People often ask me, how did the campaign against Gilad Atzmon and his supporters actually start. Actually it began in the early part of 2005 when a group of us around Jews Against Zionism became aware of the resignations of Lea Tsemel & Michael Warschawski, and Jeff Halper, from the Board of Deir Yassin Remembered. [DYR]
In their joint letter of May 5 2005 Tsemel and Warschawski wrote, regarding a recent decision to appoint one Israel Shamir to the Advisory Board of DYR:
"There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of Ethnic cleansing and massacre. We therefore ask you to clarify whether or not Israel Shamir is indeed part of DYR."
Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, in his resignation letter wrote that:
"The entire point of DYR is to honor the memory of the Palestinians massacred by pre-Israel Jewish militias and to draw critical conclusions from that shameful event.’
He pointed out that the conclusions from the Deir Yassin massacre included trying to
‘universalize the Deir Yassin massacre, to identify those elements that exist globally (racism, militarism, fanaticism, perhaps nationalism and more) in order to denounce, resist and ultimately expunge them wherever they appear in the world.’
Halper spoke of how Shamir:
‘deflects the discussion from the essentials of Deir Yassin onto the supposed characteristics of the perpetrators. To cast all "Jews" as perpetrators of such heinous crimes… is racist, absolutely unacceptable and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself.’
Of Paul Eisen, British Director of DYR’s pamphlet he wrote that:
"THE Jews" is a construct just as false, simplistic, racist (biologically so, it seems) and unacceptable as any other ethnic label used to tar all members of that group with -- inevitably negative characteristics." and that ‘The innane discussion that has come to characterize the DYR discourse is not even sophisticated racism; its just plain old-fashioned stupid racism. That's enough to get me to leave.’
‘To turn the Deir Yassin tragedy into a discussion of Jewish racial characteristics, to dirty it with racist discourse, ... raises serious, fundamental questions. When I hear diatribes of non-Palestinians against the Palestinian Ali Abunima because he raises concerns over Shamir's racism and the entire tone of the DYR discussion, a red light goes off. Has Deir Yassin been hijacked by a cult more intent on pursuing hate campaigns against the fictive "Jews"...'?’
We soon became aware of an article, Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir by Ali Abunimah & Hussein Ibish written in 2001:
'We do not have any need for some of what Israel Shamir is introducing into the discourse on behalf of Palestinian rights, which increasingly includes elements of traditional European anti-Semitic rhetoric.’
It was on this basis, and having looked at a number of articles on his site, in particular his advocacy of working with white supremacists that we issued a call to ostracise DYR from the Palestine solidarity movement. Shamir argued that:
‘For as long as Richard Perle sits in the Pentagon, Elie Wiesel brandishes his Nobel Prize, Mort Zuckerman owns the USA Today, Gusinsky bosses over Russian TV, Soros commands multi-billions of funds and Dershowitz teaches at Harvard, we need the voices of Duke, Sobran, Raimondo, Buchanan, Mahler, Griffin and of other anti-bourgeois nationalists. If we accept their exclusion from discourse, Jewish bigotry will be tolerated while anti-Jewish bigotry is removed. Then, the middle ground for Joe Public will be 'a little bit of Jewish bigotry', or 'Zionism lite', in the words of my dear friend Bob Green.’
Subsequently Shamir criticised David Duke of the KKK for being too pro-Jewish and berated the BNP for not being anti-Semitic enough!
'I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I'd keep mum, stones won't.’
It was then that we came into contact with Gilad Atzmon, who penned a delightful little article entitled The Protocols of the Elders Of London. Modelled on the anti-Semitic forgery of the Czarist secret police, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it began:
'In a very small segregated cyber shtetl somewhere in the north west side of yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/justpeaceuk/), a tiny cell of so-called ‘liberal’ Jews meets in the wee small hours. Night after night they are trying to save the Palestinian people from those who devote their lives to the Palestinian cause. There is one man who they really detest, his name is Israel Shamir (http://www.israelshamir.net/). An ex Jew, Shamir is a very civil and peaceful man and probably is the sharpest critical voice of ‘Jewish power’ and Zionist ideology.
