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View Diary: Mondofront: Now with Gilad Atzmon (147 comments)

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  •  I pretty much agree with this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Sox, sofia, canadian gal, Brecht

    without agreeing with all of the rhetoric. Atzmon is a racist and a buffoon, as is Blankfort, and Weiss, who has himself engaged in some very dodgy rhetoric, should have no truck with them. That he does speaks very poorly of him (although to be fair I understand he subsequently claimed not to have known about Atzmon's racism before publishing the interview with him, which is entirely plausible), and to the extent that there has been relatively little pushback against this within the solidarity movement, that speaks poorly about the movement.

    Max Ajl, an American Jewish antizionist, wrote a decent piece about Weiss and Atzmon here. I think his analysis of the underlying tendencies at work here is spot on:

    "Atzmon is latent in Phil's analysis. How? Well, Weiss’s notion of the lobby is at root idealist: Jews wanted to express tribal solidarity; Jews want to defend Israel to defend the tribe; and so on. While elements of this are correct, an explanation rooted in cultural essence begins an inevitable slide into bizarreness very easily."

    He also makes a point that I've made here before:

    "The lack of analysis of the lobby as a combination capitalist institution cum propaganda service creating consent for Israeli policies, along with the lack of recognition of the centrality of Israel to the petro-dollar weapon-dollar system, is intellectually crippling, and when structural analysis is sidelined, you get the precipitous slide into the racist abyss."

    However he also points out the immense service that Mondoweiss is performing in "creating a space for discussion of the construction of Jewish identity in the post-war era", adding that "the bulk of the content is helpful to our work". This is correct imo - certainly I find Mondoweiss indispensable for keeping up with the conflict, especially on the American end. The diary alludes to this at the end - Mondoweiss does publish a lot of very useful stuff, as well as the awful bits. Ideally there would be a site that did all the former without any of the latter but unfortunately I've yet to find it.

    Incidentally Jews Sans Frontieres, a British Jewish antizionist blog, has also had Atzmon's number for years.

    •  well then (10+ / 0-)
      I understand he subsequently claimed not to have known about Atzmon's racism before publishing the interview with him, which is entirely plausible

      Looking forward to seeing Weiss's retraction. I would find it utterly incomprehensible for an editor not to apologize for having promoted a Holocaust denier. Simply silently sweeping it under the rug would be a move worthy of the SWP, who did exactly that.

      Welcome to Galt's Gulch. You have died of dysentery.

      by zemblan on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 01:53:58 PM PDT

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    •  If I drop my wristwatch (6+ / 0-)

      into a stinking, shit-filled latrine (remember the scene in Slumdog Millionaire?  I'm talking that kind of latrine), much as I love my wristwatch and the sentimental value that it holds for me, I'm going to go to the store and buy a new wristwatch.

      But hey, that's just me.

      In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

      by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:08:38 PM PDT

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    •  How could Weiss not be familiar with Atzmom (7+ / 0-)

      As involved as he is? You really think that is plausible?

      DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

      by volleyboy1 on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:12:34 PM PDT

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      •  It's Counterpunchitis. (8+ / 0-)

        Instantly presume all accusations of antisemitism are nefarious Zionist lies unless proven otherwise, and then refuse to examine the evidence. It's doing a Cockburn. When Atzmon stepped off into the racism pool in 2005, Counterpunch posted an article defending him, and refused to publish that article's refutation -- even through the refutation was from career anti-Zionists!

        Welcome to Galt's Gulch. You have died of dysentery.

        by zemblan on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:16:58 PM PDT

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      •  Yeah, I do. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht

        I only came across Atzmon quite a long time after I became involved in the issue. And even then, I didn't actually seriously read his stuff - just heard him mentioned here and there, heard he had been accused of antisemitism (ho hum, who hasn't been?), and went about my business. I only properly found out about him through the SWP affair, mentioned above.

        Plus Phil, whatever his other flaws, tends to be quite honest about himself and his motivations, and unusually self-critical. So I'd be inclined to believe him on this. (Plus if he did know about Atzmon beforehand why would he back down now? It's not as though the interview caused a massive furore, as far I can tell).

        Not that I care a great deal either way - what interests (and concerns) me about Weiss is the kind of thing I described above, rather than his deep private thoughts and motivations. What matters is that (as Ajl puts it) Atzmon is latent in Weiss's type of analysis.

        •  Yet again, you make the best defence of MW, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angry marmot

          as you acknowledge the different shades and nuances on the site.

          I don't look at MW unless someone points me there - but when you say

          "certainly I find Mondoweiss indispensable for keeping up with the conflict, especially on the American end."
          that carries a lot of weight to convince me that the site shouldn't be off-limits. Frankly, if people drag anti-semitic crap into DKos from anywhere, they will get flak for it, as they should. Since we are now all alerted to the flaws of MW, it's going to happen twice as fast if anyone drags it in from there. And that's all we need to deal with this issue effectively - further prohibitions are overkill.

          I fear that we may get several more of these Mondofront diaries, without advancing our consensus or understanding. So far, though, I give you and Red Sox both credit for addressing the pros and cons of your respective arguments, and building a more subtle and realistic view of the issues at stake than we see in many I/P debates.

          "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

          by Brecht on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 09:03:19 AM PDT

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          •  Thanks Brecht. (3+ / 0-)

            My purpose here, though, was primarily to criticise Mondoweiss, rather than to defend it. And though I think Red Sox's priorities, at any rate as evidence by the topics of his diaries here, are pretty screwy, assuming that is that his opposition to racism is a principled opposition, he is perfectly justified in reacting to the propagation of antisemitism and Holocaust denial as he has. Particularly given that Mondoweiss is a 'progressive' site (sponsored by The Nation Institute no less).

