Dear Collegues and Friends,
The Grenoble Center for the Advanced
Study of American Institutions and
Social Movements has received mail on the formation of the new right-wing
alliance between the "Christian Coalition" and "Zionists" in the United
Religious ideologies, it would appear,
have once again surfaced to build
the selfless "esprit de corps," which is so useful for mobilizing imperialist
conquests. One historic episode of this sort of "altruism" took place on May
26, 1637, when Capitans John Mason and John Underhill led an attack against
the Pequot Indian nation and burned alive Pequot men, women, and children,
killing between 400 and 700 in less than an hour. "God," the Puritan
commander reported, "laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to
Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven.... Thus did the Lord judge among the
Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies."
Sixty years later these Puritans
were killing one another as "witches," and
eventually the entire project based on the "irrefutable truth of "God's
Chosen People" was doomed, as religious zeal waned and out-marriages occurred
in greater and greater numbers. But, in the short term, the religious zeal
had served its purpose --the Indian land had been conquered, and sold, and
resold, eventually causing the original "esprit de corps" to give way to possissive
individualism, and occasionally to social class consciousness.
What we find below are three elements
of a contemproary debate on the role
of religious dogma, which we have inherited in our early part of the
21st-century. Too often economic imparatives are pushed into the
background, and ideology/theology seems to take on a life if its own, while
If we read carefully the three essays below, we can witness the effects ideology has on the very ability to perceive of reality itself.
The theme of the following discussions
is Zionism and Anti-Semitism, with Professor Mitzman (item A) defending
his belief that anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism, while Professor Ollman (in
item B) argues just the oppsite, that Zionism = anti-Semitism, and the
third item is an article by Uri Avnery (item C) which analyses the short-
and long-term significances the recent political victories won by the new
alliance between "Christian Coalition" fundamentalists and "Zionists" in
the United States.
Professor of American Studies/Director of Research
from Arthur Mitzman
March 3, 2003
As usual, one must begin with a disclaimer: No one is more opposed to the
present war plans of the Bush administration nor more hostile to the hegemony
of global neoliberalism than I am. Moreover, I am
fully aware that what Israeli governments have been perpetrating in the occupied territories in defense of their colonies is contrary both to civilized morality and to numerous resolutions of the security council. I have long
been a proponent of an Israeli dismanteling the colonies and recognition of a viable Palestinian state.
At the same time, it is becoming clear to me that many leftists are now
falling for what the old German Marxists called "Narrensozialismus", the
Socialism of Fools: anti-semitism, or, under its new guise, anti-Zionism.
Less important than the name is the political function. Before World War I, Bebel and Kautsky fought against populist-tinted antisemitism behind a socialist mask because they realized that in pointing the finger at "Jewish
bankers" it gave the masses a convenient scapegoat and distracted attention from the real power of German nationalist capitalism and imperialism. The Russian Marxists were similarly aware that the Czarist regime used peasant populist antisemitism to deflect hostility from its own decrepit tyranny. In other words, antisemitism played into the hands of the worst enemies of the European peoples, their own oppressive elites. This
scapegoat function reached its insane apogee in Nazi genocide. In the Arab countries, alas, opposition from the organized left has always been too weak, and from the inception of the state of Israel, the rulers of every Arab
state encouraged "anti-Zionism" as a lightning rod for popular discontent which might otherwise bring them down. The antisemitism then encouraged (and now too, as in the case of the official toleration of a hugely
popular TV version of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in Egypt) was so powerful that the vast majority of Middle Eastern Jews fled to Israel. The present conflict between the Israeli state and the Palestinians, whatever the merits of the case for a Palestinian state, has revived this scapegoat function of Jew hatred, though at the present, most Arab rulers are so aware that it can easily backfire, by leading to yet another military defeat,
that they tend to handle the issue more circumspectly. Into this situation jump today's left antiglobalists, backing the Palestinian cause in the name of international solidarity with oppressed peoples, as their elders earlier backed the Vietnamese against U.S. imperialism.
