Green councillor and candidate Rupert Read pushes Gilad Atzmon

Rupert Read, Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in Norwich, asserts:

“I abhor violence and I abhor racism and discrimination in all its forms.”

and

“I reserve my right to criticise the foreign policy of the state of Israel without being smeared as ‘anti-Semitic’.”

That is certainly his right. Criticism of Israel isn’t antisemitic. Neither should we allow antisemitism to pass for criticism of Israel.

Gilad Atzmon is a jazz saxophonist and racist campaigner who has repeated (http://bit.ly/4EuvyN) the old libel that “the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus”. He talks about a “Jewish lobby” and calls for Britain to “de-Zionise” itself. He calls for “de-judaisation”. He is frankly and comfortably antisemitic, and fights for anti-Jewish politics in the Palestine solidarity movement.

He is critical of those who compare the current Israel with Nazi Germany because he says Israel is a more radical evil: “Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison.”

Gilad Atzmon pushes classic anti-semitic Jewish conspiracy libel (http://bit.ly/4EuvyN):

“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.”

Rupert Read says:

“Like all Greens I am wholly aware of the particular suffering of the Jewish people through hundreds of years of European history and their being subject to a myriad of lies and prejudices culminating in the Holocaust. Anti-semitism is as a result an especially vile attitude, and one which I have absolutely no truck with whatsoever.”

On setting fire to synagogues, Gilad Atzmon:

“I’m not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.”

Atzmon also calls for more Holocaust deniers.

Confidently and purposefully, Gilad Atzmon syllogises Jews, Israelis and Zionists. When he calls for “de-judaification” (http://bit.ly/2z5iDV), he wants precisely that – Israel without Jews, a Palestine solidarity movement without Jews – a world without Jews. And when, in this latest piece (http://bit.ly/48Mt9y) he calls for de-Zionisation, you can look in vain for a distinction between Zionists and Jews.

Instead of standing against Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Jewish campaign, Rupert Read twitters to his followers to read Atzmon’s latest piece, repeating Atzmon’s call for Britain to de-Zionise itself (November 17th 2009, http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/britain-must-de-zionise-itself-immediately-by-gilad-atzmon.html).

Frankly, this is horrifying. How much more is the Green Party going to stand for?

Mira Vogel and Raphael Levy

Update: in the comments below, Rupert Read apologises, and has removed the tweet. He tells us he didn’t realise that Gilad Atzmon was a fellow-traveller with Holocaust deniers. This is welcome.

But Atzmon’s piece was characteristic of his project, in that he conflated Jews and Zionists and called for de-Zionisation. It refreshed many antisemitic tropes which have historically attached to Jews – the conspiracy, the manipulation of power, the social damage – and attached them to Zionists. So his flirtations with Holocaust denial are a relevant part of a bigger problem: the piece Rupert Read linked to was clearly part of an anti-Jewish campaign. Yet he still thought it an “interesting” and worthwhile read. Why?

Update 2. There are a number of lucid comments from Green Party members and campaigners against antisemitism over on Engage, from where I linked to this piece.

Update 3. Gilad Atzmon now an open Holocaust denier, says one of his anti-Zionist antagonists.


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59 thoughts on “Green councillor and candidate Rupert Read pushes Gilad Atzmon

  1. Pingback: Green councillor and candidate Rupert Read pushes Gilad Atzmon « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism

  2. Adam Ramsay

    Gilad Atzmon is clearly dangerous, wrong, and holds abhorrent views. However, I sort of follow these issues, and I’ve never heard of him. It is conceivable that Rupert didn’t know this guy’s history, and broader views.

    Just because you quote a racist nutter, that doesn’t mean you are a racist nutter.

    Reply
  3. Mira Vogel Post author

    Not quote – push. Link to without criticism. As a politician who has been charged with antisemitism and rubbished this charge. Who should be trying to promote criticism of Israel instead of antisemitic attacks but clearly isn’t. This is absolutely outrageous.

    What are Greens going to do?

