Tony Greenstein, hailing from an Orthodox Jewish family, is a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a member of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and in his personal blog absurdly styles himself as a “Socialist, anti-Zionist, anti-racist”.
Unsurprisingly, his writings are virulently anti-Zionist espousing views that equate Nazism to Zionism and that the Jews have ethnically cleansed the Palestinians. For more on Mr. Greenstein see here.
Below is a selection of statements made by Tony Greenstein on the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ “in his own words”:
“The JNF played a crucial role in planning for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. In the years leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel, the JNF was a key voice in establishing a consensus in the Zionist leadership for “transfer”. Although not discussed openly, among the Zionist leaders it was accepted that a Jewish state could only come into being if the Arabs were transferred out of the state.” Israel’s royal welcome Tony Greenstein March 25, 2008
“But what Littlejohn failed to comprehend was that if it is wrong for anti-semites to associate Jews with Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians, then it is equally wrong for the leaders of Zionism and the Israeli state to proclaim that Israel’s war against Lebanon was waged in the name of Jews throughout the world. The fact is that if some people misguidedly attribute Israel’s crimes to Jews, one of the reasons for so doing is that Israel and its apologists claim that it acts on behalf of world Jewry.” A war on rationality July 11, 2007
“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?” Stop conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism April 12, 2007
“Anti-semitism has become the “anti-racism” of the political right, a means of defaming supporters of the Palestinians and not least Jewish anti-Zionists who, like anti-Nazi Germans, are derided as “self-haters”.” The seamy side of solidarity February 19, 2007
According to Greenstein, the following is a comment he posted in the comments section in response to Anthony Lerman’s article “Antisemitic, or just offensive” that was deleted (surprisingly!) by the moderators:
“The concern of Mr Foxman and all the other slavish apologists for Israel’s actions about a cartoon, stand in marked contrast to their silence, indeed their exculpation of the murder of over 400 Palestinian children in Gaza.
Just imagine – 400 Jewish children slaughtered by an intensive air, land and sea bombardment in an attack against their ghetto (which is what Gaza is)? The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Oh we know the excuse. Hamas are hiding behind civilians – just like Haganah, the Zionist pre-state militia. Presumably the British would have been right to shell kibbutzim, synagogues (where weapons were definitely stored).
But at least the soldiers who committed the atrocities in Gaza were honest. The children will only grow up to be ‘terrorists’ hence why killing them too is legitimate. The tee shirts Israeli soldiers had made up to ‘celebrate’ their deeds – such as the picture of a pregnant Palestinian woman in the cross-hairs of a gun sight – ‘one bullet 2 kills’ is indeed an example of the Nazi mentality. As are slogans such as ‘we have come to annihilate you’.
But of course this misses the point. For years Zionists and apologists for everything the Israeli state does to the Palestinians have done so in the name of fighting the Nazis. The settlers invoke the Nazis and ‘never again’ to justify their deeds, the attack on Beirut was likened by Begin to an attack on Hitler’s bunker.
And likewise the Israeli opponents of their State’s barbarism also resort, quite correctly, to analogies with the Nazis. ‘We must demand of the entire nation a sense of shame and humiliation. That soon we will be like Nazis and the perpetrators of pogroms,” wrote Rabbi Benyamin’. This was written after the cold-blooded murder of 46 Palestinians at the Kfar Quassem village just prior to the Suez War. Likewise, after some of the events of the 1947-9 war Aharon Zisling, later to become Minister of Agriculture for the Zionist Mapam said at a cabinet meeting that ‘I have not always agreed when the term Nazi was applied to the British. I would not want to use that expression with regard to them, even though they committed Nazi acts. But Nazi acts have been committed by Jews as well, and I am deeply shocked.’ [Tom Segev, the 7th Million, pp. 300-1]
And yet I cannot recall Foxman or the Hoffmans of this world criticising the use of Nazi analogies to demonise the Palestinians because that is their view too. It is only when the victims use such analogies that they are verboten. Strange that.
But maybe the apologists for Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza have forgotten that it was in 1933, when the Head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Department, Baron von Mildenstein visited the Yishuv, Jewish Palestine, for 6 months, that he not only wrote a series of laudatory articles in Der Angriff when he returned to Germany, having been the guest of Histadrut and the Kibbutzim, but he even had a coin minted – with the Swastika on one side and the Star of David on another. But this was when the World Zionist Organisation had decided that parleying with the Nazis was better than the anti-fascist boycott of them!
