Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 24, 2014

The crisis over the Temple Mount

Filed under: Jewish question,Palestine,zionism — louisproyect @ 8:10 pm

The Temple Mount

As someone with a morbid fascination with rightwing Zionism, I generally tune in to the Zev Brenner radio show on WMCA, a Christian AM talk radio station that turns the mike over to the Jews on Saturday night. Brenner is a hard-core Likudnik who provides a platform for Israeli officials, Dov Hikind, Alan Dershowitz and other such scum.

Last Saturday night his guests were Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a New Yorker who moved to Israel, and Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon. Riskin made the theological case for usurping Palestinian rights to their portion of the Temple of the Mount and Ayalon made the political case. As you might know, Israeli provocations have led to mounting violence including the attack on a synagogue that left 4 Hasidic rabbis dead.

Since this is a call-in show, I fully expected his regular listeners to voice their approval for the Zionist attempt to gain full control over a site holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Was I shocked to hear the first 5 or 6 callers depart from the script. It went something like this:

Brenner: Shmuley from Borough Park, you’re on the line.

Shmuley: So what did you expect when you went looking for trouble with the Arabs? The torah makes clear that the temple cannot be restored until moshiach returns. None of the rabbunim in Israel support this new policy. Riskin speaks for nobody except himself. It will only make things worse.

Shmuley had this right. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel, made up of ultra-orthodox Hasidim called haredi, are opposed to the expansion of Jewish control. An Israeli news service reported:

Chief Sephardic Rabbi (Rav) Rabbi Shlomo Amar has published a call to believers not to ascend to the Temple Mount. The call appears under the heading “avoid ascending to the Mount and touching its edge,” which was the ruling about Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus before the Ten Commandments.

Rav Amar’s declaration was co-signed by former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Rav Eliyahu Bakshi Doron; Rav Shalom Cohen, Head of Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, Old City Rabbi Rav Avigdor Neventzal, and Kotel Rabbi, Rav Shmuel Rabinovich.

It followed in the footsteps of declarations by Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook and Rav Avraham Elkana Shapira, both Chief Rabbis and heads of the Zionist flagship yeshiva, Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem, who expressly forbade ascending the Mount. Rav Zalman Melamed, Dean of Beit El Yeshiva, is also against it. All hareidi rabbis forbid it.

“It is a holy obligation to make you aware that it is completely forbidden by halakhah to ascend to the Temple Mount, and this prohibition has always been a simple and clear one, and this thing has been forbidden by all of the Great Ones of Israel.

This is all about politics, not religion. Israel wants to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of all Palestinians and seizing control of the Temple of the Mount is a key tactic toward that end.

It is important to understand that this issue has been around for decades now and was the main trigger of the Second Intifada. On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon led a Likud delegation accompanied by hundreds of riot cops to the Temple of the Mount. Palestinians reacted with outrage and the uprising lasted for several years until it burned out.

This most recent outbreak began last month when Rabbi Yehuda Glick began leading Israeli groups to the Palestinian section of the Temple of the Mount. Glick is one of the most outspoken proponents of Israeli control of the site, demagogically claiming that he wants to build a multidenominational prayer site. Glick grew up in the USA and as such is typical of the most fanatical Zionists who were born here.

Here is Glick making the case for Jewish hegemony using a forked tongue:

On October 29th a Palestinian named Mutaz Hijazi caught up with Glick after he made a speech at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and pumped four bullets into his chest. Glick survived and the assassin was killed. Afterwards Palestinians nearby Hijazi’s home mounted a violent protest. It is also likely that the automobile assaults on Jews in Jerusalem by Palestinians have also been a response to the Temple on the Mount crisis.

