17 January 2022

Is Israel a Jewish or a White Supremacist State?

Debate between Tony Greenstein and Israeli anti-Zionist Ronnie Barkan

Please join accessing Youtube here

Wednesday January 19th 7 pm

The debate about the nature of the Israeli state is an important one. In the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism anti-Semitism is held to be

Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’

 Leaving aside the absurd wording ‘democratic nation’ which implies some nations are not democratic, in itself a racist phrase, the IHRA assumes that Israel is a normal democratic state. Of course we all know that Israel may be democratic for Israeli Jews but it is Jewish for Arabs.

The question though is what type of state Israel is. It is now accepted that Israel is a settler-colonial state much like Apartheid South Africa and Algeria. But that doesn’t tell us the specific character of Israel.

Israel describes itself as a Jewish Democratic state which is an oxymoron. A state can either be democratic or Jewish but it cannot be both and in practice Israel promotes the Jewish over the democratic. But Israel as Jewish state isn’t a religious or theocratic state Jewish ethnically.

When Netanyahu’s government introduced the Jewish Nation State Law in 2018 it gave Israeli Jews only national rights. Although in theory Palestinian citizens of Israel had equal rights on an individual basis, in practice this could not but help impinge on those rights.

Article 7 of the Act provides that ‘

‘the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.’

What this means is being played out currently in the Naqab and East Jerusalem where the Jewish National Fund and Jewish settlers are ethically cleansing the indigenous Palestinian population.

Because Israel defines itself as a ‘Jewish’ state it allows Israelis the right to tell Palestinians, even those who are nominal citizens, that they should be grateful they are allowed to live in a Jewish state.

In January 2019 Al Jazeera published an article by Yoav Litvin The Zionist fallacy of ‘Jewish supremacy’ which argued that ‘Framing Zionism as Jewish and not white supremacy is a dangerous proposition.’ This was because saying Israel is a Jewish Supremacist State would therefore mean all Jews are racial supremacists.

Where Yoav went wrong was when he argued that

To maintain this abusive, white supremacist dynamic, Zionist propagandists have promoted the anti-Semitic fallacy that Israel is a Jewish state, which represents Judaism and thus all Jews.

Unfortunately it is a fact, not a fallacy, that Israel IS a Jewish state. That is what it calls itself. The question is rather ‘what does it mean to say Israel is a Jewish state’.

Litvin went on to compound his error by saying that

If it is accepted, as it is by Zionists, that Israel indeed represents Judaism and all Jews – an expression of “Jewish supremacy” – then those who are pro-Palestinian must also reject Jews and Judaism.

This is a serious error. Israel does not claim to represent Judaism. Certainly it uses Judaism to legitimise itself, in the process transforming Judaism into an idolatrous religion that worships land and power, but Israel has never claimed to represent Judaism. Rather it argues that Zionism is rooted in Judaism and that the formation of a Jewish state is the culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish history.

In the 1950s thousands of babies of Yemenite Jews were stolen from hospitals and given to White Jews

Israel claims to represent the mythical ‘Jewish people’. Being Jewish in Israel is not a matter of religion but nationality. There are many nationalities in Israel, since there is no Israeli nationality, but there is only one nationality that matters, Jewish nationality. In the Population Registry of Israel you can define yourself as Jewish by nationality and leave religion blank.

Yemenite Jewish children were subject to Nazi-style medical experiments by Israeli doctors in the 1950s and suspected organ thefts

Being Jewish in Israel entitles you to privileges that non-Jews do not possess. For example if you are Jewish your land is not liable to be confiscated because you or one of your family was resident in an ‘enemy’ i.e. Arab state. If you are Jewish you are expected to serve in the army, and consequently receive welfare and social security benefits, e.g. student grants, that non-Jews don’t receive.

Litvin argued that

the framing of Zionism as “white”, not “Jewish” supremacy enables and strengthens the formation of coalitions between all those opposed to Zionist settler colonialism in particular and white supremacy in general and hinders Zionist attempts at sabotage by lobbying cynical accusations of “anti-Semitism”.

It may well be that framing Zionism as ‘white’ and not ‘Jewish’ would make alliances with for example Black Lives Matter easier although I’m not convinced. However it would be deeply dishonest to construct an alliance on such a basis.

That is why I wrote an article for Al Jazeera Why Israel is a Jewish, not a white supremacist state in February 2019 in which I argued thatRecognising Israel as a Jewish supremacist state does not mean rejecting Jews or Judaism.’ I argued that

What Litvin is doing is substituting wishful thinking for reality and that is never a good basis on which to construct an argument.’

