Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Semitism’

Is Zionism racist? Should Israel exist?

April 8, 2021

Kibbutz ceremony, 1951 (Wikipedia Commons)

It isn’t possible to understand Zionism without understanding that Jews have a basic, understandable fear of being wiped out.

In medieval times, Christians regarded Jews as Christ-killers.

In modern times, blood-and-soil nationalists regarded Jews as disloyal foreigners.

Both forms of antisemitism were existential threats.

One of the doctrines of Christianity is that Jesus is the prophesied Jewish messiah. The question arises: Why don’t the Jews recognize their own messiah?

One easy answer is that Jews must be an exceptionally wicked people.  And from there, it is an easy to to saying they must be persecuted, killed or expelled.

In modern times, Jews were allowed out of their ghettos to participate in civic life. But a new question arose. The basis of nationhood was blood and soil—a group of people of the same lineage occupying the same territory.

But Jews are of different lineage, and they have no territory.   How do they fit in with modern nationalism?  They don’t.  And from there, it is an easy step to regard all Jews as potential or actual traitors.

This form of antisemitism inspired the Dreyfus case., in which a French Jewish artillery officer was falsely accused of treason.  The older form of antisemitism inspired the Beilis case, in which a Russian factory manager was falsely accused of the ritual murder of a Christian child.

Justice eventually prevailed in both cases, but the founders of the Zionist movement believed that Jews needed a homeland of their own—not just as a refuge from antisemitism, but because they were a nation with the same right to a homeland in which they were in the majority..

That was one of the roots of Zionism.  The other was a fundamentalist religious nationalism, inspired by Biblical prophecies, that links the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.  There are fundamentalist Christian Zionists, based on the same prophecies.

Zionism in its early years was a controversial movement among Jewish people.  Jews in western Europe and North America mostly regarded themselves primarily as Americans, Britons, French, Germans and so on who happened to be a different religion than their fellow citizens.

This changed during the Second World War.  Hitler’s attempted genocide of the Jews was matched by an unwillingness of Allied nations, including the USA, to accept more than a token number of Jewish refugees.  The British government did its best to prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine, lest they provoke the Arabs into revolt.

I am old enough to remember the Allied war propaganda during the Second World War.  Hitler’s antisemitism was not emphasized.  Knowledge of the Holocaust was suppressed.  I think now that Roosevelt, Churchill and other Allied leaders feared to give credence to Hitler’s claim that the war was being fought on behalf of the Jews.

After the war, Europe was filled with “displaced persons” camps.  All the DPs had homelands to which they could return, except for the Jews.  So a lot of them headed for Israel.

Invading a country and driving out the inhabitants is now regarded as a crime against humanity.  But if I had been one of those Jewish DPs, I wouldn’t have cared.  All I would have cared about was having a place I could call my own.

Of course, if I had been a Palestinian Arab at the time, I wouldn’t have cared about the plight of the Jewish refugees.  I wouldn’t have seen any reason why I should lose everything because of events in Europe.

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Gabor Mate on anti-Semitism and Zionism

November 11, 2019

Dr. Gabor Maté is a physician who lives in Vancouver and writes about addiction and childhood trauma.

Born in Hungary, he is a Holocaust survivor and a disillusioned Zionist.  He is shown in the video above being interviewed by his journalist son, Aaron Mate, about anti-Semitism, Zionism and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

He said he has gone through three disillusionments in his lifetime—with Hungarian Communism, with American exceptionalism and with Zionism. Disillusionment is painful, he said, but it is better to be free of illusion than a slave to it.

The interview is well worth watching, as is an earlier interview about Russiagate.

LINKS

Gabor Mate on the misuse of anti-Semitism and why fewer Jews identify with Israel, an interview for The Gray Zone.

America in denial: Gabor Mate on the psychology of Russiagate, an interview for The Gray Zone.  With transcript.

How dangerous is the alt-right?

May 8, 2019

A pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden on Feb. 20, 1939

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A left-wing writer who calls himself Jay Firestone wrote an interesting article and gave an interesting interview about his three months’ experience hanging out with the “alt-right” in New York City.

My three takeaways are (1) yes, these guys really are Nazis, even though they don’t say so in public; (2) they have been effectively marginalized for the time being; but (3) they could become a major political force if things go on as they are.

The alt-right … … is a response to decades of decline in standards of living for working people, amid the proliferation of unemployment and meaningless, dead-end jobs.  Moreover, no coherent leftist movement exists through which everyday people can make sense of this world and collaborate across lines of race and gender to build a better one.  As a result, many of those who reject the status quo blame their problems on immigrants, feminism, trans rights, and other bogeymen, rather than the capitalist social relations from which the problems facing working people inevitably proceed.

The real threat today is not that small pockets of white-supremacist ideologues exist.  It’s that their vision of society might become the only one that makes sense to ordinary white people, for whom reality increasingly seems like a battle between racially-defined interest groups for slivers from a shrinking pie.  

From the article in Commune

It’s fashionable to say that the alt-right, and the more mainstream Trump movement, is rooted in white working-class resentment of black and immigrant advancement. This idea gets us absolutely nowhere.  It’s based on the economic fallacy that all the jobs and assets lost by white people in the last four decades have gone to black people and immigrants. That’s totally wrong.  Things are getting worse for just about everyone.  … …

Now you have austerity dressed up in this business-friendly liberalism; you literally have downwardly mobile white people being scolded, being told, “You’re only resentful because black people have a seat at the table,” or “You should be ashamed of yourself, check your privilege.”  

I mean, if your options are very narrow, you are one health emergency away from destitution, and these self-righteous liberals are saying you need to feel bad for how great you have it, you need to give up a little to atone for the sins of the past, the natural response is “fuck that.”  Only very comfortable people would embrace a politics based on giving up what you have so that individual people can succeed in your place.  And I can’t think of an easier politics to organize against.

Thus the big threat that the alt-right poses is the way they can tell white people, especially downwardly mobile white people: You don’t have to feel bad; you don’t have to apologize to anybody. You can actually feel good about yourself, about being white, and turn your back on humanity. 

From the interview in Jewish Currents

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Why Hitler is the benchmark for evil

September 14, 2015

Comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis are thrown about freely these days.  Compulsory vaccination, the Tea Party movement, President Obama, Planned Parenthood and Donald Trump have all been compared to Hitler and the Nazis.

People who talk like that have forgotten, or maybe never knew, just what Hitler and the Nazis stood for and what they attempted to do.

Over the weekend, I read an article about Hitler by the historian Timothy Snyder and an interview with Snyder about his new book, Black Earth, which made clear just how distinctively evil Hitler was.

adolf-hitlerHitler was a racist who believed, literally, that Germans had no more in common with inferior races such as the Slavs than they did with animals.

He thought Germans had a right and duty to kill off members of inferior races to reduce their population and make room for Germans, and to treat the survivors as work animals.

The slaughter of World War Two and the death camps were only a foretaste of what would have happened if the Nazis had won.

As Snyder wrote, Hitler thought that, literally, nothing mattered but the biological struggle for survival between different races.   There are racists, like Harper Lee’s fictional Atticus Finch, who believe that some races are inherently superior, but that the superior race should treat inferiors with justice and kindness provided they “know their place”.

Hitler would have none of this.  He thought kindness toward the weak was a fatal weakness in the struggle for existence.  He saw the world as overpopulated, and believed Germans could create living space for themselves only by slaughtering the inhabitants of eastern Europe and taking their land..

Nations and governments were of little importance in Hitler’s mind.   Ultimate reality for him was the racial struggle for existence.

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