Ian Fantom –May 5, 2019
In what must be one of the most bizarre incidents so far in the current antisemitism witch-hunt in the UK’s labour movement, a member has been expelled for a tenuous link with a ‘Holocaust denier’, even though he himself strenuously believes in the Holocaust story, and the article he linked to expresses no views on the Holocaust, and only refers in passing to a witch-hunt against the ‘Holocaust denier’. And the body involved is none other than Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW).
Peter Gregson has been a campaigner against the adoption of the new IHRA definition of ‘antisemitism’ in the Labour Party and in his trades union, the GMB. This got him expelled from the GMB and suspended from the Labour Party. Opposition to the IHRA definition of ‘antisemitism’ is one of LAW’s founding principles, and LAW supported him.
At his appeal in the London office of the GMB on 4 March 2019, he was supported by Tony Greenstein, a founder member of LAW, and by Rabbi Ahron Cohen, who had given a talk on video, explaining why criticism of Israel should not be conflated with ‘antisemitism’. Outside the GMB office in Euston, London, there was a small group of supporters, including Stan Keable, Secretary of LAW, and some people from the Revolutionary Communists Group. I myself was there since on hearing of Peter Gregson’s case I had invited him to give a talk to my group, Keep Talking, and rescheduled our meeting so that he could give it whilst in London, following his hearing.
Peter Gregson gave his talk the title ‘The Loss of Freedom of Speech on Israel, thanks to bogus anti-Semitism claims’, and he posted a video of the talk on his YouTube channel, and I posted a copy on my own YouTube channel, too. In the meantime, I had published an analysis of the Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl and related the methods advocated by Theodor Herzl with the antisemitism row in the Labour Party. I wrote that article in the belief that if these facts became widely known in the labour movement, they would torpedo such fake antisemitism campaigns. The most likely group to get this out in the Labour Party, I thought, would be Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW).
What’s wrong with these people?
Amongst Peter Gregson’s writings was a petition update in Change.org, which included a paragraph: “Also see the article ‘UK’s Labour Antisemitism Split’ by Ian Fantom here. Ian organised the Keep Talking group that filmed my talk in the last but one update. (But I must say I think the Kollerstrom article he mentions is quite toxic)”. For that, he was banned from the ‘unofficial’ – and only – Facebook page of Labour Against the Witch-hunt by founder member and Vice-President of LAW Tony Greenstein. Later Peter Gregson wrote to me: “The saga continues… I’ve been expelled from the ‘Zionism is Racism – Scotland Stand Up’ coalition for posting your article, Ian. Gosh .. what is wrong with these people?” Eventually he went public with the correspondence, and the Jewish Chronicle published a write-up headed ‘Emails reveal row within Labour Against The Witchhunt over memberHYPERLINK “https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/emails-reveal-row-within-labour-against-the-witchhunt-over-member-s-support-for-holocaust-denier-1.483088″‘HYPERLINK “https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/emails-reveal-row-within-labour-against-the-witchhunt-over-member-s-support-for-holocaust-denier-1.483088″s support for Holocaust denier: Pete Gregson insisted denier Nick Kollerstrom was “Holocaust sceptic”, and was condemned by fellow LAW member Tony Greenstein’.
So what was so terrible about my article, referred to by Peter Gregson? Its full title was ‘UK’s Labour Antisemitism Split: Just what the Doctor Prescribed’? Until 1960 only sanitised versions of his diaries had been published, according to Herzl’s wishes. When the Complete Diaries was published it remained obscure, until recently when it was posted on the Internet. Now it is clear that Herzl was actually advocating a resurgence in antisemitism against the ‘poor Jews’ in order to advance the cause of a military invasion of Palestine sponsored by the ‘rich Jews’. Such an engineered resurgence is in evidence today, and furthermore, Herzl’s antagonism towards democracy and Socialism illustrates how the ‘poor Jews’ were being used when they en masse supported democratic and Socialist causes. A return to Socialism under Jeremy Corbyn, following Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’, would not be tolerated. Membership in Parliament of Labour Friends of Israel was declining, and that, I was suggesting, was behind the current witch-hunt in today’s Labour Party.
