Israel Shamir

The Fighting Optimist

The New Bund at Old Tricks

(My response to Greenstein’s attack on Gilad Atzmon et al)

Tony Greenstein (Blind eye to anti-semitism) is obsessed with Jewishness. He views the world through the prism of a Jewish Nationalist. He judges people by one criterion which he shares with my late grandmother: “Is he/she good for Jews?” He and his friends “Jews Against Zionism” claim to be antizionists, but Zionism is just a form of Jewish bourgeois nationalism, and not the only one. By creating their Jews-only organisation, Greenstein et al enforced Jewish separatism and caused unnecessary and dangerous split in the Palestine solidarity movement.

History repeats itself. Over a hundred years ago, the Russian Jewish socialists, Bund, (antizionists to a man) asked Lenin for permission to join his new movement as a separate collective member. ‘Everyone of you is welcome to join the common struggle of workers against Russian and Jewish moneybags, but as a separate group you would just split our forces’, he replied, and expelled the Bund. Eventually many Russian Jews joined the movement of Russian workers, and together they changed the course of history. The Bund withered, some of its members drifting to Zionism.

But history repeats itself as a farce, in words of Marx. Bund had hundreds of thousands members; the New Bund, Jews against Zionism is a tiny grouping which mustered one hundred signatures world-wide, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv to London. Their contribution to the struggle is zero, their nuisance value is much higher for they mainly attack antizionists.

I can imagine a few things Jews can meaningfully do together (pray?), but political struggle for equality in Palestine does not call for a separate Jews-only discussion. Moreover, it is a self-defeating course. The concept of Jews for Justice, Jews for Peace and other separatist all-Jewish groups in pursuit of common goals appears to me about as justifiable as that of Whites against Apartheid. Equality in South Africa was achieved by overcoming such dubious groupings, by the color-blind force of the ANC. The civil rights struggle in the Southern states was carried out by Blacks and Whites together. It appears that the cause of justice in Palestine should not be different. Why, then, such groups exist?

Extremely wealthy leaders of Jewish organisations are worried by high desertion rate in their rank and file. They spend billions trying to stop assimilation and return descendents of Jews into the fold. A UJA- organised program The Birthright brings thousands of young people of Jewish origin into Jerusalem from all over the world – all paid, generous accomodation supplied – in order to discourage intermarriage and promote marriages within the community. They build the world-wide continuation of Sharon’s Wall in order to separate Jews and non-Jews.

Jews Against Zionism is a part and parcel of this effort; an attempt to keep even people who understood criminality of Zionism, within the fold. In their attack on Gilad Atzmon, Paul Eisen and me they repeat verbally accusations delivered by Aaronovitch and Pollard in The Times, and rude lies disseminated by ADL-financed internet sites, because we stand for full integration of descendents of Jews in the countries they live, for their assimilation, for putting paid to the reactionary idea of Jewish exclusiveness.

Our view agrees with Marx and Lenin’s reading of Jewishness. In 1903, Lenin wrote in theIskra, and his words are extremely relevant to the present discussion: “the idea of a Jewish ‘nationality’ is scientifically wrong and politically reactionary, not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (the Zionists), but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social-Democracy (the Bundists). The idea of a Jewish nationality runs counter to the interests of the Jewish proletariat, for it fosters among them, directly or indirectly, a spirit hostile to assimilation, the spirit of the ‘ghetto’.”

The Jews Against Zionism are but a Trotskyite offshoot of Bundism, and at least one of their members and co-signers of anti-Atzmon petition, Abraham Weizfeld, openly calls himself ‘a Bundist’. Their antizionism does not impress us overmuch, as an important Marxist thinker Georgi Plekhanov ( noticed that “The Bundists want to establish their Zion here, not in Palestine” and added a witticism: “The Bundists are nothing more than Zionists suffering from sea-sickness”. This opinion was shared by Zionists, and Ber Borokhov prophesied that “one day the future Jewish State will have to erect a gold monument to the Bund for its illustrious achievements.” It did not happen yet, but not for a want of trying.

Tony’s accusations are difficult to refute; for they are based on his inability to understand a text, whether for reasons of dumbness or for more sinister reasons. For instance, I write: “There is no ‘tainted blood’, acceptance of Christ is the Final Solution of the Jewish question, while assimilation and intermarriage is the way to undo the vestiges of Jewish separatism” and he interprets this sentence as “the salvation of the Palestinians lies in the conversion of the Jews, the ‘christ-killers’, to christianity”. Symptomatically, he changes in all quotes Christ for christ, and Christianity for christianity, as in his view of Jewish nationalist, the capital letter should be preserved for Jews only. I write: “No Jew is responsible for misdeeds of his ancestors”; but he insists: “He calls us Christ-killers”.

His attack on our comrades Paul Eisen and Jeff Blankfort is equally unwarranted. Mr Greenstein is obsessed with the subject of the Jewish Holocaust and divides people into sheep and goats on basis of their attitude to this narrative. What is so special about this narrative? Why he does not attack deniers of the Armenian massacre (by Kurds), deniers of the Azeri massacre (by Armenians), deniers of the Jenin massacre (by Jews), deniers of the Huguenot massacre (Night of St Bartholomew), and deniers of Dresden Massacre (by Brits)?  If he is such an antizionists, why he is not worried that his ally Steven Plaut, another enemy of Atzmon and me, who quotes him word-perfect, denies the Deir Yassin Massacre ( )? Why he does not picket Plaut?

Our view is quite different. The Holocaust narrative is used to enforce Jewish separatism and specialness, it is connected with that racist slur of “natural criminality of non-Jews”. Not in vain, the leading ideologist of Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt, also preaches against intermarriage which ‘spoils purity of Jewish blood’. We support deconstruction of the narrative. The very term Holocaust Denier is a quasi-religious expression akin to Christ Denier, a usual accusation by the Inquisition, but as we saw, Tony is ready to deny Christ even his capital C.

While Tony accuses others of ‘racism’, he and his chums are as racist as anybody. Tony G. calls me “an ex-Russian/Swedish fascist now living in Israel” – this is a hoodwink way of saying “he is not a Jew”. Tony’s right-wing Jewish friends and allies of are not that reticent and say so loudly. So did his friend ‘antiracist and Marxist’ Roland Rance. This is beneath my dignity to discuss. I can’t even argue against accusation of ‘fascism’ as Tony G. did not produce a single line that connects me to the fascist doctrine.

The New Bundists just unable to cope with the fact that at their letter of protest, the Socialist Bookshop and the SWP did not drop everything and stood to attention. The British Communists may well take to their heart a retort of Vladimir Lenin, who wrote in 1913 from Krakow: “Dear comrades, if we shall keep mum today, tomorrow the Jewish Marxists will ride on our backs… The Bund turns socialism into nationalism”[1].

[1] Complete Works, v. 48, page 134, Moscow

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Updated: June 14, 2016 — 1:20 pm

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