Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I confess to not liking some of Israel Shamir's writings but I am almost always challenged by them and as Kafka said, "... we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us." Moreover, I've never read anything by him or Gilad Atzmon that satisifies any valid definition of 'anti-Semitic.' So far as I can see, the AZAAS blog doesn't refute anything Atzmon or Shamir have written, it's just more of the same sorry old smear tactics without much substance. Thus, it is not unlike the hatchet job Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish tried to do on Israel Shamir back in 2001. That is, before Ibish turned against Abunimah, Joseph Massad, and As'ad AbuKhalil for being insufficiently condemnatory of Hamas in 2006.
One of the most recent pieces on the AZAAS blog is about Norman Finkelstein. He has a great bit in his latest book that's spot on re: 'anti-Semitism' that I've quoted here before:
Wrapping themselves in the mantle of The Holocaust, these Jewish elites pretend—and, in their own solipsistic universe, perhaps imagine themselves—to be victims, dismissing any and all criticism as manifestations of "anti-Semitism." And, from this lethal brew of formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness on the part of American Jewish elites. Alongside Israel, they are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today.It's sad there's so much of this bogus 'anti-Semite' baiting going on in the Palestinian solidarity movement. It's probably one of the greatest obstacles to the movement that there is today and it underscores the importance of getting "Zionists Out of the Peace Movement." It's also important, of course, to disabuse sincere anti-Zionists of the poisonous indoctrination about Jews and 'anti-Semitism' that so many of
Well, here are the above mentioned excerpts from " 'NOT IN MY NAME’ – An analysis of Jewish righteousness" by Gilad Atzmon, 13 June 2004:
‘There are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.’See also:
Chaim Weizman August 1897, at the First Zionist Congress
I understand Zionists, I think that they are the biggest threat to world peace, I argue that they are war criminals, I fight them and I try to bring them down. I write about them, I compose music against them but I understand their logic. I understand their tricks, I know exactly where they are aiming and I do my best to stop them.
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. There are many of them: Jews for peace, Jews for Palestine, Jews against oppression, Jews for human rights, Marxist Jews, Jews for this and Jews for that. More than often they approach me and ask for my support. Obviously, I share most if not all of their humanistic views but I always have to turn them down. I cannot understand why they choose to act under a strange clannish umbrella. If peace is that important, why turn it into a marginal business? If human rights are a universal aim why not fight for them among the rest of the humankind.
Facing my criticism they produce the same two arguments:
1. They say that being Jewish makes their views sound stronger.
2. And they say that in light of the crimes committed by Zionism in the name of the Jewish people it makes sense to prove to the world that, in fact, there are more than a few ‘good Jews’ around.
The first argument is weak and counter-effective to its very cause. In fact, to offer such an argument is to admit to a certain degree of intellectual dishonesty. If we believe in the transparency of a rational argument we must accept that the ethnic origin of an argument’s provider should not have any effect on its validity. Consequently, being a Jew doesn’t cover any argumentative flaws. If Zionism is categorically wrong, then the racial or ethnic belonging of its critics is irrelevant.
The second argument is, at first sight, more convincing. Jewish leftists occasionally claim that Zionism stains world Jewry with its continuous criminal activity. The logic behind such a statement is fairly straightforward. On the one hand, Zionism presents itself as the official voice of the Jewish people. On the other hand, Zionism is daily engaged with serious war crimes and atrocities. The synthesis of the two leads to the conclusion that world Jewry is criminally liable for the Zionist crimes. Theoretically speaking, those Jews who refuse to accept responsibility are more than entitled to stand up against Zionism. They usually apply the ‘not in my name’ strategy; sometimes they define themselves as ‘humanist Jews’ or even ‘Jews for peace’. Superficially their actions appear noble; in fact, it is with these actions that the real problems start. By saying not in ‘my’ name, they label the rest of the Jewish people as criminally liable for Zionist crime. I will try to elucidate this point.
