The Anti-Capitalists Who Helped Create Modern Anti-Semitism

Since the early 19th century, anti-Semites have argued that the true beneficiaries of liberal democracy and market economies have been Jews, and that Jews were ultimately to blame for the dislocation and social ills that accompanied modernization and the industrial revolution. Thus, well before Karl Marx wrote “On the Jewish Question”—in which he declared that “money is the jealous God of Israel” and called for “the emancipation of society from Judaism”—some prominent early socialists saw Jews as the manifestation of the problem they were committed to solving. Michele Battini, in his recent The Socialism of Fools, traces the history of these strands of thinking in West European socialism from its roots until the present day. Although his book sheds much light on this important and often forgotten piece of history, Ben Cohen finds that it also ignores some essential things:

The elephant in the room here is Battini’s treatment of the relationship between the anti-Semitic texts and movements which he analyzes and today’s expressions of anti-Zionism. Readers hoping for a substantive probing of these connections are advised to look elsewhere, although that isn’t necessarily a criticism. Battini is a historian, and the value of his book lies in his thesis that anti-Semitism was a core pillar of the anti-democratic and illiberal thought that flourished in the 19th century on left and right. But he does also choose to address the subject in its contemporary form, and what he has to say is so unsatisfying that one questions why he felt the need to include it at all.

The problem here is not just Battini’s mandatory nod to the “ferociously unjust” policies of Israel toward the Palestinians. . . . It’s that his overall argument is hasty and weak. . . . He avoids any meaningful examination of the role of the New Left in promoting this “new-old anti-Semitism,” and does not even pause to consider the meaning of the anti-Semitic terrorism carried out by non-Arab groups like the Japanese Red Army and Germany’s Red Army Faction during the 1970s.

Battini is correct when he concludes that anti-Semitism in our time revolves around the notion that “‘Judaism’ is power because Israel is an actual political power and because the American Diaspora is a financial power.” Expressed like this, we can perceive the continuity between the anti-emancipatory anti-Semitism of early capitalism and that which has crystallized in its current, globalized form. Yet his claim that Israel’s “[provocations] against the Arab populations of Palestine” act as grist to the mill of today’s propagandists is a lazy and commonplace argument—all the more so as the overall thrust of his book makes it clear that there was little correspondence between anti-Semitic theorizing and the actual behavior of Jews.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Karl Marx, Socialism

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7