In doing so, however, they are losing sight of essential differences. While
the Vietnamese Communists combatted the American army and its local representatives
in their own country, they never sent suicide squads into American cities
to kill as many Americans as they could. If they had, they would have lost
a great deal of international support, and the powerful American resistance
to the war would never have gotten off the ground. But the violent Jew-hatred
of Hamas and the other Islamic fundamentalist groupings leads them to do
just that kind of thing, and in so doing they are aiding the worst enemies
of a Palestinian state in Israel. The intransigent demand of a right to
return for all Palestinian refugees to Israel -- as in the recent Cairo
anti-globalization arguments are merged with anti-war and pro-Palestinian arguments -- has a similar effect. And a boycott of Israeli universities, seat of the remaining voices for reconciliation between the two peoples,
would be as counter-productive as a call for an international boycott of American universities during the Vietnam War.
It is absurd not to realize that the present anxious withdrawal of many
left-wing Israelis from militant opposition to Sharon's tactics has been
provoked by the murderous violence of Palestinian attacks on
Israeli civilians, attacks with no other apparent aim than to kill as many Jews as possible. It is equally absurd to ascribe the arrogant imperialism of the Bush government to "Zionist" influence, simply because Likud
apologists like Perle and Wolfowitz have been prominent in the war party. The fact that Sharon and the Likud would like to see themselves as dictating U.S. policy does not mean that that is the case. Even they must
realize that they are, for the moment, simply its beneficiaries, to the extent that Sharon's stalemated domestic policy, like Bush's, needs foreign policy successes as a distraction, and an invasion of Iraq will end the reign of
the only Arab despot who has sent scuds into Israeli cities.
The real sources of U.S. aggression have, however, nothing to do with Sharon's
strategy. They lie, on the one hand, in the needs of the U.S. oil barons
-- who occupy much more prominent positions in Washington than the Likudniks
-- to control the Middle Eastern reserves, and on the other, in Bush's
domestic political agenda, which is so far to the right of what most Americans
want, that it can only be carried out in the
shadow of unending terror scares and imperialist adventures. In this context, to parlay the struggle against U.S. imperialism into a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist struggle is simply a distraction from the main issue.
To deny that there is a powerful current of Jew-hatred in the Palestinian
resistance to Israel is to blind yourself to an obvious reality. Many of
those defending the Palestinian cause still have the destruction of Israel
on their agenda, and you pander to them with phrases like "Israeli attack dogs" and "this murderous Zionist-American bloc", which come over to me like crude adaptations of Stalinist and Hitleriananti-semitism.
Exaggeration? The new Arab-European League, which aspires torepresent some 350,000 Moslems in The Netherlands, openly denies the rightof existence of Israel, which it labels "a Zionist entity". Naïma
Elmaslouhi, one of its four person steering group, simply says, "I believe that Israel should disappear." Asked her opinion of the chant, popular among Moroccan youth in Amsterdam, "Hamas, Hamas, joden aan het gas" -- "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas chamber" -- she replied, "Those are not tactically wise expressions, but I don't reject them either." ("Dat zijn geen effectieven uitspraken, maar ik keur die ook niet af.") All this is from last
Saturday's NRC Handelsblad, our local "quality paper".
In Porto Alegre, progressive Jews, and even Palestinian sympathizers calling
for non-violent civil disobedience as a means of resistance to the Israelis,
were exposed to the depth of this hatred.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation, among the expressions of it they encountered at the
ast big meeting were: "Posters calling for action against 'Nazis, Yankees and Jews: No more chosen peoples!'.... members of thePalestine Social Forum calling the Jews 'the true fundamentalists who control United States
capitalism and the Iraq war agenda', and 'who are responsible for the 11 September attacks'. Physical assault on some 20 Jewish participants holding banners declaring 'Two peoples - Two states: Peace in the Middle East'. The
booing of a Brazilian speaker who proposed that Palestinians adopt Gandhi's policy of non-violence."
