To be or not to be a Zionist?

Article by Yoav Litvin

Art by Banksy

Jewish American progressives are falling for the oldest trick in the Zionist playbook: the conflation of Zionism with Judaism. The ultimate victims of this propaganda ploy are always Palestinians.

Sheldon’s Party

Last Sunday, Sheldon Adelson’s Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) welcomed President of the United States, serial sexual harasser and inspiration to murderous white supremacists worldwide – Donald Trump – as a god.

Members of the audience brandished “Trump”-embroidered Kippahs, enthusiastically clapped at the President’s overt incitement against Rep. Ilhan Omar and swallowed whole his anti-Semitic reference to Benjamin Netanyahu as “your Prime Minister” – a clear suggestion of dual loyalty.

In an act comparable to the ancient Israelites’ worshipping of the Golden Calf, Senator Norm Coleman, who once called Trump: “A bigot. A misogynist. A fraud. A bully,” led a Passover Dayenu chant in which he replaced “God” with “Trump”.

Moses, where art thou?

Still, a drama unfolded during Trump’s speech. Ten members of If Not Now, a nonviolent American Jewish organization aimed at ending US support for the 1967 Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, stood up and chanted in protest: “Jews are here to say, occupation is a plague.”

A press release soon followed:

10 young American Jews disrupted Trump’s speech at the National Jewish Republican Coalition (RJC) Pro-Israel Rally at the Venetian Ballroom in Las Vegas. As soon as Trump began to speak, they stood up and chanted, “Jews are here to say Occupation is a plague. Jews are here to say white nationalism is a plague,” a reference to the 10 plagues remembered in the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover. They then sang the Hebrew song Olam Chesed Yibaneh, “We Will Build This World With Love” as they were removed from the auditorium.

The Twitterati ask the wrong questions

Progressive American Jewish Twitter was abuzz about Sheldon’s party and If Not Now’s intervention. Several examples:

Yonah Lieberman (@YonahLieberman): Going after both #Birthright and Trump in 24 hours has got the Jewish right using Nazi rhetoric to try and intimidate the new Jewish Future.

Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev): there [sic] is nothing as contemptible to me as a jewish [sic] fascist. Nothing as myopic, as malleable, as cruel and shosrtsighted [sic]

Rafael Shimunov (@RafaelShimunov): Between Sheldon Adelson putting Trump’s name on his kippa [sic], and the @RJC replacing God with Trump in one our holiest prayers as Jews, Republican Jews have officially ______________?

The responses to Shimunov’s quiz included: sold out, Gone meshugganah and embraced extremism, among others.

However, these progressive American Jews do not implicate the real culprit.

In spite of its name and best efforts, the RJC is not a Jewish organization, but a Zionist one. Its members are not “the Jewish right” or “Jewish fascists”, but simply “Zionists”.

Only Zionists would worship an anti-Semite like Trump in return for unconditional support of Israeli apartheid, much like the vast majority of Zionist Israelis who adore Trump within the supposed “Jewish state” itself.

It is not Republican Jews who have “sold out” or have suddenly “embraced extremism”, but Zionists since the very inception of the movement, well before the establishment of the state of Israel and until today. In logical confluence, Neo-Nazis have been inspired by Israel’s policies and the term “white Zionism” has been used to describe the emerging “alt-right” neo-fascistic movement, the very one Trump spearheads.

Unsurprisingly, Ben Shapiro, a Zionist Republican who also happens to be Jewish, has inspired far-right Islamophobes, including the Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.

Yet crucially, Zionist collaboration with anti-Semites and white supremacists crosses the aisle. For it was a Democrat, liberal Zionist Jew – Batya Ungar-Sargon of The Forward – who instigated the fallacious smear campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar which she then used as a marketing tool to fundraise under the guise of a Jewish vanguard against anti-Semitism.

Ungar-Sargon’s smear was picked up by establishment Democrats, overtly racist Republican Zionists, the President’s son and Trump himself numerous times, including as a means to mock Rep. Ilhan Omar at the Sheldon Party.

The UK as a case study

The conflation of Zionism with Judaism serves to distract from the plight of Palestinians by focusing on a manufactured crisis within the “Jewish community”, downplaying the role of empire and other capitalist supporters of the Zionist project. The distinction between “Jewish” and “Zionist” here is crucial, and one only needs to glance across the pond at the United Kingdom to learn why.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has consistently shown solidarity with Palestinians and conveyed criticism toward Israeli apartheid in tune with socialist ideals, has been hypocritically vilified by Zionists for supposedly tolerating and even inspiring “anti-Semitism” within the Labour Party.

