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ANTONIO GRAMSCI by Antonio A. Santucci
TOWARD AN OPEN TOMB:
The Crisis of Israeli Society
by Michel Warschawski
THE WORLD WE WISH TO SEE: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty First Century by Samir Amin
THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
THE ROSA LUXEMBURG READER edited by Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson
JOSÉ CARLOS MARIÁTEGUI: An Anthology by Harry E. Vanden and Marc Becker
THE FICTION OF A THINKABLE WORLD: Body, Meaning, and the Culture of Capitalism by Michael Steinberg
TIONS OF "REAL SOCIALISM": The Conductor and the Conducted by Michael A. Lebowitz
THE SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE by Michael A. Lebowitz
BUILD IT NOW: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz
THE STRUCTURAL CRISIS OF CAPITAL by István Mészáros
SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND FORMS OF CONSCIOUS-
NESS by István Mészáros
BEYOND CAPITAL: Toward a Theory of Transition by István Mészáros
THE CHALLENGE AND BURDEN OF HISTORICAL TIME: Socialism in the Twenty-First Century by István Mészáros (foreword by John Bellamy Foster)
ARY DOCTORS: How Venezuela and Cuba Are Changing the World's Conception of Health Care by Steve Brouwer
CHE GUEVARA: His Revolutionary Legacy by Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy
ING THE VENEZUELAN REVOLUTION: Hugo Chavez Talks to Marta Harnecker by Hugo Chavez and Marta Harnecker
|Not Quite "Ordinary Human Beings" --
Anti-Imperialism and the Anti-Humanist Rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon
Attempting to latch onto the just, vital, and growing movement in support of the Palestinian national liberation struggle, Gilad Atzmon is one of a very small and unrepresentative group of writers who have argued (in agreement with many Zionists) that there is no meaningful distinction to be made between Jews in general and Israeli atrocities. According to Atzmon, the latter are simply a manifestation of Jews' historic relationship to gentiles, an authentic expression of an essentially racist, immoral, and anti-human "Jewish ideology."
Atzmon's statements, besides distorting the history of Jews and constituting a brazen justification for centuries of anti-Jewish behavior and beliefs, also downgrade anti-Zionism to a mere front in the broader (anti-Jewish) struggle. Atzmon has specifically described Zionism not as a form of colonialism or settlerism, but as a uniquely evil ideology unlike anything else in human history. In addition to any ethical problems, this line of argumentation actually strengthens Zionism's grip and claim to be the authentic representative of Jews. It obscures the reality that Zionism is an imperialist and colonialist enemy of Jewish people and Palestinians, as well as the Arab people generally and all those oppressed and exploited by imperialism.
In his online attack on Moshe Machover, an Israeli socialist and founder of the anti-Zionist group Matzpen, Atzmon states:
For Atzmon, such views are "pretty trivial" and "lame" because he holds that Jews are in fact radically different from the French and the English. Of the many quotes we could provide in this regard, here is a small sampling:2
The conclusion to such views is not difficult to draw:
More precisely, commenting on the climax of State violence directed at Jews in the 1930s, most famously by Germany, but also in most other European nations, Atzmon is clear:
It is, as such, not surprising that Atzmon's work has received enthusiastic reviews by such prominent members of the racist right as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Kevin MacDonald of the Occidental Observer, David Icke, and Arthur Topham's the Radical Press. It should not be surprising that Atzmon has distributed articles defending Holocaust deniers and those who write of "the Hitler we loved and why."15 These connections ultimately serve the interests of Zionism, which seeks to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Jewishness. Zionist agents have repeatedly attempted to ensnare and link Palestinian, Arab, and/or Muslim rights advocates to Neo-Nazism, through dirty tricks and outright lies.
It is more surprising and disappointing, then, that a small section of the left has opted to promote Atzmon and his works. In the UK, the Socialist Workers Party promoted Atzmon for several years16 before finally breaking with him; his latest book The Wandering Who? has been published by the left-wing Zero Books (a decision that elicited a letter of protest from several Zero authors).17 In the United States, the widely-read Counterpunch website has repeatedly chosen to run articles by Atzmon. Currently, in February and March 2012, Atzmon is on tour in North America, where several of his speaking engagements are being organized by progressive anti-imperialists whom we would normally like to consider our allies.
While perhaps well-meaning, operating under the assumption that any opposition to Zionism is to be welcomed, progressives who promote the work of Atzmon are in fact surrendering the moral high ground by encouraging a belief-system that simply mirrors that of the most racist section of Israeli society. Anti-racism is not a liability; on the contrary, it is a principle that makes our movements stronger in the long fight for a better tomorrow.
As political activists committed to resisting colonialism and imperialism -- in North America and around the world -- we recognize that there can be different interpretations of history, and we welcome exploring these. Without wishing to debate the question of whether far-right and racist ideologues should be censored, or how, we see no reason for progressive people to organize events to promote their works.
In our struggle against Zionism, racism, and all forms of colonialism and imperialism, there is no place for anti-Semitism or the vilification of Jews, Palestinians, or any people based on their religions, cultures, nationalities, ethnicity, or history. At this historic junction -- when the need to struggle for the liberation of Palestine is more vital than ever and the fault lines of capitalist empire are becoming more widely exposed -- no anti-oppressive revolution can be built with ultra-right allies or upon foundations friendly to creeping fascism.
2 Many more quotes like these could be provided, but we assume this is enough to show that these are not out-of-context or out-of-character remarks. If not, readers may wish to peruse the section of Atzmon's website on "Jewishness" at <www.gilad.co.uk/writings/category/jewishness>.
5 Gilad Atzmon, "Swindler's List: Zionist Plunder and the Judaic Bible," Redress Information & Analysis, April 5, 2008.
8 Gilad Atzmon, "An Interesting Exchange With A Jewish Anti Zionist," Atzmon's Web site, August 17, 2011.
9 Gilad Atzmon, "The Herem Law in the context of Jewish Past and Present," Atzmon's Web site, July 16, 2011.
10 "Herem" is a Hebrew word that refers to banning or excluding someone; it is also the name of the repressive legislation Israel recently passed to enable punitive lawsuits against those calling for a boycott of the apartheid state. For Atzmon, this law is just one more example of Zionism's Jewish uniqueness (guess he never heard of SLAPPs), as he concludes that "this is what Jews do best: destroying, excluding, excommunicating, silencing, boycotting, sanctioning. After all, Jews have been doing this for centuries."
13 Quoted in Shabana Syed, "Time for World to Confront Israel: Gilad Atzmon," Arab News, June 14, 2010.
As'ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service, Turlock CA
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