Saturday, November 06, 2010

Mishmash

Two posts on British Israel and Palestine solidarity well worth reading. The first is by a Green leftist, Aled-Dilwyn Fisher (who blogs here) on "who does the solving". The second is by Lawrence Shaw at AVPS, where I left a comment or two (actually, four so far) on trade union solidarity with Israel, and the difference between a yashmak and a yashmagh.

There are a few news items I've been following in South Asia, which I'm not sure if I've blogged about or not. One is the extraordinary strike wave in Tamil Nadu, including the casualised workers of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the workers at Foxconn, who probably make your mobile phone. Then there is the shameful repression by Hindutva fascists of superb novel, Such A Long Journey, by the great Indian novelist Rohinton Mistry. Two other items are covered in exclusives for the new website The Gabber. Veteran Indian leftist Jarius Banaji has a long and informative piece on Maoism in India. The first part gives a historical account of the Naxalite movement, while the second part carefully sets out some of the critiques of it. From slightly further back, Rohini Hensman has an article on one of the latest twists in the degeneration of the genocidal Sri Lankan state, the passing of the eighteenth amendment to the constitution, effectively making it a dictatorship.

On the other hand, I've been completely failing to keep up with East End politics lately. Jessica Asato reports from the Tower Hamlets frontline, rather depressingly. Francis is even more depressing. Kellie has more links, and Ted Jeory has plenty more.

More on the EDL: Phil Dickens: The EDL threaten Christmas mayhem over recycled tabloid myths, and on the EDL and Loyalism. "Malatesta" on the EDL in Holland.

RCPWatch: Phil on Brendan O'Neil and austerity.

Balkans: I've finally got around to reading Marko on the Chetniks and the Jews - highly recommended.

Anti-fascist history: Mickey Fenn on anti-fascist history - originally via Kevin Blowe.




Finally, as ever, lots more great links from Roland..

90 comments:

Lorri said...

I especially liked your comment here: "Oh, I see, we should only boycott democracies! Great idea. Let's hold dictatorships to some low moral standards." I was thinking along the same lines. Do people in dictatorships not suffer from abuse in the same way that other humans do?

The Contentious Centrist said...

Bob: when I clicked on the link:

Richard Cohen on Jean-Luc Godard's Oscar.

I got my own blog dashboard. Is this a screw-up in my computer or did you get it wrong?

Roland Dodds said...

Another great set of pieces Bob. And so goes another 2 hours of my life...

Sarah AB said...

I found the long thread about Israel boycotts very interesting. When someone complained about anti-boycotters derailing/splitting/wasting time and money - I had the same response as another commenter, that I personally saw the *boycotters* in this way. I was also interested in the implication that anti-boycotters only affect an interest in TU issues, while their real agenda is to push the interests of Israel. I suspect that's unfair on someone like Eric Lee. However I assume I'm not the only union member who isn't hugely interested in union politics and activism but began to take an interest when the boycott issue came up. Like others, I want my union (UCU) to focus on conditions/job security - not Israel. Most people in my union are passive members, interested in their work, not hugely political, who belong to a union for pragmatic reasons and vaguely assume they'll make good decisions on their behalf. So what is wrong with an ordinary union member like myself only getting involved when the Israel issue came up? I'm not uncritical of Israel and I'm not Jewish - I don't have enough of a positive interest in the issue to join TUFI etc - but those TUFI people may reflect the views of ordinary union members better than the zealous pro-boycotters.

skidmarx said...

I only saw that you'd responded on the AVPS thread when stumbling along here, I'm tempted to post a reply here out of courtesy, but am a little reluctant just because I'm not sure if your visual verification is working properly.
On Eric Lee and Engage. I'm not a great expert on either, perhaps I do read Harry's Place too much and think the mindset there that all aid efforts like Viva Palestina (not that I don't have my own questions about some aspects of VP's operation) can be labelled as funding terrorism, or that the PSC can be labelled anti-semitic is universal on the Ziosphere (or whatever you want to call "pro-Israeli thinking that likes to think it is a part of the left, but often finds its friends on the hard right, like you and Michael Ezra"). On Eric Lee, I recall the Morning Star had this to say:
Like the majority of Israel’s Cabinet, Lee, TUFI and Tulip claim to be in favour of a two-state solution, but they are uncritical of every act by the zionist state that makes that goal less credible.

Annexation of east Jerusalem and expansion of the illegal colonies on the West Bank aren’t, according to these Tel Aviv mouthpieces, major obstacles to a peace settlement based on a two-state arrangement.

No, it’s the military threat posed to Israel’s very existence by “a potentially nuclear-armed” Iran, which is currently funnelling sophisticated weapons to Islamist resistance groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and Tehran’s aims are clearly “exterminationist.”

The idea that Israel, the most militarily powerful state in the region with its nuclear arsenal, fears annihilation at the hands of Iran and its paramilitary allies is strictly for the birds.

Equally, Lee clutches at straws in claiming that Palestine Solidarity Campaign members believe that Israelis should be “driven into the sea or sent back to Germany and Poland.”

Solidarity with the Palestinian people’s national rights is based on justice and internationalism not anti-semitism and it is shameful to suggest otherwise.


As I discovered this here, I realise Eric Lee has his own side of the story, as can be seen from the way the thread developed I'm not much impressed that his defenders there were incapable of distinguishing anti-zionism from anti-semitism.
On Engage, I'm not so impressed with articles like this:
The SWP and their allies in Respect are building up quite a tradition of taking antisemitism seriously.

Yvonne Ridley, for example:
"Israel is a vile little state..."

"[Respect] is a Zionist-free party... if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists."

She explained that government support "goes towards that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East".

She went on to attack the Tories and Lib Dems, saying that all the mainstream parties are "riddled with Zionists".
Have a look at what John Rees of Respect signed up to, here. Or check out the disgusting pro-totalitarian George Galloway, glorifier of the antisemite Hassan Nasrallah, here, here, and here. See how the SWP and their comrades cheer a Jew-hater from Hamas, here.

For how long will the Socialist Workers Party be accepted as a legitimate part of the left, of the trade union movement, of the student movement, of the anti-racist movement and of the peace movement?


Now I'll see if I can post this and then maybe consider your other points.

skidmarx said...

On anti-semitism, you can wonder if you want, but it shouldn't take long to realise thatJedeophobia doesn't explain opposition to Israel, and just because there are sporadic examples of historical anti-semitism you can point to, there is no reason to think that such ideas are carried in the genes.

skidmarx said...

Sorry, "Judeophobia".
On your last point, your model asserts that antisemitism is provoked by Jews, end of story is again a misrepresentation, to the extent that there is any truth in the statement , it is Israel not Jews in general that might be said to provoke anti-semitism, so all your comparisons fail and you are again making the old assertion that whenever Israel is attacked, it is all Jews that are attacked.
I don't say that bin Laden is the only cause of Islamaphobia, but he probably doesn't help.

skidmarx said...

Sarah AB - it does seem like the idea that a particular politics should be kept away from a union is always a partisan one. It's always tempting to think that others share your views.

Sarah AB said...

skidmarx - Well as we've never been offered a vote (within the UCU) on this issue, it's hard to tell whether my views are typical or not. I would have thought that even union members who *were* more minded to support a boycot might prefer the UCU to find better ways of spending between £250,000 and £400,000 (I believe) than on lawyers' fees to establish whether such boycotts are legal.

modernity said...

Perhaps Skidmarx whilst criticising Eric Lee, might want to consider turning his critical faculties towards the SWP and their pandering to Atzmon's racism?

I would hope that he could illuminate that topic as well?

bob said...

Re Sarah: I think there are plenty of both pro- and anti-boycotters who get involved in their unions for no other reason than to fight it out on this issue. One difference is the anti-boycotters are doing it defensively, to respond to the boycotters. Your position, it seems to me, is completely honourable. I think I take back my "damning".

Someone like Eric Lee is absolutely not in this category. No one can possibly impugn his credentials as a trade unionist. See his bio. On the Morning Star's smear of Eric Lee, I was personally satisfied with his reply.

Skid, at AVPS what I asked was "Can you give me a concrete example of groups of this sort calling all resistance terrorism or all aid to Palestinians terrorism?", in response to your attribution of this attitude to Lee, TUFI, TULIP and Engage. To call that constellation "the Ziosphere" would be rejected by both most Zionists and most of the people involved, but never mind. These attitudes might surface at HP, but I have never seen them from the groups I mentioned. There is no example of them in the Morning Star smear you quote. I'm happy to argue about the Engage post you quote. I see nothing wrong with it. Even if you disagreed with it, it doesn't claim all aid to Palestine is terrorism, or delegitimate Palestinian self-determination. I'll break my answer here, as the Blogger commenting this is playing up again.

Re CC: I fixed the link - it wenr to blogger.com - thanks for bringing it to notice.

bob said...

Re Skid again:
On anti-semitism, you can wonder if you want, but it shouldn't take long to realise that [Judeophobia] doesn't explain opposition to Israel, and just because there are sporadic examples of historical anti-semitism you can point to, there is no reason to think that such ideas are carried in the genes...