Among Israel Shamir’s many sins, he is a member in the Board of Advisors of DYR,… DYR is engaged in promoting reconciliation between Arabs and Jews. The liberal Zionist cell, as we are going to read, cannot really take it. They demand the cleansing of Shamir. They insist upon ruining his intellectual career or at the very least, his reputation. They would use any possible manipulative strategy to have him thrown out of DYR, which is the first step towards sending him beyond the pale.’
We were accused of seeking to place Shamir ‘beyond the pale’. When I sought to clarify Atzmon’s views, he confirmed, in an e-mail (12 Jun 2005) that
‘Indeed I correspond with Shamir occasionally. I find him an extremely charming man and rather entertaining. But more to the point, my ties with Shamir are merely intellectual. I regard Shamir as a unique and advanced thinker.’
In a subsequent article, Shamir argued that Auschwitz was just
‘Another go of Zionist propaganda. The camp was an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross (as opposed to the US internment centre in Guantanamo). If it were bombed, the internees would die – or as a result of the bombing, or due to starvation for the supplies would not arrive... This idea of "bombing Auschwitz" makes sense only if one accepts the vision of "industrial extermination factory", and it was formed only well after the war.’
Since our first encounter Atzmon himself has embraced holocaust denial politics.
In June 2005 Jews Against Zionism picketed an SWP/Bookmarks meeting, which featuring Atzmon talking about his favourite philosopher, Otto Weininger of whom Hitler once said, "Dietrich Eckart once told me that in all his life he had known just one good Jew: Otto Weininger, who killed himself on the day when he realized that the Jew lives upon the decay of peoples" - Adolf Hitler, Monologe im Führerhauptquartier. 1941-1944, ed. Werner Lochmann (Hamburg. 1980), 148.
If there is any doubt as to whether or not Atzmon's positions have changed in the past 3 years one only need note his comments of 13.11.07 in response to the criticism of Indymedia UK for hosting his ‘Hunters of Goliath’ article:
'As we all know, the extreme form of this very binary opposition leads towards crucifixion. As sad as it may sound, the group of people who assault you at the moment are doing nothing but nailing intellectuals and Palestinian solidarity institutions to the wood. They did it to Jeff Blankfort, one of the prominent American Palestinian Solidarity activists, they do the same to Mary Rizzo, probably one of the most adorable activists in Italy, they did it to Paul Eisen and Israel Shamir, these people have managed to crush DYR, probably the most successful Palestinian gathering in this country. These people had tried to divert the Palestinian solidarity movement and to turn it into a Judeo centric witch-hunt crusade. They believe that fighting anti-Semitism is a Palestinian priority.
As the exiled former member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara rhetorically asked:
‘What possible Arab or Islamic interest can it serve to even offer to exonerate Europe of one of the blackest pages in its history?’ in Al Ahram of 21-27.12.06.'
But what of Shamir himself? The spider at the centre of the Atzmon/Rizzo/DYR web has not been idling away his time. A recent article Darkness from the West by this ‘unique and advanced’ thinker breaks new ground:
"Who is the enemy?' He asks. And the answer of course is obvious:
‘In the famed tract, they were called the Elders of Zion. Others call them Illuminati. I called them the Masters of Discourse, the operators of the integrated machine of public disinformation and indoctrination, from the Wall Street Journal to the Wikipedia. Thousands of networks, newspapers, journals, books, films and ideas are being united and guided by their invisible hand, while free thought still survives in the far reaches of the web. The fearsome AIPAC is just the visible tip of the iceberg, below which are miles and miles of solid ice: media lords, chief editors, their pundits– in short, the Masters of Discourse.’
And in a completely new way of understanding the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church we learn that this is also the fault of the Jews!
"It actually started while Sharon was besieging Bethlehem and destroying Palestine in 2002.'
Note the alleged coincidence in timing. This is highly relevant!
