Friday, September 30, 2011

Left antisemitism and its rejection: Credit where credit's due/blame where blame's due

Andy Newman on left antisemitism
Reuben at Third Estate describes this as a good week for the anti-racist left. Item 1, the Guardian published (both in print and Comment is Free) an article against left-wing antisemitism, by blogger Andy Newman of Socialist Unity.

Like my Shirazite comrades, I have been critical here in the past of Andy and his blog, but in general he has been forthright in condemning left antisemitism, both because racism is bad in itself and because its presence in the anti-Zionist camp besmirches the cause of Palestinian solidarity. Credit is due to him for raising this issue in a mainstream left-liberal outlet.

Andy uses a number of examples to show the current threat level of left antisemitism, including a new book by Gilad Atzmon (more on that below), the paranoia-porn of Zeitgeist: the Movie, and the promotion in the pages of the internet rag CounterPunch (Newman bizarrely calls it a "respected American leftist publication") of wacko blood libel conspiracy theories from Alison Weir.

Predictably, the good liberals below the line at Comment Is Free went nuts with Andy, and the Graun had to close the thread quite quickly. CiFWatch often seem a little hysterical about these things to me, but here they present an enormous weight of evidence for the scale of the Jew-hating there. And, sadly, the Guardian gave a platform to Atzmon to disingenuously and dishonestly reply to Andy too, and publishing former Graun journalist Jonathan Cook has written a similarly dishonest and disingenuous defence.

Alison Weir
Shamefully, the Guardian not only gave Weir right to reply, but direct readers to it prominently on the web page of Andy's article. (I don't recall them giving David Duke or Nick Griffin right of reply when their writers attack them.) I was saddened to see Weir validating her crackpot theories with a quote from Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist who has written some extraordinary books about Brazil and other places.  "Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide." The language here (the source is a CNN interview) is reminiscent of antisemitic imagery. But looking at Scheper-Hughes' talks and writings on the organ trade, I feel Weir has snipped it out of context, and really emphasised one element of her work and ignored others.


At any rate, Andy's key point is not that Weir talks about Israel's role in organ theft, but that she links it explicitly to Medieval myths and allegations about Jews consuming gentile blood, myths which Weir claims are at least based in truth. Andy, as a Catholic by background, is well attuned to this. For background, read Adam Holland on Alison Weir and her blood libel.

Bizarrely, and to my dissappointment, Weir found a defender in former anti-fascist Tony Greenstein. I was surprised, because Greenstein (along with Roland Rance, Mark Elf and Michael Rosen) have been among the most consistent critics of Gilad Atzmon (who I'll turn to in a minute) and his followers and friends Paul Eisen and Mary Rizzo, so it was odd to see Tony supporting another of this ilk.

Gilad Atzmon and Zero Books
Item 2 in Reuben's good week is a group of left-wing authors who have come out strongly against the publication of an antisemitic book by jazz musician and raciologist Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon's book, The Wondering Who, has just been published by Zero Books, a small UK-based independent publisher.

A number of people have objected to them publishing the rabid antisemitic rantings of such a poisonous person. They fail to get it at all. More here from Sarah.

It is greatly to the credit of some of Zero Books' leftie authors - including Robin Carmody, Dominic Fox, Owen Hatherley, Douglas Murphy, Alex Niven, Mark Olden, Laurie Penny, Nina Power, Richard Seymour & Kit Withnail that they have taken a firm stand against the publication. Seymour publishes the statement on his blog. He's another one I can't say I see eye to eye with, but to be fair he has consistently seen Atzmon's racism long before a lot of other people.

I think it was Reuben at the impeccably leftist if contrarian and heterodox Third Estate who first (or at least very early) raised the cry about Zero Books publishing Atzmon. Read Reuben's more recent response here.

Harry's Place, of course, has reams of posts on Atzmon, including Alan A on Atzmon, Salman Rushdie and Reem Kelani (recommended for jazz fans), Edmund Standing on Nazi apologetics, etc etc.

