David Aaronovitch, formerly a Communist Party youth leader and now the freshest shoot in Britain’s bumper crop of Blairite neocons, tried to smear me once before, and I dealt with him here. The Stalinist school of falsification never sleeps, however: its practitioners just keep churning out lies, in the hope that sheer repetition will do the job. So Comrade Aaronovitch is up to his old tricks again, writing now in the Times of London, wherein he pens a screed ostensibly directed against the decision of Britain’s Socialist Workers Party to invite one Gilad Atzmon to its “Marxism 2005 festival.” Atzmon is an Israeli-born IDF veteran who is now an expatriate jazz musician and an outspoken opponent of Zionism. So outspoken that he routinely suggests that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is “irrelevant,” because, after all, in his view, “American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least.” Brought up in a right-wing ultra-Zionist family, Atzmon appears so enamored of his own ability to provoke that he has lost sight of either truth or common sense. This often happens to people who rebel against an orthodoxy: they go in the extreme opposite direction and wind up becoming a caricature of themselves.
In his piece for the Times, Aaronovitch points out that one of Atzmon’s “heroes” is a writer named Israel Shamir, who “claims to be a Russian Jew from Jaffa,” but is apparently a “Swedish anti-Semite" of indeterminate ethnicity. Having set the stage for his smear, with all this elaborate linkage, Comrade Aaronovitch moves in for the kill:
“Shamir both buys the world plot and has some very strange allies. ‘For as long,’ he wrote, ‘as Richard Perle sits in the Pentagon, Elie Wiesel brandishes his Nobel Prize, Mort Zuckerman owns the USA Today, Gusinsky bosses over Russian TV, Soros commands multi-billions of funds, and Dershowitz teaches at Harvard, we need the voices of (David) Duke, (Justin) Raimondo, (Pat) Buchanan, (Horst) Mahler, (Nick) Griffin and of other anti-bourgeois nationalists.’ For those who don’t know, Mahler is ex-Baader Meinhof turned neo-Nazi, David Duke is a former leader of Ku Klux Klan, and Nick Griffin is our very own Welshpool Duce.”
When I read this nonsense a prime example of the Stalinist smear technique of making an amalgam out of disparate elements I wondered: Who the heck is Israel Shamir? I Googled him, and one of the first items I came up with were articles attacking me! In a piece entitled “Justin Raimondo Does Not Go Far Enough,” Shamir writes:
“I read with embarrassment the windy semi-apology of Raimondo who stresses endlessly that he does not argue with this exalted position of Jews, but only with some people who love Israel too much. Face it, Raimondo: if Gore and Lieberman were to win in the last elections, the Iraqi war still would happen without a single neo-con. If Kerry will win, the war will go on unabated, and the US support of Jewish supremacy in Palestine will actually increase if possible.”
This passage demonstrates two things about Shamir: (1) He knows nothing about me or my views, and (2) he knows nothing about the American antiwar movement, which consists of a large number of Jews as well as Catholics and nonbelievers. I never supported Kerry, or thought his election would change U.S. policy for the better in the Middle East, and support for that war within the administration had nothing to do with putting Jews in an “exalted position,” but everything to do with putting the nation-state of Israel in such a position. That Shamir doesn’t make any distinction between these two very different motives is what makes him an anti-Semite and sets him very far apart not only from my own views but from the broad antiwar movement as well. Shamir goes on to berate me:
“Raimondo, stop please these usual references to Nazis and their Siegheil calls. You do not have to be a Nazi, for neither Marx not Deutscher were, in order to be against Jewish ideological domination. Jews should be treated as equals, not as some Supreme Beings, whether in the US or in Palestine. The US media should be taken out of their hands and given back to people; AIPAC and ADL registered as foreign-interests lobbyist if not banned altogether; the US universities should stop their preferential treatment of Jews. Journalists involved in the dirty campaign against Mel Gibson and Christianity should be prosecuted for instigating hatred. Then, and only then this horrible anomaly of American political thought will abate. Otherwise, we are doomed to read these apologising explanations who actually instigated the next war, with Iran or Syria, and why it is not anti-Semitic to notice that they are Jews.”
What drivel. This is precisely the position taken by the neocons, and, not coincidentally, is completely in opposition to the facts: most American Jews opposed the Iraq war, and they continue to oppose it. Israel is not “the Jews” it is a nation, with interests unique to itself and policies that are all too often directly counterposed to the interests and beliefs of Jews worldwide. Shamir and the neocons agree, however, that to oppose Israel is to oppose “the Jews.” Both find this position useful, for reasons of their own: Shamir, to cater to his deranged constituency of Jew-haters, and the neocons because they are eager to smear anyone who exposes the real catalyst for U.S. military intervention in the Middle East as a bigot.
