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Claude Lanzman director of the ‘Shoah’ dies aged 92: A Great Voice for the Just Passes.

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Claude Lanzmann has died in Paris at the age of 92.

Esteemed French journalist, ‘Shoah’ director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92.

Agence France Press.

laude Lanzmann, the esteemed French journalist and director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, died at his Paris home on Thursday at the age of 92.

“Claude Lanzmann died at his home. He had been very, very weak for several days,” a spokeswoman for publishing house Gallimard told AFP.

Lanzmann was the chief editor of “Les Temps Modernes”, the ground-breaking literary review founded by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir after World War II.

Lanzmann was a friend of the philosophers, and famously became involved with De Beauvoir while working as Sartre’s secretary. He was 26 and De Beauvoir was 44.

The golden couple of French intellectual life had a famously open relationship, and enjoyed – and endured – a number of similar love triangles.

Lanzmann went on to make the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, the nine-and-a-half hour epic which is, for many, the most haunting film made about the murder of six million Jews during World War II.

The chronicle took Lanzmann 11 years to make and is his best-known work.

Lanzmann was born November 27, 1925 in the Bois-Colombes suburb north of Paris. His Jewish parents immigrated to France from Eastern Europe where they raised Claude, his sister Evelyne, and younger brother Jacques.

His first act of resistance as a Jewish schoolboy in wartime France was to refuse to write an essay in praise of its collaborationist leader Marshal Petain. He later took to the hills to join fighters in central France ambushing German patrols as part of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF), a political youth organization close to the French communist party.

Review, 2011.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. A Review, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Israel.

Andrew Coates.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. Gallimard 2009 (Paperback 2010)

Claude Lanzmann (born 1925) is the director of Shoah (1985), the landmark film on the Holocaust. Against the documentary’s theme of methodically organised death, his title, Le Lièvre de Patagonie, evokes the Hare, a symbol of fertility and renewed life (the original ‘Easter Bunny’). Lanzmann’s book, he states, was written with this animal constantly in mind.

In Shoah while Rudolf Vrba talks off-camera of his escape from the Birkenau extermination camp there is a shot of a hare sliding under the barbed wire. Lanzmann likes the creatures, he respects them as noble, and if there were transmigration of souls he would wish to be reincarnated as one. Glimpsing one of a legendary South American species in his car’s headlights in Patagonia signalled the moment that he felt fully in the land, vrais ensemble (truly together). The hare is a sign of a vital leap to freedom that infuses his own “joie sauvage” (wild happiness). It is this incarnation that constantly springs to Lanzmann’s mind as he unravels this account of his life.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie is a record of Lanzmann’s out-of-the-ordinary intellectual, political and creative career, infused with joy, and sadness. It passes from the youthful résistant, to the culture and commitments that led him to Jean-Paul Sartre, and a “quasi-maritale’ companionship with Simone de Beauvoir (from 1952 to 1959). A contributor from 1952 onwards to Les Temps Modernes (publisher’s site here) he provides an important first-hand account of this review’s active support for anti-colonialism during the Algerian war for independence.

The memories are much more than a record of events; they are an affirmation of his beliefs, and loyalties. Lanzmann’s commitment to Israel, expressed in the partisan documentary Pourquoi Israel (1970) remains at the heart of his being. In Le Monde last year Lanzmann was cited saying that, “Je suis d’autant propalestinien que je suis pro-israélian, et récroproquement” (I am as pro-Palestinian as I am pro-Israeli and the other way around). But there is little doubt that his empathy for the Jewish state marks his recollections the more, making the author a rare living defender of the left’s post-War support for Israel.

Lanzmann does not just feel an affinity, as somebody with a secular-Jewish cultural background, with Israeli people. He considers that he is, despite the intensity of his French culture (to the depths of his prose). He remains “Français de hazard, pas du tout ‘de souche’” – French by chance, not of French stock. (Page 330) The Jews are “mon peuple”.

Visiting the new state in 1948 Lanzmann found that compared to real Israelis, who had their country in their “os et le sang” (bone and blood) he was “un elfe” who weighed nothing. He has always, without Biblical faith, been astonished and full of “admiration” for the Jewish religion (Page 730). Such opinions (and his eulogy  of  Israel’s army in the film Tsahal, 1994), are in Lanzmann’s marrow. To this extent his praise of the Hebrew state’s military is  impossible to forgive or forget.  

La Guillotine.

Lanzmann begins with the words, “La guillotine – plus généralement la peine capitale et les différents modes d’administration de la mort – aura été la grande affaire de ma vie” – the Guillotine – and more widely capital punishment and the different forms of meeting out death – will be the main concern of my life. An adolescent trip to the cinema in the late ‘thirties to see L’affaire du courier de Lyon (under the post-Revolutionary ‘Directory’) was his introduction to the horror of watching an innocent executed. The view of the scaffolding around the  blade, and the fact that the sentence was carried out in public, preoccupied him for months.

Lanzmann is haunted by tortures, by Hitler and Stalin’s mass murders, Goya’s Fusilamentos del 3 de Mayo, and the hostages that Islamists put to death and record like “films pronographiques”. His life was dedicated to standing for right against repression. The national liberation struggle in Algeria was met by French repression, which included the death penalty. Lanzmann and de Beauvoir worked with the lawyer Jacques Vergès to defend the condemned under this threat. He campaigned for the Catalan anarchist, Salvador Puig Antich, condemned by the Caudillo to die by the garrotte in 1974.

This was not just the indignation of the righteous. It was bound to Lanzmann’s own past. Under the Occupation in 1943 while studying at the lycée Blaise-Pascal, at Clermont-Ferrand (in the Auverne) he decided to join the Resistance. He became involved with the Communist Party (PCF). The former school student was soon amongst maquisards in the Haute-Loire, and a member of the FTP (Communist, Francs-tireurs et partisans). For refusing to carry out a suicidal mission – transporting weapons through German controlled areas – the local PCF put him under sentence of death.

Escaping this fate Lanzmann resumed his education in post-war Paris, in the prestigious “hypokhâgne” at Louis-le-Grand (preparatory course for the elite French ‘Grandes écoles’). The PCF were active in the college. Undaunted he approached the secretary of the school’s Communist cell to ask that the “sentence de mort prononcée contre moi par le Parti” be carried out (Page 207) The official, later a well known left Socialist politician, Jean Poperen, did not, on this occasion, as the representative of the Party of the “75,000 shot”, add another number to the total.

There is so much rich detail, often supplied at a tangent with the unities of space, time and action, in Le Lièvre de Patagonie that the linear narrative of Lanzmann’s life is sometimes hard to keep steadily in mind.  There is his troubled family background. There is his period as a proto-academic, enraptured by Sartre’s trilogy, Les Chemins de la liberté (1945), studying Hegel, and so poor he stole books from the shop of the Presses Universitaires de France, to resell – until memorably caught and disgraced.

