Newman on Atzmon and antisemitism

September 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm (anti-semitism, blogosphere, fascism, Jim D, Racism, SWP)

Regulars will know that I don’t have a very high opinion of Andy Newman and his bizarre semi-Stalinist blog ‘Socialist Unity.’ Indeed, for a considerable while Mr Newman banned me from even commenting at his site on the grounds that I’m a “racist” (I’d been rude about a contributor who happened to be non- white).

Nevertheless, Newman does have one thing in common with us at ‘Shiraz': unlike a lot of the so-called “left” he takes antisemitism seriously. He has, for instance, frequently denounced the holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist and neo-nazi Gilad Atzmon, a modestly-talented jazz saxophonist once lionized by the SWP. Unlike a lot of the “left” (especially in the Stalinist circles he now moves in), Newman does recognise that someone calling themselves an ‘anti-Zionist’ and proclaiming solidarity with the Palestinian cause, can still be an antisemite.

Newman has an article in today’s Graun (entitled “Root out this hate speech” in the print version but retitled “Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left” online),  that is quite good, though it tells you nothing you won’t have read many times here at ‘Shiraz.’ He once again calls out Atzmon for the antisemite he is, notes the SWP’s role (until relatively recently) in promoting him and Indymedia’s role in defending him. Newman also notes other examples of “left” antisemitism, like the US magazine Counterpunch defending unsubstantiated claims about Israeli organ-harvesting/smuggling (the old blood libel tricked out in a new garb), and closes by warning that:

“It is incumbent upon the left and the Palestinian solidarity movement to both be aware of the conscious efforts of far-right antisemites to infiltrate the movement, and to vigoruosly oppose and exclude antisemites. We would not hesitate to condemn racists, homophobes or sexists, and must be equally robust in opposing anti-Jewish hate-speech.”

Excellent sentiments and, I’ve no doubt, entirely sincere. But we do need to ask Andy Newman why it is that ‘Socialist Unity’ continues to carry pieces by someone who is quite clearly a “left” antisemite of precisely the kind denounced in the Graun article: one Mr John Wight.

NB: Newman’s Graun article is here; his follow-up posting at ‘Socialist Unity’ is here: both are worth looking at if only for the predictable comments apologising for “left” antisemitism and/or refusing believe it exists and/or if it does exist it isn’t a problem, etc, etc, etc…

32 Comments

  1. charliethechulo said,

    Statement on Atzmon by lefties on the ‘Zero Books’ roster:

    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/09/zero-authors-statement-on-gilad-atzmon.html

    Good to see our old pal Richard “Semour” Tombstone is publicising it; maybe he’ll get around, one day, to explaining the SWP’s role for many years, in promoting Atzmon and giving him a platform both as a musician and as a political speaker. Martin Smith (then Gen Sec or whatever of the SWP) also, as I recollect, put out a statement defending Atzmon from charges of anti-semitism.

  2. charliethechulo said,

    This may be the statement (2005), actually put out in the name of SWP’er Judith Orr of ‘Bookmarks’ but undoubtably reflecting the views of Smith and the rest of the SWP leadership at the time. Note that the defence of Atzmon is based entirely upon accepting his own (highly evasive) account of his politics, at face value!

    *********************************************************************************

    Bookmarks has a reputation as a socialist bookshop going back over 30 years,
    we have faced up to Nazi attacks both physical and legal and have been proud
    to have been part of the struggle against racism, fascism and anti-Semitism
    throughout that time. It has therefore been shocking and saddening for us to
    have been accused of giving a platform to a Holocaust denier by having
    musician Gilad Atzmon do an event in the shop.

    I want to make it absolutely clear that Bookmarks has never and would never
    give a platform to a racist or fascist or a Holocaust denier.

    When these accusations first appeared we talked to Gilad at length and Gilad
    has given us a statement which we reprint below. While we do not agree with
    all of Gilad’s ideas and statements, as is the case with many authors who
    come to speak here, we feel that none justify saying that he should not be
    allowed to come to the shop to talk about his book. The bookshop is a forum
    where many debates have taken place among people from very many different,
    or no, political traditions.
    Gilad was invited on the basis that he is an internationally acclaimed jazz
    musician whose album Exile won BBC Best Jazz Album of 2003. He is an Israeli
    born Jew who served in the Israeli Defence Force and who now lives in
    ‘self-exile’ in Britain and campaigns against racism and for the rights of
    the Palestinians. His visit to Bookmarks to read from and talk about his
    second novel, My One and Only One’ is part of a nationwide tour.
    *****************************************************************************

    Satement from Gilad Atzmon
    To whom it may concern

    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 was?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 amongst 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

  3. John Wight said,

    Jim Denham, you were banned from Socialist Unity because you are a racist. Of that there is no doubt.

    As for me being a ‘left antisemite’, coming from you this, a proven liar and a drunk, this is laughable.

