Kitsch British anti-imperialism

John Wight has done something (unguessable) and earned himself a spot of his very own on Socialist Unity (barometer of the British Left) in which he opines that:

“…regardless of the strong case offered by Mearsheimer and Walt, the evidence in support of the alternative argument that in the relationship between both countries it is the US which controls Israel seems more compelling”.

Why? Because if it really were the case that Israelis ran the US, they would have ethnically cleansed the Palestinians by now. A wrong, nasty, evidence-free and widely-held view. This is in fact a text-book example of the dross that passes for anti-imperialism today.

Here we have a celebration of Hesbollah’s survival as the key factor in preventing an Israeli campaign against Iran. Praise for the Iraqi and Afghan “resistance” (bleck!) to US imperialist ambition. Behold the U.S. refusing to support Israel in a military campaign against Iran. Mearsheimer and Walt are wrong about the overweening power of the Ziomonster lobby – it is, after all, the US who holds the reins. Duh! Considering Israel’s relatively miniscule size and economic clout, this is obvious (unless perhaps you have a weak spot for Jewish conspiracy theories.)

Predictably, here we also see the whitewash of Iran, a country with nuclear ambitions which has been aggressing Israel for years, both rhetorically and in the form of arming and training Hamas and Hesbollah. And the failure to acknowledge that Mearsheimer and Walt, much-cited by people who make a mountain of Israeli influence, eventually realised that Israel has always considered Iran a bigger WMD threat than Iraq. And of course the term “resistance” applied to those who murder gay people, agents of law and order, and democratically elected political opponents, deny education for girls and rights for women.

From an ideological rut of such profound depth, how can anybody think straight about the conflicts in the Middle East?

Wight is part of a movement which is trying to force an end to Israel. Like other anti-Israel campaigners who purport to be pro-Palestinian campaigners, he gives a voice to the far right. He recently referred readers of The Morning Star to holocaust denial site CODOH without a) noticing and b) realising the significance of his failure to differentiate between far right and far left. In his article he clings to the expansionist, ethnic cleanser description of ‘Zionist’ which most suits Kach, an organisation Israel banned years ago.

Wight is a member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation which welcomes antisemitism. The SPSC hosted Gilad Atzmon at a fund-raiser in 2005 with a presentation titled “Zionist Control”. Gilad Atzmon says that “To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook”, “We have to admit that Israel is the ultimate evil rather than Nazi Germany” and “I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus”. Its chair Mick Napier recently coordinated bullying of a quartet of Israeli musicians at a concert and defended the suicide bombing of the Israeli seminary – again with reference to far right haters. When a small group of anti-Israel activists, some of whom were Jewish, attempted to put political distance between the PSC’s antisemitic elements and the rest of the Palestine solidarity movement, they were trounced.

Jews and ‘Zionists’ are frequently accused of waving the shroud of antisemitism in order to distract honest people from criticising Israel. David Hirsh calls this “the Livingstone formulation” and it is widespread these days. But given the catalogue of screw-ups above, there are plenty of reasons for Jews and anti-racists to raise the alarm about the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its British comrades who fail, time after time, to distinguish between antisemitism and anti-Israelism in their practice.

For some sense on anti-imperialism and some observations about its antisemitic excesses dominant on the far left today, there’s a readable essay by Mick Hume on the anti-imperialism of fools and Marko Attila Hoare in Democratiya on “twelve practical reasons why the phenomenon, in its left-wing manifestation to which I once subscribed, is a negative one”. For a sane, anti-racist commendation of anti-imperialism from the intelligent fragment which has not walked away from the dysfunctional revolutionary left, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have a day school on October 4th in London on globalisation, anti-imperialism and the Middle East. For evidence of the Israeli government not being big into ethnic cleansing, see the advances made by The Abraham Fund. Given the poor shape of the rest of the Middle East, awash with bad leaders, bad structures and oppressive policies and riven by violent faction fighting, the unilateral dismantling of Israeli defences which the anti-imperialists bay for is ludicrous. What Israel could do unilaterally but isn’t doing now is another story – but the anti-imperialists don’t like to discuss that. To do so would involve some actual research, and the shades of grey this introduced would bring their entire ideology crashing down round their ears.

John Wight is prone to compare Israel to various fearsome beasts. The “hydra-headed monster” was a good one. This time Israel is a “vicious bulldog” towing its master along on its leash. Idley contemplating the sort of creature John Wight reminds me of has been quite interesting.

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2 thoughts on “Kitsch British anti-imperialism

  1. Pingback: John Wight: Bang To Rights. « ModernityBlog

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