Tuesday, 26 January 2010

PSC AGM 2010 - Executive Libels Its Critics


PSC Executive Accuses Its Opponents of Being Zionist Agents

Executive Response to Criticism is to Restrict Democracy Further

Last summer, 13 of us (subsequently 27) sent a letter to Palestine Solidarity Campaign Executive. It is copied below*: As can be seen, we raised issues concerning the way PSC was being run. In the Annual Report of PSC Executive, which has just been sent (to some people) it states that ‘in August a group of 13 people made unsubstantiated allegations to the EC.’

A cursory reading of the Open Letter demonstrates that it wasn’t alleging anything, merely asking questions. Having the audacity to raise such questions was, however, deemed an act of lese majeste. PSC Executive and its Socialist Action/Communist League components, don’t do accountability and transparency.

A Stalinist Charge Sheet from ex-Trotskyists

The whole of the relevant section of the Annual Report, ‘PSC Internal Matters’, is copied below.** It reads like a caricature of a Stalinist charge sheet during the Moscow Trials. We are not authors of a letter asking questions, we are ‘perpetrators’. We are not calling for a debate or discussion, we are subjecting the EC to ‘public calumny.’ And most shocking of all, the authors (including two who were the co-founders of PSC) are accused of ‘help(ing) those who want to see PSC fail in our efforts to build a mass movement.’ This is the big lie at the heart of the passage. If you oppose us you are on the side of the Zionists and want us to fail.

This kind of argument has a long pedigree. In the 1930’s, in Stalin's Purges, Zinoviev, Kamenev etc. were accused of simultaneously being in league with Trotsky and agents of Hitler. The logic was that if you opposed Stalin you were bound to be a paid agent and lackey of Hitler.

It is the staple argument of the war monger. If you oppose ‘our troops’ you support the other side, a traitor in league with ‘our’ enemies. This was the argument of Thatcher and then Bush. If you oppose us you’re with General Galtiera/Saddam Hussein/Al Quaeda. It has all the intellectual and moral sophistication of the younger Bush, albeit without his eloquence.

In fact there is very little use the Zionists can make of debates inside the Palestine solidarity movement. It is a measure of the desperation of the PSC Execitove that instead of dealing with the arguments they resort to the kind of rhetorical device that McCarthy and his House of UnAmerican Affairs specialised in.

A couple of years ago UK and Israel JNF were at each others’ throats in the High Court. After the expenditure of millions of pounds, with virulent attacks on each other, they settled their differences. Did this affect support for the Zionists? Of course not. Support for the Israel and Zionism depends on things such as Israel's latest war, their settlements, the discrimination etc., not whether Betty Hunter and Tony Greenstein don’t see eye to eye on whether PSC should be democratic or not.

Healthy debate in PSC, if it leads to a rejuvenated and vigorous organisation and serious thinking about where we are going and how we can best get there, can only do the cause of Palestine solidarity good. The idea that, in the name of Palestinian unity, critics of Socialist Action/CL should shut up, can only damage the very cause that they purport to support. What PSC Executive are trying to achieve is some kind of para-Leninist command organisation. The Executive decides the priorities and campaigns and gives the orders and the membership blindly follow.

The problem is that some people have their own ideas and are not always convinced of the Executive's god given wisdom. Especially when PSC Executive reacts in its normal, cautious, hesitant and sometimes hostile manner as it seeks to retain control over PSC. Because control freakery is the other side of their political timidity.

Democracy & PSC Priorities

Above all this is about democracy. PSC’s Executive Report complains that critics of the EC are not using PSC’s ‘democratic processes’ and resorting to blogs and open letters. But this begs the question - what democratic processes or forums are there to debate where PSC should be going or doing or how it should be conducting campaigns? No doubt they exist within Socialist Action but not within PSC. There is no means, other than through personal contact, for PSC members to communicate and exchange ideas with other members across branches. In fact PSC Executive have made clear their dislike for the whole idea of regions – ‘another layer of bureaucracy’ in the words of their more sycophantic supporters.

In this debate PSC Executive have access to the whole of PSC's machinery to attack a letter that most people haven't seen. We have no such opportunities hence why this article has to be put on a public blog. Nor do we have unfettered access to PSC's mailing list.

The libellous accusation therefore of wanting PSC to fail should be seen as exactly that – a libel no different from the Zionist lie that to be an anti-Zionist is to be an anti Semite.

It was similar behaviour by Socialist Action which helped lead to extremely unfavourable publicity for Ken Livingstone in London and his downfall. But at least Ken knew the political affiliations of those he appointed as his advisors. In PSC this information is hidden away andwhen challenged PSC Executive members deny that they are members of Socialist Action. In the meantime SA are running PSC according to their political agenda. And at the top of that agenda is never, ever criticising the Palestinian leadership and Abbas, even if the latter is faithfully following Israel’s agenda by withdrawing the Goldstone Report from the UN's Human Rights Committee.

