[Marxism] How to answer these questions?

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Mon Jul 31 05:48:25 MDT 2006

From: "Sayan Bhattacharyya" <ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com>

> Some problems  that activists would  face in organising against the 
> current war:
> 1) Hezbollah is not only opposed to the policies of  the state of
> Israel -- it seems also to be virulently anti-semitic.
> See: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=11&x_article=1158
> Under the circumstances, it can be  difficult, I think, even for some
> progressive Jews, to oppose Israel's war against Hezbollah (in spite
> of the atrocities).

Both Hezbollah and Hamas are undoubtedly anti-semitic (the latter include 
'The Protocol of the Elders of Zion' in their charter). A way to answer 
these points, I've found, is to point out that numerous Israeli leaders have 
been equally anti-Arab - witness, for example, the fact that Benjamin 
Netanyahu includes a link to Joan Peters' hateful racist propaganda book 
'From Time Immemorial' on the 'Palestinians' page of his website 
(http://www.netanyahu.org/abpal.html ) or that a large number of Israelis 
support transfer of Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians ( 
http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=140196&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0 ) 
. The way to attack such points about Hezbollah is to throw the questions 
back at the supporters of Israeli actions. But also point out that the 
victims of Israeli actions are overwhelmingly civilians. Also that no 
movements opposing imperial power have ever been angels - the ANC or the 
French Resistance are good examples to bring up (cite the thousands of 
summary executions carried out by the latter after the liberation).
> 2) One gets asked, when protesting against the Israeli killing of
> civilians, "Did you (the left)  protest when Assad massacred thousands
> of civilians in Hama?" and questions of that type. And I think it is
> true that leftist activists did not, in fact, protest or organise
> against Assad's massacres. That leads to a charge of hypocrisy and
> double standards.
That's not a difficult one to counter - ask if they protested after the 
gassing of the Kurds at Halabja by Saddam - point out out that a 
year-and-a-half later the US Assistant Secretary of State said Saddam was 'a 
moderate'? Ask if one's opponents protested against Assad in Hama (and, yes, 
the massacres were unspeakable). No-one can claim to speak for 'the left' as 
a whole, say that to anyone who tries to apply such collective 
responsibility to you.

I imagine the sort of responses you are hearing are of the 'the left 
criticise every single transgression of Israel, but are silent on much worse 
things committed by the Arab regimes. This shows how hypocritical and 
anti-semitic they are - this is just because they hate Jews' (the latter 
part from the more aggressive left-baiters)? Ways to respond to this include 
the following:

(1) (most importantly) Israel receives large amounts of unconditional aid 
from the US. Thus in the West (I don't know where you are based) it is 
especially important that we protest against actions that our governments 
are indirectly funding. This is what makes Israel different to Syria, say.
(2) Israel is an occupying power
(3) Israel also the fifth largest military power in the world
(4) Israel undoubtedly has WMDs.

Hope this helps.


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