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.