‘An elephant in the room’

November 12, 2007 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Tony Greenstein clearly has not got a clue how open publishing works
despite all his talk of supporting Indymedia in the past (Bold is my emphasis) – ftp

[Imc-uk-features] Atzmon

tony greenstein tonygreenstein at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 9 15:42:41 PST 2007

Dear FTP
I have a feeling that you are deliberately arguing past the points I have made in order to justify your decision to keep Atzmon’s anti-Semitic article ‘Saying NO to the Hunters of Goliath’ on Indymedia. If so, of course then that is a political decision on your part, but it is also a political decision to post an overtly anti-Semitic article, not just a comment, and it also indicates, as do your comments below, for its content, on Indymedia.
There is no comparison between for example a reference or link to Eisen’s Holocaust Wars in my Guardian CIF article and reposting the article on the Indymedia site. Any analysis of fascist or racist writings will need to refer to the original. It is one thing to post a link, it is entirely another matter to proudly display on your site a racist article. Are you also saying that in order to better understand Mein Kampf you are happy to put it up? Maybe anti-fascist journals should also reprint articles they criticise in Spearhead? I’ve never heard such nonsense.
You ask for a definition of anti-Semitism. Like any form of racism, anti-Semitism is an ideology and practice that seeks to discriminate, demonise or persecute on the grounds of being Jewish or whatever, or which claims that there are ‘racial characteristics’ which account for alleged social behaviour of Jews is anti-Semitic. The same is true of other forms of racism. Like the elephant in the room it isn’t difficult to know it’s there even if it is can’t be exactly be defined. You know it when you spot it.
Likewise the fact that the article in question ‘Hunters of Goliath’ has been up for 2 months it is irrelevant. When it was brought to my attention by Moshe Machoever I immediately wrote to you. I do not deliberately search out the articles of Atzmon.
You say you don’t know what I am complaining about since my comments upon it are already up. Actually I had that argument with the editor of the Guardian’s CIF section. I will restate what I told her. To merely comment on an article means that the article has a status and validity which outweighs the comments by virtue of the fact that someone is commenting upon it, not the other way around. The least that you can do then is to have an article on Indymedia critiquing Atzmon’s article from a position of equality.
You speak of my ‘problem’ with Atzmon. I have no problem with him as a person, as I have already stated. I disagree with his politics. It is the hallmark of the right-wing that they seek to evade the political issues and concentrate on personalities. Atzmon as an individual is irrelevant. It is his ideas I critique. When I describe his article as ‘unremarkable and indeed unoriginal either; that is a description of the article although of course it may reflect on the pretensions of the writer too.
In Dialectic of the Negation Atzmon states that ‘The reason is simple, negation of Zionism is a good enough reason to set a powerful Jewish political identity. Though this may explain why Jews are so involved in Palestinian solidarity, it may additionally explain why the Palestinian solidarity movement has never made it into a global mass movement.’
Leaving aside the incomprehensibility of much of his nonsense about identity and negation thereof, what is clear from this quote is that the reason that Atzmon gives for why the PS movement has not become a ‘global mass movement’ is because of the number of Jews in the movement. If you don’t think that that is anti-Semitic then clearly you have difficulty understanding what racism is. Indeed you give the impression that you are willing to provide an alibi for anything that is racist as long as it is dressed up in flowery language and is suitably mystified.
You still don’t understand what the original complaint is. You write that: ‘So, I still don’t understand why you are so keen to stop others from doing the same. I’d like to think that Indymedia readers have the wherewithall to make up their own minds
’ Fine, then presumably using the same logic any amount of racist and fascist articles can appear on Indymedia and you will adopt the same attitude. In which case why not scrap the guidelines and have done with it?
The point you make about the Guardian is even more absurd. The Guardian doesn’t consciously give space to overt racists like Atzmon. It was only after legal threats and other bluster that CIF agreed to carry an article from Atzmon, to which I replied. What you are saying is that there is no right of reply to Indymedia, since I assume this response to you will also not find its way online. So by any measure, the position of Indymedia when it comes to carrying racist articles is far worse than that of the Guardian.
You state that ‘‘long before Atzmon began writing the stuff of which you disapprove, arseholes like Littlejohn were saying that pro-Palestinian = anti-semitic
. If Indymedia was to run a service that Littlejohn and the cops approved of and couldn’t criticise or act on, we’d be less than useless.’
I’m well aware of what Littlejohn is saying. That is precisely why for you to carry an overtly anti-Semitic article by Atzmon merely gives support and sustenance to what people like Littlejohn say. Clearly you neither understand what I’m saying if you think I’m suggesting seeking the approval of Littlejohn and the cops. I can only suggest you read the article which I wrote on Indymedia, and also the tape I made of a conversation with Brighton’s Police Commander, Kevin Moore, concerning the police harassment and attack on the demonstration against the bombing of Lebanon. It is after all on Indymedia’s site! What you are doing is giving grist to the mill for people like Moore and Littlejohn. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/09/350370.html. There is simply no logic to what you are saying.
You also ask ‘What would you have expected Indymedia to do if someone had contacted us about one of your posts, and demanded that we remove it because of your own anti-semitism?’ I would expect you to look at their allegations and if they related to the fact that I support the Palestinians or oppose Zionism then to dismiss the allegation. If however I had written for example:
