Saying NO to the hunters of Atzmon
There has been a long running war of attrition by a group who operate under the banner of Jews against Zionism against Gilad Atzmon, who describes himself as “an Israeli born, ex Israeli, Ex Jew, Hebrew speaking Palestinian”.The war began after Gilad wrote an article, provocatively entitled The Protocols of the Elders Of London, which railed against the way some JAZ members had treated Israel Shamir.
In the essay, Atzmon outlined the behaviours that some members the group had employed against Shamir, and identified some of the leading protagonists. Since then the protagonists appear to have been out to get Atzmon, and those that they associate with him. They are using exactly the same tactics that Atzmon described:
They demand the cleansing of Shamir. They insist upon ruining his intellectual career or at the very least, his reputation. They would use any possible manipulative strategy to have him thrown out of DYR, which is the first step towards sending him beyond the pale.
In October 2007, I found myself inadvertantly involved in the conflict, as a fairly long term admin of Indymedia uk, a site which is part of the global Indymedia network, and is closely aligned to the anarchist and anti-capitalism movements in the UK.
I spent about 6 months in Nablus, as an ISMer during 2002/3, and since my return to London have had involvement with a number of groups who form part of the spectrum that makes up the Palestinian solidarity movement in the UK. I have met some of the protagonists, and have heard others speak at public meetings. I have been involved in campaigns with some. I have also tried to keep update with developments in Palestine, and to read progressive articles on the situation. In doing so, I became aware of the campaign being waged against Atzmon by the protagonists, and following on from that began reading articles by him.
I have never met Gilad, and it was only after the campaign came to Indymedia uk that I have had an exchange of emails with him. I guess that I didn’t really understand the full implications of the protagonists’ campaign until Tony Greenstein contacted Indymedia to demand that an article by Atzmon, which had been sitting on the Indymedia uk site without any comments or complaints for about 2 months. Prior to this he had left comments under the article itself.
This contact turned out to be the first shots in a new battle in the war of attrition that Tony Greenstein and his JAZ friends have been conducting against Atzmon. I intend to use the blog to archive as much relevant documentaion of this particular battle as possible, so that it is easily accessible. I have a feeling that it might be useful to the next group or organisation that gets dragged into this war, and when that happens I hope they find this, and make use of it. It also gives me an opportunity to explain where I stand on matters, and to give my side of the story. I believe that there is every likelihood that Greenstein and his friends will seek to drag my name through the mud, will label me an anti-semite, will suggest that I am a holocaust denier, and many other horrible things.
At the end of the day, Tony Greenstein, like myself, Atzmon, and the rest of the cast of characters that you will meet as you refight the battle scene by scene, are all human, are all fallible, and all make mistakes. Some of us are aware that we have shortcomings, and try to reflect on our behaviour and to change it when we realise that we are doing destructive and hurtful things. That’s how I try to live to my life, and I think Gilad attempts to do so to. We don’t always get it right. I’ve yet to see any signs that Tony Greenstein does anything except rampage destructively and blindly through life, attacking anything and everything that he does not agree with. I think it sad that he does not realise how horrible the archive of efforts make him look.
So, let me be clear. I am against fascism and Nazism. I am against all forms of racism and discrimination. This includes any form of Judeaphobia, which I prefer to the term anti-semitism, because it seems to me that the charge of anti-semitism has been so abused that it is no longer a useful term. Essentially it has become a term that is used to attack opponents of “Zionism in practice,” the implementation of an ideology from a long ago era, which has resulted in the dispossession, incarceration and deaths of many Palestinians. Many Jewish people have died as a result of it as well.
In fact Greenstein himself noted in his first email:
On most occasions accusations of anti-Semitism, especially by Zionists against those supporting the Palestinians are a form of defamation. In this case they are unfortunately true.
I think the way in which Mr. Greenstein has conducted himself throughout his war of attrition makes it impossible to accept him as a neutral arbiter, and therefore I don’t think his judgement can be trusted. I think it is necessary for each individual who wishes to pronounce on the alleged antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon to read his arguments in their entirety and to make up their own minds.
I am aware that Atzmon is extremely provocative at times, and is quite capable of being offensive. I suspect he has regrets about the way that he has worded things, and I know of at leat one ocassion where he has edited his text, when he realises that it might be misread. He has also touched on some very sensitive subjects and not always in the most sensitive way.
He has discussed the issue of the pro-Israel lobby in terms that have caused some to accuse him of repetition of one of the canards of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is an issue that is impossible to discuss without having that accusation thrown at you, as the rather conservative academics Walt and Mearsheimer have come to discover. However, W+Ms work has forced the issue into the open, and as I have said in one of the emails relating to this discussion, I think that it has to be possible to reflect on the power of the pro-Israel lobby. It makes no sense to me to say that because some forgery from 1903 claimed that Jews were involved in a conspiracy to run the world (I have to admit I’ve never read the damn thing), that there can never be any study of the power structures of Zionism, which include organisations like AIPAC, the ADL and the AJC.