I would never claim that all opposition to Israel is antisemitic. I am claiming that SOME opposition to Israel is antisemitic, and that antisemitism is one rational and persuasive way to expain the extraordinarily lop-sided focus on Israel in the trade union movement today. The examples I quote of antisemitism in the history of the left are a bit more than sporadic. Proudhon, Marx, Bakunin and Stalin all expressed antisemitism, as did Tom Mann, Ben Tillett, John Burns., Henry Hyndman, Ernest Bevin. It is widely spread in the labour movement. Of course, there has also been opposition to it, but that doesn't negate my point.


On your last point, your model asserts that antisemitism is provoked by Jews, end of story is again a misrepresentation, to the extent that there is any truth in the statement, it is Israel not Jews in general that might be said to provoke anti-semitism, so all your comparisons fail and you are again making the old assertion that whenever Israel is attacked, it is all Jews that are attacked."

I think you're reading more into what I'm saying than is there. Israel is Jewish. It is not all Jews, but it is Jewish. Rothschild is Jewish, not all Jews but Jewish. So if you say Rothschild "provokes" antisemitism, or Israel "provoes" antisemitism, you are saying Jews provoke antisemitism. This is the model you are proposing.

bob said...

Oh, and Sarah wasn't asking for "a particular politics" to be kept away from her union; she was arguing for the union to concentrate on trade unionism. But it wouldn't be wrong to ask for "a particular politics" to kept away if that particular politics was bringing racism into the movement. The BNP are not welcome in our unions, and nor should anti-Zionist Jew-haters.

Sarah AB said...

Thanks Bob. Skidmarx - I also don't see anything wrong with the Engage article - it's somewhat pugnacious in tone but not without reason. I don't think it's remotely fair to say that anti-boycotters are uncritically supportive of Israel - many associated with Engage are critical of the occupation and of various Israeli policies. Obviously 'Israel right or wrong' types are going to be against the boycott - but that proves no more than the fact anti-semites will tend to support it. On the aid front, personally, I've given several donations to charities supporting Palestinians since becoming more aware of this issue. (Though not, as you may have guessed, Viva Palestina!)

skidmarx said...

bob - on your last point, it may be individually Jewish Israelis that take actions that may cause an anti-semitic backlash, but to say that such an argument propounds that "Jews cause anti-semitism" still seems wrong to me, as it is not all Jews but only a sub-group with a clearly causative political connection (that of involvement with the state of Israel) that makes your generalisation a category error.
We could argue back and forth as to whether anti-semitism is an explanation for anti-Israel feeling without getting much further.

Sarah AB - lawyers always seem too expensive until you need them.

darren redstar said...

just had a good laugh watching lauren booth winging about the 'hate campaign' being waged against her by the british press and the 'arch zionist' julie birchill on press tv.

skidmarx said...

I saw Lauren Booth defending her conversion on TV, and although I wasn't convinced that "modest clothing"[sic] was more an emancipation from the pressure on women to appear in a sexualised way than an oppressive regulation of their behaviour, still I didn't find her risible. Trying to comprehend Julie Burchill on the other hand, I decided when reading one of her pro-Serbian articles in the Guardian, actually decreases your intellectual strength, it's so alogical. I don't know if she'd reject the "arch-zionist" tag, so I'd tend to say your comment fails on a lorra lorra levels.

Sarah AB said...

I've only read bits and pieces of JB but find her rather randomly contrarian - I suggested on another blog at some point that she was a bit like a mirror image of Lauren Booth - and someone pointed out that she is more witty, which is (sporadically) true probably.

modernity said...

Skidmarx,

You were once a Marxist, could you employ those analytical skills to work out, why antisemites and their allies would attack Israelis?

[btw, I am NOT saying everyone that criticises Israelis *is* an antisemite, rather that you might want to examine why, for example, David Duke is so anti-Israeli, etc etc ]

Could you do that? come up with a hypothesis as to why antisemites might also want to attack Israelis?

skidmarx said...

modernity - could you employ those analytical skills to work out, why antisemites and their allies would attack Israelis?
Because they're anti-semites and most Israelis are Jewish, obviously. But that's not really the question. Is it more rational to believe that the overwhelming majority of those who express extreme distaste at the actions of the Israeli government do so because (a) they feel extreme distaste at the actions of the Israeli government, or (b)that they don't really care what the Israeli government does, but only attack it as a proxy for their Jew-hatred? Occam's Razor would suggest the first. (Oh and Bob, I might take issue with the claim that Marx was an anti-semite. I was quite shocked by some of what was said in some of his (private) letters, but...).

Sarah AB - I think your last comment but one is generally reasonable (and by
reasonable I mean probably correct). I didn't think I had made a case for
there being an automatic identity between anti-boycotters and blind support
for Israel, I would I think agree that if such a case were to be made
against anyone it would have to be made on a case-by-case basis.Oh and in
further answer to your comment about
my views on a cartoon on HP, I thought I mentioned at the time that I wasn't
particularly a fan of comparisons between Israel and the Holocaust, I was
mostly just disputing that such comparisons are necessarily anti-semitic,
and the propriety of posting about it that links to one wikipedia page but
not another, because the latter would contradict the slant placed on it.
I see that Gilad Atzmon is a fan of
Julie Burchill's sense of humour.

skidmarx said...

Is this true:
Eric Lee frequently writes for Harry’s Place. He is being supported by
Jonathan Hoffman, a man who compiled an absurd 57 page ‘report’ of website
comments as example of ‘Anti-Semitism at the Guardian CIF’, even though he
admits a majority of the comments were removed by moderators. The blog above
was also promoted on CIF Watch – which now spends most of it’s time
attacking Jewish writers on Guardian CIF for being critical of Israel.
?

skidmarx said...

or this:I would like to point out that Eric Lee proudly served as an occupying soldier
with the IDF in the West Bank.
As for his record of ‘support’ for Palestinian Trade Unionists at
Labourstart (from where he was forced to remove a link to the IDF!) others
took a different view,
‘OPEN LETTER: Against Labour Start’s veto of Palestinian Worker News

A group of concerned labour and social movement activists from different
countries have initiated this petition, against the shutdown of Palestinian
worker news on the major labour news website, Labour Start. (
www.labourstart.org)’

Now Eric Lee wants get similar influence over Amnesty International – but
who could vote for someone who wrote, ‘Regardless of what I think of Jewish
settlements in the territories, so long as there are children there, someone
has to protect them. I’m willing to do that job.’ He was not talking about
Palestinian children.
?

skidmarx said...

Oh as I see that Sarah AB commented on that Pickled Politics thread I might
remark to her( not in a particularly confrontational way) that I saw a report
on the BBC recently part of which was about Amnesty's agonising about having
to collaborate with armed opposition groups in Burma to smuggle in radios
which did make me think that Amnesty hadn't changed, even when I might
disagree with some of its choices, and the Cageprisoners collaboration is
perfectly justified by Gitmo and the other secret prisons.

bob said...

This is my first reaction to Skidmarx's allegations. I haven't read the PP comment thread, so maybe some of what I'll say has been rehearsed there.

1. Sunny calls Eric Lee a "long-standing Israel cheerleader". This is not how I would describe him. I've never read him cheerleading for Israel, only reactively responding to lies and misinformation from the anti-Zionist camp.

2. Sunny says Eric Lee frequently writes for Harry’s Place. Well, yes, this is true. He occassionally cross-posts his material there under "Your view", i.e. as a guest poster. I don't think that means much. The anarchist collective "Malatesta" post there too, but are hardly cheerleaders for Israel.

3. Sunny says that Eric's campaign for AI was "supported by" Jonathan Hoffman and "promoted by" CiFWatch. His implication, presumably, is that because they are hardcore Zionists, so is Lee. Which is nonsense. If I promote a vote for Ken Livingstone in an election, say, does that mean Ken has to answer for my political views?

4. Resistor claims that Lee served in the IDF in the Occupied Territories and that his link from LabourStart to the IDF was removed. This re-hashes an old campaign from LabourNet, a rather lacklustre competitor of LabourStart's, from years ago. Lee writes about his IDF service (as a reservist, in th 1980s and 1990s) here. Personally, I would not endorse his military service. But while he was a reservist, he was editing BibiWatch, a major voice against Israel's then Likud government and for peace and Palestinian rights, and also an activist in Mapam.

His LabourStart IDF link was in his bio page, which had links to all of the organisations listed in his cv. No big deal.

The notion of LabourStart closing down Palestinian trade union voices is bull. Its Palestine category is one of its most prolific ones.

--

I'm not going to get into the CagePrisoners issue here, as I feel that we've done it to death plenty of other places.

skidmarx said...

Looking at the TULIP website, I see this statement:
Trade union leaders from three continents have announced the launch of a new global movement "to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hizbollah in the labour movement"
Now I'll grant you that "apologists for H&H" isn't identical with "supporters of terrorism", but it's certainly saying that its purpose is to challenge those engaged in direct solidarity with those fighting Israeli oppression. And those trade union leaders from three continents? The British one, Michael J.Leahy, rose through the ranks of the ISTC, I think correctly remembered by Ian Donovan here:
Its workforce was led by one of the most rightwing, servile bureaucracies in the labour movement, headed by Bill Sirs, who would later go on to become one of Thatcher’s friends due to his encouraging strikebreaking in 1984-85.
Thus I have my doubts about the class struggle credentials of his crew.

bob said...

