Tony Greenstein | 20 July 2015 | Post Views:

Cockburn’s Coven – Where Fascists and White
Supremacists Seek to Entice the Left

Elf has just let me know of an excellent article by Elise Hendrick entitled
Counterpunch or Suckerpunch 
Claude Cockburn – son of a distinguished Communist journalist – who excused racism and fascism

Naomi Klein – a left and anti-Zionist star who hasn’t been asked to write for Counterpunch

thesis is that the well known Internet journal, Counterpunch, has an unstated
project to marry up the socialist and anti-imperialist Left with the white
supremacist and conspiracy mongering right. 
The cuckoos and loony tunes of the 9/11 Conspiracy and many other
conspiracies too.

Jeffrey St. Clair – Cockburn’s fellow criminal
a believer in declaring your own personal interest I readily declare one.  When I first began to tackle the racist
Jazzman Gilad Atzmon I wrote an article for the Guardian’s Comment is Free Site entitled The Seamy Side of Solidarity.
Counterpunch has ‘disappeared’ the article by Israel Shamir on revisiting Dreyfuss.  This screenprint was taken at the time when it was published
immediately I was subject to a vicious counter-attack by a Mary Rizzo, a close
friend of Atzmon in the form of an article  Who’sAfraid of Gilad Atzmon?.    Rizzo later fell out with Atzmon and accused
him of befriending Israeli agents and probably being one, as well as
being a misogynist. 
A vicious anti-Semite – the Swedish/Israeli fascist Israel Shamir
I responded
with an own article, which I submitted to Counterpunch, Why Palestinian Solidarity Activists Must Reject Anti-Semitism- A Replyto Mary Rizzo’s Who’s Afraid of Gilad Atzmon.  Despite many reminders, including
phone messages, Alex Cockburn their editor never responded.  Roland Rance and myself, on behalf of Jews Against
Zionism, because it was not a personal issue, released an Open Letter to Counterpunch: Who’s Afraid of Gilad Atzmon and theHolocaust Deniers? or Why Alex Cockburn Refuses to Print a Reply to Mary Rizzo 
Hundreds of articles and references to the well-known anti-Semitic jazzman Gilad Atzmon
incident got me thinking.  What kind of
Left or anti-imperialist web site allows an attack on Jewish anti-Zionists by anti-Semites
such as Mary Rizzo, who was acting as Gilad Atzmon’s cover, and then refuses a
basic and democratic right to reply?  As
we pointed out, even bourgeois journals would accord such a right.
The only remaining trace of Israel Shamir’s attempt to justify the anti-Semitic persecution of Capt. Dreyfus
the next few years my time was taken up with many things, including the
successful campaign to isolate Atzmon in the Palestine solidarity movement, the
expulsion of a holocaust denier and Atzmon devotee, Frances Clarke-Lowes, from Britain’s
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and of course basic Palestine solidarity work in
the movement for BDS.
An older but not wiser Cockburn – wrapping himself in the US flag
in July 2012 I was on holiday in Scandinavia with two of my children, when I
learnt of the death of Alexander Cockburn. 
I was pretty incensed that the paper who I was, and am, politically
closest to Weekly Worker, had penned a favourable obituary of Cockburn under
the heading A radical for all seasons
  I penned an article at the time Alex Cockburn – Death of a ReactionaryRadical – Progress Was Back to the Past  and sent in a letter to the same effect
to Weekly Worker. 
the ex-Marxist Louis Proyect – excuses the reactionary politics of Counterpunch
Hendrick has done a considerable amount of research to show that the
preponderance of articles on Counterpunch are not, as one would have expected,
from the Left and anti-imperialists but from the Right.  Leftist contributors are very much in a
Mary Rizzo – Atzmon associate and anti-Semite whose article attacking Tony Greenstein Counterpunch refused a right of reply to
only did Gilad Atzmon post with monotonous regularity on Counterpunch but Israel Shamir, a revolting anti-Semite and fascist
was allowed to post.  Shamir is someone
who believes in the medieval libel of the Jews sacrificing non-Jewish children
for their blood, who openly denies that Auschwitz was an extermination camp and
much else besides.  However Cockburn and
his fellow criminal Jeffrey St. Clair have seen fit to publish out and out
racists like Shamir and lesser anti-Semites such as Rizzo and Atzmon but denied
my right to respond to their calumnies.
is this?  Although Jim Creegan, in his
response in Weekly Worker admitted much of my criticism  he didn’t get to the root of the project and still saw Cockburn as some kind of
radical.  This was wrong.  Cockburn had abandoned any class
politics.  He saw any opposition, be it
from the far-right or the left, to US imperialism, as progressive.
Cockburn even took this nonsense as far as supporting
Marine Le Pen, the head of the French Front Nationale.  In an article Who are the real fascists: Marine Le Pen – or the United States? Subtitled
Americans worry about the rise of extremism in Europe, but they aren’t overly
concerned by their own ‘proto-fascist’ country
’  Cockburn makes
clear his political degeneration with his infatuation for Le Pen.
starts off ‘reasonably’ saying that ‘Now and again I’ll mention her in
something I’ve written without the obligatory insults about her family heritage
and presumed totalitarian agenda.’
  And then
quickly goes on to justify her hate mongering ‘Marine Le Pen is a nationalist
politician, quite reasonably exploiting the intense social discontent in France
amid the imposition of the bankers’ austerity programs.’ 
Like all fascists do!  He cites in his support a Daily Telegraph
article describing her as a latter day Joan of Arc.
is nothing anti-Semitic about Marine Le Pen, indeed she is anti-Islamic!  Cockburn finds it difficult to accept you can
be both.  ‘certainly has made some
unsavoury comments about immigrants and Islamisation. But she has gone to the
heart of the matter, asserting that monetary union cannot be fudged, that it is
incompatible with the French nation-state.’  
Unsavoury is one way of describing her anti-Islamic racism, but not an
adjective I would use.
justifies his love-in with Le Pen on the ground that the real fascism is in the
USA.  What he says about the United
States is undoubtedly true, but to therefore whitewash Le Pen shows just how
backward and reactionary his politics had become.
Tony Greenstein

