Christopher Bollyn: believes that being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf
Off-Guardian is a website deeply committed to the Assadist cause that recently attacked the Ashley Smith article on Syria that appeared on CounterPunch. In making the case for Assad’s genocidal war, these people have the temerity to fault CounterPunch that has published a hundred Rick Sterling articles praising Assad to just one by Ashley Smith attacking him. Their shrieks of outrage would make you think the ratio was reversed. To show you how case-hardened the editorial board and its regular readers are, the article included this qualification:
We’re the first to acknowledge he [Assad] should be named a tyrant – if that is what he is. But Smith’s article doesn’t come close to producing any evidence that Assad is a tyrant or a “brutal dictator.”
But that wasn’t good enough for the wretched Phil Greaves who coined the term “axis of resistance”. He commented:
Next time someone criticizes a dumb line like this…
“We’re the first to agree Assad isn’t beyond criticism and shouldn’t be sanctified by the “enemy of my enemy” syndrome. We’re the first to acknowledge he may entirely deserve to be called a tyrant.”
You should thank them and acknowledge them when you edit it out.
In other words, Greaves was angry that they could even refer to Assad and tyranny in the same sentence, even though they obviously have denied any such connections from day one.
As awful as the article was, it paled in comparison to comments by one Al Sordi [emphasis added] :
These older socialist publications always had a strong jewish presence. Its amazing how many of these intellectuals commenting here will refuse to see the elephant in the room, when it comes to how the anti-war movement was hijacked by zioinists from the get go, and continue to be mislead while the US does Israel’s bidding.
Why is anyone surprised. Many of these socialists and marxists are also zionists, like [Joshua] Frank. BTW Russia Today is the best and honest news and analysis one can find aired anywhere in the US. In comparison with RT, NPR looks like Stalinist propaganda, with its fluff, obfuscation, obvious bias and warm and fuzzy warm mongering.
The “older socialist publications” is a reference to Socialist Worker, the newspaper of the ISO where Smith’s article originally appeared. Or then again, who knows what he was talking about? It is difficult to figure out what someone as addled as Sordi meant.
But the reference to Zionists “like Frank” is a much clearer indication that the guy is a classic anti-Semitic guttersnipe. He is talking about Joshua Frank, whose ethnicity could be Jewish but even if it was, how does that make him a Zionist?
This was not the first time I have run into anti-Semitic tropes on an Assadist website. In December 2013, I ran into a character named Rowan Berkeley who is a frequent commenter at Moon of Alabama, a website with the same commitment to the Baathist cause as Off-Guardian. After I posted a critical comment of an article blaming the Syrian rebels for a “false flag” attack of sarin gas on Ghouta, Berkeley wrote: “Now, Louis, you must understand that the fact that [x] expresses rhetorical support for [y] simply tells you nothing about [y]. Indulging in this kind of guilt by involuntary association is a very common Jewish weakness in argument.”
A very common Jewish weakness in argument? Was it my genes that produced such a weakness? None of this should come as a major surprise. The boundaries between the legitimate leftist groups and individuals who have succumbed to mechanical “anti-imperialism” and filth like Rowan Berkeley is rather porous.
This was demonstrated dramatically when the Brooklyn Commons, a home to a number of groups like WBAI, Jacobin, Indypendent and the Marxist Education Project, scheduled a talk by Christopher Bollyn defending 9/11 conspiracy theories. He was billed as “a rare voice exposing the neocons and their Zionist partners-in-crime who had the means, motive, and opportunity to pull off this game-changing event.” Well, to start with I am mortified that anybody on the left would still be offering a platform for Truthers but that’s not the worst of it.
It turns out that Bollyn is another Rowan Berkeley. A Google search on his name and “Jews” turns up fetid morsels like:
It seems like being a Jew is a lot like being a wolf. Maybe that is where the name came from. As Rudyard Kipling wrote in “The Law for the Wolves”, “…the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
In one article, Bollyn recommends a book by Douglas Reed titled “The Controversy of Zion”. Reed was a British fiction writer and political analyst (the two roles obviously overlapped) who viewed communism as a Jewish plot and defended colonial rule in Africa, a rather logical pairing when you stop and think about it. As it happens, Reed’s book can be read online at the VHO website that is dedicated to neo-Nazi material. Chapter 21 is titled “The World Revolution” and contains this eye-opening revelation:
The 19th Century, in the West, differed from the preceding eighteen centuries of the Christian era there in the emergence of two movements with a converging aim, which by the century’s end dominated all its affairs.