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Green Rupert And The Anti-Jewish Racist. « ModernityBlog

  5. Rosso Verde

    Blimey, I’d actually agree with you on this one. Atzmon is a clear nutter and I’m surprised that someone with the brains of Rupert Read didn’t realise what he had done. There is indeed plenty of scope to critise Israel without quoting racists, indeed its rather self defeating to do so if you wan t to be taken seriously.

    Reply
  6. Mira Vogel Post author

    Ross I think Modernity linked from the comment above yours, has it about right – it is possible to be anti-Zionist and anti-racist (in practice as well as theory – take Dov Khenin, Meron Benvenisti), but:

    “I think Dr. Read’s support for Atzmon illustrates a long standing problem, that those who spend an inordinate amount of time swimming around in the currents of “anti-Zionism” often become desensitised towards anti-Jewish racism, and when it is staring them in the face, as with Atzmon’s filth, they can’t recognise it.”

    Reply
  7. Rupert Read

    Oh dear. Sorry, folks. This was an honest mistake. I didn’t know that Atzmon was a fellow-traveller with Holocaust-deniers; I had never heard of him before. I just came across the interesting piece he wrote on de-Zionisation, and retweeted it without comment.
    I have now deleted the tweet.
    Sorry.

    Reply
  8. Rupert Read

    I agree with a number of the remarks that Atzmon makes IN THIS SPECIFIC POST, which was what I had read:
    *http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/britain-must-de-zionise-itself-immediately-by-gilad-atzmon.html
    I think that the influence of ‘the Israel lobby’ in this country as in many others is nefarious. Presumably you disagree with me on that point.
    But I will have no truck with anyone who questions the Holocaust. So I will oppose Atzmon if I ever come across him or his writings again.

    Reply
    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      There’s more to antisemitism than holocaust denial. Atzmon’s piece was antisemitic – i.e. conflated Jews and Zionists and then call for the elimination of Zionists. Resurrected a load of antisemitic tropes and attached them to Zionists. Do you agree? His attitudes to the Holocaust are only part of of his anti-Jewish project. It stands alone in the piece – it’s obvious. Couldn’t you find a non-antisemitic critique of organised Israel advocacy? Didn’t you notice? Didn’t you want to?

      Reply
  9. anon

    Mira, in your brief biography of Gilad Atzmon you left out the fact that he was born and raised an Israeli Jew and served in the IDF. Why?

    Reply
  10. Gordon Hodgson

    Like Rupert, I had never heard of Gilad Atzmon.

    But I do have the objectivity to recognise destructive criticism devoid of facts, and classic anti-Jew smears.

    These passages alone are TERRIBLE:

    Seemingly a British, consensus case against Zionism and Zionist infiltration is piling up.

    The Jewish community is not happy at all. After so many years of setting the tone, bribing UK politicians and controlling the BBC they are used to being untouchable.

    Labor MP Denis MacShane, who operates as the House of Common’s UK equivalent of the ‘anti defamation league’ told the Jerusalem Post “if there is a Jewish /Israel lobby here, it is not very effective, as Israel is almost treated as a pariah state in the media and has few friends in politics.”

    MacShane may be right; one cannot buy friendship with money. But according to Monday’s broadcast one can certainly buy British politician’s subservience for just a few shekels. According to the Guardian 50% of the Shadow Cabinet are now ‘friends of Israel’. In that context one common saying comes to mind. “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”

    Reply
  11. Rupert Read

    “He called for de-Zionisation…” If you think that calling for that makes someone an anti-semite, then you are dangerously reducing the seriousness of the charge of anti-semitism, and trying to stifle debate.
    “The piece Rupert Read linked to was clearly part of an anti-Jewish campaign.” I don’t accept that at all. If you read the piece in isolation from his dabblings with holocaust-deniers (which I had no idea existed when I read his post), then clearly it is virtually all about anti-Zionism, and has no relevance to questions of being anti-Jewish / anti-Semitic.
    [He is of course Jewish, which makes it hard for him to be anti-Jewish, anyway…]

    Reply
  12. Jonathan Romer

    Dr. Read,

    Atzmon’s seething antisemitism — on full display in the article you liked so much — has been spelled out to you both here and at Engage, where you have also read and participated in the comments. Someone whose antiracism was heartfelt would have sat himself down and thought about the things that have just been pointed out to him, about how he failed to see them for himself, and how his current thinking about Israel had allowed that to happen. Then he would have acknowledged a problem, begun the process of reviewing his thinking, and come back here with a more thoughtful response.

