Amid Israel's massive aerial bombardment of Gaza, accusations of anti-Semitism at demonstrations for Palestine are mounting. But some instances were later revealed to have been distorted or exaggerated. The increasingly accepted official "working definition of anti-Semitism" dangerously muddies the water by explicitly conflating anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred. Media questioning of the claims of the Israeli military has even been compared to Holocaust denial. Yet actual, unambiguous Jew-hatred is meanwhile much in evidence, in America and Europe alike. This raises the imperative on activists to genuinely grapple with the distinction, rather than merely dismissing anti-Semitism as Zionist propaganda—which is, ironically, itself an anti-Semitic response. In Episode 201 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the dilemma. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
As Israel crosses the genocidal threshold in Gaza, a regional summit in Riyadh protests, and issues an urgent call for a ceasefire. Yet the regional powers at that summit are guilty of equivalent crimes—Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and Iran and the Basar Assad regime in Syria. Assad's propaganda chief Bouthaina Shaaban especially decried Israel's targeting of hospitals in Gaza. Yet as recently as last month, the Assad regime bombed hospitals in Syria's rebel-held north. Indeed, the Assad regime also savagely bombed and besieged Palestinians for months, at Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus. In Episode 200 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with chagrin that key organizers of this month's National March on Washington for Palestine included pseudo-left "tankie" formations that actively support the genocidal Assad regime. They also now abet Russia's genocidal campaign in Ukraine, in which hospitals have been repeatedly targeted. This moral contradiction undercuts our effectiveness in advancing the urgent demand for a ceasefire in Gaza.
In both the United States and United Kingdom, progressive politicians have been censured for use of the slogan "Palestine will be free from the river to the sea." Much media reportage has simply accepted portrayals of the slogan as inherently anti-Semitic and a call for genocide. Nor, given the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7 and the wave of anti-Semitic attacks around the world since then, should such concerns be merely dismissed. Indeed, the slogan does inherently challenge the precepts of Zionism and the moribund dogma of a two-state solution. In Episode 199 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg urges that it is incumbent upon activists to articulate a vision of a single secular state with equal rights for all in historic Palestine. While this may seem utopian, clarity on this question will make us more tactically effective in advancing the urgent immediate demand: a ceasefire in Gaza.
As Israel now openly approaches a genocidal threshold in Gaza, it is clear that the hostages held by Hamas have been sacrificed to the end of collective vengeance on the Palestinian people. In Episode 198 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg echoes urgent demands for a ceasefire, and also notes the "all-for-all" solution now being advanced by the families of the hostages—all Israelis held by Hamas for all Palestinians held by Israel, many of whom have been detained for years without charge. First put forth by Mustafa Barghouti of the secular-left Palestinian National Initiative, this proposal holds hope for a step back from the brink, recognizing the humanity of both "sides."
In Episode 197 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that as Israel crosses a genocidal threshold in Gaza, Vladimir Putin hypocritically protests the carnage—despite the fact that he has already crossed that threshold in Ukraine. This hypocrisy is precisely mirrored by that of Joe Biden. The moral position of Ukraine's resistance to Russian aggression, occupation and genocide is undermined by the contradiction of its Western backers such as the US marshalling massive resources—in the very same legislation just introduced by Biden on Capitol Hill—to assist Israeli aggression, occupation and genocide.
In Episode 196 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with alarm the police-state measures being put in place in Israel, as well as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, to suppress protest against Israel's criminal assault on Gaza, now approaching a genocidal threshold. This has obvious echoes of the draconian crackdown on anti-war dissent in Russia since the launch of the Ukraine invasion. The more Israel and its Western allies which are also backing Ukraine come to resemble the fascist state of Vladimir Putin, both in criminal military tactics and police-state measures to suppress dissent to such tactics, the worse it will to be not only for the Palestinians, but also in the long run for the Ukrainians.
In Episode 195 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg warns that with "Operation Swords of Iron," the massive military campaign in Gaza launched in response to Hamas' "al-Aqsa Flood," Israel may be crossing the genocidal threshold it has long been approaching. As the United Nations and human rights groups urgently appeal to Israel to rescind its illegal order for a mass evacuation of northern Gaza, obviously a prelude to yet greater bombardment and a re-occupation of the Strip, the US and other Western powers are complicit. Their support for Israel, a predatory annexationist power on Palestinian land, opens a moral contradiction that weakens the position of Ukraine in its struggle against Russia's annexationist and ultimately genocidal aggression.
In Episode 194 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews Russia in Africa: Resurgent Great Power or Bellicose Pretender? by Samuel Ramani. Oxford scholar Ramani traces the history from Imperial Russia's Cossack adventures in Djibouti to the contemporary Wagner Group operations in Sudan, the Sahel nations, and across the African continent. Is Russia truly a Great Power that can challenge the traditional colonial and neo-colonial powers on the continent, or is it a "pretender" which is at this moment assuming a particularly bellicose posture to compensate for its lack of structural imperial power? And does it make a difference? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.