There is Lanzmannteaching in post-War Berlin at the Freie Universität, where he exposed much of the teaching staff’s unrepentant National Socialism. There is the moving story of his actress sister, Évelyne, who was Gilles Deleuze’s lover, and then, after acting in Sartre’s plays, became his lover, only to later commit suicide in 1966. And there is the meeting with De Beauvoir, le Castor, holidays across Europe, and their political activism.

Little emerges  in Le Lièvre on Les Temps Modernes’ relations with International Communism, or on Sartre’s judgement that a friendly stand towards the PCF was a “means of access” to the French working class. By contrast there are interesting accounts of Lanzmann’s role in the activities of the group around Sartre and de Beauvoir during the Algerian war, which came to dominate the country’s political life during the 1950s. By the end of that decade their alliance with the Algerian fighters for independence, led to what became known as ‘third worldism’. They stood up for anti-colonialism in the hardest conditions, risking their lives to defend Algerian prisoners, and the rights of North Africans. All who has signed the celebrated Manifeste de 121(1960) which called for those conscripted in the French army to refuse to serve in Algeria were under threat. Jobs were lost, and Sartre’s flat was attacked with plastic explosives.

In 1958, with 4 more years of the Algerian war to go, Lanzmann was a journalist (writing for France Dimanche as well as Les Temps Modernes). As a man of the left he, like Sartre and de Beauvoir, made his own pilgrimage to ‘socialist’ lands. He visited North Korea and China as part of an organised delegation (with Western Communist participation). In the land of Juche and “pression stalinienne…effrayante” (fearful Stalinist pressure) Lanzmann had a fleeting contact with a Korean woman, more a Brief Encounter (which he evokes to describe the fleeting tryst) than an affair. China, though more relaxed, offered the less compelling charms of an interview with French-speaking Chen Yi, Foreign Affairs Minister, on the country’s geopolitical strategy.

Third-Worldism.

The Sartre-Beauvoir circle embraced Third-Worldism (though the author of the Second Sex appears never to have been wholly convinced. This was most marked in their relations with the Algerian resistance. While Sartre and de Beauvoir replaced interest in the old Soviet bloc, for Cuba, and in 1960 they did some safe revolutionary tourism there, it was Lanzmann who got closest to its dangerous side.

A small number of people on the French left had worked closely enough with the Algerian revolutionaries, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) to become “porteurs de valises” (carrying arms for them). While far from engaged in the armed struggle Lanzmann met the FLN in person, in its Tunisian bases. It was there that he encountered Franz Fanon, the renowned theorist of anti-colonialism (and today largely, if remembered, largely appropriated by Anglophone ‘post-colonial’ studies).

Sartre would write the Preface, as Fanon requested, for The Wretched of the Earth (1964). He asserted that “The native cures himself of colonial neurosis by thrusting out the settler through force of arms” “For in the first days of the revolt you must kill; to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses with one stone”. That is, the, highly contestable, claim that the physical fight for freedom is the route to cathartic self-assertion.

Despite his unwavering anti-colonialism Fanon seemed equally aware of the FLN’s internal disputes, the occasion for a different kind of catharsis, a purging of emotions onto any human object to hand. These were, he alluded to Lanzmann, were ferocious, though “secret”. His interlocutor sensed that the Martinique himself “connaissait la peur” (knew fear) (Page 492). With good reason, Lanzmann observes. The FLN and its supporters, not to mention ordinary Algerians, were the victims of a terrifying level of repression, with 500,000 troops at under French command, and special units prepared to use torture, while the French Algerian ultras, in the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) rained down terror against all Maghrebin rebels (including those on the French left deemed supportive of them).

The Algerian National Liberation Front, (FLN) and its army’s (ALN) cadres were responsible for extreme acts of violence against their nationalist opponents (the Mouvement pour le triomph des libertés démocratiques, MTLD) and civilian critics. They suffered from vicious quarrels inside the apparatus, and readily resorted to force to settle disputes. On top of this were rivalries between clans, and ethnic groups, Arabs and Kabyles. The reality showed that violence was not a vehicle for liberation and therapy.

For Lanzmann, however, the need to back the struggle meant a self-imposed silence (with an eye to possible FLN reaction). He therefore kept information about the use of terror inside the liberation movement to himself. He wrote nothing, and said nothing (Page 501). One must say however that Simone de Beauvoir in 1963 did not hesitate to cite Fanon’s allusions to “les dissensions, les intrigues, les liquidations, les oppositions…” without seeming bound by a revolutionary omerta, even if she gave no details. (La force des choses. Vol ll.) An element of religious conservatism, including support for polygamy, was already manifesting itself.

After Independence in 1962 there were retributions against real and alleged collaborators with the French that exceeded France’s 1945 épurations. The socialist aspects of the Algerian revolution did not last long. The FLN’s military wing, under Boumediene, soon took charge of an independent nation and laid the foundations for an authoritarian state run for the benefit of its rulers and their clients.

Lanzmann barely touches on this: he is more concerned that early promises of friendship (by a certain Captain Bouteflika) with Israel were not kept. An Independent Algeria announced that it would send 100,000 men to liberate Palestine. As a sign of the times, Fanon’s widow had re-married, to a militant anti-Israeli, whose views she adopted to the extent of wanting Sartre’s famous Preface to The Wretched of the Earth suppressed, – after the philosopher had signed a 1967 petition, following the 6 Day War backing Israel. The balance-sheet was not positive, “Je croyais qu’on pouvait vouloir en même temps l’indepéndence de l’Algérie et l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Je m’étais trompé.”(Page 505) – I believed one could wish for an independent Algeria and the existence of the Israeli state at the same time. I was wrong.

Israel and 68.

For years Lanzmann was convinced, despite his own experience of the French Communist Party’s cynicism and treachery during the 2nd World War, and what he knew at the time (still less at present) about the dark-side of Stalinism, that the USSR was “le ciel sur ma tête” – the sky over my head (Page 546) That this gradually evaporated seems less significant, as we have just indicated, than what he saw massing against Israel. That was a real menace: to destroy the Jewish state.

It is forgotten today that many on the left shared Lanzmann’s views in the late sixties. In 1967 he edited a special issue of Les Temps Modernes where Arabs and Jews debated with relative good-will. Sartre, during the Six Day war, and the Yom Kipper war, backed Israel. Sartre naturally is better remembered for another standpoint. During his period of close association with the Mao-Spontex Gauche Prolétarienne (GP), he became pro-Palestinian. As Lanzmann notes, with regret, the ageing thinker wrote in La Cause du Peuple a strident defence of the Munich massacre, saying that “Dans cette guerre, la seule arme dont disposent les Palestiniens est le terrorisme.” – the only arm which the Palestinians have at their disposal is terrorism. (Page 573)

Lanzmann attempts to explain, and even to explain away, Sartre’s violent streak. He notes that Sartre’s Preface to The Wretched of the Earth, which outdid Fanon’s psychological justification of aggression, appears to have been an exercise in “philosophie concrète” (concrete philosophy) and conceptual clarity Which seems a roundabout way of saying he didn’t really mean to endorse mass killings and cruelty in any form. As evidence, Lanzmann claims that there were some concrete limits Sartre posed to European terrorism.

