So, chill

November 12, 2007 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment

[Imc-uk-features] Re a letter allegedly sent to me which was posted instead to Rizzo’s anti-Semitic PEPA site

freethepeeps at freethepeeps at
Fri Nov 9 11:01:31 PST 2007

Quoting tony greenstein :Dear FTP,

Thank you for this, which is the first real response after 2 or more weeks after having submitted my original complaint. Unfortunately it is not clearwhere posts that complain about an article go, nor did or even do I understand where such posts go and where the threads can be found or indeed how one posts a reply to such a thread. So maybe I can make a few comments on this:

1. I can assure you that I have received nothing in my inbox. The first time I knew there was such a letter was went onto Mary Rizzo’s pepa. So if you sent it I didn’t receive it, I can assure you.

Fair enough.

2. Given the nature of the complaint, the least that could have been done is that my response, which was hidden could have been placed up alongside the article complained about rather than relegated. The effect is a political choice that an anti-Semitic article stays up in public view and the criticism of it is hidden from most readers of IndyMedia.

I don’t understand what you mean by “placed up alongside the article complained about rather than relegated.” You have already commented on the article, so your views are clearly there for anyone who should happen to stumble upon the article. As I have said the article was hidden in the same way that other complaints about moderation are hidden. If you want to post the article as a comment, that is your perogative. You are aware that it isn’t an
accurate summary of what Indymedia is doing, or where things are at, no?

3. I am absolutely certain of the fact that the article is anti-Semitic. So are most people in e.g. Jews Against Zionism, people like Moshe Machover, a retired anti-Zionist Israeli academic in this country from Matzpen, the first such organisation in Israel. It is not simply what is written in the article which I’ve highlighted (it is a long article, much of it unremarkable and indeed unoriginal either) but the cumulative weight of what Atzmon has written, of which this is an example e.g. the essay ‘On Anti-Semitism’ his use of the term Elder to describe his anti-Zionist Jewish critics (and the fact that his first ever criticism of us was in an article entitled the The Protocols of the London Elders of Zionism). Or maybe his statement in the ‘Dialectic of Negation’ (all on his site) which states that maybe the reasonfor the lack of success of Palestine solidarity groups is the presence ofJews in their ranks or his statement in his ‘Esther to Aipac’ article that those who believe there was a holocaust ‘dare’ not challenge holocaust revisionists (deniers).

From reading details of the history of your problem with Atzmon, I am aware Moshe Machover was involved somehow in the picket of Bookmarks, as presumably were the other people you are referring to. You’ve said that this isn’t personal, but political, so why the need to add this: “(it is a long article, much of it unremarkable and indeed unoriginal either)”? I’ve reread that section of the “Dialectic of negation”, and his argument is a little more sophisticated than the one that you present here, no? And your partial quotes of an extensive array of his writings, do show that you’re reading a lot of his stuff. 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, and the comments section is there for you to add your take on his writing, no?

4. You don’t understand the practice on the Guardian’s CIF. I would have preferred not to link to Eisen’s piece. That is taken as read. However the editors insist that if you refer to something then you have to provide a link so others can see what it is you are criticising. 

Personally speaking, I wouldn’t write for the Guardian, but if I did, I could
not imagine allowing a situation to develop where they linked to a text that I
was vociferously opposed to, especially if I had been publicly hounding someone
for doing exactly the same thing. I’d have picked up my ball and gone home
rather than allow it to happen.

But until this all happened I was under the impression that IndyMedia was different. I have put stuff up about the Police attack on the Lebanon 2 years ago, including a secret tape recording of the Brighton Police Commander Kevin Moore justifying to me that response, including the allegation that we were, yes ‘anti-Semitic’. It was incidentally people like me, i.e. Jewish anti-Zionists who were most vociferous in forcing the police to back off.
Which is a particular reason why, if we allow people like Atzmon, to then pollute the discourse with anti-Semitic remarks, then it hands a free gift to the police or people like Richard Littlejohn etc. who are eager to portray support for the Palestinians as anti-Semitic.

Well, long before Atzmon began writing the stuff of which you disapprove,
arseholes like Littlejohn were saying that pro-Palestinian = anti-semitic. And
in any case, they’d just have to read JSF to know just about everything that
Atzmon ever said. 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.

