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Archive for February 25th, 2009

Hagiography, Gilad Atzmon and Citizendium.

with 49 comments

Wiki comes in for a lot of flak, in terms of the quality of information provided, the editorial control and its internal conflicts, so I was delighted when the Citizendium fork took place (or didn’t).

I had hoped that it would usher in a new era of higher quality articles, reflecting shared knowledge and critical thinking, as Citizendium says:

“We aim at reliability and quality, not just quantity.”

Instead what do we find? Gilad Atzmon’s hagiography, that’s the study of Saints.

How they never do anything wrong, how their lives are guided as if from above, and in the end they prove themselves to be faultless. That’s Saints (if you believe in such things), but it isn’t Gilad Atzmon.

Readers will remember Atzmon’s long association with the SWP, and how they lionised him at their premier yearly event, Marxism xxxx. Those with long memories won’t forget how Jewish socialists picketed Bookmarks, SWP’s book shop, outraged that such a racist should be given a platform. Those who read SWP’s Socialist Worker will recall Mike Rosen’s letter condemning Atzmon’s racism:

Inviting Gilad Atzmon to play is a bad move

Great news about the Cultures of Resistance musical programme, but I have to say I’m mightily dismayed that you have saxophonist Gilad Atzmon on board.

He is someone who has frequently expressed racist ideas and surely we have always said that you can’t fight racism with racism? I fear that the racism he expresses is seen by some in the liberation movements as a racism that doesn’t matter as much.

That’s to say, it’s said by some that racism towards peoples from countries oppressed and exploited by the West is the main racism we’re fighting, but a racism directed towards peoples seen as heavily implicated in the West’s oppression matters less.

Thus, antisemitism in the 21st century is seen perhaps as “mistaken” within the liberation movement, much as we might say that going on about Rupert Murdoch being Australian is “mistaken”.

This is a disastrous route to go down. Antisemitism imagines the removal or elimination of a group of people from the world system.

All we have to ask ourselves is: 1) would eliminating that group change the system for the better? 2) what ghastly processes would a state create in order to do the removing and eliminating?

I think Cultures of Resistance is making a great mistake taking Atzmon on board with them and this will undermine and weaken what we are all trying to do.

Michael Rosen, East London”

More recently, Atzmon has been ranting on about Jewish bankers and seemingly sourcing his material from David Duke’s web site.

There is all that and much more, but scanning Citizendium’s entry on Atzmon, you won’t see much of that, and certainly little, if any, critical comment.

Clearly, any semi-serious entry on Atzmon must include critical commentary of his views, more recently his racist statements and the wider reaction to them.

So, on the above evidence, Citizendium does not appear to be much of an improvement on Wiki.

Shame, a lost opportunity.

Update: It seems that one of the article’s main authors, Edna Spennato, has form.

Apparently, she is one of Atzmon’s friends and sometimes posts on his behalf.

Edna’s blogs are worth a read, crop circles not withstanding.

I suppose it is not surprising that people who have peculiar views about Jews also have decidedly strange opinions elsewhere. The Citizendium editors discuss Atzmon’s entry here.

Edna on Atzmon:

“This is one of my most beloved friends, Gilad, whose light shines very brightly, and whose courage, integrity, passion and sense of humour is an inspiration to me and to everyone who knows him. He is a truly remarkable individual, who follows his heart and sticks his neck out for what he believes in, and his love for the people of Palestine is profound.

A great saxophonist and composer of beautiful music, a philosopher and a writer whose ideas are fresh, original and independant of the prevailing consensus reality, Gilad works harder and has more energy than anyone else I know. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he has zero tolerance for the brutality of the zionist project, and he reaches thousands of people each month with his message of uncompromising solidarity with Palestine.

I regard him as one of the great lightworkers on the planet at this time, and feel very honoured to know him and to support him in every way I can.

Edna Spennato
March 2008”

So there you have it, one of Gilad Atzmon’s friends writing his entry on Citizendium!!

