“Left anti-Zionism inflates Israel into a symbol for all that is wrong with a world dominated by US imperialism…. It is Manichaeism: the world is a great struggle between heroes and villains, only to be resolved by a great revelation and final undoing…. Some on the left seem to think that the only role that Muslims are able to play in this global showdown is to transform themselves into human bombs. They imagine glorious and tragic deaths as the only option left open to Muslims.”
Jane Ashworth and David Hirsh in Progress magazine, November 2005
Oddly enough, I’ve yet to meet anyone on the Left who supports “suicide bombing” as a tactic in Palestine/Israel or anywhere else, still less anyone who holds that this is “the only role that Muslims are able to play” in the struggle against US imperialism. I didn’t come across any leftists trying to dissuade Muslims from participating in the mass political protests against the Iraq war on the grounds that they would be better occupied turning themselves into human bombs. Perhaps I lead a sheltered life. Alternatively, it could just be that, to adopt their own terminology, Ashworth and Hirsh are intent on attacking “symbolic” leftists rather than real ones.
As is usual in the outpourings of pro-imperialists, “left” and right, who of course have their own list of heroes and villains, the Mayor of London’s welcome to Yusuf al-Qaradawi is held up as an example of leftist capitulation to anti-semitism: “Some recent incidents … are open to other than anti-semitic interpretations. But Ken Livingstone’s warm embrace, on behalf of London, of Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an openly anti-semitic cleric, shows a disregard for the importance of anti-semitism.”
That would be this Yusuf al-Qaradawi, would it? Furthermore, if willingness to engage in dialogue with Qaradawi is a sign of softness on anti-semitism, then the Foreign Office are clearly anti-semites too. See (pdf) here.
We are also told that “Hizb’ut Tahrir and other fundamentalist groups make openly anti-semitic propaganda”. In reality, HT did have an anti-semitic article on their website dating from several years back, but they removed it some time ago. You could argue, a la Harry’s Place, that this is just a cunning manoeuvre and does not represent any real rejection of anti-semitism (though I have seen no evidence to back that claim), but it seems quite clear that these days HT do not engage in “openly anti-semitic propaganda”.
It’s no wonder that the anti-imperialist Left, including those of us who could be categorised as godless communists, find we have more in common with some members of faith groups (both in terms of opposition to imperialism and respect for rational argument) than we do with people like Ashworth and Hirsh.