Tony Greenstein | 24 July 2016 | Post Views:

Flattered by Zionists – The Walter Mitty of Palestine

Spedding also can’t take criticism!  Hence I’m Blocked!
Gary Spedding combines support for the Palestinians with a close working
relationship, according to his accounts, with Zionist groups like the Community
Security Trust and he also praises overt Zionists and neo-cons like John  Mann and his Parliamentary Committee on anti-Semitism.
I have, unfortunately, had
more than one occasion to write about his antics. See:
Like the Guardian’s
resident airhead, Owen Jones, Spedding sees Zionist accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’
as having nothing to do with Palestine solidarity despite the fact that it is anti-Zionists
and Palestinian solidarity activists who get targeted by accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’
not members of the far-Right.
Spedding’s bad faith
Zionist advocates openly
argue that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism.  Spedding however ignores this.  Like Owen he is oblivious to the ‘new anti-Semitism’
which redefines anti-Zionism and opposition to the Israeli state as ‘anti-Semitic’
on the spurious grounds that Israel is the ‘new Jew’ among states.  This idea which originated with Irwin Cotler,
a former Minister in the Canadian government, , argues that people oppose what Israel
does, not because it the only Apartheid state in the world, but because it is Jewish.
Spedding’s arrogance is only matched by his ignorance
Spedding is an appalling
narcisist who judges everything by his own ego. 
Spedding therefore launched an unwarranted attack on Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian
who is the Director of the Electronic Intifada site, by far the best anti-racist
Palestinian solidarity web site there is. 
Ali was responsible for the marginalisation of Israel Shamir, a
notorious fascist and anti-Semite who wrote of Auschwitz that it was:
perceived as an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross … If it
were bombed, the internees would die … This idea of “bombing Auschwitz” makes
sense only if one accepts the vision of “industrial extermination factory”,
it was formed only well after the war. [Who needs Holocaust?]
Together with Hussein Ibish. Ali penned an article Serious Concerns
About Israel Shamir
which was written in 2001 that led to the discrediting
of someone who had gained a considerable following on account of his flowery
style of writing: 
‘We do not have any need for some of what
Israel Shamir is introducing into the discourse on behalf of Palestinian
rights, which increasingly includes elements of traditional European anti-Semitic
Blind eye to anti-semitism
Gilad Atzmon, a close associate of Shamir, who
considered him a ‘unique and advanced
[see Shamir’s A Reply to Tony
Greenstein’s Reply….
 gained an even wider following
than Shamir, primarily due to the fact that he attained a certain fame as a
jazz player.  Atzmon was also supported
initially by the Socialist Workers Party. 
A letter  was initiated by Ali
Abunimah and signed by many of the most well-known Palestinians in the
solidarity movement, people such as Omar Barghouti of the Boycott National
Committee and Joseph Massad of Colombia University, entitled Granting No Quarter: A
Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

