[Marxism] Re: How to answer these questions?

Lou Paulsen loupaulsen at sbcglobal.net
Mon Jul 31 10:07:27 MDT 2006

Sayan wrote: " 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)."

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(a) If the U.S. wants to slaughter civilians en masse, destroy a country's infrastructure, send a third of its population into exile, blast whole neighborhoods into rubble, and, moreover, pursue this as national policy over a period of decades, they need a better excuse than that some of the other people read a bad book and think the Jews are out to get them.  Henry Ford distributed the Protocols.  Is this an argument for obliterating Detroit?

(b) Hamas and Hezbollah are a resistance movement in oppressed nations under attack by imperialism.  They have a right to defend themselves and their people.  This right is not conditional on their adopting Marxist class analysis.  Oppressed nations very often develop, or borrow, "national" or "racial" explanations to account for the racism of the oppressor.  (Take the writings of Elijah Muhammad for example.)  This does not turn them into racists and Hitlerites themselves (and this is why calling the "virulently anti-semitic" completely confuses things and really is a slander, as it draws a completely false equation sign between Nasrullah and Nazis).  An oppressed nation is not the same as an oppressor nation. The misconceptions of the oppressed are not the same as the genocidal racism of the oppressor.  EVEN if they happen to be reading the same old forged book.  (In any case I am sure that the Zionists have completely exaggerated and blown out of proportion all
 anti-Jewish sentiments expressed by any members of the resistance movements on any level.)

The way this will be corrected is (i) by the activity of internationalists IN the oppressed community (I bet if you counted them up there are more revolutionary internationalists Palestinians and Arabs than there are revolutionary internationalists in the United States, so it's not as if we have to take on the education of the Arab world as a priority), and (ii) by our showing in practice that we will build international solidarity with them (one article by al-Jazeera on an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv is worth ten billion complaints about supposed Arab "anti-Semitism"), and (iii) by rebuilding the global movement for socialism, in the absence of which all politics become "national" and "racial", but with the rebirth of which internationalism will become a real global strategy again.  

In the meantime, it is the U.S. and Israel who are carrying out racist massacres in Lebanon and Gaza and the ethnic cleansing of south Lebanon, and it is Hezbollah and Hamas who are resisting, and anyone who gets confused about this fact by the charge that Hezbollah and Hamas harbor prejudices is not dealing with the situation seriously (or is really just on the other side and blowing smoke in your face).  

(c) The fact that some Arabs take the "Protocols" seriously has nothing to do with the use of the "Protocols" by the czar, the Nazis, and other European anti-Semites.  Arabs think that the Jews are out to get them, because (1)  Israel says "we are the Jews" (in the religious AND the ethnic sense), and  (1a) a lot of Zionist organizations say  "That's true, Israel is our country, they are the state of the Jews", and (1b) the imperialist government and media entirely cooperate in creating this impression, and (2) Israel (in its capacity as a semi-autonomous US stooge) IS out to get them. The Lebanese after all are being massacred by planes that have the star of David emblazoned upon them.  If they get the "wrong impression", this is a foreseeable result and probably an intentional one.

(d) Some Arabs also believe that Israel, by means of a Zionist conspiracy, is forcing, or hoodwinking, innocent US politicians into supporting or acquiescing in their own private  racist campaign.  But then a lot of people who aren't Arabs also believe this.  In fact probably most people who have any doubts about the Israeli war policy put it in terms of "should the US stop going along with Israel?"  In fact this is precisely the impression that the U.S. attempts to give: Israeli is an independent actor, and the U.S. can support, urge restraint, mediate, etc.   Really the more I think about it the more I think this "omnipotent Zionist conspiracy" notion is probably at least partly a conscious creation of AIPAC and the like; if it can blow itself up like a puffer fish and feel and appear more powerful than it is, it is happy.  It actually will be good when we are able to concentrate more attention (to borrow a phrase I recall the FMLN once) "on the ringmaster of the circus
 instead of the clowns."  (By the way, this is the idea of this weekend's call for local activities by the IAC - www.iacenter.org )

(On this point, contrast this statement by a Zionist war academic interviewed by al-Jazeera: "But the US will decide when enough is enough and Israel will do what is acceptable to them. Between God, and us there is the United States."  http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/010676D6-1F09-456F-8C16-6BD44499A644.htm )

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" 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.  Any thoughts on addressing questions/issues of this kind?"

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Dig up someone under thirty-five to deal with this person and say "What the f*** are you talking about?? That was in 1982!!  I was in fourth grade then!!  Haven't you got any better excuse for this god damned war than that somebody else massacred somebody else 24 years ago and I didn't protest about it??!!"

Is there some Zionist who is going all over the world using this line?  More likely it was put out as a "talking point" on some Zionist website.  Somebody actually hit me with this same thing the other day at a counterdemonstration that I was at.  My very apt response was, "Actually I was around in 1976 and demonstrated against Syrian complicity in the slaughter of the Palestinians at Tel al-Za'atar.  Where were YOU?"

On the "Hama massacre" in general, experience has taught me never to uncritically accept the term "massacre" when used by the bourgeois enemy unless/until I know something about it from independent sources.  In fact I confess that I had to turn to Wikipedia to learn something about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hama_massacre

Now, the first thing that strikes me about all this is that, if you entirely take all this at face value, the government of Syria seems to have been doing just about exactly what the US did in Fallujah (destroy the city to wipe out the Sunni resistance) and in fact is not that dissimilar from what Israel is doing right now in Lebanon, except that Israel is killing Shi'i people and not Sunni people, and has killed mostly civilians far away from the ground war, and is slaughtering people abroad in an effort to get at the anti-imperialist resistance rather than putting down a rebellion which had killed many government officials (as was reportedly the case in Hama).  So on several counts the US/Israeli terror war is worse than the Hama events are made out to be.  Anyway, the second offhand response one might make would be, "Why are YOU calling it the "Hama massacre"?  You should call it the "Hama self-defense", since they were hunting supposed terrorists and who cares about
 collateral damage."

The third thing to say, for those of us whose organizations existed in 1982, is, of course, "If the US had been giving five billion a year to Syria at the time, and if the US Congress had been moved to endorse the Syrian actions 410-9, we might have paid more attention to it.  Our role is to demonstrate against the horrors that our own imperialists are responsible for."

In fact, I don't recall hearing about the Hama incident at the time, and really didn't hear about it until many years later when people started using it as a stick to beat up Syria with.  What I would really like to know, though, is what the US role in all this really was.  This was during the Afghan war, bear in mind, when the US had an alliance with other Sunni forces like Osama bin Laden, and for that matter had encouraged Iraq to launch a war on Iran, and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that the US had some responsibility for the uprising; I note that the Wiki article says that the Syrian rebels were given asylum in the West without any trouble.  On the other hand, maybe the US was just pressuring Assad so as to get them to acquiesce in the upcoming invasion of Lebanon, and didn't mind the suppression of the rebels as much as they now claim.  Who has info at hand on this?

Anyway, not one worker in 500,000 is going to ask you about the "Hama massacre".
Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago
Party - www.workersworld.net
Blog - www.loupaulsen.blogspot.com


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