Categorized | Campaigns, Politics




By: Mary Shepard

Recently the Palestine activism community was rocked by the circulation of a letter written by The Electronic Intifada’s editor, Ali Abunimah, calling for the “disavowal” of fellow activist Gilad Atzmon and his recently published book, “The Wandering Who?”

To say that I am astonished at the content of this letter, and even more so at who authored it, is an understatement.  I have read the book – twice – and found it challenging, daring and evocative, but not once did I find anything hateful or anti-Semitic within its pages.

What I do find, however, is that this whole episode just stinks of hypocrisy.   I’m aghast that Atzmon and his book have been labeled anti-Semitic, ostensibly out of a concern for the integrity of the activist community, yet not a word of condemnation passed Abunimah’s lips (or ended up on his website) when the activist Ken O’Keefe recently erupted in what could be termed hate speech against Jews, and has also been under investigation for financial malfeasance in regards to his “humanitarian work” in Gaza.   Instead, O’Keefe is left undisturbed to continue speaking publicly.  The continued fracturing of the Palestine activism community, with Atzmon’s book as the focal point, is so bizarre that it demands some questions be raised, including whose words and ideas are deemed acceptable, and whose are not, by this self-appointed star chamber.

Of course, the first question is, did Abunimah even read the book?  I strongly suspect he did not, since he failed to quote even one sentence from it as evidence of its alleged bigotry.  I would like to ask him to quote at least one passage substantiating his allegations, just to enlighten me.  Because I liked the book, I would like Abunimah to explain to me how that makes me an anti-Semite.

We also have to ask whether we really want to sit by and watch this equivalent of a book-burning.  If Atzmon’s ideas are controversial, why is there no discussion of them, but instead an insistence on silencing him and discrediting the message his book contains?  Why the sudden attack on Atzmon’s credibility, and at this particular time (he is in the US on a speaking tour promoting “The Wandering Who?”)?  Are we seeing a fit of professional jealousy, or is there something darker behind it?

Despite what one may think of “The Wandering Who?, we have to remind ourselves of who we are and what we believe in.   Those who have been working to free Palestine have enjoyed the privilege of holding the moral high ground against the thievery and murderousness of Zionism.  Attacking Gilad Atzmon for his ideas without discussing them and learning from them, definitely lowers the bar.  We also run the risk to become what we hate: we oppress, we deny, we lie to ourselves and each other just as the Zionists do.





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