Lanzmann believes that it was largely Sartre’s influence that prevented the French far-left from passing to full-scale terrorism on the German or Italian model (Page 575), though in fact, a small group did travel in this direction, and became the 1980s band, Action Directe. It’s true, he indicates, that Algeria has seen a state and society long bathed in “le sang des innocents” (the blood of innocents). It’s also the case that post-Munich, nationalist Palestinian terrorism has been supplanted by Islamist mass murder. This, and the US-led armed interventions the world over, illustrate that violence is a spiral not a release.

One wonders how far one push responsibility for this acceleration of ferocity, or its dampening it down, onto any philosopher, however cretinous or emollient his rhetoric may be. Like Fanon’s assertion that FLN fighters were busy absorbing Sartre’s Critique de la raison dialectique (Page 493), to make such claims is to use arguments of an astonishing légèrté.

One will not find much in Le Lièvre on the controversy surrounding Sartre’s secretary, and one-time GP supporter, Benny Lévy. De Beauvoir had her say in La Cérémonie des Adieux (1981). Whether the future Talmudic student determined the utterances of the Universal Intellectual or not, without his influence it hard to see how Sartre moved from this ultra-revolutionary stance to his support for the 1979 ‘Boat for Vietnam’ campaign – to save people from Vietnamese Communism. It is hard perhaps to see Lanzmann seizing the spirit that drove the Gauche Prolétarienne, from strident ultra-leftism to the anti-communist (with a small ‘c’) apostasy of many of its leading figures, in the first place.

May 68, the French gauchistes’ genitor, Lanzmann witnessed from the “extérieur”. He was an outsider from another generation (Page 570). More than that he appears never to have seized the fact that Sartre’s philosophy, even in its Marxisante form in the Critique de la raison dialectique (written 1956 – 8) had been become not just unfashionable, but unintelligible to much of the post-68 left. While the novels, literary criticism and some of the plays (Les jeux sont faits, 1947 and Les mains sales, 1948)are as bright as new pennies, Sartre’s philosophy has not worn well. The focus of the memoirs shifts completely away from talking about disgreeable topics.

Lanzmann as the ‘sixties ended had begun to be more and more concerned with one thing: defending Israel. He recounts how he came to produce the film Pourquoi Israel (with no question mark). This work continues to cause controversy. Having never seen the picture it is impossible to judge the description in Le Lièvre. Yet, according to the author, it was the spring-board for one of the last century’s greatest documented oral history, Shoah.

Researching, filming and producing Shoah was exceptionally arduous. The film consists of interviews, people left to speak for themselves as participants and witnesses of the greatest genocide of the 20th century. It aims to indicate those who were slaughtered, to show their traces, to hear the echo of their voices. It would be no exaggeration to say that the screening of the nine and a half  hour long documentary mediation on the Holocaust, which took place on British television some years back, was a major political and ethical event. As a measure of its impact the Biblical and Rabbanic word Shoah, catastrophe, disaster, extermination, used to describe the Holocast, has passed into current usage in many languages. Given the enormity of what it refers to it would be better for the pages of Le Lièvre de Patagonie to speak for themselves than to be described here.

The shattering experience of producing Shoah gives an edge to what is already for many a defining moment in their understanding of the Endlösung. After De Beauvoir’s death Lanzmann finally became the Editor of Sartre’s old journal (1986) marking another significant moment in an exceptional biography.

A Major Biographical Memoir.

Claude Lanzmann’s classical prose provides a luminous structure to a complex biography. Le Lièvre de Patagonie is beautifully wrought, and offers a description of that part of the French left which gravitated around Les Temps Modernes. It sheds light on some of the key moments of modern French political and intellectual history, the ideas, relationships, culture and feelings of the circle around Sartre and de Beauvoir, above all their participation in the campaign in support of Algerian independence. For these reasons alone it is of outstanding importance.

Less compellingly the book tries to present a case for Israel. It is unlikely to convince those (like myself) who are, while reluctant to be ‘anti’ Israelis, see little admirable in a state with a confessional, ultimately ethnic, basis. Not everyone has a strong urge to feel a part of a national “souche” (stock). Lanzmann’s passionate beliefs and emotional tissue cannot cloud critical judgement. States are to be judged on political not affective grounds. On democratic, military and human rights criteria Israel is severely wanting. One is equally unmoved by its description of the politics of Les Temps Modernes. As with the declaration of love for Israel, it does not convert those unable to fall under an emotional spell.

For all the beauty of Le Lièvre de Patagonie, on this matter at least, one could say that the Lanzmann’s retrospective gaze casts little light on such heat.

A tribute, a bibliography and a filmography appears on the site of Lanzmann’s publisher, Éditions Gallimard.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann

Guardian:  Claude Lanzmann obituary

Director of Shoah, the epic film about the Holocaust presented through individual testimony

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Labour Against the Witch-hunt Vice-Chair Calls for Expulsion of ‘Zionists’ and attacks ‘racist Zionist’ Jon Lansman.

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Image result for TOny Greenstein

Now Says, “Corbyn has effectively surrendered to the Right and the Zionist lobby “

 

It’s time to expel Luke Akehurst and break the links with Labour Friends of Israel 

Part of the problem is that Momentum is led by a racist Zionist Jon Lansman. The other reason is that Corbyn has effectively surrendered to the Right and the Zionist lobby over ‘anti-Semitism’.

Today under the baleful influence of Momentum’s dictator, most of the parliamentary left has become infatuated with an Israel which has moved yet further to the racist right

Monster Raving Tony Greenstein. Vice Chair of Labour Against the Witch-hunt.  Friday 18th of May.

 

This clearly reflects the wider thinking of this front organisation for the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) Weekly Worker.

Spotted hyenas and the Labour right

William Sarsfield of Labour Party Marxists reports on the campaign against the witch-hunt.

 Far from being a source of strength, the Labour right’s support for the Zionist state – and the United States’ reactionary strategic goals in the region – can be turned into a huge weakness for this scab faction in our ranks.

This report also contains some exquisite humour.

Apparently the meeting was introduced by this type, Alexei Sayle, a former member of one of the maddest groups on the UK left, the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

His  most famous quote on that experience is of course,

Sayles tells me. “They genuinely wanted a better world. But as in all cults, what’s central to the Communist Party is the belief system and the elimination of nuance. From there you’re very slowly led down the road to fanaticism and mass murder.”

The meeting kept to this humourous  standard…..

Extracts:

Moshé illustrated this same observation via a sideways detour. There is – apparently – a tiny number of spotted hyenas in Norway (in zoos). However, if you hear of a spotted hyena trackers’ expedition – organised with an extravagant disregard for the huge amount of time, energy and money expended – a rational conclusion to draw might be that these people have a thing about Norway, rather than the spotted hyenas.

