Friday, December 23, 2011

Right to reply: John Hamilton

Bob: John Hamilton, of Lewisham People Before Profit and the Strawberry Thieves Choir, has been mentioned in a few posts on this blog. I should probably have contacted him to inform him, but didn't get around to it (this is, after all, a personal blog written in my spare time, and not a form of public service broadcasting). He has posted a comment in reply to one of them, and I am publishing it here. The relevant posts are: Holocaust memorial day in Lewisham (a guest post by Councillor Michael Harris), STOP RAISE YOUR BANNERS FROM HOSTING THE RACIST GILAD ATZMON, and The virulent Zionist conspiracy versus the Strawberry Thieves, and other sad footnotes to the Gilad Atzmon Show. For those interested, you can find coverage of some of the local activities John has been involved in at various places on the site, such as on the Carnival Against Cuts or Save Ladywell Pool.


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 [pdf] 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) Harris 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.

21 comments:

John Hamilton said...

Thanks for your email, Bob. Yours. John

bob said...

I was wrong to say that John Hamilton was a member of a Maoist sect without knowing this was true. I will go and check where readers have called him a cunt or someone who should be "taken out" and probably delete where I can find them, although I think arsehole is probably not quite as offensive and tankie is surely in a different league.

Readers can draw their own conclusions about "War Crimes", and I'd urge people to read the HP comments I copied here.

I have also certainly not paid my dues in terms of protesting at dawn. Let alone doing street theatre (if I did, I imagine that would set back the cause)! I want to reiterate that I admire the people, including John, who have the energy and commitment to do that sort of thing.

I did not call John an acolyte of Atzmon, and in fact explicitly agreed with another commenter on this, and repeated it in a reply to Modernity. I repeat again, I do not consider John "an antisemite" or a hateful person; I do think that some of his words and actions need to be examined though.

I have no way of judging what happened at Holocaust Memorial Day, and have no evidence that would support either Mike's version or John's version. Clearly, it makes a difference whether John said or shouted "Gaza", but I still do not see why it is at all appropriate in the context of a Holocaust Memorial Day. John says: "The rabbi agreed with me and repeated my words." Possibly he agreed, possibly he just repeated the words to avoid turning a solemn moment of reflection turning into a political slanging match. Maybe he did the right thing, maybe not; he presumably only had split second to consider before speaking.

This comment, however, very deeply troubles me: I think it is important that Jews should not ignore the massacres being carried out by Israel. In other words, John is explicitly saying it was the rabbi's Jewishness that made you say it. That is, you were specifically asking a Jew, as a Jew, to acknowledge Israel's crimes to the people of Lewisham. A Jew as a representative of Jews, not an Israeli as a representative of Israel. This is holding Jews responsible for Israel's actions.

I am also slightly troubled by these words: I learned that evening that there had been attempts made by Jewish groups to have him out-vited. What John "learned" appears rather partial, in that it ignores the fact that Bradford TUC and Hope Not Hate were among those calling for the racist Atzmon to be out-vited. This appears to be accepting Atzmon's antisemitic take on the whole thing.

Anyway, I apologise for my errors, invite readers to make up their own minds about the issues involved, and also invite John to distance himself from Atzmon's Holocaust denial and racism.

bob said...

I looked for the cunt and arsehole comments, but can't find them, nor a suggestion John should be taken out. If I find them I will delete them.

Sarah AB said...

Bob - I completely share your concerns WRT to the letter, particularly the stuff about Gaza. The question about street theatre was rather funny - made me think about Legs Akimbo in The League of Gentlemen.

Rebecca said...

Notice that the quite unfunny "song" about war crimes talks about "60 years" of war crimes - therefore stating quite clearly that the establishment of the state of Israel was a war crime. Elsewhere he talks about the "leaders" of Israel but I think the statement is quite clear - it's not just the leaders who are guilty of war crimes, but the whole state, and it should cease to exist. Notice also that the song uses the antisemitic "chosen" meme. Don't let this guy and his strangely named choir off too easily.

bob said...

