Sunday, 22 January 2012

Holocaust Denial at the PSC AGM

Yesterday the Palestine Solidarity Campaign held its Annual General Meeting. One of the first things it had to deal with was the expulsion of former National Chair Francis Clark-Lowes. Last year he admitted being a Holocaust denier and, after some pressure, was expelled. Mr Clark-Lowes had a right to appeal at the AGM and you can read his speech here.

What was the reaction in a room full of people claiming to be anti-racist when they were told:
"Put simply, the idea that Gentiles have an anti-Semitic gene, the story of Jewish suffering, the ‘Holocaust’ myth, Zionism, Jewish chauvinism, and anti-racist rhetoric have combined into an ideology which, because it is virtually unsinkable in its own terms, is immensely powerful."
or that:
"Instead of  cowering in fear at the use Zionists might make of what we say, and desperately scouring every word uttered on this subject to root out supposed anti-Semitism, we should be challenging Jewish ideology."
The condemnation was less than inspiring. According to Tony Greenstein:
People literally gasped as they heard him describe the holocaust as a ‘myth’
But Jeremy Moodey says that everyone just listened politely (although the room cheered when they were told that the Occupy movement had taken over another site). When he finished speaking there was modest applause according to Paul Eisen who was apparently outside the room.

After the speech the AGM was asked to vote on whether this Holocaust denier should be expelled from the self-proclaimed anti-racist campaign. 1 in 5 of those present couldn't bring themselves to vote yes. The AGM went on to back a motion endorsing the following statement from the executive:
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign exists to build a mass solidarity movement on Palestine. It is founded on principles of justice, human rights, and opposition to all forms of racism. Any expression of racism or intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimise the Holocaust have no place in our movement. Such sentiments are abhorrent in their own right and can only detract from the building of a strong movement in support of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.
Words are cheap and in this case meaningless. When 20% of your organisation won't vote to expel a man who denied the Holocaust to their faces, you don't have much credibility claiming that such denial "has no place" in your movement.


  1. “Holocaust Denial at the PSC AGM”

    What a thoroughly misleading title. The fight against a small number of antisemites, holocaust deniers and assorted scumbags inside the PSC has been going on for years now (see also the 2007 - 2008 Great Flame Wars at Indymedia).

    “The condemnation was less than inspiring.”

    You were there, were you? No, thought not. What kind of condemnation would you think would be suitably inspiring, huh?

    And do you condemn the sort of deeply Islamophobic comments that appear almost continually on HP’s sewer threads? ‘Suitably inspiringly’? No, not holding my breath on that one either.

    ‘Just thinking’? No, just singing. Singing the praises of your beloved Israel.

    1. The title is not misleading since there was very clear Holocaust denial at the PSC AGM.

      As for my lack of presence at the meeting, is that relevant? Which of my facts are wrong? Did Tony Greenstein (who has long campaigned against Atzmon and his like including Francis Clark-Lowes) lie when he reported on the vote result? Was he deliberately downplaying the reaction of the members when he called the Holocaust a myth?

      I rather think not.

      Unless you have evidence to the contrary I will follow Greenstein's report that 20% of the core members of the PSC wouldn't vote to expel someone who stood in front of them and denied the Holocaust.

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  3. Since I am quoted in your misleading blog, I need to correct a point of fact. The room "listened politely" to the speech of Francis Clark-Lowes, which did not include any anti-Semitic comments, because most of us (including myself) at that point were not aware that the PSC executive had accused him of Holocaust denial. When the PSC chair later detailed the accusation, which apparently Dr Clark-Lowes does not deny, and called for his expulsion from the PSC, there was a large round of applause. The expulsion of Dr Clark-Lowes was then ratified by an overwhelming majority, causing him to leave the room. This shows an organisation determined to root out anti-Semitism! You have twisted the facts to suit your own agenda, which is to stifle any debate about the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

    1. You make three points:
      1) There was no anti-Semitism in the speech.
      2) His expulsion proves the PSC opposes anti-Semitism
      3) I am trying to stifle debate.

      Let me address each one.

      1) The text of the speech has been published online and it includes the claim that the Holocaust is a myth. Tony Greenstein's summary of the meeting also makes clear that the speech made this claim. Your message on twitter that I cite (which you have since deleted) also said, if I recall (and I will try to find the screenshot I took) that speech was about his right to "question the Holocaust narrative".

