Kelvin branch of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has submitted a motion to the 2007 SSP conference calling on the party to support the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its campaign for a boycott of Israel. Unremarkable? Not when you know about the SPSC.
The SP’S’C - or better, SP’S’C, because there’s not much "solidarity" involved - marked Holocaust Memorial Day last year with readings from Jim Allen’s play "Perdition" which gave dramatic expression to the notion that Israel owes its existence to Nazi-Zionist collaboration in the Holocaust). And it hosts Gilad Atzmon (who believes that Israel is worse than Nazi Germany, American Jews control the world, etc., etc.) for its fund-raising ventures.
Even the SWP found the idea of readings from "Perdition" on Holocaust Memorial Day too much to stomach. Their members who held office in the SP’S’C resigned their posts in protest. The Kelvin SSP branch is obviously made of stronger stuff.
In fact, it was a member of the Kelvin SSP branch who organised the "Perdition" readings in Glasgow, and who also organised the SP’S’C meeting in Glasgow with Lenni Brenner ("Anti-Semitism: From Herzl to Hitler") as an additional way of marking Holocaust Memorial Day.
Let’s look at the issues here. The story pushed by SP’S’C goes something like this.
During the Second World War certain Jews (known as ‘Zionists’) helped the Nazis to murder six million other Jews. In fact, the assistance provided by these Jews was so important that the Nazis could not have succeeded in their programme of genocide without it.
Why did these Jews help the Nazis murder six million other Jews? Because, of course, they realised that that was the best way to get a state of their own in the Middle East.
The Nazis lost the war. The Jews who had helped the Nazis then said to the British and the Americans (who won the war): "Six million of our own kind were murdered during the war. Can we please have a state of our own in the Middle East as compensation?"
And the British and Americans (who, presumably, had not noticed the role played by these Jews in murdering six million other Jews) said: "Okay, it’s yours."
This is how the state of Israel came into being. It’s very important that Zionist historians are not allowed to get away with covering up this basic historical fact. The best way to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, therefore, is to stage a series of events with the theme: "Holocaust? The Nazis Were Conned! It’s the Jews Wot Dunnit!"
But it’s not enough to explain that Israel exists only because some Jews helped the Nazis kill six million other Jews. It’s also very important to expose the real nature of Israel today – the ultimate evil, a fascist state, worse than Nazi Germany.
In fact, it’s not even enough to expose Israel as a Nazi state. We have to stop wasting time discussing whether the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are genuine or not. What we have to do is make clear that American Jews really do control the world! (But, to avoid accusations of anti-semitism, let’s call them Zionists rather than Jews.)
And that’s not enough either! There’s only one way to treat the ultimate fascist evil – and that’s to boycott it!
You can respond to the above ‘argument’ in one of two ways.
You can respond by concluding that whoever says such a thing is certainly a complete and utter crank, and probably, to one degree or another, and in one form or another, anti-semitic. In the worst-case scenario, it might even be someone who delights in staging Jew-baiting provocations and wants to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth (and isn’t in the least concerned about who does the wiping-off either).
Alternatively, if you are a member of the majority in the Kelvin branch of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), you evidently respond by concluding that anyone who argues along the above lines is a fine up-standing anti-imperialist.
And then there’s the proposal for a boycott of Israel. Like its national counterpart, the SP’S’C is, of course, gung-ho about a boycott. We all remember the tireless efforts it put into organising a boycott of that major international sporting event staged in August 2006: the Scotland-Israel cricket game.
The national P’S’C has even been helpful enough to produce a "Boycott Compendium: A Guide to the ‘Boycott Israeli Goods’ Campaign for Palestine" for the kind of intrepid Israel-boycotters which the Kelvin SSP branch wants the SSP membership to become.
Items listed in the Boycott Compendium include: supermarkets which stock the "Jewish News" and the "Jerusalem Post" newspapers; the Early Learning Centre ("write a letter of complaint to the company and ask them not to support Israel until they solve the Palestinian problem and stop murdering civilians"); "Ecstasy pills stamped with the Star of David"; and body parts ("a recent Panorama programme exposed the trade in organs, rich Israelis buying from poor countries").
The reference to "rich Israelis" gives the game away, doesn’t it? It’s a pity the Compendium’s author(s) weren’t even more up-front. Then they could simply have used the much more straightforward and time-honoured phrase: "rich Jews".
And what, exactly, is the boycott meant to achieve? According to the motion: "Recognition of the right of the Palestinians." Does this mean the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own (alongside of Israel)? Or does it mean the ‘right’ of the Palestinians to turn the clock back to 1947 (i.e. no national rights for Israeli Jews)?
That’s the campaign – for an undefined goal – which Kelvin SSP branch thinks the SSP should be supporting.
Next weekend’s conference will, no doubt, suffer the usual litany of clichés from the motion’s mover: Zionism: racism; Israel: genocide; Israel: war on children; Gaza Strip: Warsaw Ghetto; Israel: apartheid; Israel: South Africa; Palestinians: justice; solidarity: boycott. And, equally doubtlessly, we’ll have to put up with the impassioned pleas that ‘anti-Zionism’ has nothing to do with anti-semitism.
But what’s certainly not on offer in the Kelvin branch motion is any effective form of solidarity with the Palestinians, nor any proposals for a democratic resolution of the Middle East conflict. If the SSP is going to be serious about either, it will trash the Kelvin branch motion and start to put some effort into campaigning for the SSP’s existing policy of ‘two peoples – two states’.