February 25, 2008

Another disappearance from Engage

More weirdness from the Engage site courtesy of its main man, Dr Hirsh. Can I summarise this quickly? Gilad Atzmon and Mary Wizo have another petition to defend the promotion of antisemitism in the Palestine Solidarity movement. It's not entirely clear (to me anyway) who drafted it but it describes Gilad and Mary as "outstanding personalities" and denounces Tony Greenstein who has put quite a lot (arguably too much) into exposing, in particular, Atzmon's antisemitism and promotion of neo-nazis and holocaust deniers. I'm guessing it was Atzmon and Wizo that drew it up but I really don't know. It would certainly belie the previous petition which she headed "Palestinians are the priority". Clearly she now thinks that non-Palestinians like herself and Atzmon are the priority. And if she was sincere with her previous petition she would call on comrades to not allow themselves to be distracted by a mere spat. Instead she calls on people ("Palestinians [the priority] and non-Palestinians [not the priority]) to sign a document describing her personality as outstanding and to express solidarity with two non-Palestinians!

Anyway, what has this to do with Engage? Well since there's not much that can be said in favour of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel, the false allegation of antisemitism, the exaggeration of its incidence and the bogus analysis as to what are its causes have become the stock in trade of the zionist hasbara movement. This puts them in a bit of a cleft stick when the real thing rears its head. This has been happening, mostly on line, for a few years now using the real repugnance of zionism to denounce all Jews. I suspect that the hand of Israel is in this somewhere because the main targets of the antisemitic abuse are Jewish anti-zionists.

Now Tony Greenstein has been a very long standing campaigner against zionism and he is actually the kind of campaigner that Dr Hirsh has blamed for Atzmon and co's antisemitism in the past but as the Atzmon/Wizo campaign intensified, another zionist group, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, decided to mischief make by running a post titled "Defend Tony Greenstein" and since it is an obvious embarrassment to Tony, who is being described as a crypto-zionist by the Atzmon/Wizo axis, Engage climbed aboard and ran the post as well.

They ran it here. But click o the link and you get this:
Genuine apologies to all - I was moderating comments and I deleted this whole post by mistake - DH
Now this is very strange because in the time he spent to write his "genuine" apology, he could have googled "defend Tony Greenstein", scrolled down a bit and rescued the post from the google cache. He could then have seen what he wrote in the first place:
Defend Tony Greenstein from the antisemites!Tony Greenstein has been banned from the Indymedia network for insisting accurately that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite.

More from Workers' Liberty.
And then he could have copied and pasted what he found back into the post. Maybe he was tired after clicking the "delete this post button" and then clicking the "ok" button when the dialog box asked "do you really want to delete this post?" Or maybe he just highlighted the whole post and deleted that. Either way, why didn't he go to the cache like I just did?

As is the way with Engage, curious always gets curiouser because the comments have disappeared too. Again, google cache to the rescue, but be quick because the cache disappears after a few days.

Comments about Defend Tony Greenstein from the antisemites! :

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:18:05 AM


David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:19:08 AM

Because he's Jewish and he's being attacked for being Jewish by antisemites. End of...

Carrie posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:20:34 AM

First they came for the antisemitic Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not an antisemitic Jew...

David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:21:59 AM

And we'll defend the Jew Atzmon too, when the antisemites come for him - and they will do one day.

Carrie posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:24:50 AM

Then they came for the money-lending, capitalistic, pro-imperialist Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a money-lending, capitalistic, pro-imperialist Jew...

Then they came for the Bolshevik Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Bolshevik Jew...

Then they came for the Likudnik Jews and I did not speak out becuase I was not a Likudnik Jew...

Ruth C posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:28:48 AM

"I want to support Greenstein in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man..."

VI Lenin


Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 11:19:32 AM


I am very disappointed that you are linking in a positive way to this article. As I expressed my view in the comments section to that article:

"In my opinion, it is perfectly reasonable to attack Gilad Atzmon for his views but that does not mean to say that genuine socialists and anti-racists should resort to defending Tony Greenstein. Theoretically if Stalin had attacked Mao as a mass murderer, would Workers' Liberty have defended Stalin?"

The limited resources of Engage can be used in a far better way than to "Defend Tony Greenstein." I am sure most readers to this site are quite familiar with the views of Greenstein so I do not need to elaborate on them here, but for anyone who isn't the comments section of the Workers' Liberty thread that this post links to can be read.

Rather than defending Tony Greenstein, it would be far better to simply attack Indymedia for publishing and supporting the views of Atzmon, Rizzo and their cohorts. The dispute between Greenstein and Atzmon has gone on for some time, I expressed my views on the issue on the following guest post to Harry's Place:

I concluded as follows:

"One wonders who sane and rational people should support in this dispute. Should they support Tony Greenstein who wants 'the state of Israel to be destroyed' and who thinks that Hamas and Hizbollah are not anti-semitic or Gilad Atzmon who is happy to support Hamas, wants Israel to disappear, and who also thinks burning down a synagogue is a rational act?"

Can I ask if positively supporting Tony Greenstein, which in this instance supports him spreading his vile views on the Internet, is the view of the editorial board of Engage or is simply your own view?

Shachtman posted on February 23, 2008 at 12:45:28 PM

Tony Cliff said many years ago "If i saw a bunch of skinheads beating up a rabbi , i'd beat up the skinheads , then i'd beat up the rabbi"
In other words defend the rabbi against an antisemitic attack , then beat up the rabbi for being a rabbi.

Well we shouldn't beat anybody up , we should defend Greenstein against antisemitic attacks from Atzmon , and we should be criticial of Greenstein for his vulgar "antizionism"

David Hirsh
posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:02:35 PM

Mikey, I would support anybody who was being attacked by racists because of their designated 'race' or because they speak out against racism.

In order to stand with somebody against racists it is not necessary to agree with what they say. It is even not necessary to point out their own part in creating an environment where racism flourished.

I could imagine arguments for excluding Tony Greenstein from a discussion on the basis that he is, himself, an antisemite; or that he pushes antisemitic ways of thinking; or that he has nothing of interest to say; or that he's arrogant or rude or tedious. But those are not the same things as what is happening here, which is that he has been excluded because he is a Jew who opposes (some) overt antisemitism.

No matter how vile Greenstein is, it is a pathetic sight to see him being attacked as a Jew by the antisemitic bullies. Antiracists should stand with him when that happens.

In my view we should defend Tony Greenstein against antisemitic attack. If you want to know what other members of the editorial board think then you should ask them Mikey. I have no idea.

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:05:20 PM

Why should a person be beaten up for being a rabbi?

Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:08:32 PM

Shachtman, Tony Cliff said many things and I did not agree with much of it. Tony Greenstein is not deserved of support. Carrie above has made a pun on the poem attributed to Martin Niemöller, "First they came..." These are actually wise words. Indymedia should be attacked but Tony Greenstein should not be defended.

posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:28:19 PM

"Tony Greenstein should not be defended."

He used to be very keen on telling poeple that his father was a reverend.

"Why should a person be beaten up for being a rabbi?"

I don't think he should be. I can't ask Cliff for obvious reasons.

Mikey posted on February 23, 2008 at 02:44:33 PM

In that case I would not have a problem defending Tony Greenstein's father.

On a different note, and to clarify if people think I would not defend anti-Zionist Jews from attack then they are wrong. The Satmar sect is very anti-Zionist (for theological reasons) and I would defend them from attack, but then again, Satmars do not send messages to Internet web sites saying they "wouldn't lose a minute's sleep" if masses of American Jewish activists were "vapourised" as Greenstein did last year.

posted on February 23, 2008 at 04:19:24 PM


What kind of support to want to lend him? Should we protest so that Indymedia would restore his right to publish his views on their web site? Do you really care?

If he had been beaten in the street by antisemites that would have been a completely different matter. But for his freedom to air his bigotry on a site of anti-semites? Suppose that they ban Mickey (it might have happened in the past - I guess) would you care to mention this here?

David Hirsh
posted on February 23, 2008 at 04:26:10 PM

Yes of course. Indymedia should restore his right to say that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite.

Yes, of course I care that one does not get excluded from spaces on the left for calling antisemitism.

Daniel posted on February 23, 2008 at 05:14:39 PM

I suppose David would have also defended Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski of the Lodz ghetto against antisemitic attacks.

This idea that we have to defend all "Jews" who are attacked by antisemites no matter how despicable and antisemitic they are is absurd. To fight against antisemitism you don't have to defend antisemitic victims of antisemitism.

The only reason Tony calls Atzmon and antisemite is that the latter doesn't exclude him from the people he hates. If Greenstein had renounced his own vicious views about Jews I would then defend him, but not till then.

Allowing Greenstein to call someone an antisemite on and indy website isn't exactly the gold standard of anti-racist activity.

David Hirsh posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:03:06 PM

This is not about Greenstein. This is about fighting for a labour movement - and a left - which knows how to recognize, and does not tolerate, antisemitism. And Indymedia is tolerating an antisemitic attack against a Jew.

We don't defend Greenstein because he's a Jew. We defend anybody who suffers racist exclusion or demonization.

