Why Jews should oppose the use of “anti-Semitism” as a weapon against African and Palestinian freedom struggles

The following is a transcript of Jesse Nevel’s presentation at the #OmaliTaughtMe Sunday study held on December 3, 2023 titled, “Anti-Semitism: A Weapon Against the African and Palestinian Freedom Struggles.”


As a member of the African People’s Solidarity Committee who is also a Jew, I begin by expressing my unity with the position of our leadership, the African People’s Socialist Party; that it is the responsibility of all white people, including white Jews, to stand in complete and unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people who are courageously fighting to liberate their homeland from over 75 years of colonial occupation by the U.S.-backed, white nationalist, illegitimate colonial-settler state of Israel.

It is crucial that we understand, as Chairman Omali Yeshitela has said, that we cannot walk over the bodies of African and Indigenous people, those who are colonized within the borders of the U.S., on the stolen land of this colonial-settler state, to protest what the same system is doing thousands of miles away.

Genuine solidarity with the Palestinian struggle begins with the stand of solidarity with the African Revolution inside the U.S. and around the world.

We call on Jews to denounce the U.S. and Israel’s deployment of “anti-Semitism” as a weapon to attack and silence the voices of African, Palestinian and other oppressed peoples.

Days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning all expressions of anti-Zionism as “anti-Semitism.” On November 16, the German police raided 54 locations across Germany, targeting a Muslim organization for expressing support for the Palestinian resistance, and days later, raided the homes of 17 people accused of posting “antisemitic hate speech” on social media. In France and England, cities have banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and outlawed even speaking the words, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.”

“Indeed, the colonial bourgeoisie has always held up the mass murder of Jews by Nazi Germany as the primary justification for the creation of the settler colonial state of Israel, providing no answer to the obvious question: Why should the Palestinians have to pay for the crimes of white people in Germany?”

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters have been suspended or disbanded at universities across the U.S. including Columbia University on the grounds of “promoting anti-Semitism.” Florida governor Ron DeSantis has called for all chapters of SJP at universities throughout the state to be disbanded.

Since October 7, the state of Israel has arrested at least 100 Palestinians for social media posts supporting the resistance in Gaza. In Los Angeles, California, two Mexican educators affiliated with Unión del Barrio are being sued by Zionists for “Anti-Semitism” because of their inclusion of Palestine in their Ethnic Studies curriculum.

Historically the U.S. colonial ruling class has always used this slanderous label to attack the African Liberation Movement, in part for its profound anti-colonial unity with the Palestinian struggle.

In 1964 Malcolm X visited the Gaza Strip and published an essay in the Egyptian Gazette titled “The Zionist Logic,” placing the struggle of the Palestinians in the broader context of the struggle by Africans and all oppressed peoples for liberation from colonialism.

Malcolm X’s stance influenced the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) of which Chairman Omali Yeshitela was an active organizer. SNCC became the first organization in the U.S. to champion the struggle of the Palestinians. In response, the white left and liberals attacked SNCC. Many Jewish donors withdrew their financial support.

More recently, we saw the attacks on the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, with the Pinellas County Commission revoking grant funds that had been allotted to Black Power 96 on the grounds that it is allegedly associated with the Uhuru Movement, which they characterize as a “black nationalist anti-semitic organization.”

Chairman Omali Yeshitela in the St. Pete branch of SNCC.

There is a long history of attacks on Chairman Omali Yeshitela by U.S. and Israeli government-backed organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel. In 2020 the Chairman was scheduled to speak at a conference on reparations at San Diego State University before he was disinvited from speaking due to attacks by Zionist student organizations, including Hillel.

As the Chairman teaches us, confronting the reality that “anti-Semitism” is weaponized against colonized people does not require a dismissal of the actual history of the oppression of Jewish people. Yes, Jews have been oppressed historically: in Europe, at the hands of other Europeans, most notoriously in what is often referred to as the Nazi holocaust, the destruction of millions of European Jews in the 1930s and 40s by the German government.

What is in question is not this history, but the way in which this persecution of Jews has been abstracted from history altogether and converted into ideological ammunition for Zionism and colonialism.

Indeed, the colonial bourgeoisie has always held up the mass murder of Jews by Nazi Germany as the primary justification for the creation of the settler colonial state of Israel, providing no answer to the obvious question: Why should the Palestinians have to pay for the crimes of white people in Germany?

As Chairman Omali Yeshitela has stated, it was white people who put Jews in the gas chambers, not Africans, Iranians, or Arabs. The Nazi persecution of Jews is elevated in the colonial narrative to be the ultimate crime ever committed by one group of human beings against another. This is central to the colonial ruling class’s deployment of Jewish victimhood as a weapon against the anti-colonial struggle. Everything else that colonialism has done and is doing to Africans, Indigenous, Arab and colonized peoples for centuries is obscured, muted, normalized.

Before the killing of European Jews by other Europeans, there was no word for genocide in the English language. When millions of African and Indigenous people were being slaughtered for centuries by European colonizers, there was no word for genocide.

Such a distortion of history takes the Jewish experience out of the context of the colonial mode of production responsible for the killing of six million Jews in the first place, placing Jews in the dangerous and precarious position of being separate from the rest of humanity.

