July 04, 2007

Tony Greenstein (not) on Engage on Massad

I couldn't squeeze John Strawson into the headline because he definitely is on Engage on Massad. I did a post earlier about their post on Massad but at that time they only had three comments. They have had more now and would have at least one more than they are showing but they wouldn't allow Tony Greenstein's comment through. Check out the comments they have allowed through here. Note in particular John Strawson's comment:
This is an extraordinary article which entirely reverses the truth of the Gaza coup. Since the elections Hamas has tried to play at being both government and opposition in Gaza; in June it opted for opposition. Massad pitches his argument as a democrat but necessarily has to lie about Mahmoud Abbas, comparing him to Pinochet, when in actual fact he is the elected President. And of course Massad attacks the elected government of Lebanon at the same time. However, that this article is a tissue of lies and distortions is not perhaps the main issue. It is the incitement against intellectuals and others in Palestine that is most disturbing. In New York calling others "collaborators" might be a rough palour game, in Palestine it can be a death sentence.
Ok, and now I have to make a little detour because Strawson has been on the beleaguered Massad's case for some time now. His comment to Engage wasn't a million miles from a comment he posted to the Just Peace list about a year ago in response to another article by Massad in al Ahram.
This piece by Massad is an open invitation to murder. He calls those who fought for, and to establish the Oslo peace process and the institutions it created, collobators. It is simply not true to suggest that the PLO or rather Fateh should be characterized as corrupt organization. This piece of cod-Marxism is crude analysis and dangeruous politic chap words in New York but cheap lives in Palestine.


john
What does he want of Massad's life? Never mind. Here's Tony Greenstein:
It’s not Joseph Massad’s article which is extraordinary but the knee-jerk response from Engage and its rabid Jewish chauvinists, to quote my good friend Steve Cohen, in his article ‘For the Third Camp – Yes to Palestinian Liberation! No To Anti-Semitism!).

The article by Massad locates what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza in the context of US imperialism and its bloody record in the Middle East. Anyone who has any pretensions to be on the left, let alone a socialist, would have no difficulty in understanding and comprehending this analysis. The track record of the United States, be it in South America, Asia or the Middle East is a matter of record when it comes to coups, destabilisation and the murder of socialists, communists and trade unionists.

Of course Engage and its rabid Jewish chauvinists have some difficulties with this since this very same United States also supports the ‘Jewish’ State of Israel. It is in squaring the circle of pretending to be on the left and supporting the US and its client Israeli state that leads the Strawsons and Pikes of this world to perform verbal gymnastics.

It is quite laughable that Engage is now lining itself up as a supporter of Abbas. Leave aside that his doctoral thesis was a full-blooded defence of Holocaust denial. It is a matter of record that the US has funnelled arms, equipment and money to him in order to take out Hamas. And of course Israel has been happy to oblige. Abbas and his Fatah supporters are, in the eyes of most Palestinians, collaborators and Engage’s crocodile tears for Dahlan and his Fatah militias, whose corruption and brutality is second to none should be a lesson for anyone who believes that there is such a creature as the Zionist left.

It also seems to have escaped the attention of the Engageniks that Hamas won a resounding electoral victory in January, despite interference from Israeli forces. The reaction to this victory by the US and Israel was, of course, to punish the electorate! Abbas’s election as President was only achieved by the fact that his main competitor, Marwan Barghouti was in an Israeli prison and independent candidates were subject to severe harassment and worse by Israeli forces. Clearly he doesn’t retain majority support today.

Massad has been in the forefront of opposing any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the Palestine solidarity movement which is probably why Engage has singled out his article for attack. The fact is that al-Ahram regularly carries articles which don’t accord with the views of the Mubarak regime. It seems Engage has a problem with this but the explanation is quite simple. Al-Ahram’s reputation is such that it can afford to carry such articles but it would seem that Engageniks would rather than Mubarak’s secret police closed it down, much as George Bush sought to close down and then bomb the offices of Al-Jazeera.

Interesting also to note the concentration on whether Massad is an assistant Professor, with the references to Norman Finkelstein. Presumably the defenders of academic freedom (i.e. Israeli Jewish academic freedom) would be more than happy to oust Massad from Columbia. Unfortunately this has already been tried by the Jonathan Institute. This is what the reference to ‘considerable controversy’ in 2005 is about. Another attempt at witchunting by the Zionist lobby, which this time failed.

Fortunately they got their timing wrong, despite paying students to spy on him and other dissident lecturers. Columbia had more bottle and an inquiry exonerated Massad and others of the McCarthyite allegations and he is therefore tenured!

I note however that references to doing the same to Ilan Pappe at Exeter don’t arouse any comments. Now what would be the reaction of Engage if we were to begin a campaign against the Strawsons, Pikes and Hirshes? Anti-Semitism? I think we should be told.

As for Massad’s comments about ‘Zionism's anti-Semitic project of destroying Jewish cultures and languages in the diaspora’ is a matter of fact. Which is why David Hirsh responded so aggressively to Charles Pottins use of Yiddish once. Zionism detested Yiddish and the Galut and that is a matter of record.

So all in all, Engage once again demonstrates that when the chips are down, it aligns itself with the right-wing of the Zionist movement without a seconds thought.
Now why wouldn't Engage publish a comment like that? They like to stress that they are academics and that comments should be genuine contributions to debate but a mere random glance shows that that isn't true. In the comments I read I think three made great play of the fact that Massad has used the expression "Jewish supremacy" and that Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and David Duke have done the same thing. But Duke and Shamir are referring to America or the world whereas Massad is referring only to Israel. Why can't these academics tell the difference?

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