Sunday, January 07, 2007

A worm turns

For several years now, the children's author, broadcaster and poet Michael Rosen has acted as an apologist for the British Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). He appears at their ill-named "Marxism" events and speaks on their platforms on a variety of subjects, including Zionism and the Middle East. He defends them against the charge that their "line" on Israel/Palestine is objectively anti-semitic. He is particularly useful to the SWP ( and their semi-Islamist front organisation "Respect") , because he is Jewish. George Galloway recently had Rosen as a special guest on his radio show.

But even the craven apologist Rosen has his limits: some time ago he began to express unease about the SWP's emrace of the crazed anti-semitic saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, and started posting his objections, under the name "Isakofsky" on various internet discussions, like this.

However, Rosen/ Isakofsky's promises of publicly denouncing Atzmon (including a promise to denounce at Marxism), have come to nothing: it seemed that Rosen/ Isakofsky would rather keep in with his friends in the SWP than risk antagonising them by attacking their favourite anti-semite sax-player...until now:

Rosen, it would seem, has been on a bear-hunt and found a spine:

This letter appears in the first Socialist Worker (paper of the SWP) of 2007:

"Great news about the Cultures of Resistance musical programme, but I have to say that I'm mightily dismayed that you have saxophonist Gilad Atzmon on board.

"He is someone who has frequently expressed racist ideas and surely we have always said you can't fight racism with racism? I fear that the racism he expresses is seen by some in the liberation movements as a racism that doesn't matter very much.

"That's to say, it's said by some that racism towards peoples from countries oppressed and exploited by the West is the main racism we're fighting, but a racism directed toward peoples seen as heavily implicated in the West's oppression matters less.

"Thus anti-semistism in the 21st Century is seen perhaps as "mistaken" within the liberation movement , much as we might say that going on about Rupert Murdoch being Australian is 'mistaken'.

" This is a disastrous route to go down. Anti-semitism imagines the removal or elemination of a group of people from the world system.

"All we have to ask ourselves is: 1) would eliminating that group change the system for the better? 2) What ghastly processes would a state create in order to do the removing and eliminating?

"I think Cultures of Resistance is making a great mistake taking Atzmon on board with them and this will undermine and weaken what we are all trying to do.

"Michael Rosen

"East London".

It may be too much to hope, but perhaps Rosen's belated discovery of a spine will awaken some SWP members (and others on the "left", influenced by them) to the reality of their organisation's institutional anti-semitism.

Sadly, it seems unlikely that the cravenly pro-admirer Rosen, will reason his way through to any more general critique from this single 'mistake', to the understanding that the SWP is an anti-semitic organisation.


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