    Anyone who can’t or won’t recognise the problem after what you’ve been shown here and at Engage is, whether he means to be or not and whether he knows it or not, an antisemite. And no, that’s not an attempt to stifle you — only to talk truth to your face. You have the freedom to ignore all of us and keep on exactly as you are. I don’t have the power to stop you, but I do have the right to call you out: Freedom of speech for both of us.

    Reply
  13. Mira Vogel Post author

    “Anyone who can’t or won’t recognise the problem after what you’ve been shown here and at Engage is, whether he means to be or not and whether he knows it or not, an antisemite.”

    Jonathan, I think we should make this about what Rupert has said rather than about the person. I know there is a current of thought which believes otherwise and that what I’m about to say is spin and semantics, but I disagree.

    One reason is pragmatic: what possible good can it do if a self-righteous person begins to think of themselves as an antisemite? Chances are they’ll come to the conclusion “If I’m an antisemite, then antisemitism can’t be bad, because I am a good person”. Another reason is that neither of us can say whether Rupert is an antisemite, and people who know him (e.g. Peter Tatchell) say that he is not. A third reason is that to call somebody a racist, or a sexist etc essentialises them on the basis of what we take to be their beliefs. It isn’t the person we’re talking about – it’s the actions and their effects.

    Can we please stick to talking about Rupert’s actions, and their effects?

    Reply
  14. Mira Vogel Post author

    Rupert, it has already been pointed out to you several times that Atzmon conflates Jews and Zionists. So when he calls for de-Zionisation, the clear implication is de-Jewification.

    “he is of course Jewish which makes it hard for him to be anti-Jewish anyway”.

    He calls himself an ex-Jew, Rupert. He hates Jews.
    http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=1559

    Of course you can be Jewish and antisemitic. You can be gay and homophobic. You can call it the internalisation of oppression – you can call it what you like – it is not unusual. Example from a recent episode of Andrew Marr’s ‘The Making of Modern Britain’ – the way some British women joined in with attacks on the British women campaigning for the franchise.

    Please do the right thing and write a further self-appraisal in which you reflect upon how antipathy against Zionism (as opposed to lucid criticism) can prejudice anti-Zionists and corner them with antisemitic thinkers. We will make sure it is the last thing people see on this post. It will of course be subject to criticism (analysis, I mean), but if it’s good it will draw a line under this episode.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Gilad Atzmon uses the terms the terms “de-Zionisation” and “de-Judaisation” interchangeably. He is not criticising the actions of the State of Israel, he is calling for, at the very least, the eradication of Jewish culture worldwide, if not the wholesale extermination of Jews themselves. Antisemitism infuses every moment of this man’s life – he even wrote an entire article denouncing the film “Borat” for showing antisemitism in a negative light (proving that he also has far too much spare time on his hands). His antisemitic viewpoints are clearly visible in this article, as in everything else he has written. I’m sorry, Mr Read, but unless in a moment of supreme irresponsibility you decided to promote an article you had not even read, it’s more or less impossible to plead ignorance on this one.

    The other unfortunate consequence of this incident is that Mr Read’s actions will probably damage the reputation of the Green Party, which is an otherwise respectable political organisation with (unless there are others like Mr Read who are just better at hiding themselves) no connection to any kind of antisemitic activity.

    Reply
  16. Mira Vogel Post author

    “an otherwise respectable political organisation with (unless there are others like Mr Read who are just better at hiding themselves) no connection to any kind of antisemitic activity.”

