August 17, 2012

Liberating Palestine by exposing anti-zionist zionists?

The expression "anti-zionist zionist" was first coined by a zionist, the late Steve Cohen. Like much of what Steve Cohen had to say, the expression was designed to muddy the waters as to what zionism actually is.  Here's a taste:
I am an anti-Zionist because Zionism is racist
I am a Zionist because Zionism is anti-racist
Zionism is racist because it oppresses, depresses, represses and suppresses the Palestinians
Zionism is anti-racist because it is a response by Jews to the oppression, depression, repression and suppression of anti-semitism
That last line is a bit like saying that nazism is anti-imperialist because it was a response to the Treaty of Versailles but I just wanted to show who it was that seems to originally have coined the term.

Gilad Atzmon subsequently took the expression and applied it to Jews who claim to be anti-zionist in that they (we) oppose the existence of the State of Israel as a state specially for Jews and who therefore support the Palestinians' right of return.  In spite of chopping and changing what he (that is Atzmon) means by his plagiarised saying, he does apply it to Jews who are opposed to racism and in particular he claims that Jews, regardless of where they stand on Palestine, are zionists if they object to anti-Jewish racism, aka, antisemitism and often he seems to apply the term to all Jews.

Now I noticed a chap called Martin Iqbal (aka nit2am on twitter) using the expression "anti-zionist zionist" on the deLiberation website which was co-founded by Gilad Atzmon though Atzmon has now left it presumably on the grounds of irreconcilable similarities.  So let's have a little look at how Martin Iqbal uses the term "'anti-zionist' zionist":
The selective morality of ‘anti-Zionist’ Zionists (self-professed anti-Zionists who harbour certain Zionist viewpoints) says that Palestinians must languish in refugee camps merely because it would be ‘immoral’ to re-settle Israelis who live on stolen land. This is all while Israel proves its capability to resettle its own citizens when it colonises vast swathes of the West Bank and East Jerusalem......
This writer [Martin Iqbal] has recently spent time working with Israeli ‘anti-Zionists’ taking part in activism in solidarity with Palestinians in Occupied Palestine. Opposition to enacting the Right of Return is prevalent in these ‘anti-Zionist’ circles, making them decidedly Zionist, regardless of their protestations to the contrary.
When I first saw this article on deLiberation it concerned me that the goal posts had been moved. Atzmon had reduced the expression "zionism" to meaninglessness by falsely accusing anti-zionist Jews of being zionists simply for identifying or being identified as Jews or at least for opposing racism against Jews.  Martin Iqbal was now saying that anti-zionist zionists opposed the Palestinians' right of return. I wouldn't want to comment on the deLiberation site but when I saw Martin's post on his own blog, Empire Strikes Black, I also saw that Max Ajl, of Jewbonics, had commented asking for clarification of why Martin Iqbal appeared to have changed the meaning of the expression, "anti-zionist zionist" and suggesting that it was actually Gilad Atzmon's coinage.  This is how Martin responded:
I used the term 'anti-Zionist Zionists' because the people I refer to (who I've been speaking to and working with lately) claim to be opposed to the Zionist project, but there are key aspects of the Zionist project that they are not willing to oppose. I've cleared the wording of the article up and added some text to clarify it.
You seem to be talking about a different matter, over-analysing the terminology I'm using. I am not alluding to the specific "Zionist anti-Zionists" coinage of which you speak. If you read the article now it should be clear. I've no interest in getting into pedantic debates about semantics.
So Martin claims to be talking about something completely different from Atzmon's usage of the expression "anti-zionist zionist".  He also, wrongly, claims that the question is about semantics.

I put this to Martin in a few comments.  Here's one:
Max is right that the term as copied by Atzmon (most of Atzmon's formulations are copied from elsewhere and often from zionist sources) means a Jew who opposes the entirety of the zionist project and who therefore supports the right of return. Martin appears to want to make the charge, anti-zionist zionist, stick by factoring in Israeli Jews who oppose the right of return but that was never what was meant by anti-zionist zionist and he has failed a couple of times now to name anyone or any group he is accusing of claiming to be anti-zionist whilst opposing the right of return.
Also, in spite of his [Martin Iqbal's] claim to have "cleared the wording of the article up and added some text to clarify it" the article still reads as if there are identifiable people who claim to be anti-zionist whilst supporting one of zionism's central tenets, ie the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. 

That must certainly be the view of readers since the Jews routinely smeared as being zionists on that site (where this article is cross-posted) all support the right of return and the abolition of the State of Israel as a state for the world's Jews. 

So Martin, please name any person or group who you say call themselves anti-zionist whilst opposing the right of return or stop dog-whistling and do the decent thing by rewriting the article as something about the shortcomings of the so-called two state solution.
Martin got decidedly tetchy, repeating claims of semantic arguments, pedantry, grammar policing, trolling and resorting to homophobic and racist put-downs.

I don't know how many times I have to say this to make you understand. You either have nothing better to do, or this article really struck a chord with you. And I suspect it struck a chord with you not because you are so deeply concerned about semantic inconsistencies, rather you just want to defend the tribe. And perhaps you have been to 'Israel' and perhaps you have spoken to these types of people, you just want to convince the world that they don't exist. You clearly have a hard-on for Gilad Atzmon - go and write him an angry letter. You've made your point, your rants are falling on deaf ears now.
But Martin wasn't done yet. Here's another of his comments:
Okay, khalas? Can we move on now? Perhaps you would like to answer my question to you. I would say that you are a paradigmatic example of an ‘anti-Zionist’ who is also decidedly Zionist, because you perpetuate myths that are crucial tenets of Zionism. You’re terrified of challenging these lies – these are red lines that you will not cross. Aside from token denunciations of Islamophobia, which is just about as far as you’re willing to go, I’ll have more respect for you when you talk about Israel’s central role in 9/11 on your ‘anti-Zionist’ blog. Or, if you have the courage to tackle the popular narrative of the ‘holocaust’ – Israel’s most important founding myth – then you can claim to call yourself an ‘anti-Zionist’. Why do you, a self-professed 'anti-Zionist', remain utterly silent on these issues, which are the most damaging and dangerous Zionist myths that exist?

For all my "rants" were "falling on deaf ears now" Martin decided to pay Jews sans frontieres a visit and to email me.  The email and his comment stated pretty much the same thing as that last comment and offered, possibly inadvertently, some explanation of what he meant by the clunky oxymoron, anti-zionist zionist:
Dear Mark,

It seems that you don't want to discuss this in a public forum, which
I completely understand, but perhaps you would like to comment via

As you are aware I submitted a comment to your blog, and I'm sure you
will not be approving it.

While we're discussing 'anti-Zionists' who are indeed closet Zionists,
it seems fitting to discuss your 'anti-Zionist' blog.

Why do you, a self-professed anti-Zionist, refuse to discuss Israel's
central role in the 9/11 false flag attacks?

Why do you refuse to tackle the popular narrative of the ‘holocaust’ –
Israel’s most important founding myth?

You are a paradigmatic example of an ‘anti-Zionist’ who is indeed
Zionist, because you perpetuate the myths that are crucial tenets of
Zionism. You’re terrified of challenging these lies – red lines that
you will not cross.

Aside from token denunciations of Islamophobia, which is just about as
far as you’re willing to go, you dare not challenge these dogmas.

You'll be able to rightfully call yourself an anti-Zionist when you
courageously tackle these issues rather than shrinking from them in
such a cowardly manner.

As long as you perpetuate Zionist propaganda and myths and skirt
around these issues, you have no right whatsoever to call yourself an

It's supremely ironic that you of all people - a bona fide
'anti-Zionist' Zionist - spent so much time heckling on my blog about
this issue.

To be perfectly honest, I do not expect you to reply and address this
issue, because you've proved that you are afraid of discussing it.  I
would love to be proven wrong.
Actually I did want to challenge some of his views publicly or privately and I truly want to know how people like Martin Iqbal believe that denying the holocaust and promoting 9/11 conspiracy theories helps the Palestinian cause.  I am a bit of a "no platform for racists" merchant but when racism is couched in coded language and the dishonesty is flagrant enough to expose, it can be a useful exercise to do just that, expose it.  Here's my reply:

You appear to be in the throes of a temper tantrum. I hope my delay in replying hasn't made you worse but you said I was reluctant to discuss "this" in a public forum when it's you who appears to have deleted all the comments to your post on "anti-zionist zionists".  This is strange because my comments abided by the rules of your blog set out as follows:  Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam. When I recapture the comments I think I can establish that it was you that was not nice, you that failed to keep it clean and you that strayed off topic and in quite a big way too.

Anyway, let's deal with your points blow by blow.

1. I am not aware that you have commented to my blog. There is no pending comment from you.  This is another reason I suspect a temper tantrum on your part. You seem to make hasty claims and then regret them.  Anyway, by all means send in a comment and I'll deal with it as appropriate but please remember your own rules:  Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam. I'd add to that that you must refrain from racism, sexism and homophobia since one of your comments to me was definitely racist and had clear homophobic overtones.

2. If I thought that 9/11 had any bearing on Israel's legitimacy one way or another I would discuss it but since Israel has no right to exist whoever is responsible for 9/11, I see no point.

3. The holocaust crops up from time to time on my blog and it has been widely discussed but since most of the imperial powers (all bar the Soviet Union) already supported zionism by the end of WWI the events of WWII are, like 9/11, irrelevant to Israel's lack of legitimacy.  And anyway, the holocaust cannot be considered a founding anything of Israel since Israel and the zionist movement didn't start deploying it as a propaganda and ideological weapon until the early 1960s.

4.  You don't know what the word "paradigmatic" means nor how pretentious and silly using it makes you sound and if I don't discuss these issues how can I perpetuate people's current (mis)understanding of them? Again, the holocaust and 9/11 have no impact one way or another on Israel's legitimacy or lack of.  I think that deals with four of your paragraphs.

5. I wasn't heckling you on your blog; you are over-sensitive to legitimate criticism and inquiry. When I sort the cache out I'll remind you of the things you said and the things I said.  Both Max Ajl and I were trying to point out to you that the expression "anti-zionist zionist" is used by Atzmon against Jews who support the right of return.  You claimed you were applying it to different people altogether but from this email it appears you use it in the same way as he does but throw in a pack of lies about people you claim to know whose names you have forgotten who oppose the right of return.  Your email proves that Max and I were right to treat your bogus claim with scepticism but then so did your contributions to the comment thread which you have so conveniently mislaid.

6. You say you would love to be wrong. I know you love to be wrong but you don't seem to like to be exposed for being wrong.

7. Just a general point, you mention courage and cowardice here and there. I don't think either term applies to blogging and commenting.  Just more silliness on your part. Try not to be so dramatic.

I think that covers everything.  I'll give you a shout when I sort the cache out unless you want to be really "courageous" (just honourable really) and restore and reopen the comments yourself.

Finally, I think I might like to do a post on your post, the comments and this correspondence. Would it be ok with you if I publish your email?


Mark Elf

Jews sans frontieres
I then found his comment in the spam and emailed him accordingly:

Hey Martin

Great news! I found your comment to my blog.  Somehow it ended up in the
spam filter which I have never checked before and I only found it today by

The comment was of course way off topic but you managed to avoid sexual and
homophobic insults so I approved it..

Anyway, as I said in my earlier email and in my reply to your comment on my
blog, I intend to do a post about this "anti-zionist zionist" business.
In the meantime if you scroll down you will see I have recaptured all the
comments that disappeared from your "anti-zionist zionist" post. It'll
probably take a little bit of work because they seem to be in the wrong order and
the ones from google cache need formatting but perhaps you could replace
the old comments and reopen the comments for further discussion.

There is another thing. I saw on your blog that you claim the Israeli
attack on the USS Liberty to be a false flag op intended to draw the USA
into a nuclear attack on the USSR.  Since it is so well documented that it was Israel that
carried out the attack and was admitted to by Israel close to the time it
happened do you have a link to support your allegation of a false flag
operation together with the motive you allege? I tried commenting but I
don't know if my comments are blocked or if you have started moderating.
So, we now have three possibilities for these issues you claim to be eager
to discuss. We have email, your blog and my blog.

