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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gaza Reveals the Empty and Vacuous Heart of Owen Jones’s writing

Owen Jones – Concerned About 'anti-Semitism' and using the Holocaust to Excuse Israel's murder of 2,000 Palestinians

Jones on Question Time during the 2012 invasion of Gaza - then there were no excuses for Israel

Alfred Dreyfus - Jewish Office Framed by French Army

Perhaps one should expect no better from a Labour Party member whose main talent lies in sounding both original and radical. However Gaza has revealed just how vacuous are the ideas and analysis of Owen Jones. It is because the ideas he gives expression to are held by a wide circle of people, many of whom are sincere in detesting all that Israel is doing.  I have decided to deconstruct two articles of Jones in the Guardian – How the occupation of Gaza corrupts the occupier [July 21] and anti-Jewish hatred is rising – we must see it for what it is [August 12].
Anatole France oration at Emile Zola's funeral
There is no recognition by Jones that Israel is a settler-colonial country, whose treatment of the indigenous population is no different from similar settler-colonial states. To Israel’s establishment holocaust historians, such as Yehuda Bauer, the idea that the holocaust as unique i.e. with no relevant lessons for humanity as a whole, is an article of faith.  Yad Vashem effectively reserves for the holocaust the job of legitimising the racism of the Israeli state. Whatever Israel does, it is justified by the holocaust.
The degradation of Alfred Dreyfus as his sword his broken
anti-Jewish hatred is rising – we must see it for what it is
Anthropometric photography of Émile Zola at his trial
Indeed one should see anti-Semitism for what it is, a declining and marginal form of prejudice primarily. Instead Jones writes, almost an innocent abroad, that ‘I have encountered sentiments that conflate the Jewish people and the Israeli government’
Fleeing Nazi-Occupied France
How interesting! One of the key demands made by Netanyahu, during negotiations with Abbas, was that he recognises Israel as a Jewish state. What is a Jewish state? A Jewish state is the home of the mythical Jewish nation, i.e. all Jews, wherever they live and whatever country they are citizens of. It is based on the anti-Semitic Zionist idea that Jews are strangers in the countries where they live, living in Exile (Galut) and have more in common with each other than those they live amongst. It is also the basis of the world Jewish conspiracy theory. It is also why there is no Israeli nationality and Israel cannot be a state of its own citizens.
Hence Jones’ dismissal of the idea that ‘Israel is itself the source of anti-Semitism.’ Today is so absurd. Israel claims the barbarities of Operation Child Murder in Gaza not just on behalf of its own Jewish citizens but Jews world-wide. Of course that invites people to attack Jews (something Zionism and the Israeli state don’t mind since it can only provide more Jewish immigrants).
Dreyfus is rehabilitated
Marseille deportations
The ‘New anti-Semitism’
The Zionist movement in the past 30 years faced one major difficulty when accusing its opponents of ‘anti-Semitism’. People not only did not accept that but resented the accusation. Most people know the difference between anti-Semitism (hatred of and discrimination against Jews) and anti-Zionism (opposition to the Israeli state and the movement that founded it).

Hence the concept of a ‘New anti-Semitism’ took root. In the words of leading US neo-cons, Nathan & Ruth Perlmutter, Israel is the ‘Jew among the nations’ [The Real anti-Semitism in America, (NY, 1982], Alan Dershowitz ‘Chutzpah’ (Boston 1991) This at a time when opposition to Apartheid (in South Africa) was reaching a peak. But most people aren’t fooled. You can be anti-Semitic in terms of an individual(s) but not against a government or state, which is not a human being. ‘New’ anti-Semitism was a trick that fooled no one.
Theodor Herzl -  founder of Political Zionism claimed to have been motivated by the Dreyfus Trial, which he didn't mention in his writings, having befriended various anti-Dreyfusards - his conclusion from the Dreyfus Affair?  It was 'futile' to combat the 'old' anti-Semitism
Contrary to Zionist mythology, anti-Semitism does not have an unbroken 2,000 year history. Owen Jones, who has probably never even given the matter any thought, subscribes to this Zionist myth. We might ask then why the Jews were singled out for such opprobrium? It makes no sense but it is integral to the Zionist idea that anti-Semitism cannot be fought because it is ‘a natural prejudice which a settled firmly rooted citizen of a country with an age-long tradition must feel in the presence of a homeless wanderer.’ [Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, pp. 90-1]
Gestapo HQ in Lyon
Weizmann, who was the first President of Israel and a chemist, described anti-Semitism as an immutable scientific law:  ‘Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches saturation point, that country reacts against them.’ [Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, p.90-91, NY]
Hitler in Paris
Anti-Semitism was not however a scientific law. In the medieval Classical Period, anti-Semitism was the 
product of the Jews’ role as the oppressors of the peasants. Shahak argues that anti-Semitism was a popular movement from below and the Jews were defended by the elites – the Kings, the Higher Aristocracy and Upper Clergy. By way of contrast, during the Nazi period anti-Semitism was a movement from above, the German state in particular, [Shahak, p.64] and it sought to involve the most backward, usually peasant and lower middle class sections of society. This was the period of ‘scientific’ racism, which were popular in the main imperial heartlands to justify their Empires.

