GA: The ultra Zionist Jewish Chronicle allowed a single voice of reason into its letters page this weekend.
In a rather belated response to Rosa Doherty’s article of October 24, concerning a public appearance of Gilad Atzmon, I would like to take issue with certain comments reported therein.
Rabbi Zvi Solomons is quoted as calling Mr Atzmon “a notorious antisemite”, and says that “he has promoted Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to the Nazis” and Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies, holds that no “reputable event should feature Gilad Atzmon”, opinions I respectfully but vigorously disagree with.
Firstly, is Mr. Atzmon truly an antisemite? An antisemite as defined by who, and by what criteria? Should we not apply ourselves to these questions before we brand anyone with such a grave charge, however objectionable (nay, offensive!) their opinions be? As far as I know, and I may be wrong, Mr Atzmon has never denied that the Holocaust happened but rather has opposed laws which seek to prohibit its denial; and did Mr Atzmon really compare all Israelis to Nazis, or is his clumsy and admittedly provocative critique of Israeli policies being taken as proof of something much more sinister?
Even were Mr Atzmon to confess himself as a most virulent antisemite, both tactically and on principle, the last thing we should do is seek to ban him from “reputable” public events; rather, we should welcome any and every opportunity to debate him and people with similar ideas, with facts and well-reasoned arguments that will show any fair-minded, rational person how ill-founded Mr Atzmon’s discourse is.
And before anyone accuses me of being naive and unrealistic in adopting this response, I would counter that to silence or “shut him down” truly plays into genuine antisemites’ hands (eg: ”Look, the Zionists are trying to shut up honest dissenters again”) and leaves a part of the intellectual field to them.