Socialist Fight condemns Tony Greenstein’s ‘Holocaust Deniers’ attacks on Turan Basri and Michael Blakey

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22/11/2019 by socialistfight

This is consistent with Greenstein’s long record of the witch hunting leftists as antisemites from the revolutionary socialists Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and the Socialist Fight Group to Peter Gregson of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism  and now Basri and Blakey

Top l-r: Jeremy Corbyn and Vicki Kirby. Bottom l-r: Gerry Downing and Alex Chalmers . This from the Jewish News on 17 March 2016 – they at least understood a serious witchhunt was now in train and took the side of Zionism and capitalism in general, whose target was Jeremy Corbyn. Greenstein denied this.

On 12 November 2019 Gerry Downing posted on Facebook a denunciation of Holocaust deniers which got some 41 comments. In the course of the discussion Mark Stevens wrote:

“The first attempt at genocide in the 20th century was the “Armenian massacre” by Turkey in WW1. One reason we know of this is that photos were taken by an attached German soldier. That same man later wrote (to) Hitler that the treatment of Jews in Germany would lead the same way… “who now remembers the Armenian massacres” was Hitler’s reported comment. It is official policy backed by law to deny the massacres in Turkey.”

Labour party activist Turan Basri wrote in reply, putting the events of 1915 in the contest of WWI:

“Hitler didn’t say that…. that alleged comment is shown to be untrue. While I’m not going to defend the forced migrations and sectarian killings that did take place, history is often written by the victor. Over 1 million Muslim Turks died in that war, Kurds were slaughtered in Van province by Armenians and Tsarist Russians…. yet nothing is even mentioned about that.”

Tony Greenstein wrote of Turan Basri:

“It (the Armenian slaughter in 1915) wasn’t a war it was a slaughter. I think you are the next best thing to a holocaust denier”.

Totally unjustified and malicious accusation

Socialist Fight condemns this totally unjustified and malicious accusation against a principled socialist anti-racist which could easily result in getting him expelled from the Labour party. He (Greenstein) supported Gerry Downing’s expulsion from the Labour party on 10 March 2016 and wrote articles in Weekly Worker and the Morning Star in support of the Guido Fawkes/David Cameron attacks during prime minister’s question time on 9 March 2016. This was the real beginning of the attacks on the entire left of the Labour party; it was just then that Poale Zion, reinvented in 2004 as the Jewish Labour Movement (still affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation), went into action against Corbyn and the mass membership of Labour on behalf of Zionism and the right wing of Labour and the whole of the capitalist establishment.

Weekly Worker No. 1098, 17 March 2016, published Gerry Downing’s appeal against his expulsion from the Labour party on 10 March [1] under the title, ‘Due process and justice’. It was sub-headed, ‘In the interests of political debate and clarification we publish Gerry Downing’s appeal against his expulsion’. This was a comradely and principled act of united front solidarity, recognising what the very damaging wider implication of this witchhunt were for the Labour party and the working class as a whole.

Greenstein wrote an article in the same issue in complete opposition to this spirit, with no solidarity whatsoever. The piece, ‘Confusing the question’, says at the start:

“It was August Bebel, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party, who described anti-Semitism as the “socialism of fools”. Gerry Downing – the leader of a tiny Trotskyist group, Socialist Fight, one of the splinters resulting from the implosion of the Workers Revolutionary Party of Vanessa Redgrave fame – is nothing if not a fool. He is a complete muddlehead who hit the headlines last week when he was cited by David Cameron at prime minister’s question time in the House of Commons.”

However, Jim Grant, whilst extremely critical of the politics of Socialist Fight from a third campist position, penned an opposing principled article in that tissue, ‘Thin end of the wedge’, which said:

We must oppose the expulsion of Gerry Downing, but fight to expose his political errors, argues Jim Grant. It is nevertheless not so much in spite of his worsening political errors as because of them that we oppose Gerry Downing’s expulsion from the Labour Party. Every wedge needs a thin end, and by remaining wedded to the moralistic anti-imperialism of his Trotskyist extraction, with the additional seasoning of Ian Donovan’s ‘theories’ about Jews, Gerry has made just such a thin end of himself.

