James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.
Life and work
Academic and Literature
Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His initial appointment at Binghamton was in 1972 at the Sociology Department and his field is listed as: Development, Latin America, the Caribbean, revolutionary movements, class analysis. During his life he received the Western Political Science Association's the Best Dissertation award (1968), the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association's Marxist Sociology Section and the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book of 2002.
Petras is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in publications such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review and Le Monde Diplomatique. Currently he writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. His commentary is widely carried on the internet and radio stations around the world.
Petras is currently a member of the editorial collective of Canadian Dimension and contributes to CounterPunch and Atlantic Free Press. His publishers have included Random House, John Wiley, Westview, Routledge, Macmillan, Verso, Zed Books and Pluto Books. He is winner of the Career of Distinguished Service Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Sociology Section, the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book, 2002, and the Best Dissertation, Western Political Science Association in 1968. His most recent titles include Unmasking Globalization: Imperialism of the Twenty-First Century (2001); co-author The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America (2000), System in Crisis (2003), co-author Social Movements and State Power (2003), co-author Empire With Imperialism (2005), co-author)Multinationals on Trial (2006).
Petras describes himself as a "revolutionary and anti-imperialist" activist and writer.. He was a founding member of the Young Socialist Alliance and early articles by him appeared in the The Young Socialist in 1959 and 1960. He's listed as the Bay Area correspondent for the paper for several issues. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, through the decades Petras has worked directly with indigenous workers as an organizer, in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement and the unemployed workers' movement in Argentina.
He has advised left-wing presidents like President Papandreou (Greece 1981-85), President Salvador Allende of Chile (1970-73) and in recent years, President Hugo Chávez, and defended the rights of the indigenous in Latin America. From 1973-76 Petras worked on the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America.
Petras has referred to American policy towards Iraq as "The US/Iraqi Holocaust (UIH)" which he describes as "an ongoing process spanning the last 16 years (1990-2006) provides us with a striking example of state-planned systematic extermination, torture and physical destruction designed to de-modernize a secular developing society and revert it into a series of warring clan-tribal-clerical-ethnic based entities devoid of any national authority or viable economy."
In November 2006 the FARC in Colombia addressed a letter concerning three American hostages (Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes) to American film stars, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and leftist intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, and James Petras.
Describing the struggle in Iran as pitting "high income, free market oriented capitalist individuals" reformists against Ahmadinejad's "working class, low income, community-based supporters of a 'moral economy'", he denounced the claim that the election was stolen as a "hoax" perpetrated by "Western opinion makers".
Allegations of Antisemitism
In a 2006 article entitled "9/11 Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Still Abound," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) criticized Petras's assertion that there was evidence that Israelis may have known about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but withheld the information from the United States government. The ADL also noted Petras' assertion that "The lack of any public statement concerning Israel's possible knowledge of 9/11 is indicative of the vast, ubiquitous and aggressive nature of its powerful diaspora supporters."
In a 2009 article, the ADL again criticized Petras, alleging that he blamed the on-going economic crisis on "Zionist" control over the U.S. government and world events, and alleged that Petras argued that pro-Israel Americans had launched a massive campaign to push the U.S. into a war with Iran. The ADL also alleged that Petras' allegations included the anti-Semitic accusation that the American Jewish community controls the mass media and is "bloodthirsty" in its appetite for war. The previous year, Petras alleged that that "It was the massive infusion of financial contributions that allowed the [Zionist Power Configuration] (ZPC) to vastly expand the number of full-time functionaries, influence peddlers and electoral contributors that magnified their power – especially in promoting US Middle East wars, lopsided free trade agreements (in favor of Israel) and unquestioned backing of Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Syria and Palestine...No economic recovery is possible now or in the foreseeable future...while Zionist power brokers dictate US Mideast policies.
The ADL also cited a 2008 interview in which Petras stated that [U.S.] presidents are at the disposal of "Jewish power"  and maintained, according to the ADL, that Jews represent "the greatest threat to world peace and humanity." In the same 2008 interview cited by the ADL, Petras stated that "it’s one of the great tragedies that we have a minority that represents less than 2% of North American’s population but has such power in the communications media" and that the reason "why the North American public doesn’t react against the manipulations of this minority...[is] because the Jews control the communications media." In an 2010 article published in the Arab American News, Petras stated that "For the U.S. mass media the problem is not Israeli state terror, but how to manipulate and disarm the outrage of the international community. To that end the entire Zionist power configuration has a reliable ally in the Zionized Obama White House and U.S. Congress."
- The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack, Clarity Press, Inc. (2011). ISBN 1-4611-1760-7 ISBN 978-1-4611-1760-5
- War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America, Clarity Press, Inc. (2010). ISBN 0-9845255-0-5 ISBN 978-0-9845255-0-8
- Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, Clarity Press, Inc. (2008). ISBN 0-932863-60-4
- Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, Clarity Press, Inc. (2007). ISBN 978-0-932863-54-6
- The Power of Israel in the United States, Clarity Press, Inc. (2006). ISBN 0-932863-51-5
- Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neoliberal Capitalism, Luciano Vasapollo, Zed Books (2006).
- Social Movements and State Power: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, with Henry Veltmeyer, Pluto Press (2005).
- Globalization Unmasked: Imperialism in the 21st Century, with Henry Veltmeyer, Zed Books (2001).
- The Dynamics of Social Change in Latin America, with Henry Veltmeyer, Palgrave Macmillan (2000).
- Empire or Republic: Global Power or Domestic Decay in the US, with Morris Morley, Routledge (1994).
- Latin America in the Time of Cholera: Electoral Politics, Market Economics, and Permanent Crisis, Routlege (1992).
- About James Petras on his personal website.
- Binghamton University Faculty listing.
- "ROBERT S. KENNY PRIZE in Marxist & Labour/Left Studies". Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- About Canadian Dimensions list of editorial collective.
- http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/home/profiles/userprofile/jamesp.html Atlantic Free Press
- Young Socialist, October 1959
- Modernity and Twentieth Century Holocausts: Empire-Building and Mass Murder By James Petras, Axis of Logic, Friday, July 21, 2006.
- Toby Muse, Associated Press in Bogotá, Colombian rebels ask Hollywood stars to intervene, The Guardian, November 10, 2006.
- The Tragedy of the Left's Discourse on Iran July 10, 2009 By Saeed Rahnema
- 9/11 Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Still Abound, Anti-Defamation League, September 7, 2006.
- James Petras, Israel and the U.S.: A unique relationship, James Petras web site, January 23, 2002.
- Boycott & Divestment Efforts Proliferate on Campus, Anti-Defamation League, April 8, 2009.
- Financial Crisis Sparks Wave of Internet Anti-Semitism, Anti-Defamation League, October 24, 2008.
- The Zionist Power Configuration In America And Israel’s War with Iran by James Petras, Countercurrents.org, July 18, 2008.
- A Disenchanted James Petras by Efraín Chury Iribarne, Dissident Voice, June 13th, 2008.
- Boycott & Divestment Efforts Proliferate on Campus, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), April 8, 2009.
- A Disenchanted James Petras by Efraín Chury Iribarne, Dissident Voice, June 13th, 2008.
- Profile: Osama Siblani & The Arab American News, Anti-Defamation League, April 15, 2013.