27/01/2019 by socialistfight
Socialist Action crippled Palestine Solidarity Campaign to expunge ‘anti-Semites’
At least Tony Greenstein now recognises the decay: Critical support to him as Secretary
“My first actions as a political activist were with the Boycott of the South African Springbok Rugby team in 1970. We didn’t though face a significant pro-Apartheid lobby in Britain. Ministers didn’t fall over themselves to laud South Africa as the ‘only democracy in Africa.’ Israel does possess a powerful lobby. Crucial to destroying support for Israel is destroying the myth that Israel is a democratic state.
“We should also recognise where our strengths and weaknesses lie. The majority of British people support the Palestinians. The majority of the elites support Zionism. We should proceed on that basis.” (from Tony Greenstein’s blog, motivating his standing for Secretary of PSC) […]
“We should also be working with groups like the Islamic Human Rights Commission whose own Al Quds demonstration has come under attack by a combination of far-Right Zionists and Tommy Robinson supporters this year.
“We should give critical support to this demonstration and rebut the suggestion that Hamas or Hizbollah are terrorists. The political use of the ‘terrorist’ label should be opposed. Terrorism means the use of violence against civilian targets and there is none more guilty of terrorism than Israel.”
These are passages from the article on Tony Greenstein’s blog motivating his campaign for Secretary of PSC. His criticisms of the PSC’s “cautious conservatism” and “desire to become part of the political establishment” are obviously true.
As are his criticisms of PSC’s refusal to campaign against the witchhunt against ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ in Labour, which is now spilling outside and has led to staff like Stan Keable, employed by Labour councils, (Hammersmith and Fulham) who have spoken out against Israeli racism, being sacked, or musicians being banned from playing.
As he notes, PSC has hosted events in Parliament with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, a member of Labour Friends of Israel who says “People who believe Israel does not have the right to exist should be drummed out of the Labour Party.” Likewise, he correctly notes, there is no systematic criticism of the traitorous Palestinian authority by the PSC, this body which represses and tortures Palestinians on Israel’s behalf.
We note that this pro-establishment position, grovelling to supporters of Israel and to those involved in repression of Palestinians, is the logic of the witchhunt against more radical critics of Zionism, some with confused views, which racked PSC in the early twenty-teens. There was a witchhunt of people sympathetic to the views of Gilad Atzmon, and people like Francis Clarke-Lowes, himself like Tony a founder of PSC, were thrown out for ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘Holocaust denial’ with the implication that they were some kind of Nazis.
They were nothing of the sort, even if their criticisms of Zionism, Jewish racism and the power of the Israel lobby were often confused and flawed. In a panic at the PSC being associated with such views, Tony, others with similar views on the Jewish left and some non-Jewish supporters made a bloc with the bureaucratic-opportunist deep-entrist group Socialist Action to purge PSC of these heresies.
Never mind that some of the heresies were illusory and historically wrong, this was a bureaucratic, opportunist non-solution to a political problem. The main one being that 70 years of ruthless exploitation of the crimes of the Nazis against Jewish people, by supporters of Israel’s own crimes against the Palestinians, have led to intelligent, humane, anti-racist people doubting, or even tentatively denying, Nazi crimes in the mid-20th Century.
That a layer of militant Jewish anti-racists and others around them doubt the historicity or magnitude of the Nazi holocaust is completely comprehensible. It is the tip of a very large iceberg of such sentiments in the Arab and Muslim world, which they reflect. Many Palestinian and Arab/Muslim leaders, reacting to popular sentiment, have expressed similar views, including Nasser, Abbas, Ahmedinejad, some Hamas and Hizbullah leaders, and others too numerous to list.
Tony Greenstein’s call for a bloc with the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which organises the Al Quds march, is somewhat in contradiction to this. As the kind of sentiments PSC purged itself of under Tony’s whip earlier are legion in the IHRC. For example, in January 2019, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism failed in an attempt to force the CPS to prosecute IHRC leader Nazim Ali for remarks that imply that the Grenfell Tower disaster was the responsibility of Zionists.