Well done Citizendium, you’ve out wikied Wiki and taken hagiography to a new level, what next ?

Articles on National Socialism written by David Irving, a fan of Adolf Hitler?

Or perhaps Citizendium will take the next logical step and just sub-contract Atzmon’s entry to his PR firm? Quid pro quo?

But enough of my sarcasm, this random sampling and particularly the Talk on Atzmon’s entry reveal that Citizendium suffers from many of the problems that Wiki had and still has.

Until the biographical entries of individuals, as Atzmon, do not consciously seek to re-write the past, erase criticism, contain truthful and critical information then they will be largely worthless and discredited, as the internet age has little use for hagiography or Saints.

I hope that the editors at Citizendium make a serious effort to correct their mistakes, use the above links and avoid getting friends of the subject to write their entries.

Update 1:
Edna Spennato has kindly reminded me that Engage wrote much more on Atzmon, I shall try to add them over the next day or 2.

February 19, 2006
Antisemitic Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon Plays SOAS:

“Gilad Atzmon is influenced by Israel Shamir and he links to Shamir’s website from his own site. Shamir wrote the following about the anti-Zionists’ campaign against Atzmon’s antisemitism and the SWP support for him:

‘This is a talk he gave in Bookmarks, London’s Marxist bookshop; while outside, a group of Jews picketed and demanded to shut him up. … As Gilad was speaking in a Marxist bookshop, they [the Jews] sent antizionist Jews. Thus these protesters revealed their most important inner quality – they felt they weren’t antizionists of Jewish origin, but representatives of Jewry within the antizionist Left…. It is hardly a question of religion as these picketers are irreligious. Indeed, it is a question of spirit, the Judaic spirit we find at the basis of Zionism.’ “

Update 2:

November 30, 2006, Open antisemitism is challenging ‘antiracist’ anti-Zionism in the Palestine solidarity movement – David Hirsh:

“When Atzmon spoke in Edinburgh last week he chose to focus his critique on these anti-racist anti-Zionists. His argument was that the clean distinction that anti-Zionists make between “Zionists” and Jews, anti-Zionism and anti-semitism is largely fictional. He argued that Israel is a “fascist state” supported by “the vast majority of Jewish people around the world”. Anti-Zionist Jews in the Palestine solidarity movement, therefore, play a “Jewish” role there, as “gatekeepers” who try to control the Palestinian narrative:

As soon as anyone identifies the symptoms of Zionism with some fundamental or essential Jewish precepts a smear campaign is launched against that person.

Atzmon is fighting for openly anti-Jewish politics within the Palestine solidarity movement and in order to do so, it is necessary first to defeat the anti-Zionist Jews and their anti-racist allies.

I would use this opportunity and appeal to our friends amongst the Jewish socialists and other Jewish solidarity groups. I would ask them to clear the stage willingly, and to re-join as ordinary human beings. The Palestinian Solidarity movement is craving for a change. It needs open gates rather than gatekeepers. It yearns for an open and dynamic discourse. The Palestinians on the ground have realised it already. They democratically elected an alternative vision of their future.

It seems that the “democratically elected … alternative vision” that he refers to is the open and stark, racist anti-semitism of Jihadi Islam as set out in the Hamas charter.

Atzmon is trying to lead an anti-semitic purge of the anti-Zionist movement and one that will ditch the formal anti-racism onto which some anti-Zionists still cling.”

Update 3:

March 23, 2007, Antisemite Atzmon is guest of Swedish Social Democrats, a flavour of the article:

“Atzmon, a jazz musician regarded as one of the finest saxophonists in the world, has long been accused of anti-Semitism.

“We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously,” he said in 2003.

“American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world, by proxy,” he added.

The ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, a document describing a Jewish plot to achieve world domination, is widely accepted to have been an anti-Semitic forgery drafted by the Russian secret police in 1903. It was later used as a propaganda tool in Nazi Germany.” [My emphasis.]

