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A Very Good Day for Palestinians?

by Roy Bard


Tony Greenstein thought policeman for the PSC ~ Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Is it really “a very good day” for Palestinians”? – Tony’s Pyrrhic Victory

After Saturday’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM, Tony Greenstein is one happy man! His blog now proudly proclaims a Crushing Defeat For Gilad Atzmon and the Anti-Semites . And the source of his joy? The expulsion of former friend and colleague Francis Clark-Lowe from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Furthermore, the J-Big motion he seconded was linked to a similar motion from the EC and “passed with barely 10 votes (if that), against”.

“All in all a very good day for PSC and the Palestinians and an abject defeat for the apologists for Atzmon and Eisen.” According to Tony:

Now, as it happens I care little for the authoritarian and moribund PSC but a lot for the Palestinians and, as I scoured Tony’s post in an attempt to discover exactly what was it that had resulted in this “very good day” for the people of occupied Palestine, I found that somehow, most of Tony’s references to Palestine and the Palestinians were in the form of potshots at political opponents, or big-ups for him and his allies. I found absolutely nothing to cause one single Palestinian to think they’d had a ‘very good day’, or that an end to the seemingly never-ending grind of occupation and oppression was anywhere in sight.

After the AGM had voted to approve his expulsion from the organisation that he chaired just over a decade ago, I met with Francis Clark-Lowes. Together with Paul Eisen we went to a café, where I recorded our conversation. I’ve met both of them before but this time our conversation focused on the events that lead to his expulsion. I was trying to understand how we had reached a situation where the most visible pro-Palestinian solidarity campaign in the UK was divesting so much time and energy in the unearthing and expelling of activists who, despite their incessant demonisation by Greenstein and the like, still remain to my eyes warm and kind people with a palpable concern for the plight of the Palestinians.

It is pretty impossible to dislike either of them, and although instinctively (years of indoctrination, perhaps) I find it difficult to discuss the ‘thought crimes’ that have resulted in their excommunication from the PSC, I still cannot find in myself the required shock or outrage at the conclusions they have reached.  I’d certainly rather drink coffee with them than with the acerbic Mr. Greenstein any day of the week. And I’m glad to say that not all PSC members were quite so overjoyed by this thoroughly dirty business of expelling passionate pro-Palestinian activists from the campaign. My observation throughout the day was that these two people were warmly received and respectfully treated by the vast majority of attendees.

Perhaps some of those who voted may now be feeling some discomfort at their role in Francis’expulsion, and maybe some even some disquiet at the role that sites like Harry’s Place have played in creating these politics of rejection, so antithetical to the values of any solidarity campaign. Perhaps others realise that this won’t stop here. Harry’s Place is already baying for more blood. So much for the HP strap-line

“Liberty if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

And I wonder also when Mr. Greenstein is going to realise how unattractive and objectionable is his own behaviour. That for all his current delight, Palestinians are not one jot closer to being able to live their lives without the yoke of oppression weighing down on them. And that, as long as both he and Israel behave as they do – with their constant attacks, the smearing and baying for blood – for the Palestinians, things can only get worse.

Arriving home, I find an Ali Abunimah tweet pointing me to a new Barack Obama video aiming to improve his re-election chances by proudly displaying the Israeli flag alongside the American one as a prelude to endorsements of him by Israeli war criminals. I find myself wondering if there will ever be a PSC AGM which causes a smile to light up the face of a man in Rafah, or a woman in Nablus. Or will they in 30 years time, still be droning on about US Imperialism and the need to stop any examination of the very power structures and narratives that keep the occupiers in business.

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