Gilad Atzmon and John Mearsheimer
I've already reported one of the twists in this saga, "" apostle John Mearsheimer endorsing Atzmon's book, although I don't think I've mentioned his colleague Stephen Walt defending him. David Bernstein, previously a defender of Mearsheimer, probably most clearly sets out what's wrong with Gilad Atzmon, a good starting place for the un-initiated. If you want more, Pejman Yousefzadeh presents a huge amount of evidence. Joseph W shows why Walt and Mearsheimer have got it so wrong and then does so again. As does Adam HollandAnother interesting take on John Mearsheimer by the excellent A Jay Adler - highly recommended.

Roland cutely entitles his post on this "Andrew Sullivan’s Favorite Jew Disparager Stumps for Well Know Anti-Semite". Sullivan had a couple of weeks ago been lauding Mearsheimer as "a man subjected to a vicious smear campaign because of his resistance to the Greater Israel Lobby". (Resistance? Like the Settlers have actually invaded Chicago now?) It took him a while to half-heartedly realise Mearsheimer might have stepped out of the pale now, and then finally the penny dropped even for Sullivan. (See also Pejman Yousefzadeh, another supporter who has seen the light.)

Roland adds: "Mearsheimer’s “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” was a fascinating read, and there is no doubt the man deserves respect in the field of IR theory, but the critics of the book he produced with Stephen Walt were justified in their condemnations, and John’s support for an overt Anti-Semite surely doesn’t help his case."

Left antisemitism - or right antisemitism?
It is worth adding, as the title of this post mentions left antisemitism, that Mearsheimer is no leftist by any standard. Although he has become a darling of the anti-Zionist left, he himself is a right-wing conservative realist in the Henry Kissinger mold. See my categories and  on this, and especially "Walt and Mearsheimer: Kissinger's disciples?

I also think that Alison Weir is not a good example of left antisemitism. As one SU commenter correctly wrote, "
It strikes me that, whatever true facts such organisations [If Americans Knew and the Council for National Interest] may put out, they're aimed at American Patriots who want to ditch the alliance with Israel.So they carry quite a lot of material about such topics such as the “Liberty Belle” Incident, allegations of Israeli industrial espionage against the USA, Aipac members who are Israeli agents etc. In other words, they support of US Imperialism, but want to realign its foreign policy along another track." The Council for National Interest was founded by former Congressmen Paul Findley (R-IL) and Pete McCloskey (R-CA) and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi is Executive Director. Findley is also a Board member of If Americans Knew, which carries an endoresement from Republican politician Tom Campbell. Weir is regularly published by the pseudo-leftist CounterPunch (along with paleocons, ultra-libertarians, Paulistas and Reaganistes like Paul Craig Roberts, William LindSheldon Richman and Anthony Gregory), but also by the far right paleoconservative Antiwar.com. In other words, these are right of centre, Republican organisations, preaching (like Mearsheimer) an isolationist, America First version of American national interest.

The fact that Weir and Mearsheimer are right-wingers, though, raises a question. Why is the left so enamoured of them? Why is it the left that promotes their crackpot theories?

Socialist Unity
To return to where I started, I wanted to say a few words about Socialist Unity. Andy Newman, its main writer, is generally sound on issues of fascism and racism. As an ex-member, he is also pretty vituperative about the SWP sometimes, which is fine by me. I worry at the Stalinist drift of the site, for instance its adulation of China, its support for Third Worldist forms of state socialism, including Nasserite Arab nationalism. I think it gives an extraordinarily undue prominence to the Israel/Palestine conflict, to the detriment of coverage of other global issues, from Mauritania to Sri Lanka to Belarus. I also think it has a wacky, and very Popular Frontist, idea of what "progressive" means, and it has an unhealthy regard for populist reactionaries like Ken Livingstone, George Galloway, Selma Yaqoob. In this, I sometimes feel it is in the tradition of HM Hyndman or Robert Blatchford, a populist, right-leaning, nationalist socialism, despite its leftist "anti-imperialist veneer". I could live with all of that. I do have a problem with is the quantity of borderline antisemitism that appears in comment threads. This mirrors the Islamophobia below the line at Harry's Place. But HP does not moderate comments while SU does. And SU deletes a lot of comments. For instance, it has permanently banned Jim Denham, a person of very high integrity, for "racism". And it has John Wight as another major editor, who seems to promote this kind of borderline antisemitism. This vicious post by Wight, with its completely undeserved nastiness towards Sarah AB, is something that SU should never be publishing, although it gives a good indication of how devalued the word "progressive" has become. Wight and his clones below the line at SU reflect a deep sickness on the left, a sickness carried by the anti-Zionist movement.

