Stalin, Anti-Semitism and the Naqba: Reply to a Comrade.

2

26/09/2019 by Ian

By Ian Donovan

There used to be such a thing as Godwin’s law, formulated by a Mike Godwin from the USA, which stated that in any argument that becomes polarised in discussions particularly on the internet, sooner or later someone will evoke the name of Hitler. In Godwin’s view, the person who did this generally signified that they had no further arguments to make. However Godwin also noted, with the election of Donald Trump, that his ‘law’ had become somewhat dated particularly when discussing political questions, as there was a real resemblance between today’s politicians and Hitler and such comparisons are not so outlandish.

Gerry’s evocation of Hitler[1] in a discussion of a political question that actually derives from the Middle East is out of place not because no-one should mention Hitler, but because it completely looks at the question from the wrong end. Apparently the only reason why anyone could possibly express suspicion of the Russian Revolution, and believe that Jewish people were involved in any kind of oppressive or reactionary political developments that derived from it is because of sympathy for Hitler. He cites this and effectively accuses the followers of Atzmon of being pro-Nazi because of some of the things that they have said about the role of Jews and Bolshevism.

Joseph Stalin

Actually it is perfectly comprehensible why that view has a following in the Middle East, among victims of Zionism and their supporters and a failure to understand that is a political error that tends to see things in a Euro-centric way. There is a quote from Stalin, from 1931, that Atzmon cites in a recent article that is quite illuminating:

“National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.

Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.

In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.”[2]

The article that Devon Nola shared that kicked off this whole acrimonious exchange attributed this policy to the Bolsheviks straight after the revolution. But this is false, it is a confusion of Stalinism and Bolshevism. Actually the Bolsheviks abolished the death penalty virtually as soon as they came to power. This was not the first time that the death penalty had been abolished in Russia either. After the February Revolution the Provisional Government abolished the death penalty but reinstated it during the July Days in order to try to force anti-war soldiers to fight again in the imperialist war for Tsarist officers like General Kornilov. This was the same Kornilov whose attempted coup, in which the Alexander Kerensky, leader of the Provisional Government, was complicit, and which discredited that government politically, collapsed and laid the basis for the workers revolution in October.

Stalinism and Bolshevism

On taking power the Bolsheviks re-abolished the death penalty. But the new Soviet government was subjected to the beginnings of White Terror almost as soon as they took power and obviously they had no choice but to respond with their own Red Terror to defend the revolution.

This was carried out by the Cheka, which was initially set up to counter the White Terror and suppress it by force and counter-terror. Its activities were nothing to do with ordinary criminal punishment, but an increasingly dangerous situation of armed resistance to the revolution by people working with foreign imperialist powers. They executed people who would gladly have executed them, and who engaged in armed insurrection of some sort against Soviet power, or knowingly aided such armed rebellion.

There were two particular situations where the Bolsheviks were forced to do this to defend themselves. The perpetrators of anti-Semitic pogroms which were a constant feature of the White Guard war against the Soviet government were targeted, and also those responsible for the murder of female Bolshevik representatives who were themselves murdered in considerable numbers in what was then known as ‘Turkestan’: Soviet Central Asia.

This happened frequently when they donned the veil and attempted to do political work among poor Muslim mainly peasant women, as part of the Bolsheviks’ campaign to politically win over the masses in those regions from their traditional feudal/tribal rulers. These traditional ruling class elements used terror and murder against the women Bolsheviks in particular, as the question of women’s rights in such regions where pre-capitalist, patriarchal-natural economy was still pervasive, was a particularly fraught question.

But the Stalin quote above bears no resemblance to Bolshevik policy on the death penalty for crimes motivated by anti-Semitism or anything else. Stalin is not talking about civil war or acts of violence; he is talking about punishing people for their views and attitudes. That was not the Bolshevik method of dealing even with anti-Semitism, which was not a marginal belief in Russia, but deeply rooted among the peasantry, even the peasantry that supported the revolution. Deep seated backward social attitudes can only be overcome through social and political development, not through coercive persecution of individuals.

The date quoted, 1931, is significant. That is two years after Trotsky was deported from Russia to Turkey. By that time, numerous supporters of the various oppositions within the Communist Party itself, both the Trotskyist left and the Bukharinist right, were already incarcerated in the nascent gulag system.

