Reply to LAW Steering Committee

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01/01/2018 by socialistfight

Why the Steering Committee are proposing that Socialist Fight [SF] should be excluded from Labour Against the Witch-hunt
At the last meeting of LAW, the Steering Committee [SC] motion excluding SF from the campaign was narrowly defeated.  Also defeated was a motion from SF and a third motion by John Bridge.  Subsequently the SC decided to renew its call for the exclusion of SF.
1.            The reason that the SC is moving a resolution calling for the exclusion of SF is because the campaign cannot develop as long as SF, which advocates anti-Semitic politics, is allowed to remain.  It really is that simple.  None of the 3 people whom the Right are intending to expel next – Tony Greenstein [TG], Jackie Walker [JW] or Marc Wadsworth [MW] – want anything to do with SF.  Nor will any Jewish anti-Zionist group will have anything to do with LAW if SF remain a part of it.
2.            The Right is waging a witchhunt which is primarily based around the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.  We are falsely being accused of anti-Semitism because we are anti-Zionists. It makes no sense whatsoever for us to therefore include a political group in LAW which is anti-Semitic. This is playing into the hands of the Zionists and undermines the position of those who are facing expulsion.
3.            The only question to be decided is whether SF is anti-Semitic. By that we don’t mean that Gerry Downing [GD] or Ian Donovan [ID] are personally anti-Semitic but whether their politics are anti-Semitic.
4.            ID writes that ‘Today, he [Greenstein] and his bed mate Jack Conrad are in a bloc with the same Iain McNichol who is framing him up for anti-Semitism. This is class treachery at its most pathetic.’   If ID really believes that TG and presumably JW and MW, all of whom agree about SF, are in a bloc with Iain McNicol, what the hell is he doing in LAW in the first place?
5.            Yes we have moderated their lengthy contributions on the FB page, not because we wished to censor them but because the group is there to fight the witchhunt.
Why Socialist Fight is espousing anti-Semitic politics
6.            It is a standard tactic of Zionism to accuse anti-Zionists of anti-Semitism.  In 99% of cases this is false but occasionally they are right. Making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the United States or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.
7.            Anti-Zionists have taken great care to make the distinction between Zionism and being Jewish crystal clear. SF make no such distinction. US support for Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with the ethnic composition of the US ruling class and everything to do with their own perceived interests. There is no evidence of a clash between Jewish and non-Jewish members of the ruling class over this.
8.            ID states that ‘It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of Western countries… and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a Western alliance with Israel.
9.            What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship… into a servile relationship
10.         The idea that the United States is ‘servile’ to Israel is anti-Semitic.  What lies behind this is the notion of an all-powerful Jewish conspiracy.
11.         ID is the main theoretician of SF and he is a critical supporter of Gilad Atzmon.  Atzmon is deeply anti-Semitic. He believes that the Jews control the world and that it is irrelevant if the Protocols of Zion are a forgery because they are true anyway.  He doubts whether Auschwitz was an extermination camp.  In his essay ‘On anti-Semitism’ he wrote ‘we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.’  See A Guide to the Sayings of Gilad Atzmon, for more examples of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.
12.         In March 2012 twenty leading Palestinians including Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti penned a call to exclude Atzmon from the Palestine solidarity movement Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon yet in Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ ID describes Atzmon as an ‘Israeli dissident’ and denies that he is anti-Semitic.
13.         ID in Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism describes the campaign of Jews Against Zionism and J-Big to get the SWP to cut their links with Atzmon, as an attempt ‘to witchhunt the Socialist Workers Party’.  ID subscribes to many of Atzmon’s pet themes, especially his hatred of Jewish anti-Zionist groups whom he says subscribe to notions of ‘Jewish moral superiority’.
14.         ID accuses, without an iota of evidence, Jewish anti-Zionist groups of operating as a 5th column inside Palestine solidarity groups, whose ‘opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement.’  Indeed ID goes further. ‘These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists.’ ID accepts Atzmon’s racist lie that it is impossible to be a Jewish anti-Zionist because to be a Jew politically is to be a Zionist!
15.         Jewish anti-Zionist groups are welcomed by Palestinians because they give the lie to the argument that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. Jewish groups play the same role in respect to Palestine that White Anti-Apartheid groups played in South Africa.  Our role as Jews is one of solidarity.  Donovan’s calumnies come from the pen of Atzmon.