Left antisemites - or left antisemitism
One final thing, even though I've said it before. It's interesting how all the apologists say something like "I'm not antisemitic", "I'm not a Holocaust denier", "Some of my best friends are Jews", "Anyone who knows him knows he wouldn't hurt a fly", etc. It seems to me irrelevant and unnecessary to argue if John Wight or Alison Weir or John Mearsheimer are really antisemites. What is important is the language, logic, structure and effect of what they say and what they do. Forget about whether they're antisemites, and concentrate on fighting antisemitism.



More on left antisemitism
The best resource on the web on left antisemitism is without doubt Contested Terrain, which you should all bookmark and visit regularly. At the top right you'll see brief news items, and the main body carries analysis of left-wing antisemitism from a radical, anti-capitalist perspective.

See also Marxist Humanist Initiative on left antisemitism (via Contested Terrain). See also A Drunk Man Looks at the Israeli Flag at Shiraz Socialist.

29 comments:

Andrew Coates said...

A fair and balanced summary. Though I'd have added as a criticism of Socialist Unity (since I'm a member of the leftist Iranian HOPI solidarity campaign) that they've published pro-regime material.

I wasn't going to Blog myself on this - there are plenty of others, such as you Bob, who're more up on the Atzmon case. But this was irresistable.

From

http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=34962



"One may wonder how come Seymour, an alleged revolutionary radical Marxist, Andy
Newman, a mediocre socialist and Neocon pro war Aaronovitch are caught together
naked holding ideological hands."



"How is it possible
that a hard core Zionist and ultra radical leftists are not only employing the
same ideological argument but also performing the exact same tactics? Clearly,
there is an obvious ideological and political continuum between Aaronovitch,
Newman and Seymour. The Wandering Who? scrutinizes this very continuum.



"Zionism clearly maintains and sustains its `radical left opposition' and the
logos behind such a tactic is simple- `revolutionary' left is totally irrelevant
to both the conflict and its resolution. Hence, Zionists cannot dream of an
easier opposition to handle. When the Zionists detect a dangerous rising
intellect who aims at the truth, they obviously utilize and mobilize the Jewish
left together with the few willing Sabbath Goyim executioners to gatekeep the
emerging danger"

bob said...

Thanks Andrew.

Links to add:

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/atzmon-and-the-confederacy-of-zionist-dunces/

http://rosiebell.typepad.com/rosiebell/2011/10/warm-endorsement.html

bob said...

Thanks Andrew.

Links to add:

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/atzmon-and-the-confederacy-of-zionist-dunces/

http://rosiebell.typepad.com/rosiebell/2011/10/warm-endorsement.html

Rosie said...

I don't think you included this piece from Jews Sans Frontieres. ( got this from Lenin's Tomb - not usually a place I head to.

http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2011/09/few-point-for-occasion-of-atzmon-saga.html

As the authors of Zero books have noted in their protest letter about Atzmon, it is easy to be fooled by Atzmon’s convoluted and pretentious claptrap. Mearsheimer could have extricated himself from his self-inflicted fiasco with little effort, at most a little uncomfortable ‘oops’. Instead, he decided to stand his ground in the most obtuse way, defending an article in which Atzmon effectively plagiarizes white supremacist fabrications as example of Atzmon’s not being an antisemite. All he had to do to find out where Atzmon gets his knowledge of history was click on a few links Atzmon provided, and find the source from which he lifted the claim that

“Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership.”