Update 4: The following is a letter from the Jewish Socialist Group to Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign on the topic of Atzmon’s racist outbursts (I have tidied up the original format a bit, it is cached from the Way Back Machine’s version, as the current JSG site has misplaced it.)

“Open letter to Scottish Palestine Solidarity

November 2006

Dear Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign,

The terrible situation of the Palestinians today,
especially in Gaza, demands the broadest possible
unity by those who wish to challenge oppression,
racism and human rights abuses. Those who disrupt that
unity, or make pro-Palestinian activity vulnerable to
charges of antisemitism cannot be friends of the
Palestinian people.

Against this background, the Jewish Socialists’ Group
strongly oppose Scottish PSC’s invitation to Gilad
Atzmon to speak and perform on November 22 at an event
called “Zionist control”. Apart from the SWP, which
has inexplicably invited Atzmon to its annual Marxism
events, and to a book launch at its Bookmarks shop
(which was picketed by “Jews Against Zionism and other
anti-racists), Atzmon is shunned by other progressive,
pro-Palestinian organisations. They completely reject
his statements – regurgitating world Jewish conspiracy
theories and diminishing the crimes of Nazism – which
have been widely denounced as antisemitic.

Atzmon’s outbursts have been a gift to Zionist
journalists, providing them with an opportunity to
discredit and smear those who support Palestinian
rights and justice for the Palestinian people.
If you are not familiar with the views of the person
you have invited, here are some examples from his
article “On antisemitism” December 2003 on his own
website (www.gilad.co.uk) and reprinted in
Al-Jazeerah:

“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 rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews
do try to control the world, by proxy.”

“Israel’s behaviour throws some light on the
persecution of Jews throughout history.”

In 2005 Atzmon approvingly distributed Paul Eisen’s
essay “Holocaust Wars” which the Socialist Unity
website described as “a full-blooded exposition of
Holocaust denial material and a tribute to notorious
neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel.” Atzmon said he had only
“slight differences” with Eisen’s article.

In 2006 he wrote an article called “Beyond comparison”
for Al-Jazeerah (August 12) about Israel and Nazism:
“Nazis were indeed proper expansionists, they were
trying to take towns and land intact…unlike the Nazis
who had respect for other national movements including
Zionism, Israel has zero respect for anyone including
its next door neighbours. The Israeli behavior should
be realised as the ultimate vulgar biblical barbarism
on the verge of cannibalism.

“While Nazism was a nationalist expansionist movement
with extensive yet limited ambitions, the Jewish State
and its Zionist lobbies are trying to revive the
spirit of a global crusade in the name of a bizarre
religious war.

“It is about time to … say it all loudly… We have to
admit that Israel is the ultimate evil rather than
Nazi Germany”.

Since the early 1980s the Jewish Socialists’ Group has
worked closely with Palestinian organisations and
solidarity campaigns and more recently with Jews for
Justice for Palestinians, Just Peace UK and European
Jews for a Just Peace in the struggle against
occupation and for equality and self-determination for
Palestinians. We have challenged Jewish communal
“leaders” when they denounce opponents of Israel as
antisemitic and Jewish opponents of Zionism as
“self-haters”.

At the same time we remain vigilant about antisemitism
and other forms of racism. We agree entirely with the
Britain’s former PLO representative, Afif Safieh, who
frequently told pro-Palestinian demonstrations and
meetings that antisemitism was an enemy of the
Palestinians as well as the Jews.

As Jewish socialists and outspoken opponents of
Zionism, racism and fascism, we cannot understand how
it benefits the Palestinian struggle to invite and
promote an individual who speaks as Atzmon does,
regardless of his origins. The Palestine Solidarity
Campaign has long had a clause in its aims to oppose
antisemitism and all forms of racism. We cannot
understand why SPSC seem intent on exposing the
pro-Palestinian movement to charges of antisemitism.