We do not get to pick and choose the terrain of every battle, however. Gerry’s expulsion is part of a wider project on the part of the Labour right and their cronies in the yellow press to delegitimise the left, not least by equating our opposition to Zionism and the ongoing Israeli colonial-settler project with anti-Semitism. Let us get things in perspective: despite the ravings of Simon Schama, Dan Hodges and the like, the Labour Party’s biggest problem is not that it is riddled with anti-Semites. (Even within their specific corner of the far left, Gerry and Ian are oddities.) It is that it is bound tightly to British imperialism.

And there were two short letters also that took that same opposite position. The first, principled, one from Paul Bloom, ‘No witch-hunt!, said:

The point of Cameron’s attack on Downing/Socialist Fight is to encourage a Labour Party witch-hunt against the revolutionary left. We can debate the correctness of Socialist Fight positions in the pages of the Weekly Worker, but, whatever our views, we should not support this witch-hunt.

The LP right wing will jump on Cameron’s bandwagon, inflating the compliance unit’s ongoing witch-hunt and exclusion of socialists from the LP. We must defend the democracy of the labour movement and the right of groups and individuals to debate important questions. In particular we call on all socialists and communists to join the LP and fight for socialism. Stop the witch-hunt!

The second one, ‘Point made’, from Judd Seuss took opposite, Greensteinite, cowardly position of appeasing Zionism and the masters of life in general:

I was going to send a quick note about how odd it was that the Weekly Worker, despite having a cover story on anti-Semitism, hadn’t managed to mention even en passant the problem that the Marxist left is less spotless that one might wish on the issue, and that it wasn’t that long ago that, for example, Tony Greenstein was ferociously attacked for documenting Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism for what it is, even as the Socialist Workers Party kept inviting Atzmon to event after event.

Then Gerry Dowling (sic!), Ian Donovan’s comrade at Socialist Fight, went on the Daily politics show and made my point far better than I could.

His article for the Morning Star on 13 April 2016 (less than a week after Downing’s second expulsion from the Labour party) referred to him, to the delight of the Stalinists as, “an idiot Trotskyist, Gerry Downing, who believes that there is a cabal of zionist capitalists who run the foreign policy of Britain and the US.”

On the 24 April Tony wrote another article for the Weekly Worker claiming that. “Jonathan Freedland, a senior Guardian journalist, set the tone with an article which used the idiocy of one Labour Party member, Vicky Kirby, and the stupidity of Gerry Downing to tar the left in the party as anti-Semitic.” How very respectful Tony is here to this racist, Zionist bigot, who only mentioned Downing in passing but who did provide the link to the website of Guido Fawkes, a far right Tory attack dog who went to great lengths to demonstrate what a complete anti-semite he was and so provide David Cameron with his ammunition for the infamous PMQs on 9 March 2016. [2]

Greenstein the prime witchhunter

Greenstein was the prime witchhunter in getting Gerry Downing, Ian Donovan and Socialist Fight expelled from Labour Against the Witchhunt on 6 January 2018 with the bogus charge of antisemitism. That we were “politically but not personally” antisemitic was the pathetic excuse used to alibi the bogus charge. Likewise, he was amongst the prime movers for Peter Gregson’s expulsion from LAW on 4 May 2019, for a McCarthyite crime of guilt by association, twice removed.

The reply to Turan shows total ignorance of, or indifference to, the struggle of the Turkish nation for liberation against imperialist intervention during WWI and in its immediate aftermath during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Or alternatively political support for imperialism’s onslaught on Turkey.

We also condemn the similar unjust accusation made against socialist anti-racist Michael Blakey, for agreeing with Turan on Armenia and demanding the right to discuss the Holocaust and its relationship to Zionism. Michael’s comment was in a separate area of the post and was in relation to the Nazi Holocaust where he wrote:

“why then does it need legal sanctions…why is it not open for investigation of a genuine and scientific nature. There are too many inconsistencies in the official version. Other than that, it is undoubted persecution of Jews declared by the Nazis.”