As tensions continued to mount, the attack on the Hasidic rabbis might have been expected. You might be surprised to learn that I have a Facebook friend who was sympathetic to Glick. What might surprise you (and certainly surprised me) was what a Jewish friend (Lungen) said in response to her Timeline post: “KAHANE WAS RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 2.31.20 PM

The woman who invoked Kahane, a fascist who was assassinated by an Egyptian after giving a speech in New York City, is a symbol of where Israel is heading. She grew up in Woodridge, New York, my hometown, and became intensely religious as a teen even though her family was secular. Although I didn’t know her growing up, my mother was fairly close to her. I suspect that she became an orthodox Jew after the fashion of Bob Dylan but unlike Dylan stuck with it. On her Facebook page, there are links to the late Shlomo Carlebach, a Hasidic rabbi who became famous for his folk singing renditions of Hasidic tales in the 1960s. His synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan became a haven for lost souls, those secular Jews who were alienated from American society and who just as easily might have joined the Hare Krishnas instead of becoming religious Jews.

The last thing I want to do is confront this Woodridgeite with my views, who has remained my FB friend despite my daily postings of pro-Palestinian links. If things weren’t so polarized, I’d remind her that Carlebach said things quite contrary to Kahane:

After the Six Days War, I was one of the first people to walk into the Old City of Jerusalem. I walked up to every Arab, our cousins, and kissed them. I went to the top politicians in Israel and said, “We want to live in peace with the Arabs. As much as we need an army to make war, we need an army to make peace. Give me five thousand free plane tickets to bring holy hipp’lach [hippies] from San Francisco to here. We’ll go to every Arab house in the country. We’ll bring them flowers and tell them that we want to be brothers with them.

This was at a time when illusions about Jewish-Arab amity still lingered on. If there’s anything that has become obvious since Netanyahu began running things, it is that Kahane is the guiding philosopher of Israel today, not any “peace now” hippies. The latest sign of that is the announcement that Israel has defined itself as a state in which religious identity trumps democracy, moving it closer to becoming a full-fledged Kahanist entity as the NY Times reported today:

JERUSALEM — The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved contentious draft legislation that emphasizes Israel’s Jewish character above its democratic nature in a move that critics said could undermine the fragile relationship with the country’s Arab minority at a time of heightened tensions.

The promotion of a so-called nationality law has long stirred fierce debate inside Israel, where opponents fear that any legislation that gives pre-eminence to Israel’s Jewishness could lead to an internal rift as well as damage Israel’s relations with Jews in other countries and with the country’s international allies.

The vote on Sunday also highlighted political fissures within the governing coalition amid increasing talk of early elections. The bill, a proposal for a basic law titled “Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” passed 14 to 6, with two centrist coalition parties opposing it. Parliament still has to approve the bill for it to become law.

This vote clearly resonates with Sheldon Adelson’s rejection of democracy as a defining trait of the Zionist state (not that the nakba was ever consistent with true democracy). Adelson, an American gambling casino magnate who has given millions to rightwing causes in the USA and Israel, was even too extreme for Abraham Foxman as the Daily Forward reported:

Recipients of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s largesse are dodging questions about his latest salvo against Israeli democracy.

Adelson, a leading Republican donor, has long stood out among American Jews for his conservative views. He may have stepped farther outside of the American Jewish mainstream than ever before, however, in statements at a conference in Washington on November 9 in which he seemed to write off Israel as a democratic state.

“I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy,” Adelson said. “[God] didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?”

While Anti-Defamation League national president Abraham Foxman has slammed Adelson’s remarks, leaders of groups that have taken money from Adelson have not responded to requests to address his statements.

“Mr. Adelson is certainly entitled to his views,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Maimonides Foundation and former president of the Jewish Funders Network. “The question is whether he seeks to impose those views on the not-for-profits he supports, and whether he seeks to determine their educational message.”

A spokesperson for Birthright Israel, whose group gets $32 million a year from Adelson, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, or the Israeli American Council, all of which have received major funding from Adelson.

Mort Klein, national director of the Zionist Organization of America, which Adelson also supports, suggested that Adelson’s comments may have been an attempt at humor. “I know Sheldon for maybe 15 years,” Klein said. “This is Sheldon Adleson humor, sarcasm, an attempt at humor… Of course he’s a fervent supporter of democracy.”