Rather than pontificating on something he knows nothing about, Jones could read the slim book by the late Professor Israel Shahak of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem Jewish History Jewish religion [Pluto Press, 1994, London]. Shahak, as well as being an active fighter for civil rights in Israel, was a childhood survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Belsen concentration camp.
Emile Zola's famous open letter of 1898 that led to the eventual acquittal of Dreyfus
Until the mid-19th Century in Eastern Europe anti-Semitism was based on the Jews’ actual social and economic role and Christian anti-Semitism aimed to secure the conversion of Jews. Nazi anti-Semitism was different. It was based on the idea that Jews were members of a different race and could never change. Hence the phenomenon in Germany and Nazi occupied countries of Christian Jews, who attended church wearing the yellow star.
Jews being deported from Nazi-occupied France
It is important to stress that both the anti-Semites and the Zionists shared the belief that Jews did not belong in the countries they were born in. Alfred Rosenberg, theoretician of the Nazi Party, who was hanged in the major war crimes trial at Nuremberg, wrote that:

Zionism must be vigorously supported in order to encourage a significant number of German Jews to leave for Palestine or other destinations.’ Zionism could be used ‘as legal justification for depriving German Jews of their civil rights…. He sanctioned the use of the Zionist movement in the future drive to eliminate Jewish rights, Jewish influence and eventually the Jewish presence in Germany.’  [Die Spur, p.153. Francis Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 25-26, Edwin Black, Ha’avara – The Transfer Agreement p. 173.

If you had listened to the Zionist ideologues who founded the movement, you would have been forgiven for thinking that you were listening to anti-Semites. Pinhas Rosenbluth, the first Justice Minister of Israel, wrote that Palestine was an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’. [Joachim Doron, ‘Classic Zionism and modern anti-semitism: parallels and influences’ (1883-1914), Studies in Zionism 8, Autumn 1983]  
Kurt Blumenfeld, the leader of German Zionism, held almost identical views. In a letter to Walter Rathenau, Foreign Minister in a Weimar Government, who was assassinated in 1922, he spelt out the Zionist position:  ‘Under no circumstance does a Jew have the right to represent the affairs of another people.’ [N. Weinstock, Zionism: A False Messiah, p. 135. Isaac Deutscher, the biographer of Trotsky, wrote that: ‘to the [Polish] Jewish workers ‘anti-Semitism seemed to triumph in Zionism, which recognised the legitimacy and the validity of the old cry ‘Jews get out!' The Zionists were agreeing to get out.’ 'The Non Jewish Jew ' & Other Essays-The Russian Revolution and the Jewish Question' pp.66/7. In Poland the Zionists had had a significant base, but as anti-Semitism based they declined such that in the 1938 elections for Jewish seats in Warsaw, the anti-Zionist Bund won 17 of the 20 seats and the Zionists precisely one.

Abram Leon, a leader of Belgian Trotskyism, who was murdered in Auschwitz, wrote that Zionism ‘transposes modern anti-Semitism to all of history; it saves itself the trouble of studying the various forms of anti-Semitism and their evolution. [The Jewish Question:  A Marxist Interpretation, 1974, p.247] 

