Thursday, July 24, 2014

Workers World Party silent on Sarcelles synagogue attack

Anti-Semitic demo outside Sarcelles synagogue

Readers of this blog know I have pretty strong thoughts on the dangers of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred for the working class and its allies.  The "socialism of fools" is a deadly trap that threatens to demobilize the growth of independent working class political action.  I cannot put it better than a comrade on social media yesterday:

Antisemitism is a poison in our movements because it takes the fire off the capitalist class. It redirects the anger of the masses towards the brutality of capitalism instead towards the ghost of Jewish conspiracy. It disorients us, and can ultimately shatter the workers movement. That's why we take it seriously.

Another comrade added:

Jew hatred is not a conjunctural and passing phenom of the 19-20th centuries. It's in the DNA of capitalism.

When workers and farmers begin to resist the consequences of austerity and the grinding "recovery" touted by the big-business press, Jew-hatred is a ready go-to. 

One of the chief responsibilities of a communist party today is explaining the roots of anti-Semitism, its danger to class solidarity and class political independence.  Fortunately, the communist movement has produced a wealth of material to accomplish this important task [here and here].

A few incidents of anti-Semitic violence have occurred in the last few weeks, accompanying large and successful marches in solidarity with the embattled population of Gaza. These events have been covered in the bourgeois press, usually in the spirit of spreading demoralization and spiking public opposition to  Israel's bombing and invasion. In France the government used the incidents to attack democratic rights and freedom to march.

Jewish-owed business looted in Sarcelles

One of the best communist analyses of successful protests against Israel's war on Gaza, and accompanying anti-Semitic incidents, is "Palestinian Solidarity Strengthened, Hamas Influence Weakened" by James Robb.

In the article, Robb explains and celebrates political strengths of a large Gaza solidarity rally in Auckland, New Zealand.  March organizers built a serious and inclusive event, and explained at the outset that any expression of anti-Semitism was unacceptable.

The feeling of strengthening solidarity with the Palestinian people under attack was so powerful on the Auckland march, I was tempted to believe that a similar shift was taking place around the world – a similar loosening of the influence of the Hamas perspectives, a similar political strengthening.
Not so, apparently. Demonstrations against the Israeli assault on Gaza  in both France and Germany took an anti-Semitic turn. A synagogue and several Jewish-owned shops were damaged in Paris. This video of a demonstration in Berlin shows part of a crowd chanting “Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight.” The French government is trying to take advantage of the political confusion that these actions generate to ban all demonstrations in support of Palestine, while the right-wing forces push to scapegoat immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. Let no one try to talk down the importance of these developments or explain away the anti-Semitic violence and threats that marred these demonstrations.

The violence this weekend in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a demonstration of several hundred marched on a synagogue and looted Jewish-owned shops and restaurants, has been widely covered in the bourgeois press [here and here].  

However, the reality of these events, the important lessons they hold for the international workers movement, are being ignored by the U.S. middle class left.  

Workers World newspaper presents Sarcelles anti-Semitic demo as "youth rebellion"

Workers World newspaper, organ of Workers World Party in the United States, is a case in point.  In the last few days, this paper has carried several articles on Gaza solidarity marches [here, here, and here.]  It has even referred to the Paris suburb Sarcelles.  About the looting and synagogue march, not a word:

The French government took the extraordinary step of outlawing pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Despite threats of prison and fines, organizers estimate that up to 10,000 people attended a rally in central Paris. In the city’s northern suburb of Sarcelles, young demonstrators erupted in rebellion against the ban to show solidarity with Gaza. Police arrested 38 for their alleged participation in the protest. (RT, July 20)

Is looting Jewish-owned businesses, and marching on a synagogue, a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza?  A thousand times no!  This rationalization strengthens the claims of the Israeli government that its opponents are motivated by Jew-hatred.  Such actions set back Gaza solidarity.  They demoralize and discourage all those who, inspired by the demonstrations last week, might have come out for the first time next week.

When Workers World decided to mention the Sarcelles demonstrations, it was incumbent on them as self-professed revolutionary socialists to explain the truth: Jews and their synagogue had been targeted by some demonstrators, and this was unacceptable.  Instead, WW obscured the facts to shield their readers from a discussion of the social fact of anti-Semitism today.  

Why did they do this?  Because in the left activist movement in which they swim, any serious political discussion of the reality of Jew-hatred today it would be too scandalous to endure.  It would make WW a pariah in the  milieu they have themselves spent decades building.  It is a world where anti-Zionism is promoted, while "neoconservatives" [i.e. Jews] are presented as the root of all evil U.S. government actions [here, here, and here], events like those in Sarcelles become non-events. They just never happen.  

The U.S. middle class left, typified by Workers World, is unwilling, unequipped and incapable of facing up to this crucial question.

The left in the U.S. likes to refer to itself as the "lesser evil." But because of its role as a derailer of class clarity and independent working class political action, "greater evil" is a more appropriate sobriquet.


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