Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism and Revisionism

From Prometeo 1 Series VII
On Monday 16 November Channel 4 put out a Dispatches programme entitled “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” which revealed not only that millions of pounds were being channelled to both major political parties by the Zionist lobby (as it should have been more correctly called) but also that there were news operations purporting to work in Britain which operated out of an annexe of the Israeli Ministry of Defence (see also the reference to AIPAC below which organises a permanent blog against the BBC). No real surprise that the political parties were mired in this game but the extent of the lobby’s success was shown in the refusal of the BBC to screen the Disasters Emergency Committee’s humanitarian appeal for the children of Gaza under pressure from the Zionists. As the BBC had shown the DEC’s same advert for the Palestinians in Lebanon at the time of the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla (1982) it showed how far the Zionist lobby’s millions had advanced their cause.
The ideological thrust of the Zionist campaign is to play the “anti-semitic” card. And if confronted by any of the many Jews, and courageous Israelis, opposed to Zionism they label them “self-hating” Jews. This only confirms the totalitarian nature of Zionist nationalism. We condemn it, like all other nationalisms (peace in the Middle East will not come about via a “one state” or a “two state” solution but a no-state solution - when we are all part of one human community).(1) A further illustration of the desperation of the Zionist lobby was the condemnation of the South African judge Goldstone’s report on war crimes in Gaza last year. Goldstone arraigned both Hamas and Israel but was also denounced as a self-hating Jew for maintaining that Israel had a bigger case to answer (which is a rather mild way of saying thousands of innocents were massacred). The article translated here from our Italian comrades’ theoretical paper Prometeo demonstrates that the Zionist agenda is an international one.

The well-publicised failure of the Durban II “conference against racism” in Geneva, the Pope’s visit to Israel and the Gaza massacre have brought the “anti-Zionism versus anti-Semitism” debate back to the international level.

This gives the various spokesmen of the dominant ideology plenty of scope to carry on the slow but inexorable dissolution of the first concept into the second. There’s always a “Williamson case”(2), a declaration from some Faurisson(3) or other, or some different pretext to deliver a blow against anti-Zionism.

In Italy too, the display of force is impressive, from the highest echelons of the state to the national dailies: the more aggressive the Israeli government’s foreign policy becomes, the more critics of this policy are labelled “anti-Semitic”.

It is necessary to successfully fight any sign of racism, violence or bullying against those that are different, and above all any resurgence of anti-Semitism. Even when it dresses itself up as anti-Zionism,

the President of the Italian Republic, Napolitano, thundered, while he presided over the most “democratic” concentration camps for immigrants, founded in 1998 with a law bearing his name. In case it wasn’t clear enough, the state’s leading official took care to add that

Anti-Zionism means negating, in addition to the changing governments at the helm of Israel, the wellspring of the inspiration for the Jewish state, for the motivation of its birth, in the past, and for its security today,(4)

pulling the motivations of the past and the security of the present into the wake of Western democracy’s values. It was the same values that motivated George Bush Senior when he proposed and obtained the cancellation of UN Resolution 3379 of 1975 which equated Zionism with racism:

Zionism is not a policy; it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II.(5)

Escalating the ideological bombardment and the slide into paradox, Corriere della Sera at the same time published a survey showing that 44% of Italians today are said to show prejudice or hostility vis-àvis Jews (it would be interesting to discuss their polling methods). Within this gigantic proportion of “proto-Nazi” citizens, the most radical anti-Semites were supposed to claim 12%, equally distributed between extreme right and extreme left: in the latter, 23% were said to be “clearly anti-Semitic”.(6) Confronted by such wretched and barefaced acts of mystification, it is the tasks of revolutionaries to precisely re-define the boundaries of the terms being discussed.

A number of words like “anti-Semitism”, “Holocaust” and “revisionism” have been so severely twisted that they have lost their original “lay” meanings and have assumed new ones in the context of the liturgy of what Norman Finkelstein called in the title of his book the “Holocaust Industry”. This represents an isolated example of lucid analysis of the gigantic propaganda mechanism which exploits the suffering undergone by the Jews in the Second World War:

The Holocaust has shown itself to be an indispensable weapon thanks to which one of the most formidable military powers in the world, with a horrifying record regarding human rights, has acquired the status of victim.(7)

