Opposition to ALL Forms of Racism is a Core Principle of Palestine Solidarity
When in the autumn the following statement appeared on PSC’s website I was surprised and knew nothing of the background to the events had given rise to it.
Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement. Such sentiments 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.I was surprised, not because it doesn’t reflect the overwhelming feeling of PSC members, but as to why it had appeared now. My first thoughts were that maybe this was a direct response to those who might have been attracted by Gilad Atzmon’s new book ‘The Wandering Who?’. [for reviews see Tony Greenstein’s anti-Semitism in anti-Zionist Garb, Gabriel Ash’s review on Amazon and Elias Davidson’s review.
What had happened was that in a series of branches up and down the country, as reflected in the Liverpool Branch Forum, supporters of Gilad Atzmon had deliberately tried to refocus campaigning activity from support for the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism to ‘Jewish Identity’ and hostility to Jews in the movement. According to Atzmon’s thesis, a direct line can be traced between Moses and Joshua and Israel’s policies today and the Judaic god responsible for these policies. No matter that Moses and Joshua probably never even existed.
As Atzmon explained on p.19 of ‘The Wandering Jew’: in a sub-section entitled ‘‘Zionism, a Global Network’
Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine, as some scholars suggest. Zionism is actually a global movement that is fuelled by a unique tribal solidarity of third category members. To be a Zionist means to accept that, more than anything else, one is primarily a Jew.’The reaction from Atzmon and his supporters to PSC’s statement was predictable and hysterical. Atzmon denounced the statement because, as he has repeatedly made clear, there is no such thing as holocaust denial. PSC Has Made It. Lauren Booth’s attack was both unhinged and venomous - Palestine Solidarity Campaign was in unholy alliance with Israeli mouthpiece and UK Zionist website Harry’s Place and Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, who had been one of those aboard the Mavi Marmara, had ‘descended into the Zionist sewer.’
The Zionists have just loved the antics of Atzmon and the fact that a few members of PSC have given him their support. Indeed it is only because some of us have untiringly sought to expose the true nature of Atzmon’s policies (not only anti-Semitic, but according to a hint of his erstwhile collaborator Mary Rizzo, someone who keeps company with Israel’s Mossad).
The Jewish Chronicle has however been forced to admit that Atzmon’s anti-Semitism has been vigorously opposed within PSC, albeit wrongly attributing it solely to Jewish members of PSC and PSC Executive. Even Alan Dershowitz, whose justifications of everything that Israel does are notorious, was forced to concede that Atzmon has been opposed by those such as Sue Blackwell and myself.
In a quite remarkably fair minded article, (by Jewish Chronicle standards!) The Jews who can distinguish antisemitism from anti-Israel reprinted on Harry’s Place, Anthony Cooper concedes that:
‘very few anti-Israel Jews are self-hating. We should recognise this and make sure to keep them within the big tent against antisemitism rather than making them pariahs. They may be opponents of Israel but they can be our allies in the struggle against antisemitism.To Gilad Atzmon this is proof that ‘The ultra Zionist, pro war, Neocon Harry’s Place decided today to thank its Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist “allies”. In an astonishing piece named A (small) Thank You to Anti-Israel Jews, Zionist Mouthpiece Anthony Cooper thanks his collaborators within our midst.’ This is a good example of why Atzmon is such a simpleton who tries to dress up as profound. If Jewish anti-Zionists were indeed in some sort of conspiracy with Harry's Place, then they would hardly thank us!! Life is just a little bit more complicated and contradictory.
An example are the Jews of the PSC. The PSC is a leading force in delegitimisation, using trade unions to advance its call to boycott all things related to Israel… Many believe the organisation is incapable of distinguishing between criticism of Israeli actions and antisemitism.
However, during the last 12 months there has been something of a mini-purge of the organisation. Some previously important members have been forced to resign because of their antisemitism. Those effectively expelled from the PSC include a former national chair, the chair of one branch, the secretary of another and the webmaster of a third.
