On 28 June the Times (London) printed an editorial piece by David Aaronovitch. This piece seems to be nothing more than a pastiche of the various interventions going on around internet in certain circles. Many of us have read it with disapproval. Is Mr Aaronovitch entitled to his opinion? For sure he is (at least as far as this one is really “his” and not cut and pasted from internet. Even Mark Elf has the same doubts). But, factually, Aaronovitch falls short of the mark of any correct journalism, with misleading and inaccurate quotes, dragging irrelevant elements into discourse, and basically operating from an ideological viewpoint with a goal of attacking individuals and the SWP by slinging around accusations, defamation and heresay.
Many people who read it have forwarded me letters that they have written to the editor. I will publish some of them here, with more to follow. I don’t imagine the Times will print any of these, but one never knows….
In an article you published today (How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right?) Mr. David Aaronivitch quoted two sentences of mine and located them completely out of context. He made it look as if I was referring to Jews as a racial entity. As a matter of fact, in the original text I am dealing with the issue of antisemitim in relation to the Zionist agenda. Hence, the reference is to Jews who happen to be Zionists. The general line of the specific paper is to argue that Jews suffer due to Zionist politics and Israeli atrocities. It seems as if Mr. Aaronovitch fails to realise that Zionism is a political movement with a clear global agenda. Seemingly, he would be the first to benefit from reading my text carefully.
(I add a link to the quoted paper I would ask you to print it remove any doubt and speculation http://www.gilad.co.uk/html%20files/onanti.html).
Aaronovitch blames me as well for being a racist. He obviously doesn’t bring a single reference or quote to support such a claim. I will tell you why, it is simply impossible. I am here to declare categorically that in any of my writings or public performances, I ve never used any form of racial argument or expressed any racial statement. Moreover, I argue repeatedly that Jews aren’t an homogenous race. In my writing I am trying to scrutinise the notion of Jewish identity. I do try to grasp the mental state that leads people such as Aaronovitch to try to impose their views on us all. I am after the philosophical conditions rather than any form of biological determinism.
Since Aaronovitch is very concerned with Israel Shamir, I will confirm again that after meeting Mr. Shamir more than once, I have no reason to believe that he is anything but “a very civil and peaceful man and probably is the sharpest critical voice of ‘Jewish power’ and Zionist ideology.” I wonder whether this is enough to make me into an anti semite, a ‘disorganised racist’, a self hating Jew, a far right wing zealot or even a holocaust denier. I assume that within Aaronivitch’s limited worldview, to listen to other people is in itself nothing but the ultimate anathema. This may be the precise fanaticism I try to oppose. And I am sure that many of your readers would agree with me.
To the Editor:
In his article “How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right? (The Times, 28/06/05), David Aaronovitch attributed this quotation to me. “No one is able to show us, at Auschwitz or anywhere else,” (argued Eisen,) “even one of these chemical slaughterhouses. No one is capable of describing to us their exact appearance or workings. Neither a trace nor a hint of their existence is to be found ….”
I did not write those words. They were written by Professor Robert Faurisson and quoted by me. I’m sure you will agree that on a matter as sensitive as this, it is important to be as accurate as possible, so I would be grateful if you would put this matter right.
Re: Aaronovitch How Did the Far Left
To my annoyance, this is a second time in one month your newspaper describes me as a “Swedish fascist” who “claims to be a Russian Jew from Jaffa” (Aaronovitch) or a “Swedish anti-Semite” (Pollard). When such ridiculous claims are published by obscure ADL-financed publications, one can shrug it off. When these claims are repeated by what was once the leading newspaper of the Empire, one is amazed by the lack of professional approach. A Times correspondent in Tel Aviv can visit me anytime and check whether I am a six-foot-tall blond Aryan supremacist with Swedish accent or not; there are thousands of Israelis who know me since 1968 when I came to Israel from the Soviet Union. I published many books including a translation of Joyce’s Ulysses, I served in an elite unit of the Israeli army, I was seen at the demonstrations in Bethlehem and Ramallah. I do belong to the Israeli Left. Israeli newspapers wrote about me many times; my biography was researched and combed by friends and enemies; but none rushed to reprint these silly rumours. If an overseas phone call is too expensive for you, the newspaper could ask Tim Sebastian or other old BBC hands, for I worked there in 1970s.
