The reactionary right-wing politics of the Gaza demonstrations – Sean Matgamna

The reactionary right-wing politics of the Gaza demonstrations – Sean Matgamna of the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty.

25 Responses to “The reactionary right-wing politics of the Gaza demonstrations – Sean Matgamna”

  1. human right Says:
    Israeli army’s use of white phosphorus in Gaza is ‘clear and undeniable’ – Amnesty international org. said

  2. Saul Says:

    “Human right”.
    Perhaps you could tell us the relevance of your comment in relation to Matgamna’s article, i.e. how the IDF’s use of White Phosphorous (a use never denied) adds or substacts from the above argument and the fact of the PSC thug stomping on a placard with which he disagreed and which stated categorically “No IDF and No Hamas”?

  3. Bundist Says:

    The placard thing was disgustingly intolerant.
    White Phosphorous is a sick thing to use on civilians (even if Hamas are nearby)

  4. Saul Says:

    Again, I cannot see the link.
    Explain it

  5. Gil Says:

    Bundist ignores Saul’s point that “human right” tried to change the terms of reference of this post and go off on a tangent – and does so him(her)self. Thus, proving to be intellectually dishonest.

  6. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    The article shows that the extreme left – with few honorable exceptions – has lost any sense of proportion and decency.
    They do not demonstrate against Sudan, where 300.000 have been killed in Darfur and more than 2 millions are internal refugees.
    What is dangerous in the UK is the fact, that main stream papers like Guardian and Independent are blowing into the same horn.

  7. Alec Says:

    I share Saul and Gil’s (faux) confusion at this subject change. White phosphorous should not be used as an anti-personnel weapon, or recklessly in civilian areas. However, its use can be considered to be, ipso facto, a war-crime only if one takes a position of deontological pacifism in which all war is considered a crime. This applies also to deliberate placing of military targets within civilian areas, as Hamas has demonstrable done.

    It should also be noted that high explosives can cause serious burns within a defined blast radius and over large areas of skin, whilst white phosphorous will do so only on contact.

    As neither the posters in this thread nor the ‘experts’, of unspecified expertise, in the link – none of whom are schooled in international law, I suspect – express similar disquiet at Hamas’ actions (both the basic prosecution of war, and violations of its rules), I assume different standards are being applied.

  8. Eric Lee Says:

    The question Matgamna’s article doesn’t answer is — if these demonstrations are now openly anti-Semitic, why is the AWL participating? Or does he no longer speak for the organisation?

  9. Karmafish Says:

    What I am curious about is the extent to which liberal European anti-Zionism (and anti-Semitism) is spreading into American left political circles.

    On the Daily Kos website, during Israel’s recent incursion into Gaza, there was essay after essay after essay lambasting Israel in the most vicious terms possible.

  10. Saul Says:

    I raised questions of “human right’s” comment.
    I am opposed entirely to the use of a military attempts to resolve the current impasse regarding Israel and Hamas, including of course the use of White Phosphorous or any other weapon, legal or not.
    I am of the no IDF no Hamas line of thinking.
    Just so as to be clear.

  11. Alec Says:

    Saul, that is perfectly fair. My reading of your and Gil’s responses was that you were (quite rightly, in my opinion) questioning the subject change. In a perfect world, Operation Cast Lead shouldn’t have taken place. In the imperfect one we’re stuck with, it probably shouldn’t have taken place either.

    Eric, commonly participants at such rallies are asked why they allowed a tone of reactionary and racist right-wing politics to be set without expressly distancing themselves from it. This is what Matgamna is now doing (not to mention lowering the stakes by comparing the I.D.F. to the American military). I personally disagree with significant parts of his conclusions, but he is unarguably hewn from a different cloth.

    Also, is johnb on the other discussion none other than johng, the philosopher king who hit the wrong letter on his keyboard? His stunning misreading of the most elementary statements and wilful efforts to change the parameters of the question by sailing blithely on as if dissent is inconceivable, complete with semi-literate and increasingly hysteric screeds certainly reminds of Mr. Game.

  12. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Just now heard on Israel Radio: a Palestinian doctor spoke in Gaza to the correspondent of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera and told him, that Hamas forced the doctors to inflate the number of victims. According to this doctor there were 500 to 600 victims.

  13. Saul Says:

    And the relevance of Karl’s comments to the article is what?