Behind all these resignations appear to be rank and file Jewish members with support from a Jewish member of the executive committee. While the PSC itself may be unable to work out what antisemitism looks like, its Jewish members certainly can.
We have enough enemies already. We shouldn't be looking to create more. So long as anti-Israel Jews retain their sensitivity to antisemitism we can be sure that they are neither self-hating nor hate us. They remain allies in our struggle against antisemitism and in some ways are capable of achieving results in it that the rest of us cannot.
We should thank them for that. If we don't make enemies of them, we may find that we have more friends than we thought.’
If you look at the comments on the piece there is almost unanimous outrage. The normal HP contributors can’t understand why anti-Zionists (their main target) have been given qualified approval in the battle against Atzmon. Doesn’t Cooper understand that the main form of ‘anti-Semitism’ is not Gilad’s anti-Jewish racism but anti-Zionism? A few, very few Zionists, are genuine in their concern to tackle anti-Semitism, but by and large they are not to be found on Harry’s Place. Historically Zionism has always justified and indeed supported anti-Semitism. (see e.g. Unholy alliance).
At the PSC AGM on January 21st there is an ideal opportunity to bury, once and for all, this attempt to sow divisions and pit Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of the Palestinians against each other. Just as the picket of Atzmon’s book launch in London in October consisted of an equal number of Jews and non-Jews so it is important that as large a number of PSC members, regardless of religion if any, oppose Atzmon and his supporters racist diversions. Mention should be made of the fact that supporters of London ISM have been particularly vocal in criticising Atzmon’s divisive activities as have nearly all supporters of the Boycott Israel Network.
Boycott campaigners know full well that Atzmon doesn’t support BDS and that he even attacked the disruption of the Israeli Philarhmonic Orchestra on September 1st thus:
‘We loved your opposition and we also loved your Jewish campaign against the Jewish philharmony is never boring you :)’and that the academic boycott is ‘book burning’.
Motion Number 2 from the Executive should be supported by all those who are sincere in opposing racism in all its manifestations.
Likewise Motion 9 from Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and myself of J-Big should also be supported. It aims to complement the Executive motion by suggesting internal education as to the nature of Zionism, not least its colonial and non-Jewish origins.
Motion 10 is proposed by Gill Kaffash, ex-Secretary of Camden PSC. She wrote to me earlier this year asking for proof that Gilad Atzmon was anti-Semitic. When I provided it she became mysteriously quiet and tried to divert it onto issues of disability. The reason is that she is a died-in-the-wool anti-Semite and supporter of holocaust denier Paul Eisen.
In My Life as a holocaust denier Paul Eisen describes the torments he went through when he became a holocaust denier. Most people ‘simply remained silent but there were some who openly and repeatedly demonstrated their solidarity e.g. Dan McGowan, Henry Herskovitz, Gilad Atzmon, Sarah Gillespie, Israel Shamir, Francis Clark-Lowes, Gill Kaffash…’
Kaffash’s motion is, in the words of the Marquess of Salisbury when admonishing Ian McLeod ‘too clever by half’. She has devised a definition of racism that conveniently omits holocaust denial! According to her racism is something biological that results in practical discrimination. Unfortunately not only does this exclude Islamaphobia, which is primarily cultural not biological, but would exclude the ‘n’ word and other forms of racial abuse. Gill Kaffash’s ‘definition’ of racism makes about as much sense as the discredited Working Definition on anti-Semitism that the EUMC temporarily adopted before its successor the Fundamental Rights Agency dropped it. And it is about as useful!
January 21st is an opportunity to demonstrate once and for all that opposition to racism is a key component of support for the Palestinians. It is essential not merely that the motions are passed but that they are overwhelmingly passed.
Motion 2: Combating Racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism
This AGM believes that building opposition to the racist and apartheid policies carried out by Israel is a core value of the PSC, and reaffirms the anti-racist values of PSC’s constitution.Motion 9: Building an anti-racist, anti-colonialist, Palestine solidarity movement – anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial
This AGM affirms that anti-racism is a core value of the PSC on which its work must be based.
