I have written regularly here about the curious case of Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon is a jazz musician, formerly an Israeli who now lives in the UK, but his most prominent characteristic is that he is a loudmouthed antisemitic demagogue. (See also here. Atzmon defends himself against my charge of antisemitism by pointing that I am a supporter of the Iraq War. Seriously, that's his defence. The man also describes himself as a philosopher.)
Atzmon's latest article, published in part on a political site declaring itself for "compassion for ourselves and our fellow human beings" and in full on his own site, goes beyond even his assertions of the accuracy of the diagnosis given in the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. It is long, incoherent and execrably written. ("In the past, I suggested a skeptical philosophical take of the notion of the personal narrative in the light of Heidegger’s Hermeneutic criticism of Husserl’s Phenomenology.") It is bizarre, unhinged and contemptuous of those who call attention to oppression. ("As we know, it was different American feminists’ networks that were the first to call a war on the Talibans, spreading the personal accounts of some abused Afghani women. Whether consciously or not [!], they were laying the groundwork for Clinton and Bush’s war against Islam.")
But what is most remarkable and disturbing about Atzmon's piece is his commendation of overt Holocaust deniers. So far as I can work out from the article - and it is difficult to work out from the obscurity and preciousness of his prose - Atzmon declares himself uninterested in the facts of the Holocaust, and is agnostic on whether it even took place. He accepts that Auschwitz was "state terrorism", but goes on to say:
The question of whether there was a mass homicide with gas or ‘just’ a mass death toll due to total abuse in horrendous conditions is no doubt a crucial historical question. The fact that such a major historical chapter less than seven decades ago is scholarly [sic] inaccessible undermines the entire historical endeavour. If we cannot talk about our grandparents’ generation, how dare we ever say something about Napoleon or even the Romans? Personally speaking, I may admit that I am not that interested in the question above. I am not an historian, I am not qualified as one.
Atzmon refers not to historically established facts of the gas chambers but to "the Holocaust belief system". He declares that "unlike David Irving and his bitter academic opponent Richard J. Evans, I do not know what historical truth is". (Evans was an expert witness for the defence in Irving's libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books in 2000. He demonstrated that Irving systematically distorted the historical evidence to deny the Holocaust.) Atzmon goes on (emphasis added):
While left academics are mainly concerned with signalling out Holocaust deniers telling us what is right and who is wrong, it is the revisionists [i.e. Holocaust deniers] who engage themselves in detailed archive work as well as forensic scrutiny.
That's one way, I suppose, of describing proven fraud (e.g. by the denier Robert Faurisson).
In a preposterous appendix written with lumbering sarcasm, Atzmon makes clear that he believes Irving and his associates are being persecuted because they "aim at establishing a rational, dynamic, lucid empirically grounded narrative based on forensic evidence". And he concludes (emphasis added):
Stopping Bush and Blair in Iraq, stopping those warmongers from proceeding to Iran and Syria is a must. If history shapes the future, we need to liberate our perspective of the past, rather than arresting revisionists [i.e. Holocaust deniers], we simply need many more of them.
Atzmon's judgements speak for themselves and require neither annotation nor labelling from me; you can do it yourselves. But the reason I return to the man's ignorant bigotry again and again is his association with one fixture on the British political scene. Atzmon was an invited speaker at successive annual 'Marxism' jamborees, in 2004 and 2005, organised by the Socialist Workers' Party, the controlling force behind the Respect 'Coalition'. He is touted by the SWP for his "fearless tirades against Zionism". The admiration is reciprocated, for Atzmon declares, as well he might, "I love Socialist Worker. It is the only newspaper in Britain which campaigns against Israel."
SWP Polibureau member and Respect national secretary John Rees, with whom I recently had the rare pleasure of debating an issue of high civic importance, declared at the last general election that "everyone in Respect has a long record of fighting anti-semitism". There must be a misprint in there somewhere.