And the comic aftermath: Atzmon’s sour grapes

21 Feb 2008

Because there is a troll out there on Indymedia UK and pretending to be someone who attended the Nottingham meeting, Indymedia UK decided they needed to post an official version of the story of what happened there and the context in which the Atzmon decision was made.

Draft story.

The story is quite clearly written from the pro-Atzmon perspective, and barely touches on the central point of the whole controversy, the antisemitism of Atzmon’s writings. Instead it’s all the same “there was a crypto-zionist campaign” stuff, in which view a perfectly innocent set of postings by and about Atzmon were cruelly attacked by a vicious conspiracy trying to silence him for being such a brave spokesman for etc. etc. etc. In other words, at the end of the exercise, apparently some Indymedia UK editors remain blissfully unaware what the whole exercise was even about. There are a few hints that perhaps there was something disquieting about Atzmon’s posts, but as a whole it’s so out of balance it was in essence a defense of Atzmon rather than a story about Indymedia, or especially an even-handed report on the state of the consensus.

Controversy exploded on the features list. Some said that the story was biased; others said that posting a feature was just “pouring salt in the wound” and the best thing to do is ignore it all; others expressed regret that Atzmon had ever been published in the first place. Some of these emails are pretty heated. There is also in these mails a general sense that a great deal of time and energy had been wasted over nothing productive, and that the net result of publishing Atzmon was substiantially damaging to Indymedia UK.

Then came the most comic single moment of the whole affair: Gilad Atzmon, knowing that he had been by group consensus shunted off into a special little penalty area built just for him, did what charlatans do: he declared victory and stomped off, declaring that upon consideration he no longer wanted to be posted on Indymedia. Apparently, once Indymedia stopped celebrating Atzmon as a sage political sage and stuck him into the “disputed” bin, they no longer deserved his transcendently wise words.

The grapes, said the fox, were probably sour anyway. (Although I think the moral here is really about an animal Aesop neglected: weasel is as weasel does.)

In short, Gilad Atzmon decided to punish Tony Greenstein by giving him exactly the thing Greenstein had wanted all along: an Atzmon-free Indymedia. And Atzmon has rewarded those Indymedia UK editors who fought tooth-and-nail for his right to publish on Indymedia by kicking them in the teeth.


I think Atzmon was no longer willing to have his posts hosted somewhere they wouldn’t be fawned over uncritically, and as long as his posts were being fought over so publicly it was obvious that his favorite narrative — that this was just Tony Greenstein’s vendetta and nothing more — could not hold water. There are enough places, such as Mary Rizzo’s blog, where he doesn’t have to worry about anyone actually disagreeing with his oracular wisdom that its foolish for him to post in a place where what he writes will actually be subjected to independent inquiry rather than empty, goggle-eyed adulation.

[edit:] Indymedia UK has decided not to post an article summarizing the issue. It’s well and truly over, and anti-racism has won.

How it looks.

Looks good that way. Should have happened months ago.



11 Feb 2008

And now the denouement.

Indymedia UK has decided to create a third category of posts, disputed posts.

A disputed post is one over which the collective is clearly deadlocked, with at least one editor recommending hiding and at least one editor against hiding. Going to the post instead presents a page with the following disclaimer: “Disputed Article — The UK Indymedia collective does not have consensus on the status of this article; one or more admins would like it hidden, while one or more would like it displayed normally.”

Then follows a link from which you can see — but cannot comment on — the disputed post.

How it looks.

Under the circumstances, I think that this is a good second-best solution, in that it indicates that the Indymedia UK collective has marked the anti-Semitic post out for a special sort of quarantine, rather than simply treating it as if it were as valid as any other post. If Indymedia UK continues to do the same for Atzmon’s writings, it’s not an unbearably bad outcome.

The best solution of course would be for the Indymedia movement — and the Palestinian Solidarity movement in general — to rid itself from anti-Semites of the Atzmon style altogether. But this proved impossible for such a short meeting.

Indymedia UK is to be thanked for dealing with a thankless topic, and for recognizing that their internal deadlock should not force the collective to leave a racially offensive post up unremarked upon.

A last comment

8 Feb 2008

Indymedia is holding their all-UK meeting this weekend, and for now I’m going to end this blog. However, let me close with a comment from the Socialist Unity blog that sums it up rather well:

After 20-30 years of hard work we have finally realised that when a woman cries rape then she means it. 20-30 years that when a person of Caribean or Asian descent says that they didn’t get a job or was attacked on the street, we believe him. When a man says he can’t get a job working with children because he is gay, we believe him. When a Muslim man tells us of excrement put through his letter box because he is a Muslim, we believe him.

But, when a Jew screams antisemitism, in typical Stalinist fashhion, we tell him that it can’t be true because there has been no antisemitism for the past 60 years, and so he has to be making it up; in fact, not only do we tell him that they are making it up, but that they are making it up to hide the truth, and that they are making it up for no other reason than as a means to oppress and silence everyone in the world so as to protect “their” obnoxious little Jew-state.

After all, this is what some people here are saying, when can you ever trust a Jew?

So, I guess, when all is said and done, what I am saying is, no, [discussion participant], you fuck off!