The virulent Zionist conspiracy versus the Strawberry Thieves, and other sad footnotes to the Gilad Atzmon Show

[update: John Hamilton has replied here.]

There have been a few updates to the Gilad Atzmon in Bradford story I posted about at the start of the week, with Atzmon's gig almost certainly going ahead tonight. Most notably, the Dean of Bradford came out against Atzmon being hosted, and then apparently changed his mind. A key figure in the whole kerfuffle seems to be Karl Dallas, a Bradford Christian folk singer. I have created a bitly bundle here for some of the key links. They include: Hope not Hate, the CST, Joseph W, Engage, the Soupy One.

I have gained a little bit of an insight into the Atzmonite worldview from the blogging and Twitter activities of Atzmon's followers, including Dallas who describes the complaints of the Jewish Socialist Group, Hope Not Hate and others as "Extraordinary Zionist virulence". Not to mention one "Someoh" ("TruthSeeker, Being in time, synchronicity awareness #collective mind focus 4 #Global Evolution, #Liberty #Enlightenment #Peace"), who describes me as an apologist for Israel's war crimes. Not to mention Atzmon himself, who drops the pretence of "anti-Zionism" when he tweats "In spite of all the Jewish pressure, we are at RYB tonight. small victory ha."

Meanwhile, as I reported, SE London has provided a few walk-on players in the drama, mainly Telegraph Hill's John Hamilton and his Strawberry Thieves socialist choir, and Brockley chanteuse Sarah Gillespie. They featured in a Harry's Place post by Joseph W. Joseph notes the Strawberry Thieves' connections to the former Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists involved in Holocaust denial, reminds us of Mike Harris's post on John Hamilton's disruption of Lewisham's Holocaust Memorial Day this year ("John Hamilton the leader of Lewisham People Before Profit shouted at the Rabbi “Gaza”, as if the Rabbi ought to apologise himself for the events in Palestine. The Rabbi added, “Gaza”, and lit the candle"), and links to some of the choir's lyrics:
War Crime! War Crime! Is it a war crime to kill 6 million Jews? YES!
But carpet bomb a German town or raze Hiroshima to the ground.
War crime? That’s not a war crime, for history and justice are made by those in power.
Will these war crimes ever stop?
Yes! But not while Israel exists as a state for the chosen few
where lives of Palestinian folk are worth much less than lives of Jews.
HP wisely deletes all comments after a certain time period, to save themselves the bother of policing the nutters who hang out there, so I'll take the liberty of preserving some of the more thoughtful ones for posterity below.

For the record, although I don't share Hamilton's Stalinist politics, I have no personal animosity towards him and indeed  greatly appreciate the work Hamilton (and the choir) have done within a number of local campaigns, including fighting to save our libraries, pools and schools from various cuts, and attempting to hold Lewisham's mayor and other elected officials to account. I don't think he is "an antisemite". But I do think that the content of this song at least borders on it, and that he is a good example of the corrosive influence of anti-Zionism (especially its extreme Atzmonite variety) on the thought patterns of the British far left.

Here's some of the HP comments.

On the Holocaust Memorial Day incident:

  22 November 2011, 5:26 pm

Look I can’t stand these guys any more than anyone else here. But I think B from B’s interpretation of the Rabbi-Gaza incident is entirely wrong. It’s made out as though the individual who shouted “Gaza” wants the Rabbi to apologize for Gaza. To me, it’s fairly clear that the shouter wanted Gaza to be included in the list of genocides. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe there is or has ever been anything remotely like a genocide in Gaza. I think the shouter is an asshole for including it in a list of genocides. However, I simply don’t believe he was seeking “an apology from the Rabbi,” simply an inclusion in the list. For what it’s worth, I think the Rabbi was wrong to then say “gaza,” as it implies that there was a genocide in Gaza, when there clearly wasn’t. It’s also curious why the shouter didn’t add “Syria,” not to mention dozens of other Arab or Muslim countries where something a little bit closer to genocide can be said to be occurring.