‘America’s Best Political Newsletter’ Mainstreams the Far Right

which bills itself as ‘America’s best political
newsletter’, offering ‘independent investigative journalism’, tends to figure
quite prominently in the reading lists of left-leaning activists, who
doubtlessly appreciate its consistent antiwar stance, its critical analysis on
US economic and foreign policy and US-sponsored Israeli apartheid, and the
regular contributions from such leading Left writers as John Pilger, Noam
Chomsky, Paul Street, Jeremy Scahill, and Tariq Ali. Indeed, CounterPunch generally
tends to be thought of as a Left media outlet. However, in writing for, and
sharing articles published on, CP, Leftists are unwittingly helping to
promote the agenda of the far right.
addition to the authors relied on by CP for its left cred, ‘America’s
best political newsletter’ also regularly publishes ‘independent investigative
journalism’ by a wide variety of white supremacists, including Paul
Craig Roberts,
editor of the white nationalist website VDare, Ron Paul (who poses for photo ops with neo-Nazis and warns
of ‘race war’), and Alison Weir, holocaust denier Israel Shamir, and that
perennial saboteur of the Palestinian solidarity movement, Gilad Atzmon, author
of the racist The Wandering Who.
there are some who have expressed concern on this problematic mix, when I have
raised this issue in discussions with others in left activist circles, I have
often found that it is dismissed as a triviality. In these discussions, the
white supremacist contingent tends to be attributed to an unwillingness to bow
to ‘political correctness’ or a mere desire to ‘piss off liberals’, and
generally believed to be an insignificant deviation from an otherwise clear
leftist editorial line, the sort of thing only an ‘ideological purist’ could
get excited about.
own research into the editorial practices at CounterPunch shows
otherwise. Not only have white supremacist authors long been a fixture at CP;
their ideology is shared by members of the editorial collective. All in all, it
is entirely reasonable to say that the formation of a Querfront (an
alliance between the far right and the left) is a longstanding project of the
newsletter, consistently endorsed by the decisions taken by CP editors
and their own stated positions. In the following, I will examine the
relationship between the CP editors and the racist Right via individual
case studies and several statistical investigations:
  1. Publication figures for white supremacist versus
    prominent leftist authors;
  2. Ron Paul: Supportive vs. critical articles
  3. Gilad Atzmon: Supportive vs. critical articles
  4. Origins of US support for Israeli apartheid:
    ‘Zionist occupied government’ or imperialist interests?
  5. Querfront: Supportive vs. critical
an introduction to the notion of Querfront/Third-Position politics, we
shall see below that a quantitative and qualitative examination of each of the
above questions reveals that right-wing populism is heavily favoured by the CounterPunch
board, to the extent that on some issues, e.g., the role of Zionist lobby
groups like AIPAC in US support for Zionism, left perspectives are so
underrepresented as to be negligible.

Querfront: The Right’s Perennial Leftward Overtures
idea of a red-brown alliance, or Querfront (German for ‘transversal
front’), has been a recurrent motif in far-right thought over the past century.
Craving the legitimacy that an alliance with progressive forces can provide,
reactionaries seize on ostensibly shared positions, chief amongst them
opposition to corrupt élites, to create the impression that progressives could
benefit from making common cause with them.