Many on PSC Executive see its role as some kind of not campaigning but diplomatic. We are there to influence government and act as an adjunct to the quisling Palestinian Authority in Britain. And how? By lobbying individual MPs. In their eyes, Britain’s pro-Zionist political stand has nothing to do with economic interests, imperialism or domination, still less capitalism. It is because individual MPs haven’t been ‘won over’. No doubt they will have even more fun with Cameron’s government given that 80% of Tory MPs are estimated to be in Conservative Friends of Israel.

When it comes to pickets and activities, PSC Executive are nearly all conspicuous by their absence. Most of PSC Executive are there not as activists but to make up the numbers. Ahava, Agrexco, the Windsor JNF picket, Barak picket – you’ll be lucky if more than one EC member attends at best. Two States is the objective and above all, it is important that a solidarity organisation engages in no internal debate about Palestine. Because if there were a thorough going debate PSC would have to face up to the fact that not only is an independent Palestinian state impossible but that to continue to campaign for this now means in effect to accept that Israel is right to deny political and civil rights to the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. That is the real apartheid. We have one state already, but nearly half the population have no rights whatsoever.

And it might also mean having to face up to the fact that Israel's junior partners-in-crime are the Arab regimes. It was noticeable at the picket of the Egyptian Embassy over the attack on the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina recently there was just one member of PSC.

The argument is often made that we are just a solidarity movement. But that is a cop-out. The first question that people often ask is what is our solutio. What do we want to see? Are we to say that we want to see Israel as a Jewish state established in harmony side by side with a Palestinian state? Do we accept that Israel, as a Zionist state is acceptable even behind the Green Line? Is this a solution to the question of Return? What about Israeli Arabs? Of course in practice these issues are buried and ignored in the hope they will go away. This means illusions in the ‘peace process’, [‘Will Obama do this etc.]

An example of how PSC’s priorities are distorted is the Gaza convoy, Viva Palestina. When the first convoy went at the beginning of last year, PSC nationally did nothing to help organise support for it. Remarks such as we are a political organisation and this is merely charitable were made by officers. But the recent convoy was supported (although the PSC Office didn’t let people know on a daily basis what was happening). So much so that Ms Collector went on it and Ms Colborne flew out to Egypt at one point. Why the change of heart? Because following the defeat of Ken Livingstone, Socialist Action have pulled out of entry work in the Labour Party and are now chasing George Galloway in Respect. They have even revealed their existence in a newly created, albeit sparse, website. And if there is a falling out of love with GG then we can expect PSC to drop its enthusiasm for convoys. This is the kind of sleight of hand that most members of PSC knowing nothing about. PSC’s choice of a campaign is now inseparable from Socialist Action's own political priorities.

Internal Matters

The section of the Annual Report on the resignation of 2 EC members is telling. Why were members of PSC not informed of the resignations? Why was the Branch Forum not told of the resignation of our Vice-Chair Kamal Hawwash and ex-Treasurer Zoe Mars? Why was there even an attempt to prevent them speaking?

Despite being ‘unsubstantiated’ the fact is, as Betty Hunter herself admitted to the Sheffield forum, that Sarah Colborne is a member of Socialist Action. She moved across from being Chair of PSC to Direction of Campaigns and Organisation. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, though it is unusual. And nor do I, or any of the signatories to the Open Letter, have any objection to PSC staff or EC members being members of any left-wing political organisation. What we object to is when small and secretive groups (SA/CL) with at most a hundred members, actively conspire to take over another organisation and run it, PSC, in line with the political priorities of Socialist Action/CL.

Our recruitment practices are fair and in accordance with equal opportunities’ the Annual Report states, yet it also states that ‘in July Ruqayyah Collector was appointed as Campaigns and Communications Officer.’ Ms Collector was also the last member of the National Union of Students Executive, elected on the Student Broad Left slate. PSC’s Student Officer, Bryony Shanks, was SBL’s unsuccessful candidate for NUS Executive and a member of SA.

It is a matter of common knowledge that SBL is Socialist Action’s student front. It is puerile and dishonest to pretend otherwise. What PSC Executive have effectively done is sub-contract out its student work to the weakest of all the left political factions in NUS. By any standards that is pretty stupid. Far from building alliances, as they claim, they are destroying any possibility of them. Hence why they were taken by surprise and at a loss to say anything, when a wave of occupations broke out in colleges and universities at the beginning of 2009 in protest at Israel’s savagery in Gaza.