But no free speech advocacy from the third campist Greenstein for those on his left, the revolutionary socialists of Socialist Fight, Peter Gregson, Turan Basri and Michael Blakey.

Greenstein replied:

“another pathetic holocaust denier in the offing. The Holocaust has been investigated to death. There are thousands of books on it, most of them worthless. There is no doubt whatsoever that it took place or that the Nazis attempted to exterminate not only the Jews but the Gypsies and Disabled too. Given you know nothing of the Holocaust why do you say, “why is it not open for investigation of a genuine and scientific nature.” Only neo-Nazi scum says that.”

Dubbing a principled revolutionary socialist “neo-Nazi scum” is appalling right wing reactionary nonsense pandering to Zionism itself. Michael is not allowed to examine the historical record for himself, but must accept the Zionist account, which is obviously now used to justify their genocidal attacks on the Palestinians. Michael was merely challenging this Zionist hegemony over the Holocaust discussion, and Greenstein obviously agrees with Zionism on this – Michael made it abundantly clear that he was not a Holocaust denier in this reply to the attack on him:

“I suggest you read what I said again ..nothing should be beyond investigation if there is conflicting evidence…that the holocaust took place is beyond doubt as is the declarations of various Nazis ..what needs working out is how the victims have who support Israel still support it…so many have already rejected it.”

Turan Basri replied to the attack on him:

“Tony Greenstein, can you withdraw that remark. That’s a fucking insult and I will tell you that to your face next time I see you. At no point have I suggested that Armenians were not slaughtered. I’ve suggested that 1 million Muslim Turks and Kurds also died in that imperialist war, where they were also victims … Tony Greenstein, there’s a difference between debating a subject and outright denial. Until recently I never realised how politically backward…. or opportunist, you really are.”

Michael Blakey further replied:

“Tony Greenstein, I take it you are of the impression I would not understand. Are you deliberately rude and so religiously dogmatic that you assume so much without reading what is said and then snottily tell someone to go figure. Obviously, you are not debating and active in these matters for personal popularity but assumption. Dogmatism and rudeness won’t even allow you to consider a most basic principle of scientific socialist knowledge. Before you actually become knowledgeable the precondition is ignorance. Without free investigation of phenomena and the mode in which scientifically derived laws and concepts must inform analysis from semblance to appearance and essence there is no determination.”

Turan Basri sets the record straight

Turan Basri replied at length, quoting Greenstein to begin:

“… yes, history is written by the victor which is why so many countries defer to the Turkish version. It wasn’t a war it was a slaughter. I think you are the next best thing to a holocaust denier.”

As you haven’t had the decency to even answer presumably you stand by your comment? You seem to have form in accusing people on the left of being racists and associating with Holocaust deniers, which is hard to understand from someone who has themselves been witch-hunted and now ends up witch-hunting other leftists. Rather than encourage me to expand upon my comments you decided instead to go straight for my ‘Holocaust denying’ jugular.

What part of my post actually offended you and prompted your attack? Was it the fact that I dared to suggest that there were also other victims during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire?”

Wikipedia supplies some of the details of that collapse which Greenstein is ignorant of or chooses to ignore:

The Turkish War of Independence (19 May 1919 – 24 July 1923) was fought between the Turkish National Movement and the proxies of the Allies – namely Greece on the Western Front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern, the royalists and the separatists in various cities, and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople. [3]

Greenstein is simply wrong on Turkey from 1915-1923. The Bolshevik supported the Turkish national struggle led by Ataturk; this has nothing to do with the Young Turks’ genocide of the Armenians. The Young Turks sought a nationalist reform of the Sultanate, whereas Ataturk finally destroyed it. The fact that Wikipedia postings conflate the two is no excuse. Turan resumes:

“I’ll remind you (as if you needed to be) that Jackie Walker was hounded for daring to suggest that other victims should also be remembered, your close colleague, that you quite rightly defend (as do I) against smears of being a racist and a holocaust denier. Yet, when I have attempted to do similar (in respect of defending the Kurds who were also slaughtered in Van and Bitlis provinces, to name just two, along with Turks who were also slaughtered in villages) you shout foul. This is another hypocritical position you place yourself in. Many on the left, who are vehement anti-fascists, very rightly question the bombing of Dresden and the appalling loss of civilian life …. does this make them Nazi apologists and therefore by default Holocaust deniers? In your logic it seems as though it would.