The reality is that it wasn’t the Nazi holocaust that drove a sector of European Jews to colonize the land of Palestine beginning in the early 1900s and to eventually slaughter and expel nearly a million Palestinians in the Nakba period of 1947-1949. It was colonialism.

Zionism, the belief that a Jewish colonial-settler state should exist on stolen, occupied Palestinian land at the expense of genocide against the Palestinians, was an ideological project founded by secular, atheist, petty bourgeois, European Ashkanazi Jews, not to “heal the trauma of Jewish suffering”, but to advance the interests of European Jews within the colonial mode of production built on the backs of African people. Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism, was very candid about this. To Herzl, Zionism was above all a colonial project. Among those he admired greatly was the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

Herzl wrote to Rhodes in 1902 requesting support for the Zionist project: “You are being invited to help make history. […] It doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor. Not Englishmen, but Jews,” Herzl wrote. “Had this been on your path, you would have done it by now. How then do I happen to turn to you, since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? … Because it is something colonial!”

The establishment of Israel was “something colonial” indeed. Jewish terrorist organizations used machine guns, flamethrowers, and other brutal methods to violently expel nearly 800,000 Palestinians, slaughter over 15,000 people, destroy hundreds of villages, steal the land, and force the remaining Palestinians into concentration camps in the so-called occupied territories.

The early Zionist movement sought support from every major imperialist white power government of that era, including the Kaiser of Germany, the same Germany that committed genocide against Africans in Namibia between 1904 and 1908. Eventually, the Zionist movement found its primary backer in the form of the British empire. Ultimately, the U.S. became the main imperial power sponsoring and funding the Zionist entity.

Malcolm X with Ahmad Shukeiri, first Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. PHOTO:
PUBLIC DOMAIN

Despite the fact that the Zionists uphold the Nazi holocaust as the primary justification for the existence of Israel, the reality is that the Zionists were more than willing to sacrifice European Jews to fulfill their aim of creating a white nationalist colonial-settler state on stolen Palestinian land.

Belying their false claim of Israel as a haven for the Jews of Europe, the Zionist movement repeatedly collaborated with the Nazi government. In the book “The Hidden History of Zionism,” Ralph Schoenman writes about how the Zionists and Nazi government created a trade agreement through the Anglo-Palestine Bank, which was a bank in Palestine run by the Zionists that received monies from the German-Jewish bourgeoisie “with which sums Nazi goods were purchased in very substantial quantities. The World Zionist Organization became the principal distributor of Nazi goods throughout the Middle East and northern Europe.”

When attempts were being made to change immigration laws in the U.S. and western Europe to facilitate the rescue of Jews from Nazi Germany, it was Zionists who actively worked to oppose those efforts.

David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel and one of the architects of the Nakba, addressed a meeting in 1938 where he said, “If I knew it would be possible to save all of the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by bringing them to Israel, I would opt for the second.”

Schoenman writes: “The Zionists sought bodies with which to colonize Palestine, and preferred Jewish corpses in their millions to any rescue that might settle Jews elsewhere. […] In place of compassion, the Zionists celebrated the persecution of others, even as they first betrayed the Jews and then degraded them. They selected a victim people of their own on whom to inflict a conquering design. They aligned the surviving Jews with a new genocide against the Palestinian people, cloaking themselves, with savage irony, in the collective shroud of the Holocaust.”

As the African People’s Solidarity Committee, under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party, we believe it’s time for Jews to break ranks with our own ruling class, the colonial bourgeoisie. Let Biden, Netanyahu, and the other Zionists have to fend for themselves. Refuse to let the colonial ruling class twist and pervert the memory of Jews killed in Europe as ammunition with which to assault and slaughter Palestinians, Africans, and other colonized peoples.

Through the relationship of APSC to the African Revolution, we can take responsibility for our history of complicity and collaboration, make our self-criticism, and join in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world who are fighting to build a future without oppression and exploitation.

Over 20 years ago in the book “Overturning the Culture of Violence,” Chairwoman Penny Hess wrote: “Where are the Jews who will use their experience in Germany as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the African and oppressed peoples of the world?”

Now is the time to answer this question.

“Belying their false claim of Israel as a haven for the Jews of Europe, the Zionist movement repeatedly collaborated with the Nazi Government.”

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is an open door to every Jew who wants to take a true stand against Zionism by standing against colonialism.

Stand for reparations to African people. Stand in solidarity with the African Revolution, under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party.

Finally, these are the words for which Chairman Omali Yeshitela was banned by Zionists from speaking at San Diego State University: “However many Jews were killed in Germany, they [white people] killed them. They were not killed by Iranians. They were killed by white people in Europe. I truly believe that Jewish people have a responsibility to denounce the illegitimate state of Israel, to express solidarity with the just struggles of the Palestinians and other oppressed peoples [….] What killed the Jews was capitalism and other white people in Germany and other places.”

More recently, the Chairman said: “Jews need to turn against the sector of the colonial bourgeoisie that claims to represent the interests of all Jewish people and join with the struggles of the colonized peoples of the world.”

No More Genocide

In Our Name! Free Palestine!

Victory to the African Revolution!


Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement: UhuruSolidarity.org

Join the African People’s Solidarity Committee: APSCuhuru.org

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