I like the strange name of the choir - it's from a William Morris wallpaper design.

On the song, I agree. I did note the "chosen" thing. This is how I first introduced the song:
The Strawberry Thieves’ songbook is on-line. One of its songs, “War Crimes” [pdf], describes Israel "as a state made for the chosen few, where lives of Palestinian folk are worth much less than lives of Jews". Commenting on this sort of language, a Guardian editor recently wrote “‘Chosenness’, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are ‘burdened’ by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read ‘chosen’ as code for Jewish supremacism.”

Re-reading the rest of the lines increases the ambiguity and confusion of the song, but does not convince me that it is any less unsavoury.

bob said...

But I hadn't noticed the 60 year bit, i.e. that Israel's very existence is a war crime.

I like the Legs Akimbo image.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"the 60 year bit", Bob, is not accidental. And I have very little doubt that John will be happy to endorse it. And the extermination of 6 milions Jews is not a war crime. It is a much greater and elemental evil than john is willing to concede. "War crime" is an attempt to minimize the catastrophe and make it more on par with the "war crimes" against Arab Palestinians. Such as they exist in John's feverish imagination, which bear no real resemblance to recorded and verifiable historical events. What a malevolent presence has materialized on your blog comments, Bob, seized with hatred so keen it is practically palpable, and scary. There is no room for any pity for the terrorized babies of Sderot or the murdered babies in Itamar. What kind of food is he feeding on, to get this state of incontinent brutishness. God help us.

Rebecca said...

I agree with you, Contentious - because the murder of six million Jews had nothing to do with the prosecution of a war (other than that waging WWII allowed Nazi Germany to do it) - it's a crime against humanity.

Rebecca said...

A reply to John Hamilton -

No, I don't call everyone who criticizes the state of Israel an anti-semite. If you read my blog you see plenty of criticism of Israel, some of it quite harsh. I call someone who questions the right of the state of Israel to exist an anti-semite. Why, out of all of the nation-states of the world that have behaved badly, sometimes criminally, do you single out Israel for dissolution?

The United States, for example, is guilty of the genocide and dispossession of Native Americans. Germany murdered six million Jews. The predecessor to Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, massacred 1.5 million Armenians. China invaded and conquered Tibet and is doing its best to erase Tibetan culture. If a nation-state should cease to exist because of its enormous crimes, it seems to me that the U.S., Germany, Turkey, and China should be dissolved first. Yet, somehow, you only pick on Israel. Why is that?

Morbid Symptoms said...

OK you got it wrong about JH being in the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist), not to be confused with the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist). The former ended up as pro-Albanian, I was surprized to see in Housmans the other day that they still publish a magazine extolling wonders of North Korea.

The CPB(M-L) are also still going to an extent, think they were the original maoist split from CPGB: http://www.workers.org.uk/

I don't consider being a sometime maoist as a big deal, but perhaps JH protesteth too much. Or maybe the John Hamilton who wrote the CPB(M-L)'s account of the miners strike was somebody different in which case apologies:

http://www.wikireadia.org/search-books-by-isbn.php?searchstr=0947967249&searchby=ISBN&action=Search

Am I completely imagining that ex-Lewisham Mayor and Steve Bullock ally Dave Sullivan also had some youthful involvement in that group? (or was it some trot outfit). If so that would be very ironic.

dave brockley said...

John Hamilton has precisely nothing to say about Atzmon one way or the other.
His devotion to the cause didn’t extend to finding out the political views of the jazz artist he wanted to see. So now that he does what does he think of Atzmon?
If he disagreed with Atzmons anti-jewish stance, his reply would have been a good time to mention it .No nothing.
Instead as Bob has already pointed out Mr Hamilton only mentions Jewish groups that oppose Atzmon.
I guess Mr Hamilton regards Jews as the chosen few, because nobody else who opposes Atzmon is apparently worth a mention from him.
Then we get a list of war crimes that Hamilton believes Israel has committed. Hamilton conveniently sidesteps the fact his song also compares the allied bombing of Germany with the holocaust as well.
Yes he admits that the holocaust happened its a war crime .Not genocide, not an industrial scale attempt to wipe out a whole religion, a war crime.

