Letters

Once more on Zionism and antisemitism (2)

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“Out of the Ashes”, the last chapter of my book The Myths of Zionism, explored prospects for alliances between the Palestinian liberation movement and Jews, both in Europe and America, but also in Israel. I looked at a number of key Jewish individuals, including Avraham Burg, a religious Jew, a long standing senior Israel Labour politician and former speaker of Israel’s Knesset, parliament.

Once more on Zionism and antisemitism (1)

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The heart of John Rose’s argument (“Antisemitism and anti-Zionism today”, January SR) seems to me to be twofold: firstly, his emphasis on the need for dialogue between Israeli Jews and Palestinians as a precondition for resolution of the conflict. But secondly, it also raises the issue of the nature of Jewish cultural identity in a post-Zionist state of Palestine.

Can we define good art?

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Bob Light’s powerful tribute to John Berger (February SR) contained the claim, “There is no objective way to define what good art…is.” This raises interesting questions.

Clearly the merits of works of art cannot be measured in the same “objective” way as a person’s age or height. But societies (and individuals — including Berger and Light) do make aesthetic judgements and it is a mistake to imagine that these are purely subjective, individual or arbitrary.

Gender: we need more than self-identification

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Sally Campbell’s article on the Gender Recognition Act (September SR) raised important issues, but I don’t think accepting self-identification is the answer. Gender reform must seek women’s consent, not their deference.

It can take up to five years to go through the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. This is monstrously long for people wishing to transition and leaves them abandoned in a legal limbo and more vulnerable to misogynist violence.

We're not blank slates

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Kevin Devine and Susan Rosenthal make some valid points about the importance of social environment in the genesis of mental disorder, in their defence of Oliver James’s book Not In Your Genes (Feedback, September SR).

But this doesn’t prevent their “blank slate” view of the mind being not just scientifically flawed, but also potentially reactionary in a political sense.

Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (1)

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The political terrain underlying debates about antisemitism and Zionism has shifted dramatically since 2000. This shift has been shaped by the second intifada, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the more recent revival of antisemitism on the far right.

John Rose’s contribution to the discussion (“Antisemitism and anti-Zionism today”, January SR) is a serious attempt to address the consequences of these developments. However, I fear John’s approach risks confusing the issues at stake rather than clarifying them.

Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (2)

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John Rose’s article may serve to begin a discussion but certainly was not a “clear perspective” as claimed by SR. John argues “the need to campaign for national dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews”. That would be nice. But in what world have the Palestinians got the power to make Israeli Jews listen? The Netanyahu government may step back from the proposal to extend Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumin, the massive illegal settlement which cuts the West Bank in two.

Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (3)

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We have President Trump appointing open antisemites to the White House, the end of the so called “solution” of two separate states for Jews and for Palestinians, the expansion of “illegal” settlement in the occupied West Bank — and John Rose argues for the “the need to campaign for a national dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews”.

Is this really the key task for socialists and students on British campuses today? Few Israeli students study here, and those that do have served three years in the Israeli army where they are taught to hate and kill Palestinians.

Universal Basic Income

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Michael Lavalette’s piece on Universal Basic Income (“Safety Net Without Stigma”, October SR) is spot on. And the two letters, one supporting the idea, one against (November SR), are an object lesson in our united-front politics.

We support transitional initiatives such as UBI with enthusiasm because they benefit our class and strike a crushing blow to austerity blame-culture.

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