Israel Welcomes Donald Trump and Breibart’s anti-Semitic Steve Bannon
Zionism has never had a problem with anti-Semitism
It must have been a shock to the signatories of a 175 strong letter, including 21 members of the Jewish Labour Movement, [JLM] that the President of the Board of Deputies, Jonathan Arkush, ‘publicly congratulated Donald Trump on his election win’. After all these young things have grown up to believe that anti-Semitism is a left-wing phenomenon that only exists in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Most of them probably subscribe to the notion common among Zionists that anti-Semitism equals anti-Zionism. [See for example Sir Mick Davies, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, in his evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Anti-Semitism].
One wonders whether members of the Jewish Labour Movement who signed the above letter, such as Rhea Wolfson who is on Labour’s NEC, are also going to come out and condemn Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Israeli Labour Party. Herzog also sent his congratulations to Trump, praising him as:
“an American leader who showed the commentators and the skeptics that we are in a new era of change and replacing the old elitist regimes!… the defense and financial alliance with our strongest and most powerful ally will continue with a vengeance under your presidency.”
Those who imagine there is anything radical or progressive in the Israeli Labour Party should have their eyes opened to this nakedly racist and anti-Arab party. The election of the neo-fascist Trump is greeted effusively by its leader, Herzog.
In America there has been a massive backlash among Jews at the election against Trump and outrage at the Zionist Organisation of America [ZOA] which has supported Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, as Trump’s Strategic Advisor. Indeed the ZOA has gone one step further:
‘The ZOA’s ardent defense of Bannon was shortly followed by the announcement that Bannon would be a featured speaker at the organization’s annual Brandeis Award Dinner.’ Stephen Bannon’s Inclusion at ZOA Dinner Opens Rift Among American Jewish Groups. If Not Now, a left-wing Jewish group has announced it is going to picket the ZOA’s dinner.
Libby Lenkinski of the liberal Zionist New Israel Fund declared that ‘We did not survive the Holocaust, we did not found the State of Israel, just so that less than two generations later we could cozy up to neo-Nazis” . Some may ask where Ms Lenkinski has been all these years. Has she not seen the growth of a Jewish neo-Nazi movement in Israel with Lehava and the mobs that cry ‘Death to the Arabs’? Or those who put signs in shops boasting that they don’t employ Arabs? Zionist Organization of America Flooded With ‘Dozens of Calls’ Amid Backlash Over Bannon Support
Was she unaware of the military support that the Israeli government gave to the neo-Nazi Junta in Argentina between 1976–1983 when they tortured and murdered up to 3,000 young Jewish leftists, up to 12.5% of the Disappeared? Surely she recalls the statement in the Knesset of Yossi Sarid of Meretz, that
‘the government of Israel never once lifted a finger and co-operated with the Argentine murderers because of their interest in arms deals….In Argentina, Israel sold even the Jews for the price of its immediate interests.’ [“Yes, I Accuse,” Ha’aretz, 31 August 1989, p. 7]
This junta was the only neo-Nazi regime to take power in the post-war period yet Israel’s attitude to it was no different from the historic relationship of Zionism to anti-Semitism.
What we are seeing with the election of Trump and the enthusiastic support for him in Israel, is a cleavage between the interests of the Israeli state and the Zionist movement on the one hand and the interests of the Jewish diaspora on the other. Although this contradiction has rarely surfaced, it has always been there. Zionism was founded on a rejection of the Jewish diaspora which represented everything that it was fighting against. Zionists spoke of diaspora Jews in much the same way as anti-Semites did.
Pinhas Rosenbluth, Israel’s first Justice Minister wrote that Palestine was ‘an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’. [Joachim Doron, ‘Classic Zionism and modern anti-semitism: parallels and influences’ (1883–1914), Studies in Zionism 8, Autumn 1983] Jacob Klatzkin, editor of the Zionist paper Die Welt 1909–1911 and co-founder of the Encyclopedia Judaica, wrote that diaspora Jewry were ‘a people disfigured in both body and soul — in a word, of a horror… some sort of outlandish creature… in any case, not a pure national type…. some sort of oddity among the peoples going by the name of Jew.’ [Arthur Herzberg, The Zionist Idea, p. 322/323, Temple, Atheneum, New York 1981].
