Greenstein has been the most high-pitched and abusive of those who say that when AWL argues against left anti-semitism, we are just belabouring an invented straw man, and de facto helping the ruling circles in Israel.(It may be useful to read How Indymedia UK Lost Its Way and became a safe haven for Anti-Semitism at Socialist Unity for some background.)
Well, now Greenstein himself - a vehement supporter of boycotting Israel, etc. etc. - has fallen foul of people on the left who take even further the idea that Israel is a nation so bad that it cannot be allowed to continue to exist.
He has been banned from the left-wing Internet network Indymedia for protesting - obstreperously, to be sure, but that is the right way to protest in such cases - at Indymedia carrying anti-semitic comments from ex-Israeli musician and SWP associate Gilad Atzmon.
Tony Greenstein's case is sharper than mine, but I'd like to draw connections between them and view them together. It's useful to note both a case in Britain with an explicitly leftist site banning an anti-Zionist Jew together with a case in the US with a mainstream site recently bought by MSNBC banning a left-Zionist Jew. I think that helps to suggest the scope of the problem is or is becoming both global and mainstream.
The debate over at Engage has questioned whether Tony Greenstein is worth defending. [Update: The page has been accidentally deleted. Here is a google cache of the discussion page.] The general response has been that he is in this case because he is being attacked for his Jewishness. In that way, it is an attack on every Jew. If attacking Indymedia while refusing to defend Greenstein means that we should defend him as a Jew without defending any of his arguments, I would agree. His venomoous anti-Zionism only serves to demonstrate how outrageous his banning is. But to defend Jews against antisemitism is to defend Tony Greenstein here.
On the other hand, a friend suggested that in some way Greenstein's case is worse. It is certainly sharper and more obvious because Greenstein himself is someone few Jews could be comfortable with. In fact, a commenter at Engage quotes Greenstein:
Tony Cliff said many years ago "If i saw a bunch of skinheads beating up a rabbi , i'd beat up the skinheads , then i'd beat up the rabbi"And Gilad Atzmon, whom Greenstein attacked for being an antisemite, is a prominent antisemite so that the stakes are a bit higher there. It's like saying a white supremacist is a multiculturalist because he doesn't want to participate in a lynching. But we cannot allow some border where the inclusion of antisemitic stereotypes or the exclusion of Jews is acceptible so long as it isn't too extreme. It would be like saying McCarthyism is okay if people really are a bit pink. Or allowing "There's blacks, and there's n*****s. I only hate n*****s."
In other words defend the rabbi against an antisemitic attack , then beat up the rabbi for being a rabbi.
While Greenstein was surely obstreperous -which is not only his right (in the circumstances) but also his style regardless- it was made quite clear to me that my being disrespectful to others, for which I was banned from Newsvine, amounted to nothing more than to use the word "antisemitism."