... While Zionism appointed itself from its early days to talk and to act on behalf of the Jewish people, it is actually the sporadic rebels who criticise Zionism in the name of their Jewish secular identity who affirm the Zionist ‘totalitarian’ agenda. Bizarrely enough, it is the Jewish Left which turns Zionism into the official voice of the Jewish people.
... It is the enlightened Jewish leftist who crowns Zionism as the voice of the Jewish people. We are thus entitled to consider that all Jewish people – except Moishe’l, Yitzchak’l and Yanke’l who apparently have proved themselves to be ‘Jewish peace activists’, ‘Jewish human rights enthusiasts’, ‘Marxists Jew’ etc. – support or at least are liable for Zionist crimes. Though I would appear to be blaming ‘good Jews’ for affirming Zionism I am fairly sure that those who apply such methods of resistance are far from being vicious. They are just naïve. They are presumably unaware of the implications of their marginal humanistic attitude. They no doubt do not understand that by fighting Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity they approve Zionism. They must fail to realise that their form of resistance contributes to the labelling of the entire Jewish people as war criminals.
The Birth of Evil
We face here a carefully conceived trap set by early Zionist ideologists. Zionists would argue that every Jew is a Zionist unless proved different. Until recently I myself fell into this trap; I argued that every Jew who felt unease with Zionist crimes should do their utmost and be public about it. Only recently did I realise that I was categorically wrong. To demand that Jews disapprove of Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity is to accept the Zionist philosophy. To resist Zionism as a secular Jew involves an acceptance of basic Zionist terminology, that is to say, a surrendering to Jewish racist and nationalist philosophy. To talk as a Jew is to surrender to Weizman’s Zionist philosophy. According to Weizman, ‘There are no English Jews’ but rather ‘Jews who live in England’. In other words, you are first and foremost a Jew by race and nation; every other label is secondary.
We must admit that we have never come across a German dove who defines himself as an ‘Aryan for peace’; neither do we know of Russians who define themselves as ‘Slavs for human rights’. We do not know too many ‘Celtic Marxists’ either. Such combinations sound pretty peculiar, not to say funny. Somehow political or humanist titles seem misplaced when they precede or follow racial labels. Accordingly, defining oneself as a ‘Marxist Jew’ or a ‘Jew for peace’ should sound peculiar. But somehow it doesn’t. No one raises an eyebrow when confronting a ‘Jew for human rights’. Presumably this relates to the fact that, as far as Jews are concerned, the demarcation between racial identity and nationalist identity is very ambiguous. If we want to soften the peculiarity involved with those Jewish humanist titles, we must leave aside the racist interpretation and re-examine those titles as nationalistic labels. At least, linguistically it would make more sense. We can easily conceive of a German Marxist or a Serbian peace activist. Accordingly, if we regard Jewish identity as a national definition then the label ‘Jew for peace’ or ‘Jew for human rights’ makes sense. We would refer to the above dove as a man who holds left-wing views and who happens to be Jewish by nation. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that by doing so we accept the notion of Jewish nationalism. In other words, we become devoted Zionists.
Jews cannot criticise Zionism in the name of their ethnic belonging because such an act is in itself an approval of Zionism. Practically speaking, Jews can’t really oppose Zionism unless they adopt an alternative view that questions the Zionist totality.
While nationalism is a celebration of the differences between peoples, Jewish nationalism goes one step further. As well as being different from all other nations, Jews must be different from themselves. Being a total ideology, Zionism classifies and names any form or shape of Jewish appearance. Every Jew has a role in the emerging Jewish nationalist revolution. Essentially, we have two poles:
1. The ultimate Zionist: a Jew by race, a nationalist, a colonialist, a Biblically inspired being, living on Palestinian confiscated land, preferably in a West Bank settlement.
2. The ultimate self-hater: a secular, cosmopolitan, peace lover, inspired by humanistic views, in a mixed married, living in the Diaspora.