            I know there has been an argument going on here about whether or not Mondoweiss is a legitimate source to cite. Since the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Ha'aretz, Ynet, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, etc. are all considered legitimate sources to cite on here despite the fact that they publish almost on a daily basis lies, including racist lies, that often - and this is something that cannot be said of Mondoweiss, for all its faults - directly contribute to mass murder, torture, and other atrocities (just read any NYT article on Palestine, for example), this debate seems to me to be tellingly lacking in perspective. If we want to rule out sources that regularly publish hateful views, there are a lot of outlets to go through before one gets to Mondoweiss, which by any reasonable measure comes somewhere near the bottom of the list.

            I don't actually think we should ban citations to those sources, of course, because we need them. Ideally we would have media that provided us with necessary information and influential or otherwise important points of view without functioning as apologists for barbarism, but as they do not currently exist, we have to make do. Similarly, while I would like there to exist a site that performed the indispensable functions carried out by Mondoweiss without also playing host to antisemitism and other filth, it does not exist, and so I have to make do. (Of course this dilemma doesn't arise for those who aren't concerned with ending their complicity in the racist regime in the occupied territories - one that kills and tortures civilians on a daily basis - but such people are in no position to take a moral stand on anything, period).

            My advice, fwiw: read Mondoweiss, because it's a useful source for facts, analysis and as a window into what influential trends in the solidarity movement are thinking, but avoid citing it wherever possible, because it is tainted, and because doing so provides anyone who wants to distract from the more important issue being discussed the perfect opportunity to do so. And in the vast majority of cases it should be possible to avoid citing it. (Though to be clear, sometimes they do publish something original that is important - e.g. an original debunking of some myths about the Gaza flotilla, say - and that case, what other choice is there?). On the other hand, if someone does cite it in good faith in the context of an argument about Israel/Palestine, and if what they have cited is not objectionable in and of itself, then it seems to me that if one is genuinely concerned about racism and about combating injustices, one will retain a sense of perspective, and won't allow the issue of the citation to distract from what ought to be the priority: ending US support for brutal racist oppression in Palestine.

            That's all I've got to say on the matter for now.

            •  Very illuminating clarification, thanks; (0+ / 0-)

              sorry I didn't read your earlier comments more carefully, as some of this was already clear.

              Everything you said makes good sense. You appear to have addressed the issue so thoughtfully and thoroughly that you've provided a comprehensive ruling on the issue, which in a better I/P could stand as is for now.

              You consistently raise the level of debate here (good listening; and more light, less heat). I know my participation is erratic, as my life has been. Your contributions make me more interested in and less exasperated with I/P. Thanks again, and all the best to you.

              "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

              by Brecht on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:26:04 PM PDT

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            •  P.S. What I agree most with: (0+ / 0-)
              Ideally we would have media that provided us with necessary information and influential or otherwise important points of view without functioning as apologists

              With that and a whole lot of campaign finance reform, this upstart colony might have a functioning democracy again.

              "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

              by Brecht on Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:36:25 PM PDT

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    •  One thing I would say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brecht

      is that I think the case of Weiss is well worth looking at, beyond criticising him (and like I say, I think a lot of the criticism is justified). There is a lot that can be said about it, and to the extent that Weiss represents an increasing liberal presence within the solidarity movement, his intellectual trajectory is of broader interest.

      I say this because he's obviously not a classical racist or antisemite and his concern for the Palestinian cause is plainly not rooted in antisemitism. So how he came to associate with the likes of Blankfort is a puzzle. His two main intellectual interests seem to be: 1) Israel-Palestine and 2) Jews in America post-WWII. But his particular understanding of both of them (basically a liberal idealist take, as noted by Ajl), together with a feeling that serious analysis of the latter has often been stifled, combine to produce some very odd and sometimes disturbing thoughts.

      I'd be interested to read a detailed analysis of his thinking along these lines. Partly because, as I say, the solidarity movement is increasingly composed of liberals as well as leftists, and liberals tend to be more prone to idealism than leftists. And as Ajl says: "when structural analysis is sidelined, you get the precipitous slide into the racist abyss".

      So it's definitely worth exploring.

      (Incidentally it is to Weiss's credit that he publishes pieces by Ajl on Mondoweiss, despite Ajl's very trenchant critiques of him).

    •  Much to appreciate in your comment, but (11+ / 0-)

      I think you're mischaracterizing Weiss' professed ignorance of Atzmon's past. First, according to Ajl's link, Weiss was only ignorant of Atzmon's Holocaust denial. You seem to find that plausible, but I think he would have made note of the error if that was the case. Moreover, as you know, Atzmon's hatemongering extends beyond mere Holocaust denial, something that I suspect Weiss is familiar with.  Back in April, Weiss said he "generally avoid[s]" Atzmon. Now it's wholly possible that he would avoid a fellow prominent Jewish anti-Zionist for reasons unrelated to bigotry, but hopefully you can understand why I don't find that plausible, thus meaning that Weiss knew just what kind of person Gilad Atzmon is.

      Unapologetic Obama supporter.

      by Red Sox on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 02:36:37 PM PDT

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    •  Well said (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      heathlander, sofia

      I didn't know who Atzmon was until you alerted me to his anti-semitism some months back and reading some of his quotes makes me not want to know him. I think that it behooves all those who are working for peace and justice, which includes ending racism, to stop being complicit with those who support racism.

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