The early Bolsheviks’ actual attitude to popular anti-Semitism was radically different from this, as shown by the question of exactly who should take the leading positions in the new Soviet government. As related by Joshua Rubenstein, very much not a communist, in his biography of Trotsky:

“..the Congress declared the formation of a new government and a Central Executive Committee. Lenin became head of Sovnarkom (a new term for the Council of People’s Commissars), while Trotsky was appointed commissar for foreign affairs. Lenin had initially suggested that Trotsky become head of the government out of deference to his role in the seizure of power. But Trotsky brushed the offer aside. Lenin’s next idea for Trotsky was more difficult to resolve. Lenin urged him to accept the position of commissar of home affairs, from where he would direct actions against counterrevolution. Barely a day after the Bolsheviks took power, when the situation in the provinces was still uncertain, Trotsky believed that having a Jew in the role of chief enforcer would hand their enemies a useful tool. ‘Was it worthwhile to put into our enemies’ hands such an additional weapon as my Jewish origin?’ Trotsky asked. It was already enough of a shock that the autocracy and then the Provisional Government had both collapsed. He could not be oblivious to his Jewish origin and its likely effect, particularly among the peasants, where antisemitic attitudes remained widespread.

“Lenin had difficulty accepting the argument. ‘We are having a great international revolution,’ Lenin told him. ‘Of what importance are such trifles?’ But Yakov Sverdlov, who was also Jewish (and would be named chairman of the Central Executive of the Soviets, in effect president of the country), concurred with Trotsky’s reasoning. And it was Sverdlov who urged that Trotsky become commissar for foreign affairs, the second-most-important position after Lenin’s.”[3]

This is probably taken from similar accounts in Deutscher which I have come across in the past but don’t have available to me at the moment. It does clearly indicate that the Bolsheviks did not share Stalin’s methods of dealing with political dissent that did not involve armed rebellion, even when such dissent involved backwardness and primitive bigotry. The quote from Stalin was from slap-bang in the middle of the ‘Third Period’, of bureaucratically generated ultra-leftist politics.

Bureaucratic Coercion

There are some real ironies in this which Gerry’s attack on Devon Nola does not even begin to address. The first is that Stalin’s pronouncement, from 1931, was right in the middle of the implementation of Stalin’s programme of the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class” – bureaucratic coercion as a substitute for social struggle. It may well have been related directly to the suppression of ‘backward’ tendencies in the peasantry. Those crazed bureaucratic methods had different manifestations in different places, but the people giving the orders were the same.

On the domestic level the forcible collectivisation of agriculture led to the great famine in the Ukraine, which many Ukrainians, particularly nationalists, consider to have been a genocidal attack on the Ukrainian people (known as the Holodomor). This is the main source of the condemnation that Sever Plocker wrote in his essay ‘Stalin’s Jews’[4], which is not a Nazi tract at all, but a mea culpa from a relatively liberal, but anti-communist Zionist for some of the things some Jews did when working for Stalin in Russia and particularly the Ukraine in this period.

The irony is that the same bureaucratic trajectory, which Trotsky at that time called bureaucratic centrism, led to Stalin dictating a policy to the German Communist Party that involved treating the German Social Democracy as their main enemy, as ‘social-fascists’ and at times allying with the real fascists, the Nazi party, against them. One facet of this bureaucratically-driven ultraleftist lunacy led to Stalin’s functionaries implementing ruinous economic policies, which starved a couple of million Ukrainians to death in the USSR’s agrarian ‘breadbasket’. Another facet of this policy led the German Stalinists to carry out a policy that helped Hitler come to power. They were actually the same global ultraleft-bureaucratic-bureaucratic policy.

The blogger who equated the proposed law to persecute criticism of Zionism in the US as ‘anti-Semitic’ with the alleged ‘Bolshevik’ policy of the death penalty for anti-Semites, confused the timing, and who was responsible for that policy, which is bureaucratic-totalitarian, not Marxist. That policy was Stalin’s, not Lenin and Trotsky’s. But Gerry did not point that out and had not twigged that this was confusion between Stalinism and Bolshevism. Gerry claimed this this point was ‘Nazi propaganda’ but neither the item Devon Nola posted, nor Nola herself, even mentioned Hitler, let alone praised him or the Nazi Party.

