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Moshé Machover was a founder of the Israeli Socialist Organisation in 1962, better known by the title of its journal, Matzpen (meaning “Compass” in Hebrew). The journal became known for its anti-Zionism and anti-nationalism from a Marxist perspective. Machover was interviewed on 17 September 2015 by Platypus members Thomas Willis and Richard Rubin. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion, focussing on its potential lessons learned for the present.
DESPITE THE CREATION OF AN AUTOCRATIC and anti-Semitic regime after the Khomeneiite revolution of 1979, the European Community and later the European Union continued to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran; and even with new, insufficient sanctions in place, trade with Iran continues until today. It is the capitalist state’s primary task to allow the further realization of capital, but there is a certain sense in which politics surpasses this function

From accusations directed towards Occupy Wall Street to arson attacks in Brooklyn, antisemitism has reemerged as a concern of the left in recent months. This talk will look at the relationship between the left and antisemitism, giving an overview of different historical forms, analyzing divergent theoretical explanations, and comparing the U.S. and German cases. Special attention will be given to examining the particular relationship of antisemitism to political economy and critiques of capitalism, the political implicationst of viewing antisemitism as a form of prejudice versus an ideology, and left debates around antisemitism and Israel post-9/11.

This event is part of the transatlantic dialogue series initiated by the Platypus Affiliated Society which aims to rebuild an emancipatory internationalism.

Zeena Arnold is an activist and scholar from Germany researching perspectives on antisemitism within the U.S. left.

MOISHE POSTONE ONCE REMARKED about the German left: “No western Left was as philo-Semitic and pro-Zionist prior to 1967. Probably none subsequently identified so strongly with the Palestinian cause. What was termed ‘anti-Zionism’ was in fact so emotionally and psychically charged that it went far beyond the bounds of a political and social critique of Zionism.” Postone’s diagnosis, that the Israeli-Arab conflict served as a projection-screen for the psychological needs of the German left, is just as valid for the new political current which, since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in autumn 2000, has come to identify itself completely with the state of Israel.

A roundtable discussion between Alan Goodman from The Revolutionary Communist Party USA, and Richard Rubin from Platypus entitled “Marxism and Israel: Left Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” at Hunter College in New York City. Panelists were asked to speak on the role the Left has played in the development of Israel, the Left’s analysis of the role of American intervention in the Middle East, and what a critical Marxian approach to the conflict currently looks like, compared to what it might look like.

Transcript in Platypus Review #35 (Click below):

Questions for the panelists:
1. Historically, what role has the Marxist Left played in the development of Israel? What would a critical Marxist perspective on Israel, the ideology of Zionism and the Palestinian conflict look like? Has a Left critique historically been applied?

2. What is the relationship between American political hegemony and Israel? How has this traditionally been understood by the "Left", and how is it now portrayed? Has this understanding obscured attempts at political and theoretical analysis? How has it affected the international "Left's" approach to the actual political opposition among Palestinians?

3. Why have leftist approaches to the conflict emphasized a politics of resistance over cogent political visions? Do measures, such as BDS campaigns and the Flotilla effort, that seek to delegitimize Israel and the ideology of Zionism through resistance to its immediate means and policies ameliorate immediate social conditions or clarify political conditions? If not, what sort of approach should be emphasized?