I stand aside from the decision

November 13, 2007 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

I had blocked the proposal that we ban Atzmon from Indymedia. Support appeared to be growing for a ban without further discussion, and I believed that such a decision needed to be made in a refective and informed manner, not just a knee-jerk response. However, in light of the fact that it was clear that Greenstein appeared to be unwilling to let Indymedia follow its usual process, and was constantly seeking to up the ante for ever increasing demands. I felt that in the absence of space for a reflective discussion, my block could result in the whole project being damaged by Greenstein and his goon like tactics, so I decided to stand aside from the decision, thus dropping my block. It was up to the collective to decide the matter without me. I also decided that I would instead focus on exposing the tactics of the hunters of Atzmon, which were causing such disruption to a project that they said they supported. – I wrote to the list – ftp

[Imc-uk-features] Choice under pressure: Reflection vs Censorship

freethepeeps at aktivix.org freethepeeps at aktivix.org
Fri Nov 9 18:12:42 PST 2007

A few years ago, Gilad Atzmon wrote an article about the demonisation of Israel
Shamir (1). I met Shamir in a village outside Nablus, when he came to
interview a family whose house was under threat of demolition, because their
son, who by all accounts had a learning disability, had attempted a suicide
bomb. He got to his target, because he was employed in building the settler
road that passed the back of the house. I had quite a long chat with Israel,
and I was impressed by his passion for justice. This was before his banishment
from the Palestinian solidarity movement by a group whose behaviour Atzmon
claimed amounted to “modern Jewish secular intolerance.” He described the
process:

The liberal Zionist cell, as we are going to read, cannot really take it. 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.

He asserted that his readers that the episode was “a glimpse into the
abusive, assertive and violent world of Zionist lobbying.”

I received a private email today. This is the text:

As a hitherto supporter of Indymedia I am writing in total support of Tony
Greenstein’s attribution of anti-Semitism
Some political positions are so clear that they require no reflection to
asceratain their meaning. Nazism is one such position. What you have published
is another. To talk of “Judaic world view” (ie attributing to all Jews the same
view – the conspiracy theory) and refering to the “unpopularity” of Jews in
Nazified Europe (a form of holocaust minimisation which virtually coincides
with denial) as well as “their holocaust”( the holocaust was perpetrated ON
Jews – and others. The perpetrators were the Nazis)…all this is
clear,unarguable anti-Semitism. Just as “kill the Yids” is
clear,unarguable,anti-Semitism. But yet you claim a) it is open to
interpretation b) even if it were anti-Semitic you need a “consensus” as to
what to do if anything – a somewhat unique position on fighting racism c) in
the meantime you feel quite prepared to print this junk (which incidenetally in
identifying anti-Semitism with Palestinian liberation puts you in antagonism to
all progressive Palestinian thought). Of course you can continue to use your
energy going down this obnoxious path. Or else you can print an apology. steve
cohen

It was the first email to arrive after Tony Greenstein’s call to several email
lists to write to us.

The last time that happened to me was when I was on a list for ‘alternative
Christmas Carols’, when a group of us sang carols with words updated to reflect
the current situation in Palestine. Someone got hold of the list and sent it to
a Hasbabrah warrior in the States. She put a call out for people to write to
us, and within a short space of time my inbox was deluged with some of the most
rancid and racist struff I have seen.

The tactics feel exactly the same. The fact that I’ve only had one so far may
suggest that Greenstein et al have a lot less support than their zionist
counterparts.

And now the same group that went for Shamir are gunning for Atzmon. They are
demanding that we kick him out. We’re a minor site(for them), so we’ve had to
wait our turn. They’ve held a picket outside Bookmarks to protest against Gilad
(where apparently he came out and played a socialist anthem on the sax),
lobbied to have him barred from Scottish PSC and the SWP. Attacks and counter
attacks have ranged across the net, taking in the Guardian, Counterpunch and
AMIN along the way. To date they have been unsuccesful. It worries the shit out
of me that Indymedia might just give them their first taste of blood in this
new kill.

AMIN by the way is the Arabic Media Internet Network, and one of the group,
Deborah Maccoby wrote(2) there in January, 2007 that:

No doubt Atzmon will present this article as yet another vicious “defamation”
of him by a “Jewish Gatekeeper”. He will claim I and other practitioners of
“Jewish Power” – ie the Jewish world conspiracy – are trying to silence
him and his allies. But we’re not trying to silence them; we simply want to
reply to their attacks and defend ourselves. Our very efforts to defend
ourselves become, in their twisted and deluded thinking, proof of our sinister
“Jewish Power”. I will end by asking readers of both articles to decide who is
doing the defaming, and I appeal to Palestinians and their supporters to resist
this attempt to divide and undermine the Palestinian solidarity movement from
within.

Well, now a choice is being demanded of us. Now there is no pretension of
debate and self-defence, and according to Steve Cohen’s email, Atzmon’s writings “
require no reflection to asceratain their meaning.” Greenstein is right.

Greenstein is clear however, that if the claim is ever levelled against him,
we should “reflect to ascertain the meaning”, because the anti-semitism term is
often abused in order to defame opponents.