Until the Palestinians can marginalize their own extremists
and present a
resistance with acceptable methods and realistic demands,
bringing about peace and justice for BOTH peoples in
giving them the kind of unconditional support much of the
European left now
accords them is a moral as well as a strategic cul-de-sac.
They are at this
moment no more worthy of support than Sharon. Though they
the weaker antagonist, weakness is no more a guarantee of
than power, as the world has seen in innumerable cases.
This is all obviously not to say that we should not condemn
by the nationalist right in Israel for ethnic purification.
To the extent
that the Sharon government moves in the direction of such
should be condemned, as should the entire heavy-handed
military defense of
Israel's colonies in the occupied territories as well as the
of disruption of normal Palestinian life that accompany it.
But a boycott
of Israeli universities or other cultural institutions will
in no way help
such condemnation, it will only hurt those in Israel most
support such protests. In any case, anyone who considers him
or herself on
the left cannot but ALSO condemn the kind of terror attacks
civilians that have been the most prominent feature of the
I would be grateful to you if you would post this to your list.
Professor Ollman's reply to Professor Mitzman :
April 18, 2003
IS ANTI-ZIONISM A NEW FORM OF ANTI-SEMITISM?
By Bertell Ollman
I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your criticisms
of my piece on the real reasons for the Iraq war. Your letter raises
several crucial issues, but I only have time to go into what I take to be
the most important one - your treatment of anti-Zionism as a "new guise"
Arthur, have you considered what would happen if the audience you
are addressing came to accept your logic but not the use you make of it?
According to this logic, one must be BOTH anti-Zionist and anti-semitic,
or NEITHER. You seem to believe that faced with this choice all honest
critics of Zionism will simply pack up their tents and go home. But, given
Zionism's worsening human rights record in the holy land and one more
cloying appeal for Jewish exceptionalism, the change could go the other
way. That is, some opponents of Zionism, who are convinced by your logic
and nothing else, might now add anti-semitism to their bag of beliefs.
Rather than making fewer anti-Zionists, you may be making more
anti-semites. Think on it. You must allow for the possibility that someone
could view Jews as full, voting members of the species and still strongly
oppose Zionism in all its forms. Otherwise, you - and the growing number of
Jews who share your position - will be sowing some of the very dragon teeth
that you say you are trying to uproot.
Anti-semitism has traditionally meant a hatred for all
Jews just because they were Jews, not because of what they believed or did
- though these were often offered as rationalizations - but, again, just
because of who they were. This is not only irrational and unjust but, as we
know, the results can be murderous. With this history, every Jew but also
every humane and fair-minded non-Jew must oppose the rise of anti-semitism
with all their might. I have no doubt that we agree on this. I'm sure, too,
that you will agree that if a Jew or a group of Jews commit a crime they
should be condemned and even punished for it. The danger - and the
injustice - arises when non-Jews blame, as many often have and continue to
do, all Jews for the crimes of the few. This anti-semitic reaction must be
fought, but if the crime is horrendous and continuing - as in the case of
Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (or its role, direct and indirect,
in supporting and promoting Bush's murderous policies in Iraq) - it isn't
enough to cry out "anti-semite".
No, a more effective response is for innocent Jews to join in -
better still, to take the lead - in denouncing the crime(s), as Noam
Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, Howard Zinn, and the orthodox Jews of Naturei
Karta, among many others - including some Israelis, are doing. If
anti-semitism hasn't already swept the world in reaction to Israel's
oppression of the Palestinians , it is mainly due to the heroic and often
dangerous efforts of these people. If it is still easy to reject the
view that all Jews share the responsibility for current Zionist
policies, it is largely because some Jews have shown that one can be Jewish
and anti-Zionist (for Naturei Karta, it's just because they are Jewish) at
the same time, and therefore that anti-Zionism and anti-semitism are not
the same thing.
