June 29, 2005

ISM on the BBC

Here's an article on the BBC's website about the International Solidarity Movement. The article is slightly marred by a few sentences given over to the Israeli embassy's spokeswoman (presumably) Shuli Davidovitch and a headline (The ISM's controversial activists) that verges on the childish, but the sheer character and idealism of the ISM shines through
Raphael Cohen, a British organiser within the ISM, says they are acting to prevent wanton killing.

"No-one goes there in the belief that they are going to be shot," he says.

"Our presence in itself means the army are curtailed in the level of violence they can use.

"They can't just start firing at a crowd when they know there are foreigners in there. Palestinian lives are held very cheaply.

"The rules of engagement for soldiers in the Gaza Strip have not been made available publicly."

He says the shooting of Tom Hurndall is a perfect illustration of the Israeli army's disregard for life.

"We were taking part in an action to set up a tent on the edge of the civilian settlement in Rafah, on an area where there has been a lot of destruction to property, to create a buffer zone between their military positions on the border and the populated area."
Raphael Cohen, the article says, is barred from returning to Israel for "security reasons." Here's the Israeli spokewoman
To the Israeli authorities, the activists of the ISM are misguided outsiders who are allowing themselves to be manipulated by Palestinian militants.

They say ISM members have met suicide bombers and helped gunmen, something the group vehemently denies. Some activists who left Israel have been prevented from returning.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in London says: "Israel has no objection to foreign nationals participating in legitimate protests as long as they take place within the law and do not endanger human lives.

"Nevertheless, over the past few months, the International Solidarity Movement has actively inflamed an already tense and volatile situation.

"The ISM is a Palestinian movement using Western activists to present itself as an international peace movement.

"The ISM's radical anti-Israeli politics, combined with their illegal and provocative methods, stand in stark contrast to the behaviour of the other NGOs operating in the area."[yada yada yada]

One more cup of Starbucks for Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has followed Oxfam in striking a deal with the zionist-led global corporation, Starbucks. This is no surprise to those of us who have followed Dylan's twists and turns since the late 1970s/early 1980s. He first announced that he was some kind of Christian before penning the song Neighbourhood Bully, an angry ditty defending Menachem Begin's Israel against its critics and unarmed victims.

June 28, 2005

Aaronovitch can surf

In case anyone out there thought that David Aaronovitch was completely useless, it turns out that he does know how to copy and paste from internet sources. In fact reading "his" article on Gilad Atzmon's proposed appearance at the SWP's Marxism 2005 you might think that Aaronovitch could be the next Alistair Campbell.
Not a few left-wing Jews who style themselves "anti-Zionist" have been horrified by the Atzmon-Eisen-Shamir business. And a couple of weeks ago they began to exert pressure on the SWP to disinvite the over-fearless tirader. But the SWP — it of "smash racism" — has refused. The party issued a statement. It was, it admitted, a bit worried about Atzmon, because: "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." But, it nevertheless concluded: "We do not believe that Gilad should be ‘banned’ from performing or speaking. ‘No Platform’ is a principle that the Left has always reserved for fascists and organised racists."
So there we have it - David Aaronovitch: not quite first with the "news".

Beyond Chutzpah update

According to a spokesperson for the University of California Press, publication of Beyond Chutzpah. has not been cancelled altogether, but in spite of Alan Dershowitz's statement that he wants the book published following the excising of the notion that he hadn't written "his" book The Case for Israel. he is still seeking further changes. Finklelstein clearly feels that no more changes are necessary whilst the UCP believes that they are. UCP are still hoping to publish the book in August 2005. Finkelstein wants the "agreed-upon" book published with no more concessions to the serial liar Dershowitz.

June 27, 2005

Beyond Chutzpah pulled by University of California Press

Bad news from the Norman Finkelstein website. In bold letters it says - Dershowitz wins: University of California Press will not publish BEYOND CHUTZPAH. I haven't been able to get any further info on this yet but check this. In his various threats over the book the Dershowitz said that it published falsehoods about him. Eventually it was found that there was one allegation that Finkelstein couldn't substantiate and the publishers agreed to remove it from the book. The allegation was that Dershowitz hadn't written the book, published in his name, The Case for Israel. Finkelstein's original charge, which he certainly proves on the balance of probabilities, is that Dershowitz plagiarised much of the book from the exposed fraudster Joan Peters's book From Time Immemorial. In various interviews, including the now famous Democracy Now debate, it appeared that Dershowitz may not have even read, let alone written, the book. But anyway, the offending piece was removed and
"I want to see his book published now," Dershowitz said of Beyond Chutzpah, which he said was in some ways "a sequel" to the notorious anti-Semitic tract Protocols of the Elders of Zion. "I want to see it demolished in the marketplace of ideas."
So what's happened here? If Dershowitz wanted the book published, why has UCP pulled it? They have been supportive of Finkelstein until now. Check this
But Lynne Withey, director of the University of California Press, said in an interview Friday that Dershowitz had tried to stop publication of the book. "He doesn’t want the book published," Withey said, adding that it was "outrageous" for Dershowitz to charge the book with being anti-Semitic. "To say that the book is anti-Semitic is to say that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic," she said.
If you are as dismayed as I am by this latest setback for the book, eagerly anticipated since the beginning of the year, then please write to the Director, Lynne Withey to seek a reversal or, at least, an explanation. Thanks.

Hurndall case: Israeli soldier found guilty...

...of manslaughter.

Jewish Chronicle rounds on Atzmon

The Jewish Chronicle (24/6/2005) has named Gilad Atzmon its "self-hating Jew of the week." In his Diary column, Simon Round actually claims that it is "not for the first time" that Atzmon has earned that label from the JC. I said in an earlier post that Atzmon has got off remarkably lightly when it comes to zionist criticism and that previously he has only been criticised for speaking against "his country." So when and where did the JC call him a "self hating Jew" before?

June 26, 2005

BNP = nazis: official

The Standards Board for England has decided that it's ok to call the BNP nazis. The case arose over the remark "we don't want nazis in our town" spoken by Lib Dem councillor, Gavin Stollar to Jewish BNP councillor, Pat Richardson. According to the same report in Jewish News the same Standards Board is still investigating Ken Livingtone's likening of Evening Standard reporter, Oliver Finegold, to a "concentration camp guard."

June 25, 2005

Christian zionists' Palestine solidarity

Bartholomew's notes on religion is the site for this expose of Christian zionist hypocrisy over the plight of Palestinian Christians. The post I have linked to in the headline deals, in particular with a William Murray of the so-called Religious Freedom Foundation
But somehow one doubts that Murray will be particularly interested in the actual Palestinian Christian perspective. Last month he boasted on his website that:
This morning I was among 20 evangelical Christian leaders who met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Washington, DC. Among those in attendance were Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Pat Robertson, Dr. John Hagee and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer.

…After the public portion of the meeting I pressed the Prime Minister privately to be more specific about the future of Ariel which is the base of the Religious Freedom Coalitions operations in Israel. I specifically asked him if the city would be inside the fence and be a future part of Israel. He smiled and responded, "They don't have to worry." I asked him directly if I could tell that to leaders of the city and he responded by saying "Tell them." I believe this is the most direct answer the Prime Minister has given about the fate of Ariel which is the very heart of Samaria.
In other words, Murray’s “Religious Freedom Coalition” operates out of an illegal settlement in the heart of the occupied West Bank – in an office located on stolen land, built as part of a military strategy to cement the very occupation that Palestinian Christians blame for their woes. To claim to be offering Palestinian Christians support while in such a morally compromised position is, surely, beyond nauseous.
The rest of the site carries interesting commentary on religions and religious news; something that is often neglected in the mainstream media.

