Thursday, June 30, 2005


Times Letters to the Editor - Re: Atzmon

On 28 June the Times (London) printed an editorial piece by David Aaronovitch. This piece seems to be nothing more than a pastiche of the various interventions going on around internet in certain circles. Many of us have read it with disapproval. Is Mr Aaronovitch entitled to his opinion? For sure he is (at least as far as this one is really "his" and not cut and pasted from internet. Even Mark Elf has the same doubts). But, factually, Aaronovitch falls short of the mark of any correct journalism, with misleading and inaccurate quotes, dragging irrelevant elements into discourse, and basically operating from an ideological viewpoint with a goal of attacking individuals and the SWP by slinging around accusations, defamation and heresay.

Many people who read it have forwarded me letters that they have written to the editor. I will publish some of them here, with more to follow. I don't imagine the Times will print any of these, but one never knows....

Dear Sir,

In an article you published today (How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right?) Mr. David Aaronivitch quoted two sentences of mine and located them completely out of context. He made it look as if I was referring to Jews as a racial entity. As a matter of fact, in the original text I am dealing with the issue of antisemitim in relation to the Zionist agenda. Hence, the reference is to Jews who happen to be Zionists. The general line of the specific paper is to argue that Jews suffer due to Zionist politics and Israeli atrocities. It seems as if Mr. Aaronovitch fails to realise that Zionism is a political movement with a clear global agenda. Seemingly, he would be the first to benefit from reading my text carefully.

(I add a link to the quoted paper I would ask you to print it remove any doubt and speculation

Aaronovitch blames me as well for being a racist. He obviously doesn’t bring a single reference or quote to support such a claim. I will tell you why, it is simply impossible. I am here to declare categorically that in any of my writings or public performances, I ve never used any form of racial argument or expressed any racial statement. Moreover, I argue repeatedly that Jews aren’t an homogenous race. In my writing I am trying to scrutinise the notion of Jewish identity. I do try to grasp the mental state that leads people such as Aaronovitch to try to impose their views on us all. I am after the philosophical conditions rather than any form of biological determinism.

Since Aaronovitch is very concerned with Israel Shamir, I will confirm again that after meeting Mr. Shamir more than once, I have no reason to believe that he is anything but “a very civil and peaceful man and probably is the sharpest critical voice of ‘Jewish power’ and Zionist ideology.” I wonder whether this is enough to make me into an anti semite, a ‘disorganised racist’, a self hating Jew, a far right wing zealot or even a holocaust denier. I assume that within Aaronivitch’s limited worldview, to listen to other people is in itself nothing but the ultimate anathema. This may be the precise fanaticism I try to oppose. And I am sure that many of your readers would agree with me.

Gilad Atzmon


To the Editor:

In his article "How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right? (The Times, 28/06/05), David Aaronovitch attributed this quotation to me. “No one is able to show us, at Auschwitz or anywhere else,” (argued Eisen,) “even one of these chemical slaughterhouses. No one is capable of describing to us their exact appearance or workings. Neither a trace nor a hint of their existence is to be found ...."

I did not write those words. They were written by Professor Robert Faurisson and quoted by me. I'm sure you will agree that on a matter as sensitive as this, it is important to be as accurate as possible, so I would be grateful if you would put this matter right.

Yours sincerely

Paul Eisen


Dear Sir,
Re: Aaronovitch How Did the Far Left

To my annoyance, this is a second time in one month your newspaper describes me as a “Swedish fascist” who “claims to be a Russian Jew from Jaffa” (Aaronovitch) or a “Swedish anti-Semite” (Pollard). When such ridiculous claims are published by obscure ADL-financed publications, one can shrug it off. When these claims are repeated by what was once the leading newspaper of the Empire, one is amazed by the lack of professional approach. A Times correspondent in Tel Aviv can visit me anytime and check whether I am a six-foot-tall blond Aryan supremacist with Swedish accent or not; there are thousands of Israelis who know me since 1968 when I came to Israel from the Soviet Union. I published many books including a translation of Joyce’s Ulysses, I served in an elite unit of the Israeli army, I was seen at the demonstrations in Bethlehem and Ramallah. I do belong to the Israeli Left. Israeli newspapers wrote about me many times; my biography was researched and combed by friends and enemies; but none rushed to reprint these silly rumours. If an overseas phone call is too expensive for you, the newspaper could ask Tim Sebastian or other old BBC hands, for I worked there in 1970s.

I do not mind being attacked by the likes of Pollard (his own article begins with: 'I am a warmonger. I am bloodthirsty. I am rabid.') and Aaronovitch (a Zionist cheerleader of the Iraqi War) – actually their support would be a greater embarrassment. But your readers deserve a better researched reporting. They can read more on where they can view so many letters to the Times you chose not to publish.

They are also entitled to know that the Aaronovitch’s article is but a rehash of a lengthy piece by an ostensibly anti-zionist Jewish Trot from JPUK on a far left site , including quotes and errors. While these Trots do not mind to have a certified warmonger and Zionist as their bedfellow, all antiwar and antizionist forces may postpone their strife until better days.

Israel Shamir

Dear Sir,

You ask this question; “Has the SWP, an influential section of the far Left, completely and disgracefully lost its moral and political compass by welcoming a dangerous anti-Zionist?”

I would like to suggest that Zionism alone can be considered technically as an ideology, and opposition to it takes various forms, which is evident and completely natural. Anti-Zionism is rather an individual calling, and therefore, can not be dangerous if it is working towards the dismantling of the racist mechanism of Zionism and does not promote a systematic program of action. Vast segments of society, and not only in the Arab world, consider it to be one that is indeed dangerous. Those who label themselves as anti-Zionists of course would be obligated to seek to bring a stop to the paradigm which drives Zionism, that is, the belief that all Jews everywhere are entitled to settle in the land that is now Israel, and that that land can not be shared with other people, even the original inhabitants. And if that were not enough, in the expansionist vision of a Greater Israel, originating from a religious precept which has as its tenet the special relationship of Jews with Palestine, Jews are encouraged to settle in lands which theoretically are to become a “Palestinian State” alongside a “Jewish State”. This idea, which is enabled by the support of Jewish brothers and sisters around the globe, and often which is a result of a manipulative mechanism utilising the promotion of paradoxical concepts including supremacy and victimhood, feigning its fragility while imposing its will often through sheer force of might, has been extremely dangerous to the indigenous inhabitants, resulting in the most enduring ethnic cleansing that the modern world has known, that of the Palestinian people. The substitution of Jews for Palestinians is indeed dangerous and criminal. It is the promulgation of the concept of Lebensraum for a special group of people, applied to a different geographical location.

The anti-Zionists who have protested against Gilad Atzmon do not do so based upon his own work, which is effective because he does not fear exposing the dirty underbelly that enables this atrocity. They are disturbed because he is not conforming to the hegemonic view of anti-Zionism, that which makes distinctions between levels of Zionism. They have used the technique of misleading the public into believing that Atzmon is either: a Holocaust Denier or an apologist for one, and failing that, a racist, because he committed the thought crime of distributing a paper by Paul Eisen called “The Holocaust Wars”. This paper, which you obviously didn’t read, because you even misquote it to suit your agenda of isolating these people from discourse, is considered by very few to be Holocaust Denial, although it would be easy to depict it as such with a little imagination an a lot of intellectual dishonesty. Attempts to engage these critics in debate regarding it have all come to naught, because they have decided that it would not be “productive”. Therefore, you mislead your readers into thinking that Atzmon is diffusing literature that is beyond legitimate discourse.

You further mislead them by creating a case of guilt by association. It is common practice in part of the so-called anti-Zionist movement to isolate activists, writers and campaigners who are critical of the Jewish lobby and the influence it holds on public policy. Those who have written on this subject, be it Shamir, Eisen or now Atzmon, are quoted well out of context, are given the character assassination treatment and are considered to be part of a specific movement. It does not matter how much they emphasise their independence, or ask to create a situation where open discourse is held, the same monomaniacal silencing mechanism comes into play. It seems their major crime is to question the role of Jewish influence, and this seems to be the non plus ultra of all taboo in the Jewish segment of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Any positive work that these people have done, and there has been much, has been sullied in the public opinion by this very strange way of operating that the antagonists of these people have, merely for the reason that they will not hold the candle for Jewish innocence and pretend that it has nothing to do with the conditions in which the Palestinians find themselves, as well as many of the other decisions that the superpower makes, which promotes the interests of a Zionist State in violation of many international conventions as well as many UN Resolutions.

