A glance at the panel for the mysterious event below explains why it has been picked up and promoted on the neo-Nazi site Stormfront (link to cached page). We are alarmed that it is advertised as taking place on a university campus – though it’s not featured on either the University of Westminster nor the Student Union events calendar. We’ve also received news from concerned correspondent Adrian Windisch that Berkshire Stop The War Coalition is promoting the same event (see Digest 1352).
Event: Zionism, Jewishness and Israel (Tuesday, May 3rd, central London)
A panel discussion examining Israeli Criminality in the wake of the Goldstone Retract.
Tuesday, May 3rd · 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Location: University Of Westminster – Cavendish Campus
115 New Cavendish Street
Ghada Karmi – http://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/iais/staff/gkarmi/biography/
John Rose – The Myths of Zionism (2004)
Alan Hart – http://www.alanhart.net/
Enquiries Contact: [redacted – I tried to call the number to find out who was organising the event – straight to voicemail.]
What is wrong with this event? Despite its mysterious provenance and relative obscurity, it’s worth explaining in detail since it’s only the most recent in a long list of events of similar character on campuses around the country.
- The panel doesn’t include any speaker qualified or inclined to represent mainstream views about Jewishness, Zionism and Israel. The panelists share an implacably eliminationist view of Israel, and work assiduously to end Israel’s existence.
John Rose has by his own admission inadvertantly given succour to antisemitism through his political writing.* Working within the University and College Union, John Rose pushed boycott of Israel, a boycott which according to Unison has limited support amongst Palestinians and in its academic form was consequently found to be unlawful in three separate legal opinions including the union’s own. Ghada Karmi, who holds the opinion that “There is actually nothing – repeat, nothing – positive about the existence of Israel” has self-evidently unanalytical approach to the matter in question, and campaigns against Israel’s existence. These two have for some years been staples of the anti-Israel circuit, and tend to be invited by partisans of the Palestinian factions who have vested interests in entrenching dichotomy and conflict. Sadly this is the most conspicuous kind of pro-Palestinian campaigning in Britain today.
- Holocaust denier and 9/11 conspiracy believer on the panel. We have to hope that John Rose and Ghada Karmi are unaware of the presence of the other two invited speakers. Gilad Atzmon is openly antisemitic, to the extent that he campaigned to marginalise even the most virulently anti-Israel Jews in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Atzmon also referred to the Holocaust as “a complete forgery“. He has even been dropped by the Socialist Workers Party, who used to invite him to play jazz sax at Marxism events. It’s astonishing that this open campaigner for ‘de-judaification’ should be given a platform to pronounce on Jewishness. The fourth speaker, Alan Hart self-published a book called Zionism: the Real Enemy of the Jews. He has a track record of fabricating accounts of current affairs in which he makes Israel the culprit. He has a slot on the now disgraced Iranian ayatollah’s English language TV channel, PressTV. Last May he gave an interview for TruthJihad internet talk radio in which he circulated the far-fetched and accordingly unevidenced defamation that Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks and is planning a nuclear attack on the U.S. No wonder he is picked up and circulated by far right activists I’m not going to link to, such as Israel Shamir and rense.com. The Community Security Trust devotes a section to examining his professed pro-Jewish views in its 2008 Antisemitic Discourse Report.
- Who has organised this event? There is no mention of this event on Stop The War Coalition’s main site. However, at least one Berkshire Stop The War Coalition member is circulating details, and it is entirely continuous with StWC’s well-documented record of anti-Israel activism shading – or willingly leaping – into anti-Jewish activism, including the “We are all Hizbullah” and “from the river to the sea” sloganeering, the jihadi leaders. It frequently seems that StWC is attempting to start a war, rather than stop one.
- This event is not conducive to learning about Zionism, Jewishness or Israel and is not in accordance with academic or campus principles. If it indeed is taking place at the University of Westminster’s campus it is the University of Westminster’s responsibility. If you view education as an attempt to illuminate a subject and inculcate critical, humane analysis, this isn’t intended to be an educational event; if it were, it would have a representative panel, not a slanted one. It would not include Holocaust deniers and conspiracy theorists. If it saw fit to include polemicists, it would balance them.
- A spurious pretext. Goldstone, author of a non-judiciary UN-commissioned report into Israel’s attacks on military targets in Gaza in 2009, did not ‘retract’. He wrote an opinion piece noting that new information uncovered by Israel’s own investigations indicated that Israel had not, after all, deliberately targeted civilians, and that this would have been clear earlier if Israel had cooperated with the UN investigation. Those who rejoiced in his original damning report should ask themselves, if he was trustworthy at that time, isn’t it prejudiced to suddenly conclude that he is untrustworthy now?