One of the most convincing arguments of the author, also based on his own story as the son of survivors of the extermination camps, is the observation that the Jews’ experience of the Second World War was essentially ignored by world public opinion for about twenty years. In fact, while it was not politically advantageous, not only was there no flowering of films, books and museums remembering the Holocaust suffered by the Jews, but even talking about it was considered inopportune in the United States, as it could offend the German Federal Republic, a precious ally in the inter-imperialist clash with the Soviet Union. An example: in 1955 Alain Resnais’ French documentary Nuit et Brouillard led to violent polemics in Germany because of the embarrassment over the recent past, in France because of the evident analogies between the Nazi government’s policy and those of French government during the Algerian war and in the USSR because of possible allusions to the Soviet gulag. The dykes broke in 1967 with the Six Day War:

Struck by the impressive display of Israeli force, the United States acted to make it one of their strategic resources. […] Military and economic support began to flow when Israel made itself a proxy for American power in the Middle East.(8)

From then on, we have witnessed the gradual construction of a mammoth apparatus devoted to feeding a mystical vision of the Holocaust, now written with a capital letter and having achieved the level of a meta-historical manifestation of the centuries of hatred of Jews by Gentiles: all under the constant menace of a recrudescence of anti-Semitism on a world scale, starting with the Middle East.

Just consider, for example, that today the principle pressure group acting on the government of the World’s number one power is the Zionist lobby, AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) and that the great majority of news in the West which relates to the Arab world is filtered through MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institution), founded by Yigal Carmon, who worked for 22 years in the Israeli secret service and is an anti-terrorism consultant of the Tel Aviv government.

Obviously, in order to avoid falling into a naïve and idealist conspiracy theory à la The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it must be made clear that the erection of such a powerful ideological framework cannot be attributed to a simple effort of will by the nonetheless potent Zionist lobby, but it is to be understood through the objective relations of economic force, which constitute its material pre-conditions.

The hasty classification of any attempt to rationally understand the motivation for the persecution of the Jews as anti-Semitic belongs to this global strategy: taking Nazism outside of its historical context is part of this manoeuvre.

Ahistorical Nazism and Eternal Anti-Semitism

The pivot used to deprive Nazism of its historical context and class content is its undoubted specificity, especially geographical. How striking are the massacres inflicted on the civilian population at the centre of oh so civilised Europe! Although the Americans, the Belgians, the Italians, the French and the British have stained themselves with the same crimes, “at least” they carried them out on native Americans, Congolese, Ethiopians, Algerians and Indians: peoples who were far away and thus different from us. Moreover, despite the class nature of Nazism, the persecution of the Jews tended to be across the classes, and this deeply terrorises the sensitive middle class of America and Europe: those deported were not just workers, peasants and the poor, but also most respectable lawyers, businessmen, “honest members of civil society”. That was enough to create a climate of collective hysteria in the years to come, making it possible to build a fertile myth, aimed more at justifying the present than explaining the past.

Behind this operation we find an interesting idealistic attitude, one believing in the innate characteristics of peoples, confronting history and perfectly incarnated by Daniel J. Goldhagen in his Hitler’s Willing Executioners. In this book, he deals with the question of the attitude of the “ordinary German” (in itself, an already extremely vague conception) under Nazism,

rejecting certain comfortable but often inexact or misleading labels like ‘nazi’ or ‘SS’, to call those in question what they really were: ‘Germans’. The most correct general definition, rather, the only correct one, for those Germans who perpetuated the Holocaust is ‘Germans’. They were Germans who acted in the name of Germany and its most popular leader, Adolf Hitler.(9)

Perhaps conscious of slipping into a grotesque “inverse anti-Semitism”, Goldhagen tries to make his thinking more precise, but makes his situation worse:

… certainly, sometimes it is correct to refer to institutional and professional qualifications and roles, just as to more generic terms like ‘realisers’ or ‘assassins’, but only and always starting from the presupposition that such persons were above all Germans, and only in the second place SS, policemen or camp guards.(10)

All in the same basket then, linked by the same chain of “the nation”: from the workers to the rich industrialists, including all the internal opposition. Obviously no word on the fact that it was precisely in Germany that, up until a few years before Hitler’s seizure of power, there was one of the strongest Communist Parties of Europe, guided at its birth by people of the calibre of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, nor on Bismarck’s anti-Socialist laws, on the revolution of 1918, on the Spartacist League, or on all the revolutionary communists decimated by the combined action of Social Democracy first, and the Nazis later. The book continues, explaining how, when one is dealing with “Germans” (therefore, we will allow ourselves to remark, with Marx and Engels too… but not with the Austrian Hitler) it is necessary to abandon every analytical category applicable to the rest of humankind. Referring to the impossibility of liberating “German culture” from anti-Semitism, the author affirms:

If, instead of letting ourselves be guided by the diffuse assumption that the Germans were similar to us, we launch our analysis from the opposite, and much more rational, position - that is that in the Nazi period the Germans were generically devoted to the anti-Semitic creed then pervasively prevalent - it would become impossible to dissuade us of this conviction.(11)

One could file such a contribution of such low-grade intelligence with the category of the bizarre elucubrations à la Lombroso, if it wasn’t for the fact that it incorporates the whole way of thinking characteristic of all the diligent servants of the Holocaust Industry, or of the dominant culture which reconsolidated itself after the war under the convenient umbrella of anti-fascism.

