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Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Welcome Statement From Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Racists and Holocaust Deniers are Not Welcome in the Palestine Solidarity Movement.

Four years ago we tried unsuccessfully to persuade PSC AGM to pass a motion dissociating itself from Deir Yassin Remembered, Gilad Atzmon and those at the fringe of the movement who were dabbling in the politics of holocaust denial. The response of PSC Executive then was that the motion was unnecessary, although they issued a statement at the time re-emphasising their opposition to all forms of racism.

Since then we have seen, on the one hand the Zionists openly consort with the English Defence League and on the other the supporters of Gilad Atzmon and his band of supporters, argue that Zionism is specifically a Jewish phenomenon, with the implication that the battle is not against Israel but Jews in the diaspora. This has inevitably sowed the seeds of confusion among a number of supporters of the Palestinians. In addition Atzmon himself as openly embraced the politics of holocaust denial question the existence of Auschwitz as a death camp.

As someone who has been extremely critical of PSC Executive on a number of issues, I want to warmly welcome the PSC statement making it clear that those who ‘deny or minimise the holocaust have no place in our movement.’

I am not privy to the reasons why the statement has been issued at this time, although it is fair to note that there has been a change in officers in PSC. The primary reason is probably a realisation that the main target of Atzmon’s supporters are Jewish anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians within the movement. At a time when increasing numbers of Jewish people are distancing themselves from Zionism and Israel, the activities of Atzmon and co. make little sense. For example it is estimated that nearly one-third of those taking part in the disruption of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms were Jewish. For Atzmon this merely confirms that to be Jewish is to be a Zionist!

PSC Executive should therefore be congratulated on issuing this statement, the middle paragraph of which is reproduced below:
‘Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the holocaust have no place in our movement. Such statements 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.'
Tony Greenstein

Since this article was put up a comment has been posted by a Zionist, Anthony Cooper, on his new site 'Exposing anti-Semitism' which in fact does no such thing. It does however seek to portray PSC as anti-Semitic and I have posted the following response. However it would be useful for it to appear here as well:

This is an extremely thin gruel. It doesn't even begin to compare with the actions of Zionist demonstrators outside Ahava, in demonstrating with the EDL and complete with a picture of Jonathan Hoffman co-chair of the Zionist Federation dancing down the street with Roberta Moore of the Jewish Division of the EDL, or the participation of the EDL in the counter to the picket of the Israeli embassy after the murder of 9 activists on the Mavi Marmara. To say nothing of the support of Michael Kaminski, the Polish far-right leader, Robert Zines, the Northern leagues in Italy or indeed virtually all the far-right in Europe.

But whereas the Zionist Federation has refused to issue an unequivocal condemnation of the EDL and a statement that they are not welcome on ZF demonstrations, the palestine solidarity movement is quite clear that anti-Semites and racists are not wanted.

Of course there are exceptions to this and you rightly point out Gill Kaffash as someone who has crossed red lines and should be expelled from PSC. If the comment attributed to her is true, and I have little doubt of that incidentally, then she should have her membership revoked. However I look to an equivalent expulsion or two Hoffmans and Milletts from Zionist circles, the latter of whom defended the 'christ-killer comments of an Ahava staff member.

It is also important to understand that when false allegations of anti-Semitism are regularly made, either via the deliberately distorted definition of anti-Semitis as per the EUMC or just through the usual ritual abuse of anti-Zionists (or self-hater - itself an anti-Semitic term) then it's not much wonder that some supporters of the palestinians (who unlike Jews are oppressed) say that if supporting the Palestinians means being anti-semitic then so be it. They are wrong, but a lot of people have a very limited political perspective.

And if you are seriously concerned about anti-semitism, and I doubt Anthony Cooper is, then you don't conflate things that are not anti-Semitic with those that are.

There's a lot of nonsense been talked about organ theft. I don't know if there is any substance to the allegations that Israel has harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. I haven't followed the accusations. I know they were printed in a reputable Swedish newspaper but whether it has a factual basis I simply don't know.

But the idea that such an allegation is equivalent to the medieval blood libel, when Jews were accused of making unleavened bread at Passover out of the blood of non-Jewish children is not only absurd, but actually seeks to minimise and legitimise the latter.

What if there is some truth to this allegation? Given the mass slaughter of Palestinians it is not inconceivable. Does this mean there is some truth to the blood libel accusation too? You should be very careful of making charges of anti-Semitism.

