Contested Terrain


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Antisemitism in the syndicalist tradition

September 24th, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

Newly uploaded to Libcom:

Anti-Jewish trends in French revolutionary syndicalism [pdf]: Edmund Silberner on antisemitism among some key figures of the syndicalist movement in France. Originally appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3/4 (Jul. – Oct., 1953). Looks mainly at figures from the 1910s: Georges Sorel, the theorist of the movement; Emile Pataud, secretary of the electricians’ union; and Emile Janvion. Interesting for the overlap between antisemitism and anti-Masonic conspiracy theories.

Thanks to Juan Conatz for uploading.




Occupy Rosh Hashanah 2012, NYC

September 7th, 2012 | admin

Remember Yom Kippur last year? Remember the power of 1,000 voices crying out in unison for social and economic justice in the language of the Hebrew prophets, from the midst of Wall Street? That definitive moment in progressive Jewish action was an expression of desire for a just world that continues to call out from within our hearts and souls. Let’s show the world that, with or without a park to occupy, we have not given up the struggle, and that we will not give up, until we have achieved the redemption
of the world. 

Celebrate the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (which falls on Rosh Hashanah, September 17) and the Jewish New Year together with a potluck dinner and nondemoninational holiday service! Eat some apples and honey, learn some Occupy Torah, and ring in the New Year with a bang!

If you would like to volunteer to organize or lead services, please email

Cosponsored by Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and Jewish Voice for Peace




Chip Berlet interviews David Hirsh on Contemporary Antisemitism and Conspiracy Theory

September 7th, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

This interview is published at Public Eye and Engage. Berlet is a US-based investigative journalist and expert on the far right and conspiracy theories. David Hirsh is a UK-based sociologist. Below are some extracts, but you should read the whole thing.

BERLET: It seems that people who think of themselves as anti-racist and of some sort of progressive political bent have a hard time recognizing antisemitism, even if they recognize antisemitic statements they have a hard time seeing it in the same context of a broader global anti-racist struggle. Why do you think that is?

HIRSH: I think people are very good at recognizing some kinds of antisemitism. If it wears a Nazi uniform they understand it, if it’s right-wing they understand it, if it’s some sort of very simple worldview of racism and anti-racism. If it comes from the left and it comes from people who are anti-racist, then there’s often much more difficulty in recognizing and understanding what’s going on. There [are] many reasons for that.

One is that we think of antisemitism as being Nazism. Nazism was actually an unusual form of antisemitism; it was very clear, it allowed no exceptions; it allowed no escape for Jews. Most forms of antisemitism haven’t been like that., Christian antisemitism allowed people to convert to Christianity and therefore make themselves clean; also political antisemitism allowed Jews to put themselves on the right side of history. One of things we shouldn’t get too hung up on is the idea that antisemites are all like Adolph Hitler, because they’re not.
Continue Reading »




International Antinationalism!

March 26th, 2012 | admin

Written by Working Group “Just Do It!” of AntiFa AK Cologne, Published March 2012.


The following article was written in the context of the mobilisation for the international project “M31”, a European day of action against capitalism and the crisis. It is a first attempt to describe our approach of “antinational communism”*. Antinationalism is a fairly new, German-specific perspective on left-wing radical politics. It came about in the early 90s in Germany as a reaction to the reunification of a new, greater Germany and the occurrences of racism/fascism by a reactionary civil society. What is its central tenet? Nationalism or – to be more precise – the idea of the nation itself is seen as the central ideology, the all-time dominant, undeniable category in the global, oppressing power relation of capitalism and the capitalist state, which we want to see abolished. From our point of view, an antinational perspective goes beyond traditional left-wing approaches (classical anti-imperialism). And yet, we do not like to focus on Germany and its specifics alone and instead pick up a certain idea of international networking. We want to free this approach from its Germany-focussed isolation and – especially now at a time of crisis, when we can develop transnational reference points – start discussions with comrades in other European countries. Hence we decided to call this approach “international antinationalism”. This is also one of the main motivations for us and our antinational, German-wide network “…ums Ganze!” to engage in the project “M31”, which was largely initiated out of Germany.