June 24, 2005

Schwarzenegger refuses to act for Dershowitz

I know wags out there will say that Schwartzenegger refuses to act for everybody but this is serious. Alan Dershowitz has written to Governor of California, Arnold Schwartzenegger asking him to intercede with the University of California Press, who are trying to publish Norman Finkelstein's latest offering Beyond Chutzpah. He thought that Arnie had jurisdiction over the Uni and, who knows? maybe he has. But he didn't want to use it if he does
Schwarzenegger, showing unusual wisdom, declined to act. The governor's legal affairs secretary wrote Dershowitz, "You have asked for the Governor's assistance in preventing the publication of this book," but "he is not inclined to otherwise exert influence in this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents." In a phone interview Dershowitz denied writing to the Governor, declaring, "My letter to the Governor doesn't exist." But when pressed on the issue, he said, "It was not a letter. It was a polite note."
Tsk, tsk. More lies from Dershowitz. Why am I not surprised? Anyway, more later.

June 23, 2005

Lord Carey: Christians owe Israel

Someone sent me an article about the Anglican Church in the UK considering divestment from Israeli businesses "supporting the occupation of Palestinian territory." Not a big deal really but what struck me, but didn't surprise me, was the way Lord (George) Carey expressed his opposition to the proposal:
Lord Carey, strongly criticized the concept of sanctions.

"Israelis are already traumatized and feel that the world is against them," he said at the launch of a new human-rights initiative. "This proposal, if it is agreed, would be another knife in the back. Christians who owe so much to the Hebrew Scriptures and to Israel itself should not be among those who attack Israel in such a way."
Now earlier in the article "a source within the Anglican Church" said
We are fearful that the Christian presence in the Holy Land is dwindling. Our constituency are the Palestinian Christians. They are losing ground every day, they can't go to work, can't go to church. So the well-off and educated are leaving Palestine and the community is drying up.
So which Christians does Carey have in mind? The Phalangists? the Bush administration? Who knows?

June 21, 2005

Act of Settlement?

According to the Lebanese Daily Star, the route of the wall around Jerusalem is not a security measure but an act of settlement; no doubt securing the hereditary principle for some time to come.
The route of the barrier being completed around Jerusalem reflects primarily the policy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The essence of this policy is an attempt to determine the final borders of the state of Israel by means of an act of settlement disguised as a security move, and based on the argument that there is no Palestinian "partner" for a substantial political peace process.
Of course this isn't simply about Jewish settlement but also about the removal of the Palestinians.
The government assessed that some of the 90,000 Palestinians entrapped with their 14 villages between the central barrier and the deep fence, and separated from many of their lands, would seek their fortunes elsewhere - much in the same way chosen by thousands of residents of imprisoned Qalqilya; the remaining Palestinians, meanwhile, would be annexed to Israel. To the south of Jerusalem the path of the barrier was planned south of the Etzion Bloc and east of road 60 and Efrata - condemning 17,000 Palestinians in five imprisoned villages to a similar fate.
So under the two state solution, where does the other state go?

June 19, 2005

The "new" Iraq

Here's a belated plug in the Guardian for the Riverbend blog aka Baghdad Burning. Unfortunately it doesn't receive comments.

June 18, 2005

Religious Right

To read the whole article, click the headline then cancel when asked to install the language pack. It appears that anti-zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews in Vienna are allying themselves with right-wing extremists in order to gain official recognition for their community. It reminds me of the 19th Century Viennese anti-Jewish mayor, Karl Lueger. There were some Jews that he favoured and when asked about this by his colleagues he said, "I determine who is a Jew here." Many anti-zionists like these ultras for their anti-zionism, but anti-zionism detached from humanism doesn't take us forward and look where it has led these Neturei Karta types.

Bookmark this!

I've had some complaints about my concentration on the Atzmon/SWP issue, including one text message from America. Hopefully this will be my last post on the saga.

This is Roland Rance's take on the events of last night, together with my own notes and comments:
About 30 activists turned out to protest the talk by Gilad Atzmon at Bookmarks bookshop, significantly outnumbering those who actually went in to the meeting. Several of these had attended for the express purpose of denouncing Atzmon and his views, and it is clear that very few attended in order to listen to and learn from him. Numbers of attendees were further restricted by the SWP's (unannounced) decision to make the meeting ticket only [The only one I saw being turned away on these grounds was an SWP member who happens to be a friend of mine. Her crime was that she was friendly towards me and because she took a leaflet from me. Their claim that the advanced booking rule was in connection with their "health and safety regulations was belied by the fact that other people who definitely hadn't pre-booked were allowed in. The problem was not with the lease on their building, but with the Arnold Leese in their building], thus preventing even some of their own members from attending. Of course, none of the pickets was allowed to attend.[the woman who announced the pre-booking only rule angrily refused a leaflet with a back hand sweep that I presume she learned from Buster Mottram, who was, after all, only a tennis player, erm, with a neo-nazi worldview]

Although some of the audience took our leaflets, and a few engaged in debate with us, the SWP's leadership treated us with arrogant contempt, refusing even to acknowledge, let alone touch, the leaflets; and, in some cases, aggressively pushing us aside without even asking us to move.[Martin Smith even tried to intimidate a woman photographer by falsely accusing her of blocking the door when she was standing on the curb. One of their officials (I was told his name is John McClaughlin) accused us of not fighting fascism when many among us are seasoned campaigners against fascism and what did they think we were doing last night? The same guy told me that he had talked to Gilad Atzmon and that Atzmon has denied being anti-semitic. I asked him when this conversation took place and he remained silent. I called him a liar and the woman who denied entry to my friend protested my rudeness! Many of us believe that the expression "anti-semitism" is unhelpful but Atzmon actually believes that attacks on Jews as Jews are a rational response to zionism]
Despite earlier attacks by the SWP that, by calling the picket, we were "lining up with the AWL", they, and other sectarians and Zionist apologists were totally absent, and the protesters were all clearly opposed to Israel and its Zionist practices. We were further admonished that "reasonable people" like Hilary Rose and Moshe Machover opposed the picket. In fact, Hilary turned up [yup she did, and I'm proud to say I met her] and stood with us in the protest, while Moshe, who was unable to come, sent the SWP a letter strongly supporting and endorsing the picket.

It's clear that the SWP had no idea of the extent and depth of revulsion at Atzmon's ideas, and the anger at them for giving him a platform. They have been given something to think about.[here's hoping]

After the picket, most of us went for a drink, and were later joined by sympathisers who had attended the meeting. We learned from them that Atzmon had not been received well, that no-one had spoken in his defence, and that several SWP members were apparently in dismay at the views they heard, and the damage they have done to the party's image. Our shouts, and the many speeches through the megaphone, were heard clearly throughout the meeting. Apparently, Atzmon devoted a large part of his talk to discussing the highly controversial theories of Otto Weininger (who, as Atzmon himself admitted, was Hitler's favourite Jew), who, in his work Sex and Character, characterised the Jew as "feminine, and thus profoundly irreligious, without true individuality (soul), and without a sense of good and evil". The decay of modern (ie early twentieth century) times was due to feminine, and thus Jewish, influences -see Wikipedia. Atzmon also propounded his own highly sexist theory of gender, before giving a rambling account of his own views, and expressing his bemusement at the picket. In the ensuing discussion, he was roundly denounced by several speakers; John Rose of the SWP reportedly made a particularly powerful and effective response.[thank god for that small mercy]
Members of the SWP who did not know at the beginning of the meeting , certainly realised by the end what an error they had made. However, we must still marvel at their stupidity in even inviting Atzmon in the first place, as well as expressing our anger at the contempt we faced from some SWP leaders, notably their national secretary Martin Smith, who refused (unlike most of his comrades) to exchange even one civil word with us.