The paragraph that Tony Greenstein was using to denounce Peter Gregson was in the context of explaining the history and purpose of Keep Talking, which had invited Peter Gregson to talk about his experiences. The paragraph ran: “The focus of our group had not been on Israel or Zionism, and we tacitly agreed amongst ourselves not to deal with the Holocaust issue, because that was so taboo in the UK that any onslaught from the Zionist lobby could completely derail us from our main topic, which was false-flag terrorism and causes of wars. In fact, my colleague, Dr Nick Kollerstrom, author of many investigative books, including ‘Terror on the Tube’, had been targeted in a witch-hunt for a literature review he wrote on ‘The Auschwitz “Gas Chamber” Illusion’ and a comment about a swimming pool at Auschwitz since deleted. I defended Nick Kollerstrom’s right to investigate that topic, and to write about it freely, though I myself had no knowledge of the topic, and so no views on it. That was the seminal incident that led to Keep Talking being set up.”
I myself at the time was taken aback at Nick Kollerstrom’s writings on this topic, since I had no knowledge of the Leuchter Report, the Rudolf Report, of Ernst Zündel, or Robert Faurisson, or any of the writers on the Holocaust listed in the website of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) other than David Irving, whose name I knew only because of his trial and imprisonment, as reported widely in the mainstream media.
One of the sponsors of LAW is Professor Noam Chomsky, and I came across an article of his titled ‘All Denials of Free Speech Undercut A Democratic Society’, in which he defended Professor Robert Faurisson’s rights after he had denied the existence of gas chambers. Chomsky wrote: “He was then brought to trial for ‘falsification of history,’ and condemned – the first time in the West, to my knowledge, that the courts have affirmed the familiar Stalinist-fascist doctrine that the State has the right to determine historical truth and to punish deviation from it”. In response to a query on why he had signed a petition defending Faurisson’s rights, he wrote: “I went on to inform Ms. Dawidowicz that I knew very little about Faurisson’s work so that while it may be ‘horrendous,’ as claimed by his critics, I obviously could not comment. … Furthermore, as I wrote to Ms. Dawidowicz, the nature of his views is, plainly, completely irrelevant to the issue of his right to express them, a truism among civil libertarians that those of a Stalinist-fascist persuasion find quite shocking”. I have only recently become aware of this material, and only because of the verbal assaults on Nick Kollerstrom and Keep Talking which seem to be coming from a network of groups associated with what has become known as the ‘Israel lobby’.
Despite this, the Jewish Chronicle wrote, “In that article, Mr Fathom writes approvingly of Dr Nick Kollerstrom – author of The Auschwitz ‘Gas Chamber’ Illusion”. This is, of course, misleading, since it conflates approval of Nick’s character with approval of his views on gas chambers. My line, as I subsequently discovered, was the same as Noam Chomsky’s as regards freedom of speech. The link between Peter Gregson’s writing and Nick Kollerstrom’s article was so tenuous that any thinking person must be wondering about the real reason behind it. The demand made by Tony Greenstein to Peter Gregson was: “I must ask you to remove all references to Ian Fantom’s article from your petition update which directs people to Kollerstrom’s holocaust denial article on the website of the well-known Holocaust denial site CODOH”. If that was the case with Peter Gregson’s writing, then it was also true of the Jewish Chronicle’s article, which linked to Peter Gregson’s petition update, which linked to my article, which linked to Nick Kollerstrom’s article. Of course, it’s getting sillier and sillier, and I think that in this study we have homed in on where that silliness is coming from.
I think the real reason for wanting to discourage people in the labour movement from linking to my article is self-evident. I had exposed in some detail the blatant contradiction between the fundamentals of Zionism, as laid out by Theodor Herzl, and the ideals of the UK’s Labour Party. Once that article gets circulated within the labour movement, the fake antisemitism movement is dead. That is the real danger to these people, and ad hominem attacks on the basis of tenuous links to ‘Holocaust deniers’ can only undermine their own disingenuous campaigning when people see just what they are doing.
