Tony Greenstein blatantly contradicts himself in his reply to me about the recent expulsions from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (Letters, February 23).

He writes of the PSC expelled and co-thinkers: “I am not ascribing [their] erroneous views ... to racism. Indeed I said nothing about causation and I’m perfectly willing to accept that their holocaust denial views originate in their support for the Palestinians, rather than racism.”

That might be the beginning of wisdom in analysing why an organic (and often Jewish) part of the Palestinian solidarity movement, along with many Palestinians both in exile and in Palestine itself, question not only the Zionist misuse of the Nazi genocide, but the truth of the event itself. But he contradicts that just a few lines earlier: “The last thing … the Palestinians want is for the movement to be divided by racists and anti-Semites ...”

Whatever Palestinians may or may not “want”, the only way these two statements could be reconciled would be if Tony considered that Palestinians had some attribute that turns people with the progressive motivation to support their rights into “racists and anti-Semites”. Tony is not a Zionist, but only a Zionist could coherently argue that support for the Palestinians turns people into racists despite their anti-racist intentions.

For Zionists, Palestinian claims against Israel and their dispossession are themselves racist and anti-Semitic. So how has Tony, given that he is a sincere and dedicated anti-Zionist, managed to put forward two self-contradictory and mutually exclusive propositions that can only be reconciled coherently within the framework of Zionist ideology? A mixture of confusion, communalist distaste for Jews who feel guilty about being Jewish, and opportunist accommodation to soft Zionist sentiments in the British workers’ movement is why.

Confusion is shown in Tony’s analogy with Marcus Garvey meeting with the Ku Klux Klan to send black people ‘back to Africa’. That comparison would only make sense if Jews today were an oppressed population. In fact, Israeli Jews oppress the Palestinians, and British and American Jews in large numbers support that. These ‘rogue’ Jews, from an oppressor people, going over to the oppressed (in a flawed way) are the opposite of Garveyism.

Distaste, tinged with communalism, is shown in his disparaging remark that, “instead of questioning Israel’s self-description as a ‘Jewish’ state and the Zionist rationale for their deeds, they end up hating Jews and questioning the very fact of the holocaust”.

No, they question the holocaust because they suspect it is a Zionist rationale for a Jewish state. Paul Eisen does not hate Jews; he is proudly Jewish. There is a spread of views about ‘Jewishness’ and the genocide among these people, but one of their key aims is to win over other Jews to (supposedly) ‘real’ anti-Zionism. They could not aim for this if they ‘hated’ Jews.

But, above all, it is opportunism before soft pro-Zionist sentiment in the British labour movement that has led Tony to such a position. The clue is in his phrase about the movement being “divided” by these people. The “division” Tony wants to avoid is with a putative mass base for the PSC. As he says, “their motivation is unimportant. What is of more concern is the damage they can do.” What Tony fears is complications with elements in the trade unions that have been won to support the PSC or at least some of its boycott initiatives, but are still soft on Israel and likely to listen to Zionists on how the Palestinian struggle is racist if these people are allowed to argue their case.

So to appease soft-Zionist sentiment in the British labour movement, serious supporters of the Palestinians have to be falsely accused of racism and purged. Tony quotes Omar Bhargouti in defence of these expulsions, but how does his democratic legitimacy compare with Hamas, the “anti-Semitic” Islamist party that won the last free elections in the territories?

Tony says “holocaust denial in western society is certainly racist”, while admitting that these people are driven by events in the Middle East, not “western society”. But racism in Britain has little to do with holocaust denial, which caused acute problems for unreconstructed neo-Nazis in decades past because of its association with Britain’s imperialist enemy. The Anti-Nazi League exploited that without challenging British racism, “including anti-Arab racism that demonises Arabs as pro-Nazi”, one iota. It was an effective, but opportunist tactic. Tony is going along with a similar ethos here. Rather than engage in a complex and difficult argument around why many Palestinians and their supporters are questioning these things, and debating this politically, Tony wants to amputate the problem. And, worse, that means an opportunist alliance with anti-democratic Stalinist forces like Socialist Action in the PSC (who Tony used to criticise sharply, but not any more) and even Zionists like Hope Not Hate.

But for the latter, for instance, there is no contradiction between mobilising, with Tony’s support, to try to stop Gilad Atzmon playing at the Raise Your Banners event in Bradford last year and the more recent campaign to stop the Palestinian Muslim cleric, Haitham Al Haddad, from speaking at East London mosque. It is this bureaucratic opportunism that is in danger of discrediting the Palestine solidarity movement.



The letter exchange concerning the newly-declared mission statement/aims of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has been dragging on for too long, providing a good platform for Tony Greenstein to spout his venom against purported holocaust deniers, whose main “culprits” are no more, or have never been, members of PSC.

I have to admit that I do not completely understand Greenstein’s twisted arguments, which equate holocaust denial (purported or otherwise) with anti-Semitism - especially as a number of the alleged holocaust deniers/anti-Semites (including myself) belong to the Semite race/ethnic/cultural group. However, Greenstein seems to have borrowed that false premise from the pro-Zionists, who use it for their own political purposes. Thus I, perhaps, should not be too surprised to have seen this supposition reiterated fallaciously by him.

Tony seems to ignore my main point concerning the far-reaching repercussions of the divisiveness of the PSC mission statement. He has been accusing me of being muddled, confused, stupid and an “idiot Atzmonite” (I am baffled by the latter) in the same ferocious way the pro-Zionists have ganged up against me in the past and present. I have decided, therefore, to sum up my main argument - which I believe was clearly made, though not necessarily understood by TG, in my previous letters to the Weekly Worker (February 2, 16) and in my submission to the PSC executive.