It doesn’t take a sleuth to determine that the source of this fabrication is an article of writer who advocates something called “ethno-nationalism,” published in the holocaust denial publication, The Barnes Review, the brainchild of Willis Carto, an American white-supremacist and a former affiliate of David Duke.

Jim Denham said...

" It seems to me irrelevant and unnecessary to argue if John Wight or Alison Weir or John Mearsheimer are really antisemites. What is important is the language, logic, structure and effect of what they say and what they do. Forget about whether they're antisemites, and concentrate on fighting antisemitism": wise words , indeed, Bob. It's not a question of whether or not particular individuals hate individual Jews - most 'left' antisemites don't. It's their comprehensive hostility to Jewish identity, Jewish nationalism and the very right of the state of Israel to exist.

Why the hell Andy Newman (who I believe genuinely abhores antisemitism, based on his consistent record on the question)tolerates tjhe antisemitic thug John Wight on his blog, is simply a mystery.

Btw: thanks for describing me as a person of the "highest integrity" or whatever. I'm not sure that everyone who knows me would fully agree with that: but I do my best to be politically honest.

Evildoer said...

Actually it's the comprehensive attempt to conflate Jewish identity, Jewish nationalism and the very right of the state of Israel to practice apartheid and rule the middle east on behalf of its masters that makes the growth of antisemitism inevitable, absent a revolution. So you will most likely fail, unless we manage to save you, which is a fat chance.

antisemitism is inseparable from the racist populist right which will continue to grow, and will continue to scapegoat Jews because its serves the populist right interests and, at one point it will serve the masters as well, and because the rotten upper class of Jews has not only, in their endless wisdom and to their endless profit, hitched the Jewish wagon to imperialism, but have weaponized Jewish identity and is managing it as a missile silo for attacks on the third world.

So don't bother. You are supporting antisemitism de facto, no matter how much you say you oppose it.

Anyway, here's what I had to say about that baffoon.

Evildoer said...

sorry the link was left out:

http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2011/09/few-point-for-occasion-of-atzmon-saga.html

bob said...

Gabriel/Evildoer, Rosie posted the link above to your post. I was going to add it when I added hers and Andrew's. I thought it was a good post.

I obviously completely agree with your analysis here however. I am not sure who the "you" you are referring to. Just me? All "Zionists"? Are Andrew Coates and Andy Newman among those Zionists? Are we all representatives of the "rotten upper class of Jews"? Is this rotten upper class responsible for the antisemitism of your readers such as eGuest, and his/her talk of the "The Jewish Media Conspiracy"?

Sarah AB said...

I've been thinking about the line which divides people on IP and how it seems to make group people together in the wrong way. For example, I would be seen as on the 'other side' from Andy Newman. But when he talks about I/P he doesn't say anything I think I find particularly objectionable - just a bit one sided maybe. A million miles away from Atzmon anyway. See, for example, his comment 12 here where he thinks he's addressing me, but in fact it wasn't me.

http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=8538#comment-443649

I think that I am closer to Andy Newman (though I haven't made a systematic study of what he's written on IP) than I am to the kind of people who think 'Paleswine' is witty pun.

I followed a link to jews sans frontieres and found someone saying that although, obviously, Gilad Atzmon was an antisemite, they didn't really like talking about it, because it helped the 'Zionists'. I think the opposite is true - I don't mean it would harm the Zionists, but it would help Palestinian activism.

Evildoer said...

I was referring to the comment that linked these three concepts, and to all those who agree with him. Sorry for writing fast. Who is responsible for a person's antisemitism? legally and morally, that person alone. But history is not a court of law, it is a battleground, and you should know on which side you stand. In the struggle, for example, between the Egyptian working class and the US backed Junta, whoever pits Jews against the Egyptian people should not whine about the rise of antisemitism. What do you expect? miracles? That history give you a break?

Thanks for the (future) inclusion.

Sarah AB said...

Sorry about the typos in my previous comment.

