Zero Books’ pathetic defence of their decision to publish Gilad Atzmon

This post was written by Reuben on September 29, 2011
Posted Under: Uncategorized

It has been a good week for the anti-racist left, and a fairly poor week for progressive independent publishing. Several months back I called on Zero Books – an independent publisher long associated with the left – to cancel their plans to publish a book on “Jewish Identity” by the notorious anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon. This week the book came out, containing Gilad’s incoherent ramblings about the credit crunch being a “Zionist accident”, and attacks on numerous Jewish socialists.

To their great credit a number of authors published by Zero Books have signed a public letter expressing their dissatisfaction with their publisher’s decision to give a platform to Atzmon. Meanwhile Andy Newman at Socialist Unity had an excellent article about the whole affair printed in the Guardian.

Meanwhile Zero books have published an evasive and pathetic response to the criticism.

“I read the book when it first came through as a proposal, without any prior knowledge of Gilad Atzmon or his blogs”, reads the post. “I didn’t see any anti-semitism there.” It continues “If the book itself promoted anti-semitic views I would, without question [cancel publication]. If it does not, but Gilad Atzmon himself is anti-semitic, that’s a more difficult problem, publishing-wise, and ethically.”

It is a neat way to suggest that Atzmon’s well known anti-Semitic commentary, prior to the book, is of limited relevance to the decision to publish it. Such an argument is, however, absurd. Atzmon’s book makes some rather serious and rather vicious accusations numerous progessive Jews. The book, for example tells us that Jews Against Zionism, a small group Jewish socialists, “hate goyim”. Given the paucity of evidence to back up this claim, a responsible publisher might wander how their author reached such a conclusion. Indeed, before providing platform for such assertions, a responsible publisher might be concerned by the probability, that such conclusions were reached in a spirit of anti-semitic prejudice – not least given the extent to which the author relates such alleged character flaws to the “Jewish identity” of those that he vilifies. Indeed, a progressive author might worry that he was giving an anti-Semite a platform to make unwarranted attacks on some of his Jewish comrades. For heavens sake, if Nick Griffin as to write a book about the Mumia case, would it not matter that he was Nick Griffin?

On the question of whether or not Gilad Atzmon is an anti-Semite, the author of the Zero Books defense fails to answer the question directly. Instead he refers us to piece by American right winger, and Atzmon ally, John Mearsheimer, defending Atzmon on some quite specific points.. No attempt is made to address the serious example’s of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism put forward by those authors who objected to the books publication. No attempt, of course, is made to address, Atzmon’s affinity with age old Jewish conspiracy theories, or his statement – included in the authors’ letter – that “we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously … American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy.”

Zero Books would do well to consider, in future, whom it hands a megaphone to.

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Reader Comments

Wikipedia claims that the book claims that some blood libels were true. That’s pretty frightening antisemitism, is there any truth to that particular accusation?

Written By Kit on September 29th, 2011 @ 3:47 am
jonathan colwill

kit look up the name Ariel toaff look what happened when a Jewish Israeli history professor wrote a book about the blood libel, I think the second edition of his book is online the first he had death threats over I believe . its a subject your going to get the book burners or book suppressors going wild about one way or another
I sell rare books and have a interest in any suppressed or banned book, partly because you can make money from them partly on principle .
I really don’t see much difference in organizing campaigns to stop books being printed and book burning, your basically a totalitarian trying to stop other people express their point of view .

Written By jonathan colwill on September 29th, 2011 @ 10:04 am

lol at the liberty troll

Written By Kit on September 30th, 2011 @ 7:04 am
Roland Rance

Kit asks whether Atzmon really claims that the medieval “blood libel” is true. Well, he writes in his book about a school visit to Yad vaShem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum: “I asked the emotional tour guide if she could explain the fact that so many Europeans loathed the Jews so much and in so many places at once. I was thrown out of school for a week. It seems I didn’t learn the necessary lesson because when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matza out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless. Once again I was sent home for a week. In my teens I spent most of my mornings at home rather than in the classroom.” That seems to me pretty close to endorsing the accusations.

Written By Roland Rance on October 2nd, 2011 @ 7:33 pm
jonathan colwill

oh god Aztmon dares to have a open mind how terrible

Written By jonathan colwill on October 3rd, 2011 @ 12:24 am

Roland – Thanks, just to confirm, that’s in this book, yes?

Written By Kit on October 3rd, 2011 @ 12:24 am
Roland Rance

Yes Kit, it certainly is.

Written By Roland Rance on October 3rd, 2011 @ 9:05 am
jonathan colwill

are you guys saying there were no jews involved in the occult during the middle ages,I find that pretty amusing if thats what your saying

Written By jonathan colwill on October 3rd, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

Roland- thanks.
3rd estate – do you block antisemitic commenters?

Written By Kit on October 4th, 2011 @ 12:08 am

We tend to be a bit live and let live though have deleted anti-semitic comments in the past. Janthan COlwill is an acquaintance of an acquaintance, and as my many facebook discussions with hi have revealed, he is completely loopy, and prone to anti-semitic mythology.

Written By Reuben on October 4th, 2011 @ 12:12 am
jonathan colwill

Reuben we both equally think the other loopy but your oft times interesting conversation and I like your articles although we so seldom agree

And kit years ago I was a Mormon elder and I used to buy anti Mormon books and hide them, I didn’t actually burn them but I understand where your coming from best wishes

Written By jonathan colwill on October 4th, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

“It has been a good week for the anti-racist left, and a fairly poor week for progressive independent publishing. “

Not so sure.

It took ages, years and years for the SWP and their allies to admit the nature of Atzmon’s racism.

Even now they can’t admit *why* they allowed him to push his views at Marxism xxxx for over fours years.

Unless people make a semi-serious effort to analyse the whys of these issues then there is always the chance of repeating those errors.

Again, pats on the back aside, some critical thinking needs to be employed on *why* Atzmon was given such opportunities by some on the British Left.

Written By modernity on October 6th, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

Agree with you modernity. I did offer some discussion of it in the last post…

“Yet I am, unfortunately, able to comprehend how such a colossal error could have been made. I have encountered peoplel, amongst my political milieu who seem to react with cynicism to every claim of anti-Semitism, and indeed only seem to mention the word for the purposes of asserting what isn’t anti-Semitic.”

Written By Reuben on October 7th, 2011 @ 3:40 pm


But we are still back where we started.

Even *if* people admit that hosting Atzmon was a mistake.

Even *if* they acknowledge that allowing him to push his ideas for *four* years was a big mistake.

Even *if* they admit that Atzmon uses euphemisms, muddies the water and clouds the issues, even if they admit all of that, they won’t, as far as I can see, ask **why** did it happen.

It seems extraordinary to me that a section of the political Left which often talks of ‘analysis’ doesn’t tend to employ it on its own mistakes, big ones.

If you can’t ask why, and can’t think why you should be asking that question, then you probably won’t learn anything and probably will repeat the mistake, again.

Why, is the question that won’t go away.

And why should we consider such people to belong to the antiracist Left when they could *not* spot Atzmon’s racism from the start?

It follows that if you can’t spot racism then you ain’t much of an antiracist.

Written By modernity on October 7th, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

Sorry, sloppy English on that last sentence, should be:

It follows that if someone can’t spot racism then they ain’t much of an antiracist.

Written By modernity on October 7th, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

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