TULIP's founding statement is indeed hyperbolic, as it suggests that support for BDS and for a one state solution is essentially support for H&H. Nonetheless, this is still a long way from saying that all solidarity for Palestine is support for H&H. In the same statement, they call for a two-state solution (i.e. they do not de-legitimate Palestinian self-determination), support Mahmoud Abbas, and call for peace and justice.

Yes, the ISTC were the first union to confront Thatcher and Ian McGregor in 1980, when they were roundly defeated. It was McGregor's success in beating this once powerful union that made Thatcher put him in charge of the Coal Board. Bill Sirs did take a pretty right-wing collaborationist line in the miners' strike. I don't know, though, what role Leahy had in union at the time of the miners' strike. He was some kind of organiser then, not sure at what level, certainly not with any real national profile. I presume he joined the union that operated in the steel works he worked in before he became an organiser. I defer to your better knowledge here.

modernity said...

"Occam's Razor would suggest the first."

Well, that does suppose that 1) there is no racism in western societies, none 2) subconscious anti-Jewish racism is nonexistent in western societies 3) other countries are "criticised" in the same vitriolic terms.
as Israel is, etc etc

You might try to explain why numerous countries can commit mass murder (China, Syria, Sudan), yet it barely raises a flutter in the West, but should the Israelis do something.... you never hear the end of it

would you please explain that disparity?

bob said...

I missed this: Oh and Bob, I might take issue with the claim that Marx was an anti-semite. I was quite shocked by some of what was said in some of his (private) letters, but...

I didn't say that Marx was an antisemite; I said he expressed antisemitism. This is pretty undeniable: both in The Jewish Question and in his letters. I don't think it is helpful to think of people as antisemites; I think it more helpful to think of antisemitic deeds and words and the effect they have. Probably everyone, maybe even every Jew, has had an antisemitic thought at some point in their life; the issue is what effect this has. Antisemitic deeds and words have been widely distributed in the labour and socialist movements, and this continues to be felt today.

Specifically, on Marx, I follow Hal Draper in thinking that yes he was "pixillated", but so was everyone else in his town (Draper's reference is, of course, to Mr Deeds goes to town) and in particular Etienne Balibar in arguing that the structural antisemitism of Marx's early work dissappears when he identifies capital, rather than bourgeois society, as the enemy. But that's all problably for another time.

On the Occam's razor issue, I agree with Mod. If all else was equal, yes, the best explanation for Israel-criticism would be Israel-criticism. But all else is not equal, as there is so much less Saudi-criticism, Burma-criticism, etc - and therefore Israel-criticism (or, rather, the quantum of Israel-criticism) calls out for another explanation, of which the most obvious is antisemitism. If this explanation is wrong, then we need to see a better one.

skidmarx said...

Mod's point - I could say this is a classic case of "whatabouttery", failing to consider to merits of the argument but saying let's not worry about this manifest injustice until all the other problems of the world are dealt with, or I could turn the question back on him and ask why there is a constant demand on his blog for the freeing of Gilad Shalit, but not for the thousands of Palestinians held captive by the Israelis?
But more simply it's not true that"should the Israelis do something.... you never hear the end of it". Most of the Israeli killings, whether it is gunning down farmers in Gaza or jobseekers in Jerusalem, never make the news, while missile attacks that fail to kill anyone in Sderot or Ashkelon make it on to the TV.What proportion of the British public do you think know that there was a Nakba, the basic injustice that riles so many around the world and is the basis for the conflict today? Avoiding dealing with this issue by claiming some underlying animosity is a very unmaterialist way of looking at things, and "look over there, something I care more about is happening" is not a strategy designed to convince.

Oh and on point (1), no such assumption is made, you seem to be the one making the assumption that anti-zionism must or may be generated by anti-semitism.
(2)You can make all sorts of claims about people's subconscious, I'll start considering them when there's some evidence for them.
(3) I think dealt with above. If there is any truth in this, it may perhaps be better explained by the way the US shielding of Israel from the world's criticism creates outrage, and that other gross human rights abusers don't try so hard to present themselves as the victims.

ModernityBlog said...

skidmarx,

Ha ha, whatabouttry, you are a joker.

I asked you to explain it and you gave me a perfunctory reply, which wouldn't really impress your Oxbridge tutors terribly.

Anyway, I wasn't so much discussing motivation as pondering *why* it happens, in light of the evidence. There’s a subtle difference there. Evidence.

I'll state this again, I don't think people are **motivated** by antisemitism, there are a few individuals, but that doesn't overall explain the phenomenon.

That is assuming the fact that you wish to explain the phenomena and that you have the intellectual apparatus to do that, of which I'm less than convinced.

Now as a once Marxist, you have to explain that either racism against Jews has vanished from capitalist societies, in total, or possibly see it has taken on another manifestation, bearing in mind that not all aspects of racism against Jews (or anyone else) is physical.

Before you're tempted to argue there isn't much racism around particularly when the topic of Israel comes up you might:

1. want to look at the evidence in the Cohen book, particularly the bit about Big Flame, the IS and the SWP, see http://www.engageonline.org.uk/ressources/funny/ page

2. want to explain why the Jewish Socialist group expresses concern about antisemitism on the British Left (unless, of course, you think there are arguing in bad faith too?)

3. why do so many "anti-Zionists" who advocate boycotting Israelis seem to have a little difficulty discerning what is legitimate criticism and what is outright racism? (numerous examples exist of "anti-Zionists" using far right material, seemingly unknowingly, etc)

4. want to explain away the CST's numerous reports and evidence therein.



Now, if you're really interested in intellectual exercise you might want to explain that away, but you might want to ask why do Jews notice an increase in antisemitism in Britain, and more importantly, where does it come from?

So skidmarx, if you're going to take your own antiracism seriously, then you will have to explain how you see this mountain of evidence?

ModernityBlog said...

PS: finally, evidence is the key

skidmarx said...

I asked you to explain it and you gave me a perfunctory reply.
I thought it was a layered response, but whatever.
which wouldn't really impress your Oxbridge tutors terribly.
It's not very impressive to suggest that there is a university of Oxbridge that might have such tutors, and an unwelcome descent into the personal from you.
I wasn't so much discussing motivation as pondering *why* it happens, in light of the evidence.
Waiting...
Now as a once Marxist, you have to explain that either racism against Jews has vanished from capitalist societies
I'm tempted to argue that there isn't much around. I can recall Jews sometimes being stereotyped as misers in jokes when I was a kid (like Scots), but even that seems to have largely gone away. Several of my close friends and colleagues in the early 90s were Jewish, a number of my neighbours in the mid 90s were also, and for the last twelve years I've lived next to the largest concentration of Orthodox Jews in Britain, and I can't recall one instance of seeing or having reported to me any instance of anti-semitism, so in my experience it isn't widespread. I do see that one of the local Jewish schools has a security guard on duty, but that is likely to be necessary due to lone fascists (or radical Islamists) than anything general.
http://www.engageonline.org.uk/ressources/funny/
Seems to go where I assume your link was directed. I read through once before, I found then that he asserts his case and never proves it.
I note now that "the dominant position within Engage—namely that in our contemporary world anti-Zionism must inevitably equate with anti-Semitism," conflicts somewhat with what Bob was saying.
If this two word quote is all he's got on Big Flame, it's not a lot:
"An example, which is almost a caricature, occurred in an editorial in the journal Big Flame which stated that an "obsession" with anti-semitism detracted from the need to "focus" on zionism (October, 1982)."
want to explain why the Jewish Socialist group expresses concern about antisemitism on the British Left
If I know what their concerns are, what the politics of those making them is, and what the response of others on the Left has been to the specifics, then I might form a view.
why do so many "anti-Zionists" who advocate boycotting Israelis seem to have a little difficulty discerning what is legitimate criticism and what is outright racism? (numerous examples exist of "anti-Zionists" using far right material, seemingly unknowingly, etc)
So many? Or is it a few cases, that the pro-Israeli movement each time to turn into as big a thing as possible. The last case I can recall was the Palestinian Telegraph allowing a sympathetic interview with a Holocaust Denier Fredrick Toben appear in their Opinion section; when this was drawn to their attention they swiftly pulled it.
want to explain away the CST's numerous reports and evidence therein.
From what I've seen there seems to be a lot of asserting that the Left is anti-semitic because of its opposition to Israel, and not a lot of evidence of anything.
you might want to ask why do Jews notice an increase in antisemitism in Britain, and more importantly, where does it come from?
I might say that often those claiming to notice are Zionists who see an increase in anti-zionism, and want to identify that with anti-semitism. There's also been a long history of white racists claiming to be oppressed and claiming to have been discriminated against when nothing of the sort occurs.
So skidmarx, if you're going to take your own antiracism seriously, then you will have to explain how you see this mountain of evidence?
You say mountain, I say molehill.

modernity said...

"You say mountain, I say molehill."

skidmarx,

Given your political history, and our exchanges in the past I would expect nothing less from you.

I think Bob's efforts to engage in and fruitful discussion are fruitless.

That is despite the fact that you've had

1) a quality education
2) a political education
etc etc

The difficulty is that you, like so much of the British Left are a prisoner the last century's thinking.

I could give you prime examples of antisemitism staring people in the face, socialists, alleged socialists, etc which you will either dismiss as irrelevant or ignore.

That's why I concluded early on that it was a waste of time engaging with you, as you simply can't admit the bleeding obvious, when it comes to anti-Jewish racism which is a poor state for an antiracist to be in.

skidmarx said...

