What motivates the critics of Atzmon? Pt VI

21 Jan 2008

A long post about Gilad Atzmon’s praise of Holocaust denier Paul Eisen was hidden on Indymedia UK:


This is from Tony Greenstein, an ardent anti-Zionist, with something like twenty years history working for pro-Palestinian causes. The post was hidden — and this is nothing like a surprise, and it was hidden by the same Indymedia UK editor who so convinced that the anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon is the victim of “Zionist censorship,” which is also nothing like a surprise. As has been noted elsewhere, Atzmon dismisses his critics as “Zionists” even when, as in the case of Greenstein, he couldn’t be further from the truth.

The editor in question provides the following excuse for hiding the post: “Repeated : content that is reposted or text that was originally a comment posted as a report/ inaccurate”


The “repeated” claim apparently is based on the assumption that the hidden post is the same as this one. A quick check of the two shows just how duplicitous the editor in question is being.

One can also gauge the truthfulness of the “repeated” claim by comparing the following unhidden posts: A, B, C. As the serial number in the URL proves, these three identical posts were all posted before Tony’s, yet they remain unhidden. Why? Because the editor in question didn’t abuse his authority on them the way he did on Tony’s post.

The editor’s clear-headed, rational, unemotional response?

“I won’t be apologising for anything – I do despise you, you are despicable…… “

Independent journalism at its finest.

Greenstein’s argument is simple: that Atzmon has become an open Holocaust denier. I believe, however, that Greenstein has overstated the case. As I’ve said before, Atzmon does dimly echo the standard arguments of Holocaust denial, but not with sufficient strength or ardour to justify the very serious charge that he has become a Holocaust denier himself. On the other hand, Atzmon has certainly shown that he’s as willing to exploit Holocaust denial as he is other forms of anti-Semitism in his drive to demonise the Jews — careful to spread the ideas, but careful to maintain a certain minimum level of deniability when it comes to anti-Semitism, in hopes that observers won’t look too closely.

Thus he sends around Paul Eisen’s Holocaust denying essay, and repeatedly says that he is glad to have done so, but is unwilling to actually address the details of Eisen’s essay. He knows that to address Holocaust denial on the facts is to lose, and so he prefers to dance about the facts instead, billowing out his nebulous clouds about “historiographic narratives.”

Fortunately, the editor in question isn’t able to completely silence the issue of Atzmon’s Holocaust denial; Greenstein’s post also appears — and is well-commented upon — on the blog Socialist Unity (a blog, incidentally, that — because it actually opposes anti-Semitism — Atzmon derides as “Socialist Jewnity”).

Greenstein, incidentally, apparently believes that Atzmon may also be posting under the name “knuckles.” There’s certainly a similarity of tone, but that is because they are both singing from the same Holocaust denial hymnal, not because they are the same person. I believe however that reading enough of their respective posts would convince the reader that, while Gilad is duplicitous, mendacious, and tricky, “knuckles” is duplicitous, mendacious, and vapid.


“No one actually can be an antisemite”

8 Jan 2008

Here is an interesting defence Atzmon gives to the charge that he’s an anti-Semite. It turns out, magically, that there is actually no such thing as an antisemite. Apparently it was abolished one night and no one noticed.


Atzmon has been accused of antisemitism, but responds by questioning the concept itself: “Because antisemite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an antisemite and this includes me of course. In short you are either a racist, which I am not, or have an ideological disagreement with zionism, which I have.”

After a certain point, one can only shake one’s head at the naïveté of Atzmon’s defenders, so easily dazzled by such simple, simple rhetorical gimmickry. Atzmon waves his wand, and presto! he can no longer be an anti-Semite, because there is no such creature.

What motivates the critics of Atzmon? Pt V

8 Jan 2008

A recent talk in Brighton by Gilad Atzmon was moved from its original venue after threat of pickets by the anti-Zionist organization Jews Against Zionism (JAZ).

Account (reparagraphed):

“A man accused of anti-semitism has been forced to cancel a speech at a church over fears it could whip up religious hatred. Event organiser Dr Francis Clark-Lowes cancelled his booking at the Brighthelm Centre, in North Road, Brighton, for the talk by Gilad Atzmon.”

… The move has been welcomed by campaign groups. Tony Greenstein, of the Brighton and Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, said Atzmon would have faced a major protest outside the building had he tried to enter. Mr Greenstein said: “Despite his abhorrent views, we did not call for the meeting to be cancelled. We wanted him to face as large a picket as possible in order that he should understand the depth of opposition. Nonetheless we welcome the fact that Brighthelm has cancelled this meeting as church premises are probably the least appropriate venue for a meeting of this kind.”

