The rise of antisemitism in the Green Party

March 30, 2006 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Divestment, political parties | Leave a comment

(from Progressive PA Politics http://www.progressivepapolitics.com/)

The Green Party was founded on progressive values, including respect for diversity. However, a growing crisis in the GP has put into question its commitment to those vaules and has raised questions about whether the party is anti-semitic.

The problem began last November when the national party passed a resolution calling for divesting from Israel (Resolution 190). Many members, including some its most prominent Jewish leaders, raised questions about both the content of the resolution and the method by which it was passed. Many activists complained vociferously that 190 was pushed through without debate and without input from the local and state chapters, which violates Green principles. It passed without checking with the Israeli Greens, also a violation of Green Party principles.

As GP members began investigating how this happened, it was revealed that 190 was written by members of Al Awda (The Return), an organization with ties to both Hamas and the Saudi government. Al-Awda's NJ website (it has no PA chapter) reads, "We are opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of colonialism and imperialism, and we stand for the total liberation of all of historic Palestine."

It is probably true that most GP members, even those who voted for 190, were unaware of the connections to organizations tied to the destruction of Israel. Virginia Green Party leader Audrey Clement suggests that Greens were influenced by "subliminal anti-Semitism." But as the debate lingered and grew, the overt antisemitism also grew.

The latest incident is the circulation on GP email lists of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by the Kennedy School’s Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. The thesis of the paper is that the US government is controlled by "The Jewish Lobby." Newsweek and the Harvard Crimson both report that critics of this paper note the "cribbing from neo-Nazi Web sites" for its quotes and perspectives. The paper has been widely dismissed as merely an opinion piece, with no peer review and little credibility once it is critiqued scholars. It has been compared to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Mearsheimer and Walt tried to dismiss that criticism, writing in their paper that “the Lobby’s activities are not a conspiracy of the sort depicted in tracts like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Alan Dershowitz, admittedly no progressive,isn't buying it. “Sorry, but it sounds very similar to me. The only difference is the Protocols are a forgery, but this [essay] is actually written by two bigots.”

About the only people supporting this paper are those who want to see Jews and Israel destroyed. Klansman David Duke wrote “I have read about the report and read one summary already, and I am surprised how excellent it is. It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started…The task before us is to wrest control of America’s foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV.” (New York Sun)

Likewise, a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance council,
Abdulmo’em Abulfotah, said “I think that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people. I ask a question here: Is it in the interest of the American people to clash with 1.3 billion [Arab] people in favor of 5 million people who represent the Zionist project?"

Echoing that position, a recent post on the PA GP email listserv listed the population of Jews in countries around the world. When a GPPA member asked what the Jewish population of the world had to do with the Green Party, the original poster replied, "Directly not much but indirectly yes. 14.5 million in the world of 6.4 billion folks might play a big role of messing up the world thru Israel. Look at the history and the way it goes, especially after 1948.[sic]"

Opposition to antisemitism does not mean an acceptance of the military actions and human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, as many in this debate have pointed out. The problem comes when Jews are portrayed as the only violators of human rights when Arab nations and political factions also engage in unjustifiable violence and hold even more indefensible views on the rights of women, LGBTQ people, etc. [For the record, PPP supports the creation of a democratic Palestinian state,and the right of return for Arab peoples evicted from their property by Israel since 1948, but we also oppose human rights violations and violence by all parties.]

What has the leadership of the GPPA said on this issue? Not much. The silence from Green leadership has been deafening, even from its gubernatorial candidate, Marakay Rogers, who is Jewish. In fact, the silence of GPPA leaders prompted Lorna Saltzman of New York, who unsuccessfully sought the GP nomination for president in 2004, to join the PA discussion list to defend Jews from the anti-semitic posts. Hers has been one of the few voices in PA standing up against those posts.

Why has there been no outrage from Green leaders? Is it fear of alienating the base? A respect for open discussion, even when one side is bigoted? Ignorance of history? Or is it "subliminal" or overt antisemitism? Whatever the cause, if Green leaders do not speak out, it will only further marginalize the party.

As one GPPA post pointed out, 19th century German socialist August Bebel wrote "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools."

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