By Bob Row
Sergio Bergman (2nd from right) is an Argentine rabbi of frequent media appearances who associated himself with local center-right politicians. He endorsed the movement headed by Mr. Blumberg (who’s son died when kidnapped) for “security” against marginalized youngsters. Then organized an NGO to raise money from wealthy Jews and contend in the community elections. Last Sunday he got elected as legislator for the Buenos Aires Autonomous Government City Council (equivalent to the Columbia district) ranking first in the list of the incumbent Mayor, Mauricio Macri (Berlusconi’s local version). Macri’s main contender on behalf of the progressive national government was the former minister of Education, Daniel Filmus -also a Jew.
Bergman’s career stirred an ideological quarrel within the Jewish community. I did this illustration for the Nueva Sion (New Zion) monthly. Nueva Sion was founded in 1948 (on the wake of the UN vote of partition of Palestine into two States) by a group of young activists (an uncle of mine between them) of the Hashomer Hatzair, the Zionist movement of Marxists tendencies. Its first editor was Jacobo Timerman, who thirty years later was imprisoned and tortured by the military dictatorship. Timerman’s son is the current Foreign Affairs minister.
In 1947, when the UN sent a commission of inquiry to Palestine, Hashomer Hatzair proposed a bi-national unified State but -once the Israel State was proclaimed and attacked by Arab forces backed by Great Britain- it took part in the fight and lately became the Mapam (today, Meretz) party. I was in the ranks of HH in my childhood, sharing the values of other non-Jewish leftist movements, and left in 1969, when many of us realized that Israel (Mapam included) was about to condone the colonial status-quo subsequent to the 1967 war. This week (44 years late) Meretz launched a campaign labeling goods manufactured beyond the “green line” of 1967 in defiance of a law penalizing boycotts, passed by the Parliament.
This is to show that always where and are politic and social divisions within the Jewish communities as well as in the Zionist nationalist movement -even in crucial matters as statehood. The main Jewish party until the 2nd WW was the Socialist Bund, staunchly anti-Zionist. But, at the time of the Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis, both the Bund and HH united, excluding the Zionist rightist Revisionist branch, origin of today’s Likud party. On May 1st, they halted the fight to celebrate the Workers Day, reassuring their faith in a Socialist future for all Mankind. As in every other human society, national identities always went crossed by class and ideological identities. This was almost beyond doubt -at least in the anti-capitalist camp- until recently.
The post 9/11 trauma appears to have altered something taken for granted in the American radical left. The aggressive campaign launched by the neocons, profiting from that shock, induced an understandable gesture of resistance by means of questioning the opportunity of the attack as a conspiratorial “inside job”. There are good reasons to think so, the incredible way of falling of the building 7 to start with. The notorious presence in the Bush administration of a coherent group of Jewish scholars connected with the Likud and the evidence of a planned in advance invasion of Iraq as part of a complete re-drawing of the Middle East map, opened the door to an avalanche of Conspiracy Theories that went from the Israeli Intelligence Mossad agency manipulation behind the curtains all the way into all sorts of anti-semitic old topics of the supposed Jewish conspiracy to rule the entire Human race under a New World Order system.
I wasn’t aware of the extension of those theories in the American scene until I received a response to a comment wondering how come I doubt the authenticity of the “Protocols of the learned elders of Zion” in an otherwise valuable and open to discussion website who use to share my posts devoid of any prejudices. This occurrence ignited my curiosity and found that other contributors to the same site proposed theories of the same kind that reached supposed secret sects originated in the Old Egypt, Summer and even the alien influence in Human History, but always doing cleavage in the dominant role of the Rothschild family in modern Capitalism. Then I found other sites -likeVeterans Today (claiming 20 million visits a month)- whose anti-semitism was way more open and evident in the rabid racist commentaries of its visitors. To my surprise, a well-known radical Marxist as Prof. James Petras was in the featured columnists staff.
While anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli positions have their due place in the local political debate, these kind of theories have become way marginalized in Argentine leftist and populist movements since its heyday in the sixties (the 1% Jewish population counted for at least 10% of the Military Junta victims, after all). The mention of the Protocols in regular comments in blogs or Facebook arguments are just to discredit or mockery purposes. Even in the worst mayhem days subsequent to Argentina’s fall in default in 2002, when millions lost their bank savings at the hands of ten years lasting experiment of radical neo-liberal recipes, no hint of anti-semitism arose from the infuriated “popular assemblies”. It was clearly a matter of two models of Capitalism at stake: one based in the industrial fabric actively promoted and regulated by the State, as the general expression of the public interest, versus another one based in the predominance of the financial speculation left at the hands of the private few. Both share the inherently instability of Capitalism; but while the first one admits the play of tensions between the productive factors (capital and workforce) the second one intends to suppress the disputes (and the tendency to decrease the rate of profit) by way of destroying the workforce conquests of Labor organizations (evidenced in the heralded welcome of fascism by the Vienna school of Economics founder Ludwig Von Mises). The mirage of increasing profits by impoverishing the public ends itself in speculative bubble bursts.
It seems to me that the fail to retain this basic comprehension of the impersonal rules of Capitalism (in the Darwinian mood of Karl Marx perception, with all his shortcomings) lay at the root of the American radicalism deviated comprehension of the ongoing crisis. The view of the capitalist cycles as the evil conspiracy of the Corporative interests (even if they themselves think they conduct the process) leads to the dispersion of the resistance efforts into these kind of delusional theories, in a sort of revival of the gnostic religious sects which proliferated in the first centuries of Christianity. ¿Is it by coincidence the contemporary success of best sellers, movies and TV documentaries about the apocalyptic sectarians of that time?