Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity by Lenni Brenner and Matthew Quest

Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity
Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity by Lenni Brenner and Matthew Quest

Authors Lenni Brenner and Matthew Quest collected in this volume some of the essays they published between 1993 and 2013 analyzing the positions of prominent figures in the movement for black liberation towards Zionism and Palestinian resistance to Zionism. These positions were reflections of their owners' evolving understandings of the liberation struggles in the United States.

The liberation struggle evolved from the civil rights' postures of late 1950s and early 1960s Martin Luther King, Jr and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) to the nationalist (Black Power) positions associated with Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael and even the socialist and revolutionary stances of members of the Black Panther Party like Huey Newton. Correspondingly, Black Americans changed from seeing Zionists as struggling for the rights of a minority (Jews) to seeing Zionists as an extension of white supremacy or global imperialism and capitalism into southwest Asia and northeast Africa.

Nevertheless, many factors have limited the development of the Palestine Solidarity movement in the United States. The most important, in my reading of the author's claims, is the non-scientific (in the Marxist sense) nature of most resistance to Zionism (and other anti-colonialist struggles in Africa). For example, should Zionism, which placed one ethnic/religious group's capitalist intermediaries over the means of production in Palestine, simply be replaced by a different ethnic or religious group's capitalist intermediaries? Likewise, should Black Americans be struggling to allow their bourgeoisie the right to exploit workers or working to end exploitation of workers? Is the boycott, divestment and sanctions tactic falsely assuming that European and North American support for Israel is accidental and not intrinsic to Israel's position in world capitalist relations?

Another non-scientific aspect of contemporary Palestine Solidarity movements is a failure to study the history of Jews in Europe, the United States and Israel. The authors believe that the Zionist movement's contradictions are dissolving its support among Jews, and a Palestine Solidarity movement which presented a liberating alternative would be the end of Zionism. It would also avoid antisemitism.

In the United States, the lack of a political movement for liberation independent of the Republican and Democratic Parties, especially in the Age of Obama, has caused Black Americans' solidarity with Palestinians to be instinctive and romantic yet theoretically ungrounded, expressive without being effective and easily subverted to electoral politics' insatiable demand for money.

I recommend this book for those who are interested in Marxist analysis of liberation movements and United States history and Palestine Solidarity activists.

I'm not familiar with these issues, so this review is my best attempt to convey the value of this book. The authors have scheduled appearances in Augusta, Georgia (Feb 19, 2014) and Atlanta, Georgia (Feb 21). I hope to attend the one in Augusta and may be able to improve the review afterwards.

I purchased my copy of Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity from the On Our Own Authority! Publishing website. The publisher also has a Facebook page.

Updated: 2014-Feb-25: Recordings of the Augusta, GA event of Feb 19 are now available. So hear from Lenni and Matthew yourself.

Updated: 2016-Aug-21. A political controversy in the United Kingdom placed Lenni Brenner's book Zionism in the Age of Dictators in the news. I haven't read it. I don't remember Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity including any essays on the history of Zionism. The article below sharply criticizes Lenni Brenner's book.