Anti Fascism

Racist Cranks

Here are a couple of interesting discussions you might enjoy scrolling through.

First, of all, there’s been a fight between various left-wing anti-Zionists who – despite opposing the existence of the state of Israel – have had a run in with the racist polemicist and tease, Gilad Atzmon.

For an introduction to the latest controversy, read this short piece by Oliver Kamm on the “racist crank”, Gilad Atzmon. In short, Atzmon’s latest complaint is that he is being smeared by Jewish left wing anti-Zionists because he has dared to suggest that the evils of Zionism stem from a “fundamental or essential Jewish precept.”

The reason that Atzmon has been fussing is this. The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Committee invited Atzmon to speak. The Jewish Socialists’ Group sent them an open letter, which detailed Atzmon’s racism, and opposed the invitation on the basis that:

Atzmon’s outbursts have been a gift to Zionist journalists, providing them with an opportunity to discredit and smear those who support Palestinian rights and justice for the Palestinian people.

(The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, you’ll remember is also planning to stage the Jim Allen play, Perdition, which argues that the Zionist movement had a policy of collaborating with the Nazis. This is also supposed, apparently, to assist the Palestinians.)

The letter to the Scottish PSC has encouraged a number of prominent anti-Zionist jews to explain their opposition to Atzmon’s racism. Here’s Mark Elf:

There’s a long standing tradition on the left of not providing a platform for racists and Atzmon is a racist. He’s also a liar who has gone out of his way to attack and smear Jewish anti-zionists.

Mike Rosen says:

does he really, really think he is what he says he is ‘an ex-Jew’? This then takes us into the territory of ‘self-hate’. Oh yes. I used to subscribe to the view that the accusation of ‘self-hate’, (usually made towards anyone critical of Israel and/or any Jewish act) was just a way of deflecting that criticism and not taking it on board. However, Atzmon seems to me to be a genuine one-off. Everything he writes seems to suggest that he loathes all Jews, not just Zionists but somehow imagines that he escapes from this criticism (if it can be called that) because he backs the Palestinians. Silly billy. He’s just an angry Jew. And, yes, a raving nutter anti-semitic one at that. I think the JSG letter is good. No need to nitpick it. The guy should be a pariah round left meetings.

These two comments trigger an impressive defence of Atzmon by his groupies, who lambast Mark Elf and Mike Rosen for smearing Atzmon as a racist: a man whose only crime is to tell the truth. Somebody called Salam Afif complains:

We are tired of righteous Jews like you Mr. Elf a Jew who tries to tell us what our ’cause’ is.
You better accept it once and for all! The Palestinian Cause is about Palestine and not about you
Just go to your synagogues and leave us alone. We don’t need you and we can clearly see that all you want is splitting our movement.

A character called “yocheved”, who Mark Elf thinks is actually Atzmon himself, then appears to explain to poor Michael Rosen that his anti-Jewish wind-up, Artie Fishel, is actually aimed at Rosen:

nothing is wrong with your self loving, it is very Jewish of you. Atzmon’s artie fishel is all about you

The debate spirals downards. Even veteran racist, Paul Eisen, makes an appearance, and is taken to task by Mike Rosen and others.

Ultimately, Atzmon signs a post in his own name, in which he informs poor Mark Elf that:

You are now presented ‘as being a manifestation of Jewish exclusivity or supremacy on a par with the State of Israel’ on every left and pro Palestinian site around the world…Mark may I suggest that it is never too late, you can still join humanity. Chicken soup is not a political argument.

Atzmon lists the various zany websites which carry his articles, and boasts that they are “translated into French and Italian. German within 48 hrs”

Finally, a woman called Sarah Gillespie makes an appearance:

I am a friend of Gilad’s & my husband is a lawyer specializing in Publishing & Media defamation. I regret to inform you that he & Gilad have been in consultation regarding your libelous comments & the case against you is formidable. We are currently trying to ascertain what assets you might have – but so far have discovered nothing. Perhaps you would enlighten us? It may certainly save you money in the long term.

Read the two threads in full. They’re eye openers.

The other skirmish of the week has been the fight on CiF between New Generation Network activists and Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Islamists (and their supporters).

For a taste of the difference between the two camps, read this exchange between various CiF commentators and the prominent Islamist and RESPECT activist, Abdurahman Jafar. The article to which the discussion is attached is a piece by Maddy Bunting, in which she attempts to rubbish the New Generation Network. You can safely ignore that piece.

Abdurahman Jafar argues that the Islamist coalition with parts of the extreme Left follows an important precedent:

The Spanish civil war is an excellent example of how people around the world united to defeat a common enemy. It is also a struggle that disproportionately attracted Catholics around the world who felt a deep sense of brotherhood, or Ummah if you like, with their oppressed co-religionists.

It is pointed out to him that

(a) the Catholic Falangists were not exactly in coalition with socialists during the Spanish Civil War; and

(b) in any case, the Left lost the Spanish Civil War.

Undeterred by his ignorance, Jafar sets out another problem with the strategy of the New Generation Network.

I think there has to be a recognition that the British Sikh and Hindu establishments will be structurally resistant to the left …. Sikh’s, despite the noble teachings of their religion, have adopted a custom to never cut their hair until the last Musim on earth is dead (is that right?). These will be very very difficult attitudes to change.

Of course, that isn’t the reason that Sikhs wear turbans. A variety of commentators move quickly to squash that slur.

This isn’t the first racist lie that Abdurrahman Jafar has propagated. Earlier this year, he claimed in an article in Muslim Weekly that “Israel has been formulating and directing UK and US foreign policy”.

As usual, Sunny gets it in one:

This is the height of stupidity. Please try and get yourself a bit more about other people before you start slandering them en-masse. The growing of the hair has nothing to do with Muslims and the Sikh scriptures has writings by Sufi saints.

This is why, as I keep reiterating above – none of you folks can ever achieve community cohesion or help the left achieve it. Caught up in your own little bigoted worlds you’re only helping people segregate more.

I hope, if Madeleiene is reading this, she realises that the above point simply illustrates why the left is making a huge mistake. I don’t have a problem with faith: I have a problem with bigots.

I have a problem with bigots too.

Why does RESPECT champion and promote so many of them?

As Sunny puts it:

Such ignorant attitudes crop up frequently within faith-based minority organisations and for anti-prejudice campaigners to turn a blind eye is not only patronising but stems the growth of genuinely progressive movements.

Gene adds: And yet the SWP continues to advertise tonight’s event in Tower Hamlets:

Jazz, racism and resistance
Live music and spoken word with Gilad Atzmon and his band, George Galloway MP, Martin Smith