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Find More Articles By Ahmad

Troubled misfits in our midst: Redress Information & Analysis highlights the problem of false friends in Britain’s Palestine solidarity movement and urges genuine activists to steer clear from them

Israel’s hidden friends

Salaheddin Ahmad

One can choose one’s friends but it is not always possible to pick one’s fellow travellers. This is as true in life generally as it is in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. 

In this struggle you will find dedicated people who have given life and limb for the cause, but also others, fellow travellers with whom one would rather not share the same journey.

Although in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people most of the fellow travellers are harmless, some are dangerous and capable of inflicting damage to the cause. Among these can be counted the right-wing extremists. Often in reality more anti-Arab and Islamophobic than anti-Jewish, they sometimes tag onto the Palestinian cause in the hope of gaining support and respectability. But they tend to be transparent, unsophisticated and therefore easy to spot and challenge. 

A far more insidious genre of fellow travellers consists of some self-proclaimed anti-Zionist Jews. These are potentially far more damaging to the cause than the more transparent right-wing extremists. There are at least a dozen of them in Britain and they include such people as Tony Greenstein, and Mark Elf. We can name more but will not for the time being.

We have observed these Jewish fellow travellers at trade union and Palestine solidarity meetings for many years, and we have also monitored their activities on the internet. Generally immature and self-obsessed, they seem to have failed to make the leap from student politics to the adult – and in the case of the Palestine-Israel conflict, lethal – world, where information and intelligence are as important as the F-16, the helicopter gunship and the cluster bomb. 

Some are visibly troubled individuals with a colourful history while others appear to enjoy bickering and mud-slinging – a symptom of their immaturity and their failure to recognize the difference between the relatively burden-free world of student politics and the politics of the real world with its duties and responsibilities. They devote at least as much time to causing sedition within the Palestine solidarity movement – by attacking and seeking to undermine those who care most for the Palestinian people and their fight for justice – as they do to Zionism, Israel and its racist policies. A case in point is their ceaseless hounding of Israeli-born musician, writer and tireless campaigner for justice for the Palestinians, Gilad Atzmon.

It would be easy to label the likes of Greenstein and Elf as Israeli agents because in effect their seditious behaviour can serve only Israel but that would be too easy. Judging by their activities and utterances, these are people who believe that being Jewish and claiming to be anti-Zionist entitles them to hijack the Palestine solidarity movement and set its agenda. This was evident, for example, in motions submitted to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in 2007 in which Greenstein and others tried but failed to make anti-Semitism and the Holocaust among the criteria for membership of the PSC.

It would also be easy to dismiss them as childish and ignorant nincompoops. That is precisely what we have done over a number of years. Our observation of the behaviour of Greenstein, Elf and their ilk led us to conclude that another of their motives, in addition to hijacking the Palestinian solidarity movement, was to distract genuine supporters of the Palestinian cause with ceaseless, tedious and time-wasting arguments that have nothing to do whatsoever with the Israeli occupation, land theft, colonization, Zionism or apartheid. Our position and our advice to others was, and remains: “Do not engage with these Judaeo-centric, narcissistic misfits.”

However, over the past week we have become concerned at the fact that, in desperation, Greenstein and Elf in particular have made common cause with British Zionists and Israeli lobbyists and agents of influence in the UK to try to discredit genuine pro-Palestinian activists, including Redress Information & Analysis. This has included pouring scorn on an article by Redress Information & Analysis Editor Nureddin Sabir in which a number of whistleblowers from some of Britain’s top Zionist institutions spoke of an unprecedented crisis ripping through these institutions. In rantings posted on their respective blogs, Greenstein and Elf questioned the veracity of the article and, in a racist slur against Arabs, Greenstein doubted that an Arab – Nureddin Sabir – was capable of writing in fluent English. 

If Greenstein and Elf were sincere in their support for the Palestinian cause, they would have welcomed the fact that whistleblowers from Britain’s top Zionist establishments had plucked up the courage and, at considerable risk to their jobs and personal relationships, chosen to speak to Redress Information & Analysis – an Arab-run website which they trusted would not leak their details back to their institutions. The fact that they did quite the opposite just about sums up the depravity of Greenstein and Elf.

As veteran campaigners for justice for the Palestinian and other downtrodden peoples all over the world, our advise to our friends and comrades in the struggle for justice is this: steer clear of troubled, time-wasting, immature pretenders like Greenstein and Elf. Do not engage with them or else they will drag you down to the subterranean hovel they inhabit. 

If Greenstein, Elf and others in their camp wish to campaign against Zionism and racism, then we should welcome this and wish them good luck. But let them do it in parallel to us, not together with us.

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