Unsavoury bedfellows

November 24, 2016 23:31

Is Jeremy Corbyn a Jew-hater? Not in a million years. If he were, he'd not try so hard to look like a Reform rabbi. So what gives with all the meetings and contacts with people who edge off into that dreadful world in which evil Jews run everything, kill everyone, take part in secret plots and have all the money?

When I was researching for my book on conspiracy theory, Voodoo Histories, I came across some fascinating examples of what you might call a "cross-over" between far right and far left on the question of what they would always call "Zionism". This wasn't an entirely new phenomenon. In the first place, an identification of Jews with finance-capital goes back to William Cobbett's notions of the betrayal of the authentic human being by usurers. In the second, a dislike of "cosmopolitan" Zionism and Israel was a common feature of late Stalinism and the Arabist sections of the Trotskyist fringe. The Worker's Revolutionary Party was part-funded by Colonel Gaddafi and the far left British Anti-Zionist Organisation almost certainly received money from the Ba'ath regime in Iraq.

Read: Corbyn supporters post vile racism and he says nothing

The animating spirit behind much of this was what you might call "Fanonism", after the author of the 1961 French book, The Wretched of the Earth, written during the Algerian war and understood as endorsing the need for the colonised to use violence against their colonial and post-colonial masters. It divided the world into two camps - not Communist and capitalist but oppressive white and oppressed brown. And Israel was, like America and Britain, white and the Palestinians brown. The irony, of course, was that - in Fanonite terms - Jews saw themselves as very much the oppressed.

So I noted in Voodoo Histories the coming together in November 2005 in Brussels of an international conference - "Axis for Peace" - that gave almost perfect expression to the red-brown cross-over. Its website claimed it involved, "150 leaders from 37 countries" in favour of world harmony and peace and against imperialism. From the UK, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray attended; from Germany, a former SPD minister and 9/11 conspiracist, Andreas Von Buelow; from America, a veteran Marxist, James Petras; a senior former Russian general, Leonid Avashov; along with a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician; the leader of the Belgian Workers' Party; a Strasserite Pole; the wife of American cultist Lyndon Larouche; an American neo-Nazi "journalist" called Christopher Bollyn and our old pal Dieudonné Mbala Mbala.

Anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, support for almost any anti-Western force, and covert antisemitism all in one place. You can imagine the encouragement such people took when American academics Walt and Mearsheimer, published their extended essay The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007.

In arguing that this lobby was uniquely powerful and alien to American interests, Walt and Mearsheimer made respectable an analysis that had previously belonged to prejudice. Five years later, Mearsheimer was recommending the anti-Jewish ramblings of Gilad Atzmon as needing to be "widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike". If a senior, respected, tenured American academic cannot see what Atzmon is, is it so surprising that Jeremy Corbyn fails to understand Raed Salah?

In an excellent article in the Guardian this week, Corbyn's John the Baptist (or is it the other way around?) Owen Jones makes it clear that he does know the difference between hating Netanyahu and hating Jews. But the comments underneath! Even as I write this, I realise no one like Jones has yet taken on the Walts of this world.

Meanwhile, this pushes us all further and further into our trenches, where we huddle together for comfort. Thinking is becoming the hardest thing to do.

November 24, 2016 23:31

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