(also known as ‘third position’) propaganda can
be highly seductive. Today’s (crypto)-fascist and other hard-right suitors, for
example, focus on the commonplace left themes of opposition to war and
corporate globalisation, the depredations of the ‘banksters’, civil liberties,
and Palestinian solidarity. Because the problems described by Querfront propaganda
overlap so well with left-progressive causes, it may even superficially appear
to be standard left-progressive discourse. The enemies it describes may even be
given the same names – élites, military-industrial complex, corporate power,
the US government – that progressives might use. If – as is the case with many
of today’s (especially US) left-progressives – one lacks the historical
knowledge and analytical tools to recognise this propaganda for what it is, it
is quite easy to be sucked in.
propaganda may have the same ‘surface structure’, to borrow a term from
linguistics, as left analysis – working-class people fighting against
oppression by entrenched élites – but the ‘deep structure’ is quite different.
Where a left analysis looks to the structure of individual institutions, and to
that of the political and economic system itself, the Querfront propagandist
attributes the assorted sociopolitical evils to cabals of evil individuals, to
unwholesome foreign influences, to secret societies (both real and fabricated)
– in a word, to scapegoats. Where a left analysis sees structures that
must be attacked and changed in order to end systemic injustice, the
third-positionist offers conspiracies. Often, in the modern Querfront
worldview, a ‘good’ élite of ‘enlightened’ people who know about What They
Don’t Want You To Know need only reveal the conspiracy and awaken the masses
(often dehumanised as ‘sheeple’) in order for Good to prevail. However, the
minions of the third-positionist’s chosen Evil Cabals are lurking everywhere,
and must be rooted out. This worldview was usefully termed ‘conspiracism’ in
Chip Berlet’s 1994 work Right Woos
Berlet notes in RWL:
paranoid political philosophies, the world is divided into us and them. Evil
conspirators control world events. A special few have been given the knowledge
of this massive conspiracy and it is their solemn duty to spread the alarm
across the land.
and scapegoating go hand-in-hand, and both are key ingredients of the fascist
phenomenon. Fascism is difficult to define succinctly. As Roger Scruton
observes in “A Dictionary of Political Tought,” fascism is “An amalgam of
disparate conceptions.”
is] more notable as a political phenomenon on which diverse intellectual
influences converge than as a distinct idea; as political phenomenon, one of
its most remarkable features has been the ability to win massive popular
support for ideas that are expressly anti-egalitarian.
is characterised by the following features (not all of which need be present in
any of its recognized instances): nationalism; hostility to democracy, to
egalitarianism, and to the values of the enlightenment; the cult of the leader,
and admiration for his special qualities; a respect for collective
organization, and a love of the symbols associated with it, such as uniforms,
parades and army discipline.
ultimate doctrine contains little that is specific, beyond an appeal to energy,
and action.
way to look at fascism’, Berlet continues, is
as a movement of extreme racial or cultural nationalism, combined with economic
corporatism and authoritarian autocracy; masked during its rise to state power
by pseudo-radical populist appeals to overthrow a conspiratorial elitist
regime; spurred by a strong charismatic leader whose reactionary ideas are said
to organically express the will of the masses who are urged to engage in a
heroic collective effort to attain a metaphysical goal against the machinations
of a scapegoated demonized adversary.
great deal of the appeal of Querfront propaganda is likely due to its
simplicity. A serious left analysis, say, of US support for Israeli apartheid
will start by looking at the documented record of US foreign policy as a whole
and the history of US policy in the Middle East in particular, examining the
institutional structures that consistently produce some version of the same
outcome – in this case, massive US military and diplomatic support for Israel’s
occupation of Palestinian land and its racist internal regime – all of which
requires considerable research and intellectual effort to develop, verify, and
understand. The third-positionist version, on the other hand, shines in its
elegance: A foreign lobby has taken over the US government and media, and is
forcing the US to act against ‘American interests’ and ‘American values’, and
anyone who says otherwise is a Zionist infiltrator. A moment’s informed
scrutiny will raise doubts about this account, but it is not designed to appeal
to those who are inclined to dedicate a moment to scrutinising convenient
Querfront approach to social injustice also allows those on the more
comfortable end of certain systems of oppression (e.g., sexism, ableism, racism,
cissexism, homophobia) to avoid the hard work and introspection involved in
recognising that, despite their own oppression, they benefit in some ways from
the oppression of others. A serious left analysis will consider a politician’s
appeals to racism, sexism, and/or homophobia a red flag that counsels against
aligning oneself with him. The third-positionist sees such concerns as nothing
but ‘political correctness’ and ‘liberal thought policing’, and even worse, as
‘divisive’ (and indeed it is divisive: it divides those who oppose systemic
oppression from those who support it).
days, of course, the hard right has an image problem: Open bigotry tends to be
frowned on, and outright fascist imagery will often put off people who
otherwise do not object to reactionary ideology. As such, an organisation or
publication exclusively dedicated to publishing reactionary voices is not
likely to have a broad appeal. However, when interspersed with genuinely
left-progressive content, it may achieve a certain progressive respectability,
at least as a legitimate position for debate amongst social justice activists.
If you want to sell excrement, you’ll get better results if you surround it
with chocolates.
is a lesson the CounterPunch editorial collective, from Alex Cockburn on
down, have clearly internalised.

CounterPunch Assortment:
the sort of material shared from CounterPunch in left-leaning circles on
Facebook, one could easily get the impression that it is a left media outlet
that only occasionally publishes voices from the right. In reality, however, CounterPunch
offers a very steady diet of white supremacist and other reactionary
ascertain the number of white supremacist vs. leftist authors published on CP,
I did Google searches using the search term “by
with no time restriction, disregarding the inevitable
repetitions and uses of the phrase other than in by-lines.
the white supremacists, a list of prominent white supremacist authors was used,
including Gilad Atzmon, Mary Rizzo, Israel Shamir, and Jeff Blankfort, known
for their racist conspiracism and holocaust denial, white nationalist and
Reagan-era US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, Alison
Weir of If Americans Knew, Bill and Kathleen Christison, and Franklin Lamb.
the left contingent, I cast the net broader to include an assortment of radical
left and left-liberal commentators, including Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Jeremy
Scahill, Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, and John Pilger. The results are shown
in Table I:

Craig Roberts
& Kathleen Christison (includes individually and jointly written

total number of publications by representatives of the racist Right numbers
674, or more than double the total number of publications on CP by the
various left/progressive authors. Indeed, with his 264 publications, Paul Craig
Roberts, editor of the white nationalist website VDare, has been published more
times by CounterPunch than all of the left/progressive authors studied combined.
Craig Roberts, for example, has been given a platform on CP to inform us that:
the left-wing, Ronald Reagan [in whose administration Roberts served] is the
great bogyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a
macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by utilizing the impact of
fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down
economics” and tax cuts for the rich.  Leftists don’t understand
that the Reagan administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in
order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or
client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the cold war. 
Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the one percent and the
neoconservatives’ wars for US hegemony.
defence of the disastrous Reagan-era economic policies in which he was
complicit is a recurring
for Roberts. Elsewhere,
he tells us that ‘In their hatred of “the rich,” the left-wing overlooks that
in the 20th century the rich were the class most persecuted by government. The
class genocide of the 20th century is the greatest genocide in history’, an
insight that will surely bring comfort to those left to mourn the dead of
genocidal US wars and proxy wars in Indochina and Latin America, and repeats the
oft-debunked lie that immigration is responsible for  unemployment.
Americans have any honor’, Roberts asks in yet another article
that makes it clear why he’s so popular with a supposedly left-leaning
publication, ‘how can they betray their Founding Fathers, who gave them liberty
(…)?’. However, for someone like Roberts, who can claim with a straight face
that the US proxy war against the civilian population of Nicaragua was about
‘Soviet expansion’ or that ‘the rich were the class most persecuted by
government’ in the 20th century, clearly there’s no reason little things like
slavery and denying political rights to all but well-to-do white men should get
in the way of the idea that the ‘Founding Fathers…gave [Americans] liberty’.
Weir of If Americans Knew (a think tank promoting the ‘foreign lobby’ version
of US Middle East policy, to which we will return), on the other hand, has
received space on the
pages of CounterPunch
to tell us – as an aside, no less! – that the
blood libel – the European myth of ritual murders by Jews – was true:
February 2007 the Israeli and Italian media were abuzz (though most of the U.S.
media somehow missed it) with news that Professor Toaff had written a book
entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (“Blood Passovers”) (24)
containing evidence that there “was a factual basis for some of the medieval
blood libels against the Jews.”
on 35 years of research, Toaff had concluded that there were at least a few,
possibly many, real incidents.
Atzmon, for his part, has been invited to CP to spread conspiracy
theories that scapegoat Jews in the Palestinian solidarity movement, claiming that
‘Palestinian Solidarity is an occupied zone’ because of its rejection of
Zionist narratives that he holds dear. The Palestinian solidarity movement he
has dedicated much effort to sabotaging, he charges, is ‘almost indifferent
towards the fate of millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps and
their Right of Return to their homeland’, which is a bit much coming from
someone whose Twitter account is pure self-promotion, scarcely even mentioning
such banalities as the hunger strikes of Palestinian political prisoners.
Rather than focussing on ‘a dull, banal dynamic’ such as the colonial and
racist nature of the Zionist regime and ‘[d]utifully unit[ing] against racism’,
the Palestinian solidarity movement should ‘look at the Zionist crime in the
light of Jewish culture and identity politics.’
In From Esther to AIPAC,
Atzmon, who once dodged a phone-in radio listener’s question about whether the
Nazi holocaust happened by saying that he was ‘not a historian’, bemoans the
fact that:
some may dispute the numbers (Shraga Elam), and others question the validity of
memory (Ellis, Finkelstein), no one goes as far as revisionism, not a single
Holocaust religion scholar dares engage in a dialogue with the so-called
‘deniers’ to discuss their vision of the events or any other revisionist scholarship
Rizzo’s sole
thus far in CounterPunch was dedicated to smearing Tony
Greenstein, a British leftist who has been prominent in anti-Zionist activism
for decades. Greenstein had dared to picket a talk by Gilad Atzmon at the
Bookmarks bookshop owned by the not-yet-utterly-disgraced British Socialist
Workers’ Party (SWP). Or, as Rizzo would have it,
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.
reading material in question was The Holocaust Wars by holocaust denier
Paul Eisen, which Atzmon had distributed. Although it may seem rather
unobjectionable for a member of an anti-racist movement to expect an ostensibly
anti-racist party to distance itself from someone who regularly disseminates
racist propaganda, to Rizzo this showed nothing other than Greenstein’s ‘desire
to weed out the movement, and divide it into Tony-friendly or not’. Rizzo goes
on at some length misrepresenting Greenstein and others’ opposition to white supremacist
hijacking of the Palestinian solidarity movement as some ‘Stalinist’ quest for
personal power (any similarities to conventional racist stereotypes about Jews
are doubtless coincidental).
contacted CounterPunch seeking to respond to these smears, which, as he has noted, are likely
the only thing most of CP’s readers will have heard of him. The
response? ‘CounterPunch’s editor, Alex Cockburn, whose father Claude
must be spinning in his grave, refused even to acknowledge my correspondence.’
At CounterPunch,
it seems, publishing racist smears against committed social justice
activists is entirely acceptable, but allowing them to reply when attacked in CP’s
pages is simply not on. Indeed, statistically, it seems a leftist is more
likely to get libelled than published by CounterPunch.

Paul: Querfront Standard Bearer
of the most significant examples of pernicious right-left ‘alliance’ building
in the past decade has been the support of many on the left-progressive
spectrum for Ron Paul, white supremacist and occasional Republican presidential
hopeful. Thus, if Querfront politics is part of the CounterPunch
editorial line, we would expect to see a preponderance of articles praising Ron
Paul, and ignoring, denying, or trivialising his racist, sexist, and homophobic
views and hard-right economic policies, on the pages  of CounterPunch.
again, the CP editors do not disappoint. In addition to the 19 occasions
on which Paul himself has been published on CounterPunch, Ron Paul’s
presidential aspirations have been the subject of 45 opinion pieces, nearly all
of them supportive of a left-right ‘alliance’ with Paul as its electoral
assess this, I performed a search for all CP articles mentioning Ron
Paul by name. In addition to repetitions, I excluded here all mere mentions of
Paul (e.g., factual statements mentioning his sponsorship of a certain bill in
articles on other subjects). Only those articles were counted as ‘supportive’
that took a clear position in favour of Paul, either by explicit expressions of
support or praise for some aspect of his politics. The results are shown in
Table II.