We appeal to Scottish PSC to rescind the invitation
and we appeal to Palestinian organisations and
solidarity organisations to make their views on this
known to Scottish PSC.

Yours

Jewish Socialists’ Group”

Update 5: For Atzmon’s groupies, all unknown comments are moderated under WordPress, that’s the way it works.

However, unless they are grossly offensive and dripping with anti-Jewish racism I will be publishing them, but there might be a small delay whilst that is done, so please be patience.

Update 6:

Judeosphere covered Atzmon’s Holocaust denial last year:

“Atzmon has a history of distributing Holocaust denial literature, and of endorsing Holocaust revisionists. Of course, he angrily denies that he himself is a Holocaust denier.

I found myself curious about the source of this Atzmon quote, which I have never seen before. (Stoltz used the same quote while defending neo-Nazi Rigolf Hennig in 2006.)

After much searching, I found it: In 2005, a local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, reported on his lively performance in Bochum, Germany:

What followed was a heated debate…during which several spectators left the room in protest. Atzmon described the known history of the Second World War and the Holocaust as a whole, as a forgery initiated by Americans and Zionists….Particularly fierce debate erupted as Atzmon argued that there is “no forensic evidence” that the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust is really six million.”

Here’s the PressTV link on Sylvia Stolz.

Update 7:

I hope this will be the final update. I know that the Engage site has a lot more material on Atzmon’s ranting and racist attitudes, I barely scratched the surface, but I will leave readers with a piece on Atzmon and Paul Eisen by gehrig:

“Gilad Atzmon has distributed — and defended in general terms — an essay by Paul Eisen designed to promote Holocaust denial. The Eisen essay, titled “Holocaust Wars,” claims among other things that the gas chambers of Auschwitz are fraudulent and couldn’t work. It “backs up” this claim using the same lies used by the leading lights (such as they are) of the Holocaust denial movement — people like David Irving, the self-described “Hitler-lover” Ernst Zündel, and the faux engineer Fred Leuchter.

When you defend Paul Eisen’s essay, you’re defending the very same lies promulgated by the “Hitler-lover” Zündel, his flunky Leuchter, and his admirer David Irving. Yet this is what Gilad Atzmon does.

Now, if you think I’m exaggerating by calling Paul Eisen’s essay “Holocaust denial propaganda,” you might want to skip to the last section of the post, in which I document exactly that. For now, it suffices to say that Eisen has said “… the evidence for the use of homicidal gas-chambers [at Auschwitz] is not good at all. The evidence against it is much, much stronger.” http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thecutter/117192641046077827/

And the following paragraph from the essay Atzmon circulated gives little room for doubt on where Eisen stands:

“Many will take the view that Holocaust revisionism [the boilerplate euphemism for the Holocaust denial movement] is but pernicious nonsense motivated only by a hatred of Jews and a desire to rehabilitate Hitler and National Socialism specifically, and fascism in general, and therefore not even worthy of scrutiny. I don’t agree, and those with sufficient curiosity to wish to research the subject can visit the website of the premier Revisionist think tank, the [fascist-founded, though Eisen doesn’t mention that] Institute for Historical Review, locate the Journal of Historical Review and its archive of articles and papers and start reading.”

I’ll describe the “Institute for Historical Review” in a little more detail below. You can find the Eisen essay itself, the one Gilad Atzmon thought was so brilliant, by googling “Eisen ‘Holocaust wars'”; you’ll pull it up on a number of “Poor Hitler was misunderstood” sites like Ernst Zündel’s.

What was Gilad Atzmon’s reaction recently when he was challenged over having distributed a stack of standard-issue Holocaust denier lies? “I am happy i circulated Eisen and he is indeed a friend of mine.” http://www.haloscan.com/comments/thecutter/8761647492477468265/

Written by modernityblog

25/02/2009 at 22:58

Posted in Uncategorized