Gilad Atzmon boasts in this recent interview:
‘And this really means that my detractors are pretty much left in a hopeless situation — they do not posses the intellectual means to silence me or my criticism, so instead, they revert to smear campaigns: they label me an ‘anti Semite’, a ‘Neo Nazi’, a ‘racist’, and so on. Tragically enough for them, no one out side of the Jewish political circuit takes any of these empty accusations at all seriously anymore.’
The signatories, including my (non-Jewish) own, on this article ‘“Not Quite “Ordinary Human Beings” – Anti-Imperialism and the Anti-Humanist Rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon‘ which exposes how Atzmon’s views serve zionism and imperialism may not convince him they do not aim to silence him, as he claims, but to advance legitimate criticism of his faulty positions, or that at the least a substantial number of them come from ‘outside the Jewish political circuit’. Yet racist views have no place in solidarity struggles grounded in human rights and international law.
Apparently, Atzmon does fail to recognise the depth of his non-Jewish critics – and he throws a pathetic character assassination and woeful strawmen at As’ad AbuKhalil, who is one of the signatories, to conflate As’ad into his manufactured framework, despicably calling Professor AbuKhalil a collaborator – a term with dangerous connotations.
‘this is somebody that we should reject from the pro-Palestinian advocacy movement. He is anti-Jewish and his offensive language against Jews and Judaism should be categorically rejected. I would put the name of Israel Shamir in the same category. Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.’
Below, Palestinian Ali Abunimah critiques Atzmon’s “theories” presented at Stuttgart in 2010.
“I do not agree at all with how he characterised the situation and the problem. And I think to use the language which blames a particular culture – he was talking about Jewish culture – is wrong, because such arguments could be made about anyone – we could blame German culture for the history of Germany, we could blame British culture for the history of British imperialism, we could blame Afrikaaner culture for apartheid in South Africa and this really doesn’t explain anything at all. So I think we should not go in that direction, and should be very clear in condemning explanations which blame a culture or a religion for a political situation. So I wanted to make that very clear.”
Further, one only has to read @GiladAtzmon ‘s twitstream to note the paucity of his concern for Palestinians and their struggle. Nearly every tweet is self-promotional, at a time when Hanaa al-Shalabi is in her 16th day of hunger strike against Israeli arbitrary administrative detention without charge or trial.
Atzmon’s apoplectic response to the MrZine article proves its theses. For Atzmon, his critics are either Tribal Marxist Jews or if Arab, Collaborators.
The tweets below demonstrate the opportunistic white supremacism which bubbles and froths up to defend Atzmon from his critics – in this case, me – by calling me Jewish, zionist and a sayanim.
Professor AbuKhalil reiterates his position in a wryly named post “An Israeli soldier wants to lecture me about the crimes of Zionism”:
I never thought that I would live to a day when an Israeli who fought (or provided “medical work”) in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Yes, that kind of a guy is qualified to teach me about the crimes of Zionism, when I was at the receiving ends of his bombs and car bombs and shells in 1982. I wrote again and I will write it again: there is no room in the pro-Palestinian movement for anti-Semites–and I am not saying that they may even be Israeli infiltrators sent to sabotage and stigmatize the movement. I have declared Gilad Atzmon an anti-Semite (using the general word for anti-Jewishness). Go read some samples of his anti-Jewish statements on the entry on him at Wikipedia. I signed a petition against him and will sign more petitions against him, if asked. I don’t throw labels of racist or anti-Semitic lightly but the case against this former member of the Israeli armed terrorist forces is rather clear. Here, Atzmon thinks he can offer me lessons on anti-Zionism. He is as qualified as the Saudi King giving me lessons about feminism. He and others should get the message: the Palestinian cause is too just and too precious to be polluted by haters of any kind. Anti-Semites are never welcomed in our movement. The Zionist cause is your natural home.
More hyperbole from Atzmon defender, Dr June Terpstra, who impugns a variety of motives without evidence onto the MrZine letter’s signatories. Accusing Atzmon’s critics of censorship (apparently criticism these days in some academic circles is known as ‘silencing’ and ‘censorship’ – will there be a call for an end to peer review next?), she demonstrates her affiliation with Atzmon’s supremacist beliefs and adopts his deceptive acronym for his critics – the Atzmon Defamation League (not to be confused with the Anti-Defamation League):
The ADL is opposed fundamentally to freedom of speech concerning Jewish cultural, political and religious supremacy.