As a matter of fact, far from being racists, those vilified by the Jews Against Zionism and other groups that protest that they are radical and often inspired by Marxism, but are rather conforming to the most conservative and closed of agendas, promote a single State where Jews and those who are not Jews can coexist in harmony and equality. This is the dangerous message.

Even the title of your opinion piece is deceptive, as the names you mention are not in any way connected with Atzmon, much less with the SWP. I wonder if there might be some slight interest in creating negative consensus with Galloway and Respect that underlies this entire campaign. It can’t possibly escape one that it seems so far to be the only party that is interested in the Muslim constituency and its specific questions. Linking it once and for all to something as ugly as anti-Semitism would certainly eliminate it preventively from any public discourse, as most people would rather die than have their names linked to such a term.

Mary Rizzo



Dear Editor,

Enough with the red herrings and the obfuscations (David Aaronovitch, June 28) which abound in "How Far did the far left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating right?" Good grief. The children of Zahra Zaboun are heartsick because she died recently at an Israeli checkpoint. Her crime? She wanted to attend Friday prayers. The pages of your opinion section should be railing against this Israeli crime against humanity instead of smearing Gilad Atzmon, who courageously left Israel because he could no longer tolerate the abuses of Zionism. Your editorial writers might question why Johnny Thalijiah, a Greek Orthodox altar boy, was shot by an Israeli sniper while standing around his cousin's store, instead of Aaronvitch's inanities re Atzmon. Your editorial writers might look up Maria Khoury, the Christian Palestinian who picked up bullets off her son's bed and wondered what offended the Israeli soldiers who fired them. Was it the sign from the World Council of Churches that said "End the Occupation" she wondered?

Atzmon empathizes with the suffering of the Palestinians, and has won the heart of this Palestinian, and I say with certainty, knowing my people, that I am among a majority, in spite of the unnamed Palestinian musician who refused to work with Atzmon, to whom Aaranovitch refers. Aaraonvich throws out obfuscations in order to keep the British public ignorant of Zionist atrocities. It is clear that Aztmon works in the interests of humanity, while Aaronvitch serves a government which perpetuates crimes against it.

Nancy Harb Almendras


Dear Editor,

I would like to thank David Aaronivitch for his industrious efforts. A most informative article, albeit misguided.

Gilad Atzmon is an artist, and like any decent artist is engaged in serious soul searching, as opposed to the spasmodic propaganda illustrated by Mr Aaronivitch; note G8 summit around the corner.

Gilad is a musician of the highest calibre, and a fierce philosopher; indeed little separates the two. Gilad has taken it upon himself to, in my opinion, rightly question the nature of his identity. We should all take notice of his subtle messages, the world may turn out to be a better place.

I find it astonishing, though not beyond comprehension, that a reputable paper like The Times gives David Aaronivitch a platform to speak his patently biased, slanderous stance. I consider Gilad to be a gentle, sensitive man who is utterly horrified by the turn of events, and, as a result of his own investigations, has imposed upon himself the harshest punishment, self-exile.

I am Palestinian, I was born into exile. It is not easy being a stranger ALL the time with no self-empowerment. I am used to continuous defacement and biased news, but it does not bother me, because I know it is simply not true. I urge you to put pressure on Mr Aaronivitch to retract his false, misleading accusations regarding Gilad.

Mr Atzmon is innocent, and, more importantly, Mr Atzmon is not affiliated with any political entity. If Mr Aaronivitch had been paying any attention to Gilad, he would also know that Gilad has invited anyone and everyone to participate in his free and open dialogues; Mr Atzmon even took the time to invite the picketers to come inside for wine and a chat at one his talks recently (needless to say, he was flatly rejected).

Has Mr Aaronivitch even met with Mr Atzmon? It must be difficult working in the media at times of war. Being forced to publish state approved rubbish. Please reconsider your position, as a journalist and as a fellow human being. It is essential that we not silence questions, and encourage artists to speak out; a luxury journalists cannot afford during difficult times.

Thank you for time.
Zaki Boulos, London


Dear Editor,

In "How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right?" (28/6/5), David Aaronovitch states that Atzmon's "tirades have got him into trouble with more than just the Jewish community." As if that is some kind of no-no. Maybe the Jewish community is wrong about certain things. Maybe we are all wrong about certain things. Rather than rushing to sling mud at brave, lonely voices trying to set the record straight, maybe we should set aside our prejudices and listen to them.

Does Aaronovitch think that Atzmon takes his brave stands just for a lark, or because he is uninformed or "a silly boy"? I suggest he look at the fine philosophical writings of Atzmon at and take pride in a fellow Jew who is willing to take on the formidable Jewish establishment, calling it to account for the crimes that Israel commits every day in its name.

Aaronovitch is terribly interested in the 'blood libel' tradition in European folklore and makes this a central argument in his polemic against Atzmon. While we have no way of knowing whether medieval Jews actually drank non-Jewish children's blood, we do have Mordechai Vanunu's uncle on video screaming "I will drink his blood!" after Vanunu was 'freed' for telling the world the truth about Israel's nuclear weapons program. Funny this fascination with drinking blood among Jews. Brrrr.

And how he LOVES to throw around 'anti-semite' and 'fascist'. Israel Shamir is not a fascist and I hope he can successfully sue Aaronovitch for this slander. Is this mud slinging an example of the great Jewish legal principle 'An eye for an eye etc'? Yes, yes - revennnge! Perhaps Shakespeare's Shylock is the real Jew after all, despite Hollywood's recent attempt to dress him up as a misunderstood victim of (yes!) anti-semitism. Aaronovitch casually refers to "Eisen's Holocaust-denying article" though the article in question is no such thing. What it 'denies' is what Israel and its Zionist fanatics have turned a terrible tragedy - the murder of many people - into. These murders are now the basis of a sick cult which is promoted to perpetrate yet more racist murders, this time of Palestinians.

It is also based on dubious stories, many of which are fantasies and outright lies. Mr. Eisen merely protests the perverse use that the 'Holocaust' as the tragedy is officially called is being put to IN HIS NAME (as a Jew). All historical events need to be studied and documented, especially when they are tooted as being beyond all discussion, as the Holocaust is.

Sure, call Atzmon "cretinous" or a "disorganised racist", despite his brilliant writings, outstanding musicianship and courageous rejection of the hideous racist state of Israel and his concern for its victims. Keep digging David. There's lots more muck down there. But be careful your house of cards doesn't collapse on you. Jews have a long history of building up wealth and control in their 'host' societies, only to 'go beyond the Pale' and find themselves expelled or stripped of their wealth or worse. I think we can all agree that Fukiyama's 'end of history' was a trifle premature. That goes for the history of the Jews too.

Atzmon is merely trying to stop this reckless plunge by his coreligionists (or co-ethnics or whatever) into the abyss. You should be thanking him and Eisen, instead of slinging mud at them.

Eric Walberg


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


EU Parliamentarians' inquiry regarding credibility of Iraq elections - update

Written Interrogation to the Council written by Marco Rizzo (GUE/NGL), Lilli Gruber (PSE), Giulietto Chiesa (ALDE), Umberto Guidoni (GUE/NGL), Luisa Morgantini (GUE/NGL), Vittorio Agnoletto (GUE/NGL) and Antonio Di Pietro (ALDE) on the Iraqi elections of January 2005

OBJECT:Democratic credibility of the elections in Iraq

The Iraqi elections which shall place on 30 January can not satisfy any of the criteria of liberty and of correctness requested by the European Union in order to consider an election to be held valid, as has been determined, even if with different modalities, for the Ukraine and for the Palestinian Territories, and serious as well is the absence of International observers. The state of war in which the country lives, the military occupation, the impossibility to vote in four Sunni regions, the explicit death threats to which future voters are made object, are unmistakeable signs of a climate that is incompatible with the holding of free and democratic elections. The fundamental steps towards the return of sovereignty in the hands of the Iraqi people has been therefore directly threatened.

* What is the official position of the Council regarding the democratic credibility of the elections?
* Regarding the situation which has been described, how does the Council justify the allocation of 31.5 million Euro for sustaining the organisation of these elections?

