Tony Greenstein | 19 January 2012 | Post Views:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a Racism Free Zone

It takes a certain kind of genius to turn attention away from the links between the Zionists and fascist/far-right parties and onto the Palestine solidarity movement. This is the solitary ‘achievement’ of the supporters of Gilad Atzmon, inside and outside Palestine Solidarity Campaign. It is to the eternal shame of Gill Kaffash, Roy Ratcliffe, Frances Clarke-Lowes et al. that they have managed to align themselves with those whose hatred of Jews is second only to that of Muslims.

Lest anyone be under any doubt even a post by Thomas Venner on the notoriouis Zionist site Engage was forced to admit that

‘a couple of the EDL members who were waving Israeli flags were also wearing poorly-concealed neo-Nazi insignia of various sorts at the same time. One man in particular was, while waving an Israeli flag, wearing a t-shirt with a picture of one of the crematoria at Auschwitz on it, with “Zyklon-B” emblazoned over it in large, gothic letters. After that, it’s difficult to take seriously all these claims about the EDL “supporting Israel”.’

Of course there is no contradiction between supporting what the Nazis did to the Jews and what Israel does to the Palestinians. Were not Arabs lower on the Nazi racial ladder than even the Jews? And this is to say nothing of how the Zionists, during the 1930’s, prioritised building the state over saving the Jewish refugees. This is not conjecture.

Most reputable Zionist historians, even Ben-Gurion’s official biographer, Shabtia Teveth in ‘The Burning Ground – 1886-1948’ describe his attitude to the holocaust as being a beneficial opportunity. Zionism not only blocked attempts by Jews to escape to places other than Palestine but actually sat on the first definitive report of the holocaust for 3 months, from August to November 1942 (at the request of the US Administration) and then sought to minimise if not deny that the holocaust was actually happening. The details are in Shabtai Zvi’s Post-Ugandan Zionism on Trial The Arabs of today are also the Jews of yesterday.

Teveth describes how Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and Chairman of the Jew Agency ‘concentrated all his efforts on the program, not to the tragedy of European Jewry. He maintained a puzzling silence about what was taking place in Europe and Riegner’s telegrams.’ [p.842] ‘In spite of the certainty that genocide was being carried out, the JAE did not devite appreciably from its routine’ [p.848] ‘Regarding Jewish adversity as a source of strength had always been at the foundation of his thinking… “distress” could also serve as “political leverage”…. “The harsher the affliction, the greater the strength of Zionism.’ [850]. Unsurprisingly Teveth entitles the chapter on BG and the Holocaust ‘Disaster Means Strength’. The disaster of 6 million dead was a source of strength to Zionism. Little wonder that Teveth, Ben-Gurion’s devoted discipline wrote that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ [851] But again I digress.

At a time when even a French Parliamentary Report accuses Israel of Water Apartheid in the West Bank and when Israel’s Ambassador at the UN, Ron Prosor, holds friendly meetings over dinner with French fascist leader Marie Le Pen , to say nothing of our own Jonathan Hoffman demonstrating alongside the English Defence League, a handful of misguided supporters of the Palestinians believe that their salvation lies in digging up the bones of European anti-Semitism.

Gilad Atzmon’s mentor, someone he considers ‘unique and advanced’ (granted he’s certainly unique!) one Israel Shamir, even went as far as to berate the British National Party for not being sufficiently anti-Semitic! [e-mail to me 12.6.05.]

the far right of 1930s stood against what they considered ‘Jewish onslaught’, while you, Sir, join in it. Your joining forces with Zionism is a full betrayal of the English ideals whose best features were exemplified by Chesterton and Eliot. By your parroting of Jewish nonsense of “Islamic threat” you are supporting their drive on the Middle East though this step brings in the immigration you object to.
I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I’d keep mum, stones won’t. I’d publish your response, and I hope you’ll spread mine among your readers and members.
Israel Adam Shamir

On Saturday PSC will hold its AGM at Conway Hall, London. It takes place against the background of severe disruption to PSC’s work by a handful of supporters and sympathisers of Gilad Atzmon – the anti-Semitic ex-Israeli jazz player.

