No place for Atzmon at SW.org

Editor's note: On July 13, SocialistWorker.org published an interview with jazz musician and anti-Zionist writer Gilad Atzmon. After the interview's publication, we learned of many allegations that Atzmon has made not just highly inflammatory, but anti-Semitic statements about Jews, be they supporters or opponents of the state of Israel--and that he has associations with deniers of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. The evidence for these serious charges is damning.

We knew that Atzmon was a controversial figure among opponents of Israel when we ran our article, but not the full extent of these allegations. Needless to say, there was no trace of such ideas in his interview with SocialistWorker.org, or it never would have been published.

Nevertheless, we believe that our Web site, which is committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people and to the struggle against anti-Semitism, should not have published the interview without any reference to the controversy over someone who could make the comments and advance the ideas that he has--whatever his motives or reasoning. We therefore withdrew the article from our site.

I AM writing to express my deep dismay in finding out that SocialistWorker.org has published an interview with vile anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon ("Each village is a reminder," July 13).

Gilad Atzmon has revealed time and time again in his writings that he is less interested in being a part of a genuine anti-racist mass movement for the liberation of Palestine against Zionism than he is in trying to prove that there is something "inherently Jewish" about Zionist atrocities, attacking anti-Zionist Jews in England as "undercover Zionists" and, in the case of founder of the revolutionary anti-Zionist Israeli Socialist Organization, Moshe Machover, a "Judeo Marxist."

Atzmon has declared Machover to be worse than British neo-Nazi Nick Griffin, and in criticizing the printing of a speech by Moshe Machover in the International Socialist Review urged "Socialists and Marxists to save themselves from the Judeo political grip" and "consider liberating themselves of their tribal infiltrators." (If Moshe Machover's politics make him a "Judeo Marxist," then I am proud to identify as one--a Muslim Judeo-Marxist. Let's see how Atzmon tries to figure that one out.)

In addition to that, Atzmon has been known to circulate Holocaust denial literature and to associate with known fascists like the notorious racist Russian-Swede Israel Shamir, an open admirer of Hitler, David Duke, Jean-Marie Le Pen and Nick Griffin and the neo-Nazi British National Party (although apparently being very disappointed that the BNP isn't doing more these days to attack Jews). Israel Shamir has said of Atzmon: "Gilad takes up the tools of modern philosophical discourse...to explain our position: why we are against domination by Judaic spirit."

Atzmon also has previously been condemned by Palestine solidarity activists Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish. Atzmon's pseudo-philosophical writings include quotes like this: "In the light of Israeli brutality, the conviction of gross swindler Madoff and the latest images of Rabbis being taken away by FBI agents, it is about time we stop discussing the rise of anti-Semitism and start to elaborate on the rise of Jewish Crime."

SocialistWorker.org is the best publication on the U.S. left, and there is no place for a person who regularly spouts this kind of poisonous, bigoted garbage to have a voice there. To quote from a statement put out by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign against any legitimacy in the movement for Gilad Atzmon and Israel Shamir:

Anybody who insists that Jews must give up their Jewishness, or Catholics their Catholicism, before being allowed to join the anti-Zionist movement, or even line up alongside the vast army of critics of Israeli murder, is not just an idiot, but is a menace to the Palestinians...

Palestinians need mass support--it won't come by associating ourselves with extreme-right sympathizers who miss no opportunity to spew their racist bile into a movement for human and national rights for the Palestinian people. For the Palestinians are groaning under Zionism, which is armed and sustained by Western imperialism. Not a Jewish world conspiracy. One of these ideas is the natural discourse of the left and liberal center: one is a blind cul-de-sac propagated by the extreme right.

Safia Albaiti, Boston