Not a headline you'd expect to see here, since Tony Greenstein has spent much of his energy, for many years, on denouncing and traducing the AWL because we support the right to self-determination for Israeli Jews as well as for the Palestinians. But read on.
Greenstein has been the most high-pitched and abusive of those who say that when AWL argues against left anti-semitism, we are just belabouring an invented straw man, and de facto helping the ruling circles in Israel.
Well, now Greenstein himself - a vehement supporter of boycotting Israel, etc. etc. - has fallen foul of people on the left who take even further the idea that Israel is a nation so bad that it cannot be allowed to continue to exist.
He has been banned from the left-wing Internet network Indymedia for protesting - obstreperously, to be sure, but that is the right way to protest in such cases - at Indymedia carrying anti-semitic comments from ex-Israeli musician and SWP associate Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon has written such things as: "We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously... American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' are an authentic document or a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy..."
But Atzmon continues to post on Indymedia, and his obstreperous critic is banned.
"Indymedia capitulates to the anti-semites and the holocaust deniers", writes Greenstein, aptly.
He also manages to blame "the Zionists" for this... "Zionists have for so long attacked supporters of the Palestinians and anti-Zionists as anti-Semitic, that now that the real anti-Semites are coming out of the woodwork, the IM Collective, and to be fair not only them, have difficulty in telling the difference between the genuine article and the person that the Zionists have defamed".
In fact real anti-Semitism has been "out of the woodwork", and poisoning the left, primarily through the old Communist Parties, for a long time.
Protest to any Indymedia activists you know! And draw the lesson that left anti-semitism is not a "straw man".
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The "blogosphere" is, of course, all agog at this. I can't claim to have an overview of what's been written. But this caught my eye, from Ian Donovan (formerly one of the Weekly Worker's main writers, now a prominent figure in Galloway's Respect Renewal).
Donovan takes strong objection to this remark, by Andy Newman: "Yes we wish to split the Palestinian solidarity movement, because we want to exclude neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, holocaust deniers, and those who defend them".
"Does this include Hamas supporters?", asks Donovan. "Since Hamas has a explicit positive reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their charter, I don’t see how you can avoid this kind of conclusion. If you want to be consistent. Unfortunately, Hamas are also the legitimate, elected leadership of the Palestinians.
"If you wish to exclude all those who are sympathetic to Hamas, or who ‘defend’ them from the Palestinian solidarity movement, you will have a ‘Palestinian solidarity movement’ that excludes many if not most Palestinians. Not only would it exclude Hamas supporters. It would also exclude the many non-Hamas Palestinians who would interpret an attempt to exclude Hamas supporters as an attack on the right of the Palestinian people to choose their own leaders and representatives.
"This is very unwise. If you want to be in a ‘Palestinian solidarity’ movement acceptable to the likes of Goodwin Sands and David T, but unacceptable to most Palestinians, then go for it. Because that is what would be the result of such a split. Or is it not Hamas supporters you object to, but simply that Jewish fringe that flirts with some of their rhetoric? If that is the case, then why the inconsistency?"
I've never seen the argument put so baldly that international activity in solidarity with the Palestinians should (in effect) let its tone be set by Hamas. But when you see the argument stated that baldly, doesn't it make a case for a different sort of Palestine solidarity activity, one that starts from internationalist and democratic principle and not from an alleged need to accommodate "neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, holocaust deniers, and those who defend them"?
We're not talking mass murderers or totalitarian dictators here! Indymedia's attack on Tony Greenstein's criticism of Gilad Atzmon is an attack on all criticism of Gilad Atzmon. Besides, what Tony Greenstein says about Gilad Atzmon is true.