The fact is that people confused Stalinism and Bolshevism in Trotsky’s day, which is why he wrote a sharp article titled … “A graphic history of Bolshevism”:

“Stalinism originated not as an organic outgrowth of Bolshevism but as a negation of Bolshevism consummated in blood. The process of this negation is mirrored very graphically in the history of the Central Committee. Stalinism had to exterminate first politically and then physically the leading cadres of Bolshevism in order to become what it now is: an apparatus of the privileged, a brake upon historical progress, an agency of world imperialism. Stalinism and Bolshevism are mortal enemies.”[5]

Still more do they confuse them today. Why is this a surprise?

Lazare and Anti-Semitism

Gerry claims that that Devon Nola’s sharp question to him that …

“I will pose this question. Why do Jews have trouble in every corner of the earth since the beginning of time? Why is their history one disaster after another for thousands of years?

… is some kind of appalling anti-Semitic point that only a Nazi could ask. But he has not read widely enough on this subject. This is a legitimate question first asked by Bernard Lazare, a French Jew who was one of the early, and very militant defenders of Dreyfus in that notorious case at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries in his 1894 work Anti-Semitism: Its History and Causes. He was initially an anarchist, at the time he wrote this book. He later became a Zionist. His book is thought provoking and an important book in Jewish literary historiography. He raises exactly the same point that Nola raises:

“Wherever the Jews settled after ceasing to be a nation ready to defend its liberty and independence, one observes the development of anti-Semitism, or rather anti-Judaism, for anti-Semitism is an ill-chosen word, which has its raison d’etre only in our day, when it sought to broaden this strife between the Jew and the Christian by supplying it with a philosophy and a metaphysical, rather than a material reason. If this hostility, this repugnance, had been shown towards the Jews at one time or in one country only, it would be easy to account for the local causes of this sentiment. But this race has been the object of hatred with all the nations among which it has ever settled. Inasmuch as the enemies of the Jews belonged to diverse races, as they dwelled far apart from one another, were ruled by different laws and governed by opposite principles; as they had not the same customs and differed in spirit from one another, so that they could not possibly judge alike on any subject, it must needs be that the general causes of anti-Semitism have always resided in Israel itself, and not in those who antagonised it.

“This does not mean that justice was always on the side of Israel’s persecutors, or that they did not indulge in all the extremes born of hatred; it is merely asserted that the Jews were themselves, in part, at least, the cause of their own ills.”[6]

This is one of the early studies of the Jewish question by a left-wing person who attempted to analyse … the causes of anti-Semitism. His book is rather fragmented and a first stab at analysing what the causes of anti-Jewish sentiment throughout history actually were. I note that in the above passage he refers in passing to the attempt to make this sentiment into something ‘metaphysical’ as signified by the ‘ill-chosen’ term ‘anti-Semitism’ itself.

Meaning that he noticed from his own studies that this ideology, originating in the 19th Century, represented an attempt to systematise something and make of this question something ‘philosophical’ – this was in fact that genesis of real anti-Semitism as a ‘race’ theory. But he dismisses this and looks for a ‘material’ reason, i.e. one in some way rooted in social and economic causes. It is my recollection that his book meanders around a lot and goes through quite a lot of material, but does not really come up with much in the way of a coherent theory.

Other later people did better at this, including Kautsky and particularly of course Abram Leon who did theorise the Jewish question particularly post-antiquity, but one thing missing from Leon’s book is a full picture of the Jews in antiquity, simply because he did not have enough reliable information to go back that far. We still do not have enough information in my view to do this, as most of the accounts are rewritten posthumously for theological reasons and cannot be relied on.

Of course some may say that the fact Lazare later became a Zionist makes his book suspect, particularly on the grounds that Zionism is anti-Semitic as per Tony Greenstein, but even if you accept that contention, which I reject and explained why in my earlier article, the fact is he was not a Zionist when he wrote it.

