That’s Funny – Steve C


That’s Funny You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic

An anti-racist analysis of left anti-semitism by Steve Cohen

1984 Edition edited and produced by Libby Lawson and Erica Bunnan.

The book is dedicated to Abram Leon, Jew and revolutionary, who was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of 26.



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The Socialism of Fools

Anti-semitism—Anti-semitism without Jews—Left anti-Semitism—Socialism, Anti-semitism, Thatcherism and Fascism.

That’s Funny 4

The Anti-Semitism of English Socialism’s Formative Years

Background—Immigration controls—English and Jewish opposition—Rich Jew, poor Jew; the conspiracy theory in practice—Anti-alienism or anti-semitism—Imperialism and history—Fascists reclaim history.

That’s Funny 5

The Left Returns to Zion

The Left organizations—The issues—Zionism and the theory of world domination—Equating Zionism with imperialism; anti-Zionism without Zion—The collective guilt of all Jews for Zionism—The Lebanon invasion—Zionism’s dominant position within Jewry—The distortion of the Jewish predicament—The alternative to Zionism.

That’s Funny 6

The Left’s Advice to Jews—Assimilate and Stop Being Jewish

Assimilationism—Left orthodoxy—Assimilation as an answer to anti-semitism—Jewish survival through anti-semitism—Determinism and Fatalism—Are the Jews a people-class?—Marx the assimilated Jew—Jewish self-organization—Assimilation and the Jewish establishment—Chauvinism or anti-semitism?—Jewish behaviour seen as responsible for anti-semitism—The politics of terminology.

Thats Funny 7

Left Responses

‘Jews exaggerate their predicament’—’There are Jews on the Left’—’Criticisms of Left anti-semitism plays into the hands of anti-communists’—’Anti-semitism is a series of “mistakes”.

That’s Funny 8

How The Left Does Not Fight Anti-Semitism

Left modesty—Complicity in anti-semitism—Denying the significance of the material consequences of anti-semitism—Denying the significance of anti-semitism as an ideology.

That’s Funny 9

The Non-Jewish Question


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Bibliographical Sources


See also Steve’s argument against the boycott of Israel: “I would hate myself in the morning” – Steve Cohen – May 29 2006

Why is this book different from all other books?

In all other books we are not allowed to see anti-semitism, let alone the anti-semitism of the Left.
But in this book we can.

In all other (non-feminist) books we do not identify the links between Jews, Blacks and women.
But in this book we do.

In all other books we are told to assimilate or go to Israel.
But in this book we need not do either.

In all other books we can be either Jewish or Left.
But in this book we can be both.

Beyond the Pale Collective comprises:
Erica Burman and Libby Lawson.

We would like to thank the Collective for being there when we needed them, for endless cups of tea, for providing help and encouragement when the going got rough while editing, producing and publishing this book. They made it all possible!

Beyond the Pale Collective



This book is written from a perspective of communism and anti-racism. It is, naturally, opposed to anti-semitism in whatever guise. In particular, it is a polemic against manifestations of anti-semitism by those who claim to be part of the socialist or communist tradition. It has been a painful piece to write, intellectually and emotionally. I guess it will be painful to read. Leon Trotsky once said that “only the truth is revolutionary”. This was his answer to those who refused to criticise Stalinism for fear that imperialists would jump on these criticisms, to further attack the very real achievements of the Bolshevik revolution. The facts in the book might well provide some perverse ammunition to reactionaries of all kinds, who want to denounce revolutionary change. So be it. Reaction has to be defeated honestly, not by defending the indefensible; what is written here is not in any way presented as a last word, rather it is an attempt to open up a genuine debate on the Left. Hopefully, something positive will emerge from the dissection of such negative material.

Even in draft form, the book has been attacked by individuals on the Left and the Right. However, what has made it possible and worthwhile has been the tremendous encouragement from so many different people (many of whom I have never met). Not least are those who have donated the entire cost of the production. I would like to thank Manchester Jewish Socialist Group for their support—in particular Joe Garman and Jeremy Green for their midnight discussion. I would also like to thank all those women in the women’s caucus at the national Jewish Socialist Group day school on Left anti-semitism, who forcefully expressed their desire for publication. Francesca Klug and Judy Keiner wrote me extremely long and constructive letters, helping to clarify many points and raising further ones. Bill Williams spent years, literally, discussing the issues raised in the book. Finally, limitless thanks to Libby Lawson and Erica Burman who kidnapped the manuscript after it had been through countless drafts and, by editing it, made sure that it is Kosher and fit for human consumption.

All money that is received through sales will go to Shifra magazine, which is about to be produced by a Jewish feminist collective. So buy!

Steve Cohen

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