Negation of the Diaspora was the ideological foundation stone of Zionism. When Arthur Ruppin, the Father of Land Settlement in Israel and a member of the Zionist Executive, was called an anti-Semite by a friend he responded that ‘He was not at all put off by the epithet … “I have already established here [in his diary] that I despise the cancers of Judaism more than does the worst anti-Semite.” [Diaries 4.8.93., Doron p. 186]
Such was the vehemence with which Zionists spoke about diaspora Jewry that Doron writes that ‘a perusal of the Zionist sources reveals a wealth of charges against the Diaspora Jew, some of which are so scathing that the generation that witnessed Auschwitz has difficulty comprehending them.’
This is not just a historical footnote. Zionists accuse anti-Zionist Jews of ‘self-hatred’ But if anyone is guilty of ‘self-hatred’ it is the Zionists. Israeli novelist, A B Yehoshua, in a talk to the Zionist Youth Council spoke of the diaspora as the ‘cancer connected to the main tissue of the Jewish people.’ Yehoshua described diaspora Jews as ‘using other people’s countries like hotels.’ [Jewish Chronicle 22.12.1989. ‘Diaspora: A Cancer’] In other words, Jews outside Israel are guests who don’t belong in the countries where they live. Which chimes exactly with the views of anti-Semites.
Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, was pioneered Zionist anti-Semitism. His essay Mauschel is a text-book example. [Zionist Writings. Essays and Addresses, Vol. 1: January 1896-June 1898. Trans. Harry Zohn, Herzl Press, NY, 1973] The title of the essay was a German epithet for a haggling Jewish trader, or a Jew generally; since the 17th century. Herzl saw anti-Semitism as a positive asset in helping encourage Jews to move to Palestine. Herzl wrote that ‘anti-Semitism has grown and continues to grow and so do I.’ [Diaries of Theodor Herzl, ed. Ralph Patai, p.7, Thomas Yosseloff and Herzl Press, London, 1960] and he drew the conclusion that ‘the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.’ [Complete Diaries, pp. 83/84.]
What we are seeing is a continuation of the historic policy of Zionism towards anti-Semitism from Herzl to the Holocaust. Zionism is and always has been concerned with what is in the interest of the Jewish State not the Jews. Yithak Mualem wrote of Argentina that:
‘While the Jewish factor has an effect on Israeli foreign policy, it is not a decisive one. It is not the only consideration… The heritage of David Ben-Gurion determined that “in our relations (with foreign countries) we should be guided by one criteria…and that is whether it is good for the Jews.” … According to Ben-Gurion’s national approach, the state constitutes the highest goal of Zionism and the Jewish people. He did not ignore the problems of the Jews in the diaspora, but nevertheless saw the goals of the diaspora as secondary to the goals of the state, whose mere existence serves the needs of the diaspora.’ [Between a Jewish and an Israeli Foreign Policy: Israel-Argentina Relations and the Issue of Jewish Disappeared Persons and Detainees under the Military Junta, 1976–1983 Jewish Political Studies Review 16:1–2 (Spring 2004):
The idea that what is good for the Jewish State is good for the Jews since ‘the state constitutes the highest goal of Zionism and the Jewish people.’ is a fascist idea.