This is how the article ends, a call to attack Momentum,

There were some gently regretful criticisms of Corbyn’s and the core LP left leadership’s passivity to – even accommodation with – this witch-hunt. This generosity was not all-encompassing – on the strength of this meeting and others I have attended over the last year or more, there are now very few on the left with any compunction about laying into Momentum nationally. The local groups can be good, even very good, but the national organisation and its ‘CEO’, Jon Lansman are deeply discredited.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

Spiked-on-Line – former Revolutionary Communist Party – Go Mad on Gaza.

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Now Justifying Gaza Killings. 

One of the many bizarre things about British politics is seeing former revolutionary Marxists , and not just any odd bod like Peter Hitchens but a hard organised crew – appear on the telly all the time giving out far-right views.

There was one last Sunday, she came across as a free market loony in full blast.

In my youth the faction, known as the Revolutionary Communist Tendency used to flog their unreadable journal to us lot in the IMG. They denounced us for our ‘reformism’.

Later they broke from the group they were part of (the RCG – don’t even ask) and became this group:

The RCP took a number of positions coined to distinguish independent working-class politics from statist reformism. These included

  • The rejection of all controls on immigration.[5]
  • Opposition to any national economic recovery strategies, such as import controls, which aimed to pit British workers against those overseas.[6]
  • Free abortion and contraception on demand.[7]
  • Decriminalisation of homosexuality.[8] and complete equality under the law.[9]
  • Unconditional support for the struggle against British imperialism in northern Ireland, on the grounds that “British workers cannot ignore the cause of Irish liberation without renouncing their own class interests”.[10]
  • A claim that the police occupied Brixton: “We have to organise on the streets and housing estates to keep the police out.”[11]
  • The party’s campaign Workers Against Racism aimed to organise physical defence against racist attacks.[12]

Now I have a bit of a history with them, I wrote a letter to their paper Living Marxism which caused some controversy.

But not compared the right-wing shite they are now putting out: from pro-Brexit onwards.

 

The demonisation of Israel is nurturing a new kind of conflict.

Brendan O’Neill.

Here is a grim irony to the florid condemnations of Israel being made by Western observers and politicians following the killing of 60 Palestinians at the Gaza border yesterday. Many of these people who are so disgusted by Israel’s behaviour, so agitated by what it has done that they plan to take to the streets later today to register their fury, have played a significant role in the great beleaguering of Israel in recent years. In the transformation of Israel into an illegitimate entity. In the reduction of it to a uniquely ‘rogue’ state. In the treatment of it as fair game for isolation, boycotting, attack, and possibly destruction: Israel is the only nation on Earth whose erasure can casually become a topic for dinner-party chatter.

And you cannot beleaguer a state like this and then feign surprise when said state feels beleaguered. You cannot contribute to the moral isolation of Israel and then be shocked to discover that Israel feels isolated, and fragile, and possibly on edge, and consequently deeply concerned with defending its borders – borders that so much of the world hates or at least contests – from a hostile incursion. At least, if you are a serious person you cannot do this.

But the second way to view yesterday’s tragic events is as the bloody offspring of the siege of Israel. As the latest, quite easy-to-predict consequence of the beleaguering of Israel both physically, in the region itself, and morally, by much of the Western intellectual elites who in recent years have come to view Israel as the key source of the world’s troubles, and even to question its validity as a nation. Every nation can be expected to defend its borders against a threatened and attempted hostile incursion; a nation whose existence is continually called into question, by everyone from extreme Islamists to Western thinkers, might be anticipated to defend its borders with a particular concern.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Communism, Israel, Trotskyism

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Jeremy Corbyn Issues Welcome Statement on Banishing Anti-Semitism from the Labour Party.

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The cover of today's London Evening Standard

An important and dignified statement.

Some sections, which grapple with points which many people have made, are in bold.

Instead of taking notice of the reactions of those hostile to the Labour Party we should take them to heart.

The Jewish Chronicle reports,

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a direct apology to the Jewish community over the Labour Party’s continued antisemitism problem.

In a statement issued only hours before his meeting with leaders of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Corbyn writes: “We have not done enough fully to get to grips with the problem, and for that the Jewish community and our own Jewish members deserve an apology.

….

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Corbyn admitted the party’s monitoring of antisemitism had “been simply not fully fit for purpose” and also suggested that under his leadership the party “did not look closely enough at ourselves”.

Jeremy Corbyn: What I’m doing to banish anti-Semitism from the Labour Party

Evening Standard.

Anti-semitism is a poison that must be challenged wherever it raises its head, across Europe and at home. Hatred and bigotry towards Jewish people has no place in our society, whether on the streets or online. And that of course goes for the Labour Party too.

Today I am meeting leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss working together to tackle both old and new forms of anti-Semitism.

We have a particular duty to lead the fight against anti-Semitism in and around our party and movement. Jews have found a natural home in the Labour Party since its foundation, and been central to our movement.

The party has a long and proud record of standing against anti-Semitism. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.

But we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few — the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1 per cent of Labour’s membership of more than half a million — but one is too many.

We are taking action. In the past fortnight more than 20 individuals have been suspended from party membership, and more are being investigated. But we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.

We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party, which has always stood for equality for all and opposed racism and discrimination.

As I indicated in my letter last month to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, there are two particular contemporary sources. First, individuals on the fringes of the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people can stray into anti-Semitic views.

The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and an end to their dispossession is a noble one — just as a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East. But when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.

Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

I

These views do no service to the struggle for a just society. Instead, they reproduce the sort of scapegoating that we recognise when directed at ethnic or religious minorities.

Anti-Semitism was responsible for the worst crimes of the 20th century. According to a survey conducted last year by two leading Jewish community organisations, anti-Semitic views are held by a minority in Britain, and are more likely to be found on the right of politics. But we did not look closely enough at ourselves.

I also believe our party’s structures, built to service a far smaller membership than we have now, have been simply not fully fit for purpose when it has come to dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism.

The problem has been aggravated by social media, which is where most of the instances of abuse appear to take place. Some high-profile cases have also been delayed by legal proceedings, and the reforms proposed by Shami Chakrabarti two years ago to make our response more effective were not fully implemented.

That is why our new general secretary Jennie Formby has, on my instruction, made it her priority to get on top of this problem and ensure that all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly, with investigations resourced as necessary. She will be setting out her plans in the coming weeks, including the appointment of a new legal adviser, and we are already taking action in many cases.

We will also embark on a programme of political education to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-Semitism is and how to counter it.

When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not “smears”.

I want to engage with the full range and diversity of Jewish organisations and have no truck with any attempt to divide the Jewish community into the “right” and “wrong” sort of Jews. Debate and pluralism are abiding characteristics of the Jewish community, and I celebrate them both within and without the Labour Party.

I hope that by taking the steps outlined, Labour will be reconnecting with our finest traditions of solidarity and equality. We stand with any community beleaguered or subject to hateful prejudice.

 

We cannot and will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters now.

Key issues for the left include challenging those for whom an anti- Zionist position – that is criticisms of the belief that Israel is the legitimate aspiration of a Jewish nation, and criticism of the Israeli government – have strayed into “attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis.”

The latter is particularly striking and has been the cause of major rifts within the left of the left, as well as within the broader labour and progressive movement.

The problem of “people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system.” which many have underlined for some time, is broader than anti-Semitism. It represents a wider failure of the socialist movement to educate supporters.

This which appears in the Guardian is a good place to begin from, even if it underlines some serious difficulties.

The central problem is that much (although by no means all) of the antisemitism in the Labour party has emerged from the online-fuelled grassroots movement that has been a major factor in sustaining Corbyn’s leadership.By its very nature, this movement resists control. The passion that drives it is not conducive to careful speech. Antisemitism is more than just carelessness (for some it is very deliberate) and it is more than just speech, but any attempt to address it must begin with serious attention to language in an age in which communication – on any issue – constantly threatens to spiral out of control.

While many in the Labour party are aware of the problems that unrestrained speech can cause, there are few practical suggestions as to what to do about it. Owen Jones has called for a mass “political education” campaign, but it will be difficult to corral Labour supporters into the institutional frameworks necessary for this. In any case, antisemitism is one symptom of a wider culture of tit-for-tat purging and abuse that has permeated the party for decades. Those who currently hold the whip hand (Corbynites now, New Labour in the past) are never eager to address it.

Corbyn has repeatedly condemned abuse, antisemitic or otherwise, although he rarely goes into specifics. Yet his supporters tend to ignore his less convenient pronouncements. He does not wield his authority with an iron fist and is unlikely to have the ability or the will to lead a mass disciplining of unruly Labour voices

While no one who sees themselves as part of the grassroots Labour movement really knows how to draw on its productive energies without its dark side, there is another section of the Labour left that does understand discipline and control. Parts of the trade union movement – and those, such as McDonnell, who are close to it – have considerable experience in these political arts. Formby’s appointment, backed by Unite, as Labour general secretary, backed by Unite, and the failure of the bid for the post by the Momentum founder Lansman, were a demonstration of the vulnerability of grassroots politics when it comes up against machine politics.

Cynics might therefore suggest that Jewish organisations who want Labour antisemitism addressed should concentrate on building ties with Formby, McDonnell and with the unions. Although some of the more authoritarian leftists within the party have themselves been accused of antisemitism, they are also pragmatic, and they have the ruthlessness to rid the party of antisemites and the message-discipline to refrain from hateful language – should they feel it’s in their interests to do so.

Of course, not only am I not advocating such an alliance, no appetite exists for it on either side. For one thing, ties between the Jewish community and beleaguered Labour centrists, including the centrist-leaning Jewish Labour Movement, are strong and deep. But the prospect of the decentralised grassroots Labour left eventually being subjugated by its centralising cousins is a very real one, whether or not it is antisemitism that provokes it.

Those who value the idealistic passion that permeates the Labour grassroots (including, with much ambivalence, myself) need to grapple with how its abusive, uncontrollable tendencies can be curbed, since these invite its suppression. Facing up to antisemitism and to the wider issue of abuse on the left isn’t just the right thing to do for its own sake, it is the key to ensuring the resilience of the movement.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm

France, Manifesto Against the “New anti-Semitism”.

with 8 comments

 

A woman carries a poster reading "I am a jew" as she attends a silent march to honor an 85-year-old woman who escaped the Nazis 76 years ago but was stabbed to death last week in her Paris apartment, apparently targeted because she was Jewish, and to denounce racism, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

More than 250 French dignitaries and stars have signed a manifesto denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” marked by “Islamist radicalisation” after a string of killings of Jews, published in the Sunday edition of Le Parisien newspaper.

The country’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to anti-Semitism.

“We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France,” reads the manifesto co-signed by politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and celebrities like actor Gérard Depardieu.

The signatories condemned what they called a “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.

“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated – and some tortured – by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,” the declaration said.

The murders referenced reach as far back as 2006 and include the 2012 deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

In April 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).

The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed an 85-year-old Jewish woman 11 times before setting her body on fire, in a crime treated as anti-Semitic.

Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.

Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,” according to the manifesto.

It added that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school”.

Libération reports on the Manifesto and adds,

Les actes antisémites ont été pointés en repli en 2017 (-7%) pour la troisième année consécutive, selon les données du ministère de l’Intérieur. Mais cette baisse globale masque l’augmentation des faits les plus graves (+26% des violences, incendies, dégradations, tentatives d’homicide…). La communauté juive, qui représente environ 0,7% de la population, est la cible d’un tiers des faits de haine recensés.

According to the Interior Ministry antisemitic incidents were in decline in 2017 (minus 7%) for the third year in a row. But this overall decrease hides a growth in the most serious acts (plus 26% in violence, arson, damage to property, attempted murder). The Jewish community, who represents around o,7% of the population has been the target of a third of all hate crimes recorded.

However caution about statistics in this area is always in order.

Le Monde  published in March this lengthy analysis of how difficult it is to make these judgements.

L’antisémitisme, une réalité difficile à mesurer précisément

While the main thrust of the Manifesto will find an echo, the value of signatories such as former PM Manuel Valls, Gérard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy on an anti-racist Manifesto is doubtful.

Pointing to a problem, that of “la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule”, and stating that the difficulty in France is exacerbated by the political calculations of French political parties, is not a very constructive way of addressing the fight against Jihadist Islam.

Others will remark that stating that “l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle “, when armed Islamists have attacked and murdered rival Muslims, Christians and secularists, and have, above all, tried to wipe Yazidis off the face of the earth, is not to take full measure of the depth of the problem.

Manifeste «contre le nouvel antisémitisme»

Le Parisien.

« L’antisémitisme n’est pas l’affaire des Juifs, c’est l’affaire de tous. Les Français, dont on a mesuré la maturité démocratique après chaque attentat islamiste, vivent un paradoxe tragique. Leur pays est devenu le théâtre d’un antisémitisme meurtrier. Cette terreur se répand, provoquant à la fois la condamnation populaire et un silence médiatique que la récente marche blanche a contribué à rompre.

Lorsqu’un Premier ministre à la tribune de l’Assemblée nationale déclare, sous les applaudissements de tout le pays, que la France sans les Juifs, ce n’est plus la France, il ne s’agit pas d’une belle phrase consolatrice mais d’un avertissement solennel : notre histoire européenne, et singulièrement française, pour des raisons géographiques, religieuses, philosophiques, juridiques, est profondément liée à des cultures diverses parmi lesquelles la pensée juive est déterminante. Dans notre histoire récente, onze Juifs viennent d’être assassinés – et certains torturés – parce que Juifs, par des islamistes radicaux.

Pourtant, la dénonciation de l’islamophobie – qui n’est pas le racisme anti-Arabe à combattre – dissimule les chiffres du ministère de l’Intérieur : les Français juifs ont 25 fois plus de risques d’être agressés que leurs concitoyens musulmans. 10 % des citoyens juifs d’Ile-de-France – c’est-à-dire environ 50 000 personnes – ont récemment été contraints de déménager parce qu’ils n’étaient plus en sécurité dans certaines cités et parce que leurs enfants ne pouvaient plus fréquenter l’école de la République. Il s’agit d’une épuration ethnique à bas bruit au pays d’Émile Zola et de Clemenceau.

