Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 40 (since 2010-04-12 03:05:01)

Resides somewhere in North America, history professor by trade, revolutionary by devotion — anti-capitalist and anti-Zionist

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  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • W. Jones (replying to yours of 8/31, 7:44 pm), it sounds like you agree with me, if reluctantly. Surely you can understand that to criticize Weir does not mean to take the side of JVP and the CEIO, whom I call gatekeepers because they seek to restrict the movement to limits acceptable to them: two states, 1967 borders, narrow BDS, oppose the “occupation” etc., instead of working for a fully liberated Palestine one state, democratic and secular, from the River to the Sea, with the right of return for all exiles). At bottom the dispute turns over strategy: I believe Palestine can only be liberated by linking to struggles of the downtrodden throughout the world, including the struggle of black youth against the police. In my opinion neither the JVP/CEIO strategy of appealing to liberals (including soft Zionists) nor Alison Weir’s strategy of appealing to “patriots” committed to the “national interest” (including neonazis) will produce anything more than a Palestinian microstate under U.S./Israeli domination, leaving the refugees out. I know that few people here agree with me. I can live with that, and do not seek to ban anyone. But when I see someone doing something that weakens the possibility of building the links I think necessary, I regard it as my duty to speak out.

    • Once again, the objection is not to Alison Weir’s appearance on the neonazi Clay Douglas’s show, but to her failure to challenge his white supremacy while there. The equivalent would be to go on some rabid zionist’s show and join the host in denouncing holocaust denial without saying a word about Palestine. Why is it so hard for so many people, apparently including Alison Weir herself, to admit that in doing so she let down the people of Ferguson and elsewhere who are actual and potential allies of the Palestinians, and was therefore not merely ignoble but unwise? To admit a mistake would not mean confessing to being an antisemite, nor would it vindicate the gatekeepers of JVP and the ETO, although it might mean not being invited back on the show. Sometimes one must choose.

    • I agree with Mooser. It is a mistake to define antisemitism as “racism against Jews.” Apart from the problem with the term “racism”—what is a race?—if it were simply a matter of disliking Jews or attributing to them certain innate characteristics there would be no need for a special term, any more than there is a special term for dislike of Mexicans or Baptists or whatever. Antisemitism is a philosophy of history, as Mooser says, a political analysis.

    • False. I have repeatedly—see the archives—denounced the liberal Zionist gatekeepers who would restrict the movement to limits acceptable to them: two states, 1967 borders, narrow BDS, oppose the “occupation” etc. instead of working for a fully liberated Palestine, one state, democratic and secular, from the River to the Sea, with the right of return for all exiles. My drawing attention to the presence of white supremacists and antisemites in the movement comes from my concern that fascists—I do not mean conventional rightwingers—are fishing for recruits. I realize that few people here regard them as anything more than cranks with no potential; I disagree. For evidence that I am not mad, I point to the rise of those currents in Europe, partly in response to the general social decay and partly in response to the arrogance of the Zionists.

    • The abolitionists opposed slavery because it was evil, and were willing to break up the country over it. Others, including Lincoln, also thought slavery wrong, but opposed it mainly on the grounds that it restricted the rights of free Americans, and they limited their activities to what the Constitution allowed (until the War forced them to adopt more radical measures). Hard to say who made the greater contribution; Lincoln (with characteristic humility) admitted that without Garrison he could not have accomplished what he did. At their best the two approaches complement each other, but it is necessary to drive out some of the people in the “national interests” camp.

    • Annie and others,

      I regret that you found my tone offensive. I do not think of myself as more “anti-racist” than thou, and I am sorry if I came across that way. I have been surprised that the comments on this thread have been running about 10 to 1 against me; I think a few years ago most people would have sided with JVP and the CEO notwithstanding their soft Zionism. It is progress that many people here are no longer intimidated by the fear of being called antisemitic. Now, I fear, we face the opposite problem: many people do not take seriously the danger that antisemitism (real, not imagined) can pose, not to Jews, who are pretty well protected, but to the movement—and in particular the extent to which it opens the door to white supremacists, at a time when the struggle of black people appears to be on the increase and the establishment of links between Palestine and Ferguson is a real possibility (a development that could be of great importance).