Given your political history, and our exchanges in the past I would expect nothing less from you.
Oh, I could get down to anthill. Given your recent politeness, I might expect that you had left some of your less straightforward debating tricks in the past, but hey, it's up to you how want to conduct yourself.Here's some semi-praise for you:
"A couple of their associates, fair enough (I don't particularly like that ModernityBlog guy, but he is recognizably left wing)"
I think Bob's efforts to engage in and fruitful discussion are fruitless.
Personally I think this is some of the most polite discussion I've had with those with radically different views, so if this isn't productive, not a lot will be in a similar vein.
The difficulty is that you, like so much of the British Left are a prisoner the last century's thinking.
Right back atcha!
I could give you prime examples of antisemitism staring people in the face, socialists, alleged socialists, etc which you will either dismiss as irrelevant or ignore.
You haven't so far. You've pointed to a couple of places where you say such allegations can be found, but are very short on specifics, and where you overcome that hurdle the "evidence" is still almost entirely of anti-zionism which is no more than asserted to be anti-semitism. Putting forward an argument that needs careful consideration, let alone acceptance, requires a great deal more than that.
That's why I concluded early on that it was a waste of time engaging with you, as you simply can't admit the bleeding obvious, when it comes to anti-Jewish racism which is a poor state for an antiracist to be in.
If it was that obvious, you'd find it a great deal easier to construct an argument.

modernity said...

"You haven't so far. You've pointed to a couple of places where you say such allegations can be found, but are very short on specifics, "

Do you really need to be spoonfed, given your education politically and otherwise?

Are you sincere about your antiracism, or just when it suits you?

Because if you had been interested in this topic in the least you could have done and read the *totality* of Steve Cohen's work, it very small.

Skidmarx, I believe you've read Lenin, Trotsky and even Marx?

Well, Steve Cohen's small pamphlet is much easier than any of them, but you can't be arsed to read it and comment.

You wanted examples of antisemitism, and I've given it to you before, which you ignored.

The SWP hosted Gilad Atzmon for 4 years, yep FOUR years,adding that time he was allowed to spout is racism, Atzmon instead of saying Jews used the old ruse of saying "Zionists", please do give your views as to why the SWP was fooled by Atzmon? and why it didn't stop him after ONE year.

Again, read Cohen's work and tell us about Atzmon's racism.

skidmarx said...

Do you really need to be spoonfed, given your education politically and otherwise?
The evidence I've seen doesn't support your case. If you want to convince anyone who doesn't already agree with you, you'll have to do a lot better than "But everyone knows I'm right."
Are you sincere about your antiracism, or just when it suits you?
I've definitely stopped beating my wife.
Because if you had been interested in this topic in the least you could have done and read the *totality* of Steve Cohen's work, it very small.
I think I looked through it once before, and couldn't see much in the way of evidence rather than unsubstantiated assertion, or subdstantiation as weak as in the Big Flame example.
Skidmarx, I believe you've read Lenin, Trotsky and even Marx?
At last, one of your beliefs with which I can concur. Though none in their entirety.
Well, Steve Cohen's small pamphlet is much easier than any of them, but you can't be arsed to read it and comment.
I don't think that's the case.
You wanted examples of antisemitism, and I've given it to you before, which you ignored.
Oh no I didn't. You've presented some examples of anti-zionist activity and demanded that I consider it anti-semitic, you've provided references to other people doing the same.
The SWP hosted Gilad Atzmon for 4 years, yep FOUR years,adding that time he was allowed to spout is racism, Atzmon instead of saying Jews used the old ruse of saying "Zionists", please do give your views as to why the SWP was fooled by Atzmon? and why it didn't stop him after ONE year.

Again, read Cohen's work and tell us about Atzmon's racism.

Try reading Richard Seymour's account.

bob said...

Richard Seymour's post doesn't cut it for me. If the SWP "does not tolerate anti-Semitism, never has, and never will", how on earth did they make the mistake of inviting Atzmon, not once after failing to do their research properly, but again after protests by people like Michael Rosen, and again, and again. And has the party itself conceded it was a mistake?

If the SWP "does not tolerate anti-Semitism, never has, and never will", how come it has closely collaborated with antisemites from various Islamist groups in its various popular fronts?

If the SWP "does not tolerate anti-Semitism, never has, and never will", why did it drop the "antisemitism" bit from its march against racism and Islamophobia? Why does it refuse to campaign against antisemitic fascists who come to Britain who happen to be Muslim, like Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky?

Not that this is just the SWP. We have Galloway and Ovenden hanging out with Mahmoud Al-Zahar, we have Ken hanging out with Qaradawi, we have the Russell Tribunal hosting antisemites, we have "Seven Jewish Children", we have anti-war marches with antisemitic banners from the BMI, we have mainstream left-wing voices saying that Gaza is "exactly like" the Warsaw Ghetto, we have unions inviting antisemitic speakers to Israel boycott meetings (my own branch invited Paul Eisen), you have left of centre newspapers publishing the likes of Oliver Miles and Richard Ingrams and their antisemitic lies. Need I go on?

I am not claiming that Jews in Britain today experience antisemitic pogroms or are in danger of genocide. But to deny the reality of the left promoting and enabling antisemitism is completely untenable.

bob said...

I also disagree with what I take to be the dominant position within Engage—namely that in our contemporary world anti-Zionism must inevitably equate with anti-Semitism.

This is a quote from the late Steve Cohen's 2005 introduction to the Engage edition of his pamphlet. I'm not sure Steve was right to read that as the dominant position within Engage, although perhaps some within Engage take that view (Engage is not a unified democratic centralist party; it is composed of people with different views).

This is as clear a statement as I think you'll find of the "dominant view" within Engage:

"The anti-Zionism that worries us is not the same as criticism of Israel. Israel is occupying and settling Palestinian land. In order to sustain this occupation, it uses racist violence and humiliation against the people that live in the West Bank. The occupation and some of Israel’s actions should be, and are, criticised by a large number of Israelis, Jews, and people around the world who are bothered by injustice. It is not those who protest against the injustice of the wall and the checkpoints, which control every stretch of road in the West Bank, who we worry about. [...]

Anti-Zionism is not motivated by anti-semitism. It is motivated by concern for the oppressed. But it nevertheless creates a movement and a worldview that singles out Jews as being a central force for evil and imperialism in the world. Naturally, such movements are beginning to spawn people who are indeed motivated by anti-semitism. And this is where anti-Zionism begins to borrow from older forms of anti-semitism. It insists that Israel’s privileged role as the partner of American imperialism is protected by Jewish influence amongst the neo-conservatives and in American public life more generally. This easily sounds like, and becomes like, the Jewish conspiracy that was the myth at the heart of the ‘protocols’. It still sounds like it, and becomes like it, even if the word ‘Jew’ is replaced by the word ‘Zionist’."


This is not exactly my position. I tihnk that there three forms of anti-Zionism that this desciption does not apply to: 1. the religious anti-Zionism of some sects of Haredi Jews, such as the Satmer Hasids, although their positions are often used to legitimate the most antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism; 2. the anti-Zionism of Jews whose frame of reference is historic debates within the Jewish public sphere over the nature of Jewish nationhood and belonging, and specifically those in the Bundist or folkist traditions such as the Jewish Socialist Group in the UK or Jewish Currents in the US; 3. the anti-Zionism of those who are utterly consistently anti-nationalist, such as some anarchists and left communists, e.g. the Anarchist Federation or Libcom.

Noga said...

"SWP "does not tolerate anti-Semitism, never has, and never will" "

The SWP is a far left organization that relates to its moral purity the way many extremist Muslims relate to their religion. According to this religion (the far left) antisemitism and a leftist position are mutually exclusive, therefore it is impossible, as per definition, that antisemites be found among their numbers. It's an irrational claim, it's an oxymoron, it's delusional. The way, according to Erdogan, Hamas is not a terrorist organization because no Muslim can ever be a terrorist because Islam forbids terrorism.

skidmarx said...

bob - on your first point, the short answer is that I don't know. might be that Atzmon's discourse does not begin with explicit anti-semitism, and when it was seen to cross the line into such by a whole host of SWP members they objected. It would seem that these objections are as naught to you, all that matters is what they did wrong. I don't know if they collectively, or Martin Smith individually, have admitted their mistake,that would probably be a good thing, though as time passes it should become a less convenient excuse to give them a kicking.

Para 2 - I don't know who you are referring to.

Para 3 - because it wasn't as relevant when other forms of racism are far more significant in Britain today? I don't think a conspiracy theory is necessary on this one. I recall that opposition to anti-semitism is in the UAF statement of principles. Don't know Zakzaky.

