Some of us have been aware for a long time of creeping inroads, on freedom and such open society fundamentals as presumption of innocence, made in the name of progressive values. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen stand convicted by media and by what is naively called “public opinion” – as if such a thing had independent existence, as opposed to being manufactured along lines set out by Herman and Chomsky.
(Oddly enough Bill Clinton, proven liar on Monica Lewinsky and with a name for philandry in power quite the equal of those others, does not stand so convicted. Funny old world, innit?)
A week before Xmas I told how legislation all but outlawing support for the BDS Movement has been enacted in twenty-six American states, and is in the pipeline for a further thirteen. That’s the context for the plight of sacked Texan speech therapist Bahia Amawi, as set out in my post, Land of the Free.
That post and a response to it led me to pen a second, on Israel’s propaganda war. In it I cite Islington Town Council’s banning of jazz musician Gilad Atzmon in the name of no-platforming antisemitism. Atzmon is a third generation Israeli vehemently critical not only of Zionism but – renouncing his own lineage – of Jewishness itself. That said, and for all the deep waters such questions take us into, two things seem very simple.
The first really is simple. Atzmon, a world class tenor saxophonist, was coming not to argue his political views but to blow on his horn. The second, however, is less straightforward. Mr Atzmon has been barred from playing because a hitherto unknown chap by the name of Martin Rankoff wrote to Islington Town Council to say he would not attend such a concert. Which of course is his prerogative. Whether it was Islington Council’s prerogative to respond by banning Atzmon is an altogether different matter.
My information on the Islington affair came via Facebook and OffGuardian, the latter posting a link to Rankoff’s Twitter page. Here’s its masthead:
Well so what? If you’ve stayed with me this far you likely already knew your common or garden Joe Confused But Indignant has a hard time telling support for Palestinians from antisemitism. (For the real McCoy on the latter, take a peek at what’s been going down in Ukraine ever since George Soros, Saint John McCain and Victoria “fuck the EU” Nuland teamed up to get their way at Maidan Square. You could start with the recent Times of Israel assessments given here.)
Thing is though, it turns out Martin Rankoff is by no stretch of the imagination your common or garden Joe Confused But Indignant. Today, in a second piece on Giladgate, OffGuardian says:
Now it appears that the single complainant – Martin Rankoff – was not just an anonymous fan of Israel but the UK director of Likud-Herut. Herut (or ‘freedom’) was Israel’s founding nationalist party from 1948 until it later merged with Likud. It is a militant and extreme Zionist organization whose roots go in a straight line from Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin up to Benjamin Netanyahu today. Jabotinsky and Begin helped form the Irgun terrorists in 1937.
Irgun committed notorious massacres in Palestine leading up to and during the Nakba (or ‘catastrophe’) of 1947-1948. These include the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 91 people, and the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948 in which 254 unarmed Palestinian villagers were brutally murdered as an incentive for other Palestinians to leave. On its web site Likud-Herut UK lists Jabotinsky and Begin as “visionaries”. Likud-Herut is a member of the World Zionist Organization and the Zionist Federation of the UK who believe in “the inalienable right of all Jews to live and settle in all parts of the Land of Israel.”
In a letter to the New York Times in 1948 Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and others compared Herut to the Nazis and Fascists who had just been defeated in World War II. Referring to this letter, Ramzy Baroud recently wrote, “the ‘Nazi and Fascist’ mentality that defined Herut in 1948 now defines the most powerful ruling class in Israel. Israel’s leaders speak openly of genocide and murder, yet they celebrate and promote Israel as if an icon of civilization, democracy and human rights.”
To Rankoff and his ilk has Islington Town Council cravenly acceded in the name – and I write as one repelled by antisemitism – of anti-racism. It gets worse. Says OffGuardian:
When Atzmon moved to appeal his being banned, formidable opponents again appeared in the form of the Simkins Law firm, one of the most expensive law practices in Britain, with not one but two partners at Simkins being put on the case. These are Gideon Benaim and Tom Iverson. Benaim recently became well known in Britain for winning an invasion of privacy suit against the BBC on behalf of pop singer Cliff Richard, who said he spent￡3.4m ($4.3 million) on the case.
Unless we’re spectacularly obtuse – and I flatter myself that folk who visit this site seldom fall into that category – we’ll find all this deeply disturbing. We may even ask what such crusaders for truth and freedom as Guardian Media Group – which argued long, hard and I say cynically for Jeremy Corbyn to “stamp out antisemitism in the Labour Party” – are doing to bring such sinister erosions to our attention.
Then again, why ask when we can see for ourselves? Your homework today, should you choose to accept it, is a Google on Guardian Islington Atzmon then on Guardian Bahia Amawi.
Trust me. Reading the search returns won’t take long.