    We should be asking more questions of those who don’t protest against Israel.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — August 6, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

  2. Antisemitism–taking it in the de facto sense of anti-Jewishism–is antisemitism, even when practiced by the speakers of one Semitic language against those of another (however artificial in its modern form). The fact that Israel has for some considerable time been committing severe war crimes against the Palestinians does not justify anybody saying “the Jews” have done this or “the Jews” have done that, or “the Jews” must be punished–or quoting from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or any of the rest of the poisonous nonsense that has been going on in parts of the Arab world since the young Nasser and Sadat took lessons from the Nazis, and that springs forth with the blood of any European you scratch, especially in Catholic and Orthodox countries, none more so than France.

    If anything, IMHO, “the Jews” in general are themselves hostages of the Zionist terrorists–afraid to speak out lest they be condemned as traitors; condemned to abet war crimes for fear of what will be done to their families if they fail. In co-opting the themes of the Holocaust and antisemitism to their own imperialistic ends, the Zionist leadership are attacking their own people as well as the Arabs.

    One thing is certain: Hamas cannot be–no religio-political group IMHO can ever be–and nor do they seem to want to be–the bearers of The Permanent Revolution. They are not incapable of crime; they are not socialists; and their religious beliefs, as such, should (I believe) be regarded by all true socialists as a tyrannical affront to human reason, just like Christianity and Judaism. Maybe it’s worse, since even the Zionists do not require (or even want) peoples living under their rule to adopt their religion. Hamas has been, to say the least, equivocal on this point.

    It goes without saying that the crisis of the moment–years in the making–is what Israel has been doing to the inhabitants of Gaza and to the Palestinians in general. Nevertheless, anti-semitism is real and a threat and (I believe) must not be condoned under any circumstances

    Comment by Ed Grimond — August 6, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  3. Ed wrote:

    “One thing is certain: Hamas cannot be . . . the bearers of The Permanent Revolution.”

    Um, who said they could?

    Comment by Todd — August 6, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  4. “they are not socialists; and their religious beliefs, as such, should (I believe) be regarded by all true socialists as a tyrannical affront to human reason, just like Christianity and Judaism.”

    There are so many problems with this that I do not know where to begin, and will not bother. Suffice to say this kind of ‘idealist socialism’, or ‘true socialism’ as Ed calls it, is the worst of all worlds.

    But, I think, if you were to argue in this contemptible way you could easily say that the views of most people on most subjects were an affront to ‘human reason’, ‘human reason’ always being the ‘reason’ that one held personally of course!

    I am sure that Ed would come back and say human reason is an objective, science based approach (which he has learned to employ), but his approach is simply to attach labels to things, rather than bothering with an actual in depth analysis of things.

    So human reason says this:

    Hamas are bad, true socialists know this. Nothing more to be said.

    I reject human reason!

    Comment by Simon Provertie — August 6, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

  5. .”They are not incapable of crime”

    That could be said of most humans? Doesn’t really tell us much.

    “they are not socialists”

    That could be said of most humans? Doesn’t really tell us much.

    “and their religious beliefs, as such, should (I believe) be regarded by all true socialists as a tyrannical affront to human reason”

    Doesn’t really tell us much. Other than you don’t apply the human reason you ask of others! How about, rather than putting labels on things and imagining that is all you have to do, ask some basic questions?

    What were the factors that led to the creation of Hamas, what is the basis of Islamism etc etc?

    We could just basically write off everyone as an affront to human reason. But it doesn’t really tell us much, other than prompting the further question, how can something called human reason not apply to most humans?

    Comment by Simon Provertier — August 6, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

  6. Antisemitism is sort of a funny word. I mean you could say it applies strictly to the eugenics-based philosophy of the Nazi period. To me it implies a particular kind of conspiratorial thinking.

    Historically people could point to the machinations of the Rothchilds or some quotes taken from the Talmud or whatever. Now you can point to the war crimes of Israel. The question is whether an individual lets it completely take over his brain. I think Zionism contributes to this sort of thing, but I don’t see it as a fundamental break from the sorts of justifications that existed in the past.

    Comment by godoggo — August 6, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

  7. Basically I’m like this blogger: “I don’t have a feel for what’s going on in Europe now regarding violence in Gaza,” The article he links to gives no indication that the things happening in Europe mainly involve Arabs, so I have no idea. But of course “Arabs” includes both people suffering and dying in Gaza, and oil sheiks in the gulf. I don’t think they probably have different reasons for their attitudes.