The campaign against Corbyn relies on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) highly controversial and flawed definition of anti-Semitism which in its examples, erroneously and opportunistically conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

What’s more, Jewish party members who support Corbyn and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, such as Jackie Walker, have been abused, suspended and even expelled. Meanwhile, Ella Rose, who was featured in the Al Jazeera documentary ‘The Lobby’ threatening Jackie Walker with physical violence is still a member and was recently elected by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) as its new “Network officer”.

Unsurprisingly, the Zionist smear campaigns in the UK against politicians and activists who convey support for Palestinians and BDS and resist Zionist settler colonialism, apartheid and genocide show a striking resemblance to the recent defamation of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and members of the women’s march and as part of a larger effort against Senator Bernie Sanders.

Much like Ungar-Sargon’s The Forward claim of progressive Judaism yet real loyalty to Zionism, the UK Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is supposedly affiliated with the UK Labour party supporting “labour values”, yet it is truly a liberal Zionist organization.

It does not require its members to be either Jewish or from the Labour Party, yet has recently passed a no confidence motion of Jeremy Corbyn based on discredited charges of “anti-Semitism”.

The Question

The focus must remain on Zionist criminality. And the only relevant dilemma for progressive American Jews remains – are you a Zionist or an anti-Zionist? As veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy recently wrote: “If you remain a Zionist, you can no longer be of the left; if you’re of the left, you can no longer be a Zionist.”

All those who claim to care about Palestinians, including progressive Jews and organizations such as If Not Now who in their broad umbrella avoid implicating Zionism or directly supporting BDS cannot continue to claim left wing universalist values while simultaneously serving as the “liberal” wing of the apartheid Zionist regime.

Only a consistent and unapologetic anti-Zionist framework is effective and congruent with leftist values.

Art by Sulaiman Mansour
Art by Sulaiman Mansour

Source

Cover art by Banksy, Bethlehem, Palestine

Related Links

Reminder that Gary Spedding whitewashes the zionist JLM.

Spedding whitewashes the zionist JLM

In Trumpenland

When you are a CEO,
there’s no place higher to go,
collect your options and cash them in
let them hate, while you grin.

For the coffers are secure
and our system must stay pure,
make them hate on da Jews
while we create alt-news.

Ruling class left fridge door open,
planet’s boiling, gyre is broken,
money’s not mother of invention
all are victims of capitalism.

Jinjirrie, February 2017

Peacock Capitalism

 

White Supremacy, Short Memories

Imperial doctrine

For a twenty four hour news cycle
After the killings black lives matter
The US is exposed for what it has always done
Hundreds of years of torture and slavery
Then white people go back to caring for kittens
and having Obama’s back.

Jinjirrie, December 2014

While US liberals and other chest-beating apologists for empire circle the wagons, wail and pontificate duplicitously about “blowback”, “context”, “fear after 9/11” and “torture tactics imported from Israel” when torture aimed at terrorising the innocent is what the settler colonial US has always done, more evidence from Udall indicates the empire is covering up the scale of its abominable torture practices.

As the top-down rhetoric shifts, the complicity of US administrations is downplayed – the CIA is being treated now as though it was an independent loose cannon, instead of overseen and applauded by US politicians, its torture practices long given the legal tick by the likes of Holder. Cheney would do it all over again. The impunity of the holey empire and its plutocrats must be sanctified. And so the criminal imperial juggernaut lumbers on, protecting its elite, sacrificing its knights. Shrouded by nationalist magical thinking, the empire’s white patriarchal capitalist culture of oppression remains intact.

Once again the bar for “permissible violence” by empire has been lifted, a triumphalist US public desensitized, and the likelihood of increased brutal oppression within the US of minorities and abroad against non-imperials more certain.

Related Links

Water Torture by the US of Phillippinos in 1902
Uruguay, 1964 to 1970: Torture—as American as apple pie
The US – safe haven for Nazi persecutors
US historical culture of torture – in the Phillippines 1901 – concentration camps, torture, atrocities
Operation Paperclip
Prosecute John Yoo, Says Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed: “What we are seeing now is not the Obama administration putting an end to torture, but rather putting an end to the open acknowledgement of the use of torture as a routine intelligence practice.”

