Sunday, May 22, 2005



Litmus tests in politics have a bad reputation, but I'm going to propose one anyway because if we American radicals don't apply it to ourselves quickly we will surely self-destruct.

The 9/11 Litmus Test

Here is the 9/11 litmus test: "Was the 9/11 attack morally wrong or morally justifiable?

If we answer "morally justifiable" we fail the test; if we answer "morally wrong" we pass it. If we answer with "We need to understand why they hate us" then we haven't yet answered the question. If we believe 9/11 was an inside job (as I do) the litmus test still works. (God help us, however, if any of us think 9/11 was both an inside job and morally justifiable!)

Why is this litmus test so important? It's important because if one's political activity in any way reflects the logic that is implied by the premise that 9/11 was morally justifiable, then it will unavoidably do tremendous harm to the otherwise positive political activity of radicals, even sabotage it. I give an illustration of this below in the last section, but first we need to look closely at the pro-9/11 ideology that fails the litmus test.

Nearly the entire American population believes the 9/11 attack was morally wrong, from those who oppose to those who support U.S. foreign policy and its numerous wars.

But there are some, who call themselves radical or anti-imperialist or anti-colonialist, who believe the 9/11 attack was morally justifiable.[1] I'll call them "pro-9/11ers." Those with this view argue (privately, of course) that the crimes of the U.S. government make ordinary Americans legitimate targets for reprisals by the victims of U.S. imperialism around the world. They defend this view with comments like, "How many millions did the U.S. kill in Vietnam alone? How can you compare that to the mere 3,000 killed on 9/11?" Or, "North Americans of European descent are the guilty inheritors of a genocidal project against native Americans." Or, "North Americans are colonial settlers who have no right to live on stolen land." Or, "Working class, shmorking class, most Americans benefit from U.S. imperialism and fight to maintain it. They deserved 9/11."

Hysterical Liberalism

This pro-9/11 view is hysterical liberalism.

It is liberalism because it is based on the same capitalist view of society that the most mainstream liberal politicians advocate, namely the idea that society consists of competing interest groups based on race, gender, ethnicity, nation or individual against individual. This is the premise of capitalism. Liberal politicians implicitly push this view every time they call for making our society "a level playing field" to make the competition "fair." Liberalism denies the truth, that ordinary people, no matter what their race or gender or nationality or religion or ethnicity, have far more in common with each other than with their own elites; they share a working class culture that values equality and solidarity and democracy in contrast to the elite culture that values competition and inequality to pit people against each other so elites can rule undemocratically.

This class conflict in values is why elites can't ever tell the truth about their wars. For example, if Bush told Americans his true imperialistic reasons (oil? Israeli expansion? Orwellian social control?) for waging war, most Americans would say "Hell no!" But according to the pro-9/11ers' liberal outlook, Americans are a bunch of selfish imperialists; Bush should have just come right out and said, "We're going to plunder Iraq's oil so we can have cheap gas for our SUVs" and he would have gotten enormous public support. Obviously Bush knows something about Americans that the pro-9/11ers haven't grasped. He knows that they approach these kinds of questions by trying to figure out what is morally right. Americans believe self defense is morally right, so Bush screamed about WMD. Americans believe democracy and freedom are good things, so he gives us a war for "freedom and democracy" to "liberate Iraqis from tyranny." Americans believe in coming to the aid of the underdog so Bush (and the U.S. ruling class) make sure Americans think of Israel as the haven for victims of the Holocaust.

But the pro-9/11ers don't believe there is a class conflict over the values that should shape society. They believe that ordinary Americans share the same values of racism, inequality and dog-eat-dog competition as the American ruling class. They see the great divide in the world as being between those who are not descended from Europeans versus those who are. They prefer to use non-class, even racial terms, to describe conflict in the world: "people of color" versus "whites" or indigenous versus settler. In this absolutely liberal view, the working class Britons who in the 1600s and 1700s were forcibly brought to North America against their will in chains (typically, a man who got drunk in an English pub would be "spirited away" to wake up the next morning in the hold of a ship bound for the New World), sold as virtual slaves and even prohibited from marrying (we're talking about a number probably greater than the number of Africans brought to the Colonies as slaves, by the way) were all a bunch of racist "European colonizers." In this distorted view, working class Britons in the Colonies had "interests" aligned with the wealthy Britons who virtually owned them, and their "interests" conflicted with enslaved Africans and native Americans being driven off of their land.

In the mythological world of the pro-9/11ers' mental universe, when working class Europeans found themselves in the New World they just naturally set to work exterminating the indigenous population. After all, what else can you expect of the racist European riff raff? But a very different picture emerges when one looks more closely at that period, particularly when one looks at what ordinary Europeans did when left to themselves and not strictly controlled by ruling class Europeans:

"Probably the earliest group of English to have simply melted into a native society were the inhabitants of Raleigh's 'lost colony' of Roanoak in 1590. A century later, there were literally thousands of 'white Indians'--mostly English and French, but Swedes, Scots, Irish, Dutch and others as well--who, diseased with aspects of their own cultures, had either married into, been adopted by, or petitioned for naturalization as member/citizens of indigenous nations. By then, the phenomenon had become pronounced enough that it had long-since precipitated a crisis among the Puritans of Plymouth Colony and figured in their waging of a war of extermination against the Pequots in 1637.

"The attraction of 'going native' remained so strong, and the willingness of indigenous peoples to accept Europeans into their societies so apparent, that it prevailed even among those captured in Indian/white warfare. During the 1770s, George Croghan and Guy Johnson, both acknowledged authorities on the native peoples of the mid-Atlantic region, estimated that the great bulk of the several hundred English prisoners of all ages and both genders taken by the Indians had been adopted by them rather than being put to death.

"The literature of the period is literally filled with observations. Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, for example, noted that whites 'recovered' from Indians had to be 'closely watched [lest] they will certainly return to the Barbarians.' Colonel Henry Bouquet, who headed a 1764 expedition to take charge of 'captives' returned under terms of a treaty with England by the Shawnees, Miamis and other peoples of the Ohio River Valley, issued orders that 'they are to be closely watched and well Secured [as] most of them, particularly those who have been a long time among the Indians, will take the first Opportunity to run away.' The Reverend William Smith, chaplain and chronicler of Bouquet's foray, noted that most younger whites seemed to view their 'liberators' as captors and 'parted from the savages with tears.'" [2]

The pro-9/11ers' contemptuous understanding of working class Americans of European descent is wrong because the racial categories, like "European colonists," which they use to understand history cannot make sense of it. Let's look at some examples of this.

When white working class Americans rose up in rebellions against the new American ruling class soon after the American revolution (for example the famous Shay's rebellion, a six month long armed uprising of 2000 small farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786-7 and the Whiskey rebellion of farmers in western Pennsylvania in 1794 which forced George Washington to mobilize an army of 13,000 troops to suppress) they were fighting for equality versus privilege, and for real democracy versus the fake kind. But according to the pro-9/11ers, the right way to characterize these rebels is simply as "European colonizers" who were "carrying out a genocidal project."