This AGM recognises combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is critical in building alliances and support for a free Palestine – based on the principles of justice, human rights and international law.
This AGM also affirms that the code of conduct used at AGMs should be applied to all public meetings of PSC.
This AGM welcomes and endorses the statement put out by the Executive Committee that:
‘The Palestine Solidarity Campaign exists to build a mass solidarity movement on Palestine. It is founded on principles of justice, human rights, and opposition to all forms of racism. ‘Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement. Such sentiments 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.’
This AGM believes that the attacks on the PSC vindicate the effectiveness of our campaigning work and reaffirms our determination that this pressure will not deflect the PSC from its campaigning aims and objectives.
This AGM instructs the EC to continue to provide training and support to branches to ensure that branches and members are able to operate effectively within the PSC’s aims and objectives, and with care and vigilance to ensure good practice in our campaigns and communications.
Proposed by the Executive Committee
One of the most potent weapons of Zionism is the accusation that those who support the Palestinians and oppose Israel’s settler-colonial, practices are antisemites who want to see a new Holocaust against Jews.
The Zionist movement deliberately blurs the distinction between the ‘Jewish’ state and Jewish people, in order to discredit Israel's critics and cause confusion among the growing number of people whose humanitarian and anti-racist instincts make them eager to support the Palestinian cause.
Both racism and antisemitism are features of Zionism. Virtually all far-right and neo-Nazi parties today in Europe are Islamophobic and support Zionism (while often remaining antisemitic).
The Palestine solidarity movement, by its very nature, is anti-racist. To allow antisemitism or any other form of racism to gain a foothold would be to undermine the very cause that we support.
PSC AGM therefore:
1. Welcomes the statement on the PSC website explicitly asserting its commitment to building a mass solidarity movement, in which expressions of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust, have no place.
2. Confirms that support for the Palestinians and against Israel's policies is an anti-racist campaign
3. Calls on the EC to reinforce these principles by: a) organising a series of forums to build understanding of Israel as a settler-colonial, apartheid state. b) publishing educational material to develop understanding of:
-Israel’s status as a client state of US imperialism; -aspects of Zionist history, including the non-Jewish origins and Jewish opposition to Zionism, and Zionism's collusion with antisemitism -the growing alignment between the Israeli state and openly racist and fascist groups in Europe, including the English Defence League (EDL) and the British National Party (BNP).
Proposed by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Seconded by Tony Greenstein
PSC has been under a great deal of pressure from accusations of antisemitism. Members have also been expelled for anti-Jewish prejudice and other members have been criticised on those grounds In the light of these events, which demonstrate the importance of agreement on the meaning of racism, anti-Jewish prejudice and Islamophobia as used in the Constitution. Conference resolves to adopt the following definition: Racism, anti-Jewish prejudice and Islamophobia shall be defined as the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups or Jews or Muslims respectively, both as individuals and collectively, justify discrimination. These terms apply especially to the practice or advocacy of discrimination of a pernicious nature ie which harms these groups.
Proposed by: Gill Kaffash, seconded by Ruth Tenne
Correspondence Between Gill Kaffash and Tony Greenstein
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2011 00:46:47 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London CC: email@example.com
Gilad is without doubt anti-Semitic. People who know him personally confirm that he makes regular anti-Semitic comments on a personal level, which sometimes spill over publicly. His arguments, as I've tried to explain to Gill Kaffas are now overtly ones of holocaust denial. Look, the Zionists love holocaust deniers so they can justify what they do as a form of existentialism. Why prove them right? I don't know what hold Atzmon has on you, because apart from this you are a good activist, but you really need to rethink your support of Atzmon.
…. He is a parasite on solidarity with the Palestinians. His caricatures of me and others as part of the Learned Elders of Zion etc. don't hurt me but they delight those creatures on Harry's Place.
From: gill kaffash
Subject: RE: Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London
Tony, I'm still awaiting an explanation. All I've received so far are assertions in the tone of Calm down dear, no discussion. I await a reasoned response.
