Oliver Kamm had a post up earlier this week about the disturbed “ex-Jew”, Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon has been quoted approvingly by such luminaries as the Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, Southampton University Law lecturer, Oren Ben Dor, and the New Statesman journalist, John Pilger. He was applauded at the Times Literary Festival. For some time he toured Britain with the Socialist Workers Party, which angrily denied that he was an antisemite, even when their comrade Michael Rosen explained what the problem was.
Oliver’s links to a piece by Atzmon entitled “Truth, History and Integrity: Questioning the Holocaust Religion”. He says of this article:
His most recent remarks take him to an explicit conclusion that he has long merely implied
The piece contains stuff like this:
65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should reclaim our history and ask why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask for what purpose do the holocaust denial laws serve? What is the holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionists and their Neocons agents’ plots…
Holocaust religion robs humanity of its humanism. For the sake of peace and future generations, the holocaust must be stripped of its exceptional status immediately. It must be subjected to thorough historical scrutiny. Truth and truth seeking is an elementary human experience. It must prevail.
In response, perhaps, to Oliver Kamm’s article, Atzmon has written a pretty remarkable piece: “Judea Declares War On Obama“. Most of you will get the reference. I recommend that you read the piece in full, but here’s a taster:
Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.
Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.
Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In fact the only Jewish enclave that is willing to admit the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry, is the anti Zionist Jewish Orthodox sect known as the Torah Jews.
Atzmon has been peddling this stuff for years. It was obvious to everybody – us, Kammo, Rosen, Workers’ Liberty, even poor old Tony Greenstein – from the start. The only people who adopted Nelsonian blindness to the nature of the alliances they were making, were the good old Socialist Workers Party.
Back in 2007, when Michael Rosen raised concerns about Gilad Atzmon’s far Right rhetoric, he was told to hop off. Lindsay German explained:
While it’s a mistake not to recognise racism in any form, it’s at least as big a mistake to fail to understand the main form of racism at any particular time.
Let’s not make any of these mistakes.
A few months later, Atzmon played the SWP’s Marxism 2007, again. The Party had chosen its preferred Jew.
Let us not forget that the Socialist Workers Party – which hosted and championed Atzmon – also co-runs Unite Against Fascism. And let us also not forget that Lindsay German is touting herself about as an expert for hire, through her new “Counterfire” project, through which a woman who couldn’t recognise a fascist at her own party’s conference now hopes to earn a crust by offering her “expertise on major socio-political themes and events including … anti-fascism”.
The SWP has now removed the article defending Gilad Atzmon from its archives. But here it is.
Gilad Atzmon and Marxism 2005
There has been some controversy surrounding our invitation for the musician Gilad Atzmon to perform at Marxism 2005. One or two small groups are claiming that Gilad is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. We would like to state the following:
- Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli born Jew who served in the Israeli Defence Force and who now lives in “self-exile” in Britain.
- He is an internationally acclaimed jazz musician whose album Exile won BBC Best Jazz Album of 2003.
The SWP would also like to make it clear, that we would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations like the National Front and the British National Party. We played a prominent role in setting up the Anti Nazi League in the mid-1970s and Unite Against Fascism two years ago.
One of our members, Blair Peach, was killed on an anti-fascist demonstration in west London in 1979. Our founding member, Tony Cliff, was Jewish and, like many of his generation, lost many members of his family in the Holocaust. Nazis in the British National Party and National Front have targeted our members for attack. In the last three weeks we have helped initiate two vigils in response to anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish cemeteries in Manchester and east London. Across the country our members are involved in campaigns to defend asylum seekers, oppose police brutality and defend communities from scapegoating.
We have a record of opposing fascism, anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, that is second to none.
The SWP does not believe that Gilad Atzmon is a Holocaust denier or racist. However, while defending Gilad’s right to play and speak on public platforms that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. We think that some of the formulations on his website might encourage his readers to feel that he is blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti Zionism. In fact we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with.
We do not believe that Gilad should be “banned” from performing or speaking. “No Platform” is a principle that the left has always reserved for fascists and organised racists. Where other disagreements occur, the left, with the same vigour, has defended the right to freedom of speech, debate and the clash of ideas.
Statement from Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon has made the following statement refuting the allegations:
This is to confirm that I am not a Holocaust denier, I have never denied the Nazi Judeocide and I do not have any intentions to do so. For me racism and Nazism are categorically wrong and it is that very realisation that made me into a devoted opponent of Israel and Zionism.
For me, Zionism, being a racist expansionist movement, is no different from Nazi ideology. In my writings, I try to suggest some alternative philosophical and ethical realisation of historical narratives and current world affairs. This of course applies to the Holocaust. I would argue that atrocities should be realised in ideological terms rather than in measurable positive terms.
Occasionally I question the impact of the Holocaust as a “means of justification”. I try to scrutinise its role within western politics and discourse. In fact, I am not interested in the debate concerning the scale of Jewish casualties. As we all know, it wasn’t only Jews who died in that bloody war and it isn’t the number that makes the difference.
For me the Holocaust isn’t a question of quantity but rather a moral lesson, it is search into the essence of being amongst others. These ideas make me very unpopular among Zionists and their supporters.
I may mention as well that I am a jazz musician and a novelist. I am not a politician; I have never been a member in any political party. I am acting independently. I am not associated with any political body and I do not intend to be associated with one in the foreseen future. I deeply believe in an open intellectual exchange in which people with many different and opposing views can hear and be heard. I do believe that we must learn to listen to our opponents. Unless we do that we will never win. I would argue that any form of discourse is acceptable as long as it doesn’t bridge the elementary ethical barrier i.e. endorsing violence and discrimination.
Those who try to stop me from appearing in Marxism 2005 next month and Bookmarks later this week are in fact reactionary forces who aim to shatter the most intrinsic notion of intellectual life. They fight against freedom of speech, freedom of interpretation and ideological diversity. They are trying to forcefully implant their obscure views in the very core of British left discourse.
It is devastating to find out that those calls are expressed under the banner of British Jewish left (Anti Zionist Jews, JPUK etc). I would rather prefer to believe that, after such a long history of Jewish suffering, left Jews would position themselves at the forefront of the battle against discrimination and defamation. No doubt many Jews do and I am very thankful for that.
I use this opportunity to call my opponents to attend the coming events and to engage themselves in a fruitful dialogue with me and everybody else.
Peace, Gilad Atzmon
A tiny footnote. At the time of his death, Blair Peach was not a member in full standing of the SWP. They had suspended him.