  22 November 2011, 6:54 pm
What extraordinary dignity by a Jew, the Rabbi. He took no political issue with that lout shouting out at such a moment and in his mind he said “OK, Gaza, I’m not here to be political or shill for Israel. There is no harm in remembering the dead of Gaza”.
Ignorance is Bliss   
  22 November 2011, 7:12 pm
I often go to funerals and memorial services and, during a quiet moment of remembrance (say, a lighting of candles) scream out obscenities about the living descendants of the deceased. It’s so dignified, don’t you think?

On the song "War Crimes":

Sarah AB

  22 November 2011, 5:42 pm
It’s a horrible song. It undermines the Holocaust by suggesting that it’s only seen as a war crime because those in power say it is. As well as the way it juxtaposes the Holocaust with I/P. The second stanza would be bad enough on its own, but it’s the way the two points are combined which is really offensive.

Lynne T

  22 November 2011, 5:49 pm
Isn’t it equally horrible to suggest that the Allies, in their efforts to defeat the forces that were conducting the Holocaust, were somehow morally equal? I mean, who attacked who, with the object being ultimate world dominance for 1,000 years?

Joseph W   
  22 November 2011, 5:55 pm
The lyrics are deliberately ambiguous. They could be implying that killing 6 million Jews is not a war crime, but carpet-bombing Dresden is.
The song doesn’t tell us whether killing 6 million Jews is actually a war crime, “for history and justice are made by those in power.”


  22 November 2011, 6:13 pm
The implication is that the Holocaust monopolises all claims to war crimes; that, because of it, nothing else can be if it happened to non-Jews, another implication from the the juxtaposition of Israel as a state ‘for the chosen few’.


Sarah AB said…
I was rather bemused by Atzmon's reference to you as a 'notorious Jewish supremacist' on his blog.

I was wondering what antizionists who are zealous, and hostile to the EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism, yet firmly anti-Atzmon, make of those Strawberry Thieves lyrics.
bob said…
Thanks Sarah. Only just realised GA called me that. I'm obviously coming up in the world.
Morbid Symptoms said…
To be fair, I don't think it has been established that John Hamilton is an acolyte of Atzmon. The latter denies the Holocaust, the former compares it to Israel/Palestine. Offensive yes, but not quite the same thing.
bob said…
MS - You're right. There's no evidence of any influence of Atzmon or his ilk on Hamilton, and there is a huge gap between Atzmon's encouragement of Holocaust denial and Hamilton's relativisation of the Holocaust. I am not suggesting Hamilton it a died in the wool antisemite.
Modernity said…

I am curious. Hamilton, who is probably not short of an opinion on most subjects, has he uttered a word on Atzmon?

Has Hamilton, the supposed anti-racist, made an effort to oppose Gilad Atzmon's racism or just kept quiet and gone with the flow?

I see NO reason to give Hamilton the benefit of the doubt, he would not be so charitable had the roles been reversed.

Let's hear what Hamilton has to say on the matter. My bet is not very much.
bob said…
I don't think Hamilton has said anything in public about Atzmon. I would be curious to know his position. My general idea would be innocent until proven guilty, hence the benefit of the doubt for now.
Anonymous said…
Atzmon had a good show tuther day in Abergavenny..he had a great reception although he was pretty bemused he had to finish on time for the pub tapas.
After years of reading about "self hating jews" that never were; im in no rush to read his views.. he could well be antisemite but theres been so much cry wolf regarding so called self hating jews who are in fact questioning the policies of their country; that my patience has worn very thin.
bob said…
Anonymous, I hate to say this but you are either incredibly lazy or incredibly stupid. I have never used the term "self-hating Jew" about Atzmon or anyone else, and it is not the term people use about Atzmon. He is a racist, plain and simple. I agree it is a term that has been thrown around, but not by the Jewish Socalist Group, Jews Against Zionism, the Community Security Trust, Hope Not Hate, or Bradford TUC, the main groups to have condemned Atzmon in this particular episode. If you have time to come and write a comment here, you surely have time to read one of the posts about Atzmon. If you can give me a single instance of any of the above-named organisations "crying wolf" about "self-hating Jews", I will buy you a month's worth of tapas at the Kings Arms.

