Taking on anti-Semitism

Submitted by AWL on 13 August, 2006 - 10:07

By David Broder

On 10 July, seven AWL members took part in a protest against the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon performing at the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) summer school, Marxism.

In articles Atzmon has said things such as "... we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously... American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy." The SWP has refused to condemn his politics.

Sure enough, after only a few minutes of leafleting at the event at which Atzmon was playing, we were ordered to leave the building by SWP national secretary Martin Smith - even though I had bought a ticket. He wasn't going to allow any criticism of the event.

When we asked him to discuss the content of our leaflet or the anti-semitic arguments on Gilad Atzmon's website, he retorted that AWL comrades were "fucking animals". He also denied that we had a right to hand out leaflets on the grounds that we were "fucking Zionist wankers".

This healthy level of political debate with SWP comrades was replicated in our arguments with Marxism stewards, who claimed that we were not even allowed to hand out leaflets on the pavement outside the building because they'd "paid for the venue." When we asked if they were concerned that a racist was playing at Marxism, they avoided political discussion entirely; apparently it "wasn't the time" to have that debate.

On the following day, I asked leading SWP member and prominent Respect candidate Lindsey German to talk to me about the controversy over Atzmon's appearance at Marxism. She simply said "no", and then ignored my questions about whether it was appropriate for Martin Smith to refer to young people as "wankers".

Given that, before the final rally of Marxism, Martin Smith was sat talking to fellow SWP leaders John Rees, German and Alex Callinicos at some length about the AWL intervention at Atzmon's performance, I saw an opportunity to finally get to talk to one of the SWP leadership clique about Atzmon. As I approached the group, Smith said "here's one of the wankers now", and John Rees ordered me to sit down. How they laughed.

It was good to see that, even if these middle-aged party bureaucrats have no politics, they can still get off on ordering a 16-year-old comrade about like one of their own lackeys. Luckily for me, not being an SWPer, I didn't have to do what he said.

The decision to invite Atzmon could not have been made if it were not for the fact that there is no democracy in the SWP - no debate about the issue took place, no criticism of the leadership was made. Rees, Smith, German and Callinicos just do whatever they like - it's clear that since they don't even have to explain their position on Atzmon to their members (let alone members of other revolutionary organisations), they haven't bothered to think up any justification for it.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/07/2005 - 12:10

Here are a few things you forgot to mention, comrade...

1: Atzmon is an Israeli Jew who served in the IDF, therefore it's a bit difficult to label him a racist/anti-semite. The fact you don't ever mention this is quite telling, almost as if the whole stunt was an attempt to disrupt the Marxism event which politicised a huge layer of cadre from the movement to Marxist politics. It's on the SWP website, it's not as if they shied from debate.

2: If you put even half the effort into campaigning against genuine racism, imperialism etc. as you do campaigning against the left you would be seen as slightly less of a joke.

3: I was at Marxism this year, and my (limited) impression was pretty different. I saw AWLers shrieking "fascist" and "racist" and "anti-semites" at SWP stewards, very aggressively, finger pointing, squaring up for a fight. Strange how that was omitted too.

If you turn up to an event just to disrupt it for your sectarian goal of destroying the rest of the left, then I think that's rather sad really. Perhaps you should try campaigning against... hmm.. capitalism?

The trouble is you are seen as an irritating force who follow increasingly imperialist policies and who oppose the rest of the left whenever you can. AWL members have been doing deals with the right in NUS to crush the left, calling themselves Zionists (do you people even understand the meaning??) and EVEN deny Islamophobia's existance! Why should anyone listen to you? If you see an AWLer at a meeting of the SWP/Respect/whatever you can expect an attack, you can expect lies to be told and you can expect that the result will damage an already fragmented left.

All in the interests of debate... really? Or is it in the interests of the ruling class? Sometimes I wonder where you're coming from. I won't accuse you of being MI5 because you'd be better organised if you were.

I think you should take a long look at your organisation, see what you want to achieve and how you can do that. If you think you'll grow from micro-sect to something bigger by destroying all leftwing opposition then that's a bit wacky.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/07/2005 - 15:07

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

(google it, mate).

There are loads of Third Positioners out there. Who gives a toss about them.