She accuses the signatories of being privileged – yet does not examine Atzmon’s privilege. Perhaps she might scan his self-promotional twitstream today for clues.
More Atzmon self-promotion on twitter:
Atzmon snookers himself while attempting to trash another signatory on the MrZine article, well-known, stolidly anti-racist activist and writer, Emma Rosenthal :
In the interchange above, Atzmon definitively affirms his stance that zionism isn’t colonialism. This view is shared by zionists. Both are wrong and minimise this heinous crime against humanity. The zionist colonisation of Palestine is a classic example of settler colonialism.
Atzmon is grateful to this anon blogger, who transparently vilifies Jews as a group, for his/her support. Atzmon doesn’t even make the distinction between Jews and Jewishness when it’s a distinction his supporters fail to make. He only uses it as a strawman to those who say he’s anti-Jewish. Atzmon likes the antisemitic drivel so much he republishes it on his blog.
The MrZine article is updated with new signatories on its own blog.
Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.
Palestinians have faced two centuries of orientalist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.
The statement concludes with these inspiring words:
The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.
As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.
When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.
Until liberation and return.
Atzmon responds to the Palestinian statement on WRMEA. He denies ziocolonialism and Israeli apartheid and suggests that his followers listen to him ‘with their hearts’. If only intellectual discourse was so easy!
Activist Emma Rosenthal comments on the content of his response:
No one is censoring Atzmon. All that people are saying (and by his own definitions -see his statement above) is that his positions are not consistent with a movement for universal human rights, an anti-apartheid anti-settler-colonialist movement. And given Atzmon’s dismissal of key palestinian activists and scholars, a movement for self determination either. There are plenty of venues and contexts for Atzmon’s ideas. A klan rally for one.
Jewish Voice for Peace releases a statement in support of the Palestinian disavowal of Atzmon.
We view his public political stances as anti-Jewish and counterproductive to the pursuit of justice. Atzmon has an extensive record of demonizing Jews as a people under the guise of Palestine solidarity. For these reasons,we cannot endorse events in which he takes part.
We deeply appreciate the statement put out today that re-affirms Palestinian activists’ principled stance against anti-Semitism.
A ludicrous article by Gordon Duff attempts to defend Atzmon, libelling Palestinian leaders. So who from military intelligence did the vetting of Atzmon at vt, and what was the vetting process?
And yet another Atzmon defender wades in to defend non-Palestinians. Siegel, the Palestinian struggle is led by Palestinians, not by you or Atzmon. The Palestinian struggle furthermore is not about Jewishness, Jewish culture or Judaeism.
Eisen moans about Ali Abunimah’s criticisms of Shamir and DYR. It’s like a nasty boil has been lanced and a lot of smelly pus is oozing out.
Weir wades in. She encourages people to go see Atzmon’s lectures. She quotes an unnamed “Palestinian activist” who ludicrously and tellingly accuses ‘Palestinian “academists / activists” of standing on the side of Israel and AIPAC’. The Palestinian letter is clearly written by more than 20 Palestinians and was published first on the USPCN website yet the reading comprehension of many of Atzmon’s defenders and Atzmon himself leaves much to be desired – they attack Ali Abunimah. Weir quotes Blankfort making the assumption that Ali Abunimah is responsible for the Palestinian letter:
I suspect whoever initiated the list, and it appears that it was Abumimah[sic], was pressed to do so by the Jewish left equivalent of the mainstream Jewish machers who pressure local black leaders to denounce Louis Farrakhan whenever he makes an appearance and has the audacity to speak out Jews and the slave trade which, like Zionist-Nazi collaboration, is a classic Left taboo.
Blankfort, shooting his mouth off further, then attacks Joseph Massad and Asad Abukhalil. Hey Blankfort, you didn’t waste any time in making this situation one for the exercise of your personal spite, did you? Weir fails to quote any Palestinians who support the disavowal of Atzmon’s ambit, so her position is made crystal clear by omission.