The recipe is simple: anaesthetise any possible anti-capitalist values of anti-Nazism, softening it into a docile variant of nationalism: in Italy, Togliatti, while he appealed to “comrades in the black shirt”, promoted, with disdain for the most elementary principles of revolutionary defeatism, an indiscriminate “German hunt”.

The Origins of Zionism

This same mysticism seeks to remove Zionism from its bloody political hinterland to consign it to the “world of ideas”, as in Bush’s declaration quoted above. In reality, the movement founded by Theodor Herzl shows, even on a superficial analysis, its historical-cultural backwardness, forming itself as a sort of “eternal colonialism” with a striking nationalist and confessionalist character, doubly linked to the decadent phase of capitalism:

Zionism suffers, in the final analysis, from the contagion of racism. Claiming not the specificity, but the essential superiority of the Jewish condition, which postulates the inequality of nations, it makes the anti-Semitic theses its own, inverting the values of anti- Jewish racism. Echoing the persecutors, it depicts the Jew’s existence in a non-Jewish society as “problematic”, thus implicitly defining them as an element perturbing social harmony.(12)

The complementary nature of Zionism and anti-Semitism is also evident in the deliberate confusion of religious and racial characteristics. One of the priorities of a movement which wanted to fight the racial roots of anti-Semitic hatred would be to underline the Jewish community’s character as a religious group: it would suffice to note that anyone can convert to Judaism. But that would cause much of the charm of the idea of the “chosen people” to be lost. Zionist ideology does exactly the opposite and sets itself the objective of valuing a hypothetical racial element to be consolidated with a national and territorial element (the Motherland), in parallel with the aspirations which spread like wildfire across Europe between the 19th and 20th centuries. This is the root of the project for a Jewish Nation, a confessional state with a markedly imperialist and colonial character. The two cardinal laws of the Israeli state (the “Law of Return” and the “Law on Nationality”), the observation of the Sabbath as an official occasion, the banning of the celebration of civil marriages, and the apartheid regime vis-à-vis the Arab population, confirm this stamp of religion and discrimination:

Thus the fundamental laws of Israel undoubtedly sanctify discrimination of an ethnic character, which justifies the refusal to allow the refugees to return and establishes for the benefit of the Jewish Israelis a kind of statute for a privileged nation. The strident injustice of this legislation is even more evident in so far as the Arab refugees and a large number of Arabs living in Israel are refused that nationality that is granted to the Jews of the entire world in virtue of a mystical right to ‘return’.(13)

In this sense it becomes clear how the common enemy of both anti-Semitism and Zionism is, above all, the spectre of the assimilation of the Jews into a secularised society. In the light of this contiguity of views, it is no surprise that Zionists and Nazis actively collaborated, before and during the Second World War. It is well known, although often forgotten, that the Zionist leaders of Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organisation, NMO, otherwise known as Lehi or the “Stern Gang”) in 1941 made a proposal to the Nazis for an alliance to fight against the British. In the text of the proposal one can read a perfect synthesis of the common roots of Zionism and Nazism:

The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that:
1) Common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.
2) Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and,
3) The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.(14)

If it is objected that this was a minority group [in Zionism], it will be noted that one of its leading members was Yitzhak Shamir, future Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Israel, and that this group only dissolved itself to merge with the Israeli Defence Forces in 1948. In general, Jewish nationalist circles showed widespread satisfaction with the policy of Nazi Germany:

since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs in Palestine.(15)

In fact, it must not be forgotten that the primary aim of the Zionists was the creation of a Jewish political and religious entity in Palestine, and certainly not the saving of the lives of European Jews. David Ben Gurion himself, the first leader of the Israeli state, resolutely affirmed in 1938 that:

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh, not only the lives of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel.(16)

