The proverbial pox on both your houses

Today's depressing news that some 10,000 joined a "New York Stands with Israel" rally at the UN (overseen by Chuck Schumer, of course) was compounded for me by a demoralizing encounter outside St. Mark's Church. I was biking down Second Ave., and saw the "FREE PALESTINE" banner outside the church, and stopped to check it out... To my disappointment it was the highly problematic group "If Americans Knew." It is obvious from its name that this is basically a right-wing nationalist formation with (at least) an anti-Semitic streak. Right, "Americans" are pure and righteous (never mind Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and "shock & awe"), but are being hoodwinked into supporting atrocities by those wily Jews... I nonetheless took one of their flyers just to see what it said, and was dismayed to find it was a big quote from the vile Gilad Atzmon, a peddler of the most rank anti-Semitic garbage...

When I told the woman who handed me the flyer I don't like Gilad Atzmon, she smiled smarmily and said, "He's awesome."

And that wave of existential loneliness swept over me yet again... Israel's atrocities must be opposed—urgently, uncompromisingly. But groups like "If Americans Knew" and figures like Gilad Atzmon just play right into the propaganda ploy that any opposition to Israel is anti-Semitism. Their presence on this issue is worse than useless: it is deeply counter-productive.

So it has actually been hard to find protests I can join against the aerial terror on Gaza. "If Americans Knew" also had a visible presence at the al-Awda march two weeks ago... Another one where I was a spectator rather than a participant, because of the central role of the Workers World Party's International Action Center, vigorous cheerleaders for Assad's butchery in Syria. Again... supporting (or apologizing for) Assad's bombardment of Aleppo while opposing Bibi's of Gaza is actually counter-productive: it loans propaganda cover to our enemies. The Palestinians do not need this kind of "solidarity."

I support Adalah NY, and I will join any march they hold (been to two so far, since the current round of bombing started). I oppose any alliance with If Americans Knew, or with any group in the orbit of Workers World—which includes Al-Awda.

I don't support unity, you say?

Correct. I do not support unity.

Unity has to be based on principle, and there has to be a line you cannot cross. Gilad Atzmon and Bashar Assad, and their respective fans and apologists, are well on the other side of that line. Any unity with them hurts the cause of standing up to the Zionist machine here in New York City.

Why I didn't join today's March for Palestine

Or, rather, how I actually did, nearly against my will...

I had my misgivings from the start. There were some dumb anti-Semitic comments posted to the Facebook page promoting the event. That is predictable, but it was pointed out that one of the posts had been "liked" by the entity organizing the event, NYC Solidarity with Palestine. The post was deleted after enough people kicked up a fuss about it, but it raised questions about who exactly is "NYC Solidarity with Palestine." In response to my queries, I was informed that "only" one representative from the noxious ANSWER was on the organizing committee (as if this was supposed to comfort me). I decided to go to the rally and then decide whether to join the planned march over the Brooklyn Bridge on the basis of the atmosphere. (The people who objected to the anti-Semitic posts were later baited as "Hasbara agents," and there were further outbursts of anti-Semitism in threads on the page.)

When I finally managed to find the gathering point in a well-hidden part of Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza (it was actually Walt Whitman Park, contrary to the publicity), my cynicism seemed vindicated—once again. I was greeted by a sea of mass-produced placards from ANSWER and the equally problematic entities International Action Center, Al-Awda and Neturei Karta. So presumably the "only" one ANSWER rep on the committee was matched by one each from these other reactionary formations. The only prominent banner from a minimally legitimate group was that of Jewish Voice for Peace. Where was Adalah NY? Where was War Resisters League? I didn't see anyone I particularly wanted to march with, and a great many I consciously did not want to march with. At least I only saw one banner with a swastika on it, but (as with the ANSWER rep on the organizing committee) that's one too many.

Here's where I wound up marching in spite of myself. After initially deciding not to and biking towards the Manhattan Bridge to go home, I was overcome by curiosity as to which contingent would actually be leading the march. By the time I got back to the Brooklyn Bridge, the march was ahead of me. So I had to worm my way through it with my bicycle in tow before I could get out front. And by the time I managed that, we were almost to the Manhattan side of the bridge.

Amid all the annoying banners (and depressing paucity of good ones), there were a couple of high points. As we marched, some activists on the south side of the Manhattan Bridge, in full view to us, dropped a huge banner off the walkway with a Palestinian flag reading: "Gaza in Our Hearts; Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions on Israel." It hung for several minutes before the police reeled it in. That was wonderful to see. And the Rude Mechanical Orchestra was making its usual joyous racket, with an especially good fellow on the bagpipes. But it was frustrating that it was in the service of such a problematic coalition.

When I finally managed to get ahead of the march, my cynicism was vindicated yet again. The lead contignent was weilding a forest of mass-produced placards from International Action Center and its satellite group Al-Awda. It became perfectly clear who really organized the march. Disgusted, I biked down the bridge and back home to Noho. I didn't join the rally at One Police Plaza.

