A note from Cured Quail: What follows is a response indicative of a general social situation. It derives from specific conditions where the means by which we communicate, share ideas and debate have become so thoroughly structured by platforms of falsehood, that manichean thinking, neurotic convictions, unilateral solidarity, rabid identitarianism, empty chatter and gossip, and, above all, an ephemerality by which our absence from the world occurs the moment we are no longer in front of a screen, have together come to define our social experience. For the circus of public opinion, abandon hope all ye who enter.
Israel, Still the Number One Obsession
Anselm Jappe, Sandrine Aumercier and Gabriel Zacarias
Originally published: http://www.palim-psao.fr/2021/05/israel-encore-et-toujours-l-obsession-numero-un-par-anselm-jappe-gabriel-zacarias-et-sandrine-aumercier.html
Under the title “Covid, Climate, Chronic Emergency: Antinomies of the State”, Anselm Jappe was invited to an online discussion with Alberto Toscano and Andreas Malm on Friday 14 May 2021 at 8pm on the Seattle-based website Red May. The co-authors of De Virus Illustribus (Crise & Critique, 2020) were invited to participate in a panel discussion. The audience could follow the discussion on the designated Youtube channel.
It wasn’t without reservations going into a discussion with an advocate of “Bolshevik war communism” and “ecological Leninism”, who considers the Soviet bureaucracy as a “usurpation” and Stalinist despotism as a slippage (these theses are notably developed in one of Andreas Malm’s latest books, Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency). As if time stood still for a hundred years, the power of the Bolsheviks from 1918 to 1921 is, for Malm, the inspiration for the revolution to come in the war that awaits us, namely the war against fossil fuels (in favour of marvellous “renewable energies”). Between Robert Kurz’s interpretation of the collapse of the USSR in his 1991 The Collapse of Modernization, and Malm’s theses, it has to be said that the abyss seemed unbridgeable and the clash inevitable.
One cannot fail to mention here the bizarre format of this ‘international’ conference, where everyone appears in their own kitchen or living room, which gives discussions something falsely familiar, unheimlich. It is as if we have already consented to being sent back to our homes for good, to analyse the world or change it only from behind a screen. Will we soon be giving presentations in our pajamas?
Yet it was a wound up Andreas Malm that appeared on the screen, still dressed for the pro-Palestinian demonstration, according to him, from which he had just returned. Choked up by his anti-imperialist emotion, Malm immediately declared himself incapable of addressing the planned theme, namely the pandemic crisis and the role of the state. So on to his virtual audience, Malm began to pour out his anger against the described ‘proto-genocidal’ Israeli response.
Anselm Jappe’s reaction was without delay: he reaffirmed the theme of the discussion and categorically refused to turn it into an opportunity to praise Hamas. If there was a failure to move on to the topic, he warned that he would leave the panel. Andreas Malm persisted, calling Jappe’s reaction a ‘German’ reflex. Anselm Jappe left the meeting, followed by his two co-authors, without the organisers having taken a position on what was happening.
This was once more another demonstration – to the point of caricature – that the upheavals of the Middle East have a sort of atavistic priority for leftism over any other subject. A message posted on the Youtube chat didn’t fail to denounce the “Zionist” infiltration of the left… A single message from a spectator asked why a “supposed leftist” expressed admiration for the “fascist militia” of Hamas that “terrorize the people of Gaza on a daily basis”.
A proverb says that villains sometimes rest, yet fools never do. But what about villainous fools?
One would like to think that the discourse on “leftwing anti-Semitism” was the exaggeration of a right that wanted to forget its past. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As for us, we are the true pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis: we wish the Palestinians and the Israelis to liberate themselves from their current leaders and to regain a little bit of sanity.
Anselm Jappe, Gabriel Zacarias, Sandrine Aumercier
15 May 2021