Mr Hamilton has fallen into the trap many Arab anti-Zionists do .To claim that what has happened to Palestinians is the same or even worse than what might have happened to European Jews.

Lack of empathy for an enemy is perhaps understandable though wrong when it comes from people who feel they have lost their land.
But what’s Mr Hamilton’s excuse?
if Mr Hamilton really wants to defeat Zionism then the first thing to do is to help Jews feel safe wherever they are .Why because Zionism is essentially a defeatist though understandable reaction to the prevailing anti-Semitism of the late 19th and early 20th century.
If Zionism’s conclusion that the only place that would be safe for Jews was a country of their own; the last thing Hamilton should be doing is trying to make Jews in the uk feel responsible for what Jews elsewhere do. This is the kind of rubbish David Irving spouts that somehow jews have a kind of unique duty to police each other.
As Hamilton says “I think it is important that Jews should not ignore the massacres being carried out by Israel”. Why should Jews be demanded to have an opinion on Israel but others not? Hamilton certainly behaves like Jews are the chosen few.

Has Mr Hamilton got any plans to demand any other religious group in the uk answer for the actions of a foreign government whose members may have a religion in common?
Not only does this make Jews life increasing difficult in the uk, but Israel actions have been used on the left to explain away attacks on Jews.
See the mayor of Malmo for what I’m talking about.
"Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East"

So the very act of Hamilton asking Jews to take a stance on Israel will just spread fear, anxiety and push some towards Zionism.
We all know Hamilton has no plans to interrupt a speech by any other religious minority leader.
Nobody I hope on here would expect a Muslim to go and condemn Assad, because in some way being a Muslim they are somehow connected to the regime.
Let me tell you Mr Hamilton I have no influence on what Mr Cameron and the coalition do here.What makes you think being Jewish I can influence what Netanyahu gets up to?

Perhaps I’m taking Hamilton too seriously.
Should I bother considering the views of a man who complains Bob didn’t contact him at the start of his reply? Yet towards the end claims “the rabbi agreed with me” without contacting him.
This is breath-taking arrogance.

Leah said...

I am genuinely surprised by this debate - I am a member of the Strawberry Thieves Choir and I am of Jewish origin. I absolutely agree in principle that it should not be especially necessary for Jewish people to take a stand in relation to the actions of Israel but as Israel claims to speak for me, and Zionists often (indeed usually) accuse those Jews who are appalled by the treatment of Palestinians of being self hating Jews and many (Jews and non Jews) fear criticising Israel because of the accusations of antisemitism; it is, therefore, sadly, necessary for us to emphasise that Israel does not speak for all Jews not least to emphasise that criticism of Israel is not the same as antisemitism. The fact that the holocaust was a terrible crime - certainly one of the worst genocides in history, does not make it less of an issue that Palestinians are being systematically oppressed and that this has been going on since the foundation of the state of Israel and not just since the Intifadas or even just since the 67 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (The song does not, by the way, call for the end of the State of Israel, but for the end of a State being led by war criminals.

Also I note one of the posts refers to the Qassam rockets launched against Sderot and the murder of the family in Itamar Settlement - and these are truly horrible crimes in themselves; however, the person who posted this has completely omitted the context for these awful actions, let alone (certainly in the case of rockets in Sderot) the disproportionate response - most obviously Operation Cast Lead - and also not noting that there was a 6 month ceasefire, which was broken by Israel and not by Hamas. (and please do not read this as my supporting Hamas).

As to Gilad Atzmon, a friend has lent me his book - the Wandering Who - and I intend to read it before I make up my own mind about him.