I’ll direct you to the First Congress of the Peoples of the East in 1920, which acknowledged and sympathised with the Turkish fight against the Imperialist powers, while declaring in a resolution on 4th September 1920 that “Success for this movement would in no way signify the emancipation of the Turkish peasants and workers from oppression and exploitation of every kind”, and continuing “In calling on the toiling masses of Turkey and the entire East to support the national-revolutionary movement in Turkey, the congress urges the peasants and workers of Turkey to come together in independent organisations and to stand ready to carry the cause of emancipation through to the end. They must not allow the foreign imperialists, who are trying to hinder the work of emancipation, to make use of connections and influence amongst the Turkish rich….”

And I’ll also continue to the speech provided by Comrade Pavlovich on the ‘National and Colonial Question’ at the Conference the next day, “Finally, European imperialism is supporting Dashnak Armenia and Menshevik Georgia with arms, money, and bread, in order to maintain these countries as a barrier separating revolutionary Russia and Caucasia from revolutionary Turkey, Persia and India.” [4]

Why does any of this matter? It matters a great deal because it highlights from a Soviet perspective the imperialist interference in the region and the carving up of territories – and not just because the Turks said so, the counter revolutionary nationalist uprising that eventually succeeded in Turkey and the missed opportunity of a socialist revolution in Turkey. This war had been going on since 1914, with the Ottoman territories being invaded and carved up by all the major European powers. The collapse of the Empire resulted in nationalist uprisings from minorities spurred on by outside interference, sectarian atrocities on both sides, starvation, disease, rapes and forced migrations. As I’ve previously attempted (but rather poorly in such a short post) was to bring to attention that this was a civil war where atrocities took place across the board. To suggest that there were no other victims of Genocide is incorrect. This in no way implies that I am apologising for any appalling mistreatment towards and the slaughter of non-Turkish peoples in that war, or have no empathy with the plight of Ottoman Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians.

As for your “so many countries defer to the Turkish version”, which influential countries are these Tony? The US, perhaps France or Germany, the UK perhaps? Russia? The European Union? To date 32 countries recognise the Armenian Genocide, with some countries actually criminalising and issuing prison sentences and/or fines for genocide denial. The only two countries that have a position that directly denies genocide are Turkey and Azerbaijan. So, no, there is no majority ‘Turkish version’.”

Turan then turns to the historical question of the providence of the “Who still speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?” remark attributed to Adolf Hitler:

“My initial post was to reply to the historical inaccuracy of the alleged Adolf Hitler quote that was allegedly made in a presentation to his Generals in 1939, with this version aimed at the Poles and not Jews:

“So I have, first only in the East, prepared my Death’s Heads divisions with the order to send men, women and children of Polish descent mercilessly and pitilessly to their deaths. Only thus will we win the living space that we need. Who still speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians? Colonel General von Brauchitsch has promised me…”

This ‘speech’ first ‘came to light’ in The Times newspaper in 1945 when reporting on the Nuremberg Trials in November of that year. However, Dr. Heath W. Lowry of the Institute of Turkish Studies went through the Nuremberg records thoroughly, concretely proving that it does not appear at all in the transcripts. The perpetuation of this myth is no different than that accusation by Netanyahu and other Zionists that the Mufti of Jerusalem was responsible for the Holocaust, to therefore suggest that somehow the Turks treatment of the Armenians inspired and encouraged Hitler’s treatment of the Jews is absurd …. as if he really needed any inspiration. It’s nothing less than a false claim of an anti-Jewish Muslim blood libel.”

There has been a great historical debate between Zionism and truthful historians and academics on their question. Turan’s account is the correct one.