Its just that the SWP can't spot Third Positioners...

Actually, they can, because it is pretty clear that Atzmon thought he was going to give a talk at Marxism 2005

http://www.gilad.co.uk/html%20files/ziobritain.html

... but he didn't, did he?

I'm right about this.

Ooooh! Censorship!!! SWP Censors Brave Anti-Zionist etc etc

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/07/2005 - 15:30

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

To the anonymous poster above.. can you please explain why the following quotes taken from Atzmon's own web site are not signs of anti-semitism? Maybe you should look at your own party and do the credible thing and leave.

I could have picked more quotes, but I think the ones below more than suffice.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – Gilad Atzmon in his own words…

“This time it is America that is about to lose its sovereignty. Now, it looks as if Zionist lobbies control American foreign politics. After so many years of independence, the United States of America is becoming a remote colony of an apparently far greater state, the Jewish state.”

“American foreign policy is dictated by a very marginal group of Zionist activists, even by the state of Israel itself.”

“Zionist lobbies have managed to comprehensively dominate the major sources that control American public opinion: both in culture, in media and in finance.”

“It is very apparent that Israel enjoys full protection in the American media. The question to be asked is who is going to protect the Americans from their motherland Israel?”

“Nowadays, we are facing a major shift, it isn’t anymore Israel serving America but rather the other way around, the Americans are fighting the last pockets of Arab resistance to Zionism. I assume that it is just a question of time before the American people realise where their Zionists are leading them.”

“I think that America should stop putting the interests of the Israelis first, a sort of ‘Jewnited state of Jewmerica’, it better start being the United State of the American people, it may take some time.”

“The American Zionist takes this ideology one step further, telling the assimilated Jew: ‘You will never escape being who you are so why not be proud of it and work for us.’ These points help us understand the impact of Jewish political lobbies within the American administration. Moreover, they may give an explanation for the growth of Jewish espionage within America’s strategic centres and businesses.”

“In a very short time, Israeli people have developed a system of 'chosen people democracy' which allows them, the chosen people to dictate their worldview to those who are too weak.”

“It would appear that in the new Jewmerica dominated world, you are entitled to regard yourself as a humanist as long as you have enough nuclear weapons at your disposal to support your self-image.”

“Is the suggestion of conspiracy really an empty accusation?”

“Even though the Jews only make up 2.9 per cent of the country's population,
an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so.”

“we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously. It is beyond doubt that Zionists, the most radical, racist and nationalistic Jews around, have already managed to turn America into an Israeli mission force.”

“American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy.”

Holocaust Denial, revisionism and Nazi comparisons

“We are entitled to ask why the official Holocaust narrative is so widely promoted by different and opposing political institutions. Is it a result of highly sophisticated and orchestrated Jewish propaganda? I am not so sure anymore.”

“The acceptable Auschwitz narrative is basically a myth that is in place to support the American expansionist practice. The case of the Holocaust is a classic example. No one in the West is allowed to suspect the official Zionist narrative of the Holocaust”

“While every junior Second World War researcher realises that the official Zionist tale falls short of providing a comprehensive account of the complexity of the events, no one is allowed to suspect the Zionist tale in public….It would appear that Zionists have managed to prevent the West from accessing one of the most devastating chapters of Western history. The West, it seems, has willingly obeyed. “
“Accordingly, the Zionists realized from the very beginning that Nazi Germany presented a great opportunity for Zionism.”
“Sadly enough, we must admit that, at least tactically, the Zionists were proved right: the liquidation of European Jewry indeed generated great vsupport for the Zionist cause that led eventually to the establishment of the Jewish state. Nonetheless, if we do adopt this line of thinking, we must regard the Zionist leaders as partly responsible for the liquidation of European Jewry.”
“You can take from the Jew his religion, you can take away the chicken soup you can even put ‘sea fruit’ on his plate but once you take away the victim tendency, the Jew isn’t a Jew anymore. Once you lift the colossal threat of Hitler then the Jew becomes an ordinary boring being”
“Being a fundamentalist movement, Zionism is not categorically different from the Nazism”
“For years I have argued that Holocaust denial is not a particularly interesting subject…. the form of Holocaust denial that really bothers me is the denial of the on-going Palestinian Holocaust.”