    Green Party has an antisemitism problem which it is far more comfortable tolerating than dealing with – i.e. it goes deep.

    https://greensengage.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/reporting-the-green-conference-resolution-on-antisemitism/

    http://greensstoptheboycott.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/green-left-conference-fringe-on-anti-zionism-a-jewish-perspective/

    https://greensengage.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/howard-jacobson-on-caroline-lucas-mumbai-analysis/

    https://greensengage.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/private-eye-spies-greens/

    https://greensengage.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/pointing-out-antisemitism-artful/

    There’s more going on on private lists. The Green Party needs to act to raise awareness of the distinctions between criticism of the policies of the Israeli government, anti-Zionism, pro-Palestinian activism and antisemitism. It needs to encourage members – particularly candidates – not to be so baselessly complacent about their abilities to recognise antisemitism. It’s bad to have to say this on this blog, but it’s been a very long time now since the issue was raised through the official channels and nothing has changed.

    Reply
  17. Jonathan Romer

    Mira,

    I have a lot of respect for your opinions, for the time and effort you have put in at Engage and here, and for your thoughtful, non-inflammatory approach. I understand and accept the idea that it is possible to act or speak in antisemitic ways without being an antisemite, and I am strongly in favour of pragmatism as a guiding principle.

    But (of course there’s a ‘but’) I think there must be a limit. When the problem is as plain as it is in the case of Atzmon’s article, Read’s endorsement of it, and his defence of his endorsement; and when that problem has been spelled out as clearly as it has been here and at Engage — then, I expect a person of Dr. Read’s obvious intelligence and education, if he stands by his claim to be anti-racist and wants to engage in public life, to perform some self-examination. If he comes back to make it clear he sees the problem, understands it and has addressed it, it will be my pleasure to welcome the change and withdraw my accusation. Until then he has set himself on the wrong side of the line.

    In my earlier comment I set a rather broad standard. I wrote “Anyone who can’t or won’t recognise the problem … is, whether he means to be or not and whether he knows it or not, an antisemite.” As things stand, it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that the intelligent, educated Dr. Read both knows it and means it.

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    In that case, I stand corrected. I just hadn’t encountered anything to do with antisemitism in the Green Party before now. Looks like another left-wing organisation has just about fallen to infiltration from groups with antisemitic interests. Thankyou for pointing this out to me, I’ll keep an eye on this in the future.

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    I would have to agree on Jonathan Romer’s point (I would have included this in the post I’ve just made, but he posted as I was typing, so I didn’t see what he had written until my post was already posted) about Mr Read’s claim to be “anti-racist”. Many people involved in antisemitic activities now hypocritically insist that they are left-wing, liberal and anti-racist in order to cover themselves. The director Ken Loach, for example, is heavily involved in anti-censorship activism, yet he also campaigns for a total cultural boycott of Israel (and what more extreme form of censorship is there than censoring out the culture and media of an entire country?). The problem is that most people tend to automatically assume that if someone is left-wing, liberal or anti-racist (or if they claim to be in a convincing enough way) that they must be “a good person” and therefore cannot hold a belief that would be considered by any sane person to be morally wrong. This is by far the most powerful tool in the arsenal of modern antisemitism, and has allowed it to successfully migrate from the discredited far right to the liberal left.

    Reply
  20. modernityblog

    “The problem is that most people tend to automatically assume that if someone is left-wing, liberal or anti-racist (or if they claim to be in a convincing enough way) that they must be “a good person” and therefore cannot hold a belief that would be considered by any sane person to be morally wrong.”

    But then alternatively, we could assume that what people say is always in bad faith and what might be a discussion on a pertinent issue, instead descents into a slanging match. Not a good idea.

    I think a lot of points have been made to Dr Read, and he should be allowed to address them, he is an intelligent individual, a philosopher, etc, so that shouldn’t be beyond his abilities, let us assume the best for the moment and allow Dr.Read to ponder the points raised?

    As an aside, I think the recent expenses scandal amongst MPs shows how hard it is for public figures, politicians and others to acknowledge when they make a mistake, even if that mistake is so blindingly obvious to others, given that Dr. Read’s reticence, thus far, has more than one possible explanation eh?

    Reply
    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      I take a slightly different view on this, having in mind David Runciman (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=402875&sectioncode=26) arguing that merciless pillorying promotes hypocrisy among politicians. So just to reassert that if Rupert Read can understand what has happened here, admit it and demonstrate that he understands and opposes antisemitism in all its forms, he will be in a stronger position than if he had never mentioned Gilad Atzmon.