  14. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Alec “In a perfect world, Operation Cast Lead shouldn’t have taken place. In the imperfect one we’re stuck with, it probably shouldn’t have taken place either.”

    So, Alec (and Saul, too, I guess), given the situation Israel found itself in after the end of the cease fire (or “pause”, as Hamas called it), what should the Israeli government have done? In the 10 days after the end of the cease fire, 3000 rockets were fired into Israel, and this continued despite Israeli warnings of the consequences of continuing. Do you really think that Hamas didn’t believe the Israeli threats?

    But even if they did, what should Israel have done _instead_ of launching Operation Cast Lead? Said “pretty please, stop firing rockets”? Called for a UN Resolution? (And a fat lot of good _that_ would have done: if passed, it would probably have blamed Israel for inviting Hamas to launch rockets in the first place.)

    No-one has yet come up with a convincing answer (and I wouldn’t count “convincing” as phoning Hamas and saying “we surrender to your just demands” – so anti-zionists need not reply).

    And directing rockets at Ashkelon, where 65% of the electricity that Gaza uses come from, must count as a classic definition of biting the hand that feeds you.

    Answers on the back of a small postage stamp please.

  15. Lynne T Says:


    This may or may not be what Alec is alluding to, but clearly, the reason why Israel had to respond to Hamas’s attacks the way it did was because of the results of standing down in 2006, a disaster imposed on Israel by the international community that promised to ensure that Hezbollah would not be allowed to rearm.

    Instead, we know that Hezbollah and Hamas used the “calm” to acquire bigger and better guns and Iran and North Korea even attempted to covertly build a nuclear facility in Syria but were foiled by the Israeli Air Force. These events, no doubt, are why Hamas’s only supporters and defenders are Iran, Syria and Qatar.

  16. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    The relevance of Karl’s comment, Saul, is the implication that the numbers are inflated, so that the pro-Hamas/anti-Israel groups have heavier stickes to beat Israel with.

    It’s not enough that Hamas provided the need for Israel to respond to them, but that Israel gets the blame for a “disproportionate” response; it’s not enough that Israel, inevitably, causes civilian casualties because of the war crimes Hamas commits by siting their missiles etc among those self-same civilians, and then Israel is blamed for Hamas’s crimes; it’s not enough that casualties are caused in UN schools and mosques, because Hamas uses these places to fire mortars from, but Israel gets the blame for Hamas’s firing mortars from these places. In addition, Hamas, reportedly, inflates the number of civilian casualties (and presumably deflates the number of Hamas fighter casualties).

    All this leads to the situation that Sean Matgamna describes as “the reactionary right-wing politics of the Gaza demonstration”, even when they are carried out by those who would self-describe themselves as left-wing or “progressive”. Those latter words are, of course, used in the sense that Nick Cohen uses them in “What’s Left?”.

    That’s the relevance, Saul.

  17. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Furthermore (why do always manage to forget the continuation?), if these “progreessive left-wingers” spent as much energy chanting “we are all MDC now”, in Mugabe’s face, or “we are all Darfuris now” in Sudan’s face, etc, etc, instead of attcking, nay demonising, the one Jewish state and the only one with a functioning parliamentary democracy in the region (bar possibly Turkey’s, and _it_ has diplomatic relations with Israel – tell you anything people?), there is a strong possiblity that western governments might actually have done _something_ positive about these situations.

  18. Saul Says:

    ok, Brian, thanks,
    However, whether inflated or not, 500 to 600 is still 500 or 600 too many
    I think also that it would not alter what Matgamna is criticising.

  19. Sabato Says:

    Saul, the casualty numbers is a red herring.

    To anti-Zionists a hundred Israeli causalties is justified while 10 Palestinian casualties is a “war crime.”

  20. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I agree, Saul, that actually 1 civilian casualty would be too many. However, it’s the taken-for-granted assumption by the “peace” demonstrators that it’s all Israel’s fault – and that Jews the world over should be taking Israel to task that gets stuck in my craw.

    And I will _not_ take this demonisation of Israel lying down. No other country in the world gets held to the standards that these “progressives” hold Israel to. Not even the US. And certainly not Mugabe, et al.

    Have you noticed that the latest estimates for deaths from cholera in Zimbabe are over 2000 (or maybe it’s now 3000 and rising). How many non-Hamas fighters died in Gaza?

    The latest figures for deaths in Darfur is, I believe, 250,000, with 2,000,000 displaced. How many non-Hamas fighters died in Gaza?