I do not mind being attacked by the likes of Pollard (his own article begins with: ‘I am a warmonger. I am bloodthirsty. I am rabid.’) and Aaronovitch (a Zionist cheerleader of the Iraqi War) – actually their support would be a greater embarrassment. But your readers deserve a better researched reporting. They can read more on http://www.israelshamir.net/english/Times_attacks.htm where they can view so many letters to the Times you chose not to publish.
They are also entitled to know that the Aaronovitch’s article is but a rehash of a lengthy piece by an ostensibly anti-zionist Jewish Trot from JPUK on a far left site http://www.marxists.de/racism/antisemitism/counterpunch.htm , including quotes and errors. While these Trots do not mind to have a certified warmonger and Zionist as their bedfellow, all antiwar and antizionist forces may postpone their strife until better days.
You ask this question; “Has the SWP, an influential section of the far Left, completely and disgracefully lost its moral and political compass by welcoming a dangerous anti-Zionist?”
I would like to suggest that Zionism alone can be considered technically as an ideology, and opposition to it takes various forms, which is evident and completely natural. Anti-Zionism is rather an individual calling, and therefore, can not be dangerous if it is working towards the dismantling of the racist mechanism of Zionism and does not promote a systematic program of action. Vast segments of society, and not only in the Arab world, consider it to be one that is indeed dangerous. Those who label themselves as anti-Zionists of course would be obligated to seek to bring a stop to the paradigm which drives Zionism, that is, the belief that all Jews everywhere are entitled to settle in the land that is now Israel, and that that land can not be shared with other people, even the original inhabitants. And if that were not enough, in the expansionist vision of a Greater Israel, originating from a religious precept which has as its tenet the special relationship of Jews with Palestine, Jews are encouraged to settle in lands which theoretically are to become a “Palestinian State” alongside a “Jewish State”. This idea, which is enabled by the support of Jewish brothers and sisters around the globe, and often which is a result of a manipulative mechanism utilising the promotion of paradoxical concepts including supremacy and victimhood, feigning its fragility while imposing its will often through sheer force of might, has been extremely dangerous to the indigenous inhabitants, resulting in the most enduring ethnic cleansing that the modern world has known, that of the Palestinian people. The substitution of Jews for Palestinians is indeed dangerous and criminal. It is the promulgation of the concept of Lebensraum for a special group of people, applied to a different geographical location.
The anti-Zionists who have protested against Gilad Atzmon do not do so based upon his own work, which is effective because he does not fear exposing the dirty underbelly that enables this atrocity. They are disturbed because he is not conforming to the hegemonic view of anti-Zionism, that which makes distinctions between levels of Zionism. They have used the technique of misleading the public into believing that Atzmon is either: a Holocaust Denier or an apologist for one, and failing that, a racist, because he committed the thought crime of distributing a paper by Paul Eisen called “The Holocaust Wars”. This paper, which you obviously didn’t read, because you even misquote it to suit your agenda of isolating these people from discourse, is considered by very few to be Holocaust Denial, although it would be easy to depict it as such with a little imagination an a lot of intellectual dishonesty. Attempts to engage these critics in debate regarding it have all come to naught, because they have decided that it would not be “productive”. Therefore, you mislead your readers into thinking that Atzmon is diffusing literature that is beyond legitimate discourse.
