Epitaph

7 Apr 2017

After almost a year of silent freeze, Indymedia UK has published its own epitaph, publicly acknowledging that activists had utterly abandoned the site and that maintaining and moderating it was no longer worth anyone’s time.

Open publishing was disabled on this site in mid-July 2016 as there was a very low volume of original grass roots news reports from activists being posted and the collective running the site was dwindling as people were working on other things.

At the time of writing there is still the possibility for site admins to publish to this site, but the intention is to remove this functionality before the end of April 2017 — from May 1st 2017 onward this will just be a static archive.

May 1 is, fittingly, exactly six years to the day after the Mayday wrecking crew took over the site and began the process of destroying it from within, a process that is now complete. Now, finally, it is to be what Mayday had initially promised hands-on-heart it would be in 2011: a static site. They just didn’t mention in 2011 that they were going to have to kill Indymedia in the UK first.

By coincidence, the topic of anti-Semitism on the left has exploded, again in the Labour Party, and again because of Ken Livingstone’s twisted version of history. It’s interesting to note just how clearly this Guardian editorial explains the problem, and it provides a surprisingly accurate and interesting parallel. Neither Corbyn’s Labour nor Indymedia UK could ever get past the anti-Semitism issue because they have refused every opportunity to do the only thing that would make it possible: recognize and cast out the promoters of anti-Semitism in their own ranks.

In modern times it is not Labour’s normal practice to belittle the views of those who say they have been victims of racial prejudice, to query their motives and to reject the premises of their complaint. For good reasons, the party’s default position has become a determined readiness to define racism as its victims would like it to be defined. But there is arguably now an exception to this basic ethos of sensitivity: Jews. When the allegation is antisemitism and a Labour politician is being accused, the dynamic is often reversed. A presumption can take hold that the offence cannot have been committed because the left is opposed to all racism.

Warped logic then unfolds: anti-racists cannot be guilty of prejudice against Jews, so it follows that Jewish complaints about prejudice are dishonest. The offence is pushed back on to the people who thought they had been offended. It is reconfigured as a plot to discredit political foes; part of a hidden agenda connected to Israel-Palestine. This argument then feeds the idea that an accusation of antisemitism is a weapon deployed by Jews (usually for decorum’s sake recast as “Zionists”) for nefarious purposes. Thus the ancient racist narrative of kosher conspiracy and shadowy machination thrives even among those who imagine they are policing racism.

Sounds exactly like what Indymedia UK became, and exactly the excuses Roy Bard et al. proffered for failing to do one damned thing about it.

[Edit, Mar 6] Atzmon is currently on a US tour to support a new book; a few days ago he held a heavily protested “conference” in NYC, and today (Mar 6) he speaks at the Holocaust denial organization “Institute for Historical Review” again.

With the closure of Indymedia UK and the all but universal acknowledgement of the now openly alt-right Atzmon’s anti-Semitism, this blog is now closed as well.


Gilad Atzmon: out of the Holocaust Denial Closet

24 Oct 2016

With Indymedia UK now in a permanent zombie state, frozen in perpetual midsummer 2016, there is nothing new to add about the site because there is literally nothing new on the site. But the wedge issue that split Indymedia UK more than any other — the anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon, as slavishly defended by the deep-in-denial Roy Bard — continues to develop.

I noted in the previous post that Atzmon is no longer careful to disassociate himself from dyed-in-the-wool Hitler lovers, having done several visits to the racist right-wing “Red Ice Radio,” including one this year packed with unrepentant Hitler fans and anti-Jew loonies … a crowd in which Atzmon felt quite at home.

As part of a visit to the US earlier this month, Gilad Atzmon gave a talk at the Institute for Historical Review, internationally recognized as the most important Holocaust denial organization over the last forty years. Gilad announces his talk on his site but without identifying what the IHR is. The IHR site, which I won’t link to, confirms that the event occured.