      I think part of my difficulty lies in that Alison Weir (and apparently others here) accept the framework of “national interests,” and I do not. I oppose Zionism not because it is a betrayal of my interests as an American (whatever they are) but because it is wrong. I can live with that difference, knowing that I am in the minority, but it must be admitted that the appeal to “national interests” tends to be attractive to rightwingers and patriots (including antisemites and white supremacists), and that therefore it allows them to gain entry to and a hearing in a movement that they hope to use for their own purposes. Just as Alison had her reasons for appearing on Clay Douglas’s show, he had his reasons for inviting her. Frankly, I don’t believe he cares a rap for the Palestinians, and the same is true of James Dean (Veterans Today) and of Atlantaiconoclast. One cannot support the Palestinians while opposing the struggle of black Americans.

      I suspect that Alison (and many here) know that, but they seem to have forgotten it for the moment in the need to gain an audience and oppose the opportunist and self-righteous maneuvers of the liberal Zionists at JVP. I wish they wouldn’t forget it, and I don’t think I should be in trouble for pointing out a danger.

      The quote about the alien plot to kill 60 million white Christian Russians was on Douglas's site, freemerican.com, (attributed to Solzhenitsyn) right under the Confederate flag, followed by Douglas's comment that "they still hate us--especially whites." I just checked and it has been removed, but there is plenty more of the same.

    • Tree, How about this:

      CD: Do you feel that there’s a danger about what’s happening to the Palestinians right now happening to Americans? Is that a possibility? I mean, what happened in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution–Communism–they murdered 60 million white Christian Russians…

      AW: Yeah, I think the number of Russians that were killed and imprisoned has been very unknown to most of us. You know, I am one of those. I have just looked into this occasionally, peripherally, because you stumble across this when you start to look into the history of Israel and the history of Zionism, you stumble across these other episodes of significance that were similarly covered up. I think it’s significant that, I’m trying to think of, there’s a Russian writer.

      CD: Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

      AW: That’s right, Solzhenitsyn.

      CD: Gulag Archipelago. And he points out that the people that ran the concentration camps, the detention centers or whatever you want to call them, in Russia, most of them were Jewish, most of them. And he also says that the Russian people referred to Communism as “Judaism for the Masses.”

      AW: Well the thing about Solzhenitsyn that’s interesting is that he was a Nobel Prize winner, you know, very, very significant literary figure.

      Is the transcript forged? Would you call her comments opposition, even weak? As for the responses to Atlantaiconoclast, it is a big mistake to be so eager to oppose racial oppression on the Jordan that we ignore it on the Mississippi. I specifically asked if other people agreed with his defense of the Ferguson cops, and no one responded. Maybe, as you suggested, no one noticed.

    • In my last comment, instead of saying "so are all those who failed to correct him because he supports them about Weir," I should have said those who give him a pass because he supports them on Weir are making a mistake.

    • Contrary to what several people have said, Alison did not challenge Clay Douglas, even weakly, on anything that mattered to him. The transcript I read (link to ifamericansknewalisonweir.com) showed her not merely remaining silent but actually joining him, at one point bringing up Solzhenitsyn, who characterized the Bolshevik Revolution as an "alien" plot to kill 60 million white Christian Russians, without any prompting from him. I have said repeatedly that I do not object to her appearing on his show; I object to her failure to challenge him. I ask again, what would we think of someone who went on a zionist show and joined the host in denouncing nazis and holocaust deniers and said nothing about Palestine? In answer to Eva and others, antisemitism is not about hating Jews; if that is all it were, there would be no need for a special term, any more than there is a special term for hating Mexicans or Chinese. It is a philosophy of history, that exaggerates the role of Jews in shaping the world. One of its hallmarks is a willingness to sidestep other examples of injustice, for instance white supremacy, that are not directly connected to Jews, or ignore them in search of allies in the fight against zionism. Atlantaiconoclast, who saw nothing racially objectionable in the cops' behavior in Ferguson, and who offered a qualified defense of David Duke, is an example, and so are all those who failed to correct him because he supports them about Weir. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and the only path to victory is to side with the downtrodden everywhere.