II: Articles on
CP Taking a
Position on Ron Paul
can be seen above, articles supporting Ron Paul on CP outnumber those
opposing him by a ratio of more than 2:1.
it is mentioned at all, Paul’s racism is largely mentioned only to dismiss it
as an unfounded accusation (‘No one can attribute a single racist word to Dr. Paul’) or
to trivialise it as being insufficient grounds to oppose Paul’s presidential
ambitions (‘Whether or
not Ron Paul is, was or ever will be a “racist” seems a moot point…’
Tellingly, several of the supportive articles are written by members of the CP
editorial collective, including Alex Cockburn and Joshua Frank.
as I have defined ‘supportive’ narrowly, to exclude mere factual mentions, even
when these might be construed as laudatory, I have defined ‘opposition’
broadly, to include factual mentions that might reasonably be construed as
critical (because they mention some unappealing aspect of Paul’s politics). I
have done this in order to address the potential objection that the
overwhelming editorial support for Ron Paul is the result of my definition of
the terms.
such, the articles opposed to Paul include one that mentions
Paul’s support for stripping the Supreme Court of jurisdiction ‘ to
protect first amendment, privacy, and marriage equality rights’, one article in support
of Vermont’s secession from the US that criticises Paul incidentally for being
one of those who ‘persist in the belief that the U.S. government is still
fixable’, and one that discusses
Paul’s racist and reactionary politics in detail,
but concludes ‘In fact, a
vote for Ron Paul is certainly a better use of the franchise than a vote for
almost any of the other candidates currently running. For better or worse’ in
the context of arguing that ‘nothing-especially nothing as important as ending
the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan-can be solved simply by voting another
face into the White House’. The last of these differs from those articles that
mention Paul’s reactionary politics, but dismiss them as reasons not to support
him, in that
it points out that Paul was not the only presidential hopeful at the time to
oppose the war, and that the others did not share his reactionary politics and
the endorsement only comes in the context of discussing the pointlessness of
electoral politics (‘On the other hand, do I think it’s the end of the world if
Ron Paul gets your vote (or gets elected)? Of course not.’).
supportive articles, which constitute the vast majority, often compete to see
who can heap the most superlatives on the reactionary US Representative from
Texas. One informs
us that ‘Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the
Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the
Constitution to appreciate him.’ Another opines that ‘America has one last
chance, and it is a very slim one. Americans can elect Ron Paul President, or
they can descend into tyranny.
In Why the Establishment is
Terrified of Ron Paul
Dave Lindorff  hails Paul as ‘an
uncompromising defender of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution’ (except for
the bit about birthright citizenship, of course). Lindorff goes on to dismiss
criticisms of Paul’s racism as ‘guilt-by-association’, by association with
Paul’s own public statements, that is, and concludes with the following words:
have a hell of a fight on our hands in a Ron Paul presidency, defending Social
Security and Medicare, promoting economic equality, fighting climate change and
pollution, defending abortion rights and maybe fighting a resurgence of Jim Crow
in some parts of the country, but at least we wouldn’t have to worry about
being spied upon, beaten and arrested and then perhaps shipped off to
Guantanamo for doing it.
of course means people like Lindorff, who will have little to fear from Paul’s
scapegoating of immigrants and people of colour.
Alex Cockburn describes
Paul as ‘endearing’ based on his alleged anti-war stance and his support for
re-privatising the monetary system. CounterPunch editor Joshua Frank ignores
Paul’s vote in support of the murderous, illegal invasion of Afghanistan to
declare him ‘the most visible and enthusiastic antiwar candidate in the
country’, a candidate ‘we consistently ignore’. It’s hard to tell who this ‘we’
is who ‘consistently ignores’ Ron Paul; certainly it isn’t CounterPunch, which
has positioned itself firmly in Paul’s cheering section. Of Paul’s base, which
consists to a significant degree of a wide segment of neo-Nazis,
neo-Confederates, and Birchers, Frank tells us ‘[Paul is] exciting many
newcomers to the movement and that must be welcomed’.
the same piece, Frank openly calls for a red-brown alliance: ‘As a movement
that allegedly grew out of WTO protests in Seattle’, i.e., a movement against
corporate globalisation that saw numerous attempts at co-option by white
supremacist and fascist groups,  Frank remarks, ‘one would think the left
would be at the forefront in calling for such an alliance again today.’
Paul is such an instructive case not only because he is a prominent recent
example of Querfront building, but because of all that must be ignored
or dismissed in order to make a progressive case for supporting him. A
left-progressive justification for supporting Ron Paul must not only ignore his
call to end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and to re-privatise the
monetary system (‘End the Fed’); as if all that weren’t enough, a progressive
case for Paul must ignore or dismiss his ties to far-right groups like the John
Birch Society (at whose anniversary gala a few years ago he gave the keynote
address), Stormfront (with whose leaders he posed for a photo-op), the
neo-fascist American Third Position Party. Furthermore, it must ignore his
misogynist stance on women’s reproductive freedom, the racist newsletters he
acknowledged writing back in 1996, and his more recent racist statements on
immigration. In short, it takes a mountain of denial to construct a
‘progressive’ case in support of Ron Paul based on his supposed antiwar views
(which do not extend to opposing the war on Afghanistan).
no easy task, but CounterPunch does it as well as anyone can.