Pourquoi ce silence ? Parce que la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule – est considérée exclusivement par une partie des élites françaises comme l’expression d’une révolte sociale, alors que le même phénomène s’observe dans des sociétés aussi différentes que le Danemark, l’Afghanistan, le Mali ou l’Allemagne… Parce qu’au vieil antisémitisme de l’extrême droite, s’ajoute l’antisémitisme d’une partie de la gauche radicale qui a trouvé dans l’antisionisme l’alibi pour transformer les bourreaux des Juifs en victimes de la société. Parce que la bassesse électorale calcule que le vote musulman est dix fois supérieur au vote juif.

Or à la marche blanche pour Mireille Knoll, il y avait des imams conscients que l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle et sur le monde de paix et de liberté dans lequel ils ont choisi de vivre. Ils sont, pour la plupart, sous protection policière, ce qui en dit long sur la terreur que font régner les islamistes sur les musulmans de France.

En conséquence, nous demandons que les versets du Coran appelant au meurtre et au châtiment des juifs, des chrétiens et des incroyants soient frappés d’obsolescence par les autorités théologiques, comme le furent les incohérences de la Bible et l’antisémite catholique aboli par Vatican II, afin qu’aucun croyant ne puisse s’appuyer sur un texte sacré pour commettre un crime.

Nous attendons de l’islam de France qu’il ouvre la voie. Nous demandons que la lutte contre cette faillite démocratique qu’est l’antisémitisme devienne cause nationale avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. Avant que la France ne soit plus la France. »

« Le Nouvel Antisémitisme en France », Ed. Albin Michel, 213 p., 15 euros.

La liste des signatairesCharles Aznavour ; Françoise Hardy ; Pierre Arditi ; Elisabeth Badinter ; Michel Drucker ; Sibyle Veil ; François Pinault ; Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt ; Marceline Loridan-Ivens ; Radu Mihaileanu ; Elisabeth de Fontenay ; Nicolas Sarkozy ; Pascal Bruckner ; Laure Adler ; Bertrand Delanoë ; Manuel Valls ; Michel Jonasz ; Xavier Niel ; Jean-Pierre Raffarin ; Gérard Depardieu ; Renaud ; Pierre Lescure ; Francis Esménard ; Mgr Joseph Doré ; Grand Rabbin Haïm Korsia ; Imam Hassen Chalghoumi ; Carla Bruni ; Boualem Sansal ; Imam Aliou Gassama ; Annette Wieviorka ; Gérard Darmon ; Antoine Compagnon ; Mofti Mohamed ali Kacim ; Bernard Cazeneuve ; Bernard-Henri Lévy ; Philippe Val ; Zabou Breitman ; Waleed al-Husseini ; Yann Moix ; Xavier De Gaulle ; Joann Sfar ; Julia Kristeva ; François Berléand ; Olivier Guez ; Jeannette Bougrab ; Marc-Olivier Fogiel ; Luc Ferry ; Laurent Wauquiez ; Dominique Schnapper ; Daniel Mesguich ; Laurent Bouvet ; Pierre-André Taguieff ; Jacques Vendroux ; Georges Bensoussan ; Christian Estrosi ; Brice Couturier ; Imam Bouna Diakhaby ; Eric Ciotti ; Jean Glavany ; Maurice Lévy ; Jean-Claude Casanova ; Jean-Robert Pitte ; Jean-Luc Hees ; Alain Finkielkraut ; Père Patrick Desbois ; Aurore Bergé ; François Heilbronn ; Eliette Abécassis ; Bernard de la Villardière ; Richard Ducousset ; Juliette Méadel ; Daniel Leconte ; Jean Birenbaum ; Richard Malka ; Aldo Naouri ; Guillaume Dervieux ; Maurice Bartelemy ; Ilana Cicurel ; Yoann Lemaire ; Michel Gad Wolkowicz ; Olivier Rolin ; Dominique Perben ; Christine Jordis ; David Khayat ; Alexandre Devecchio ; Gilles Clavreul ; Jean-Paul Scarpitta ; Monette Vacquin ; Christine Orban ; Habib Meyer ; Chantal Delsol ; Vadim Sher ; Françoise Bernard ; Frédéric Encel ; Christiane Rancé ; Noémie Halioua ; Jean-Pierre Winter ; Jean-Paul Brighelli ; Marc-Alain Ouaknin ; Stephane Barsacq ; Pascal Fioretto ; Olivier Orban ; Stéphane Simon ; Laurent Munnich ; Ivan Rioufol ; Fabrice d’Almeida ; Dany Jucaud ; Olivia Grégoire ; Elise Fagjeles ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Yaël Mellul ; Lise Bouvet ; Frédéric Dumoulin ; Muriel Beyer ; André Bercoff ; Aliza Jabes ; Jean-Claude Zylberstein ; Natacha Vitrat ; Paul Aidana ; Imam Karim ; Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine ; Lydia Guirous ; Rivon Krygier ; Muriel Attal ; Serge Hefez ; Céline Pina ; Alain Kleinmann ; Marie Ibn Arabi-Blondel ; Michael Prazan ; Jean-François Rabain ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Daniel Brun ; Paul Aidane ; Marielle David ; Catherine Kintzler ; Michèle Anahory ; Lionel Naccache ; François Ardeven ; Thibault Moreau ; Marianne Rabain-Lebovici ; Nadège Puljak ; Régine Waintrater ; Michèle Anahory ; Aude Weill-Raynal ; André Aboulkheir ; Elsa Chaudun ; Patrick Bantman ; Ruben Rabinovicth ; Claire Brière-Blanchet ; Ghislaine Guerry ; Jean-Jacques Moscovitz ; André Zagury ; François Ardeven ; Estelle Kulich ; Annette Becker ; Lilianne Lamantowicz ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Christine Loterman ; Adrien Barrot ; Talila Guteville ; Florence Ben Sadoun ; Michèle Anahory ; Paul Zawadzki ; Serge Perrot ; Patrick Guyomard ; Marc Nacht ; André Aboulkheir ; Laurence Bantman ; Josiane Sberro ; Anne-Sophie Nogaret ; Lucile Gellman ; Alain Bentolila ; Janine Atlounian ; Claude Birman ; Danielle Cohen-Levinas ; Laurence Picard ; Sabrina Volcot-Freeman ; Gérard Bensussan ; Françoise-Anne Menager ; Yann Padova ; Evelyne Chauvet ; Yves Mamou ; Naem Bestandji ; Marc Knobel ; Nidra Poller ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Joelle Blumberg ; Catherine Rozenberg ; André Aboulkheir ; Caroline Bray-Goyon ; Michel Tauber ; André Zagury ; Laura Bruhl ; Eliane Dagane ; Paul Zawadzki ; Michel Bouleau ; Marc Zerbib ; Catherine Chalier ; Jasmine Getz ; Marie-Laure Dimon ; Marion Blumen ; Simone Wiener ; François Cahen ; Richard Metz ; Daniel Draï ; Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux ; Stéphane Lévy ; Arthur Joffe ; Antoine Molleron ; Liliane Kandel ; Stéphane Dugowson ; David Duquesne ; Marc Cohen ; Michèle Lévy-Soussan ; Frédéric Haziza ; Martine Dugowson ; Jonathan Cohen ; Damien Le Guay ; Patrick Loterman ; Mohamed Guerroumi ; Wladi Mamane ; William de Carvalho ; Brigitte Paszt ; Séverine Camus ; Solange Repleski ; André Perrin ; Sylvie Mehaudel ; Jean-Pierre Obin ; Yael Mellul ; Sophie Nizard ; Richard Prasquier ; Patricia Sitruk ; Renée Fregosi ; Jean-Jacques Rassial ; Karina Obadia ; Jean-Louis Repelski ; Edith Ochs ; Jacob Rogozinski ; Roger Fajnzylberg ; Marie-Helène Routisseau ; Philippe Ruszniewski ; André Senik ; Jean-François Solal ; Paule Steiner ; Jean-Benjamin Stora ; Anne Szulmajster ; Maud Tabachnik ; Daniel Tchenio ; Julien Trokiner ; Fatiha Boyer ; Cosimo Trono ; Henri Vacquin ; Caroline Valentin ; Alain Zaksas ; Slim Moussa ; Jacques Wrobel ; Roland Gori ; Nader Alami ; Céline Zins ; Richard Dell’Agnola ; Patrick Beaudouin ; Barbara Lefebvre ; Jacques Tarnéro ; Georges-Elia Sarfat ; Lise Boëll ; Jacques Wrobel ; Bernard Golse ; Céline Boulay-Esperonnier ; Anne Brandy ; Imam Karim ; Sammy Ghozlan.