      That you do not consider it anti-Semitic to call the Holocaust a myth says quite a lot about your general ability to spot and therefore challenge anti-Semitism.

      2) I note that you do not deny the voting results and therefore the fact that 20% of those present refused to vote to expel someone who denied the Holocaust to their faces. That is a high percentage and doesn't lend any credibility to the organisation's claim that there is no place for Holocaust denial in the PSC.

      3) The situation in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank is one of the most discussed and debated foreign topics in the UK. To suggest that anyone is trying to stifle the debate is bizarre.

    2. Jeremy,

      I have some points to add to Anthony's post above which I concur with wholeheartedly.

      1) According to various surveys approximately 20% of people in the UK hold views which are anti-Semitic (to be clear they endorse statements such as the "Jews control the media", or "the holocaust is used by Jews for financial gain"). This dovetails with the 20% who refused to kick out a holocaust denier from their midst. Yet its not so straightforward because the PSC is supposed to be an anti-racist movement; should we not therefore expect the figure to be lower than that of society in general? This tells us that whilst the majority of the membership may not be anti-Semitic, nonetheless the PSC attracts anti-Semites and those who tolerate anti-Semitism. As a genuine anti-racist this ought to concern you. Does it?

      2) Israel's occupation of the West Bank may be many things, illegal it is not. It is clearly legal under international law for a state to occupy territory from which it has been attacked. Annexation is of course a different matter. You are within your rights to characterise Israel's presence in the West Bank as immoral but my question is why you characterise legal behaviour as illegal? It may be good propaganda but it is neither balanced nor objective. If you wish to maintain that Israel's presence in the West Bank is illegal please point me to the relevant articles of international law.

      3)Anti-Semitism in the Palestinian solidarity movement is not a fig-leaf to Israeli conduct. It is a real problem that needs to be addressed, rather than diminished. If you don't accept this then ask yourself why so called anti-racists turn up in court to cheer on the defendant in a race-hate trial only when the victim is Jewish?

  4. I have only just now read the speech, a text of which is available at This is indeed, from my memory, a verbatim account of what was said.

    I personally missed the reference to the Holocaust 'myth', and now that I read it in cold print it does indeed seem quite shocking. And of course the words on their own are anti-Semitic. I think however that when he uttered that sentence, which is syntactically convoluted, it seemed as if he was invoking these as accusations made against him, without his admitting that they were true. That was I how I heard it anyway.

    I remembered more his reference to the 'Holocaust narrative', which is a common phrase, often used by Jews, and therefore not to my mind anti-Semitic in itself. When he referred to 'questioning the Holocaust narrative' I assumed he did not mean questioning the facts of the Holocaust, which would clearly be abhorrent, but to questioning how the terrible experience of the Shoah is used to justify the oppression of the Palestinians today. This to my mind is a legitimate question, and again one taken up by Jewish writers themselves (see Mark Braverman's book 'Fatal Embrace').

    I cannot explain why 20% voted against Dr Clark-Lowes' expulsion, having voted the opposite way myself, but I am sure the issue was not Holocaust denial but the issue of free speech. The PSC has quite a left-wing orientation (which is why I mentioned in my Tweets the warm applause given to an Occupy protester) and I guess an absolute commitment to free speech will be non-negotiable for many PSC members, irrespective of how repulsive someone's views may be.

    I stick by my final point. The PSC and other organisations campaigning for justice in Palestine are too often led up the blind alley of the anti-Semitism issue, because it is a way of shutting down debate. Question the actions of the State of Israel, or call it a 'rogue' state, and you must be anti-Semitic. I do not have an anti-Semitic bone in my body yet have been accused of "wanting to sweep the Jews into the sea" when I have sought to highlight the plight of the Palestinians. The agenda of your blogs and tweets, which is to shut down a legitimate debate with unwarranted smears of anti-Semitism, is quite clear.

    1. I didn't make any comment about the reasoning behind the 20% refusing to vote for his expulsion. Personally I don't think a free speech argument applies here at all since it was a question about whether the views expressed are such that he should not be associated with the PSC. It had nothing to do with whether he should be free to express them.

      The PSC declared that Holocaust denial has no place in the movement. But that is not a credible statement given that 20% of members are happy to tolerate it within the movement.