Morbid Symptoms said...

Leah, the point for me isn't whether the Israeli ruling class should be criticised for its actions against Palestinians (which I agree it should be) but whether the actions and ideas of some of those who criticise this cross over into anti-semitism.

Sure, some people cry anti-semitism at every criticism of Israel. But that doesn't mean that everybody who criticises Israel is exempt from the charge of anti-semitism. You say that 'criticism of Israel is not the same as antisemitism'. I would say that it doesn't have to be, but sometimes it is the same.

For me there is a simple test. Are the actions of the Israeli state being judged by different criteria to every other state that kills and oppresses people? And if so why?

Your choir isn't alone on the left for singling out Israel, but how many songs/demos/websites/conspiracy theories/boycotts are there about Turkey, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, China etc. all of whom have at least as bad (and in some cases worse) human rights records than Israel?

Western culture has been historically anti-semitic for at least 1000 years, including exterminating the majority of Jews in many countries. That legacy hasn't evaporated overnight, so mind your language (at the very least) when you start singing clumsy rhymes about 'the chosen' and belitting the Holocaust by comparing systematic mass extermination to the everyday violence practiced by many states, horrific as it may sometimes be.

If you want to read Atzmon's book that's your business, though it should hardly be necessary to do so to understand that he is an anti-semite: he has been accused as such with extensive documentation by Jewish Socialists Group and Tony Greenstein of Jews Against Zionism (neither of whom can be accused of being soft on Israel).

I trust that once you and the rest of The Strawberry Thieves have had a chance to really think about Atzmon you will make your position clear.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Leah

As we obviously know a bit about your political background, I think it's fair to give you mine. I'm a libertarian socialist. My main background has been militant anti fascist work- I was in Anti Fascist Action for approximately 12 years. Currently I'm doing anti-cuts work and trying to help organise a festival commemorating the Luddite Rebellion.
I will say that, if you're going to read Atzmon, can I suggest you either get it from your public library or (preferably) torrent it. He isn't someone you should be giving your money to.

I'd actually suggest to you that the Atzmon issue isn't anything to do with Israel/Palestine. He's an anti-semite, pure and simple. As NP points out, this has been recognised by people across the Zionist/Anti-Zionist spectrum. Michel Rosen (who you may know) is another one. As is Andy Newman of Socialist Unity infamy.

If you want a brief introduction to the problem with Atzmon, try http://shiftmag.co.uk/?p=105 As you'll see if you browse their site, this is very much a magazine for anti-capitalist, anti-state activists, not right wingers.

Look, even if the Atzmon stuff is resolved, that won't stop any of us from disagreeing with each other. Nor should it. For myself, I respect much of the activism that John has done (partly because someone whose word I trust has vouched for him on that). And one of my main criticisms of many anti Israel activists, that they focus on Israel and don't do the hard slog on local community work doesn't seem to apply to John in the slightest. That doesn't stop me thinking that his actions on Holocaust Memorial Day were bloody stupid. And that's taking his word for what happened. Commemoration of the Holocaust is not the place to do anything but that. We wouldn't try and shoehorn anti-cuts work in and this is no different. And I do think that his comment that it was only Jewish groups that protested Atzmon's visit shows that he needs to stop taking Atzmon's word at face value and actually check them out.

On Atzmon, fine, read The Wandering Who. But I'd also suggest you should read round the subject and actually find out why so many anti-racists are against him. (Did you know that Jews Against Zionism have demonstrated against him). If you want some suggestions for background reading, I'm sure many of us here would be happy to help.

I honestly can't believe that if you do that, you won't recognise that Atzmon is a racist. He isn't even that interested in Israel/Palestine, not as much as he is in being anti "Jewishness". It's very noticable that his real venom is mainly concentrated on Jewish anti-Zionists, who he singles out for being Jewish.