I was wondering, idly, whether Andy Newman was a) pleased with Wight's post on HP because he didn't like the way HP, Shiraz etc welcomed his piece on Atzmon, and is keen to keep his distance from anything vaguely Zionist, or b) thought it was a bit embarrassing.

Levi9909 said...

Sarah - I don't think Andy Newman would stand by your side on one of your pro-occupation pickets. Nor would he support your call to a Zionist Federation picket to thank people for showing their support for Israel by attending the Proms, which the BBC and you claimed was purely a musical event. You might find lots of people who find "Paleswine" amusing on such pickets.

Far from being vicious, the SU post quotes you accurately and in context and I am guessing that Andy Newman must have approved of the post. Andy Newman appears to be offended by antisemitism because it is a form of racism and therefore intellectually, morally and politically repugnant. You don't seem to find racism repugnant. Rather you seem to instrumentalise antisemitism and the allegation of antisemitism in the service of your support for zionism and the State of Israel. That is, you condemn one form of racism because you support another form.

bensix said...

Socialist Unity and Harry's Place have both put up nasty posts by nasty people. (And I don't mean "nasty" as in "I disagree with them" - I mean, er - nasty.) Watching them abuse is eachother is, thus, terribly amusing.

Wight's effort was a rather dreary one, though. Practically every sentence could have begun with the words "and another thing".

Rosie said...

Inside story of the SU/HP entente non-cordiale:-

By Sunday night the Guardian published an appalling piece by one Andy Newman of Swindon, who, according to one of his “Socialist Unity” editors, attacked Atzmon simply to appease the relentlessly Islamophobic “Harry’s Place” public.

Atzmon says that, so it must be true! But the HP public is unappeasable, I'm afraid. Nothing would appease us except a full self-criticism denouncing every post Socialist Unity has ever done including those on country and western music.

I hope HP doesn't do a post slagging off SU and John Wight - this sort of stuff is stupid, petty and a waste of everyone's time.

Benjamin said...

Regarding Jews San Frontiers comment on the matter, I was struck by a quote I found rather obtuse, "it is easy to be fooled by Atzmon’s convoluted and pretentious claptrap." How, exactly, can one be 'fooled' into thinking that the vicious, anti-Jewish dreck the man spews can be anything else -but- anti-Jewish? The only way he could be even more overtly racist would be if he dolled himself up in a white sheet or put on a Reich uniform! (Although I have a feeling he might still be defended as 'anti-Zionist' by a few.)

Seeing statements like that reminds me of why I don't go to the site too often.

Levi9909 said...

Benjamin - this is a letter from Gilad Atzmon to the Guardian:

Blogger Andy Newman (Comment, 26 September) misrepresented my views.

My latest book, The Wandering Who?, is a study of Jewish identity politics. How to define a Jew is a loaded topic since Jews define themselves in many different ways, some contradictory, and use those definitions to try to achieve political aims. And yet not many people dare to touch upon these subjects for fear of being accused of antisemitism. To paraphrase what I say in my book, "An antisemite used to be someone who hates Jews; nowadays an antisemite is someone Jews hate."

My argument is that since Israel defines itself as the "Jewish state" and it also drops bombs on innocent civilians from aeroplanes decorated with Jewish symbols, it is my moral obligation to grasp what Jewishness and Jewish identity stand for.

Just a few days ago Britain amended its universal jurisdiction laws in response to pressure mounted by the Israeli lobby. In my book I attempt to examine the complex relationships between Israel and the diaspora. I try to grasp the philosophy and ideology at the heart of Israeli lobbying. But I also insist that each of us has the right to express his or her opinion on the subject without being censored, bullied or intimidated by charges of antisemitism.It is very disappointing to see a newspaper renowned for its egalitarian stance publishing, without checking, the unsubstantiated rantings of self-interested campaigners.

Gilad Atzmon
London


What are you saying is immediately obviously "vicious, anti-Jewish dreck" in his letter?

bob said...

The letter is irrelevant. Mearsheimer claimed to have read the book. There is huge amounts of Atzmon material on the internet. What has the letter got to do with anything?

bensix said...