Despite the fact that descendants of these white and supposedly racist-to-the-core European working class "colonizers" joined with blacks to create the Southern Tenant Farmers Union [3] in Arkansas in 1934, despite the fact that they refused to yield to Klan pressure to keep their union separate from black tenant farmers, and despite the fact that they joined with blacks to stage mass strikes against the big landowners all across the Jim Crow south for better wages and working conditions, despite all of this the pro-9/11 reasoning says, "So what, they were still just a bunch of racist European colonizers."

The pro-9/11ers lump the working class descendants of Europeans in America together with America's ruling class and say they all share the same evil values and interests. They talk about the genocide that America's rulers committed against the native Americans as if the genocidal U.S. Cavalry was the pure expression of the values of ordinary people of European descent. But real historical events don't support this wrong notion. Here is how "European colonists" demonstrated their "common interest" with America's rulers in the 1920s and 30s, and how they ended up being attacked by the modern equivalent of that very same U.S. Cavalry.

In May 1920 a coal strike in Matewan, West Virginia spread throughout the state leading to a three hour gun battle between strikers and guards brought in "to prevent infiltration of union men." The strike continued to August 1921 when the workers decided to use force to get through the guards, deputies and troopers who were preventing them from entering and spreading the strike to other counties. The workers formed a "citizens army" march of 4,000 led by war veterans, accompanied by nurses in uniform, and armed with every weapon they could obtain, and they battled deputies defending the non-union counties. President Warren G. Harding sent "2,100 troops of the 19th Infantry, together with machine guns and airplanes," to defeat the "citizens army." The airplanes were armed with gas bombs and machine guns, and although the strikers backed down before the planes were used, the federal government was forced to reveal to these West Virginia coal miners that, if necessary for the protection of capitalist power, it would bomb American citizens just as it had bombed foreigners in the First World War (and as it would bomb civilians on an unimaginable scale in a future World War.)

On July 28, 1932 in the nation's capital, twenty thousand veterans of WWI, many unemployed and homeless, camped out in the Capital to demand payment of bonuses they had been promised. On that day, the future military "heroes" of WWII made their debut in history. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, with Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower and one of his officers, George S. Patton Jr., following orders from Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley, led four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a mounted machine gun squadron and six whippet tanks, lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue near 12th Street in Washington DC, in an attack on thousands of Americans who had become known as "Bonus Marchers." Veterans who raised their arms against soldiers on horseback had their arms cut by sabers. Others were hit by the flat of the sword. In some instances ears were cut off. Two were killed and many wounded. As horses pounded toward the veterans, reporters at the White House were told the Secret Service had learned that those resisting eviction were "entirely of the Communist element." "Thank God," said President Herbert Hoover, "we still have a government that knows how to deal with a mob."

When a longshoremen's strike in 1934 led to a general strike in San Francisco of 130,000 workers, which spread to Oakland and then up the Pacific Coast, the Los Angeles Times wrote: "The situation in San Francisco is not correctly described by the phrase 'general strike.' What is actually in progress there is an insurrection, a Communist-inspired and led revolt against organized government. There is but one thing to be done -- put down the revolt with any force necessary." FDR's National Recovery Administration chief, General Hugh S. Johnson, went to San Francisco and declared the general strike a "menace to the government" and a "civil war."

In the same year 325,000 textile workers, many of them women, used "flying squadrons" to spread their strike throughout the South from mill to mill, often battling guards, entering the mills, unbelting machinery and fighting non-strikers. So alarmed was The New York Times that it warned, "The grave danger of the situation is that it will get completely out of the hands of the leaders...The growing mass character of the picketing operations is rapidly assuming the appearance of military efficiency and precision and is something entirely new in the history of American labor struggles. Observers...declared that if the mass drive continued to gain momentum at the speed at which it was moving today, it will be well nigh impossible to stop it without a similarly organized opposition with all the implications such an attempt would entail." Declaring martial law, South Carolina's governor said that a "state of insurrection" existed. When the strike spread to New England, Governor Green, of Rhode Island, declared that, "there is a Communist uprising and not a textile strike in Rhode Island," and then declared a state of insurrection. Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge declared martial law. National Guardsmen began mass arrests of flying squadrons and held them without charge in a concentration camp where Germans had been held during WWI..." By September 19 the death toll in the South had reached thirteen." [4]

Unruly "European colonists" frightened the real rulers of America so much that the real rulers instigated a war with Japan in order to be able to control militant workers by charging them with being unpatriotic during a war with a foreign enemy.

The descendants of these white European working class "colonizers" who today are working longer hours for less pay and seeing their health benefits and pensions vanish, are, by the bizarre pro-9/11ers' reasoning, legitimate targets of 9/11-style terrorism. (Oh, excuse me, I said the word "terrorism." The pro-9/11ers don't like to use that word to describe the 9/11 attack because it is such a derogatory word. Too bad, the word fits perfectly. It means simply violence against civilians intended to scare the hell out of them for some political purpose.)

North American European settlers, "inheritors of a genocidal project," deserved 9/11, say the pro-9/11ers, because they want to exploit and plunder the rest of the world's population. How, then, can pro-9/11ers explain the following poll result?

An opinion poll conducted by the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes, and reported in the Chicago Tribune February 6, 2001, showed that 83% of Americans polled favored the United States joining an international program to cut world hunger in half and 75% said they would be willing to pay extra taxes to achieve this. Americans favor foreign aid for humanitarian reasons: 81% wanted either to maintain or increase aid to Africa, 77% wanted to reduce hunger and disease in poor countries, 76% to pay for child survival programs, 65% to fund the Peace Corps, and 61% to help women and girls in poor countries. In contrast, only 27% backed aid to Israel and Egypt and only 27% backed military aid in general. (Israel and Egypt each currently receive more US aid than any other countries.)

One striking fact about these numbers is that, when asked how much of the federal budget actually did go to foreign aid, half of those polled guessed it was more than 10%, when in fact it is only 1%. Also, 81% favored channeling aid through private charitable organizations or other direct means rather than through governments, apparently, according to the Tribune, "because they believe corrupt officials steal most of the money."

The pro-9/11ers' outlook, in which ordinary Americans are legitimate targets of terrorist violence because they are no different than their truly criminal rulers, is thus nothing but regurgitated capitalist, elitist, racist liberalism.

But it isn't just liberalism; it's hysterical liberalism. In its hysteria it is so disoriented and divorced from reality that it leads to actions which impede rather than advance its supposed aims. Thus, if the pro-9/11ers were not suffering from hysteria they would perceive that the only way to stop the American ruling class from committing its crimes is to organize a popular, mass movement with the revolutionary aims of not only stopping those crimes temporarily, but of removing from power the elite class that commits the crimes, and making a truly democratic and equal society shaped by the values of the vast majority of Americans and others all over the world. Hysterically supporting 9/11-style terrorist violence against ordinary Americans because one is out-of-control furious at U.S. rulers makes it impossible, obviously, to organize a popular mass movement, not only because virtually all Americans naturally disagree with this immoral stance but because most people around the world do too.