“I would suggest that the Zionists promote the issue of Holocaust denial so as to spread heavy smoke in an attempt to hide their own atrocities. The Zionists are the ones to be blamed for committing a holocaust and being the first to deny it.”
“I will never forget my visit to Anzar, an Israeli concentration camp on the Lebanon soil.”
“It is widely known that thousands of young Israelis travel to Poland every year to visit different 'Shoah' tourist attractions. These journeys are sponsored by the Israeli government and many other Jewish organizations. One would expect that when those cheerful youngsters go on to join the Israeli army they would apply the moral lesson and feel some genuine compassion towards their Palestinian neighbors. However, though it becomes clear that they have learnt a lesson, it is unfortunately the wrong one: when in the occupied territories they behave very much like the vermacht. No wonder Israelis invest so much money in these 'educational trips'.”

“It is Jewish nationalistic ideology that introduced the idea of 'living space' and the expulsion of the indigenous years before Hitler was even born. Presumably,
if Nazism is regarded as an unacceptable form of nationalism, Zionism should be treated the same.”

Don’t forget the Jews Killed Jesus….

“I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus who, by the way, was himself a Palestinian Jew”

“This must explain why Zionists are so offended when they are blamed for the actions of Judas. They are offended because they are all Judases. Might I remind the reader that the Judases of today are armed with hundreds of nuclear weapons without being signed to any international control treaty.”

Other Disgusting and Offensive Comments

“Jewishness is a radical identity based on chosenness and supremacism.”

“peacefulness is a very non Jewish concept”

“Israelis proved that they have no respect for people's lives unless those people are Jewish.”

“The Zionist is there to provoke anti-Semitism”

“If there were no burned synagogues the Zionist would burn some himself”

“As funny as it may sound, the birth of the settler Jew, a radical messianic militant who plans to confiscate the entire ‘land of biblical Israel’, is an attempt to bring the Sabra back home. It is an effort to resolve the impossible schizophrenic Sabra identity. Like the Sabra, the settler walks in open sandals in the winter; like the Sabra he is slightly athletic and robustly built (until the age of twenty-two, when he grows a gigantic belly that stands as a symbol for good Jewish health). But then, unlike the Sabra, he has a skullcap on his head, his Tzizit falls out of his trousers and patches of hair cover his young face. He is far from being handsome. As a matter of fact he is pretty ugly. Needless to say, he fails to resemble a Wehrmacht soldier.”

“Marginal politics is in practice specialising in robbing its followers of their most basic human qualities. Zionism, being a radical form of marginal politics, should be seen as an anti-humanistic movement.”

“Israelis and Zionists aren't genuinely concerned about the injustices done against their people in the past; they are simply motivated by greed, by political enthusiasm or both.”

“Israelis and Zionists are very unusual creatures that do not follow any recognized human pattern of empathy, therefore we shouldn't expect them to feel any sensation of compassion or guilt regarding their own crimes against gentiles in general and Palestinian people in particular.”

“Israel is the only remaining example of a nationalistic state based on racial purity.”

“It is important to note again that Zionism is consciously enthusiastic about anti-Semitism. Here we face a vicious circle initiated by the Zionists: Israel deliberately commits inhuman crimes in order to initiate anti-Semitic acts that will supposedly lead Jews towards the realization that Zionism is the one and only solution for the 'Jewish problem'.”

“we must move forwards and ban Israelis from traveling (sic) to Europe unless they state their complete rejection of Zionism.”

“Zionism is a very singular political method aimed at perfecting the transformation of world disasters and human pain into Jewish gain.”

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/07/2005 - 21:43

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I am shocked by what I have read of Atzmon´s own words.
But I have a question. It happened to me that I came across with another guy who utters the same words and is called "Israel Shamir". He said he was Jew, that he lived in Jaffa, south of Tel Avov. Well, it turned out that he is no jew, and he worked for a russian antisemitic journal.
I wonder if it is not possible that Atzmon itself is not who HE TELLS he is.
Is there any confirmation from the IDF (Israel Defence Force) that he actually was a soldier? Is there any independent confirmation that he is a jew at all?