Police violence against Ethiopian Jews

Yes Zionism is also racist towards Black people but that is secondary to its racism towards non-Jews and Palestinians in particular. I wrote:

It is of course true that within the Israeli Jewish population, there is discrimination against the Sephardi/Misrahi Jews and even more against the Falashas (Ethiopian) Jews. But while intra-Jewish racism exists, the major division within the Israeli society is not between black and white, but between Jewish and non-Jewish, and in particular between Israeli Jewish and Palestinian. That is inescapable.

I followed this up in November 2021 with an articleIsrael is not just racist towards Palestinians but it is also racist towards Black Jewsin which I reaffirmed what I had previously written. The subtitle was ‘If Israel is primarily a Jewish Supremacist State it is ALSO a White Supremacist State.’ I wrote that

Litvin made the cardinal mistake of saying that if Palestinians reject a Jewish state they reject Judaism.  No they reject Jewish Supremacy.  Irish Republicans have never rejected Protestantism as a religion. On the contrary some of the most famous Republicans were Protestant, such as Wolfe Tone and Sir Roger Casement, executed by the British in 1916 for treason.

Northern Ireland was, in the words of its first Prime Minister James Craig a ‘Protestant State for a Protestant People’. Did that mean that the opposition of Irish Republicans to the Protestant Supremacist nature of that state was anti-Protestant? Of course not. What they objected to was a state of affairs whereby being Protestant entitled you to privileges that Catholics did not have.

Wolfe Tone, a Protestant leader of the United Irishmen

When we say that Israel is a Jewish Supremacist state what this means that Israel systematically discriminates against those of its inhabitants who are not Jewish. Zionism is a matter of race not religion as Max Nordau explained at the first Zionist Congress in 1897.

This is not an academic debate. Israel systematically discriminates against those whose only crime is not being Jewish.  The Israeli rabbinate fulfil the same role as The Office for Race Classification in South Africa. They are the arbiters of who is and is not privileged.

That is why Rabbi Peretz, the head of the Israeli Conversion Authority, rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin’. This is how the Jewish religion has been perverted in order facilitate the requirements of a racist Jewish state.

Because Jews are more privileged than non-Jews it is essential to close a loophole whereby Palestinians might convert to become part of the privileged. There is no religious or halachic reason to refuse requests to convert by Palestinians. On the contrary in the Bible the Canaanites were often converted at the point of a sword. The Jewish religion has prostituted itself on the altar of Zionism.

B’Tselem, Israel’s main human rights group, which began life in 1989 as a liberal Zionist group, issued a report a year ago describing Israel as A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid’

Why did B’Tselem describe Israel as a ‘Jewish supremacist’ state? Because in the work it does supporting Palestinians it is clear that being Jewish leads to different treatment by the Israeli authorities. Even Israeli anti-Zionists are treated more gently than Palestinians.

In the past decade Israel has tried to deport thousands of African refugees from Eritrea and Sudan - their crime?  Being Black and not Jewish

Of course within the Israeli Jewish community it is also true that White Jews discriminate against the Misrahi/Oriental and Ethiopian Jews. There is no doubt about this. African Jews have been barred from even entering Israel because they are not recognised as Jews.

In the case of the Abayudaya group of African Jews, the Jewish Agency, the arm of the World Zionist Organisation, had recognised them as Jews but the Israeli government nonetheless barred them from entry.

Children from the Hebrew Israelite community

There is also the case of the Black Hebrews who came from the USA in the 1960s. Many of them were originally deported back to the USA. A group were allowed to live near Dimona in Southern Israel but earlier last year the Israeli government unveiled a plan to deport them back to the United States.

Zionism has always had considerable difficulty accepting that non-White people can be Jewish. Arthur Ruppin, the most important figure in the pre-state Yishuv, considered that Arab Jews were racially inferior to European Jews because they were Semitic! Ruppin was an ardent devotee of Eugenics and the racial sciences and he visited Professor Hans Gunther, who the Nazis had imposed as Professor of Racial Sciences at Jenna University to have a friendly chat about their shared topic of interest.

The Hebrew Israelite community welcome sign

But here is the rub. Black Jews may complain bitterly about their treatment by White Jews but that does not make them express solidarity with the Palestinians. What they are fighting for is equality with White Jews in other words an equal role in the oppression of the Palestinians. They serve in the army, they are entitled to ‘Jewish national’ land (93% of all Israeli land) and other privileges that White Jews enjoy. What they don’t want is to be reduced to the status of Palestinians. They are the ‘poor white trash’ of Israel.

