I suppose by now many have seen the abusive letter that Mark Elf sent to the Indy Media moderator who was the target of his wrath for not jumping when demands were made.
If you haven’t read the letter, I suggest doing so, it is an exercise in precisely how to be really “persuasive”. Elf found some substitutes for his pet word “buffoon”, but I don’t think he’s made much of an improvement:
“You useless wanker, honestly. I can’t believe what you claim to believe. I was going to copy all the other cc’s on this list but, since there are some on the list I don’t know, it wouldn’t be right. It would look like bullying, you wanker! Sorry to be repetitive but there’s nothing worse than an idiot who thinks they’re clever.
What a fuckwit.” (Mark Elf)
FTP is doing a great job contextualising this particular episode in the never-ending war between that handful of strange people who have decided that their political program must be centred around condemning Gilad Atzmon “from the left”. I hope he doesn’t get too exhausted by the repetition of it.
Either Elf is affected by Coprolalia and cannot be held truly responsible for the vulgarities he constantly spits out through the keyboard, or he is quite able to control himself and just “won’t”. But, he doesn’t want to look like he’s a bully, evidently. He just talks like one.
And while I’m on the subject of one making claims of being something but actually demonstrating to be quite the opposite, I think it’s useful in this context to look at what Tony Greenstein has to say (in various moments of his recent past).
The other day it was this: (using the Papal or Royal plural) “We reject racism, all racism, including both Zionism and the racism of Atzmon.”
I suppose one can be entitled to not consider a political party as an expression of a race, but Tony, while declaring at every opportunity that he is a Jew, seems to automatically attach negative connotations to Islam and particularly to a political party that probably never would have existed were it not for a need of Palestinians to resist to occupation by Jews who have taken their land and oppressed them for decades. The use of religion and resistance in a positive way has a long tradition, Gandhi and his Satyagraha, “Liberation Theology” in the Christian world, and in the Arab world, resistance is often culturally linked with the predominant religion, in this case, Islam. Secularism is actually not “the highest good”. And although I myself am secular, I wouldn’t dream of imposing MY secularism upon people in another State, if this is the choice that they democratically make! I would believe that liberation and self-determination are all about realising oneself within a framework of rights, justice and prospectives for developing an autonomous way of implementing politics that suits the citizens. In the case of Islam, there is no law that it is automatically reactionary, just like Judaism does not have to be automatically reactionary.
But, it’s not that way for Tony. Islam for Palestinians is just a very BAD thing, and he withdraws his respect for the people who reject the glorious promise of Socialism.
It seems that to Tony, and as I will be pointing out in the next few days, when the Palestinians decide to vote for people and parties that are not secular, the support that Tony gives is far from unconditional. It is extremely judgmental. Being judgmental against these parties is DIRECTLY what has lead to the current strangulation of Gazans and to the collective punishment in the West Bank, (for even there, Hamas obtained a majority of votes).
Here are some of his views of the party that won consensus by the Palestinian people, and despite enormous pressure, they are steadfast to their attempts at maintaining their right to express themselves democratically.
“…the illiterates of Hamas”, “…political illiterates.” “Hamas is an organisation, sponsored originally by the Israeli State as a counterweight to the secular PLO. It became Frankenstein’s monster, just as Bin Laden & co. were US proteges.”
“Hamas may be full of physicians for all I know, but politically they are a reflection of the Zionist, no more. The fact that they can come out with all sorts of anti-Semitic stuff, including support for the Protocols, demonstrates that. They are the best enemy Israel could have and it matters not a jot whether they have support in the Palestinian street. It is unfortunate that it is the corruption in Fateh which has led to a growth in support for Hamas.”
(as if Tony knows that the reason Hamas has grown was just about corruption issues. This indeed is political naïveté).
“Hamas is an Islamic group. Its charitable work depends on subventions from Kuwait, the Saudis and other reactionary governments.”
(as if we didn’t know that all young political movements, especially the international ones Tony is so fond of, are helped by an international current. That they are only helped by reactionary govts, – if this is indeed the case – is not really their fault. No one can earmark money to Hamas. The EU and the US made sure of that. Could be a case of making necessity virtue). And, what follows is a litany of things that could have been written by Abe Foxman of the ADL himself. Demonise Hamas. Demonise those who have voted for them. This is the recipe, and it’s amazing such an “astute” political animal as Tony Greenstein hasn’t arrived at this illumination. I suppose the thought never occurred to him. Blame suicide bombing on Hamas, check! Equate political Islam with reactionary regimes and terrorist groups, check! If that doesn’t work, equate them with secret services, check! Declare that should Islamic people have a political majority, it spells the end of Jews, check! Should this group have popular support, it will invariably fail because it is incapable of having a program for its own people, ie, it’s bad for its own too, check!
“Their tactic of suicide bombing has played straight into Sharon’s hands and has weakened the Palestinians immeasurably.”
“Of course political Islam is reactionary but who was it who supported the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and helped create the Taliban and al-Qaida but the United States? And wasn’t it Israel’s secret service, Shin Bet, in their efforts to undermine secular nationalism who helped create Hamas? Inconvenient facts are easily forgotten”
“Quite why does Mary think I would oppose a Jewish State, which of course is a State for repressing those who are not Jews and giving privileges to those who are Jews, and then support an Islamic State? Why should I detest and oppose the mass murder of Palestinians by the Zionist State, their dispossession and reduction to guests (at best) in their own country and then give support to a movement which would willingly do the same to others if it had half the chance?”
