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. He has called the United States the "dominant Imperial power" and has called efforts to reform human rights in China "Washington's human rights propaganda campaign".
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.
Petras has defended the 2009 election results in Iran giving "nationalist-populist" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a 60%+ victory, in a 2009 article entitled "The Iranian Elections: The ‘Stolen Elections’ Hoax". 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".
Controversy and Allegations of Antisemitism
In a 2006 article entitled "9/11 Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Still Abound", the Anti-Defamation League noted Petras's assertion there was evidence that "Israelis" may have known about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but withheld the information from the United States government. Petras has called American Jews "Israel's fifth column," a synonym for traitors, goes on to stereotype the historical Jewish communities as "stateless people..primarily defined by their entrepreneurial capacities," and says their "mainstream leaders" have redefined them as "upholders of a doctrine of offensive wars." Petras has also called Israel "the most militarized country in the world." Referring alternately and ambiguously to both the Obama administration and "the 1% of Americans affiliated with notorious Israeli ideologues" (Zionism) to whom Obama has "pervasive links," and using a phrase ("The Chosen People") which historically refers to all Jewish people, Petras wrote in 2013,
The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world’s Chosen People. They only know how to “seize power” and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures. The epitaph for the Obama regime will read: They fought the Wars They lost. They turned friends into enemies. Who became friends or our enemies. They stood alone, in splendid isolation, And said it was their only choice.
Petras has been denounced by many anti-racists and anti-fascists for what they consider his hardcore anti-Jewish bigotry. In a 2009 article, the ADL again criticized Petras, stating that he has blamed the current economic crisis on the "Zionist" control over the U.S. government and world events, and has argued that pro-Israel Americans have launched a massive crusade to push the U.S. into a war with Iran. The ADL also alleged that Petras' conspiracy theories also include the anti-Semitic accusation that the American Jewish community is "controlling the communications media" and is "bloodthirsty" in its appetite for war. 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 interview, 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 article written in 2009, Petras wrote that President Barack Obama had a "one-sided and longstanding commitment to the State of Israel and loyalty to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the United States, as well as the long-term and successful effort of a network of financially and politically powerful Jewish Zionists to ‘embed’ Obama to their ‘Israel First’ political apparatus." He also argued that "The conversion and promotion of Obama as an Israel-Firster is an excellent case study of the methods the ZPC has used to build a near invincible power base in the US political system" and that "His capitulation to the Zionofascists was the inevitable consequence of his intimate and longstanding ties to his liberal-Zionist backers." In addition, he stated that "The Zionist-influenced mass media took their cue from the far-right and orchestrated a hate campaign against Reverend Wright and his links to Obama." He concluded his article by stating that:
|“||"Clearly Obama is a greater war monger on issues involving Israel than even Bush: It comes with being a “Jewish President”"||”|
In the same article, he stated that "The Zionist self-promoters (ZSP), ever ready to take credit for any success (no matter how notorious and immoral) – Wall Street speculators, Ivy League professors, Pentagon militarists, cultural gurus and even the key patrons of art forms like jazz and constantly rewrite history (or biography in the case of Obama) to maximize their self-importance in all aspects of American life." He also added that:
"Not only do the Zionists and their embedded clones rule the White House, they also have the political apparatus (left, liberal, center and right) to silence, insult, witch hunt and isolate any critic of their agenda, their organizations and of the State of Israel."
In an article published in Dissident Voice in 2007, Petras wrote that the "power base" of the "Zionist Power configuration" in the United states "is found in the local activist doctors, dentists, lawyers, real estate brokers and landlords who preside over the local confederations and their several hundred thousand affiliates. It is they who harass, badger, browbeat, raise money and organize propaganda junkets for elected officials and ensure their support for Israeli wars and increases in the US multi-billion dollar aid packages to Israel."
- 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
- James Petras: War with China? The Dangers of a Global Conflagration: Rising and Declining Economic Powers: The Sino-US Conflict Deepens
- 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.
- Iranian Elections: The ‘Stolen Elections’ Hoax by Prof. James Petras Global Research, June 18, 2009, accessed 14-July-2009
- 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.
- The Obama Regime’s Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities
- 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.
- Barack Obama: “America’s First Jewish President” By James Petras, Information Clearing House, Article 21449.
- The Deadly Embrace - Zion-power and War: From Iraq to Iran by James Petras, Dissident Voice, November 6th, 2007.
- James Petras Website
- Search Canadian Dimensions and CounterPunch for James Petras' articles.
- Entrevista a James Petras sobre ONG (castellano)
- Article on Iranian Presidential Election 2009 for Global Research