You further mislead them by creating a case of guilt by association. It is common practice in part of the so-called anti-Zionist movement to isolate activists, writers and campaigners who are critical of the Jewish lobby and the influence it holds on public policy. Those who have written on this subject, be it Shamir, Eisen or now Atzmon, are quoted well out of context, are given the character assassination treatment and are considered to be part of a specific movement. It does not matter how much they emphasise their independence, or ask to create a situation where open discourse is held, the same monomaniacal silencing mechanism comes into play. It seems their major crime is to question the role of Jewish influence, and this seems to be the non plus ultra of all taboo in the Jewish segment of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Any positive work that these people have done, and there has been much, has been sullied in the public opinion by this very strange way of operating that the antagonists of these people have, merely for the reason that they will not hold the candle for Jewish innocence and pretend that it has nothing to do with the conditions in which the Palestinians find themselves, as well as many of the other decisions that the superpower makes, which promotes the interests of a Zionist State in violation of many international conventions as well as many UN Resolutions.
As a matter of fact, far from being racists, those vilified by the Jews Against Zionism and other groups that protest that they are radical and often inspired by Marxism, but are rather conforming to the most conservative and closed of agendas, promote a single State where Jews and those who are not Jews can coexist in harmony and equality. This is the dangerous message.
Even the title of your opinion piece is deceptive, as the names you mention are not in any way connected with Atzmon, much less with the SWP. I wonder if there might be some slight interest in creating negative consensus with Galloway and Respect that underlies this entire campaign. It can’t possibly escape one that it seems so far to be the only party that is interested in the Muslim constituency and its specific questions. Linking it once and for all to something as ugly as anti-Semitism would certainly eliminate it preventively from any public discourse, as most people would rather die than have their names linked to such a term.
Enough with the red herrings and the obfuscations (David Aaronovitch, June 28) which abound in “How Far did the far left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating right?” Good grief. The children of Zahra Zaboun are heartsick because she died recently at an Israeli checkpoint. Her crime? She wanted to attend Friday prayers. The pages of your opinion section should be railing against this Israeli crime against humanity instead of smearing Gilad Atzmon, who courageously left Israel because he could no longer tolerate the abuses of Zionism. Your editorial writers might question why Johnny Thalijiah, a Greek Orthodox altar boy, was shot by an Israeli sniper while standing around his cousin’s store, instead of Aaronvitch’s inanities re Atzmon. Your editorial writers might look up Maria Khoury, the Christian Palestinian who picked up bullets off her son’s bed and wondered what offended the Israeli soldiers who fired them. Was it the sign from the World Council of Churches that said “End the Occupation” she wondered?
Atzmon empathizes with the suffering of the Palestinians, and has won the heart of this Palestinian, and I say with certainty, knowing my people, that I am among a majority, in spite of the unnamed Palestinian musician who refused to work with Atzmon, to whom Aaranovitch refers. Aaraonvich throws out obfuscations in order to keep the British public ignorant of Zionist atrocities. It is clear that Aztmon works in the interests of humanity, while Aaronvitch serves a government which perpetuates crimes against it.
Nancy Harb Almendras
I would like to thank David Aaronivitch for his industrious efforts. A most informative article, albeit misguided.
Gilad Atzmon is an artist, and like any decent artist is engaged in serious soul searching, as opposed to the spasmodic propaganda illustrated by Mr Aaronivitch; note G8 summit around the corner.
Gilad is a musician of the highest calibre, and a fierce philosopher; indeed little separates the two. Gilad has taken it upon himself to, in my opinion, rightly question the nature of his identity. We should all take notice of his subtle messages, the world may turn out to be a better place.
I find it astonishing, though not beyond comprehension, that a reputable paper like The Times gives David Aaronivitch a platform to speak his patently biased, slanderous stance. I consider Gilad to be a gentle, sensitive man who is utterly horrified by the turn of events, and, as a result of his own investigations, has imposed upon himself the harshest punishment, self-exile.