Atzmon was predictably displeased:

Mr Atzmon said: “I think it is outrageous the way I’ve been treated in all this. There’s not a single racist remark in any of my writings. All I argue is that if Israel is a Jewish state we’re entitled to ask what Judaism stands for.”

Nothing racist? Ask the Brighton Argus, whose Jean Calder wrote a very sensible column before the scheduled speech.


“Those who campaign for the rights of Palestinians are rightly incensed by the frequency with which they are falsely accused of “anti-semitism”. They point out that criticism of the actions of the Israeli government and the Zionists who sustain and support it is not anti-semitic.

However, the fact that false allegations of anti-Semitism are often made against those who criticise the Israeli state does not mean that anti-Zionists are not also sometimes anti-semitic. Or that those who oppose Zionism can cease to be vigilant about the allies they choose to stand alongside.”

Calder then identifies an example of an anti-Semitic anti-Zionist: Gilad Atzmon. Why does she call Atzmon an anti-Semite? Because he is one, as the rest of her article details with example after example from Atzmon’s writings.

I choose to highlight only one bit, although there are many others, some of which I have touched on in other posts.

‘The idea that Jews are “Christ killers” is one that is particularly close to the heart of anti-Semites and was the foundation stone of the Reich Church, the pro-Nazi section of the Baptist Church in Germany in the 1930s.

Atzmon wrote: “I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus.” He says: “Why is it that the Jews who repeatedly demand that the Christian world should apologise for its involvement in previous persecutions have never thought that it is about time that they apologised for killing Jesus?

… I [Calder] find it profoundly shocking that anyone who professes concern for human rights should suggest that centuries of anti-Semitic pogroms and persecution by Christians were to any extent provoked by the behaviour of the people who suffered them.”

Yet that is exactly what Atzmon repeatedly suggests; it was exactly that suggestion — the suggestion that the Jews had made themselves “unpopular” and thereby brought the Holocaust upon themselves — that brought about the perfectly justified call to ban Atzmon from Indymedia UK.

And it is a charge Atzmon repeats in the Indymedia interview:

“The lesson of the Holocaust … they have an opportunity to learn the lesson, there was a lesson: there were some things that made the Jews very, very unpopular. There was a chance to learn a lesson — and the lesson was to love your neighbor, as well as being loved by your neighbor.”

But the Jews of 1930s Europe apparently had failed to know this, Atzmon implies, because they were slaughtered by the millions. If only they Jews had been more enlightened, then the tragedy could have been avoided. What made the Jews of Europe “unpopular”? Why, according to Atzmon, it was the Jews of Europe themselves. Later in the interview, Atzmon continues to say the Jews had made themselves “unpopular” by their “arrogance,” although he adds that “I think that the Israeli arrogance is by far worse that the pre-war condition [of European Jews].”

He again draws an analogy between his anti-Zionist opponents and the slaughtered Jews of Europe: “I think that the condition that led towards the horrible Nazi Judeocide is not very different from the condition that Greenstein or Machover or Rance or Elf and Lenni Brenner bring or inflict upon themselves.”

Again, the interviewer is unable to grasp what Atzmon is implying. (One suspects that he would percieve nothing short of an outburst of “Kill the yids” as being actually anti-Semitic; anything more subtle than that flies right past him.) The “condition” Atzmon’s attackers are “inflicting on themselves” is being hated, according to Atzmon. And that condition “is not very different” from the condition of 1930’s Jews, a condition which Atzmon has already claimed the Jews of Europe brought upon themselves.

More from Tony Greenstein

3 Jan 2008

Tony Greenstein has made a comment on another Indymedia site, and he seems quite close to the heart of the matter.

“I have stood back from this debate, as it’s not my personality that is at stake but a principle. Does a network like Indymedia want itself to be polluted by racists and racism? If not then it has to devise a mechanism whereby apologists for racism and anti-semitism can’t block and stifle those who do want to remain true to their principles. The sad fact is that [the editor in question], who I do not know, has got lost along the way and ended up defending a small group of holocaust deniers and their supporters (& Atzmon is definitely a supporter of holocaust deniers, e.g. the infamous Israel Shamir, which is where this all started). And now we have talk of the gas chambers being ‘discredited’. I just hope that the network meeting in February will sort out this stuff.”

That really seems to sum it up. The issue isn’t the battle between Atzmon and Greenstein, or between certain Indymedia UK editors (one of whom applauds “Israel Shamir”‘s “passion for justice”) and “Zionist censorship” (largely from anti-Zionists, but let it pass), but between Indymedia and those who would use Indymedia, against the wishes of most within it, as a platform for racism.