Here.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 22, 2018 at 12:58 pm

In Defence of Richard Seymour – “Labour’s Antisemitism affair” largely gets it right.

with 5 comments

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“Media-Manufactured Anti-Semitism Crisis” Says Weekly Worker: Richard Seymour Disagrees.

There is no joy like that of Tendance Coatesy’s at the welcoming back of a sinner into the fold.

In celebration this Blog’s editorial committee – a powerful and influential body on the international left – has sent to the rubbish bin one of our posts criticising the esteemed comrade.

Not everybody is of the same view.

The Monster Raving Greenstein Party expresses his opprobrium, at great length, in the latest issue of one of his many House Journals, for whatever faction he is now leading, the Weekly Worker.

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once he states, in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing,

“Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.”

Here is the master polemic:

Both sides of the fence. Leftist intellectuals have taken fright when faced with the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign. Tony Greenstein responds to Richard Seymour

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once this is one of his other opening comments,

Seymour’s latest article in Jacobin suggests he is wandering aimlessly across the left, dragged in the undertow of conflicting political currents without either ballast or firm conviction.

Followed by, blah blah…..

..mired in the swamp of identity politics and this is causing him to lose his political bearings.

To sum it up ,in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing  Greenstein asserts,

Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.

Few will be arsed to read further, so let’s look at comrade Seymour’s contribution in its own right.

Labour’s Antisemitism Affair.    RICHARD SEYMOUR

Lenny begins by describing the absurdities of the Corbyn ‘Beetroot’ scandal and Judass (although as a seasoned far-left internet-surfer, they have largely only been at the corner of the Tendance’s interest).

Warning signs about anti-semitism begin to flash when he sees that,

“Some Corbyn supporters signing a petition defending him against a “very powerful interest group,” toxic language to use in this context.”

Delving into the nitty gritty of recent events, tackles  the Christine Shawcroft affair.

Seymour  suggests that her most recent behaviour at Labour’s NEC, which led to her ignoble resignation after it was discovered she’d defended a Holocaust denier,  may be explained, “Given her long-standing commitment to defending members against a hostile bureaucracy, it is plausible that Shawcroft acted on autopilot.”.

The Tendance is less generously inclined on learning, after this article will have been written, the following, (Leaked minutes show Labour at odds over antisemitism claims).

The minutes also reveal Shawcroft refused to recuse herself as chair when the panel heard the case of a Labour councillor who has been accused of using a racist term to describe a black council candidate and co-ordinating with the party of the disgraced Tower Hamlets former mayor Lutfur Rahman against Labour.

Shawcroft, an active member in Tower Hamlets who was once herself suspended for defending Rahman, was asked to recuse herself after other NEC members said she had acted as a “silent friend” of the councillor during his investigatory interview, but refused, the minutes said.

But from this point the article really gets into its stride.

The context is well set out,

Corbyn was not supposed to win. The fact that he did, with a landslide, was treated by many Labour MPs as a matter for counter-subversion. Rather than reflecting their weakness, they insisted, it was proof of the infiltration of Labour by a “hard left plot”: new virulent strain of Militant. For both the right-wing and the hard-center of the British press, it was evidence that an unthinking mob had taken over — akin, said the Financial Times, to the supporters of the Third Reich.

Then we have, amongst other cases, including, (an old star on this Blog) “Gerry Downing, a seasoned sectarian hack, was the next to appear in the headlines, for urging on ISIS victory against the US, and describing Israel as a form of “the Jewish question.”

And, he looks at Ken Livingstone going on about them there Zionists and Nazis.

Livingstone was making a gratuitous hash of a history which wasn’t particularly relevant to the issue, and dropping his party in a huge and unnecessary mess. He was suspended, amid a huge furor.

And …Jackie Walker at the Jewish Labour Movement training……

The nature of her intervention left no doubt that Walker was there to wage factional war, attacking the JLM’s approach to antisemitism and the political valences of Holocaust Day by suggesting (wrongly) that it was not “open to all people who experienced a holocaust.” On the most generous reading possible, Walker chose the worst terrain and format for making points that would have required nuance and careful unpacking. The audience was on edge as soon as she spoke, and her roundly heckled comments were secretly recorded and leaked. To anyone not steeped in Walker’s politics, this looked at best tendentious. In the coverage, it looked as though she was splitting hairs, belittling antisemitism. Walker’s tactical misadventure inadvertently damaged her own cause, and she was drummed out of the Momentum leadership.

One imagines this raised some hackles.

It’s a complex and well-researched  article – though some reference to very real anti-semitism not just in Hungary or the US but in the rather closer France where allegations of left-wing complicity have arisen would not have been amiss –  which merits being read in full.

Seymour rightly focuses on ” the traditions of anti-Zionism emerging in the post-1967 era tend to be socialist and internationalist. For example, Moshé Machover” and,

Mike Marqusee (who) was a celebrated figure on the Labour left whose moving memoir challenged Zionism’s claim on Jewish identity. The Jewish Socialist Group and the radical group Jewdas, (who) take their inspiration from the tradition of secular, anti-nationalist Bundism.