Para 4 - We have Galloway and Ovenden hanging out with Mahmoud Al-Zahar
Much as I've had my differences with Kevin and co. in recent years, I'm not convinced that the abuse they've suffered for their contacts with Hamas are anything other than an attempt to derail the sterling work they've done to bring relief to Gaza. I seem to recall that the most damning evidence against al-Zahar is that in response to Israel's murderous assault on Gaza he said that Israel can expect retaliation against its own children; perhaps not the most politic thing to say, but when your people are being massacred being politic isn't always the highest priority.
Ken and Qaradawi - I seem to recall David T making jokes on socialistunty about people being thrown of buildings to link the two, I seem to recall that Ken's defence of the man is that the most offensive quotes are either untrue or taken out of context, I'm not an expert.
Seven Jewish Children - I haven't seen it, the case against it seems to be that views are expressed that Zionists don't like, not that it is directly anti-semitic.
Warsaw Ghetto comparisons - maybe hyperbolic, but why this should be evidence of anti-semitism is beyond me.
I'd never heard of Paul Eisen. A quick google led me here, which suggests that he does have unacceptable views, though remembering Deir Yassin is not a bad thing.
Richard Ingrams - I can't recall the specific allegations, though I can recall that there was an attempt to drag Paul Foot into it, which seems ridiculous to me. I do recall that Private Eye used to have a go at several prominent Jews with questionable business practices.

I'll address your conclusion by pointing to a section of the Executive Summary of the latest CST report:
The term “criticism of Israel” continued to be used as a catch-all defence against the raising of Jewish concerns about antisemitic manifestations, public speakers, groups, websites, agitprop and other phenomena.
Cannot this just be turned around to say that "anti-semitism" continues to be a catch-all defence against the raising of concerns about the manifestation of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians? Of course their are times when anti-zionists may mistake anti-semites for their allies when they are making the same criticisms of Israel. But to claim that anti-zionism is anti-semtism per se, which seems to be necessary to support any suggestion that anti-semitism is widespread given that the real thing is thankfully largely absent, is what seem to me untenable.
A further note on Engage; I see their is a http://greensengage.wordpress.com/
website, with the strapline:
"British Greens responding to the intersection of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism", which would suggest to me that the Engage brand is more about claiming the anti-Zionist left to be anti-semites than engaging in contacts between Israelis and Palestinians.

Noga said...

There is no way, Bob, that you can cleave anti-Zionism from antisemitism. The so-called anti-Zionists comfort themselves with the thought that if israel were to be dissolved some viable solution will be found for its Jewish population that will not involve bloodshed and ethnic cleansing. But even with such prospects, they are willing to risk it. Not only that, but they are perfectly OK with Jewish dhimmitude in Israel. Two questions I have:

1. Why start the revolution in Israel? Why not try to find some other country to dissolve first? there is Kosovo, for example. Why not try to dissolve Kosovo first?

2. Why are these people comfortable with the possibility that Jews will be stripped of their sovereignty and subject to the stricture of another polity whose law forbids Jews from living in their midst?

Never heard one remotely plausible explanation to this chosenness conferred upon the Israeli Jews by the non-antisemitic Left, to this single-minded obsession with abolishing the only Jewish state in the world. What is it about this Jewish state that contradicts something so fundamental in these people's minds?

The Contentious Centrist said...

Edited:

"Ken and Qaradawi... I seem to recall that Ken's defence of the man is that the most offensive quotes are either untrue or taken out of context, I'm not an expert."

Clearly, you are not even very curious to know. If you were, you would check what exactly what said to learn how to assess Livingstone's defence of the indefensible:

"From Al-Jazeera TV on January 28 and 30, 2009.

Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.
[...]
January 28, 2009:
To conclude my speech, I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you."

Hard to see how these statements were misrepresented as "out of context" or how anyone can pretend they are anything but enthusiastic approval for Hitler's project.

_________________

"Seven Jewish Children - I haven't seen it, the case against it seems to be that views are expressed that Zionists don't like, not that it is directly anti-semitic.
Warsaw Ghetto comparisons - maybe hyperbolic, but why this should be evidence of anti-semitism is beyond me."

It would be beyond you.

http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.com/2009/12/debunking-palestinian-myths-michael.html

Why is the play using one of the most evil event in Jewish history to associate with Israel? Is it merely poetic license? Mere "hyperbole", as you say? It is meant to inflict pain on Jewish wounds, to bait Jews with memories that still torment their waking hours. Why would anyone act so maliciously? Couldn't the author find some other metaphor, more pertinent and accurate than this? What do you call this inexorable need to dig into the most painful of Jewish suffering in order to demonize Israelis, if not hatred for the Jews?? This is what Nazi torturers used to do. And you dare dismiss it as "mere hyperbole"?

modernity said...

Bob,

You are too gracious.


As I previously wrote concerning skidmarx:

"I could give you prime examples of antisemitism staring people in the face,socialists, alleged socialists, etc which you will either dismiss as irrelevant or ignore."

So I asked him about Gilad Atzmon and the SWP's complacency in four years, of Atzmon's racism

What does he do?

He refers to **someone** else.

Effectively, intellectually, ignoring the issue of racism.

Bob, that's what we are dealing with, blindness in the face of antisemitism, there is no arguing with it, there is no polite discussion that will change his mind, or make him see sense.

Atzmon is a litmus test and Skidmarx failed it completely.

modernity said...

"Seven Jewish Children - I haven't seen it, the case against it seems to be that views are expressed that Zionists don't like, not that it is directly anti-semitic.
Warsaw Ghetto comparisons - maybe hyperbolic, but why this should be evidence of anti-semitism is beyond me."


WHY?

Mainly because the bloody title says so?

Would you be happy with a play called Seven **Black** children, which indulged in stereotypes and negative commentary?

Or would you see it, as any conscious antiracists would, as a piece of bigotry?

Would you be happy with a play called seven MUSLIM children? Which did the same?

I certainly wouldn't, but I doubt that you would notice the racism in either of those two hypothetical examples, or would you?

bob said...

might be that Atzmon's discourse does not begin with explicit anti-semitism, and when it was seen to cross the line into such by a whole host of SWP members they objected. It would seem that these objections are as naught to you, all that matters is what they did wrong.

No, what matters is not that they did wrong; it is that they did wrong AFTER it was pointed out to them why they were doing wrong, not by the likes of Engage but by people close to them like Michael Rosen, and then they did it AGAIN and then one more time again.

because it wasn't as relevant when other forms of racism are far more significant in Britain today? I don't think a conspiracy theory is necessary on this one. I recall that opposition to anti-semitism is in the UAF statement of principles. Don't know Zakzaky.

See here, and contrast UAF to Tatchell's honourable behaviour.

skidmarx said...

"Ten Little Niggers" by Agatha Christie probably provides quite a good comparison. The original title is as offensive as "Seven Yid Kids" might be,(probably a lot more), but to make a case for it's content to be offensive then a case has to be made from that content, not just from the title.Whether the hypothetical examples "do the same" depends quite on what that "same" is.

I don't know if you noticed, but the Warsaw Ghetto comparison was about something else, Bob's complaint about it being compared to Gaza.

Contentious Centrist - on first look, the first quote seems extremely offensive, the second a desire to attack Israel that is not in the same league. There was a guest posting on Lenin's tomb by ejh about "A Game Of Links" which I'd hoped to refer you to, but can't find the link right now, about how sites like Harry's Place try to show guilt by association" by this sort of methodology. Even if Qaradawi does hold some offensive views does not make Ken identical with him.
And when you say (from your link)
"Gazans, who voted for Hamas and supported their continuous bombardment of Southern Israel might consider why Cast Lead was visited upon THEM. They might also consider which of the protagonists is acting like Nazis," that is really quite offensive in blaming the victims, and it would be nice for modernity and Bob to disassociate themselves from such stuff.

modernity on atzmon - I referred you to the SWP's leading blogger, who both roundly condemned him and regretted any association the party had had with him. I really don't think you should expect more, unless you are an obsessive witch-hunter. From what I've seen he's probably right, but I've never met Atzmon and don't feel obliged to be an expert on him.

Noga - mostly you are building castles in the air. Those on the Left that place Palestinian aspirations before those of Israelis do so because that's the normal thing to do for socialists when considering the claims of the oppressed and the oppressors respectively.

skidmarx said...

Zakzaky says this on his webiste:
"The Muslims have Right. Non Muslims also have rights. Fulfilling one’s right does not require that the other relinquishes his."
The link with the offensive stuff actually comes from one Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Ali, who was hosted by Zakzaky.

skidmarx said...

Bob and Atzmon - and a whole load of SWP members objected and they haven't done it again since, which would rather suggest that their collective view is rather different to his.

bob said...

There are dozens of examples of Qaradawi saying offensive things. On the last month, for example, he has refused to engage in interfaith dialogue with Jews and he has said that it is good for Muslim countries to have nuclear weapons "to terrorize their enemies". It is not about a link to something that links to something. Why does Ken not step away from this man?

Re Noga on why Israel not Kosovo etc. I think this is true of most anti-Zionists, but I don't think it is true of the three groups I mentioned.

That's probably me for a day or two. I'll ttry and check that Blogger doesn't send stuff into spam, but it seems the key is short comments! (I know, I know... Wordpress...)
On Greens Engage - actually if you look at the site there are slots of examples of positive engagement with Palestinians on green issues.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"...Those on the Left that place Palestinian aspirations before those of Israelis do so because that's the normal thing to do for socialists when considering the claims of the oppressed and the oppressors respectively."

Yes, I know, the Left is a great believer in the fallacy of the superior virtue of the Oppressed ... Palestinians, by the virtue of being oppressed (a condition they reasonably cling to with all their efforts) deserve to be given their inalienable rights as a nation, but not Israeli Jews.

I'm grateful to skids here for confirming that a sense of justice is not really what motivates those on the Left.

modernity said...