BDS Attacked by the Deir Yassin Remembered

Musician and self-professed propagandist for Israel, Idan Raichel is scheduled to play in New York at the World Music Institute on November 18. More than 4000 individuals and 50 groups have called on the WMI for Raichel’s concert to be cancelled due to his role as a ‘cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.”’

The Adalah-NY petition to the WMI states:

Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with … Raichel summarized his views in 2012, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara]… I would like to encourage our soldiers, yes, who are so moral, and encourage the IDF, a more moral army you will not find in the entire world.”’

Palestinian Campaign for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) representative, Samia Botmeh commented:

PACBI calls for boycotting Idan Raichel’s performances because he is a cultural ambassador of Israel, as both he and the Israeli foreign ministry have boasted. Raichel is willingly lending his name to the Israeli government to re-brand itself and perform damage control after its latest massacre in Gaza. No matter how hard Raichel and other cultural, scientific and academic ambassadors of Israel try to whitewash Israel’s horrific crimes against humanity, people of conscience can see right through their propaganda.’

DYR emailUsually it is proud Zionists and Israel right-or-wrong supporters who malign actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). However, responding by email on 1 November 2014 to a request for support for a petition against Raichel’s culture-washing performance, the Deir Yassin Remembered Board labelled the Raichel boycott campaign as “gatekeeping”, ‘a tactic used often by Zionists and by people like Ali Abunimah. Hence we would oppose DYR gatekeeping anyone, including this fellow.

BDS, a Palestinian-led human rights-based movement with overwhelming support from Palestinian civil society, is aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli regime in order to achieve justice and rights for Palestinians living under Israeli rule, whether in Israel or in the territories it occupied in 1967, as well as the refugees scattered around the globe. Scurrilously, the DYR is attacking both the BDS tactic chosen by oppressed Palestinians themselves, in effect making Palestinians superfluous to their own liberation movement, and more specifically Ali Abunimah, well-known Palestinian journalist and activist.

The DYR organisation, a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization (EIN 20-2681812), has been described by one ex-Board member as a one man show, the work of Daniel McGowan, a retired professor of economics, who set it up in 1995. McGowan expressed his rightwing views on the boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1995.

As a conservative professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, I disagreed with such prohibitions and political obstructions to the free flow of capital.

In 2009, McGowan blatantly defends Holocaust denial and trumpets noxious pro-imperialist apologetics: ‘The Holocaust narrative of systematic, industrialized extermination was an important neo-conservative tool to drive the United States into Iraq.

For McGowan, DYR Board Director Paul Eisen, Board Advisor Paul Findley, Board Advisor Henry Herskowitz, ex DYR Board Advisor Israel Shamir and supporters Alison Weir and Gilad Atzmon, “Jewish power” causes the US to misbehave – if it weren’t for “Jewish power”, somehow the US empire would be benevolent. This imperialist, white supremacist trope is refuted by the consistent behaviour of the US empire elsewhere. As Gabriel Ash writes:

Overarching strategic doctrines issued by successive administrations articulate how the U.S. government conceives its long term maintenance and aggrandisement. It is here that one locates the basic imperatives driving U.S. foreign policy: containing rival imperial powers, advancing the powers of markets through pro-U.S. and pro-capitalist regimes and defeating indigenous and popular challenges to capitalism in general and to friendly regimes in particular. It is at this level that Israel fits in to U.S. foreign policy. Israel is part of a network of states under U.S. hegemony. It must be defended not only for what it does for the U.S., but primarily for what it is, namely, an element of the global assertion of western power. The strategic importance of the Middle East and Israel’s own lack of alternatives further make it one of the U.S.’s safest allies.

Both Findley and McGowan are involved with Weir’s Council for the National Interest – Weir’s If Americans Knew and CNI organisations both endorse a paid September 2014 oped from DYR in the New York Times.

According to its site, DYR ostensibly was organised to build a memorial to Palestinians massacred by Zionists in 1948 at Deir Yassin. Three memorial sculptures and plaques have been established elsewhere – in Geneva (New York), Glasgow and East Jerusalem.

Although the main purpose of Deir Yassin Remembered is to build a suitable memorial, the organisation also has a broader, more humanitarian objective. It will work to eliminate prejudice against Palestinians and to promote the human side of a people who have been the victims of the Zionist colonisation of their land and of the apartheid conditions under which they now live.

