Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 18, 2014

French anti-Semitism: important resources from Lenin’s Tomb

Filed under: anti-Semitism,Fascism,France,zionism — louisproyect @ 6:15 pm

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 2.09.23 PM

On July 25th I wrote an article titled “The anti-Semitism Canard” that took aim at the smears directed against the pro-Palestinian protests in Europe. The gist of my analysis was that an amalgam of long standing between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism formed the foundation of the pro-Zionist attacks.

But one comment on my article caught my eye:

here too it’s worth considering this investigative report. According to Edwy Plenel’s online paper Mediapart, hooligans and skinheads partial to the call of Dieudonné are systematically infiltrating the Gaza protests in France. the reemergence of european antisemitism is not a canard, rather a self-fulfilling prophecy brought about by zionist intransigence and the genocidal acts perpetrated by the idf.

http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/290714/comment-la-galaxie-dieudonne-squatte-les-manifs-propalestinienne

I was frustrated in my attempt to read the article, not just because it was written in French but also because it was behind a paywall. Fortunately, there have been some very important articles investigating the Dieudonné connection that have appeared on Lenin’s Tomb that are essential for understanding the challenges facing the Palestinian solidarity movement in France and anywhere else where anti-Semitism is interjected. I don’t think that anti-Semitism poses any serious threat to Jews anywhere in Europe on the scale of the 1930s but the ability of backward elements either consciously or unconsciously serving the propaganda aims of the Zionists must be thwarted since the ultimate victims will be Palestinians rather than Jews. Every article smearing the mass movement on the basis of slogans shouted on demonstrations such as “kill the Jews” will help allow the next attack on Gaza or the West Bank to proceed with greater impunity.

I don’t find anything funny about the “comedian” Dieudonné. In January I responded to Diana Johnstone who had made the case for him as a satirist on France’s well-documented support for Israel’s crimes on the basis of its “victimization” by the Third Reich. I use scare quotes around victimization not to question whether six million Jews were murdered but to call attention to Israel’s exploitation of the holocaust to justify its own Third Reich type behavior. That being said, no quarter should be given to Dieudonné whose amalgamation of Judaism and Zionism is virtually identical to Abe Foxman and Alan Dershowitz’s. I wrote:

I really wonder what went through Dieudonné’s mind when he decided that Jean-Marie Le Pen was just the right person to be his kid’s godfather. After the French banlieue riots, he had this to say: “Many live by dealing in drugs, or stealing. They have created their own ghettos. We have places where there are no schools, because they have set them afire and the police and firemen are attacked when they go there. Civilization is slowly evaporating from this country.”

I could be wrong but Dieudonné strikes me as the French version of Clarence Thomas or Roy Innis, the former civil rights leader who found it to his advantage to hook up with the Republican Party right. It is a bit harder to place Dieudonné politically on the French spectrum since he tends to be coy about what he stands for, but if you think that he is on the left, then you really have no idea what the left is about.

There are three articles on Lenin’s Tomb that are crucial for understanding the ultraright penetration of the pro-Palestinian movement. The first is “How Dieudonné’s Followers Hijack the Gaza Protests” that appeared in the MediaPart website I mentioned above. The article highlights the role of some other unsavory characters on the right, including Alain Soral who I also looked at in my rebuttal to Diana Johnstone.

Fortunately we have an English language version of the article retrieved from behind the paywall. The article calls attention to a group known as “Gaza Firm” that takes its cues from Dieudonné and company:

Although these infiltrators from the extreme right are very much in the minority at pro-Palestinian events, the protest on Saturday, July 26, organized in solidarity with the people of Gaza, was fraught with strong internal tensions. Part of the procession seemed to have been overrun with radical elements. Some of these protesters from the extreme right have united in a small cell known as “Gaza Firm.” They are unrelated to traditional pro-Palestinian groups and come to protests primarily to fight in the streets with the Jewish Defense League. But who pulls the strings of this operation?

Perhaps the article is not clear enough when it refers to “radical elements”—it is referring to ultrarightists with connections to soccer clubs, etc.

