politics of anti-Semitism
Russia announced on March 1 that it intends to host an international "Anti-Fascist Conference"—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. Russia struck the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial in a raid apparently targeting a nearby TV tower, killing five people. The memorial marks the site of the murder of 33,771 Jews by the Nazis in one of the most heinous acts of World War II. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s first Jewish president, last year attended a ceremony for the opening of a synagogue at the site. He responded to the missile attack on the monument by tweeting: "To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? ...History repeating…"
In Episode 112 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to deconstruct the cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism of Vladimir Putin's war drive against Ukraine. Putin's speech announcing his "military operation" in Ukraine says his aim is to "denazify" the country. This as Ukraine's Jews prepare to flee the advancing Russian forces in a mass evacuation. While Ukraine has been going in a more democratic direction since the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Russia over this same period has seen a consolidation of increasingly autocratic power in the hands of Vladimir Putin—who has ruled continuously as either president or prime minister since 1999. As courageous anti-war protesters flood the streets of cities across Russia in defiance of the authorities, the morally and intellectually bankrupt "left" in the United States echoes Putin's lies. Especially called out for regurgitating Kremlin propaganda that paints Ukraine as a "Nazi" state and blames NATO for Putin's war of aggression are the now essentially pro-war CodePink and the very ironically named Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Any genuine anti-war position must begin with repudiating Putin's fascist ambition to rebuild the Russian empire. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 108 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the frightening East-West escalation over Ukraine. Beyond the front-line on that country's eastern borders, the forces of Russia and its allies and those of NATO are preparing for war from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. The "anti-war" (sic) left in the US is, with perfect predictability, lining up with Russia. Contrary to pseudo-left misconceptions, the post-Cold War promises made to Russia that NATO would not expand east were never formalized. However, the promises to Ukraine that its sovereignty and territory would be protected were formalized. The prevailing double standard on the Western "left" sensationalizes a "Nazi" threat in Ukraine while ignoring the actual consolidation of fascistic dictatorships in Russia and Belarus. Putin's propaganda, spread by the Kremlin media machine, is an exercise in fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Meanwhile, Ukrainian socialists and democratic-left forces advance a "Neither East Nor West" position that demands solidarity against Russian aggression from the world anti-war forces. Ironically, Lenin himself declared unequivocally for Ukrainian self-determination—here and here and here and here. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Scores of Jewish worshipers were reportedly arrested when Nigerian state security forces raided a synagogue in the Igbo village of Orji, Imo state, on Oct. 30. Local media reported that soldiers burst into the temple during Shabbat services and fired in the air before taking several away in military vans, apparently on suspicion of supporting the Biafra separatist movement. "Among those arrested is the head of the Association of Jewish Faith Synagogue, whom they mistreated and took away," one witness said.
In Episode 90 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines claims from New York's Gov. Kathy Hochul and local politicians of "anti-Semitic graffiti" spray-painted along Manhattan's Harlem River Drive on the eve of Yom Kippur. The governor's press release did not tell us what the graffiti actually said. This is rather critical information, given the contemporary controversies about what constitutes an anti-Semitic slur, and the confusion between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Yet most media coverage uncritically accepted Hochul's claims. Weinberg parses the facts in the case, and (as usual) finds plenty to criticize on both sides: the spray-painters and the politicians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Let's start by stating the obvious. Under long-ruling dictator Alexander Lukashenko, a fascistic order has long obtained in Belarus—and it may now be going over the edge into outright fascism. Since 1994, Lukashenko has maintained power through the usual admixture of electoral fraud, party patronage and state terror. When the fraud became a bit too blatant in last August's presidential race, the country exploded into protest. Lukashenko unleashed riot squads and army troops on the protesters, but the movement stayed strong—for months holding weekly demonstrations demanding the fall of the regime. This movement was finally beaten back in a wave of harsh repression earlier this year; tens of thousands have been detained, and hundreds have been subject to torture. Anti-fascists and anarchists have been particularly singled out for persecution under Lukashenko, and the current wave of terror has been no exception. Regime propaganda has been periodically punctuated by paranoid anti-Semitism. And this machinery of repression has, of course, been amply lubricated by foreign capital, which has invested heavily in the regime.
Individuals involved in the new outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting may be targeted by an International Criminal Court investigation now underway into possible war crimes in earlier eruptions of the conflict, top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with Reuters May 13. Bensouda said she would press ahead with her inquiry even without the cooperation of Israel, which rejects the ICC's jurisdiction. "These are events that we are looking at very seriously," Bensouda told Reuters. "We are monitoring very closely and I remind that an investigation has opened..." She also warned in a tweet of the "possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statue."
In Episode 68 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg offers a meditation on the final demise of the millennia-old Jewish community in Yemen, as the last families of Yemeni Jews are deported by the Houthi rebels that hold the capital and much of the country's north. Largely ignored by the world media amid the ongoing horrors in Yemen, this grim passage poses challenges to some fundamental assumptions of both Zionism and anti-imperialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.