    Israeli war crimes are much more important than hostility toward Jews right now, but I’ll say that some of the latter makes me nervous, and I’m keeping my eye on it.

    Comment by godoggo — August 6, 2014 @ 11:15 pm

  8. Oops, link: http://www.mahablog.com/2014/08/03/enablers-2/

    Comment by godoggo — August 6, 2014 @ 11:24 pm

  9. Provertier: Your ridiculous arrogance, while typical of the vastly overrated nation from which you apparently spring, is nevertheless the only “contemptible” thing in this thread except for Todd’s apelike playground taunt, which is too childish to deserve a reply.

    Both of you are dancing smugly all around the question of whether the side of Hamas is the side of revolution.

    This is something about which there can be no serious question. It is not. Only a petty-bourgeois individualist, besotted by the conveniently misty-eyed notion that “we know so little” (which of course justifies yielding continually to socially-conditioned reflexes, disguised as the exercise of a moral sense) could use the stupid language you employ.

    Whether you like it or not, the nationalism of Hamas only needs to be relieved of oppression to become an oppressor. No movement based on blood, soil, and religion can ever be the bearer of true justice, whether that is Zionism or Islamism. They all become fascism or quasi-fascism when in power, unless they lead to a destructive fragmentation of government and a state of continuous factional warfare among the people. As the histories of Libya and Egypt have taught us recently, merely overthrowing a tyrant in the absence of socialist revolution does not suffice to bring about justice.

    The fundamental problem in Palestine is imperialism, which is in turn a result of capitalism. In my opinion, most of the Jews in Palestine, probably, are as much victims of this, in the long run, as are the Arabs. Both groups are hostage to the political powers that govern them. You will not solve this problem by exterminating or attacking “the Jews”–however desirable that may seem to the average Frenchman–any more than Netanyahu and his terrorist comrades will solve it by exterminating the Arabs.

    There is no such thing as an international Jewish conspiracy–operating through the financial markets, pulling the strings of government, or whatever your deluded intuition may reveal to you. I have heard this nonsense from my Egyptian and French friends over and over again, and it simply isn’t acceptable. Any reference to this is anti-semitism.

    Hitler exploited that prejudice to turn aside the wrath of the people from the big capitalists whose servant he was. Perhaps it serves a similar purpose in France today–as indeed it no doubt does in “the Arab world

    If you are a socialist, you must fight anti-semitism. Furthermore, you cannot be an Islamist any more than you can be a born-again Christian.

    You are of course free not to be a socialist; however, if that’s the case, then in my opinion, one has already heard and dismissed everything you could possibly say.

    At all events, the exercise of reason does not consist in constant obsessive doubts about established facts. Scientific doubt and scientific open-mindedness require new data and new hypotheses, not this weary trudge around the circular path of delusions that always fail. That is neurosis–or, in the extreme form, insanity.

    Comment by Ed Grimond — August 7, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  10. “If you are a socialist, you must fight anti-semitism. ”

    You are trying to universalise a very concrete and particular question, which sets my alarm bells ringing. You repeat this trick through the whole of your comment incidentally.

    I have already argued that for me this so called anti Semitism is:

    “A deplorable canard, timed to justify criminalising, at least morally, those who take to the streets to show their disgust at the actions of the terrorist state of Israel. It is merely apologia for Israel in another guise.”

    Now I ain’t fighting anti Semitism on that basis.

    When talking about Hamas, the elected representatives of the oppressed people of Gaza, we should be very aware, if we have any consciousness at all about this issue, that the Israeli apologists are using Hamas at every opportunity to justify the actions of Israel. They do it by the method of labeling – Hamas want to destroy Jews, Hamas are terrorists etc etc. This is not the tactic of socialists but of Fox news and those like them. Currently the people of Gaza are returning to the rubble that was once their homes carrying Hamas flags, we should applaud the defiance of the Palestinians.

    “In my opinion, most of the Jews in Palestine, probably, are as much victims of this, in the long run, as are the Arabs.”