From its email dated 1 November 2014 above, however, it appears the current Board Directors believe DYR can fulfill its goals by attempting, as do Zionists, to tarnish the chosen BDS tactic of Palestinian civil society and dehumanise Palestinian activists like Ali Abunimah who critique white supremacist opportunism posturing as solidarity. This phenomenon demonstrates the nexus between white supremacism, zionism and imperialism.

While for a few years from 2007, the organisation began to provide educational scholarships for Palestinians, this was abandoned in 2011. Around 8 scholarships were delivered through donations received by the organisation.

The advisors of the DYR Board have changed over the years yet the names of people who have left often remain on the site for many years after their departure, despite requests to remove them. Human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel left the board in 2005 along with Michael Warschawski. Lea’s name remains on the board list to this day.

To the Directors of DYR
We have been supporters of DYR from its very first days, and identified fully with its goals and objectives. During a recent tour in the US, we discovered that Israel Shamir has been included in the advisory board of DYR.

There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of Ethnic cleansing and massacre. We therefore ask you to clarify whether or not Israel Shamir is indeed part of DYR. If it is the case and you have no intention to exclude him in order to keep the moral integrity of DYR, we will have to disconect ourselves from it.

Please forward this letter to all the members of the Advisory board.

Lea Tsemel, Michael Warschawski

Norman Finkelstein, Marc Ellis, Neta Golan and Jeff Halper also resigned from DYR around that time. Neta’s name was not removed until 2008. As Gabriel Ash commented wryly, “The Deir Yassin Remembered board is like Hotel California, you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave).

In his 2005 letter of resignation, Jeff Halper wrote of Israel Shamir, who was invited to the Board in 2004:

‘First, he deflects the discussion from the essentials of Deir Yassin onto the supposed characteristics of the perpetrators. To cast all “Jews” as perpetrators of such heinous crimes, which is exactly how the discussion has been going for the past number of months, is racist, absolutely unacceptable – and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself. Just look at his response to Uri Davis: “a Jew is called upon by his religious law to do utmost damage to one who accepted Christ …” Anyone who knows Uri Davis would know that such a statement is beyond absurd, but the bigger question is: Who in the hell is “a Jew”? Paul’s comment about “Jewish Power” is also outrageous. “THE Jews” is a construct just as false, simplistic, racist (biologically so, it seems) and unacceptable as any other ethnic label used to tar all members of that group with – inevitably negative – characteristics. (I know our “fully human” psychotherapist from Australia will read into this primordial “Jewish loyalty.”)

The inane discussion that has come to characterize the DYR discourse is not even sophisticated racism; its just plain old-fashioned stupid racism. That’s enough to get me to leave.

When I hear diatribes of non-Palestinians against the Palestinian Ali Abunimah because he raises concerns over Shamir’s racism and the entire tone of the DYR discussion, a red light goes off. Has Deir Yassin been hijacked by a cult more intent on pursuing hate campaigns against the fictive “Jews” than in searching for the humanistic, universal, critical and truly relevant elements of the Deir Yassin story? Is Deir Yassin’s memory being sullied by those who claim to honor it?

The resignation of any one of the people who left DYR, Jewish or not, should be a cause of soul-searching, especially among the non-Palestinian “gatekeepers” of Deir Yassin who may be finishing off the job – massacring the memory of Deir Yassin by making it synonymous with racism and anti-Semitism. ‘

Although he was never actually on the Board, Uri Davis’s name appears there as a consultant during 2005 and is removed by 2006. Our source relays that Davis said he would accept the invitation to the Board if he could then argue for the removal of Shamir.

Our sources tell us that in 2005, the late Hanna Braun complained that McGowan had placed her name on his list of “Righteous Jews” on his DYR partner website, without her consent although she made it clear that she found the whole concept racist and offensive. McGowan also placed Braun’s memoirs on the DYR site without asking her let alone her consent.

Full blog
2012 Withdrawn blog post by Paul Eisen

In 2005, Mark Elf at Jews Sans Frontieres relates that Holocaust denier and Board Director Paul Eisen: ‘has finally come out as, or at least gone over to, supporting a full-blown neo-nazi take on Hitler and the holocaust. … Shamir seems to take the view that Jews should renounce being Jewish or forever take the rap for killing Jesus. Jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, takes the view that if you do not renounce being Jewish then you are a crypto- or under-cover zionist.

Tony Greenstein recounted in 2012: Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.