    • Wouldn’t it be nice if Alison Weir were to say, I went on Clay Douglas’s show because I wanted to reach his audience with my antizionist message, but I now see that in remaining silent in the face of his w-s and a-s views I was turning my back on black Americans and others deserving of support. Not likely. Wouldn’t it also be nice if JVP were to say, We have held back from opposing Zionism wholeheartedly and without reservation for fear of alienating liberals who, although they may differ with this or that Israeli policy, are not willing to break with the notion of the Jewish state. In an effort to deflect criticism, we have accused others of “racism,” in some cases taking advantage of their mistakes to do so, a tactic we admit is dishonorable. Also not likely.

    • Annie, of course I know that Alison is trying to reach everyone, not just rightwingers. The question is, to what extent is she willing to accommodate w-s and a-s? I have less problem with what she says about Palestine than I have with JVP. It is what she does not say that troubles me. I do not think everyone who signed her petition is a rightwinger. I know there are lots of people who are not themselves w-s or a-s but think it is OK to keep silent in the face of w-s and a-s in order to gain support. She may be one of them. I don’t agree. To side with the oppressed from Gaza to Ferguson is the only path to victory. No, I do not think w-s and their victims can merge, any more than slaveowners and slaves (although individuals can change their minds.) And neoliberalism and liberalism are very different.

    • How gracious of you, Annie. I was trying to say that there is an alternative to JVP’s catering to liberal Zionists and Alison’s catering to white supremacists and anti-semites—notice I did not accuse her of w.s and a-s, I merely said she accommodates them more than I deem proper. Sorry if I was unclear. In 1830 Daniel O’Connell entered the British Parliament, the first Irish Catholic there. A representative of the West Indian slaveowners approached him and offered the support of their twenty-seven members on Irish issues in return for his silence on slavery. He replied, “Gentlemen, God knows I speak for the saddest people the sun sees; but may my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if to save Ireland, even Ireland, I forget the Negro one single hour.” I regard his stance on that occasion as a model.

    • It just hit me, Annie, that the reason you performed such radical surgery on my words is that I came across as dividing the world into liberals (including liberal Zionists) and white-supremacists/antisemites. Not at all.

    • Annie, quite an editing job. My actual words (Aug. 14 2:05 am) were:

      "liberals (including liberal Zionists), who are JVP’s constituency, or to rightwing “patriots” (including white-supremacists and antisemites), the audience Alison Weir is aiming to reach."

      I agree, the world is not divided down the middle like that. There is a another camp, those who side with the oppressed and downtrodden everywhere, from Gaza to Ferguson.

    • I can see why Atlantaiconoclast has no problem with Alison Weir appearing on the radio show of an avowed white supremacist and antisemite—without challenging his views. I am curious: How many others who defend her agree with what he wrote here? I would just like to know who I am dealing with.

    • When the struggle broke out in Ferguson a year ago, Palestinians tweeted their support to the people fighting the police in the streets, along with suggestions on how to deal with tear gas, with which they had experience. However brief, that was a moment of world-historic significance, offering a greater hope of cracking open U.S. support for Zionism and aiding the liberation of Palestine than either appeals to liberals (including liberal Zionists), who are JVP’s constituency, or to rightwing “patriots” (including white-supremacists and antisemites), the audience Alison Weir is aiming to reach. One cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

    • I take her response not as a deflection but as support. She was not at lunch with a few racists, but on a radio show with an audience, and she could have said, for instance, "Whatever you think of the Bolshevik Revolution, describing it as a Jewish plot to kill white Christians is the kind of racial thinking that underlies zionism."

    • Danaa describes America as “an actual nation, with its own interests and issues.” My view may be outdated, but I think the workers have no country, and the notion of national interests covers up the reality of class rule. The struggle for human freedom demands solidarity with all the oppressed, not placing one cause above another on “tactical” grounds. The idea that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” which I think underlies the defenses of Weir’s decision to appear on Clay Douglass’s show, has generally led to disaster. I do not object to her appearing on his show—by all means, get the word out. I do object to her failure to challenge his white supremacism and anti-Semitism while there. What would we say of someone who appeared on a Zionist show and denounced nazis without saying a word about Palestine?

    • The following words, attributed to Solzhenitsyn, appear on Clay Douglas’s website (www.freeamerican.com), right under the Confederate flag:

      “You must understand, the leading Bolsheviks who took over Russia were not Russians. They hated Christians. Driven by ethnic hatred they tortured and slaughtered millions of Russians without a shred of human remorse. It cannot be overstated. Bolshevism committed the greatest human slaughter of all time. The fact that most of the world is ignorant and uncaring about this enormous crime is proof that the global media is in the hands of the perpetrators.”