He castigates Atzmon for not backing the boycott. And it wasn’t long ago that
we had Indymedia’s resident zionist, gehrig calling us anti-semitic because we
carried articles supporting the boycott. The boycott according to gehrig is
anti-semitic because it affects Jews disproportionally. Not Israelis mind,
Jews.

If we boycott Zimbabwe, is it discriminatory because it disproportionally
affects the largest ethnic group? Once again Israel is Jewish when it wants to
be, and not when it doesn’t feel like it. Now they are actually debating only
giving citizenship to Jews who support the state. But hey I’ve seen several
activists who happen to be Jewish deported from Israel and barred from
returning, so I’m not that surprised really.Those who oppose the state are not
“proper Jews”. Thats what a group of Betar activists told a pro-Palestinian
activist of Jewish origin outside Marks and Spencer in Manchester a few years
ago. They jumped up and down in a huddle chanting it at him. When the cops got
closer the chant changed to “We want peace!”.

Whilst Greenstein has certainly pulled out all the stops in his last email, I
don’t think that his argument in support of his viewpoint is any more
persuasive than the arguments that gehrig puts up. That gehrig would in fact
put up against Greenstein for supporting a boycott that disproportionally
affects Jews. All of them appear to be highly honed in proving that every point
of view that they do not agree with is racist against them.

Its no wonder that its so difficult to sort it out. When it involves Palestine,
this is what you know to expect. Its impossible to meet all their demands,
they’re contradictory and each protagonist is 100% certain that their way is
the only way. Debate is impossible in such rigidly controlled and threatening
circumstances.

Atzmons reaction to it all appears to rail against it – to fight against the
restrictions, to push the boundaries, to stick his tongue out and go
BLAHBLAHBLAH at the censors, at those who push us into pens and control every
aspect of our deep concern for the nightmarish situation in which the
Palestinains live and die every day. To paraphrase a recent comment on a
Fitwatch demo noted: “The woman in black was gagging to be arrested. Theres
always one at every demo.” And if you watch the video, theres no doubt that the
more the cops tried to control her, the more she rails, challenges and gives it
back. Needless to say the end result was predictable, the controllers won. She
was arrested and dragged off, with the cops getting their little pokes in when
she was forced into the van.

She’ll be back, and so will Gilad. Because they are brimming with anger at the
injustice that so many people live every single day. They care passionately
about justice. They believe it has to stop.

I have sleepless nights over all of this, all the time it gets worse and worse.
Whatever we’ve been doing up until now to support the Palestinians, hasn’t
worked. And theres no way to discuss it, or change strategy, because the halls
are monitored, the guards are on the perimeter all the time, and their guns are
cocked.

If they do to Gilad the exact opposite of what they told the readers of AMIN
they intended to do, who will be next? Who is going to read the texts and
listen to the arguments, and read the articles and check it all out? How much
time is it going to take? How much pain is it going to cause?

The easy way is to do what we’re told without question – to click the button
they demand , to delete the person they want deleted now. Gilad it seems made a
self fulfilling prophecy when he warned how they treated those who had lost
their approval.

I’ve been reading their stuff endlessly for the last few days. Theres mountains
of the stuff to get through. Greenstein’s stuff is turgid and unreadable. Most
of the rest of their stuff is fixated with the issue of anti-semitism. The
stuff that stimulates and makes me think that there are ways out of the rut,
tends to be Gilads stuff, even though it takes constant rereadings to get to
what he trying to say, and the stuff on Mary Rizzo’s blog.

They’ve demanded I make a choice, and I have.

This debate is being monitored on Peace Palestine (3), which Greenstein
describes as Rizzos “anti-semitic list”.

There she says:

This is why it becomes of vital importance for activists first of all to ask
themselves two things: At whose service are we? How effective are we? If we are
turning the light on about the atrocities of Zionism, Colonialism and
Imperialism, we are of service to those who are VICTIMS of these criminal
philosophies and the actions that derive from them. In order to turn on the
light, we have to be able to communicate, to be allowed the liberty to declare
that there is a mindset, a worldview and an ideological position behind all of
these things. This is the analytical element of activism. Things aren’t born
from a vacuum, they have a history, they have some kind of meaning. We have to
be willing to reject the “news” that is often filtered through to us, and we
have to appeal to the Humanist part of our commitment, and this means a certain
kind of approach. If our primary interest (as activists for justice and peace
in Palestine) is anything but justice for the victims of Zionism, we are not of
service to Palestinians. It couldn’t be put any simpler.

Indymedia has a choice to make.

Put up or shut up.

Sadly, I think I know which way its going to go. Its been that kind of year.

I stand aside from the choice. The collective needs to sort it out.
I stand for justice for Palestinians. I stand against bullying.

ftp

(1)http://www.gilad.co.uk/html%20files/Londonelders.html
(2)http://www.amin.org/look/amin/en.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=7&NrArticle=38731&NrIssue=1&NrSection=3
(3)http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2007/11/gatekeepers-lose-another-one-indymedia.html

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Entry filed under: freethepeeps, Gilad Atzmon, Indymedia, Mary Rizzo/PP, Tony Greenstein.

I write to Greenstein’s CC list Greenstein back on list

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