The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is trying to suppress a very necessary debate.
On the 29th April 1998, community station radio 786 hosted a programme discussing Zionism and Israel. This was close to the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel. The station can be commended for raising this topic, one which most other media ignored. The station can be criticised for not clearly distancing itself from the views of their guest and indeed for their format (not having a spread of views so that if any of their guests raised any unsubstantiated point, it could be countered by others).
The founding fathers of Zionism claimed to set up Israel in historic Palestine as if it was ‘a land without people for a people without land’. This lie was to hide the fact of the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and several massacres by Zionist armed forces of the Palestinians in 1948 (as well as before and after this date). Hundreds of thousands of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians were driven from their homes. In 1949 the UN set up refugee assistance to Palestinians. Today, according to the UN (http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/refugees/ ), of the 15.2 million refugees worldwide, 4.7 million, roughly a third (the biggest group), are Palestinian.
How and why was Israel created, who was responsible for the Holocaust and the ongoing Holocausts are very necessary discussions for those who claim allegiance to any democratic values.
It is now more than 64 years since the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. The website of the Jewish Board of Deputies carries an article dated the 19th March 2012 (‘Distortion and lies accompany Israeli and Palestinian Activists in SA’), where they argue that there should be limited right of return of the Palestinian refugees. In the same article they call for 2 states, with Israel and Palestine side by side. In another article on the website of the Board of Deputies, dated 16th Oct 2012 (‘Minister disregards due process in Label debate’) , they argue against the labelling of goods produced in the West bank as being made in ‘Israeli Occupied territory’. So if the West Bank, which has over 600 Israeli military checkpoints and an Israeli apartheid wall that goes in and around it, is not ‘Israeli occupied territory’, then the only place for the limited return of Palestinian refugees is the Gaza strip (a narrow strip of land the size of an area from the harbour in Cape Town to Mitchell’s Plain, a place which already has more than 1 million people and is already over-crowded).
In this way, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies airbrushes the existence of almost 5 million Palestinian refugees, an out and out Zionist position. Thus the SA Jewish Board of Deputies does not really speak for Jews in general but is really a mouthpiece for Zionism.
Is the denial of the return of these 5 million refugees not a great injustice? Why is it not discussed? Why is the Israeli state not pressurised into fulfilling this basic democratic principle? Groups such as Al Awda have done extensive research on the question of the right of return- they show that the land of historic Palestine (which includes the territory where Israel is), can easily accommodate all refugees and all those who are currently living there. Discussion on this central point is what the pro-Zionist SA Jewish Board of Deputies wants to avoid.
The Zionists and mainstream capitalist media would have us all believe that the Holocaust was about attempted extermination of Jews. This is a falsification of the essence of fascism:
“Fascism in power, like Bonapartism, can only be the government of finance capital.”…
“Fascism is a specific means of mobilizing and organizing the petty bourgeoisie in the social interests of finance capital.”….
“The passage to fascism, on the contrary, is inconceivable without the preceding permeation of the petty bourgeoisie with hatred of the proletariat.”(Trotsky, 15 July 1934, Bonapartism and Fascism, from Marxist Internet Archive).
Despite all the demagogic phrases and race hatred that Fascism espouses, in essence, its main enemy is the organised working class. Fascism is a policy, under conditions when it is under serious threat from being overthrown by the masses, of the industrial and banking capitalists against their mortal enemy, the working class. This is why fascist gangs are sent by finance capital to break up workers’ organizations and that of Socialists and Communists, in the main. When the forces of fascism invaded France, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, North Africa, its main aim was territorial expansion and its concomitant smashing of the workers’ movement, not primarily the extermination of Jews. Sixty (60) million people, including 6 million Jews, died in the Second World imperialist war, most of them at the hands of the fascists or in the fight against them. Surely all these lives are important, not just the focus on one group. The Zionists, who promote a one-sided view of the Holocaust, deliberately distort the real nature of the slaughter in order to provide a cover behind which to hide their crimes against the Palestinians.
