In his latest letter justifying his anti-Semitic ‘theory’ - according to which the “overrepresentation” of Jews among the bourgeoisie is a central factor in imperialist support for Israel - Ian Donovan stresses the “overlap between the Israeli ruling class and the ruling class of the main western imperialist countries, most notably the United States” (Letters, February 15).
This “overlap”, he says, is all down to Israel’s Law of Return, under which all Jews are entitled to take up Israeli citizenship. As a result bourgeois Jews in, say, the US can become members of the Israeli ruling class. The slight problem with this is that, firstly, in reality they will only become part of the Israeli bourgeoisie by concentrating their business operations in Israel, not merely by becoming citizens. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of bourgeois Jews stay put in the US rather than switching to Israel. In any case, how does this right to move to Israel give US bourgeois Jews the power to decisively influence US policy towards Israel/Palestine? According to comrade Donovan, “the large minority of Jewish-Zionists in the US ruling class is able to lead the non-Jewish majority to accept hard-line pro-Israel policies that they would not otherwise be inclined to”.
When he first put forward this nonsense on his Communist Explorations website in 2014, he claimed that such Jews “have the power not only to force American governments to adopt the most slavish support for very brutal actions of Israel, but also to destroy the careers of politicians who speak out against such actions”. This - combined with the fact that “the ‘traditional’ imperialist bourgeoisie” now apparently regards the role of such Jews as a “good thing” - means that western capital “to a considerable degree defers and follows the leadership of the Jewish/Zionist bourgeoisie”.
In other words, back then he was virtually claiming that Jewish “overrepresentation” in the ruling class was the reason for imperialist support for Israel - although after he joined the Socialist Fight group he did eventually admit that such support is actually in the interests of US imperialism too.
Either way, I’m afraid to say that, despite his denials, these claims have all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory - one of whose main features, of course, is the failure to offer concrete examples of what is alleged. For instance, can comrade Donovan provide us with a list of occasions when bourgeois Jews ‘forced’ the US government to support Israeli actions - or ‘destroyed the careers’ of politicians who opposed them? Obviously the list he provides will have to include the names of the Jewish individuals or organisations who made the demands, quoting what they actually said, and the concrete effect it had on named US politicians.
Let me give him an example of the type of thing I am talking about. Last year Donald Trump announced out of the blue that the US was to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, much to the satisfaction of Binyamin Netanyahu. How did this come about? Was he persuaded to do so following concerted pressure by bourgeois Jews within the capitalist class, which then resulted in the bourgeoisie as a whole being won to that course of action and influencing Trump accordingly? Or did a group of Jewish bourgeois ultra-Zionists approach the president directly to ensure he complied with their wishes? Or perhaps it was an individual Jewish capitalist who whispered something in his ear?
Come to think of it, Trump is more likely to be influenced by the type of far-right anti-Semites (who also happen to be ultra-Zionist) he likes to appoint as advisors, isn’t he? But no doubt Ian will tell us - he clearly knows all the details of how the process works.
In reality, the majority of bourgeois commentators, both Jews and non-Jews, were dismayed by Trump’s action in recognising Jerusalem. They observed the reaction it provoked in Palestine and could see that it jeopardised US influence - and perhaps Israeli control - over the Palestinian Authority itself. It was another of those ‘head in hands’ moments concerning the US president.
Obviously not a good example then - although it is strange that the decision provoked such jubilation amongst hard-line Zionists, yet dismay amongst the bourgeoisie as a whole, isn’t it? I thought the former exerted overwhelming influence over the latter!
I have no wish to continue the substance of the debate between Ian Donovan and me. Both he (January 18, February 1, February 15) and I (January 25, February 8) have had our say; and readers can make up their own mind on the alleged existence of powerful Jewish “overlapping ruling classes between Israel and a number of European and North American capitalist-imperialist states”, whose material interest in Israel is provided by the Zionist Law of Return. But I cannot pass over his persistent misquoting of what I say, because it is typical of his style of argument.
In a sarcastic comment on Ian’s logic, I commented (January 25): “In fact, perhaps it is correct to say that the capitalist ruling class, irrespective of religion, is international.”
In his response (February 1), he claims that I “seriously [sic!] argue … there are no national bourgeoisies any more and that ‘the capitalist class, irrespective of religion, is international’”. The key ‘perhaps’ clause is discreetly omitted … allowing him to convict me of the mortal sin of Kautskyism.
In my reply (February 8), I gently pointed out his distortion, reiterating what I had actually written. To no avail. In his latest letter (February 15), he repeats the misquotation, again omitting the ironic ‘perhaps’ clause, and now accuses me of “anti-Marxist cynicism”.
This is only one example of his distortions. But perhaps all this is not deliberate, just careless absence of mind? Perhaps.
While I understand that Bruno Kretzschmar is one of your more rambling letter writers and probably not associated with the CPGB, it is rather unfortunate that he resorts to an implication that I am in some ways psychologically damaged by referring to “something going on in his bonce related to spite, hatefulness and vitriol” (Letters, February 15).
Brother Bruno might wish to ponder that this method - of implying your opponents are loonies - is an unpleasant echo of how Stalinists and fascists have tarred critics, although I am quite sure that Bruno, lost in the entrails of trying to conduct a ‘clever’ response, did not realise these unpleasant associations.
As for the rest of his letter, I’m not really sure what he’s going on about, other than proving that your letters page is indeed, in his words, “an absolute horror story” for the pain of having to rely on BK’s outpourings to get filled.
Trouble at JLM
In reference to your article last week on Jeremy Newmark and the Jewish Labour Movement (‘Couldn’t have happened to a nicer man’, February 15), you might be interested to know that the Jewish Chronicle’s Daniel Sugarman has circulated the following email, which he says has been sent to JLM members:
“Over the past week we have taken steps to ensure that our financial governance meets the high standards that you as members will expect. As part of that process we have initiated an external review of our accounting and procedures, as well as taking legal advice.
“In order to show full transparency, openness, and to protect the integrity of the Movement, we have referred certain internal financial matters to the police for investigation.
“In these circumstances it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment at this time.”
Despite all the efforts of a paranoid and unpredictable US regime, the Koreans are making peace, not war, during the 2018 Winter Olympics. The US is furious and pulling out all the stops to tarnish the games, and it is trying to put South Korea back on the US colonial leash.
Even during the Olympics, the US feels threatened by peace, unity and cooperation. Like a drone hurling bombs at wedding parties and funerals, it tries to sabotage the Olympics’ peaceful spirit. The US had been ramping up tensions and imposing more economic killer-sanctions (ie, embargo/blockade) on North Korea. South Korea is championed for the propaganda value - democracy and western-style capitalism produced its ‘miracle economy’, while it is said that North Korea cannot feed its own people. (So let’s add tougher sanctions?) But miracles only happen in fairy tales, and South Korea has taken billions of dollars in US aid, including a $55 billion bailout in 1997.
In 2017 the US regime got a sneaking suspicion that things were not going as planned. The feisty South Korean people said they had had enough of the US-backed president Park Geun-hye, granddaughter of the US-backed military dictator, Park Chung-hee, who ruled from 1963 to 1979. In late 2016 the South Korean people began mass protests, holding candlelit vigils demanding the impeachment of Park Geun-hye.
The South Korean parliament was forced to respond and impeach Park for corruption and influence peddling. She is now in prison, where her grandfather should have once been too, if an assassin’s bullet had not found him first in 1979. Her grandfather had also been a collaborator during Korea’s humiliation of Japanese colonialism. Collaboration and corruption run in the family.
The US regime has been sulking, plotting and hyperventilating with sarcasm, sabre-rattling and retaliation against both South Korea and North Korea for resuming relations that had been put on pause in 2008 with the election of hardliner Lee Myung-bak.
In April 2017 US secretary of state Rex Tillerson was already advocating tougher economic sanctions against North Korea. For months now the US has been raising the volume of the rhetoric - threatening war, installing missiles, shipping more nukes to Guam, and tightening the screws of the embargo. All options are on the table except the diplomatic option.
Vice-president Mike Pence even refused to stand during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. That was more than bad manners. According to the Korean Times, Pence later said that he was “opposed to inter-Korean talks until North Korea agreed to start negotiations on denuclearisation”.
Pence continues the propaganda word games on negotiations: it is the US that refuses to negotiate until North Korea meets certain preconditions. The US will not even say what the preconditions are and may not know itself. It vacillates on talks from one day to the next and depending on who is speaking: Trump, Tillerson, Pence or state department spokesperson Heather Nauert. (https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2017/08/273454.htm). The North Koreans have consistently offered to negotiate without any preconditions, but the mainstream media rarely is honest, usually telling the public that the North Koreans “refuse to come to the negotiation table”.
To make sure that he spoiled the mood at the Olympics, Pence announced that the US would “soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever”. An embargo is war by other means. Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ said that the US economic embargo is a “policy of strangulation”.
It is siege warfare. The US is holding North Korean children hostage, and it is literally saying that it will kill one North Korean child every day until North Korea bends to the US will. This is barbaric, uncivilised and inhumane. It is a war crime and a crime against humanity. It is against the Geneva conventions, even though the embargo was authorised by the UN security council.
Any coercion of one country against another is aggression, especially if that country is acting within its legal rights as a sovereign nation. North Korea has broken no international law and it has as much right as South Korea, Japan and the US to have nuclear power for electricity, to test missiles; and it has as much right as the US to have a nuclear arms programme and nuclear bombs.
North Korea has not committed aggression against any other country or threatened to attack anyone except in self-defence. The US, its allies and the UN have overstepped their bounds in punishing North Korea for what it has every legal right to do. If the US is so concerned about nuclear proliferation, then it should start living up to its own obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which the US has not done, and go talk to their friends, Pakistan, India and Israel.
Economic embargos kill by restricting the imports of food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Economic embargos deny the victim the ability to export its products in exchange for hard currency, put a freeze on its foreign assets, and make international monetary transactions nearly impossible. In the 21stcentury economic sanctions, embargos, blockades - call them whatever - are siege warfare: a weapon of mass destruction. Embargos kill civilians and non-combatants indiscriminately and disproportionately. They are by definition a war crime.
North Korea has proven that the US propaganda that it refuses to sit at the negotiation table is a lie. The North Koreans have offered time and again to negotiate with the US, to suspend their nuclear programme and to negotiate a final peace treaty following the Korean war - which ended in 1953 with an armistice, but not a final peace. North Korea and South Korea are at the negotiating table now.
North Korea and South Korea are meeting, talking and marching under a unified flag. But the US is throwing a tantrum and accusing Kim Jong-un’s extended olive branch as being a dirty trick. The US says that Kim Jong-un is just trying to divide South Korea from the US. The US regime is humiliating South Korea by saying that they are weak, off the colonial leash, and going it alone without paternalistic protection.
South Korea and North Korea have taken the initiative to resolve their differences peacefully. The US is trying to abort the peace process: it is acting aggressively, engaged in war by other means and is illegally imposing an embargo on North Korea. The embargo kills indiscriminately and disproportionately non-combatants - especially the young, the elderly and the sick.
The US has victimised Korea since it first invaded it in 1871. It backed the Japanese subjugation and colonisation of Korea when it mediated the Treaty of Portsmouth, ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The US interfered in the Korean civil war of 1950-53, killing several million Koreans and destroying every city, town, village and the civilian infrastructure in North Korea and much of the South. It has perpetuated the unnatural division of Korea. Korea deserves the liberation and independence the US promised at the end of World War II. All it needs to do is get out of the way and let the Koreans decide their own destiny.
Aiden McAnespie lived in Aughnacloy, a village in County Tyrone close to the border with County Monaghan. Born in 1965, Aiden had been hounded and harassed by state forces since he was 17. His life had been threatened several times. He had been seriously assaulted. And every day when he went to work he was verbally abused.
On the morning of his death, Aiden and his mother had already been stopped and detained at the Aughnacloy Ulster Defence Regiment base for two hours after returning from the wake of a relative. Later that day - February 21 1988 - Aiden walked past an army/Royal Ulster Constabulary checkpoint to a Gaelic Athletic Association match. When he was halfway between the checkpoint and the pitch, a shot rang out. Aiden was shot in the chest. At 2.50pm he lay dead on the road, killed by a single bullet.
The British army claimed it was an accidental discharge. The RUC claimed it was a ricochet. Even the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s historical enquiries team has dismissed these accounts. Most believe that a British soldier carefully took aim through a small observation hatch in the watch tower and deliberately shot Aiden. His mother described it as “cold-blooded murder”.
Neither the soldier thought to be responsible - grenadier guard Jonathan Holden - nor anyone else in the RUC or army was brought to justice for the crime.
Thirty years on, we remember Aiden and all the other victims of state murder in the North of Ireland.
Scottish Republican Socialist Movement