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Published on December 5th, 2014 | by Scott Tucker

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Why Does a German Left Party Censor Jewish Critics of Israel?

Friends and comrades,

Recently I forwarded news of the untenable position of some leaders of Die Linke, the Left Party in Germany, concerning state Zionism and international human rights. The only honorable outcome of that contradictory position is to make a decisive break from reflexive support of state Zionism, and to acknowledge the actual colonial regime Israel established with military aid from the United States.

Thanks to Michael Pugliese for forwarding two excellent articles below (from Jacobin and AlterNet), exploring the political minefield of German partisan politics and reflexive official support for Israel.

As Max Blumenthal points out with special clarity, elements of the German left (including leaders of Die Linke, with a delegation in the Bundestag) have fallen into lockstep conformity in their efforts to censor and shut down critics of Israel. Indeed, as Blumenthal notes, some figures in Die Linke are effectively pawns of in the state Zionist political maneuvers of wealthy neo-conservatives.

The contradiction between the official internationalism of Die Linke and the failure to defend the human and civil rights of Palestinians is not new, but has grown more public and acute with these recent events. Gregor Gysi, a sharp and well known orator for Die Linke, is an especially troubling case. When Gysi learned that two Jewish critics of state Zionism, Max Blumenthal (an American) and David Sheen (an Israeli), were coming to Berlin and to the Bundestag, Gysi not only slandered them but then refused direct communication.

Of course there are members of Die Linke and of the wider democratic left in Germany who are opposed to the colonial and racist regime of state Zionism. They tend to be isolated and besieged by charges of “antisemitism.” So they should be grateful for the willingness of Blumenthal and Sheen to confront leaders of Die Linke in the Bundestag.

There must be no misunderstanding here: any defender of democracy and human rights bears the responsibility to criticize not just state Zionism, but also any violation of human rights regardless of national borders. So that responsibility does not fall only on the shoulders of the Jewish critics of Israel, of course. The political irony in this case is worth noting, without being belabored.

I have made my own views clear over the years, most recently in an article published in Truthdig on October 4, 2014 (see excerpt and link below.) I must note that Sanders and Warren have more recently shown a few degrees of independence in Congress on these very issues, after being criticized for their cowardly conformity in the 100 to 0 Senate vote in favor of Israeli “self-defense,” which was really a legislative blessing given to the last Israeli bombing of Gaza.

Not one cent and not one vote for the parties of war and empire!

Peace and solidarity,

Scott Tucker

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A New Nuclear Arms Race: Why Peace Activists Must Wage an Open Battle Against the Democratic Party

by Scott Tucker

An armed theocratic movement such as the Islamic State is an objective danger. How did that movement gain such strength and so fast? If we pay attention only to the nightly broadcast news, such a movement has a recent and bloody dawn. Every event that might ground Islamic State in a longer span of time and in the global web of empire is officially banished over the prehistoric horizon. Yet the militants of Islamic State do not just use knives to behead hostages. They also use the weapons and hardware left behind by Western imperial adventures. Even to discuss Islamic State in the same breath as the Jewish state is a political heresy that cannot pass the lips of, for example, NBC anchor Brian Williams, who is devoted to dogs, generals and astronauts.

To be quite clear here, a comparison between the Jewish state and the Islamic State can never be an equation. But the colonial project of state Zionism does involve the creation of a Palestinian ghetto, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues then subject to bombing campaigns that are much more lethal and efficient than any Palestinian rockets. A recent 100 to 0 Senate vote in favor of Israeli “self-defense” was a unanimous imperial vote of confidence for “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Not one vote of conscience, not one voice of dissent? No, not one. Not even from Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren or Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, the two darlings of “progressive” Democrats. Both Warren and Sanders repeated the hasbara formulas, and in this manner imperialism becomes a genuine progressive disease.

North American imperialists embraced South African colonialism once upon a time, and in the year 2014 they still embrace all the Israeli redesigns of apartheid. Yet prophetic Jews round the world, including within Israel, are raising an urgent warning. The pluralism that once existed within the Zionist movement must be acknowledged—certainly the cultural Zionism of Ahad Ha’am and the binational hopes of Judah Magnes had nothing in common with the program of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, nor with the policies of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Netanyahu.

Yet the project of state Zionism was a colonial venture from the very beginning, even before 1948, and all the years since the Six-Day War in 1967 have only strengthened the grip of Israeli settlers upon Palestinian land. State Zionism is ruling out the possibility of “a two-state solution” by creating a de facto one-state solution, meaning one colonial power in full control of the shrinking borders and strangled population of the Palestinian ghetto. The leading career politicians of the Democratic Party, including Obama and the Clintons, officially lament the loss of civilian lives—and then extend the hand of imperial solidarity.

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The German Left’s Palestine Problem

by Leandros Fischer

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements.

That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

The history of the German left’s attitude to Israel/Palestine is truly complex and for the uninitiated foreign leftist, perplexing and occasionally shocking.

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Why I Was Censored from Talking About Israel In Germany
Lefty Germans, blinded by collective guilt, have become intolerant and close minded.

by Max Blumenthal

I arrived in Germany formally invited by members of a political party to speak about my reporting during the Gaza war. I left the country branded an anti-Semite and an insane scofflaw. With machine-like efficiency, German media cast me and my Jewish Israeli journalist colleague, David Sheen, as violent Jew haters, never veering from the script written for them by a strange American neoconservative working for an organization subsidized by far-right-wing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, nor bothering to ask either of us for comment. Slandered as anti-Semites, we sought to meet with the left-wing politician who felt compelled to engineer the campaign to suppress our speech: Die Linke party chairman Gregor Gysi.

When Gysi refused to speak to us, we followed him as he ran from his office. The videotaped incident ended at a door outside what turned out to be a bathroom, sparking a scandal known as “Toilettengate.” We had violated the unwritten rules of a dour political culture where conflict normally takes the form of carefully composed pronouncements delivered through proper bureaucratic channels. Thus we aroused the outrage of Deutschland, from left to right nimbly manipulated through a neoconservative ploy.

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About the Author

Scott Tucker is a writer and a democratic socialist. His book of essays, “The Queer Question: Essays on Desire and Democracy,” was published by South End Press in 1997. He met Larry Gross in 1975, and they both now live in Los Angeles.



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