In any case it is simply wrong to accuse anyone who asks this basic question, which is actually the starting point for the study of the history of the Jews, of anti-Semitism.  It’s a perfectly reasonable point, which Lazare raised and attempted to answer long before anyone heard of Hitler, and before the Protocols even appeared. It was raised by a prominent figure in the Dreyfus case who was militantly involved in fighting against anti-Semitism, not promoting it. So I think we need to educate ourselves more on the Jewish question to engage in these debates.

Stalin, Slansky and the Naqba

The other basis for Gerry’s citation of Hitler as supposedly the inspirer of Atzmon is even weaker. Atzmon said nothing whatsoever in praise of Hitler; however he did praise Stalin. This is rather different in class terms for a start. Atzmon said:

“this localist thing worked everywhere from Libya to China to Venezuela and in Russia it also started to work only when cosmopolitanism was defeated … if I have to choose between your hero and Stalin I am certainly with that latter .. in fact, the only communists I get on with are Stalinists… and don’t be mistaken, I myself am not a Stalinist nor I am a Marxist. I believe in equality and true brotherhood, concepts that are pretty foreign to the left unfortunately.”

“the fact that Stalin turned against the Jews is known to everyone here. I do believe that Stalin insisted eventually to give Russia back to the Russians and this clearly made some ppl upset … it certainly explains Stalin’s paranoia, he knew what he was up against ,..”

This guarded praise for Stalin is supposed to be anti-Semitic and put Atzmon, but not Stalin, apparently in the same bracket as Hitler. Stalin, however, was not Jewish and was certainly anti-Semitic, but Atzmon is of Jewish origin and comes from the Middle East. He is an Ashkenazi Jew by birth though in terms of identity politics he identifies as a ‘Hebrew-speaking Palestinian’.

And this is supposed to justify bringing in Hitler? This is a European centric view and reflects the European view that Hitler was the worst thing that ever happened to any human beings anywhere.

However, from the point of view of the colonial peoples, in the Middle East and elsewhere, this is not true.  There were victims of European imperialism that were prepared to ally with the Axis forces in the Second World War against their own oppressors. The best known being probably Subbas Chandra Bose in India.  Even some Irish Republicans did this. And the Mufti of Jerusalem did so, he who had actually been put in power over the Arabs in Palestine after WWI as a British puppet, as recounted by Tom Segev in his wonderful history of the British Palestine mandate, One Palestine, Complete.

There is one very good reason why Palestinians, and people like Atzmon who identify as Palestinians, might have illusions in Stalin and take his side in the purges he initiated in the early 1950s of Jews that undoubtedly contained elements of anti-Semitism.

It is well known that the Zionist side in the so-called Israeli War of Independence was armed by the USSR, and pretty much no one else. But it was done through an intermediary, the regime in the new ‘People’s Democracy’ (i.e. deformed workers state) of then-Czechoslovakia, whose main leader during this process was Rudolph Slansky. It is also well known that Slansky was later purged by Stalin in a show trial that certainly contained plenty of anti-Jewish vituperation.

But why should Palestinians care about what happened to Slansky? He armed the forces that expelled and massacred them. He was Jewish. The forces he armed were also Jewish. The suspicion then immediately arises, completely naturally, that he armed the Zionist forces on his own initiative due to communal solidarity. There is nothing anti-Semitic about such a suspicion. It would be the same if they were of some other common communal proclivity, for instance the likes of Grivas in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot nationalist and communalist, being armed and supported by Greek nationalists in Greece itself. Which is an historical fact.

Stalin’s purge of Slansky gives rise to the suspicion in the Middle East that Slansky might have acted independently of Stalin, and been punished for it. This would seem to make superficial sense for those without a Trotskyist understanding of Stalinism and its proclivity for zig-zags particularly given the subsequent decades-long history of post-Stalin Soviet backing for Nasser, Assad and Saddam Hussein against Israel right up to 1991.  The Soviet backing of the Zionist forces in 1947-8 appears like an aberration to the Arab world, and it seems perfectly natural that the Stalinists would simply say that this was Slansky’s doing, not Stalin’s, and point to how Stalin dealt with Slanskly when he was able. For people on the receiving end of Zionist atrocities, why should they care about what happened to Slansky?

