Accueil > Texts in English > James Petras : A chauvinist, anti-Zionist and antisemitic « gringo » (2007)

James Petras : A chauvinist, anti-Zionist and antisemitic « gringo » (2007)

mercredi 20 septembre 2023, par Yves Coleman

Professor of sociology, "author of 62 books published in 29 languages and over 560 articles in professional journals" (1), contributor to French publications such as Le Monde diplomatique or Les Temps modernes, “Marxist” journals such as the famous New Left Review, and the bourgeois press (New York Times, The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, etc.) his publisher tells us that he has some “militant” references as he "collaborated with the landless peasant movement in Brazil for eleven years", and that he was "a member of the Russel tribunal against repression in Latin America".


James Petras is the author of an article entitled in French “Douze thèses sur la guerre et la paix au Moyen-Orient” ("Twelve theses on war and peace in the Middle East", written in June 2006, but which is not included on Petras’s official website, so my quotations are retranslated from the French version). In this article, we find all the clichés of the left and far left in favour of the mullahs’ dictatorship over the Iranian proletariat.

Like them, Petras also supports the Iraqi pseudo-"Resistance" whose main activity consists of killing Shiites, blowing up mosques and murdering Iraqi and foreign workers. The "mass Islamic resistance" in Iraq is, according to Petras, a "national liberation movement".

As for Iran, the "Islamic revolution" is said to have "distributed land" (Petras does not, of course, specify either the quantity distributed or its importance in relation to the total amount of land exploited in Iran) ; it is said to have "introduced pluralist elections"... "within limits strictly defined by Islamic law". Note the Jesuitism and cynicism of this formula.

Aware that he has no doubt gone too far (at least for a "leftish" readership), Petras mentions "the repression of trade union movements" which has "undermined a good part of the reforms planned by the Islamic regime". Who carried out this repression, if not the government supported by Petras ? He hypocritically concludes his article by saying that "the new president has promised to make efforts in the area of social protection".

If he hasn’t already done so, we suggest that President Ahmahdinejad urgently invites James Petras for a week, all expenses paid, to an Iranian seaside resort, to thank him for his good and loyal services, or – even better – to appoint him director of propaganda for foreign countries !

James Petras, who is often published in Le Monde diplomatique in France, defends the same theses as this Gaullist-"Third-Worldist" newspaper in the service of the "anti-imperialist" dictators of the South or as certain Trotskyists who find positive aspects in the Iranian regime of the mullahs and in the Iraqi far right (2).

To cap it all, Petras writes in his article that the "middle and upper classes were stunned, throughout the world, by the loss of human lives" caused by the 11 September attacks, as if this massacre of 2700 people could only move and revolt privileged or reactionary individuals !


I don’t know whether James Petras shares Thierry Meissan’s lunatic theses (3) on September 11 (theses welcomed at all the social forums of the no global movement), but what is certain is that his discourse is worthy of a chauvinistic American politician, concerned with the well-understood interests of the American bourgeoisie and the American state.

His theses are perfectly in line with those of John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University, authors of a study entitled "The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy". This text circulated on all the Indymedias and other radical, alternative, anti-Zionist sites around the world, without anyone noticing the reactionary viewpoint behind it. In fact, the two academics were not criticising the US government’s support for Israel from the point of view of the interests of American, Israeli or Palestinian proletarians, but solely from the point of view of a better defence of the well-understood interests of their imperialism.

Like the two reactionary academics mentioned above, James Petras, in his latest book on "The Power of Israel in the United States", explains that "it is not control of oil resources that drives US imperialism to attack Iraq and threaten Iran and Syria". No, it is "defending Israel’s interests" ! Like a good chauvinist “gringo”, he is indignant about "Israeli spying in the United States" and would like his country to regain "independence of action based on an enlightened defence of the national interest and progressive principles".

That’s enough to make Wall Street and the multinationals tremble !


In their article on "Left-wing antisemitism in Poland" (Ni patrie ni frontières n° 18-19, 2007), Piotr Kendziorek and August Grabski refer to another text by James Petras, "Palestine : the final solution and Jose Saramago", written on 2 April 2002 and republished in Polish in Lewa Noga no. 14.