But I also insist that each of us has the right to express his or her opinion on the subject without being censored, bullied or intimidated by charges of antisemitism...

This is what I don't get about Atzmon: I've read smart racists but he's not among them. I mean, how does he, or anyone, have the "right" not to be accused of anti-semitism? He has the right to say whatever he wants but other people have the right to respond to him - verbally, of course - in any manner they see fit.

Adam Levick said...

Here's an essay we just posted at CiF Watch on Andy Newman's disingenuous criticism of Atzmon's antisemitism.

http://cifwatch.com/2011/10/03/andy-newmans-socialism-of-fools-the-remarkable-staying-power-of-leftist-antisemitism/

Benjamin H. said...

Have you actually been reading the things Atzmon has said, Levi? I'm not just talking about his book (although I supply portions below). He's long shown hatred towards Jews, and if you're unwilling to look them up, I'll gladly supply a few quotes right now:

"It seems I didn’t learn the necessary lesson because when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless."

((Wandering Who, page 185))

"You may wonder at this stage whether I regard the credit crunch as a Zionist plot or even a Jewish conspiracy. In fact the opposite is the case. It isn’t a plot and certainly not a conspiracy for it was all in the open."

((Wandering Who, page 30)

"Moreover, the success of Anne Frank’s Diary is there to suggest the West’s willingness to accept Jews as people amongst other people.”

(Wandering Who, page 52)

"...We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously. It is beyond doubt that Zionists, the most radical, racist and nationalistic Jews around, have already managed to turn America into an Israeli mission force."

http://www.rense.com/general58/ONANTI.HTM

"Interestingly enough, the political morbid conditions in which we live was actually described by an unusual fictional text that was published in 1903 namely, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/02/dreyfus-the-protocols-and-goldstone/

Throughout the centuries, Jewish bankers bought for themselves some real reputations of backers and financers of wars [2] and even one communist revolution

(http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/credit-crunch-or-rather-zio-punch-by-gilad-atzmon.htmlt)

And his quote about antisemites being someone who Jews hate? Shares a remarkable resemblance to a anti-Jewish far-right bigot Joseph Sobran:

An “anti-Semite” may or may not hate Jews. But he is certainly hated by Jews.

http://www.sobran.com/establishment.shtml

Benjamin H. said...

In case you can't get the gist of my previous quote: Atzmon is scum. Anyone who defends him is scum. Pretty much everything he writes about Jews could be found on, and is loved by, extreme-right racists. I'd need to invent a new insult to describe how much I despise Jew haters like him, but I'll settle for Nazi-like. I'll paraphrase what I said in my first post: Anyone who can't tell that he's anti-Jewish is either worse then blind or a Jew hater.

In essence? Atzmon is a despicable, obnoxious, attention-seeking whore who wouldn't be known as widely as he is without the bile he spews from the septic tank of his mind.

Levi9909 said...

Bob - Benjamin asked " How, exactly, can one be 'fooled' into thinking that the vicious, anti-Jewish dreck the man [Atzmon] spews can be anything else -but- anti-Jewish?" He said that in response to Gabriel having said, "it is easy to be fooled by Atzmon’s convoluted and pretentious claptrap." And Gabriel said what he did by reference to Richard Seymour et al's letter stating that, "Atzmon’s ability to solicit endorsements from respectable figures such as Richard Falk and John Mearsheimer shows that he is adept at muddying the waters both on his own views and on the question of anti-Semitism".

I was pointing out that much of what Atzmon writes can pass below the radar. Gabriel said the same thing and Richard Seymour et al said the same thing too. I gave an example, that's all.

You praised Richard Seymour et al for saying what Gabriel agreed with and yet for Benjamin, Gabriel's assertion that Atzmon can fool some people is a reason why he doesn't go to JSF very often.

If Benjamin was referring to the book, what precisely was he referring to? And if you find Gabriel agreeing with Richard Seymour so problematic, how come you praised Seymour and co?

BTW, lest we forget, Gabriel described Mearsheimer as having "imploded" once it became clear that Mearsheimer had read Atzmon's holocaust justification and still defended him.

bob said...

