Posts Tagged ‘the Bund’

The Rights’ Conflation of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Capitalism and the Erasure of Left-Wing Jewish History

March 19, 2019

Just as the Jewish Chronicle may have itself been guilty of anti-Semitism by denying that one of the signatories to the letter of support for Corbyn and the Labour party sent to the Sunday Times, so other members of the right may also be aiding anti-Semitism by their repeated use of the conspiracy theory that the Jews are the real force behind capitalism.

Three days ago, on 16th March 2019, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group, an ardent campaigner himself against racism, anti-Semitism and thus Zionism, put up on his blog an article discussing this very point, which had been published that day in the Morning Star. He began by commenting on the statement by Blairite Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh to John Humphrys on Radio 4 that ‘anti-capitalist politics are at the root of anti-Semitism’. Rosenberg states that it’s an appalling slur against everyone fighting against the poverty and inequality of Tory Britain, but it also revealed that the Right, even those, who think they are pro-Jewish, still believe anti-Semitic stereotypes, as McDonagh obviously thinks that Jews are rich capitalists.

He goes on to discuss how this is at the heart of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that sees the Jews as using their wealth to control the banks and governments. A theory that was pushed by Henry Ford, an Episcopalian Christian and founder of the car manufacturer that bears his name, in his paper the Dearborn Independent. Ford believed that the Jews caused World War I, and published the infamous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And someone else who believed this poisonous nonsense, and was Ford’s biggest fan in Europe, was one A. Hitler.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss how there are Jews, who identify the Jewish community with capitalism, banking and property and so accuse the anti-capitalist left as anti-Semites. He then cites Richard Mather, who claimed in an article in the Jerusalem Post that ‘the Labour party’s call for the seizure of property’ was part of ‘anti-Semitic class warfare’, and pieces written by the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, and one of his journos, Alex Brummer, who both claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semitic threat to Jewish capitalists, with Pollard harking back to Corbyn’s attack on the bankers that caused the financial crash ten years ago. Rosenberg tweeted in response to this nonsense that of Pollard and Corbyn, one of them thought all bankers were Jews. And it wasn’t Corbyn.

Rosenberg goes on to say that

In my 61 years I’ve never met a Jewish banker. I’ve met unemployed Jews, Jewish decorators, post-office workers, van drivers, taxi drivers, shopworkers, social workers, secretaries, teachers, pharmacists, and several comedians.

He reinforces this point by describing how Arnold Brown, a Jewish comedian, who came from a poor background in Glasgow, tore up the floorboards at his home one day after the other schoolkids told him that all Jews were rich. He also makes the point that the racist Right use the stereotype of the rich Jewish capitalist to divert popular anger away from capitalism to particular Jewish figures, who are supposed to be responsible for its ills, such as Rothschild and Goldman Sachs to George Soros today, demonised by Trump and a slew of extreme right-wing regimes because he funds agencies for migrants and refugees and anti-government demonstrations.

But he also makes the point that this stereotype also erases the strong history of Jewish left-wing anti-capitalist activism, writing

When McDonagh, Mather and Pollard repeat stereotypes of Jews as capitalists, they not only feed these conspiracy theories, but also erase an outstanding tradition of Jewish anti-capitalism. People know the famous Jewish revolutionaries, like Marx, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman, but it was in mass Jewish workers’ movements such as the Bund, and among the Jews so numerous in socialist and communist parties over the last 120 years, that anti-capitalism was ingrained. In 1902, a Russian Jewish bookbinder, Semyon Ansky, wrote a Yiddish song to honour the Bund’s struggles for social justice. The movement adopted it as its anthem. One powerful verse translates as:

“We swear to the heavens a bloody hatred against those who murder and rob the working class. The Tsar, the rulers, the capitalists – we swear that they will all be devastated and destroyed. An oath, an oath, of life and death.”

He goes on to say that he is going that day to march and speak with the Jewish Socialist Group on a national demonstration in London against racism and Fascism, including the anti-Semitism that is rising in central and eastern Europe and Trump’s America with the Pittsburgh shooting.  He concludes

At street level, far right organisations concentrate physical attacks more frequently on Muslims, Roma, migrants and refugees, but when they want to explain to their supporters who they believe holds power in the world they fall back on Jewish conspiracy theories as surely today as they did in the 1930s. The fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant propaganda are absolutely linked and we must combat them together.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-anti-antisemitism-that-actually-promotes-jew-hating/

Absolutely. Rosenberg’s blog is particularly fascinating for the pieces he publishes about the Bund, the socialist party of the eastern European masses in the Russian Empire. It’s a history that I doubt many non-Jews know about, as the Yiddish-speaking communities the Bund represented were murdered by the Nazis. If people outside the Jewish community know about it at all, it’s probably because of the movement’s connection to the Russian Socialist movement. The Bund were, with the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, part of the Russian Social Democratic Party, the parent organisation of the Russian Communists. It was their withdrawal from the party conference in 1909, when Lenin demanded that there should be no separate organisation for Jewish socialists, that made the Bolsheviks the majority faction and gave them their name, from ‘Bolshe’, the Russian word for bigger.

But the articles by David Rosenberg and other left-wing Jewish bloggers and vloggers reveal a rich, lost history of Jewish anti-capitalist struggle. One of the remarkable consequences of the anti-Semitism smears is that this history is being rediscovered and brought to public attention as Jewish Marxists and socialists refute these smears. Jon Pullman’s film, The Witchhunt, attacking these smears and particularly the libelous hounding of Jackie Walker, includes a brief mention of the Bund, including black and white footage of their demonstrations and banners. If Channel 4 had kept to its original charter as an alternative BBC 2, the Bund and its legacy would be a very suitable subject for a documentary. It could also easily be screened on BBC 4. But I doubt that this will ever happen because the stereotype of the rich Jew is too important a weapon against the anti-capitalist left for it to be refuted by such a thing as actual history.