As I said, there is no way, on the evidence that's around, I can see anybody clearing Atzmon. So I'll assume that's the case.

So what after that? I'm perfectly willing to believe that the Strawberry Thieves Choir attendance at Atzmon's concert was based on ignorance of what he stood for, not malice. And we can all make mistakes.

So say that. "We went to Atzmon's concert because we were unaware of his racism and we apologise for that. We will not repeat the mistake in the future".

Waterloo Sunset said...

I'm not going to lie to you. Some people that see themselves as partisans for the Israeli state will probably still attack you. (I have to say that I find it highly suspect that certain right-Zionists have used it as an excuse to carry on feuding with Tony Greenstein. Despite the fact Tony has probably done more to expose Atzmon than any other person).

And be aware that you may well be attacked personally by Atzmon. As you're of Jewish ancestry he'll claim you're a "crypto-Zionist" which is what he calls all Jews who criticise him.
But as far as I'm concerned, that would be good enough and the matter would be closed. I suspect strongly most of the people in this debate would feel similarly, though I obviously can't speak for them.

Opposing anti-semitism is more important then people's views on the I/P conflict. And that, despite our other disagreements, is where the majority of regular commentators on this blog are coming from on this issue.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Morbid Symptoms

Sure, some people cry anti-semitism at every criticism of Israel. But that doesn't mean that everybody who criticises Israel is exempt from the charge of anti-semitism. You say that 'criticism of Israel is not the same as antisemitism'. I would say that it doesn't have to be, but sometimes it is the same.

Just wanted to draw this out because I think it's a vital point. Leah, some neofascists (like David Duke) have put out large amounts of propaganda attacking Israel. I'm sure you'd agree that is motivated by anti-semitism.

It's like this. There is a lot to criticise about Mugabe and Zimbabwe. But if we do so using old racist tropes about how black people are "prone to thuggery", it's still entirely unacceptable.

And anti-semitism is a very slippery form of racism. Because it can be quite subtle, it can slip into political discourse without even the person doing it being aware. And yet be none the less virulent for it.

I'm not telling you not to criticise Israel, as fiercely as you like. I'm asking you to be aware of traditional anti-semitic tropes and be careful to make sure that they don't accidentally slip into your anti-zionism. Surely that's reasonable?

For me there is a simple test. Are the actions of the Israeli state being judged by different criteria to every other state that kills and oppresses people?

That's fair, but I think it's also legitimate to recognise that isn't just done by those against the Israeli state. There are those who support it who will talk about it as if it were a uniquely positive case and will object to any direct comparison between it and other states around the world, on the grounds that "the conditions are different". (Well, yes. But aren't they always).

I think it's also valid to ask why some who do see a state as something that is needed by a people are concentrating their support on a state that exists, rather than on the many peoples in the world who don't currently have one.

Western culture has been historically anti-semitic for at least 1000 years, including exterminating the majority of Jews in many countries. That legacy hasn't evaporated overnight, so mind your language (at the very least) when you start singing clumsy rhymes about 'the chosen' and belitting the Holocaust by comparing systematic mass extermination to the everyday violence practiced by many states, horrific as it may sometimes be.

Again, agreed, with a few provisos. The Holocaust is a uniquely evil act in human history. That kind of fullscale industrialised genocide of a whole people is not something we have seen before or since. (The Armenian Genocide, which is the closest for me, comes nowhere near in terms of scale). But that doesn't mean we should forget gays, gypsies, socialists and other victims of the Holocaust when we remember it.

More importantly, the fact it hasn't happened again does not mean we can assume it won't. If we assume that the uniqueness of the Holocaust makes it an unrepeatable event, the "Never Again" slogan has no meaning.

Sarah AB said...

(Just picking up on WS's political background intro - I'm sort of soft-centre left, member of the Labour Party)

I agree that some people seem to see almost any criticism of Israel as antisemitic - they generally seem quite sincere, I should note. Also - other people seem equally incapable of seeing antisemitism when it's glaringly obvious.