Levi, I don't really understand what you're saying. I agree with most (not all) of what Gabriel said in that post, and will link to it later. I sort of agree with Seymour that Atzmon is adept at muddying waters, but think that anyone with any moral or intellectual sense who takes any time to read his writings would see pretty quickly that he is a racist. Seymour saw this a long time ago, but can't be honest about how obvious it is because the SWP as a whole were in denial about it for years. Mearsheimer and Falk could be forgiven for being fooled by a few extracts or letters to the Guardian, but if they read the book and then blurbed that's unforgivable.

Benjamin H. said...

I don't believe we're talking on the same wave-length, Levi. I specifically posted quotes from Atzmon's book, as well as bile he said outside of it. I use those examples to explain -why- anyone who doesn't think he's a racist is wrong. If any of that somehow 'passes under the radar' for most people, then I don't think that wearing a Reich uniform would be enough to persuade people otherwise.

His letter is irrelevant. So he can write a letter without denying the Shoah or making overly racist comments. Whoop de do; so can Nick Griffin, David Duke, and any number of racist bastards. It doesn't matter if one such person can write one such non-racist letter (although since Atzmon used a quote that was either from or reminiscent, it might not count). It's the background, and one's overall beliefs that matter; you don't grade a writer on one letter, and Atzmon is no exception.

I apologize if I misinterpreted your original post, or if there was any confusion regarding the content of mine.

Goodwin Sands said...

Excellent and useful summary.

It's worth noting that the Paul Findley you cite is still on the board of 'Deir Yassin Remembered', the organization Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir turned into an outpost of Holocaust denial - one for which Gilad Atzmon still performs fundraisers for, as of last fall.

When Findley was defeated in 1982 he wrote a book claiming that it was the Zionists what done him in with their massive coffers; you have to read pretty closely to pick up that Findley actually wasn't outspent in the campaign. For what it's worth, the man who defeated him, Dick Durbin, is now the majority whip in the Senate.

Rebecca said...

Goodwin - it's not just Eisen and Shamir who turned DYR into a cesspool of antisemitism and Holocaust denial - it's also Daniel A. McGowan.

I have been wondering if somehow Mearsheimer was contacted by/came into contact with someone from the DYR crowd. Remember his odd speech last year about "righteous Jews" vs. "New Afrikaners"? McGowan founded a website a few years ago called "Righteous Jews" (it's nauseating, and on the front page is a link to an article by Paul Eisen called "My Life as a Holocaust Denier"). The criteria McGowan lists for someone being called a "righteous Jew" are that the person must consider himself a Jew, To be considered and selected, a "Righteous Jew" must consider himself a Jew, "Have demonstrated solidarity with Palestinians as human beings, deserving of being treated equally with all other people in the lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, one country with equal citizenship for all" and "Have faced disparagement, discrimination, or even death as a consequence of his or her standing up for the rights of Palestinians." Could Mearsheimer have encountered McGowan or his site and decided to pick up on the terminology of "righteous Jews" for his talk? There's probably no way to prove it, but I would be curious to know.

Tony Greenstein said...

Just to correct one point. I'm not a defender of Alison Weir. indeed I know nothing about her and until Andy Newman's article had never heard of her.

What I said, which Bob later admits, was that this wasn't a good example of 'left' anti-Semitism (though to be honest I don't accept the concept in any event) but my argument was simple.

Whether Israel steals organs from Palestinians, whether it has engaged in this filthy trade or not is something I have no knowledge of. I do know that China and Iran do and my views of their behaviour are no different to that if Israel does the same. Either way it is not anti-Semitic. It is either right or wrong.

There is no comparison with medieval blood libel accusation. That was also my point. I don't defend someone I know nothing about.

bob said...