The original post on Facebook: Gerry Joseph Downing,12 November 2019 at 07:44:

I find Holocaust deniers offensive; that stuff is just plain conspiracy, flat earth freakery. The occurrence of the Holocaust and the approximate number of 6 million Jews and approximately the same number of others is established historical fact.

To proclaim it never happened is to assume a conspiracy of millions of people, most of whom have no possible motive to invent and propagate such a ridiculous conspiracy. You may as well propose that WWII never happened, just lies made up to fool us.

We can follow the political build up to it, the Wannsee Conference which took the decision to commit the genocide, in fact after it had already begun, and we know the locations of the death camps and other places where the mass murders took place.

It is seriously unhinged to say it didn’t happen. And suggests an attempt to politically defend the Nazis. The vast majority of the Jewish victims were not Zionist at all but poor Jews from the Pale of Settlement who supported the Bund and/or the Bolsheviks or other leftists revolutionaries or left reformists and were absolutely opposed to Zionism.

Being aware of how the Zionist exploit the Holocaust to justify their appalling treatment of the Palestinians does not justify this kind of conspiracy nonsense. [5]

26 likes

Of course Socialist Fight agrees with Tony Greenstein on this.

Conclusion

Of course, we relate to Tony Greenstein as to all allies, semi-allies and opponents in the workers movement in the principled united front manner demanded by Marxism; we support him when he takes correct positions, for example on Chris Williamson or the genocidal attacks on the Palestinians by the Zionists of the state of Israel and will continue to do so. With no personal animosity Gerry Downing debates him in the pages of Weekly Worker on the philosophical significance of Martin Heidegger and why Hannah Arendt is not the ‘greatest Jewish philosopher of the twentieth century’. But we cannot accept the subjectivist slanders and actions against principled socialists outlined above which cross class lines. These are beyond the bounds of socialist controversary.

And of course Socialist Fight agrees with Tony Greenstein on support for Chris Williamson.

Notes                           


[1] Weekly Worker No. 1098, 17.3.19, https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1098/

[2] See Reply to Tony Greenstein, 20/4/19, https://socialistfight.com/2019/04/20/reply-to-tony-greenstein/

[3] Wikipedia: The Turkish War of Independence  19 May 1919 – 24 July 1923 was fought between the Turkish National Movement and the proxies of the Allies – namely Greece on the Western Front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern, the royalists and the separatists in various cities, and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople (now Istanbul) – after parts of the Ottoman Empire were occupied and partitioned following the Ottomans’ defeat in World War I. Few of the occupying British, French, and Italian troops had been deployed or engaged in combat.

The Allies left Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey decided on the establishment of a Republic in Turkey, which was declared on 29 October 1923. With the establishment of the Turkish National Movement, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, and the abolition of the sultanate, the Ottoman era and the Empire came to an end, and with Atatürk’s reforms, the Turks created the modern, secular nation-state of Turkey on the political front. On 3 March 1924, the Ottoman caliphate was officially abolished, and the last Caliph was exiled. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_War_of_Independence

[4] Lenin was far from capitulatory to Mustafa Kemal:

“A determined fight is necessary against the attempt to put a communist cloak around revolutionary liberation movements. The C.I. (Communist International) has the duty to support the revolutionary movement in the colonies only for the purpose of gathering of the future proletarian parties in fact and not just in name – in all countries and training them to be their special tasks… of fighting bourgeois democratic tendencies within components communists the backward conscious of against the nation.”

Mustafa Suphi and 14 of his Communist party comrades were massacred on the night of 28 January 1921. But Lenin and Suphi were correct to support the Turkish War of Independence and the AIUF that it entailed. Let us not forget Churchill’s Gallipoli Campaign between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during WWI were a joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia. The campaign was considered one of the greatest victories of the Turks and was reflected on as a major failure by the Allies. The subsequent War of Independence, May 19, 1919 – October 11, July 24, 1923 resulted in a decisive Turkish Victory, the overthrow of the Ottoman Sultanate, the Treaty of Lausanne and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.

[5] Gerry Joseph Downing, I find Holocaust deniers offensive, https://www.facebook.com/gerdowning/posts/10221435088534582

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