What Paul de Rooij thinks about Tony Greenstein

Comment by Paul de Rooij (4 January 2008; expanded 12 January 2008):

While Tony Greenstein may have started out as a Jew opposed to Zionism and in solidarity with Palestinians, during the past few years he has been more concerned about conducting offensive vendettas against anti-zionists who don't share his views. In particular, Greenstein and his gang have waged a vile campaign against Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen labeling them "anti-semites"[1], "Nazis" [2], "holocaust denier" [3], Jewish-conspiracy theorist [4], defender of holocaust deniers [5], and so on. These are smears usually uttered by hardline zionists or the hasbara propagandists, and it is disconcerting to find these abusive language and tactics (like picketing Gilad's concerts; writing defamatory letters to the directors of the concert venues, etc.) practiced by people who claim to support Palestinian rights. It is evident that recently Greenstein has acted as a divisive and disruptive individual by shifting the emphasis from Palestine solidarity onto his obsessive crusade against "anti-semitism". Greenstein is today closer to the infamous Engage crowd than to anything that purports to be solidarity with the Palestinians. Gilad Atzmon is an important intellectual and artist whose actions in solidarity with the Palestinians have done more in the past few years than the grand sum of Greenstein's actions ever achieved. Greenstein's recent tantrums are certainly harmful to focus the Palestine solidarity actions, and if a pipsqueak like Greenstein insists on carrying on his vendetta against Atzmon, then the best would be for him to do so in an open and civil manner.

Notes

  1. Tony Greenstein distributed (and most likely produced) this Anti-Atzmon flyer in Brighton January 2008, on the eve of Gilad Atzmon's talk there. Similar materials were sent to the venue director.
  2. Sue Blackwell is Greenstein's comrade, and together they have waged their vendetta against Atzmon, et al. Blackwell's website for some time carried a section on "Nazis" and Gilad Atzmon featured in that page. Under the threat of legal action she toned down the page, but nonetheless lists Atzmon with some unsavory people like Larouche...
  3. The anti-Atzmon flyer quoted in item #1 states: "Although Atzmon denies that he is a holocaust denier all the evidence suggests otherwise", and so forth.
  4. This can again be found in the Brighton flyer. On this basis Greenstein & co will likely smear anyone discussing The Israel Lobby.
  5. For some years the zionists wagged a finger at Noam Chomsky for his defense of the freedom of expression by someone with some dubious views, and invariably Chomsky was labeled as a defender of a holocaust denier, etc. Greenstein replicates this when he labels Gilad Atzmon a "defender of holocaust denier Ernst Zundel". One may not like what Zundel has to say, but it certainly is no basis for imprisoning him in Germany. NB: Zundel was living in Canada when he was alleged to have made the objectionable statements about the holocaust. Anyone defending Zundel's freedom of speech doesn't merit to be smeared like Greenstein & ilk do.
The issue arises about what Palestinian solidarity activists should do when confronting views like those expressed by Gilad Atzmon, etc. Prof. Nabeel Abraham discusses here his reaction to calls to label and shunt Israel Shamir. The message is simple, don't replicate the tactics used by zionists on people who utter things that can be divisive or merely provocative. Civil and open discourse is certainly the very best way forward.

Paul de Rooij comment (14 January 2008):

Tony Greenstein seems to have been offended by the comment above and his ruminations about it can be found here. It seems that Greenstein doesn't understand a simple message: the way to deal with dissenting views is to engage them in an open and civil manner. Instead doing this, Greenstein has
  1. organized pickets;
  2. sent defamatory letters to venue directors;
  3. campaigned for webzines to censor Gilad Atzmon's writings, e.g., Indymedia;
  4. written defamatory letters aimed to get others to censor Gilad Atzmon.
We live in what is hopefully still a democratic society and thus it behooves us to act accordingly. It is disturbing that the actions of Greenstein, putatively someone on the "left", are more akin to the methods used by totalitarian societies.
For the record, I have tried to make this simple point in an email exchange to which Greenstein replied in a brusque manner, finishing with "Please do not contact me again". The comment above will remain there until Greenstein changes his tactics to an open and civil debate maybe that is a reasonable request.

This was followed by this (in chronological order):


Further background items