The person who uses the term "self-hating Jew" about Atzmon is Atzmon himself. Actually he says he is "a proud self-hating Jew". Which is a lie, because he is about the most self-loving person imaginable.
John Hamilton said…
Dear Bob,

I didn't know you had referred to me in your blog until a fellow member of Strawberry Thieves Choir said she had found a reference to me and Karl Dallas while searching for Karl's address.

I don't know if we have ever met, but I am surprised that you can write so much about someone without asking them if it is true. You know that you can contact me either through the Strawberry Thieves website or the Lewisham People Before Profit website.

So, you say I am an acolyte of Gilad Atzmon. I went to his concert in Bradford because I had read a review of him and preferred an evening of Jazz to the alternative concert on offer. I did not know anything of his background or his political views. I learned that evening that there had been attempts made by Jewish groups to have him out-vited.

Some of your commentators seem to be unable to read: the line in War Crimes says quite clearly on your blog:

Is it a war crime, to kill 6 million Jews? Yes!

Not much doubt that I think it was a war crime, then!

Funny that you don't print the whole of verse 4, which is about Palestine, only selecting a few lines.

Verse 4:

War Crime! Sixty year War Crime! Is it a
War Crime to murder, bomb and maim?
Yes! They've seized the land of Palestine,
Behave like gangsters all the time.
Abducting civilians, bulldozing homes,
Shooting children for throwing stones.
Diverting water, ruining crops,
Will these war crimes ever stop?

Yes! But not while Israel exists as a state made for the chosen few
Where lives of Palestinian folk are worth much less than lives of Jews.
Peaceful co-existence is not possible with a country governed by war criminals.
Encouraged and financed by the United States, we need to pin the blame on all who perpetrate

War Crimes there will be war crimes
Unless we take a stand and put these criminals on trial.

Do you agree with these words, Bob?

Do you agree that those who divert water, bulldoze homes in occupied territories, shoot children and impose collective punishment are war criminals? The Geneva conventions does define these acts as war crimes.

Do you agree that there can be no peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine while such criminals are protected and are even in leading positions in the state apparatus?

Do you use the label "anti-semite" for everyone who criticises the state of Israel, such as Richard Goldstone who investigated war crimes in Gaza for the UN?

You say elsewhere in your blog that I have been a member of various maoist groups and name one. You are wrong.

You say that you support the political activities I have been involved in over the past 10 years in Lewisham, such as the New School Campaign, the Save Ladywell Pool Campaign and the campaigns to prevent privatisation of Lewisham's libraries. What kind of support have you given? Have you been down at the town hall at 8am? Have you performed street theatre in Lewisham town centre? Have you leafletted street after street to inform people of what is happening to their facilities? Or have you sat at your cosy computer allowing people to call me an arsehole, a cunt, a tankie, someone who should be "taken out" without exercising your option to moderate comment on your site.

Your source Mike (I support democratic cuts) Harrris misled you when he claimed I shouted "Gaza" at a rabbi, demanding that he apologise. I did say (not shout) "..and Gaza" because I think it is important that Jews should not ignore the massacres being carried out by Israel. The rabbi agreed with me and repeated my words. Let us not forget that Cllr Mike Harris is a political opponent of much that you and I stand for.

I am not going to get involved in a debate via your website but I would appreciate you checking your facts in future before referring to me. I look forward to your answer by email via the choir website.
bob said…
John, I have posted your comment as a sort of "right to reply" here and have e-mailed the Strawberry Thieves to inform you. I will reply in the comment thread of the new post.

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