paid to Atzmon’s influence in the movement.
Spedding has pronounced on the ‘intimidation’ of the Eagle
Nonetheless Spedding engaged in a completely
unprovoked and unwarranted attacks on Ali calling him a fool, despite as Ali
put it conducting a private conversation with him in good faith.
Spedding has cosied up to the virulently anti-Palestinian
group, the Zionist Community Security Trust and praised the work of John Mann’s
Parliamentary Committee on anti-Semitism. 
[see The
False Use of anti-Semitism – Gary Spedding, the SNP’s Advisor on Palestine
Sings the Zionist Song
in which Spedding is quoted as saying that ‘In fact the CST has been incredibly helpful to me in my
Spedding sees no harm in writing an article We in the Palestinian
Solidarity Movement Have a Problem With anti-Semitism
for Ha’aretz [see
below] which defames and traduces the Palestine solidarity movement.
According to Spedding ‘Toxic conspiracy theories, group-blame and
stereotyping are becoming a serious problem in the Palestine solidarity
movement – and it’s undermining our struggle
.’  In this article he tells us that to my disappointment, I
have found that some fellow solidarity activists are failing to take
anti-Semitism seriously, to the extent that they’re prepared to believe every
concern raised is a false accusation designed to smear the movement for
Palestinian rights.’
Anti-Semitism in Britain is a marginal
prejudice.  Jewish people aren’t attacked
because they are Jewish.  Jews don’t
suffer from state racism.  The mass
media, at the same time as ignoring Stop and Search of Black people, deaths of
Black people in custody or the rape of refugees in Yarl’s Wood is always ready
to talk of ‘anti-Semitism’ when Israel is on the agenda.
We see this bogus concern with ‘anti-Semitism’
in the current attacks on the Left in the Labour Party.  I have been suspended from the Labour Party
because of this attack by the Right, despite my long record as an anti-fascist activist.  The Zionist movement in this country has
never been involved in anti-fascist or combating anti-Semitism of the
far-Right.  Nor for that matter has
Spedding, but that doesn’t stop him writing articles which are only of help to
racist Zionism.
Apparently what bothers this fake solidarity
activist is that at a meeting of his local PSC group ‘an audience member announced to the room that the term anti-Semitism
was incorrectly used: “Arabs are also Semites.”   
Spedding idiotically took this to mean
that ‘we should have a free pass to
ignore Jews when they accuse us of anti-Semitism.’
This is a non-sequitur. The last statement does
not logically follow on from the first. 
The term anti-Semitism is, through usage, the term used for anti-Jewish hatred.  It is true that many people get hung up on a
literal interpretation of ‘Semitism’.  In
fact, as Spedding should know but obviously doesn’t, the term was first coined
by a German anti-Semite, Wilhelm Marr, in 1879. 
He like most racists of the time was seeking to put their racism on a ‘scientific’
as opposed to a religious basis.  It was
the age of rationality. 
Marr therefore defined Jews as ‘Semites’ even
though Semitic applies to a language group not a race or ethnicity.  He based it on the false assumption that most
Jews spoke Hebrew, a semitic language.  In
fact they spoke Yiddish, which was mainly German with some Hebrew terms.  Of course Arabs also speak semitic languages.
This causes confusion but it is in no way anti-Jewish.  However Spedding, who perfectly illustrates
the old saying that a little knowledge can be dangerous, explained that ‘to my dismay, as the dismissive rant
continued many in the room were nodding in agreement. I myself felt too
insecure to raise my own voice
One suspects his insecurity derived from the
fact that he knew nothing about the origins of the term anti-Semitism coupled
with the fact that he is widely disliked and distrusted wherever he goes.
 But to
Spedding ‘This toying with semantics is
sinister in nature – by redefining anti-Semitism in a way that erases the fact
this term specifically denotes hatred and discrimination against Jews.’
Now it might be irritating the way that some
people take ‘anti-Semitism’ literally, for all the aforementioned reasons,
since if one were to set out afresh to define anti-Jewish racism, ‘anti-Semitism’
would not be the best term to invent. 
However there is nothing sinister in questioning a term coined by
Wilhelm Marr, who was after all an anti-Semite.
Spedding however can’t handle this.  He writes that Palestine solidarity activists
went ‘as far as to redefine the term in order to avoid being labeled
anti-Semitic, even when anti-Jewish – as opposed to anti-Israel – language is
used.’  The only problem is that Spedding
doesn’t give us any examples of this ‘anti-Jewish’ language.
Spedding makes the unremarkable observation that
For me, being equipped to recognize and
call out anti-Semitism can only strengthen my Palestine advocacy.’
The only problem is that Spedding doesn’t recognise anti-Semitism.  He is totally confused.  He says that ‘Having a clear definition of anti-Semitism helps to reassure the Jewish
community and means our activism is less susceptible to the false accusations
of anti-Semitism by Israel advocacy groups’.
This is nonsense.  The Jewish community, which includes Zionists,
doesn’t have a single definition of anti-Semitism.  As the late Hajo Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz
put it, ‘Formerly
an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a
Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is somebody who is hated by Jews.
definition of anti-Semitism is contested territory with Zionist groups vying to
redefine anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism.
We get to the heart of Spedding’s agenda when he
says ‘We should also stop viewing Zionism
as a catch-all term. It isn’t. There are multiple strands of Zionism and
varying political directions – some of which are indeed racist and
ultra-nationalist, whilst others are not.’
This really is utter rubbish.  Spedding demonstrates that whatever he is, he
is not an anti-Zionist.  He is trying to
reconcile Zionism with support for the Palestinians (of a sort) and falling
flat on his face.  All strands of Zionism
held that  the Jews were a nation
entitled to colonise and settle Palestine. 
All agreed on the creation of a Jewish state where Jews would be
privileged.  All strands of Zionism were
signed up to the dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinians just as all
strands except the miniscule Meretz today are in agreement with the Occupation
of the West Bank.
Spedding tells us that ‘Some activists have tried to hide their intentions, again playing
semantics, by replacing the word “Jew” with “Zionist.”
  In fact it is Zionists who deliberately
conflate the two and opponents of Zionism who insist on separating them.  He complains that the ultra-Orthodox Neturei
Karta say that “real Jews” reject “Zionism.”  Quite what that has to do with anti-Semitism is
not clear.
Spedding’s real beef is that ‘When people like me raise concerns about
anti-Semitism we are often told that we are “useful idiots” for the
Zionists and their agenda.’
problem is that this is a good description of Spedding though how useful he
will be to them is not clear.  This is why
Ha’aretz published Spedding’s boring drivel. 
He writes of  how, ‘When I drafted a U.K. Parliamentary Early
Day Motion condemning anti-Semitism, I was told I was being used in a Zionist
ploy, one that deliberately connects Palestine solidarity with anti-Semitism.’
I assume he is referring to my previous critique
of his activities for the SNP.   Spedding
mentions that but otherwise draws no conclusion from the fact that Zionism weaponises
anti-Semitism against BDS.  In writing
his article for Ha’aretz Spedding is allowing himself to be used by the Zionists,
as the comments underneath his article demonstrate.  Anti-Semitism hasn’t disappeared but it is a vestigial
form of racism.  It is almost wholly used
to put western policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel in a good

Tony Greenstein 

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