He concludes,

 As I have argued, while the issue of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is vitally important, Israel is not a major source of polarization in British politics. It has, however, become a displacement, a pseudo-explanation for much larger and longer-term social processes.

For some on the Left, meanwhile, the fight to defend Corbyn’s leadership has come to mean defending it against Labour Friends of Israel, the Board of Deputies, and the Jewish Labour Movement: in a word, the “Lobby.” But such groups are neither as cohesive nor as powerful as the “Lobby” thesis implies. If they were even a tithe as powerful as Unite, for example, Corbyn’s leadership might be in danger. Such groups merit criticism, but a singular focus on them cannot found a sensible politics.

It is, alternatively, possible to walk and chew gum. To refute bad-faith accusations of antisemitism, assert the simple justice of Palestinian rights, and recognize that the Left is not exempted from racism. The rise in antisemitism is not separate from the general increase in racism, and nor is it eternally marginal and out-of-power. At a time when nascent far-right movements are surfacing, with antisemitic tendencies linked to state power in Hungary and the United States, the Left has a particular responsibility to lead on this issue. It can’t do that if it’s so focused on the “Lobby” that it can’t see the problem clearly.

In other words some people on the left are obsessed about ‘Zionism’ to the point of losing any sense of judgement and that this ‘displacement’ has  mighty pissed a lot of others off, including a large section of the left.

That we had better direct attention to wider issues about racism, which includes an anti-semitic element – see above comment in the present article about France.

So what of poor old Monster Raving’s objections?

After dismissing the whole piece on the grounds that “It is not for Richard Seymour to now lecture us on the evils of anti-Semitism.”  Greenstein does say one thing worth of note:

I was surprised that Jacobin published Seymour’s article, but reassured that the current editor, Bhaskar Sunkara, has told me that he completely disagreed with the thrust of the article. The previous editor, Max Ajl, has told me that he would never have published “such a shoddy piece”! So I still find it puzzling why Jacobin thought it worthy of publication, when so many rightwing sites would have welcomed such a ‘repentant sinner’!

Which confirms everything progressive opinion thinks of the oddly named Jacobin.

And provided the opening sentence of the present post.

That Sunkara even talks to this creature….

 

 

Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan on “falsification of the Auschwitz death toll.”

with 33 comments

Image result for gerry downing

A journey has begun, perhaps it will end where the Veille Taupe finished (1).

Excellent piece from Ian Donovan:

Gerry Joseph Downing

The original falsification of the Auschwitz death toll was Stalin’s doing. He was trying to palm off responsiblity for some of his greatest crimes onto Poland.

He trusted his pact with Hitler, cretinously, and was taken by surprise by Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. Few military preparations were made, what were done were so despite Stalin, not because of him and the core of his regime.

But worse than that, as part of appeasing ‘democratic’ imperialism, prior to his pact with Hitler, he murdered Mikhail Tukachevsky and his comrades; the Red Army’s military cadre who had been pulled together by the founder of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky, and had defeated 13 invading capitalist armies and the White Guards in the Wars of Intervention/’civil war’ from 1918-21.

Stalin murdered them after falsely accusing them of working for Hitler; the same lie he used about Trotsky. In doing so he effectively opened the gates to Hitler, and permitted the most incredible massacre of the Soviet people, including Soviet Jews.

This is such an incredible act of treachery that it had to be covered up and played down. The USSR lost 27 million dead in the war against Hitler, though for many years this was also covered up and claimed to be only 7 million.

The inflation of the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz was part of the same cover up. By making it appear that millions of Jews who actually died in Russia, killed by mobile SS death squads that were allowed to run amok in Soviet territory, instead died in Auschwitz, the Stalinist regime could hide its own responsibility for millions of deaths through its criminal treachery and collaboration with both ‘democratic’ imperialism and Hitler.

That was the reason why the figure at Auschwitz changed after a generation or more since the death of Stalin. That was not the only figure that changed, when it was safe to do so, ie. when the people who had something to hide were finally no longer in power.

Unfortunately the ‘democratic’ social counterrevolution was more truthful than the degenerated bureaucratic regime it overthrew, which betrayed the Russian Revolution but was unable itself to finally destroy its remnants until then.

This follows,

Defend Jeremy Corbyn against latest ‘anti-Semitism’ fraud!

25/03/2018 by Ian.

Luciana Berger’s allegation that Corbyn defended an ‘anti-semitic’ mural in 2012 is a poisonous smear. Unfortunately he has already shown signs of retreating before it. There is nothing that attacks Jews as Jews in this mural. The caricatured are old white men, not Jews. See this 2012 YouTube video explaining the background to it.

The painter mentioned both the Rothschilds and the Rockerfellers as the archetypes he was working from. Ie. a mixture of Jewish and non-Jewish bankers, living off the enslavement and death of the working class.

Actually, though the majority of such people in the real world are not Jewish, a large minority of the super rich, some sources say 40% or more, including bankers and media moguls, are Jewish. Whereas the Jewish population of the USA is only 2% of the total; in the UK only 0.5%.

More recently Gerry Downing has written,

The Zionism of the AWL is truly disgusting.

Is Downing still a member of any left organisation apart from his own?

 

(1) In 1979 Pierre Guillaume approached Gérard Lebovici with a proposal to publish the Holocaust denial text Le Mensonge d’Ulysse by Paul Rassinier. Lebovici refused, so in 1980 Guillaume relaunched La Vieille Taupeas a negationist publishing house. Rassiner’s book was the first published. Many of Guillaume’s former associates deplore his reuse of the name for a purpose they regard as completely at odds with their former involvement. Some also regard Guillaume’s suggestion that Guy Debord was a secret negationist as obscene. Some people view ultra-left negationism as evidence that the ultra-left and ultra-right are very similar – the meeting of the extremes. However most ultra left activists would distance themselves from all forms of negationism, and regard Guillaume’s more recent development as a sad decline. Guillaume sees La Vieille Taupeas a genuine ultra left venture which concentrates on “exposing the lies of the capitalist victors of the Second World War“, even if most of the people who listen to him are from the far-right.

In fact it closed in the late 1980s, followed by another venture which shut its doors in 1991.

 

After that, “À partir de 1995, Pierre Guillaume a fait publier une revue La Vieille Taupe, à parution très irrégulière. Le second numéro, qui sort en décembre 1995, est un texte de Roger Garaudy, « Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne » à teneur négationniste qui finit par faire grand bruit, apportant à cette nouvelle Vieille Taupe, un souffle médiatique et financier inespéré25.

L’adoption de la loi Gayssot et la condamnation de Pierre Guillaume par l’ensemble de l’extrême gauche ont considérablement réduit depuis ses activités.

There was another ultra-left negationist (Holocaust deniers) from that time  La Banquise.

Since those days there are a number of anti-semite groups in France which have a certain ‘ leftist’ tinge, such as   Réseau Voltaire.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2018 at 1:27 pm