13 December 2011

Mary Rizzo & Gilad Atzmon - the Falling Out

Mary Rizzo on Gilad Atzmon

There has been much speculation as to why the alliance between Gilad Atzmon and Mary Rizzo broke up. The truth appears to now be out, it was entirely person!

Well they say the political is personal but I’ve yet to see any major political differences emerge although clearly there is one crucial distinction. Despite the fact that she ends up in a political marriage with racists like Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon, Mary Rizzo – who used to run the PeacePalestine site and then the Palestine Think Tank, undoubtedly supports the Palestinians. With Gilad Atzmon, everything takes second place to his ego.

For example, following an exchange with Atzmon on 30th July this year I wrote at one stage:
yes you're more popular than the Palestinians. Who knows. Maybe that's the way to victory! Quite what they've done to deserve your 'support' is another question.’ to which Atzmon replied, without a trace of his normal ‘humour’ that ‘It is indeed a matter of concern i agree,,, ‘

Mary Rizzo went to the lengths of the earth to court Atzmon. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him. However it couldn’t last. Atzmon’s ego was too big even for Mary and it would appear that Atzmon took full advantage of her hero worship and bullied her until she finally upped and left.

The piece below is interesting for the light it shines on Atzmon’s behaviour to his followers behind the scenes: It also suggests that Atzmon is keeping company with an Israeli ‘informant’. As well as casting a not very favourable light on Atzmon’s ‘borrowings’ – such as that rumoured from Mahmoud Darwish, to whom he was allegedly haggling over royalties. The Tony Ms Rizzo is replying to is not myself!

Tony Greenstein

Author: Mary Rizzo

Tony, there is so much JUNK in your comment, I wouldn't know where to begin. I will state a couple of things though that might help you out of your confusion. I used to be very close to Atzmon, but our friendship ended due to personality conflicts (I hate bossy people who at 9 am tell you one thing and at 9.30 are bitching at you because you haven't done the opposite of what they wanted... I can't keep up with that kind of personality. He was once a very funny and amiable person, but when he gets irritable, he is too unpleasant and life is short enough without people bossing you around. I wanted out and I especially wanted to be far away from a person who hung out with a person who was a known informant, though he insisted it could not be true, but I'd trust a Palestinian from Palestine before I would an Israeli from Israel any day of the week.) I also have avoided writing about him entirely, though folks have asked and asked and a lot of interesting stories have arisen out of people's speculation! However, I have read about 3 pieces by him in the past year, so I don't know what he's saying or writing these days. I can't imagine it's that much different! I can only say one thing; I ran accidentally into a comment of his that made me laugh out loud at how he views his "departure" from this site, and sooner or later, hope he will come to terms with the truth and facts, though it seems all of that is a variable in a lot of activists' worlds.

1) I don't think Gilad is Hungarian. He may or may not be related to the Atzmon you name, but he IS related to Tzipi Livni, which he openly states. He also is NO refugee (!!!!) in London. He went there for his career, liked it and stayed, like many Israelis do. He owns a lot of property there, is doing very well, so refugee is seriously the most mistaken word you can choose. I doubt he has anything at all to do with too many persons who will not benefit his career which is his priority. He also is very interested in his image as "a radical figure", so he does tend to repeat the same points he has for many years, as he can add on a handful at a time of new fans who had not yet heard the message in the first place. As to burning down synagogues, that one is an old line that actually has been placed firmly in context I don't know HOW many times in the past... he is no threat to Jews whatsoever. Indeed, he is judeocentric and always keeps Jews in the centre of the discourse as if they are the most interesting and important people on the planet. It gets tired quick, it just took me longer to get bored with the focus on them, since I realise they are not as important as he wishes to make them out (this is part of the whole "I am special" thing... it would take a shrink to really define it all correctly, or someone with a lot of time on their hands. To the rest of us, it gets a bit redundant!)

2) I don't think he writes for Veteran's Today. Like all the sites that publish him, he sends out a copy to everyone on his mailing list and some insert them all and also credit him as editor or contributor. He only puts stuff (or has someone put it for him) on his personal site. He was at one time an extremely close friend and also a co-founder of this site and editor/contributor. This means, after discussing his ideas and the news for a while each day on the phone with me, he'd then write a version of it which I would clean up and edit. If my changes were acceptable, he'd say, good. I'd find artwork, fact check, link test, etc., format it, give it a title, set it up, circulate it, get it sent for translation, then it would go elsewhere. He does not ever like to credit things that people give to him, (he thinks he deserves it, I suppose) and I even saw him once claim credit for the name of his spoof band, The Promised Band, which I thought of, and he did not even blush when people were complimenting him at how clever that was. It seems he tends to take a lot of stuff and then assimilate it and believe it actually is his own invention. He's a good musician, at times can be funny, but let's say, sometimes his best lines come from other people....

At a certain point, I stopped wanting to do all that free work for various reasons, which you can maybe begin to understand..., and Haitham and I asked him to be more cooperative with the group effort or leave. He has been saying he left due to lack of shared political ideas, but that's bunk. It was that he didn't want to accept the 3 tiny conditions we gave because I was fed up with his constant bitching: 1) find someone else to do the actual editing work, since I had no time or interest for it anymore, at least in the short term, as I was physically ill, 2) circulate once a month any article by anyone except himself, 3) stop insulting people on comments because as the person moderating them, I could not accept his name calling of commenters and block others from doing the same to him. He said (even though a normal editor would actually realise these conditions were the bare minimum to cooperate with other busy people who also wanted to focus on their own writing and promoting some more writers and translate more Palestinian writers) "I don't take conditions!" so, we dropped him. We later "hid" his articles and kept them stored in archives along with all the comments because he started to publish them without crediting PTT, which we told him was not correct and could not be accepted. So, that is the Gilad Story with PTT.

As an Israeli, he has a right to invent his own narrative like "he left due to the political differences", as actually, this site has always been the same and it's pretty clear to anyone who does not have a weird agenda: ie., it's Patriotic to Palestinen, Arab Nationalist, accepts the primacy of the Palestinian voice, critical of anyone in activism who is making their work "the Solidarity Industry" (making money or fame off of the misery of another people), intolerant of gatekeepers, respectful of the diversity of Palestinian society, (secular, religious, socialist, whatever, it does not matter one iota, as long as the persons support and seek the full ROR and liberation from zionist occupation, they will have space to be heard here and to have their thoughts freely expressed and discussed, no matter how critical of any other faction or party. Palestinian society is diverse and varied, and this is how it will remain. Discussion and dissent is encouraged at all times, not gatekept or punished.

Discussion on a site like this allows anyone to freely hold any particular religious belief, because it doesn't matter what someone believes unless they use it as a wedge to divide. Gilad himself started telling me it was fine to have religious people express, but I should "shut up" on my own views, since in his mind it would drive Palestinians away if they were not getting the lip service about Islam, also culminating in him promoting some "Muslim scholar" also famous for pimping the Iraq war!! That was unacceptable, though we allowed it... PTT was not gatekeeping one of its editors.

But PTT can't support admitting any kind of intolerance to people's beliefs. I respect those who believe, just as I expect those who believe to respect my own beliefs! Any gatekeeping of that kind is not acceptable and this was also a position shared by my contacts who are actually DOING resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. They saw the whole thing as his sucking up and asked me what that was about. I could only shrug my shoulders. I only hope he has grown out of his drive to feed a culture clash since nobody but the neocons and the fanatics want it. He invented the narrative that he left and asked us to remove his content. well, "If it makes you happy, Gilad! say what you want. We know the truth and so do you!" <we have all the emails>

3) VT is an odd combination of people, let me just say that. Some are ok, they seem ok, others I have no idea about. They are American Patriots, so what they print will reflect that, obviously. If they are now busy slamming Wikileaks, I don't know what to say.. I haven't seen any evidence, just speculation, but I don't read that site, I find it pretty useless and repetitive. Some writers there, though, I've had some good discussions with and consider as friendly acquaintances. My personal radar though happened about a year ago, long before they started to attack me -if they are, I actually haven't checked, and if Salem News attacks me, I laugh. They have published some junk pieces that can line a litter box for how full they are of bad (and I mean BAD) journalism, with zero due diligence, zero fact checking (even a title they had to change because they don't check a basic fact... That the editor gets angry when I mention he was embedded, says it all.. HE is the guy who admits it, it's evidently fine with him). But VT has Jeff Gates (who also contributes here... but I am reading his stuff with a fine tooth comb these days) who actually had endorse his book that looked like it came out of the Republican Party Economic Plan no less that Amitai Etzioni. So, if a person writes a book on the Jewish lobby and has Etzioni pimp his previous book, can I rightly assume he really is as up to scratch on the lobby as he wants us to believe? I dunno... maybe he is? All I can say is, my antennae went up a few notches.

4) the word Goyim is used by Jews to mean "non-Jews"... I don't understand your fit you are having over it.

5) I have decided, there is no such thing as an ex-mil who is REALLY ex. Some have an agenda, I am still trying to figure out what it is. I do know that every single one of them KNOW things they dare not actually state, such as what daddy does for a living and how this impacts REALLY the Palestinians. Things like that I hope one day they can really look in the mirror and say... I should have done what my heart prevented me from doing, but I didn't... family and tribe came first. I hope I can be forgiven for being such a fake.

but I don't count on it.

Just like I don't believe any real narcissist has a grasp on how others do see him, and that is what makes it actually rather funny.


  1. this is from Austin Indymedia (click on the title, it links to it) http://austin.indymedia.org/article/2011/09/02/wtc911logan-airport-bostonveteranstoday-agent-provocateurs-gilad-atzmongordon-duf

    It has the ring of truth about it, at least that's the opinion of your Swiss contributor!!

  2. It has the ring of truth about it
    Well that's an intellectual argument...........

  3. did I say 'the ring of truth' was an intellectual judgment? Sometimes you use your instincts!

  4. Is the "Muslim scholar" Hussein Ibish? I remember Atzmon touting him at PTT whilst arguing with someone called Louis, who I think was Louis Proyect.

  5. No it's definitely not Hussein Ibish, who is a right-wing American Arab who Atzmon may have touted but the feeling was not reciprocated!

  6. Hi,
    Yg, it is nice to have a palestinian related discussion run Only by individuals o jewish origins. I really believe that you should concentrate your efforts working with the jewish community. And let the palestinians do whatever they have to do.In 40 years of militancy in the revolutionary left I never had to make such a comment. but the constant bickering between you,atzmon, rizzo is not usefuk,
    I am sure you'll go on with your Azmon obsession,Gilad'll also cultivate his big ego and Rizzo,the palestinian "mother" find new frinds and new enemesis.
    Oh man

  7. Just to put in my tuppence worth Tony.

    As you say, this does have the ring of truth about it regarding the parasitic antics of Atzmon - and Mary Rizzo always puts the interests of Palestinians first above all else. No-one can doubt her commitment.

    She had a great wee blog at Peace Palestine until Aztmon swanned along with his insufferable, suffocating ego spouting racist guff about Jews and gatekeeping.

  8. I haven't seen PTT or Peace Palestine for a long time but they are still problematic with or without Atzmon. Mary Rizzo stuck her neck out for Atzmon when she knew he was lying and pinching other people's ideas, even stupid ones.

    I'm sure it was her who drafted the "Palestinians are the priority" petition which was basically a barely concealed demand to support Atzmon and Shamir's agenda. She also promoted the subsequent petition that seemed to suggest that she and Atzmon were the Palestinians' priority.

    Funnily enough, in his book, Atzmon credits Mary with having thought up the title "Wandering Who". I am guessing he has done this as a kind of double bluff over his taking credit for "The Promised Band", which was a much better title, less clunky than the book title.

    Apart from his book being a restatement of classical antisemitism with a couple of obfuscating word changes here or there, there are clear instances of Atzmon pinching ideas from other sources. "An antisemite is someone the Jews hate" is taken from the Adelaide Institute as is the idea that semitic only relates to language which, of course, ignores the pseudo-scientific notion of a link between race and language.

    I don't remember where Mary Rizzo stood on PTT when Haitham Sabbah was supporting the Mubarak regime over the Gaza march but I think I would remember if she criticised Haitham.

  9. Well Palestine Sinktank has been well and truly sunk. Basically Atzmon stopped subsidising it and Mary couldn't be bothered to waste time on it anymore.

    Peace Palestine hasn't been updated in over 3 years.

    As far as I'm aware, Rizzo said nothing about Haitham Sabbah's support for Mubarak though I think reading between the lines of comments at the time, she wasn't happy with his stance but swallowed it.

    Well semitic does only refer to language. Jews and Arabs are mere untermenschen. Atzmon's book is badly written and strong on the assertion of the absurd but not much else. He presses all the anti-Semitic buttons - Jewish capitalists financed the Bolshevik revolution (he missed the one about Jews being responsible for the slave trade) but it's all derivative and incoherent in parts.

    The wonder is that Profs. Mearsheimer and Falm endorsed it which is a savage indictment of the standards of academia in the USA. Atzmon himself is a failed Philosophy graduate.

  10. Semitic does not only refer to language. Historically there was a belief in there being Semitic, Hamitic and Jephatic races derived from the sons of Noah. Grafted on to that idea was the idea that such people spoke languages linked to their race. As the pseudo-science of race receded the idea of semitic lanaguages and cultures remained.

  11. Mark, I'm sure that historically what you say is correct. But today Semitic only refers to language given, as you say, that the false doctrine of race has been abandoned by all except the truly fruity!


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