Guardian publishes letter by Tony Greenstein suggesting comparison between anti-Israel protests & those against Nazis

The Guardian published three letters on the protesters who disrupted the Prom by the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta in London recently (Report, 2 September), including one by leading anti-Zionist Jew, and previous CiF contributor, Tony Greenstein. (See Richard Millett’s post on the incident, here)

Greenstein is a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a member of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and styles himself as a “Socialist, anti-Zionist”.

Here’s what Greenstein wrote in his Guardian letter.

“As someone who is Jewish, I was proud to take part in the protests at the Royal Albert Hall against the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Those who proclaim that politics and culture don’t mix, when they keep silent as the Freedom Theatre in Jenin is under constant attack by the Israeli military, its premises ransacked and two workers detained without trial, are a prime example of western hypocrisy. Culture, art and sport cannot be divorced from their social context. When I took part in demonstrations in 1970 against the Springbok rugby tour, this same argument was used. The BBC’s attitude to broadcasting the all-white South African cricket team then was exactly the same as it is today towards Israel’s cultural ambassadors. However, the Guardian and Daily Telegraph’s cricket correspondents, John Arlott and Jim Swanton, took a principled stance, refusing to commentate for the BBC. The reason why Israel funds and subsidises artists, musicians and writers to travel abroad is stated in the contract that they sign. The artist agrees they will “promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art”. Who would now say that it would have been wrong to mix politics and culture and disrupt the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the performances of their famous conductor, Wilhelm Furtwangler, when they toured in the 1930s?”
Tony Greenstein
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods

Indeed, Greenstein’s previous anti-Zionist writings have similarly espoused views which equate Nazism to Zionism.

In a CiF essay in 2007, he wrote:

“It is argued that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is in itself anti-semitic. Now, it might arguably be offensive, but why anti-semitic? In her book The War Against the Jews, Lucy Dawidowicz reports that it was the position of the SS that “the Zionists adhere to a strict racial position, and by emigrating to Palestine they are helping to build their own Jewish state”. Is it anti-semitic to point out that “ethnic cleansing” and the transfer or forced migration of civilian populations was also Nazi policy; or that only in Israel and Nazi Germany were Jews barred from marrying non-Jews?”

Further, according to Greenstein, a comment he posted in the CiF comments section in response to Anthony Lerman’s article “Antisemitic, or just offensive” argued that Israelis possess a “Nazi mentality”.

As with the Guardian’s recent sympathetic profile of far left extremist Carlos Latuff – who, as we noted, repeatedly publishes political cartoons with the explicit narrative that Israeli Jews are the new Nazis – their decision to publish Greenstein’s invective suggests that, for Guardian editors, this odious moral comparison is, at the very least, debatable.

Such an argument is morally and intellectually unserious, hateful, antisemitic, extraordinarily cruel, and (it would certainly seem) represents the complete antithesis of anything even resembling genuine liberal thought. 

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