The response of the Council to the Written Interrogation of January 2005 on the Iraqi elections – 2 June 2005

The Council is gladdened by the National elections in Iraq which reflect the interest of the Iraqi people for the political process underway, for democratic principles and for the state of rights. The Council makes an homage to the Iraqis, who have demonstrated courage, enthusiasm and determination in the participation of the elections notwithstanding the difficult situation regarding security. The Council has taken stock of the results proclaimed on 13 February by the electoral commission independent of Iraq, which has declared that the elections were held in conformity to international norms.

The objective of the European Union is a secure, stable, unified, prosperous and democratic Iraq that supports human rights and cooperates in a constructive manner with its nearby neighbours and the international community. To arrive at such an objective the European Council has presented to Iraq on 5 November 2004, a global programme of assistance and has announced ulterior measures of assistance in the session of the Council “CAGRE” of 21 February. The programme continues to be in effect together with a supplementary programme of community assistance. Such a programme foresaw the assistance to the elections of January 2005 principally through the support of the fiduciary fund of the United Nations. It also included support to the independent electoral commission of Iraq with three experts of the EU at Baghdad assigned to cooperate with said commission, as well as the actuation of a programme of formation of National observers in Jordan for 170 Iraqi coordinators and developers. The EU continues additionally to be willing to examine the best way to hold future elections, even through a possible observation mission of the EU in loco if the conditions of security thus permit.

The comment of EU Parliamentarian Giulietto Chiesa to the response of the Council to the Written Interrogation – 8 June

The Council is “gladdened”, but does not respond to the questions. And, when it does respond, it does so by lying. It is easy to comprehend that whoever has written the response would like to say that those elections were approved of very much, despite the fact that they were incompatible with any of the parameters of validity that the European Union usually applies to elections.

Then, despite the evidence, and of any sense of decency, stretches so far as to affirm that the elections were “in conformance” to international norms.

It is significant that there was no precise response even to the specific matter of the 31.5 million Euro financed for the false electoral campaign.

In the evasive reply, one understands that the money has been allocated for a global programme of assistance that, however, has not yet been completed. It seems to imply that that massive sum is still being spent.

There is no evidence that the three electoral experts of the EU ever have arrived at Baghdad (unless there had been nominated in all haste then, three Iraqi functionaries).

In effect, a terrible example of ambiguity, of bureaucratic prevarication, of lack of glasnost, and of improper use of the money of collectivity.

See also the Iraq page of the GUE/NGL Europarliamentarians, the GUE website, and the ALDE website .


Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - call to action

Manal and Nour Ghanem are being held prisoner in an Israeli jail. I urge everyone to take part in the campaign for their release and for the humane treatment that they are being denied.


Manal is serving a 50 month sentence. Officially, she was accused of conspiracy in an attempted planning to kill. The details of her case show that she had attempted to carry weapons from one site to another. The attempt failed and she did not try to do it again and has never been part of any planning to any action. The Israeli Military Judge, who ruled in her case, said in the ruling remarks:

“Her role was very minor and insignificant in the planning and she did not know any pervious information about the attempt… she joined at a very late stage of planning… we have to mercy her son who was born in a very tough situation and who will spend his first years at prison… Manal did not participate in planning… she is not a member of or a supporter of any organization… she is not affiliated to any political faction, she had never been part of or accused of any violation in the past”

Despite these comments and despite the facts of her case, the Military Tribunal of Shemron decided to sentence her to maximum possible imprisonment term relative to such an accusation. The prison administration at Telmond Prison does not provide Manal and Nour with the special medical care they require, nor does it provide Nour with the milk he needs as his mother is unable breast feed him.

Extremely shocking is the information ADDAMEER presents on child prisoners:

Palestinian child detainees are subject to physical and psychological torture during their interrogation in order to force them to confess to activities they may or may not have done. The majority of confessions and sentences are related to throwing stones. Under extreme physical and psychological pressure, children often confess to such activities to end the circumstances they find themselves, often confessing to things they didn't do.

During interrogation, children are isolated from their families and lawyers are often not informed of the place of their detention. The child is usually not allowed to meet with a lawyer during the first period of interrogation, confining the child's world to the interrogation room and the interrogator, adding to the psychological stress the child already finds himself/herself in.
Child detainees are interrogated by either the Israeli police of by officers of the Israeli General Security Services (GSS). The initial interrogation period lasts for 4 days, with the possibility of renewal for another 4 days by the interrogation team. After this 8-day period, the child detainee must be brought before a military judge.

It is prohibited to use forms of torture such as shackling as a means of punishment against child prisoners. However, this is common practice in Israeli prisons with child prisoners. Child prisoners held for security reasons should be detained in separate sections and apart from criminal prisoners. In violation of this principle, Palestinian child prisoners detained for security reasons are held with Israeli criminal prisoners.

I ask, where in the civilised world do children who get imprisoned "for security reasons" in the same cells as adult criminals??

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Mahmood Mamdani interview

The Italian weekly, Il Venerdì della Repubblica has published today a fascinating interview with Columbia University’s Mahmood Mamdani, author of the book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. I am translating the article and interview into English.

Riccardo Staglianò

A systematic inversion of the burden of proof; that is the most grotesque and whispered collateral damage of 9/11. That which had made it necessary in one fell swoop that Muslims the world over should have to begin to justify themselves. Because the sole fact of coming from an Islamic nation or having an Arab name automatically puts them in the list of suspects. Among those whose sole presence in an adjacent passenger seat in an airplane makes people start to break out in a cold sweat. Yet, no one ever has placed the blame to Christianity for the terrorist attacks of the IRA or of the Red Brigades. A disparity of treatment that has been denounced by Columbia University’s Mahmood Mamdani, professor of Anthropology, in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. But Mamdani expresses his denouncement also against the other historical amnesias.

Riccardo Staglianò: Attempting to simplify things, you are saying that the terrorist acts that were committed by Muslims have nothing to do with religion, but with political questions.

Mahmood Mamdani: If you strike me in the face and I explain it as an expression of your culture or religion, it is a conciliatory explanation. But to really understand why you struck out at me at all, it is necessary to get to understand the relationship between us. From this point is the need to pass from culture to politics in order to interpret conflicts.

RC: What is it that you call “pseudo cultural discourse” on Islam?

MM: The assumption that the politics of certain populations can be explained by their culture. They are just that way, contrary to us. They are premoderns. And differently from us, who know how to keep the evil at bay and construct the good, they are prisoners of their culture and they must be saved, or else put in quarantine.

RC: Why do the Muslims have to convince the rest of the world that they are not bad after the terrorist strikes of the World Trade Center?

MM: It is not the first time that the USA has used the mass media to present an entire population as an enemy. It happened with the Native Americans, with the Black Americans, with the Japanese Americans. Ann Norton, who has just written a book on the Neo-Cons, believes that the techniques of Islamophobia is very similar to the anti-Semitism before the Second World War.

RC: In your book you distinguish between the “greater Jihad” the struggle against personal weaknesses, and the “lesser Jihad”, self defence that can become war.

MM: Jihad means, “effort”. It was declined as a noun for the first time in a military manner associating it with Wahabbism that served the Saud family in order to build Saudi Arabia in the 19th century. Later, in Pakistan, this same notion was used by Abu ala Mawdudi and it strongly influenced the Egyptian thinker Said Qutb, ideologist of the Muslim Brotherhood. But even then, the concept was holistic, spiritual and social, and it justified violence only in the case of defence. The militaristic notion of Jihad was born during the Afghan war. It was formulated as an ideology in the traditional Islamic schools, the Madrasses. Their study programmes, however, were designed by institutions that were involved with the USA in precise military purposes.

RC: In the eighties, Ronald Reagan decided to use the extreme version of political Islam to “give the Soviets their Vietnam”. But something went haywire.

MM: Reagan introduced a religious vocabulary into politics. He characterised the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire”, a definition that has precise consequences, because one cannot co-exist with evil, and as a matter of fact, must ally with anyone at all in order to defeat it. The first alliance was with South Africa during the Apartheid. They called it, “Constructive Commitment”. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, they enlisted the most extremist Islamists against Communism, as in a battle against evil. From here the alliance with Al Qaeda was born.

RC: You write that the USA had constructed, in the facts themselves, the embryo of the infrastructure of terror that today is persecuting them.

MM: After the defeat in Vietnam, the USA needed to face a powerful antiwar movement in patria. When they realised that they could no longer intervene abroad, they searched out “proxies”. The attempt of Kissinger to ally the US with South Africa in Angola did not succeed. Reagan came to power after two important revolutions, those of Nicaragua and Iran. And he decided to attempt a new “war by proxy”, that of political Islam against the USSR.

