Some who read this might ask themselves what it's all about. Why should a board that is focused on issues of Palestine and opposition to militarism, interventionism and occupation publish frequently about "internal issues" relating to publishing and activism? I believe the response is very simple. There are many news and analysis sources that one can refer to in order to learn more about the issues, to understand them better and to decide what kind of involvement one chooses to have in his or her approach. There are many forums where one can discuss, and in the recent years, there has been a great deal of networking between activists, in order to organise and participate in information and action campaigns. This often means that things become personalised, we get to know one another, and we start to see cracks in some reasoning that without deeper analysis might have seemed unimportant. We not only refine our ideas, but we are called upon to come to our own conclusions on the spectrum of ideas that we are presented with and the genuine dedication to the cause. We also end up being involved in clashes that end up being extremely aggressive.
This blog has been active for three years, and I am happy that I've been able to present the situation in all of its complexity (despite limited time, given that I'm heavily involved in several other editorial, internet and street activist projects). Peacepalestine has documented major events, but also, the vicissitudes of the activist world itself, and more specifically, that of the group I believe I have belonged to all my life, the "movement" that is dedicated to the Palestinian people and their liberation, from a humanist, radical left progressive perspective. Included in the values of this "group" is the importance of service, ie, we are here not for ourselves, but to render service in any way we can to the people of Palestine. We may not always get it right, but Palestinians remain the absolute priority. Another important value is that of conservation of freedom - freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, because radical views have almost always been the first to have been sacrificed to Power. There is an enormous need for those who have power to crush those who don't have power, but are part of "the masses". Yes, there is a weapon we have, and we tend to forget how important it is: to quote a punk band, Anti-Flag, "You've got the guns, We've got the numbers". We actually have MORE power than those who are the oppressors, we just need to put it to good use, once we remember that we are the ones who can decide to think and act according to our morals. If we want to be VERY left, we call it "Change from Below".
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.
As to being effective, obviously, we are not making many inroads. There are many reasons for this, and in the coming days I will analyse a few more of them, but for the moment, one of the greatest obstacles is precisely getting our message across. There are a lucky few who are courageous, some amazing sites that never compromise, all isn't lost. In fact, there is actually more than a little reason to be cheerful.
Everyone who is a habitué of this blog knows that Gilad Atzmon is the major featured writer. Obviously, I like what Gilad writes, and I believe that he is a genuine (one of the most genuine, and in 27 or 28 years of activism, I've met my share) supporter of Palestinians. His dedication is without shadow of a doubt, and besides, he comes with a new and interesting approach.
While many believe politicians have a lot of influence, they really don't know much about the issues. While some journalists are very good at what they do, they ultimately, (most of them) are serving someone before they are serving the cause they support, be it their editor or advertisers or political parties. Philosophers are in a completely different position. They have total intellectual autonomy. Gilad has been attacked, (and naturally, anyone who supports his ideas and believes that they are worthy of widespread dissemination is attacked just as much) by certain sectors of the "movement". There have been calls by some in this extremely marginal group of people (both in number and in relevance) to have Gilad Atzmon banned, boycotted, picketed, harassed, and most frequently, CENSORED. The latest had been documented here, here and here. Well, the demands of Tony Greenstein, acting for Moishe Machover, had been rejected by IndyMedia UK. Here is the letter from one of the moderators, explaining to Tony that not only was Tony's diatribe going to be "hidden" (something that Tony had asked to be done to Gilad's article, if they couldn't out and out censor it), but that his proposition was rejected. The utter irony of it all lies in this: the aggression aimed towards Gilad (which it is necessary to mention, is always unprovoked. Gilad uses his capacity to think and write, others use theirs to publish and disseminate and comment on, and Tony and Co. turn it into a highly charged battle against the PERSONS, to which the persons involved at times feel they would spend time responding to) began with an analysis of a group of people that were attempting to smear, defame and silence others by their "demerits" or "affiliations". It was a classic example of a lobbying measure used by a group of people who identify themselves as "Anti-Zionist Jews" to silence other Anti-Zionists who, oddly enough, were all of Jewish origin, but refuse to identify themselves primarily as Jews and act under that name. It was a classic example of gatekeeping. I would say that the paper that Gilad wrote on it then, almost three years ago, is just as valid today as it was then. It seems they just can't win. It seems they just can't move on and start getting their energies committed to Palestinian people!
