Wednesday 1 November 2017

Dave Rich exposes the politics of Moshe Machover

The reinstatement of Moshe Machover to Labour Party membership (oddly referred to as "auto-exclusion" rather than suspension) has been lauded by not just the Labour Party Marxists, it self a front for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Weekly Worker) but also appallingly by Corbyn's office.

Machover along with his co-thinkers are responsible for the growth of left wing anti-Semitism which the Labour party supposedly condemned in a major resolution at their recent conference. A policy that is becoming a sham as Corbyn himself refused to attend a dinner to celebrate the Balfour declaration.

Corbyn also declined an invitation from the Labour Party's sister organisation in Israel to visit the Holocaust Museum. His genocidal Islamist friends in Hamas and Hezbollah would obviously not approve.

Dave Rich author of The Left's Jewish Problem posted this excellent briefing on the politics of Machover on Facebook. I have shared this here to help give it a wider audience:

Moshe Machover is not some random Israeli anti-Zionist: he was one of the leaders of the Israeli Socialist Organisation, better known as Matzpen, and as such played an important role in the formation of left wing anti-Zionism in Britain from the late 1960s. Here is an extract from my PhD thesis that deals briefly with the history of Matzpen and its influence on the British left (the random numbers in the text are for the references which will be in the comments):

Matzpen was formed in 1962 by a handful of Israeli Communist Party members. It was one of several Marxist parties and movements that emerged to the left of the national Communist Parties in various countries in the late 1950s and 1960s. Matzpen was influenced by Trotskyism but its members were not all Trotskyists, although one part of Matzpen did join the Fourth International after the organisation split in 1970.211 Akiva Orr, a leading figure in Matzpen, later explained that it only had two non-negotiable principles: anti-capitalism and anti-Zionism. Within those “boundaries”, members could follow whatever politics they chose.212 Initially Matzpen’s political programme focused on Israeli society, but under the influence of an Arab Israeli Trotskyist called Jabra Nicola they developed a New Left critique “that redefined the clash between Jewish settlers and indigenous Palestinians as colonial in nature and called for Israel to be “de-Zionized””. Nicola’s other contribution to Matzpen was the idea that the Palestine issue was part of a regional problem that can only be solved by “The Arab Revolution”.213

This analysis made its first appearance in a set of internal Matzpen theses in August 1966214 before being made public in a statement to an Arab student meeting in Paris the following May, three weeks before the Six Day War began. Israel, according to this statement, was “the outcome of the colonization of Palestine by the Zionist movement, at the expense of the Arab people and under the auspices of imperialism.” It remains “a grave obstacle for the struggle of these [Arab] masses against imperialism and for a socialist Arab unity.” The “de-Zionization” of Israel would entail an end to the Law of Return, full right of return for Palestinian refugees and a fundamental change in Israeli foreign policy. However, Matzpen argued, there is a “unique complication” in this case of colonization: because the Zionist settlers had sought to replace the indigenous population rather than to rule it, they had formed “a Hebrew nation with its own national characteristics”, complete with its own “capitalist class structure”. Consequently “a true solution of the Palestine problem necessitates the recognition of the right of the Hebrew nation to self-determination”, as a unit of a proposed Middle Eastern socialist federation that would serve the interests “of both Arab and Israeli masses”.215 The ideas set out in Matzpen’s May 1967 statement remain the core of its programme to this day.

Although small, Matzpen attracted hostile treatment from the Israeli authorities and media and several of its activists left Israel during the 1960s. In London they found a receptive audience for their views. A survey of Matzpen’s activities shows it to have been ubiquitous in the new Palestine solidarity movement that had formed in Britain. Free Palestine began publishing material from Matzpen – initially without its knowledge – in October 1968, and continued to do so thereafter.216 Black Dwarf first published material from Matzpen in 1969217 and did so frequently from that point on, as did the IMG publications Red Mole and Red Weekly.218 Activists from Matzpen, sometimes using the name Israeli Revolutionary Action Committee Abroad (ISRACA), often spoke at pro-Palestine meetings and demonstrations.219 An essay by Orr, Moshe Machover and Haim Hanegbi, called “The Class Nature of Israeli Society”, was published in New Left Review220 and then republished as a booklet by the IS’s publishing arm, Pluto Press. This was in turn advertised for sale in the IS’s Socialist Worker, the IMG’s Red Weekly and Free Palestine.221 Orr appeared in the Right of Return Open Door TV programme222 and his home “became a centre for radical political discussion and a meeting point for dissenters.”223

Matzpen is also described as an important influence by many pro-Palestinian activists of the time. Karmi describes herself as one of Orr’s “acolytes” and says that she cherished the political education she received from him in “ways of analytical method” in interpreting events.224 Tariq Ali, then editor of Black Dwarf, regarded Matzpen as his “educators” on the subject of Israel and “automatically published” anything they gave him.225 Matzpen’s analysis of Zionism and its proposed solution of a regional Arab-Jewish socialist federation were well received by the IMG in particular.226 Matzpen developed a relationship with the DFLP, which it considered to be the Palestinian resistance movement closest to its position. Khalil Hindi, Matzpen’s DFLP contact in London, regarded Matzpen as “one of the great influences on the thinking of the Palestinian Left.”227 When a collection of Matzpen’s essays and documents was published in English in 1972, a review in the Journal of Palestine Studies described it as “one of the most important pieces of anti-Zionist literature for a western audience to have to read.”228 Free Palestine credited Matzpen (amongst others) when noting that “the harshest indictment of Zionism as a racist colonialist movement has come from the socialist Marxist Jews.”229

as a rough generalisation, one contribution of Marxist Jewish anti-Zionists to New Left anti-Zionism was to ideologise its discourse; this was, naturally, from a Marxist or Trotskyist position; and it had the greatest influence, unsurprisingly, on their fellow Marxists.

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