[Marxism] To combat left anti-semitism, Corbynism must change the way it sees the world

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Wed Mar 28 18:09:55 MDT 2018

On 2018-03-28 18:40, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:

> https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/combat-left-anti-semitism-corbynism-must-change-way-it-sees-world

I think the article that started this discussion is rather crumby and 
won't address it. It focuses on Corbyn who I do not believe is 
antisemitic nor is antisemitism in the labor party an important actual 
issue. I have no doubt that the charge of antisemitism is just being 
used to attack the left wing of that party as it is routinely used 
against supporters of Palestine thus including (essentially) the entire 
far left. A party as large and diverse as the British Labor party is 
bound to have individuals with antisemitic (among other evil) views, and 
not being a member or even living in Britain I would have to trust them 
to do their own housecleaning in these regards. If Corbyn made a mistake 
(it couldn't have been any more than that) then he can and should 
address his error and move on. And the proposition in the article, which 
I've heard before from some of the "anti-Deutsch" (pro-zionist leftists, 
especially in Germany), that antisemitism is "not racism" but something 
unique, is a despicable way of separating anti-racist struggles from 
each other and privileging one particular minority which does not (at 
least in Britain) face significant oppression.

Having said that, however, I don't think we can just ignore the issue. 
Because there are really two potential problems: 1) Actual antisemitism 
within the left; and 2) The perception of antisemitism by the left. I 
don't think that (1) is a widespread problem and I expect every left 
group to keep it that way. However the perception of antisemitism is 
clearly hurtful to the left. NOT because it will drive Jews away from 
the left, since left-wing Jews understand as well as anyone why these 
spurious charges are so frequently heard from our enemies (and sometimes 
parroted within the left). But because any form of racism is so opposite 
our values and the message that we are trying to convey, so that if one 
form of racism is tolerated or excused then one would conclude that we 
have no principles and might equally find other racist ideas acceptable. 
More specifically, if our opposition to Israel is seen as a result of 
antisemitism (as is frequently charged) or if antisemitic ideas are seen 
as legitimate (or excusable) in the fight for Palestinian 
self-determination, then the left may suffer greatly due to that 
perception alone.

It isn't our fault, but it is our problem. I think that what has changed 
since, say, 20 years ago, is the rise of the alt-right (and such forces) 
in conjunction with the red-brown alliance. When leftists engage in 
conspiracy theories (which they have to in order to justify their awful 
positions on Syria, for instance!) and these are the same conspiracy 
theories advanced by the far right, then we ALL become identified with 
the sort of thinking which includes antisemitism among other ideologies 
that have nothing to do with the left or our values. A case in point is 
our insisting -- correctly! -- that "anti-Zionism is not antisemitism." 
As we've been arguing for a long time, we're against Zionism because it 
oppresses the Palestinians and we call for solutions that end the 
oppression of Palestine and these would also be in the interest of Jews 
living in that region (except for the class enemy among them, of 
course). Unfortunately the success of our campaigns in that regard gave 
a brilliant idea to the far right: instead of expressing their hate for 
Jews, just say that they are "pro-Palestinian"! Of course these white 
racists have always seen Arabs in the same light as other people of 
color (and routinely oppose their immigration to Europe), but are smart 
enough to shut up about that while taking up OUR slogans against Israel 
for the WRONG REASONS. It isn't our fault that they are doing that, but 

I'll end there and hope that this point leads to further discussion on 
solutions to the problem I have identified, which I do see as crucial.

- Jeff

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