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Monday, 4 February 2008

University College Cork PSC Database - Edited by Paul Rooij, apologist for holocaust deniers and anti-semites

An anti-Zionist comrade, Roland Rance, informed me on the 6th January that what he described as ‘the usually-reliable Cork PSC database’ contained a hostile comment on my bio. page from one Paul de Rooij. I confess I had never heard of Mr Rooij before, though he appears to be a freelance journalist writing mainly for Counterpunch.

The database states that it is maintained by members of the UCC Palestine Solidarity Campaign who are staff and students at University College Cork. UCC PSC is part of the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign and, through that, is affiliated with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

It is a database of articles by different authors, including myself, and includes both Zionists and anti-Zionists. Its editor is Jim Bowen, a computer science professor at the university. Clearly it is a valuable resource for anti-Zionists and those involved in Palestine solidarity work.

I complained about what amounted to the vandalising and defacing of the page, on which some articles I have written are located, by one Paul de Rooij. Underneath a short introduction the following allegation appeared:

1. Tony Greenstein is not an anti-Zionist any longer since he is ‘more concerned about conducting offensive vendettas against anti-zionists’ and in particular waging ‘a vile campaign against Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen labelling them "Nazis", "anti-semites", and so on.’
2. Today Tony Greenstein is ‘shifting the emphasis on Palestine solidarity onto his obsessive crusade against "anti-semitism". Greenstein is today closer to the infamous Engage crowd than to anything that purports to be solidarity with the Palestinians.’

Quite serious charges if true, but no source material was provided to back up these wild assertions.

I therefore wrote to James Bowen on 7th and 8th January stating I would not enter into correspondence with de Rooij. I attached a document explaining why Paul Eisen was a holocaust denier e.g. his comments that ‘'the evidence for the use of homicidal gas-chambers is not good at all. The evidence against it is much, much stronger.' and also a similar comment from his ‘In Clear Sight of Yad Vashem’ article on the Deir Yassin Remembered web site which states that

‘Over the last fifty years, revisionist scholars have amassed a formidable body of substantial evidence, which runs in direct opposition to the traditional Holocaust narrative. "Where is the evidence," they say, "for this alleged gargantuan mass-murder? Where are the documents? Where are the traces and remains? Where are the weapons of murder?"

There cannot be much room for doubt as to what Paul Eisen thinks about the ‘Holocaust narrative’. The fact that this is on a site supposedly dedicated to the memory of the victims of Irgun butchery in the villiage of Deir Yassin, a Nazi-style murder of over 100 Palestinian villagers, demonstrates the priorities of Eisen.

I also made it clear to Bowen that I was of course an anti-Zionist and that I had played a significant role in the campaign in my own union UNISON to boycott the Israeli state, one of only two unions to have pro-boycott policy, not something that ‘crypto-Zionists’ to use Atzmon’s phrase usually do.

Bowen’s response was to state that he had read the article by two Palestinians about a friend of Atzmon, Israel Shamir, by Ali Abunimah & Hussein Ibish, entitled Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir in April 2001 and that ‘I decided that I did not want to get into this kind of controversy.’ In other words, if neo-Nazi or anti-Semitic views rear their head in the Palestine solidarity movement then Bowen would prefer to remain undisturbed and uninformed. Bowen also stated that he hadn’t seen Rooij’s comments before they went up.

I responded by saying that it wasn’t a question of censorship but being able to ‘exercise some judgement viz. that anti-Semitism and holocaust denial is unacceptable in the Palestine solidarity movement.’ and that it ‘does nothing to increase support for the Palestinians and is a free gift to the Zionists. That is a political judgement.’

Bowen offered ‘the possibility of inserting your own comments in response to Paul de Rooij's’. Although I sent a response to Rooij’s comments, I made it clear that I would prefer the whole page to be taken down rather than having what is effectively an introduction written by a supporter of holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.

Rooij had previously written to me on 8th January. His justification for remarks about being ‘closer to the Engage group’ was that ‘I didn't say that you were an integrant of the "Engage" group, but that your tactics certainly had descended to that level’. In other words he was unable to justify his allegation.

But Rooij then demonstrates why he is a journalist that noone seems to have heard of. He offers this advice:
Please realize that the zionist propagandists have exploited anti-semitism, and the holocaust for their political/propaganda ends; in essence, they have appropriated them. … Now, from what I have read, much of GiladA's work exposes and attacks these pernicious uses of the terms that you hold so dear,…’

He suggests that
Maybe it is a case that you should turn your attention to those who have wrapped themselves in the flag of the holocaust, anti-semitsm, etc., for hypocritical/cynical reasons. I just searched the PIWP database for any such articles that you may have written, but I find there are none, zero, zip, nada.’

I responded by saying that I wasn’t interested in a dialogue with an Atzmonite who engages in puerile abuse and was unable to read the database of which he was apparently an editor.