      Reply
  21. Pingback: “Zionists out of the peace movement”? « Greens Engage

  22. Jonathan Romer

    “if Rupert Read can understand what has happened here, admit it and demonstrate that he understands and opposes antisemitism in all its forms, he will be in a stronger position than if he had never mentioned Gilad Atzmon.”

    And I am back in step with you again, Mira. The point being that the ball is in Dr. Read’s court.

    Modernity,

    “But then alternatively, we could assume that what people say is always in bad faith and what might be a discussion on a pertinent issue, instead descents into a slanging match. Not a good idea.”

    Isn’t the alternative to judge people by the content of their words and actions, not by their self-applied labels?

    “I think a lot of points have been made to Dr Read, and he should be allowed to address them, he is an intelligent individual, a philosopher, etc, so that shouldn’t be beyond his abilities, let us assume the best for the moment and allow Dr.Read to ponder the points raised?

    As an aside, I think the recent expenses scandal amongst MPs shows how hard it is for public figures, politicians and others to acknowledge when they make a mistake, even if that mistake is so blindingly obvious to others, given that Dr. Read’s reticence, thus far, has more than one possible explanation eh?”

    I hope he will address the points raised, but his first attempts to do so give little reason to assume the best.

    No one who’s survived beyond childhood doubts that it’s hard for everyone to acknowledge errors that reflect badly on them. Anyone who’s made it to parenthood knows how vital it is to be able to do it anyway. What’s true for children applies in spades to public figures.

    Reply
  23. Rupert Read

    To be clear: I NEVER endorsed Atzmon’s article. I read it [too quickly – I regret that!], found some of it interesting, agreeing with some of the remarks he made [which were mostly a rehash of the excellent Oborne DISPATCHERS programme exposing the extremely-worrying influence of the Zionist lobby in politics in this country], and tweeted it. THAT’S ALL. I did _not_ endorse it as a whole.
    The Atzmon post was forwarded me by a friend who is usually a reliable source. I read it swiftly; I _wish_ I had read it more slowly, because then I would have no doubt noticed the dodgy way he was sliding between ‘Jewish’ and ‘Zionist’,
    and then I wouldn’t have retweeted it, and then we would all have been saved a lot of trouble…
    I obviously regret the offence and any embarrassment caused. …I also distinctly regret the unpleasant personal attacks on me and false descriptions of me in a couple of comments above. Please bear in mind, colleagues, that if you really do want to ENGAGE with people, you need to try not to slag them off and make potentially damaging false allegations against them…
    I welcome the chance of clarifying things, and hope that we can start to draw a line under this, now… {See also my comment on Mira’s next post.)

    Reply
  24. modernityblog

    “Isn’t the alternative to judge people by the content of their words and actions, not by their self-applied labels?”

    Doesn’t that all suppose monocausality? One explanation for a particular action?

    I think that Dr Read has an opportunity to answer these issues, if he does so, and can see the error of his previous statements, then I think that would be helpful.

    Alternatively, if he doesn’t then I think a harsher judgements is in order.

    But either way I think we should adopt the approach that what someone says might be racist but the person themselves may not been an ingrained bigot.

    By which I mean, there are varying degrees of prejudice, varying degrees of stupidity, varying degrees of truculence and many people exhibit behaviours which we think the bigoted but are mostly due to their own thoughtlessness and lack of self-awareness, or so I have found with people in politics.

    However, having said all of that you are right, Dr. Read needs to step up and address the points raised.

    Reply
  25. Mira Vogel Post author

    (Aside – there was a hiatus in moderating so Mod would have left his post 8.05 before seeing Rupert’s 7.50 one – I moderated them both at the same time.)

    Rupert, I think you may be trying to change the subject to injustices against you, and to the Dispatches programme. Please don’t. And this isn’t about fixating on the Atzmon piece, or rubbing your nose in that – it’s about the circumstances under which a bunch of people – who think of themselves as anti-racist – might have thought it worthwhile to post that Atzmon piece.

