The Collective Guilt Of All Jews For Zionism

The elevation of zionism to the equivalent of world imperialism and beyond is just one half of the conspiracy theory. The other half is the reduction of all Jews and all Jewish history to the zionist experience. There is a systematic tendency on the Left to define Jewish identity simply in terms of zionism. The natural corollary of this is to hold all Jews, wherever in the world, responsible for zionism, irrespective of what they actually believe. This is the theory of collective responsibility. In addition to all the examples given above, here are others which relate directly to the perceptions of collective guilt:-

A bizarre example, important not in its own right but for what it indicates, was the conversion in 1979 of Bob Dylan from the Jewish religion to Christianity. Socialist Challenge (the paper of the then International Marxist Group, now renamed the Socialist League) did not respond to this by any Marxist critique of the Christian religion or the Christian church. Rather it denounced Dylan as a zionist. In fact it denounced him as a millionaire zionist (27.9.79). This incidentally was just over a year after the paper had been raffling Dylan concert tickets!

Far more serious was the response by the Left to the Paris synagogue bombing on the Rue Copernic in October 1980. This was an openly fascist attack and was condemned by the entire Left, but this condemnation was equivocal. Most of the commentary actually concentrated on the "opportunity" the bombing presented to zionism! Socialist Challenge proclaimed that:

"The Israeli government is doing its best to exploit the bombing" (October 9th).

Its editor Geoff Sheridan, in a letter to the paper, stated that:

"The Israeli government is quite cynical about the benefits it hopes to accrue from the fascist attacks in the diaspora" (November 27th).

It is incredible that the significance which 'socialist' organisations accord to fascist attacks on Jews is mainly in relation to the reaction on the Israeli government. The Left in this instance reduced the experience of even dead Jews, murdered by anti-semites, as being nothing more than tools of zionist propaganda. Is the main criticism of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust now to be that it provided the "opportunity" for zionism? In fact, the National Front takes this to its logical conclusion by claiming that "everybody in France knows" that the Rue Copernic Shul was actually bombed by "zionist terrorists"—just as it claims the Holocaust was itself a zionist invention (National Front News, November 1982).

Equally significant was the Left's response to the machine gun and grenade attack on the synagogue in Vienna in August 1981, resulting in yet more deaths. Unlike the Paris bombing this met with virtual silence. There only can be one explanation for this: responsibility for the attack was claimed by a Palestinian splinter group. So it seems that all Jews are seen as legitimate targets because all Jews are somehow responsible for zionism. It is interesting to note that when this was raised with two of the larger Left papers they both denied such motives and claimed they did not have the 'space' to report such attacks (Socialist Challenge, 17.9.81; Socialist Worker, 26.9.81). The excuse of 'we haven't the space' has almost been developed into a scientific theory by the Left whenever outrages are committed against Jews. In the case of the Vienna attack, it would be farcical, if it were not tragic, and it is dishonest given the coverage of the openly fascist bombing a year previously.

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© 1984 Steve Cohen, edited and produced by Libby Lawson and Erica Bunnan.
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