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Zionism in the Age of the Dictators Paperback – February 4, 2014
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"Short, crisp, and carefully documented. Mr Brenner is able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-Semitic regimes, including Hitler's." --Edward Mortimer, The Times (London)
"Brenner reviews the efforts of the Jewish establishment of the war years to play down, even to conceal, reports of the camps in Europe for fear of inciting anti-semitism at home." --David Lan, London Review of Books
"Brenner thoroughly documents collusion between the established Zionist organizations and fascists of all stripes . . . . The 'scientific' racism of the 19th century with its 'white man's burden' and Jew-hating, the 'master race' anti-communism of the fascists, the Biblical mythologization of a people chosen to colonize -- all of this has been cut from the same cloth, the products of imperialism." --Hilton Obenzinger, Journal of Palestine Studies.
About the Author
Lenni Brenner was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He became an atheist at age ten, and a left political activist at fifteen. His involvement with the Black Civil Rights Movement began on his first day in the organized left, when he met James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality, later the organizer of the freedom rides of the early 60s. He was active in the mid 1950s with Bayard Rustin, later the organizer of Martin Luther King's 1963 I have a dream March on Washington. He was arrested three times during civil rights sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spent thirty-nine months in prison when a court revoked his probation for marijuana possession, because of his activities during the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement at the University of California. Immediately on imprisonment, he spent four days in intense discussion with Huey Newton, later the founder of the Black Panther Party, who he encountered in the court holding tank. Subsequently, upon his release in 1968, he worked with Kathy Cleaver and other Panthers.
Brenner was an antiwar activist from the first days of the Vietnam war, speaking frequently at rallies in the Bay Area. In 1963 he organized the Committee for Narcotic Reform in Berkeley. In 1968 he co-founded the National Association for Irish Justice, the American affiliate of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. He worked with Kwame Ture (also known as Stokely Carmichael), the legendary Black Power leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the Committee against Zionism and Racism, from 1985 until Ture's death in 1998. Brenner is the author of four books: Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (1984), Jews in America Today (1986), and The Lesser Evil (1988), a history of the Democratic Party. In 2002 he edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis, which contains complete translations of many of the documents quoted in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and The Iron Wall. In 2004 he edited Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism. His books have been favorably reviewed in eleven languages by prominent publications, including the London Times, the London Review of Books, Moscow's Izvestia and the Jerusalem Post. Brenner has written over one-hundred articles for many publications, including New York's Amsterdam News, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, The Atlanta Constitution, CounterPunch, The Jewish Guardian, The Nation, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Middle East International, The Journal of Palestine Studies, The New Statesman of London, Al-Fajr in Jerusalem, and Dublin's United Irishman. In 2013, Brenner co-authored (with Matthew Quest) Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity, a collection of selected essays discussing the historical response of African American freedom movements to the colonial settler state of Israel and its role in American imperialism in the Middle East.
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If you like this book, I highly recommend reading Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity, co-authored by Lenni Brenner and a historian named Mathew Quest.
But Zionism can't be defined primarily in relation to fascism. It was a settler-colonial movement led by the Jewish bourgeoisie. At first it was a movement of bourgeois German and other West European Jews who wanted to assimilate, but felt that the Jewish emigration from Eastern to Western Europe was an obstacle to this. Those were the Jews they wanted to send to Palestine. But as assimilation became less likely, then they got the idea that the Jewish bourgeoisie could rule its own state.
Most of the capitalist class in the world collaborated with fascists; they preferred a fascist victory to a victory by the working class. And the Jewish bourgeoisie was no different in this regard. That's what has to be kept in mind while reading this book.
Brenner, like a lot of radicals sees himself as a Marxist, but Marxists analyze the world from the standpoint of the position of the working class. He's read the right books (including most of those I'm going to recommend), but hasn't drawn the right conclusions from them. The questions of anti-Semitism, Zionism, fascism, communism and Stalinism, and what World War II was really about can only be answered from this standpoint, and if you gain that, then books like this can be put in their proper perspective.
To understand Jewish history, Zionism, and anti-Semitism, start with The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation. To understand what fascism is start with Fascism and Big Business and Fascism: What It Is and How to Fight It. To understand World War II, I recommend starting with the short piece "Setting the record straight on fascism and World War II" in Revolution, Internationalism, and Socialism: The Last Year of Malcolm X (New International no. 14) (New International, Number 14). Then move on to Socialism on Trial: Testimony at Minneapolis Sedition Trial and The Socialist Workers Party in World War II: Writings and Speeches, 1940-43 (James P. Cannon writings & speeches).
To understand communism, all the above are useful, but also, of course The Communist Manifesto, and Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics). Obviously there's a lot, lot more. And to understand Stalinism, which is in most respects the negation of communism, start with The Revolution Betrayed.
Out of Brenner's research, another book came out, one which is far better because it doesn't contain all the invective and inside jokes that mar Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. It's narrower in scope, but it can actually be read, understood, and respected by anyone who is serious about history and politics. That book is The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir. I think behind this was the helpful but heavy hand of a good editor leaning on Brenner.