Thanks for the clarification Tony. I accept it would be wrong to give the impression that you are a long-term "defender of Alison Weir". When I said she "found a defender in" you, I was referring only to the one Socialist Unity comment thread. You claim that you know nothing about her, which is fair enough, but you devoted several words to exonerating her in that thread. It might have been worth finding out about her first, no? Even if what she said in that article was not antisemitic (back to that in a minute), surely you should not take that one article on face value when someone like Andy Newman makes an allegation of racism against her? Would you take as many words to exonerate Nick Griffin if a socialist called him a racist, because you couldn't find anything racist in the one Nick Griffin article you read?

But even your exoneration of her seems a little stretched to me. You quote Toaff, but surely looking at how Weir uses him in context it is clear that she is making, at the very least, an extremely dodgy use of him. Her article is subtitled "the new blood libel" and mainly strings together a number of unrelated incidents involving Israel and organ theft, some vaguely plausible, some less so. That is straying towards blood libel territory, and may contain all sorts of lies, and smacks of conspiracy theory in imagining some single secret malevolent force behind a series of disconnected events, but, no, it's not in itself actually antisemitic. Then she switches to Toaff, completely off topic, talking about medieval Jews.

This is completely irrelevant to what she's talking about, and you really have to read it more than once to work out what the connection is. On one level, the connection is simply her claim that both received "calumny, vituperation, and defamation", at the hands of the same people, the so-called Israel lobby. But, so what? The other connection is that Toaff, in her version, gives some credence to the blood libel and therefore suggests that the libel may not be a libel and therefore there is nothing wrong with accusing Jews of stealing organs. Leave aside the fact that Toaff turned out to be completely wrong, and admitted it (which she conveniently ignores). That fact is, she is saying this is not a blood libel because it is true now, as it was true in the Middle Ages, that Jews steal gentile blood.

But re-reading your comment, I was struck by this passage: "There is no accusation about Israel that I can think of that is anti-Semitic for the simple reason that Israel is a state, it isn’t a person, let alone a Jewish person. It may call itself a Jewish state but how, apart from giving Jews privileges above non-Jews and the indigenous population, is it Jewish? Can it daven (pray), or go to synagogue every Saturday or fast?"

I have to say that I was very troubled by this statement from an anti-racist. It seems to me, unless I'm missing something, to be exactly analogous to saying: "There can be no accusation about Dale Farm that is an example of anti-Traveller racism because Dale Farm claims to be a Traveller site but only a few Travellers live there." Or "There can be no accusation about Nigeria that could be called racist because Nigeria is not the only black state in the world." Not all Jews are Israel, but Israel is Jewish in the straightforward sense that the overwhelming majority of its citizens and residents are Jewish.

In your formula, if Alison Weir said "Israel is continuing an age-old Jewish practice of stealing gentile blood, and is at the centre of an evil, secret order which spreads its tentacles globally for malevolent purposes, protected by a secret all-powerful conspiracy and ultimately aiming to create a single Jewish world government", you'd have to say that can't be antisemitic because Israel doesn't daven?

modernity said...

Bob,

Very good points concerning Tony Greenstein's inability to see the bleeding obvious.

However, his defence of ignorance is somewhat plausible.

Of course, anyone else would have given the matter some thought or perhaps investigated Weir via Google, but not TG or assorted "anti-Zionists"

Anyone else would have employed reason on this topic, however, that's a bit much to ask for when it comes to TG or like midned "anti-Zionists"

TG's comment:

"There is no accusation about Israel that I can think of that is anti-Semitic for the simple reason that Israel is a state, it isn’t a person, let alone a Jewish person. "

Here the keywords are "I can think".

Which clearly he doesn't.

TG doesn't think.

He is detached from anti-racism, because anyone with an ounce of sense would do, as you have done Bob, rearrange the words and show the intellectual discrepancy of the argument.

TG is unlikely to do that, he shoots off his mouth without a moment's thought or any connection to anti racism.

TG is indicative of the poor level of what passes for thinking amongst "anti-Zionists", racism is staring them in the face and they can't see it.

Racists like Weir can spout any old nonsense then TG and his follow "anti-Zionists" can't see the problem.

In short, they are the epitome of ignorance, so when employed as an excuse it is perfectly believable.