The accusation of harvesting organs has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. The Israeli state is now a Jew and is only Jewish in so far as it is racist.

I can think of at least 2 other states subject to similar accusations. One is China where it is alleged that people were executed in order that their organs could be sold on. Is that anti-Semitic? And some years ago the Iranian regime was accused of syphoning off the blood of those executed too, for blood transfusions, with the implication that people were murdered according to their utility. Anti-semitic? I hardly think so.

And speaking of thinking. Mary Rizzo, Haitham 'quisling' Sabbah and Atzmon's reactionary and short-lived site, the Palestine Think Tank had nothing whatsoever to do with PSC. It had no credence in the movement and I cannot think of one occasion when it was ever cited or quoted.


Anthony said...


I am also not privy to the reasons for this statement being issued now and I am a little reluctant to blow my own trumpet. However, perhaps you should look at my blog and Harry's Place

For about two weeks now we have been uncovering Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic material either hosted on PSC branch websites, linked to by them, or posted by senior members of PSC branches on other sites.

Whether the evidence we have uncovered is convincing of a wider problem inside the PSC and whether it could have been responsible for this statement from the PSC is something everyone has to judge for themselves, I suppose. It's worth noting, though, that one of the most recent groups discussed was Brent PSC and, in particular, Maha Rahwanji who is also a member of the PSC EC. Soon after the revelation she removed as much of the evidence as she could and replaced it with the statement that is now on the PSC front page.

jock mctrousers said...

Is Anthony the kind of friends you want, Tony? Because that's where this line leads. We don't need any Spanish inquisitions.

Anonymous said...

I'd actually welcome coomments to me if anything on our blog could be honestly understood or misunderstood as antisemitism.With so many weird and wonderful conspiracy sites on the net, some of which pretend sympathy to the Palestinians, you have to be carefull who you link to. see
What we stand firm against is being accused of the "new antisemitism", which is actually any criticism of Israel. In fact opposition to all forms of racism here and opposition to the racist state of Israel are inseparable.
David Hillman

Manfred Ropschitz said...

'Atzmon is a moron'. I reckon it'd make a good song. Not worth making one up about 'Shamir' since he changes his name whenever his socks smell. First came across trendy crypto-anti-semitism when I very briefly joined Exeter PSC back in 2005. Good to see the national campaign has finally learnt to walk and chew gum simultaneously. Best wishes. Manfred

Tony Greenstein said...

Jock asks whether or not Anthony is the kind of friend we need. The answer is no. Anthony is not seriously interested in anti-Semitism – be it in the Palestine Solidarity Movement or the Zionist movement for that matter and the fact that he openly boasts of a Harry’s Place blog is indicative, because HP is an openly racist anti-Islamic site, the content of which is barely different from the neanderthal outpourings of the EDL.
Anthony suffers from a blindness when it comes to western racism. Racism is only the property of the oppressed or those who support them. It has nothing to do with power, i.e. that those with power use racism to deal out death and destruction. The reaction of the victim, which sometimes reflects the racism of their oppressor, is what concerns Anthony. So you would never get an article on HP or anything by Anthony about the attempt of Israel to Judify the Negev and move 30,000 Bedouin out of their ‘unrecognised’ villages says everything. There is nothing to say about the Apartheid existence of 2 legal systems on the West Bank, for Arabs and Jews, the banning of Arabs from leasing land inside Israel etc.

So when you have examples of anti-Semitism even among Israelis and Zionists Anthony’s lips are sealed. E.g. I posted the article ‘Hitler was Right’ about how Israeli right-wingers chanted ‘Hitler was right’ and other delightful things at Jewish protestors against the theft of Arab houses in Sheikh Jarrar, Jerusalem.

Likewise there wasn’t one word about the Lubavitch magazine Fountains of Salvation in Israel. Lubavitch aren’t a minor group but a very significant current in Jewish orthodoxy. Their most prominent rabbi in Britain, Rabbi Schochet, has been tipped as the next Chief Rabbi by the Jewish Chronicle. Yet the magazine carried an article on ‘death camps’ for Palestinians. Did Anthony or the horde of HPers say a word? Of course not.

Nor was this something dreamt up by me. Below is a link to the article in Ha’aretz on the issue but Anthony isn’t interested.,2.225,2.226
Or let us take the controversy in Israel over the book Torat HaMelech, which openly advocates the killing of Palestinian civililans, yeah including chidlren and babies. It has caused a major controversy. Israeli police were forced to arrest the author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and then the leader of the Yesha Council of Rabbis Dov Lior. Shapira has been supported by hundreds of rabbis and the authorities haven’t dared prosecute him, but a Palestinian who makes an ‘anti-Semitic’ comment still less a call for open murder would be detained indefinitely. What did Shapira write:
"It is permissable to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation," he wrote, adding: "If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments - because we care about the commandments - there is nothing wrong with the murder."
So this is the context in which Anthony has set up a blog 'exposing anti-Semitism.' As David Hillman says, there are so many conspiracy sites on the net that it is quite easy to link to them by mistake or without investigating each in depth. E.g. I linked to the Palestine Chronicle, not realising it was the site of one of the more stupid Palestinian supporters of Atzmon, Sameh Habeeb.

Tony Greenstein said...

I'm not overly impressed by the information that has been gleaned since it starts off with the now defunct Palestine Thinktank, run by Mary Rizzo and Atzmon and Palestinian collaborator Haitham Sabbah. Sabbah is a quisling who called on Palestinians to apologise to Mubarak for having embarrassed him by demanding entry to Viva Palestina.
But Jock you ask the wrong question with respect. If there is a problem in our movement we should not shy away from it. It will not go away. If there are sympathisers of Atzmon then we should try to win them over. If there is latent anti-Semitism we should deal with it. Why? Because if someone really does think the Jews are the problem then they are missing the target, the US and Western imperialism. Anti-Semitism doesn’t hurt Jews in this society, it hurts the struggle of the Palestinians because it plays into the hands of the Zionists.

In fact the problem stems from the fact that people are accused so often of ‘anti-Semitism’ when it is opposition to Israel that is their crime, that some people say ‘yes, if the price to be paid for supporting the Palestinians is being anti-Semitic then we will pay that price.’ They are wrong to accept the Zionist terms of debate because opposition to racism is indivisible and Zionists aren’t interested in opposing racism but tarring and smearing their opponents. As someone with considerable experience of fascists in this country, I can honestly say that at no time was any Zionist body or even individual ever interested in taking on the NF. They just mouth opposition when Palestine is on the agenda.

But if people in PSC did adopt an anti-Semitic outlook then they would have sold the pass which is why the Executive statement is important. There are some people in the Palestine Solidarity Movement, Alexander Seymour and Gill Kaffash for example who aren’t particularly concerned about anti-Semitism in the movement. But the responsibility for that lies with Anthony and his supporters.

We even had the spectacle of a staff member at Ahava, the Israeli shop that sells stolen Palestinian property in Covent Garden, accusing a demonstrator of being a ‘Christ-killer’ because he is Jewish. One of the most disgusting of anti-Semitic tropes. She was defended by Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation and Richard Millett. I look forward to Anthony’s condemnation because otherwise he is a hypocrite and all his searching for traces of anti-Semitism pales into insignificance when compared to open anti-Semitism such as this.

Indeed if Anthony is really serious he will ask himself why, when Atzmon says how disgusting and asocial Jews in the diaspora are, he quotes Zionists like Borochov and Syrkin in his support!

Tony Greenstein said...

I should add that David Hillman is right and that what is normally alleged is the 'new anti-Semitism' which is criticism of Israel not Jews. By mixing in anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism Zionists seek to confuse people as to what anti-Semitism was really about.

Some of the allegations on Anthony's website are ludicrous e.g. the whole York incident.

But we clean our own Augean stables and this site has no difficulty in exposing those who play with anti-Semites as my articles on the Freiburg conference demonstrates.

Let's see Anthony and co. condemn Israel's vicious racism and ethnic cleansing. Because if anti-racism is a principle it must be applied to all or none.

Tony Greenstein said...

Yes I know what happened in Exeter. An Atzmon supporter called Roy Ratcliffe was in the thick of it I believe.

I agree with you Manfred but we should always welcome the repentance of the sinner on the road to Damascus, even if it does take a long time!

Tony Greenstein said...

I have posted a response to Anthony on his blog but I don't know whether it will appear so I have posted it as a postscript to the article.

One thing I did forget to say is that a charge of anti-Semitism has been made against Maha, a member of PSC Executive.

Having looked at the 'evidence' which effectively consists of Maha Rahwanji being anti-Semitic because she denies that most western jews are semitic - a statement of the bleedin' obvious - it is clear that Anthony is, like most Zionists, unable to distinguish between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.