Hadashot, a now defunct Israeli newspaper, described how Marcel Zohar, a Yediot Aharonot correspondent in Argentina between 1978 and 1982, told in his book Let My People Go to Hell, how the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and other official bodies refrained from processing immigration applications from Jews with left-wing backgrounds, in order to preserve Israel’s business and political links with the ruling junta. In the same period, arms sales worth about one billion dollars were concluded between Israel and Argentina. Both Likud and Labour leaders shared in the conspiracy of silence. [28 Sept. 1990 Israel Denied Shelter to Left-wing Argentine Jews During Junta Rule]
The Zionist attitude during the Holocaust was no different from previously. Building a Jewish state was of greater importance than rescuing Jewish refugees. Indeed the Zionist movement endeavoured to ensure that rescue would only be to Palestine and in some cases actively acted against other destinations like Santo Domingo. [Shabtai Beit Zvi, Post-Ugandan Zionism on Trial, Vol. 1, p.315–364 1991, Zehala, Tel Aviv]
Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion’s official biographer, wrote, that:
‘In spite of the certainty that genocide was being carried out, the Jewish Agency Executive did not deviate appreciably from its routine … Two facts can be definitely stated: Ben-Gurion did not put the rescue effort above Zionist politics …. he never saw fit to explain why, then or later. Instead he devoted his effort to rallying the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine] and Zionism around the Biltmore Program and to the preparations for its implementation. ‘[The Burning Ground 1886–1948, Houghton Miflin, Boston, 1987 p.848].
Teveth explained that ‘Ben-Gurion was more concerned for the fate of the Yishuv than for that of European Jewry. Ben-Gurion repeatedly stressed that the importance of the Yishuv went far beyond the individual Jews of Palestine.’ Why? Because ‘the Yishuv was a “great and invaluable security, a security for the hope of the Jewish people.’  Teveth concluded that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ 
It is therefore entirely consistent that Zionist leaders, in Israel and the United States, have been supportive, not only of Trump but Bannon too. The Israeli ambassador to the United States made the government’s position clear when he praised Trump as a “true friend of Israel” ‘extending a specific mention to incoming top White House adviser Steve Bannon.’
Alan Dershowitz, who has attacked Black Lives Matter as anti-Semitic, because of their support for BDS, displayed unusual reticence when it came to Bannon. ‘I think we have to be very careful before we accuse any particular individual of being an anti-Semite. The evidence certainly suggests that Mr. Bannon has very good relationships with individual Jews.’ Of course it is quite possible to be friendly to Jews on a personal level and yet anti-Semitic politically. Providing a media platform for anti-Semitic and white supremacist articles is racist and anti-Semitic. Enoch Powell, the English Tory MP who argued for repatriation of Black people, was never accused of being a racist on a personal level,.
Robert Mackey describes how the leaders of anti-Muslim racism and chauvinism in the United States have rallied to the cause of Steven Bannon [Steve Bannon Made Breitbart a Space for Pro-Israel Writers and Anti-Semitic Readers] This includes David Horowitz, a key figure and founder of Frontpagemag.com and Pamela Geller, who has been ‘championed by Breitbart’ and ‘barred from travel to Britain in 2013, because of her virulent Islamaphobia.
Under Andrew Breibart, who died in 2012, Breitbart was focused on “calling out the left, but especially American Jews who were insufficiently loyal to Israel.” In other words there was nothing these bigots loved more than attacking anti-racist Jews. For Breitbart “the left is the enemy, but Jews on the left are worse because they are traitors” who are “selling out Israel.” The idea that Jews in the diaspora owe Israel any loyalty is itself anti-Semitic.
Mackey notes that ‘Breitbart’s right-wing Jewish writers were willing to use anti-Semitic tropes to attack their left-wing Jewish enemies as “self-hating” enemies of Israel.’ ‘Self-hatred’ was the term the Nazis applied to anti-fascist Germans.
All of this has caused anguish amongst liberal Zionists. Forward’s Jane Eisner wrote:
‘For many years now, American Jews have been told to worry about anti-Semitism from the left… So obsessed are we with looking for threats from one direction that we have missed the growing danger from another.’
Despite Israel’s support for the new administration, including Bannon, the liberal Zionists still fool themselves that ‘there is a coherent threat from the right as well as from the left,” Eisner quotes Yehuda Kurtzer of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, “I don’t know why there isn’t a coherent response to the right.”
