Bloody hell it was hot! Tolpuddle R.W.B. 2018

A rather laid back Tolpuddle with everyone seemingly subdued by the temperature. It was good to see Brighton SolFed take up a stall, and a pity the IWW didn’t manage to book one as we had loads of local Wobs on hand to crew it and plenty of IWW-related literature, which made our table a bit cramped. Les did us proud as ever, Theresa’s innovative engineering solution with the sacktruck made the Wob Kitchen table more strong and stable than her gormless namesake. Misty in Roots was sublime as I remember them from the 70s and I Destroy from Bristol is a band to watch.

We’re definitely past peak J.C., I only heard three desultory chants of “Ooh Jeremy Corbyn” Some geezer in a ‘wake up Labour’ T shirt came by the stall, seemed normal enough then handed over a leaflet – I can’t remember what it was about – full of anti-Semitic conspiracy bollocks. “What is this rubbish? Who cares if George Soros is Jewish or not?” Bloke shrugged and I gave him a pamphlet about anti-Semitism. Later on the march, the crank was spotted wearing a Guy Fawkes mask carrying a portrait of Vladimir Putin with the caption ‘peacemaker’. At the end of the village, the ‘friends of Israel’ we oiked off the site a couple of years ago stood brandishing vast British and Israeli flags, shouting something about Hamas.

Meanwhile the Labour party squabbles over two ‘examples of anti-Semitism’ from the I.H.R.A. code:

 g. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

j. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

Now usually in anti-oppression politics, the hegemonic group doesn’t get to define what constitutes oppressive behaviour, but this is more complicated. Religion is a species of ideology, and ideology is an excuse for doing what you like and/or a palliative for those you’re doing it to. Worse, it’s a cross-class alliance. Caution should be exercised over cultural identity for the same reason; both these things often have implicit hierarchies embedded within them.

Racism is anything that materially or socially disadvantages members of a racialised group, or makes it more likely they will be targets for violence and oppressive behaviour. It’s a methodology for maintaining a power relation so it only works where such a relation exists. Anti-Semitic oppression falls on Working Class Jews who don’t have the protection of the state of Israel or the U.S. government, it doesn’t fall on Netanyahu and co. They are part of the hegemonic group, not because there is a conspiracy, or because Judaism exerts undue influence, but because they are the ultra-nationalist leadership of a state engaged in military-industrial capitalism. States are cross-class alliances; they don’t represent any people, just a mode of production.

I would say the state of Israel is a racist endeavour, so is the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Russian Federation. Almost all states were founded on racism; they began with a cultural majority carving out a piece of territory, imposing their language and customs and excluding outsiders; they invaded and robbed their neighbours. The economic and political dominance of North-Western Europe and North America was achieved through the pillage of Latin America, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent. That is the context in which the state of Israel was founded.

So what do you think, if a state grants an absolute right of citizenship to Jews and only Jews, is it racist?

Allowing displaced Palestinians to return to Israel-Palestine would deny the Israeli state a Jewish voting majority, without which it could not guarantee such rights in perpetuity. Is it racist to give Jewish people a greater right to self-determination than Palestinian people?

Is it racist to contend that all Jewish people must make this moral compromise?

Is it racist to take sixty to a hundred Palestinian lives for every Israeli one lost?

Is it racist to claim that a body of privileged individuals speaks for an entire Diaspora, or even that anybody needs to? A Diaspora that comprises a range of ethnicities, religious and secular traditions, proletarians and bourgeois alike – including anarchist comrades – especially when clearly, it doesn’t, as many Jews on this island profoundly disagree with it?

Would it have been anti-Semitic for J.C. to refuse an invitation to a cultural event from a group of young Working Class Jews in his constituency on his night off?

Is it racist to conflate anti-capitalism with anti-Semitism, implying that all Jews are supporters of capitalism?

Is it anti-Semitic to call Jonathan Arkush an arrogant prick?

There is a noble tradition of Jewish anti-capitalist movements, anarchist, socialist and atheist in Britain, Europe and the U.S. and Jews have been active in antifascism as long as there have been fascists. The board of deputies is a deeply reactionary clique that opposed every grassroots Jewish antifascist initiative of the 20th century. It opposed the action at Cable Street, and the work of the 43 and 62 groups, which effectively confounded three waves of British fascism, and if you take these things as seriously as we do, undoubtedly saved many lives. There’s a reason for this, self-organised Working Class Jews kicking their persecutors around threaten the vicarious victimhood of their self-appointed representatives. Wouldn’t the board of deputies be buggered if people stopped being anti-Semitic? These wankers are literally playing politics with Working Class lives.

In practice, nobody represents anyone but themselves, communities do not need states or leaders, and many Jewish people agree. We disdain bourgeois Jews because they’re bourgeois not because they’re Jewish. Just as we have no time for black cops, gay fascists or female prime ministers. Where is the clamour about anti-Palestinianism?

I don’t know if it’s actually anti-Semitic to accuse a Jewish person of acting like a Nazi, but it’s pretty fucking tactless, just as I wouldn’t describe an African-American employer as a slave-driver, use your noggin, Ken. You shouldn’t say stupid things like “Hitler supported Zionism” in the sense that “Hitler supported Arsenal”, because he didn’t. The Nazi state cut a deal with one section of the Zionist movement in August 1933 because they shared part of an agenda – getting European Jews to move to Palestine rather than be comfortably settled in Europe. It meant breaking an embargo on German exports. Other Zionists were violently opposed to the idea and fought valiantly against the Nazis. Haim Arlosoroff, one of the architects of the Haavara settlement was subsequently assassinated.

Anti-Semitism certainly lurked below the surface of anti-capitalism, for example in the Occupy movement; it’s faulty politics and bad history. Using ‘Zionist’ as a pejorative is unhelpful and I wouldn’t recommend it. Historically Zionism was diverse, including utopian socialists, religious groups and of course the right-wing nationalists that eventually took it over.

These aren’t problems capitalism can solve. Jews will be free when everyone is free, when identities don’t have to compete on the market and we’ve done away with the bourgeoisie and their toxic state idea.

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1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Industrial Workers of the World Dorset.

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