statement defending the invitation to Gilad Atzmon to speak at Bookmarks
on Friday 17th June 2005 is self-serving and hypocritical. No admission
of anything wrong, no acceptance that in hindsight that it might have
all been handled differently. Instead there is a parody of what
not even refer to the picket of Bookmarks last Friday at which some
30-35 people picketed the shop in protest at the invitation
two small groups are claiming that Gilad is an anti-Semite and Holocaust
It is not
merely “One or two small groups”, but a large number of individuals,
many of them Jewish; the picket was called by Jews Against Zionism. We
did not claim that Atzmon is a holocaust denier, though his relationship
with Paul Eisen, a holocaust denier, is very close. In particular Gilad
Atzmon has distributed Eisen’s ‘Holocaust Wars’, which is a full-blooded
exposition of holocaust denial material and a tribute to notorious
neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel. Atzmon says he has only ‘slight differences’ with
group the SWP has mentioned has been the pro-Zionist Alliance for
Workers Liberty. We made it quite clear that we want nothing to do with
the AWL, who are equally incapable of distinguishing between
anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
claim that Atzmon is anti-Semitic. Do the leaders of the SWP not
consider the following quotes – from Atzmon’s article “On
Anti-Semitism”, which can be found on his web site – to be an
anti-Semitic and deeply reactionary outline of the world Jewish
must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to
control the world very seriously…. They (Zionists) are especially
annoyed when they are blamed for the death of Jesus…. … American Jewry
makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an
authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try
to control the world, by proxy… 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”.
a great jazz player, but this is hardly relevant. Nor is his self-exile
in Britain. No one doubts that Atzmon is supportive of the Palestinians;
the problem is the way he has chosen to express that support
politically. The fact that the SWP has a fine record of fighting fascism
and racism and that its founder, Tony Cliff, was Jewish is also
irrelevant. We are not accusing the SWP of anti-Semitism, but of
opportunism and turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic statements.
we made a demand for Atzmon to be ‘no platformed’. We are not quite as
unsubtle as the SWP is making out. We do not believe he is a fascist.
What we demanded was that a SOCIALIST organisation should not offer him
a platform. That is something quite different.
part of a group of people who, repelled by Israel’s racist treatment of
the Palestinians, have unfortunately reacted to the traditional
accusation that those who oppose Zionism and support the Palestinians
are anti-Semitic by saying, yes, if that is the case we are
anti-Semitic. This is a wrong-headed and deeply troubling response,
which cannot build the solidarity movement, nor contribute to the
struggle for Palestinian rights. Rather, it reinforces Israel’s
closely linked to the figure of Israel Shamir, who he has described as a
‘unique and advanced thinker’. Shamir is deeply anti-Semitic and racist,
and openly works with fascists and neo-Nazis. Shamir’s web site carries
his own articles, such as one defending the medieval Christian blood
libel. It also carries Eisen’s holocaust denial article and Atzmon’s
attack on Jewish anti-Zionists, “The Protocols of the Elders of London”.
expect the SWP to be in the forefront of those demanding that
anti-Semites and their supporters be marginalised within or excluded
from the Palestine Solidarity movement. Instead, they have managed to
end up as apologists for them. Putting out a self-serving statement that
obscures more than it reveals is dishonest and does not move the issue
on at all. Atzmon’s response to the statement says it all: “I would like
as well to thank the SWP for their support all the way through”.
needs to engage in some open and honest critical self-examination. The
SWP Central Committee are fooling themselves, and their membership, if
they think their statement will deceive anyone.