Too bad for you

3 Jan 2008

An Indymedia UK reader made the following post, pointing to this blog:

“Over the holiday period I have been doing a lot of reading on the net about the current crossroads Indymedia has found itself at with regard to anti semitism and the situation with Gilad Atzmon. I have felt uneasy with this debate from the begining with the use of consesus decision making being used as a reason to not hide Gatzmon’s writings. And I was pleased to see the following article on a blog which neatly encapsulates my thinking. It is entitled – What motivates the critics of Atzmon?”

followed by the text of this blog entry.

The post was instantly hidden, as it should have been under the Indymedia UK convention that discussion of editorial policy is to be done on the email list rather than the site itself. Not all Indymedia collectives have that policy, but it is stated policy for Indymedia UK, and was therefore followed through. No harm, no foul.

The poster wrote to the email list:

‘I made a post this morning to the newswire and was upset to see it hidden and to see the reason for the hiding given as, “non news/moderation issue/promotion of zionist blog intended to fuel trolling war”.

I do not consider I am contributing to any trolling war, in fact I am not sure I know what a trolling war is. Neither do I consider the blog in question to be Zionist. The blog was set up as far as I could see to give a balanced overview of the current debate concerning anti semitic posts on Indymedia and the way it is being dealt with by some of those charged with administering the site. It reflected the views I feel about the current debate and is fair comment on an important issue.

I regard this debate as being vital to the continuing future of Indymedia because unless it deals with it, sets clear rules for hiding and ensures all administrators abide by them irreparable damage will be done.’

The surprising reply from an Indymedia UK editor:

[Trolling war is] what your alter-ego Mike Cooperson does all the time – before that it was the fictitious IMC-GB and not to forget the equally fictitious IMC monitoring team – along with ex-IMCer all these have in common a history of lying about posts being hidden, emails being hidden etc etc etc.

The editor then shows that the email in question was sent from Belgium — for no particular purpose I can see — while failing to back up his assertion that the writer has an alter-ego named Mike Cooperson. Then the gracious closing:

“… Here’s hoping you step in front of a moving bus”

I will say here that I am sceptical that Mike Cooperston — a persistent poster for the last month on Indymedia UK — exists. If he does, good for him, and I hope he is able to attend the meeting. If he is merely a persona and is indeed trolling, he should get out of the way and stop wasting anyone’s time.

At that point, another email came in to the list, expressing similar concerns and calling out a particular editor.

Richard Jones’ email.

“I see that the post “No platform for racists (388702)” was today hidden by [editor].

As it is the same [editor] who has caused all the problems for IMC with this refusal to hide the racist posts of Gilad Atzmon it’s a bit bloody off for him to hide a post about it.

We all know that some of the admins have already walked away from IMC over this stuff and it should be wrong for [editor] to try and shut down discussion of this.

I have watched this entire event descend into farce already because of the way it has been handled and IMC needs a real rethink of how racists need to be dealt with when they post to the newsline.”

Note the Richard Jones email ended up not being posted to the mailing list, but instead sent to a wiki page at docs.indymedia.org. This wiki page is effectively a morgue; items posted there are not responded — publicly, at least — to by Indymedia UK editors. It’s something of a black hole, from which no signal returns. It is not the same as being ignored; it is only astonishingly nearly the same thing as being ignored.

Such a procedure sends a terrible message:

If you are a Jew, and you are offended by an anti-Semitic post on Indymedia UK, then too bad for you. True, many members of the Indymedia collective may agree with you that the post in question is anti-Semitic, and we are all against anti-Semitism in principle, but at the end of the day the post stays up: too bad for you.

If you are any Jewish Indymedia UK reader at all, too bad for you, because you’ll quickly discover that Indymedia UK in its current configuration simply will not fight anti-Semitism with anything resembling the energy it uses to fight other kinds of racism. Show it a racist post of any sort but one and watch the post disappear; show it an anti-Semitic post and watch it twist itself into unproductive knots for months on end like a great jungle snake writhing on hallucinogenics. And throughout the twisting and writhing, the anti-Semitic post says up, insulting Jewish readers racially and making an outrageous mockery of Indymedia UK’s claim to be anti-racist.

Rules are rules and rules must be obeyed, even if it means that Indymedia UK becomes a haven for posts that racially insult Jews. If you think that’s wrong, if you think that’s outrageous, if you think that’s contrary to the mission of Indymedia, too bad for you.

At the moment, it seems that the Indymedia UK collective is permanently divided. On one hand, there are those who see nothing to the issue but a pernicious campaign of “Zionist censorship” they will fight to the last. On the other hand, there are those members of the collective who watch in dismay, unable to do anything about it except perhaps walk away in regret — as some of them seem to have already done.

The collective is likely never to agree the question whether Atzmon is anti-Semitic. The logjam will endure indefinitely. And in that time, the posts many inside and outside Indymedia UK consider to be anti-Semitic will be well-protected and well-displayed. Indymedia UK should not expect gratitude from Jewish readers for that.