Rudolph Slansky

So there are very good reasons why pro-Palestinians would in retrospect tend to side with Stalin against these Jews who were seen by them as enemies of the Arabs. The same applies to the issue of Molotov’s Jewish wife, Polina Zhemchuzina, who Stalin had imprisoned in the gulag. It is widely known that when Golda Meir, as a representative of the newly founded Israeli state, visited Moscow in the preceding period she was greeted rather effusively by the same Zhemchuzina, among others. No doubt Stalin did on some level suspect her of being too friendly to the Zionists. Whether or not this was true, whether it was paranoid, or whether it was anti-Semitic, is rather irrelevant. If the story is widely believed, then why should any Palestinian care what happened to the likes of her? Atzmon’s remarks are not shocking at all, when you consider his origin and the particular form of identity politics he embraces – identifying himself with the Palestinians – in effect a member of the oppressor people having embraced the oppressed and their attitudes. Hitler has nothing to do with this whatsoever.

Stalin, Truman and Wallace

Of course it is naïve to believe that Stalin did not know or approve of what Slansky was doing. He had a rational, if short-lived reason for supporting Zionism in 1948. It was connected with trying to neutralise the Cold War that was coming increasingly from the Truman administration in the United States, its main global adversary.

Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s Vice President, had succeeded Roosevelt to complete his presidential term when Roosevelt died and in 1948 was standing for election as president in his own right. He was however challenged from the left within the framework of American bourgeois politics, by Henry Wallace, a dissident former Democrat who stood on the ticket of the Progressive Party. Wallace had been Roosevelt’s Vice President in the earlier period of his Presidency, but Roosevelt had ditched him for his unprecedented third term (a wartime exception to the US constitutional term limit) because he was too far to the left, and replaced him with Truman in 1944[7].

Wallace stood for president against Truman in 1948 endorsed by the American Communist Party. He was strongly sympathetic to the USSR, hostile to the Truman administration’s Cold War policies, and equally importantly, strongly sympathetic to Zionism. For a while it seemed he would do well, though as the election wore on there was a considerable witchhunt against him for his pro-Soviet views, not his pro-Zionist ones, that he quite possibly as a left-liberal given the zeitgeist  at that time, did not see as in any way contradictory. He was increasingly isolated and witchhunted as a result of the beginnings of McCarthyism and finally got a miserable vote – less than 3%.

Henry Wallace (left) and Harry Truman

But that is why Stalin backed the Zionists in 1948 and let Slansky do what he did. It was part of Stalin’s global policy of seeking to keep going the WWII popular front with the USA (and the UK) and he saw Henry Wallace as the likely vehicle for that. When that failed and the Cold War got underway Slanksy was vulnerable and was dispensed with. But this element of Stalin’s policy is not widely known here or in the Middle East, and even less widely understood. And a correct understanding of the real motives for these zigzags is something that is largely confined to the Trotskyist movement.

Atzmon, Bolshevism and Orwell

None of this has anything to do with Hitler. The defence of Atzmon against the allegation of anti-Semitism flows ineluctably from the theoretical position of my ‘What is Anti-Semitism’[8] article. Atzmon’s views on Bolshevism are not new, he has been saying these things for many years and I have criticised him for them. Including in articles that have been published on our website.

In fact, one of my commentaries that criticised Atzmon for this was reblogged[9] on Socialist Fight even before I joined SF, in May 2015, from my earlier Communist Explorations website.[10]

There are plenty of people around today who have no sympathy for racism who have confused ideas about history. The idea that the Bolsheviks were a bloodthirsty bunch of barbarians is bourgeois historical orthodoxy. The 20 million figure cited for those murdered by Stalin is enormously inflated, but it comes from Robert Conquest’s work “The Great Terror”. He is a Cold War historian, not any kind of Nazi. In fact far from being a Nazi he was in the CPGB in 1939, and broke with it because of its support for the Stalin-Hitler pact. He later became part of the Attlee government’s anti-Communist effort.

The article cited from Sever Plocker, “Stalin’s Jews”[11] in YnetNews, is not Nazi-inspired at all. Its data comes from Conquest, Niall Ferguson and likely Solzhenitsyn, not Nazi sources. It doesn’t cite any. According to LinkedIn[12], its author is the Chief Economics Editor of Yedioth Aharonot, which is Israel’s biggest selling serious newspaper, perhaps more like the Times than the Daily Telegraph.