    We have a problem in the Green Party with antisemitism. And yet our Autumn 08 motion on antisemitism was neutered until it simply said what you have said: “We oppose antisemitism”. Now we need to get to what it actually *means* to oppose antisemitism in the Greens.

    You talk about regretting the “offence” – but what you haven’t yet communicated is what you think the offence actually *was*. Again, this is not to humiliate you or extract a confession – it is to try to get to the bottom of something.

    I’m going to summarise the points made so far – please let us know what you think they imply for opposing antisemitism in the Green Party.

    1.
    There is no firewall between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and your case is a good example. Therefore it is not enough to say, as you have basically said, “I oppose antisemitism”.

    2.
    Gilad Atzmon’s writing, including the piece you linked to, is anti-Jewish.

    3.
    There is much more antisemitism in Atzmon’s writings – including that post – than the Holocaust denial you noted and rightly dissociated yourself from.

    4.
    One way that piece was antisemitic was through conflating Jewish and Zionist and then calling for de-Zionisation.

    5.
    Another was the collective accusation that “the Jewish community” has been bribing power-holders.

    6.
    It is possible for Jews to hold and push antisemitic views.

    7.
    There is a very damaging tendency on the left to be blind to antisemitism which is anti-Zionist, only responding to antisemitism when it emanates recognisably from the political right, or is not anti-Zionist. Greens have shown themselves susceptible to this tendency. E.g. David Duke on the international list.

    8.
    Anyone who can’t or won’t recognise the problem after a conversation like this has, whether they meant to or not and whether they realised it or not, taken on antisemitic ways of thinking.

    9.
    When Greens are called out on this, they tend not to acknowledge the significance of what has happened.

    Did I miss anything?

    Raphael adds:
    10.
    When Greens (or others) are called out on this, they often accuse those who raise the issue of antisemitism of being dishonest Zionists, trying to silence criticism of Israel (even when, like in this case, the issue has nothing to do with Israel).

    Reply
  26. Jonathan Romer

    Modernity,

    “’Isn’t the alternative to judge people by the content of their words and actions, not by their self-applied labels?’

    Doesn’t that all suppose monocausality? One explanation for a particular action?”

    No.

    But in any event, a partial retraction from me. Re-reading the posts in this thread it now seems to me that Dr. Read must have found himself so willing to believe anything bad about Zionism, so much in sympathy with Atzmon’s fulminant hatred expressed under an anti-Zionist title, that wherever Atzmon wrote “Jewish” he simply read “Zionist”. In other words, he may in fact be a non-antisemite who espoused an antisemitic opinion by mistake: An accidental antisemite.

    This is an improvement, but not much of one. This kind of antisemitic mistake is a result of a different prejudice — an irrational loathing of Zionism that goes far beyond simple political difference, opposition and criticism and expresses itself as a belief in the “nefarious” influence of the Zionist lobby “in this country as in many others” and a need to “de-Zionise” Britain. Dr. Read’s loathing of Zionism sees nothing wrong in agreeing with Atzmon if only the substitution of “Zionist” for “Jewish” is made consistently. He will find it hard to adequately reject Atzmon’s ilk — absent the Holocaust denial — because everything they say about Jews he thinks about Zionists.

    Reply
  27. Hal

    I don’t see how Atzmon can hate all Jews if he himself is Jewish. Also his band are Jewish. I have seen them twice in Leeds. They’re amazing.

    Reply
  28. Raphael

    Yes, you missed something:
    10. When Greens (or others) are called out on this, they often accuses those who raise the issue of antisemitism to be dishonest Zionist trying to silence criticism of Israel (even when, like in this case, the issue has nothing to do with Israel).

    Reply
  29. Mira Vogel Post author

    Rupert, I’ll post this comment again, because the questions are important.

    I’m going to summarise the points made so far – please let us know what you think they imply for opposing antisemitism in the Green Party.

    1.
    There is no firewall between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and your case is a good example. Therefore it is not enough to say, as you have basically said, “I oppose antisemitism”.

    2.
    Gilad Atzmon’s writing, including the piece you linked to, is anti-Jewish.

    3.
    There is much more antisemitism in Atzmon’s writings – including that post – than the Holocaust denial you noted and rightly dissociated yourself from.