Essentially, they are extreme fans (ultras) of the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) soccer club, former members of the “K-soce team” associated with the Auteuil and Karsud factions of fans, with ties to the radical fringe associated with the Boulogne bleachers. Besides, according to an expert in this milieu, the reference to the culture of soccer fans is transparent, “since the word ‘firm’ in this context is a codeword among extreme soccer hooligans which brings to mind the Inter City Firm,” the first group of English soccer hooligans.

So you get the idea. This outfit sends 30 or 40 of its members to a mass protest against Israeli brutality in order to fight with the Jewish Defense League, just as if it were a rival soccer fan club. The resulting publicity is exactly what the Zionists seek, namely to smear the protests as anti-Semitic especially when the Gaza Firm people yell things like “kill the Jews” when they are brawling in the streets.

Whenever I run into actions such as this that function to undermine the mass movement, I conclude that it makes little difference whether they are the result of agent provocateurs or the stupidity of those carrying them out. There is no question in my mind that the cops and the Zionists need the Gaza Firm to help tarnish the real opposition. If some Arab joins their ranks because he is a Dieudonné fan who is genuinely enraged by the attack on Gaza, it makes little difference. His actions only serves to legitimate further attacks by turning the victim into a criminal.

With all proportions guarded, Gaza Firm operates after the fashion of the Black Bloc that puts its own testosterone-laden imperatives over those of the majority. Mass demonstrations, especially those organized around issues not yet embraced by the overwhelming majority such as the case of Palestine, have to present a serious and disciplined image to the rest of society. Anything that cuts against that goal is counter-revolutionary. Period.

Richard also made available two articles that appeared originally on Le Monde Diplomatique. The first is titled “France, Racism is Indivisible” and is written by Dominque Vidal. I found it very useful since it helped me understand that anti-Semitism is on the rise in France even if a Kristallnacht is not in the offing. Violent attacks are on the upswing as the article documents but unfortunately appear to be inspired by young and disaffected Muslim identification with the Palestinians:

Who attacked Jewish schools and synagogues, as well as individual Jews? The CNCDH report quotes the police intelligence service view that the second intifada and consequent repression have “led many young people to identify openly with the Palestinian fighters, who are seen as symbolising the same exclusion which they consider themselves to suffer in France”.

So France is facing neither Alain Finkielkraut’s threatened Kristallnacht nor the “new Judaeophobia” denounced by Pierre-André Taguieff (21), but is confronted with the rising tide of social violence diagnosed by Théo Klein. Its breeding grounds are the miserable ghettoes of the unemployed, where entire sections of French youth, especially those of immigrant origin, vegetate without hope for the future. Racism and anti-semitism, especially its violent expression, must be fought there as in the rest of French society. But the problem must also be tackled at its roots, which is why it is important to have an alliance between traditional democratic forces, alternative-world activists and the autonomous movements of the young in disadvantaged suburbs.

The other article that is a must-read is titled “The online politics of Alain Soral”, written by Evelyne Pieiller. Soral is described in the subhead as ‘Leftwing on labour but rightwing values’. It starts off:

Visitors to Alain Soral’s Egalité et Réconciliation (Equality and Reconciliation, E & R) website see pictures of Hugo Chávez, Che Guevara, Muammar Gaddafi, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin on the left of the masthead. Joan of Arc and Soral are on the right. The site, with its motto “leftwing on labour, but rightwing values”, is France’s 269th most popular, a few places behind the TV magazine Télérama.

The juxtaposition of Guevara and Putin, of Chávez and rightwing values is a sign of the confused political times. The big questions are, who stands for what and what does it mean to be on the right or left?

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 3.06.17 PMAlain Soral website

That, of course, is consistent with the developing trend in Europe that unites Putin with Le Pen’s party in France, Jobbik in Hungary, and the Golden Dawn in Greece. All these groups are united in the belief that the EU is designed to ruin the working and middle classes, as well as a call for “traditional values” on homosexuality and the precious bodily fluids of the Nation, as General Jack D. Ripper put it in “Doctor Strangelove”.

What Soral amounts to is the French equivalent of the “right-left” alliance that people like John V. Walsh have been calling for in the USA. Pieiller writes:

His talks appeal to key emotions and ideas: a feeling of powerlessness about globalisation and France’s loss of autonomy under EU law; worries about economic and social decline; the malaise caused by modernity; the difficulty of conceiving a different future. He highlights the need to fight globalism, as “an ideological project that aims to create a global government and dissolve nation states on the pretext of universal peace; this will be achieved through the complete commodification of humanity” (3). To Soral globalism means “oligarchic domination”, which disregards popular sovereignty and underpins the myth of market omnipotence, “as though that were not a political phenomenon, created by power and class relations”. The granting of specific rights to “oppressed minorities” replaces collective social advances and leads to the fragmentation of society, which risks civil war. He believes the evidence for this is the racialist interpretation of social relations: “indigenous French” against “Arabs”, at the lowest echelon of society, rather than labour against capital. One result of this is that Muslims are scapegoated.

That young Arabs and Muslims can find themselves being led around by the nose by human garbage like Alain Soral and Dieudonné should be a clarion call for a return to class politics.

Over the past decade or so there has been a gathering of forces internationally that speaks in the name of the left as “anti-imperialists” that is marching more or less under the same banner as the ultraright. With a fixation on “national sovereignty” as the last bastion against “globalism”, you will sooner or later end up in bed with Rand Paul, Pat Buchanan and the like.

Just compare what Diana Johnstone said about Marine Le Pen, and what John V. Walsh said about Ron Paul to get an idea of the dry rot that is sinking in:

Johnstone :

Among the leading candidates, the only clear anti-war policy is that of Marine Le Pen, who favors immediate withdrawal from both Afghanistan and the NATO command, describes the current French government policy of supporting the Syrian opposition as “totally irresponsible”, calls for recognition of a Palestinian State and opposes threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, which have not been proven to be military. And she adds: “As far as I know, no nation which has atomic weapons has ever asked for permission from anyone, neither the United States, nor France, nor Israel, nor Pakistan… Must we then plunge the world into a war whose extent we will not control because certain foreign counties ask us to?”

Walsh:

The Left has complained for decades that it is unable to reach much of the American public with a message of peace. In large part that is due to a cultural gap – the “progressive” Left does not speak in the same language as much of the country. Nor does the Left share the same worldview as many Americans. Ron Paul does, and he can reach, in fact, has reached these people with a solid anti-intervention message. Paul does not ask that his base change its worldview but simply to understand that anti-interventionism is a consistent part of that view. Paul speaks in straightforward terms. Let us stop poking our nose into other nations’ business and stop wasting our money doing so. He reaches people never before touched by an anti-war message. How can the Left pass up the chance to help such a candidate?

At the risk of sounding platudinous, isn’t it about time that the left returned to class? After all, that is what Karl Marx was all about. This is especially important in a time of rising class tensions when some demagogues will try to exploit ethnic or religious differences in order to weaken us and strengthen the ruling class. We went through this in the 1920s and 30s and there’s no need to go through this again, especially with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons scattered around the globe.

14 Comments »

  1. But unfortunately Louis you line up with the defenders of the EU. When you write “That, of course, is consistent with the developing trend in Europe that unites Putin with Le Pen’s party in France, Jobbik in Hungary, and the Golden Dawn in Greece. All these groups are united in the belief that the EU is designed to ruin the working and middle classes, as well as a call for “traditional values” on homosexuality and the precious bodily fluids of the Nation, as General Jack D. Ripper put it in “Doctor Strangelove”.