This article comments on statements made by the Portuguese writer Jose Saramago in Ramallah in March 2002 : "What we have to do is sound the alarm, all over the world, to say that what is happening in Palestine is a crime that we can stop. We can compare it to what happened in Auschwitz (...) Israeli repression is the most perverse form of apartheid.”

James Petras of course defends Saramago by asserting that :

 the "Israelis are carrying out a genocide against an entire people",

 "the descendants of Holocaust survivors are claiming a monopoly on the use of a word" (genocide),

 "victims can become executioners",

 and that the Jews "are the rentiers of the Holocaust".

Note this recycling of an old antisemitic cliché : the denunciation of the Jews’ relationship with money, in its most “immoral” and parasitic form : usury yesterday, “rents” today. Judeophobes certainly don’t have much imagination...

But Petras doesn’t stop there : like many anti-Zionist radicals, he quotes this (in)"famous" officer who, about Jenin, declared that the techniques used by the Nazis against the insurgents in the Warsaw ghetto should be used as a model. This assertion is banal : one must be particularly ignorant to believe that in the military schools of the imperialist countries – as well in the training camps of all far-left guerrillas – one would never study the methods of the adversary, however barbaric and bloodthirsty he may be. Knowing the enemy’s methods well, and even turning them against them, is a question of military survival, not a moral issue !

In fact, Petras’ objective is different : he wants to manipulate the reader’s indignation to suggest an amalgam between Jews (or Israelis) and Nazis. In doing so, he is simply repeating a procedure used by Holocaust deniers for years, who need to assert the identity between Jews and Nazis (hence expressions such as "Judeo-Nazis" or "Zio-Nazis", which can also be found on so-called “radical” websites such as Indymedia), and then claim that the Shoah never actually took place.

It is no coincidence that Israel Shamir warmly recommends James Petras’ last book (The Power of Israel in the United States), as can be seen from the quotation on the website of James Petras’ publishing house. Shamir, who declares on the same site that "Jewish power is shaping American policy in the Middle East against the interests of big oil" ! So Bush is hostile to the interests of big oil, that’s one to find !

In his article "Palestine : the final solution and Jose Saramago" ( ), Petras writes : "Like in Nazi Germany, all Palestinian males from 16 to 60 years are rounded up, many are stripped naked, interrogated, handcuffed, many are tortured". As if the Nazis were content with rounding people up and not exterminating all the Jews afterwards ! The "skill" of this antisemitic columnist consists in concealing what happened AFTER these roundups.

Then he adds : "As with the Nazis, hundreds of wounded Palestinians are left to die, as Israeli troops block all ambulances". Which is perfectly true, which is a war crime, a crime against humanity... but not a genocide.

Finally, Petras no longer even hides his antisemitism when he writes : "There is no power in the United States which can counter the money and influence of the Israeli lobby and its powerful Jewish allies." In short, the Jews dominate the American Empire, which in turn dominates the world : all that’s missing is a reference to the Protocol of the Elders of Zion and we’ve come full circle. This is the type of author that a Polish Trotskyist publishes in the so-called "revolutionary" press of his country !

Yves Coleman, Ni patrie ni frontières, 2007

1. Quoted from the Internet presentation of his latest book, The power of Israel in the United States, published by Clarity Press, "a human rights publisher", as the advert puts it. Fortunately, these people tell us that they are in favour of human rights...

2. This love of dictatorships knows no bounds, as Claudio Moffa, an Italian Marxist academic specialising in Africa, publishes a letter from Saddam Hussein on his website without comment. Not surprisingly, the same Moffa invited Israel Shamir to speak at his university. This whole "anti-Zionist" world operates in (fairly) transparent networks and shares the same political phobias as the nationalist-revolutionary far right (the heirs of the National Bolsheviks of the 1920s) or the most extreme supporters of political Islam.

3. Boulevard Voltaire, Thierry Meissan’s website republished in French 15 articles written by James Petras between 2005 and 2015.