Monday, June 20, 2005

Gilad Atzmon, Tony Greenstein, the SWP and the Holocaust

I posted recently about Gilad Atzmon's invitation to the SWP's Marxism 2005 and, specifically, to speak last week at Bookmarks.

The event was picketed by Jews against Zionism. Here is a description of what happened: Jews sans frontieres: Bookmark this!. Mark Elf of Jews sans Frontieres suggests that Atzmon's views are not supported by the SWP rank and file, but by 'leading members' (that's a nice Leninist term). Here is an example of how the worldview of the SWP's leadership and that of Atzmon neatly come together: 'Gilad Atzmon: 'Zionism is my enemy'' - Socialist Worker.

It's not just SWP hacks who share Atzmon's soft denialist worldview. Mary Rizzo, writing at Counter-Punch (a site which frequently acts as an apologist for fascism), attempts to defend Atzmon from Tony Greenstein and Jews against Zionism
Atzmon wrote an article exposing the attempts of some of the members of this group to undermine an important Palestinian Solidarity group, Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), which has the crime of hosting people on its board of whom Greenstein and his close allies do not approve and not for any merit or demerit of the organisation itself. Greenstein criticised the contents of the article, but since it was primarily direct quotes from people on the JPUK [Just Peace UK] board, it could not be contested for accuracy or denied. In a recent epistolary exchange between Atzmon and Greenstein, we see Greenstein saying:
"I certainly wish to see a speedy end to Deir Yassin Remembered. It can only do great damage to the Palestinian cause in so far as it is led by a holocaust denier and associated with another virulent anti-Semite."
Greenstein seems to know what is best for the Palestinian people, but what precisely gives him this information is a real mystery. Is he a self-appointed spokesman for them or does he just set the agenda because his ideas are the most important, significant and true ones?
Read Harry demolishing Rizzo's idiocy here.

Tony Greenstein, of Jews against Zionism, has been called a 'political crank' by Oliver Kamm, writing at Harry's (scroll down the comments). Greenstein has posted a comment here on brockley.blogspot. I can't comment on whether he is a crank or not but, for the record, I do believe that Greenstein has a long-standing record as a genuine anti-racist and anti-fascist. I think Sue Blackwell, another member of the Jews Against Zionism (JaZ) posse, acted honourably in removing Atzmon from her links page. I believe that Jews Against Zionism should be applauded for taking a stand on this issue. And I should add that I am glad that pro-boycott activist Hilary Rose (another Marxism 2005 speaker I think) came out in favour of the picket.

I also want to make it clear that when I used the phrase 'hardcore anti-Zionists' about them in my previous post, I did not want to suggest that there is anything necessarily anti-semitic about hardcore anti-Zionism. I think there is a small but significant gap between the JaZ position and the Atzmon/Paul Eisen/Israel Shamir position. Perhaps because the gap is very small, they need to work hard to maintain the line - hence the picket.

More resources:
Statement against fascism in the anti-Zionist movement (reached via Sue Blackwell's pages on Palestine and Israel.) Cal Tzedek on Paul Eisen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree that there is a small but significant gap between Eisen/Shamir/Atzmon and Jews Against Zionism. It's a very large gap. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-racism. No honest Zionist can pretend that Zionism doesn't discriminate in favour of Jews in its State. Redeeming the land means redeeming it from Arabs. When the Knesset passed a law recently, overturning the High Court, in allowing Arabs to be refused admittance to Jewish towns, it was said by one Likud cabinet member that they were doing their Zionist duty.

What Eisen & co. are doing is propogating racism by indulging in the old Jewish conspiracay theories. If anyone is serious in understanding this phenomenon, which is new and hasn't cropped up before in the Palestine Solidarity movement then they should look to the Zionist movement, which almost out of habit, accuses its opponents of anti-Semitism. And not merely its opponents. It is a form of ritual abuse between Jews and Zionists to accuse each other of anti-Semitism. When Philip Green of British Home Stores was thwarted in his attempt to take-over M&S, he accused his (Jewish) opponent Rose of anti-Semitism. This use of the term anti-Semitism is cheapening it and rendering it null and void.

Unfortunately Eisen & co. are basically saying, ok we are anti-Semites, so what? If that is the price of supporting the Palestinians so be it. They are fundamentally wrong but the Zionist movement should not be crowing.

Tony Greenstein

If you wish to see or put up my reply to Rizzo & Counterpunch, then you can e-mail me at '' and I shall post it!