Here’s what needs to happen.
- If Rose and Karmi are unaware that they are to share a platform with Atzmon, they need to take action to distance themselves from this openly antisemitic, Holocaust denying campaigner. Hart too.
- Stop the War Coalition members need to stop promoting events like these – they have no place on a genuinely pro-peace group’s calendar. The Green Party, which is affiliated to StWC, needs to take some responsibility here.
- The University of Westminster needs to recognise that if the evening proceeds as advertised, it will find itself hosting an antisemitic event. If in doubt about what to do next, the Equality and Diversity and Anti-Harassment policies will point the way, as well as the report and relevant case studies produced as part of the HEFCE-funded Religious Literacy Leadership in Higher Education project, at http://religiousliteracyhe.org/.
*My error – it was Nathan Weinstock, whose work Rose acknowledged, who admitted this.
Update: Sarah has picked this up, and provides more information.
Update 2: 27th April – Tony Greenstein reports that ‘Atzmon is abandoned by fellow ‘panellists‘ Ghada Karmi and John Rose.
Update 3: there’s a discussion about the role of Stop the War Coalition in the comments to a post on Shiraz Socialist.
Update 4: the University of Westminster has cancelled the event (reasons unclear – necessary procedures were not in place).
Update 5: David Hirsh summarises the panel
Update 6: Sarah is following developments
Update 7: as of 29th April Atzmon is insisting (link to cached page) the event will go ahead, including Alan Hart “and others”, at the University of Westminster. This has come as a surprise to the University of Westminster.
Update 8: the event has not been cancelled. The Facebook page (adoring messages for Atzmon mingled with etymological points about antisemitism and paranoid points about Jews) says that participants will meet outside the original venue. The University of Westminster will not be providing the venue and it looks as if Atzmon and fellow panellists have been forced by the general outcry to hide the new destination until the event is due to begin. He’s probably inclined to attribute this to the power of some notional sinister Jewish force. What actually happened is that people who recognise this kind of antisemitism managed to get their point across that a university campus is no place for an event of this nature.
Update 9: Adrian Windisch (who originally alerted us) has posted to Berks Stop the War Coalition’s Yahoo Group, concluding “Do we really want events like this advertised on this site? If so I wish to leave.” Hopefully he’ll get a responsible reply.
Update 10: the Facebook group doesn’t bother to introduce the panellists, so: part of the original line-up discussed above Alan Hart has finally come out and thrown in his lot with antisemitism. Alan Hart incidentally is an illustrative case of the oblivious self-contradiction which for now characterises much antisemitism – for example, he calls Zionists Nazis, writes preposterously of endgame to a Zionist holocaust, while also claiming he doesn’t seek to draw a parallel between Israel and Nazis. Both can’t be true. There’s Sameh A. Habeeb of the Palestine Telegraph (scroll down). Even Jenny Tonge, with her notions of Jewish conspiracy, could no longer find a way to give patronage to The Palestine Telegraph while plausibly brushing off charges that she is antisemitic. On Holocaust Memorial Day Habeeb gave column inches to Holocaust denier Atzmon to call Israelis today’s Nazis. And yet Habeeb insists that antisemitism in the pro-Palestine movement is a fabrication. Karl Sabbagh’s book Palestine: a Personal History sounds worth reading. Hopefully he will realise that to justify participating on that panel he is going to have to spend most of the evening defending Jews from calumnies.
Update 11: on May 2nd Adrian Windisch (see Update 9) is informed by a different fellow Berks Stop the War Yahoo Group member that he is incorrect, and that “advertising this event is quite appropriate”.
Update 12: Gilad Atzmon is arguing as hard as he can that the Jewish anti-Israel activists who sought to deny him a platform did so because they are Jewish, rather than because he is antisemitic. That doesn’t explain Greens Engage’s involvement, nor the University of Westminster’s recognition that he shouldn’t be offered any room of theirs. Have we all been hoodwinked by the Jews? (Some Greens recently argued on internal forums that we have.)
Update 13: Atzmon reports that the meeting was a great success and the room (wherever it was) was full. “Both Zionists and their anti Zionists collaborators who were desperate to destroy the panel didn’t dare showing their face”. No doubt a room full of like-minded people, and all the worse for it.