RC: They furnished training and financing to Bin Laden, who was responsible for a project sponsored by the CIA to build a tunnel at Khost. Was this strategic myopia or a
cynical move?

MM: It was liquidated as “collateral damage”, justifiable by the fact that the USSR absolutely had to be defeated. And Al Qaeda became the puppet of the USA.

RC: You note that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, before the USA organised the Afghani Jihad, there was no local production of heroin.

MM: The “covert” wars can not be conducted with public funding, and from this need of money comes the attraction towards an alliance with the druglords, to whom Intelligence furnishes their protection in exchange for financing. It happened many times during the Cold War, from Laos to Central America, right down to Afghanistan.

RC: You also cite St. Bernard, who during the Crusades said, “the killing of an infidel is the killing of evil, not homicide”. But this violent idea of religion is now associated only with Islam.

MM: A part of the legacy of Reagan was a fascination with violence. He praised its use against civilians on behalf of his “proxies” as a means to diffuse democracy. He also said on television, from the White House lawn, that the Contras and the Mujahideen were “the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers”. The Neo-Cons today have gathered this inheritance, but not the allies.

AsiaSource had a very good interview as well, and I reprint one question:

Could you explain the origins of the title, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim? Is it not the case that the US - or the West generally - should be supporting moderate, secular forces within the Muslim world to counteract extremist, fundamentalist currents?

Even when Bush speaks of "good" Muslims and "bad" Muslims, what he means by "good" Muslims is really pro-American Muslims and by "bad" Muslims he means anti-American Muslims. Once you recognize that, then it is no longer puzzling why good Muslims are becoming bad Muslims at such a rapid rate. You can actually begin to think through that development. If, however, you think of "good" and "bad" Muslims in cultural terms, it is mind-boggling that in one week, you can have a whole crop of "bad" Muslims - cultural changes do not usually happen with such rapidity! But if you have the aerial bombing of Falluja and the targeting of civilian populations accused of hosting "bad" Muslims, then you harvest an entire yield of bad Muslims at the end of the day, and the whole phenomenon becomes slightly less puzzling. This is connected to my claim that political identities are not reducible to cultural identities. Political Islam, especially radical political Islam, and even more so, the terrorist wing in radical political Islam, did not emerge from conservative, religious currents, but on the contrary, from a secular intelligentsia. In other words, its preoccupation is this-worldly, it is about power in this world. To take only the most obvious example: I am not aware of anyone who thinks of bin Laden as a theologian; he is a political strategist and is conceived of in precisely such terms. Of course, part of his strategy is employing a particular language through which he addresses specific audiences.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Martin Smith of SWP - Statement on Machover's position

We have now an official statement by Martin Smith of the Socialist Workers Party, which he wishes diffused in this and other venues.

----- Original Message -----
From: "martin smith" (email address)
To: Gilad Atzmon (email address)
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 10:15 AM
Subject: Statement on Moshe Machover

> Hi Gilad
>> I am writing to confirm the following.

>> 1. I never recieved any correspondance from Moshe Machover regarding the picket of Bookmarks or Marxism 2005.

>> 2. Secondly I can confirm that over the phone he told me that he had "no intention of supporting the picket of the bookshop".

>> Martin Smith>

Additionally, I myself had twice written to Mr Machover, requesting for him to clarify his position since there had been contradictions in the positions regarding his support of the picket and of the pulling of Atzmon from Marxism 2005.

The first letter:

Dear Mr Machover,
I have been carefully following the events surrounding the decision of a group of activists under the banner of "Jews Against Zionism" to demand the SWP pull Gilad Atzmon from appearing at the Marxism 2005 event in July and in determining the need to hold a picket against his appearance at Bookmarks.

During this time, I have gathered a series of conflicting reports on your view of this question, and I think it is only fair and correct to ask you yourself to state what your position is, rather than find statements attributed to you in internet and third person accounts. You will find a copy of one of them here:
I have compiled the discrepancies here:

I would appreciate your reply and will gladly publish on my blog any statement you wish to make, as well as to Just Peace UK, where this matter had blown up in the first place. I do believe that the public deserves to know your stand and that it be consistent, especially since there has been great divergence in what your stand precisely is.

Mary Rizzo

His response:

Dear "Mary Rizzo",
As you have already gone ahead and published in your website, and circulated by email, all sorts of "divergent" and mutually inconsistent rumours about my position, and have done so without first checking the facts with me, you have shown thereby that you are interested in gossip and scandal-mongering rather than in careful responsible factual reporting.
I do not think that after this you are now in a position to demand -- on behalf of "the public", no less! -- that I have any communication with you or contribute to your website.
M Machover

A second letter I had written to him:

Dear Mr. Machover,

In my many years of correspondence with persons, I have never before seen my name included in inverted quotation marks in the salutation. This is indeed very strange. Of course, I realise it is merely a modus to demonstrate disrespect and scorn, yet, in the unlikely case it is because you don't believe that I am indeed Mary Rizzo, I can assure you, it is the name I have always used and have never gone by any other, and I am the author of this email.

I can understand that you believe that the information, garnered from letters that were published on websites and other first person sources who claim a certain position do sound like rumours, although they do bear your name or were referred by the supposed recipient of such a letter. Yet, it is precisely the existence of versions which are at the antipodes of one another that was the reason why I had requested, and not "demanded" a direct response from yourself, so that the various versions which are in existence could in some way be verified by the person in question himself, and all "rumour" or divergences could be put to rest.

I had made an inquiry as to what your position was, and a letter was publicly diffused by Roland Rance, making the claim that you were the author and that you had sent it to the SWP. I was under the impression that the SWP had received no such letter and this had been confirmed for me. Therefore, since I do believe in public accountability, I find nothing peculiar in seeking to establish the true version, and the matter of requesting this information from you should be viewed as an opportunity for you to set the matter straight in a public forum, where the "rumours" could cease and you could clearly state if you had supported this picket or if you had not supported this picket, as well as the participation of Mr Atzmon in the convention in July. I think there is nothing so complicated in providing an answer to that question. Those who follow your activity are also entitled to know how and if you have stated your position.

You must realise that there are people following this case with interest, and not only on my blog, as it is indeed highly peculiar that some anti-Zionist have called upon a political party that they are not even affiliated with to pull another anti-Zionist from their platforms for speaking. It is also of interest that that they have acquired the support of you in this initiative, yet a different position of yours was communicated to Smith. It is natural that people are interested in knowing what your position is, and providing you with the opportunity to clearly state it was an invitation, and not a demand.

I make note that you have rudely refused to accept this invitation.

Mary Rizzo

His response:

Dear Madam,
I think I have made it clear that the right time to ask me for the facts about my position was before publishing and circulating unverified rumours and second-hand gossip.
Now that you have already circulated that material, I have no intention of lending you undeserved credibility by contributing to you blog.
I have no wish to have any further communication with you.
M Machover

I leave everyone to draw their own conclusions on this matter.


Thursday, June 23, 2005



In the past few days, this blog, which usually reports and comments on things happening in Palestine and Israel, and often on the various wars on our planet, has been busy with another issue: one internal to the so-called Palestinian Solidarity Movement.

I will absolutely continue to follow the developments of the various goings on, as well as once again seek to print interesting and important things about the Middle East, yet those who read this blog can probably comprehend that at the moment I am still fielding the responses from the Counterpunch article and the matter that it is dealing with. So.... I want to urge all to visit Umkahlil's wonderful blog where you will find a large quantity of fresh, important news, commentary and information.

It's the best blog on Palestine.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Atzmon picket update... mystery over Machover's position

It would be important to get the real story on Moshe Machover’s view of the picket staged by Jews Against Zionism targeting Gilad Atzmon (and perhaps the venue that hosted him) at Bookmarks, a Socialist bookshop of London. The facts to date:

On Wednesday 15th June, Machover, until recently a close friend of Gilad’s, reassures Martin Smith of the SWP that he is against the picket.

On Thursday, 16 June, Machover undersigns a document supporting the picket,which appeared on various sites with public access, including Jews Sans Frontieres and Just Peace UK.

On Friday, 17 June, Moshe Machover was not present at the picket at any rate, although no one can know what was in his mind.

On Friday 17 June, Roland Rance circulates an email confirming that Moshe Machover supported the picket and even sent a letter stating his views to the SWP.

On Saturday, 18 June, following an inquiry as to the true position of Machover, Roland Rance posts on Jews Sans Frontieres a letter he claims Machover sent to the SWP, in support of the picket against Atzmon and critical of the SWP for having hosted him.

On Saturday 18 June, Martin Smith from the SWP himself is surprised to read Roland Rance’s statement which was a copy of an email, reconfirming that he has never received a letter or an email from Machover. He still argues that as far as he is concerned, Machover was against the picket.

On Monday 20 June, Tuesday 21 June and Wednesday 22 June, Martin Smith reassures to Gilad Atzmon that the SWP had received no such document from Moshe Machover.

Either there is a false document being circulated, or Roland Rance and JewsAgainst Zionism as well as Just Peace UK and the SWP are being taken for aride by the legendary Moshe Machover.

So few people and so many lies.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Tolerance of diverging views: a request from Palestinians

Thinkpiece Bickering while Rome burns Appeal for unity within the Palestine solidarity movement
By Redress Information & Analysis 21 June 2005

Redress Information & Analysis deplores recent quarrels on the left of the Palestine solidarity movement and urges all genuine friends of Palestine to focus exclusively on the common struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Over recent days, weeks and months, we have witnessed with dismay recriminations within the anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian movements.

Allegations have been levelled back and forth within these movements. Among the allegations have been that some within these movements are anti-Semites in disguise, that others are Holocaust deniers and that others still are infiltrators. Interestingly or depressingly, many of the protagonists are of Jewish origin, and all of them are leftists of one variety or another. We shall refrain from naming and shaming those involved because we have no interest in inflaming an already inflamed situation.

The tendency of a vocal minority within the left, and also within the so-called "far left" and its Trotskyite variant, to become obsessed with the minutiae of nonsense and, eventually, to consume one another is well known. We may laugh at medieval Christians arguing about the number of angels that can be placed on a pinhead, but the tragicomedy of seeing self-proclaimed friends of the Palestinian cause smearing and assassinating one another's character is no laughing matter, for the sole reason that it weakens the Palestine solidarity movement and brings it into disrepute.

One can debate ad nauseum why the "far left" has so completely failed in every corner of the globe and why, where it continues to exist, it is regarded by many as nothing more than a self-obsessed and miniscule minority whose intolerance of any deviation from their dogma far exceeds their hatredof the common "enemy". But one sure reason for this failure is its chronic tendency to turn on itself over matters of trivia and ideology which, while possibly amusing to debate academically, are totally irrelevant for all practical purposes.

Being left-leaning ourselves, we lament this predisposition to triviamongering and self-destruction. However, as proponents of the Palestinian cause, we deplore the apparent willingness of ourself-proclaimed friends to divide the Palestine solidarity movement and bring the Palestinian cause into disrepute through their self-indulgence, futile knavel-gazing and point-scoring. With friends like these, who needs enemies!

It is a well-known fact that, from time to time, racists try to uset he Palestinian cause to promote the anti-Jewish aspects of their racist ideology, hiding for the time being the fact that they are frequently also anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, perhaps to a greater extent than they are anti-Jewish. Needless to say, there can be no place for these racists withinthe Palestine solidarity movement. However, accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are extremely serious and should never be made without hard evidence. Nor should the charge of being an infiltrator ever be levelled at anyone within the Palestine solidarity movement lightly.

Politics is a complex business and does not fall into little categories that can be neatly labelled. Our friends within the Palestine solidarity movement will know that the stigma of anti-Semitism has been one of Israel's most effective propaganda weapons, which it uses to bludgeon critics of its occupation and criminal policies. Our friends will also know that there is a high correlation between Israeli crimes in the Middle Eastand attacks on Jewish targets in Europe. Of course, some of these attacks are committed by racists, but many others are also committed by people who are angry at Israel's crimes and express this anger by attacking Jewish targets not because they are anti-Jewish, but because of the Jewish community's ill-conceived and unconditional support of Israel. To state this fact does not mean that one condones such attacks and it certainly does not mean that one is anti-Semite. On the other hand, just because someone may lack the sophistication to acknowledge this fact and, consequently, can see matters only in black and white does not mean that person is an infiltrator. It simply means that he or she has a simplistic view of the world or is ignorant.

Indeed, breaking taboos, for example, by asking whether something is anti-Semitic or a reaction to Israeli crimes and by questioning hitherto accepted historical "wisdoms" is something that should be encouraged and not deplored. For too long, Israel has hidden behind taboos, which have prevented many, especially among guilt-ridden Europeans, from debating, let alone condemning its crimes. Some years ago, the Israeli historian Benny Morris demonstrated what the Palestinians had always known, that is, that the Zionists did indeed ethnically cleanse Palestinians during the 1948 war. By doing so, he broke a taboo but, as a result of this, the rest of the world began to acknowledge this crime against humanity.

It has taken many years to build the Palestine solidarity movement to the point where, at least in Europe, public awareness of, and sympathy for, the Palestinian cause is greater than at any time, ever. This has been largely due to the success of the movement in drawing in people of different persuasions and beliefs: communists, conservatives, socialists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Islamists, liberals, atheists and even liberal Zionists.

If this movement is to make further progress, it must not only be inclusive but also tolerant - tolerant of people who have different diagnoses and concepts of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and tolerant of people who have different levels of commitments to the cause.

Unity has always been the strength of the Zionist movement, just assedition, fragmentation and trivial quarrels have blighted the pro-Palestinian camp for decades.

Only by focusing exclusively on our common struggle against the Israeli occupation will we have any chance of success.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


an article of mine up on Counterpunch

You can read Who's Afraid of Gilad Atzmon? on Counterpunch.
The Gag Artists
Who's Afraid of Gilad Atzmon?
So as to avoid any confusion, let it be stated loud and clear: There is no Palestinian Solidarity Movement.

Palestinian solidarity is different from Palestinian Liberation, a principal that implies the Palestinian people being able to express their aspirations of freedom. Palestinian society, with its massive and disorganised diaspora, is lost in dispersion, lacks the means to insist that the media gives equal time to its story, and has enormous difficulty expressing and sustaining a unified project, whether it be a vision of a Palestinian State, secular or religiously inspired as it may be, or co-existence together in a single State with the Jews of Israel.

The sole element on which all Palestinians concur is their need to become political subjects and to abandon their stateless status. Only in this way will they be finally able to come into possession of their human and civil rights, including the Right of Return.

The Palestinian Solidarity "Movement" is rather a galaxy of individuals and organisations that are generally not Palestinians. The common ground is that they all agree that their program is "Peace in the Middle East". On one end of the parabola we have those who see no problem with the idea of Israel as a Jewish State. They would like to see some kind of settlement for the Palestinians that will abate them, tossing a virtual bone at them by supporting the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (but not the West Bank, which is another story, seeing as how it is historically relevant to the Jewish people). They sustain that the only way to guarantee a secure Israel, which is a given, is by maintaining a Jewish majority, and other matters must take off from that premise. People in this camp run the gamut of the political spectrum, from right to left. They generally have the most space dedicated to them in public discourse, as it is a message that reflects and embraces many elements of the accepted Zionist stance, and they address a general public with great success, often depicting themselves as progressives when upon close observation, there is very little progressive in their ideas.

On the opposite end of the parabola, and often in conflict with the former are those who put the interests of the Palestinians first, as they accept to support the cause for justice of the victims of the appropriation of Palestinian land and those living under occupation or in exile. This group often, but not always, insists on the full Right of Return for the Palestinians, because it is a guaranteed right, and therefore, legitimate and just, in addition to compensation and integration into a unified State together with Jews. This group sometimes is in touch with what Palestinians aspire to, but not always.

Since these people are often not Palestinians, they have a tendency to identify and define themselves by their personal characteristics. Within this latter group we find primarily people who identify themselves as being on "the Left". Many are members of leftist political parties, others are sympathisers, almost all engage in dialectical discussion groups with progressives, rather than reach out to the first group or even to the general public. They operate in a closed milieu of others just like them, progressive or Marxist collectives and discussion groups. Many of them have years of hands on political experience, and are imbued with the culture of these groups. They refer to those in other parties as comrades quite naturally. In essence, they should be weaned on dialectic.