When are "progressives" in New York (and elsewhere around the country) going to get it? In case anyone doesn't know, IAC is a front group for the Workers World Party, a deeply reactionary (as well as ungrammatical; note missing apostrophe) formation that is an avid serial cheerleader for dictators and mass murder. They supported the Tiananmen Sqaure massacre as a necessary crackdown on "counter-revolutionaries," cheered on the Bosnian Serbs in their genocidal campaigns of the 1990s, rallied uncritically around Saddam Hussein, and now thusly rally around Putin and Bashar Assad. ANSWER broke from Workers World in a faction fight a few years back, but shares the same toxic politics.

So all my friends who marched today... What don't you get? Explain it to me, please. How can you march against mass murder in Gaza at the hands of Bibi Netanyahu with people who support mass murder in Syria at the hands of Bashar Assad, who supported mass murder in Bosnia at the hands of Radovan Karadzic, supported mass murder in Beijing at the hands of Deng Xiaoping?

It is ethically bankrupt and tactically suicidal to coalesce with Workers World and its spin-off and satellite entities. Since the latest bombardment of Gaza began over a month ago, I have marched against it twice, both times with Adalah NY. But if this new NYC Solidarity group is going to be dominating things, you can count me out.

Alison Weir strikes back

The above blog post was expanded into a feature commentary that ran both in World War 4 Report and the Lower Manhattan weekly The Villager on Aug. 28. The toxic stew of comments at The Villager page is predictable is depressing. Alison Weir chose to respond more formally, in an actual letter to the editor this week, which I reproduce here along with my response, and appropriate links added:

Mideast debate rages on

To The Editor:
Re "Standing up for Gaza but not with certain groups" (talking point, by Bill Weinberg, Aug. 28):

I recently learned that Bill Weinberg listed our organization first among allegedly impure groups with which Mr. Weinberg would not deign to stand, despite his proclaimed love for the Palestinian cause.

I wondered what evidence he had provided for our dastardly designation.

Was it because I traveled throughout Gaza and the West Bank as a freelance reporter in 2001, discovered the carnage, and began an organization called If Americans Knew to give people the facts?

Did he dislike our designer's infographics about Gaza, reaching millions — our Web master's creation, considered one of the top sites on Palestine?

Did he dislike my recent book on the history of the Israel lobby with its almost 8,000 sales?

No, none of this is mentioned. Mr. Weinberg's "evidence" consisted of two items. The first was an extraordinarily creative (and erroneous) Sherlock Holmes-like deduction: "It is obvious from its name that this is basically a right-wing nationalist formation with (at least) an anti-Semitic streak."

The second was an equally creative (and erroneous) description of an alleged If Americans Knew flier that contained, he wrote, "a big quote from Gilad Atzmon," an Israeli author who apparently causes Mr. Weinberg such anguish that when he heard Atzmon praised, "[a] wave of existential loneliness swept over me."

The problem is that there is no such If Americans Knew flier.

Poor Mr. Weinberg, in his agony over those not marching to his own, highly flawed tune, simply got things wrong.
Alison Weir
Weir is founder, If Americans Knew

Bill Weinberg responds: If any readers fail to see the anti-Semitic nature of the name "If Americans Knew," it is beyond my power to enlighten them. As stated in my talking point, the inescapable connotation is that "Americans" (the authors of drone terror and the destruction of Fallujah) are pure and righteous, but are being hoodwinked into supporting atrocities by deceitful Jews.

The vigil outside St. Mark’s Church where I picked up the flier in question on July 28 was giving out two pieces of literature. One was the flier with the Gilad Atzmon quote. The other was the book (with the not-so-subtly anti-Semitic title and subtitle) "Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel," by none other than Alison Weir. So I think it is fair to say, at the very least, that they are partisans of If Americans Knew.

If Ms. Weir is so aghast at her supporters associating her with Gilad Atzmon, I suggest she have a little talk with the activists distributing her book for free on the streets of New York.

I also find her protestations highly ironic, as she has publicly and repeatedly come to the defense of Atzmon. Google "The unfortunate division over Gilad Atzmon" and "More on the Gilad Atzmon controversy and why it matters."

Atzmon's bona fides as a Jew-hater are well established by the material I quoted from his Web site, e.g. that Hitler's anti-Semitism was "in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership." None are so blind as those who will not see. I directly link to some offending pages on Atzmon's Web site in the version of The Villager talking point that I ran on my own site, World War 4 Report. Readers with strong stomachs are directed there to see for themselves: ww4report.com/node/13507

Readers are also referred to the online statement signed by numerous progressive writers and activists, including myself, "Anti-Imperialism and the Anti-Humanist Rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon," urging the Palestine solidarity movement to disassociate itself from this problematic (to be very polite) individual.