And if left-wing Jewish history, like that of the Bund, is being forgotten, some contemporary works on the Jewish community may inadvertently reinforce the stereotype of the rich Jew. Back in the 1990s an aunt gave me a book about the Jewish community in Britain, The Club. It was a mainstream book by a very respectable mainstream publisher, but from what I can remember about it, it was about the elite section of British Jewish society, the top 100. I think it was written from an entirely praiseworthy standpoint – to celebrate Jewish achievement, and to how how integrated and indeed integral Jews were to British society and culture. But books like it can give an unbalanced picture of Jewish society in Britain by concentrating on the immensely wealthy and successful, and ignoring the ordinary Jewish folk, who live, work and whose kids go to school and uni with the rest of us, and whose working people marched in solidarity with us.

It’s fascinating and necessary that the history of Jewish socialism is being rediscovered, and that activists in the Bund’s tradition, like Rosenberg, continue to write, demonstrate and blog against racism and anti-Semitism as part of the real struggle by working people.

 

 

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David Rosenberg on the Racist Supporters of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

March 8, 2019

More bigotry and bullying from the Jewish Labour Movement and their allies, the grievously misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Yesterday the Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced that they were investigating the Labour Party, following a dossier of complaints handed to them by the above. David Rosenberg, a Jewish socialist and firm supporter of the Bundist tradition of anti-Zionism, has put up a very interesting piece exposing just what kind of people sign the CAA’s petitions. Last August the Zionist hate group put up a petition declaring ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and must go’, which was later changed to ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and the Labour Party must act’. Also changed was a piece that alleged the Labour leader was stuffing the party with Holocaust deniers. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism also invited those signing its wretched petition to leave comments. And these were ‘ugly, very ugly’, as the Star Trek’s Ferengi used to say. Rosenberg gives just a few examples. They are:

“corbyn is a danger to the uk he hates the uk and white men he is skum”

“He is disgrace to the people actually born and bred in this country”

“We are an island and cannot take any more migrants, and he would welcome a million more”

“Corbyn is a communist and terrorist supporter, he is persecuting the Jews who are peaceful people unlike the immigrants he wants to flood the country with”

“This pond scum should not be allowed to be a public figure”

“This man is a treasonous snake who is of grave danger to our country”

“Jeremy is a cunt”

“Corbyn is a dirty nazi”

“It would not surprise me if he had Mein Kampf by the side of his bed.”

“This piece of terrorist loving anti-Semite scum is poison.”

“Let’s get this bastard!”

“I would prefer for someone to shoot him”

Rosenberg therefore encourages the EHRC request a full list of the comments the CAA had on their petition, and asks them if they really want to cooperate with an organisation that posted up such vile abuse and threats of terrorism. He also asks if the Jewish Labour Movement is proud of its association with the CAA, now that it is playing a game of brinkmanship with the Labour party with its threats to disaffiliate.

See: https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/now-who-has-got-a-problem-with-discrimination/

The racism left by the CAA’s commenters doesn’t surprise me. It’s almost to be expected that the people, who hate Corbyn are the same racist fanatics who want Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg to lead the Tory party and begin an ethnic cleansing of Blacks and Muslims. And the same islamophobia seems to pervade the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Tony Greenstein has commented several times on the organisation’s own hatred of Muslims. According to the CAA, the typical anti-Semite is a young Muslim male. But as the CAA plays very fast and loose with stats, for which it has been criticised, you can’t necessarily believe that. It might be true that most British anti-Semites are Muslims, given that rabid hatred of Jews is common across the Middle East and Islamic world. A few years ago Egyptian television staged a dramatisation of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And back in 2007 the Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque, caught an uncomfortably large number of militant Islamic preachers in British mosques vilifying and demonising Christians, Jews and non-Muslims in general. But that doesn’t mean that their congregation was necessarily listening to them.

From what little I’ve read, it doesn’t seem that the CAA has given any information about how it reached this conclusion that British Muslims are more inclined towards Jew hatred than anyone else. What polling company did they use? How large were the sample populations? What questions did they use to gauge anti-Semitism? There are very serious questions about how the CAA came to such a serious claim, and I don’t think the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has provided any information to answer them. And as so much Israeli psy-ops is based on creating fear of Muslims as the terrible, non-Judaeo-Christian other ready to murder us all in our beds if we don’t convert, this simply looks like more Zionist fear-mongering.

As for the JLM, after Mike posted a piece about their theatrical antics yesterday in pretending to be considering whether to disaffiliate from the Labour party, their supporters responded in their inimitable way: Personal abuse and lies. Mike was once again told he was an anti-Semite and a holocaust denier, needed anti-Semitism training, and told that Arabs lived in perfect equality with Jews in Israel. They opposite to all this is the truth, which Mike shows with some very good tweets of the testimony of Ronnie Barkan and the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/08/supporters-of-the-jewish-labour-movement-respond-to-this-sites-critique-with-abuse/

The Jewish Labour Movement has announced it will hold its AGM on the 7th April. My guess is that if anyone from outside this wretched organisation were to sneak in and secretly film them, they’d be shown making some deeply racist and anti-Semitic comments about non-Zionists, and particularly non-Zionist Jews. The organisation seems to be stuffed with the kind of Fascists that support BoJo and Rees-Mogg. The only difference is that they’re Jewish.