And when one takes that with the short-term appointment of SA member Denis Fernando, the advertising for whose post was tightly restricted, this means that 3 of the last 3 staff appointments have been from one particular, small political faction. Is this really a coincidence? If so, the odds on winning the jackpot on the National Lottery are smaller.

Personal Abuse

The Annual Report speaks of ‘personal abuse’. Perhaps it was thinking of Hilary Wise’s e-mail of 10th February 2009 to me. This was her response to the fact that I had disclosed on this blog a secret memo from PSC Trade Union Officer Bernard Regan to cronies and friends in the trade unions (some not even members of PSC), urging them to come to PSC AGM to oppose any motions that sought to break links with Israel’s racist ‘union’ Histadrut and to vote in favour of his own slate.

‘Like everyone else I know and work with closely in PSC, I am interested in the issue of Palestine and am working hard to try and change the situation. I don’t recall ever having seen TG at any of the dozens of meetings, demos, vigils, lobbies film shows etc where you find genuinely committed activists.’

Strangely I’ve never seen Ms Wise at a demonstration in Brighton either, nor for that matter in London! PSC Executive’s attack dog followed this up at the September Sheffield Branch Forum when even her supporters tried to shut her up, accusing me of being a ‘wrecker’. Presumably she meant helping to found PSC! Or maybe PSC EC was thinking of the time when Dianne Langford, in an open letter last summer (circa September) bizarrely referred to

‘the letter addressed to you plus copies of various emails originating from Tony Greenstein, including one urging the Merton branch not to affiliate to PSC and trying to recruit members to join the `opposition' to PSC.’

There was of course no e-mail to Merton branch, but why let that come between the facts and Ms Langford? Ms Langford’s previous claim to fame was ensuring that the SWP was kept off PSC’s Executive. Langford’s letter went on to allege that:

he [Tony Greenstein] and Roland Rance demanded that PSC should use its resources on a speaking tour denouncing Arafat and the PLO. The then National Secretary of PSC, John Gee, was castigated for standing firm on the principle of self-determination for the Palestinian people…. At the last AGM, while Gaza was still burning, valuable time was spent debating an unnecessary resolution on the issue of the Histadrut.’
The letter and e-mail Langford speaks about have only ever existed inside her head. They are total inventions, but why let that get in the way of a good story? But Langford lets slip what is the purpose of her fantasies. Boycotting Histadrut, as every Palestinian trade union and PACBI call for, is seen as a diversion by PSC Executive. It might even mean a disagreement with their trade union buddies. And what Ms Langford says openly PSC Executive says behind closed doors.

PSC AGM 2010

On the 6th February PSC will hold its Annual General Meeting. Socialist Action/CL's response to our letter expressing concern at the lack of democracy in PSC has been to put forward constitutional proposals which, if passed, will all but destroy PSC’s democracy. There will be an annual conference, but its powers will be limited. It will certainly not be sovereign, even theoretically. The Trade Union Action Committee, whose membership is unknown and is not open to ordinary PSC trade union activists or members, at present sends 2 delegates to PSC Executive. Constitutional amendment 5, which has clearly been instigated by the Executive, suggests that the representation of TUAC be doubled to 4! As these places are Bernard Regan's gift, this will mean that a fifth of the EC (4/20) will be ‘elected’ by another member of the EC.

Constitutional amendment 4, by the same 2 individuals, suggests that organisations, i.e. trade unions with 500,000 members should be entitled to 7 votes at the Annual Conference (an increase from 3). So the GMB, which tried to amend the FBU motion to the TUC Congress to substitute ‘regret’ for ‘condemn’, in reference to the statement of Histadrut supporting the attack on Gaza, will be entitled to exercise 7 votes at a meeting of a body which is pro-Palestinian.

PSC has provision in Clause 6 of the existing Constitution for 5 regional representatives to be elected. This clause has never been operated and when Northern Network tried to so earlier this year, bureaucratic obstacles were put in its way by the EC. This is totally understandable from the point of view of SA. If you are a small group trying to control a larger group, then you don’t want the Executive Committee to be diluted by people that you can’t control or indeed what you may perceive as alternative centres of power. So the two movers speak express their ‘concern regarding the proposal for a formal regional structure of PSC is that it would divert local energy away from contributing to actions co-ordinated through a national campaign.’

Clearly devolution hasn’t yet made an appearance in PSC but in fact no machinery or bureaucracy is proposed. The idea of a diversion from national campaigns is laughable. This is a feeble excuse for keeping all power in the hands of the Executive. The establishment of regions would not only enable branches to co-ordinate campaigns more effectively but would enable individuals not in any branch to participate. Indeed the only ones who talk of bureaucracy or a diversion of energy is the Executive with their proposals for a ‘devolved administration’ i.e. the policing of the regions.