Cheers then

Mark Elf
Jews sans frontieres

Back came Martin:
Hi Mark,

Your spam filter blocks short comments with no links, and you've been
blogging for years but haven't checked your spam filter once?  Kinda
likely.  I don't really think my comment got stuck in your spam
filter; you chose not to approve it, and I subsequently removed your
comments from my blog, and you didn't want to look like a hypocrite so
my comment "got stuck in your spam filter".

If you want to know the source for the information on the Liberty
affair, read this book:
Cheers yourself,
Now I got tetchy:
You are a joke.
You deleted all of the comments from your post on "anti-zionist zionists", not just mine. I have no problem with how I appear to a serial fantasist like yourself and I have no motive for lying.
I have approved your comment now and I have sent you all of the comments you deleted. Even if I refused to approve your comment it wouldn't be hypocritical. My comments to your blog conformed to the rule of being on topic. Your comment was totally off topic. But since your comment is now approved, you are beefing about nothing.
Something you need to consider about yourself is that not only do you make false or unprovable allegations you then supply supposed motives for whatever it is you are alleging. It's silly and tiresome but such is the wacky world of the conspiracy theorist.
I then checked the source for his USS Liberty claim and emailed him again:

Here's what you wrote in your post titled, On History and Intellectual Courage:
Most Americans have not even heard about the Liberty – a false flag attack designed to draw the USA into nuclear war with Soviet Russia. 

Here's the blurb from the book you claim to have got your information from:
The USS Liberty was attacked by unmarked planes and torpedo boats in international waters during the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab States. The attack on the surveillance ship lasted 75 minutes -- 34 men died and 172 were injured. Initially it was thought that either Egypt or the U.S.S.R. was responsible, but astonishingly Israel, the U.S.'s closest ally, said that the planes and boats belonged to them, and that they mistook the ship for an Egyptian vessel -- despite the prominently displayed Stars and Stripes.

Now there is much to be sceptical about with the Israeli claims and with the US acceptance of them but those, like myself, who believe Israel's attack to have been deliberate narrow the motive down to two possibilities, 1. that Israel thought the US was helping Egypt and Syria to co-ordinate their defence.  2. that the people on board the Liberty were recording the commission of war crimes by Israel in that Israel was killing its Egyptian POWs.  I think that's the most plausible explanation but I could be wrong.  You appear to be only person who is saying that Israel carried out the attack to make it look like a Soviet attack.  Perhaps you'd like to reword that post like you did with the "anti-zionist zionists" post. Or perhaps you keep getting things wrong deliberately especially as even the blurb itself claims that Israel claimed responsibility for the attack.


Mark Elf
I know I shouldn't bother trying to discuss anything with a racist, whether antisemitic or zionist or both.  They never argue in good faith as the discussion with Martin Iqbal has shown.  But as I said before coded language does need to be challenged and sometimes this can only be done by asking questions directly.

I have detailed three areas where Martin Iqbal is claiming that spreading a certain version of events could completely change the discourse and the public perception of Palestine.  They are, the holocaust, 9/11 and the USS Liberty.  With the holocaust he doesn't actually say what he is disputing apart from the "myth" or the "narrative" or perhaps the "paradigm".  And he certainly doesn't explain how the holocaust helped zionism win the support of the major imperial powers prior to World War II.  With 9/11, I'm not sure of the details, but he claims that Israel played a central role and that the commonly held view of what happened and who did it somehow amounts to a "founding myth" of a state that was founded over 50 years before 9/11.  He has also flagrantly lied about the USS Liberty and it is not clear what he thinks can be gained for the Palestinian cause by repeating and spreading that lie.  Surely the truth was bad enough for Israel.

Martin Iqbal claims modestly that his position amounts to "intellectual courage" and I suppose making himself look so silly does require some kind of courage but he really only wants to dog-whistle to the existing believers.  What is it they say?  For those who believe no explanation is necessary, for those who don't believe, no explanation is possible.  How convenient for Martin Iqbal.  He never has to explain anything and if he is asked to, in the name of "intellectual courage", he will simply delete or ban the comments.

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