The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Condemning Netanyahu’s Policies Is Not Anti-Semitism

Oct 30, 2023

This article is translated from the October 27 issue, #2882 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Those who denounce the policy of the Israeli government and the Israeli army’s massacre in the Gaza Strip and who point out that, precisely, Israel’s policy of building settlements on Palestinian land led to the current situation are being labeled as antisemites by much of the news media.

The accusation is meant to hurt because anti-semitism—specifically hatred of Jews—is one of the worst pestilences produced by the Christian West, continued throughout the capitalist world. For well over a century, anti-semitism has claimed its place in the politics of the far right in France: openly with the accusations of treason against French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus in 1894 and with collaboration with the Nazis during World War II, and less openly since then. The empire of the Romanov tsars in Russia made anti-semitism their government policy. They organized pogroms to try to divert mass rebellion. Finally, anti-semitism pushed to the point of delirium served as a vehicle for the Nazi party in its conquest of power in Germany and then led to the massacre of more than six million Jews. The workers’ movement has always fought against anti-semitism, obviously. And reactionaries have never failed to conflate Jews and revolutionaries in their hatred and repression.

Today, those who uphold the established order turn the truth on its head. These successors of generations of sworn antisemites in France, the U.S., and other imperialist countries now claim that an unconditional defense of Israel and the defense of Jews in general against anti-semitism are one and the same. This is a shameless and, above all, self-serving lie.

In fact, neither the Zionist movement before 1948 nor the Israeli government afterward ever united or represented all Jews—that is to say, all potential targets of anti-semitism. Clearly, in Israel and in all countries, there are Jewish voices speaking out against Zionism, against settlements, against the bombing of Gaza, and in favor of a government bringing together all the peoples living in the land of Palestine. They refuse to be defined and represented by Netanyahu and his policies.

With the progress of civilization steadily eroding, catastrophe is never far off. We may certainly see a relapse into the persecution of Jewish people. But, saying that the existence of the Jewish state of Israel is the ultimate protection for persecuted or threatened Jews is a dangerous illusion. Israel’s policies and the fact that it has become the forward operating base of imperialism in the Middle East forces its inhabitants into a life of lies consisting of ignoring the hell on the other side of the wall. This policy forces them to be prison guards or soldiers constantly on the alert. It encourages the hatred of entire populations.

Nor does the existence of Israel protect Jews living in other countries—that is to say, the majority of Jews. They are not enticed by the prospect of emigrating to become soldiers in the Middle East.

Finally, the more Israel’s existence depends on the military support of American imperialism, the more insecure it actually is. The guarantee for the population of Israel to be able to continue living there can only be in the search for true coexistence with all the peoples of the region.

Condemning and combating the policies of Israel and that of imperialism in the name of a proletarian revolution, which would let people coexist while respecting their national identities, has nothing in common with anti-semitism. On the contrary, this means fighting for a world finally rid of the medieval scourge of anti-semitism, which rotting imperialism constantly revives, as it revives many other old afflictions.