In 2011 Eisen reproduced emails to ex-board member Robert Green whose name disappeared from the Board in 2006: The Palestinian people are, above all, suffering under Jewish power and the only guy I know successfully confronting that power is Israel Shamir. Shamir’s name is no longer on the list of Board Advisors by February, 2010. Both Eisen and McGowan have applauded neo-Nazi and convicted Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. McGowan visited Zündel in prison in Germany in 2006.

In October 2012, Eisen published an antisemitic blog post which was later removed in which he attacked the Free Gaza Movement. After becoming aware of this article, Avigail Arbananel, a director of the Board since 2004, “resigned from DYR because of Paul Eisen”. On the Board since 2007, Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa also left at this point.

Another name which remains on the Board despite having left is Ilan Pappé. Our source informs us that in 2012 during a visit to Sydney, Pappe was asked ‘if it is the case that they are a current member or whether DYR need to update their website’ and he replied that ‘DYR needs to update their website‘.

2017 Board2016 DYR Board2015 DYR Board2014 DYR Board2013 DYR Board2012 DYR Board2011 DYR Board2010 DYR Board2009 DYR Board2008 DYR Board2007 DYR Board2006 DYR Board2005 DYR Board2004 DYR Board2003 DYR Board2002 DYR Board

Exposed thoroughly in 2012 and despite Eisen’s attack on her in his withdrawn blog post above, Greta Berlin became a DYR Board Advisor early in 2014. In 2012, Bekah Wolf commented on Berlin:

I have seen her engage, accept, and encourage anti-Semitic rhetoric, and this is incredibly damaging to the Palestine solidarity movement. What she, and this group, represents is dangerous to our movement in solidarity with Palestinians: a complete disregard for the basic principles of anti-racism and anti-bigotry most of us hold dear.

At that time, Professor As’ad Abukhalil emphasised: “Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.” Along with a declaration by leading Palestinians, the BDS movement has made a strong statement affirming its “rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism“. The 1 November 2014 DYR email represents a full frontal assault against human rights-based BDS, a principled Palestinian-led movement for justice which seeks to educate people away from racism, to end the human wrongs of colonialism and apartheid inflicted on Palestinians.

Toxic white supremacist ideology – including Zionism – underpins current and past colonial, imperial oppression. Palestinians require better than to have the 1948 genocide at Deir Yassin (perpetrated by Zionists and facilitated by imperial powers) hijacked as a front for DYR white supremacists, in the same manner as settler colonial Zionists appropriate and utilise the Holocaust.

OTHER LINKS

Tony Greenstein (2008): Time to say goodbye – Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? (contains more info and links about the DYR Board)

DYR declared a hate group (2017): “Deir Yassin Remembered, a local group famous for its weekly protests outside Temple Beth Israel in Ann Arbor, has been placed on a list of hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center under the subcategory of Holocaust denial.”

Sonia Montez – Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song

New York-based singer, songwriter and guitarist, Sonia Montez, expressed her support last year for boycott, divestment and sanctions of apartheid Israel.

Her new song “Climbing Fences : The Occupation Song” is written in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all folks living under occupation, including in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sonia says:

“As a musician/activist, the worlds in which I live are often separated from each other. We are trained in entertainment to not mix in politics because it may alienate a potential audience.

I abhor this idea and always have. From pop culture icons like Roger Waters to John and Yoko, to the great jazz artists of the 40’s and 50’s, politics has been crucial to the evolution of art and culture. It is in this spirit that I release this free demo, rough, faltered, honest, and filled with all of the emotional rage I and many others have felt over the brutalization of our human brothers and sisters.

Download it, share it, cover it, use it, remix it, tweet it, boast it from every speaker in every city. Make these words of solidarity count, we will not close our eyes, we will not be silent, we will witness and the world will know. Let the message ring loud, FROM #FERGUSON TO #PALESTINE: #OCCUPATION IS A CRIME!”

Lyrics:

Sonia MontezClimbing Fences : The Occupation Song

Dead night
Fire in the sky
Stars are running shy
Ground bleeds in streams for you

Early little love child
Bore the burden of the hate squad
Someone watched as innocence left your eye
Climbing fences that tear you apart

How golden is our silence now?

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you

“Listen pretty sister
I got boys with toys to paint you red
I got silence now”

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you

You bleed as the world closes blinds
You scream as the pressure holds you tight
In this cage, you can’t breathe
When all you need to be is free

When they come in the middle of dead night
When there’s nothing but fire in the darkened sky
Stars run shy from the bullet fight
How the ground bleeds in streams of pain for you