The problem with the pro-9/11ers isn't that they endorse violence. A popular mass movement very likely will need to use violence to win or to hold onto its victory. The question isn't violence, but violence against whom? When pro-9/11ers go through the motions of organizing a mass movement (by writing articles for a mass audience, showing films, holding demonstrations, waging campaigns for divestment from Israel, or whatever) they don't really expect or intend to persuade large numbers of people to go along with their (usually secretly held) pro-9/11 world view; their actual aim is to find and recruit other nuts who, like themselves, either because of guilt or elitism, are contemptuous of their fellow Americans.

But after the nuts have all been gathered up, what next? Well, the logic of the pro-9/11ers is obvious -- create more 9/11s. Call it "resistance." Go underground. Make and explode bombs to scare the hell out of Americans. This is of course exactly what the 1960s version of the pro-9/11ers did -- the "Weathermen" with their "Weather Underground." What an absolute gift the Weathermen were to LBJ and Nixon who were desperately trying to convince the American public that the only people who opposed the Vietnam War were nuts who hated ordinary Americans. What a stab in the back of the anti-war movement it was every time these so-called "radicals" exploded a bomb and their followers used the "Amerikkka" spelling to make white Americans believe they were viewed as the enemy by the entire anti-war movement. No wonder the mass media played the Weathermen up so much. The Weathermen were hysterical and delusional. They thought they were a threat to the American ruling class. But by rejecting the strategy of relying on ordinary Americans, they became objectively allies of America's rulers. We radicals today need a modern version of the Weathermen like we need a hole in the head!

Publicly Break With Pro-9/11 Hysterical Liberalism

Most radicals are not pro-911ers. But unless we make a clean and public break with the pro-9/11ers' ideology of hysterical liberalism we will be in danger of following their dangerous logic. They claim to be the "true" radicals and they try to guilt-trip the rest of us into adopting their crazy outlook. If we don't explicitly reject their logic, it's easy to be swept along by it, especially if one feels at all guilty for being better off than others who suffer even more at the hands of our rulers. (The pro-9/11ers, by the way, wouldn't express it this way; instead they would say that white Americans have a "white skin privilege" and actually benefit from living in our anti-democratic plutocracy! Guilt tripping is their stock in trade.)

If we yield to pro-9/11er logic, we're doomed. We will never build a mass democratic movement capable of winning anything. The pro-9/11ers undermine the very idea of building a democratic movement. For a movement to be democratic its leaders must have no hidden agenda and be open and honest about their goals and beliefs. Pro-9/11ers on the contrary do have a hidden agenda -- they support 9/11-style terror attacks on Americans. They cannot possibly be open and honest about this with the American public. They refuse to disclose their beliefs to the public. Worse, they want the rest of us to cover up for them, too! This is the opposite of building a democratic movement.

How pro-9/11 Hysterical Liberalism Sabotages Anti-Zionist Organizing in the U.S.

Lastly, the pro-9/11ers not only support 9/11-style terror against ordinary Americans; they also support that kind of terror (i.e. the suicide bombings) against ordinary people in Palestine/Israel who are not indigenous, based on the same wrong-headed ideology. The pro-9/11ers view ordinary Israelis through the same wrong lens through which they view ordinary Americans -- as people having the same values and interests as their ruling elite. Just as they make no distinction between ordinary Americans and U.S. rulers, pro-9/11ers make no distinction between ordinary Israelis and the Israeli rulers.

The Weathermen gave LBJ and Nixon a golden political gift, and likewise the suicide bombings give Zionist leaders like Sharon an equally golden gift -- the opportunity to pose as the protectors of Israelis against Palestinians aiming to kill any and all Israeli civilians. Zionist leaders love the way suicide bombings enable them to manipulate Israelis (and Americans) to fear Arabs, just as they love the way Hitler's Nazis made it possible for them to manipulate Jews to fear all Gentiles, and they love the way Stalin made it possible for them to manipulate Jews to think all talk of "equality and solidarity" is deceitful. Instead of being critical of the suicide bombings, however, the pro-9/11ers use the fact that many Israelis fear Arabs as an excuse for endorsing the suicide bombings. Thus they point to the anti-Arab racist views of many ordinary Israelis as if such views were innate to Europeans and immutable (the flip side of the Zionist lie that all Gentiles are innately and permanently anti-Semitic.) Pro-9/11ers fail to appreciate that populations of millions of people who have been won to racist views by lies and fears orchestrated by ruling elites do not like being lied to and made fearful, and can become allies with us against their ruling elites if we don't fall for the trap of helping their elites keep them under control. Were this not true, it would be impossible to explain how Jim Crow and other forms of racial discrimination in the United States which were once accepted as normal by many whites came to be seen by them as morally wrong.

If Martin Luther King, Jr., however, had advocated terror killings of random whites, of course, none of this progress would have happened. Even Malcolm X, for all his justified disagreements with King about non-violence, appreciated the wisdom of trying to win over whites; he spoke to an assembly of my college class (almost entirely white) just a few months before his death and the speech was memorable for the respectful and persuasive tone with which he addressed us, and the way he appealed to us on the basis of our sense of right and wrong. Sure, he advocated the right of blacks to meet violence with violence, and he was right on that score. But he wasn't crazy like the pro-9/11ers who are completely wrong about people. According to their ideas of innate and immutable racism, white Americans always have and always will want to kill native Americans and support Jim Crow, and ordinary Israeli Jews will always hate Palestinians. That is why pro-9/11ers frame the conflict in Palestine/Israel as an ethnic/racial war, and why they define resistance to Zionist oppression to mean waging a war against all people in Palestine/Israel who are not indigenous.

This is hysterical liberalism again. It can only lead to a future of perpetual ethnic war which will continue to strengthen the power of the anti-democratic elites (like Sharon and the Arab dictators) who use this war to control "their own" people. It can never lead to the kind of popular mass movement in the Middle East or the United States which, alone, has any chance of defeating the Israeli and American elites or of abolishing elite rule and creating of a society based on equality and solidarity and democracy across all racial and ethnic lines.

For radicals in the United States trying to build public opposition to U.S. support for Israel, the need for a democratic movement is crucial because Americans, to their credit, will not respect, never mind be persuaded by, people whom they perceive to be anti-democratic. The minimal requirement for a movement to be democratic is that its leaders are open and candid about their agenda, especially about key questions like who they believe is the enemy. But, since most Americans (again, to their credit) think the suicide bombing of random Israelis at bus stops and restaurants etc. is wrong, radicals who think the bombings are justified cannot be candid about their beliefs and thus cannot build a democratic movement among Americans against our government's support for Israel.

Any anti-Zionist organization that tries to accommodate pro-9/11 or pro-suicide bombing views can only end up committing political suicide by its failure to assure the public that it doesn't support terrorism. Pro-Israel forces tell Americans that the only realistic choices are either supporting Israel or supporting the suicide bombers. They use the suicide bombers as their chief argument. Failure to respond convincingly to the Zionist accusation that anti-Israel equals pro-terrorist cripples any anti-Zionist organization in the U.S. The natural, direct and persuasive response to this accusation is to say something like this: "The suicide bombings are wrong because it is wrong to kill civilians for the crimes of their government; but it is also wrong to use the suicide bombings as an excuse to support apartheid Israel, just as it would have been wrong in 1831 for people to have used the fact that Nat Turner's slave rebellion killed innocent white children as an excuse for supporting slavery." Failure to make such a reply or claiming to have no position on suicide bombings pro or con, can only make the public conclude that the organization must be sympathetic to terrorism because otherwise why doesn't it just come out and say it is not.

But until radicals thoroughly reject the pro-9/11ers' ideology, we cannot give this direct, honest and compelling answer to the Zionist accusation that we are pro-terrorist. The reason is that the pro-9/11ers don't agree that the suicide bombings are wrong and by their logic anyone who publicly says the bombings are wrong is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The pro-9/11ers of course cannot admit publicly what they really believe without discrediting themselves and all who are associated with them, so they typically refuse to give a direct answer publicly when questioned about suicide bombings, and they insist that nobody else give a compelling answer (like the one illustrated above) either. Pro-9/11ers thus help the pro-Israel propagandists just as the 1960s Weathermen helped LBJ and Nixon. We can either let the pro-9/11ers guilt trip us into accommodating their views and thereby let the pro-Israel propaganda succeed in painting us as terrorists and isolating us from public support, or we can reject the crazy logic of terrorism and build a democratic and mass movement against our government's support of Israel. Either we fight to win, or we shoot ourselves in the foot. The choice is ours.

The pro-9/11 outlook is an albatross hanging around the necks of genuine radicals. We need to discard this poisonous ideology and, when possible, persuade its misguided adherents to reject it because it is morally repugnant and, for that very reason, politically counter-productive in the extreme -- in fact suicidal.


1. For example, see the email exchange between me and "Mark" at in which we did not discuss 9/11 per se but we did discuss the parallel question of how anti-Zionists should respond to the Palestinian suicide bombings. Mark simply refuses to say anything critical about the killing of random unarmed Israeli civilians, despite my painstaking arguments against all of his excuses.
Ward Churchill,
3. see 4. from The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World War II, by John Spritzler, which cites quotations from Strike! by Jeremy Brecher

[This article is posted at ]

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What, if anything, should anti-Zionists say about the suicide bombings?

This is a recent email exchange between me and Mark about what we anti-Zionists should say, if anything, about the Palestinian suicide bombings. I believe our answer to this question can make or break us. Also, I believe that the reason this question is so controversial within the anti-Zionist movement is because there are two quite different ways of understanding what our anti-Zionist movement's fundamental outlook is, most importantly the basis on which we appeal to the public for support; these two different outlooks imply two very different answers to this question about suicide bombers. What follows is a very serious yet friendly discussion which sheds light on the two different positions Mark and I hold. Everything is in chronological order from first (top) to last (bottom), so it's really easy to read. Feel free to share this with others.


Hi Mark,

Recently I started working with a local anti-Zionist organization for two reasons: 1) they oppose apartheid Israel, not just the occupation; and 2) they do direct door-to-door type work in their largely working class community.

The key question this group faces (and which I think the genuinely anti-Zionist movement in general faces, once it handles the left-zionists) is whether it will base itself on 1) the idea of international working class solidarity and equality, or on 2) the essentially capitalist idea that society consists of competing groups (races, nations, ethnic groups, religious groups, individuals, etc.) and that one must choose which group to support and which to oppose (in our case it would be "Palestinians" vs. "Israelis" [or "Jews" or "Israeli Jews"]).

In the first view, conflicts between groups of people are fomented by elites for the purpose of maintaining elite social control (and the solution is a fundamental social revolution for real democracy.) In the second view, these conflicts arise out of innate differences in the values of, and contradictory "interests" of, competing groups (and the solution is for one group to win the war against the other.)

The significance of our stance on suicide bombings is that the first approach is incompatible with the idea that random Israeli Jews are legitimate targets to kill, whereas the second approach implies a positive (or non-critical) view of suicide bombings.

When the Zionists accuse us anti-Zionist people of being in support of the suicide bombings (which they do all the time in local letters to the editor, and the general U.S. mass media frames the question this way as the choice for Americans being either support for Israel or for its enemies who are suicide bombers), we need to respond in a way that resonates with the positive moral values that most people share -- we need to say that killing innocent people is wrong, but the fact that some Palestinians do this is no excuse for supporting the far greater wrong of apartheid Israel, just as it would have been wrong in 1831 to use Nat Turner's slave rebellion's killing of white children as an excuse to support slavery. My experience is that this line of reasoning is extremely compelling to most people.

In contrast, those who adhere to the second approach (choose your favorite group and kill people in the opposing group) realize that their views cannot be stated publicly because the public would reject them (rightly, in my opinion.) So they argue that "we have no right to criticize anything any Palestinian does." And this response obviously just confirms the Zionist accusations to be true, since the public would think, "They must support the suicide bombings because otherwise they would just come right out and say they don't."

This is why I posted my recent debate between me and "Mr. X" on this question.


Hi John,

I still feel that we are giving in to the Zionists when we attack suicide bombing. It's best to throw it back at them..what about Masada? the Warsaw uprising?

Weren't those suicidal actions defensible?

Once we start giving in to their criticisms of Palestinians, they will just bring up other issues, like the corruption in the PA (which they, the snakes, actually support)....

I think it is best not to respond to their bullying on this issue and simply state that the suicide bombings have nothing to do with divestment, which they don't..

It's best to state the truth, that the Zionists are bringing this up just to confuse the issue.

I would just say that those who drive the Palestinians to desperation have no right to complain about desperate tactics..and leave it at that, go back to Israeli war crimes, Nazi policies (I always bring up German words at every opportunity) and our responsibilities as funders of the whole enterprise.

Otherwise, we are on the defensive.


Hi Mark,

Thanks for stating your opinion on the sucide bombing question so clearly. Let me try to respond to some of the points you raise.

> suicide bombing. It's best to throw it back at them..what about Masada?
> the Warsaw uprising?
> Weren't those suicidal actions defensible?

Yes, but the suicidal aspect is not the controversial one. The controversy is about the target of the violence, not the means -- whether the target is innocent people or guilty people. In the case of the Warsaw uprising and Masada (presumably, my history knowledge there is very weak) the violence was directed against people who were violently attacking the Jews, and most people (myself included) would say that a violent response by the Jews was justified -- this is the tit-for-tat principle I defend in my previous post (the exchange with "Mr. X".)

> I think it is best not to respond to their bullying on this issue and
> simply state that the suicide bombings have nothing to do with
> divestment, which they don't..

Yes, the suicide bombings have nothing to do with the rightness of divestment. This is the point I make when I make the comparison to slavery and the Nat Turner revolt killing innocent white children, that the latter was no excuse for supporting the former.

But, for this argument to be taken seriously by most people requires our acknowledgment that we agree with them that killing innocent people is wrong. Until we establish that we are on the same moral plane as the people we are conversing with (whom we are trying to persuade) they will not respect us, nevermind be persuaded by us.