      Your final point about stifling debate remains bizarre.

    2. I can only concur once more with Anthony. If considerations of free speech were behind the refusal of the 20% to vote for Dr Clark-Lowes expulsion, then it bears poor witness to their intellectual calibre. If these people are not bright enough to understand the principles of free speech, what is implied about the reasoning behind any other position they might take?

      One other thing, name three Jews who have used the term "Holocaust narrative". I don't recall this term being used by any Jew I have ever met and for what its worth, I live in Tel-Aviv.

  5. Jeremy Moodey,

    I hope you don't mind, but I saw your tweet.

    I would like to address one of your points:

    "The PSC and other organisations campaigning for justice in Palestine are too often led up the blind alley of the anti-Semitism issue, because it is a way of shutting down debate. Question the actions of the State of Israel, or call it a 'rogue' state, and you must be anti-Semitic. "

    I think no one sensible would argue that reasoned criticism of the Israeli government, or any government is naturally antisemitic.

    No one.

    But by the same token, if you were to pursue almost any debate on these issues the contrary is true, that any questioning of the vitriol which often comes out from Western "supporters" of the PSC or their allies is ignored, dismissed as irrelevant or shouted down as "Zionist propaganda".

    So surely you must see how it cuts both ways?

  6. You say that no-one sensible equates criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Semitism, but this conflation of two entirely separate issues happens with alarming regularity. Two recent examples are Caroline Glick's 20 December article in the Jerusalem Post ( and Tanya Gold's 16 January piece in The Guardian ( Both writers seek to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel by tarring its critics with the anti-Semitic brush.

    The fact is that Zionists have an allergy to open debate, since they know it will shine a spotlight on the human rights abuses being perpetrated by Israel in their name. Why else would Australian Jews try to ban a perfectly innocent TV drama, 'The Promise'? (see Or why else would the Board of British Deputies seek to stifle debate about Israeli organ trafficking? (see

  7. Jeremy,

    Sorry, you seem to want to have it both ways, that every accusation of antisemitism is to be ignored, as supposedly it is "Zionist propaganda".

    The next you failed to engage with the point that Western "supporters" of the Palestinians' cause do stifle debate.

    If you'd like I can give you chapter and verse on it, but I suggest you look up the Jenna Delich case.

    But let's agree a lot of nasty things are said, surely the question should be, how can we see through them and avoid any unintended racism towards Jews?

  8. As someone who was integrally involved in the debate and having been seen as an obsessive over Atzmon for the past 6+ years (he calls me his 'stalker'), I can only agree with Jeremy.

    I began my own speech by saying that there was probably no one in the hall who hasn't been anti-Semitic. I'm often called that, or else I'm told it's a pity I didn't die in Auschwitz (yes the anti-Semitic comments of Zionists are far worse than anything that the fascists - of whom I have a bit of experience - see my new book out any day on fascism).

    To many people, who are not political, when accused of 'anti-Semitism' when they are nothing of the kind, leads to them saying that if that is the case then so be it. As Tony Lerman, one of the most thoughtful Jewish academics around (founder of IJPR) says, this is draining anti-Semitism of all meaning. Or to be blunt it's the boy who cried wolf syndrome.

    Those who voted against were primarily Stalinists whose own contortions never cease to amaze me. In this case the N Korean variety. How they got into the position of voting against hte expulsion of an anti-Semite, whilst making it clear, explicitly, that of course they accept the holocaust as a fact, defeats even the most talmudic logician.

    Eisen was nowhere near the debate. He wouldn't have been allowed in as he is not a member of PSC and would not be able to join so he wished. The fact is that no one gave any support to FCL on the basis of holocaust denial and the number of Eisen associates in PSC is very small.

    I know that's not how Harry's Place will play it but that's life

    1. Tony, just two points:

      1) The logic of "I'm not racist but someone called me an anti-Semite so I'll start denying the Holocaust" makes no sense.

      2) I have not said nor implied that the PSC supports Holocaust denial or believes it. But the plain facts are that 20% of the members present did not want to expel the man who declared to them that the Holocaust is a myth. Whatever the reasons for that, they are still making the clear statement that they have no major objection to being associated with him. Free speech has no part to play in this discussion at all.

      That plain and simple fact makes the later claim that Holocaust denial has no place in the PSC very difficult to believe.