The real reason for this amendment becomes clear when reading Constitutional Amendment 3 from the Executive. They propose a new Point 9.6 of the Constitution. It is proposed that the election of regional representatives takes place not in the regions but at a London AGM. The reasoning is quite obvious. It is to ensure that SA can more effectively mobilise votes, in London, behind their preferred regional candidates. Because they do not trust the membership, they cannot allow the elections to take place in the Regions. It is as simple as that.

Routinism

What we have is an Executive that has run out of ideas except to exhort the membership to more routine activity. Rallies with Ken Livingstone and George Galloway are the main way of organising students rather than building with all forces in the student movement who genuinely support the Palestinians. Coupled with resolutions that lie in the filing cabinets of trade union general secretaries, an annual march and lobby of Parliament, this is the EC’s preferred annual cycle of activity. Routine activity ends up as little more than the Executive congratulating itself on another 'successful' year. It means going through the motions whilst in practice mounting no effective political challenge to the British government’s support of Israel. Political initiatives are to be frowned upon but they are not easy to control.

Yet none of these routines makes the slightest difference or impact as far as the Palestinians are concerned. The one thing which has been shown to rattle the Zionists and Israel is Boycott. Because it hits the settler state where it hurts most and in Israel’s case, it also hits its image and political support. The Academic Boycott set off a wave of activity in Britain, yet the EC initially opposed such a tactic and has had an uneasy relationship with Bricup. The relation of PSC Executive with its own Boycott Committee, which has in practice led to the setting up last year at the gathering at Wooller Youth Hostel of the Boycotting Network, is similar.

On trade unions the EC and Bernard Regan prefer to ally with an assortment of minor trade union bureaucrats, headed by Hugh Lanning of PCS, rather than develop an ongoing network of activists. Cosy chats between trade union friends – past and current - might seem a short-cut to success but what it means is allowing the Trade Union leaders to dictate to, and even control with SA, PSC’s work in the unions.

Union leaders spend much of their time dampening down strikes and struggles. They are innately conservative creatures. Their support for international struggles is strictly limited and ideas like Boycott are not well received. Trade unions in this country are now very weak, having lost half their members in the past 30 years. PSC Executive are, in effect, suggesting we model ourselves on organisations which themselves are controlled by Executives which deplore independent activity by their members. To allow union leaderships, even the more left ones, to tie our hands, is to weaken our campaigning abilities.

The purpose of work in the unions is to get them to support us and to show solidarity, not to enable them to take us over. Autonomy is a principle worth fighting for yet it is being surrendered by a sect in order that they can retain their own power. Motion 2, from Kevin Courtney (NUT) and John McGee (FBU) gives a flavour of this. It talks about supporting a Boycott only where ‘where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products’. This must be the first time that cowardice has been enshrined as a principle! Should South African dockers who blacklisted ships to Israel or Greek workers who embargoed arms shipments first have asked their employer to promise not to dismiss them? If we follow this road there will never be a successful boycott. Indeed there would never have been trade unions either!!

The job of trade unions is to fight the employers and state if necessary not to ask for promises of immunity. It is our strength which guarantees that. What this means is passing resolutions that are never intended to be put into practice. It is mere posturing and hype.

That is why PSC Executive and Bernard Regan have opposed getting the unions to cut links with Histadrut. Cutting links with Histadrut is one of the few things unions can actually do themselves. They have the power to cut those links and in the daysbefore UNISON came into existence, its forerunner NALGO did boycott Histadrut.

The TUC’s foreign policy has historically been outsourced from the Foreign Office and even their staff in some cases were rumoured to be FO secondments. Cutting links with Histadrut would run counter to British foreign policy, itself something they would hesitate long and hard about doing. Instead the TUC has always treated Histadrut like any other trade union, despite the fact that it was a settler union which, from its formation, opposed even the employment of Arabs (‘Jewish Labour’). By refusing to call for a break in links with Histadrut PSC is effectively opposing a Boycott in the trade union arena.

The task is clear. If PSC is to live up to its claim to want to build a mass anti-apartheid organisation in Britain it first must belong to its own members, not a small ex-left sect like Socialist Action.

Tony Greenstein

* Letter to PSC Executive

Dear EC members

We, the undersigned, as members of PSC, would like to raise the following issues that have been of concern to us recently, and we would appreciate a response from you at the next branch forum meeting on12 September. We are sure that in the spirit of openness and transparency, the EC will welcome the opportunity to address these concerns.

