Why Palestine Expo Should
Have Boycotted Jewish Anti-Zionists
Prominent Palestinians condemn Atzmon as anti-Semitic
It is some time since I devoted a blog post to
Gilad Atzmon – the anti-Semitic jazz player.
For some years he and his supporters posed an increasing threat to the Palestine
solidarity movement, polluting it with their overt anti-Semitism and giving comfort to the Zionists and supporters of Israel. The Zionists said that everything they did
was in the name of Jews and Atzmon was perfectly happy to subscribe to that
Gilad Atzmon – the anti-Semitic Jazzman
Even the Socialist Workers Party issued a Statement on Gilad Atzmon and Marxism 2005
(21st June 2005) supporting him. This
was in response to a Jews Against Zionism picket
of a meeting the SWP held with Atzmon at Bookmarks. It stated that
SWP does not believe that Gilad Atzmon is a Holocaust denier or racist.
However, while defending Gilad’s right to play and speak on public platforms
that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views.’
The racist Campaign Against Anti-semitism did their best to have Palestine Expo banned
Unfortunately Atzmon was both a racist and holocaust denier and the
title of his talk to the assembled SWP members, John Rose included, was the
legacy of Otto Weininger, a reactionary German Jew of whom Hitler allegedly said
that there was only one decent Jew and he killed himself!
The SWP statement seems to have
disappeared from the SWP’s site!
Presumably it therefore never existed.
There are though still reports
of the SWP’s effusive coverage which have not yet been deleted!
Atzmon’s take on Palestine Expo 2017
Following the issuing of a statement Granting
No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad
Atzmonby Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, Professor Joseph Massad,
Omar Barghouti and other leading Arabs and Palestinians in 2012, Atzmon has
faded away becoming both more bitter and more overtly anti-Semitic. In 2011/12 an open holocaust denier, Francis
Clarke Lowes was expelled, firstly from Brighton and Hove PSC and then from the
national PSC. As a result of these
events Atzmon and his baleful influence has become a thing of the past, much to the
annoyance of the Zionists.
Despite this I still come across the
occasional supporter of the Palestinians, although more rarely now than before,
who still believe that Atzmon is a supporter of the Palestinian struggle rather
than a washed up ex-Israeli whose anti-Semitism is a reflection of the racism
of his Revisionist Zionist father.
primary theme is that the dispossession of the Palestinians is all the fault of the Jews and that to be Jewish and Zionist
are one and the same thing. Indeed Jewish
anti-Zionists are the worst of all because they are using their anti-Zionism in
order to subvert the Palestine solidarity movement. Because they are ‘ethnically’ Jewish they are
irredeemably Zionist. Ali Abunima dealt with this nonsense in their statement:
politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for
vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”.
He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist.
Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical
“Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he
claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with
Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not
disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because
it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew
is to be a Zionist.
has flirted with Holocaust denial for some years and openly works with fellow holocaust
deniers such as Horst Mahler, a neo-Nazi and former member of the Red Army
faction who was sentenced to 6 years in Germany for Holocaust revisionism. [seeGilad
Atzmon – Now an Open Holocaust Denier]
face of these false allegations of anti-Semitism and support for ‘terrorism’, Jewish
anti-Zionist groups and individuals mobilised to ensure that the Tory government
did not cancel the event. At the same
time Gilad Atzmon was doing his best to try and persuade people that Palestine Solidarity
and anti-Semitism were inextricably linked.
‘Over the last decade, Palestinian solidarity has been hijacked by many
Jewish organisations – JVP, IJAN, J-BIG – and also by other insipid
left-leaning groups that in practice, have reduced Palestinian solidarity into
a paradigm that is lame, meaningless and leads absolutely nowhere. This loose
collective of tribal and Identitarian merchants has managed to reduce the
magisterial Palestinian call for Right of Return into a squalid and
self-serving Jewish internal debate about the ‘Right to BDS.’ The discourse of
the oppressed is now defined by the sensitivities of the oppressor.’
You may find Atzmon’s incoherent ramblings
difficult to understand. Leave aside
that the JVP – Jewish Voices for Peace is an American group that had little
nor nothing to do with Palestine Expo. It is true that Jewish anti-Zionists in
this country, unlike Atzmon, did their best to rally to defend Palestine Expo. And what’s more we were successful and it
Atzmon though attempted to counterpose the Right of Return, which all Jewish anti-Zionist groups
support to BDS. He describes BDS as a ‘squalid and self-serving Jewish internal
debate’ In fact BDS is something
that originated in 2005, not from a Jewish internal debate but from Palestinian
civil society groups in Palestine. It
was a call for solidarity and was immediately taken up in this country by university lecturers in the Association of University Teachers union (later the University College Union) in 2005 when the AUT voted to support an
academic boycott of Israeli universities.
Given that Netanyahu and the Israeli government has
deemed BDS enemy number one and are spending $50m in the Gilad Erdan’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the fact that Atzmon openly attacks it says
everything one needs to know about his politics.
Atzmon complained that Palestine Expo 2017 , ‘could have been an attempt to re-instate the
meaning of Palestine: its culture, its politics and its call for liberation.’ Perhaps if Atzmon had gone to the event he
would have found out that that is exactly what it did. What Atzmon meant by ‘the meaning of Palestine’ was, however, different from what most
people mean. He complained that it ‘Featur(ed) Jewish anti-Zionist voices, and
endorsed by various Jewish organisations, it instead attempts to give voice to
the most politically-correct and Jewish-friendly vision of solidarity
available. And guess what, it didn’t work. Instead of welcoming this
Zio-friendly approach, British Jews, utilising all their lobbies and employing
every trick in the Hasbara playbook, have act institutionally and aggressively
to cancel the event.’
Atzmon finds it hard to understand that Jewish anti-Zionist
groups are in a minority and therefore not likely to be heeded by the majority Zionist
groups in the Jewish community, although it is interesting that the Zionist calls for the banning of Palestine Expo were only from the far-Right of the Zionist movement in this country – the CAA and the so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch (which in practice is solicitor Robert Fenstenstein and a couple of mates). The Board of Deputies, which is normally so voluble, realised that there were no conceivable grounds to ban Palestine Expo other than the explicitly racist one of deeming anything Palestinian as automatically anti-Jewish.
fact that prominent Jewish speakers such as Miko Peled, the son of dissident Israeli
General Matiyahu Peled, or Ilan Pappe as well as people like John Pilger spoke
gave the lie to Zionist accusations that support for the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. Many hundreds of British Jews attended this so-called ‘hate fest’. This however is what Atzmon dislikes most of all. To him the ‘meaning of Palestine’ is an anti-Semitic
meaning in which Zionist racism towards Palestinians is replaced by hatred of Jews.
‘interfering with academic freedom isn’t exactly something I can
blindly advocate. … I am against any form of gatekeeping or book burning.
But it goes further, I actually want to hear what Israelis and Zionists have to
say. I want to read their books. I want to confront their academics.’ ‘to
impose a boycott is to employ a boycotter. … the boycott is led by some minor
academics with very little to say about ethics and even less to say about the
specific conflict…. It has a lot to do with maintenance of some particular
decaying old-school socialists within the fading progressive Western discourse.
… When it comes to the current boycott we are unfortunately operating within a
political mode rather than an ethical one. … Shouldn’t we ban as well any form
of racially orientated activity? … I believe that the best way around it is to
support freedom of speech categorically…’
For Atzmon ‘freedom of speech’ for the colonist
trumps the freedom of the oppressed and that is why those who have illusions in
him should think again.