But I forget – boycotts too have been compared these days to Nazi ‘boycotts’. And who has made the comparison? Ah yes, the same people who object to such comparisons when the Palestinians make them!!!” Comment posted April 4, 2009
In response to the deletion of the comment above, Greenstein wrote the following to Matt Seaton, editor of ‘Comment is Free’:
“Dear Mr Seaton,
I refer to the article published by Antony Lerman in the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog last Thursday 2nd April.
The article argued that the cartoon by Pat Oliphant, showing a ‘headless Nazi-like, goose-stepping, jackbooted figure, with one arm raised and outstretched, holding a sword, and the other wheeling a head in the form of a Star of David’ may have been offensive but it was not anti-Semitic.
Lerman argued that ‘political cartoons are often very offensive, and offensive – even when it involves comparing Israelis with Nazi’ but that ‘does not automatically mean antisemitic.’
It is an argument which is, I would have thought self-evident. Especially when, as Lerman goes on to point out:
‘The effect of the complaints of antisemitism made by the American Jewish organisations is to attempt to protect Israel from legitimate, if deeply unpleasant, criticism…. All it seems to be doing is devaluing the currency. If the ADL and the Wiesenthal Centre don’t like or agree with the comparison, why can’t they just argue that it’s wrong?.. This only makes it increasingly difficult to raise concern about genuine instances of antisemitism and to develop effective means to prevent them.’
This was a well argued article about the pernicious effects of labelling critics of Israel and Zionism as anti-Semitic. I therefore wrote in to support the main thrust of the article and to point out the hypocrisy of those who label others as anti-Semitic when they don’t hesitate themselves to make comparisons between their opponents and the Nazis. In particular I highlighted:
The fact that Israeli soldiers returning home from Gaza had tee-shirts printed legitimising the killing of children and in particular one which showed a pregnant woman in the cross-hairs of a rifle with the slogan ‘one bullet, two kills’. The Nazi mentality behind such thinking should be obvious to all.
The comparisons that have regularly been made between Palestinians and Arabs and the Nazis by Zionists and gave Begin’s comparison of Arafat in Beirut with Hitler in his bunker as but one example.
I recalled the fact that even internal critics of Israel, Zionists themselves, had drawn comparisons to earlier massacres such as that at Kfar Quassem, and the Nazis. I cited Aharon Zisling, later to become a Mapam Minister in the Israeli government who said of the above massacre that ‘Nazi acts have been committed by Jews as well, and I am deeply shocked.’
I noted that on no occasion have those, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League ever criticised Zionist comparisons between Palestinians and the Nazis as anti-Semitic.
I drew attention to the trip that Baron von Mildenstein, Head of the Gestapo’s Jewish desk, made a journey in 1933 to Jewish Palestine for 6 months at the invitation of the Labour Zionist movement. Now I wouldn’t expect you to know this, clearly you don’t, but it is documented in Jacob Boas’ ‘A Nazi Travels to Palestine’ which was printed in the January 1980 edition of History Today, a journal which isn’t usually considered on the wilder fringes of the political spectrum.
And finally I drew attention to the fact that those who deprecate comparisons between Zionism and the Nazis have no hesitation in making just such comparisons themselves eg. between BDS campaigns against Israel today and the Nazi ‘Boycott’ of Germany in the 1930’s. Indeed the very same people who objected to Oliphant’s cartoon make this comparison.
I cited as a source for the Zisling and other quotes, the book, 7th Million, by ex-Haaretz journalist, Tom Segev, about the survivors of the Holocaust who emigrated to Palestine/Israel after 1945.
I posted this comment at 1.09 pm last Saturday 4th April and, because of previous experiences of censorship at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ site, took the precaution of saving it. Sure enough, when the same petty-minded censors of CIF ( ‘moderators’) got round to dealing with the inevitable Zionist complaint, my comment was removed.
Now I understand that moderators can fulfil a useful function of removing libellous, defamatory and generally ad hominem comments, whose only purpose is to disrupt debate. But my comment was a contribution to, not an attempt to disrupt, a debate. Clearly this is a difference you are having trouble with. Nor was it in any sense anti-Semitic, though its logic was certainly bound to offend our narrow-minded opponents and your tiny-minded moderators.
There was a time when CIF, under Georgina Henry, had no hesitation in encouraging debate such as this. It would seem that you on the other hand were brought in as Editor of CIF precisely in order to clamp down on controversial debate, CIF having been subject to a concerted campaign by the Zionist Federation and their allies who were and are afraid of any debate they cannot control.
I look forward to an apology for the deletion of this comment and failing that I would hope that you are honest enough to rename CIF to something more appropriate such as ‘Comment is Free Except When We Censor It’ or ‘Comment is Free (in moderation)’. At the moment CIF is a tribute to Orwell’s Newspeak where censorship is called free debate.