All in all, we are pleased with our efforts, which in a short time mobilised a large and vocal protest, and which confronted the SWP with a reality they wished to ignore - that they cannot hold a meeting with a racist and expect it to pass quietly, and that you cannot defend Palestinian rights if you accept the Zionist paradigm which identifies all Jews with Zionism.
Roland touches on what so many of us know. SWP members generally do not knowingly consort with anti-semites. There are members of the SWP who have been appalled by this whole affair and have lobbied the leadership to drop Atzmon. From the behaviour I witnessed I believe that there is some support for Atzmon's worldview (such as you can make out from barely coherent ramblings) and there are clearly leading members of the SWP, in particular the people placed on the door, who are far more keen to maintain relations with a Jew hater than they are with principled anti-racists and anti-zionists. They engaged in smears and lies to their own members, and even bullying and their conduct over this will not be easily forgotten.

Update - I have had an email from an SWP friend who says that "it is simply untrue to say that anyone in the SWP accepts parts of Atzmon's world-view." And I can vouch for the fact that this person believes that Atzmon had no business at an SWP event last night or in the future.

Israel throws itself into the sea

Israel is building a wall in the sea to stop the Palestinian hordes being beached on land reserved for Jews only. Not sure if this trying to halt the waves is a practical policy or if Ariel Sharon is just being a silly Cnut.

June 17, 2005

The Yanks are coming!

They're not really but here's a solidarity message from across the pond:
This will be a showdown between the principled and unprincipled members of this movement, and I hope that the anti-racists are able to expunge the Holocaust denial, ZOG imagery, and Medievalism which these men have introduced --and which their apologists have defended-- from the movement.
We're doing what we can.

June 16, 2005

Now that's what I call JAZ

Here's the open letter of Jews against Zionism to all true anti-zionists to picket the SWP's Bookmarks bookshop tomorrow night - 17/6/2005 - and demonstrate that anti-semitism and anti-zionism are two very different things, in fact they are opposites.
Dear Comrades,

As many of you know, Jews Against Zionism (JAZ) are organising a picket of Bookmarks this Friday 17th June @ 5.45 p.m at 1 Bloomsbury Street in protest at the decision of a socialist bookshop to stage a talk by Gilad Atzmon.

Mr Atzmon may be a good jazz player, but his political views cannot be described as anything other than deeply racist and anti-Semitic. We are appalled that the SWP leadership have seen fit to persist with this invitation when we and others have pointed out to them that:

Mr Atzmon has distributed Holocaust Denial literature by Paul Eisen (‘The Holocaust Wars’) which clearly supports the view that there was no deliberate extermination of the Jews or anyone else by the Nazis.

His openly stated support for all the trappings of the world Jewish conspiracy theories.

We believe that it is important that those who support the Palestinians and who are opposed to the racism of Zionism and the Israeli State are also seen to be opposing anti-Semitism. Unlike the Zionists we see no contradiction between the two.

We would therefore urge all those who can to attend the picket.

Below are some of the more choice extracts from Gilad Atzmon’s own web site.


Sue Blackwell, Angela Dale, Mark Elf, Tony Greenstein, Deborah Maccoby, Moshe Machover, Roland Rance, Inbar Tamari

(Bloomsbury Street runs of the side of the British Museum and Great Russell Street – nearest tube Tottenham Court Road).

The Writings of Gilad Atzmon [http://www.gilad.co.uk/]

"we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. They (Zionists) are especially annoyed when they are blamed for the death of Jesus…. … American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy… I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus who, by the way, was himself a Palestinian Jew.’".’’ On Anti-Semitism
‘Now, it looks as if Zionist lobbies control American foreign politics. After so many years of independence, the United States of America is becoming a remote colony of an apparently far greater state, the Jewish state…. Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Verse 2)
"The J’s are the ultimate chameleons, they can be whatever they like as long as it serves as some expedient…. Occasionally it looks as if they are almost there, you can see them running the show, running American political life, running American show business, running the "new middle East", running the Communist revolution but then, as it appears, something always goes wrong." The J word, the J people and the J spot
If only the SWP would listen to our kind of JAZ instead of Gilad Atzmon's.

Shock and Orr

Apparently Gilad Atzmon can't be anti-semitic because he told the SWP's Judith Orr and other leading lights in the party that he's not. Actually, he hasn't denied being anti-semitic, he has denied being racist. He avoids the word "anti-semitic" altogether in his rambling and dishonest defence. Avoiding the word "anti-semitic" isn't of itself a bad thing but Atzmon's avoidance of it is a deliberate evasion as the SWP leadership knows. Here is the Bookmarks official statement after having knowingly swallowed a load of evasive nonsense complete with the thinly coded anti-semitism I posted earlier.
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]

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]
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.

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.

Meanwhile in West Ham...

A Jewish cemetary has been desecrated. This was clearly an anti-semitic attack though whether the perpetrators are from an organised political group isn't yet known. According to the Independent, it looks like the work of teenagers
A clue to the identity of the those responsible was found on the side of an elegant [Rothschild]mausoleum, where the words "A Hitler" and several swastikas were scrawled. A number of graffiti "tags", including "snow-man and Greedy" were scribbled alongside, suggesting that teenagers were involved. The scrawled swastikas were the wrong way round.
In another article the Independent lists the attacks on Jewish cemetaries over the last 15 years. In Marie Woolf's article there seems to be a half-hearted attempt to link anti-semitic incidents to the presence of Muslims in the UK but the descriptions in the list point to neo-nazis or churlish (though extremely cruel) vandals.

June 15, 2005

Perfect irrationality: the shortest route between anti-semitism and Islamophobia

I've overlooked the fact that Gilad Atzmon has tried to portray his detractors as giving vent to a singularly Jewish, indeed, zionist self-indulgence. This, of itself, is a grotesque distortion of our position. Gilad Atzmon has made many anti-semitic pronouncements. I won't bore readers with still more quotes. Visit his site and read beyond his disclaimer. It wouldn't be accurate, though, to call him a neo-nazi. However, his association with Paul Eisen and his willingness to distribute Paul Eisen's holocaust denying literature (with which, apparently, Atzmon has "slight disagreements") does mean that where Atzmon goes he carries the shadow of neo-nazism with him. The anti-semitism should be enough to make him persona non grata but Paul Eisen links with approval to the Zundelsite. Click on the link in the headline to this post and then check out Zundel. Find the section headed Victims of Zion. See who these victims are. I'm not Deborah Lipstadt so I don't want to give them the publicity they have so far lacked but way down the page is a "Victim of Zion" called Nick Griffin. Yes, it's him, the BNP leader being touted as "victim of Zion" and this on account of a conviction for racism. But Griffin's racism isn't directed at Jews these days and he doesn't claim to be anti-"zionist", unlike his competitor/mentor, John Tyndal. No, Griffin's beef is "Islamisation".