It will be interesting to see how Israel will fare over the next decade or so as its ethnic cleansing and fascist-like policies deepen and become more and more obvious to world opinion. When more and more secular-minded Jews in the USA become convinced that supporting Israel is no different than supporting apartheid South Africa, the momentum will shift toward BDS and other actions designed to isolate and punish the Zionists. Sooner or later, Israel will rely on the support of Christian fundamentalists, the arms manufacturers and other sectors with a material interest in seeing America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East survive. I only hope I live long enough to see the ship torpedoed and sunk.

19 Comments »

  1. I have come to believe that one of the defining, if not the defining, characteristic of Zionism is the lack of fidelity to any principle, social, political or religious, other than the concentration of power for the purpose of colonizing Palestine. Anything that hinders it is readily jettisoned. Anything that facilitates it is embraced.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 24, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

  2. How little we’ve come since the stone age, literally. They’re fighting over rocks.

    Comment by Swifty — November 25, 2014 @ 2:42 am

  3. But the point is they are not fighting over rocks. They are fighting over the colonization of Palestine.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 25, 2014 @ 10:49 am

  4. Peter I assume you’re an atheist and a materialist. You would know then that “Palestinian” and “Jewish” are social constructs created by human beings of the same species as they moved through the creation of agriculture, tribalism, religion, absolutism, etc. In other words, these national and religious identities are social constructs based on past social forms.

    You would also know that the nation state is a bourgeois social structure that reflects the interests of the bourgeoisie.

    So then yes in actual reality this is a fight over some rocks. Everything else was made up. Conjured up in the minds of men then wielded against men! Man made god then god made men, divided them into different camps and gave them competing claims over some rocks!

    So where for workers to go? For humanity? To strengthen one or the other of the bourgeois camps, or perhaps even the clerical camps that came out of feudalism and antiquity? No, that’s no answer. Forward – imagine there’s no countries, and no religion too! That’s communism comrade.

    Comment by Swifty — November 25, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  5. Swifty, this is blog written by a Marxist and intended for a Marxist audience. I have no idea what your politics are but they are not Marxist. Just read what Marx and Engels had to say about the national oppression of the Irish to get up to speed. You might say that Catholicism and Ulster Protestantism are also social constructs. I would have recommended Lenin but I doubt that you would have any affinity for him.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 25, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

  6. Marx lived a long time ago. We don’t follow his words as gospel. We learn from his analysis of the time. That was the time of ascendant capitalism. Capitalism has been decadent since the first world war, coincidentally as he predicted it would. “National liberation” was a project for building the bourgeois nation state. Marx taught us that. The bourgeois and their methods are outmoded and harmful at this point, not to mention that “national liberation” didn’t progress workers anywhere in the world since 1917. It was a bourgeois project after the era of bourgeois ascendancy. Second time as farce, as Marx would say.

    Besides Marx didn’t support all national movements even during his time. He sided against the Slavs in southern Europe, against mexico in its war against the US.

    What we have in the near East is a mutual slaughter with various bourgeois factions and theocratic feudal and tribal remnants waging war over turf that they wish to control. Members of the multinational working class do the fighting and the suffering. The only solution is a working class revolution that overthrows the ruling classes throughout the region, spreading from one area to another like the Arab spring but going much further.

    Comment by Swifty — November 25, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  7. Swifty: I’ll let you do the airy imagining. The slice of humanity I’m immediately concerned for has had its country stolen and is oppressed daily by the thieves. For several reasons this involves me more than musing about the stone age. One is that the government of the country where I was born makes the criminal operation possible.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 25, 2014 @ 5:43 pm

  8. Nice job dodging my reference to the Irish question, Sweaty. I wonder why trolls like you even bother. Your god-damned email address is bogus. You have only one purpose here apparently and that is to draw attention to yourself as a genuine communist revolutionary as opposed to all the other fakers. In the real world, if I ran into you at some kind of gathering of the left and heard you popping off, I’d have excused myself from your company long ago. I would say your time is drawing nigh here. I lost patience long ago with ultraleftist trolls.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 25, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

  9. Are the Zionists on these radio shows oblivious to the real reason evangelical Christians support Israel, the whole thing about the Armageddon and all the Jews being killed or converting to Christianity? I hear John Hagee is big on this, and he’s a superstar among Sheldon Adelson types.

    Also, out of curiosity, do these Zionist shows ever talk about the growing numbers in Israel of Haredi and Hasidim and other sects who opposed the creation of Israel yet still live there, have lots of children and refuse to work?

    Comment by Cal — November 25, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

  10. Cal another idealist? Religion always reflects class interests, even the rise of the catholic church and the reformation. Don’t you read Marx comrade?

    Peter: “its country stolen”. There’s your problem.

    Workers don’t have a country. They aren’t represented in the bourgeois government, they don’t own property. Nationalism is an illusion made to tie them to their own exploiters.

    The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Remember that?

    How are Haitian workers doing since colonialism ended there? How about the Philippines? Vietnam, home to 100,000 sweatshops. Name a colony that went through national liberation where workers are no longer exploited and oppressed.

    Comment by Swifty — November 26, 2014 @ 4:26 am

  11. Swift One: You remind of some bible thumper who thinks the quotes he throws out, chapter and verse, are going to help the man lying in the gutter. They don’t. The man bleeds to death. Well, so what? He’ll go to heaven if he was a good boy. You have more urgent business to attend to, more quotes to manipulate for your next sermon.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 26, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  12. Okay, if you’re not a Marxist just say it. It will make things easier and we could debate from a different perspective. Because you are posting here I have assumed you were. Marx was clear that workers have no nation and “workers have no country” has been a watchword of the workers movement from his days up until now (remember the big “workers struggle has no border” immigrant marches in USA in 2006?). Workers of the world unite, not workers of the world fight each other and die to set up new countries where you’ll still be fucked.

    Perhaps you or another advocate of national liberation (ie. workers allying with their own exploiters to fight exploiters from another country) would like to show me one case where it emancipated them. Is North Korea doing better than South Korea? Are millions of Vietnamese sweatshop workers liberated? Any workers in Africa? Philippines? How is the Balkans after the nationalist bloodletting there that built a bunch of new ethnicity and religion based mini states?

    The bourgeois revolutions liberated the bourgeoisie in the ascendency of capitalism. In decadent capitalism attempts at bourgeois revolutions were farces that simply established neocolonies with a local comprador bourgeoisie that can negotiate for a share of the exploitation of “its own workers.” They weren’t even able to create democracies which could at least benefit the workers a tiny bit. Same would happen in a “Palestinian state” and the nationalist fighting with Israel would only continue and probably intensify.

    Maybe you think it would be better since it would no longer force Palestinians to live under racist rules in Israel. But they’d simply be placed under new rules by their new rulers. Take a look at how blacks are doing in South Africa decades after apartheid and reconsider.

    Your analogy is empty. I don’t believe in heaven. It’s not real. Standing up for your class and communist principle could potentially get you killed and could potentially fail at creating a communist world free of classes, countries and exploitation. But it would not lead to more nationalist wars, more exploitation, more sectarian terrorism. I’d rather fight for emancipation and fail than fight for a rehash of capitalism and succeed.

    Comment by Swifty — November 26, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

  13. Are millions of Vietnamese sweatshop workers liberated? Any workers in Africa? Philippines? How is the Balkans after the nationalist bloodletting there that built a bunch of new ethnicity and religion based mini states?