      I do not know whether Solzhenitsyn actually said those words, but Douglas cites them approvingly, and follows up with his own comment: “They call them Zionists or Neocons today. And they hate Americans of all colors today! Especially whites.” One need not defend the Bolsheviks to recognize what that statement represents. Note: "especially whites."

      The transcript of the interview (link to ifamericansknewalisonweir.com) shows that she was perfectly at ease with Douglas’s reference to the victims of Bolshevism as “60 million white Christian Russians,” that she brought up Solzhentsyn on her own without any prompting, and that she “corrected” Douglas only on a few details of no consequence.

      I do not object to her appearing on his show (four times). I do object to her failure to challenge him for his antisemitism and white supremacism. What would we say of someone who appeared on a Zionist radio show and denounced nazis, antisemites and holocaust deniers without saying a word about Palestine?

      Finally, none of what I say should be taken as approval of JVP or the US Campaign (whose wish to defend their own soft Zionism may explain their attacks on Weir) but to shift the focus of the discussion from Weir’s misdeeds to them is a classic smear tactic.

  • Netanyahu's speech and the American Jewish condition
    • Phil writes: "A group doesn’t see half its population wiped out in Europe in a genocide without deep scarring."

      The fatal flaw: So long as Jews throughout the world think they are part of the same "group" (other than the human race, to which all belong), their ability to oppose zionism will be limited. I prefer Rosa Luxemburg to Phil:

      “What do you want with these special Jewish pains? I feel as close to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations in Putamayo and the blacks of Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play ball… I have no special corner in my heart for the ghetto: I am at home in the entire world, where there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

  • Shlomo Sand resigns from being Jewish. Totally. Mostly. Almost
    • Since the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in the U.S., the fall of (legal) apartheid in S. Africa and the Easter Accords in Ireland, Israel is the last standing example of old-style racial oppression, where the status of first-class citizen is explicitly assigned by the government on the basis of descent (or ascribed descent).

    • "you might say that “Jewish” in Israel is officially like “white” has “traditionally” been in the US. Big difference."

      My point exactly. Thank you, Mooser .

    • The groups I cited above do not even share a common language. Many Arabs who have grown up in Israel speak the Israeli language (sometimes called "Hebrew") better than recent arrivals from the U.S. or Russia. Do they qualify for "first-class citizenship"?

    • What is the "ethnic dimension" to being a Jew in Israel? Given that "many Israeli Jews have no interest in religion," what "ethnicity" is shared by Mizrahi, Americans, Russians and Poles, all of whom are officially recognized as Jews? Except for the religious, to be a "Jew" in Israel is to belong to a state-defined group that carries with it privileges (and burdens) -- like "white" traditionally has been in the U.S.

    • Exactly what it meant historically to be white in the U.S.: someone who in return for privileges and advantages could be relied upon to suppress rebellions of slaves and the indigenous.

  • WATCH: Ultra-Zionists protest Muslim-Jewish wedding saying miscegenation is 'gravest threat to the Jewish people'
    • Sorry I missed the irony. But "white" is not an ethnicity. An ethnicity is based on common culture--language, religion, etc. "White" is a social position, assigned regardless of such elements--like "Jew" in Israel. The Zionists took people from fifty countries, speaking different languages, practicing different religions (or no religion at all), and assigned them the status of "Jew," a position with social, political and economic (but not cultural) meaning. That is what modern scholars refer to as a "race" (a purely social formation, since biologically "race" makes no sense).

    • Many people could have predicted what happened, and did so, including Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein and a long list of Jews and non-Jews including the American Council for Judaism. Jews as such are not an ethnicity, any more than Methodists, although in some places, e.g. Eastern Europe, their distinctive way of life gave them characteristics of an ethnicity. But that never applied to all Jews.

    • Many people could have predicted what happened, and did so, including Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein and a long list including Jews and non-Jews. Jews as such are not an ethnicity, any more than Methodists, although in some places, e.g. Eastern Europe, their distinctive way of life gave them characteristics of an ethnicity. But that never applied to all Jews.