On the other hand, Jews who react to Israel's horrible
crimes with silence, or rationalizations of any kind, or painful attempts
to strike a balance between the oppressor and the oppressed are - whether
they admit it or not - supporters of the regime and therefore complicit in
its crimes. Oppressive regimes, after all, have seldom needed more
than passive and mixed support to carry out their "business". As regards
the topic at hand, along with the growing number of Jews who openly defend
Israel's inhuman behavior, these often well meaning Jews also feed the
anti-semitic stereotype that all Jews are guilty of the crimes of the few
and deserve the hatred that these crimes evoke.
It should be clear that just because I refuse to identify
anti-Zionism, whatever its particular form or level of intensity, with
anti-semitism does not mean that I want to deny that some anti-Zionists are
also anti-semites (just as I recognize that some anti-semites are also
pro-Zionist - Bush's "moral majority" is full of them). Zionism, after all,
is a nationalist ideology - with all the shortcomings we ordinarily
associate with such ideas - that was only invented about 50 years before
it acquired territorial form and a set of institutional practices in a part
of Palestine, and is not an essential part of the Jewish religion, which
has been around much, much longer. Until relatively recently, few Jews
thought otherwise. Though Zionists like to claim him as one of their own,
Albert Einstein probably spoke for most of the Jews of his day when he
said, "My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of
a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no
matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain --
especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own
ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a
Jewish state". Who can doubt now that Einstein was right to worry?
At the present time, I suspect that most Jews have rushed to
the defence (whether full or qualified) of the Israeli government because
they have been convinced by the false equation of anti-Zionism with
anti-semitism, so that defending Sharon (whatever his "faults") becomes a
way of fighting anti-semitism . It is no mystery why Sharon and his
co-rulers would encourage Jews to make this mistake, but what of Jews who
are critical of his policies but continue to support his
government because they fear the rise of anti-semitism? Their
actions couldn't be more self-defeating. If most of the world hated the
Germans during World War II for the evil deeds of the Nazis, it was in
large part due to the fact that most Germans - even those who disagreed
with their government, the so-called "good Germans" - did not do enough to
oppose the Nazis. The comparison is far from perfect, but the general point
holds: just as becoming anti-fascist was the only way the German people
might have spared themselves the justifiable hatred directed against
fascism, anti-Zionism - especially on the part of Jews - is, in the current
circumstances, the best defense we have against becoming victims of a
Article by Uri Avnery
April 10, 2003
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 18:11:06 -0400 (EDT)
forwarded by : Andre Gunder Frank <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: ANDRE GUNDER FRANK
Senior Fellow Residence
World History Center One Longfellow Place
Northeastern University Apt. 3411
270 Holmes Hall Boston, MA 02114 USA
Boston, MA 02115 USA Tel: 617-948 2315
Tel: 617 - 373 4060 Fax: 617-948 2316
April 10, 2003
The Night After : The Easier the Victory, the Harder the Peace
By URI AVNERY
It is now fashionable to talk about
"the day after". Let's talk about the
After the end of hostilities in Iraq, the world will be faced with two
First, the immense superiority of American arms can beat any people in the
world, valiant as it may be.
Second, the small group that initiated this war--an alliance of Christian
fundamentalists and Jewish neo-conservatives--has won big, and from now on
it will control Washington almost without limits.
The combination of these two facts constitutes a danger to the world, and
especially to the Middle East, the Arab peoples and the future of Israel.
Because this alliance is the enemy of peaceful solutions, the enemy of the
Arab governments, the enemy of the Palestinian people and especially the
enemy of the Israeli peace camp.
It does not dream only about an American empire, in the style of the Roman
one, but also of an Israeli mini-empire, under the control of the extreme
right and the settlers. It wants to change the regimes in all Arab
countries. It will cause permanent chaos in the region, the consequences of
which it is impossible to foresee.
Its mental world consists of a mixture of ideological fervor and crass
material interests, an exaggerated American patriotism and right-wing
That is a dangerous mixture. There is in it something of the spirit of Ariel
Sharon, a man who has always had grandiose plans for changing the region,
consisting of a mixture of creative imagination, unbridled chauvinism and a
primitive faith in brute force.
Who are the winners?
