By Richard Mather
Poverty is bad. Workers require decent wages to survive. Women and men are equal. I ascribe to these views. Many people do. But these were also the ideals of a French socialist philosopher from the early nineteenth century. His name was Francois Fourier and he hated Jews.
According to Fourier, capitalism and the Jews were partners in crime. Commerce was the “source of all evil” and Jews were the “incarnation of commerce.” One of Fourier’s most unpleasant followers was Alphonse Toussenel who, in 1845, produced a book called Les Juifs: rois de l’epoque, in which he attacked Jews as capitalist conspirators.
In 1847, another French socialist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, wrote: “Abolish the synagogues; do not admit them [the Jews] to any kind of employment, pursue finally the abolition of this cult [… ] The Jew is the enemy of the human race. One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.”
In 1843, Karl Marx (ancestrally Jewish but embarrassed of his heritage) authored an essay titled “On the Jewish Question,” wherein he asserted that commercialism was the triumph of Judaism and that usury was the “object of the Jew’s worship.” Historian Bernard Lewis has described the essay as “one of the classics of anti-Semitic propaganda.”
Despite affection for his Jewish friends, Friedrich Engels claimed in 1892 that he understood French anti-Semitism, “when I see how many Jews of Polish origin and with German names intrude themselves everywhere, arrogate everything to themselves and push themselves forward to the point of creating public opinion.”
J. A. Hobson, a left-wing polemicist for the Manchester Guardian newspaper, blamed the Boer War on the South African Jews, referring to them as “a small group international financiers” who were “devoid of social morality.”
In the 1920s, Adolf Hitler transformed a small socialist group called the German Workers’ Party into the National Socialist Workers Party. In a speech on May 1 1927, Hitler announced: “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system.” Hitler blamed Jews for Germany’s economic woes.
Ulrike Meinhof, a left-wing German terrorist of the 1970s, described the six million victims of the Holocaust as “money-Jews.” She opined: “Finance capital and the banks, the hard core of the system of imperialism and capitalism had turned the hatred of men against money and exploitation, and against the Jews.”
In 2014, George Galloway, the ultra-leftist MP for Bradford West in England, declared the city “an Israel-free zone.” He stated: “We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford.”
The point of all this is to show how deeply ingrained and how widespread anti-Jewish bigotry is in some strands of socialism’s critique of capitalism. One of the great subterfuges of Marxist ideology is to ascribe anti-Semitism solely to the Far Right – but the truth is much more damning.
Left-wing anti-Semitism in Britain almost scuppered Israel. Labour’s Ernest Bevin (the foreign secretary in the UK’s post-WWII government) was so convinced that he was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy that he embargoed arms shipments at a time when the new Jewish state was fighting for its life. He also refused to lift restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine. In 1948, he negotiated the Portsmouth Treaty (never to be implemented), in which Britain agreed to provide the Iraqis with weapons to destroy the Jewish national home. The post-war Labour government in Britain also sided with the Egyptians in the Arab-Israeli war. The British sent five reconnaissance aircraft to scout for Israeli positions but were shot down by the Jewish air force.
Stalin and his socialist allies in Europe favoured the partitioning of Palestine in 1947 because they believed Israel would be a socialist outpost in the Middle East. But Stalin’s paranoid anti-Semitism meant that he spent the last years of his life trying to extract Jewishness from Soviet society. He even considered deporting two million Jews to Siberia, but he died before the plan could be enacted.
From the 1950s, the USSR effortlessly conflated Zionism, capitalism, Jews and Judaism. In the words of Paul Johnson, the Soviets “assembled materials from virtually every archaeological layer of anti-Semitic history, from classical antiquity to Hitlerism.” One Soviet author defined Zionism as the politics of “the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie which has closely allied itself with monopoly circles in the USA and other imperialist countries.”
In the 1970s, the Soviets and their allies backed the ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution at the UN and trained the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The Kremlin flooded Arab countries with copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and worked hard to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the USA. According to Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa (the highest ranking Soviet bloc defector), the Kremlin’s vision was “to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States.”
And it was Romanian socialist dictator Ceausescu who persuaded Yasser Arafat (who worked for the KGB) to turn the Arab-Israeli conflict into a human rights struggle. In fact, the term “Palestinian People” appeared for the first time in the introduction to the 1964 PLO Charter – which was drafted in Moscow.
Since the collapse of Communism, left-wing groups such as Stop the War, BDS and the Palestinian/International Solidarity Movement continue the Marxist legacy of intellectually-acceptable anti-Semitism and thuggish violence. Book, articles and websites about Jewish lobbyists, Zionists and financiers continue to proliferate. And left-wing firebrands such as George Galloway seek to associate Zionism with capitalism, globalisation and imperialism.
Perhaps this explains why anti-Israel activists inside the BDS movement are so keen to disrupt Jewish businesses in Israel but also in the diaspora: Any company that has even the remotest connection with the Jewish state is seen as a permissible target because Jews are never just Jews, they are (in the words of red terrorist Ulrike Meinhof) “money Jews.”