*For us, communism has so far never existed. Communism is “the real movement which abolishes the present state of things” (Marx), i.e. the total negation of the present, capitalist world order for an emancipated, liberated society. The Soviet Union and “real-existing socialism” never was able to get rid of certain basic-capitalist categories, like value or wage labour. Thus, our use of the term communism distances itself from historic attempts at “Real Socialism”.

Continue reading here




Nuanced History of the Anti-Germans

March 15th, 2012 | admin

The following is a post written to the Marxism email list by Henning Böke, titled simply “Antideutsche, once again”. It presents a nuanced overview of the development of the anti-Germans, one of the very few english-language resources on the topic. It was originally posted here:
Continue Reading »




Beethoven Versus McDonalds

March 9th, 2012 | admin

This text was written by the West German radical Left group “Revolutionary Cells” in 1983, and addresses nationalism and anti-Americanism in Germany and in the German peace movement. [Source] — eds. Contested Terrain
Continue Reading »




Occupy, (anti-)Capitalism and the Right

March 9th, 2012 | schalom libertad

Two crossposts from Three Way Fight on the Occupy movement and the Right:

1.)       Anti-capitalism versus populism

Occupy Wall Street is one of the most exciting political developments in years, but like any social movement it has its contradictions. As I noted briefly at the end of my previous post, the Occupy movement is vulnerable to right-wing overtures to the extent that many progressive-minded activists lack clear anti-capitalist and anti-fascist politics. While some Occupiers have put forward a radical class analysis, others have voiced a sort of liberal populism, which identifies the problem as specific institutions, policies, or subjective behaviors rather than the capitalist system. Several leftists on other websites have addressed this political limitation and its unfortunate resonances with right-wing ideology. Here I want to summarize some of their main points, then offer an important counter-example of Occupy movement anti-capitalism – the plan by West coast Occupy movements to blockade ports on December 12th.

Continue reading here

2.) Rightists woo the Occupy Wall Street movement

Most right-wing responses to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement have ranged from patronizing to hostile. Rightists have variously criticized the Occupy forces for–supposedly–copying the Tea Party; failing to target big government; being dirty, lazy lawbreakers; being orchestrated by pro-Obama union bosses and community organizers; having ties with radical Islamists; fomenting antisemitism; or failing to address Jewish dominance of Wall Street. (On the Jewish Question, the John Birch Society wants to have it both ways–arguing that antisemitic attacks are integral to the Occupy movement’s leftist ideology, but also that the movement is bankrolled by Jewish financier George Soros, who is backed by “the unimaginably vast Rothschild banking empire.”)

At the same time, some right-wingers have joined or endorsed Occupy events, causing some leftists and liberals to raise warning flags. Neonazis have shown up at Occupy Phoenix and been kicked out of Occupy Seattle, where leftists formed an antifascist working group to keep them out. The Liberty Lamp, an anti-racist website, has identified a number of right-wing groups that have sought to “capitalize on the success” of OWS, including several neonazi organizations, Oath Keepers (a Patriot movement group for police and military personnel), libertarian supporters of Texas congressmember Ron Paul, and even the neoconservative American Spectator magazine. Leonard Zeskind’s Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has warned against Tea Party supporters “who want to be friends with the Occupiers,” including FedUpUSA, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, and conspiracist talk show host Alex Jones. The International Socialist Organization has focused on Ron Paul libertarians as a particular threat to the Occupy movement. In a related vein, the socialist journal Links reposted a detailed expose of Zeitgeist (aka the Venus Project), a conspiracist cult that has been involved in Occupy movement events, many of whose ideas are rooted in antisemitism or other right-wing ideology.

There is always a danger that some rightists will come to Occupy movement events to harass or attack leftists, or act as spies or provocateurs. More commonly, rightists see the movement as an opportunity to gain credibility, win new recruits, or build coalitions with leftists. When pitching to left-leaning activists, these right-wingers emphasize their opposition to the U.S. economic and political establishment–but downplay their own oppressive politics. In place of systemic critiques of power, rightists promote distorted forms of anti-elitism, such as conspiracy theories or the belief that government is the root of economic tyranny. We’ve seen this “Right Woos Left” dynamic over and over, for example in the anti-war, environmental, and anti-globalization movements.