In the UK, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has invited Gilad Atzmon to appear at their annual convention this July, "Marxism 2005". Atzmon, former Israeli, is a fervent and outspoken anti-Zionist, promoter of full Right of Return, and is in favour of the establishment of a Single State which encompasses all the people in historical Palestine. He is engaged in deconstructing the supremacist nature inherent in an ideology like Zionism that excludes a priori those who are not Jews, and which grants Jews special rights in historical Palestine. He is a writer and musician. His performances include the message dedicated to his political beliefs. Although he is not affiliated with any political party, he is a political artist whose agenda is Palestine and the interests of the Palestinian people.

It is expected that he won't just perform his music at Marxism 2005, but that he will make a presentation of some sort, the title advertised as being "Beauty Against Zionism". This will be Atzmon's third appearance at the SWP convention, or rather, it is scheduled to be, since there are some Marxists who don't want that to happen.

In the UK, Jews Against Zionism can't abide Gilad Atzmon, and they have demanded that the SWP renege his invitation. Tony Greenstein, together with others, has publicised his demands on the forum of Just Peace UK, a mainly, but not exclusively Jewish group. He has put forth an edict that Atzmon is an anti-semite (as well as anyone who supports him), that he is associated with anti-semites (because he, like thousands of others, reads material which Tony does not approve of), and that he is a Holocaust Denier or at the very least, an apologist for them.
Greenstein and several of his friends on JPUK, the UK Left Network and JAZ have determined that Atzmon is a liability (a title wielded at Atzmon's supporters as well as some other even more offensive opinions) to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement and that his voice is leading towards a dangerous path and has no place in it. He has placed conditions upon Atzmon, as well has having placed demands upon the SWP even though Greenstein is not affiliated with this party.

He undertakes these actions, which seem to be the tip of the iceberg that has been building up for a long time in his desire to weed out the movement, and divide it into Tony-friendly or not, largely for the stated reason that Atzmon distributed through his mailing list a paper "The Holocaust Wars" written by Paul Eisen. Greenstein, having decided that it is classified as "Holocaust Denial" yet not having been able to establish his position except within his small group of comrades, ("It is not an opinion, it is a fact", he states), actually assigns the third person voice of the author as representing Atzmon's views. Atzmon is accused of having read the paper and thinking others might want to read it as well. Regardless of the content of the paper, which should be debated properly, if anyone is really interested, the very appearance of the paper is unfathomable for Greenstein and for those who share his opinion. Those responsible for it should not have voice in the Palestinian solidarity movement, because they would contaminate it.

Greenstein has written to the SWP demanding, not requesting, that they cancel Atzmon's appearance as well as a speaking event at the SWP's bookshop in London, which in lieu of cancellation, will be picketed. In other words, Greenstein decides who he likes or not, who has the right to speak or not, and when they do speak, he dictates what it is they talk about. He wants to be master of discourse; the most vocal, most pure, and official voice of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. Those who disagree with him and his agenda are in his mind on the "other side of the camp" and gone full circle, having fallen into anti-semitism. They are not good for the Palestinian people.

Atzmon wrote an article exposing the attempts of some of the members of this group to undermine an important Palestinian Solidarity group, Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), which has the crime of hosting people on its board of whom Greenstein and his close allies do not approve and not for any merit or demerit of the organisation itself. Greenstein criticised the contents of the article, but since it was primarily direct quotes from people on the JPUK board, it could not be contested for accuracy or denied. In a recent epistolary exchange between Atzmon and Greenstein, we see Greenstein saying:

"I certainly wish to see a speedy end to Deir Yassin Remembered. It can only do great damage to the Palestinian cause in so far as it is led by a holocaust denier and associated with another virulent anti-Semite."

Greenstein seems to know what is best for the Palestinian people, but what precisely gives him this information is a real mystery. Is he a self-appointed spokesman for them or does he just set the agenda because his ideas are the most important, significant and true ones? Atzmon claims that non-Palestinian activists are soldiers for the Palestinian people, required to listen to them and be at their service and states, "Instead of doing that (debating the paper he contests) you prefer to act under your Jewish banner whatever it means (something that you do constantly). You run campaigns solely with your Jewish comrades (rather than in the forefront of world working class). Rather than joining or even forming a humanistic open discourse, you try to stop the world from moving on. You insist on locating your worldview in the centre of any possible discourse. Why do you do it? Because you are a supremacist Jew. You must believe that you know better. You must believe that you know better than the SWP what is important for the British working class. You must think that you know better than the Palestinians what is right for the Palestinian people. Are you familiar with the notion of modesty? Just contemplate over the remote possibility that you may not know better."

One can read Atzmon and not agree with him, dislike his ideas or style, and especially when he critiques the mindset of Zionism and Jewish Identification as well as the mechanisms that protect Israel from having to act decently as is expected of any other nation in the world,, but no one should be permitted to deny him the possibility to exercise his right of free speech. One might not like what he says, whether the critic be Zionist or anti-Zionist, but shutting him up seems to be very old school left, right out of Stalinism.


Thursday, June 16, 2005


Ray, Robyn, Erlenda

Taking a breather from the usual here just to express some feelings for three important people. I don't know any of them personally, but today, they have each touched my heart.

Ray Davies....... I love the Kinks. Totally. Take a listen to Preservation Act 2, one of the lesser known Kinks albums. It's famously "flawed", the story doesn't make any linear sense, and it was never really finished the way it was intended to be. It's got to be the slowburner of all time. I think it took me 20 years to really appreciate it, and now I love it. Listening to it today was cathartic. Here's a bit of the lyrics to Nobody Gives:

I can't understand why everybody's quarreling,
Nobody gives in case they lose face,
And everybody's guilty and everybody's innocent,
And the fact of it is nobody gives any more.
It's the same throughout all history,
Nobody gives unless they receive,
And nobody trusts or is willing to believe
And nobody gives or is willing to concede.

Back in nineteen hundred and twenty-five
There were thousands of people struggling to survive.
There was hunger, unemployment and poverty,
Then in 1926 they decided to be free
So they all went on strike and
The workers told the unions, who blamed it on the government,
The politicians blamed it on the strikers and the militants,
Everybody's guilty and everybody's innocent,
But the fact of it is nobody gives any more.

Robyn, as in Hitchcock. Today I anticipated Summer by a few days. Moss Elixir has always been the official welcome to my favourite season. Sitting on my terrace, looking at the swallows swoop around for insects, and listening to that album are my hommage to the Summer Solstice. This is from a psychedelic folk song, The Speed of Things:

All in the terror of the moment
That pounces as it open swings
A line of dots illuminated
For I have seen the speed of things

I fed you in your chair this morning
You made a mess of everything
By afternoon, you drove a sports car
You were driving at the speed of things

You held my hand when I was crying
You were allergic to bee stings
I threw some earth onto your coffin
And thought about the speed of things

I kissed you by the clear, cold river
I felt like I was growing wings
But I grew horns and found another
Oh, a girl to share the speed of things
Oh, a girl to share the speed of things

All in the terror of the moment
That pounces as it open swings
A line of dots illuminated
For I have seen the speed of things

Erlenda.... she's one of my favourite bloggers, an amazing writer and person. In her family there has just been a terribly tragic death of a child, and in A Screamer in the Matrix, she shares her feelings. Ti bacio affettuosamente, amica mia.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


reflections on anti-Atzmon campaign by Miguel Martinez

I know "paradigm shift" has become a boring catchword, but this story really tells us how deeply we are involved in one. Dozens of episodes like this are happening everywhere, and are a sign that the ice is thawing, and making a good deal of cracking noises.

While you probably look (rightly) at the Zionist aspect of it, what I see is a typical event on the Left. And I think Gilad gave us the key to it when he wrote, some time ago, a fascinating essay on the Master-Slave dialectic of Hegel (do read it all: )

It explained something I felt several years ago, seeing Israeli embassy spokesmen speak on Italian TV: they looked as obtuse as any Soviet bureaucrat, and spoke in a haughty yet stupid manner. Yet in the early and mid-20th century, "the representative Jew" (insofar as one existed) had brilliant wit and the capacity to take himself lightly - the price of mastership is idiocy.

Gilad put Greenstein as the "Slave", which is partly true; however, I also see another aspect.

Costanzo Preve says we live in a world where the economy is right-wing, the administration is centrist and culture is left-wing. "Left wing" here may simply mean, of course, that if Bush bombs Iraq, he first has to say that he is doing it for "democracy and women's rights".

This situation means that - in Italy at least, but I imagine in other parts of Europe as well - leftist intellectuals of every variety are at the same time in rapid decline, powerless, yet proud as peacocks. Like the nobility at Versailles in 1788.