He is a Zionist, not the most left-wing either. However, he has no sympathy for anti-Semitism. Evidence of this is an article by him, 2 years ago, criticizing the Israeli government for hob-nobbing with anti-Semites and right-wing populists in Poland. His article even echoes some of the things I said in my article about how the Israeli government overlooks the anti-Semitism of its allies in Eastern Europe who have now turned against Muslims. 

In this article, the same Sever Plocker, wrote:

“I fail to understand the active participation of a minister and a Knesset member from Israel in a conference aimed at distorting the memory of the Holocaust and legitimizing Poland’s racist-nationalist (and anti-Semitic, despite all its denials) right. As an Israeli who came from Poland, I feel outraged and embarrassed by this.”[13]

It is correct to criticize the ‘Stalin’s Jews’ article because it is a deluded Zionist mea culpa written according to the political credo of Conquest and Ferguson. It’s a load of anti-Communist rubbish. But it is not anti-Semitic simply by virtue of being based on Conquest and the neocon historian Niall Ferguson. These people are philo-Semitic, not anti-Semitic. The article by Plocker quoted above is cited by Ali Abuminah of the Electronic Intifada, exposing Israel’s complicity with anti-Semitic trends in Poland.[14]

The problem is that many people who are not anti-Semites believe the stuff that Plocker wrote about ‘Stalin’s Jews’. He is obviously not an anti-Semite himself. Its origin is not with the Nazis or even East European anti-Semites, but in the camp of ‘democratic’ imperialism in WWII. It is anti-Communist, but not anti-Semitic.

Plocker is a Polish Jew by origin and he once had some kind of association with George Orwell. Gilad Atzmon likes George Orwell. My exchanges with him were about Orwell’s essay The Lion and the Unicorn. Comrades should read this before accusing Atzmon of being on the far right. This is not a far-right tract. It is a left-social democratic programme.

“1. Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.

2. Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to one.

3. Reform of the educational system along democratic lines.

4. Immediate Dominion status for India, with power to secede when the war is over.

5. Formation of an Imperial General Council, in which the coloured peoples are to be represented.

6. Declaration of formal alliance with China, Abyssinia and all other victims of the Fascist powers.”[15]

Right in tune with Robert Conquest, with Sever Plocker, with Clement Attlee … and with Atzmon. No doubt not that far different from the politics of Corbyn either come to think of it.

GEORGE ORWELL, CIRCA 1949

The fact that Atzmon believes in the truth of Plocker’s 2006 article, Stalin’s Jews, which in my view is a hysterical anti-Communist Zionist mea culpa, does not make Atzmon ‘far right’ any more than it makes its author, Plocker, a far-right anti-Semite. In fact judging by his barbed criticisms of Israeli collaboration with anti-Muslim types who used to be anti-Semitic he might actually be quite a liberal Israeli.

This all started because Devon Nola wrote an angry FB post and shared an article whose main thrust was to denounce an anti-democratic law against critics of Israel in the US. The article she shared had a barbed reference to the Bolshevik laws against anti-Semitism, and tried to compare them. This was attacked as ‘Nazi propaganda’. But was it? Or did it come from the same stable as Plocker and Conquest? It is a mistake to say that people who have these confused and mistaken views of history are influenced by Nazism. Plocker certainly isn’t.

Atzmon and his followers are a confused left trend. They may not fit into the Trotskyist milieu, and they may be troublesome and complicated to deal with, but it is utterly wrong to equate them with the far right. This issue is not isolating us, on the contrary. Our isolation has considerably lessened and up till now we have made no concessions whatsoever to those who have denounced us. Others who have witchhunted us have been learning the lessons from being witchhunted in the same way as we were. That is what is breaking down our isolation.

If someone of Jewish background like Atzmon can be deemed anti-Semitic, then anti-Semitism is not racism but something broader. That concept accepts part of the left-Zionist worldview. Up to now we have been distinguished by the fact that we have never joined in any of the witchhunts against left-wing people accused of anti-Semitism.