Now, there is nothing ambiguous about this. Atzmon voluntarily appeared in a program arranged and hosted by the world’s best-known Holocaust denial organization. He shared the program with Mark Weber, whose career is Holocaust denial, and with racial theorist Kevin MacDonald, another careerist anti-Semite who has the unique distinction of being the only person who voluntarily testified on behalf of the Holocaust denier David Irving in the Lipstadt/Irving trial. DVDs are forthcoming, according to the IHR.

Is there anyone left on earth who still considers Atzmon defensible on the anti-Semitism issue? Yes, sadly, there probably is one. But he no longer has an Indymedia to run.

[Update, March ’17] Atzmon no longer seems to be making any effort to hide his affiliation with the Holocaust denial movement, judging from this report:

Complaints were made following a  clash between the students and anti-Israel musician Gilad Atzmon.

The incident happened at a talk given by Richard Falk, a former UN rapporteur  to the Palestinian territories, at LSE’s central London campus on Monday. The LSE has said it will investigate.

Mr Atzmon, who has described himself as “a self-hating Jew”, was in the audience when he confronted a group of students, telling them that Jews had been “expelled from Germany for misbehaving”, and recommending that they read the work of David Irving, the disgraced historian and Holocaust denier.

Atzmon is scheduled to speak at an alt-right event in Glasgow later this week, one that — if I’ve read the news right — had to be moved from its initial venue (a brewpub) when Atzmon’s anti-Semitism was pointed out to the venue’s managers by members of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Committee. By that standard, this makes the SPSC “Zionist” in Atzmon’s eyes. Does anyone actually believe that the Scottish PSC is a Zionist front? Atzmon does (and therefore Roy Bard is forced to believe as well).

Recognizing he has no future on the left after The Wandering Who? Atzmon is now trying to reposition himself for the alt-right with an upcoming book, which he subtitles “a post-political manifesto.” Left, right, neo-fascist, who gives a damn, says Atzmon, we’re all brothers under the skin as long as you hate the Jews.

It’s a little boggling to consider that, when I started this blog, there was still at least some portion of the left who took Atzmon seriously. That’s how long ago it was.


Denouement

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 note on vocabulary

30 Dec 2007

Some of the vocabulary related to this discussion isn’t completely satisfactory, but it’s not necessary to get bogged down in endless Socratic debate over dictionary definitions when it should be quite clear what I’m talking about.

The definition of “anti-Semitism” in the dictionary on my Mac — based on the Oxford Concise — is unambiguous: “noun; hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” That is the definition in its entirety; it’s also what I mean by it.

It is argued sometimes that the word is unsatisfactory because Arabic is also a Semitic language and Arabs are therefore also Semites. This is simply another way of saying that the anti-Semitic pamphleteer Wilhelm Marr, who gave the world the term in his popular anti-Jewish (but not anti-Arab) screed “Antisemitizmus” in 1877, made a stupid category error when casting about for a scientific-sounding euphemism for “Damn I hate the Jews.” I am unpersuaded that there is any serious contention about what the word “anti-Semitism” means in this regard, and note in particular that the same dictionary I mentioned above does not even have an entry for what we’re sometimes told should be the preferred circumlocution, “Judeophobia.” By excluding Arabs from the definition of “anti-Semitism” I don’t mean to imply that they too are not victims of prejudice, just that there’s another perfectly acceptable and widely accepted word for it: “Islamophobia.”

When I call anti-Semitism “racism,” I don’t mean to say that I consider the Jews a race per se, but that I consider prejudice against Jews to be so analogous to racism that the term is, if not a perfect fit, certainly not a very wrong one. One sometimes hears “Anti-Semitism isn’t really racism because the Jews are not a race” — and it has the distinct timbre of at worst a straw man and at best a largely irrelevant one.

Neither, however, is it absolutely wrong to consider the Jews *not* a race. The peculiar nature of Jewish history — survival in exile through most of recorded history — makes the usual markers of identity problematic. Jews are and are not a race; they are and are not a religion; they are and are not a cultural tradition; and so on. One can become a Jew by converting to Judaism, for example (Marilyn Monroe did), but there are also genetic diseases like Tay-Sachs highly correlated with Jews. I don’t think it’s a useful exercise to demand that anyone come down on one side of the line or the other on any of these terms, since on whichever side you choose, there are substantial reasons to chose the other side as well.