16.         ID’s whole language is becoming anti-Semitic.  He talks of ‘the indulgence of Jewish sensibilities’.  There is no collective Jew except in the minds of Zionism and anti-Semites.  The whole concept of Jews having become an ‘oppressor people’ is also anti-Semitic as well as anti-Marxist.
17.         Finally there is the appeal to liberalism, by asking how an anti-witch hunt group can exclude SF.  In the same way that we exclude the Zionist AWL.  We are a campaign not a party.  If SF’s presence hinders our work, as it does, then we have the right to tell them to go their own way.
Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker
Dolong B Blavats:
I am sorry, extremely sorry for you guys, but any statement that includes any form of the verb “to be” requires very careful scrutiny as saying something “is” a particular way suggests the speaker has privileged knowledge of the ultimate nature or truth of something.
The following statement therefore makes for uncomfortable reading:
“Making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the United States or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.”
NO NO NO! We all know that there are many Jewish millionaires and billionaires in the US. We also know that many of them are involved with determining policy with respect to Israel. We even know that many of them are outspoken supporters of Israel. Why on earth is it then taboo to speak about this openly?
Yes, mentioning the power of the Jewish lobby was and remains a tactic of antisemites. But that does not make the statement, or the reality, inherently antisemitic. The reason why ought to be clear to anyone with half a brain but lets just spell it out: because not all Jews are billionaires and not all Jews are Zionists or supporters of Israel.
So, why has this issue become such a point in this group? First of all we can consider quite legitimate concerns about the possibility of any discussion of “Jewish billionaires supporting Israel” being interpreted as antisemitic, but then that is also exactly why this group was created, to defend others who are legitimately criticising Israel “and making comparisons to Nazi Germany” from being accused of antisemitism.
It seems therefore that there is another issue at stake that has not adequately been addressed in this group and which now threatens to undermine and divide us, which is a) freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to mention, examine and criticise taboo, uncomfortable and highly sensitive subjects such as the extent to which members of the Jewish community outside Israel have and are ‘colluding’ to support Israel and the extents to which the wider Jewish community have failed to adequately address this internally. It is not as if the matter of Jewish millionaires who support Israel is entirely unconnected to what has and is happening there. I don’t feel comfortable with treating this matter as if it were entirely subsidiary to class struggle or Capitalism. Many members of the wider Jewish community condone and pride themselves on the extent of “Jewish influence” in the world. I know I did once when I was young and stupid.
How is this matter any different from the frequently mentioned relationship between Zionism and Nazism? If we can talk about that, how come we cannot talk about Jewish elites support for Israel? I don’t get it.
My impression of the discussion with Ian Donovan, is that it went on all too long and met with entirely wrong responses from leading members of this group. Donovan made his point but as I pointed out to him, the concerns of Labour Against the Witchhunt take priority over the discussion he was pursuing. But the responses from this group were very similar to those that have led to accusations of antisemitism against other members of Labour and the expulsion demonstrates to me that we still can’t have a really sensible discussion about what really is antisemitic and what is merely legitimate criticism.
To round up, what I would suggest, is that we STOP ACCUSING ANYONE OF ANTISEMITISM, particularly as Jews are not currently threatened in any significant way, compared to Muslims, people of colour, immigrants, refugees, gay men and so on. It is time that we, especially members of the Jewish community focus instead on defending others less fortunate than ourselves and learn to accept that at least some of the things we now define as antisemitic, may actually be true. That is an uncomfortable reality we will have to live with until such time as the entire concept of race or ethnicity disappears or until such time as JUSTICE reigns withing our community. Until such time, I stand with Donovan with respect to his allusions to a ‘Jewish subculture’ within the upper echelons of power that have deliberately conspired against the better interests of the rest of us. Yes, it is part of the phenomenology of CRAPITALISM, but it is important that the rest of the Jewish community acknowledge the fact that there are also Jews out there doing this. Deliberately! FFS! We need to have this discussion! And not ANOTHER WITCHHUNT!
—Daniel Waterman, Dec. 2017.

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