"and a whole load of SWP members objected and they haven't done it again since, "

Did they? what evidence is there for that?

Maybe they did make some bleating, some grumbling, but for four years they didn't see fit to counter the SWP leadership'ss capitulation to antisemitism. FOUR years.

Who can forget the SWP going out of their way to state that Gilad Atzmon wasn't racist?

"The SWP does not believe that Gilad Atzmon is a Holocaust denier or racist. However, while defending Gilad's right to play and speak on public platforms that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad's views. We think that some of the formulations on his website might encourage his readers to feel that he is blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti Zionism. In fact we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with."

Did they argue against him when Atzmon argued that Jews cause wars (an old Extreme Right trope)? NO?

Did they put out a statement saying they made a mistake? NO

So whilst they pushed his views and defended him, they didn't openly, in public, make it clear that he is a racist and that they made a big mistake.

They stared straight at antisemitism then cough.

skidmarx said...

modernity - I don't agree. I think the SWP statement is reasonable, he holds views that they don't wish to defend, but having looked at his site I'd tend to agree with their characterisation. They don't agree with the idea that Jews start wars, I don't see why they should have a special responsibility to comment on the views of others.
I went to see a friend who was in the SWP some years ago, and he'd never heard of Gilad Atzmon. Has this occured to you that this is a sectarian obsession rather than something that is particularly relevant to the SWP's conduct?
They think he blurs the distinction between anti-semitism and anti-zionism, and are quite prepared to say it.[Oh, and my friend is Jewish enough that he would have been considered such by the German law in the '30s, but of course that's not relevant]

CC - I'm grateful to skids here for confirming that a sense of justice is not really what motivates those on the Left.
I think the "not" can happily be removed to make that sentence true. Justice does require considering the dispossesion of the Palestinians as a great injutice, and not something to be skirted around or excuses made for.

Bob - but it still suggests that what the Engage brand is about is being pro-Israeli.

modernity said...

I would completely expect skidmarx or similar to see the SWP's point of view.

That's how it works doesn't it:

hypercritical on one issue, then immensely charitable when it comes closer to home

After all it's all politics, for the SWP and skidmarx.

All's fair...

Such issues of racism, understanding it, and more importantly understanding why people are **insensitive ** to it, aren't even considered.

If we were to show other examples of the SWP's insensitivity and blindness, they would receive a similar rebuttal, there's no in-depth consideration, no pondering, no intellectual penetration, just excuses.

That's the way it is, which is why there is such a futility in trying to discuss these complex matters with skidmarx.

All you'll receive is excuses, incomprehension and non sequiturs.

skidmarx said...

modernity - when I asked why you have a constant reminder of Gilad Shalit's improsinment on your blog, but nothing about the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, you didn't even bother to address the question.
When I asked whether you would condemn the suggestion that those killed in Gaza were asking for it, you ignored the question.
I think when it comes to insensitivity, blindness,excuses, incomprehension and non-sequiturs, you leave me at the starting blocks.

modernity said...

There you go another petty political tactic, change the topic.

Rather than address the issue of WHY the SWP and others are so insensitive to anti-Jewish racism, a deflection is thrown in.

Which is completely irrelevant, to the ***SWP's*** actions.


[But let's acknowledge skidmarx argument for the moment, that all of his interlocutor's (and those that criticise the SWP's actions) are arguing in bad faith or mendacious.

Suppose that is true for the moment, for the sake of the argument, that doesn't explain the actions of someone ELSE.

It is a non sequitur because it doesn't deal with the issue of the **SWP's** insensitivity and blindness as an issue.

The SWP's mistakes have been made by them, and them alone, that is irrespective of anyone else's actions, irrespective of anyone else's ideas or thoughts

The SWP and its leadership have agency, they make choices, and they must be held accountable for their mistakes.

Anything else is not relevant to that particular point, logically speaking.

Again, the TWO issues are physically, intellectually and materially separated, therefore can't be thrown in together to confuse the issue, as it is irrelevant to the original point.]

skidmarx said...

modernity - when you demand answers to your questions when I've already done so and refuse to answer mine, you are showing bad faith. This thread and the predecessor thread on AVPS weren't about the SWP, that's a subject you've chosen to introduce.
THe points you wish to make aren't about insensitivity to actual racism, they are about whether someone neither I nor the SWP approve of the views of goes too far and blurs the distinction between anti-zionism and anti-racism, which the SWP thinks Atzmon does, and I tend to agree with them. Your charge of insensitivity seems far more about zionists who choose to be upset, than about any Jews who have suffered as a result of the SWP's actions. Again, you seem to be acting like an obsessive sectarian on this point, and still haven't answered either of my questions... Should I assume that silence means that you do engage in a double standard of finding anti-semitism behind all anti-zionism but are prepared to endlessly indulge anti_palestinian hatred?

modernity said...

This exchange is indicative of why the British left and many of its onetime activists are in decline.

Instead of actually addressing the issues and asking some questions:

why did the SWP FAIL to spot Atzmon's racism?

Or how does it fit with sequence of events?

Instead of that, we have political ping-pong.

I make a point, skidmarx looks for an excuse to dismiss these concerns.

It reminds me of the Paxman-Michael Howard interview.

There is NO engagement with the insensitivity and blindness towards anti-Jewish racism by the SWP.

There is no acknowledgement of the facts. There is no interrogation of events or questions rise.

It is intellectual sloth, and rather resemblant of those excuses that you get from companies when they tried to explain their failures away, something to say, but lacking in content or dealing with the issue at hand.

bob said...

On Atzmon and the SWP, I think this is the right sequence of events:

Summer 2004: Atzmon speaks and performs at Marxism 2004

Summer 2005: Socialist Review has a rave review of the Orient House ensemble tour (only note of criticism is that he likes Ken Livingstone too much), and Atzmon plays Marxism 2005 as well as speaking at Bookmarks. Jews Against Zionism picket the Bookmarks event. JAZ are not by any means an oversensitive pro-Israel group, but made up of left-wing people like Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover and Hilary Rose. Leading left-wing anti-Zionist website Labournet plays major role in this. SWP responds with a statement that refuses to accept any truth in the allegations.

2006: SWP organises “Five for Trane” concerts featuring Atzmon and Martin Smith. At least two gigs.

Autumn 2006: Atzmon speaks and plays alongside Galloway and Martin Smith at an SWP organised Stop the War event in Tower Hamlets.

January 2007: Michael Rosen, a high profile Jewish anti-Zionist very close to the SWP, criticises SWP for hosting Atzmon. Organisers of Cultures of Resistance deny he is an antisemite. Evidence? “We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.” Therefore impossible that Atzmon could be a racist, because he was invited to our event.

Summer 2007: Atzmon plays Cultures of Resistance gig at Marxism 2007, and later Socialist Review gives another rave review of his CD Refuge, with no note of criticism.

Autumn/Winter 2007: Atzmon plays an SWP fund-raiser, Now’s the Timer, with Martin Smith. Four gigs.

January 2008: Atzmon now an explicit Holocaust denier, as revealed by Tony Greenstein and others, eliciting no comment from the SWP, despite their close association with him.

May 2008: Socialist Review again promotes Atzmon, listing him in their “Five things to get or see this month”

April 2009: Another Socialist Review rave review of an Atzmon CD, In Loving Memory Of America, again no note of criticism.

October 2010: SWP promotes the Jazza Festival, featuring Atzmon and several Atzmon linked groups.

November 2010: No trace left on any SWP website of their earlier statements and clarifications about Atzmon, and pro-SWP web trawlers like Skidmarx re-write history to claim that the SWP never liked him really.

Have I got anything wrong?

Why does this matter? Becuase the SWP is one of the largest groups on the UK left, playing a major role in trade unions including my own, as well as in one of the two major "anti-facist" organisations and several key anti-cuts organisations.

bob said...

Sorry, just to clarify the point of that chronology. In 2004 and 2005, maybe the SWP didn;t know enough about Atzmon and hosted him in good faith. By summer 2005, the evidence against him, presented by allies not enemies of the SWP, was overwhelming. If they'd quietly cut their links then, that'd be one thing. But no, they hosted him SEVERAL more times in 2006 and 2007, and continued to promote him through 2008 to last month! And at the same time attempt to cover up this whole history and re-tell it.

skidmarx said...

Where does he explicitly deny the Holocaust?

bob said...

Where does he explicitly deny the Holocaust?

See this Tony Greenstein post http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2008/01/gilad-atzmon-now-open-holocaust-denier.html . TG reports a German court case in which Zundel's lawyer used an Atzmon article as evidence the Holocaust was a "complete falsification". Altho, as TG recognises, GA's actual words are obscure, the whole thrust of his statements, e.g. bis endorsement (with "slight" differences) of a "great text" in which Paul Eisen peddles denialism, to his various "Protocols" articles, to his constant assertion that the facts of the Holocaust, as all reputable scholars know them, are merely a particular ("Zionist") "narrative".

More recently, just last week, he wrote an article "No business like Shoa business", asking "How long will it take before we manage to look at Jewish history as a continuum instead of isolated patches of victimhood loaded with false legitimacy to rob Palestinians"?