It should be no surprise that a minority, a very small minority, of PSC members have succumbed to the argument that ‘the Jews’ as a seamless entity, are responsible for the brutal oppression of the Palestinians. For years supporters of the Palestinians and opponents of Zionism have been told that they are anti-Semitic. Zionism was held to be synonymous with being Jewish. Unfortunately a few people have accepted this Zionist canard. As I wrote for the Guardian’s Comment is Free: ‘If you cry wolf long and loud enough, when anti-semitism does raise its head no one will bat an eyelid.’

Atzmon has the credentials, an ex-Israeli who has repented, as well as being a famous jazz player, to give legitimacy to this Zionist argument. In ‘Not in my name’ he wrote that:

‘To demand that Jews disapprove of Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity is to accept the Zionist philosophy. To resist Zionism as a secular Jew involves an acceptance of basic Zionist terminology, that is to say, a surrendering to Jewish racist and nationalist philosophy. To talk as a Jew is to surrender to Weizman’s Zionist philosophy.’

For Atzmon to be a Jew is to be a Zionist. His main target has therefore become ‘the enemy within’ – Jewish anti-Zionists within the Palestine solidarity movement. Zionists are at least honest. As he wrote in his review of Anthony Julius’s attack on Jewish anti-Zionists:

it is rather depressing to admit that his deconstruction of some large sectors of the Jewish political and ideological left is more than valid. As bizarre as it may sound, in places his criticism of his dissident anti-Zionists brothers and sisters is not far at all from the discomfort expressed rather often by Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity activists concerning Jewish anti-Zionism Anthony Julius and a journey to the dark Zionist world

And it is important to understand that, regardless of whether it is true that Atzmon has links with Mossad he is death to solidarity with the Palestinians. According to his former friend and close collaborator Mary Rizzo

‘I wanted out and I especially wanted to be far away from a person who hung out with a person who was a known informant, though he insisted it could not be true, but I’d trust a Palestinian from Palestine before I would an Israeli from Israel any day of the week.’

After repeated inquiries, Atzmon informed me (e-mail 17.8.12.) re these allegations:

‘Re Mary Rizzo, and her fantasies, she was referring to Morris Herman, she quoted a Pls ‘source,’ at the time I went and asked the ‘source’ and the source admitted that she had no idea who Morris Herman..this put an end to my relationship with Rizzo..

However, I investigated the issue myself and didn’t have any reason to believe that Herman was an informant….’

No doubt Atzmon investigated his links with an alleged Mossadnik very carefully! You might also think it is a choice between syphilis and gonorrhoea, but despite her undoubted anti-Semitism, Mary Rizzo is at least sincere in her support of the Palestinians. But I digress again.

To Atzmon, the holocaust was a ‘narrative’, a story whose ending could be changed at the flick of a pen. Of course Zionism has shamelessly used the holocaust as a political weapon to justify the expulsion, massacre and exploitation of the Palestinians. It is not surprising that a small minority of their supporters have responded by adopting holocaust denial, whilst not being pro-fascist or personally anti-Semitic in any way. Indeed Atzmon is quite unique among his followers in that he is genuinely anti-Semitic on a personal level. But if you are a sincere supporter of the Palestinians then Atzmon’s holocaust denial acolytes must be cast out.

In Truth, History & Integrity, Atzmon wrote that:

‘If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein – free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?

I am left puzzled here, if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments…’

Zionism and its propagandists, in what Norman Finkelstein termed the ‘Misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of History’ [Verso, 2005] have taken holocaust denial out of the confines of a small coterie of European neo-Nazis and helped popularise it in the third world. The argument is that since Israel claims legitimacy through the holocaust all one needs to do is deny the holocaust to deny Israel any legitimacy. However the holocaust is a fact and this ‘logic’ ends up as an endorsement of Israel!

It is precisely this phenomenon which has misled a small minority of PSC members and Palestinians. It is a product of an almost complete depoliticisation, coupled with a separatist reaction to oppression. Zionism was a separatist movement which adopted the framework of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semites said the Jews did not belong in non-Jewish society and the Zionists agreed. The same is true of radical feminism or Marcus Garvey’s meetings with the KKK.