In the name of this divine mission (the parallels with the Islamic jihad are striking) various paramilitary groups opened the season of Zionist terrorism, the antechamber of the Israeli state’s terrorism of the following years, aiming at international or British institutions and at Palestinian villages. Among the highest profile actions carried out by those who would become the champions of anti-terrorism, we may record the assassination of Lord Moyne (representative of the British government) and of Count Folke Bernadotte (United Nations mediator) as well as the dynamite attacks on the British Embassy in Rome and on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, or the massacre of the civilians of the Deir Yassin village. The formations behind these actions were Irgun, Hagana and the already mentioned Stern Gang (born as a wing of Irgun), all groups which found their confluence in the Israeli Defence Forces and supplied the highest ranks of the political personnel of the Israeli state: from Menachem Begin (Irgun) to Yitzhak Shamir (Stern Gang) and then to David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon (all militants of Hagana). Moreover, the modality of the actions of the Israeli army faithfully followed that of the terrorist gangs: even Yitzhak Rabin, though given the Nobel Peace Prize, immersed himself in the detailed instructions to be given to his soldiers on how to behave when confronted by extremely young Palestinian stone-throwers: break their arms. Why abandon certain practices when they work?


The Economic Roots of Jewish Specificity

In refutation of the Biblical and warmongering phraseology of Zionism it is useful to point out that the Jews, as a religious group, have always been characterised by a marked ethnic heterogeneity and have maintained a specific identity through the centuries only because of economic reasons. The “chosen people” has consequently been an agglomeration of diverse ethnicities: Hittites, Canaanites, Philistines, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Arabs. With the flowing of the centuries, this lack of homogeneity has increased markedly because of mixed marriages and conversions. With even more reason today can it be said that:

At the present time there is absolutely no racial homogeneity between the Yemenite Jews, for example, and the Jews of Dagestan. The first are Oriental in type while the second belong to the Mongol race. There are black Jews in India, Ethiopian Jews (Falasha), ‘Troglodyte’ Jews in Africa [on the Tunisian island of Djerba].(17)

For example, even what is called the “Jewish nose” is simply a characteristic widespread among the population of Asia Minor. The concept of a “Jewish race” is simply a myth, fed equally by anti-Semites and Zionists. It is comparable with a hypothetical identification of a “Catholic race”, starting from black and curly hair. Every time in history where the economic grounds for their differentiation have ceased to operate, the Jews have assimilated with the people among whom they live.

It is not the loyalty of the Jews to their faith which explains their preservation as a distinct social group; on the contrary it is their preservation as a distinct social group which explains their attachment to their faith.(18)

Abram Leon does well in summing up this mechanism in the concept of “people-class”: the Jews historically represented a social group with a specific economic function, a class. This function has become more refined in the course of history, starting from the pre-capitalist economy and then following the evolution of the capitalist mode of production in its mediaeval, mercantile and industrial phases, up to its present phase of decline.

In this sense, Zionism is nothing other than a historical reaction to the process of assimilation:

In reality, Zionist ideology, like all ideologies, is only the distorted reflection of the interests of a class. It is the ideology of the Jewish petty bourgeoisie, suffocating between feudalism in ruins and capitalism in decay.(19)

Capitalism poses the basis for the solution of the “Jewish Question”, by battering down the material pre-conditions for discrimination. But only in a communist society can this process of assimilation be completed, while the decadent phase of capitalism carries to their extreme any racial, national or religious pretext for the support of the imperialist policies of various states: this is exactly what happened in the Germany of the 1930s.

An analysis of this type should be enough to eliminate any remote possibility of a link between Marxism and anti-Semitism, despite the pollsters of the Corriere della Sera.

Historical Revisionism

Against the background of the gulf between historical fact and propagandistic fabrication, it is equally understandable why there should be a perspective for a historical enquiry which tends to scale down the myth constructed by Holocaust rhetoric. The extent to which such an eventuality is feared is demonstrated by the punitive legislation of some states (Austria, Belgium, France and Germany) against the “questioning of the Nazi Holocaust”. Measures which punish the “sin of revisionism” have also been introduced in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Portugal and Spain. Capitalist states defend themselves as they are able: in the Soviet Union it was forbidden to question the (false) Nazi responsibility for the massacre of 25,000 Polish officials in the Katyn forest (fabricated with much “eye-witness” testimony and “scientific” documentation), and in Turkey, mentioning the genocide of the Armenians is punishable by prison.

All this demonstrates how the word “revisionism” has also suffered a transformation from the simple meaning of the word to a preventative judgement regarding the intentions of the revisionists.

If, as could be foreseen, a part of the research in this field has been carried out by Nazi sympathisers looking for arguments defending Hitler’s regime, there also exists a considerable circle of “revisionists of the left”, who have nothing to do with anti-Semitism and who, animated by proposals to demystify, are convinced that they help the revolutionary cause. Despite this, however, even if every Marxist displayed a willingness to unmask ideological constructions and to approach the problem scientifically, the revisionists of the left fail to hit the target, and end up producing work that is moreover counterproductive.