Ronnie Barkan, who was one of the founders of Israel’s Boycott from Within, appeared on Resistance TV last year and claimed, on the basis of my blog article that I had changed my position. He was wrong and on Wednesday we will be debating the issue.

Tony Greenstein

Please access it via Youtube here


15 January 2022

Which way forward for the Left? a mass Communist Party or a broad left socialist movement?

 Is it possible to salvage anything from the Corbyn Project or is the socialist left destined to talk to itself?


Register in advance for this webinar here or here

Tonight we had the launch meeting of the new Socialist Labour Network (LAW/LIEN) and 150 people attended. Ian Hodson, President of the Bakers Union was the guest speaker.

The process of forming a new organisation began at the end of November when All Members Meetings of Labour-in-Exile-Network and Labour Against the Witchhunt voted to merge into a single organisation. Both LAW and LIEN had been proscribed by Labour’s National Executive Committee last July 20th.

Orgreave when the Police were used as Thatcher's cavalry to destroy the strike

The decision of the 2 organisations to merge was taken in the teeth of opposition from Labour Party Marxism which is the Communist Party of Great Britain in the Labour Party. 5 of the 6 members of LAW’s Steering Committee were also opposed to the merger and 4 of them explained their reasons in a statement Why we resigned.

This was accompanied by an article both in Weekly Worker and on the LPM website Something serious is needed: confronting Tony Greenstein and Merging into a cul-de-sac. I replied with Not a liquidation? and Self-declared heretic replies.

The fact that the CPGB and its leading theoretician Jack Conrad felt the need to personalise a political disagreement suggests that the CPGB is finding it difficult to mount a sustainable argument.

LPM insisted, contrary to all the evidence, that what was being proposed was not a merger but a liquidation and notwithstanding the evidence they have continued to insist that this is the case.

My article, for which I had provided a heading ‘Why the merger of LAW and LIEN is not a liquidation’ was retitled Not a liquidation? It was also accompanied by a subheadline ‘Abandoning any pretence of class politics, Tony Greenstein defends what he calls the ‘merger’ of LAW and LIEN and advocates yet another ‘transitional’ halfway-house broad front

Despite Conrad admitting that ‘LAW has done very little, has been paralysed even’ my argument that LAW had not been liquidated was described as ‘clearly a pedantic attempt to pull wool over eyes.’ Conrad continues to argue that

while the words ‘liquidation’ and ‘closing down’ did not appear in motion 1, only someone who wants to cover up, to obfuscate, to hoodwink, would object to such an assessment.’

Such an unnecessary expenditure of verbs! To allege that your political opponents are, effectively, lying is not the way to conduct a comradely debate. And the evidence for such an assertion?  Zilch.

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brighton

As far as the CPGB and other far-left groups are concerned the key task is to form a revolutionary socialist or communist party with which capitalism can be brought to an end. And suffice to say they have the key to the holy grail.

Many of us saw the Corbyn movement as a quite momentous political event. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the Labour Party. It made a profound effect politically and at the 2017 General Election, millions of people voted for a radical, not revolutionary, manifesto.  But for the sabotage of Labour’s right-wing, Corbyn could have won. As it is he obtained the largest swing since 1945 for Labour. One thing is for certain.  It put the frighteners on the British establishment. It also showed the potential for radicalism in Britain.

Elbit's factory in Oldham - they've had enough and are closing

But to the CPGB what happened under Corbyn Project was merely a diversion. An inevitable failure. Jack lays out his stall thus:

What needs to be understood is that socialist - ie, Marxist - parties, are built top-down, not bottom-up. What is primary is the programme: ie, theory. It is from there to the masses and in the process, of course, theory is enriched, concretised, taken to new heights. It should also be understood that Marxist parties do not require revolutionary conditions in order to grow. They can grow in peaceful, seemingly almost uneventful, conditions.’

The idea of even thinking about building a socialist movement outside the Labour Party is given short shrift. It is what they call a half way house, a Labour Party Mark II. What is needed in their eyes is to jump from a small revolutionary group to a mass revolutionary Communist  Party without even pausing for breath.

Labour needs be refounded as a united front of a special kind and politically armed with a Marxist programme and put under a tried and tested Marxist leadership.

BLM demo in Chichester, a town 30 miles from Brighton

What then of the Corbyn movement itself?  Jack doesn’t pull his punches.

what was notable about them - especially, sad to say, the younger generation - is that they were not politically determined, not politically educated and therefore did not fully engage. They voted Jeremy Corbyn against Owen Smith, but had not much of a clue when it came to national executive elections.