Markuse Brajtman (17 December 2012, Free Speech and the Holocaust, Cape Argus) casts doubt on his own argument. He claims that because ‘the Germans were masters at keeping records’, we should all believe their figure that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime. He wants us to believe that the word of a regime whose motto was ‘ a lie told often enough, would be accepted as the truth’, should be accepted as an irrefutable source. If this is the only source of the 6 million figure, then indeed such figure should be subject to closer scrutiny. Perhaps the figure could have been higher, or it could have been less. Why do Brajtman and Vincent St Laurant Phillips (17 December 2012, ‘The Holocaust is a proven fact’, Cape Argus) keep silent about the overall total of the millions butchered by the Nazis, a figure much higher than 6 million? Unfortunately, they fall into the same error as the Zionists.
But for us, the central point of commemorating the Holocaust is not to dwell over a discussion of numbers. We accept that 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis; we accept that 60 million were slaughtered in the Second World imperialist war. Surely the central point of commemorating the Holocaust is to send a message that such slaughter by forces of finance capital, or anyone for that matter, should never happen again.
Does the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, which proclaims itself an arch defender of the memory of the Holocaust, say a single word against the any massacres of the capitalist forces since 1945? They are silent about the slaughter by the US regime of the masses in Vietnam; they were silent when the US-backed Indonesian regime slaughtered over 1 million Communists; they were silent over the 1994 Rwanda massacre which brought into existence a pro-US regime; they were silent about the imperialist backing of the armed groups in the DRC wars of plunder where over 6 million people were killed; they are silent over the massacres by US imperialist forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; they are silent over the almost weekly killing of Palestinians by the Israeli regime since 1948; they are silent over the thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held under terrible conditions in Israeli jails; they are silent over the expulsion of thousands of African Jews who are imprisoned and then expelled by the Israeli state.
How can a group, which supports regimes that commit massacres, seriously be regarded as a defender of the memory of the Holocaust? The SA Jewish Board of Deputies does not even represent Jewish people in general. Did the SA Jewish Board of Deputies speak out against the bombing by the Israeli state of Synagogues in Lebanon during the 1975 war? No. Palestinian fighters defended the Synagogues- another fact airbrushed by the Zionists. The SA Board of Deputies represent that section of the Jewish elite that are pro-Zionist. They cannot be taken seriously when they claim that anyone is guilty of hate speech or Holocaust denial, when they deny the right of return of the almost 5 million Palestinian refugees to their land; when they are silent over the many capitalist atrocities since 1945, not least the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages in 1948 by the fascist Palmach of the Zionists, the Sabra and Shatilla massacres and many others. How ironic that the Israeli regime, that claims sympathy because of the atrocities of fascism, is itself engaged in fascistic acts against the Palestinian masses. Criticism of Zionism is taken by St Laurant Phillips as an attack on the Jewish people, another error by him.
Ex-Zionist, Abram Leon, wrote a historic work entitled ‘The Jewish Question’. In it he outlines the historic development of the Jewish people in the pre-capitalist era as well as in the capitalist era. He points out, just as within any people under capitalism, class divisions developed. There developed impoverished working class Jews as well as capitalists. He concludes that ‘Zionism is an excrescence’ and that the dream of a Zionist society where all were equal, was a falsehood, that the proposed Israel would be a class society. Leon, who became a Fourth Internationalist, was one of many executed by the Nazis.
In 2011, hundreds of thousands of Jews, following the uprisings in Tahrir square and elsewhere, set up tent cities across Israel. They were demanding proper, cheap housing (they were not demanding demolition of Palestinian homes nor grabbing of Palestinian land); they identified the Israeli regime as their enemy. Less than 10% of Israelis control over 70% of the wealth. What is to be celebrated is that Jewish Israeli masses were beginning to unite with the Palestinian masses, against the Israeli regime. The SA Jewish Board of deputies does not speak against the Israeli elite, in fact it identifies with them. They do not represent the majority of the Jewish masses.
Radio 786 discredits itself when it hosts an academic, Dr Zakie, who claims that Jews were not gassed in the Nazi concentration camps but died of typhus. [This just proves once again that being an academic is no insurance against talking rubbish]. The Zionist Federation denies the existence of hundreds of Palestinian villages in the area which is now called Israel. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies denies that Israel was created based on the massacres of Palestinians. The Economist (yearbook 2012), does not even list Palestinians as a refugee group, let alone as the biggest refugee group in the world. The ANC government denies that the killing of 34 miners on the 16th August 2012 was a massacre. A workers tribunal which includes representatives of the victims should pronounce on all the above. We criticise them all.