'Then, all of a sudden, hundreds of men and women in their forties had remembered that they were abused some twenty years ago . . . Our enemies and the enemies of the Church concocted, through their control of the media, a phantom of "abusive priests" and succeeded in convincing the LA Bishops to take the bait of "final settlement". Very soon the bishops will discover that nothing is final when you submit to their wishes. Surrender gets you nowhere. They could learn from the Germans, who agreed to settle all Jewish claims for $1 billion (as described by the chief Jewish negotiator Nahum Goldmann in his book The Jewish Paradox, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1978), eventually paid $60 billion to find out that they still own $180 billion…’
Clearly the evidence is overwhelming. And it's not just the Jews, it’s the feminists too:
"Girls are being pushed into military service, they become hard as nails; and as a result, more and more men turn to other men, and naturally to younger men, or boys. Priests are probably no exception. The ultimate guilt is not that of the church, but of the feminist and lesbian movement which supports women’s military service; and of the media that promotes this attitude."
Shamir, who has obviously never heard of vicarious liability (where an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee) informs us that:
‘If a man abused a boy, while being a priest, this is still his crime, and he should bear responsibility… Likewise, if a man abused a boy while serving in the army, or working in the fire brigade, the responsibility is his, not of the army, nor of the fire prevention services. The bishops had no right to agree to such a suit;… The bishops are not the church, nor are the clergy: the Church is the mystic body of all worshippers, the Bride of Christ, and she is not a subject to any suit for misdeeds of individual believers. The Church is always right, though her bishops, priests or laymen may be wrong individually.’
And anyway, it’s the question of sex with children is not so simple:
‘The Americans over-simplify the question of sex with minors, when they present it as something monstrous. This is not so. Are you revolted by Romeo and Juliet? As a good American citizen, you should be; Juliet was 14, and thus Romeo today would be tried and locked up as a "paedophile"…. Prophet Muhammad married a nine year old Aisha, but Jacob, a Biblical patriarch, bettered him and married Rachel who was 7. In modern world, Jacob and Muhammad would be hunted down, extradited and jailed. It is possible that even better placed persons would not fare well facing our most enlightened justice: the Mother of our Saviour was just 14 at Annunciation…'
The real source of the guilt for something which apparently is not monstrous anyway are the gays. It’s them who should be sued, not the Church!
'Indeed, almost all cases of alleged abuse are homosexual; the alleged victims should sue the gay rights organizations rather than the Church. But the Church is not allowed even to utter these words. They can’t say "pederasty", they should pretend this is "paedophilia". They may not defrock a homosexual priest, for they would be attacked for their "homophobia". … The taboo on "being less than fond of homosexuals" (homophobia) may stand next to the taboo on "being less than fond of Jews" (antisemitism). … two secondary offences have been created, "racism", an antisemitism spill-off, and "paedophilia", a homophobia spill-off.’
You will remember this 'less than fond of Jews.' It is reminiscent of Atzmon's quip about his friend Knuckles: 'is it a crime not to love Jews.'
And just in case you wondered, homosexuality too is the fault of the Jews!
‘In Israel we feel there is no better way to show allegiance to American democracy and liberalism than to emasculate the man and de-womanise the woman. In our smaller Jewish state, in Israel, things have changed since the macho days of Six Day War, when homosexuality was banned, the one-eyed Defence Minister Dayan screwed every female conscript and the Israeli army kicked three Arab armies in a week. Now the gay tendency is no snag, ministers are sued for kissing a girl, and the army is beaten up by a few bearded Lebanese.’
Gone are the good old days of Moshe Dayan. Now we have the disaster of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And homosexuality is to blame, as it was of course for the fall of the Roman Empire!
‘Once Israeli girls served in the army as non-combatants. Their main job was to look smart and cheerful, and thus encourage the boys to fight well. Now they follow the example of Judith and Jael, don helmets, do combat duty and look like East German swimmers on anabolic steroids.
After ending her tour of duty, with scalps of Palestinians at her belt (instead of their foreskins, as was Samson’s wont) this new breed of a female sabra is unsuitable for normal mating; and she ends up in the growing lesbian colony of Tel Aviv.’
We are told that Tsippi Livni, the Foreign Minister ‘passed millions' of dollars to gay organisation’. The result?
‘Traditionally over-independent, Jewish women became even more so as they now serve in the combat units, earn as much as men do, are protected from a flirtatious look by ever-alert police. They grew balls and became like men but even more so…’
One thing is to be sure. In a crowded field for nutty ideas Shamir has cornered the market. Certainly he is unique. Whether, as Atzmon argues, he is ‘advanced’ we’ll leave to the judgement of our readers.