Weir and her partisans are not helping the Palestinians by associating their just struggle with Jew-haters. Quite to the contrary.

The toxic stew is probably going to bubble up in the comments on The Villager's letters page too, so any support there would be appreciated. Or is it just better to refuse discourse with the Jew-haters and let them rule this cybernetic roost?

Anyway, like I always say... there's no vindication like getting it from both sides.

Atzmon versus Weinberg

It appears that Gilad Atzmon himself has also had at me, in a piece unsubtly entitled "A Jew in Our Midst." It is worth checking out just for the photoshop mock-up of me that he took the time to create. It's almost flattering.

More non-existent anti-Semitism... in San Francisco

Yeah, this time in the groovy, progressive Bay Area. Note that sign says "SMASH THE JEWISH STATE" (arguably kosher, since that's what Israel calls itself) but then in smaller letters, "IT'S THE JEWS, STUPID!" And don't complain to us that this was tweeted by some confused person calling himself "Anarcho-Zionist." The fact that this crap is only protested by Zionists is precisely the problem.

More such gems from San Francisco anti-war protests are online at the right-wing Zombie Times, while similar anti-Semitism at Occupy Wall Street is documented with glee at the right-wing PJ Media.

Why is it left to the right to take this crap on? 

Old-school anti-Semites still around (surprise!)

Remember what Jew-haters used to be on the right? It is almost comforting to see that there are still real old-school right-wing anti-Semites still around. Almost. Cincinnati's WLWT on Sept. 17 features heartwarming coverage of a Kentucky senatorial candidate posing with a big sign reading "With Jews We Lose." More context os provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog:

Robert Ransdell, former regional coordinator for the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA) in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a current coordinator for the similarly-minded National Alliance Reform and Restoration Group (NARRG) is campaigning as a write-in candidate for United States Senate in Kentucky under the slogan “With Jews We Lose!”

Ransdell is running for the seat occupied by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Although he admits he has no chance to win, Ransdell is using his campaign as a publicity stunt to push hiswhite nationalist and anti-Semitic views.

“Equality does not exist,” says Ransdell in a YouTube video featured at the top of his campaign webpage. “There are differences between whites and blacks and blacks are more predisposed to criminal behavior and it doesn’t matter what kind of economic state they’re in. They are savages in a white nation, period.” The video, posted on Sept. 1, focuses almost entirely on “black-on-white” crime, a common talking point for white nationalists.

Since announcing his candidacy on the hate forums Stormfront and Vanguard News Network (VNN) in late May, the Ransdell campaign has taken up residence at the domain whiteguard.us, named after an effort by late founder of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, to send young, fit, white males into cities to defend “society.”

So let me get this straight... His white supremacist horsecrap must be opposed, but if I protest his Jew-hatred I'm a hasbara agent or something... How does that work again?

JVP gives Alison Weir the heave-ho

Oh, this is delicious. Jewish Voice for Peace issues a statement June 15 announcing that they have resolved not to work with Alison Weir—because she "has been a repeat and friendly guest of white supremacist Clay Douglas on his hate radio show, the Free American. Clay Douglas is concerned primarily with the survival of the White race and sees malign Jewish influence everywhere. His racist, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay rhetoric can be found across the front pages of his multiple websites."

Alison Weir supporters to the counter-attack

A counter-petition has been launched protesting JVP's announced decision not to work with Alison Weir. It states: "[W]e are dismayed by the recent unfounded attacks on one of the top organizations working on this issue, If Americans Knew, and its dedicated leader, Alison Weir, by the leadership of Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign [to End the Israeli Occupation]." Signatories include (no surprises) Richard FalkHedy EpsteinPhilip GiraldiCindy SheehanJames Petras, and (the one surprise, and bitter disappointment) Joel Kovel. 

Here's the statement from the US Campaign. Highlights:

Ms. Weir posted a blog on her personal website that references Jews as a race being "an object of hatred to all the peoples among whom it has established itself," effectively blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. (See Section 1 of Part 3)

2. In writing about a controversy surrounding allegations of the Israeli military harvesting the organs of Palestinians in 2009, Ms. Weir responded to supporters of Israel claiming this was a new "blood libel" by citing the research of Ariel Toaff, who purported to have uncovered ritual murder of Christian children by Jews in medieval Europe (the very definition of "blood libel"). (See Section 2 of part 3)

3. Ms. Weir has appeared at least five times for hour-long episodes on notorious white supremacist and militiaman Clayton Douglas’s radio show, the "Free American Hour," between 2010 and 2012. A cursory glance at Douglas’s homepage would raise concerns about the host and program’s political content. Douglas’s homepage features the confederate flag, a video that opens with the title "9/11 Brainwashing and the Holohoax," and numerous references to the "Jew World Order" and its "war on Adolph Hitler," as well as claims of “ritual murder of Christians and Children by Jews.” While interviewing Ms. Weir, Douglas:

a. made derogatory remarks about Arabs (