By avowing to combat alleged/purported holocaust denial, the PSC executive and supporting members have unwittingly become a proxy of the Zionists’ attempts to stifle a meaningful debate on the narrative of the holocaust, thus putting into action George Orwell’s renowned phrase, “He who controls the present controls the past”. In Israel, this aphorism finds expression in a recent law which denies official funding to outfits that openly commemorate the 1948 Palestinian naqba (catastrophe). Is the PSC going to tread the same slippery path of banning freedom of expression and taking action against those who dare challenge the narrative of the holocaust, with its all-embracing symbolic and nationalistic meaning?

The boundaries between being right and being self-righteous are sometimes very blurred. Sadly, the PSC executive was misguidedly led to cross those lines, claiming the high moral ground by having declared itself to be a gatekeeper who erects walls around the ‘sanctified’ narrative of the holocaust, thus fervently guarding the official version of a historical chronicle which underpins a false notion of Jewishness that has to be uniquely preserved by the unchallenged survival of a biblical Jewish state that practises apartheid and exerts brutal oppression of the Palestinian nation.

Having recently contributed to a new book entitled Beyond tribal loyalties (edited by Avigail Abarbanel), I sadly feel as if I am still struggling to free myself from the fettered chains of the tribe. But perhaps I was simply unaware that I was trying to counter, in vain, the last bastion of the Zionist ‘house of cards’.


Public interest

While there is much to agree with in James Turley’s article, ‘Murdoch fights back’, he fails to embrace fully the public rage that has arisen over the hacking scandal (Weekly Worker February 23).

It should, of course, be a given that the security forces - the Met’s anti-terrorist branch (SO13), special branch, the security service (MI5), the secret intelligence service (MI6), etc - are listening in on our conversations. Our phones, emails and, thanks to omnipresent CCTV, even our outdoor lives are available for scrutiny by every agency that the British state possesses. If we are doing our job as revolutionaries, then we must expect that the secret state’s minions are doing theirs.

But that does not mean we accept it. It flies in the face of rule by the majority, and opposition to the machinations and very existence of the secret state forms a basic democratic fight for us. As we all must understand, no depravity is beyond the bourgeois state in defence of its continued rule over the majority. Without doubt, all perceived threats are going to receive the state’s attention: it brooks no restraint when its own existence might be at risk.

But to pretend, as the article does, that somehow the news media were, for example, countering Chris Huhne’s hypocrisy totally misses the point. It makes not an iota of difference politically if Huhne is totally monogamous or a serial philanderer or something in between. It is his politics that need tackling and whether or not he is a ‘family man’ is politically irrelevant: making these ‘moral’ claims or counter-claims is such low-level politics that it would be laughable were it not tragic. We need to grow up and grasp the real problems in society: for by definition the private is most definitely not political.

News International may have thrown around its money in a vain attempt at quieting the problem, after its reactionary rags illicitly and probably illegally exposed the private lives of scores of well-known individuals to public view without any good reason. But court cases are pending for at least another 180 people whose lives have been severely affected by these media scum, unless Murdoch and his crew manages to buy them off too.

However, we can occasionally get a glimmer of the deep-seated corruption of capitalist Britain, since not even the most astute bourgeoisie can keep a lid on things completely. And so it is that we sometimes get more than a glimmer: the present debacle over gutter press hacking of phones and emails. The latest developments, even extending to this week’s House of Commons’ adjournment debates, illustrate the establishment’s ménage à trois entanglement of the bourgeois media, police and professional politicians.

A phrase in the article that the “exceptional use of phone hacking should not be ruled out in principle” is mealy-mouthed. Just because our ruling class and everything associated with it is corrupt cannot mean that we in any way endorse the foul actions of the mass media in hacking individuals’ phones and emails. We do, of course, celebrate the public exposure of information that the state would like to keep secret, as in the admirable work carried out by Wikileaks. These are things that are political and therefore ought to be in the public realm. We want all public life to be open to discussion: reveal the secret treaties and obligations, and so on. But that is in no way the same as publishing tittle-tattle and salacious non-news about individuals’ private lives.

The Weekly Worker condemned the News of the World for exposing Max Moseley’s consensual sexual activities to public view (‘Max Mosley’s morals and ours’, July 17 2008). There was then, as is proving to be overwhelmingly the case where the bourgeois press exposes individuals’ private lives to public view, nothing that suggested the private was political. If nothing else, the media’s intrusion into private lives condemns the intruders utterly in the eyes of most of the public. People see more and more clearly the foulness that emanates from the media moguls’ stables. We should cleanse those stables out of all recognition. Surely, then, we shed no tears when the News of the World closed, any more than we would were any part of the bourgeois media to falter. Why should we want to bolster the bourgeoisie’s ability to tell lies?

Mass media do not expose the rule of capital. They would rather have us blinkered when it comes to politics. That was the pivotal role of the News of the World for the whole of its tawdry existence: crudely generating a ‘public interest’ in private or criminal lives and pretending that scandal is news. It’s journalism, but not as we know it.

Public interest
Public interest

Please explain

Although the Stop the War Coalition has for some years now not been the force it once was, I agree that organisations such as Hands Off the People of Iran and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) should be allowed to reaffiliate. However, there is something I do not understand: why were Hopi and the CPGB(M-L) expelled or refused affiliation in the first place?

If somebody could explain the situation besides simply stating that the likes of the proto-Stalinists (John Rees and Lindsey German) wanted to keep control, I would appreciate it.

Please explain
Please explain