In his Ha'aretz interview last month, ased about accusations of Holocaust denial, he replied "That is very imprecise". Note: not WRONG, but imprecise. "But I am fighting against all the disgusting laws and persecutions of those so-called Holocaust deniers - a categorization I don't accept." The only other people who reject this term are... Holocaust deniers.

Atzmon's text "Truth, History and Integrity" also bears all the hallmarks of what Deborah Lipstadt calls "softcore denialism".

JM said...

There's a good thing on Hamas here too:
http://www.maxajl.com/?p=4414

skidmarx said...

So it would be somewhat imprecise to call him an "explicit holocaust denier"?

bob said...

It would be imprecise to call him an "out Holocaust denier". But it would not be imprecise to say that he explicitly denies the Holocaust, as it is understood by scholarly opinion as well as by the anti-fascist movement. To say that what happened in 1933-1945 was an "isolated patch of victimhood" subsequently "loaded with false legitimacy", to say that the broad picture of what happened (i.e. a genocide in which millions of people, including around 6 million Jews, were killed) is actually not the truth but one among many "narratives", to say that Paul Eisen (who denies that there were gas chambers) is basically right, to say that Zundel is not a Holocaust denier... is Holocaust denial.

Skidmarx, are you saying this is NOT Holocaust denial?

modernity said...

Bob,

Excellent summary to which you might add

2005, Jewish socialists picket a talk hosted by the SWP at Bookmarx.

SWP responds by verbally attacking Jewish socialists.


You'll remember this fine post? http://brockley.blogspot.com/2005/06/gilad-atzmon-swp-and-holocaust-denial.html

bob, all of this is worthy of a new post bringing together your summary, and the issues.

I'll contribute this one for the moment, http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/gilad-atzmon-david-duke-and-cif/

More to follow.

No doubt some SWPers, their allies, etc will say "what is racist about saying Jews funded the Russian revolution?".....

modernity said...

PS; the SWP's statement on Atzmon still can be found on the web

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/blog_comments/A_tale_of_two_Socialist_Workers/

skidmarx said...

Bob - given that he vehemently denies it here, along with the suggestion that Tony Greenstein had to back away from such an accusation in the face of libel proceedings, I might be multiply foolish in agreeing with you.
Any chance of either of you saying why it is right to campaign only for an Israeli prisoner and not the thousands of Palestinian ones, or whether you think it is acceptable to blame the dead in Gaza for their demise?

modernity said...

"I might be multiply foolish in agreeing with you. "

A case of Mandy Rice-Davies eh?

You would expect Atzmon to deny it.

But this exchange is nothing if not illuminating in the techniques and thought processes of pro-SWPers like skidmarx,

Firstly, we see the technique of change the topic, then the old gamnet "what about Israel eh?" (which is always a good fallback) and finally instead of believing anti- racists in the matter, skidmarx seems to accept in good faith what Atzmon says about himself.

The latter is both naive and complacent, to suppose that Jewish Socialists would have gone to all the trouble of picketing the SWP bookshop and Atzmon all for nothing?

And if we assume that they had great cause to believe that Atzmon is a racist, then WHY take at face value what Atzmon says about himself?

As skidmarx seems to do here?

skidmarx said...

modernity - this thread didn't start off as an interrogation of my views on Atzmon, so asking you to justify your double standards on the I/P conflict is not changing the subject.Why don't you answer the questions I put, rather than obsessively make more assumptions than the Virgin Mary?

bob said...

To the other Gilad in a minute, but for now Gilad Atzmon: "Bob - given that he vehemently denies it here, along with the suggestion that Tony Greenstein had to back away from such an accusation in the face of libel proceedings, I might be multiply foolish in agreeing with you."

Does David Duke say yes I'm a fascist? Does Nick Griffin say yes I'm a racist? Of course not. Why accept Atzmon's vehement denial as the truth?

So, Atzmon presents 280 Palestine Solidarity activists signing a petition for Atzmon and Rizzo against Tony G. I have no idea who most of these 280 are and what legitimacy they have in the Palestine solidarity movement. I'd like to think that TG represents the mainstream more than them. They include Daniel McGowan, a Zundel supporter and executive director of the discredited Holocaust revisionist group Deir Yassin Remembered, plus his buddy Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. It includes Atzmon's buddy and my near neighbour Sarah Gillespie, author of borderline antisemitic slurs against Mark Thompson's wife http://brockley.blogspot.com/2010/03/brockley-goings-on-what-to-think.html. It inclides Ben Heine, who took part in the Tehran Holocaust cartoons competition. And so on.

So, Sue Blackwell made it clear she never called Atzmon a "Nazi". Quite right, and nor have I or any of my comrades.

And the language about Tony Greenstein draws on classical antisemitism: "Greenstein presents himself as a Jewish Marxist. I don’t know whether he understands Marxist dialectics, clearly he understands the language of materialism. Once it was down to his pocket, he was very quick to retreat."

I'm not sure how he can make the claim that TG retreated. The post on Atzmon as an explicit denier is still up.

And how does Atzmon frame his views on the Holocaust: "I have many doubts concerning the Zionist Holocaust narrative... the official Holocaust narrative is there to conceal rather than to reveal any truth." Classic denialist rhetoric.

SKID - WHY ARE YOU DEFENDING THIS MAN? HE IS INDEFENSIBLE.

bob said...

On the other Gilad, Shalit, my only comment is that Modernity, like me, is a blogger. He may have opinions about any number of things, but he is not obliged to express them. Bloggers tend to blog about their personal areas of interest (or obsession) and knowledge (or, in many cases, ignorance). The SWP, on the other hand, is a political party, and when they make editorial decisions those decisions need to reflect something other than the personal interests of an editor. Thus it is justifiable to demand of the SWP why they have never expressed an opinion on this or on that. (Have the SWP, by the way, ever expressed sympathy for Gilad Shalit?) This is not a legitimate question for an individual blogger. Any more than it is legitimate to ask why is defending the Shrewsbury pickets (by the way, what's the SWP's line on them?) and not the IATSE pickets at NBC, or he has a CWU banner and not an FBU banner on his site. This is pure whataboutery.

modernity said...

Bob's ably addressed the question as to why this is an issue, but I might remind readers of one of my earlier comments:

"I could give you [skidmarx] prime examples of antisemitism staring people in the face, socialists, alleged socialists, etc which you will either dismiss as irrelevant or ignore. "

This is one of those examples, you are staring at antisemitism and it doesn't register.

It's nothing personal, but it's perfectly sensible to ask the question why do otherwise extremely intelligent people, and political activists, share this particular problem of not being able to spot antisemitism?

Why?

skidmarx said...

the discredited Holocaust revisionist group Deir Yassin Remembered
Funny (peculiar), a quick look at their site suggests that dedication to remembering the Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin was their prime objective.
Your link on Sarah Gillespie didn't work.Literally rather than metaphorically.

I'm not defending this man. But clearly to you any place in the lynch-mob other than right at the front is indefensible.

Nice f----ing try on defending Mod, but as far as I'm aware the CWU and FBU have never been at war with one side having many more prisoners than the other. Modernity focusing on the one prisoner held by Hamas and ignoring the thousands held by Israel, shows that he is blind to the suffering of the Palestinians.

Mod - it might help if you spelled out what example of alleged anti-semitism you-re talking about here, I assume it is one or other Gilad but honestly don't know which. Or perhaps it would help if you stopped heresy-hunting and argued honestly on the issues.

modernity said...

"Mod - it might help if you spelled out what example of alleged anti-semitism you-re talking about here, "

Bob has already explained at length, and you discounted that.

Why on earth would I repeat what I have already stated in the ***links***.

I provided links on the assumption that SWPers and their mates might want to look them up, but alas I was far too optimistic on the technological and intellectual curiosity of said people.

There is plenty of racism sprouting out of Atzmon, if you'vr the mind to see it.

And if you haven't you won't, it is as simple as that.

bob said...

Re Deir Yassin Remembered: Don't have time to reply properly tonight, but please go and have a look at the Tony Greenstein post I cited above. Or else give me a reason why you believe Atzmon over Greenstein.

skidmarx said...

bob - I might easily say that if mod as a blogger can concentrate on what he wishes to, then as a non-blogger I should be free to ignore Atzmon completely.
But again it might be said that if the best you can do is cite him for complaining about "Holocaust narratives", that's a long way from being an explicit Holocaust denier". We're agreed that he's not a Nazi but more than a straightforward anti-zionist, why not leave it at that?
I see that neither you nor mod has answered the question about whether you approve of the suggestion that Gazans were asking for it.

Mod - you make a lot of imprecise allegations, so I asked you to be specific if that's the discussion you want to have. Personally I think there are much more productive things to discuss than engaging in a demandathon that those you pick out be condemned in language that makes you happy. Remember, if we are talking about Atzmon that this is not someone who has physically attacked Jews (as far as I'm aware), but then you complain of the SWP "verbally assaulting Jews" (damn those words make dangerous weapons),when there is daily oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis, when there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners you don't give a damn about, perhaps it is your double standard that urgently needs addresssing.

bob said...

1. But again it might be said that if the best you can do is cite him for complaining about "Holocaust narratives", that's a long way from being an explicit Holocaust denier". We're agreed that he's not a Nazi but more than a straightforward anti-zionist, why not leave it at that?