Karl Pfeifer
, Vienna posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:07:58 PM

I cannot understand why one should protest because the antizionist Greenstein cannot post in the antisemitic indymedia.
Greenstein is wrong to ask the antisemites not to be antisemites. Greenstein wants to discuss with antisemites who are glad to have token Jews like Atzmon and use the services of the Swedish Russian antisemite Adam Ermash, formerly Jöran Jermas, who is publishing his stuff under the name of Israel Shamir.
If SWP likes Gilad Atzmon and "Deir Yassin remembered" likes "Israel Shamir" and Greenstein is criticising this, Atzmon and "Shamir" will pretend that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. If Engage is going to defend him, they will take that as proof that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. So by defending him, you will hurt Greenstein. And now I am at the end of my wisdom, should we defend him?

Toby Esterhase posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:21:17 PM

"By defending him, you will hurt Greenstein..."

Well that sounds like a workable compromise then!

Noga posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:55:06 PM

"If Engage is going to defend him, they will take that as proof that Greenstein is a crypto-Zionist. So by defending him, you will hurt Greenstein."

I must say, this is a really tough ethical nut to crack. Or maybe not.

X, Y, Z are characters in a drama. X hates Y and wants to be friends with Z.
Z accuse Y of some wrongdoing.

X, knowing this is not right, tacitly sides with Z by keeping silent about what he knows.

Time passes and X falls out of favour with Z. Y can provide some relief for X who still hates Y.

If Y keeps silent, Y is like X - keeping silent when an immoral position is maintained.

Result: Nothing changes and X will continue to hate Y, imperturbably.

If Y speaks up in defence of X, what then?

Y is seen to be doing the right thing, in complete adherence to his declared principles, regardless of the satisfaction of seeing X justly hoist on his own petard.

X continues to hate Y, but much of the fuel for this hatred will be ruined. X is then placed in a position of continuing to hate Y even though Y rendered him an undeserved good service.

Poetic justice, to place X in the ironic position of owing a debt of gratitude to Y, whom X will continue to hate, but most perturbably. In other words, X's pleasure of hating Y will be greatly eroded.

Y (Engage) is the moral winner.

But does anybody, except for Engage, care?

unseen posted on February 23, 2008 at 06:57:24 PM

The thing I can't stand about Greenstein is he says in 10,000 words that which ought to be said in 50. His blog-posts are utterly unreadable and take up too much space on my screen.

Linda Grant
posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:12:07 PM

I saw Gilad Atzmon in the lobby at the BBC last week. We were both waiting to go into studios. He was talking at some length to someone on his mobile phone about the best method of suing someone, based on the case he is himself, he said, preparing again 'Greenstein.' He was dressed all in black and I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. Personally, I find that iffy in a guy, but very common in the music business, I suppose.

Toby Esterhase
posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:21:45 PM

Do you think you can be sued for saying that an antisemitic saxophonist dyes his hair?

posted on February 23, 2008 at 08:43:58 PM

I don't think David that it matters that Indymedia is "on the left". You publish your views very often, and so do they, and I have not found much in common between you and them. For that matter Tony Greenstein could have been banned at a far-right web-site. I couldn't care less.

And, yes, so many rational people on the left have been denied the option of posting their comments on far-left web-sites. I am sure that in many cases it was because they have protested overt/covert antisemitism and the demonization of Israel. You say that you care but I have missed probably all the posts calling Engage readers to defend them. Why do you distinguish Greenstein from others? Is it so important for you that he would continue to criticize Atzmon on Indymedia? Why?

Noga posted on February 23, 2008 at 09:11:53 PM

"I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. "

I'm sure we are all grateful for this insider's information, as irrelevant and mean as it is.

How about if I said that I am not going to bother about some author's new book because there is something very "iffy" and shallow about that author keeping a blog which discusses the latest fashion in handbags?

Does the fact that Atzmon may be vain and/or thoughtful (take your pick) about the way he looks have any bearing whatsoever upon his bizarre views re: Jews and Israel? Does the fact that he may dye his hair render his opinions even more odious?

Where is the oh-so-scrupulous moderator when one of his or her favoured regulars brings such useless gossip to our attention?

posted on February 23, 2008 at 11:56:39 PM

"Do you think you can be sued for saying that an antisemitic saxophonist dyes his hair?"

If the saxophonist feels that it has somehow made his social standing less and has caused him great emotional harm as a result, why not? But then I'm an American with a rather low opinion of the British libel laws so I could well be wrong.

posted on February 24, 2008 at 03:50:19 AM

"No matter how vile Greenstein is, it is a pathetic sight to see him being attacked as a Jew by the antisemitic bullies. Antiracists should stand with him when that happens"

What does 'standing with him' mean? I'm not about to start going through his old post looking in vain for a silver lining to show everybody that he is deserving of a voice. That is not going to happen. I don't have to - Greenstein deserves a voice on any site that gives a holocaust denier, muck-spreader, and self-confessed despiser of Jewishness like Atzmon (http://tinyurl.com/yb8v5w) a voice, full stop. But that's not a defence of Greenstein.

'Defending' Greenstein amounts to defending a purveyor of one kind of antisemitism (the kind of anti-Zionism that blames Zionists as the worst form of antisemites) who complains about the *wrong* kind of different antisemitism as peddled by the people he calls 'Hitlerites' in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Since Tony Greenstein is a menace to anybody fighting antisemitism, I'd say it's important to *avoid* defending him in any way other than incidentally, based on principles most people hold about standing up to antisemitism. Maybe the effect for Greenstein and for Indymedia is the same. But it shouldn't require, as AWL did, the call to 'Defend Tony Greenstein!' which risks all kinds of unconditional warm feelings towards him from people who don't understand his project and don't realise that he believes that an enormous proportion of Jews - those who he identifies as Zionists - are the biggest antisemites and cause of antisemitism of all.

I'd much rather consider the way Indymedia betrays the notion of Independent Media, its pathetic device of slapping the word 'hidden' all over an article, failing to explain this adequately, and showing it anyway (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/01/389837.html), its enthusiastic hosting of an outright antisemite who think that the behaviour of American Jews render debate about whether the Protocols are true irrelevant. Indymedia is a hateful site.

All very untidy I know and I will tidy it up when I get the chance [27/2/08 - I've tidied it up now for what it's worth] but I wanted to publish this asap so that people can see what it was that Dr Hirsh claims he accidentally deleted, both the post and the comments, by following the links to the caches before they too disappear.

If you can figure out what's being said here you can see the problem Engage has with Tony Greenstein. He is a principled anti-zionist, that is he is someone that Engage would normally accuse of antisemitism but he is clearly on the receiving end of an antisemitic campaign. Now since principle has never been Engage's business they didn't really have to do anything but I suspect they couldn't resist the opportunity to embarrass Tony. But this merely highlights the fact that Tony isn't antisemitic. So what do they do? They defend Tony Greenstein, allow 13 comments, some saying "why should we?" some saying why "we" should.

I mentioned a few times in the past how Linda Grant has a tendency to post off-topic stuff. Well you'll have seen that already if you read this far down. But let's have it again:
I saw Gilad Atzmon in the lobby at the BBC last week. We were both waiting to go into studios. He was talking at some length to someone on his mobile phone about the best method of suing someone, based on the case he is himself, he said, preparing again[st?] 'Greenstein.' He was dressed all in black and I was left with the impression that he dyes his hair. Personally, I find that iffy in a guy, but very common in the music business, I suppose.
This suggests to me that Atzmon was talking English on his mobile. He calls himself a Hebrew speaking Palestinian. The petition calls him a non-Palestinian. Now the thing that gets me is that Atzmon is also English speaking and yet he insists on calling himself Hebrew speaking. His beef with anti-zionists who identify themselves as Jewish is that he says to identify yourself as Jewish in a camaign is the same as zionism. Stupid really since it doesn't exclude anyone from campaigning and it certainly doesn't involve any ethnic cleansing. But Atzmon is being a hypocrite here. He calls himself Hebrew speaking because he wants people to know that he has a Jewish connection or else he would call himself English speaking. The petition calling on Palestinians (you know, those people who are being killed, as I write, by Atzmon's compatriots) to show their solidarity with him, calls him non-Palestinian and yet he is promoting it in spite of calling himself a Palestinian. Perhaps he thought that Palestinians wouldn't accept him calling himself Palestinian when he is actually Israeli.

Sorry, I shouldn't have gone off on a tangent on a garbled post anyway but this shows the sheer buffoonery of Hirsh and Atzmon so I could neither resist the post nor the digression.

So, like I said, I wanted to rush this out before the cache goes cold but I will tidy it up later.

Meanwhile, I should say that if someone comes up with a legalistic reason for Hirsh disappearing (or at least trying to) his own post and the comments, maybe this here post will disappear. If so, try google cache, while it lasts.

UPDATE: 22/3/2013

I just stumbled on these comments to the above post.

dsf posted on February 25, 2008 at 12:13:53 PM
Is there a back-up, or a chance of it being rewritten?

In the meantime, the link to Workers Liberty post on the topic:
NIMN posted on February 26, 2008 at 06:48:55 AM
Ahhh.  Perhaps Hirsh lies.  Perhaps there was a cunning plan here...  see Mark Elf's masterful investigation and Tony Greenstein's wise explanation.

Zkharya posted on February 27, 2008 at 06:27:04 PM
NIMN, are you saying David had an ulterior motive in not resurrecting the thread? If so, what?

NIMN posted on February 27, 2008 at 08:25:28 PM
Nah, I was being ironic.

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