The SWP has forced its member, Esther Sassaman, to resign from the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
The Scottish PSC has made a bit of a name for itself of late:
– first by inviting the racist crank Gilad Atzmon to address them
– and then by touring around a performance of Jim Allen’s “Perdition” which is to be introduced by the amateur revisionist historian, Lenni Brenner. The performance is intended to “commemorate” Holocaust Memorial Day.
“Perdition” is a play which promotes a piece of old USSR propaganda: that the policy of the Zionist movement was to conspire with the Nazis to kill Jews. It is a theory which, for obvious reasons, has had an irresistable attraction to Holocaust revisionists on the extreme Left.
Well, the SWP appears to have had cold feet about being too closely associated with the Scottish PSC campaign to disseminate this lie. A reader has sent me this email from Esther Sassaman explaining why she now opposes the performance of Perdition.
15 January 2007
Dear SPSC Coordinating Committee,
This letter is my resignation from the positions that I hold in the Campaign, namely secretary of the Dundee branch and membership of the coordinating committee.
I do this with regret but with no rancor against the Campaign, and with every sincere hope that the Campaign’s essential work in raising awarenes of the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom continues.
I resign for two reasons. The first is that, after considerable confusion on my part, discussion with friends and comrades has convinced me that the argument posed by Barry Levine and Henry Maitles in their 6 January letter to Socialist Worker – that the focus during Holocaust Memorial Week should be the fight against fascism, particularly in the light of the Islamophobia- fueled growth of the BNP. I cannot in good conscience continue to serve as secretary for the Dundee SPSC branch or on the Coordinating Committee without fully supporting the campaigns and strategies of the organisation. You deserve a fully committed office holder who can promote your effords with confidence.
My qualms about the staging of Perdition during HMW are tactical. The Zionists have certainly controlled the discourse about Holocaust remembrance for many years, and have aggressively quashed the truth about Zionist collaboration with Nazis. It’s unrealistic, though, to think that we can re-open this discourse using events like the Perdition/Brenner tour without building a broad coalition to support them. When area trades union councils, progressive Jewish organisations, mosques and Islamic Societies, political parties and antiwar groups co-sponsor such an event, it will be able to effectively link the lies told by Zionists and the need to fight fascism. Until then, Zionists will be able to marginalise and isolate alternative narratives during HMW and will use such efforts to strengthen their control of the Holocaust discourse.
And this leads to my second reason for resigning: I believe that the occupation is intimately connected to the entire campaign of US-British imperialism in the Middle East that has gone on for many decades, and it is unlikely that the Palestinians will win a true end to the occupation, with a viable economy and nation and the right of return, without a victory of anti-imperialism in Iraq , Lebanon , Syria , Iran , and Afghanistan . I believe that by the vibrant united front built by groups like Stop the War, which features alliances between Muslims, the left, trade unionists, the old anti-war movement, and a growing number of ordinary Britons, are the best way for people in Britain to further anti-imperialists around the world. News of the Time to Go demonstration in Manchester this past September was receieved joyfully in Lebanon, Palestine , Iraq and all over the Middle East , and Stop the War activists who travelled in a Glasgow delegation to Lebanon were presented with medals by Hezbollah in thanks for their support of the resistance.
While I will continue to support the work of the SPSC, I would like to focus my time and resources on building Stop the War, the campaign against Islamophobia, and the broad campaign against imperialism. I pledge to emphasise Palestinian issues within this work, particularly as regards the boycott of Israeli goods and the academic boycott.
Finally, I freely acknowledge that I came to this decision after discussion with fellow activists in the US and the UK , particularly my comrades in the Socialist Workers Party. There is no shame in a decision taken with the advice and support of my comrades, who have freely shared their time and experience with me as I have learned about the movement in Scotland, and I know that many fellow activists will disagree with my decision in good conscience.
There was no pressure for me to resign, official or otherwise, from Party members or from anybody else, and I take full, and solo, responsibility for this decision. No personal rancor against any individual played any part in my decision, and I want to thank all of the activists in the Campaign who have worked with me with humour, patience and profound dedication to justice for Palestine and the world.
I am happy to pass the reservations I have recorded for Dundee ‘s Perdition on to Alan, Mick or anybody else along with 25 pounds in cash and cheques for tickets that I have received.
I wish the best to everyone and am happy to discuss my decision further with anyone by email.
I wonder why Esther is so keen to dismiss any suggestion that her decision to resign was the product of arm twisting by senior SWP commissars.
And don’t you just like the bit about “considerable confusion”? I didn’t know that the SWP went in for public self-criticism sessions.
Now all this is very odd. Why should the SWP back away from spreading racist lies which eminate from the far Left, while championing Gilad Atzmon: whose racist lies come from the far Right?
I expect the SWP’s action will puzzle both Jews Against Zionism types, who are enormous fans of Lenni Brenner and Perdition, and Gilad Atzmon, who is bound to see the SWP’s diktat to Esther Sassaman as yet another example of the success which “Professional Goy Critic Tribal Jewish Activists” have in acting as the “gatekeepers” who control Left wing organisations. Just like in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.
We’ll see how this story develops.