While the former represents the hard-core pioneer of the contemporary Zionist agenda – who invades Palestinian lands and engages in daily atrocities – it is the latter who makes Zionism into a dynamic movement. It is the ‘self-hater’ who serves as an inside enemy. It is he who will convert (to Zionism) in the next anti-Semitic wave. It is he who makes Zionism into an eternal struggle for ‘Jewish salvation’. And, if this were not enough, it is he, the peace lover, who proves beyond doubt that deep in their souls Jews are peace enthusiasts and great humanists.
Looking at those distinct poles we find the contemporary Jewish people in a severely schizophrenic state. This malaise is the fuel of the Zionist revolution; it guarantees a never-ending struggle for self-definition. Within such a struggle, Zionism, being the voice of the Jewish people, positions itself beyond the debate itself. Zionism becomes a form of a meta-dialectic ideology. It is a medium of activity rather than a set of political manoeuvres.
Why is this issue a major concern?
I frequently hear complaints that it is the Jewish Left which dominates the ‘Palestinian solidarity campaign’. I can confirm that I am approached by many Jewish seculars who are devoted Palestinian supporters. A significant number of them would proudly admit to acting in the name of their Jewishness. A few days ago I attended a Palestinian solidarity event in London. It was pretty depressing to find that Hebrew was the most noticeable language in the theatre. On the surface, the situation looks encouraging, as if we are dealing with people of integrity and high human values. But the truth is slightly less heroic. I learn from Palestinians and other supporters of the Palestinian cause that it is the Jewish and Israeli Left which defines the boundaries of the discussion. It is Jewish Left which decides what is right and what is wrong. For instance, political criticism of Zionism is more than welcome as long as you stick to a very limited socio-political discussion. The Jewish Left is happy to denounce Sharon or Peres but any comparison between Zionism and other manifestations of evil are forbidden. As soon as any real scrutiny of Zionism in metaphysical terms is posited, the righteous Jewish Left police will stop it immediately. As a result, Palestinian intellectuals and artists are paralysed. Most of them are terrified that if they say what they think the ‘good Jews’ will label them as anti-Semites. I will use this opportunity to declare that the only way to further understand Zionism is to throw light on contemporary Jewish identity. Zionism and Jewish identity are not as foreign to each other as Jewish leftists insist. Zionism is an extreme appearance of Jewish identity. It is the embodiment of every wrong aspect of Jewish secular thinking. It is racist, it is nationalist, and it is Biblically inspired (rather than spiritually inspired). Being a fundamentalist movement, Zionism is not categorically different from the Nazism. Only when we understand Zionism in its nationalist and racist context will we begin to comprehend the depth of its atrocities. Only then will we realise how the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948) took place (just three years after the end of the Jewish Holocaust). We will then understand Ben Gurion’s motivations, Sharon’s popularity and Peres’ commitment to Sharon’s notion of peace. We will even get a glimpse into the deteriorated morality of the newly retired ‘good Jew’ Prof’ Benny Morris.
I do not doubt the genuine good will of those who fight Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity. I do think that they fail to think it through. In practice, left-wing Jews act as the Zionist fig leaf against their will. In modern Zionist terminology they provide Israel with a mighty intellectual defence wall. ...
- "Beware of the snakes in the grass" by Paul de Rooij
- "Petition: for two activists... that you know well" by Mary Rizzo
- AZVAS isn't a smear site and Tony Greenstein, amongst other attributes, is one of the founder members of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign and has his articles published amongst many bona-fide left-wing publications and the like.
Counterpunch.org refused Tony Greenstein the right to reply to Mary Rizzo's article. Here is his reply -
Why Palestinian Solidarity Activists Must Reject Anti-Semitism
A Reply to Mary Rizzo's Who's Afraid of Gilad Atzmon
Open Letter to Counterpunch: Who’s Afraid of Gilad Atzmon and the Holocaust Deniers? or Why Alex Cockburn Refuses to Print a Reply to Mary Rizzo
Tony Greenstein (Jews Against Zionism)
What Next? journal
Here is Tony Greenstein's reply to the Cork database allowing itself to be used to defame him -
University College Cork PSC Database - Edited by Paul Rooij, apologist for holocaust deniers and anti-semites
04 Feb 2008
I confess to not liking some of Israel Shamir's writings but I am almost always challenged by them and as Kafka said, "... we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us."
- I'm trying to censor anyone or tell them what to read. I don't know where you get this notion from.
You are perfectly entitled to read, think and do what you want.
My only concern is that Palestinian solidarity is being exploited by antisemites which, far from helping Palestinians, is a gift to zionists and supporters of the current Israeli racist regime.
If you think that Atzmon justifying the Nazi Holocaust, for instance, isn't antisemitism then why not?
Or if you think atzmon targeting a group of London-centred Palestinian solidarity activists, who happen to be Jewish, with a screed entitled the 'The Protocols of the Elders of London' isn't jew-baiting, then what is it and how does it help Palestinian solidarity rather than hindering it, for instance?
Atmon claims that all Jews are zionists - apart from this being illogical gibberish in practice, if this idea isn't antisemitic then what is it?
Like most people who have been duped by atzmon, you seem to believe that his is a valid case of a genuine supporter of Palestinian solidarity being censored by zionist Jews fraudulently posing as as peace activists. This isn't. It is what it is - an antisemite exploiting cliches and stereoypes about Palestinian activists being deliberately censored, all the better for atzmon to spead his half-witted pseudo-intellectual antismetic gibberish.
Personally myself, I could care less what the likes of atzmon, shamir and rizzo get up to in their own little cyber unverse, but nobody should be allowed to go unchallenaged with regards to antisemitism, when it comes to helping Palestinians, which is the very life-blood of zionism and lethal poison to Palestine.
all the best!
Due to Tony Greenstein's efforts, as well as others, Aztmon's antisemitic wafflings, for instance, about Nazi victims being somehow responsible for crimes committed against the,m have been banned by IndyMedia UK (although Atzmon did have his anti-democratic supporters within IM-UK who refused to abide by majority decision and who vetoed all attempts to get neo-nazi propaganda banned form IM-UK) -
An Open Letter to Indymedia
Antisemites and holocaust deniers promoted & protected on Indymedia UK
29 Jan 2008
Racism isn't democracy it is anti-democracy - and anti-racism isn't censorship.
>> a smear blog by Tony Greenstein (?) entitled Anti-Zionists against
> - AZVAS isn't a smear site and Tony Greenstein,
> amongst other attributes, is one of the founder members of the British
> Palestine Solidarity Campaign and has his articles published amongst
> many bona-fide left-wing publications and the like.
Well, "smear" is a subjective term but the stated purpose of the blog is to target Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon for allegedly introducing "racism and anti-Semitism into the Palestine solidarity movement." In the light of these, to my mind, unsubstantiated allegations, I'd call it a smear site. Tony Greenstein's socialist and other bona fides don't change the nature of the work on the blog, which ought to be evaluated on its own merits not on anything else the author has or has not done. I find bogus 'anti-Semite' smear campaigns to be SOP for all too many self-described Leftists.
> Counterpunch.org refused Tony
> Greenstein the right to reply to Mary Rizzo's article. Here is his
> reply -
> Why Palestinian Solidarity Activists Must
> Reject Anti-Semitism: A Reply to Mary Rizzo's Who's Afraid of Gilad Atzmon
> marxist.de website
I read the piece and I can see why CounterPunch turned it down. Greenstein writes, "If it were to be perceived that in fact there were some truth to this allegation, that part of the Palestine Solidarity movement were indeed genuinely anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi, this could have a devastating effect on support for the Palestinians ..." I can't think of any self-avowed anti-Zionist who has done more than Greenstein to fuel the perception "that part of the Palestine Solidarity movement [is] indeed genuinely anti-Semitic". Greenstein's case in the piece against Atzmon is essentially guilt-by-association and he practically admits as much. Now, I think associations can tell us something but guilt-by-association arguments are some of the weakest, and usually disreputable, arguments around. Regarding Shamir, Eisen, and Rizzo it's much of the same with heavy doses of argument-by-assertion and outrage that his enemies don't spout the dogma that Greenstein does. As far as I can tell, Greenstein never engages the substance of what these people say. His style seems to consist almost exclusively of taking something out of context, misinterpreting it, and then screeching "Isn't that outrageous! He said X, he quoted Y."
On the Jews as Christ killers bit that so exercises Greenstein, no, Jews didn't kill Jesus. There were no Jews in Jesus' day, only Judaeans with a religion that was markedly different from Judaism, which emerged after 70 AD. That's not to say there is no cultural or theological continuity between Jews and the people of Jesus' day but the very same thing is true of Christians and Karaites, etc. In any case, it is contrary to the teachings of Jesus to hold any modern-day person accountable for the actions of the religious and imperial leaders of Jesus' day. It is interesting to note though that the Jews as Christ-killers case finds support in Judaism and modern Zionist praxis, see "We killed Jesus, we'll kill you too!"
> Here is Tony Greenstein's reply to
> the Cork database allowing itself to be used to defame him -
> University College Cork PSC Database - Edited
> by Paul Rooij, apologist for holocaust deniers and anti-semites
> 04 Feb 2008
Read it, I am more persuaded by Paul de Rooij's case that "While Tony Greenstein may have started out as a Jew opposed to Zionism and in solidarity with Palestinians, during the past few years he has been more concerned about conducting offensive vendettas against anti-zionists who don't share his views. In particular, Greenstein and his gang have waged a vile campaign against Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen labeling them 'anti-semites', 'Nazis' , 'holocaust denier' , Jewish-conspiracy theorist , defender of holocaust deniers , and so on."
>> confess to not liking some of Israel Shamir's writings but I am almost
>> always challenged by them and as Kafka said, "... we ought to read only
>> the kind of books that wound and stab us."
> - I'm trying to censor anyone or tell them what to read. I don't know
> where you get this notion from.
You misunderstand. I was only expressing my own feelings and not making any reference here to anything you have written.
> You are perfectly entitled to
> read, think and do what you want.
> only concern is that Palestinian solidarity is being exploited by
> antisemites which, far from helping Palestinians, is a gift to zionists
> and supporters of the current Israeli racist regime.
I don't agree but even if what you say is true then it's only a "gift" if we buy into the misguided notion that the movement must be 'pure' by the standards of the oppressors. I don't accept those standards. The fight against "anti-Semitism' or to enforce the dogma of "The Holocaust," as Finkelstein puts it, should not be a priority in the Palestinian solidarity movement. We should not wear the handcuffs the enemy hands to us. This is no endorsement of oppressing Jews qua Jews but the reflexive genuflection to Jewish narratives and sensitivities in the West is pathological and must stop and not just for the sake of Palestinians. We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, to quote Bob Marley.
> If you think that Atzmon
> justifying the Nazi Holocaust, for instance, isn't antisemitism then
> why not?
It's simple, I haven't read all of his writings but I haven't found anything he has written where Atzmon justifies "the Nazi Holocaust." Trying to understand or explain something is not the same as justifying it. If Atzmon ever said it was okay and right for Nazis or anyone else to round up and kill unarmed Jews, Roma, Slavs, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. then rest assured I would agree, to put it mildly, that he had gone somewhere I would not go and I would not have much interest in reading or sharing his work.
> if you think atzmon targeting a group of London-centred Palestinian
> solidarity activists, who happen to be Jewish, with a screed entitled
> the 'The Protocols of the Elders of London' isn't jew-baiting, then
> what is it and how does it help Palestinian solidarity rather than
> hindering it, for instance?
I don't think Atzmon's piece qualifies as "systematic harrying or persecution of Jews," to quote the OED. As I read it, Atzmon was exposing a specific group of very consciously self-identified Jews who have tried to hijack the Palestinian solidarity movement and impose on it their own specious priorities of fighting "anti-Semitism", "Holocaust revisionism," etc. I support him in that effort.
> Atmon claims that all Jews are
> zionists - apart from this being illogical gibberish in practice, if
> this idea isn't antisemitic then what is it?
