[sixties-l] German radicals defend Israeli state brutality in the West Bank-Part 2

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/13/00

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    German radicals defend Israeli state brutality in the West Bank-Part 2
    Konkret's treatment of anti-Semitism and fascism
    By Stefan Steinberg
    11 December 2000
    This is the conclusion of a two-part article. The first part was posted on 
    December 9.
    The article by regular contributor Jurgen Elsasser in the latest konkret 
    (concrete), the German left radical magazine, assumes almost surreal forms 
    as he attempts to draw a parallel between Likud leader Ariel Sharon and 
    former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Both, he argues, are the 
    victims of a ruthless propaganda campaign by European politicians and the 
    The German government is depicted as sponsoring Moslem fundamentalism and, 
    in a variation of the motto "the enemy (Israel) of my enemy (Germany) is my 
    friend" , Elssser ends up as a sounding board for the Israeli propaganda 
    machine. Elssser describes Sharon as a "farsighted" politician and quotes 
    with approval right-wing former Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, who recently 
    expressed his concern "that politicians in Europe, where a third of the 
    Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust, want to force a solution upon 
    This last quote indicates the main line of argument for Hermann 
    L.  Gremliza (the head of konkret since 1974) and Elssser. Anybody who 
    disagrees with their virulent defence of the interests of the Israeli state 
    and security forces is condemned as anti-Semitic .
    The issue is bluntly put by Horst Pankow in his article for the Bahamas 
    magazine where he writes: "A radical anti-national and anti-German left, 
    which has ascribed to the fundamental negation of state and economy, should 
    not just accept the contradiction of defending the national interests of 
    Israel because Germany is more openly and effectively supporting the 
    enemies of Israel. It should take this step, above all, in its own 
    interests.  For another mass murder of Jews, a repetition of Auschwitz, 
    would destroy all hopes of emancipating human society from capital and the 
    In the circles of German radicals and intellectuals around konkret and 
    Bahamas the accusation of anti-Semitism draws its potency from a long 
    tradition of distorting the history of the growth and development of 
    fascism and anti-Semitism in favour of a variety of "German collective 
    guilt" for Nazi crimes and the eradication of the Jews. A recent sixtieth 
    birthday tribute to Gremliza in the right-wing FAZ newspaper made a correct 
    point: "His [Gremliza's ] trick as an author is to put an equal sign, at 
    every opportunity, between national-socialist and today's Germany. To his 
    right he sees a block which ranges from Schrder [leader of the Social 
    Democratic PartySPD] to Schnhuber [former member of the SS and neo-fascist 
    Republican Party]."
    Together with his theory that today's Germany is largely in the grasp of 
    fascist forces, a range of articles in Gremliza's magazine reiterate the 
    thesis, made popular by Daniel Goldhagen in his book Hitler's Willing 
    Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, that fascism is a sort of 
    primordial, peculiarly German phenomenon with deep roots in the German 
    population as a whole.
    Contributors to konkret are outraged by any evidence or historical work 
    which suggests that fascism is not endemic to the majority of the German 
    population but has distinct social and historical roots bound up with the 
    development of capitalism. In the same December edition which takes sides 
    with the Israeli government against the Palestinians, and in a review of 
    new books dealing with the Holocaust, konkret author Tjark Kunstreich 
    vigorously opposes evidence put forward by French author Enzo Traverso that 
    at the start of the twentieth century just 2 percent of the German 
    electorate voted in elections for an openly anti-Semitic party.  This does 
    not fit into Kunstreich's picture of the Germans as a homogenous 
    anti-Semitic mob, and he concludes that Traverso has overlooked the fact 
    that "anti-Semitism was already so widespread in Germany at that time that 
    it did not require its own party"!
    A similar line of argument was also put forward last December in the course 
    of a series of articles in konkret written by contributor Matthias Knzel, 
    which dealt with the reaction by leading members of the German Frankfurt 
    School to the rise of fascism. In his articles Knzel praises the 
    "pioneering" work of Daniel Goldhagen, but his main target is to attack the 
    manner in which members of the Frankfurt School attempted to deal with the 
    rise of fascism and analyse its roots in the crisis of capitalism and the 
    strategy of the German ruling class.
    The combined experiences of fascism and Stalinism had profound 
    repercussions for members of the Frankfurt School and in the post-war 
    period a number of leading figures made clear their growing disillusionment 
    in any prospect for the progressive transformation of society. The despair 
    of leading members of the Frankfurt School upon learning of the extent of 
    the extermination of the Jews is summed up in Adorno's comment that poetry 
    is impossible after Auschwitz. It would be very mistaken, however, to 
    associate members of the Frankfurt School with the crude form of 
    "collective guilt thesis" which Knzel supports.
    In his articles Knzel objects in particular to a text jointly drawn up by 
    Max Horheimer and Theodor Adorno in 1959. Knzel cites a truncated excerpt 
    from the article, an introduction written by Horkheimer and Adorno for Paul 
    Massing's book The Prehistory of Political Anti-Semitism. It is worth 
    quoting in full the passage which Knzel edits:
    "It is by no means the case that totalitarian anti-Semitism is a 
    specifically German phenomenon. Attempts to understand it based on such a 
    questionable entity as national character, the impoverished scraps of what 
    was once known as Volksgeist, trivialise the inexplicable which we have to 
    try to understand. Scientific consciousness should not cut its work short 
    by reducing the enigma of anti-Semitic irrationality to a formula which is 
    equally irrational. Instead the enigma requires a social solution and that 
    is impossible within the sphere of nation peculiarities. In the event, 
    totalitarian anti-Semitism owed its German triumph to a constellation of 
    economic and social factors, and by no means the characteristics or 
    standpoint of a people, which in its own right, spontaneously, has perhaps 
    exhibited less racial hatred than other civilised countries which drove out 
    or exterminated their Jews hundreds of years ago" (1959 introduction to 
    Paul W. Massing's Vorgeschichte des politischen Antisemitismus, Frankfurt/M 
    Knzel is distraught by this passage and his series of articles in konkret 
    is aimed at proving just the reversei.e., that fascism is a specifically 
    German problem. Instead of the materialist attempt made by Horkheimer and 
    Adorno to understand anti-Semitism, Knzel prefers an apocalyptic metaphor 
    from writer Jehuda Bauer: "The Holocaust was a special case, erupting like 
    a huge volcano from a dark and threatening landscape."
    For some years konkret has functioned as a conduit for such theories by 
    people like Kunstreich and Knzel. Now, today, the logic of konkret's 
    ahistorical efforts to reduce fascism to a particularity of German history 
    and embrace the ideology of Goldhagen has won it new friends amongst the 
    most reactionary Zionist circles.
    As we noted in the case of the Kursk tragedy, konkret's regular withering 
    critique of nationalism in German politics (Gremliza's latest collection of 
    essays is entitled Against Germany) did not prevent the magazine from 
    supporting the most reactionary Russian nationalist interests. In his reply 
    to Ralf Schrder posted October 6 on the WSWS ("The nationalistic reflex: 
    left-wing newspapers in Germany exhibit unrestrained enthusiasm for 
    Putin"), Peter Schwarz ended his critique with the warning that "it would 
    not be the first time that left-wing intellectuals have switched to the 
    enemy camp on the eve of big class struggles." That was in September. Now 
    konkret is supporting the military activities of one of the most 
    reactionary governments on the planet. The process has taken about a month!

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