    Nearly a million in Rwanda (and not a finger lifted to halt the genocide). And how many non-Hamas fighters died in Gaza?

    And Matgamna is criticising the so-called “progressive-leftists” who take on reactionary, right-wing, not to say antisemitic, attitudes and positively glory in elevating an antisemitic, genocidal, clerico-fascist movement to denigrate Israel and the Jews.

    Why not criticise the bicycle riders, while we’re about it.

    What’s really noticeable is that these lovely people _really_ don’t understand (and probably don’t _want_ to understand) the meaning of Tzipi Livni’s “enough is enough” and the general Jewish view of “never again”.

    In all this, no-one asks why such a high proportion of non-Israeli Jews are so Zionist. Because, I suggest, of the above, but also because “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in”.

    And still only 500 to 600 non-Hamas fighters died in Gaza.

  21. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Why are there no answers to my question as to what Israel should have done if Operation Cast Lead was such a bad idea, given the 3000 rockets fired into Israel in the 10 days after the end of the cease fire?

    I’ve asked Jhn Strawson, Alec, Saul, and some others, “but answer came there none”.

    I wonder why?

  22. TNC Says:

    “What I am curious about is the extent to which liberal European anti-Zionism (and anti-Semitism) is spreading into American left political circles.”

    If you are talking about the loony left (like Kos), anti-Zionism has been the norm in the U.S. for decades. Israel is a litmus test for them.

    If you are talking about mainstream Democrats, many, if not most, support Israel.

  23. Jonathan Romer Says:


    There’s nothing much I would disagree with about what you have been writing, but to save you grief from people just looking for a stick to beat you with, the number of rockets fired in the 10 days after the end of the ceasefire was 300, not 3000. This changes nothing, of course.

  24. Saul Says:

    I agree with you entirely.
    I apologise for not answering you. My answer is simple. I don’t know. I wish I did.
    But, that of itself, is no bar to questioning the recourse to militarism.

  25. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Jonathan, point taken. So, everybody, please read 300 for 3000 in my questions. My parents had moved to a north-west London suburb before the Germans started throwing V1s and V2s at the place, so I never experienced living under rocker fire, tho’ my sister, 6 years older, does remember the V1s. Both types (but especially the V2s) did cause much loss of life.

    Nevertheless, Israel was having 30 rockets a day fired at Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and latterly Be’ersheba. The Israeli goverment, not unreasonably, warned Hamas what would happen if they didn’t cease. They didn’t. Why they didn’t is a question that must be asked of Hamas, not the Israeli government. But not only do the pro-Hamas demonstrators, letter-writers and other fellow travellers on the anti-Zionist front (and mostly on Nick Cohen’s “progressive left”) actually blame Israel for the fighting in Gaza, so, by default, do some of those who are otherwise extremely clear-eyed about the situation in the Middle East. Furthermore, those who are _not_ clear-eyed, also quite cheerfully declaim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and a Holocaust on the West Bank, both claims blatant rubbish, and equally cheerfully equate Israelis with Nazis. And these useful idiots wonder why Israel and the vast majority of Jews take no serious intellectual notice of them.

    Saul, you say that you don’t know the answer, but that this is no bar to questioning the recourse to militarism. Of course it isn’t, because violence only _sometimes_ solves the problem. But what I fail to see (not from my friends here, I hasten to add) is the questioning of the cause of the militaristic response. David H. has made the point often: Hamas is an antisemitic, racist, homophobic, mysoginist, clerico-fascist movement that would cheerfully wipe all Jews off the face of the earth, kill all the gays they could find, permanently subjugate women and establish a world-wide Caliphate, and few people appear to be prepared to actually _see_ this and draw the obvious conclusion from their firing of rockets into Israel: they are war-mongering fanatics who mean what they say.

    Did anyone notice that after Israel’s unilateral cease fire and the commencement of their withdrawal, Hamas (or someone in Gaza) fired a rocket into Israel, and the Israelis, as they had promised to do, promptly retaliated with a return of fire – probably only one shell – and there haven’t been any reports of rockets from Gaza since. (Good point there, Bill – and an effective one!)

    So, perhaps if Israel had fired 300 rockets back into Gaza…? That that would probably have killed more than the claimed 500 civilians is almost certain, but it _would_ have been proportionate.

    But would it have been seen as an even greater “war crime” than is already alleged against Israel (but not – no surprise there, then – against Hamas)?

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