The reason we are opposed to any form of racism is because we are opposed to all forms of racism and any flirtation with an anti-semite, yes, a rambling, bumbling, self-contradicting one, but an anti-semite all the same, is a step on a route from anti-semitism to Islamophobia and all other racism too.

Plucky little Atzmon and the powerful lobby

I'm suffering a bit of Gilad Atzmon fatigue so I didn't noticed this email to the Just Peace list until someone sent it to me. Atzmon had someone post it for him because he doesn't approve of people identifying as Jews so he won't join a "powerful lobby" like Just Peace UK. Anyway here it is:
This is to confirm that I am not a Holocaust denier, I have never denied the Nazi Judeocide and I do not have any intentions to do so in the near future. [not sure who's accused him of being a holocaust denier but he does admit - though not in this email - to distributing an article by holocaust denier Paul Eisen, albeit with slight disagreements] For me racism and Nazism are categorically wrong and it is that very realisation that made me into a devoted opponent of Israel and Zionism. For me, Zionism, being a racist expansionist movement, is no different from Nazi ideology. [standard anti-zionist stuff] In my writings, I try to suggest some alternative philosophical and ethical realisation of historical narratives and current world affairs. [he rambles and contradicts himself and he denounces Jews as Jews] This of course applies to the Holocaust. I would argue that atrocities should be realised in ideological terms rather than in measurable positive terms. Rather occasionally I question the impact of the Holocaust as a "mean of justification". I try to scrutinise its role within western politics and discourse. [don't we all? Now get to the point]In fact, I am not interested at all in the debate concerning the scale of Jewish casualties. As we all know, it wasn't only Jews who died in that bloody war and it isn't the number that makes the difference. For me the Holocaust isn't a question of quantity but rather a moral lesson, it is search into the essence of being amongst others. These ideas make me very unpopular amongst Zionists and their supporters.[thanks for that - all anti-zionists are unpopular with zionists and if anything Atzmon has got off very lightly when it comes to zionist denunciations. The problem with zionists is that they have been falsely accusing good people of anti-semitism for so long now, they don't notice the real thing - anyway, get to the point]

I may mention as well that I am a Jazz musician and a novelist. I am not a politician; [nebach!]I have never been a member in any political party. I am acting independently. I am not associated with any political body and I do not intend to be associated with one in the foreseeable future. I deeply believe in an open intellectual exchange in which people with many different and opposing views can hear and be heard. I do believe that we must learn to listen to our opponents. Unless we do that we will never win. I would argue that any form of discourse is acceptable as long as it doesn't bridge the elementary ethical barrier i.e. endorsing violence and discrimination.[and of course Israel Shamir's reiteration of the medieval blood libel and Paul Eisen's holocaust denial and sympathy for Hitler are elementarily ethical?]
I do believe that those who try to block me at the moment are in fact the gravest opponents of our society. [Tony Greenstein, Deborah Maccoby, Roland Rance and me] They are fighting against the most basic notion of human liberty.[we are fighting against anti-semitism in this instance] Their tactics which include: censorship, defamation and smear campaigns, [examples?]are the essence of Zionist political practice.[well we are Jews after all] For those who already managed to forget, burning books and exclusion were Nazi common strategies. [The nazis weren't noted for their discernment over who should or shouldn't attend socialist gatherings and they positively approved of anti-semitism] Those who try to stop me from appearing in Marxism 2005 next month and Bookmarks later this week are in fact reactionary forces who aim to shatter the most intrinsic notion of intellectual life. They fight against freedom of speech, freedom of interpretation and ideological diversity. They are trying to forcefully implant their obscure views
in the very core of British left discourse.[I think I'm going to be sick - excuse me] It is devastating to find out that those non-progressive calls are expressed under the banner of British Jewish left (Anti Zionist Jews, JPUK etc'). [this is a complete lie from Atzmon - check this "By contrast, I really do not understand those who fight Zionism in the name of their secular Jewish identity. I have never understood them. I have never really understood what secularism means for the Jewish people. Do they refer to a hidden core of Jewish secular ethic philosophy? I have always failed to understand those secular Jews who declare "not in my name", those who claim to be "atheists" and "enlightened humanists" but at the same time talk in the name of a strange tribal brotherhood."] - I would rather prefer to believe that after such a long history of Jewish suffering, left Jews would position themselves of the forefront of the battle against discrimination and defamation. [this is why he calls Tony Greenstein and Roland Rance "under-cover zionists"] - No doubt many Jews do and I am very thankful for that.[but how will you know they're Jewish? they have to renounce it remember?]

I am engaged here in a ferocious battle against a very powerful and influential lobby of people who lack any sense of moral awareness or intellectual integrity. [as already said, the zionist movement, probably through ignorance, has been very kind to Atzmon so he is referring to Jews like myself] I may as well mention that I don't have any plans to give up.[it's the SWP who should be giving Atzmon up] And yet, I use this opportunity to call my opponents to attend the coming events and to engage themselves in a fruitful dialogue with me and everybody else.

Gilad Atzmon
Sorry to repeat on previous posts but Gilad Atzmon doesn't explain how one engages in fruitful dialogue with someone who says
Even though the Jews only make up 2.9 per cent of the country's population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so. . . we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously. . . American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. . . the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus
and then that
to act as a Jew against Zionism is just a silly mistake that leads nowhere
and again that
If Israel is the state of the Jewish people and the Jewish people themselves do not stand up collectively against the crimes that are committed on their behalf, then every Jewish person, Jewish symbol and Jewish object becomes an Israeli interest and a potential terrorist target. It is up to the Jewish people to take a stand against their Jewish state and to disassociate themselves from their zealous national movement
He can say one thing, then the opposite thing, both with equal conviction. Let him engage in "fruitful dialogue" with himself. There's still time to call this thing off.

June 14, 2005

The Jewish Rifle Association

A friend and I have exchanged a lot of emails about what to do about Atzmon at Bookmarks and then he sent me this link to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. I wonder what he meant.

June 13, 2005

Boycott of Israel

After the apoplexy that greeted the AUT's decision to boycott Israeli academia it may surprise some to know that the USA has imposed sanctions on Israel's arms trade because of Israel's sale of drones to China. In fact the sanctions have been in place for three months now. I think the AUT should have a special special conference to follow the American lead on this.

June 12, 2005

Gilad the performing elephant

There's an elephant in the living room and no one wants to draw attention to it. The elephant in the living room on this occassion is the fact that Gilad Atzmon is on the list to appear at the SWP's annual event, Marxism 2005 and he is to give a talk at the SWP's bookshop, Bookmarks on Friday 17/6/2005. I shouldn't really say that no one wants to draw attention to it. I didn't want to because I was sure the invites were sent out by people (or even just one person) who don't know that Atzmon veers from rambling buffoonery to outright anti-semitism and that his presence on a leftist platform is entirely inappropriate. Tony Greenstein has written to the SWP to get them to rescind their invites to Atzmon and the replies have been so curt as to be wilfully insulting. Much correspondence between Atzmon and Greenstein has been posted to the Just Peace e-list and the UK Left Network. Well now Gilad Atzmon has posted the whole of their correspondence on to his own site while the Peace Palestine blog has an abridged version. There are a couple of other sites where the Atzmon at Marxism issue has been aired after a fashion but these tend to be sites where the SWP and other anti-zionists are routinely accused of anti-semitism. These are not on very firm ground. They can hardly admit that they have been lying about the SWP and anti-zionism for years and that now they have stumbled on something that makes their bogus allegations ring true.

But there are well meaning people who are opposed to Atzmon's presence at leftist events. Apparently Moshe Machover has threatened to pull out of Marxism 2005 and Michael Rosen has said that he will denounce Atzmon from his own slot at the event.

Meanwhile Roland Rance posted a useful comment to an earlier post post of mine on Atzmon. In a quote I use from Atzmon he complains that the Jews have the rest of humanity so bamboozled over what one can or cannot say that "basically you can never win. But neither can they." "But neither can they"? I nearly cut that last sentence because I didn't understand it. Maybe now I do:
Atzmon is not merely doing a book signing at Bookmarks; he is speaking on "The Deconstruction of the Zionist Identity". This from a man who has written: ""Even though the Jews only make up 2.9 per cent of the country's population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so. . . we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously. . . American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy. . . the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus".
Regarding a threat by Jews against Zionism to picket the Bookmarks event
Of course, this will not impress Atzmon, who has written "to act as a Jew against Zionism is just a silly mistake that leads nowhere". On the other hand, he has also written "If Israel is the state of the Jewish people and the Jewish people themselves do not stand up collectively against the crimes that are committed on their behalf, then every Jewish person, Jewish symbol and Jewish object becomes an Israeli interest and a potential terrorist target. It is up to the Jewish people to take a stand against their Jewish state and to disassociate themselves from their zealous national movement".

So there you are - damned if we do, and damned if we don't. There's no satisfying some people.
Or to put it another way, "basically you can never win. But neither can they."

Telegraph: Malcolm Rifkind is a traitor

Actually the Telegraph didn't say that. They said that about George Galloway, with far less evidence than there appears to be about Rifkind and it cost them dear. Now it turns out that Malcolm Rifkind's name has turned up on an authenticated document at Iraq's foreign ministry building. The document shows that the company that employed Rifkind in 1999 was seeking a meeting with Saddam Hussein's representatives in New York and that the meeting was bound up with the oil business during the sanctions regime. The document actually says that the meeting was to be attended by Rifkind himself but Rifkind puts this down to secretarial negligence at the company, the Australian multi-national BHP, and he denies that he was involved in any meeting, prospective or actual, with Saddam Hussein's representatives. So there we have Rifkind's name on a document showing that he (or at least his company) were interested in a deal with Saddam Hussein.

Now I'm interested in two questions here. Why has this document emerged now? And why hasn't the Telegraph denounced Rifkind as a traitor or indeed denounced him at all? Well, it might surprise people to know that Rifkind voted against the war on Iraq. That could explain why the document has surfaced so close to a leadership battle in the Tory party. But what about the Telegraph? Assuming the document has only just come to light then it could be that the Telegraph has been chastened by its defeat by George Galloway. But Rifkind's former employers admit that the document is genuine in this case whereas no such admission, no credible admission anyway, was forthcoming in the Galloway case. So he's anti-war (anti-war on Iraq anyway) and the evidence against him seeking to benefit from oil deals with the former Iraqi regime is admitted to be genuine, subject to Rifkind's own disclaimer. So what's the Telegraph's problem? Could it be that it's because he's a Tory and Tories can do what they like? They can even vote with their consciences (if indeed that's what it was) on issues like war. Clearly he hasn't emerged unscathed. After all the document has been the subject of reports but he hasn't been subjected to the combination of apoplexy and glee that greeted the allegations against Galloway. There's a lesson here. If Rifkind was on the left, if he had campaigned against the war rather than just voted against it, and, of course, if he wasn't a Tory he would be in the stocks right now just as they tried to place Galloway in the stocks. So Tories cannot prosper from treason, for if they prosper, none dare call it treason. (Hat-tip, Sir John Harrington)

June 11, 2005

Gilad Atzmon and the J-word

There's been much controversy about the Socialist Workers Party's invitation to Gilad Atzmon to promote his book at their book shop, Bookmarks, and to appear at their annual event: Marxism 2005. The controversy revolves around what he has written and who his friends are. Two of his friends are Israel Shamir and Paul Eisen. Israel Shamir is a shadowy figure and some say that he has alter egos who are Swedish and/or Russian fascists. His unsavoury politics were first exposed, as far as I know, by the owner of the Electronic Intifada website: Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish. But have a see for yourselves here. Paul Eisen I mentioned in a recent post. He has gone from ill-considered imagery through anti-Jewish generalisations to the poisonous embrace of neo-nazism as expressed in his support for Ernst Zundel and his pro-nazi take on WWII and the holocaust, such, if you believe Eisen and Zundel, as the latter was. Shamir and Eisen's pro-nazism is easy enough to expose. Just look at what they have written. Atzmon is a little more difficult to pin down. His wild allegations hurled at Jewish anti-zionist friends of mine, that they are actually under-cover zionists on account of their refusal to renounce their Jewishness is enough for me but what of others who don't know the people he has denounced or their contribution to the struggle against zionism?

Well, take a look at his article: The J word, the J people and the J spot. It rambles a bit, but take this following quote:
The J’s are the ultimate chameleons, they can be whatever they like as long as it serves as some expedient. As soon as you criticise their expansionist militant national beliefs (Zionism) you hurt them as a race (Semites), they would insist that anti Zionism is in practice a form of anti Semitism. When you condemn their racist tendencies, they are transformed immediately into an innocent cultural identity (merely chicken soup consumers). When you criticise their exclusive cultural leanings, they then become a race again (it isn’t me it’s all down to my mother, she is Jewish, I am just a consequence of her racial belonging). But it goes further, when you scrutinise their racist and supremacist religious law (Talmud) they remind you that most of them are in fact secular (true by the way), but then, when you question their secular philosophy, they would immediately confess that, in fact, there is no such philosophy. You may push your luck and ask them what stands at the core of their ethnic belonging. A ready made answer would be given instantly: ‘it is Hitler rather than Moses who made us into J’s’. Hitler never asked for our religious beliefs, he killed us just for being J’s.’ When you remind them that Hitler is no longer with us, they would assure you that a new one is just about to be born. Basically you can never win. But neither can they.
Clearly Atzmon doesn't just have a problem with the Jewish people, he has a problem with the word Jew. Some of what he says might be acceptable if he said some Jews but his target is the whole of the Jewish people. We don't have to jump through hoops to establish his anti-semitism, as the zionists did in the case of, say, Ken Livingstone. We just have to read his own words, or if you were at Marxism 2004 (which I wasn't) listen to them, or indeed the words of his many critics who are members of the SWP. Then consider whether this guy is a suitable person to appear at two Marxisms in a row and to have a book signing at Bookmarks.

June 08, 2005

Jewish State cedes territory to China

Well it's not actually a Jewish state, in fact it's barely Jewish at all. So it's not Jewish, nor is it a state but Birobidzhan, the former Jewish Autonomous Region of the former USSR, is ceding territory to China. Oh, ok, well it's not ceding terrritory to China. It has signed a bilateral cooperation protocol "with a delegation of the people’s government of the city of Jiamusa of the Heilongjiang province headed by its mayor Li Haitao." And the agreement doesn't actually cede territory, it leases it.
The Chinese delegation also expressed an intention to begin developing one of iron-ore fields, the reserves of which in the region exceed one billion tonnes, and take part in joint exploring of oil and gas fields. According to specialists’ estimates, the region’s oil reserves exceed 100 million tonnes.

The protocol also envisages trade, cultural, educational, medical and other forms of cooperation.
So no boycott there then.

June 07, 2005

Muslims sans frontieres

Are you offended by that headline? If you are, you are probably an editor of Medialens. Or maybe you think "Muslims sans frontieres" doesn't scan like "Jews sans frontieres" or that "Muslims sans frontieres" isn't a pun on "Jeux sans frontieres." I noticed I was getting hits from the Medialens message board and when I tracked back there was someone posting a link to this blog with the opening lines of a post. I think it must be a bloglet thing. That notifies subscribers when a blog has been updated. Well the chap who kept doing was told off by the editors thus:
Frankly, we find the name of the blog offensive and believe it is likely to alienate quite a few people visiting our site. Imagine 'Muslims Sans Frontieres'... It's ugly.
It's ugly? It trips off the tongue. It scans as I said. Fortunately someone who enjoys this blog posts to the Medialens message board
It is in no way offensive. It's a joke Eds! Remember Jeux Sans Frontier aka Its a Knockout?

It is a superb blog, specifically Jewish and written by Mark Elf a Jewish anti-zionist who goes out of his way to attack anti-semitism whenever he can.
Ahh that was nice wasn't it. Well not nice enough for the "Eds".
Fair enough. We got the joke and we weren't commenting on the blog itself (which we know nothing about). In isolation, without visiting the site, the name could be misinterpreted.
So, they got the joke. So what was all that nonsense about "Muslims sans frontieres"? What's the joke there? And they know nothing about my blog itself. I don't know how many Eds there are at Medialens but how long could it take just one of them to take a peek and see for themselves who might be offended by it or why?

From the Bethlehem ghetto

...the Bethlehem Bloggers. I received a link to this by email recently. It's a very professional looking blog with pictures, resources and links. Not many comments I noticed, so comment.

June 05, 2005

Free Palestine - today in New York

From the Bionic Octopus
To my unending irritation, it turns out I've got my big parental reunion brunch and all-day outing on the same day (today) as the fucking Salute to Israel Parade. Well, aren't my parents going to be tickled when I wear my Stop The Wall t-shirt to Park Avenue Cafe.

There's a counterdemo on, and I urge all in the area to make it up there if you can. Here's the info, from Palestine Activist Forum of New York:
Home Is Where the Occupation Is ...
home is where bulldozers level houses ...
30,000 Palestinians left homeless since 2000 ...
home is where illegal settlements steal land ...
425,000 settlers seize thousands of acres each year ...
home is where expelled residents are forbidden to return ...
6,000,000 Palestinian refugees displaced for 57 years

While they celebrate, we mourn.

Join the Palestine Activist Forum of New York (PAFNY) and stand up for justice in Palestine as we protest the "Salute to Israel" parade
11:00 am – 3:00 pm Sunday, June 5th, 2005 59th Street & 5th Avenue
Approach from the West side only
Please dress in black to mourn all those who have lost their lives due to the Israeli Occupation. Signs will be provided, but please wear kuffiyas and bring Palestinian flags.

The parade claims to be "the largest single gathering in the world in support of Israel" – so making visible our solidarity and unity in support of justice for Palestinians is especially important.

PAFNY is an independent network of organizations and individuals in NYC committed to justice for the people of Palestine. We are Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists from a variety of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, united in outrage at the atrocities committed daily by the Israeli military.

Other endorsers include: No Pride in the Occupation (NYC)
So if you're in New York, hurry, hurry, hurry.

On deletions and bans

I feel I ought to say a few words about my increasing propensity to delete comments. I delete comments when I believe that they are made, mostly to waste time and tie people (in particular me) in sterile debate at the expense of more useful activities. I also delete openly racist and abusive comments. I am not opposed to debate per se, even with zionists. The mildest of criticism I have received over deleting comments by trolls is that it is censorship. That came from a guy who posted wilful lies about my own posts. I didn't mind the first time, but when he kept on doing it I deleted his comments. I don't accept that this is a form of censorship. On the contrary, trolling is a form of censorship for reasons outlined above. The same guy, indeed anyone, can run their own blog. I won't interfere or complain about their right to do so. In fact the same guy did set up his own blog and told the same lies about me that he told by way of my comments box. Next up I was accused of stalinism by a blogger from New York who is an Alan Dershowitz acolyte. He too denounced me on his own blog. I think being called a stalinist for deleting trolls' comments is just a tad over the top. He presumably thought I was a trotskyist and that stalinist was, to me, the vilest form of abuse. Still another guy accused me of fascism for deleting his silly comments. In his case I only deleted them because whilst he felt free to comment on every post I made, he never answered any questions. I usually have an honest go at answering some questions even by manifest trolls for the first few times. Regarding bans, this is a very blunt instrument so I don't do them very often and when I do it's only temporary. The first time I did, I ended with well-wishers asking me why they had been banned. At present I only have two bans in place and I only did those today. I even had the decency to respond to this guy's questions about the future for Palestine in two posts but he still accused me of not responding. He also insisted on continuing questioning another blogger and persisted when I asked him to question the other blogger on the other blogger's blog. Is that too much to ask? Anyway, as you can see, I don't really have a consistent policy on deletions and bans; try a comment and see how it goes, or better still, start your own blog.

Update 3/8/2005 - I now have a "chat" facility so if you want to hurl some bogus or tenuous allegations at me for others to see then comments in the chat box have more chance of being seen for longer before they inevitably get deleted.


Sympathy for the Devil

Paul Eisen has finally come out as, or at least gone over to, supporting a full-blown neo-nazi take on Hitler and the holocaust. I met Paul Eisen at the home of some Palestinian friends a bit over two years ago and he persuaded me to go to a Deir Yassin Remembered event addressed by, among others, Marc Ellis and entertained by a band called Anatolia. I remember George Galloway and Simon Louvish were there. There were a group of reform rabbis there as well and the event and the group has support from, in particular, reform rabbis in both the US and the UK. Many rabbis have written to the Jewish Chronicle supporting Deir Yassin Remembered and they have been roundly denounced by zionists for doing so, mostly because zionists either deny what happened or seek to play down its significance, or, of course they say, you shouldn't be looking.

My first issue with DYR was last year when a card depicted Jesus on the cross looking away from holocaust corpses and looking horrified towards a ravine containing the victims of the Deir Yassin massacre (I'm going from memory, it was something like that). I emailed Paul Eisen to say that the imagery was unsound and he claimed not to understand my problem with it. No one else openly objected though I suspect that many people believed it to be an innocent mistake in the quest for striking imagery. Next up Paul Eisen published an essay titled "Jewish Power". The article was clearly anti-semitic and was critiqued and denounced as such by many people, though still many people took the view that Paul Eisen was being naive or clumsy in his use of language. More recently I heard that the anti-semitic Israel Shamir was on the board of Deir Yassin Remembered, presumably at the invitation of Paul Eisen. Well now, no doubt can remain about where Paul Eisen stands on the political spectrum. His latest offering is a rambling apologia for holocaust deniers and even for Hitler himself and the nazis. I won't even include a block quote here as some zionists have a nasty habit of attributing quotes directly to the quoter. You will have to click on the red headline above, read the whole article, and weep for Deir Yassin Remembered which is going to be as buried as Deir Yassin itself if Israel Shamir and Paul Eisen have their way.