Weir founded If Americans Knew, “an organization to be directed by Americans without bias and ethnic ties to the region, who would research and actively disseminate accurate information to the American public.” [NB : The wording on Weir’s site changed in January 2013 – see note at the foot of this post *]
Do Palestinians need Americans to interpret their predicament and to disseminate ‘accurate’ information to the American public on their behalf? Palestinians get quite enough of the US delivering bombs and military aid for the benefit of the US ruling class. Imperialism takes many forms. Can an American directed organisation really claim to be without bias and ethnic ties to the region? Do Palestinians really have to be patronised like this, as if their situation has to be reframed to make it digestible and credible to the US public?
Well, we now see how the disdain for Palestinians lurks very close to the surface amongst those who protect their own self-interest, US empire and the exclusivity of white western people to determine the context and direction of the Palestinian people’s struggle. I hope there’s a rehabilitation centre for recovering white supremacists established – it will do a roaring trade. 🙂
Another miscreant – Debbie Menon, this time from the rightwing Catbird Seat blog, wrongly blames it all on Ali, and again wrongly assumes the Palestinian article is about Atzmon’s book. She attempts to spruik for said book, bludgeoning her readers with the fallacy from authority. Laughably, Menon also waxes furiously on behalf of her favourite western polemicists who she thinks are “uterly[sic] frustrated and penniless precisely due to the lack of any support from diaspora Paletinians[sic]”. How could these ungrateful Palestinians be so remiss as to leave these privileged folks in penury!
Sunny Singh comments on white privilege weeping from this issue:
“these strident Atzmon supporters insist that Palestinians/Arabs/Muslim/brown people live up to mythical ideological standards that they set for them. A sickening aspect here: Atzmon is seen as the prophetic voice who some how speaks for and about the Israel/Palestine situation. And yet his supporters replicate older colonialist ideals where the white man speaks for the native regardless of the native voice.”
Emma Rosenthal comments on Singh: “Singh unfortunately can’t see the similarities between Atzmon defenders and Atzmon. She is so offended by the zionist attacks, she can’t see that many of the people Atzmon attacks have been similarly targeted and how dangerous his behavior is to the movement.” I agree.
The erupted pustule continues to weep white ooze.
Out of all the vertiginous flailing strawman rants and blithers thus far in defence of Atzmon, This piece published on a blog on which Atzmon also posts, takes the cake. An avid supporter of Atzmon is willing to post a depraved poster from the notorious Elder of Ziyon site in order to attack Omar Barghouti and BDS. Laura Stuart, who tweets as @gazaboatconvoy seems to have lost the plot. This westerner has chosen to laud non-Palestinian leadership over the Palestinian struggle and the call by 200 Palestinian groups from civil society to boycott, divest and sanction apartheid Israel and has posted depraved zionist propaganda to do it. Their white supremacist narrative mirrors the corresponding zionist hasbara completely, even down to the two major hasbara memes “we feel silenced” and “this is dividing our community”. Like all bad smells, propaganda is better outed than in – noone is trying to silence Atzmon, merely to dissociate his odiferous positions from the principled human rights movement of BDS. Homework note to Laura – boycotts originated in Ireland.
This incident also highlights a phenomenon amongst a minority of solidarity activists who make the grand effort to attempt to break the blockade on Gaza and return feeling like they own the movement, not the Palestinians whom their original effort was directed toward assisting. Those folks who exploit these activists are also exploiting the struggle of Palestinian people.
More recent defensive rants include:
Israel Shamir’s homophobic, racist, libelous swill on Veterans Today. This is so bad that Debbie Menon, who previously published an ardent ode to Atzmon previously is stirred to challenge Shamir’s abuse.
Paul Woodward buys into the white supremacist conspiracy theory : The Campaign To Silence Gilad Atzmon
Some snips include:
“jews are not semites, definitely not”
“Anti-zionist zionists claim to oppose zionism but their actions are different” (he thereby allows attacks on all Jews as zionists whether they support zionism or oppose it). “Antizionists are not much different from zionists.”
“There’s a big difference between jewish marxists and marxists of jewish descent, american jews and americans of jewish descent.”
Atzmoan doesn’t ‘regard himself as a Jew anymore’ because he doesn’t want to be privileged in any discourse. Later he says ‘We are all Palestinians now.’ What sort of privilege is he assuming there?
Atzmon says “when we see the plunderous tendency of zionists to rob Palestinians, is it something invented or something we find in the Jewish heritage, the bible”. Yet it is zionis