Thank you,
Fabián
Israel

Submitted by Mike Wood on Wed, 13/07/2005 - 17:15

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Whilst I can't comment on the events at Marxism and who's account is correct I can clear up one or two myths about the AWL that have crept into your argument. We do not deny the existence of Islamophobia - we just deny that we are Islamophobic for criticising radical Islamic politics. Also we did not ally with the right at NUS, to crush the left or to do anything else. We put forward independant working class politics against reactionary politics, whether they be put forward by FOSIS, UJS, Kat Fletcher + chums, or even the SWP.

We don't aim to destroy all left wing opposition to the ruling class, far from it. We aim to tell the truth to the working class in order to build working class politics into a political movement capable of making a bid for power. I could similarly ask you, as a Respect supporter, what you think your organisation is for. It certainly can't be to strengthen working class politics as at every turn workers politics have been buried in it in favour of cross-class alliances.

Also I don't get your point one. Bearing in mind the comments quoted in David's article from Atzmon himself how on earth are you able to claim he isn't an anti-semite? The fact that he's a Jew seems slightly irrelevant when you have concrete proof of his anti-semitic views sitting right there in front of you. Do you not think the idea that the Jews secretly control the world is anti-semitic? If not then I don't think it is "a bit difficult" to label him a racist at all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/07/2005 - 00:23

David,

Well done,

Jon Pike

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/07/2005 - 15:10

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

> Here are a few things you forgot to mention, comrade...

> 1: Atzmon is an Israeli Jew who served in the IDF, therefore it's a bit difficult to label him a racist/anti-semite.

We've mentioned this on our website numerous times, for instance here. But as others have pointed out above, how does this change the substantive facts about his politics?

> 2: If you put even half the effort into campaigning against genuine racism, imperialism etc. as you do campaigning against the left you would be seen as slightly less of a joke.

If you put even half the effort into opposing real anti-Muslim racism and supporting genuine Palestinian liberation that you put into promoting Islamist gangsters and anti-semitic right-wingers, you might be seen as Marxists rather than populist fuckwits.

> 3: I was at Marxism this year, and my (limited) impression was pretty different. I saw AWLers shrieking "fascist" and "racist" and "anti-semites" at SWP stewards, very aggressively, finger pointing, squaring up for a fight.

Comrades who were there can and should comment on this. My understanding is that one of our members went a little crazy, started shouting "fascist" and was asked to calm down by our other comrades. Even as you present it, however, their behaviour compares very well to the thuggery which has become common among SWP members - eg the shoving of CPGB comrades at Marxist 2003, or the beating up of AWL member Mark Sandell at Marxism '93.

> If you turn up to an event just to disrupt it for your sectarian goal of destroying the rest of the left, then I think that's rather sad really. Perhaps you should try campaigning against... hmm.. capitalism?

We had our own summerschool that weekend, so unfortunately our intervention in Marxism was limited to that one evening. Why the clash - because July has turned out to be a very busy month, what with the G8 protest, the Labour Representation Conference, the Tolpuddle festival and other events at which we're busy campaigning against. . .capitalism - and moreover doing it from a revolutionary-democratic working-class perspective and not a reactionary "anti-imperialist" one.

> The trouble is you are seen as an irritating force who follow increasingly imperialist policies

Please explain what you mean by this.

> AWL members have been doing deals with the right in NUS to crush the left

Please explain what you mean by this.

> calling themselves Zionists (do you people even understand the meaning??)

We don't call ourselves Zionists. But why do you call yourselves anti-Zionists specifically and above all else (ie as distinct from being generally against nationalism)? Is Zionism really so much worse than other forms of nationalism? "Zionists" includes everyone from Baruch Goldstein and Ariel Sharon to the refuseniks, so why do you use it as a badge of condemnation?

> and EVEN deny Islamophobia's existance!

What do you mean by Islamophobia? If you mean anti-Muslim racism, we certainly don't deny its existence. Eg see here.

Lastly, what lies have we told? Please list a few.

Sacha Ismail

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/08/2005 - 11:36

See this piece on Engage about the relationship between the new openly antisemitic anti-Zionists like Atzmon and Shamir and the more 'orthodox' anti-Zionist left like the SWP.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.