1. Interference in the democratic process at the PSC AGM

Prior to the 2009 AGM, a secret memo was circulated to a selected list of people who had access to voting rights by virtue of their membership of PSC and/or affiliated organizations. The memo asked them to attend the AGM and dictated to them to vote on motions and for a list of candidates to the EC. The memo was headed “This is a personal note - not for circulation”. It stated that:

“This will in my view be an extremely important AGM because of the need to get the focus of the campaign firmly fixed on the events in Gaza and to keep trade unions at the centre of the PSC. There is an opposition within PSC which I firmly believe would take us well away from these objectives.”

The clear implication was that those candidates who were not on the list were doing the exact opposite. Because the memo was secret, the other candidates were therefore not given a chance to refute them. For a full copy of the secret memo which was leaked and put on the internet visit here. Some trade union representatives had three voting cards, and though they had no way of testing the truth of the allegations, their votes carried more weight than those of active members.

How does the EC intend to ensure that unfair methods to influence the outcome of votes will not be used again?

2. Fairness, accountability and equal opportunity in recruitment processes.

The three most recent appointments of office staff have gone to individuals with strong connections to the same, little known, organisation (Socialist Action.[1]) The three staff members who are reputed to be affiliated with this organisation are Sarah Colborne, Denis Fernando and Ruquayya Collector. We are not questioning the commitment or ability of these individuals to make an important contribution to the campaign for Palestine and we recognise that everyone has political beliefs. However, we do not believe it is plausible that a recruitment process incorporating principles of fairness and equal opportunities, and aimed at selecting the best candidate for the job, could have had this result. This is particularly the case when you consider that a job opportunity within a campaign organisation for Palestine would be expected to attract a significant number of candidates.

We are concerned that the interests of one organisation could have a disproportionate influence on PSC actions. Socialist Action members now act as gatekeepers between the membership and central administration. PSC’s reputation as an organization free of any political agenda other than solidarity with the people of Palestine and their campaign for liberation has been jeopardized, preventing it from becoming a mass movement.

Please explain how PSC ensures that staff recruitment conforms to equal opportunities, including an explanation of the advertising, short listing and interviewing process?

3. High staff turnover

Several people have left the PSC office unwillingly in the last few years. We are concerned about the high turnover of staff in PSC over the last few years, which has an inevitable effect on the ability of the office to provide a consistent and adequate service to the membership.

What steps are the EC taking to address this issue?

  1. Financial management

Members are very concerned about an (un-minuted) statement by the PSC Director at the branch 30th May branch forum that all the money collected during January as a result of the war on Gaza had been spent.

We therefore request an interim statement of accounts, and the budget for the current year, demonstrating how the Executive proposes to ensure PSC’s financial sustainability.

If we have a management / leadership team which is predominantly drawn from the same or similar background, or which holds to one political perspective there is little room for alternative viewpoints to be voiced, or for creative dissent to emerge. Constructive and challenging dialogue is a tremendous engine for imaginative thinking and precludes a blinkered approach; such dialogue is much likely to happen within a highly homogeneous group – where is the stimulating tension going to come from? And where's the democratic representation of the views of a diverse membership?

** PSC INTERNAL MATTERS

Internally it has been a difficult year for the EC and the staff of PSC who have been subject to a campaign of harassment and in some cases personal abuse by widely published emails and a blog. These actions can only detract from the work of PSC and help those who want to see PSC fail in our efforts to build a mass movement. We resisted engaging with the perpetrators, however in August a group of 13 people made unsubstantiated allegations to the EC. Since these were simultaneously distributed widely and the PSC were being subjected to public calumny, after two weeks the EC felt they had to make a response absolutely refuting the allegations. Regrettably two members of the EC resigned as they felt this had been dealt with precipitately.

At a branch forum in Sheffield .. they unanimously called for the two EC members to rescind their resignations. This call was later reiterated by the EC but unfortunately preconditions were demanded to which ther EC could not agree.

The size of the task that PSC has is enormous. We must continue to make solidarity with the Palestinian people our priority and not become embroiled in internal disputes. Differences in PSC should be conducted through the democratic processes that exist. Unity around our objectives, democratically agrred at the AGM, is of paramonunt importance if we are to build on our effectiveness.



[1] Though we recognise the Wikipedia is not an unbiased source of information for those unfamiliar with Socialist Action, a description is available here (there is little other information available because it does not have a website and operates in a secretive manner):

The Wikipedia entry states: Socialist Action is a small Trotskyist group in the United Kingdom. ... From the mid-1980s Socialist Action became an entryist organisation, attempting to take over other organisations,with members using code names and not revealing their affiliation."

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you guys have your spat while Gaza burns and the U.S gives up on the 'peace process'.

How many chances are you willing to give Israel Tony before you realize you are not dealing with a nation but with a fascist ideology. Israel as an idea, as a construct and as a lethal reality is irredeemable; it never was legitimate - and that is the truth. If you are still promoting a two-state solution to this issue, and thus accepting Zionism as a legitmate form of Judaism - than you are part of the problem, unfortunately, and not the solution.

