ZIONISM DURING THE HOLOCAUST: The Weaponisation of Memory in the Service of State and Nation.
Reviewed by Alan Dent
Reviewed by Alan Dent
Greenstein had to crowd-fund to self-publish. He kicked off his
campaign on a Saturday to give it at least a day’s grace. In no time
it was taken down. The Israeli State never sleeps in its
determination to prevent free discussion of its policies. Of course,
this book will be subject to the calumny of anti-Semitism and the
wider public will likely never know of its existence; but it’s the
long game that matters. Moshé Machover remarks in the introduction
that much of the material presented here has appeared elsewhere.
Greenstein’s genius is to have absorbed it, amassed it and organised
it into a convincing argument: Zionists of the stripe of those who
founded and have governed Israeli were always more interested in a
Jewish State than Jews. To put it another way, always more
interested in the State than people. All States, Noam Chomsky says,
are horrible. The world is not short of nasty States and Israel’s
may not be the worst, but it operates apartheid, was established on
myths (as Flapan and Pappé have brilliantly shown), is armed to the
teeth, including with nuclear weapons, and now in the hands of
neo-fascists. All the same, the propaganda system ensures that
people in the democracies believe the Jewish State is the only way
to keep Jews safe, that the Middle East “conflict” is six of one and
half a dozen of the other. Greenstein’s study, meticulously based on
the evidence, demolishes the lies, manipulations and false thinking
which justify a State whose behaviour towards the Palestinians has,
tragically, much in common with the Nazi’s treatment of Jews, the
disabled, communists, socialists, trade unionists, Romanies,
homosexuals, anyone who diverged from their impossibly narrow
conception of who could be considered worthy.
Has Zionism always been the unitary doctrine of Jewish nationalism?
Chomsky points out that when he was growing up a Jewish State wasn’t
the official position of the Zionists. That came about only in
December 1942 with the Biltmore programme. Chomsky’s parents were,
more or less, in the tradition of Asha Ginsberg, a peripheral figure
of course. The notion of a
Jewish State was advanced definitively by Herzl in his Der
Judenstaat (1895); but Herzl embodies the contradiction at the
heart of the Zionist project: theocracy
and democracy are oil and water. His 1902 novel Der Altneuland,
depicts a very different form of society from that embodied in the
earlier work: a liberal, bourgeois democracy of the kind he admired
where religion would play no part in public life and all citizens
would enjoy equality before the law. Herzl was a very confused man.
In his theoretical work, he dissolved the terrible mental conflict
between theocracy and democracy by dismissing democracy, in the
novel by side-lining theocracy. All
the same, Der Judenstaat has had a significant influence on
It’s interesting that Greenstein uses the term “The Holocaust”,
though it’s a more inclusive term than Shoah.
In Part Three, Zionism
After the Holocaust, sub-section Why Did the Holocaust
Grow in Importance as Time Elapsed? he discusses the
well-commented suppression of the Nazi Genocide in US and European
circles after 1945. The Soviets had good propaganda reasons to
highlight fascism and the death camps, but as the Germans were now
allies of the US and the so-called “West” discretion was called for.
Prior to 1967, The Holocaust, capitalised, virtually didn’t exist.
The Six-Day War brought the change. The Nazi death machine was a
quarter of a century in the past, Israel had proven itself. The US
saw it as the chief means of defending its interests in the region,
and its interest was oil. If the Middle East produced only olives
and oranges, Israel wouldn’t have soaked up dollars. The Holocaust
has been hi-jacked by what Finkelstein correctly terms an industry.
Children in UK schools learn on memorial day about the death of 5.1
million Jews (the figure is Hilberg’s) but seldom about the 2.5
million Polish Catholics who perished. Maybe the Nazi Genocide is a
less loaded term than The Holocaust. There is no International Nazi
Genocide Remembrance Association, nor any floppy putative definition
of what Nazi Genocide might mean which is applied to anyone who
thinks Palestinians are human.
