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Aki Orr (1931-2013)

April 21, 2013 Leave a comment
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McIver – Report on Oxford Middle-East Seminar

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The Israel-Palestine Socialist Action Group (IPSAG) invited speakers from different socialist organisations to a seminar held in Oxford on the 24th of February. Among them was a Trotskyist belonging to the United Secretariat, A Orr from ISRACA and other assorted individuals. J McIver was invited to contribute to the final symposium on ‘National Self-Determination and Class Struggle in Israel-Palestine.’

In general, the whole mood of the seminar was ‘third worldist’ in the classical sense of the word. That is, it was assumed that there was a sort of ongoing ‘MiddleEast revolution’ initiated by the Palestinian masses against Zionism or/and imperialism. One speaker, the editor of the magazine Israel & Palestine, suggested, in revolting Parvus-like manner, that European imperialism could be used by Middle-East revolutionaries to further their own aims. He even mentioned Lenin’s use of German imperialism (the ‘sealed train’ incident) as historical backing for his opportunism. The audience was confused by all this and the scoundrel wasn’t sent packing. But this was a natural reaction of the audience. When the issue of Russian imperialism’s intervention was mentioned by McIver and Cohen. The issue was informally ruled out of order, and nobody protested. Of course, the majority of the speakers assumed that the ‘main imperialist’ in the world was the US. At no moment was there a clear and explicit rejection of the politics ad activities of Fatah, the PFLP, PDFLP, Black September, etc. Presumably, such criticism would have been considered ‘divisive’ or perhaps ‘Zionist’!

The intervention of A Orr reveals the general impotence of groups like ISRACA. The emphasis of this group seems to be ‘anti-Zionist’. ‘Everything else is subordinated to the struggle against racialism’ said comrade Orr, meaning by that, of course, Israel, the struggle against Zionism. Apparently, Israeli workers who struggle for better conditions and higher wages don’t add up to much as long as they remain Zionists. It could be said that Israeli workers ‘benefit’ from Zionism. Insofar as Israeli society is partly subsidised by the US, could also be said that they benefit from US imperialism.

ISRACA’s inability to see the potential connections of the class struggle and a [] weakening of Zionist state ideology leader it to a policy of passive ‘ethical’ opposition to the Israeli state. We thus read: ‘Whoever adheres to Zionism sentences himself to perpetual war against the Arab world and the perpetual dependence on the suppliers of Phantom jets. This is absolutely inescapable.’ (A Orr/M Machover, in The Other Israel, NY 1972, p189) The fact that Russian imperialism is a supplier of Migs, tanks and other goodies used by the Egyptian and Syrian armies is of no importance. The fact that the ‘Palestinian resistance’ is ideologically and materially supported by those reactionary regimes is also ignored: ‘We recognise the right and the duty of every conquered and oppressed people to resist occupation and to struggle for freedom.’ (ibid, p186)

ISRACA members may or may not recognise the ‘right’ to self-determination of nations. But they do recognise the ‘right’ to resist oppression of oppressed ‘nationalities’. This distinction begs the question. If the ‘national’ struggle of the Palestinian population is politically and organisationally taken over by reactionary groups (and this has been the case since 1948) then the only ‘right’ ISRACA is defending is the right of all the Fatah PDFLP, etc., to impose their reactionary solution on the Palestinian and Israeli working masses. On the inter-imperialist level, ISRACA becomes a mere fellow-traveller of ‘ethical’ Stalinism, Not accidentally did M Machover, a member of ISRACA, become infuriated when he read the Vietnam leaflet issued by the minority at the last Vietnam demo.

The IPSAG group, on the other hand, doesn’t consider Zionism as a main enemy in the ideological sense that ISRACA does. Insofar as IPSAG wants to relate to the Israeli working class from a Marxist standpoint, , there is still some hope in it. But at the moment it seems to be at the mercy of an increasing Trotskyist influence, which is as reactionary as the ethical liberalism of ISRACA. Perhaps it should be mentioned that IPSAG doesn’t write laudatory letter to the Times, commenting on its ‘frank editorial’ as people in ISRACA have.

J McIver

28/2/73