And if you don't know that now, I promise you you will one day...

Tony Greenstein said...

No. The 'spat' is about how best to build solidarity with the Palestinians and overthrow the Israeli state.

I don't agree that Israel is a fascist state. The term 'fascism' is used as another way of saying you don't like something. It is better to be precise because then you understand why what has happened took place. Israel is a settler colonial society like South Africa under Apartheid.

And no. You clearly haven't read anything I've written since I am opposed to a 2 states solution. I don't accept that Zionism is part of Judaism, but I do believe that it has shaped Judaism in the second half of the 20th century. Religions are very adaptable things.

joe90 kane said...

...Zionism as a legitmate form of Judaism...
- This sounds like the sort of gibberish Atzmon likes to peddle.
His methodology, or recipe, is as follows -
- take some keywords or phrases, jumble them about a bit, and hey presto, instant deep and meaningful twaddle none of his worshippers actually understands, but won't admit to it either.

Scottish presbyterian Gordon Brown, Prime Minster of the UK, is a zionist. Presumably that makes his presbyterianism a legitimate form of, er, Judaism.
Same with zionist Tony Blair and his British Roman Catholicism - same with zionist George W. Bush and his born again Christain evangelism.

So you guys have your spat while Gaza burns and the U.S gives up on the 'peace process'.
- So what exactly are you doing apart from trying to incite a spat on a blog comments section?

Don't you have anything better to do?

You make it sound as if the likes of TG, and UK solidarity, are responsible for the crimes being waged against occupied Palestinians.

Duncan Chapel said...

Politically, I generally agree with the feeling that the PSC leadership is excluding BDS campaigners in a factional way which harms the PSC's long-term interests. However, you are making all of this much easier for them with the deeply mistaken notion that they are accusing people in PSC of being Zionist agents. If this conflict has generally negative results for PSC then it will indeed "help those who want to see PSC fail in our efforts to build a mass movement". But Zionist agency isn't the reason for people in PSC to not work together well: it's because of real differences over strategy, pluralism and tactics. There will be little progress unless you focus on those real differences - which both sides in PSC can admit to - unlike this nonsence about Zionist agents.

jock mctrousers said...

Yes, but... I don't yet see ANY solid evidence that Socialist Action really EXISTS, or that ANYONE is a member of it PSC or no, much less that it's taken over PSC. Would you consider it impossible that the state security services or Mossad could fake up the Socialist Action web-page? What info we have about Socialist Action seems to come from very dubious sources like Nick Cohen and the that self-confessed MI5 asset (forgotten his name, you know - ex New Statesman)who made the film about Ken Livingstone. 'Common knowledge' doesn't cut any ice.

Maybe you're right, Tony. You make a lot of valid points about PSC's approach (and a lot I disagree with obviously), and you've written a lot of worthwhile stuff in the past, but you must be aware that most people who are aware of 'the Weekly Worker', with which you have a long-standing association, at least wonder if it is a security services front for sowing suspicion and distrust amongst 'the left' (for want of a better work). Maybe that's justified, maybe it's not, but you can't deny that it's a common perception, and so, in the absence of very substantial evidence, these stories about Socialist Action could seem to fit into this pattern.
In the absence of totally unarguable evidence, I think it better if you concentrate on what seems to me very valid concerns about PSC's excess concentration on the trade-union bureaucracy, and come up with some suggestions PSC members can vote on.

Tony Greenstein said...

Duncan - Well at the Branch Forum and in the comments which have been quoted, we are being accused of doing the Zionists' work by criticising them. That in my eyes is tantamount to such an accusation

Yes there are real political differences but of course PSC Exec/SA don't articulate them but hide behind general notions of 'solidarity' whilst refusing all criticism of the Palestinian Authority and adopting a 2 State position in practice. The 'peace process' is the main thing for them.

The attitude to BDS activists is part and parcel of their attitude to any independent initiative that they can't control. Hence their lukewarm approach to the occupations in colleges at the beginning of last year.

Jock - SA have now come out of the closet and no, I don't think that the intelligence services have put up a bogus web page with tributes to Redmond O'Neill.

If you wait for unarguable evidence then hell will freeze over first. I cannot produce any membership cards for individuals but if members of PSC Executive and staff have recently been or are now associated with the Student Broad Left, which everyone else on the Left in the student movement is Socialist Action's student wing then it is a question of who do you believe?

re Weekly Worker. I have written articles in WW and I've done so in many other left publications and even some not so left. E.g. Tribune, Permanent Revolution, Guardian CIF etc. etc. But I don't agree with the CPGB on Palestine (2 democratic, secular states) and debated with them and Moshe Machover of Matzpen recently.

