In the s, Brenner was a prominent civil rights activist and a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War. Neither were Marxists. Brenner was arrested three times during civil rights sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spent 39 months in jail when a court revoked his probation for marijuana possession, because of his activities during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement at the University of California in He was an anti-war activist from the first days of the Committee for Narcotic Reform in Berkeley.
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Who told a Berlin audience in March that each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn t want disorders in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews? And where might you find the following assertion, originally composed in but republished as late as The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligation, knows no order nor discipline?
As the above quoted statement reveals, Zionism itself encouraged and exploited self-hatred in the Diaspora. It started from the assumption that anti-Semitism was inevitable and even in a sense justified so long as Jews were outside the land of Israel.
It is true that only an extreme lunatic fringe of Zionism went so far as to offer to join the war on Germany s side in , in the hope of establishing the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich. Unfortunately this was the group which the present Prime Minister of Israel chose to join.
That fact gives an extra edge of topicality to what would in any case be a highly controversial study of the Zionist record in the heyday of European fascism by Lenni Brenner, and American Trotskyist writer who happens also to be Jewish. It is short pages , crisp and carefully documented.
Mr Brenner is able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-Semitic regimes, including Hitler s; he is careful also to put on record the opposition to such policies within the Zionist movement. In retrospect these activities have been defended as a distasteful but necessary expedient to save Jewish lives. But Brenner shows that most of the time this aim was secondary. The Zionist leaders wanted to help young, skilled and able-bodied Jews to emigrate to Palestine.
They were never in the forefront of the struggle against fascism in Europe. That in no way absolves the wartime Allies for their callous refusal to make any serious effort to save European Jewry. As Brenner says, Britain must be condemned for abandoning the Jews of Europe; but, it is not for the Zionists to do it.
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