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Hmm, well, I certainly don't see any purpose in reviving the debate (again)
although it sounds like that is what Jeff is doing by listing off a new
round of critiques regarding the IAK imbroglio regarding the CIA and so
forth. I'm not going to take the bait. I'm done litigating the underlying
debates between these groups; my only point was that I noticed that the
split in question was once again being used in the way they it been used
before -- to attack people who speak very strongly about Israel (and
bizarrely, it seems like it always involves Stanford University).
That is not true of every internal disagreement. Some disagreements between
left groups really do not have any practical effect on the success of the
right. Do right wing groups care one way or another about our views on
David North and his ideas of identity politics? Do you think they will use
our feelings about Syria to shut down other leftist organizations? I
haven't seen that.
"Anti-Semitism" on the other hand is an incredibly potent attack; labeling
an organization (or a professor, or a Palestinian refugee's speaking tour,
or an activist group...) anti-Semitic has tremendous consequences beyond
internal wrangling; having that accusation bolstered by "allies" makes it
that much more difficult to escape the stigma.
I'm not sure how to square this particular comment that Jeff has made with
the rest of his points: "Amith's attack at that time (in an open letter)
had destructive effects such as splitting solidarity organizations."
"Amith's attack" was a blog article about an already open split. If Jeff is
arguing that the misuse of internal left-wing disagreement by right-wingers
should not preclude those disagreements because the right will spew forth
bullshit either way, then I'm not sure why he thinks weighing in about such
already public disagreement has "the destructive effect of splitting
solidarity organizations" -- particularly when it's weighing in about a
split that was, by that time, already open. My "attack" was about the
serious structural problems with Palestine solidarity activism in America.
Nor am I quite sure why he takes issue with the rest of the comments I've
posted above, as those comments are also an extension of the same internal
disagreements. From what I gather, Jeff wants it both ways -- we should be
allowed to condemn each other, and it doesn't matter if the condemnations
are used by the right, but also, we should not condemn each other lest we
"split solidarity organizations" -- a very odd thing to say about an
already existing split.
The only difference between my disagreements and the ones that Jeff is
talking about, from what I can make out, is that he is arguing (I think?)
that mine somehow constitute right-wing apologism, that I "choose to blame
the other side of the public debate that was intended to be among the left ".
This is a cryptically worded comment and I can't really figure out what
Jeff is trying to say. Of course, every debate he mentions (about
Trotskyists, the Black Panthers, etc) also involves people alleging that
the other group is engaged in a right-wing deviation. Moreover, it's worth
noting that a group can have contradictory politics, with some aspects of
their political views being right-wing and others being oriented to the
left. We have seen that on Syria. I would argue that virtually every
Palestine solidarity group in America that has been able to maintain even a
small membership would fit that description, with many of these groups
having problematic positions on Zionism, race privilege, their relationship
to the United States, their views on the Middle East as a whole, their
feelings about communism/socialism, their ideas about "non-violence," their
feelings about Palestinian political factions, etc. The Palestine
solidarity movement in the United States is a product of the political
forces in the United States that have made talking about Palestine a
monumentally difficult task; recognizing that and pointing out the negative
repercussions should be seen as a healthy part of left organizing -- not an
attempt to destroy solidarity organizations.
I'm also not sure why Jeff believes the best way to learn about a group is
by joining their list-serv. One would need to hear also from their critics
and also closely follow the debates that take place within an organization
and that do not get blasted out to the constituents. I don't want to derail
the thread away from the singular point I brought up, but it's worth noting
that I've followed many of those debates closely and it has often informed
my worldview about some of these organizations. JVP and US Campaign, for
example, are constantly fighting against a right-wing backlash from the
organized pro-Israel Lobby, but the reality is that they are not viewed
positively within some of the same activist communities. That was true long
before the IAK split and certainly long before I published any blog entries
Amith R. Gupta
On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 4:11 PM, Jeff via Marxism <
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> This professor's plight is a sign both of the Trump regime's suppression
> of academia and activism associated with the left, and of the long-standing
> hostility towards the Palestinians and the solidarity movement by the US
> ruling class as a whole. Our solidarity with such victims is unquestionable
> and these cases need to be highlighted as Louis has done by posting it.
> Now I'm hoping that Amith doesn't have the idea that a few words he
> discovered in print has changed anything at all in relation to a debate
> that has surfaced on this list a few times in the last 3 years. I can
> understand why reading that would have upset him (as I have been upset in
> comparable situations), but I'm pretty sure that if he thinks about it he
> will understand (but I'll spell it out anyway!) why his concern is invalid:
> On 2018-02-08 18:49, A.R. G via Marxism wrote:
> [That the Guardian article links to an attack article which ]
>> in turn links to Tablet Mag, a right-wing Jewish sewer hole,
>> which wholly uses the criticisms of If Americans Knew written by two other
>> ostensibly pro-Palestine groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and US Campaign,
>> order to make their case that there is a consensus that If Americans Knew
>> is an anti-Semitic website.
> Of course that "case" is a mischaracterization but you'd expect as much
> from the right-wing. Amith's calling the named organizations "ostensibly"
> pro-Palestine is inexcusable and indefensible, but beside the point for
> now. The matter Amith has stumbled upon is that the enemy will happily use
> critical discussion within the left against the left. This should have been
> no revelation as it occurs regularly and is a predictable cost for us
> having our discussions and internal disagreements in the open. For those of
> us who have confidence in our mission, that is a small price and one well
> worth paying!
> It is unacceptable to blame those participating in such discussion for
> what the enemy chooses to do with our words; that should be obvious. But I
> do understand the temptation to do so when it is an issue you feel strongly
> about. Less principled forces have had no scruples in that regard:
> Stalinists during their heyday blamed Trotsky (among many others on the
> left) when his criticisms of the soviet bureaucracy were echoed by
> anti-communists. They considered that sufficient evidence to label Trotsky
> a "social-fascist." Discussion within the left around the Moscow trials
> (Stalinist purges) inadvertently provided fodder for those on the right
> intent on identifying revolutionary socialism with dictatorship. This is
> nothing new; this is NORMAL.
> What isn't so normal is when a left participant in such discussions
> chooses to blame the other side of the public debate that was intended to
> be among the left. If that were valid then the discussions on this list
> would have to be strongly regulated, or otherwise held in strict secrecy
> among a trusted group. Because, for instance, criticisms of the Black Bloc
> appearing on this very list (or 1000 other places on the internet) might be
> used by the Trump regime or prosecutors. Or take criticism of the Black
> Panther Party (at the time) for their ultraleftist tactics. Hell, we
> couldn't even have a discussion on the state of civil liberties in Cuba
> without the possibility of providing ammunition against that worker's
> state. The reason none of that is a major concern, is that the discourse of
> the right wing among themselves is going to be stupid anyway and doesn't
> mainly affect what our target audience hears or understands. But in the
> cases when someone who should be on our side hears from the right on such
> an issue, then they will likely look up the original discussion that had
> been cited and read what we REALLY are saying and in the proper context,
> which is what we'd want anyway!
> I trust this reaction from Amith was purely emotional and he'll accept
> that there is no valid conclusion that can be drawn in regards to our own
> concerns from any discussion among the enemy even when it involves quoting
> (or misquoting) our own discussions. If on the other hand he sees this as
> an opportunity to relaunch that previous discussion on this list then he's
> probably making a big mistake and I'm prepared to present the evidence I
> became aware of when Louis cut off the discussion about the leader (not the
> website!) of that organization and her association with the far-right
> (including her holding the presidency of a clearly right wing group whose
> executive director was trained in the CIA). Amith's attack at that time (in
> an open letter) had destructive effects such as splitting solidarity
> On this list he claimed bad political positions being taken by the two
> largest and most prominent solidarity organizations in the US. Although
> there was no justifying evidence for those claims, I thought I should dig
> deeper and see what they were telling their own members (as if it might be
> different from their websites), so I made a point of getting on the mailing
> lists (and still am) of both. All I can say is that if anything Amith
> claimed about them is correct, then they are keeping it well hidden not
> only from their website but from their members. What's more, Amith goes
> beyond criticism of the sort that one would use to rectify errors in policy
> or analysis, but once actually admitted that he thinks (closely
> paraphrasing....) we'd be better off if neither of those organizations even
> existed! (Note that I have never said such a thing about either IAK or CNI,
> just that their right-wing opposition to Israel is antithetical to the left
> and precludes collaboration.)
> - Jeff
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