    Your comments, a couple of which have slipped through the net recently, will continue to be deleted from SU on sight.

    You have my word on that.

    • Martin Ohr said,

      I have to agree with John Wight for once, it’s laughable to describe him as a left antisemite; nothing left wing about that tosser.

      • sackcloth and ashes said,

        Hey John. Found any good articles to read on CODOH, you Strasserite cunt?

  4. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    that Wight cunt is a deranged piece of shit. Repulsive antisemitic fuckface.

  5. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

  6. John Wight said,

    #4

    ‘that Wight cunt is a deranged piece of shit. Repulsive antisemitic fuckface’

    So much anger. You poor bastard. I’m genuinely concerned.

  7. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    cunT. and a deranged one as well. probably smells of piss as also. has a house full of mirrors also. g_d botherer as well probably.

  8. Torquil Macneil said,

    Yes, I agree that Andy Newman’s position on antisemitism is a saving grace although it is a pity he cannot extend his tolerance to gay people about whom he is deeply conflicted (he suggested once that sexually active lesbians under the age of 16 should be imprisoned). But it is odd that he should nonetheless continue to associate himself without spoken antisemites like John Wight and others.

  9. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    JOHN WIGHT — ANTISEMITE.

    it even rhymes.

  10. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    would love to beat up and mutilate the antisemite wight. Forra laff like.

  11. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    Newman is a catholic. expalins his politics entirely. except his stance on antisemitism…maybe he feels guilty on behalf of the catholic chuch’s behalf??><M@!!$#@$

  12. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    jimbo denham is probably the least racist person on the planet — fact.

    people who call people drunks who are antisemites (or anyone at all who call people drunks) need to fuck the fuck off as well. What is the problem with being a drunk? There certanly is a problem with being an antisemite but nothing at all WRONG with being a drunk.

    Hic.

  13. Jim Denham said,

    “Your comments, a couple of which have slipped through the net recently, will continue to be deleted from SU on sight.

    “You have my word on that.”

    Tell you what, Mr Wight: you and Newman get your act together on that and I’ll wait with baited breath. Mind you, I’ve no doubt you and he have much more important issues to sort out: like whether or not there’s such a thing as antisemitism and, if there is, whether it’s all that bad after all.

  14. Jim Denham said,

    Much more important and interesting than Wight’s bollocks:

    Socialist Unity

    27 September, 2011 (http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=8537)

    ALISON WEIR ON THE “BLOOD LIBEL”

    Filed under: anti-semitism — Andy Newman @ 2:21 pm

    Alison Weir has the following letter in the Guardian, referring to my article on anti-Semitism and the left:

    “Andy Newman (Comment, 26 September) attempts to use “an article” by me to support his thesis. It’s unfortunate he apparently didn’t read my 4,765-word article, about which he writes: “Weir implied, with no evidence, that Israel is at the centre of international organ smuggling.” I quoted a speech on international organ trafficking by Dr Nancy Scheper-Hughes – Chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the world’s foremost expert on organ trafficking – in which she stated: “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.”

    “My article contains considerable additional information on Israeli organ trafficking and its subsidy by the Israeli government, many of its 37 citations from Israeli media. Perhaps for Mr Newman this constitutes “no evidence”. He also claims: “She then explicitly argued that the medieval ‘blood libel’ – that Jews kill Christian children – has a basis in fact.” There is actually nothing related to this in the article he cites. However, I am happy to point Mr Newman to a previous lengthy article I wrote on Israeli organ trafficking in which, near the end, there is a very short section in which I quote Israeli media reports that a prominent Israeli professor of medieval Jewish history had published a book on this subject.

    “I have written more than 50 articles on Israel-Palestine; the above two are the only ones on organ trafficking. It is disappointing that Mr Newman didn’t fact-check his argument about “anti-semitism and the left”. Of course, if he had done so, he probably would not have had one.

    Alison Weir
    President, Council for the National Interest”
    *********************************************************************
    (Andy Newman comments):

    IT is a rather strange claim from Alison Weir, that there is nothing in her article about blood libel as I refer to her article in Counterpunch in 2009, called “The New Blood Libel, Israeli Organ Harvesting“. It even has “blood libel” in the title!

    This is what Alison Weir wrote in that article:

    The new “Blood Libel”?

    In scanning through the reaction to Bostrom’s report, one is struck by the multitude of charges that his article is a new version of the old anti-Semitic “blood libel.” Given that fact, it is interesting to examine a 2007 book by Israel’s preeminent expert on medieval Jewish history, and what happened to him.

