28 November 2011

Atzmon & Friends Declare War on the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Abandon BDS - It's the Jews Who Are the Enemy - Gilad Atzmon

For the past 6 years, a number of us have been warning about the danger posed to the Palestine Solidarity movement by Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Israeli jazz player, and the small group of people around him. Four years ago we introduced a motion at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM to formally dissociate ourselves from Atzmon and the Deir Yassin Group, led by holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Unfortunately PSC dismissed our fears and the motion was heavily defeated. Today they are having to face up to the consequences of that decision.

Atzmon has just brought out a book The Wandering Who? which brings all his ‘ideas’ and quack philosophy together in one work, well nearly all of them. For an excellent analysis of Atzmon's spurious use of philosophy, see Gabriel Ash's article Commentary on the “Philosophical Thinking” of Gilad Atzmon.

It has attracted support from a number of academics and the less discerning Palestinian intellectuals. This is a support that some are going to regret.

At the heart of Atzmon’s dense prose is a very simple idea. The cause of the Palestinians' dispossesion lies in the nature of Jews per se rather than Zionism. Israel behaves as it does, not because it is a settler-colonial state sponsored by the West, but because it is a ‘Jewish’ State, the manifestation of the Jewish spirit and Jewishness.

The rise of Atzmon is the product of the Zionist movement which is now rubbing its hands with glee at the confusion and disruption which Atzmon's acolytes are causing. As every Palestine solidarity activist will confirm, for years Zionists have attacked supporters of the Palestinians and opponents of Zionism as ‘anti-Semitic’ – they even invented a ‘new anti-Semitism’ and tried foisting a false definition of anti-Semitism, the EUMC Working Definition, in place of the commonly understood usage of the term.

It is the classic case of the boy who cried wolf. As I warned in the Big Questions programme, when Zionists associate Jews with Israel’s atrocities, they must bear the blame for the resultant anti-Semitism.

It is not surprising that some activists have taken the message and inverted it. Instead of challenging the Zionist argument that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are the same, they have drawn the conclusion that if the price of supporting the Palestinians is being anti-Semitic then that was a price they would pay. Yet this is a false choice that Zionism wants people to adopt. Zionism historically is a product of anti-Semitism and has welcomed anti-Semitism. Without anti-Semitism there would be no Zionism. As the founder of Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote in his Diaries (p.6):

‘In Paris..., I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism.’

In his new book, The Wandering Who? Atzmon spells out the implications of his argument:

‘Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine,… (it is) 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.’

Zionism is no different from being Jewish. This is exactly what the Zionists also say. Atzmon merely adds his own conspiracy theory.

In an interview with Silvia Cattori, Atzmon expands on his thesis:

The “Left” likes the colonial paradigm because it locates Zionism nicely within their ideology. It also leads us to believe that the colonial/post-colonial political model provides some answers and even operative solutions; following the colonial template, we first equate Israel with South Africa, and then we implement a counter-colonial strategy, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).
… BDS has not in fact, led to any metamorphic change within Israeli society. If anything, it has led to further intensified radicalisation within the right in Israel. Why has the BDS not worked yet? The answer is simple: It is because Israel is not at all entirely a colonial entity… its power and ties with the West are maintained by the strongest lobbies around the world. So, if the Left wants to stop Israel for real, then it must openly question the notion of Jewish Power and its role within Western politics and media.’

The Palestinians are ‘victims of a unique global political identity, namely the third category people who transformed the Holy Land into a Jewish bunker.’ (WH p.21)

Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

It couldn't be clearer. Israel is a product of Jews, as Jews, not Zionism or colonialism. Atzmon is arguing that because Israel is not a settler-colonial state, BDS will not work, indeed it is counterproductive, because it will only lead to a further strengthening of the Right in Israel. Yet a moment’s thought and one will recall similar arguments against imposing sanctions on South Africa by Thatcher & Regan. It would strengthen the Right. We should rely on White liberals. It would hurt the victims.

That is why 170 grassroots Palestinian organisations came together in 2005 to form the BDS National Committee.

Despite protestations, Atzmon has never supported BDS, hence why many suspect his bona fides and motives. In an interview with Mary Rizzo he explained that:
‘interfering with academic freedom isn’t exactly something I can blindly advocate. … I am against any form of gatekeeping or book burning. But it goes further, I actually want to hear what Israelis and Zionists have to say. I want to read their books. I want to confront their academics.… I believe that the best way around it is to support freedom of speech categorically…’
When BDS activists disrupted the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra Atzmon’s sent me the following e-mail (Thursday, 22 September 2011, 17:00):
‘We loved your opposition and we also loved your Jewish campaign against the Jewish philharmony is never boring you :)’
and later the same night Atzmon explained his hostility to the Albert Hall action. We weren't PS activists, 'merely anti-Zionists.':
‘Do you really think that BDS enthusiasts are blind to your Judeo centric actions and motivations? How are you going to protect Pls artists from similar Zionist actions... tragically, you are not Pls solidarity campaigners, you are merely anti Zionists.’
Maybe ¼ to 1/3 of those taking part in the IPO disruption were Jewish or affiliated to J-Big. Yet here we have an example of how Atzmon seeks to divide the movement between its Jewish and non-Jewish supporters.

It is however a fact that a major factor in the impetus of the Boycott movement has been its support by Jewish people. In the words of the J-Big slogan, they kosher the movement.

An article in the Jewish Chronicle 'Named: boycott ringleaders', 15/06/2007, by Bernard Josephs and Nicole Hazan, shortly after UNISON, Britain's largest public sector trade union voted to support a boycott of all Israeli produce, highlighted the role of Jews in the Boycott movement. In the same edition, the account of the Board of Deputies meeting noted concern about the role of Jews in the BDS movement.
'The JC today identifies the key players in the escalating British campaign to boycott Israel. Our investigation shows that many are Jewish or Israeli, and that they justify their stance as part of the struggle for Palestinian rights and ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. A high proportion are deeply involved in UCU, the University and College Union, which last month sparked an international outcry by voting to facilitate a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Anti-boycott figures suggest that the campaign has been fuelled by a well-organised mix of far-left activists and Islamic organisations. In reality, the main proponents are a loosely knit collection of academics and trade unionists linked to groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for the Boycotting of Israeli Goods, and Bricup, the British Committee for Universities of Palestine. Prof Bresheeth told the JC that a boycott was not an easy decision. “I am Jewish and an Israeli, and I don’t wish harm on either side. But how long can this occupation go on?” Bricup has a large number of Jewish supporters, among them husband and wife Hilary and Steven Rose. Hilary, a professor of social policy at Bradford University, is Bricup’s co-convenor alongside Prof Jonathan Rosenhead. Her husband, an Open University biology professor, is the organisation’s secretary. They have been active in the boycott movement since 2002.'
It is no coincidence that Atzmon has targetted Jewish anti-Zionists at the same time as there has been an unprecedented outburst of Jewish opposition to Zionism and support for BDS. In the United States, Jewish Voices for Peace, which has now adopted BDS, has over 100,000 supporters.

Worse than Hitler? Absurd Exaggerations Can Only Harm the Case Against Zionism

Zionism is bad enough as it is without needing to exaggerate. It has expelled approximately one million Palestinians, holds another 3.5 million under a military occupation and treats its own Arab citizens as temporary guests. To say Israel is 'as bad as Hitler' is to weaken not strengthen the Palestinian cause. Everyone (bar holocaust deniers) knows that Israel hasn't begun exterminating Palestinians. That isn't to say that a significant section of the religious sector in particular wouldn't like to do so. But Israel's program is expulsion/transfer not extermination.

Atzmon is on record as stating that “to regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook’ because Nazi Germany… (at least) were trying to take towns and land intact.’ Beyond Comparison This is but one example of Atzmon's ignorance. The Nazis did indeed destroy Belgrade (& Warsaw). They intended to destroy Moscow. They intended to starve to death 30 million Russians. Is Israel really worse than this? These absurd comparisons are ahistorical, factually wrong and designed to discredit those who adopt them. As someone who isn't shy to compare Israeli behaviour to that of the Nazis, it is important to get it right when you make such comparisons, not to wield them widely as a form of abuse.

Nor is Israel uniquely evil. At the same time as Israel was murdering some 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008/9, the Sri Lankan military were murdering an estimated 20,000 Tamils and setting up concentration camps to further brutalise the survivors. Was the Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka also 'worse than Hitler'?

The Sinhalese majority are Buddhist. Is Buddhism therefore merely a cover for genocidal intent and racist barbarities? And was Protestantism in Northern Ireland responsible for the sectarian outrages against Catholics in what was termed by Prime Minister Lords Craig and Craigavon ‘A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People’?

Was there something especially cruel about American settlers or Australian convicts which led them to exterminate the indigenous population? Isn't this argument rather reminiscent of that of Zionist Daniel Goldhagen's execrable 'Germans: Hitler's Willing Executioners' which placed the blame for the holocaust on the cruelty of Germans as Germans?

As my ‘Guide to the anti-Semitic jazzman Gilad Atzmon’ demonstrates, Gilad Atzmon is deeply anti-Semitic. He subscribes to every myth and libel that has ever been written about Jews, from the world Jewish conspiracy theory, to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the holocaust itself. No relic from the medieval sewer is too filthy for Atzmon to grasp at. The Bolsheviks were funded by Jewish capitalists in order to foment revolution! According to the young Atzmon the medieval Blood Libel may be true:
“It seems I didn’t learn the necessary lesson because when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matza out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless.” [Wandering Who, p.185, Epilogue]
Atzmon’s and Friends Set Out to Destabilise the Palestine Solidarity Movement

Historically the Zionist movement has sought to associate anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians with ‘anti-Semitism’. Atzmon is determined to prove the truth of such allegations. Some people have suggested that Atzmon, like his friend Israel Shamir, is an Israeli state agent. One thing is clear. He is worth his weight in gold to Israel’s hasbara. If he isn’t being paid by Shin Bet then he has a good case for unpaid wages, because every time he opens his mouth the Zionist find it difficult to contain their glee.

The work of PSC Branches and activists, up and down the country, has been disrupted by Atzmon and his supporters. Everywhere they seek to divert effort from BDS and solidarity work to ‘the Jews’. Everywhere they fail, but not without causing significant disruption.

Harry’s Place, the notoriously racist anti-Muslim site, which shares a common agenda with the English Defence League, is besides itself with glee at the work of Atzmon. For example in an article Gill Kaffash, The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Camden Council and Gilad Atzmon the utterances of Gill Kaffash, the newly resigned Secretary of Camden PSC, are spelt out.

Yet the increasingly deranged Lauren Booth, who all of us respected at the time of the Iraq War for speaking out against her war criminal brother-in-law, is happy to supply the Zionists with further copy. In Palestine Solidarity Campaign in unholy alliance with Israeli mouthpiece and UK Zionist website Booth has this to say:
‘Gill Kafesh, until recently the popular secretary of the Camden branch of the PSC, was “asked to resign by a small group, who made the decision at a special meeting” this autumn. On Harry’s Place, Kafesh is listed as (guess what?) “a supporter of Holocaust denial”. She denies the slur.’
She may well deny ‘the slur’. Nonetheless it is true. In an article ‘My Life as a Holocaust Denier’ Paul Eisen recalls that when he ‘came out’ as a holocaust denier he was disowned by most people ‘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, Amjad Taha, Randa Hamwi Duwaji, Cambridge PSC, Rosemary Ernshaw, Fr. Michael Prior RIP, Ernst Z√ľndel; Ingrid Rimland.’

In fact some of those on it – Rosemary Ernshaw and Fr. Michael Prior – were never supporters of Eisen and holocaust denial. Others like neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel and his wife Rimland certainly were. But also there is one Gill Kaffash. When I first saw this article, written in January 2008, I filed it away knowing that it made a number of false claims about people.

However in correspondence on 28th April 2011 Gill Kaffash, in an e-mail to activists stated that ‘Gilad Atzmon is very clear what he means by Jewishness. Come and hear him’. Debbie Fink took exception to the term ‘Jewishness’. In her response of 2nd May Kaffash complained that no one had explained to her why Atzmon was anti-Semitic. So on the same day I posted her an e-mail explaining that Eisen was a self-declared holocaust denier and cited Atzmon's holocaust denial comments and the relevant quotations. On 7th May I reminded Kaffash that she had requested an explanation as to why Atzmon was anti-Semitic and yet she had gone unusually quiet. And so it was to be. When push comes to shove she has nothing (worthwhile) to say.

On 10th April 2011 I wrote to PSC Executive, referring them to e-mail discussions on the Brighton & Hove PSC list when Francis Clarke-Lowes had declared himself to be a holocaust denier. It should be pointed out that the reaction of local members of PSC to Lowe’s utterances were uniformly hostile. On 20th April Lowes was expelled by the officers of Brighton Branch, without any dissent by members.

I have had a number of disagreements with PSC Executive, as readers of this blog will confirm! However the reaction of PSC Executive and their Secretary Ben Soffa to the situation was quick and decisive. Frances Clarke-Lowes was unceremoniously expelled and although he has a right of appeal to the PSC AGM in January there is no doubt whatsoever that that decision will be upheld. In short there is no room at the Palestine Solidarity inn for holocaust or genocide deniers.

Equally welcome was the PSC Executive statement amending PSC's aims to make what was previously implicit, holocaust denial, explicit.

In Bradford there has also been considerable disruption and diversion of energy as a result of the local Raise Your Banners group, once considered on the left, hosting Gilad Atzmon. It was originally booked at the Bradford Cathedral, but owing to slow sales of tickets was moved to a smaller venue. Nick Lowles, editor of the Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, which has previously been extremely supportive of Zionism under Gerry Gable, came out with an extremely fair report of this debacle. PSC distances itself from Raise Your Banners See also GILAD ATZMON: Supporting Holocaust Deniers and spreading hatred of Jews

In Liverpool a Palestinian activist, Nahida, who was once the mainstay of the group, changed almost overnight when she married a sinister Dutchman. Jewish conspiracies took over her life and it was with difficulty that the branch reclaimed its website, which had posted links to her anti-Semitic website (‘Spiders Web’). Nahida wrote that ‘‘With my usual frankness I attempted to defend Atzmon and Eisen, explaining that in the writing of either men, I did not find any evidence supporting the allegations thrown against them i.e anti-Semitism or denial of the Holocaust.’ I commented on the blog explaining why both Atzmon and Eisen were anti-Semitic.

In Birmingham the Chair of Birmingham PSC, who interviewed me a number of times for Unity FM, a Muslim radio station, also became a convert to Atzmonism and holocaust denial. He was soon removed as an officer of the branch.

In Exeter the local Friends of Palestine group at the University held a meeting at which Atzmon was the star speaker. Exeter has been a problem branch for some time, with Roy Ratcliffe one of the most dedicated of Atzmon supporters. See Gilad Atzmon Finds Someone to Defend Him (Roy Ratcliffe)

Naturally Atzmon and friends have fed off the disruption caused like vultures feeding off carrion. In a ‘review’ of David Landy’s new book 'Jewish Identity & Palestinian Rights - Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel', Atzmon wrote of how
‘In the last few months in the UK, more and more exiled Palestinians and solidarity activists have been kicked out from PSC and other solidarity organisations, thanks to relentless pressure from the so-called ‘Israel Critical Jews’. Francis Clark- -Lowes, former Chair of the National PSC was thrown out of the PSC a few months ago due to demands mounted by the infamous Jewish activist Tony Greenstein. Admired Palestinian poet and writer Nahida Izatt was also cleansed . This time it was no Israeli or a ‘Zionist’ who barred her from her local Palestinian solidarity group - it was a Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Greg Dropkin who had been harassing her and other intellectuals for years. A similar fate was awaiting Gill Kaffash, an admired London activist, who was asked to resign from being Camden PSC’s Secretary. Sammi Ibrahem, Palestinian activist and radio journalist, originally from Gaza, was Chair of Birmingham PSC – at least he was, until he too was expelled due to Jewish ‘anti’-Zionist pressure.
The ‘Shoah – Palestinian Holocaust’ site , which is run by Atzmon or his devotees, in an article of 23.9.11. Palestine Solidarity Campaign PSC surenderd to Zio-Nazi Harry Place and J lobby pressure we are treated to a series of e-mails describing the plight of the hard pressed anti-Semite and holocaust denier facing expulsion and ostracism in the Palestine solidarity movement.

In his own contribution ‘PSC has made it’ of 23.9.11. Atzmon takes pleasure in the disruption and divisions he is causing. We are told that ‘UK PSC is now approved by the notorious UK hard core Zionist Jewish Chronicle (JC).’ And why? Because PSC had “amended its statement of purpose expressly to include a denunciation of Holocaust denial.” Atzmon purports to being ‘puzzled’.

Atzmon does not even know what holocaust denial can mean. ‘Can one deny’ he asks, 'a historical chapter?' In the course of many e-mails and what purports to be a discussion between Atzmon and myself, one thing I have learnt is that not only is Atzmon far more stupid than he gives himself credit for, but he also has a terrible memory, probably caused by imbibing certain substances. Yet even Atzmon can’t, I asked myself, be that stupid or forgetful.

After all when he performed for the SWP, he actually denied that he was a holocaust denier! He wrote on 21.6.05. that ‘This is to confirm that I am not a Holocaust denier, I have never denied the Nazi Judeocide and I do not have any intentions to do so. For me racism and Nazism are categorically wrong and it is that very realisation that made me into a devoted opponent of Israel and Zionism.’ Even more relevant than Atzmon’s coke ridden brain cells is the simple fact that of course it is possible to deny the holocaust. Just as it is possible to deny the Nakba, the Armenian Genocide and many other similar massacres. Indeed the deniers of the Nakba bear a distinct resemblance to holocaust deniers. Both use outright denial, despite the overwhelming evidence, to justify their barbarities.

Atzmon seems to think it is a sign that PSC has sold out that the Jewish Chronicle reported the fact that PSC had amended its statement of aims on its website to include: "Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement." Strange that when I would have thought that such an obvious anti-racist statement should have been welcomed.

The fact that PSC has admittedly come under pressure, because of the views held by a tiny minority of its members, doesn’t mean it has caved into Zionist demands. The fact is that holocaust denial is death to Palestine solidarity and PSC are more than aware of this fact. Likewise the fact that the Jewish Chronicle mentioned that ‘the move has been welcomed by Jewish anti-Zionists such as Tony Greenstein.’ should be welcomed. What would be worrying would be if the Zionists were attempting to 'prove' that Atzmon's views represented anyone but himself and a small coterie around him. In particular, it would be worrying if it was seriously suggested that PSC somehow endorses Atzmon. It doesn't and won't.

Putting on his best mask, Atzmon assures that although not a member of PSC ‘I would like the PSC to be strong and effective.’ Yes Gilad, and kosher pigs really do fly!

But the most hysterical and vitriolic of all the contributions comes from one Lauren Booth on 26.11.11. In her article Palestine Solidarity Campaign in unholy alliance with Israeli mouthpiece and UK Zionist website Booth raises a call to arms by the Atzmonites as they realise that the bluff of their supporters has been called. She seems to have been particularly riled by the dissociation by PSC from any support or involvement in the Bradford concert by Atzmon. Booth wrote [Three people in this marriage. The PSC, the JC and Harry’s Place], (26.11.11.)

‘This week, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) revealed itself to be ethically compromised at the highest level.
In recent months it has become clear that the central office of the PSC is increasingly pandering to the whims of Israeli hasbara – or propaganda – activists, joining with the likes of the rabid Zionist site Harry’s Place in efforts to silence some of this movement’s most outspoken and popular thinkers.’

As if this were not bad enough the next section is entitled ‘Sarah Colborne dives into the Zionist sewer. Sarah, who was one of those who was on board the Mavi Marmara, whose testimony at the following press conference was moving to anyone who watched it. She was clearly traumatised by what had happened. It is quite outrageous to describe her as a Zionist. Normally this term of abuse is reserved for Jewish anti-Zionists because they are Jewish. For opposing anti-Jewish racism, Ms Colborne has been branded a Zionist. Thus proving the very point we have been making.

It used to be the case that the National Front and Greater Britain Movement would attack 'Zionists' when they meant 'Jews'. 'Zionist' was a code word. Today they don't bother doing that. Instead they leave the really heavy anti-semitic lifting to Gilad Atzmon and his useful idiot, Lauren Booth.

According to Booth, ‘this is not the first but the most recent in a shameful spate of expulsions and harassment of pro-Palestinian activists by the national office of the PSC.’ The problem, apparently, is that ‘They [PSC] are attempting to create a pro-Palestinian organization that does not hurt Zionist sensibilities.’ And the result? They have ended up ‘In bed with the Islamophobic Zionist Harry’s Place’.

I mention this because I, more than anyone, have been critical of PSC because of its diplomatic orientation and its refusal to condemn Abbas and the Palestinian Authority or clearly come out against Histadrut or make a firm commitment in favour of a one-state, secular and democratic Palestine. However there is nothing that Booth, the paid scribe of Iran's Press TV mentions that is at all critical of PSC's political positions. Booth's venomous attack is based on a core racist commitment.

Booth alleges that ‘Sarah Colborne and others have chosen to align with those whose interests lie in silencing debate on the precise nature of apartheid Israel and its root causes.’ It’s a strange accusation, not least because it is untrue. There are many criticisms that can be made of PSC, but this is not one of them.

Apparently the Jewish Chroniclereported gleefully on PSC’s amended mission statement’ which condemned holocaust denial in its own right. I'm pleased it did. That means that whenever anyone doubts PSC's viewpoint on anti-Semitism and the holocaust, they can refer back to the article. One wonders what Booth’s objection could possibly be. But no doubt the erudite half-sister of Cherrie Blair can tell us how holocaust denial is helpful to the Palestinian cause.

The question is what next to do. There is no doubt that the effect of the Zionist libel that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are one and the same has built support for Atzmon, who openly proclaims his anti-Semitism. It is also the case that Atzmon's supporters tend to be Islamists, who have no tools of analysis bar Islam and are therefore prey to Atzmon's subjective analysis. It also represents the despair of those who want to see the liberation of the Palestinians and see no end. There is a natural resentment against British Jews who support the horrific attacks of Israel on the Palestinians (& increasingly even Jewish citizens of Israel - witness the raft of Acts attacking basic democratic rights in Israel).

As Israel Shahak, the former Hebrew University Professor of Chemistry and survivor of Belsen-Bergson and the Warsaw Ghetto remarked, 'The Nazis made me afraid to be a Jew, and the Israelis make me ashamed to be a Jew." To be Jewish at the time of the attack on Gaza indeed made one feel ashamed, when innocent children and civilians were being butchered on the altar of Zionist expansionism. Ashamed at the fact that what was being done was being done in all of our names. But Gaza probably heralded a new stage in the struggle. Certainly in Britain, which contains one of the most devoted Jewish populations, the attendance at the Zionist war meeting in Trafalgar Square (4,000) was a fraction of previous turnouts.

If Atzmon were successful, it would only be to ensure that those Jews breaking from Zionism had second thoughts in view of the hostility to them of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Because the logic of Atzmon and Booth's position is to picket not the Israeli Embassy but the local Jewish kindergarten.

PSC needs to take decisive action to root out, once and for all, those who evince sympathy for racism - of whatever description. And that includes the expulsion of Kaffash and Atzmon's most devoted supporters. This isn't a call for a witch-hunt. It is natural that people will occasionally refer to 'Jews' rather than 'Zionists'. After all that is how Israel justifies its actions. The blurring of the distinction between being Jewish and Zionism is the effect of constant propaganda in this society. But those who evince sympathy with Hitler's aims and fascism or deny that extermination was among his 'achievements' have no place in the Palestine solidarity movement.

It is no accident that nearly all of the far-Right and fascist parties in Europe [bar Hungary's Jobbik and Germany's NPD] are both racist and anti-Semitic and pro-Zionist. Anti-Muslim hatred is more important than anti-Semitism. [See Israel's anti-Semitic Friends]

But there is also a crying need for greater internal education within PSC so that these issues don't continually blow up. E.g. how many people realise that the first Zionists were non-Jewish imperialists or that the descriptions that the Zionists used about Jewish people were even more anti-Semitic than the anti-Semites or that they myths about Zionism, such as that Herzl was converted to Zionism by the Dreyfuss Trial are just that - myths.

But there is also one more thing that can be done. But only Palestinians can do it. Too many Palestinian intellectuals - e.g. Ramzy Baroud and Samir Abed Rabbo - have given comfort to Atzmon and supported his initiatives. Their stupidity beggars beliefs. These are people who are the most privileged Palestinians. They above all should understand that historically Zionism has always been helped by anti-Semitism. Even today, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj al-Amin Husseini, and his support for Hitler, is used to justify Israel and Zionism. The Mufti's stupidity did more to help the Zionist cause than anything the current Netanyahu cabinet could manage. To visit Yad Vashem, the Zionists' propagandistic holocaust memorial museum, one would think that next to Hitler, the Mufti was the major war criminal of Nazi Germany rather than the most minor and pathetically ineffectual individual that he actually was.

Yet Baroud, Rabbo and Makram Khoury-Machool seem determined to learn nothing and forget nothing. I have personally written to a number of progressive and leftist Palestinian intellectuals, such as Joseph Massad (from whom I've heard nothing whatsoever) but it is fair to say that people are keeping their heads down, hoping that things will blow over.

Yet if history teaches one thing it is that racism doesn't go away of its own accord. There is a need for a forthright stance that makes it clear that no one benefits from anti-Semitism in the Palestine solidarity movement as much as the Zionists themselves. Indeed there is no better article on the subject than Joseph Massad's article Semites and anti-Semites, that is the question in Al Ahram of 9.12.04. which is subtitled 'Today the real victims of Western anti-Semitism are Arabs and Muslims.

Tony Greenstein

19 November 2011

Unbelievable Brutality from Israel’s Military Scum

The routine murder of Houda Hawajah

Houda Hawajah was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unlike Jewish terrorist settlers, the military didn’t knock on the door – they blew the door away and with it the life of Houda.

You can see the terror on the daughter’s face but to the military trash who did this there are other concerns. One smiling Jewish soldier, opines on ‘I don’t know what we are doing here. Clarification maybe. It’s dirty. I don’t know why a good Hebrew boy should be here so far from his home.’

Another soldier with a Nazi mentality thought that the operation wasn’t so bad and approved of it. Presumably if its mother had been murdered in cold blood it would have a different opinion.

Despite the pleas of a young girl, these thugs then smash down a wall to get into the next door house.

But this tape wasn’t supposed to be broadcast at all. Foreign journalists are banned, unsurprisingly from such operations. Not that you would ever know, since the Zionist Chair of the BBC, Mark Thompson, wouldn’t dream of having such a thing mentioned for fear of upsetting Britain’s friends abroad.

As we are told, all 3 networks in Israel agree that if the army doesn’t like the footage it isn’t broadcast. And the army didn’t like it but Channel 2 broke the embargo. Ranaan Gissin, the Israeli government spokesperson was blunt and angry: ‘I would have expected a little bit more, I would call it self-censorship.’ This from someone who would routinely condemn Palestinian censorship.

The official army liar went into hasbara-speak. ‘Our action is so difficult to be done. It is at the extremes of acceptance (who by?). But even this smiling Nazi-style liar, when asked about refusing to take Houda to hospital can only say: ‘It’s a mistake’.

But that too is a lie. It was no mistake but normal routine to deny injured Palestinians access to medical treatment. A mistake is something that happens by accident. This happened by design.

18 November 2011

Hanna Braun RIP - A Jewish anti-Zionist to the end

A childhood refugee from Nazism who opposed racism by and against Jews

It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the death of Hanna Braun, a childhood survivor of the Nazis and someone who took the message of anti-racism to her heart. That if racism against Jews was wrong, then it was equally wrong if perpetrated by Jews. Hanna and her family fled to Palestine, then under the British Mandate, in 1937 and in 1958, disgusted by the everyday racism under Labour Zionism she emigrated to England where she lived until she died.

Tony Greenstein

Below are 2 obituaries by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a friend, Sara Irving.

PSC members will be saddened to hear that staunch campaigner Hanna Braun has died aged 84, shortly after the publication of her book Weeds Don't Perish: Memoirs of a Defiant Old Woman. Born in Berlin in 1927, Hanna lived through major political events and upheavals. In 1937 her parents took her to Palestine, where, having witnessed the horror of the Nakba, began her political journey toward anti-zionist activism. Hanna will be greatly missed by her family, her many friends and all in PSC who will always remember her passionate campaigning for the Palestinians, her commitment to human rights and anti-racism, her love of music and dabke dancing and her enthusiastic participation in demonstrations, meetings, and conferences. We send our condolences to her daughters, Dorit and Gaby, and her grandchildren.

Watch Hanna Braun and Ghada Karmi in discussion at her book launch* at Tottenham Palestine festival in September 2011

Weeds Don't Perish is published by Garnet, ISBN number 9781859642641

Hanna’s book is available at Garnet Publishing:

Weeds Don't Perish - Memoirs of a Defiant Old Woman Author:

Weeds don’t Perish is the story of Hanna Braun; a passionate, wry, rebellious woman with a zest for life.

Hanna Braun RIP

Today I learned some sad news of the death of Hanna Braun. Hanna was an amazing woman and a wonderful example of the principled stance some members of the Jewish community havetaken against the State of Israel’s attempts to appropriate their identity and legacy for its own political ends.

Born in Berlin, Hanna was taken to Israel by her parents in the 1930s to escape Nazi Germany (one of her grandmothers eventually died in the Terezin – Theresienstadt – death camp). She became a member of the Haganah, the Israeli armed forces who overran Palestine in 1948 and established the State of Israel. Disillusioned by Israel, Hanna came to the UK in 1958 and her political journey took her, by the 1980s, to active Palestine solidarity work.

I had the privilege of working alongside Hanna when we both joined the Christmas 2001 ISM call for internationals to come to the West Bank, then a year into the Second Intifada. I remember her as a dainty woman, always immaculately dressed and wearing neat little boots and perfect lipstick even when the rest of us seemed to have managed to get covered in mud and clay from digging out roadblocks. Then in her mid-70s, she always did an fantastic job of diverting Israeli soldiers when they tried to harass Palestinian villagers and their ISM supporters; the soldiers never seemed to know quite what to do with this tidy little woman who could well have been their grandmother and who told them Yiddish jokes about Polish people and herring. She had, I seem to remember, a wickedly dry sense of humour.

Hanna’s death comes close on the heels of the publication of her autobiography, Weeds Don’t Perish: Memoirs of a Defiant Old Woman, by Garnet Publishing.