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Socialist Party of Great Britain Polemic - Socialist Party of Great Britain reply to Howard Jacobson.

We received an e-mail from a Jane Goodal enclosing an article written by Howard Jacobson “Let’s see the “criticism” for what it really is” in The Independent (18.02.09). She asked us to read the attached article.

This is the SPGB's reply:

Mr Jacobson, your prejudice is exceeded only by your bigotry.

In refusing to see Israel as part of the brutal world of capitalism you are part of the problem, not the solution. You diminish yourself by making fish out of and fowl of the other. Bombs and military barbarity are the same everywhere. You have developed your capacity to see only what you want to see and completely ignore everything else to an art form. You have dug yourself into a trench of absurdity and believe you have rediscovered light.

You can see no genuine objection to Israel bombing schools and killing hundreds of children in Gaza –such objections stem from “a vicious strain of ancient prejudices”. Supporting Israeli nationalism has destroyed whatever humanity you may have once had. In your first paragraph you refer to “the air being charred with hatred of Israel, not the hatred of warring parties but the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, our newspapers, on our radios and televisions and now in our theatres”. There really were no “warring parties”, just fleets of Israeli F16 bombers and heavy tanks bombing and shelling defenceless women and children and UN food depots. Had this been Russia in Chechnya or even the Americans in Iraq, hatred would be considered a “normal” reaction but Israel is “answerable to nobody” as a spokesman for the Bush administration said when they bombed Syria”.

You fail to separate opposition to Israeli war-mongering from anti-Semitism. You claim to favour the “free exchange of opinion and tolerance” but not to opinions opposed to your own and tolerance must be extended to wholesale bombing, death and destruction by Israel; anything else is branded “…a dictatorship of the one-minded…”.

In a brief accompanying letter from Jane Goodal who attached your article she states she “…often wondered what and why the Socialist Party seems so keen to be always against Israel…”.

This is dishonest, as no reference or quotation is given. Goodal’s and your own ignorance is such that you fail to realize that there is nothing to prevent any rabid leftist Party, or even the Labour Party, from calling themselves “Socialist” however spurious that claim.

The reality is quite different; there is only one genuine Socialist Party, by definition that is one with socialism as its sole object. Logically, Socialism can only mean getting rid of capitalism and establishing a different social system; this means a world where the wages-system, the world market, riches and poverty, armed forces and war would no longer exist. The world of commonly owned means of production which would be used to freely met human needs.

You, Mr Jacobson, with your obsession for Israeli capitalism have no inkling of this. You do not see capitalism as a militarised series of national states which periodically produce wars some on a world scale others more localised (to all of which socialists are opposed), you get bogged down in your opposition to phrases such as “massacre and slaughter” and would prefer references to “the fighting in Gaza”. How pitiful!

You have no yearning for a world without war, but would like to see wars described in a manner that does not offend you. You claim not to differentiate between the worth of Jewish and Palestinian lives. Try seeing it in terms of what capitalism does to people in a world divided into armed national states. The fact is, Israel did carry out slaughter in Gaza. The United Nation’s official figures of more than 4,000 houses and 1,500 factories bombed and more than 400 children slaughtered is hard to sweep under your rug. Israel is very much part of world capitalism. Your God, Mr Jacobson, and the God of Israel is on the side of the big capitalist battalions. Jewish workers and Palestinians, as fellow workers, together with workers world-wide, should abandon their rulers’ creed of religion and nationalism and organise consciously to establish Socialism. It is only as workers not as Jews that they can hope to change the world.

You become quite ambiguous (page 2 paragraph 3) when you look at war in general being an outrage “to our humanity” and then seek to put Hamas in a category apart because they endangered “their own civil population…and have been firing rockets into Israel for years”. Hamas is also part of capitalism. Look at Israel’s own war record and its nuclear arsenal!

Israel has been in barbaric defiance of United Nations resolutions for more than 40 years. In 1967 the UN Security Council Resolution 242 called for Israel to withdraw completely from territories it had occupied. 37 years later in 2004 the UN Security Council and General Assembly stated that:

The status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 (including East Jerusalem) remains one of military occupation”.

In 1979 UN Security Council Resolution no. 446:

Determines that this policy and practice of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”.

Another UN Resolution in 1980 condemned Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian and other territories as illegal and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of civilian persons in time of war.

In 2004 The International Court of Justice unanimously ruled the settlements illegal. Israel has signed Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. In 2002, Israel’s own Supreme Court recognised that the West Bank and Gaza are:

subject to a belligerent occupation by the State of Israel”. There were 800,000 deaths in 8 years of war with Egypt.

All this information and much more are readily available but you studiously avoid anything that contradicts your preconceived conclusions. While you cling to religion you are unlikely to make any progress.

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