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Friday, December 8, 2023

debate: Get out of the ghost train

How can the anti-imperialist left find its way out of the fallacies it has fallen into when it comes to Israel?

Anti-Semitism has no place in Germany,” says the government; German citizenship should be revoked from anti-Semites, says the opposition leader. Seriously? Many apartments could soon become available across the country. But when people talk about the revocation of nationality, it is of course not about bio-German anti-Semites, but about people with dual citizenship. And those who want to enter a Federal Republic of Germany in which anti-Semitism has had a firm place since 1949.

The Minister of Economic Affairs also knows this. Anyone who focuses on “Islamist anti-Semitism” should not be mistaken about the fact that “there is also entrenched anti-Semitism in Germany,” says Robert Habeck. He is also concerned about “anti-Semitism in parts of the political left.”

The self-preservation measures of the State of Israel, which fights against forces that fight for its elimination and torture and murder, are demonized there. After the pogrom of October 7th, the philosopher wrote Philip Hogh in New Germany, “A frightening level of secret and open joy over the Hamas murders, which were euphemized as the ‘Palestinian liberation struggle’, had come to light.” It has “once again become obvious that there is an anti-Semitism problem within many social movements continues up to the universities“.

In academia and in cultural institutions, condemning the terrorist attack on the Israeli population does not achieve consensus, and often not even a majority. The coldness of those who unconditionally planted the Ukrainian flag in March 2022, but now – in the face of a pogrom against Jews the likes of which the world has not seen for decades – preferred to stay out of it and refused express solidarity with the victims, is at least irritating. And the so-called anti-imperialist left tops this by loudly expressing solidarity with those perpetrators who want to destroy Israel, which is defamed as an apartheid state. An Austrian social democrat remarked in the 19th century that anti-Semitism is the socialism of stupid people: the resentful simplification of an abstract socialization and exploitation relationship. One biologizes industrial capitalism, so to speak, and fantasizes “the Jews” as its personification.


Gerhard Schweppenhäuser

teaches design theory at the Technical University in Würzburg and philosophy at the University of Kassel.

Is left-wing “anti-imperialism”, which considers Israel to be a war-criminal colonizer in the service of world capital, today the stupid-smart guys’ criticism of capitalism (m/f/d)? In order to analyze this, the talk of “Israel-related anti-Semitism” has prevailed. Both the anti-Zionist furor and the cold indifference towards Jewish victims should give reason to think about exit programs from this ghost train.

The basis could be the following insight: Anyone who makes the destruction of the State of Israel their life’s purpose does not want to free anyone from state rule. He wants to subject “his own people” to an authoritarian state – partly imaginary, partly real. What Hamas and Hezbollah sell as a liberation struggle is actually oppression in the name of megalomaniacal religious fantasies, namely theocracy and caliphate. The suffering of the Palestinians, which has been going on for decades, is their bargaining chip in the fight for rule. By invoking defensive strikes by the Israeli army, Hamas is taking not only Israeli Jews hostage, but also the people of the Gaza Strip. Does the anti-imperialist left have a blind spot in its right eye? The subjugation of the dispossessed under rebellious leaders serves to establish new, tendentially fascist class rule.

The next exit step would be to become clear about that hatred of Jews in the Middle East is not the result, not the “consequence of the founding of Israel” and the Middle East conflict, but “one of the central causes of this conflict”, as Stephan Grigat writes. Leftists should say goodbye to the myth that “the Jews” drove “the Palestinians” from their homeland in the late 1940s. The Nazi-affiliated Muslim Brotherhood mobilized the masses in the Arab world after 1945. It prepared the military invasion of 1948, which led to “the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Palestine”; the invasion did not wipe out “the Jewish state” as intended, “but Arab Palestine,” as Matthias Küntzel explained. As long as this is not understood, the angry running “against the collective Jew Israel” (Grigat) will not stop.

The final step could be in thinking about ideological Intersections of postcolonialism and Jew hatred consist. Some people there are of the opinion that Israeli Jews style themselves as victims of world history. But when “Palestinian-Arab violence and anti-Semitism is de-realized,” when “Israel is demonized and delegitimized as a racist entity with analogies to National Socialism and double standards are applied in the analysis of the Israeli-Arab conflict,” then, says Ingo Elbe , “mostly meets all the criteria for Israel-related anti-Semitism.”

Leftists should say goodbye to the myth that “the Jews” drove “the Palestinians” from their homeland

The historian Moshe Zuckermann recently said in the Berlin newspaper, Israel-related anti-Semitism is primarily a slogan to prevent criticism of Israel, not to combat anti-Semitism. The answer to this is: abusus non tollit usum. This is primarily a category that is critical of ideology. It is necessary – and, like others, not automatically immune to abuse.

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