WRT the Holocaust - I just don't see why it had to be dragged into the equation.

Whereas I am sure there is a genuine debate to be had about what led up to OCL - I remember the arguments about the whole ceasefire issue being quite complex - I can think of no reason why anyone should be invited to consider the context for the Itamar murders.

@WS - I completely agree that TG (as far as I'm aware) is absolutely sound on Atzmon, but I still disagree with him on other things. I certainly think he and other Jewish anti-zionists seem to be the main targets of Atzmon's nastiness.

Andrew Coates said...

It, as Waterloo Sunset points out, not just Bob who's criticised Atzmon: even Tony Greenstein, who is, to say the least, 'anti-Zionist' is vitriolic in his criticisms.

Anyone who is really anti-racist reads the line that Israel exists as "a state made for the *chosen few*" will have that sticking in their craws.

I can, of hand, think of quite a few states other than Israel - whose policies and state organisations I oppose but whose *people* I will defence to the death - who deserve severe criticsm.

I mention the leader of the Arab delegation in Syria who is a Darfur genocider.

The tone of the argument seems to be that 'Jews' are singled out.

I do not see why 'Jews' should have to apologise for Israel any more than 'English' should apologise for the crimes of the British state.

Perhaps I am missing something

bob said...

Leah, thanks very much for visiting and for sharing your perspective, which I appreciate very much.

I have little to add to the previous comments except on this: "Zionists often (indeed usually) accuse those Jews who are appalled by the treatment of Palestinians of being self hating Jews and many (Jews and non Jews) fear criticising Israel because of the accusations of antisemitism". On the first, it is true that some Zionists sometimes use the accusation of self-hating Jew. It is simply not true that most Zionists use this phrase often, let alone "usually". If you could show me more than one or two isolated examples of regular, mainstream Zionist organisations using the accusation against Jews who are expressing their being appalled by the treatment of Palestinians I might be persuaded.

And, on the other half of the equation, that "many (Jews and non Jews) fear criticising Israel because of the accusations of antisemitism", this seems even more unlikely to me, given the volume of criticism Israel has had from Jews and non-Jews.

By the way, the term "self-hating Jew" is not typically used of Atzmon by his critics. It is a term he embraces, calling himself a "proud self-hating Jew". As I said before, this is quite amusing, given how self-regarding he is. The terms his critics use are generally "racist" or "antisemite" or "Holocaust denier".

I don't think the issue is whether his new book his dodgy or not. (I have not read it, but I've read large sections on google books, including the bit where he said brave people of the future might conclude that Hitler was right, as well as the several pages of cruel and highly personal attack on the anti-Zionist socialist Julia Bard.) Atzmon has said enough offensive things before getting this book published.

By the way, did you go with John to the Atzmon gig in Bradford? Maybe you joined in the chant that Atzmon led against the Board of Deputies? If so, it would be worth you knowing that he was lying when he said the Board tried to get him banned. They objected to the public funding, via the Arts Council, his concert was receving (see letter here: http://www.bod.org.uk/content/ACLETTER.pdf ) and the Board was merely following in a campaign started by the Jewish Socialist Group and taken up most publicly by Bradford TUC and Hope Not Hate.

modernity said...

Bob,

I think you are far too charitable to John Hamilton.

After all he is an aspiring politician and his reply clearly demonstrates that, as he does not deal with the substantive criticism in any meaningful way.

Comrade Hamilton was ignorant of Gilad Atzmon's views and apparently still is.

Comrade Hamilton's inability to use the Internet to ascertain the racist nature of Atzmon's view is inexplicable.

But, like so many politicians, Comrade Hamilton is happy to brag about his activities in Lewisham yet incapable of using Google or fighting anti-Jewish racism.

I think Dave Brockey and WS make many excellent points, however I fear that Strawberry Thieves Choir and comrade Hamilton won't really understand why.