I never will. I regard this as a principle. Atzmon is a left-wing figure whose ideas resonate with people on the left. Not only that, but because of this, others on the left who engage with him politically regularly get witchhunted themselves. From large organisations like the British SWP, targeted by Zionists and Bundists alike in the late 2000s, to individuals like myself getting banned from blogs for dissenting against the anathemas against Atzmon. It’s a sure sign of a witchhunt when those who fail to join in become targets themselves.

This has happened to me repeatedly. It also happened to Cyril Chilson, an Israeli son of Holocaust survivors who was expelled from Labour. One of the smears against him was that he had had fraternal political exchanges with Atzmon. Shocking! Chris Williamson, Labour’s most left-wing MP, is now suspended from Labour. One the things he was witchhunted for was signing a petition in defence of the rights of Atzmon to even play his music, protesting against attacks on Atzmon from pro-Zionist elements in the Labour Party.

Look at the article reblogged from Shiraz Socialist on the SF site currently[16]. Andrew Coates and Jim Denham have Nazi baited us on their blog and supported Gerry being thrown out of the Labour Party. Jim Denham is a violent drunk who took a swing at Gerry a few years ago after a meeting. Unlike Atzmon, in my view they do hold racist views. Criticising your own people is not racism. They hold Islamophobic and pro-Zionist views. Yet on one issue where they are correct,  Brexit, we have some agreement and so it is arguably correct to reblog their piece to make a point. Their trend are not the only people who oppose Brexit. We, who are their very nemesis on the most strategic questions, do too.

Is this better or worse than engaging with Atzmon? I find these people far more unsavoury than him or his close supporters like Devon Nola, Eve Mykytyn, Jens Lockmann, etc. We have credibility with a whole layer of leftist supporters of the Palestinians including on the left of the Labour Party, because of our refusal to join in any of these attacks.

REFERENCES

[1] https://socialistfight.com/2019/09/23/jewish-bolshevism-is-an-anti-communist-and-antisemitic-canard/

[2] https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1931/01/12.htm

[3] p112 in https://thecharnelhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Joshua-Rubenstein-Leon-Trotsky-A-Revolutionarys-Life-2011.pdf

[4] https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3342999,00.html

[5] (“A Graphic History of Bolshevism,” 7 June 1939)

[6] Anti-Semitism: Its History and Causes, by Bernard Lazare, originally published 1894, Bison Books Edition 1995, p8

[7] See https://www.algemeiner.com/2012/11/18/former-vp-henry-wallace-forgotten-zionist-stars-in-oliver-stone%E2%80%99s-new-tv-series/ for some useful narrative on this

[8] https://socialistfight.com/2019/09/21/what-is-anti-semitism-can-jewish-people-whether-zionist-or-anti-zionist-be-anti-semitic/

[9] https://socialistfight.com/2015/07/20/gilad-atzmon-on-the-jewish-solidarity-spin/

[10] https://commexplor.com/2015/05/16/gilad-atzmon-on-the-jewish-solidarity-spin/

[11] See note 4

[12] https://www.linkedin.com/in/sever-plocker-9ab40620/

[13] https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5051659,00.html

[14] Read down the Electronic Intifada article to find Ali Abuminah’s citation of Sever Plocker’s article. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-embarrassed-its-holocaust-denying-allies-poland

[15] http://orwell.ru/library/essays/lion/english/

[16] https://socialistfight.com/2019/09/19/open-letter-to-the-deluded-pro-brexit-left/

2 thoughts on “Stalin, Anti-Semitism and the Naqba: Reply to a Comrade.

  1. christopher m hussey says:

    a point of information to a interesting article – (my political views and pedigree i reckon are irrelevant though i should perhaps say that i dont share many of views expressed hereabouts)
    my point is entirely from my reading of the work of raymond crotty – probably irelands best economist and economic historian .
    i refer to the observation that the jews are ‘a people apart’. in his work crotty places considerable emphasis on the digestive phenomenon of lactose tolerance / intolerance in human history. this is a genetic trait that whereby milk can make a person ill. the jews it seems are one such people unlike say the irish ! therefore socialising with gentiles might well may jews as a race literally sick.
    curiously in all the contentious material on these political matters i have never seen this simple but vital material fact mentioned. just saying.

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