Calling the Zionist arguments "bullying" is inaccurate. Bullying would be the right term if the Zionists said, "Stop opposing Israel or we'll break your kneecaps." The Zionist arguments are, on the contrary, meant to influence the general public, not to scare us. Their arguments are skillful attempts to portray anti-Zionists as nothing more than bigoted, immoral anti-Semites. If we don't establish the fact that we share the basic moral values of the people we are trying to influence, and if we thereby allow the Zionists to convince the public that they -- the Zionists -- are the ones who share the public's moral values, then we are lost.

I hate seeing the anti-Zionists get clobbered all the time because they are ideologically incapable (either because of guilt tripping by the Mr. X's or agreement with the Mr. X's) of speaking forthrightly about suicide bombings.

> It's best to state the truth, that the Zionists are bringing this up
> just to confuse the issue.

Yes, and they succeed because we let them. We play right into their hands when we fail to be critical of suicide bombings.

> I would just say that those who drive the Palestinians to desperation
> have no right to complain about desperate tactics..and leave it at that,
> go back to Israeli war crimes, Nazi policies (I always bring up German
> words at every opportunity) and our responsibilities as funders of the
> whole enterprise.
> Otherwise, we are on the defensive.

Yes, those who drive the Palestinians to desperation have no right to complain about desperate tactics. I could not agree more.

But those who are engaged in trying to fight those who drive the Palestinians to desperation need to build a mass opposition to apartheid Israel and THIS DOES require being critical of some things that some Palestinians do. Our silence only helps the Zionists stay on top. Think about it. If you were in charge of Zionist propaganda in the U.S., which would you rather see: the anti-Zionists remain silent about the suicide bombings, or the anti-Zionists saying they are wrong, but apartheid Israel needs to be defeated anyway? I think it would be naive to guess the latter.


Hi John,
I still think it is bullying for the Zionist to try and change the subject from divestment to suicide bombings,and we should not let them.

As far as 'innocent' people go, point out that the Israelis routinely kill small children, deny access to hospitals, etc.

In other words, throw it back on them. Always maintain the offensive, and don't let them change the subject.

Hi Mark,

My comments are below in CAPS.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark"
To: "John Spritzler" <>
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 2:04 PM

> I still think it is bullying for the Zionist to try and change the
> subject from divestment to suicide bombings,and we should not let them.

> As far as 'innocent' people go, point out that the Israelis routinely
> kill small children, deny access to hospitals, etc.

> In other words, throw it back on them. Always maintain the offensive,
> and don't let them change the subject.


Hi John,

Finally, to a US audience, I would also just say, " We don't control what happens in Palestine, but we do control our investments..."

And then go back to Israeli Nazi policies, war crimes, Rachel Corrie,....

And everything else they would rather not talk about..

Hi Mark,

OK, I guess we've beaten this dog to death. If it turns into a particularly relevant issue in your work, keep this discussion in mind and maybe it will be worth re-visiting it.

All the best.


Hi John,

See my last message. I think engaging in an extensive exchange with Zionist time-wasters on an issue that we here in the United States, regardless of our position, CANNOT HAVE ANY REAL IMPACT ON...

just plays into their hands, by letting the Zionists change the subject.

A brief comment on it, and then go back to attacking Zionist policies, which objectively are far worse than any suicide bombing.

Debating with the Zionists about ANYTHING is almost always a waste of time.

FInally I don't believe that most people expect us to have an answer to suicide bonbing.

Give people credit, they know we can't control that, and they also know that Israeli policies are largely to blame for it.


Hi Mark,

I agree, a brief comment to the public (not to the Zionists) about the suicide bombings is all that we need to make. Two sentences would suffice. Something like: "We think it is wrong to kill innocent people for the crimes of their government, and we therefore regret the suicide bombings in Israel. It is also wrong, however, to use the suicide bombings as an excuse for supporting the even greater crime of apartheid Israel, just as it would have been wrong for people in 1831 to have used the killing of innocent white children by Nat Turner's slave rebellion as an excuse for supporting slavery."

The lengthy debates on this topic, however, have not been between us and the Zionists (which would indeed be a complete waste of our time), but within our own camp, for the purpose of deciding what two simple sentences we should use to respond to the questions and accusations we receive on this subject.

As you say, people know we can't control the suicide bombings. But they also know (or should know, because we should be saying this if we aren't already) that we are trying to build a popular mass movement to challenge (even overthrow) the ruling elite in the U.S. because we think the values and objectives and policies of our ruling elite are wrong in many ways, of which their support for Israel is only one of the most egregious examples, and it will take such a movement to really stop U.S. support for Israel (among other things.) What people want to know about this movement we are trying to build, before they decide to support or join it, is what we're all about -- what is our basic morality: if we succeed in gaining power will we make things better or just replace one evil with another (as the Communist experience has made people suspect.) Therefore, we need people to know if we're a movement that believes in attacking ordinary people because of the crimes of their government, or not. People, to their everlasting credit, care about such things.


Hi John,

Well, yes, people will want to know our basic morality.

For me, our basic morality is opposing imperial policies.

Therefore, we don't criticize outside of our own circles what people do to resist imperialism. We didn't start the violence, Israeli policies kill many more innocent people than all sucide bombings that will ever occur combined...

My two sentences would be this: Israeli violence, both military and settler, kills many more innocent people than all the suicide bobings that will ever occur there. And how innocent are armed racist settlers and their families? How innocent was Baruch Goldstein?

OK, three sentences....

We won't build a movement by addressing any Zionists or their dupes. People on our side are not going to be that obsessed with a few suicide bombings.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Focusing on Israel's occupation: shrewd tactic or colossal blunder?

Dear Friends,

Many people who speak and write forcefully about Israeli oppression of Palestinians -- world recognized names such as Uri Avneri and Tanya Reinhart, and local personages such as (in the Boston area) Dr. Alice Rothchild -- choose to focus exclusively on the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to ignore the apartheid nature of Israel-proper.

I had occasion to gain some insight into one version of this point of view when I went to hear Alice Rothchild give a talk at the Harvard Law school April 27. Dr. Rothchild, a gynecologist, has written Op-Eds for the Boston Globe and her recent talk was a powerful indictment of Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the occupied (post 1967, not post 1948, that is) territories, featuring slides of her recent trip there, with emphasis on Palestinian efforts to create a modern medical care system and Israeli attacks on such efforts. The audience was only twelve people so I was able to ask a couple of questions after her formal talk.

My first "question" was a comment that the Israeli crimes she described so movingly are justified by Israel (especially by its propaganda in the United States) on the grounds that they are necessary to ensure the security of a Jewish state. I said that therefore we need to challenge that propaganda argument by saying why a Jewish state in Palestine is a terrible idea. Later, I followed up by asking, "So Alice, do you think there should be a Jewish state in Palestine?"