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? They could even have backed it up with links from the internet.

The Guardian/Indie etc. are liberal papers of the ruling class in this country. One expects them to have a different attittude to printing stuff from the far-right. Something like Indymedia I would have expected to take a position not that far removed from the old anti-fascist position of ‘No Platform’ for overt racists and fascists.

Need I remind you that the SWP addressed that point directly? They supported
Atzmon, and said they would rather engage him than ban him, and said that that
position should be reserved for genuine racists and fascists.

5. I have no doubt, based on previous antics of Atzmon, including the nature of the allegations made and use of language that ‘knuckles’ is Atzmon. I am no expert in IP numbers etc. but I do know that it is possible to disguise them. I say that having received an abusive set of e-mails re an assault case I’m involved with the Police from staff in EDO who have faked IP addresses. I suspect Atzmon has simply written the pieces and if, as he says, there is a S American IP address, he has had it remailed by a member of Eisen’s DYR.

We don’t log IPs so I don’t know where it came from. I am sure you suspect that
its him – as I said its something I can neither prove, nor disprove. Thats the
nature of the internet.

6. Well you say that ‘There is a discussion going on, that has caused quite a major upset in the collective. That is not ‘giving up’, is it?’ No I agree. But I would also have hoped that whilst that discussion was going up, where there is a prima facie case that something is racist, (it is a legal term for where there is a case even though it has not yet been proved) that the article is taken down or hidden. It’s similar to when BSE was about. Should precautions have been taken as soon as the danger was there or not until it was proven scientifically, by which time many others have been infected. I see Atzmon’s writings as a political form of BSE.

Its clear to me that you provoke Atzmon, and he provokes you. I’m aware of the
term prima facie, and its more useful in a court of law than in an Indymedia
collective imo. To suggest that leaving the article up until we can reach an
informed decision, because it poses such a danger, is taking it too far in my
opinion. It had been sitting on the site for 2 months without a comment before
you started demanding its removal. If you can show me direct suffering that has
resulted from the article being on Indymedia (but long ago off the front page)
during the last fortnight, I will obviously apologise prolifically.

I have to say that I think you should have thought of this bse analogy when you
allowed the Guardian to link to Eisen in your name, bearing in mind the fuss
you had previously made about it.

7. You quote Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Greenberg. No I haven’t heard of him, butlooking at the article I note it comes from that bastion of tolerance viz. the University of Bar Ilan? It is a religious university, which has validated the College of Judea & Samaria on the West Bank. It is a university which refuses to allow Arabs to live on campus. In any case what Greenberg was arguing for was in the context of a religious world view. Atzmon’s argument was entirely different and uses this religious metaphor in order to draw current political conclusions, hence his use of the term Israelite, as if Jews today are the offspring of the ancient 12 tribes. Note ‘the similarities to the Israelite of our time are rather concerning.’

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.

This is not dissimilar to the use by the Nazis of medieval beliefs about Jews, including their role in trade, in order to paint the assimilated Jews of Germany as the equivalent of money lenders etc. But yes, I think Greenberg’s essay was equally reactionary. He writes from a Zionist viewpoint, regretting the fact that Jews are becoming integrated into modern society and looking back to the days when anti-Semitism kept them apart.

Atzmon actually appears to be doing the opposite as far as I can see. He pushes
the very assimilation that Greenberg rues. Isn’t that at the heart of your
problem with him – The fact that he asks you to engage with the Palestinian
solidarity movement as a humanist, and can’t see any good coming out of your
appending the term Jewish to it, even though he admits it is something he has
done in the past?