I don't think that doubting any of the standard, scholarly views of the Holocaust, and calling it merely a "narrative" is a "long way" from explicit Holocaust denial. "Explicit denial" may not be the most precise term - "softcore denial", "relativisation", "apology" or "revisionism" might be more precise - but if you think these are a "long way" from explicit denial, let's leave the conversation there.

It is, however, a "long way" from being "a straightforward anti-zionist" to being a Nazi, with a number of positions in between. David Duke is a Nazi, and he regularly publishes Atzmon's work; he does not tend to publish the work of more mainstream representatives of anti-Zionism - he does not, for example, tend to publish the work of Michael Rosen or Tony Greenstein. If you think that all the evidence presented in this thread amounts to nothing more than "straightforward anti-zionism" then either your analytical skills are as bad as Mod suggests, or possibly you confirm that the Zionists are right to say that anti-Zionism is intrinsically antisemitic.

On "the Gazans asking for it". Well, put like that, yes of course I condemn it. This was what I said on a similar topic in 2006, with the war in Lebanon: http://brockley.blogspot.com/2006/07/israellebanon-what-about.html and this was the nearest I came to forumating an opinion during Operation Cast Lead: http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/01/pernicious-nonsense.html

skidmarx said...

I am saying that he seems to be somewhere on the road from straightforward anti-zionism to Nazism, but I think you're right that we seem to have exhausted this topic.
Interesting post on Lebanon. I'd disagree that Israel remains the victim, and given the overwhelming military advantage of Israel I'd put less emphasis on where Hizbollah ranks in the military force stakes, but clearly you do have some sense of proportion, and some basic decency.

modernity said...

skidmarx,

The topic is anti-Jewish racism, you can either engage with that or throw up deflections continually, your choice.

Anti-Jewish racism, deal with it, understand it or don't.

If you are truly an antiracist then you'll make some bloody effort.

If you truly have any intellectual competence then you'll read what I write and make a small effort to understand it.

These are your choices, do them or don't do them, it's up to you.

It all depends how serious you are in your anti-racism.

modernity said...

So Skidmarx has given up on the topic of anti-Jewish racism?

Twas only a matter of time.

skidmarx said...

Er no, the subject never really was anti-Jewish racism. It was occasionally about your desire to conflate anti-zionism with such...

which gets us back to this plug for Engage:
"Engage challenges contemporary antisemitism. Contemporary antisemitism nearly always appears using the language of anti-Zionism. ‚Anti-racist‘ anti-Zionism is often reckless about creating an ideological foundation for, and licensing, more openly antisemitic discourses and movements. For more on Engage, click here.
We are a resource for the monitoring and the critique of left and liberal antisemitism",
which very much suggests to me that they are far more about slating anti-zionism than engaging with it.

modernity said...

skidmarx,

You can frame the debate as you please, but you've asked plenty of questions and Bob has supplied many answers, and now you peter out.

Frankly I don't understand you.

You're highly intelligent, you've apparently had a political education, and still you employ simplistic techniques like begging the question.

If by your cut and paste of Engage's statements you wished to deny what they're arguing, then please do.

Don't go begging the question when you can do far far better than that.

Please, could you try to at least FRAME an argument if you are going to, these snippets and bitiness don't actually communicate what you are trying to get at, if you actually have a point, and I hope that you would.

Again, try full sentences, with arguments that depend on either logic or evidence, maybe even both, that would help matters no end.

bob said...

Engage isn't about "engaging" with anti-Zionism OR slating it. It took that name originally to articulate the choice of "engaging" with Palestinians & Israelis who're trying to build a just peace vs the dis-engaging gesture of boycott. It has since broadened its remit to antisemitism within academia, within unions, within the left more broadly, & particularly (but not exclusively) antisemitism which flourishes under the cover of anti-Zionism.

(Your link is to a blog that is quoting the second Engage website http://www.engageonline.org.uk/home/ The original "about" section for the second website is worth reading:
The Engage website was created to arm people with arguments and facts that they could use to counter the propaganda of the boycott campaign within the Association of University Teachers. Engage grew from a being a resource for that particular and successful campaign into being a resource that aims to help people counter the boycott Israel campaign in general, as well as the the assumptions and misrepresentations that lie behind it.

Engage is a left wing campaign. We "support" neither Israel nor Palestine; we support a cosmopolitan or internationalist politics that supports those who fight for peace and against racism within both nations. We are not a "Jewish" campaign, whatever that might mean. We do not speak "as Jews" but as socialists, liberals, trade unionists or academics. A number of the people centrally involved in Engage are not Jewish.

[...]Engage is a single issue campaign. It focuses on one issue, antisemitism, and is therefore concerned also about the demonization of Israel, and of Jews who don't think of themselves as anti-Zionists. We believe that a new commonsense is emerging that holds Israel to be a central and fundamental evil in the world. We disagree with this notion and we think that it is dangerous. The danger is that this kind of thinking may well lead to, and license, the emergence of a movement that is racist against Jews in general.

[...]So our politics is consistent, cosmopolitan, internationalist, even if our campaign focuses on one issue. We are not primarily concerned with the Israel/Palestine conflict.[...]Our campaign against antisemitism and the demonization of Israel is intended to strengthen not weaken other campaigns for peace in the Middle East. We believe that the central reason that so called "Palestine Solidarity" is such a weak and fringe campaign in Britain is that most decent people don't want to be involved with something that smells of antisemitism. We support those who campaign for Palestinian rights and we believe that what we have to say would strengthen, not weakens, their campaigns. We also support the Israeli peace movement, weak and disorientated as it may be. We believe that the demonization of Israel weakens the Israeli peace movement and pushes Israelis who are for peace into the arms of the Israeli right. [Boycotts] strengthen Israeli hawks at the expense of the peace movement.

But Engage is not centrally concerned with the Middle East. We are concerned with the ways that people on the left, people who consider themselves to be liberals and anti-racists, trade unionists, are thinking about "Zionism" and Jews. We believe that our union took a position that was in effect racist, even if it was not motivated by racism, when it decided to try to exclude Israeli Jews from our campuses, our journals and our academic conferences. Engage's primary business is to combat anti-Jewish racism in the left and liberal public sphere. It goes without saying that we also oppose more traditional right wing antisemitism but that is not our focus. It is also the case that increasingly, even right wing antisemitism, either Nazi or conservative, is being expressed in "anti-Zionist" terms, with rhetoric largely borrowed from left or Islamist anti-Zionism.


In other words, not about "slating" anti-Zionists.

skidmarx said...

mod - I don't think I am.

Bib - I think it seems to be. When the stated purpose is to question people's views about zionism, they certainly do seem to be taking a position between Israel and Palestine, we can argue about whether they are right or not, but it seems irrational to think that the words you quote show a lack of partisanship.

bob said...

I am not claiming Engage show a "lack of partisanship"; I am claiming that it is wrong to call Engage "Zioinst" or "pro-Israel" and it is wrong to see their task as "slating anti-Zionism". Rather, their task is "slating" antisemitism which operates under the cover of "anti-Zionism" within our movements. Individual Engageniks are in other ways engaged in opposing settlers, legal work around the occupied territories, campaigns within Israel for peace and justice and so on, as well as a whole host of UK-based campaigns, as trade unionists and as anti-racists.

Because you, Skidmarx, are unable to recognise any (or at best hardly any) anti-Jewish racism within our movement, or under cover of anti-Zionism, as demonstrated by your defence of Atzmon, I guess you're not going to get that.

skidmarx said...

I think claiming a group not to be "pro-Israel" when their stated main activity is a battle to expose its enemies is ridiculous. And when I see some anti-semitism I'll be happy to acknowledge it, but I don't think you put up the strongest case when you have such a double standard when it comes to "what people are really saying".

bob said...

When the left opposed anti-Communism in the 1950s, this was not being pro-Stalin. When the left oppose anti-abortion campaigns, they are not actually saying they like abortions. Maybe when the left condemns the war on terror, they're supporting terrorism, but I doubt you think so. Being opposed to anti-Zionism (and specifically to anti-Zionism that acts as an alibi for antisemitism) is not being pro-Israel.

When you see antisemitism [on the left]... I doubt you ever will, because you have closed your eyes to it.

When I was learning about anti-racism, back in the 1980s, I remember that a first principle was that we ourselves might be racist, and should scrutinise ourselves constantly. This reflex has been shut down when it comes to anti-Jewish racism. Why?

skidmarx said...

Anti-semitism is when people hate Jews and wish to do them harm. Disagreeing with the politics that supports a Jewish state is not the same, but I doubt you'll ever learn that.

bob said...

Anti-semitism is when people hate Jews and wish to do them harm. Disagreeing with the politics that supports a Jewish state is not the same

Disagreeing with the politics that supports a Jewish state is NOT antisemitic. Disagreeing with the politics that supports a Jewish state, while not disagreeing with the politics that supports an Arab state, a British state, a German state, a Serb state, a Kurd state, etc... IS antisemitic.

Disagreeing with the politics that supports a Jewish state is NOT antisemitic. Claiming that Jewish power controls American foreign policy, claiming that this secret Jewish power has deluded the world into falsely believing there has been a Holocaust, or claiming that the Jewish state is uniquely bloodthirsty and evil... IS antisemitic.

But I doubt you'll ever learn that.

schalom libertad said...

On GODARD:

My take: Jean-Luc Godard, and the recent charges of antisemitism
And my argument with Kasama Project ... if you're interested...