The Tory blogger Guido Fawkes claims that Gilad Atzmon also blamed the Grenfell Tower disaster on ‘Jerusalemites’ which the Tory reptile blog implies is synonymous with Jews, though for Atzmon these are distinct, though related concepts. ‘Jerusalemites’ are for him people who follow precepts instead of reason; in this case the precepts of neo-liberalism and privatisation which he associates, with a limited but real degree of justification, with Zionism and the rise of the authority of bourgeois Jews among the ruling class.
Purges that Crippled PSC
Tony Greenstein was expelled from the Labour Party for outspoken and undoubtedly sincere anti-Zionism. For that he deserves solidarity. However he also played a reactionary role over the earlier witchhunt against ‘Atzmonites’ and bears responsibility for the state of affairs in PSC – he encouraged the would-be bureaucrats to purge the flawed ‘Atzmonite’ radicals and hence helped them to power. In standing against them and voicing these criticisms he is implicitly condemning his previous role – even if he is not fully aware of this.
Tony was prominent in purging Socialist Fight from Labour Against the Witchhunt a year ago for our analysis of Zionism, which notes that the power of Zionism to suppress criticism, even within bourgeois politics, in the advanced countries is in large measure due to the disproportionate representation of bourgeois Jews (who are mainly Zionist) in the Western ruling classes, which in turn gives them disproportionate social power to get their way politically. Christian Zionists, and the like, to which Tony wrongly gives a primary role in the Zionist lobby, are in fact fellow travellers of that Jewish Zionist caste within the ruling class. If that caste did not exist, the Christian Zionists could not exist either.
This analysis is solidly built on material fact, and the core of it was effectively endorsed last summer by Norman Finkelstein, probably the most prominent of all Anti-Zionists of Jewish origin, in his essay Corbyn Mania. Our purging was related to the purging of the Atzmon supporters from PSC, though this time he was purging not holocaust-doubters and those associated with them, but Marxists analysing material facts whose veracity even he could not deny (we were therefore denounced for not ignoring them). To try to hide this, we were somewhat hysterically accused of being Atzmon ‘supporters’ when it is obvious that our views differ with Atzmon’s idealism rather substantially.
What the purges had in common was an element of Jewish communalism and paternalism. Greenstein claims that in doing this he was ‘protecting’ PSC and thereby the Palestinians from being associated with so-called ‘anti-Semitism’, which in the main was in fact not racism at all but an emotional response with a political manifestation to decades of Zionist lobbying and the cynical, mendacious exploitation of the Nazi holocaust to justify Zionist crimes. In fact it was not protecting the movement at all. It crippled PSC.
So in a sense, Tony is surveying the results of his own work, and he does not like what he sees. Of course it is not his own personal work, but that of a whole layer of Bundist-influenced leftists and the left-groups they influenced or browbeat into going along with this, most notably the SWP who capitulated over the Atzmon issue. Adding weight to the scandalisation of the SWP, in particular, was the social weight of the Zionists and the Blairite pro-war media, bloggers etc. who provided the chorus.
But in however a contradictory way, Tony is resisting this. This is shown dramatically over the issue of Chris Williamson being witchhunted and forced to apologise for signing a petition in defence of Gilad Atzmon’s right to play for the Blockheads in December, when he was banned from playing by the Labour Council in Islington, after a complaint by the UK Director of Likud no less!
It is richly ironic that the only Marxist trends or individuals who have not only defended Gilad Atzmon’s right to play his music in Islington, but also criticised Chris Williamson for his apology for endorsing that petition, are Socialist Fight and Tony Greenstein. No one else has done so. We note that Tony’s article (http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/12/banning-gilad-atzmon-from-playing-jazz.html) arguing this has not been published in the Weekly Worker, who content themselves with defending the ‘free speech’ of the Zionist-fascist James Goddard instead of Gilad Atzmon. What this signifies to them is unclear.
But these recent events, in their logic, provide a principled basis for us to call for critical support for Tony Greenstein’s bid to become PSC Secretary. ▲