Tony Greenstein | 18 September 2011 | Post Views:

Racists and Holocaust Deniers are Not Welcome in the Palestine Solidarity Movement.

Four years ago we tried unsuccessfully to persuade PSC AGM to pass a motion dissociating itself from Deir Yassin Remembered, Gilad Atzmon and those at the fringe of the movement who were dabbling in the politics of holocaust denial. The response of PSC Executive then was that the motion was unnecessary, although they issued a statement at the time re-emphasising their opposition to all forms of racism.

Since then we have seen, on the one hand the Zionists openly consort with the English Defence League and on the other the supporters of Gilad Atzmon and his band of supporters, argue that Zionism is specifically a Jewish phenomenon, with the implication that the battle is not against Israel but Jews in the diaspora. This has inevitably sowed the seeds of confusion among a number of supporters of the Palestinians. In addition Atzmon himself as openly embraced the politics of holocaust denial question the existence of Auschwitz as a death camp.

As someone who has been extremely critical of PSC Executive on a number of issues, I want to warmly welcome the PSC statement making it clear that those who ‘deny or minimise the holocaust have no place in our movement.’

I am not privy to the reasons why the statement has been issued at this time, although it is fair to note that there has been a change in officers in PSC. The primary reason is probably a realisation that the main target of Atzmon’s supporters are Jewish anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians within the movement. At a time when increasing numbers of Jewish people are distancing themselves from Zionism and Israel, the activities of Atzmon and co. make little sense. For example it is estimated that nearly one-third of those taking part in the disruption of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms were Jewish. For Atzmon this merely confirms that to be Jewish is to be a Zionist!

PSC Executive should therefore be congratulated on issuing this statement, the middle paragraph of which is reproduced below:

‘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. We welcome all those who share our aims to join PSC.’

Tony Greenstein

Since this article was put up a comment has been posted by a Zionist, Anthony Cooper, on his new site ‘Exposing anti-Semitism’ which in fact does no such thing. It does however seek to portray PSC as anti-Semitic and I have posted the following response. However it would be useful for it to appear here as well:

This is an extremely thin gruel. It doesn’t even begin to compare with the actions of Zionist demonstrators outside Ahava, in demonstrating with the EDL and complete with a picture of Jonathan Hoffman co-chair of the Zionist Federation dancing down the street with Roberta Moore of the Jewish Division of the EDL, or the participation of the EDL in the counter to the picket of the Israeli embassy after the murder of 9 activists on the Mavi Marmara. To say nothing of the support of Michael Kaminski, the Polish far-right leader, Robert Zines, the Northern leagues in Italy or indeed virtually all the far-right in Europe.

But whereas the Zionist Federation has refused to issue an unequivocal condemnation of the EDL and a statement that they are not welcome on ZF demonstrations, the palestine solidarity movement is quite clear that anti-Semites and racists are not wanted.

Of course there are exceptions to this and you rightly point out Gill Kaffash as someone who has crossed red lines and should be expelled from PSC. If the comment attributed to her is true, and I have little doubt of that incidentally, then she should have her membership revoked. However I look to an equivalent expulsion or two Hoffmans and Milletts from Zionist circles, the latter of whom defended the ‘christ-killer comments of an Ahava staff member.

It is also important to understand that when false allegations of anti-Semitism are regularly made, either via the deliberately distorted definition of anti-Semitis as per the EUMC or just through the usual ritual abuse of anti-Zionists (or self-hater – itself an anti-Semitic term) then it’s not much wonder that some supporters of the palestinians (who unlike Jews are oppressed) say that if supporting the Palestinians means being anti-semitic then so be it. They are wrong, but a lot of people have a very limited political perspective.

And if you are seriously concerned about anti-semitism, and I doubt Anthony Cooper is, then you don’t conflate things that are not anti-Semitic with those that are.

There’s a lot of nonsense been talked about organ theft. I don’t know if there is any substance to the allegations that Israel has harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. I haven’t followed the accusations. I know they were printed in a reputable Swedish newspaper but whether it has a factual basis I simply don’t know.

But the idea that such an allegation is equivalent to the medieval blood libel, when Jews were accused of making unleavened bread at Passover out of the blood of non-Jewish children is not only absurd, but actually seeks to minimise and legitimise the latter.

What if there is some truth to this allegation? Given the mass slaughter of Palestinians it is not inconceivable. Does this mean there is some truth to the blood libel accusation too? You should be very careful of making charges of anti-Semitism.

The accusation of harvesting organs has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. The Israeli state is now a Jew and is only Jewish in so far as it is racist.

I can think of at least 2 other states subject to similar accusations. One is China where it is alleged that people were executed in order that their organs could be sold on. Is that anti-Semitic? And some years ago the Iranian regime was accused of syphoning off the blood of those executed too, for blood transfusions, with the implication that people were murdered according to their utility. Anti-semitic? I hardly think so.

And speaking of thinking. Mary Rizzo, Haitham ‘quisling’ Sabbah and Atzmon’s reactionary and short-lived site, the Palestine Think Tank had nothing whatsoever to do with PSC. It had no credence in the movement and I cannot think of one occasion when it was ever cited or quoted.

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Tony Greenstein

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