Friday, September 21, 2007

"Don't forget our fascist past"

Geoffery Alderman in The Jewish Chronicle on the neo-Nazi skinheads of Israel.


Gibson Block said...

Bob, it was a good article and thanks for the link. However, Our Fascist Past is a questionable title.

Yes, a good number of Jews in Italy were fascists. So we know that Jews can be fascists. But does that mean that their fascist past is mine and yours? No.

Here's a great article which argues that fascism was a response to the failure of Marxist expectations as was Revisionism and Bolshevism.

Noga said...

The subject comes up in the Italian film "The garden of Fintzi-Contini", in which one of the characters, who joined the fascists, tries to convince his family that this was a way of combatting antisemitism, or a way out of antisemitism. All the characters, except for the narrator, perished in Auschwitz.

Since the evil of fascism turned on the fate of the Jews, and as soon as the racial laws were enacted, all Jews were kicked out of the fascist party, I'm sort of wondering why the fact that some Jews were fascists before fascism came to be synonymous with eliminationist antisemitism, is even important.

Many Jewish intellectuals are no longer welcome among circles in the Left, if they advocate for Israel. If ever these (indecent) Leftists come to have enough power to destroy Israel (which of course means another genocide), will history try to excuse the perpetrators, or mitigate for their crimes, on the ground that Jews had once been active on the left?

bob said...

The fact that some Jews - in Mussolini's Italy, in Hitler's Germany, and in Britain - supported fascist regimes in the 1920s/30s is of course not the most important thing about fascism; it is one of the least important things. Nor can it in any way be seen as exonerating fascism.

However, the phenomenon of Jews supporting fascism is interesting and instructive and worth a glance before moving on.

bob said...

After Noga and Gibon's comments, and an e-mail from Jogo, I decided to change the title of the post. It made it seem like I was endorsing Alderman's positiion. It also begs the question: Whose fascist past? Alderman was writing for a Jewish readership of the print edition of the JC. The on-line edition, and this blog, have a mixed readership. So it is wrong to be unproblematically using the "our". But I couldn't think of a better title, and this one probably catches the eye, so in the end I just put it in scare quotes.

I don't endorse Alderman's views (on this or other subjects) but I think this is interesting and thought-provoking, and therefore worth reading.

bob said...

Adding insult to injury... Sorry meant Gibson not Gibon

Noga said...

A few years ago I read somewhere that Belgian Jews, "clandestinely", were voting for the right wing party which is the descendant of a pro-Nazi party that collaborated with Hitler.

Here is why:

"In the last six years, they have suffered a marked increase in attacks, including physical assaults and the firebombing of synagogues. In one recent incident, a gang of young North Africans attacked a group of Jewish teenagers, repeatedly stabbing one boy and leaving him with a punctured lung. And, for years, many Jews have been uncomfortable with the way their liberal representatives talk about, and relate to, Israel--a concern that Dewinter has shown he is acutely aware of. "Socialists and Greens are Israel's most dangerous foes in Europe," he e-mailed me, echoing previous statements he has made to Jewish constituents and to the press. "They even tend to identify Israel and Zionism with Nazism."


"Brussels Liberal Party Parliamentarian Viviane Teitelbaum Hirsch is worried. Before the election, an Antwerp Jewish women's group invited her to explain why it should not vote for Vlaams Belang. "To the Jews of Antwerp, I always say the first victims of the extreme right are the Muslims. But the next ones on the list are the Jews," she warns. "And I find it very scary. As a European."

As they say these days, here is a problem from hell. And I'm not kidding. Look what is happening in the US, where Jews were part of the power base of liberals, voting democrats. With today the Democratic party embracing The Daily Kos as their centre (no less) and Obama hiring Zbigniew Brzezinski as his Foreign Policy advisor, increasingly Jews reconsider their affiliations. And some of them probably muse that making short-term compromises may pay off in the longer term.