    Well, as is almost always the case, the Fascists are half right and you fail to recognize this in your lust to amalgam issues…

    It is because you believe that the neo-Fascists make shit up, can’t possibly appeal to the mass of unemployment and wouldn’t dare address the ‘real’ issues. No, the far-right is successful because they CAN address the issues like what the EU *is* and has done in the name of propping up imperialism, unemployment and austerity. In many ways they say way the classical Fascists developed a mass base in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Your writing above betrays either willful ignorance of the class dynamics of the European Union or you don’t care about the struggles against Europe and what this united, Imperialist, Europe represents. Why is that? It is the problem of the left NOT to address the EU that has lead to massive desertions of it’s working class base to the parties of the far right because *exactly* like you, they ignore, downplay or refuse to see that in *fact* the EU is designed to attack working people and propup capitalism via massive fiscalization of the economies and destruction of labor victories via ‘labor law reform’ and privatization. I have to say that Syriza at least got it at one point the Eurozone and what it means to be part of ‘Europe’.

    Someone reading what you wrote comes away that’s you’ve crossed the class line to support Capitalist Europe unless you believe as the so-called “Euro Left” does that a ‘workers Europe’ can somehow be negotiated into social-contracts.

    Comment by David — August 18, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  2. Your writing above betrays either willful ignorance of the class dynamics of the European Union or you don’t care about the struggles against Europe and what this united, Imperialist, Europe represents.

    What are you saying? That the French left supports the EU?

    Comment by louisproyect — August 18, 2014 @ 7:38 pm

  3. Yes, the “French left” does support the EU, but, far worse, it supports the Euro and its concomitant austerity. The SP is the predominant sector of the French “Left.” The PCF is still carrying on its back The Old Man of the Sea (its long long Stalinist history), the Trotskyist groups, as everywhere else, have managed by their sectarian squabbles to squander their chance (10 percent of votes in the 2002 Presidentials) to amount to something politically. Mélenchon, by fiercely attacking Marine Le Pen (who is to his left on workingclass issues and especially the crucial need to dump the Euro and restore the Franc) while muting his criticisms of Hollande, has guaranteed his own failure. By failing to break cleanly and totally with Hollande when he betrayed his campaign commitment by ratifying the “Growth and Stability Pact” the “Left” made the FN the only available vehicle for workingclass
    protest against austerity and recession.

    Comment by fosforos17 — August 18, 2014 @ 8:34 pm

  4. Yes, the “French left” does support the EU, but, far worse, it supports the Euro and its concomitant austerity. The SP is the predominant sector of the French “Left.”

    —-

    Thanks for putting “left” in scare quotes. Otherwise people might think that you intended to be taken seriously.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 18, 2014 @ 8:37 pm

  5. Them wasn’t no “scare quotes.” “Left” is standard political terminology worldwide and the quotes are just to remind of that–not to imply anything about some “Lefts” conforming to an idealist conception of “Left” as some fixed, as opposed to relative, term while others are, to use that charming word, “phoney.” I regard the term “Left” as quite obsolete, scientifically useless and useful only for a propagandist.

    Comment by fosforos17 — August 18, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

  6. I regard the term “Left” as quite obsolete, scientifically useless and useful only for a propagandist.

    Well, I still see some difference between Hollande and the people who organized mass demonstrations in the streets in solidarity with the people of Gaza. If you want to lump them all together, be my guest. I will defend your right to say stupid things with my last dying breath.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 18, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  7. 3 points:

    In Europe the predominant threat of the far right is towards Muslims and not Jews. By a very wide margin. Yes anti Semitism exists but is small compared to the antagonism to Muslims. The big issue with Muslims is that far right preoccupations chime with the broader masses. Anti Semitism is virtually a non issue among the broader masses in Europe. The threat of anti Semitism is constantly played up and the very real threat against Muslims is constantly played down by the usual suspects – i.e. israeli and imperialists apologists among others. In fact the liberals fear Muslims, and constantly try to insinuate Muslims with anti Semitism.

    The second point is that one of the main threats of anti Semitism infiltrating the pro Palestinian movement comes not from Dieudonné and company but from the Zionists.

    Lastly, it is a canard, while Palestinians are being slaughtered the apologists and chauvinists are desperately waving their arms to polite society and saying, don’t look over there at the massacres, instead look at, and fear, those that protest Israel. But please don’t fall out of love with our beloved Israel!