Shamir is enormously useful to Comrade Aaronovitch and his colleagues in the Smear Brigade: he writes a screed on some obscure Web site that proclaims my work is “music” to his ears, albeit flawed because we aren’t singing the same tune, and Aaronovitch conjures up a Vast Anti-Semitic Conspiracy in which I, David Duke, the head of the racialist British National Party, and an obscure German ex-leftist-turned-neo-Nazi are all comrades in arms. Very convenient and a brazen lie.
Pat Buchanan is a friend of mine, whom I admire tremendously, and I make no apologies for that. Pat’s book, A Republic, Not an Empire, is a masterpiece of historical analysis and argumentation, and his single-handed effort to revive the Old Right in America is an achievement that future generations of conservatives will recognize, even if the current one is willfully blind to it. No, I don’t agree with everything he says and writes, but what two individuals agree all the time? Only in the Communist Party where Comrade Aaronovitch was once a leading light, and, truthfully, not even there.
However, what I have to do with the likes of David Duke, Nick Griffin, and the founder of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, fer chrissakes, is a mystery to me. Because the addled brain of a nutbar like Shamir puts me in a group of alleged “anti-bourgeois nationalists” hardly makes it so. As a libertarian, I loathe all forms of nationalism, which is nothing more than worship of the State. As a libertarian advocate of radical decentralism, I favor the unlimited right of a community to secede from the nation-state this is the polar opposite of nationalism, bourgeois or otherwise. All this is absolutely clear from my writings.
Furthermore, Shamir’s idea that the U.S. government should ban Jewish organizations is grotesque, not only by libertarian standards but by any measure of human decency. As for prosecuting Mel Gibson’s critics for “instigating hatred,” someone should tell Shamir (and Aaronovitch) that we don’t have laws like that in America as they do in England, with the support of left-neocons like Aaronovitch because, you see, we have this thing called “freedom” (or, at least, the vestiges of it). If film criticism is sometimes a transgression against great art, the ludicrous idea of making it a criminal act is something that could only come up in Europe or Hollywood.
I would note that Aaronovitch found it necessary to give his readers short descriptions of Shamir and the other wacko characters I’m supposed to be in bed with, because they’re so obscure that most reasonably informed people wouldn’t have heard of them. Buchanan, of course, is too well-known to require a capsule biography, and I didn’t get one either. Not that I’m exactly famous, but certainly the Web site I work for is, and that was the real target of Aaronovitch’s smear.
Aaronovitch is a worm whose slime trail would be beneath notice but for the fact that it illustrates a lesson that needs to be learned by all those who oppose the neoconservative vision [.pdf file] of the U.S. as a world hegemon.
The War Party greatly fears unity among the antiwar forces, in Great Britain as well as in the U.S. If they can succeed in demonizing antiwar conservatives such as Buchanan and a libertarian such as myself, and play on the Left’s own caricaturized conception of the Right a caricature based on ignorance and loyalty to an outmoded “left-right” paradigm they can split opponents of America’s imperial ambitions and even set them against each other. That’s why the War Party is in the driver’s seat while 60 percent of Americans say we ought to start withdrawing from Iraq.
Divide and rule.
The headline of Aaronovitch’s piece “How Did the Far Left Manage to Slip Into Bed With the Jew-Hating Right?” is an outrageous libel. It tells us everything we need to know about the real target of the author’s hatred. Buried amid details about the doings of obscure left-wing grouplets and the pronouncements of people nobody ever heard of is the inference that I am somehow connected to individuals I have never cited, never run on Antiwar.com, and never professed sympathy with, ideologically or otherwise.
If Aaronovitch and the Times are saying that I am a member of the “Jew-hating Right,” they had better be able to prove it. I hear the libel laws over there are quite strict and I’ve always wanted to own a newspaper.
Luckily for them, libertarians consider libel laws a violation of the right of free speech: you don’t own your reputation, which exists solely in the minds of others. Yet the burden is still on Aaronovitch and the Times in the name of fairness, and in the interests of their own credibility to either prove this allegation or else withdraw it and apologize.
The War Party is getting desperate. Unhinged by the complete collapse of public support, and hounded by those who insist on recalling the rosy scenarios predicted by advocates of “democratizing” Iraq by force they were supposed to shower us with rose petals, it was going to be a “cake walk,” remember? they are flailing about, lashing out at their enemies with the weapon of last resort brazen smears, backed up by nothing but arbitrary assertions and Stalinesque rhetoric. You’re bound to see an increase in this as the War Party is further discredited and some of them even face a few, uh, legal problems. Their hysteria is a prelude to their final disintegration, and, as such, it is a good sign. Until they are finally and totally defeated, however, we can only be sure of one thing: it’s going to get a lot uglier.