January 13, 2007

Compare and contrast the SWP with the SWP

Labournet has published an open letter by Lenni Brenner to the Socialist Worker newspaper in response to a letter from Barrie Levine and Henry Maitles criticising Scottish Palestine Solidarity for showing the play Perdition on Holocaust Memorial Day. According to the letter the play Perdition:
is fiercely critical of the role played by Zionists in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War Two and should be seen widely.

However, we would argue that to counterpose Perdition to other Memorial Day events is a mistake by the SPSC.

There are weaknesses to Holocaust Memorial Day, but the key point is to find ways to engage with those involved in the events, rather than cutting off debate and alienating potential allies.
Now here's Lenni Brenner's response:
Comrades,

After reading Barrie Levine and Henry Maitles letter to your publication, I must candidly condemn their attack on the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign for scheduling performances of Jim Allen’s Perdition during the Holocaust Memorial Day season. They don’t fault Perdition. But how dare SPSC perform a holocaust play on Holocaust Memorial Day! Their arguments gallop downward from there.

They admit that “there are weaknesses to Holocaust Memorial Day,” but don’t give us even one of them. What are they? Have they complained to the HMD organizers about them? If not, why not?

They concede that “the horrible irony of the Israeli state justifying its actions with reference to the Holocaust needs to be exposed.” But have they challenged HMD folks to do so?

They trot out the standard cliche rendered on such occasions: “There is a growing need to learn the lessons of the Holocaust itself.” But doesn’t Perdition teach one of those lessons? In the 1950s, its villain, Hungarian Labour Zionist Reszo Kasztner, had Israel prosecute another Hungarian for libel re calling him Eichmann’s collaborator. In return for his silence, the Nazi let Kasztner pick a few hundred Jews to escape to Switzerland. Yet the prosecutor brazenly insisted that

“Kasztner did nothing more and nothing less than was done by us in rescuing the Jews and bringing them to Palestine... You are allowed – in fact it is your duty – to risk losing the many in order to save the few... It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of many in arranging the immigration to Palestine. Are we therefore to be called traitors?”

Levine and Maitles proclaim that the establishment “Holocaust Memorial Day... provides an opportunity for antiracist activists to unite with wider sections of society and learn the lessons of how to fight fascism,” i. e., “the British National Party.”

They fool themselves. You don’t need a biblical prophet to predict that the majority of young Jews they hope to recruit against the BNP won’t be at HMD events. They are highly educated. Consequently, in every country except Israel, they reject Judaism and marry gentiles. Most intermarried become atheists. As kids they had to endure “there is a growing need to learn the lessons of the Holocaust” at least 20 zillion times from rabbis they grew up to scorn as fools. They know that they would learn nothing they didn’t already know about it from holocaust commemorations supported by the Jewish establishment they reject.

On the other hand, some would come to famously controversial Perdition if they hear that its being performed in their town. Ken Loach directed it when Zionist pressure drove it out of the Royal Court Upstairs in 1987. Everyone knows that everything he directs is high quality.

That it is anti-Zionist would only make it more attractive. Again, they identify Zionism with stupid rabbis raging against mixed marriage, i. e., against the adults they grew up to be.

Levine and Maitles want to bring better elements involved in the officially anointed HMD into struggle against the BNP. But muting anti-Zionism to please anyone isn’t how to do it. Socialist Worker and the SPSC should unite with other lefts to call an antifascist conference for 4 October, the anniversary of the celebrated 1936 battle of Cable Street, when 100, 000 Jews and lefts drove out a Mosleyite march thru a Jewish neighborhood. Invite the HMD authorities, the Jewish Chronicle, Zionists, the British Islamic community, Labour, the TUC and other forces concerned about the BNP. “Dogs fight dogs but they unite against the wolf” should be the reigning proverb. All can go on barking at each other as they bite the BNP to death and bury it.

Let’s see who shows up. In 1936 the British Zionist Federation opposed resisting Mosley until after the Jewish masses ignored them. They had to reverse themselves, at least in words, and some rank and filers fought that day.

Now lets see what today’s Zionists have learned. Propose that this time we unite for a march thru a BNP stronghold. If their leaders march with us that’s more numbers intimidating the fascists. If they don’t, be sure that many of the minority of youths still with them will go over to us. In either case the BNP loses and the British public will see the anti-Zionist left as the most consistent opponents of racism and religious bigotry in Britain, the Middle East and the world.

Lenni Brenner
This is an example of where the SWP is far too precious about what they see as Jewish sensibilities. They have also been critical of Norman Finkelstein over his book The Holocaust Industry.

Now the compare and contrast bit. How different their stance on the antisemitic saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon. Two letters criticising Michael Rosen in the latest edition of Socialist Worker were headed Gilad Atzmon is not racist. That now is the party line and it seems that no one in the SWP will publicly disagree with it. Time was when a well visited SWP blog, Lenin's Tomb could draw attention to Atzmon quotes like this:
Let me assure you, in Clinton's administration the situation was even worse. Even though the Jews only make up 2.9 per cent of the country's population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so.

We have to ask ourselves what motivates American Jews to gain such political power. Is it a genuine care for American interests? Soon, following the growing number of American casualties in Iraq, American people will start to ask themselves this very question.

Since America currently enjoys the status of the world's only super power and since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.
And comment that
It was a mistake to invite Atzmon to speak at Marxism, and it is a relief to hear that he was roundly denounced and derided for offering such views.
That was back in 2004 and nothing about Atzmon's views has altered since then, though he has doctored his website to try to make his detractors out to be liars. He hasn't quite mustered the gumption to call Lenin of the Tomb a liar but Lenin is a well known SWP activist and blogger and the SWP is now the main branch of Atzmon's marketing and publicity in the UK.

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