I am Palestinian, I was born into exile. It is not easy being a stranger ALL the time with no self-empowerment. I am used to continuous defacement and biased news, but it does not bother me, because I know it is simply not true. I urge you to put pressure on Mr Aaronivitch to retract his false, misleading accusations regarding Gilad.
Mr Atzmon is innocent, and, more importantly, Mr Atzmon is not affiliated with any political entity. If Mr Aaronivitch had been paying any attention to Gilad, he would also know that Gilad has invited anyone and everyone to participate in his free and open dialogues; Mr Atzmon even took the time to invite the picketers to come inside for wine and a chat at one his talks recently (needless to say, he was flatly rejected).
Has Mr Aaronivitch even met with Mr Atzmon? It must be difficult working in the media at times of war. Being forced to publish state approved rubbish. Please reconsider your position, as a journalist and as a fellow human being. It is essential that we not silence questions, and encourage artists to speak out; a luxury journalists cannot afford during difficult times.
Thank you for time.
Zaki Boulos, London
In “How did the far Left manage to slip into bed with the Jew-hating Right?” (28/6/5), David Aaronovitch states that Atzmon’s “tirades have got him into trouble with more than just the Jewish community.” As if that is some kind of no-no. Maybe the Jewish community is wrong about certain things. Maybe we are all wrong about certain things. Rather than rushing to sling mud at brave, lonely voices trying to set the record straight, maybe we should set aside our prejudices and listen to them.
Does Aaronovitch think that Atzmon takes his brave stands just for a lark, or because he is uninformed or “a silly boy”? I suggest he look at the fine philosophical writings of Atzmon at www.gilad.co.uk and take pride in a fellow Jew who is willing to take on the formidable Jewish establishment, calling it to account for the crimes that Israel commits every day in its name.
Aaronovitch is terribly interested in the ‘blood libel’ tradition in European folklore and makes this a central argument in his polemic against Atzmon. While we have no way of knowing whether medieval Jews actually drank non-Jewish children’s blood, we do have Mordechai Vanunu’s uncle on video screaming “I will drink his blood!” after Vanunu was ‘freed’ for telling the world the truth about Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Funny this fascination with drinking blood among Jews. Brrrr.
And how he LOVES to throw around ‘anti-semite’ and ‘fascist’. Israel Shamir is not a fascist and I hope he can successfully sue Aaronovitch for this slander. Is this mud slinging an example of the great Jewish legal principle ‘An eye for an eye etc’? Yes, yes – revennnge! Perhaps Shakespeare’s Shylock is the real Jew after all, despite Hollywood’s recent attempt to dress him up as a misunderstood victim of (yes!) anti-semitism. Aaronovitch casually refers to “Eisen’s Holocaust-denying article” though the article in question is no such thing. What it ‘denies’ is what Israel and its Zionist fanatics have turned a terrible tragedy – the murder of many people – into. These murders are now the basis of a sick cult which is promoted to perpetrate yet more racist murders, this time of Palestinians.
It is also based on dubious stories, many of which are fantasies and outright lies. Mr. Eisen merely protests the perverse use that the ‘Holocaust’ as the tragedy is officially called is being put to IN HIS NAME (as a Jew). All historical events need to be studied and documented, especially when they are tooted as being beyond all discussion, as the Holocaust is.
Sure, call Atzmon “cretinous” or a “disorganised racist”, despite his brilliant writings, outstanding musicianship and courageous rejection of the hideous racist state of Israel and his concern for its victims. Keep digging David. There’s lots more muck down there. But be careful your house of cards doesn’t collapse on you. Jews have a long history of building up wealth and control in their ‘host’ societies, only to ‘go beyond the Pale’ and find themselves expelled or stripped of their wealth or worse. I think we can all agree that Fukiyama’s ‘end of history’ was a trifle premature. That goes for the history of the Jews too.
Atzmon is merely trying to stop this reckless plunge by his coreligionists (or co-ethnics or whatever) into the abyss. You should be thanking him and Eisen, instead of slinging mud at them.