When Jones wrote that ‘The Jewish  people faced persecution for millennia from York, Czarist Russia to the Dreyfuss affair’ he ignores what actually happened in the Dreyfuss Affair of 1894, when a Jewish captain was wrongfully accused of treason. The anti-Semites led by Eduord Drumont thought they had found a cause with which to roll back Jewish Emancipation and the Declaration of the Rights of Man but they were very mistaken. Republican France rallied to the defence of Dreyfuss once it was clear that although initially a mistake had been made, by  1896 a full-scale anti-Semitic cover up was taking place. Emile Zola wrote his famous ‘J'Accuse’ and by 1899 it was clear that Dreyfuss was innocent. Recalled from Devil’s island the Army sought to save face and he was convicted in another trial and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Immediately Dreyfuss was pardoned. The attitude of the founder of  Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was that ‘In Paris..., I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism.’ [Diaries of Theodore Herzl, Gollancz, London 1958 p.6.]
Paris street scene - Jewish quarter of Paris
As Rabbi Elmer Berger wrote ‘Where in all the world a century before, would more than half a nation have come to the defense of a Jew? Had Herzl possessed a knowledge of history, he would have seen in the Dreyfuss case a brilliant, hearten­ing proof of the success of emancipation.’ [D. Stewart. ‘Theodore Herzl-Artist and Politician, p. 167, Quartet Books, London,, 1974.]
There is a myth that Herzl was converted to the Zionist idea by the Dreyfuss Affair. There is no evidence for this and the Affair is not even mentioned in his formative pamphlet, The Jewish State, published in 1896 and is only mentioned in passing in his 4 volume   Diaries. What Herzl did do was secure a favourable review of The Jewish  State in Drumont’s anti-Semitic daily La Libre Parole.
It was this successful battle against anti-Semitism that made opposition to anti-Semitism a foundation stone of Republican France. Over 40 years later it was still felt when the non-Jewish population defended the Jews under Nazi occupation. The Nazis didn’t even dare introduce the Yellow Star and in Paris some 30,000 Jews lived openly. This explains why half of France’s Jews survived the occupation (most of those who died were Jewish refugees in France).
What is true is that the very same anti-Semitic tropes that were used against the Jews are now being employed against the Palestinians. Jones writes that ‘Hatred of the Jewish people has persisted in European societies for two millennia, manifesting itself in blood libel…’ Presumably he doesn’t read the paper he writes a weekly column for. On August 11th 2014 the Guardian ran an ad co-written by Elie Wiesel, which stated that:  ‘Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. How its Hamas’s turn.’ http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.609768  

It is based on the Israeli lie that Hamas uses children as human shields when the opposite is true. The Israel Defence Forces admitted it had used Palestinians as human shields; it acknowledged using human shields 1,200 times during the Second Intifada. The practice was banned by Israel's High Court of Justice in 2005. The Israeli Defense Ministry appealed this decision. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4333982.stm
The fact that anyone gives credence to the Israeli propaganda that Hamas uses children as human shields is proof itself of how biased the media and the BBC are.

How the occupation of Gaza corrupts the occupier

When Jones turned his attention to the holocaust he was equally out of his depth. He argued that the ‘Crucial difference with Israel (is)… The moral corruption that comes with any occupation has fused with the collective trauma of the Jewish people.’ But this ignores the Zionist record concerning the holocaust. 
When the survivors first began arriving in Israel they were treated with hostility. Unlike the brave Israelis, who had murdered and dispossessed the Palestinians with equanimity, the survivors had gone like lambs to the slaughter without resistance. The fact that they had no arms to defend themselves with was ignored. 
In Israel, holocaust survivors were termed 'soap' - sapon. "The term has since become generic for cowardice and weakness.” [Israel: Founders & Sons, Amos Elon, p. 209, Weidenfeld, 1971].  

Hanzi Brand, the wife of the deputy leader of Hungarian Zionism, Joel Brand, wrote of how, when she settled on Kibbutz Gvata Haim, the other members ‘talked about their war to avoid hearing about hers. They were ashamed of the Holocaust.’ [Tom Segev, The Seventh Million, 1991 p. 471]

When Jones wrote that ‘‘In Israeli society here is a victim mentality that is deeply, deeply rooted in the holocaust…’ he failed to understand that this is also true in nearly all settler-colonial countries. In South Africa, the death of 28,000 civilians in British concentration camps was seared into the consciousness of Afrikaaner nationalism and helped justify the system of apartheid. The Boers and Whites of South Africa also had a victim mentality. So too did the settlers of what became the  United States of America and the colonists who were transported to Australia.

In short Owen Jones should steer clear of Palestine, Zionism and anti-Semitism since he knows absolutely nothing about his subject and engages in the same tired and worn clichés. 

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