In a sense some of the views of the Radio 786 and that of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies are similar: the one supports a Muslim Palestine, while the other supports a Jewish Israel. They both imply that those of other religious beliefs are somehow less important. They are both wrong as they promote a permanent division of the masses in the Middle East.
First the pro-Zionist Board of deputies attacks community radio stations; then they forced the Labia cinema into self-censorship (the cinema was due to screen 'Road to Apartheid'- a watered-down version of what Palestinians face every day at the hands of the Zionist regime; the pro-Zionist Board was offered a platform after the 1st screening to give their views- they declined the offer and the Labia management capitulated to their pressure and cancelled the screenings); radio 786 offered the pro-Zionist Board the opportunity to give their views in a panel discussion (we think the radio station was being too generous to these fascistic types)- they declined the offer. Thus the real aim of the Jewish Board of Deputies is not the defending of the memory of the Holocaust, but the suppression of any criticism of Zionism. Even though we clearly disagree with radio 786 on the format of their programme, we defend their right to discuss any topic and yes, even if it attempts to look critically at the Holocaust. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is attempting to close down the limited free space there is of freedom of speech that has been won through many years of struggle where much blood of the masses has been spilt. While Radio 786 should be roundly criticised for not delineating itself from Dr Zakie’s views and for not hosting a broader panel which could have challenged his erroneous views, in this attack by the Zionists to limit the democratic gains of the masses, we are with Radio 786 against the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. Apologise to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies? How can one apologise to an entity allied to imperialism, the same imperialism that is responsible for ongoing Holocausts? No. Apologise to the masses? yes. Then let us be consistent: the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation should apologise for their denial of the rights of the Palestinians; the US embassy should apologise for their lies about Saddam’s alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction; the Economist, the SA govt and others should apologise for their views of denial of the ongoing capitalist massacres.
Ever wonder why the SA Jewish Board of Deputies has never asked the US govt to apologise for refusing to give refuge to the impoverished Jews who were fleeing the Nazi terror? Does it not have something to do with the annual $2bn grant from the US state to Israel for it to act as the imperialist policeman against the masses in the Middle East? Is this alliance of Zionism with imperialism not the real reason for the creation of the state of Israel (the creation of a dumping ground for impoverished Jews immediately after the war, together with the need to keep the Middle East masses in permanent subjugation).
Let us put it in perspective: 60 million people were killed in world war 2 (of which 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis); the capitalist monopolies made fortunes over the what was essentially a fight for a re-division of the world among them. Thyssen Krupp and other giant corporations, that funded the slaughter of millions of Jews and many others, today fund the Israeli state in their long term plan of exterminating Palestinians. Several of the US corporations that opposed giving sanctuary to impoverished Jews who were fleeing Nazi persecution, today support the Zionist state's attacks on Palestinians. Many of the capitalist companies that made their fortunes during the world wars and subsequent wars, are supporting proxy forces in the DRC where in recent years more than 6 million people were killed, all for the sake of plunder of the minerals. Recently groups of African immigrants were expelled en masse from Israel.
The pro-Zionist Board is silent on these atrocities- in fact they support them. These same Zionists want to roll back one of the few gains on free speech here. We should not let them.
Any serious struggle to sustain the memory of the Holocaust should involve a struggle against the root cause of the Holocaust and the ongoing holocausts, namely the capitalist system. This is the very opposite of what the elitist SA Jewish Board of Deputies is advocating. In fact the very people who should go on trial should be the imperialists who funded the Nazis, and who have been funding the ongoing massacres. The ones who should be put on trial should include arms and agencies of imperialism such as the SA Jewish Board of Deputies that deny the 5 million Palestinian refugees their right to go home (give them a few shekels and let them rot in the camps where they are, is the implied message of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies). This pro-Zionist Board supports the very capitalist system that is responsible for ongoing Holocausts.
The truth is concrete: when farm workers ask for a R150 a day, when workers ask for a banning of Labour brokers, when workers ask for scrapping e-tolling, for lowering of food prices and lowering of electricity prices, when workers ask for their schools not to be closed, on which side is the SA Jewish Board of Deputies? Not that of the workers.
Jewish, Christian and Muslim masses unite against the Zionist regime! For a United Workers’ Socialist Palestine as part of a federation of Socialist states in the Middle East based on grassroots workers’ committees!