Gilad Atzmon’s Holocaust Denial And Other Stupid Questions.
Gilad Atzmon’s canter towards the territory of the Extreme Right continues on apace, Dissident Voice have just re-published more of his rantings.
Here’s an extract, if you can stomach it:
“I am left puzzled here; if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place.”
Update 1: Some of the related Atzmon material seems to have been deleted or lost on the Web, so here’s a copy of a post on Gilad Atzmon Bookmarks protest at LabourNet UK:
“Gilad Atzmon Bookmarks protest
Report by Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism
About 30 activists turned out to protest the talk by Gilad Atzmon at Bookmarks bookshop, significantly outnumbering those who actually went in to the meeting. Several of these had attended for the express purpose of denouncing Atzmon and his views, and it is clear that very few attended in order to listen to and learn from him. Numbers of attendees were further restricted by the (unannounced) decision to make the meeting ticket only, thus preventing even some SWP members from attending. Of course, none of the pickets was allowed to attend.
Although some of the audience took our leaflets, and a few engaged in debate with us, the SWP’s leadership treated us with arrogant contempt, refusing even to acknowledge, let alone touch, the leaflets; and, in some cases, aggressively pushing us aside without even asking us to move.
Despite earlier attacks by the SWP that, by calling the picket, we were “lining up with the AWL”, they, and other sectarians and Zionist apologists were totally absent, and the protesters were all clearly opposed to Israel and its Zionist practices. We were further admonished that “reasonable people” like Hilary Rose and Moshé Machover opposed the picket. In fact, Hilary turned up and stood with us in the protest, while Moshé, who was unable to come, sent the SWP a letter strongly supporting and endorsing the picket.
It’s clear that the SWP had no idea of the extent and depth of revulsion at Atzmon’s ideas, and the anger at them for giving him a platform. They have been given something to think about.
After the picket, most of us went for a drink, and were later joined by sympathisers who had attended the meeting. We learned from them that Atzmon had not been received well, that no-one had spoken in his defence, and that several SWP members were apparently in dismay at the views they heard, and the damage they have done to the party’s image. Our shouts, and the many speeches through the megaphone, were heard clearly throughout the meeting.
Apparently, Atzmon devoted a large part of his talk to discussing the highly controversial theories of Otto Weininger (who, as Atzmon himself admitted, was Hitler’s favourite Jew), who, in his work Sex and Character, characterised the Jew as “feminine, and thus profoundly irreligious, without true individuality (soul), and without a sense of good and evil…” Weininger claimed the decay of modern (ie early twentieth century) times was due to feminine, and thus Jewish, influences – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Weininger.
Atzmon also propounded his own highly sexist theory of gender, before giving a rambling account of his own views, and expressing his bemusement at the picket. In the ensuing discussion, he was roundly denounced by several speakers; John Rose of the SWP reportedly made a particularly powerful and effective response.
Members of the SWP who did not know at the beginning of the meeting, certainly realised by the end what an error they had made. However, we must still marvel at their stupidity in even inviting Atzmon in the first place, as well as expressing our anger at the contempt we faced from some SWP leaders, notablty their national secretary Martin Smith, who refused (unlike most of his comrades) to exchange even one civil word with us.
All in all, we are pleased with our efforts, which in a short time mobilised a large and vocal protest, and which confronted the SWP with a reality they wished to ignore – that they cannot hold a meeting with a racist and expect it to pass quietly, and that you cannot defend Palestinian rights if you accept the Zionist paradigm which identifies all Jews with Zionism.
Update 2: Elsewhere in Socialist Worker 13 March 2007 there is a letter defending Gilad Atzmon, from two leading SWP members:
“Gilad Atzmon is not racist
As the organisers of the Cultures of Resistance event we were disappointed to see Michael Rosen claiming that Gilad Atzmon is an antisemite and should therefore not have been invited to perform (Letters, 6 January).
We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.
Faced with such accusations, Gilad has issued a personal statement making it clear that he is not a racist or a Holocaust denier. It is also worth noting that papers like the Morning Star and Guardian have also run articles refuting these claims.
Gilad has now played around a dozen fundraising events for the SWP and we can say categorically that he has never made any offensive/racist comments – in fact every performance has been one of supporting the civil rights struggle and opposing war.
While defending Gilad’s right to play, that in no way means we endorse all of Gilad’s views. However it is worth noting that he is a Jewish exile from Israel who was a member of the Israeli army.
As part of his struggle to break from his Zionist upbringing he has become an angry and bitter opponent of Israel. For the record we have publicly challenged and argued against those of his ideas we disagree with.
Instead of banning him shouldn’t socialists be celebrating his undeniable musical talent, and at the same time challenging those ideas that he holds that we disagree with?
Hannah Dee and Viv Smith, London”
Update 3: The previous letter was a response to Michael Rosen’s carefully worded and moderate rebuked from Socialist Worker 6 Match 2007:
“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”
Update 1: If you feel the desire to post a comment on this thread, first make an effort to read and understand, fully, my comments policy.