“That the position of the Palestinians is that desperate and that insecure that they have turned to a group which can only offer a replacement of one form of oppression with another. Hamas is politically incapable of constructing any sort of political programme which can win support from abroad, let alone within the Israeli working class itself.”
“Religion and State = Tyranny, be it an Israeli or indeed a Saudi tyranny. The difference between the Saudis & Iranians and the Zionists is that the former oppress their own people whilst the latter oppress the non-Jew.”
And when I asked Tony why he would not be decent, act like a real democratic human being and respect that the Palestinians have not overthrown their oppressors, but have given in to the wonderful voting system we decided for them, and in spite of all efforts to make it limited in scope and effectiveness, they voted for the guys the Israelis don’t like, he said,
“Respecting a choice is meaningless pap. Should I respect the German who voted for Hitler or the Israeli who voted for Sharon or the American who voted for Bush or, let us say, the Italian who voted for Berlusconi? I might pity, detest or even hate those who make such stupid choices, but respect never. I support the Palestinians because they are the direct victims of Zionist terror and ethnic cleansing, not because they have made terrible, if understandable, decisions.”
BINGO! Hamas = Hitler. Greenstein must be the Ghost writer for AIPAC and the ADL. It’s all there, Islamophobia, demonisation, blame and pity for the poor Palestinians, victims of their own ignorance.
But, he still feels for the Palestinians. In spite of them being disobedient ingrates, they are children who don’t know what is good for themselves, so he still will lend his political savvy to them:
“Yes Hamas has been forced to confront its own idiocy. They have begun to realise that the only beneficiaries of the suicide bomb are Sharon & Peres. It’s a pity that the Palestinian people have had to pay the price. It is just a pity that Islamic Jihad has managed to learn nothing, as witness its suicide bomb this week. They killed 5 Israelis but far more Palestinians with that bomb. But in their terms it is understandable. The world is divided into Islam and non-Islam. Therefore take out a few of the latter. They have no class politics, they don’t understand the meaning of reaching out to those on the other side, because they have nothing in common. For all their faults, the PFLP and DFLP understood very well that Palestinian socialists and communists had to make alliances with socialists, workers and others world-wide who oppose imperialism. Instead all Hamas can do is to glorify such absurd forgeries as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which her friends Israel Shamir/Eisen/Atzmon have taken such a shine too. Because that is the reality. Hamas’s ideology is a pale reflection of that of the Zionists. The Zionists say they wage their war in the name of religion, so Hamas puts up a mirror to the Zionist utterances, but does it in the name of Islam. Funnily enough the Zionists, being separatists, also did the same. The anti-Semites said Jews didn’t belong where they lived and the Zionists agreed that Jews didn’t belong in the Diasporah. All they insisted on was that Jews leave for Palestine, otherwise there was complete ideological agreement with the anti-Semites. Hamas too agree on the fundamentals with Zionism, they merely disagree on the outcome.”
I think the idiots of Hamas (because they mouth anti-Semitism, they don’t understand it) may indeed have attracted the votes of Palestinians because of the corruption of Fatah and their ability to attract enough funds to run social programmes, but I don’t for one minute believe that ideologically or politically most Palestinians are filled with the same racist nonsense as most Zionists. If I hated the Palestinians I wouldn’t be an anti-Zionist.”
CLASS politics, that’s it. He will insult the Palestinians, their parties and Islam itself. But, the Palestinians are deep down just misguided, and Tony will help them. As long as they are the way he thinks they should be. He will wage Boycott campaigns that he is the first to tell people they can violate. He even offers advice for leftist parties in the UK to keep Islamic people at arms’ length:
“Tony Greenstein, a founder member of the Socialist Alliance, condemned the SWP for “its desperate attempt to gain a quick fix electoral programme, [by forming] an unprincipled pact with Islamic clerics and mosques.”(47)
I will conclude with a portion of a post I wrote in 2005, when Hamas won the elections of the PA: I think that since the strangulation and demonisation of Gaza, Tony should have learned something, that we have to start protecting and supporting Palestinian choice and fighting anyone who will undermine it. This is why I fight Tony Greenstein. Someone the Palestinians don’t need for a friend.
Yet, it cannot be denied that a great number of the Palestinian population itself and the Muslim world at large, supports Hamas and recognises it as a legitimate political party with a valid social and educational program. It competes in established municipal and administrative elections and gains many seats by democratic vote. Many of its leaders are in Israeli jails (when they and their families are not assassinated by order of the Israeli government), and it appears that Israel has an enormous need to destroy Hamas, literally and figuratively. Putting Hamas into an inferior category and attempting to create a negative aura around it, primarily for the fact that it is religiously based (Muslim) and thus to suggest even that those who may support it in some way are harbingers of a new dark age for the entire Middle East, is a common Zionist and Israeli activity. It has become a well-established campaign and often claims are made against Hamas that have no bearing in reality, and against the evidence that they have actively adhered to a truce on military operations, even when Israel did not. It must also be remembered, that criticism of Hamas as a religiously inspired movement is contradictory especially when the raison d’être of Israel is as a state with a Jewish majority and where there are religious laws that reflect the cultural tradition of this majority.
When the supporters and leaders of this group are dismissed for their intellectual capacities, it is a matter of disregard for the dignity of self-determination of a people and for the respect that is due to a human being who does not deserve to be insulted as intellectually inferior. This article takes to task the insulting of Hamas on an intellectual level.