Atzmon Versus Greenstein

By Paul Bogdanor

Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Israeli jazz player, campaigns for the destruction of the Jewish state but denies that he is an antisemite. Tony Greenstein, a British communist, campaigns for the destruction of the Jewish state but denies that he is an antisemite.

Atzmon and Greenstein despise each other.

Atzmon regards Greenstein as a degenerate whose political activities only benefit the Zionists. Greenstein excoriates Atzmon as a racist whose political activities only benefit the Zionists.

Is this merely a nasty clash of personalities, or is there a substantive disagreement between them? A brief comparison is instructive:-

– Both justify violence against Jews.

Atzmon reportedly suggested (he disputes the quotation) that “to burn down a synagogue... is a rational act.” Greenstein wrote (he does not dispute it) that he “wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep” if masses of American Jewish activists were “vaporised.”

– Both resort to antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Atzmon claims that “American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world,” as in the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Greenstein has vilified American Jewish activists as an “anti-Semitic caricature” whose “naked conspiracies” seem “to act out the lines prepared in the Protocols of Elders of Zion.”

– Both equate Zionists with Nazis.

Atzmon wrote that “we compare Israel to the Third Reich, we equate the IDF to the Wehrmacht,” although he contended that the comparison was too harsh on the Nazis. Greenstein linked Zionism to “the anti-Semitic movements whose activities led directly to the Holocaust” and stated that “Israel represents Hitler’s triumph.”

– Both blame Jews for Nazism.

Atzmon warned Israelis that they are “as unpopular in the Middle East as their grandparents were in Europe just six decades ago.” Greenstein argued that “without a Zionist movement... it is hard to believe that anything like 6 million would have been allowed to die.”

– Both falsify Holocaust history.

Atzmon asserted that “many Jews do not take the ‘six’ figure and the Zionist Holocaust narrative very seriously.” Greenstein denies that the Nazi-Soviet Pact led to the mass murder of Jews and dismisses “Zionist historians” who “wish to inflate the figures to match the 6 million symbol.”

In short, the evidence suggests that there is no substantive ideological difference between Atzmon and Greenstein. Their feud has no more ethical significance than the conflict between the Trotskyists and the Stalinists, or the leadership dispute between Strasser and Hitler.