III: Articles defending Gilad Atzmon vs. articles criticising Gilad Atzmon
people personify the white-supremacist hijacking of Palestinian solidarity
activism as thoroughly as the ‘ex-Jewish’ saxophonist Gilad Atzmon. His entire
oeuvre is dedicated to suffusing Palestinian solidarity activism with racist
tropes according to which Jewish anti-Zionists are a fifth column in the
movement and are to blame for what he takes to be the ineffectiveness of
pro-Palestinian activism. Atzmon consistently rejects any analysis of the
U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine that is based on imperialism, racism, and
colonialism (explicitly denying the colonial nature of the Zionist project)
because this analysis tends to portray Jews as ‘ordinary people’. Rather, he
blames the ‘third-category racial brotherhood’ of Jews. He has attempted to
portray even the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divestiture, sanctions) campaign
as a Jewish conspiracy led by George Soros by falsely alleging that the demands
of the campaign have been changed.
such, he has been roundly rejected as a liability by a wide array of
Palestinian and solidarity activists. If the Querfront hypothesis holds
true, however, we would not expect this rejection to be shared by the CP
editorial team.
indeed, it is not.
seventeen articles published by CP about Atzmon (not counting those
actually written by him), exactly one is critical of Atzmon’s racism. The rest
are explicit apologias for Atzmon that regularly misrepresent criticisms or
defame his critics. It is this latter category that includes Gilad Atzmon’s [sic] A
Guide for the Perplexed
by CP editor Jeffrey St. Clair.
In The Case of Gilad
(February 2013), Blake Alcott purports to examine ‘ The
Wandering Who? 
and some of Atzmon’s blogs and videos with an eye out
for the racism, “antisemitism” and Holocaust denial of which Granting accuses
him’, and gives away the game by singling out antisemitism to put in
scare quotes (which Alcott does repeatedly throughout the article), as if the
existence of antisemitism were somehow in doubt. He then introduces a familiar
trope in Atzmon apologetics with his announcement that ‘I’m restricting my
analysis almost entirely to Wandering on the assumption that
evidence for the accusations would be there, if anywhere’, despite the fact
that Atzmon’s critics have repeatedly made clear that their criticisms are in
no way based exclusively on Atzmon’s signature work on the ‘racial brotherhood’
of Jews.
if this sleight of hand were not enough, Alcott proceeds to assert that ‘[Granting No
the Palestinian call for the solidarity movement to dissociate
from Atzmon] claims that “Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial
project…” The text of Wandering does not support this claim,’
only to admit in the same paragraph that Atzmon echoes Zionist denials about
the colonial nature of Zionism throughout that book. This is not, Alcott tells
us, because Atzmon means what he says. Rather, despite Atzmon’s explicit words,
what Alcott knows he really means is that ‘ the settler-colonialist
paradigm is not sufficient to explain Zionism.’
typical of the Atzmon-related fare on CounterPunch is Who’s Afraid of
Gilad Atzmon
(June 2005) by Mary Rizzo (also discussed above), in which
Jewish activists issue ‘edicts’, and Tony Greenstein in particular is singled
out as a latter-day Beria, who 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
who has elsewhere claimed that there was no organised Nazi plan to exterminate
the Jews, also takes ‘Greenstein and his close allies’ (i.e., everyone except
Rizzo and her close allies) to task for criticising Deir Yassin Remembered, an
organisation of holocaust denialists including Paul Eisen and Daniel McGowan,
who have long since been deserted by the few Palestinian solidarity activists
who had previously been on the DYR board (not that that stops DYR claiming them
as board members).
only exception to the consistent diet of dishonest Atzmon apologetics served up
by CounterPunch (apologetics engaged in also by CP board member
Jeffrey St. Clair) is a single
in a March 2011 article about Jeff Halper of the Israeli Campaign
Against House Demolitions:
can be critical of Israel and not be anti-Semitic. You can be critical of
Israel and anti-Semitic – like Pat Buchanan, you can be NOT critical of Israel
and be anti-Semitic, you can be Jewish and anti-Semitic.” Halper cites a former
friend of his – Paul Eisen. To which list I quickly suggest Gilad Atzmon and
Israel Shamir. We also discuss another category becoming increasingly
recognisable in Europe at least, the pro-Israel Christian philo-semites,
right-wing white nationalists, formerly harsh critics of Israel who, fearful of
the “Muslim threat” to Europe, have shifted to backing Israel.
single sentence, offered as an aside and without analysis in an article on
another subject entirely, is the closest thing to a critical discussion of the
racism of Gilad Atzmon that CounterPunch will allow in their pages.

IV: Articles promoting vs. rejecting the ‘foreign lobby’ explanation for the
US-Israel ‘special relationship’
the individual issues examined for this piece, explanations for US support for
Zionism afforded one of the richest collections of material for analysis, with
108 articles found on the subject. To recall the onus of proof, if the
Querfront hypothesis is valid, at least a substantial percentage of CP’s output
should be supportive of the notion that the US backs Zionist crimes because of
the nefarious activities of a ‘foreign lobby’.
the event, of 108 articles found, fully 87 promote the Lobby version of
history. Articles that take no clear position are in second place (16 of 108),
whilst only five approach the question from a perspective that acknowledges the
strategic value of Is to US imperialism. In other words, well over 95% of
relevant articles on CP advance the notion that the implicitly just foreign
policy of the United States is being subverted by foreign (Jewish) influence,
or at least do not dismiss the idea. A clearer indication of the CounterPunch editors’
own views on the matter is scarcely imaginable.
example, in the June 2010 piece Helen Thomas: an Appreciation, written by white
nationalist Paul Craig Roberts, we learn that ‘Allegedly, the US is a
superpower, but in fact it is a puppet state of the Israeli government.’
Likewise, in How
Powerful Is the Israel Lobby?
Paul Findley (October 2007) claims:
is an open secret in Washington. I learned it well during my 22-year tenure as
a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. All members swear to serve the
interests of the United States, but there is an unwritten and overwhelming
exception: The interests of one small foreign country almost always trump U.S.
interests. That nation of course is Israel.
is practically an article of faith on CounterPunch that decades of US
support for murderous regimes in the Middle East, Israel included, cannot
possibly be anything to do with maintaining control over economic rivals’
access to a strategic resource. Other elements of the CounterPunch catechism
include the belief that US officials are sincere when they utter mild
criticisms of Israeli atrocities that they back to the hilt. Whilst the CP articles
promoting the Lobby Hypothesis are largely couched in sober-sounding terms, the
editors are clearly not averse to publishing ‘analyses’ like:
United States government and a majority of the subjects, especially those
members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime
Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine
its own foreign policy in the Middle East?  Such a country is not a
superpower.  It is a puppet state.
(The American Puppet State,
Paul Craig Roberts, November 2012)
short, to say that right-wing populism is the default lens through which CounterPunch
presents the relationship between the US and its Israeli attack dog is to
understate the case. Articles presenting another view are virtually