Zionism and anti-Semitism are 2 sides of the same coin. Both deny that Jews have any valid place in the diaspora and I could quote you far worse things than Greenberg that Zionists use to describe Jews who live outside Palestine/Israel. It is a fact that anti-Semites used to regularly quote Zionists philosophers such as Jacob Klatzkin to ‘prove’ that Jews were strangers and outsiders. E.g.: Instead of establishing societies for defence against the anti-Semites who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defence against our friends who desire to defend our rights. J Klatzkin in B Matovu ‘The Zionist Wish and the Nazi Deed’, Issue Winter 1966-7, cited in Uri Davies, Utopia Incorporated, p.17.
or from the same writer:
‘Galut can only drag out the disgrace of our people and sustain the existence of a people disfigured in both body and soul – in a word, of a horror. At the very worst it can maintain us in a state of national impurity and breed some sort of outlandish creature in an environment of disintegration of cultures and of darkening spiritual horizons. The resultwill be something neither Jewish nor Gentile – in any case, not a pure national type…. some sort of oddity among the peoples going by the name of Jew. The Zionist Idea, Arthur Hertzberg p. 322/323.’ Klatzkin was one of the foremost Zionist theoreticians of his day, a founder of the Encyclopaedia Judaica and an editor of the Zionist official weekly Die Welt.

Incidentally if you were to read similar articles by people like Moses Hess in the book The Zionist Idea, by a liberal Zionist Arthur Herzberg, you would come across stuff which, if you didn’t know, you would think was written by anti-Semites. That was why the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl could say of them that ‘the anti-Semitic countries will be our friends and allies.’
(Diaries pp.83/4).

What can I say other than I would be opposed equally to the nonsense above being posted uncritically as an article on Indymedia? There is reams of this stuff from Zionists. The irony is that in his attacks on Jews in the diaspora, Atzmon is merely repeating much of this nonsense, which is why I and others consider that he is not only anti-Semitic but is also someone who shares the Zionist view of diaspora Jews.

Well, the more I read Atzmon, the more I am persuaded that he isn’t talking
about all Jews – the fact that he posits 3 categories and says that 2 of them
are fine by him, sort of attest to that as well. You say he thinks like a
zionist, and he says you think like a zionist – and the debate rages on –
leading to talk of ‘Atzmon fatigue’ on JSF. If he was talking about all Jews,
then it would quickly become obvious that that was the case. Furthermore, he
says he is talking about Jewish identity politics (he categorically denies
there is any racial component), and that he has a problem with certain

You, whose behaviour he critiques, now want us to delete the article on the
basis of racism, but there isn’t, to borrow your term, prima facie evidence of
racism. There is clearly a debate to be had – and it may be that he is wrong,
or it may be that you are wrong. At the end each individual must either make up
their mind, or ignore the whole thing and move on. TBH I reckon most people are
likely to ignore it and move on.

Partial quotes of provocative statements seem to obscure the whole situation,
and to be the worst form of viral BSE. Have you thought about that? The more
that you keep submitting list of things he has said that you don’t like, the
more available they become for the coppers and littlejohns of this world.

You ask ‘Erm, did I say you personally abused him? No! And you’re surely not now going to deny that you have a beef against the man, nor that you have tried to get him banned from other groups on other occasions, are you?’ The implication in all the posts I’ve read on this dispute, and it is implied in your own, is that my altercation with Atzmon is personal. You yourself say I have ‘a beef against the man’. I’ve never spoken to him and I’ve refused to meet him. On a personal level he may be sweetness and light. Actually many Nazis were highly cultured and disapproved of the gutter anti-Semitism of their more uncouth colleagues. But the suggestion that this is a personal matter is unsustainable. Not only me, but people like Mike Rosen, David Rosenberg, Moshe Machover, Roland Rance and Debbie Maccoby have also sustainedconsiderable personal abuse from Atzmon because of our political criticisms of what Atzmon says.

Guess what? Atzmon could equally say the same of all of you. I seem to remember
Mary Rizzo saying it – ie that Gilad is making political statements, and is
getting personal abuse in return.

8. You say that you do not ‘fully understand what Atzmon means by the “real meaning o their Holocaust” – perhaps he will contribute to the discussion and explain it.’

I suspect Atzmon doesn’t either. However from reading what he does say it would appear that the ‘real meaning’ is derived from his previous assertion that the Holocaust was a result of their unpopularity, i.e. the Jews. Not only is this factually untrue, anti-Semitism was not popular in Germany and there was mass revulsion at the SA pogrom on Krystalnacht, but it would be a tautological irrelevancy. Let me explain. No one doubts that homosexuals were unpopular in 1930’s Germany and most other countries in the West. Were they murdered because of that unpopularity? I would suggest that the unpopularity was a manifestation of the fact that sexual relations were seen as being an integral part of reproducing the labour force, procreation and in that sense ‘unnatural’. It was because homosexuality was seen as running counter to the family morality of capitalism that gays were persecuted and murdered. So was it their ‘unpopularity’ that was to blame? No the latter was a product of the political and social factors that led to it. Otherwise it becomes a tautology.