My own view is that we are not in revolutionary conditions or a pre-revolutionary period. On the contrary we are in a period of deep reaction, symbolised by Brexit, which was a project of the Right and far-Right.


Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brighton

We need to look to our strengths and weaknesses. Trade union strike action has been at an all time low. Unions today are half the size they were under Thatcher.  Yet at the same time we have seen the rise of social movements like Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and direct action groups like Palestine Action. The question for socialists is how we can relate to and generalise from the specific. We need to be able to make the connection between climate change and environmental destruction and the nature of capitalism and how it operates. In other words socialism needs to be made relevant.

Only this week we learnt that Palestine Action had chalked up its first victory, the closure of Elbit’s factory in Oldham. I have a personal investment in this campaign as I’m presently out on bail for taking part in an action. It demonstrates that direct action can work. It is no accident that Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is controlled by the former Trotskyist Socialist Action denounced Palestine Action in the strongest terms.

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brighton

Other issues include a theoretical assessment of the period we are in, the decline of trade union power, the conservatism of a working class that is supposed to be the agent of revolutionary change and asking questions such as whether revolution is even possible in the heart of the imperialist beast.

Come to the debate and take part!

Tony Greenstein

12 January 2022

Join the Fightback this Friday at the Founding Meeting of the Socialist Labour Network (LAW/LIEN)

Help Us Build a Socialist Movement by Organising Grassroots CLPs 

To attend the meeting please first join either:

https://membermojo.co.uk/labouragainstthewitchhunt

https://membermojo.co.uk/lien

(£10 waged/£5 unwaged)



At the end of November All Members Meetings of Labour-in-Exile-Network and Labour Against the Witchhuntt voted to merge into a single organisation. LIEN members voted by 4-1 and Labour Against the Witchhunt members voted, despite vociferous opposition from Labour Party Marxism/Communist Party of Great Britain members 47-27 to do likewise.

Ian Hodson, Guest Speaker and President of the Bakers Union

The founding meeting of the new organisation was to have been on December 17. Unfortunately too many people tried to get in! Our Zoom facility only catered for 100. We have ensured that this time around up to 500 people will be accommodated so, just to make sure you get in, please sign in early!

Name

The Steering Committee has proposed that the name of the new organisation should be Socialist Labour Network (LAW/LIEN). There are however 7 other proposals and you can find them all here

The Witchhunt

It is or should be obvious that it is impossible to fight against the witchhunt inside the Labour Party. The reason is very simple. As Ken Loach put it ‘democracy is dead inside the Labour Party.’ If you put your head above the parapet it is chopped off by some anonymous bureaucrat. An insidious culture of informing has been cultivated that is modelled on the Stasi and Gestapo.

Anonymous nerds, incapable of constructing a single coherent sentence or having an original thought don't have to face the task of explaining their reactionary politics. All they have to do is send an email  to Labour’s Disputes Team fingering someone and the suspension letter will go out the next day.

You might not thing that Starmer and his clones have a sense of humour but you would be wrong. Virtually every candidate for suspension/expulsion accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ was also accused of ‘undermining Labour’s campaign against racism.’ You may indeed wonder what this fight consists of given the number of Jewish and Black/Muslim members expelled. However in the Orwellian world of Starmer and Evans fulsome support for Israeli Apartheid is compatible with fighting racism!

Sonali at the  Labour Grassroots meeting on January 2nd

Momentum, CLPD and the Socialist Campaign Group have been cowed into silence

If anyone has any doubts about the fear and cowardice of what’s left of the Left in the Labour Party about fighting Starmer and the Witchhunt then all you need to do is to watch Sonali Bhattacharyya, co-Chair of Momentum. Sonali who appeared on Labour Grassroots on 2nd January. Sonali reacted with a mixture of arrogance and affront to peoples' criticism. 

Crispin got off to a bad start when he asked Sonali about Momentum’s strategy to fight what is happening in the Labour Party and to make it more attractive. So badly did she take the criticism that she has told Crispin Flint, the genial compare of the show, that she will have nothing to do with him or Labour Grassroots ever again.

Sonali Bhattacharyya


When asked why Momentum has failed to campaign against the witchhunt or support expelled members, which Jackie Walker challenged her on, she simply refused to answer parroting the statement that Momentum has supported hundreds of members legally. Even if this is true, and it is open to doubt since no one will admit to having been helped, this is insufficient.

