Bookmarks has [s/b had] a reputation as a socialist bookshop going back over 30 years, we have faced up to Nazi attacks both physical and legal and have been proud to have been part of the struggle against racism, fascism and anti-Semitism [but now it seems that they don't see anti-semitism as a form of racsim] throughout that time. It has therefore been shocking and saddening for us to have been accused of giving a platform to a Holocaust denier by having musician Gilad Atzmon do an event in the shop.[this isn't the accusation - there are many accusations, for the umpteenth time even though everyone in the SWP knows it, they are that Atzmon has smeared Jewish anti-zionists as being zionists because they self-identify as Jews, he has done this on the website of Israel Shamir, who promotes the medieval blood libel that Jews kill Christian babies for their blood, he promotes the world-wide Jewish conspiracy theory, he distributes holocaust denial literature whilst praising its author, Paul Eisen, who is a Hitler apologist. If Atzmon has been denounced as a holocaust denier himself then it's not surprising but the SWP knows that this is not the crux of the issue]This sorry saga gets more and more sad. I was just talking to a friend of mine who is both a member of the SWP and Respect. She told me that she is not familiar with Atzmon's writings and not that familiar with the arguments and issues. But she said she has asked people in both groups what their take is on all this and she has been very disturbed by their evasions and sometimes their hostility.
I want to make it absolutely clear that Bookmarks has never and would never give a platform to a racist or fascist or a Holocaust denier.[see how they have dropped anti-semite from the list] When these accusations [accusations now? only they had just one accusation a moment ago] first appeared we talked to Gilad at length and Gilad has given us a statement which we reprint below. [funny how they could talk to an anti-semite at length when they couldn't even give Tony Greenstein the time of day. And instead of talking to him, why didn't they read his stuff?]While we do not agree with all of Gilad's ideas and statements, [what don't "we" agree with and why?] as is the case with many authors who come to speak here, we feel that none justify saying that he should not be allowed to come to the shop to talk about his book. The bookshop is a forum where many debates have taken place among people from very many different, or no, political traditions.[who else who promotes the idea that "Jews are trying to control the world by proxy" has spoken at the invitation of Bookmarks] Gilad was invited on the basis that he is an internationally acclaimed jazz musician whose album Exile won BBC Best Jazz Album of 2003. [Leaving aside the fact that he is not there to play the sax, that may have sufficed for last year's invitation but he is now known to be anti-semitic] He is an Israeli born Jew [he claim he is not a Jew. Who is the SWP to say who is a Jew. He believes that all who identify as Jews are zionists (possibly under-cover) but remember the Hitler apologist Paul Eisen is also a Jew]who served in the Israeli Defence Force and who now lives in 'self-exile' in Britain and campaigns against racism and for the rights of the Palestinians.[but not against anti-semitism?] His visit to Bookmarks to read from and talk about his second novel, My One and Only One' is part of a nationwide tour.[so that's alright then]
The question now is to establish how this has happened. Some are saying that it started as a bit of a gaff. I certainly thought so when I first heard about it. But then something to do with the way the SWP operates meant that it was difficult, now it seems, impossible to own up to a simple human error. The other view is that, insofaras, one can agree with Atzmon - I have to point out that this is impossible because he often contradicts himself - some in the SWP do agree with Atzmon. There are two possible reasons for this. The SWP is very big in Respect and Respect gets a lot of support from Muslims. There's an Islamophobic notion doing the rounds that Muslims enjoy the discomfiture of Jews. Knowing many Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians, I know that this is nonsense but it is put about by the likes of Rod Liddle and Melanie Phillips. Now it could be that this is communalist opportunism on the part of the SWP. The other possibility is that some in the SWP really do agree with his general view of the Jews which is that we are trying to control the world by proxy and that we should renounce being Jewish or be branded under-cover zionists or a "powerful lobby". That latter is how he described those of us organising tomorrow's picket to the SWP. And they accepted that. Whatever their reasons, the SWP has opened the door to anti-semitism, and, through Atzmon's associates, to holocaust denial, the blood libel and neo-nazism as represented and promoted by Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir. I hope the damage is limited to the SWP and that it doesn't spread to Respect and the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements.