Monday, June 13, 2005

Gilad Atzmon, the SWP and Holocaust denial

Gilad Atzmon has been invited to talk at the SWP's outlet Bookmarks. I love Atzmon's music, but his political perspective is very, very weird. If his views were expressed by a non-Jew, you would agree it was anti-semitic. (This is Atzmon's own website. Among many other things, you find a politics section, which has all of his material on Jews and Zionism.)

It is not suprising that the SWP would include Atzmon in their family.

More suprising is that hardcore anti-Zionists like Sue Blackwell and Tony Greenstein would orchestrate a campaign against his presence. This is a letter from Greenstein:
I enclose a copy of a letter I've sent to Bookmarks, as have others including Sue Blackwell, calling on them to withdraw their invitation.

On the assumption that Bookmarks, being part of the SWP Empire, will stick with him, we are therefore holding a picket of Bookmarks next Friday 17th June at 5.45 p.m. to protest at this invitation. We would ask anyone who can make it to attend. It has been called by Jews Against Zionism, but we would welcome other groups giving their support.

"Bookmarks, The Socialist Bookshop 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE

Dear Comrades,

Re: The talk of Holocaust Denier, Gilad Atzmon, on the deconstruction of the Zionist Identity at: 17th June 6.15pm Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1

I have been informed by Gilad Atzmon that he will be giving a talk on 'The deconstruction of Zionist identity' at Bookmarks Bookshop next Friday 17th June at 6.15 p.m.

I am writing to ask you to cancel this meeting.

By his own admission, Mr Atzmon has been distributing an article by one Paul Eisen of Deir Yassin Remembered entitled 'The Holocaust Wars'. In this article, Eisen not merely defends Ernest Zundel, a German Holocaust Denier, currently incarcerated in a German jail, having recently been deported from Canada, but he openly defends Zundel's thesis that the extermination of European Jewry never took place, that the gas chambers were a myth and that Hitler was much misunderstood. I fail to understand how any socialist organisation can possibly provide such a person with a platform.

I assume that you did not know about Mr Atzmon's antecedents and would therefore hope that you will quickly withdraw the invitation. As you probably know we have already written to the SWP Central Committee asking them to do the same with respect to Marxism 2005. Unfortunately Martin Smith, their National Secretary, has written back to me refusing to cancel the invitation, but giving no reasons for this decision.

I shall enclose by e-mail copies of my correspondence with Atzmon, but I hope the exchange below gives you a flavour of Atzmon's credentials when speaking about Zionism:

  • Tony Greensein: I understand that you have been distributing Paul Eisen's most recent The Holocaust Wars which denies, in the course of defending Ernest Zundel, that there ever was a holocaust or extermination of European Jewry by the Nazis.
  • Atzmon: Mr Greenstine, True I circulated Paul Eisen's paper. I do believe that argumentative texts must be circulated as widely as possible. I am sure that in case you have a counter argument to suggest Paul will be delighted to address it. By the way, my take on the subject is slightly different than Paul's one and yet, i found Paul very attentive to my criticism.
The following extracts should give you an idea of Eisen's views as expressed in Holocaust Wars:

The Hitler we loved and why.

Ernst Zundel was once involved in the publication of a book called The Hitler We Loved and Why, but Ernst Zundel was not the only German who loved Hitler and is probably not the only German who still loves Hitler. Millions of Germans loved Hitler who for twelve years impacted on them as no German has or probably ever will, and, though they never say so, must, deep down still cherish his memory.


The War for the Truth: The Revisionists

It bears repetition that the denial of the Holocaust revisionists does not extend to the entire Holocaust narrative. But they do deny the Holocaust narrative as we know it in three specific areas.

  • They deny that there ever was an official plan on the part of Hitleror any other part of the Nazi regime systematically and physically to eliminate every Jew in Europe.
  • They deny that there ever existed homicidal gas-chambers;
  • They deny the figure of six million Jewish victims of the Nazi assault and claim that the actual figure was significantly less.

In making their claims, Revisionists have offered a considerable body of work. To what degree they are right, everyone must judge for themselves. Many will take the view that Holocaust revisionism is but pernicious nonsense motivated only by a hatred of Jews and a desire to rehabilitate Hitler and National Socialism specifically, and fascism in general and therefore not even worthy of scrutiny. I don't agree.

Any story, true or false, is easily spread if there are fabricators, peddlers and believers and this is all the more so if all three are combined. The Holocaust had plenty of all three. Moving down the chain of command we find plenty of examples at the Nuremberg trials where the alleged crimes of the vanquished were formalised by the victors.
This is the article that Atzmon is proud to distribute, and with which he has only 'slight differences'. I think you will appreciate that we do not wish to have to mount a picket of a socialist bookshop and I would hope that you will take this matter very seriously and act accordingly.

Yours fraternally,

Tony Greenstein"

More resources:
Workers' Liberty: SWP sticks to invitation for Gilad Atzmon
peacepalestine: Gilad Atzmon - Tony Greenstein debate
Joel Finkel: A Response to Paul Eisen's "Jewish Power"
Sue Blackwell's site - see section on the weblinks she's removed
Jews sans frontieres: Gilad the performing elephant

1 comment:

Tony Greenstein said...

I am surprised, but maybe I shouldn't be by the comment from 'BobFromBrockley' that 'hardcore' anti-Zionists such as myself and Sue Blackwell should oppose Atzmon's presence at Bookmarks. But why the surprise? Sue and I have been opponents of all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism for years. If the SWP, who have a fine tradition in opposing fascism and racism in this country want to make fools of themselves, fine.

It is not our fault that Zionists have a blind spot when it comes to Zionism but are ready to denounce anti-Semitism at the drop of a hat. If Jews in England were barred from renting or buying 90% of land, that would rightly be denounced as anti-Semitic. Not so if it happens to Arabs in Israel, because that is a matter of 'redeeming the land'. I suggest those who cry 'anti-Semitism' ask themselves if the treatment of Arabs and Palestinians would be anti-Semitic if done to Jews.

We believe in consistency. Atzmon's writings are clearly anti-Semitic, therefore we oppose them.

However it needs to be said that there are some Jews and ex-Jews, like Atzmon, who are so sick of the trivialising of anti-Semitism, the immediate recourse to charges of anti-Semitism, which is incidentally the staple of Israeli abuse of other Israelis, that they are saying - 'ok, we are anti-Semitic, so what'. Zionism is legitimising anti-Semitism by its abuse of the term.

However those Zionists who find it easier to shout 'anti-Semite' rather than to argue or defend their politics, may be happy to know that when those of us who are principled see the real, genuine article, we will have no hesitation in opposing it. Would that the same were true of Zionism for whom anti-Semitism is its necessary accompanying twin. As AB Yehoshua, an Israeli novellist said in a talk to UJS, 'Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must also be a Zionist.'

Zionists by