I am *not* talking about left-wing ideas, which I respect; and I am not talking about many honest individual left wing intellectuals, who very often end up by splitting with the "left wing intellectual" milieu. I am talking about a sociological category of "left-wing intellectuals" (which includes bloggers and leaflet writers). In their cozy little niche, they feel they have the truth in their hands, and are the "Masters". They can only think in terms of excommunicating, demanding and refusing to discuss other ideas, accompanied by a total lack of sense of humour.

Then there is a hysterical fear of contamination-through-association, which is reminiscent of an Indian Brahmin. Contamination is contagious (you can be contaminated by being associated with somebody who has been associated with somebody who...): Tony Greenstein, as a leftist, is worried that the whole Left will soon be polluted because the SWP risks being sullied forever by a few minutes' contact with Gilad Atzmon, who is totally contaminated by once having forwarded an e-mail by Paul Eisen, who once wrote a few lines about Ernst Zundel.

This is expressed in a recurrent language which is fascinating from a psychological point of view: in Italy they use terms like "clarity", "consistent viewpoint", "lack of ambiguity" to describe their solar selves, and "sewers", "darkness", "ambiguous", "unacceptable", "I don't discuss with the likes of [followed by a surname without a first name]", etc. to describe their nocturnal adversaries.

When they decide to attack somebody, their judgement is final. It only takes into account "evil" deeds. They will never say, "though so-and-so has done nine excellent things, he has also done one bad one". Somewhere in the Old Testament, I believe, there is the notion that only contamination is contagious, not purity: so quite rightly, the good deeds, not being contagious, do not count.

If you accept their right to judge you, you have definitely become their slave: the more grovelling the apology, the more you are a slave. If you refuse their right to judge you, they will froth at the mouth, scream, jump up and down in a temper tantrum (as Mary said) but finally they will have to stop, and this will do their ego no end of good.

It's a question of looking them straight in the eye, which you are not supposed to do to Masters or to judges.

Internet, however, makes the mastership style untenable. The same people who are horrified at the supposed Zundel-contamination of Gilad know who Zundel is because at night they secretly go to see Zundel's website (they then hide their tracks on the computer, much in the way certain husbands carefully clean their coats of any telltale hairs before going back home). They meticulously peruse the right-wing publications and websites they accuse others of having something to do with.

There is a suicidal element in all this.Take Tony Greenstein. Somebody this small person dislikes is going to speak for a few minutes at a small event organised by a small political group. Normally, people would have listened and, alas, forgotten.

Now Greenstein, who calls himself a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist of the Left, has made this a world case, via Internet. Some of the mud he is slinging will stick to Gilad of course. However, a lot will also stick onto the Left, onto anti-Zionists and onto pro-Palestinians in general. Zionists and anti-Leftists will have a feast: "Do you believe it, there are some Communist Jews in England who like the Palestinians and hang out with Holocaust deniers! I read that somewhere on the Internet, there was a big discussion, but I can't remember the details".

Now, I am sure that somewhere out there in Internet there is something "associating" Greenstein with Gilad. Maybe they both spoke at the same event five years ago, maybe they both wrote an article for the same magazine. Gilad is a "Holocaust Denier"-by-association, having once forwarded an e-mail by somebody else which mentioned a third person, the picturesque revisionist Ernst Zundel.

So, the day Tony Greenstein steps out of the line, there will be an avalanche ready to fall on his head - "Tony Greenstein, ambiguous self-hating Jew who writes for the same magazine as does Holocaust Denier Ernst Zundel". Remember, they always snip associations, cutting down a few removes. And all his pickets and red lines won't help to put him together again that day...

Good luck and never give in


Monday, June 13, 2005


whose side are you on?

As a few (or many) readers here know, there is a little war going on within a corner of the Palestinian Solidarity "movement", if we can use that word for such a disorganised entity.

On several blogs, Jews Sans Frontiers but also Harry's Place, as well as on the internet Yahoo members' forum Just Peace UK, there is a discussion going on insisting that it is not right that the Socialist Workers' Party invited Gilad Atzmon to make a presentation for the third year running at their annual meeting, and to host him in their bookshop for a signing this Friday in London. Tony Greenstein, quoted below in an excerpt of his own correspondence with Atzmon has called for (under the name of Jews Against Zionism) a picket to be held outside the bookshop. He has also campaigned to have Atzmon taken off of the Meeting, but has been met with a refusal by the organisers.

There are a lot of people who love what Gilad Atzmon does, and with good reason. Among his indubious qualities (even his critics say he is a great musician) he is a very effective campaigner with a very important message about Palestine, Israel and the Empire. He believes in a single State paradigm for these two populations and is in favour of complete Right of Return of Palestinian refugees. He is a fervent anti-zionist, and he opposes the habit of the strong exerting their pressure upon the weak. He is a fierce advocate of open discourse and opposes the single narrative reading of history. The interview I did with him on this site a few months back is a good primer to his approach for those who are unfamiliar with the man.

There are others who hate what Gilad Atzmon does, people like Masada 2000 of course comes to mind without even checking if it's so, but also, he is seen as an opponent to be defeated and not as a serious thinker by the most vociferous members of said JPUK group. Their reasons include: that he distributed through his mailing list a document written by Paul Eisen which many of these people define as "Holocaust Denial" (the four that have expressed this opinion out of a group numbering something like 180 members), and that he is associated with people that these same individuals in JPUK consider to be anti-semitic and therefore to be distanced from the Palestinian solidarity arena.

First of all, Gilad answered to these accusations quite well himself in the epistolary debate, and I will later possibly post here salient moments of my own (and others') intervention from JPUK list discussing if this accusation is realistic or not. Secondly, Gilad is not "associated" with anyone as far as I can tell, and he writes and speaks as an independent individual. I am convinced that he is determined to maintain his individuality, especially since his view is very particular given his experiences and formation. There will of course be affinities with others, as is natural and good that there will be since mobilisation of others and discussion is always going to bring about communication and sharing of strategy and opinions. But to label the fact that he reads and communicates with others as "association" is a stretch of the imagination. It also implies that all see these exact same individuals in the same exact way and that it is necessary to "renounce" them.

Sure, everyone can have their opinions, but no one can force them on others. No one can have the 100% security that his and his opinion alone is right, just and acceptable. Dictators do that kind of thing, not "progressives". What is a progressive, anyway? I always thought it was one who advocated the diversity of humanity and respect for the dignity of others, no matter who they were.

Tony and his friends have a right to call for a picket, but that doesn't mean that it's right. I think Tony might find that out on his own this Friday. He should bear in mind what he is asking for people to picket, and people should consider whether a request like this is very progressive.

A good educator believes it is fundamental, especially in this world of a variety of people, that one should consider all persons as worthy of respect, and that we could and should disagree with their opinions, without ostracising them because we did not agree with what or who they were. One of the reasons was pragmatic, you don't want to find your own rights of thought and speech trampled over when your ideas express dissent. You have to want for yourself and for others, that right which is the right to be yourself and not be bullied into acquiescence. The right to request civil discussion and not aggressive accusations. The right to refuse ultimatums and power games.

It's a matter of just acting like grown ups, not like children who rant and make a tantrum until they get what they want (usually by shouting long, loud and hard enough). The other reason is that somewhere in there, the other person might just have something useful to say, or might be open to listening to us. All the rest is just staring into a mirror.

To maintain the discourse open, free, where all participants can act as equals and are not deligitimised is important in discussion groups. To respect our adversaries is important too. Threats and scare tactics seem to be quicker though.


Friday, June 10, 2005


Gilad Atzmon - Tony Greenstein debate

A debate between Tony Greenstein, an anti-Zionist ethnic Jewish activist and Gilad Atzmon, an ordinary Jazz musician

What follows is a brief version of a private email exchange between Tony Greenstein and Gilad Atzmon which was posted by Tony Greenstein on JPUK. Many have asked for wide distribution, Mr Greenstein in primis, and due to space reasons, I present only an edit here. Basic typos have been corrected and it has been arranged into a dialogue style to aid in comprehension, yet the content remains unvaried. An unabridged version is available here.

T: I note that in the tirade below, (The Elders of London) you accuse Jews Against Zionism and myself of being 'undercover Zionist agents of influence'.

G: As it seems, you are calling for Jews to act under their ethnic/racial banner. i.e. Jewishness. I was sure that as a Marxist you should aim to let Jews become ordinary human beings i.e. equal comrades, rather than an isolated and segregated ethnic group.

