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John Passant

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August 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
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Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

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Marek Edelman: from the Warsaw Ghetto to Gaza

I wrote this in 2010 in response to Jeremy Jones’ attack on me for writing the article ‘The Warsaw Ghetto uprising – it is right to resist’ (an article I republished the other day in light of the invasion of Gaza as A lesson from the Warsaw Ghetto – it is right to resist). This slightly edited repost is still relevant today as the Zionists shout anti-Semite at anyone who opposes the Israeli genocide of Palestinians.


Every year Jeremy Jones, the Director of International and Community Affairs, Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, produces an anti-semitism report for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

This year [2010] in his report, the section on the Left at page 64 includes the following:

A number of other individuals identified with the political left made intellectually and racially/religiously offensive comments on matters of concern to the Jewish community.

As well as naming Guy Rundle and Liam Byrne, Jones specifically refers to an article of mine, written at the time of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, called The Warsaw ghetto uprising – it is right to fight back.

He says:

Self-described ‘revolutionary’ John Passant published a blog post ― The Warsaw Ghetto uprising – it is right to fight back, making an analogy between the fascist Hamas movement and Ghetto-fighters, and Israel with Nazi Germany.

Actually I praised the incredible courage of the Jewish resistance in Warsaw against the Nazis and the inspiration it provided for the 1944 Uprising. I finished off the article this way:

What courage, what humanity the Warsaw Ghetto Jews showed in resisting the monolith of Nazism. There is a universal message here. It was right then to fight back against the Nazi occupiers.  It is right now, even in the face of overwhelming force, to resist foreign occupation and invasion.

Evidently it is this paragraph which, in Jones’s words is ‘intellectually and racially/religiously offensive … to the Jewish community.’

Of course the criticism is nonsense and elides anti-zionism into anti-semitism. As I have written elsewhere on this blog, anti-zionism is not anti-semitism. The accusation is designed to shut down debate about Israeli crimes and the nature of the Israeli regime.

Marek Edelman, hero of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, wrote a letter in 2002 to the Palestinians, prompted by the Israeli show trial of Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. Here is how Paul Foot, writing in the Guardian, described it:

Now in his 80s, Mr Edelman wrote a letter early this month to Palestinian leaders. Though the letter criticised the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and its press. He wrote in a spirit of solidarity from a fellow resistance fighter, as a former leader of a Jewish uprising not dissimilar in desperation to the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories. He addressed his letter to “commanders of the Palestinian military, paramilitary and partisan operations – to all the soldiers of the Palestinian fighting organisations”.

The references to the partisans and fighting organisations show clearly that Edelman was identifying with the Palestinian resistance.

While it is easy to defame me with accusations of anti-semitism, it is not so easy to do that with one of the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a man who remained a fierce opponent of Zionism all his life.

A freedom fighter himself, Edelman saw in the Palestinians the next generation of freedom fighters and with his words drew the analogy between the Warsaw Ghetto resistance and the resistance of the Palestinians. As he said, ‘to be a Jew always means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors.’

It was this ‘siding with the oppressed’ and fighting the oppressors that gave Edelman the moral authority to both write to the Palestinians as brothers in arms and to then criticise suicide bombings and the futility of such actions, actions the ghetto fighters never undertook.  A word document copy of his letter is here. [Brian in comments mentions that that link no longer works. Here is a link to an obituary of Edelman in Daily Kos which reproduces his letter in full.]

Here is how David Rosenberg put it in a comment on a blog after Edelman’s death:

The arguments about who has the right to claim the history of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the holocaust more generally and for what purpose were addressed by Edelman himself. In common with a number of other Bundist survivors he was angered by any attempt by Israel’s leaders to appropriate the Holocaust and use it to justify its political/military actions. He made clear on many occasions that he opposed Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory, while urging Palestinian leaders (whom he poignantly addressed as “soldiers of the Palestinian Fighting Organisations”) to firmly reject terroristic methods of advancing their struggle.

But the general conclusion he drew from the experience is that this history belongs to no one exclusively but to everyone: that humanity must fight for equality, democracy, human dignity and human rights wherever these are threatened or suppressed.

And addressing himself particularly to those Jews who drew a narrow nationalist lesson from the tragedy that was inflicted by the Nazis, he stated simply that “to be a Jew always means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors”.

Like Edelman, I and many others on the Left side with the oppressed against the oppressors.  We side with the oppressed Palestinians against their oppressors, Zionism. That is the reason apologists for Zionism attack us, just as they ferociously attacked Edelman.



Pingback from Marek Edelman: from the Warsaw Ghetto to Gaza | OzHouse
Time August 1, 2014 at 9:11 am

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Comment from Jim Brash
Time August 2, 2014 at 1:26 am

John, because so many people confuse anti-zionism with anti-semitism, you have a layer of folks that are progressive on everything except Palestine. Do to not be called or consider Jew Haters, they give Israel a pass on everything, including genocide.

Comment from Brian
Time August 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Enlightening article. Thank you very much, John.

The link to Marek Edelman’s letter is / has become disfunctional. Can you share it again? Thanks!

Comment from John
Time August 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Brian, I will see what I can do. yes, the link is no longer available. Daily Kos in its obituary of Edelman has the same non-working link but also produces the full letter. Here is that link.

Or if that doesn’t work try this:

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