[Marxism] Nada Elia: Time to Stop Celebrating Jewish Dissent in Palestine Solidarity Mvmt

A.R. G amithrgupta at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 12:58:17 MDT 2016


Listen, I agree with you that this is a "minefield". That is why I think we
should be careful. Already one poster has suggested that it is simply
common sense that members of the same ethnic group are taken more seriously
by outsiders. That is, factually speaking, not true, and it is also loaded
in that we often define race/ethnic group depending on what the subject
matter is. I.e. a black Jewish guy and a white Jewish guy would not be
understood to be members of the same ethnic group if they are talking about
race relations in America, or race relations *domestically* within the
Israeli Jewish community, but they would be seen as the same race in
discussing, say, Israel's "return" laws.

"I'm not sure what Nada Elia complaining about. Quite honestly she put a lot
of good brain power into this essay and proposes absolutely zip with
regards to addressing "Jewish privilege". Nothing. And, she's wrong, at
least as far as I can interpret it. She praises anti-Zionist Jews for
their solidarity and then condemn's them for doing it. She's all over the
map on this and leaves me totally bewildered as to what she is afraid of."

Is that really what you got? She didn't say Jews should stop being
anti-Zionist. She is talking about whether or not their being anti-Zionist *as
Jews* is a helpful form of advocacy. One can be Jewish but identify their
allegiance with the Palestinian cause for a number of reasons (out of
political conviction; out of anti-colonial solidarity; out of some other
thing). It does not have to be a framework in which one's "Jewishness" is
the (or even a) defining feature of what legitimates a person's voice. Her
argument about Chabon was on that point: Why were other activists
identifying him as a Jewish-American when it had no apparent relevance to
the arguments he was making? And in so far as it is relevant, what makes it
relevant other than Israel's stranglehold over both Jewish identity and
Palestine itself?

"Given the huge political influence of groups of Jewish-Americans in US
politics, it's necessary to emphasis whenever it comes up, that not all
members of this community follow the Zionist party line. How is that
"privileging" anything whatsoever?"

Again, where does she argue this? I think you're reading other arguments
into her piece. But in either case, to answer, you are self-admitting that
there is a "huge political influence of groups of Jewish-Americans in US
politics". If you are openly stating that that is the reason why Jewish
dissenting voices need to be promoted, I'm at a loss. That is, by
definition, privilege. It is the same as saying white people had greater
political influence (and still do) so we need more of them in anti-racist
causes. If they get upset or exhibit intolerance toward blacks in the
group, we should nonetheless tolerate it because of how politically
significant they are. "Privilege" in a nut-shell.

Re: Weir, I think she has made some decisions I disagree with, but I feel
that way about virtually everyone I've met in left circles. I think the
characterization you have of both her website and her talks is completely
off. Even a brief perusal of her website makes it clear that her advocacy
is not based on American exceptionalism. It is simply geared toward an
American audience ("If only you people knew!!!"), much in the same way left
anti-war organizers have always emphasized "the war is at home," etc. To
the extent that Walt/Mearsheimer-style realism appears on her website or in
her advocacy (and mind you, it appears everywhere else including on the
Left) it is one of about 10 different perspectives, wherein the only common
theme is opposition to Israeli policy. I also do not agree with your
reading of her talks. From what I've seen, she has tried to speak out when
loonies start attacking "the Jews"; perhaps she could do better, but that
sounds like an attempt at witch-hunting to me. There would be very few left
on the left, including at least one board member of JVP, if these standards
were applied across the board, and certainly if they were applied to
commentary about other ethnic groups. I think it is obvious that the
Movement has changed in its political character particularly over the last
few years and there is a lack of serious understanding of racism within the
movement. I think the comments above, while certainly not "racist," exhibit
a certain level of tone-deafness about the issue.

- Amith

On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 10:24 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> On 4/29/16 10:07 AM, DW via Marxism wrote:
>> Weir, besides have zero understanding of Imperialism as a class, is
>> notable
>> because she refuses to take up blatant anti-Jewish bigotry when it's
>> thrown
>> in her face on the many right-wing, tea-party like radio stations she
>> appears on. Some of these broadcasts are on YouTube or on those networks
>> steaming audio. She simply sits there and avoids confronting such bigotry.
>> Among many Palestinian solidarity activists, this is unforgivable.
> A lot of these problems are rooted in the crisis of Marxism. When I joined
> the SWP in 1967, the axis of Palestinian solidarity was in the overlapping
> spheres of radical nationalism and Marxism. Palestinian guerrillas
> identified with Che Guevara and the Trotskyist movement worldwide was
> capable of rallying people around class-based slogans and analysis. People
> like Peter Buch and Jon Rothschild used to speak to thousands of people on
> campuses around the country. In 1973 I organized a Militant Forum on the
> Yom Kippur war in Houston that drew 125 people, including just about every
> radical Arab student in the area as well as the local TV station.
> So what happened? The left imploded. The USSR went kaput. The Palestinian
> solidarity movement on campus emerged around BDS but with little
> involvement from Marxists. You also had a development of "realists" opposed
> to Zionism like Mearsheimer and Walt, as well as liberals fed up with the
> settlers. You also had Hamas that screwed things up with suicide bombing. A
> complete mess for the most part.
> In my opinion Allison Weir is a person whose views are shaped by the
> general milieu, one that is not favorable to a class analysis. In the 1970s
> she would have barely gotten attention. We need to change the objective
> circumstances in order to promote a POV that can serve the Palestinian
> cause more effectively. That unfortunately can not be done overnight.
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