    4.
    One way that piece was antisemitic was through conflating Jewish and Zionist and then calling for de-Zionisation.

    5.
    Another was the collective accusation that “the Jewish community” has been bribing power-holders.

    6.
    It is possible for Jews to hold and push antisemitic views.

    7.
    There is a very damaging tendency on the left to be blind to antisemitism which is anti-Zionist, only responding to antisemitism when it emanates recognisably from the political right, or is not anti-Zionist. Greens have shown themselves susceptible to this tendency. E.g. David Duke on the international list.

    8.
    Anyone who can’t or won’t recognise the problem after a conversation like this has, whether they meant to or not and whether they realised it or not, taken on antisemitic ways of thinking.

    9.
    When Greens are called out on this, they tend not to acknowledge the significance of what has happened.

    10.
    When Greens (or others) are called out on this, they often accuse those who raise the issue of antisemitism of being dishonest Zionists, trying to silence criticism of Israel (even when, like in this case, the issue has nothing to do with Israel).

    Reply
  30. modernity

    Jonathan,

    You made me laugh there, I thought your comment of “An accidental antisemite” is closer to the mark.

    Thinking about it, I might have been too charitable to Dr. Read. I find his inability to address these questions slightly puzzling.

    I would have thought, as a professional philosopher and a specialist in Wittgenstein, that these issues would be comparatively simple for him, but his reticence and comments praising the recent Dispatch programme do not suggest he’s learnt anything, of real significance from the whole exchange.

    I’m hoping that he will do a post on his blog on Monday clarifying these issues, or at least pop back and address some of the points that have been raised, critically how his notion of a nefarious “Israel lobby” tallies with old antisemitic myths.

    Frankly, I don’t know, for the moment I’m assuming that this issue hasn’t sunk in, or that he’s not very self-aware (rather common amongst politicos), but I don’t know.

    I think your assessment of the substitutional “Zionist” for “Jewish” is shrewd, and probably correct.

    Either way I hope that Dr. Read takes the opportunity, now, to clear up these matters or reconsider his views.

    I’m curious as to when Dr. Read first became worried about the “Israel lobby” and why he didn’t see any counter arguments? It seems so remiss for a man versed in argumentation not to be able to think around this issue with any clarity.

    Puzzling.

    Reply
  31. Rosso Verde

    The Socialist Unity Link Mira put up illustrates that Gilad Atzmon is viewed as an anti-semite by self described Anti-Zionist Jews like Tony Greenstein.

    Anti-Semites can be pro or anti Zionist as the mood, or political opportunism takes them, take pro Israel Polish poltician Michael Kaminski or indeed Nick Griffin as examples of that:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jul/19/rabbi-tories-polish-mep

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/israel-does-not-need-friends-like-these-20091028-hjb2.html

    I do however think that the Peter Oborne documentary was a quite careful and balanced look at what is known as the Israel Lobby. It is understandable that any country that feels under threat would encourage and foster support. Links were made in the programme between one lobbyist and the developement of illegal settlements, which do much to undermine Israel’s standing in the world.

    To link all critiques of those groups who lobby for Israel to anti-semitic conspiracy would be wrong and indeed reinforce the conspiracy theorists.

    Reply
  32. Hal

    If Atzmon fought in the army for the Jewish state, is he not entitled to criticise jewishness as much as an american GI may criticise America and Americans? I don’t agree that his brilliant musicianship is irrelevant. It is a product of who he is and where he comes from.

    Reply
    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      “If Atzmon fought in the army for the Jewish state, is he not entitled to criticise jewishness as much as an american GI may criticise America and Americans?”

      You can criticise the political system. You can criticise the state of the roads in Kentucky. In other words you can criticise acts, phenomena and their effects. But how can you criticise “America and Americans” without lumping them together in one grotesque and false stereotype of ‘Americanism’?

      It is impossible to collectively ‘criticise’ all America, and similarly impossible to collectively ‘criticise’ Jews. To do so would be gross diversity denial. Essentially, racism.