For your pleasure, edification and information:
[Imc-uk-features] A response to Tony Greenstein's hidden article
From one of the moderators of the Indymedia board
Wed Nov 7 04:38:01 PST 2007
Your article of last night has been hidden, as it is essentially a complaint about moderation, and our editorial guidelines (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/static/editorial.html) (which I note you quote)
"Concerns about editorial guidelines or queries about moderation are dealt with on the imc-uk-features list. These issues are not dealt with through the newswire, and newswire posts on these topics will be hidden."
In your email to contact, you stated:
"On most occasions accusations of anti-Semitism, especially by Zionists against those supporting the Palestinians are a form of defamation."
ie you advised that claims of anti-semitism are not to be taken at face value, as the term is often misused in order to defame critics - especially those who support Palestinians.
You then go on to say:
"In this case they are unfortunately true."
ie you claim that we can trust you to have got it right.
However, there is a glaring error in your email:
"In most 'Knuckes' contributions like the above Atzmon purports to suggest that he is not Atzmon. However in a post at 00.04 of 23.10.07. he forgets his alias and both writes in the first person and signs off as Atzmon:"
Yet, the comment is clearly entitled:
"Gilad Atzmon - an open comment to JSF"
and the opening lines are:
"Gilad Atzmon’s open comment to JSF
If you click on the link, it takes you to the exact same text that appears underneath, and it is signed:
So, rather than 'knuckles' forgetting his alias, it appears to be knuckles posting the text from Peace Palestine.
In other words, it would appear that you are capable of making mistakes, or getting the wrong end of the stick, so to speak. At best your evidence is extremely circumstantial, and disputable.
Now, you have DEMANDED that Indymedia do what you say - which is, in any case not even our usual practice, ie to delete the post from our server, so that it would be unreadable to anyone, as would the comments.
However, in the full awareness that there is a high level of antagonism between you and Gilad, that this has been going for several years and that you have several times attempted to have him banned from places, I think that it would be a bad move on our part to automatically take your side on this matter. It is better in the long run, for all of us, if the kneejerk response to calls of anti-semitism is relaced with an informed decision.
So, contrary to your claim that the collective has done nothing about your demand, there has been a debate about the issues that you have raised.
You can read the archived discussion at:
You have already used the comments section to make your objections to the article known, and the list is an open one.
You offer up 2 partial quotes from the article:
The first is this:
"‘Within the Judaic worldview, history and ethics are often reduced into a banal single binary opposition principle…"
What you don't quote is the qualification:
"But let’s face it, it isn’t just the Israelis who personalise conflicts. Thanks to the Neocons and their tremendous current influence within the Anglo-American political realm, we are all subject to some oversimplification and personalisation of almost every Western conflict"
In other words, it is all of us who are subject to this behaviour.
The second is this:
"the Jewish state and the sons of Israel are at least as unpopular in the Middle East as their grandparents were in Europe just six decades ago’."
which you assert means that Atzmon blames the Jews for the Holocaust.
However, if it is true that there was rampant anti-semitism in Europe 6 decades ago, then there is some truth in the claim that Jews were unpopular - to say that someone is a victim of racism does not automatically imply that it is their fault.
It does appear that there are other ways of reading the text, and I have doubts about how objective a participant in a long running and mean-spirited dispute can be about their foes words.
That is why it is not as simple as you would like to it to be. We cannot just take it as gospel that you are correct and the article is anti-semitic. It is your interpretation, and there are reasons to be cautious about it.
We are still looking for consensus as how we should deal with claims of anti-semitism as a collective, and to be honest with you, it isn't going to be a quick process.
BTW, It doesn't help if you think you have the right to be rude to Indy volunteers, and it was out of order to single out someone, who tried to assist you, for attack in an article on the newswire.
If you wish to make a response to the collective, the right place to do it is through this list. However, it would be good if you could try and be civil in your posts, as incivility just tends to cloud issues.
Labels: activism, Atzmon, gatekeeping, good news, journalism