Supportive vs. Critical Articles
V: Right-left alliance – supportive vs. critical
far, we have examined specific issues with a view to assessing the openness of
the CounterPunch editorial collective to left-leaning and right-wing
voices and perspectives. In every case study examined, it has been shown that CP
are much more open to right-wing and white supremacist perspectives than to
anything that could be seriously described as left of centre. However, if we
are to determine whether CounterPunch can fairly be characterised as a Querfront
publication, a publication that promotes the ‘suckerpunch’ (C. Berlet) of
left-right alliance, one obvious question remains: What perspectives are
published on Counterpunch that bear directly on the desirability of an
alliance between the far-right and the left? As we shall see, CounterPunch publications
overwhelmingly favour such an alliance.
articles were found that deal directly with the question of whether a red-brown
alliance is a prospect to be welcomed or a disaster to be avoided (though this
number would be larger if we take into account that just about every one of the
significant body of pro-Ron Paul articles already noted stops just short of
being an outright appeal to form a united left-right front). Of these, only two
were critical of the idea, whilst two of the supportive articles were written
by CP editors.
overall tone is set by an April 2000 article (25 Years after Vietnam:
Beyond Left and Right
by no less a CP figure than founding
editor Alexander Cockburn himself. In it, Cockburn reports with amusement how
he responded to criticisms in ‘angry e-mails from lefties who seem to feel that
any contiguity with Buchanan is a crime, even if the subject was gardening and
Dutch tulipomania in the seventeenth century’ for sharing a platform organised
by ‘Libertarian’ Justin Raimondo with white supremacist Pat Buchanan:
thanks for yr [sic] note. So far as Buchanan is concerned, I assume he was
invited because he opposed the war in Kossovo [sic], and calls for the lifting
of sanctions against Iraq. There is a lot that’s funky abt [sic] American
isolationism, but frankly, I don’t mind sharing a conference schedule with
someone who opposes war on Serbs and on Iraqi kids. Nor do I think B is any
more of a fascist — in practical terms — than Albright and Clinton and Gore and
Bradley, with the first three literally with the blood of millions on their
hands. Go find Mailer’s interview with Buchanan in Esquire a few years ago. See
you on the picket lines.
glib dismissal is all Cockburn has to say about Pat Buchanan, a figure
notorious for his promotion of white supremacist and misogynist views: that
Buchanan’s ‘isolationism’ is ‘funky’. Of note is also that Cockburn
distinguishes Pat Buchanan, who helped craft the propaganda that justified the
genocidal US occupation of Indochina, from Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton,
and Al Gore because the latter ‘literally’ have ‘the blood of millions on their
hands. This is the attitude of one of the founding editors towards alliances
with white supremacists.
John V. Walsh, in June 2013, invites readers to Join Libertarians [sic]
and Leftists for a Panel at Left Forum
discussion will take account of the end of the Cold War and the emergence of
the Ron Paul libertarian movement, which has been steely in opposing Empire and
war. It will take into account the enthusiasm of youth for the Ron Paul
endeavor. And it will be a step to prevent Right and Left from being divided on
questions of war, Empire and civil liberties, then conquered, by the imperial
elite in Washington and on Wall Street.
Cockburn, Walsh does not see any need to mention Ron Paul’s white supremacism
and his ties to outfits such as the fascist American Third-Position Party, the
John Birch Society, and the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, even to dismiss
the notion that these might be legitimate concerns for anyone who opposes war
from a left anti-imperialist, antiracist perspective.
his August 2013 Defense
of Alexander Cockburn’s Libertarianism [sic]
, Walsh opines that
the Libertarian (by which he means right-wing ‘anarcho’-capitalists in the
Rothbard-Hayek mould) view of the state ‘is pretty much the same as the Marxist
one, an instrument of force and a monopoly on violence which the rich and
powerful use to keep their subjects in place.’ This will doubtless come as a
surprise to many ‘Libertarians’.
In Defense,
Walsh uses an article by Vijay Prashad as his foil. After noting that
Prashad criticises ‘The deep seam of racism and sexism that runs beneath the
dominant strand of right-wing populism’ and ‘Ron Paul’s racist rants in
his newsletter ‘. Prashad’s reference to the racist newsletters that Ron
Paul openly acknowledged writing in 1996, Walsh dismisses as ‘slander’, relying
on the fact that Paul eventually thought the better of claiming authorship of
newsletters that called for ‘race war’ and described African-Americans as criminal
animals 12 years after his initial admission:
important, his charge against Ron Paul is simply not true.  Let
us be clear on Prashad’s slander of Paul.  No one can attribute a
single racist word to Dr. Paul.  It is true that a generation
ago someone, not Dr. Paul, authored some racist innuendo in a newsletter that
bore Paul’s name.  But Paul has said multiple times that he did
not write them nor read them at the time nor was he aware of them at the
time.  He goes on to say he repudiates them.
by way of full disclosure, Walsh acknowledges that ‘This writer spent as much
effort and money on the Ron Paul campaign in 2012 as I did with the Nader
campaign in 2008 and earlier years.  I found not a single hint
of racism or homophobia in the Paul campaign,’ and closes with the thought
libertarians at least are leading the antiwar, anti-Empire and civil
libertarian movement in a principled way, sparing neither the Bushes or
Clinton or Obama, which may get us somewhere.
for someone who routinely offers these helpful bits of advice for the left,
Walsh has also supported the right-populist account of the US-Israel ‘special
relationship’, in his April 2007 Why is The Peace Movement Silent about AIPAC?, a
‘driving force’ (though Walsh makes an understated nod to reality when he
acknowledges that it is not the only one) that ‘sinks its teeth into the
foreign policy establishment of both parties, perhaps the Dems more so than the
in his April 2014 Left-Right
Ralph Nader concludes:
is a neglected responsibility of the mainstream media to expand reporting on
left/right concurrences, especially where they move into action around the
country. It is our responsibility as citizens to more visibly surface these
agreements into a new wave of political reform. Guess what? It starts with
left/right conversations where we live and work. Not even corporatists can stop
you from getting that train moving.
there are any potential drawbacks to this strategy – perhaps evident from the
various historical precedents for Querfront – Nader does not see fit to
mention them.
indicator of the pro-Querfront attitudes that prevail in the CounterPunch
editorial collective (albeit one not published in the pages of CP itself
thus far) are the attacks (by Amith Gupta) on Jewish Voice for Peace, and
subsequently on the US Campaign to End the Occupation, for their decision not
to work with Alison Weir because of her long history of white supremacism,
published by CP editor Louis Proyect on his ‘Unrepentant Marxist’ blog
(see Louis Proyect Remains Unrepentant knowing difference between antisemitism.
When various long-time anti-Zionist activists responded with evidence that the
accusations against Weir are true and extensively documented, Proyect responded
with rebuttals such as: ‘You are a fucking joke. I get 5 hate mails a week
calling me a ZioNazi or a CIA agent. Do you honestly think I give a shit what
you say?’