Continue reading here…




99 Problems

February 23rd, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

This is a text, signed by “Some Anarchist Occupiers”, published at Rififi Bloomington, a site produced by activists from Occupy Bloomington, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Pronoun note: “We” here refers to us (the authors) and you (if you so choose to include yourself). “We” is NOT the occupation, the “movement,” or you (if you don’t choose to include yourself).

When Tea Partiers bad-mouth “welfare queens” or “border jumpers,” folks are quick to point out their racist stigmatizations, and that’s a good thing. However, everyone could do best to question their own assumptions as well, especially around the 99% rhetoric that large swaths of the occupy movement have claimed as a starting point. This rhetoric is antisemitic (definition: hatred or discrimination of Jews) and deserves to be called into question just as much as racist Tea Party rhetoric, and to be taken just as seriously as any other form of racism. Continue Reading »




Jews and the Left – Conference, May 6-7, NYC

February 15th, 2012 | admin

Announcement: The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research’s Conference “Jews and the Left”. May 6-7, 2012, New York City.

Description: Since the nineteenth century, Jews have played prominent roles in a variety of leftist political movements. At the same time, associations between Jews and communism have been a frequent leitmotif of antisemitic thinking. While the political Left often spoke out against antisemitism and promised Jews tolerance and an end to distinctions between Jews and non-Jews, specific, prominent, leftists espoused antisemitic ideas. In addition, Jews cultivated their own, uniquely Jewish, socialist parties and ideologies. In recent years, the relationship between Jews and the Left has been further complicated by left-wing opposition to the State of Israel and debates about the extent to which this opposition bleeds into outright antisemitism. YIVO, in association with AJHS, will bring together historians, political scientists, philosophers, and journalists from Europe, Israel, and America to discuss some of the important topics pertaining to the relationship between Jews and the Left.

Info here:




OWS and rallying against antisemitic violence in Brooklyn

November 18th, 2011 | bobfrombrockley

A guest post by P. Naberrie

There was an antisemitic arson attack in Midwood, Brooklyn a few days ago, with three cars torched to the ground and swastika/SS and KKK graffiti on surrounding benches, right in the middle of an Orthodox neighbourhood. A “Daily News” article the following day quoted a local resident tying the attacks to OWS, because of the antisemitic signs that could be observed there.

The OWS General Assembly agreed upon following statement against antisemitism on the 12th
and called for people to go down to a community rally today.

When I came down there it was mostly around 70 Orthodox/visibly religious Jews from the neighbourhood, lots of media, one Israeli flag, and some speeches by local politicians and NY state senator Eric Adams (focusing on a general “hate is bad” line), some attempts at Black-Jewish joint  efforts against AS and racism, and then ending in a law-and-order tone stressing the need to track down the perpetrators and lock them up. One person held a sign saying “Orthodox Jews welcome OWS”, and got verbally attacked by somebody else, who said he didn’t want to have anything to do with antisemitic OWS.

After an hour or so around 30 people from OWS came down and joined the little march, handing out the flyer above and talking to people. There was a bit of interaction here and there, until 3 folks from Neturei Karta showed up with a sign saying “Judaism is not Zionism” and a swastika=Star of David drawing. They shouted fairly loudly, until one of them got beaten up and thrown to the floor. The attacker – apparently some Jewish man – got stopped or even arrested by the police, the Neturei Karta people got walked away.

So – one could argue that OWS has only come up with this kind of rally support because they have been under attack from the media/the right and want to get their public image straight. Most likely, without these attacks OWS would not have called for this kind of action (which wouldn’t be a sign of worry in itself – OWS endorses mostly stuff having to do with economic inequality, and sometimes police brutality, but not necessarily issues beyond that). Nevertheless, it seems to me from talking to people who came down there that there was a genuine concern about the arson attacks, and about making clear that antisemitism is not accepted. Also, no weird mixing-in of Israel-Palestine issues at all.

Apparently, the General Assembly made a pretty clear decision about this statement as well. To me, this just strengthens my perspective that antisemitism is not really an issue among the large part of the OWS crowd – at least not in any kind of open form, as the right would want to suggest. But I’d be curious to hear if other people have a different experience or analysis.

Additional links Continue Reading »


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