    • And they wonder why the world thinks they are crazy. According to Talmudic law, a Jew who converts remains a Jew. Hence Czarist Russia was more tolerant than Israel. Conversion is an individual choice. But in Israel even if a Palestinian converted it would not be recognized by the state -- any more than pre-civil rights southern states or apartheid South Africa would have allowed black people to gain citizenship rights by declaring themselves "white." Nothing more clearly exposes the racial foundation of Zionism and the "Jewish" state. Imagine the possibilities: millions returning to their native lands and regaining possession of the properties taken from them, merely by going through a simple procedure, like acquiring U.S. citizenship, or at most the rites of preparing for the Bar-Mitzvah. It would mark the end of the "Jewish" state -- an outcome to be welcomed -- for when everyone is a Jew (a citizen of Israel/Palestine) no one is a "Jew" (member of a favored race).

    • Why does the headline refer to them as "ultra-zionists" rather than zionists? What is the difference?

  • What I said to the couple holding a banner with a swastika on it
    • I see nothing wrong with using the swastika to highlight the parallels between Nazism and actions of the Zionist state.

  • UK activists shut down Israeli arms factory
  • Avishai says we misrepresented his views
    • Conflict, even to the point of violence, among Americans over this issue, and particularly among Americans who identify as Jews, would be welcome, because it would signal the breakdown of the consensus that supports the criminal zionist state. It could be potentially as important as the divisions among southern whites that played a major role in defeating the slaveholder regime.

    • I have generally held that once the Jewish state is replaced by a single democratic state from the river to the sea, and once the Palestinians have returned, with compensation, and once the Zionist criminals (and the Palestinians who collaborated with them) have been dealt with, then all those who live there and agree to abide by the laws should be allowed to remain, on the grounds that it would be wrong to expel people from their homes simply because of the group they were born into. Mooser argues (post of July 25, 2:07 am) that it would be up to the indigenous Palestinians which of the settlers be allowed to remain. Given the fact of a Palestinian majority combined with one person, one vote, isn’t the difference between what Mooser argues and what I have maintained of little weight? I realize the discussion is academic given the actual situation, but I would like to hear from Mooser (and others) on this point.

  • Boston transit authority pulls 'apartheid' ads-- for 'demeaning' Israel
    • Wouldn't it be good if people in Boston put the ads up again in defiance of the MBTA's unconstitutional act? Are there people willing to organize that action?

  • Chomsky and BDS
    • Rosross: "There is no Jewish race, no Jewish people – it is a religion. You convert and you are Jewish – you do not change race or nationality. You drop the religion and you are not Jewish – you do not change race or nationality."

      Could not agree more. People need to hear this, and pay attention. But there is more: in Israel, "Jew" is a legal status, buttressed by law (just as "white" was in the U.S. and South Africa). The zionists took people from fifty countries, speaking different languages and practicing different religions (or no religion at all) and declared them "Jews" based on the fiction (taken seriously only by zionists and nazis) that they share common descent from Abraham.

    • A binational state, with “regional autonomy (as either a Jewish or Arab area)” leaves open the possibility, indeed guarantees, that majority Jewish areas will discriminate against non-Jews (and conceivably the reverse). The only truly democratic solution is the single democratic state—one person, one vote—with religious, linguistic, etc. freedom for every group, but not sovereignty over territory. Chomsky’s support for what he calls the binational state is proof of his commitment to Zionism.

    • A binational state, with “regional autonomy (as either a Jewish or Arab area)” leaves open the possibility, indeed guarantees, that majority Jewish areas will discriminate against non-Jews (and conceivably the reverse). The only truly democratic solution is the single democratic state—one person, one vote—with religious, linguistic, etc. freedom for every group, but not divided sovereignty.

  • Visit to Hebron (or How can I explain this living hell to a nice liberal Jew in Brookline?)
  • 'J Street has to change or die': Divestment battle exposes tactical rift among liberal Zionists
    • Chomsky's view of BDS reminds me of a talk Finkelstein gave in Boston where he argued that it was a mistake to ask of someone more than he can give, and gave as an example his own willingness to give up his shirt to the homeless sleeping out-of-doors in the cold, but added that if anyone asked him to give up a spare room in his apartment he wasn’t ready, and so it would be a mistake to ask him. Evidently he identifies with those who have warm clothes and homes rather than those who lack them, just as Chomsky identifies with the zionists (in spite of his disagreements with them) rather than with their victims. It obviously never occurred to either of them that the movement is not about asking but about taking.

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