      I obviously don't know exactly where Eisen was but from both his account and yours it sounds like he was in the building and therefore certainly in a position to overhear applause. But his testimony is hardly relevant to the point I'm making.

  9. There was very little applause for FCL and that came from the Stalinist corner!

    PSC has made its position extremely clear. Holocaust deniers have no place in the organisation. 16% dissented on various grounds, none of which involved support for holocaust denial.

    It's like saying that because the Union of Jewish Students and its officers/societies never supported No Platform for Fascists & Racists (until it came to anti-Zionists) therefore it too supports the holocaust deniers it refused to No Platform. YOu can't get sillier than that.

    As to your first point, if you tell everyone was opposes Zionism or supports the Palestinians that they are anti-Semitic, then some, who are not politically sophisticated will say, ok, if the price of supporting the Palestinians is to be an anti-Semite then I will pay that price.

    What's so difficult about that? And if you tell people that Israel's legitimacy derives from the holocaust, is it any surprise that the more stupid Atzmonites will take that as a reason to deny the holocaust?

    THe moral is not to misuse and abuse the term 'anti-Semite'. However it has become the Zionist stock-in-trade, even though its utility has long passed the sell-by date. All this cynical tactic is doing is legitimising anti-Semitism and providing a reason to be anti-Semitic.

    But if you were to read up on the history of Zionism and how it has both used anti-Semitism and worked with anti-Semites then it might be even clearer that Zionism has no real problem with anti-Semitism. Both share the belief that Jews do not belong outside Israel.

    Zionism has provided the anti-Semites, people like Alfred Rosenberg not just one's common and garden anti-Semites with a 'Jewish' seal of approval. And right from the start, when Herzl visited the Czar's ministers, von Plehve & Count Witte (the latter told Herzl he wanted to drown Russia's 6m Jews), then all will fall into place. Herzl had already teamed up with Eduard Drumont and gained a favourable review for his Judenstaat.

    We have dealt withour own racists and sympathisers. Isn't it about time the Zionist movement did or is the problem that no one would be left?

  10. Tony your analogy fails. Failing to support a No Platform position doesn't associate you with the people you refuse to ban. That's a free speech position. Failing to expel someone from your organisation means being willing to be associated with that person and those views. And 20% felt that Holocaust denial was not something they had a major problem being associated with.

    Your suggestion that racism can be bred from nothing simply by being incorrectly called a racist is plain silly. It doesn't warrant discussion and makes you look like a fool, in my opinion. Besides, if you believed that proposition to be true then your own position and that of the PSC that Zionism is irredeemably racist would be turning anyone who supports Israel's continued existence into rabid Arab haters. It is so stupid that it doesn't warrant further discussion.

  11. Jeremy,

    I expect Tony's case concerning the almost nonexistence of anti-Jewish racism within the PSC would have more validity, had his 2007 motions passed, unopposed.

    Conceivably, people within PSC are finally waking up to the fact that racist use such campaigns against Jews.

    It is a pity that they couldn't do it earlier, in 2007.

    The rejected motions can be seen here,

    In light of the PSC's 2007 rejection of all out opposition to antisemitism, as embodied in these motions it is little surprise that certain members of the PSC could not bring themselves to throw out a Holocaust denier, such as Francis Clark-Lowes.

    Jeremy, I hope you can see the connections?

  12. Jeremy/Anthony,

    Been most interested, I have put some thoughts in this post:
    Jeremy Moodey and The PSC Set Me Thinking

  13. You need to chill dawg Jeremy didnt deny the holocaust. If I hosted a right wing rave and a couple of people there wanted to evict all immigrants does that mean they have the same views as me? Dont be a fool

  14. Oh dear. I'm just glad that I don't have to work with Trotskyists any more. And, all the time this is going on, disabled people are dying or committing suicide. The working class is showing absolutely NO meaningful opposition to everything that this government is doing. And you guys are obsessed with a small middle eastern country. How's that for diversion tactics? Are you actually achieving anything except giving ordinary people the impression that you are obsessed,swivel-eyed loons and weirdos? I'll read the report of the AGM when I've calmed down a bit but really. GRow p, I got over all this when I left university. Many, many, years ago . PS: Tony G: I read your comments on Socialist Unity and thought they were pretty fair.