Something that emerges from this to my mind is the fact that I believe the zionist movement itself has a lot to answer for in terms of publicising holocaust denial which could and should have gone the way of flat earth societies. I have tended to the view that the zionists like a bit of holocaust denial so that they can do a lot of holocaust memorialising, often to distract people from what Israel is and does. They even asked a wilfully misleading question to have about 22% (or thereabouts) of New Yorkers suggesting that "it's possible" that the holocaust didn't happen. I think this led to the making of Schindler's List with its happy ending in a glorious technicolor Israel in an otherwise black and white film. Anway, this latest offering by Paul Eisen taints all who carry on business with him. He needs to be denounced and isolated.

As an aside, the zionists don't seem to have cottoned on to Paul Eisen just yet. This follows a familiar pattern. When Israel Shamir delivered an openly anti-semitic speech at the House of Lords a few months back, it was 7 weeks before the Jewish Chronicle (the UK's leading zionist newspaper) noticed it. Shamir seems to take the view that Jews should renounce being Jewish or forever take the rap for killing Jesus. Jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, takes the view that if you do not renounce being Jewish then you are a crypto- or under-cover zionist. All I have ever seen in the JC about Atzmon is that he has said unpleasant things about his country, ie, his anti-zionism was condemned but not his anti-semitism. He too started in what many believed was the naive school of inadvertent anti-semitism, but his denunciations of anti-zionist Jews, like Roland Rance and Tony Greenstein, make this position untenable. And now Paul Eisen is openly expressing sympathy, if not directly with Hitler, then certainly for his supporters. And the zionist movement seems not to have noticed. In earlier posts about these Jewish jew-haters I said "enough already!" Well now it's gone beyond enough.

Meanwhile some clumsy clot at the SWP seems to have copied and pasted from last year's invitations to Marxism 2004 and invited Gilad Atzmon to Marxism 2005. I remember a handful of SWP members commenting here that it was a mistake and that he was a disgrace. I hope the organisers spot this and rescind the invite and soon.

June 04, 2005

Where to from here?

The reason I am opposed to zionism and the existence of the state of Israel is because I believe that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the establishment of a racist state in their place was not justified and can never be justified. Short of desiring a democratic secular state, much like a western state, I haven't considered much about how this should be achieved or what it would look like once it was achieved. When I was young and I began to discover the truth about Israel, I tried to get on with zionism for reasons of tribal loyalty and the quiet life. I even went to Israel three times staying on the same kibbutz twice. But once I heard about how Israel was established and how it maintained its existence I took the view that, as a bookshop assistant is said to have told a customer asking for Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel", "there is no case for Israel." It was just rather a long time before I expressed that view. Anyway, considering "where to from here?", when the most powerful forces on earth support the racist war criminals of Israel seems like an exercise in futility to me and I haven't got a clue where to from here. I mean in terms of opposition I support boycotting Israeli goods, cultural and sporting links, academia, etc. Exposing the constant stream of lies we are told in the mass media is an important activity. Supporting, or at least putting into context, the various forms of Palestinian resistance and Israeli solidarity action also helps. But how a post-zionist Israel/Palestine will constitute itself I really don't know. Help, however, is at hand. This website - www.ONE-STATE.org has many articles and other resources dealing with the question of the future for Israel/Palestine. So if you want a non- or anti-zionist take on where to go from here then go there and don't ask me.


The Jews defamed?

Consider this first paragraph of an article in today's Guardian headed "Le Monde editor 'defamed Jews'."
A French appeal court has found the editor-in-chief of Le Monde and the authors of an opinion piece in the paper guilty of "racial defamation" against Israel and the Jewish people.
Now since most of the paragraph is not in quotes it's hard to know what the actual ruling is saying. It's certainly possible to "racially defame" the Jews for example, if we take racial to mean pertaining to an identity group based largely on descent. But how does one racially. defame Israel or indeed any other state or institution?
The French umbrella group for Jewish associations, CRIF, said it "noted with satisfaction" the appeal court ruling, adding that the verdict "clearly set limits on a deviation that consists of incriminating 'the Jews' in the name of a criticism of Israel".

The group added: "We have always considered that criticism of Israeli policy falls under the category of the free and democratic exchange of ideas, but that debate cannot express itself as a demonisation of Israel nor of the Jews."
But demonisation, if harsh criticism can be so described, of Israel is not the same as demonisation of the Jews. So what is this ruling saying? For CRIF (the French equivalent of the British Board of Deputies) it's protecting Israel, not just Jews in general.

It should be noted here that one of the people responsible for the article is himself Jewish and his lawyer is not pessimistic about what the ruling means for future criticism of Israel:
Georges Kiejman, who defended Mr Morin (who is Jewish), said he did not think the decision would prevent free and frank debate on the Middle East question in France.

"The court made plain that it found the text as a whole constituted a very potent critique, but a perfectly tolerable one given the complexity of the situation," he said. "It was just those two passages that were picked out. All it means is people are going to have to re-read their copy a bit more carefully; be very careful not to talk about 'the Jews', for example, but about 'some Israelis'."
It should further be noted that the court only awarded the two complainant organisations (the France-Israel Association and Lawyers Without Borders) one euro between them.

Gulf war?

Here's Joseph Massad bemoaning the gulf between what is known and what is reported on the middle east.
What makes these anti-scholarship attacks possible and popular is the existence of a major discrepancy, even a radical disconnect, between popular knowledge and media coverage about the Palestine/Israel conundrum and established scholarly knowledge about the topic. It is this disconnect that the witch hunters mobilise against scholarship as proof that it is not media and popular knowledge, which defends Israeli policy and Zionism`s axioms, that is ideological, but rather academic scholarship which has largely uncovered unsavory facts about both. Thus when young American students who come from ideologically charged homes, schools, and environments, attend university classes about the subject, they mistake established scholarship as pro- Palestinian propaganda, a conclusion that is propped up by the likes of Campus Watch, the David Project, and the Anti- Defamation League, all three organisations who make it part or all their business to attack scholarly criticisms of Israeli policy.
And then
This is not to say that scholarship is unbiased. On the contrary, all respectable scholarship about Nazi Germany and the holocaust, to take an important example, is indeed biased against the Nazis, but no one except anti-Semites would dare equate scholarly judgment of Nazi Germany and the holocaust as the "Jewish" perspective or narrative. The same applies to scholarship about South Africa under Apartheid, which is never described as the `Black` perspective or narrative. Feminist scholarship is equally biased against sexism, but is not labelled as `women`s` narrative or perspective. Scholarship on Stalin, on US slavery, on British colonialism, on American racism, on institutionalised sexism and discrimination against women, etc, is always biased, and no amount of lobbying from right-wing groups will force academics to teach the Nazi or slavery perspectives in the interest of "balance."