    I am not disputing that the Israeli’s would be better off fighting against Zionism but as much victims! – did you really say that? Is that a typing error? In the here and now the story is very different, and if you look at the dead bodies and destroyed infrastructure in Gaza and take into account the history (look up some UN stats), then to equate the victim-hood of the Israeli’s with the Palestinians is another contemptible piece of apologia. You may as well say that the slave owner is as much a victim of slavery as the slave!

    Despite throwing in some radical sounding platitudes you are still not convincing me you are anything other than an Israeli apologist.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — August 7, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  11. 1) All political belief universalizes the concrete and particular in some way. Your comment is grandiose and–like everything you write–far too general to be meaningful.

    2) So what if Hamas are “elected representatives”? The United States Congress are the elected representatives of “Americans”–the Knesset are the “elected representatives of “Israelis” (including a substantial number of Arabs). The world is full of elected representatives, many of whom are the scum of the earth. Hamas are religious fanatics and ultra-nationalists. They have nice social welfare programs, schools, and hospitals. So do the Israelis and so did the Nazis. Historically speaking, Islamism is a reactionary force. The only thing that makes it tolerable is the cruelty of the ongoing Zionist onslaught, just as Stalinism became tolerable to some when Russia was being savaged by the Nazis. In fact Zionism and Islamism are merely two faces of the same worthless coin. Take away oppression and the oppressed quite readily become oppressors. How do you think Zionism got where it is? Oh wait–you want to tell me about the ages-old international Jewish conspiracy at the root of all evil. And you deny being an anti-semite.

    2) The bullshit “canard” quote serves no purpose here and your repeating it merely shows that you like to parrot things. This is one of your problems.

    3) Yes I mean the line about Jews being victims of Zionism. Of course they are. Your antisemitc refusal to distinguish between “the Jews” and particular war criminals is at the heart of your defective reasoning and makes it clearer than anything I could say what you really are. In any case, your fraudulent indignation, combined with the gaps in your logic, will not convince any thoughtful person that you have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

    4) The “dead bodies and destroyed infrastructure” in Gaza do not make the behavior of the Zionist elite any less destructive of “the Jews” in the long run. “The Jews” are the hostages of the Zionist clique, and the Zionists are effectively using them as human shields–exactly what the Zionists accuse Hamas of. Excuse me if I fail to respond to your feigned indignation; you are merely indulging in petty-bourgeois moralism, an easy game for someone with no real stake in the conflict and no capacity for self-criticism. People like you are adept at waving other people’s bloody shirts. Denouncing “the Jews” in France is about as risk-free as you can get.

    5) Your discourse is one long string of second-hand commonplaces devoid of any kind of particular analysis or originality.Talk about platitudes! Of course, to your kind, any reference to socialism is a “platitude” because it disrupts the serenity of your petty-bourgeois narcissism. More self-centered whining.

    I fail to convince you, do I? I care about the Palestinians and also about the Jews. I couldn’t give less of a damn about some spoiled middle-class brat.

    Comment by Ed Grimond — August 7, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

  12. “Israeli war crimes are much more important than hostility toward Jews right now, but I’ll say that some of the latter makes me nervous, and I’m keeping my eye on it.’ WTF is wrong with you? I am becoming increasingly convinced that most people today that consider themselves to be socialist have no idea of the basic tenets of Marxism. It’s as if it’s all been lost. I would suggest everyone get a hold of a copy of the Communist Manifesto and for god’s sake, read it. Good Grief. Especially make an attempt to absorb the last few words. “Workers of the World, Unite”!

    Comment by Dave — August 8, 2014 @ 12:05 am

  13. I’m not a Marxist. I read this blog because I think what Louis says makes sense most (not all) of the time, not because I share his underlying ideology.

    Comment by godoggo — August 8, 2014 @ 12:34 am

  14. Thank god for small favors.

    Comment by Dave — August 8, 2014 @ 12:35 am

  15. OK, I will. 🙂

    Comment by godoggo — August 8, 2014 @ 12:36 am

  16. Ed the Schmuck wrote:

    “Both of you are dancing smugly all around the question of whether the side of Hamas is the side of revolution.”

    Um, no, I’m not.

    You seem to be grimly fighting some strawman that I’ve never heard of before (certainly not around here), namely, that Hamas is a revolutionary organization. Might I suggest actually looking outside your own butt-cheeks?

    Comment by Todd — August 9, 2014 @ 8:28 pm


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