However, here Atzmon can be seen as extremely provocative and offensive:
Let’s review some current typical Zionist arguments:
a. The ‘Elders of Zion’ syndrome: Zionists complain that Jews continue to be associated with a conspiracy to rule the world via political lobbies, media and money.
Is the suggestion of conspiracy really an empty accusation? The following list is presented with pride in several Jewish American websites.
Jews in Bush’s Administration:
White House Press Secretary
Deputy Chief of Staff
White House Political Director
White House Director of Scheduling
Undersecretary of Defense (Controller)
Deputy Secretary of Defense
I. Lewis Libby
Chief of Staff to the Vice President
White House Liaison to the Jewish Community
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and
Families at HHS
Director of the National Security Council’s Office for Democracy, Human
Rights and International Operations
Mark D. Weinberg
Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Public Affairs
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Head of the Justice Department’s criminal division
Ambassador to Israel
Ambassador to the Netherlands
Ambassador to Denmark
Ambassador to Hungary
Ambassador to Singapore
Ambassador to Slovakia
Ambassador to Italy
Ambassador to Uruguay
Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy
Let me assure you, in Clinton’s administration the situation was even worse. Even though the Jews only make up 1.9 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 have to ask ourselves what motivates American Jews to gain such political power. Is it a genuine care for American interests? Soon, following the growing number of American casualties in Iraq, American people will start to ask themselves this very question. Since America currently enjoys the status of the world’s only super power and since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, we must begin to take the accusation that Zionists are trying to control the world very seriously. It is beyond doubt that Zionists, the most radical, racist and nationalistic Jews around, have already managed to turn America into an Israeli mission force. The world’s number one super power is there to support the Jewish state’s wealth and security matters. The one-sided pro-Zionist take on the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, the American veto against every ‘anti-Israeli’ UN resolution, the war against Iraq and now the militant intentions against Syria, all prove beyond doubt that it is Zionist interests that America is serving. 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 (in fact Zionists) do control the world. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least. Whether the Americans enjoy the deterioration of their state’s affairs will no doubt be revealed soon.
The bit that I have quoted in bold is the bit that is usually quoted. Because that is one of the things that the protagonists do, they quote partially and out of context, and then the thing looks pretty damn rancid. In the context of the full article, I do not think it is intentional anti-semitism – and this is what I find when I trace back the more outrageous snippets that are constantly lumped together by his attackers. The fact that the out of context snippet could then be abused out of context by genuine anti-semites does not, in my view, invalidate the article. I find that when I try to understand the whole context the statements make some sort of sense. Sometimes the articles require several readings before I feel I’ve come to understand them – maybe I’m just really obtuse – and I haven’t found a way of judging Atzmon’s writings without some effort.
Now, to be honest with you, I do not know enough about the realities of American Lobbying (presumably only a very few lobbyists and politicians know the real truth of their own actions), so I cannot say that I agree with Atzmon’s thesis that the pro-Israel lobby is running the world by virtue of the power that they exert through powerful organisations such as AIPAC, the AJC and the ADL exert in Washington. I do know that the AJC ran an ad in the Financial Times:
The advert AJC posted in the FT showed a map of Europe, Africa and Asia centered on a blacked-out Iran and indicated the current and projected range of Iran’s missile capacity. It asked the question: “Suppose Iran one day gives nuclear devices to terrorists. Can anyone within range of Iran’s missiles feel safe?”
I can understand why Atzmon believes the Israel-Lobby is controlling the USA, but I don’t know if he is right or wrong. Perhaps now there will be a fuller public debate of the issue, so that it is possible to start deciding for oneself if Atzmon is close to correct, or way off beam on this one. It also seems to me that the Lobby is starting to target Europe for its activities, so we may discover more along the way.
I think that Atzmon should have the right to express his views on the matter, and that those views should be judged within the full context in which they are made.
In order to prevent this post becoming impossibly long, I’m not going to go through any of Mr. Greenstein’s long lists. Some of the other allegations are discussed in emails to follow.
Many of the emails I post are from the Indymedia UK features list, which is a publicly archived list where moderation decisions are made. Some are emails between myself and Mr. Greenstein and his fellow attackers. I actually don’t care whether they want them published or not. They weren’t private except for one sent to me by the editor of Jews sans frontieres and it is my view that it is indicative of the tactics this group is willing to employ, and brings into question Tony Greenstein’s claim that his war of attrition is political and not personal, and that “personal abuse is entirely Atzmon’s forte.”:
Its one thesis of his that is patently untrue.
