Anti Isreal = Anti-Semetism?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Sun Feb 14 23:30:12 PST 1999

-----Original Message----- From: seanno at <seanno at> To: Nathan Newman <nathan.newman at>

>How would someone justify the Israelis' opposition and pressures on the
>American policy makers not to recognize the massacres against the Armenian
>people such as when the pro Isreal lobby took steps to keep congress from
>recognizing the Armenian genocide.

I'm not sure which "Israeli lobby" we're talking about. Some are rightwing; some are more moderate. Some big Israeli supporters have also been strong promoters of information about genocide of all kinds, including Armenia.

Turkey has plenty of lobbying power of its own without needing Israel. It played the Cold War well in getting financial aid and support as a key bulwark against the Soviet Union. Remember, it was nukes stationed in Turkey that led to the nukes in Cuba and the Cuban missile crisis.

Again, there is a strain of obsessively blaming Israel and an "Israeli lobby" - ie. Jews in America - for all sorts of policy decisions that have lots of other, and more important, causes.

>It is true that the idea for a Jewish state existed prior to the WW2 but
>not as an outcome of autonomous national development. British imperialist
>interests were threatened by the growing Arab nationalism in the region
>and they needed an agent in the region to help them protect that interest.

Yeah, I know this is the party line - literally.

But where's the evidence and what did Britain get out of the deal? Israel's existence arguably pushed many Arab states into stronger alliance with the Soviet Union, led to the Suez crisis, and probably strengthened the Arab unity that led to OPEC. The what-if game does not always get you much, but it does not seem like the US and Britain would have done so badly if all they had were their Saudi, Kuwaiti and (before the mid-70s) Labanese and Iranian allies. Again, Israelis importance is way over emphasized in order to turn its existence into some master plot.

>furthermore, fifty years before The holocaust the Jews constituted less
>than 7% of the total population of Palestine which makes no sense to say
>that there was a mature development of nationalism and an idea of Jewish

You mention the small numbers of Jews compared to Arabs later in the post. So what? Does being a small minority eliminate claims on statehood and rights? That sentiment is exactly the nasty brutal attitude that leads to persecution - whether of the Jews in Germany or the Palestinians in Israel. 7% is not that small a minority; and of course that number does not include the far greater number of Jews scattered throughout the other Arab and North African muslim states.

And Jews did have a unique "national" problem; they had never been allowed to gather in one country to become a sizeable enough group to claim nation status. So you use the historical persecution of the Jews to turn around and deny them any legitimate right to claim such a status It's kinda grotesque..

>is no meaning in talking about a Jewish state in Palestine as a historical
>outcome of local factors fifty years prior to the holocaust. The Zionist
>second and sixth congresses suggested Uganda and Argentina as a location
>for the Jewish state. That is an acknowledgment that Jews have no special
>claim on the territory of Palestine, either historically or religiously
>(which is just asinine anyway)

Get real. Most Zionists wanted Palestine but were bargaining for anything they could get. And you can argue that Israel shouldn't have been voted into existence (and I will emphasize again the overwhelming global UN vote for its creation), but to argue that Jews don't have any special claim on the geography is just silly rhetoric. You have a people who for 2000 years saluted each other with the words "Next year in Jerusalem"; that is a special claim, even if you don't agree with it being granted.

>Arabs in the Middle east and North Africa account for almost 300 million
>people. Only the Zionists willingness to be used as an agent of British
>and later American Imperialism resulted in Palestine as the location for
>the state of Isreal. Much bloodshed would have been spared if European
>Jews had migrated to the U.S. following WW2. It is as if you are saying
>that 300 million arabs are in the middle east by mistake while 4 million
>Jews are there by historical necessity.

Since I don't believe in "historical necessity", I'm arguing no such thing. The idea that Britain was gung-ho for Israel is itself silly. Britain resisted Israel's creation in many ways; it is simplistic history to see Israel's creation as such a simple plot. You keep saying Israel was Britain's agent. What did Britain get out of the deal?

>Isreal is an explicitly Jewish State! Isreal is also a militarized police
>state with citizenship and law based upon explicitly religious and ethnic

As are most of the Islamic states, Asian states, and European states. Israel has its peculiarities, but it is not as different from other countries as either its greatest defenders or critics make it out to be.

Nathan Again:
> Not to start a whole other thread (although it inevitably will), I do
> the Left ideological opposition to Israel's existence (as opposed to
> opposition to its brutal actions) has large streams of Anti-Semetism
> associated with it.

-First, this is false on purely semantic grounds. If you want to play the -ethnic origin game (which is dangerous in and of itself) almost any arab -is more "semetic" than jews who have lived in Europe for a thousand years -and have intermarried and procreated with many "non-semetic" peoples.

Yep, the standard idea that Jews really never suffered any persecution, since we can play semantic games and take away the word that names that persecution. Antisemitism has never been widely used to mean prejudice against people from a particular ethnic area; it's meant being anti-Jewish. So why play this stupid semantic game if only to downplay that historical prejudice?

>The denial of even any semblance of civil and
>democratic rights for Palestinians in the occupied territories should be
>final proof that Isreal is an apartheid regime. A struggle for the
>abolition of the state of Isreal is progressive.

Since I've readily noted the brutality of the Israeli regime and you can do the honors for any further work in that area, I will just add the point that while Israel has been brutal to the Palestinians, so have surrounding Arab states. The Palestinians were treated rather badly in the West Bank when it was controlled by Jordan before 1967 and the Palestinians spent years being driven between Jordan, Syria and Lebanon without much regard to their civil rights. And of course, there was no regard for their democratic rights, since none of the surrounding states are democratic.

And let'sx not even talk about the mass murders committed by most of those surrounding regimes against their own citizens.

And the fact is that Palestinians in Israel proper have full voting rights (and were the crucial votes in putting Rabin in office in order to launch the Oslo Accords). That complicates the stupid comparison to South Africa. One reason I don't like words like collective guilt or most ideological slang is it's usually an excuse not to look at concrete history and instead make lots of simplistic analogies.

>History does hurt, but that shouldn't keep us from
>choosing sides. Palestinians in Palestine and The neighboring Arab
>countries by far out number the Israeli Jews... There were NOT plenty of
Jews in >Palestine prior to 1948. when the state of Israel
>was first established the Jews were only 600,000 while 900,000 Arabs were
>forcibly expelled. if you add the number of Arabs in the middle east to
>whom the Palestinians belong as a nation the Jews will never be plenty.

Again, this is the lousiest argument you make. Outnumbering an opponent does not put one in the right.

As for sides, I with the PLO-Meretz-Labor coalition fighting for a two-state outcome and against the Likud-Hamas coalition which seeks religious and ethnic cleansing. Hamas helped bomb Netayanu into office, and Netayanu has returned the favor by brutalizing Palestianians to increase Hamas's support.

But then you probably think Arafat is a long-time British agent working secretly for decades to advance British and US imperialist goals.

--Nathan Newman

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list