I don't believe there is any truth for the allegations of secret state involvement in them and this kind of allegation is destabilising to the left because it increases paranoia all round and does do the spooks job for them. Remember the WRP?

My disagreement with SA is 2 fold - they are not honest enough to come out with their own politics in their own name and are instead using PSC as a convenient way of employing some of their members in a project that has little to do with PSC and secondly they have no class politics, hence why they support the Palestinian Authority and Abbas and equally why they oppose such things as breaking links with Histadrut.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Tony for misrepresenting your views. I thought I had read that in your piece but apparently I hadn't - my humble apologies.


Fascism -"a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system,and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum."
(Wikipedia)

Israel, it can be argued(though not to convincingly,imo)is a center/left society - though it has moved conspicuously to the right lately. But you can only argue this if you are talking about "The Jews". Everything else in the definition is more than adequately represented by the Jewish state, eg.corporatism/militarism.

Throw in the racist/supremacist angle, and the 'acquisition of territory through war' and I think we do have a fairly precise label.

I am aware of the use and abuse of the term in recent years, so I do not use the term lightly.

Anonymous said...

joe90 kane,


"Scottish presbyterian Gordon Brown, Prime Minster of the UK, is a zionist. Presumably that makes his presbyterianism a legitimate form of, er, Judaism."

Gordon Brown is not a Zionist, he's a presbyterian who supports Zionism.
He can call himself a zionist, but he's not Jewish so how can he be a true Zionist?

Zionism is the 'return' of the Jewish people to their 'home' - which is a religious doctrine, really. But this is a biblical idea, not borne out by history or the fact that this land was inhabited for thousands of year by the 'other'.

So, for me, Zionism is an illegitmate form of Judaism. It is a nationalist/militarist form of Judaism. I say illegitimate because in principle, and according to western values, we don't condone ethnic cleansing, genocide etc in order to fulfil religious dogma. And, imo, that's is what Zionism is.

I was wrong in what I wrote because I didn't properly read Tony's article, and because I actually like Atzmon and I know Tony and him have had their 'differences'. But I was wrong, and I'm quite happy I was wrong(while embarrassed to admit to rushing to judgement after only skirting through the material. I did have the flu at the time, for whatever that's worth).

"You make it sound as if the likes of TG, and UK solidarity, are responsible for the crimes being waged against occupied Palestinians."

Well I don't think that, but I do think that it's important that solidarity movements are just that and not fragmented by infighting. With Zionists working overtime to infiltrate the peace movements it's even more important.

Tony Greenstein said...

Just a few points. Zionism is a political not a religious ideal, though it has co-opted religion and used its symbolism and language.

The idea that Jews should 'return' to somewhere they've never lived to establish a 'national home' was a racist idea which believed that Jews were strangers in the places they lived. It was effected through the agency of British colonialism and Israel is a settler colonial society.

I doubt whether Israel could ever have been called a centre-left society. Its racism always marked it off as a racist and right-wing society, under Labour as well as Likud. Today with Netanyahu and Lieberman even the pretence that Israel is a 'normal' western society has been shot to pieces.

Not only is Gordon Brown a Zionist but the first Zionists weren't Jewish anyway, they were Christians wanting to be shot of the Jews living among them. People like Napoleon I and III, Lord Shaftesbury, Palmerstone, George Elliot etc. This was a Protestant doctrine and that is where Gordon Brown is coming from

joe90 kane said...

Someone seems to be extra-fascinated by definitions, word-soups and alphabet spaghetti.


Gordon Brown is not a Zionist, he's a presbyterian who supports Zionism.
- Yes, and by the same illogic, Golda Meir was not a zionist, she was just a Jew who supported zionism.


Gordon Brown...He can call himself a zionist, but he's not Jewish so how can he be a true Zionist?
- Golda Meir or Moshe Dayan can call themselves zionist, but by being secular and not religious, how can they call themselves true zionists?


So, for me, Zionism is an illegitmate form of Judaism. It is a nationalist/militarist form of Judaism.
- Zionism is a secular racist-based ideology, and is not religious - some of its most famous supporters and exponents are not religious or even Jewish.

In fact, it helps zionism a lot if you actually find Jews repulsive and wish to get rid of them - hence the reason Atzmon is a zionist. Same with know-nothing Mary Rizzo who inists on describing Israel as the 'Jewish state' which only zionists believe and describe as such.


Well I don't think that, but I do think that it's important that solidarity movements are just that and not fragmented by infighting. With Zionists working overtime to infiltrate the peace movements it's even more important.
- If you are worried about supposed 'infiltration' then why are you posting anonymous comments on the internet, a tactic typical of zionists?