They are the so-called neo-cons, or neo-conservatives. A compact group,
almost all of whose members are Jewish. They hold the key positions in the
Bush administration, as well as in the think-tanks that play an important
role in formulating American policy and the ed-op pages of the influential
For many years, this was a marginal group that fostered a right-wing agenda
in all fields. They fought against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and
drugs. When Binyamin Netanyahu assumed power in Israel, they offered him
advise on how to fight the Arabs.
Their big moment arrived with the collapse of the Twin Towers. The American
public and politicians were in a state of shock, completely disoriented,
unable to understand a world that had changed overnight. The neo-cons were
the only group with a ready explanation and a solution. Only nine days after
the outrage, William Kristol (the son of the group's founder, Irving
Kristol) published an Open Letter to President Bush, asserting that it was
not enough to annihilate the network of Osama bin Laden, but that it was
also imperative to "remove Saddam Hussein from power" and to "retaliate"
against Syria and Iran for supporting Hizbullah.
Following is a short list of the main characters. (If it bores you, skip to
the next section).
The Open Letter was published in the Weekly Standard, founded by Kristol
with the money of ultra-right press mogul Rupert Murdoch, who donated $ 10
million to the cause. It was signed by 41 leading neo-cons, including Norman
Podhoretz, a Jewish former leftist who has become an extreme right-wing
icon, editor of the prestigious Encounter magazine, and his wife, Midge
Decter, also a writer, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Studies,
Robert Kagan, also of the Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer of the
Washington Post, and, of course, Richard Perle.
Perle is a central character in this play. Until recently he was the
chairman of the Defense Policy Board of the Defense Department, which also
includes Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross. Perle is a director of the Jerusalem
Post, now owned by extreme right-wing Zionists. In the past he was an aide
to Senator Henry Jackson, who led the fight against the Soviet Union on
behalf of the Jews who wanted to leave. He is a leading member of the
influential right-wing American Enterprise Institute. Lately he was obliged
to resign from his Defense Department position, when it became known that a
private corporation had promised to pay him almost a million dollars for he
benefit of his influence in the administration.
That Open Letter was, in effect, the beginning of the Iraq war. It was
eagerly received by the Bush administration, with members of the group
already firmly established in some of its leading positions. Paul Wolfowitz,
the father of the war, is No. 2 in the Defense Department, where another
friend of Perle's, Douglas Feith, heads the Pentagon Planning Board. John
Bolton is State Department Undersecretary. Eliot Abrams, responsible for the
Middle East in the National Security Council, was connected with the
Iran-Contra-Israel scandal. The main hero of the scandal, Oliver North, sits
in the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, together with Michael
Ledeen, another hero of the scandal. Headvocates total war not only against
Iraq, but also against Israel's other enemies, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and
the Palestinian Authority. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense
Most of these people , together with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are associated with the "Project for the New
American Century", which published a White Paper in 2002, with the aim 'to
preserve and enhance this 'American peace'"--meaning American control of the
Meyrav Wurmser (Meyrav is a chic new Israeli first name) is Director of the
Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute. She also writes for
the Jerusalem Post and is co-founder of the Middle East Media Research
Institute that is, according to the London Guardian, connected with Israeli
Army Intelligence. MEMRI feeds the media and politicians with highly
selective quotations from extreme Arab publications. Meyrav's husband, Davis
Wurmser, is at Perle's American Enterprise Institute, heading Middle East
Studies. Mention should also be made of the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy of our old acquaintance, Dennis Ross, who for years was in
charge of the "peace process" in the Middle East.
In all the important papers there are people close to the group, such as
William Safire, a man hypnotized by Sharon, in the New York Times and
Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. Another Perle friend, Robert
Bartley, is the editor of the Wall Street Journal.
If the speeches of Bush and Cheney often sound as if they came from the lips
of Sharon, one of the reasons may be that their speechwriters, Joseph
Shattan, Mathew Scully and John McConnell, are neo-cons, as is Cheneys
Chief-of-Staff, Lewis Libby.