T: By your own admission you are distributing Eisen’s holocaust denial text.

G: Holocaust Denial is in itself a Zionist terminology and I refuse to accept it or to use it.

T: I understand that you have been distributing Paul Eisen's most recent The Holocaust Wars which denies, in the course of defending Ernest Zundel, that there ever was a holocaust or extermination of European Jewry by the Nazis.

G: Mr Greenstein, True, I circulated Paul Eisen's paper. I do believe that argumentative texts must be circulated as widely as possible. I am sure that in case you have a counter argument to suggest Paul will be delighted to address it. By the way, my take on the subject is slightly different than Paul's one and yet, I found Paul very attentive to my criticism. Furthermore, let me assure you that if I ever see a great text written by yourself I’ll be the first to circulate it. This is my way, that is what I believe in.

T: You admit you only disagree ‘slightly’. By your own admission you are condemned as either a knave or a fool or more probably both. I haven’t the slightest intention of engaging with holocaust deniers, any more than I have time to waste on flat earthers.

G: I assume that if you had just a hint of integrity you may have realised along time ago that the Holocaust doesn't lead necessarily to just one 'conclusion'. First, there might be more than one and if this is not enough, it might even provide us with more than one moral lesson (in case you don't realise, a moral lesson is a dynamic process while a conclusion is a firm and fixed idea). For me, the Holocaust like any other historical narrative is a dynamic process of realisation and interpretation. For me to be in the world is to be engaged in a dynamic process of interpretation. For me and not only me...Judaism at its very best is merely a dynamic critical process of re-reading and re-writing. For me the beauty of Judaism is conveyed by the imagery of a single Biblical page: a few lines of Biblical text and many different interpretations around it (deconstruction). On the other hand, Jewishness in its lowest form is the aim towards the imprisonment of meaning and fixation of ideas. In that very sense, I am very sorry to tell you Mr. Greenstein, you are presenting the lowest form of rabbinical and talmudic Jewish existence. You try to determine meanings and to stop any possible critical scholarship and interpretation. As bizarre as it may sound, Mr Paul Eisen, a man you try to destroy for being an anti-Semite, is presenting us with the ultimate beauty of Judaic thinking. Unlike you, Eisen is engaged in interpretation (Parshanut). Eisen is engaged in a process of re-reading and re-writing. Eisen follows the most radical form of orthodox Judaic spirit.

Let me tell you, Eisen was raised as a Jew, unlike you he managed to internalise the essence of Judaism, this is enough to make him into a very important voice. If you were a real Jew rather than just a shallow form of talmudic Zionist you would stand up to Eisen and fight with his interpretation with dignity. But as it seems you are incapable.

Instead of doing that you prefer to act under your Jewish banner whatever it means (something that you do constantly). You run campaigns solely with your Jewish comrades (rather than in the forefront of world working class). Rather than joining or even forming a humanistic open discourse, you try to stop the world from moving on. You insist on locating your worldview in the centre of any possible discourse. Why do you do it? Because you are a supremacist Jew. You must believe that you know better. You must believe that you know better than the SWP what is important for the British working class. You must think that you know better than the Palestinians what is right for the Palestinian people. Are you familiar with the notion of modesty? Just contemplate over the remote possibility that you may not know better......Let me tell you Mr. Greenstein, Marxism isn't an internal Jewish affair (it may had been for a while, but not any more) and so with the Palestinian cause. It is our duty (as human beings) to show our support to the Palestinian people but we are not allowed to tell them what to do. We are not allowed to tell them what is right or wrong, we can only offer ourselves as soldiers, this is what Paul is doing, this is what I try to do.

Your frequent usage of the word 'insist' (you insist that the SWP kick me out and you insist that DYR will spit out Shamir or Eisen etc.) reveals a clear image of classic Jewish supremacist tendencies. You blame others for being white supremacists, just because you are daily engaged in supremacist practices. Considering the clear fact that you can't even present a simple argument. I would conclude that you should scrutinise your own conduct. You better look in the mirror Mr Greenstein, you better get used to the idea that you are just an ordinary human being like all of us, you can't 'insist' anymore, you can only suggest, and you better be polite about it.

T: Not that this should be any surprise given your association with Israel Shamir, who makes a habit of supporting and defending white supremacists.

G: With all due respect, you won't find any support for white supremacists in any of my writings. If you read my writings you will find the very opposite. I am against any form of supremacism. I wrote 2 books about the subject. Anyhow, I assume that you have a serious problem with Shamir, and yet I do not know what do you mean by the term 'association'. As you should know I am not a politician and not even a political activist. I am an artist: I am a musician and a writer. The notion of association means nothing to me. I am not a member in any party, I act solely as an individual. I am interested in Shamir’s writings as much as I am interested in any other writer who supports the Palestinian people. For me Palestine is more important than all those childish political games. I believe in freedom of spirit and freedom of speech. I would fight for you or anyone else in case someone would try to censor your writings. But then, let me admit, you are right about one thing, I am not associated with any pro Palestinian Jewish organisation. I do believe that the Palestinian cause is a human issue, it is far more important than Jewish politics. I hope that sooner rather than later you will realise it yourself.

T: I didn’t accuse you of supporting white supremacists, I stated that you associate with Shamir who supports white supremacists. That is clear from his web site, his repetition of the blood-libel myths and his collaboration with neo-Nazis.

G: I already addressed the association issue, again you use a terminology that is inapplicable to me. I am not associated with anyone. I am reading Israel occasionally, I think that he is a very important writer. But at the same time I would read every paper written by Brenner. I just read, I am a reader and a writer. Again, it is possible that you associate me with Shamir but this is your problem.

T: I certainly wish to see a speedy end to Deir Yassin Remembered. It can only do great damage to the Palestinian cause in so far as it is led by a holocaust denier and associated with another virulent anti-Semite.

G: As you may know, I performed in DYR this year and it was one of the most emotionally moving events I’ve ever taken part of. Mind you I am performing every night for over 25 years. You insist to bring DYR down, and let me tell you, this is enough to make you into a Zionist.

T: Some, who draw the necessary conclusions from the holocaust, will hold that racism whomsoever it is directed against is wrong and will therefore adopt anti-Zionist and indeed anti-fascist politics.

G: For a change I am in total agreement with you, I am against racism and in fact in my writing you won't find a single racial reference. Moreover, when I write about Jewish identity I analyse it in ideological and philosophical terms. For me Jewishness is a mind set. Nothing to do with the quality of one's blood or the religion of one's mother.

T: Ironically it also mirrors the Zionist libel that anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism.

G: I agree with you and this is another reason for me not to come with such a conclusion. And yet you blame me for being an Anti-Semite just because I am ridiculing yourself and your own shallow Marxism. Mr Greenstein, I must let you know that to be a Marxist is not just a 'language game', It is not enough to call someone a 'comrade' and to expect him to remove Gilad Atzmon from his conference. To be a Marxist is to be a critical thinker. But then not only that you aren't critical, you engage in censorship of any possible critical thinking. Basically you follow the most devastating Rabbinical practices. No wonder why you act as 'Marxist Jew' rather than just a Marxist. You probably regard Marxism as an internal Jewish affair, this may explain the fact that you allow yourself to come to the SWP with demands.

T: I have no intention of taking lectures in respect of Marxism from someone who is supportive of Eisen's thesis that the holocaust didn't happen.

G: This may be true but somehow you don't stop visiting my mail box. Being educated as a German philosopher I am very interested in different aspects of Master Slave dialectic (Hegel). Thus, I wonder why you are begging for my recognition. Why do you take the role of the slave in this debate? I ask just because I am really not interested in being your master or anyone else’s master.

T: Clearly it is outrageous that a socialist organisation should invite you to their annual beanfeast. However that is their problem, not mine.

G: Apparently it isn't their problem. They are very happy with it, this will be my third successful appearance in the conference. But somehow you aren't happy at all. You keep humiliating yourself sending them lengthy letters and get a short clear cut dismissal.

If you have any dignity in your system you better take a rest. Look for enemies somewhere else.

With Love and Peace
Gilad Atzmon

Further related articles:
Reflections on the anti-Atzmon campaign by Miguel Martinez

Whose side are you on? by Mary Rizzo

It Ain't Necessarily So - The Gilad Atzmon Interview

The Left and Palestine by Mary Rizzo

Reflections on Holocaust Remembrance Day by Mary Rizzo


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