Likewise even if Jews were unpopular, and it could be argued that in White Russia that was true, it wasn’t that that led to their extermination, but factors such as the emergence of those economies from feudalism and the use that was made of a visible minority by the regimes and movements in power.

Yup, and so far it is your reading of his words that makes you think he is
simply saying that the Jews were responsible for their own demise in the
Holocaust. And because you have read this into what he wrote, you want
everybody to see it your way, and to delete his article – and the next one and
the next one – because you have proven that he is a racist.

9. You ask what I meant when I quoted Boaz Evron, a noted Israeli journalist, that “Zionist propagandists and fundraisers use the holocaust is best described by Israeli writer Boaz Evron: holocaust awareness is an official, propagandistic indoctrination, a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present. I am making much the same point that e.g. Norman Finkelstein does in The Holocaust Industry. Instead of the holocaust being used to draw anti-racist and anti-imperialist lessons, that racism is wrong whoever it is directed against, Zionism uses it in order to justify barbarities such as the present day siege of Gaza. I didn’t quote this article in my reply to you, but you clearly found it on the web. My latest article in Weekly Worker (of which I’m not a member!) compares this hunger siege to the statements by those like Hans Frank, Nazi Governor general of Poland’s General government that they would implement a policy of ‘death by hunger’ and indeed some 50,000 of Warsaw’s Jews did die from starvation.

I detest the way Zionists use the calamity of the holocaust to justify their present policies but unfortunately people like Atzmon are playing right into their hands when they themselves use anti-Semitic imagery in ‘support’ of the Palestinians. It is utterly counterproductive and that is why I am asking Indymedia, of all groups, to take his stuff down. I don’t care if he
abuses me in the postings I’ve googled on Indymedia, that is of no account, though I’m not sure why they are there anyway. His ‘supportive’ articles, are damaging to any notion of Palestine solidarity.

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. It also seems to me that he believes that discourse around
Palestinian solidarity is so ‘zionised’ that it hampers the struggle against
injustice. He appears to argue that the notion of anti-semitism, being the
flipside of zionism, is being used to stop any mass movement from forming, and
he reacts to that by asking his readers to confront all the traps that arise
from ‘zionised discourse’. He’s also extremely provocative at times, and makes
mistakes, because he is human.

He thinks you damage any notion of Palestinian solidarity, and you think it is
him that does that. That is quite a vicious circle to be caught up in, and now,
thanks to you we have to confront it too. If I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t
distribute the most provocative parts of his texts so widely – because you’re
in danger of doing exactly what you hound him for. Kinda like the Eisen text

I don’t know your name, since I assume ftp refers to the collective, but I have tried to respond in a measured way since I want to take at face value your statements that you are in the process of discussion. That is fine, there should be discussion and I would freely accept I may have been intemperate. But I would also ask that rather than keep Atzmon’s stuff up, and I would suggest all his contributions on these lines (I was not aware he’d posted so much before) that they are taken down pending a decision one way or another because Indymedia, which is a valuable resource, should not sully its own reputation with this stuff.

ftp is short for freethepeeps, my username.

I’ve outlined why I don’t think there is such an urgent need to take the stuff
down. As you say, you have posted here yourself, and weren’t aware that Atzmon

I ask you again why this stuff should be freely available on Jews sans
Frontieres, but not on Indymedia?

If Jews sans Frontieres takes down all the Atzmon stuff, I’d be more inclined
to believe that you really do think there is imminent danger from Atzmon’s words.

BTW, I note that you didn’t include a definitive definition of anti-semitism to
help us ‘become more capable’. If you have one, it would really help as we have
a network meeting coming up where the issue will be discussed.




Entry filed under: freethepeeps, Indymedia, Tony Greenstein.

Rollcall time ‘An elephant in the room’

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