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On the so-called "Jewish question", the nature of Zionism and the State of Israel :

mercredi 7 janvier 2009

Some basic elements to draw a demarcation line

1. In the Middle East and the Near East, as in other geographical areas where capitalism did not develop as much as in Europe and America, in the absence of significant struggles of the working class for the socialist revolution, the national question has taken a central place in the twentieth century. It is within this complex framework that we must analyze the question of Palestine and Israel.

2. The Jewish people has the same rights as other peoples (including the Palestinian people) to benefit from its own national state. Although it is regrettable that Israeli and Palestinian proletarians do not fight together for the socialist revolution, for a binational state, or, better yet, for a Socialist Federation of the entire Middle East, it is clear that the least bad solution, under the current capitalist system, seems to be the existence of two separate states, the borders of which remain to be defined in order to allow an equal access to all natural resources of Israel-Palestine, including water and the sea. This evolution may facilitate a clarification of class antagonisms and may push the exploited masses to struggle for their own interests, and not behind their respective national bourgeoisies.

3. Most Marxist analyses of the so-called "Jewish question" lead to an impasse and do not enable us to understand

- the history of the Jewish people (reduced to a wrong identification between Judaism and the circulation of money within precapitalist societies ; or between the small commercial middle class and the Jewish people)

- the existence of Zionism (reduced to a religious ideology deprived of any national roots),

- the State of Israel (reduced to a temporary outpost of Western imperialism).

4. Most Near and Middle East States owe their existence to the maneuvers of the rival imperialist powers (France, Great Britain, United States) which have divided this region and continue to play one state against another for economic (oil, markets, etc.) and / or strategic reasons. In this sense, Israel is not a more vicious "imperialist puppet" than Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon or Egypt – or even Iran or Syria. We can not systematically denounce one of these "puppets" (Israel) without ruthlessly exposing the others. Yet it’s what, in fact, the Far Left, the anti-imperialists, the antizionists do most of the time. At the end of the day these political currents choose to support some states against other states just because they use a nationalist or pseudo-anti-imperialist rhethoric. Acting so, they disarm and disempower the Israeli, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish and Iranian proletarians in front of their own bourgeoisie.

5. Those who accuse Israel (a colonial state which uses mythical biblical references to justify its legitimacy) of being today a "racist" state only reproduce arguments developed by Soviet Stalinists. In coded language, this argument has fueled anti-Semiticism in the USSR and in the « people’s democracies », and perpetuated anti-Semitism in the Arab-Muslim countries, and even in the West, under various forms. The comparison between Israel and South Africa is part of the same type of easy propaganda for lazy minds, which calls upon the good anti-racist feelings and White Man’s guilt, who regrets his colonialist past but "forgets" that Western imperialism continues to plunder Africa today, and to fund permanent civil wars if not genocides (Rwanda). Israel is not a more racist state than France, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan or the United States. Being used in all circumstances, the weapon of anti-racism risks to become useless in our hands.

6. It is criminal to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, Hitler and Sharon, and Jenin to the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazification of a political enemy only obscures the fight against it and makes it more difficult to fight it. French militants should remember those who presented de Gaulle as a "agent of fascism » during the Second World War or after the 1958 legal state coup. Was their political analysis correct ? De Gaulle was certainly an enemy of the working class, but he has not introduced fascism in France. In the case of Israel, this comparison goes often together with a disgusting manipulation of multisecular anti-Semitic feelings in the European or Arab-Muslim societies. And in this case it’s perfectly hypocrit to hide oneself behind the writings of antizionist Jews or Israelis to cover a gross manipulation.

. 7. A Jewish activist who struggles in Israel does not express himself (herself) in the same terms as a non-Jewish activist who fights for « justice in Palestine » outside Israel. It is perfectly normal for an Israeli militant to remind his countrymen that the bombing of Jenin, the fact of tattooing numbers on the skin of Palestinian prisoners, the bombing and killing of Palestinian civilians in their homes, all these war crimes evoke terrible memories to him. But this kind of comparison with Nazism is unacceptable in other countries than Israel or in the mouth of non-Jews. Everyone knows that Jews like sometimes to tell anti-Semitic jokes, Africans can ridicule Blacks, and Arabs laugh about other Arabs. When a White European or a White American tells the same jokes they dont have the same meaning. Why should it be different when serious political questions are involved ?

8. In France, anti-Jewish racism is as repugnant as anti-Arab racism. One is not "less serious" than the other, as alleged in veiled terms (or openly) by many Left militants, on behalf of a numerical imbalance (there are, indeed, much more violent and deadly acts against North Africans than against Jews in France). Anti-Semitic acts in France are as condemnable as racial discrimination and legal assassinations (commited by French police) suffered by workers coming from the Maghreb, by their children or grandchildren. In Israel, the hatred of fundamentalist Jews or of some Zionists against Arabs and Palestinians is as despicable as the hatred of fundamentalist Muslims and nationalists against Jews or Israelis. One racism is not more permissible than the other, and there is no reason to claim that anti Jewish racism is an "understandable response" or a distorted expression of the Palestinian "national sentiment" and revolt against Israeli colonization.

9. Anti-Zionism is not automatically synonymous with anti-Semiticism. The rulers of Israel are completely dishonest when they engage in this kind of slanderous political amalgam. The intellectuals who label as "Judeophobic" those who criticize Israel and zionism are also dishonnest because they try to prevent a serious debate on the devastating and criminal effects of Israeli governments policies. Once that said, those who criticize Israel outside its borders have a particular responsibility, especially in a country like France, which has sent 70 000 Jews to death without the smallest demonstration against such deportations ; a country in which the state authorities have denied for forty years their participation to the genocide ; and a country which has a long anti-Semitic past, even before the Dreyfus Affair. It’s necessary to ruthlessly criticize Israel (as well as all states). But we can’t ignore the weight, ambiguity or scope of certain arguments. Only one example : many antizionists denounce a « media conspiracy » supposedly led by the media owners and the Zionists against them. Not only this analysis is questionable but one must be specially blind not to realize that this kind of argument nurtures the ancient myth of a "Jewish (world) conspiracy".

10. One can not claim to support the rights of the Palestinian people while marching in the streets with the worst enemies of the proletariat, whether the Hamas, the Islamists or French far right or fascist groups.

11. The Palestinian Authority is as much the enemy of the Palestinian people as the State of Israel is the enemy of Jewish workers, or the French government is the enemy o French proletariat.

Y.C. (Ni patrie ni frontières)

19 January 2004

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