I think we all know what these terms mean with sufficient clarity to proceed without substantial confusion, and I especially don’t see absolute, chapter-and-verse agreement on these terms as a necessary precursor to discussion anti-Semitism.


Who am I?

29 Dec 2007

In case you are wondering.

Because this discussion has devolved so frequently into the bitterest kind of personal attacks, I have decided to remain anonymous, in order to keep the focus where it should be: on Indymedia UK editorial policy and its current inability to keep the site free of anti-Semitism (but not other forms of racism).

I will also particularly note, since this is likely to be the accusation, that I am in no way working with or coordinating with Tony Greenstein or any other member of JAZ. Although opposition to Atzmon is loudest from JAZ, they do not (as Atzmon likes to imply) represent the totality of the opposition to his anti-Semitism. I think some of Greenstein’s arguments are good, some not so good, but that his better arguments were lost in the counterproductive noise of his frontal assault on Indymedia UK. There is more at stake here than the long interpersonal battle between the anti-Zionist Greenstein and the anti-Semite Atzmon, and it’s a important not to simply retreat to a “pox on both your houses” response to being dragged into such a long and bitter squabble.

The question it all comes down to is this: Is Indymedia UK truly an anti-racist site, or is it a place where anti-Semitism — when properly coded, of course — is welcomed? If Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism is clear (and it certainly is) then he should be given no platform at Indymedia. It’s as simple as that.


Seeing hidden posts on Indymedia UK

24 Dec 2007

One of the principles of Indymedia is that posts the editors think are not conducive to the goals of Indymedia are not removed but hidden, placed in a sort of purgatorial limbo — not deleted, but not immediately visible to the general readership. This limbo is designed to prevent, in principle, the possibility that Indymedia editors can become censors or gatekeepers, since they are not empowered to actually remove any posts.

Unfortunately, Indymedia UK does not make it easy to see comments that have been limbo’d. For most readers, the comments might as well have been deleted, because it’s not common knowledge how to see the hidden posts. Many IMC sites have a link on their front page leading to a list of hidden stories; to reach a corresponding page on Indymedia UK one needs to know an unpublicised URL.That URL is http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/viewallposts

To see the hidden comments associated with any post — comments one otherwise would have no indication had existed and then been moved to limbo, it is necessary to add “?c=all” to the URL.For example, suppose that clicking on a link on the Indymedia UK front page took you to this location: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/387175.html. The story is there, but there is no indication that the story has created anything but agreement and support from the readership.

If, however, “?c=all” is added to the end of the URL, giving http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/387175.html?c=all, a much different story emerges. This is only one recent example of Indymedia UK hiding comments it finds awkward; you’ll have no difficulty finding many, many more. 


Some bookkeeping

21 Dec 2007

Although I haven’t announced this blog anywhere and only started it a matter of days ago, some readers have discovered it and made some comments. I hadn’t expected that yet. On consideration, I have decided to make the blog closed to comments for now.

I have decided as follows. It is currently not possible to discuss anti-Semitism on the Indymedia UK site; as I have shown in a previous post, such comments are hidden pro forma by Indymedia UK editors. Neither, however, is it possible to discuss the matter on Indymedia UK’s editorial list, “imc-uk-features,” on which the discussion of anti-Semitism is — temporarily, one hopes — banned altogether, if I am reading the archive correctly.

In not taking comments on the topic, therefore, I am simply following Indymedia UK’s own practices. Should their stance change, mine is likely to. Surely Indymedia UK has little room to complain under the circumstances.

I should also make clear that I am not attacking Indymedia per se. A full discussion of Indymedia’s strengths and weaknesses would be an enormous undertaking — “beyond the scope of this course,” as the textbooks have it — so instead let me note that I believe that those strengths do considerably outweigh the weaknesses. Nor am I attacking Indymedia UK per se, since again the strengths considerably outweigh — but do not excuse — the weaknesses.