If Zionism had remained at the level of ideology it would have been an interesting historical curiosity. But Zionism sought and obtained an alliance with western colonialism. German, French and British imperialists fell over themselves to endorse a ‘return’ of the Jews to Palestine. The British won with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, named after its author, Arthur James Balfour, the anti-Semitic Foreign Secretary who introduced the Aliens Act 1905, designed to keep Jewish refugees from Czarist Russia out of Britain. A British colony in Palestine would be strategically useful, being adjacenet to the Suez Canal, on the route to India. Indeed it was non-Jewish imperialists like Lord Palmerston who were the first Zionists.

And when coupled with the publication this year of Atzmon’s The Wandering Who? endorsed by at least 5 professors, including John Mearsheimer and Richard Falk, it is little wonder that a few of those inflamed by the persecution of the Palestinians should seek solace in holocaust denial.

It would be futile to pretend that this has not caused major problems for PSC. But unlike the Zionist movement, we are able to expel and remove the racists. If the Zionists did so they would have no movement. Four years ago, some of us tried to ban the group, Deir Yassin Remembered, a group led by an open holocaust denier, Paul Eisen. Unfortunately the then Executive took a sectarian stance, denying that there was a problem. Today that is not possible. Up and down the country individual branches have experienced problems. In my own branch, Brighton, former National Chair of PSC, Frances Clarke-Lowes came out as a holocaust denier. He was promptly expelled by the local branch and then by national PSC. His appeal against this expulsion will be heard on Saturday.

In Liverpool the Friends of Palestine website was taken over by a holocaust denier. In Exeter the branch had some involvement in the organisation of an Atzmon meeting at the university (although others protested strongly). In Bradford the Raise Your Banners group invited Atzmon to play at a left cultural festival and claimed PSC support, until PSC disowned it. In Camden PSC, the Secretary Gill Kaffash was forced to step down as Secretary after her holocaust denial sympathies became clear.

It is entirely to the credit of the PSC Executive and its Secretary, Ben Sofa and Director Sara Colborne, that last September they changed the statement ‘About our campaign’ on the front page of PSC’s web site to make its position absolutely clear:

‘Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the holocaust have no place in our movement. Such statements are abhorrent in their own right and can only detract from the building of a strong movement in support of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.’

Atzmon immediately attacked the statement. He didn’t know what holocaust denial means!

These developments have been grist to the Zionist mill. The Jewish Chronicle and many other papers have run a number of articles, e.g. an attack on PSC by Atzmon’s supporters such as Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law. But the Zionists, trapped by their own racism, have been left struggling to find a response. Hence the JC has not only quoted my own blog frequently but in a remarkably fair article (for the JC!) Anthony Cooper wrote an article The Jews who can distinguish antisemitism from anti-Israel for which he was predictably savaged.

Even the rabidly Islamaphobic pro-war site, Harry’s Place reprinted this article though not unnaturally taking delight at what it sees the infighting in PSC. But the majority of Zionist propagandists have tried to pass this off as mere infighting among supporters of the Palestinians. Indeed Atzmon has been praised by Harry’s Place for his anti-Boycott stance!

On Saturday there will be one motion on anti-Semitism and racism on the agenda from the National Executive. A motion from Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and myself, which called for more internal education on Zionism, has been amended and accepted by the Executive.

Although there have been in the past, and no doubt will be in the future, disagreements between ourselves and PSC Executive over tactics and strategy, over one thing we are absolutely united. There is no place in PSC for any trace of racism or anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism today is primarily a marginal prejudice. It is not a danger to Jews so much as the Palestinians. Without anti-Semitism there would have been no Zionism. It was anti-Semitism which drove a minority of Jews to Palestine. It was Hitler and the extermination of European Jewry which gave Israel its legitimacy as a refuge for Jews, there to establish a settler-colonial state based on the very principles that the anti-Semites espoused. As the founder of Political Zionism Theodor Herzl wrote over a century ago: ‘Anti-Semitism has grown, and continues to grow and so do I.’ [Diaries, p.7]

At the AGM there is also a not very clever motion from Gill Kaffash and ex-Israeli Ruth Tenne, which seeks to define racism so as to exclude holocaust denial! They also manage to exclude Islamaphobia from their definition of racism by confining racism to its biological variant and its discriminatory effect. It is a stupid motion from the stupid.

Support for the Palestinians is an anti-racist struggle. It can be no other. I urge all supporters of the Palestinians and members of PSC to come to the AGM and vote to ensure that the main motion is passed overwhelmingly and Kaffash/Tenne’s motion is soundly defeated.

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

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