The immense influence of this largely Jewish group stems from its close
alliance with the extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalists, who nowadays
control Bush's Republican party. The founding fathers were Jerry Falwell of
the Moral Majority, who once got a jet plane as a present from Menachem
Begin, and Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and the Christian
Broadcasting Network, which help to finance the Christian Embassy in
Jerusalem of J.W. van der Hoeven, an outfit that supports the settlers and
their right-wing allies.
Common to both groups is their adherence to the fanatical ideology of the
extreme right in Israel. They see the Iraq war as a struggle between the
Children of Light (America and Israel) and the Children of Darkness (the
Arabs and Muslims).
By the way, none of these facts are secret. They have been published lately
in dozens of articles, both in American and world media. The members of the
group are proud of them.
The Zionist general.
The man who symbolizes this victory is General Jay Garner, who has just been
appointed chief of the civilian administration in Iraq.
He is no anonymous general who has been picked accidentally. Garner is the
ideological partner of Paul Wolfowitz and the neo-cons.
Two years ago he signed, together with 26 other officers, a petition
organized by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, lauding the
Israeli Army for "remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence
orchestrated by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority," which is
certainly news to the Israeli peace forces. He also stated that "a strong
Israel is an asset that American military planners and political leaders can
In the first Gulf War he praised the performance of the Patriot missiles,
which had failed miserably. After leaving the army in 1997, he became, not
surprisingly, a defense contractor specializing in missiles. It was alleged
that he landed non-competitive Pentagon contracts. This year he obtained a
defense contract for $ 1.5 billion, as well as a contract for building
Patriot systems in Israel.
Therefore, there can be no better candidate for the job of chief of the
civilian administration in Iraq, especially at a time when contracts for
billions of dollars for reconstruction have to be handed out, to be paid for
by Iraqi oil.
A new Balfour declaration.
The ideology of this group, that calls for an American world-empire as well
as for a Greater Israel, reminds one of bygone days.
The Balfour declaration of 1917, that promised the Jews a homeland in
Palestine, had two parents. The mother was Christian Zionism (among whose
adherents were illustrious statesmen like Lord Palmerston and Lord
Shaftesbury, long before the foundation of the Zionist movement), the father
was British imperialism. The Zionist idea allowed the British to crowd out
their French competitors and take possession of Palestine, which was needed
to safeguard the Suez Canal and the shorter sea route to India.
Now the same thing is happening again. Last year Richard Perle organized a
briefing in which a speaker proposed war not only on Iraq, but on Saudi
Arabia and Egypt as well, in order to secure the world's oil heartland.
Iraq, he asserted, was only the pivot. One of the justifications for this
design is the need to defend Israel.
To bet on our life?
Seemingly, all this is good for Israel. America controls the world, we
control America. Never before have Jews exerted such an immense influence on
the center of world power.
But this tendency troubles me. We are like a gambler, who bets all his money
and his future on one horse. A good horse, a horse with no current
competitor, but still one horse.
The neo-cons will cause a long period of chaos in the Arab and Muslim world.
The Iraqi war has already shown that their understanding of Arab realities
is shaky. Their political assumptions did not stand the test, only brute
force saved their undertaking.
Some day the Americans will go home, but we shall remain here. We have to
live with the Arab peoples. Chaos in the Arab world endangers our future.
Wolfowitz and Co. may dream about a democratic, liberal, Zionist and
America-loving Middle East, but the result of their adventures may well turn
out to be a fanatical and fundamentalist region that will threaten our very
The partnership of the neo-cons and the Christian fundamentalists may
engender counter-forces in Washington. And if Bush is defeated in the next
election, like his father after his victory in the first Gulf War, this
whole gang will be thrown out.
The Bible tells us about the kings of Judea, who relied on the then world
power, Egypt. They did not appreciate the rise of forces in the east,
Assyria and Babylon. An Assyrian general told the king of Judea: "Behold,
thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, upon Egypt, on which if a
man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it." (II kings 18, 21).
Bush and his gang of neo-cons is not a bruised reed. Far from it, he is now
a very strong reed. But should we bet our whole future on this?
Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist.