The essence of Rizzo’s defence of Atzmon is as follows. Paul Eisen’s “The Holocaust Wars”, say Rizzo, might not be a work of holocaust denial: she doesn’t know, it hasn’t been established. In any case, to encourage debate about the theories of holocaust deniers is a wholly neutral and unremarkable activity. Those opposing the invitation to Atzmon are like Stalin. And so on.
The substance of Elf’s gripe is that in supporting Atzmon, Rizzo paints a sanitised picture of his statements, beliefs and conduct.
Helpfully, Rizzo turned up in Elf’s comment pages to defend Atzmon and to expound further her theory that the ideas of racists and conspiracy theorists should be engaged with because “I agree with Eisen and Shamir on things, just as I disagree with them on others“.
The discussion, which is worth reading in full, quickly becomes a debate about the nature of “Revisionist” history. Rizzo produces a strong defence of historical “revisionism” in relation to the holocaust. The readers of Elf’s blog are incredulous. They give her the benefit of the doubt, at first: perhaps she is unaware of the connotations of that phrase, and the nature of holocaust revisionist arguments. They explain slowly and carefully to her that “Revisionism” is a code word for a particular school of racist holocaust denial.
No, not at all, she’s not at all confused:
“I have repeated that a paper on Historical Revisionism of the Holocaust is permissable in discourse and debate and should not be considered a priori to be excluded.”
“Why do you have a problem with critical historical revision? It is the essence of Historical study, as our Ilan Pappe demonstrates… Or is it just historical Re-Vision that of the Holocaust that bothers you, and if so, you should ask yourself why that sacred cow and not Israel.”
I’d also recommend reading Rizzo’s recent interview with Atzmon which provides a number of interesting insights into both her and her subject. Here’s a choice bit:
MR: Can Israel somehow redeem itself if it throws off Zionism? Or is redemption a Christian concept that is not transferable to a State founded upon Jewish principles?
GA: I think that you answered yourself.
As two footnotes to this:
– from Rizzo’s Counterpunch article, we learn from Rizzo’s article that Atzmon will not simply be tooting his sax, but will also “make a presentation of some sort, the title advertised as being “Beauty Against Zionism”.
– Secondly – and fascinatingly – Paul Eisen appears to have been banned by the SWP from Gilad Atzmon’s “Bookmarks” speech. I’m sure Eisen wanted to do no more than participate in open debate; and those Stalinists censored him!