How is it that people living today feel accountable or chased for a crime committed by their great great great ancestors almost 2,000 years ago? I assume that those Jews who get angry when blamed for killing Jesus are those who identify themselves with Jesus’s killers.’ Or
we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people 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.
Then I would expect you to do something. Judging by everything you have said so far you see nothing wrong with mixing up medieval anti-Semitism about Christ killers and Jewish conspiracy theories. Perhaps this also the position of the features collective too?
The fact that the SWP, for their own opportunistic reasons, engage with Atzmon is irrelevant.
Since sending you the original e-mail I have received fairly conclusive proof that Atzmon, for legal reasons, is posting via a colleague in South America. You say you do not log IP addresses, however you must be able to look at and send headers of e-mails in order that that analysis is being done. Atzmon has been caught out doing this before and what we have is Atzmon commenting on his own articles without even having the honesty to own up to his authorship. But perhaps you approve of that too?
I have not said that Atzmon’s article is causing direct suffering or poses a danger, other than to Indymedia’s reputation. |However toleration of racism has its own dangers, like making people immune to racial arguments that the world is divided into races and peoples with their own innate characteristics. As I previously stated, I was under the impression that Indymedia stood for certain things like anti-racism and anti-imperialism and that its collective would have been aware not to post racist and bigoted articles. Clearly I was wrong.
You state that: ‘Heres my reading of it: The fact that Atzmon prefaced the statement with talk of a biblical lesson, means he is talking about a religious worldview too. He then goes on to make a comparison to the present. I don’t see gross anti-semitism that has to be deleted ‘before the disease spreads’ at all. If the anti-semitic content is so oblique that you have to have studied in depth to understand it, who exactly does it pose a danger to? And that is only IF he meant what you say he meant..
No the fact that Atzmon ‘prefaces’ his statement with ‘talk of a biblical lesson’ means nothing. Many and varied are the writers who have used ‘biblical lessons’ in order to illustrate racial themes. That in case you have forgotten was the defence of Nick Griffin when charged with incitement to racial hatred, that he was merely quoting from the Koran. Every anti-Muslim racist claims that they are only motivated by religious antagonism. The Nazis too used such ‘biblical lessons’. That was why the first thing they did when they invaded a country was to ban Jewish ritual slaughter.
Atzmon states that ‘The Israelis tend to personalise conflicts. Yet, by doing this, they are neither original nor innovative. They in fact follow a Biblical lesson. Within the Judaic worldview, history and ethics are often reduced into a banal single binary opposition principle.’
Atmon’s references to a ‘Judaic worldview’ make it clear he is speaking about Jews, not Israelis, though he uses them interchangeably. He follows almost immediately with: ‘The tendency to personalise and concretise history is rather common amongst Jews. ‘ And in this Judaic world view, ‘history and ethics are often reduced into a banal single binary opposition principle.’ Another racist generalisation. Presumably other groups don’t so reduce ethics in the way described.
It would appear that you too have adopted Atzmon’s mindset. You state that ‘he asks you to engage with the Palestinian solidarity movement as a humanist.’ Really? I’ll let you into a secret. I have never done other and I wonder why you presume otherwise? Or do you think that I and other Jewish anti-Zionists are part of a secret Jewish cabal that works within the Palestine solidarity movement as part of one of Atzmon’s world Jewish conspiracies? Maybe when I spoke at the last UNISON conference in support of the motion to boycott Israel I was doing it was one of Atzmon’s tribal loyalists? This is the type of nonsense that I am complaining about but which you clearly refuse to comprehend. I’ll let you into another secret. The prominence of Jews in it was subject to some considerable attack by the Zionists and also was effective in negating the usual jibes of ‘anti-Semitism’. Which is one reason why Atzmon’s only comments on the Boycott were critical.
You say that Atzmon is talking about ‘identity politics’ and that is he isn’t referring to all Jews. It is irrelevant whether he is talking of all Jews, he is using anti-Semitic and racist generalisations about the behaviour of Jews and virtually everything he writes comes back to Jews. As for it being a form of identity politics, that is exactly the claim of every unrepentant fascist. They are merely asserting the identity of their own white kith and kin. Identity politics have a lot to answer for but you are stretching the definition to the point where they cover the most blatant forms of fascist style racism. If Atzmon wanted to talk about Jewish identity politics he would first start with how Jewish identity has changed over the centuries, including how Zionism has affected it. Instead he posits an essential and unchanging position, the ‘Judaic world view’.
What Mary Rizzo says about Atzmon and politics is frankly irrelevant. It wasn’t too long ago that she was defending Israel Shamir,, a person that Atzmon holds to have a ‘unique and advanced’ form of thinking. But maybe characterising Auschwitz as a labour camp and his arguing for an alliance with white supremacists is also a form of identity politics?
You state that ‘Atzmon seems to me to believe that the primary focus of the Palestinian solidarity movement should be to stop the injustice that is happening NOW to Palestinians.’ Unfortunately that is not true. When the most potent campaign, i.e. a Boycott of Israeli Academia was launched, Atzmon denounced it as ‘book burning’ because some of those most prominent in the campaign were either Jewish or, like Sue Blackwell, had denounced Atzmon as an unregenerate anti-Semite. Far from Palestine solidarity being Atzmon’s primary focus, it is his ego that takes pride of place in that regard.
Tony Greenstein

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Entry filed under: Indymedia, Tony Greenstein.

So, chill An email from a stranger

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