From: tony greenstein
I haven’t told you to calm down, nor called you ‘dear’ ‘expensive’ or cheap for that matter. Your demeanour is a matter of no concern to me. You say you are awaiting an explanation.
I sent to you by attachment an article I had written ‘The Definitive Guide to Atzmon’. I’ll send it to you again in case you either didn’t receive it or understand it. But if you didn’t understand it then no amount of explanation will be of any help. And for someone who is not politically naïve, who is an activist, who has been through all the debates, not to be able to work it out for herself suggests that this is more a ploy.
However I will take you at your word and see whether you are still going to pretend you don’t understand or that the explanation has not been provided.
Firstly Atzmon in all his writings seeks to identify the cause of the Palestinian’s plight on a mysterious quality called ‘Jewishness’ which is a metaphysical substance that doesn’t and never has existed, any more than any identity is fixed. But in his case it is a metaphor for racism. Zionism in Atzmon’s eyes is the consequence of being Jewish. And in that respect the Zionists are right, hence his fulsome welcome for Anthony Julius’ attacks on Jewish anti-Zionists. They mirrored his own. Atzmon explicitly rejects, as do right-wing supporters of the Palestinians, the concept of colonialism or imperialism. In short it is the Jews who are to blame. If you find that an attractive analysis so be it. If you don’t then read the whole of his article ‘Not in my Name’ which I’ve given links to and isn’t hard to find. ‘Jewish’ is as elusive as the German Volk and the concept of what it mean to be an Aryan.
If you find the following attactive then fine. But then you are not an anti-Zionist. It is clear that for Atzmon being Jewish means automatically being a Zionist. He also therefore writes off Israeli anti-Zionists who dare to remain Jewish.
'While Zionism appointed itself from its early days to talk and to act on behalf of the Jewish people, it is actually the sporadic rebels who criticise Zionism in the name of their Jewish secular identity who affirm the Zionist ‘totalitarian’ agenda. Bizarrely enough, it is the Jewish Left which turns Zionism into the official voice of the Jewish people…. To demand that Jews disapprove of Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity is to accept the Zionist philosophy. To resist Zionism as a secular Jew involves an acceptance of basic Zionist terminology, that is to say, a surrendering to Jewish racist and nationalist philosophy. To talk as a Jew is to surrender to Weizman’s Zionist philosophy.
Bizarre yes, but also profoundly reactionary and Zionist.
Secondly, just on a personal level, whether it’s his little remarks like ‘Socialist Jewnity’ or his attack on ‘Jewish Marxism’ he is anti-Semitic. As I detail in the article, there was the little incident when Atzmon had to make a humiliating apology when he cited in his article ‘Credit Crunch or rather Zio Punch’, [the Jews are to blame for the financial crisis] John Reynolds, who wrote that "Above all we need more individuals to make a stand. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York should go further and call for more Christians to work in the city."
However Atzmon chose to put his own interpretation on Reynold’s words:
'One may wonder what Reynolds refers to when calling for more ‘Christians to work in the City’... By pleading the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to send more Christians to the City he may try to suggest to us that our financial world must be spiritually de-Judified. I must admit that it took me by complete surprise to read such a suggestion in the politically correct Guardian.’His apology swiftly followed:
‘Clarification: In the course of an article entitled "Credit Crunch or rather Zio Punch?" I recently made a comment about Mr John Reynolds, the Chief Executive of Reynolds Partners and chairman of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group. I suggested that some people may think that his call in The Observer to send more Christians to the City was a plea for the financial world to be "spiritually de-Judified". I want to make it clear that I did not intend to suggest that Mr Reynolds was anti-Semitic or in any way hostile to Jewish people or those of the Jewish faith and I am sorry if my comment was understood by anybody in that way. Mr Reynolds has asked me to clarify the position and I am happy to do so. I would like to apologise for any distress caused.’Strange that Atzmon should have had to apologise for having suggested that Mr Reynolds was anti-Semitic. What connection is there between calling for a ‘spiritual de-Judification’ and anti-Semitism? Enlighten me Gill.