Legal help on an individual basis is not the same as campaigning to end the expulsions, the witchhunt and Starmer himself. Momentum have failed to make it clear that Starmer, Evans and his neo-Blairite strategy is the enemy. They have been cowed into silence. Nearly 2 years ago Sonali and Forward Momentum ousted Lansman’s cronies in the elections. Since then they have maintained a Trappist Silence. They have neither been seen, heard or said anything of note.  

Labour Against the Witchhunt

I was the only 1 of 6 members of the LAW Steering Committee to support the merger. Subsequently 4 of them penned a statement Why we resigned. To his credit Steve Price, although part of the majority that opposed the merger refused to sign that statement. Steve is now standing for the new Committee. I hope that he is elected. Those who decided not merely to throw their toys out of the pram but to junk the pram altogether justified their decision by writing:

We cannot support the view that the struggle against the Labour witch-hunt is over, or that “LAW has outlived its usefulness”, as Tony Greenstein, the proposer of the motion to merge, put it.

The problem is I never said anything of the sort! What I did say was that LAW had outlived its usefulness, but they are not one and the same thing. The fight against Labour’s witchhunt will be carried out largely outside the Labour Party and in the unions. Organising within the Labour Party is not possible and that is why nearly 2/3 of LAW members supported my motion.

There has been a considerable debate in the pages of Weekly Worker despite their annoying habit of using headlines and subheadlines, not to describe my articles but to attack them! Innovative journalism. See at the bottom for details of the various articles and statements.

The Agenda

The meeting will be opened by Ian Hodson, the expelled President of the Bakers' Union. In addition to adopting a new name we will be electing a new Steering Committee. The joint Steering Committee of LAW/LIEN is proposing that the Committee should be 10 strong. There will be 17 candidates for the positions.

To participate in the meeting, you have to be a paid-up member of either group. To join, you can sign up via this link: https://membermojo.co.uk/lien

We intend to build and network shadow socialist CLPs as part of our local campaigning work.

Agenda

RECONVENED FIRST ALL MEMBERS’ MEETING OF LAW WITH LIEN 

14th January 2022

By ZOOM 

1

18:00

Meeting begins/final entry checks

2

18:05

Welcome from Chair of Meeting (Esther)

3

18:10

Speaker to be confirmed

4

18:20

Debate to inform formulation of Aims and Priorities

Aims and priorities of the consolidated organisation here  (Norman to introduce)

Member discussion (contributions no more than 3 minutes)

 

Draft Priorities to inform debate and based on interim discussion with members and joint steering committee

Priorty 1: Opposition to witch-hunt here

Priority 2: Establishment of Shadow CLPs and networks here

Priority 3: Education Programme (for future agreement)

5

19:20

Name of Consolidated Organisation: SC proposal:

“Socialist Labour Network (LAW with LIEN)”

Proposed by Roger Silverman

Further proposed names to be included in poll- to be returned to SC by cop 12th Jan. Updated list here

Proposers to have one minute to speak.

Members to vote for their preferred name (1 vote)

6

19:30

Election of Steering Committee. Nomination statements here. Data protection role to be assigned by the new steering committee. Each nominee is allocated 1 minute to speak. Zoom poll.

7

19:50

Next Steps

8

20:00

Meeting Close

 

Proposed standing Orders

Voting     

1.. Please click ‘Raise Hand’ if you want to speak (either in ‘Participants’ on the right hand side or ‘Reactions’ on the bottom of your screen). Alternatively write ‘I want to speak’ in the Chat.

3. For items 4, 5 and 6, we intend to use ZOOM polls. If you want to vote, we recommend that you have access to a device of your own. If this is not possible (and you are sharing a device), we will count manually raised hands.

Points of Order  

1. Attendees are urged to raise points of order only when necessary and reasonable. Attendees can raise points of order regarding conduct or procedures by pressing the blue thumbs down button (under ‘More’ at the bottom of the ‘Participants’ panel). Alternatively, describe your point of order in the Chat window.

2. The Chair’s ruling on any point arising from the rules or standing orders is final unless challenged by not less than two members; such a challenge shall be put to the meeting and be carried with a simple majority of those voting at the meeting.

Emergency motions

1. Emergency motions may be accepted at the discretion of the chair (decisions on admitting emergency motions can be overturned by a simple majority of conference).

2. We will accept new amendments to emergency motions only. Please write them down and present them in the ‘Chat’ window, with a clear indication of where it should go.

Discussion on the Merger in Weekly Worker

Why we resigned

Merging into a cul-de-sac

Not a liquidation?

Something serious is needed

Self-declared heretic replies