My ongoing conflict with Gilad Atzmon, professional peddler of the most rank anti-Semitic garbage, appears to be experiencing a new irruption. It emerges that the rascal will be appearing April 30 at Theatre 80 Saint Marks, a venerated cultural institution right in my own neighborhood, Manhattan's East Village. Of course neighborhood residents and other righteous New York antifas have called a protest, just as we did when a Jew-hater was similarly hosted at the supposedly "progressive" Brooklyn Commons last year. You can read the Facebook announcement for the protest. Both Atzmon and Theatre 80 operator Lorcan Otway have gone online with their own responses—and both are riddled with inaccurate claims about Yours Truly. So I have no choice but to clear the air. Here goes…
First Atzmon. In his screed on his own website, "Bill Weinberg and the Progressives' Tourette's Syndrome," he writes (with typically garbled use of quotation marks):
But what really fascinates me about Weinberg & Co , is their vulgar attitude, an attitude soaked in violence. In one short paragraph, while inviting their Facebook friends to picket the Theatre 80 event, the Weinbergs call me a 'racist', an 'antisemite', an 'all-around human garbage fire' and just when you think that his Tourette's syndrome has reached its climax, the same, vile symptoms reappear, I am 'master shitlord.' And Lorcan Otway, a NYC cultural hero, Theatre owner and a defender of freedom of speech is reduced into a "slimy venue owner."
I don't know who "the Weinbergs" are (none of my family members are involved in the protest), but I never wrote the words "all-around human garbage fire," "master shitlord" or "slimy venue owner." That verbiage does appear on the Facebook announcement for the protest, but I didn't write it. Anyone familiar with my writing would recognize it as alien to my style. Atzmon seems to think that I am the only one in New York who opposes him. Or my family members, of whom he knows nothing.
Next, Otway. He has an opinion piece in the Times of Israel (lovely how these supposed anti-Zionists run to the Zionist press to give them some cover), entitled "Why I give Gilad Atzmon the stage." Invoking his father's defiance of red-baiting as a writer in the McCarthy era (as if this justifies giving a platform to Jew-haters), he also makes some distorted claims about me:
Most of the time, but not always, when people are invited, I agree with them, to some degree or agree that they should be heard. For example, Bill Weinberg told me that I should not have had a group come to my theater and say that the US government blew up the World Trade Center. I agree with Bill — that it is not a rational contention that the government blew up the buildings. However, I did not agree with Bill that I should not let someone say that from my stage. And so, I invited Bill, on my dime, to organize an evening to counter speech with speech. He chose not to do so. Today, Bill feels I should not allow Gilad Atzmon to speak from my stage, in spite of the fact that Gilad invites questions and has opposing points of view on the panel with him — all of which he has organized and for which he is paying.
No, that's not how it went down. While Theatre 80 has indeed opened its stage to 9-11 conspiracy theorists, that isn't what I sought to counter with an alternative event there. What I discussed with Otway was an event at Theatre 80 in support of the Syrian Revolution, to balance the Assad-shilling propaganda he has allowed at the space. And I did not "choose" not to do it. It merely hadn't happened yet. The last I left it (a few weeks ago), I told Lorcan I would get back to him when my comrades and I were ready to hold the event. By his use of the past tense, I assume the invitation is now rescinded.
As you might imagine, Otway's defense doesn't go down very well with Times of Israel's readers. From the comments:
Andrew Michaelson · Saddleback College
Simple question; if Marine Le Pen or the German AfD wanted to book your theatre, would you accept their bookings? If not, why an unapologetic anti-Semite like Atzmon?
David Bernstein · Arlington, Virginia
Freedom of speech doesn't mean that any particular individual has to provide a forum for that speech on his property. By doing so in these circumstances, you are complicit with Atzmon's neo-Nazi views.
A few other observations… Local leftist writer Donna Minkowitz turned down an invitation to be on the panel with Atzmon, correctly perceiving that she was being used as a token Jew to provide cover for a Jew-hater. She called the rascal out in The Forward, in a piece entitled "Why A 'Proud Self-Hating Jew' Asked Me To Tout His Book."
Showing no such compunctions about being thusly used is Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro of the wacky Neturei Karta, who is praised by Atzmon on his website, and is also to appear on the panel. As I've pointed out, Neturei Karta is an ultra-reactionary spin-off of the Satmar Hasidic sect that rejects Zionism on the obscurantist grounds that establishment of a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah is an abomination before God. While claiming to be "True Torah" Jews who reject mainstream Judaism as apostate, they are quite willing to make common cause with Jew-haters. Their representatives notoriously attended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial confab in 2007. They of course deny they are denialists, but they had no problem embracing David Duke with their honored presence in Tehran.
"Ex" Klansman David Duke of course avidly promotes Atzmon on his own website. And Atzmon has returned the favor, praising David Duke, and saying he has been unfairly vilified for being "a proud white man."
None of this is surprising. As I've pointed out before, Atzmon has a website full of Holocaust revisionism, claims that Hitler's anti-Semitism was "in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership," and shameless defenses of age-old anti-Semitic tropes.
And while Atzmon and his defenders hide behind "anti-Zionism" (or "criticism of Jewish culture"), he has been roundly condemned by legitimate anti-Zionists. The US Palestinian Community Network runs "A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon." The aggressively anti-Zionist blog Jews sans Frontieres has called out Atzmon as a "classical anti-Semite." The Angry Arab blog also states clearly: "[T]his is somebody that we should reject from the pro-Palestinian advocacy movement."
The protest will be Sunday, April 30, from 4:30-10 PM at 80 St Mark's Place, between First & Second avenues in Lower Manhattan. I, for one, am not calling on Otway or Theatre 80 to cancel the gig, which will just give Atzmon and his vile ilk an opportunity to play the victim and whine about "censorship." But we will use his appearance there as an opportunity to raise the alarm about his noxious politics and how they are being mainstreamed by (mostly) clueless progressives.