Date: Sat, 7 May 2011 01:46:31 +0100
Thirdly he has gone from what one might call holocaust skepticism to acceptance that the holocaust is a myth. I assume you don’t subscribe to this but the quotes I have given, and again read the whole article, are quite explicit:
In ‘Truth, History, and Integrity’ Atzmon leaves no room for misunderstanding. ‘If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich…, or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?’ …
‘If the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war?'
Do you really want an explanation of the above Gill? I would have thought a reasonably intelligent child would be able to decipher them. Certainly you will be able to understand them even if you purport not to do so.
Date: Sat, 7 May 2011 01:46:31 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London To: email@example.com Gill,
you said you were still waiting for an explanation. I sent it to you nearly a week ago. Since then, silence.
Do you find it difficult to understand or to accept that Atzmon's views are clearly racist and anti-Semitic?
I thought the explanation was quite simple. At least I made it as simple as possible for you. Clearly I failed.
And I am only as good as the information I get. If Alan Hart lied to Naomi then the fault lies elsewhere. In any other forum, the fact that 2 or one's 3 fellow speakers decided not to speak alongside and only an eccentric ex-BBC man did so might impinge upon your consciousness. Obviously not.
From: gill kaffash
Ah, Tony, I see I'll have to dumb down my insults to the level of yours. What I won't do is use any disability as an insult, which I find abhorrent. You assume correctly that I have adequate eyesight and literacy to read what you send. Therefore, you are using visual impairment and illliteracy as an insult.
In a previous constitution, PSC had discrimination against disability among the expellable crimes. At some point, the list was shortened to racism and anti-semitism; Islamophobia was not included until I put in an amendment, via Camden PSC. Is this not curious? In this grossly Islamophobic society with institutional Islamophobia rife, an organisation pledged to support a nation in which Muslims are the majority, did not think to require that its members oppose that discrimination.
I have devised a rule to help those like me who are puzzled about the use of Jew.
If a Zionist is a Jew, it is anti-semitic to mention it; if an anti-Zionist is a Jew, it is mandatory to point it out.
Date: Sun, 8 May 2011 01:16:24 +0100 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London To: email@example.com
I am not aware of having impugned your eyesight or ability to read. It's your ability to understand what is written i.e. stupidity that is the problem. Or should it be unconstitutional to mention such matters?
So I know it's therefore going to be impossible for you to understand this but it's quite simple. It's not anti-Semitic to mention that many Zionists are Jewish. That is a matter of fact. It's the purpose to which you put that fact.
Clearly you don't find the questioning of the existence of Auschwitz or the death camps anti-Semitic or you would have commented on the Atzmon quotes I sent you. Although tempting to say it is a product of your (lack of) intelligence it's probably fairer to say that it's a consequence of your reactionary and racist politics
RE: Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London FROM: gill kaffash TO: tony greenstein Sunday, 8 May 2011, 13:11
Tony, it is not my eyesight or literacy which I am writing about; it is your use of visual impairment or illiteracy as a sign of stupidity which I am objecting to. In response to my request for a reasoned reply, you wrote " ...are you visually impaired or can't you read? " Later, you wrote suggesting there was something wrong with my eyesight and pitying me for it. Of course you know I am able to read, so you were using it as an insult. The insult is not to me but to those people with visual impairment or literacy problems. You were using those phrases as a way of calling me stupid, ie you were calling the blind and illiterate stupid.
You have also misunderstood my witticism on the use of Jew. I was of course mocking the policing of the word by you and your fellow McCarthyite Jews.
However, delightful as this correspondence has been, we all have better uses for our time. So call me a Holcaust Denier and anti-semite. I'll accept the labels and get on with my work.
>>Tony, I'm still awaiting an explanation. All I've received so far are assertions in the tone of Calm down dear, no discussion. I await a reasoned response.