The ultimate irony
Then on 28 April 2019, Peter Gregson posted an update to his petition on Change.org, in which he reported that the Steering Committee of Labour Against the Witch-hunt were proposing to expell him at a meeting on 4 May. The reason given was “Peter Gregson’s refusal to distance himself from the Holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom”. They describe that as “the last straw”, as if they had already given other reasons, which they hadn’t. From Peter Gregson’s text, it appears that the driving force behind that proposal was Tony Greenstein, whom Peter Gregson described as the ‘king’ in the association. I wrote to Peter Gregson, saying that for me the most shocking and perturbing experience in the witch-hunt against me in the Esperanto association was the way that the membership as a whole unthinkingly backed the ‘king’, and that, I suggested, was a common feature to watch out for in any movement where there is a ‘king’. I also pointed out that one could play the same game against Tony Greenstein. Perhaps he could answer a question posed by Michael Ezra on Paul Bogdanor’s blog site: “Can Tony Greenstein explain a little more about why he has referred to Alfred Lilienthal as a ‘reputable historian,’ despite the fact that, as Greenstein admits, Lilienthal has questioned the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank, and in 1980 Lilienthal was one of the first signatories to a petition supporting the known Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson?”. I also suggested: “At the very least, it seems that Tony Greenstein is hypocritical. If he were to be nominated for expulsion, then I think his defence would be the same as yours!”
A further irony is that Jackie Walker, who at the meeting called for Peter Gregson’s expulsion, had herself accepted an invitation to talk to Keep Talking, but when we realised that her talk to us would be before her Labour Party hearing and that if any ‘Holocaust denier’ were to turn up at our meeting, she could be vulnerable, we suggested to her that it may be wise to postpone her talk. Jackie Walker thanked us for that advice and agreed. LAW had just produced a documentary film ‘Witchhunt’, which I thought was excellent, even if it did, towards the end, focus on the Palestinian issue rather than the Labour Party.
A recent opinion poll concluded that 5% of the population doesn’t believe that the Holocaust happened, and that a further 8% believe the scale of the Holocaust to be exaggerated, and that 19% believe fewer than two million Jews were murdered. This means that any random group of people there is a 13% probability, or possibly a 19% probability, that any individual could be labeled as a ‘Holocaust denier’, and that any group of any significant size, whether it be a local tennis club, or operatic society, or church congregation, would almost certainly contain at least one ‘Holocaust denier’. If one goes further, by denigrating anyone who has linked to someone who linked to a ‘Holocaust denier’, then quite simply they could denigrate virtually anyone in the way they had denigrated Peter Gregson.
The voting on Tony Greenstein’s proposal to expel Peter Gregson was: 20 in favour, 9 against and 8 abstentions. The large number of abstentions suggests that the case had not been clear-cut and that the idea of ‘innocent until proved guilty’ was not universally accepted. The ‘king’ effect that I had referred to would almost certainly have meant that had someone higher in the pecking order than Tony Greenstein spoken out against the motion the vote would have gone the other way. Their President, Maché Machover abstained, and their sponsor Noam Chomsky did not reply to an appeal by Peter Gregson, nor to a request by myself to comment on Peter Gregson’s case, in the light of his defence in his own case. So now that they have expelled Peter Gregson, one has to wonder why they have not also expelled Tony Greenstein and Noam Chomsky for the same reason.
Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR)
The following day, Peter Gregson stayed in London for the launch of a new group, Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR), but beforehand, he wrote to me: “After being expelled from LAW, it’s going to be a battle to get folk to take this seriously”.
I know the problem, as does anyone who has genuinely been the target of a witch-hunt. Yet that is all the more reason for persistence. As regards LAW itself, it would be difficult to think of anything more damaging to their cause than for them to behave in exactly the way the Labour Party has been behaving in running witch-hunts against people they want out. I think this case demonstrates that no group that goes against the will of The Powers That Be can be immune from such undermining.
Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. They have three main aims, the first of which is: “The Labour Party must end the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members”.
Following the foundation of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR), Peter Gregson wrote to me: “The launch went well; I have filmed it. There were about 10 of us there. Interviews and such like. That will go on You-tube soon. The best thing was that the RT journalist came and they want to do 15 minutes on Skype with me on their TV channel. That is the jackpot!”.
The issue, in this case, is clearly not the Holocaust, or even antisemitism; it can only be an attempt to suppress the real agenda of Theodor Herzl, which he himself wanted suppressed until after the establishment of the Jewish State. Theodor Herzl is effectively the Patron Saint of Israel, and so his thinking is of primary importance to the Israel lobby today. Peter Gregson’s real crime was not to promote ideas of ‘Holocaust denial’, but to draw attention to my article about Theodor Herzl and today’s Labour Party antisemitism row.