On 12th January I wrote to Bowen asking:
What kind of editor is it who is unable to search his own database or even the page he is commenting on? Perhaps he is new to all of this and what Atzmon is writing is a bit of a revelation but I’ve been writing and speaking on exactly these themes for 20+ years. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to read the articles in question. They are also listed on my page!’

I gave as examples of the articles that are in the Cork PSC database the article I wrote for the Guardian’s Comment is Free on 12th July 2007, A war on rationality criticising Littlejohn’s programme War on Britain’s Jews in which I was the only anti-Zionist interviewed. I also suggested that if Rooij had read my CIF articles Stop conflating anti-Zionism and anti-semitism on 12th April 2007 and Vetting in practice on 31st May 2007 or Holocaust Analogies: Repaying the Mortgage in Return 2 of March 1999 and a letter in the Jewish Chronicle of 29th June 2007 even he couldn’t have come out with this rubbish..

I was then sent an email on 12th January by de Rooij entitled ‘sorted’. This amounted to an amendment of the charges. Now my ‘vile’ accusations against Atzmon and Eisen were accusing them of being [1], "Nazis" [2], "holocaust denier" [3], Jewish-conspiracy theorist [4], defender of holocaust deniers [5], and so on… Five ‘footnotes’ have been added plus another comment from de Rooij on 14th January. Of course all of the latter are indeed ‘vile’. The question is whether they are true or not. Five ‘footnotes’ have been added plus another comment from de Rooij on 14th January.

It is of course true that I have accused Atzmon of being an anti-Semite and a supporter of holocaust deniers. Indeed I would argue that he has now crossed the rubicon (see Gilad Atzmon – Now an Open Holocaust Denier). Likewise I have accused Paul Eisen of being a holocaust denier but I did deny calling either of them ‘nazis’. Rooij’s response is truly pathetic:
‘Sue Blackwell is Greenstein's comrade, and together they have waged their vendetta against Atzmon, et al. Blackwell's website for some time carried a section on "Nazis" and Gilad Atzmon featured in that page.’ So I am guilty of something because Sue Blackwell, my comrade, has posted something about Atzmon on a page called ‘nazi alert’!

Whether she was right to do so is a matter for her, but to say that I am therefore responsible is an indication of the quality of Rooij’s editorship and journalism.

Naturally there was, of course no justification for the absurd argument that the Engage anti-boycott Zionists and I share anything at all politically. Which is probably as well, as I was one of 250 signatories to the Independent Jewish Voices advert in The Times on 30th January 2008 entitled ‘End the Siege’. On 2nd February the Israeli paper ‘Ha'aretz’ printed a critical article ‘British Jewish group sparks new outrage with condemnation of Gaza blockade’ quoting various Zionists and making the observation that ‘One of its signatories, Tony Greenstein is a trade unionist who has publicly called for a boycott of Israeli goods and is also a member of "Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods." Clearly the enemy isn’t so stupid as some of the Palestinian’s so-called supporters.

IJV itself has no position on the Boycott campaign although it is probably fair to say that the majority of signatories are opposed to it. But as is well known, I am to the left of most signatories, an anti-Zionist and supporter of Boycott. But according to Rooij, I am nonetheless close to Engage! Engage also comments briefly on the Ha’aretz article, and none too favourably!

It is somewhat ironic that the person Rooij chooses to defend, Gilad Atzmon, is opposed to the academic boycott because it is a form of ‘book burning’. By any logical definition, if anyone is closer to Engage it is Atzmon and those who defend him – like Mr Rooij!

Bowen takes his stand on ‘censorship’. This is an old straw-man. Fascists and anti-Semites have cried long and hard about ‘freedom of speech’ ‘censorship’ etc. But those of us with some experience of them know that when they have the ability to do so, they have no hesitation in physically attacking meetings they disapprove of, as well as Blacks, gay people and other minorities. Rooij has already published his comments on the anti-Semitic web site of Mary Rizzo . The question is whether or not he should be allowed to publicise his sympathies with holocaust deniers on Cork PSC’s database and thereby associate Ireland’s PSC with those views, since he is described as an editor of the Cork PSC database. How does this advance support for the Palestinians? Does Rooij’s support for anti-Semitism in the Palestine solidarity movement help or hinder the struggle of the Palestinians?

I contacted the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign directly for some answers, sending an e-mail on 17th January. On 18th January their Secretary, David Landy, wrote saying he fully understood my concerns and would contact Jim Bowen about it. On 30th January he wrote again saying that Bowen was ‘frustratingly uncontactable’. I have no doubt that officers of Ireland PSC are not happy, to say the least, that Rooij uses the UCC Cork Database to attack a Jewish anti-Zionist for waging a ‘vendetta against Atzmon’. His calls for me to ‘to do so in an open and civil manner’ (i.e. say nothing) are deeply embarrassing because all they do is to offer succour and comfort not only to anti-Semites but those who are, at this moment, laying siege to Gaza.

Tony Greenstein 4.2.08.

1 comment:

John B said...

Victory!! UCC Cork PSC Database has now removed Rooij's anti-semitic post from the front page to comments alongside others.

Well done!