Eisner, Kurtzner and The Forward demonstrate the muddle and confusion at the heart of liberal Zionism. A muddle represented by the signatories to the letter to the Board of Deputies. They wonder why there is no ‘coherent response’ to the anti-Semitism of the Right as there is to ‘left anti-Semitism’. The answer is of course obvious. Zionism and Israel have never have been interested in fighting the anti-Semitism of the Right. Their only interest is in branding anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism because the former is a direct challenge to Israel as a Jewish supremacist state. These liberals have turned a blind eye to Israel’s anti-Arab racism for so long that they cannot see that the Israeli state also has no principled objection to anti-Jewish racism.
Chami Shalev in Steve Bannon Signals Coming Storm for Jews in Age of Donald Trump quotes Deborah Lipstadt, the Zionist Holocaust historian “We need to do a serious reckoning. It’s been so convenient for people to beat up on the left, but you can’t ignore what’s coming from the right.” These hypocrites who turned a blind eye to Israel’s murderous carnage in Gaza, its systematic denial of rights to Palestinians, are now dumbstruck at how Israel and the Zionist movement has no objection to the anti-Semites in the new Trump administration. Shalev describes how Bannon is ‘the poster child’ for right-wing Zionists such as Mort Klein, ‘the very hawkish head of the Zionist Organization of America’
It is amusing to read liberal Zionists like Jane Eisner discovering that ‘it’s possible to be Zionist and anti-Semitic at the same time.’ Zionist ideologues have long argued that if you are pro-Zionist then you can’t be anti-Semitic. No one pursued this more avidly than the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Pollard defended the anti-Semitic Polish MEP Michal Kaminski, who had attacked any Polish apology for the burning alive of up to 900 Jews in Jedwabne in 1941 by fellow Poles. Pollard wrote that ‘I worked in Brussels. It is not a place associated with friendliness towards Israel…. One of that rare group is Michal Kaminski. .. It would be harder to find a greater friend in Brussels. That is why the accusation of antisemitism is so vile.’ [Kaminski is our friend — this is a smear campaign]
Unsurprisingly Pollard has been one of the main leaders of the campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the Labour Party as ‘anti-Semitic’. Eisner notes that ‘according to this logic, as long as you support certain policies of the current Israeli government, it’s okay to pal around with people who hate Jews.’ Liberal Zionists are having to go through a steep learning curve! Similarly Naomi Zeveloff writes about how although ‘it would seem impossible to hate Jews but love the Jewish state, these two viewpoints are not as contradictory as they appear.’
Breitbart News has embraced the anti-Semitic white supremacist movement. “We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon proudly told Mother Jones last summer. It is the alt-Right supporters of Trump who are the ones who have been sending anti-Semitic messages laden with Holocaust imagery to Jewish journalists around the country.
As Eisner notes, ‘some, like Bannon, see in Israel a (white) nationalist, anti-Arab country worth supporting — over there. Here, in America, they may accept, even respect, individual Jews, but their ideological aim is to cleanse the country of its multiculturalism and restore privilege to white Christian males.’ What Eisner does not do is explain why the American and European far-Right see Israel as a country worth supporting.
Eisner, and not only her, are in a state of shock at discovering that supporting Israel and supporting anti-Semitism are entirely compatible whereas opposing racism, be it in America or Israel, is going to get you labelled as an ‘anti-Semite’ by the anti-Semites! Zeveloff notes how ‘Breitbart News… is also brazenly Zionist, albeit peddling an exclusively right wing perspective on Israel.’
What we are seeing is a great awakening among some Zionists. How long it lasts is another matter. Zeveloff even quotes Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion that ‘There is actually “little correlation” between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, … To be sure, anti-Semitism is found among the anti-Zionist left. But it is also found among the Zionist right.’ Groping towards an understanding of the present confusing situation, Zeveloff cites Cohen as saying that “Many people who dislike Jews like Israel and many people who are critical toward Israel are affectionate toward Jews.”
As Trump’s administration embraces the politics of the alt-Right and Israel’s supporters embrace them too, liberal Zionists are going to find it difficult coming to terms with the fact that all their comfortable nostrums about a ‘different’ Zionism have gone out of the window. We live in interesting times!