    Comment by Simon Provertier — August 18, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

  8. Odd, I didn’t get from your article that you saw Dieudonné and “Gaza Firm” standing “left” of Hollande. Were you looking at the picture of a mirror image?

    Comment by fosforos17 — August 18, 2014 @ 9:30 pm

  9. Greece as a part of the EU or Greece alone would have to enforce austerity all the same. It’s the logic of capitalism, a now global system.

    The EU doesn’t make things worse then, and in fact makes organization of workers easier with freedom of movement and international reach.

    Comment by dan the captain — August 19, 2014 @ 3:27 am

  10. “French left”? Those are contempt quotes. Hollande is a French “socialist,” as was Mitterand, and the May 1968 events seemed more like petit bourgeois do-your-own-thing anarchists on parade than a real revolutionary movement. It was all tactics, no strategy. What was the society they intended to create? And of course, the PCF was to the right of the student situationists. .And I find the OWS debacle in the US as a sort of an echo of May 1968 France, as it manifested an underlying but unfocused, go-nowhere discontent with the globalized triumph of capitalism.

    I am unaware of any modern Marxist organization that is working on revolutionary organizing theory and praxis. If there is some such group, I sure would like to hear of it. But as there is no such organization, I would expect those who consider themselves of the left to admit this appalling reality and commit themselves to developing a revolutionary organization, theory, and practice. And open but critical minds are necessary to such a project.

    Then again, perhaps only a romantic revolutionary booby could have written the above. It’s not what’s happening, and it’s becoming impossible. But what the hell, rather than throwing away the term “left,” why not have some fun and bring it to life? Hmmmm?

    Comment by Joe Barnwell — August 19, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

  11. As a kind of English maven in spite of my own problems with usage and style, I have always disliked the term “scare quotes.” I associate it with bullying U.VA. sophomores who are all “fucking pissed off” when some sissy tries to explain to them what the quotes are for. “Don’t put my words in fucking scare quotes, man!”

    In fact the use of quotation marks in this way simply indicates that a word or phrase is being discussed as a concept or as used in a particular source or context. The automatic association with derision, mockery, sarcasm, and intellectual condescension is all in the mind of the sophomore, if “mind” can be used in the case of an alcoholic lacrosse player who is thinking of strangling his girlfriend.

    You can’t really discuss texts closely without using quotes in this way; and while this usage can be sarcastic or condescending, it isn’t intrinsically so. Just saying.

    Comment by George Bates — August 19, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

  12. ‘Praxis’ Oh dear. It’ll be ‘hegemony’ next. Poor Gramsci. What sins are committed in thy name.

    Comment by Doug — August 21, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

  13. Dieudonne has a big following here in our own (less miserable) banlieus here in north east montreal. At the pro-Palestine demonstrations I was at, you often see some whites and North Africans at the back singing the quenelle and displaying the quenelle gesture. Funnily enough, they talk about class issues more than quebec solidaire speakers at the podium. Of course by class issues it means that they’re blaming the ghettoes on the Jewish CEOs and lobbies.
    With my knowledge of French and half my family living in France, i have some concern from time to time about her politics. And I’m happy to see Seymour’s work on it as I see much of the anglophone left completely ignorant about the recent events. There is hardly any place for Norman finkelstein’s work to be used to analyze the real antisemitism of dieudonne and his followers in the francophone world. It’s not enough to point out when antisemitism is trumped up, but to continue and ask how much of it is reality.
    A lot of these idiots writing on your blog can’t imagine fighting on two fronts against islamophobia and antisemitism. That’s a basic expression of being principled. Maybe they’ll get some sense in their head if they visit Marseilles or Lyon, and actually speak to some North Africans and the followers of dieudonne.

    Comment by Anas El Hawat — August 21, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  14. Why the French Elite Allowed Lepen’s “Black” Socialists to Rise
    http://iakal.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/why-the-french-elite-allowed-lepens-black-socialists-to-rise/

    Comment by Iakovos Alhadeff — August 30, 2014 @ 4:29 pm


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