Here is the email from Mark Elf – sent to me (Sat, 10 Nov 2007 00:45:17 +0000 (GMT) ):
You “presume from the cc’s on Tony’s email that you are working
together as a group on this one.” Are you fucking mad? When you are cc’d into an email promoting viagra or penis enlargement, do you presume that you are working as a group with the sender?
You useless piece of shit. And you complain of bullying tactics whilst betraying a woeful ignorance of racism.
What a wanker you are, whoever you are, ftp.
FTP is a loyalist slogan by the way. It stands for Fuck the Provos. Since you host sectarianism (at best) you might think it a happy coincidence.
You useless wanker, honestly. I can’t believe what you claim to believe. I was going to copy all the other cc’s on this list but, since there are some on the list I don’t know, it wouldn’t be right. It would look like bullying, you wanker! Sorry to be repetitive but there’s nothing worse than an idiot who thinks they’re clever.
What a fuckwit. I’m trying to get my head around this. I blog but I don’t do much surfing. You run or speak for a site that claims to want to “free the people.” I take that to mean all people. You host an article by Gilad Atzmon that states that Israel should have learned from what it was that made Jews unpopular enough to get millions of Jews killed by the nazis. Atzmon’s beef used to be that non-religious people who identify as Jews are zionists since they are asserting, not an identity but, supremacy. But now apparently whatever it was that Israelis have to learn was what it was that made Jews unpopular enough for even those Jews who had converted to Christianity or other religions or who never claimed that they were Jewish, to be killed. So there you have a Christian sitting in church with his or her yellow star. Suddenly they are yanked out of the church by the gestapo and marched off to a concentration camp. They did something to make themselves unpopular?
And the colonial settler State of Israel should learn something from that?
Maybe the last of the colonial settler states has learned that it’s a jolly good idea to have people like Atzmon compare it to the Jews who perished in the holocaust no matter what they did, no matter how they behaved, no matter what they claimed to be, because then they can say that anti-zionism is antisemitism.
But then all that (not so) subtlety is going to be lost on a wanker who believes that people cc’d into an email must be working as a group with the sender.
There are two more specifics in your email that I would like to address since you have written to me out of the blue to complain of my bullying tactics.
You have pasted a copy of an email from a Steve Cohen. Cohen, you might know, is a Jewish surname. Not all people with that surname are Jews but it’s a safe bet usually that someone with that name is Jewish. That does not mean that other Jews are responsible for the email he sent nor are people who are cc’d by someone that also has a Jewish surname.
You quote Deborah Maccoby too. Another Jewish surname. You suggest that Tony Greenstein and all of those he cc’d are responsible for her email and are responsible for any hypocritical departure from what she said regarding “silencing” or not. Individuals who are Jews can still write as individuals.
I have to say that you are not only defending this “free the people” site’s duty to post antisemitic (arguably, you say) articles but you have given vent to it on your own account, at least twice in yoru ludicrous email.
I’m not seeking a reply from a useless piece of shit but just in case you do reply, keep it “off list” you big bully.
And I say that this is unacceptable behaviour. I’m not prepared to keep quite about Mark Elf’s abuse, I don’t respect it as a form of political action, and I have already informed him it will be published. Since I made it clear to them that I would publish what I like, when I like, the emails have stopped rolling in, so presumably they realise that this kind of action isn’t actually acceptable.
I say that it is time Moshe Machover, Tony Greenstein, Deborah Maccoby, Mark Elf and friends take a time for reflection, that they think long and hard about whether their war of attrition is serving any useful purpose, about whether it is in the best interests of the Palestinian solidarity movement that they act in this manner, and that they try and understand how it appears that the ideological mindset they seem to have adopted, seems to allow them to justify using using the exact same methods of intimidation that the zionist lobby uses to attack those that do not agree with the implementation of ‘Zionism in practice’ and the horrors that entails for Palestinians.
I also say that anyone who is, like I was, dragged into the war of attrition, should be aware that the group has used the same tactics as are commonly used by the zionist lobby in the past, and should be on the look-out for them happening again.
If the group cannot find a more reasonable way of dealing with groups that they say they are supportive of, if they do not stop hounding and attempting to banish and silence their political adversaries, then I say they can FUCK OFF! I want nothing to do with them. Hopefully others will take the same line.
Read on through the documents and make your own mind up about what is going on here.
To comment you have to register. This is to prevent anonymous trolls and to encourage everyone to take responsibility for what they say, and how they say it.
This post has gone on long enough. I’m aware that there is loads more I need to clarify, and once all the stuff is posted, I will write more.
Entry filed under: Gilad Atzmon, Indymedia, Jews Against Zionism, Mark Elf, Moshe Machover, pro-Israel Lobby, Tony Greenstein. Tags: Gilad Atzmon, Indymedia, Jews Against Zionism, Mark Elf, Moshe Machover, pro-Israel Lobby, Tony Greenstein.