Fair comment

Every so often I think a comment is worth a post in its own right. Tonight it's one from a fellow blogger in response to a zionist troll who uses several IDs to post comments to tie people down in sterile debate. Pabs, however, is made of better stuff. See this. For this post our seeker after truth (ie zionist troll) uses the name "Stuck"
Asking questions is the best way to find out what people REALLY believe, do they have an idea? an ideal? or are they just shouting a slogan?

it is a tradition going back to the Greeks :)

I have found that people with reasoned beliefs are normally happy to articulate them, in a clear structured form, but clearly people with irrational or ill formed ideas might find it taxing to put a reasoned the case, we shall see?

therefore I ask again (accepting for the sake of the argument that a single state solution is desirable, etc and we should all try to get on well together):

HOW to bring it about? Meaders says with a 'mass' movement?

the next obvious question, logically speaking, is on what basis is such a mass movement based? what programme ? what demands?

if my questions are too demanding please let me know :)

PS: I'd lay off the coffee for a while, people seem a bit tense here
This is a call for open and honest debate from someone who uses various IDs and who doesn't state his or her own position. Anyway, here's an articulate response
where to start? well neither violent struggle nor some kind of vanguard take-over of the state are ideas that anyone should consider, just in case 'stuck' is fearful of that. so that leaves, as i said, breaking down the idea that religious or ethnic identity are appropriate criteria for the foundations of either moral or political community. There is no grand scheme for bringing about such a critical consciousness. It can come from writing columns or books or articles to the educated middle classes challenging ideas of racial or religious superiority/exclusion. It can also be, and is already being, put in place by acts like setting up mixed communities where Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims/Jews live and work together and so grow to see each other as complex individuals rather than simply embodiments of a cultural or racial grouping. It can take place when jews go and do work among Palestinians through ISM or Rabbis For Peace or B'Tselem or ICAHD. It can take place when Palestinians speak out in their own community about the need to understand the Jewish perspective and experience. Edward Said, for all those accusations of being a supported of terror, did this regularly. It can occur through ventures like the one Said set up with Daniel Barenboim, the East-West Divan Orchestra in which young Arabs and Israelis came together to play music and learnt to see each other not as some enemy who must be prevented from gaining statehood or returning to stolen property because then he might wipe out judaism but as real people.

This is no small task but it is a beginning. At some stage such understanding will be broad enough to begin some kind of political programme. This is not pie-in-the-sky. The Israeli peace movement was non-existent before Lebanon but Israeli society was first shocked and then changed by what it saw. The narrative of 'purity of arms' was discredited and the corpses of children in the street did something to dispel the notion that Palestinians did not exist or were all terrorists. Mass civil disobedience in the first intifada achieved similar effects. These are the strategies we must focus on.

Once collaboration and inter-community contact is at a sufficient level the dominant order can be challenged by setting up more and more Palestinian/Israeli communities, more collaborative projects. A focus on the plight of Israeli Arabs and a campaign to recognise their particular oppression and denial of services by the state should be part of this. The electoral system should be used as more and more Palesraelis or Israstinians emerge, individuals of mixed race or origin who see themselves as neither Israelis or Palestinians but as citizens. Gush Emunim and Hamas will, I am sure, hate this but so what. The achievements of collaboration and understanding will outweigh those of fear and suspicion. Borders will be destroyed.

The programme would be based on democracy and secularism as its core characteristics rather than on religious identity. There is no reason why religion should not be provided for within this framework if significant religious communities continue to exist at present levels. Communities will still be able to apply Jewish law or Islamic custom but the State will enshrine secular laws banning encitement to religious hatred etc. It will do this because the majority of citizens from both communities will recognise that this is the correct way. They already do.

If you're fearful that communities will be oppressed by the tyranny of the majority and if large groups of people still choose to live isolated from others in an exclusive community we can look at other contexts where self-determination exists for a group within a state, maybe through some degree of regional government or through a set of safe-guards built into the constitution preserving, for example, the right of orthodox jews not to work on the Sabbath.

There's no final blueprint because it allows for evolution and a little thing called democracy. But its an argument for change seeking to convince people not a blueprint for enforced revolution.
This was from Pablo K, owner of the Human Tide blog.

Me, I haven't a clue about how to overcome zionism or what will replace it. I just have this abiding feeling that a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing, apartheid laws and relentless aggression has no right to exist. That's it, that's all.

June 03, 2005

Nazis "return" to Israel

Check this out from IsraelNationalNews.com. Roland Rance drew my attention to neo-nazi websites based in Israel a while ago but now the news has entered the mainstream. An article titled Police Discover Ring of Neo-Nazi Immigrants from CIS states that
Israeli Police have uncovered a group of at least 20 neo-Nazis who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union under the Law of Return.
But apparently
Police are not yet certain how to proceed, due to the lack of legal basis for prosecuting Israelis espousing anti-Semitic ideology.

Dershowitz is pro-Palestinian

Here's an interesting opening couple of paragraphs on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle (subscription only on line) today.
America's best known civil liberties lawyer warned this week that "if you win in court, and lose in the court of opinion, that's not a victory."

Speaking in the aftermath of the defeat of the AUT boycott of Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz, in London on behalf of the Jerusalem College of Technology, noted: "There is a systematic effort, systematic and well financed, on the part of anti-Israel groups, to focus on young people. The goal is to create a generation of future leaders, 20 years from now, who will be Ken Livingstone, who will reflect the ignorant, one-sided, bigoted, biased views of Ken Livingstone."
First up, it's interesting to me that Dershowitz's admission of moral defeat over the AUT boycott stands in contrast from the "letter from America" I published a few days ago. The letter was from Dershowitz's greatest admirer. This Dershowitz fan (possibly a Dershowitz wannabe) won't have it that Norman Finkelstein has wiped the floor with him in debate or that Finkelstein has comprehensively exposed him as a liar and a plagiarist. But anyway, I digress. Dershowitz is offering his advise on how to undermine anti-zionist activity.
When I speak on college campuses I immediately declare myself as pro-Palestinian, which I am - pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-two-state solution, pro-vibrant Palestinian democracy - and then distinguish that position from the extremists on the left, the Sue Blackwells, who don't want peace."
Can you believe that this could get worse? Well try this with regard to Sue Blackwell:
The form of advocacy in which she is engaged contributes to violence and makes peace more difficult. She is a significant barrier to peace."
So two things to listen out for when a zionist speaks: 1.Zionists are pro-Palestinian and 2.Sue Blackwell is a barrier to peace, sorry, a significant. barrier to peace. Then we'll know if Dershowitz's advice has been taken.

June 01, 2005

Better world without Balfour

Here's a letter from today's Independent, following a puff piece on the proposed sale of the last remaining signed letter that came to be known as the Balfour Declaration. The letter itself was drafted by Sir Leon Simon. Now read on...
Sir: As the great-grandson of Sir Leon Simon, let me assure you that I believe that the world would be a far better place if the Balfour declaration which he helped draft ("A scrap of paper that changed history", 26 May) had never been drafted.

The fact that antisemites such as Balfour (and, later, antisemite evangelicals in the Bush administration) threw their weight behind the creation of Israel just goes to show that it was never in the interests of the Jewish people.

On the contrary, it was in the interests of Western imperialism to have a colonial settler state in Palestine, one that is wholly reliant on Western aid (military and economic) and that is wholly scared of the people who surround it (who were forcibly evicted from their homes in 1948). And it was in the interests of Western rulers to divert Jewish struggles away from anti-racism and social justice and towards the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian peoples.

More and more Jews are coming to see what my great grandfather failed to see, that the only just solution in the Middle East is a Palestine in which Jews and Muslims, Arabs and Europeans, live alongside each other with equal rights and an equal stake in the state; a solution in which the Balfour declaration is finally put to rest.

I think Dan Mayer should get the proceeds.