The one movement, Zionism, aimed at reassembling a dispersed nation in a territory promised to it by the Jewish god; the second movement, Communism, aimed at the destruction of separate nationhood as such.
Will Bollyn expound on this at the Brooklyn Commons? I suppose that even this might be a pardonable offense given the man’s dedication to the democratic and tolerant values of the Middle East’s leading member of the “axis of resistance”. In an article titled “UN: Israel Supporting Syrian Rebels”, he opines:
This report should help people finally understand that Israel is behind the terrorism, carnage, and madness that has been inflicted on the people of Syria for the past few years. This is the Syrian chapter of the Zionist “War of Terror” that began with the false-flag terrorism of 9-11.
Well, who knows? Maybe he has a point. After all, Electronic Intifada’s intrepid contributor Rania Khalek has been making the same points in articles and tweets for some time now as demonstrated in “Why has Israel embraced al-Qaida’s branch in Syria?”
One good thing that has come out of this is a disavowal of the invitation to Bollyn from the Brooklyn Commons groups alluded to above:
Statement from Multiple Organizations on Christopher Bollyn Event at the Brooklyn Commons
As organizations that work out of the Brooklyn Commons, we reject the antisemitic politics of Christopher Bollyn. We do not have any say in event booking and management at the Commons but agree that such politics should have no place in leftist spaces.
I first heard about the controversy from an article on Jewschool.com by Daniel Sieradski. When I posted a link to it on Facebook, long-time Palestine solidarity activist Amith Gupta referred me to an Electronic Intifada article that exposed Sieradski’s connection to the Israel lobby despite his leftist pretensions:
Sieradski has also provided professional services to groups whose core mission is to influence public opinion in support of the Israeli state by whitewashing its crimes against Palestinians. His LinkedIn profile notes his work with Israel21c, a hasbara organization which “redefines the conversation about Israel” by diverting media and public attention away from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and instead toward it’s “vibrant diversity, humanity, creativity, innovative spirit, and responsiveness”. The organization, which has also “trained more than 1,500 Israel activists in seven US cities,” is currently headed by former AIPAC President Amy Friedkin.
In a nutshell, this is the problem with anti-Semitism especially when it is cloaked with anti-Zionist verbiage. It gives people like Sieradski the leverage they need to embarrass the left and put it on the defensive. The ADL has exploited Bollyn events in the past to further its goal of making an amalgam between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
The people who decided to extend an invitation to Bollyn did not exercise due diligence. Five minutes of Googling would have revealed his sordid past. On the other hand, there is the troubling possibility that it was exactly that past that endeared him to them.
The truth is that anti-Semitism is not an existential threat to American Jews. Except for the occasional swastika scrawled on a wall, the bourgeois press would find nothing else to report on. In fact, the ultraright both here and in Europe is now targeting Muslims rather than Jews. Marine Le Pen is a prime example. Her party has attracted French Jews despite her father’s well-known anti-Semitic views:
But since Marine Le Pen took over her father’s party in that same year, it appears as if everything and nothing has changed in the relationship between the FN and French Jewry. Her efforts to “de-demonize” the FN have centered on its anti-Semitic past. Not only did she declare that the Holocaust was the “summit of human barbarity,” but she also gave the bum’s rush to the party’s collection of Holocaust deniers and revisionists. Of course, this housecleaning ultimately swept up her own father when he revealed himself to be a recidivist on the matter of historical details. Last year, when asked during a radio interview whether he still held to his position on the Holocaust, Jean-Marie Le Pen replied, “Yes, absolutely, I still maintain this opinion, because I believe it is the truth and it should shock no one.”
Except, perhaps, his daughter. Shaken by this paternal attempt to undermine her authority, Marine Le Pen launched the process that eventually led to her father’s removal from the party he created. While the series of events burnished her image as a reformer, she had already impressed Roger Cukierman, head of CRIF, the country’s umbrella organization for Jewish institutions. Shortly before the falling-out between father and daughter, Cukierman had announced that Marine Le Pen, unlike her father, was “personally irreproachable” — a remark he quickly walked back in the resulting firestorm of criticism.
No, Jews are not the target now. In fact, the biggest threat that anti-Semitism poses is its usefulness to the Israel lobby that is desperate to make links between anti-Zionism and Jew hatred. When the left gives them ammunition, it is undermining the cause of Palestinian freedom.