      Reply
  33. Adrian Windisch

    I believe an honest mistake was made, we should accept that. I have a lot of respect for Dr Read, that has grown after this incident. It takes courage to admit that you have made a mistake.

    It is all to easy to link to something that may seem good at first glance, this is a lesson for all of us.

    Reply
    1. Mira Vogel Post author

      Yes, it is a lesson about that, in a general kind of way.

      But we mustn’t lose sight of its significance as part of a wider phenomenon in the Greens – I know you’re conscious of this, Adrian. Antipathy to Israel leaches out and hurts Jews again and again and again. And we have been trying for a long time now to get this phenomenon addressed in the organisations of which we are members, but it has not been addressed.

      Reply
  34. modernityblog

    Adrian,

    Let’s accept it was a mistake, the problem is that Dr. Read seems to have some very strong opinions which he can’t, or is unwilling, to explain rationally.

    That would be worrying for most people, but more so for an academic and professional philosopher.

    His attitude, particularly the “nefarious” remark raises more questions than it answers.

    Reply
  35. adrianwindisch

    modernity, I eventually found the remark you referred to. He said “I think that the influence of ‘the Israel lobby’ in this country as in many others is nefarious.”

    This is not racist, i’m not sure what you are saying. Personally I think that there are far more powerful lobbies than the pro Israel one in the UK. Its more in the USA when people refer to the strong Israel lobby, but they usually ignore the far more powerful Christian one, which I understand is also pro Israel.

    Reply
  36. modernityblog

    Adrian, I didn’t say it was racist, but it is a questionable remark.

    Nefarious, as in meaning:

    “Wicked in the extreme; abominable; iniquitous; atrociously, villainous; execrable; detestably vile.” [Webster’s 1913 edition]

    That’s a very strong opinion to hold

    Particularly under these circumstances and more so when Dr Read can’t rationally defend it.

    Adrian, I suspect if you or I held a rational detestation of a particular piece of equipment, etc then we would probably be able to list logically the reasons for that opinion.

    I am just astonished that Dr Read can’t do that, with his issue of the “Israeli lobby”, or cogently defend his usage of the word “nefarious”.

    I hope you see where I’m going with this, I would reasonably expect a politician and particularly an academic to substantiate their strongly held views with argumentation.

    I would certainly expect a specialist in Wittgenstein, as Dr. Read is, to be appreciative of the significance of words and how we use them, and if he has chosen a particularly harsh one to be able to defend that choice, with reason.

    Again, Dr. Read’s subsequent statements do not indicate that he has learnt much, had a rethink or even analysed his own views on this matter.

    That is what I find more worrying.

    Reply
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  38. modernityblog

    Er, No, Adrian, you wrote: “I assume that the explanation for that is in the program, which I haven’t seen. “

    Begging the question isn’t really an answer, is it?

    A philosopher should be able to substantiate his/her views either by evidence or reason – simply pointing to a TV programme without articulating an argument is really begging the question, which even undergraduates are warned against.

    Frankly, the more serious issues have not been dealt with, as Dr Read has been reluctant to engage with the ramifications of his own thinking, or the threads which discussed these issues (here and at Engage)

    And just to clarify, it is a very very old antisemitic myth that “Jews are manipulative, controlling, behind-the-scenes, using their money to influence events, etc ” and prudent people should avoid anything remotely sounding like that, even if that wasn’t their intention.

    In the same way, it is possible to articulate, inadvertently, something that is sexist and not be a hardcore sexist then it is certainly possible to make the same mistake when it comes to anti-Jewish racism.

    Again, I wish that Dr Read had clarified these issues in a more comprehensive fashion and until he does there will be a lingering doubt concerning his underlying understanding of anti-Jewish racism.

    However, let me make it clear (and I have posted on it), I don’t think that Dr Reed is an antisemite or anywhere close, but he might do well to discuss the complex issues of anti-Jewish racism with people in the know, and reflect on the matter.

    Reply
  39. modernityblog

    Dr. Read’s comment was concerning:

    “I think that the influence of ‘the Israel lobby’ in this country as in many others is nefarious.

    When asked to substantiate it, he couldn’t.

    That’s it.

    Reply
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