The book is divided into three parts, eighteen chapters and each
chapter into a number of subsections (161). It’s very competently
organised. If you’re interested in the Kasztner Trial or the boycott
of Nazi Germany, the page numbers are at your fingertips. It might
be recommended to read the conclusion first. It’s an excellent
summary of the book’s arguments and with it fresh in your mind, the
evidence serves as confirmation. In the same way, it might not be a
bad idea to take a look at the index and look up some of the less
familiar names. There is a remarkably large cast of characters. The
book works both as a readable set of arguments and as a reference.
Part One looks at Zionism prior to the Nazi Genocide. Greenstein’s
technique is, principally, to make his argument through citation. On
the first few pages, for example, there are footnotes referring to
Yehoshua, Abram Leon, Robert Silverberg, Alan Taylor, Stuart Cohen,
Francis Nicosia and so on. In response to Dreyfus, Herzl wrote in
his diary: “…I achieved a freer attitude towards
anti-Semitism…which I now began to understand historically
and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness and futility of
trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.” There is much in the book to
confirm the long and disreputable history of Zionist anti-Semitism.
Herzl admired the fiercely anti-Semitic Drumont who worked hard to
discredit Dreyfus. What this points up is the curious mentality
which establishes a distinction between diaspora Jews, seen by
Bardichevsky and others as “not human” and a putative reconstituted
Jew, returned to humanity through nationalism. Greenstein is
clear-eyed about the sources of German fascism and anti-Semitism and
of Zionist nationalism. He understands that looking for an
explanation of the former in Hitler’s psychopathology is a fool’s
errand. Hitler’s desire for Lebensraum was traditional
capitalist colonialism; his fascism, ie veneration of power and
denigration of law, democracy and consensus, the logic of the
centralising capitalist State. He comprehends the phenomena as
political and identifies the essential culprit as capitalism. In the
same way, Zionism is a political doctrine which derives much of its
content and force from capitalism’s ideology.
In this regard, his discussion of Labour Zionism, recognises the
misnomer: it was never a movement of international labour
solidarity. On the contrary, it sought collusion between Israeli
workers and capitalists and enmity between Israeli workers and
Arabs. Golda Meir described Histadrut as a “colonising agency”. Ben
Gurion originated the gorgeous slogan “from class to nation”. Class
struggle was distorted into struggle against Arab workers. This
links to the notion of Israel as a Jewish Democratic State. It can’t
be both. As Israel since 1948 has shown, whenever the nationalism
and democracy come into conflict, it’s nationalism which prevails.
Universalism isn’t a denial of the nation but the aspiration to
equality among nations. Nationalism, in its extreme form, which is
what prevails in Israel, is nothing less than a denial of common
Greenstein argues that Israel is “destined to become the home of a
large majority of the world’s Jews.” There are reasons to believe
so. The population growth is something like 1.7%. Immigration is
steady. Yet according to the Berman Jewish Data Bank at Stanford
University, in 2020 the respective eligible Jewish populations of
Israel and the U.S. were 6,778,000 and 12,000,000. The national
official populations, on the other hand, are claimed to be 6,980,000
and 6,543, 820. Disputes about how to calculate are entrenched, but
it’s worth wondering how many of the Jews in America are likely to
move to Israel. Why would they as they are flourishing? Of course,
assimilation will do some of the work as the marriage figures for
the U.S reveal; but making Israel the home for most of the world’s
Jews has always been a problem for Zionism, as it should be. Why
shouldn’t Jews live where they like? It’s a much re-iterated and
obvious point that wanting all Jews to be in one place is
On two occasions in 1941 Lehi (The Stern Gang) approached the Nazis offering to fight on
their side in return for help in establishing a Jewish State. Lehi also made overtures to Mussolini, as did Weizmann. The Jerusalem Agreement of 1940, between Lehi and the Italian fascists, asked for help in defeating the British in Palestine, the pay-off being that the terrorist organisation would employ “all the means in its power to liquidate the Jewish Diaspora” though the scheme was scuppered by rivalry between Lehi and the Irgun. These facts are not disputed by serious historians, yet how many people have the least idea about this kind of collusion?
Any comparison between Zionism and Nazism is dismissed by Israel’s apologists as anti-Semitism. Alan Cunningham, High Commissioner in Palestine for three years from 1945, wrote in 1948 “Jewish broadcasts .both in content and in manner of delivery, are remarkably like those of Nazi Germany.” After the Wadi Araba incident, Philip Toynbee published an account in The Observer ( June 1950) in which he compared the Israeli government to the Nazis. Ken Livingstone was right about the Ha’avara Transfer Agreement which broke the boycott crippling the Nazi economy, though Hitler didn’t know about it till after it was signed. Livingstone, like thousands of others, has been repulsed by the Labour Party on spurious grounds of anti-Semitism. Yet the evidence is plain: Zionists openly colluded with the Nazis and their overriding interest was the Jewish State. If Jewish lives had to be sacrificed, so be it. The extreme nationalism of the Zionist project is passed off as religious freedom, ethnic convergence, the right to live free from persecution and the propaganda so effective, a foreign power can effectively intervene decisively in UK politics without the public being outraged.
Part Two is the meat of the book. Greenstein argues against those pseudo-explanations of the Nazi Genocide which refuse to see its roots in fascism and imperialism. One of the most ridiculous is Goldhagen’s thesis (1996) that the German people were Hitler’s willing helpers, as if there was some inexplicable genocidal intent intrinsic to being German. Of course, for Zionist nationalists who want to excuse the ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Arabs, the illegal occupation of the West Bank, the prison that is Gaza, it makes sense to divert attention from capitalism, colonialism and fascism. Claiming the Nazi Genocide was a result of hatred of Jews is, as Greenstein points out, a circular argument. The Nazis weren’t intent on extermination from the start. Thousands of Jews were permitted to leave Germany. In May 1940 Himmler was advising Hitler against extermination. Hitler moved against the organisations of the left as early as 1933 and the first victims of the of Dachau, the first concentration camp, were the Nazi’s political enemies. |Poles were sent to Auschwitz before Jews. Twenty million Russians died fighting fascism. Why aren’t they commemorated on memorial day? The essential point is that Hitler’s enemies were social democrats and communists, especially the latter. It was political doctrine which roused his irrational hatred. That he conflated communism and Jewishness may be a feature of his disordered thinking, but Nazism, as a political movement, couldn’t have succeeded by being principally a doctrine of hating Jews. It was above all a defence of capitalism and the colonialism on which the wealth of Europe rested. Colonialism had always relied on depicting its victims as less than human, which is part of the reason Hitler was praised by so-called democrats like Churchill and Lloyd George.
Writing in 1934 Joachim Prinz said the Zionists wanted to replace assimilation by the Jewish nation and the Jewish race. Zionists welcomed the Nuremberg Laws (1935) which deprived Jews of their citizenship and forbade marriage between Jews and Gentiles on the grounds that the Nazis were properly recognising the Jews as a people apart, a race apart. Today’s Zionists deny the Jews are a race (at least publicly) because if they are, then Israel is a racist State. Just what it means to be Jewish is moot. If it’s a religious definition, how could Freud call himself “a godless Jew”? If it’s an ethnic-cultural definition, then why do some Ashkenazi Jews lay claim to purity? And if the Jews aren’t a race, then hatred of Jews isn’t racism, but irrational prejudice on either religious or ethnic-cultural grounds. These confusions are helpful to the Zionists. The slippery definition of “Jew” assists the catch-all definition of anti-Semitism. Greenstein dissolves this by focussing on politics. Prejudice on the grounds of pigmentation was necessary to colonialism. Columbus, in spite of finding the Tainos decorous, polite, friendly and trusting, had to dehumanize them in order to slaughter them for their treasure. It is the pursuit of material wealth at cost of denying common humanity which is the problem. In short, capitalism, and its fetishism of lucre.
In November 1941 5,000 Jews were murdered in Kaunas. On 8th December 1941 the first extermination camp, Chelmno, began operating. All the same, in April 1944 Hitler was contacting Himmler seeking 100,000 Jews to help solve the labour shortage. It was between June and September 1941, not at the later Wansee Conference, that Nazi policy descended from persecution of the Jews to annihilation. A.D. Moses called it “an economically driven plan.” Zionists try to mystify by claiming Nazism was messianic and therefore essentially inexplicable. Once again, convenient for a political movement intent on settler-colonialism.
The economic boycott of Nazi Germany began in 1933. It gained wide international support. Germany’s export surplus fell from £28.4m in 1932 to £11.8m in 1933. In the first half of 1933 exports declined by 51%. IG Farben complained of a slump. The Nazi regime was in serious trouble. Sober economists predicted its collapse by the end of the year. It was this desperation which impelled the Nazis to sign the Ha’avara Transfer Agreement. The initiative came from the Zionists. Building Palestine was more important than “the struggle to preserve Jewish civil rights in the Diaspora”. Once again, the State took precedence over people. Further, the Revisionists were unapologetic supporters of Hitler. They conceived Nazism as a kernel and a shell: the shell of anti-Semitism could be discarded but the kernel of anti-Marxism was to be valued. The lawyer defending Revisionists who disrupted a speech at the Hebrew University said: “Yes, we Revisionists have a great admiration for Hitler.” It’s remarkable how many people did, before the death camps were exposed. After ratification of the agreement on 7th August 1933, German Jews liquidated their assets which were frozen in accounts in Germany. Ha’avara Palestine placed orders for German goods which were paid for from those accounts. In return, Jews were allowed to leave for Palestine. Almost certainly, Ha’avara saved the Hitler regime. As Edwin Black put it: “If the Hitler economy fell, both sides would be ruined.”
The claim is now made by the Zionists that the agreement was intended to save Jewish lives. History moves quickly, memories are short, the propaganda system is never silent. When Livingstone mentioned Ha’avara, most people had no notion of what he was talking about. As Greenstein points out, the Zionists took the opportunity to stage a confrontation: an aggressive John Mann, not only a concrete-headed supporter of Israeli apartheid but also a man who characterises gypsies and travellers as anti-social, and a defensive Livingstone, caught off-guard. For most television viewers this looks like a principled anti-racist blasting a man who has engaged in anti-Semitism. The usual media superficiality permits the impression to remain and a long-standing egalitarian is marginalised while a defender of gross injustice is promoted by the Tories.
The Biltmore Conference was held while the Nazi Genocide was in full swing. Its focus was the creation of a Jewish State. Did attendees know what was happening? In February 1940 the Jewish Agency was informed by reliable sources that Polish Jews were being wiped out. Zionist eyes were fixed on the prize of Statehood, what the Nazis were up to was a side-show. What Greenstein’s chapter When and Whey Did They Know , one of the book’s most disturbing, establishes is the collusion through neglect, indifference and sheer cynicism of multiple States, agencies and individuals who had the means to do something. We are led to believe Britain knew the nature of the genocide only at the end of the war. In fact, in August 1941 mass shooting of Polish Jews was known about. In November of that year the British Minister in Berne was told 1.5 million had disappeared. What could have been done? The bombing of the railway lines to Auschwitz for example. The last exterminations in Aushwitz took place on 30th October 1944. In May Rabbi Weissmandel had pleaded for the lines to be bombed. By then, the Lancaster bomber was in service and comfortably capable of the task. Churchill was opposed. The leaders of Zionism showed no interest.
Interestingly, one of the most effective rescuers of Jews from the Nazi camps was Count Bernadotte who helped organise the famous white buses. He was assassinated by Lehi in September 1948.
There was brave resistance, but not from the Judenrate. Hannah Arendt remarked that the Jewish leadership, almost always, co-operated with the Nazis ( an observation that would ensure her expulsion from the Labour Party). Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler escaped from Auschwitz on 10th April 1944. They wrote independent accounts of the death camp which came to be known as the Auschwitz Protocols. Vrba and Wetzler wanted to warn Hungary’s Jews of what awaited them. Rudolf Kasztner ,head of Hungary’s Zionists, suppressed the report and struck a deal with Eichmann to get a small number of prominent Hungarian Jews to safety. In 1954, the Israeli government, on Kasztner’s behalf, sued Malchiel Grunewald who had accused the Zionist leader of collusion. The State lost. Kasztner was assassinated in 1957. Greenstein refers to Perfidy , Ben Hecht’s book on the matter. Hecht, of course, was a Zionist and author of one of the worst plays ever written, A Flag is Born, supported by Marlon Brando who, like many others, imagined that by rallying to the creation of the State of Israel he was helping the cause of justice and peace.
There is also a play about the Kasztner trial: Perdition by Jim Allen. It was due to be staged at the Royal Court Upstairs in 1987 but was scuppered by Zionist pressure. It was given a short run at Conway Hall and also shown at the Edinburgh Fringe, raising much blood pressure and filling many column inches in the letters pages of the more educated press; but that it was pulled in the first place is indicative of the contempt for free expression of the Israeli lobby. Interestingly, Arnold Wesker initially supported the ban but at length returned to his writer’s instincts and changed his mind. Writers often fiercely attack one another’s work, but no real writer would ever want creative work banned. Argument is the way to defeat bad ideas and bad writing.
Across Nazi occupied or influenced Europe, much of the work done to save Jews was undertaken by non-Jews. It’s often been observed that Zionism needs anti-Semitism. According to Zionist doctrine, all non-Jews are anti-Semites. Jews can depend only on themselves. If the evidence of selfless, courageous rescue actions by non-Jews is admitted, Zionism loses much of its traction. It requires a hostile world. It thrives on the fiction that the rest of humanity is against it. “…no Jew” wrote Begin, “should forget….Thanks to the Soviet Union hundreds of thousands of Jews were saved…” He was virulently anti-egalitarian. If even the Stalinist Soviet Union could give refuge to thousands of Jews (according to Hilberg the figure is some 2.5 million) where was the evidence the Jews couldn’t expect succour from anyone but themselves?
Country upon country failed or refused to help Jewish refugees. Greenstein is very thorough on this despicable record. In the final part of the book he moves on to post-Nazi Genocide Zionism. He makes the vital point that The Holocaust was allied to a Jewish victim identity at the moment anti-Semitism was in serious decline. The Shoah has been misused to depict Israel as the victim and the Palestinians as the aggressors. The Shoah is not the same as either The Holocaust or the Nazi Genocide. The latter includes all the non-Jews who perished, the first has to shift attention from them. The Israeli State itself is portrayed as coterminous with Holocaust awareness. Thus, to criticize the State, in even the slightest particular, is to deny The Holocaust, and therefore to be anti-Semitic. For a time, the Israeli view of holocaust survivors was negative. They were the “survival of the worst”. A shameful reminder. At length, that was tempered as resistance gained more credence; but sleight-of-hand was at work: the fight against the Palestinians was the continuation of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Mufti was corralled in the Eichmann trial and the insinuation begun that the Arabs bore responsibility for The Holocaust. The world had to expiate the near-genocide of the Jews by supporting uncritically Israel’s settler-colonialism. Which has brought us to where we are now.
Hannah Arendt recognised that Nazism was essentially an attack on what it means to be human, rather than a focussed desire to wipe out the Jews. The irony of human diversity is that it’s a product of the rigid limits of our nature. Breathe in and out of a paper bag and you’ll faint. The time it takes varies, but no one escapes it. The exchange of gases in the blood deprives the brain of oxygen. Such is our nature. Some people are much taller than others, but no one is ten metres, nor will they ever be; regression to the mean will see to that. Some people can run much faster than others, but no one can run at a thousand kilometres an hour and never will. Serena Williams is an astonishingly good tennis player, but the difference between her and the people playing pat-ball on the local park is very small. Slightly better hand eye co-ordination, upper body strength, speed, anticipation and you’ve got a champion. There is no need to fear or be anxious about diversity because our common humanity is a fact. Fascists are anxious because they try to deny our common humanity. They arrogate superiority and are then thrown into terrible fear of anything which diverges from their view of themselves. Arendt recognised our common humanity which is why the Zionists despised her.
According to Zionism, writes Greenstein, “Jews were cardboard cutout victims with no agency of their own.” The visits of Israeli children to Auschwitz today are not teach them about Nazism’s roots in capitalist colonialism. Rather they are encouraged to see Israeli militarism as the key to security and Palestinian demands for equality as a threat to the lives of Jews. Holocaust Memorial, Day, Yad Vashem, the IHRA non-definition of anti-Semitism, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum are means of perpetuating nationalistic myths and of denigrating the Nazi’s victims. The extent of resistance is exaggerated in keeping with a myth of national heroism. The victims and Jews in the diaspora are characterised and weak and submissive, unworthy of the strength represented by the Israeli State. Yad Vashem refused to publish Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, widely held to be the most authoritative work on the subject. It failed to correspond to the Zionist myth of the heroic establishment of the Jewish State. Yad Vashem, Greenstein argues, is not a sombre memorial to those who died and reminder of the evil of fascism, but an appropriation of The Holocaust by the Zionist movement. The Holocaust is used to justify the creation of the Jewish State; that is, memorials to the victims of extreme nationalism and irrational hatred are employed to exculpate a regime of extreme nationalism and irrational hatred of Palestinians.
What happened in Nazi Germany could happen anywhere; but for Zionists, it has to be unique. Jews have to be the only victims. Then the Jewish State and its persecution of the Palestinians gains a perverse justification. Anti-fascist, pro-egalitarian lessons are being lost. What matters is only justification of the Jewish State and all its actions. Claude Lanzman’s Shoah, broadcast to hundreds of millions, effectively blamed the common folk of Poland for The Holocaust. Israel has one of the biggest military budgets, yet many survivors of the Nazis live in poverty. Even Anne Frank is suspect for the Zionists because she represents universal values and expressed to desire to take Dutch citizenship.
The final chapters explore how specious anti-racism (we should say anti hatred of Jews as race is a fiction) has been used to give succour to the right, in some cases the extreme right. The ironies pile up: the slaughter of millions by the extreme right is employed to defend today’s extreme right. Greenstein points out that “Anti-Semitism today is largely a marginal prejudice.” The evidence is convincing. Jews in the UK are flourishing. Their educational attainment is above average, as are their earnings. The proportion of Jews in prison is low. They are well-represented in positions of influence. It’s for exactly this reason that a new definition of anti-Semitism has been necessary. Finkelstein touches on this in Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The Perlmutters recognised the serious decline in anti-Semitism in the US: “…the very fact of whispered anti-Semitism is witness to its low estate.” What was to be done? After all, if the world was not anti-Semitic what was the justification for an exclusively Jewish State? The Perlmutters found the answer in their book The Real Anti-Semitism: “Essentially, this book’s thesis is that today the interests of Jews are not so much threatened by their familiar nemesis, crude anti-Semitism, as by a-Semitic governmental policies, the proponents of which my be free of anti-Semitism and indeed may well – literally- count Jews as some of their best friends.” The elision from anti-Semitic to a-Semitic is stunning: now it is not reprehensible to hate Jews but merely to uphold any policy or attitude which does not further their interests. Of course, those interests, in the Perlmutter’s view, are coterminous with the those of the State of Israel. Thus, by the deletion of three letters we have moved from Nazi totalitarianism to Israeli State totalitarianism. What the Perlmutters demand is absolute adherence to the needs of the Israeli State. Anything else is “the new anti-Semitism.” That this is infantile nonsense is obvious, yet is has wide and deep reach.
Anti-Zionists are routinely called anti-Semites, tantamount to calling critics of the State of Iran Islamophobes. Greenstein argues that the Zionist “logic” is that those who criticise Israel are exercised not by its actions but by its Jewishness. There is truth in this, but Zionists understand perfectly well that most anti-Zionists seek equality for the Palestinians and equality before the law for all citizens. Zionists are dissembling. Did any Zionist truly believe Corbyn was a Jew hater? The notion is too ridiculous. When people are defending an emotional position, they deny the evidence.
We are now in the context that anyone who defends Palestinian rights, which must entail criticism of Israeli policy, will be called an anti-Semite and as soon as that accusation is made, we are in Kafka’s world: accusation is guilt. Another wonderful irony: Kafka was Jewish. The media will crucify anyone who is accused. This is an astonishing success of Zionist propaganda. One the Nazis would have been proud of.
Along with the propaganda comes “lawfare” and biased reporting masquerading as objective research. In 2015 the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (ie motherhood and apple pie) produced a report which claimed 45% of Britons have negative attitudes towards Jewish people. The Institute of Jewish Policy Research said the report was “littered with flaws”. Yet what gets listened to, the sober, evidenced-based response, or the tendentious, slipshod paper? Zionists claim anti-Semitism in the UK today mirrors that of Nazi Germany. Where are the yellow stars, the brown shirts, the Jewish businesses being closed down? The claim is unhinged, but taken seriously by an Establishment whose interest tallies with those of the State of Israel. Greenstein calls this hysteria. Yet behind it is a cold, considered, conscious policy.
There is evidence of serious Islamophobia among some British Jews. Gary Mond a senior official of the BOD was suspended in 2022 for “liking” Twitter posts by Pamela Geller regretting the French hadn’t voted for Le Pen. Any media fuss? In the midst of the furore over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, Audrey White, a member of the Riverside Branch, Liverpool, took the Jewish Chronicle to the press complaints body over allegations she was an anti-Semite. She won. Any fuss in the media? Greenstein quotes the Head of Hillel House Jewish School in London: “I find it very disturbing to hear of Jewish parents..refusing to send their children to mix with those of coloured immigrants.” Any fuss in the media?
Greenstein writes that the claim of the “new anti-Semitism” that Israel is the “Jew among nations” is fascistic because it grants a State the status of a human being. He takes issue with the much repeated claim that “Israel has the right to exist.” No State enjoys such an abstract right. States are recognised as functioning by the international order. That is the basis of their legitimacy. North Korea, therefore, has the right to exist. Does anyone suggest we stop criticising its leadership?
Israel is comfortable in its relations to far-right regimes. Netanyahu praises and likes Trump whose speeches are littered with anti-Semitic hints. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem was a reactionary, who helped the Nazis . By associating him with The Holocaust, in which he wasn’t a partner, the myth can be inflated that Arab resistance to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the confinement of Arabs in Gaza and so on, are tantamount to what the Nazis did. Blame for The Holocaust can be shifted to the Arabs. Any fuss in the media?
The final chapter explores the relationship of Zionists to Argentina’s fascist dictatorship under Videla. Greenstein observes that Argentina shows the way to defeat genocide and the prejudices which fuel it is to oppose fascism. The Zionist claim that only an exclusively Jewish State can provide safety for Jews is belied by the evidence. “Zionism” writes Greenstein, “reproduces European anti-Semitism as anti-Palestinian racism.” This is where we have arrived.
The pusillanimity of so-called democracies across the globe, and in particular the willingness of the US to support Israel through thick and thin, emboldens the Zionists to promulgate the kind of vacuity elaborated by the Perlmutters. It would be merely laughable if it wasn’t undermining democracy and granting credence to the viciousness which holds the Palestinians in oppression. Neo-fascists are in the Israeli government. Greenstein argues that “amongst all oppressed peoples a section of the petite-bourgeoisie comes to accept the terms of reference and the ideological framing of their oppressors.” He cites Marcus Garvey and Elija Mohammed as examples. Just how this works is something of mystery; but Greenstein is right: Zionism made the same compromise but was also able to ally itself with a colonial power. Thus, it took control of the Jewish establishment in the diaspora.
People feel sympathy for the Jews because of what they have suffered. They tend to believe that Israel is their reward and protection. Hence, they are easily prey to the delusion that criticising the State of Israel is being nasty to Jews. Deploring the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians sets up a mental conflict: on the one hand sympathy for the Jews on the other opposition to the actions of the State of Israel. If the mental conflict becomes too great, something has to be denied. The media and the education system ensure people understand so little of the history, their genuine and gracious sympathy can be manipulated. Surely it must be right to sympathise with the Jews and a Israel is their State, surely it must be right to support it. In this way, the negative response to Israeli viciousness is pushed out of mind to preserve the positive feeling of sympathy. But in whose interest? Greenstein is right: in the interests of the rich who rule the world. His book is a weighty contribution to the campaign for equality and democracy. Only by defeating those who put the pursuit of lucre above all priorities will we create societies in which fascism can’t take root. Fascism is on the march across the world, not least in Israel. A society which genuinely believed in democracy and freedom of expression would ensure this book is widely available. That won’t happen. For obvious reasons.