    The author is Bar-Ilan professor (and rabbi) Ariel Toaff, son of the former chief rabbi of Rome, a religious leader so famous that an Israeli journalist writes that Toaff’s father “is to Italian Jewry as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.” Ariel Toaff, himself, is considered “one of the greatest scholars in his field.” (22, 23)

    In February 2007 the Israeli and Italian media were abuzz (though most of the U.S. media somehow missed it) with news that Professor Toaff had written a book entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (“Blood Passovers”) (24) containing evidence that there “was a factual basis for some of the medieval blood libels against the Jews.”

    Based on 35 years of research, Toaff had concluded that there were at least a few, possibly many, real incidents.

    In an interview with an Italian newspaper (the book was published in Italy), Toaff says:

    “My research shows that in the Middle Ages, a group of fundamentalist Jews did not respect the biblical prohibition and used blood for healing. It is just one group of Jews, who belonged to the communities that suffered the severest persecution during the Crusades. From this trauma came a passion for revenge that in some cases led to responses, among them ritual murder of Christian children.” (25)

    (Incidentally, an earlier book containing similar findings was published some years ago, also by an Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, of whom Noam Chomsky once wrote, “Shahak is an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.” ) (26)

    Professor Toaff was immediately attacked from all sides, including pressure orchestrated by Anti-Defamation League chairman Abe Foxman, but Toaff stood by his 35 years of research, announcing:

    “I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me… One shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth.”

    Before long, however, under relentless public and private pressure, Toaff had recanted, withdrawn his book, and promised to give all profits that had already accrued (the book had been flying off Italian bookshelves) to Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League. A year later he published a “revised version.

    “Donald Bostrom’s experience seems to be a repeat of what Professor Toaff endured: calumny, vituperation, and defamation. Bostrom has received death threats as well, perhaps an experience that Professor Toaff also shared” – Alison Weir
    **********************************************************************************************************
    Newman continues:

    Let us be clear. In response to the accusation that Bostrom was resurrecting the “blood libel”, Weir did not dispute that the blood libel was relevant, she instead rushed to provide evidence that the blood libel was true.

    Weir is in fact referring to discredited claims that historian Ariel Toaff made in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa in 2007. Bar-Ilan University, where Toaff works, immediately pointed out that the newspaper reports differed from Toaff’s published research; and within days of the La Stampa article Professor Toaff himself told Associated Press “There is no proof that Jews committed such an act.”

    The accusations relate to confessions made by Jews under torture in 1475. The Catholic church conducted an examination of the evidence in the 1960s and concluded that the confessions were completely unreliable.

  15. SteveH said,

    So anti semitism covers everyone from Adolf Hitler to John Wright.

    Well in that case the Israeli’s and the Nazi’s are the same.

    • sackcloth and ashes said,

      It’s ‘Wight’, you illiterate swanker. And he’s as much of a red-brown cunt as you are.

      PS: Lynne Truss’ ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ discusses the proper use of the apostrophe. If you need any help with the long words, just ask us adults for assistance.

      • skidmarx said,

        It could be the antisemitism of the Israeli and of the Nazi, so who looks like an idiot now, Sickbag? You should be using double quotes immediately after an apostrophe, to avoid confusion (though admittedly nobody is really likely to confuse you with a real academic/adult),

  16. John Wight said,

    #10

    ‘would love to beat up and mutilate the antisemite wight. Forra laff like.’

    Tell you what, bogus hard man, just post your phone number on here and I’ll be happy to make it happen for ye.

  17. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    00043 986 694

  18. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    shittyknickers has dared to show his Fyace as well. fuck. fuckkedy fuck. the scum are owt to play.

  19. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    any mention of JEWS really brings them out of the woodwerK. they cannot – repeat cannot – stop themselves.

    they all need to be killed.

  20. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘It could be the antisemitism of the Israeli and of the Nazi, so who looks like an idiot now, Sickbag?’

    I would say it’s you for typing such a sentence, but seeing as you are an Interahamwe-loving piece of shit I’d have to count you in the same category as that brownshirt scum, Wight.

    Bebel was wrong about Jew-hatred. It’s not the socialism of fools, but of complete and utter wankers.

    • skidmarx said,

      Christ, is that shit the best you can come up with? I was at primary school with more articulate kids than that.

  21. sackcloth and ashes said,

    You still owe me an answer to this question, skidmark, Is Davenport right or wrong about Rwanda 1994?

    Answer that question, or FOAD you walking haemorrhoid.

  22. skidmarx said,

    Just the way you think the world owes you a living ,Sickbag.

  23. Monsieur Jelly est formidable said,

    guardian scum giving a platform to racist shithead
    [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/28/moral-obligation-and-jewish-identity?newsfeed=true]

    what a piece of shit.

  24. Jim Denham said,

    Will sackcloth and ashes and skidmarx please give it a rest. We operate a fairly liberal comments regime here, but even Monsieur Jelly and his various doppelgangers have occasionally been deleted and you two are sailing close to the wind (I’ve been contacted offline by readers asking me to ban you both). Personal feuds are not banned outright here, but they can get tedious.

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