Their researches principally concern two types of question: the number of the victims, and the way they were killed. It is very easy to show how, on both these fronts, the revisionists’ actions are a waste of time. Holocaust rhetoric, no longer able to so much insist on the Nazis’ intentions (Allied killings through bombings can’t be seen as “less intentional”), stresses either the quantitative issue, or the manner of the Nazi exterminations, and it also makes use of the figures, 6 million dead, as an instrument of propaganda. This becomes clear, both by the lack of science with which these numbers were initially determined (the Stalin-style confessions at Nuremburg), and by the frivolity with which they were progressively retouched: in the French documentation mentioned above, for example, they spoke about 10 million dead, then this became a total of the 6 million which has remained in the collective imagination, even though in 1990 the original 4 million of Auschwitz-Birkenau was reduced on the memorial to 1.5 million with a stroke of the pen: Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews talks of 5.1 million, 1 million at Auschwitz.

Faced with this disgusting numbers game, in which umpteen millions of people are “killed or resuscitated” as if they were nothing, a coherently Marxist position should do its utmost to stress the offensive uselessness of the number of the dead: the numerical aspect should in no way constitute a decisive element in the judging of the Nazis, or of the founding of the state of Israel, or of its present politics.

Revisionism by entering the numerical arena places itself on the same level as the official historiography, indirectly backing up the centrality of a peripheral element, although it concerns millions of dead.

The same goes for the argument about the way in which the killings were carried out. Much of the energy of the historical revisionists is spent on refuting the hypothesis of an extermination by gas chambers. In this case too, why fall into the trap? What would change from the point of view of a class analysis if the Nazis had killed the Jews with firing squads, or if they did it “American style”, with smallpox-infected blankets or with the incendiary bombs of Dresden? Even if this expenditure of energy was considered methodologically acceptable, it is not a priority for communists, who would do better to trouble themselves with the class content of Nazism rather than follow the custodians of history onto their favoured ground.

A materialist critique should not linger too long over the phenomenal aspects of the facts, but should put them into their context within the framework of class relations, in the past as in the present.

The obsessive research into an ahistorical specificity of the persecution of the Jews and its continual commemoration in the media in fact relates to the present: it draws attention away from the reality of more and more violent attacks on the workers, starting with foreign workers.

There is a tendency to present the policy of the National Socialists regarding the Jews as “demonic” in order to avoid a comparison with the policies of today, not just of Israel, but of the “Western” countries. The parallel between Nazi camps and detention centres for immigrants is too uncomfortable to be simply nodded at, even if it is only among the prospects for the future; but, why should Nazi discrimination based on religion (arbitrarily rendered racist) be worse than today’s discrimination based on nationality? In both cases it is a question of diverting a spontaneous anti-capitalist mass sentiment towards a false objective. In this sense, the bourgeoisie, whether democratic or Zionist, share the same strategy.

For all these reasons it is essential to proclaim our anti-Zionism just as loudly as we proclaim the unbridgeable chasm separating us from anti-Semitism, an ideological weapon we willingly leave to our class enemy: we are sure that they will dust it down just as soon as they feel the need. Moreover, no matter how they try to make it forgotten, Nazism is an integral part of the Western bourgeoisie’s history.

Davide Rizzo

(1) Recent articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in Italian):

(2) Lunatic English Catholic bishop who, in addition to denying the Holocaust, thinks that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is authentic, and believes women should not be admitted to universities. Excommunicated for the major sin of being consecrated by the wrong Archbishop, readmitted in January 2009, and not re-excommunicated despite his views now being fully known by the Church (translator’s note)

(3) French holocaust-denier, ex-Professor of Literature at the University of Lyon II (translator’s note)




(7) Norman G Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry.

(8) Ibidem.

(9) Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners.

(10) Ibidem.

(11) Ibidem.

(12) Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: False Messiah. Although since he wrote this the pressure of being a “self-hating Jew” has forced Weinstock back into the Zionist camp (editor).

(13) Ibidem.

(14) Fundamental Features of the Proposal of the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the Side of Germany,

(15) Feivel Polkes, an agent of Haganah (then the military arm of the - Labour Zionist - Jewish Agency), in a conversation with Eichmann and Herbert Hagen of the SS, recounted in an SS report captured at the end of WWII and quoted in Heinz Hohne’s Order of the Death’s Head, cited in its turn in Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, brenner/ch08.htm

(16) Yoav Gelber, Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry (1939-42), Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, p199, quoted in Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators,

(17) Abram Leon, The Jewish Question,

(18) Ibidem,

(19) Ibidem,

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