Dr. Rothchild's response to my first question was that the occupation wasn't really about security for Israel-proper, as evidenced by the fact that the notorious checkpoints make life miserable for most Palestinians but not for the ones who, if determined, can still get into Israel and set off bombs. I'll discuss why I think this answer is missing the forest for the trees, but it did score her a debater's point for sure.

Her answer to my second question (did she support a Jewish state?) surprised me. She began by saying that in her travels throughout the occupied territories she never heard Palestinians talk about whether there should be Jewish state, only that they wanted the occupation to end. She said the question of a Jewish state was therefore not important to talk about now, and that she did not want to talk about it. This didn't surprise me because I suspected that she was a "left Zionist" who opposed the occupation in order to make a Jewish state more immune from criticism, and that she would therefore say anything to avoid criticizing the existence of a Jewish state per se. But what she said next did surprise me. She said that in her heart of hearts she thought theocratic states of any religion could not be democratic, that this included a Jewish state, and that it would be better if Israel, as a Jewish state, did not exist.

Why, then, does Dr. Rothchild not want to talk publicly about how a Jewish state is an anti-democratic state and not a good idea? Well, I cannot read her mind so I won't even try. But let's look at her arguments.

First, Dr. Rothchild says Palestinians don't talk about whether there should be a Jewish state, only about the occupation. I don't doubt that she is reporting her experiences honestly. But think about it. In the middle of a terrible rainstorm, do people say things like, "I really wish it would be a beautiful sunny day today."? People just don't go around saying out loud that they want something when they have no hope that it is possible, no matter how much they want it.

Everyone from Yasser Arafat and Clinton in the past to Mahmoud Abbas and Bush, not to mention Sharon, today, have worked to lower the expectations of Palestinians to the point where they are being told to consider themselves lucky if they get a postage stamp-size statelet to call their own. Palestinians probably didn't tell Dr. Rothchild that they wanted an end to the Jewish state because she probably didn't ask them the question directly. It would be as unlikely for them to spontaneously call for an end to the Jewish state as it would be for an American to spontaneously announce that he or she thinks we need a revolution here in the U.S. (because although most Americans do indeed believe we need a revolution, as one can ascertain by making a practice of asking them this question, they also believe revolution in the U.S. is impossible, so why even talk about it.)

Dr. Rothchild's claim that Palestinians only care about the occupation is therefore not credible, especially in light of the enormous evidence to the contrary, namely the passionate desire of Palestinians to obtain their right of return to their home towns and villages inside Israel-proper, a right which, if granted, would, as everybody knows, mean the imminent end of Israel's Jewish majority and status as a Jewish state.

But what about Dr. Rothchild's point that the occupation isn't really about ensuring the security of the Jewish state? There are two separate issues here.

First, whether it is true or not, Israeli propaganda most certainly does claim that it is true, and if we accept the premise that there should indeed be a Jewish state in Palestine and that it should be secure, then our only remaining argument against the occupation is that the occupation makes Israel less secure rather than more secure.

I know some people do make this argument. They say Israel would be more secure if it had a friendly Palestinian state on its borders rather than an angry population of stateless refugees bristling under Israeli occupation. But this argument would only make sense if Israel were something that it is not. Israel is not a normal state; it is an apartheid state that insists on having a Jewish majority. The present Jewish majority was created by ethnic cleansing in 1947-9. It requires the denial today of every individual Palestinian's human right to return to his or her country. It also requires that the one million non-Jews inside Israel-proper be viewed not as equal citizens but as threats to the Jewish state who must be controlled with discriminatory legislation and practices aimed at making them want to leave. This is why Israel's realistic leaders like Sharon know that friendly relations between Palestinians and the government of Israel will never exist, regardless of whether there is a Palestinian statelet next door to Israel.

Additionally, Israeli leaders also know that in order to control their own Jewish population -- a population that tends to conduct huge strikes (like the general strike of 1997 which virtually shut the nation down) when they aren't pre-occupied by fear of Palestinians -- it is necessary to keep Jews scared to death of Palestinians so they will view their Israeli rulers as protectors. Peaceful relations with Palestinians is just not on the agenda for the likes of Ariel Sharon. If those who talk about peace between Israel and a Palestinian state also talked about the need for a fundamental social revolution inside Israel to make such a peace possible by abolishing the entire apartheid project of a Jewish state, then they could be taken a bit more seriously. But these "land for peace" types don't even want to discuss the apartheid nature of Israel, never mind talk about abolishing it.

The second issue involved in Dr. Rothchild's claim that the occupation isn't really about ensuring the security of a Jewish state is that she is wrong. It is. Yes, determined Palestinians can get past the checkpoints to explode their bombs inside Israel. And yes, much of the cruelty of the occupation -- the gratuitous humiliation and attacks on ordinary Palestinians just trying to survive -- is, on the practical level of physical security for Israel, pointless. But this misses the point.

Elites know very well that the way to protect bad is with worse. Have we not had our hands burned sufficiently by lesser evilism here in the U.S. to understand this? If the occupation does nothing else than to focus world anger at the occupation itself, instead of the apartheid nature of Israel, then it will have done its job of ensuring the security of Israel more than any checkpoint or "Wall" ever could. The very fact that Alice Rothchild gave a public talk and (except for my forcing the subject) did not want to even discuss the problem of Israel-proper, but only the occupation, shows how effectively the occupation works to ensure the security of the Jewish state.

To those "left Zionists" in the "land for peace" crowd, all I can say is your defense of apartheid is morally repugnant. But to the Alice Rothchilds who apparently think it is a shrewd strategy to focus only on the occupation even though they agree that an apartheid Jewish state is a very bad thing, I say this: Don't you see that this is exactly what Ariel Sharon and company are hoping you will do? Also, don't you understand that the people you are trying to persuade are far more likely to be persuaded if they see the conflict truthfully as being about whether an apartheid theocracy should exist or not, rather than untruthfully as a morally ambiguous contest between the victims of the Holocaust who only want a safe place to live in the world versus Palestinian claims to statehood?


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Palestine/Israel -- 3 articles, 2 choices

Dear Friends,

Here are three articles below that I have deliberately juxtaposed. There is much merit in all of them. But they disagree about some important things too.

The first (Israel: A Jews-only state, with parts 1-3 linked below) describes the apartheid nature of Israel in much detail. It also ascribes this apartheid nature, in large part at least, to inherent aspects of Judaism. The implication is that ordinary Jews will never oppose Zionism.

The second one, Do Jews Really Rule the World, by myself, looks at how Zionism's grip on Jews is indeed strong now, but waning, and historically not at all a permanent fact of life.

The third article, in its entirety below (but its link to the website is fascinating) reports an event which, according to the logic of the first article, could not have happened. I have been told that the Orthodox Jews of Neturei Karta (they are the ones who are truly native to Palestine, from before the Zionist immigration) actually have very reasonable non-religious reasons for opposing Zionism, but the article and their other publications seem to emphasize religious dogma (which moves me not at all.)

If you do take the time to read these articles, I suggest that you think about what they imply regarding the answer to the question: What is to be done?

We are confronting in Palestine/Israel an ethnic war that has been deliberately fomented by elites to control the populations of the Middle East. The material and psychological condition of Jews after WWII gave U.S. and British elites (and of course the Zionist leaders who previously held little influence among most Jews) exactly what they needed to manipulate Jews into thinking that what was objectively a ferocious attack on Palestinians was instead a desperate attempt to make Jewry safe in the world. Ordinary Jews have been won to believing a Big Lie, and their Zionist ruling class promotes this lie because it enables them to strengthen their power over Jews as a ruling class ("in a state of their own" which was their dream since the earliest days of the Zionist movement.) This victory for Zionist leaders means that ordinary Jews in Israel get to live in a nightmare of insecurity and fear.

The Zionist attack on Palestinians did exactly what U.S. rulers have always wanted -- it made Palestinians and more generally Arabs boil in anger at Israelis. From the elite perspective, ordinary Arabs will always be extremely angry because local and foreign elites, in collusion with each other, enrich themselves with enormous oil wealth (and other natural resources as well as the labor of their people) but keep the Arab masses in poverty and powerlessness. The elites know they cannot prevent Arabs from being angry; but if Israel does its job then the anger will be deflected and the elites will stay in power. Some people say that U.S. elites would be better off promoting a peaceful resolution because then Arabs wouldn't hate the U.S. so much. But if there were peace in the Middle East, Arabs would be able to think about things other than defending against vicious Israeli attacks; there would be huge rising expectations among the masses for making a more equal and democratic society, and this would lead to revolutions. Not something U.S. elites are keen on.

What is to be done? There are two ways to respond to an elite-fomented ethnic war:

1) Pick your favorite side and join the war. Never criticize anything "your" side does if it purports to be an attack on the "other" side. Make no distinction between people on the other side who are innocent versus guilty.


2) Expose the elite's scheme; use violence against those who attack innocent people violently; use words to oppose those who attack innocent people with words; don't attack people who aren't attacking innocent people, oppose those who do, and try to help the innocent people understand what is really going on so they will reject "their own" leaders who promote the ethnic war.

The first response cannot make a better world. The second one can.

  1. Israel: A Jews-only state- Part I
  2. Israel: A Jews-only state- Part II
  3. Israel: A Jews-only state - Part III by John Lynch


New York City, NY April 29, 2005.

If you happened to be passing by the Israeli Consulate yesterday afternoon you most surely would have been shocked by the unusual sight that greeted your eyes: a group of over 10,000 Orthodox Jews who were protesting against the actual existence of the state of Israel. Behind them hung large posters showing the beating of Orthodox Jews by Israeli police while they were protesting the desecration of antiquated Jewish cemeteries which are in the path of a planned highway expansion.

The shocking sight didn’t stop there. When you studied their signs and looked at the picture posters a shocking new world was revealed. Tens of thousands of religious Jews are protesting in the streets of Jerusalem against the state of Israel stating that the state of Israel, according to the Torah (that is the Jewish teachings) is illegitimate. They state that since the time that God sent the Jews into exile with the destruction of the temple two thousand years ago the Jews were forbidden to have their own state and that the whole concept of Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel was formed by irreligious Jews contrary to the Torah and the opinion of almost all of the Rabbinical leaders of Judaism worldwide.

The posters showed beaten and bloodied Rabbis sprawled on the ground cowering before Israeli police with stun guns and batons in their hands. Other posters showed old and young men alike being dragged on the ground and being piled into paddy wagons to be taken to Israeli prisons. Still other graphic pictures showed the excavated graves and bones spread over the ground; quite a shocking sight.

The signs that the protesters held read:

  • Israel has no right to rule over any part of the Holy Land
  • Jews Mourn 56 years existence of “Israel”
  • Zionists do not represent Jews
  • Let our Sages rest in Peace
  • Israeli Government: Grave Digging is inhumane, disgraceful and shameful
  • Zionism stole the name of Jews
  • Oh No! Zionism will never succeed
  • Rabbinical Leaders fought Zionism since its inception
  • True Jews will never recognize Israel
  • Israel does not represent world Jewry
  • Dissolve the Zionist State
  • Authentic Rabbis always opposed Zionism and the State of Israel

Other demonstrations were held in Montreal, Canada and London, England.

For further information and photographs of these activities visit our website at

Visit our web site at

Neturei Karta USA

Critique of HaCohen's "The Palestinian Gandhi"

Dear Friends,

The article by the Israeli, Ran HaCohen, at the above url is very interesting. It describes how residents of the West Bank Palestinian village of Bil'in, which is being destroyed by the abominable apartheid "Wall," staged a Martin Luther King, Jr. - style non-violent demonstration against the Wall. The Israeli Defense Force (ie military) violently attacked the demonstrators, in response to the "provocation" of rocks thrown by "Palestinians" at the soldiers. The only rock-throwers, however, were Israeli undercover cops.

What is the significance of this? Ran HaCohen suggests that the significance relates to the question of whether Palestinians should use violence or not. He writes near the beginning of his article:

"And though international law and conventions unambiguously acknowledge the right of occupied peoples to use violence against their oppressors – just like guerrilla fighters did under Nazi occupation – the question whether violence or nonviolence serves their cause better is for the Palestinians to decide. There are, of course, several convincing arguments in favor of abandoning the violent resistance, most notably the huge benefits that Israel draws from portraying the Palestinians as 'terrorists' to legitimate the use of its overwhelming military superiority against them."

And he concludes:

"So the problem is the perpetrators, not the victims: it's Israel, not the Palestinians. The Palestinians don't have to watch the Gandhi film. They fought the First Intifada with stones (1987-1993) and were answered with Israeli bullets. They fought the Second Intifada (2000-2004) with weapons and were answered with Israeli tanks, Caterpillar bulldozers, and airplanes. And they now start a Third Intifada, a popular, unarmed, nonviolent struggle against the strangulating fence, which is answered with Israeli undercover soldiers who throw stones and want us to believe the Palestinians have done it."

Ran HaCohen's point (I think) is that the Palestinians are damned if they do (use violence) and damned if they don't (use violence.)

I think HaCohen's framework (violence versus non-violence) is flawed. When HaCohen remarks upon "the huge benefits that Israel draws from portraying the Palestinians as 'terrorists' to legitimate the use of its overwhelming military superiority against them" he is referring to the suicide bombings that kill random Israelis at bus stops and so forth, in other words violence directed at people widely perceived to be innocent non-combatants.

But Palestinian violence directed at the IDF or at armed Israeli civilians who violently attack Palestinians is, in contrast, widely perceived to be violence directed against people who are guilty of committing violence against Palestinians. Even ordinary Israelis (be they pro-Zionist or not) can tell the difference here. The former kind of violence makes them personally frightened of Palestinians and easily controlled by their Zionist leaders who claim to be their protectors. The latter kind of violence makes them wonder, "Why do the Palestinians fight the Israeli government so hard?" (just as American GI's in Vietnam and the American public started wondering the same question when they saw that the peasants there were willing to die fighting the American military invasion), and eventually figure out that it is because Palestinians are fighting against oppression, justifiably.

The political consequences of the former type of Palestinian violence and of the latter type of Palestinian violence are diametrically opposite each other. The former strengthens the Zionist rulers; the latter weakens them.

So the pertinent question isn't "violence versus non-violence." The real question is very different; it is "Who, exactly, do Palestinians consider to be their enemy -- all Jews who live in Israel? Or the Israeli ruling class and those who commit violence against Palestinians in its behalf?" How Palestinians answer this question will determine whether they are viewed positively like the French Resistance in WWII, or negatively as "terrorists." Violence in the abstract has nothing to do with it one way or the other.

Just as in the past when elites strengthened their power over ordinary people by fomenting racial or ethnic or national war (for example, the British in Ireland using Protestants in Ulster, the former Communist rulers in Yugoslavia sending para-military squads to attack Croats in the name of Serbs and vice versa, and even WWII as I wrote about in my book) elites are trying to control the people of the Middle East by fomenting ethnic war between Arabs and Jews.

Instead of para-military squads attacking civilians in the name of the other ethnic group as happened in Yugoslavia, we have the Zionists viciously attacking Palestinians in the name of the Jews, not just for a few years but for decades and decades. The Zionist leaders obviously hope that (and scheme to ensure that) Palestinians will target the entire Jewish population of Israel and be seen as "terrorists" by not only Israelis but the whole world. By the same token, the Zionist leaders obviously hope that Palestinians will not make it clear to the world and to Jews in Israel that their enemy is not ordinary Israelis but rather the apartheid racist Zionist project and those who enforce it violently.

I am not naive about the extent to which Jews in Israel (and elsewhere) have adopted the anti-Arab racist views that their rulers have tried so hard and for so long to instill. But those views are not carved in stone, and the combination of a crystal clear differentiation between ordinary Jews versus those who violently enforce the racist character of apartheid Israel when it comes to Palestinian violence, combined with world-wide condemnation of apartheid Israel manifested by, among other things, the refusal to purchase or even handle Israeli products like workers refuse to handle other scab products, can maximize opposition inside Israel to the Zionist regime, maximize world wide support for Palestinians, and win. Failure to do these things is a recipe for losing. Palestinians are not "damned if they do and damned if they don't." There is a way to win when the enemy is using the strategy of fomenting an ethnic war -- publicly identify the strategy and counter it directly.

Once the crucial political strategic question (who are our friends or potential friends and who are our enemies) is settled, the tactical question of when and how to use violence becomes a secondary one to be determined by the people directly involved. What confuses this otherwise simple issue, however, is the existence in public discourse of something called the "philosophy of non-violence."

The problem with the philosophy of non-violence -- a huge and fatal problem! -- is that the philosophy is based on the notion that one succeeds not by overcoming one's opponent by force, but by persuasion -- by appealing to the positive moral values of one's opponent, using non-violent tactics (like allowing oneself to be dragged away to jail) that demonstrate the strength of one's convictions and thereby cause one's opponent to doubt the rightness of his attacks.

The problem is that our opponent -- be it the Zionist ruling class of Israel or the U.S. ruling class or any other -- has a morality it believes in very deeply, a morality that says they must rule or else the world will go to hell in a handbasket. These oppressors don't lose any sleep at night committing terrible atrocities to stay in power. (Those who point to Gandhi's so-called victory in India are mistaken; it was not really a victory, since it didn't remove the oppressive elites from power at all: witness what's going on in India today.)

The philosophy of non-violence only helps oppressors because it suggests that when people fight oppression with violence they are somehow morally wrong or impure, or that they'll become "just another power hungry gang." This is what our rulers tell us over and over again in lots of different ways: don't fight back, it can only make things worse. We need to keep in mind that ordinary people want a world shaped by the values of equality and solidarity and democracy, and they want this whether they have a gun in their hand or not. Elites want us to aim our guns at each other and not at them; as long as we're clear who we're really fighting, guns in the hands of ordinary people is a good thing, not a dangerous thing. Let's try to promote this clarity so we can win.

As always, I would like to hear readers' thoughts on this and will share them with you.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Comment on Seabrook's "We dodged the real issue"

Dear Friends,

Here is a very interesting, insightful (and short!!) article (We Dodged the Real Issue) about the conflict between advocates and opponents of global capitalism, with a little critical comment by me.
We dodged the real issue
Jeremy Seabrook
Friday May 6, 2005


It is often claimed that electoral apathy in the western democracies comes from the absence of any big issue separating mainstream parties. But no such consensus exists globally. Western countries may shrink from acknowledging it, but the world is in the grip of an epic confrontation between those who believe in the capacity of capitalism to bring plenty, peace and progress to all humanity, and those equally convinced that only disengagement from its destructive dynamic offers the hope of planetary survival.

The ideological divide cuts through traditional political allegiances. On one side are the supporters of corporate interests, unreconstructed socialists and many "progressives". They point to the conquest of disease, increasing longevity, the comforts of life extended to more people than ever before. On the other are the anti-globalisers, as well as an unknown number of the world's poor, who ask only for sufficiency and security. They have some uncomfortable allies, particularly traditionalists whose faith forbids humanity to defy God by interfering with the integrity of creation. In defence of their position, they cite the sicknesses of excess, the contamination of the resource base, and the baleful impact of industrialism upon climate, ecosystems and biodiversity. [full text at,3858,5187265-103677,00.html ]


In the middle of this article, Seabrook writes, "The war of these ideologies has long been engaged. If it remained apparently subordinate for so long, this is because conflict within western societies - local contests between capital and labour - was a more pressing concern. But with the settlement of that old dispute, the assault upon indigenous peoples, the self-reliant and other bearers of ancient and sustainable life-ways has been renewed. These are being compelled into the 'benefits of civilisation'."

It is true that in the Marxist framework (which I reject) the contest between capital and labour is viewed as a conflict of opposing self-interests, with each side wanting the same thing -- to maximize its material wealth; hence in this framework, Seabrook is correct. But if, as I believe, the conflict between capital and labor is essentially a conflict between working class versus elite cultures, over what values should shape society (inequality, competition, top-down control versus equality and solidarity and democracy) and a conflict about whether the purpose of human life is to increase economic production or to create relations of trust and mutual support among people, then the conflict between capital and labor is in fact the conflict between world capitalism and its opponents that Seabrook is talking about, and that conflict divides ordinary people from their elites within advanced nations like the U.S. just as it divides the world's poor from the world's elite.

How we see this question has enormous consequences for how we approach our fellow citizens in developed nations like the U.S., Canada, Australia etc. when we discuss Palestine/Israel or any other similar issue. In the Marxist framework, we view our fellow citizens as people with a stake in (and with values supporting) world capitalism and in the other framework, which I think is true, we view them as people whose values and sense of what it means to be a human being are attacked everyday by capitalism. In the former view, we define ourselves as an "enlightened minority" wheras in the latter view we define ourselves as champions of the great majority of our fellow citizens. The former view prevents us from winning; the latter view makes it possible.

Since Seabrook discusses the role of religion in this conflict, I encourage you to read some articles I have written about religion, also in this context: and .

--John Spritzler