    —-

    What a fucking idiot. Blacks became exploited wage workers after slavery was abolished as well. You think you are smart? You are repeating formulas that I first read in Daniel Deleon’s Socialist Labor Party newspaper in the 1950s. Every democratic demand was denigrated with the ritual incantation that only socialism can make workers free. You are stupid enough to cite Marx’s support for the USA against Mexico, the same war that convinced Thoreau to resist even to the point of being jailed. In their correspondence, Marx and Engels denigrated homosexuals. Because Marx had a fucked up position on gays, Mexico or India for that matter, does that mean we should as well? I am getting tired of you, Sweaty. You need to find another blog to troll.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 26, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

  14. Swifty: My question was addressed to the guy who knows what he’s talking about, not to you.

    Comment by Cal — November 26, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  15. Also, out of curiosity, do these Zionist shows ever talk about the growing numbers in Israel of Haredi and Hasidim and other sects who opposed the creation of Israel yet still live there, have lots of children and refuse to work?

    They mention it but only peripherally. Their Zionism trumps everything.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 26, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

  16. Blacks” became exploited wage workers after slavery was abolished as well. ”

    Which was a step up. And it was possible because capitalism was still ascendant when the northern bourgeoisie made its revolution. Since 1914 when capitalism became decadent and plunged the world into the largest war ever, no such luck.

    “You think you are smart? You are repeating formulas that I first read in Daniel Deleon’s Socialist Labor Party newspaper in the 1950s.”

    Not exactly, but nothing wrong with that in any case since the SLP came directly out of the first international which was led by Marx and went on to build the IWW.

    “Every democratic demand was denigrated with the ritual incantation that only socialism can make workers free.”

    Same thing Marx said to be honest. Read what he wrote about the petty bourgeois democrats. Cliff notes: workers can fight for reforms under their own class banner but all reforms can be repealed and no matter what workers are still exploited until they overthrow capitalism, so that’s the only real lasting answer.

    “You are stupid enough to cite Marx’s support for the USA against Mexico, the same war that convinced Thoreau to resist even to the point of being jailed. In their correspondence, Marx and Engels denigrated homosexuals. Because Marx had a fucked up position on gays, Mexico or India for that matter, does that mean we should as well?”

    You seem to have lost the plot comrade. You cited Marx on The Irish question in defense of national liberation first, I then pointed out that he also took the opposite position in some cases and that Marxists follow the method not the exact words like biblical scholars. Just scroll up in the comments you’ll see it.

    “I am getting tired of you, Sweaty. You need to find another blog to troll.”

    I’m not “trolling” comrade. I’m just presenting a Marxist position in the open comments here. No mean to offend. Debate and discussion has been a part of the workers movement since it started.

    Comment by Swifty — November 27, 2014 @ 3:29 am

  17. Comrades, did you ever hear “not a ‘fair days wages’ but abolition of the wages system’?

    This was a common demand in the early US labor movement. Why was it okay to make that slogan and that demand so long ago but now “ultra left” or radical when we have more material abundance and production capacity than ever?

    Remember communists are supposed to be the most the forward thinking part of our class, we’re supposed to ‘enscribe on our banners’ abolition of wage slavery, we’re not supposed to tail minor reform movements, bourgeois movements, nationalist movements, etc.

    Cheers

    Comment by Swifty — November 27, 2014 @ 3:35 am

  18. Remember communists are supposed to be the most the forward thinking part of our class, we’re supposed to ‘enscribe on our banners’ abolition of wage slavery, we’re not supposed to tail minor reform movements, bourgeois movements, nationalist movements, etc.

    Right, you have the most forward thinking I have run into. Moving forward at such a rapid pace that you have burst into another dimension of pure ethereal communism. Bye-bye.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 27, 2014 @ 4:17 am

  19. @Swifty: Marx sided against Mexico in its war with the U.S.? You’re kidding! Boy, he sure got that one wrong, lining up with slaveowners’ land grab! Shit, even Lincoln and Sumner saw that. But hey, just outta curiosity, what’s your source for this odd assertion?

    Comment by Tom Cod — November 28, 2014 @ 7:05 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: