Monday, 3 February 2014

A Late Response to Brendan Simms.

Last week, I read a piece on anti-Semitism in The Evening Standard in which the writer - Brendan Simms - argued that it is connected with 'anti-capitalism' and 'anti-globalization' on the nationalist Right. He even went as far as to suggest that it was anti-capitalism which led Adolf Hitler to anti-Semitism. In his mind Simms actually conflates Hitler's rage against the Versailles Treaty with anti-capitalist sympathies. Hitler was enraged by the defeat and humiliation of Germany as a burgeoning imperial power. Furthermore, it was this treaty which was used by the British and French empires to engender an inevitable crisis within Germany that helped create the conditions for the rise of the Nazi Party. Instead Simms claims Hitler "accused" internationally-oriented Anglo-American capitalism for the destruction of Germany, as if the consequence was not an actuality at all. Ironically, it was the financial hub of American capitalism that imploded in 1929, taking the world economy with it, that led directly to Hitler's victory in 1933.

Sadly Mr Simms seems short on historical perspective. It has become somewhat fashionable to claim that the Left is a harbinger of anti-Semitism and belongs in the same ballpark as Fascism (if not worse, for some). He wants to situate the Left as a natural ally of Hamas, Iran, and even Hungarian neo-fascists, for its commitments to 'anti-globalization' and anti-capitalism. He claims these forces are coalescing against Israel and liberal democratic capitalism. I wonder if Mr Simms was present at the dinner where George W Bush consorted openly, for money, with self-declared 'Messianic Jews' converted to Christianity in order to bring on the Rapture. The anti-Jewish ramblings of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and John Hagee, might not be so easy to swallow. Even still the article is packed with innuendo like "This makes [anti-Semitism] dangerous not just to Jews but to those seen as their allies, most of the Western capitalist democracies, or plutocracies, as anti-Semites (but not only they) often call them." That point requires more pause for thought.

It wasn't that surprising to find that Mr Simms is a prominent figure in the Henry Jackson Society, that heroic brigade of laptop bombardiers for whom there is never enough blood to spill around the world. It is awfully convenient for the Henry Jackson Society to discover that their enemies are all virulent anti-Semites. It presupposes that the actions they back to the hilt have an immaculate moral character. There's a switch-side to that coin. To what degree can the aggressive foreign policy of the US and Israel be defended morally, that includes the criminal use of white phosphorous against human beings in Fallujah in 2005 and in Gaza in 2009. The easy way is to simply slander the critics and opposition while the killing frenzy reaches a peak. This is a part of what Douglas Murray seems to think of as a struggle for civilisation over relativism. Actually the opponents of mad-dog neoconservatism are closer to where progressive republican Immanuel Kant stood in the late 18th Century. Far from relativism. More like the core of the Enlightenment.

Someone should tell Mr Simms that the only thing that brings anti-Semites together is Judeophobia, apart from that they can be pretty varied, as anyone who has put a few minutes into researching the Far-Right. Anders Behring Breivik, the Butcher of Utoya, managed to be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic in his writings. Holocaust denier Nick Griffin can't make his mind up on the subject, pledging support for Operation Cast Lead one minute, and then accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing the next. Perhaps Simms has the on-and-off talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in mind when he penned the article. As Alexander Cockburn wrote in 2004 "Over the past 20 years I've learned there's a quick way of figuring out just how badly Israel is behaving. You see a brisk uptick in the number of articles here accusing the left of anti-Semitism." Yesterday we found Prime Minister Netanyahu accusing John Kerry of being an 'anti-Semite'. The Palestinians suspect the talks are a smokescreen and have good reason to reckon so.

This comes as Danske Bank, the biggest Danish bank, divests from an Israeli company on the grounds that it is tied to settlement building. Then there were those EU sanctions last year. Clearly the Israeli government can see the creeping impact of its isolation in the international community. So it is a testament to Netanyahu's paranoia that he would attack his closest and most important allies in the world. But his fears may well come to fruition if the US backs down at the UN. And that would almost certainly mean the Palestinians would get a state of some kind. Meanwhile the Hank Jackson know-nothings - which includes the combined mental might of Michael Gove, David Willetts, Denis MacShane, and not just Douglas Murray - can get back to their domestic agenda of ripping tax-payer money out of public services to feather the nests of the ultra-rich. It's clear what people like Murray and Simms want, and it isn't civilisation.

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