Again, I think this is a misinterpretation on your part. I understand Atzmon to be saying that Jews who make a point of emphasizing their Jewish identity in their Palestinian solidarity work underscore and reinforce the duality of Jew vs. non-Jew that is at the heart of Zionism. Now, one can disagree with Atzmon's argument but I don't agree that it is "antisemitic".
> Like most people
> who have been duped by atzmon, you seem to believe that his is a valid
> case of a genuine supporter of Palestinian solidarity being censored by
> zionist Jews fraudulently posing as as peace activists. This isn't. It
> is what it is - an antisemite exploiting cliches and stereoypes about
> Palestinian activists being deliberately censored, all the better for
> atzmon to spead his half-witted pseudo-intellectual antismetic
Well, despite reading Atzmon, Rizzo, and Shamir and reading and befriending (yikes!!!) Eisen, I haven't concluded that Greenstein et al. are Zionists or fraudulent peace activists. As for the "half-witted pseudo-intellectual antismetic gibberish" I think you would do better to actually engage his arguments with reasoned arguments of your own.
> Personally myself, I could care
> less what the likes
> of atzmon, shamir and rizzo get up to in their own little cyber
> unverse, but nobody should be allowed to go unchallenaged with regards
> to antisemitism, when it comes to helping Palestinians, which is the
> very life-blood of zionism and lethal poison to Palestine.
Well, I think this sums up our differences and priorities quite nicely. I don't agree that "antisemitism ... is the very life-blood of zionism and lethal poison to Palestine." Jewish supremacism and exceptionalism are the life blood of Zionism and Zionism is the lethal poison to Palestine. Even if you accept the argument that Zionism is merely an understandable response to 'anti-Semitism' (and I don't), Jews didn't have to collectively become the mirror image of their own oppressors. Just like a child molester is not excused because he, too, was molested as a child, Zionists can find no equitable or ethical refuge in the crimes, real or imagined, of 'anti-Semitism'.
> all the best!
> to Tony Greenstein's efforts, as well as others, Aztmon's antisemitic
> wafflings, for instance, about Nazi victims being somehow responsible
> for crimes committed against the,m have been banned by IndyMedia UK
> (although Atzmon did have his anti-democratic supporters within IM-UK
> who refused to abide by majority decision and who vetoed all attempts
> to get neo-nazi propaganda banned form IM-UK) -
> An Open Letter to Indymedia
> Antisemites and holocaust deniers promoted & protected on Indymedia UK
> 29 Jan 2008
Well, one of us is confused. I read here that Gilad Atzmon was completely exonerated by the UK IMC.
> Racism isn't democracy it is anti-democracy - and anti-racism isn't censorship.
I agree that racism is undemocratic but I think it is too often the case that self-styled anti-racists engage in censorship, sometimes against non-racists.
At the time Mr Greenstein was the "founder" of the PSC, he was also engaged in credit card theft, stealing the earnings of other workers:
More or less at the same time, he was also vandalizing university property and was a shoplifter:
He landed up in court again on drug-related charges:
Being convicted time after time didn't stop him from becoming involved in anti-Jewish racist, violence incidents:
And, as Paul de Rooij shows, the bully-boy tactics of this "Snake in the Grass" continue unabated today:
Here Francis Clark-Lowes audio-visual Francis Clark-Lowes describes in detail the tactics Tony Greenstein resorted to, to have Gilad Atzmon barred from delivering a lecture in Brighton. Worth listening to:
Apparently he has managed to establish a reputation for himself in the PSC and beyond. Greenstein's criminal record is the first thing that pops out in any internet search (rather than his anti-imperialist record). With such a criminal record, Greenstein can only harm himself, something he is really good at, by continuing to huff and puff with those incredibly boring and long-winded rants on his smear site. No wonder why Atzmon is not touched by him and his smear campaign.
Explains the complete uselessness of Palestinian solidarity groups in bringing about any tangible change in Jewish views towards Israel - let alone any political change in the countries where these movements operate.
Makes one wonder if thats the idea....