more germanely for the Querfront question, Proyect remarks in another
people are ridiculous. I am on the editorial board of CounterPunch magazine and
write a weekly article, usually on film, for the website. This is a publication
that features the work of Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon. It doesn’t matter to
me that they are far worse than Weir.
it bears remembering, is the sort of ‘Unrepentant Marxist’ that is welcome on
the CounterPunch board.
two exceptions to the overwhelming support for the Querfront approach
are articles by Anthony
, who, along with Paul Street, debunked the media-driven image of
the Republican ‘Tea Party’ as an actual mass movement, (December 2011) and a
December 2007 piece by Sherry Wolf (Why the Left Should Reject Ron Paul), which states in
refreshingly clear terms that ‘A cursory look at Paul’s positions, beyond his
opposition to the war and the Patriot Act, would make any leftist cringe’, and
goes on to discuss the virulent racism of Paul’s newsletters, his position on
immigration, his support for ‘free-market capitalism’, and his opposition to
women’s reproductive freedom.
a true takedown of the Querfront approach, one that actually looks at
the disastrous consequences of such red-brown alliances in the recent and
not-so-recent past and the sort of bedfellows one accepts when one decides to
work together with the likes of (CounterPunch contributors) Ron Paul and
Paul Craig Roberts, will not be found on the pages of CP, where the
value of red-brown alliances is received wisdom and the few critics the editors
deign to publish at all can expect derisive and dishonest responses such as
those of Cockburn and Walsh.

I first decided to carry out a quantitative analysis of the content published
by CounterPunch, my working hypothesis was that the study would reveal a
preponderance of left-leaning content interspersed with a significant minority
of white-supremacist contributions, indicating a desire on the part of the CounterPunch
editorial collective to mainstream far-right perspectives in a predominantly
left audience. In other words, the working hypothesis was that CP is run
by generally left-leaning editors who have been suckered into believing that
alliances with fascist and white-supremacist elements is a worthwhile strategy.
available data support this view only in part. It is clear that the Querfront
approach is endorsed by the editorial collective, both in terms of their
publication decisions and of their explicit views. However, the idea that CounterPunch
is a generally left-leaning publication with a regular dose of white
supremacism turns out to be completely backwards.
the quantitative analysis of CounterPunch‘s editorial decisions indicates
that CP is primarily a right-wing publication that attracts left-leaning
readers with content from a small number of left authors. On all of the ‘acid
test’ issues studied, right-wing populist views are clearly in the majority, in
some cases (e.g. Lobby Fetishism) so much so as to render left views
should he stressed that this is by no means a comprehensive study of the
political orientation of the CounterPunch editorial team, and much
remains to be said in this regard. One might mention, for example, the climate
change denialism of CP co-founder Alex Cockburn, or the various
articles published in support of Deep Green Resistance’s decision to exclude
trans women. CounterPunch provides a wealth of reactionary material to
analyse and critique.
this raises an urgent question: Why are leftists giving oxygen to a publication
that is so thoroughly aligned with racist populism and conspiracism, both by
sharing CP articles and by publishing there when there are so many
worthy left publications that would benefit from the content? By using the CP
platform, these authors, whatever their intentions may be, are helping to
mainstream a veritable cesspit of white-supremacist ideology. Surely, it would
be better to publish elsewhere and expose CounterPunch for the
suckerpunch it is.

seems more than likely that the left authors who publish on CP do not
realise what sort of ‘newsletter’ they are promoting. After all, they are
probably misled by a biased sample: Leftists on social media are more likely to
see Paul Street or Noam Chomsky articles shared from CounterPunch than they are
to see the wit and wisdom of Gilad Atzmon or Paul Craig Roberts, and thus may
well not realise that CP offers a platform to such bigots at all, let alone
sees them as the meat and potatoes of their magazine. However, the true
orientation of CounterPunch is undeniable, and it is to be hoped that the
leftists who publish there will act accordingly.

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Tony Greenstein

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