Atzmon update

The panel discussion which I’ve written about here and here went ahead as scheduled – or rather, not as scheduled, for Westminster University cancelled the event, and two of the four original speakers dropped out.  Atzmon reports:

It was a tremendous success. Speaking to a full hall, Alan Hart, Karl Sabbagh, Sameh Habeeb and myself elaborated on the  meaning of ‘Jewishness’ and the essence of Zionism.

HP readers probably know a fair bit about Habeeb already. Here’s a telling quote from Atzmon’s recent post:

Sameh Habeeb, the founder of Palestine Telegraph told us yesterday that he is used to being approached by ‘kosher  anti Zionists’ who  preach to him who about who he should print and who is to be shunned and excluded.

Sabbagh is a journalist, and  the author of Palestine, here favourably reviewed by Adam Lebor. He seems at first glance to be in a different league from the other three panellists – but there are no reports of dissent at the panel debate.

Lauren Booth offers a predictably gushing report of the occasion, explaining how when Atzmon began ‘to look into the darker psychological recesses of the Israeli Jewish mindset, he went from darling to demon.’  Here’s another typical moment.

These reveal that 2010 saw a 46 percent drop in the number of violent incidents targeting Jews relative to 2009 — from 1,129 to 614. Clearly, attacks on Jewish property or persons in 2009 can be seen, not as actions related solely to followers of an Abrahamic faith. But, in response to the violence of Israeli Zionism; A frustrated backlash against a criminal, political movement. Such findings, instead of reassuring Jewish communities, act as an unsettling factor to the pro Israel lobby within them. For without Jewish victimhood, how can the human rights violations of the Jewish State be justified?

Does that mean Islamophobic attacks against British Muslims would be ok then, as ‘a frustrated backlash against a criminal, political movement’?

One point of discussion on blogs has been what, if anything, should have been done in response to Atzmon’s reconfigured panel.  My own feeling was that, once it was no longer to be held on university premises, and once two of the original panel members (at least one of whom didn’t seem to have been fully briefed on the nature of the event) had dropped out, no more need (should?) be done.  If the meeting didn’t break any laws then the only reason to demonstrate would have been to change people’s minds, and I suspect those who did attend weren’t going to do that in a hurry.    Yet Avi, commenting on Tony Greenstein’s blog, thought more should have been done.

However, I am very disappointed that you were unable to stop Atzmon. I am frankly too old to demonstrate and shout loudly, but I was in the area, and I was expecting a picket and a loud presence from your side and the Harry’s Place lot, who I know you don’t like, but I thought you were unified on the matter at least.

There is quite a blurred dividing line between ‘Zionists’ and ‘anti-zionists’ – both terms which are used to cover a huge range of opinions –  although because people tend to pick a camp and stick to it firmly, this isn’t always apparent.  I’ve had heated debates but also civil exchanges with ‘anti-zionists’ both in real and virtual environments.  So I would like to end by acknowledging that plenty of anti-zionists seem to like Atzmon no better than the average (anti-anti-)Zionist likes the EDL (associated with support for Israel), and by expressing disgust at the way Atzmon et al have attacked Jewish anti-zionists, both individually and as a group, however much most HP readers won’t see quite (or at all) eye to eye with them.  On his blog, Atzmon sneers at Jewish anti-zionists:

Is it that they are slightly more clever than the rest of us? Or is that they are just chosen — which sounds pretty Zionist to me.

I, on the other hand, belong to a group which is apparently completely off Atzmon’s radar:

Yet consider that not one single Palestinian and not one single Gentile joined the Jewish campaign against me, once again we witness a crude manifestation of Jewish exceptionalism.

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