As for defining Israel as a fascists state - I don't think it is. Israel does have a form of democratic representation which no fascist state had ie either Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy.
Spain under Franco for instance, (which was really a conservative-authoritarian regime and not 'Falangist' as it is often described as) didn't have such a democratic system of representation as current-day Israel.

The Biblical-based irridentist expansionist claims by zionism are merely used as an excuse for Israeli colonial-imperialism in much the same way as Manifest Destiny was used by US colonialism, or the British Empire used the idea of The White Man's Burden to justify its imperial-colonialism.

Interwar Fascist-Nazi regimes did actually have some valid reasons and excuses for expansion, up to a point, due to the 'deformed peace' of the post-World War I Peace Settlements.

Israel has no such excuses for its takeover of Mandate Palestine, in much in the same way as the US and British colonialism has no such excuses for their expanisonism - hence the reason Israel's colonial-imperialism is just a straightforward takeover starting from nothing from the start. Unlike true fascist-nazi regimes which already existed and had grievances which others did recognise as having some kind of justification, up to a point.

Of course, with its continuous expansion since 1967, the Israel state does seem to be taking on some of the trappings of fascism, such as growing intolerance, but foreign military adventures abroad do tend to bring out the worst, in the society back in the homeland, as we can see here in the UK with the BNP and Islamophobia etc.

I just read this recently and found it very informative with regards to the nature of the relationship between fascism-nazism and terriroy and expansion -
Fascist Ideology: Territory and Expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945
Aristotle A. Kallis (2000)

Anonymous said...

That there are secular Zionists, but the majority are not. Why you would be quite so sensitive about this is beyond me, but I suspect many Jews have problems establishing ways of dealing with changing values and views about Israel.

But I don't want to destroy all Zionist or help them. And I don't think anything I wrote does that either.

Tony I thought this idea(of 'return' was a part of some Judaic teachings or something or other - but these ideas - whether born of Christian or Jew - are part of religious dogma today. Are not these Jewish organizations(some of) sending children on paid trips to Israel -are they not religion based?

I am not out to blame Judaism as a whole for Zionism - like any religion it has it's zealots and fanatics. But I don't think there has been the separation of Zionism and Judaism that I think there needs to be. I think that has to be a goal(for Jews). I personally don't believe that Zionism was a completely secular ideology - although it's got it's fanatical secular supporters too, those who feel Israel is the only answer to the Holocaust and the only 'safe place' for Jews to be.

"Not only is Gordon Brown a Zionist but the first Zionists weren't Jewish anyway, they were Christians wanting to be shot of the Jews living among them. People like Napoleon I and III, Lord Shaftesbury, Palmerstone, George Elliot etc. This was a Protestant doctrine and that is where Gordon Brown is coming from"

That's fair enough and I'd like to read more on that actually.

Anyway, it's possible I'm missing something here, but I don't think JoeKane needs to quite so sensitive about this, really. I'm not Atzmon's best mate or anything - I've read some of work after reading other Jews calling him an antisemite. And that ideological conflict is interesting, even as I don't completely understand it. But I don't like him because just because I think he's an antisemite,

Tony Greenstein said...

The majority of Zionists would indeed describe themselves as secular. However they justify a 'return' to Palestine by reference to the Bible so make what you can of that.

No there is no biblical foundation for a 'return' to Palestine. In the Pesach service (seder) there is a phrase about 'next year in Jerusalem' but it was always a spiritual longing or as Bernard Lazarre wrote all it meant was that next year we will be free. (Piterberg 12)

One can see that from the desperate attempts made by holocaust survivors in the displaced persons camps NOT to go to Palestine. Of 2.5 million who escaped the pogroms in the Russian Pale of Settlement between about 1870 and 1914, less than 2% went to Palestine.

It really is a myth that Zionism fulfilled some biblical injunction. On the contrary even Herzl's own Chief Rabbi Maurice Gudemann took against him. It was Orthodox Jewry which was most opposed, alongside socialist and communist Jews.

But of course religion changes. Just as Islam has become fundamentalist as a result of Western encouragement (we built up the House of Saud against its more liberal rivals) so the Jewish religious establishment has moved to the right and become overtly racist.

It's not a question of blaming Judaism for Zionism but blaming Zionism for what it has done to the Jewish religion.

Jewish identity and religion has changed rapidly in the past 60 years and Zionism is largely to blame, alongside the growing socio-economic rise of Jews.

Dare I say it you need to read things like Nathan Weinstock's Zionism a False Messiah and Abram Leon's 'Jewish Question - A Marxist Interpretaton' which give a materialist understanding and analysis without which all seems at sea.

Anonymous said...

You may dare. Thanks...

stevieb