[Marxism] The "anti-semitism" of the oppressed, etc.?? (was: How to answer these questions?)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Aug 6 08:03:23 MDT 2006

I want to state some general points and conclusions about this debate.
Steffie Brooks and I attended the July 23 meeting at Bluestockings
bookstore. which discussed alleged "anti-Semitism in the movement"
which was debated in advance by Yoshie, Kersplebedeb, and others.
Steffie may have our own comments, but the meeting basically fulfilled
my worst expectations.  Basically, a refusal to confront the realtities
of the Palestinian struggle and the role of Jews in it. Basically, a
drift toward covering for the actions of the Jewish State and Jews in
Israel, in the name of opposing the blood libel.
The three speakers to the meeting conveyed some interesting information
-- little of it involving actual experiences of anti-Semitism in the
movement, much of it historical about the charactertistics of
anti-Semitism. In general, the stance of the speakers was that it is
okay (not necessarily a good idea but not forbidden) to solidarize with
the Palestinians as long as you are very, very, very, very careful to
avoid any expressions that could be interpreted by anyone as
anti-Semitic or as approving anti-Semitic stereotypes. Well,
structurally, this clearly gives opposition to anti-Semitism a POLITICAL
PRIORITY over the defense of the Palestinians against the US and its
The only person who clearly defended Palestinian activism  as desirable
was the woman who was also the only born-and-raised Jew on the panel.
Another was a 
Catholic born and raised.  The third was from a Jewish family that had
converted to Christianity, who had not known of his Jewish descent until
recently. One speaker stressed he was only involved in local issues --
except this one, the defense of Jews against all comers, of course. The
third admitted he did not understand why radicals in the US make such a
big deal about events in far-off Palestine. The same speaker also
suggested that Zionism should  not be condemned unless all nationalism
is condemned.  (This implied, the what about Darfur, why single out
Israel at least as I understood him.  The suggestion that the reason for
the allegedly exaggerated concern with faroff Palestine must be some
trace of anti-Semitism -- above all, of course, among the many
"self-hating" Jews who fall victim to this exaggerated concern.)
I am sorry, but as a kind of born and raised Jewish nationalist, I
learned to make these subtle distinctions. I am not convinced that the
fact that the most pro-Palestinian person on the panel was also the most
Jewish person on the panel.  This woman,  who defended Palestinian
activism, had apparently recently discovered some facts of the history
of Jewish oppression, and frankly, although the Palestinians still had
her support, her mind seemed to have been blown by this discovery. As I
listened to her I was very glad that I learned my Jewish nationalism at
my father's knee, rather than suddenjly at this late stage of the game,
and was able to adapt it (without, I admit totally rejecting it, as
events proceeded
For instance she now claimed that Palestinian and other Arab cartoons
showing Israeli rulers eating or crushing or killing child victims was
an example of the "blood libel," the completely unsupported slander that
Jews killed and sacrificed the blood of Christian children at Passover
to celebrate their victory over the Egyptians (the death of the
The big difference between the blood libel and what happens in Palestine
and now in Lebanon, too, is that what happens there is not a libel, but
a fact.  The murder of children is part of the daily business of  Israel
-- the Jewish state.  And it is an organic part of what enables the
Israeli Jews to exist as a privileged and dominanjt group in Palestine.
There is often mention of the defense by some Palestinians in Palestine
of the Protocols -- the Russian secret police forgery.  But from the
standpoint of Palestinians, this can easily seem like an amazingly
accurate prophecy of the role of Jews in their own lives -- "the Jews"
as the daily, living, actual, before-their-eyes bane of their existence.
More importantly, she presented the conflict between Jews and
Palestinians, between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, and between
the Israeli state and the vaguely Palestinian Authority, as a conflict
between two oppressed peoples
Jews in Israel are not an oppressed nation, but an OPPRESSOR NATION
As a nation, Jews in Israel are bitter enemies of the Palestinians and
can be nothing else.
The survival task of Jews in Israel and Jews around the world is not to
carry on about Palestinian anti-Semitism.but to break definitively with
the state of Israel.  I do mpy present this as an ultimatum but as a
perspective  that should be carried out consciously through whatever
intermediate steps compromises, and coalitions as required.
Jews have to reject Israel as a country that commits just about all the
crimes in the real world that Jews were ever accused of committing in
mythology (leaving aside the ones that actually involve mystical powers
or stand outside the actual possibilities of human beings).
Jews cannot defend these crimes. or attempt to deny them in fact because
of their resemblance to the "blood libel," the protocols and whatever.
It could actually be that the Jews most at risk currently are those in
the United States.  The war on terror -- a fundamental attempt by
Washington to impose its will on a vast and wealthy region of the world
-- is heading for some kind of disastrous collapse.  This is leaving
aside any general predictions of victory or defeat in any particular
ongoing conflict.  And I believe, especially if there is an economic
downturn, that there will be a hunger in the ruling class and also, to
some extent, "from below" for scapegoats.
The Jews have been wonderfully positioned, partly by the whole official
stratum of the Jewish community, for this role.  The relationship with
Israel has become (always was, of course, but over time has become much
more so) a relationship with cruelty, inhumanity, mass murder, child
murder, and crime of all sorts). The psssibility of Jewish survival
depends in part with the rejection of the nightmarishly failed
"experiment" of Zionist statehood.  The need of the hour to fight
anti-Semitism is not more and more kvetching about the Hamas program but
an actual break between Jews internationally (and, I believe, also in
Israel) and their state.  I am an optimist.  I believe this break is
already taking shape.
Fred Feldman

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