Political Anti-Semitism in New Zealand

I had vaguely heard of Uncensored; I knew they were not my sort of people. But I didn’t realise just how much not my people until Scott Hamilton wrote about them. Here’s his summary:

The January-March issue of Uncensored offers examples of the magazine’s anti-semitism. The cover of the issue shows Barack Obama with a star of David on his sleeve, suggesting he is a tool of Jews. An article inside called ‘The Unspeakable Truth of 9/11′ insists that the Israeli spy agency Mossad orchestrated the attacks on the World Trade Centre, and another article called ‘The Real Agenda behind the Monetary Crisis’ calls the world’s media ‘Jewish-occupied’ and claims that Jews control the American Federal Reserve. Yet another article claims that Monica Lewinsky was a Mossad agent, and calls her ‘President Clinton’s chunky Jewish girlfriend’. The new, April-June issue of Uncensored takes the anti-semitic theme even further – it includes an article alleging that the diary of famous Holocaust victim Anne Frank was a hoax.

I had no idea people like this existed in New Zealand. I knew there were neo-nazis, and I knew there were conspiracy theoriests. But I thought conspiracy theorists were just stupid, not holocaust-denying-evil.

Uncensored have booked the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall for a conference at the end of April, and Scott Hamilton wrote a letter to Cathy Casey (a left-wing Auckland city councillor) asking her to stop Uncensored from using the hall.1

Scott Hamilton also posted this on indymedia (can anyone guess where this is going? I actually advise against following that link). The comment thread on indymedia is full of holocaust denial, and even more horrific forms of anti-semitism. I’m not quoting any of it, it’s too disgusting. There are a few people attempting to stand against the waves of awfulness. But they’re outnumbered (and once you’re arguing ‘yes the holocaust actually happened’ you’re already disrespecting the dead and the survivors).

It blows my mind that there are people who think and write such vile, hateful, nonsense, but the internet has a lot of everything, so it’s no surprise that includes vile hateful nonsense. That’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post, is that each of those comments are still on indymedia. This is the indymedia mission statement:

The Independent Media centre is a grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice. It is our goal to further the self-determination of people under-represented in media production and content, and to illuminate and analyze local and global issues that impact ecosystems, communities and individuals. We seek to generate alternatives to the biases inherent in the corporate media controlled by profit, and to identify and create positive models for a sustainable and equitable society

. I don’t think providing space for a discussion about whether or not the holocaust happened is creating a positive model for a sustainable and equitable society. Many of the statements on that thread are direct impediments to social and economic justice. One of the moderators of indymedia has posted on that thread, and nothing has been hidden, despite two requests to do so.

The problems with indymedia as an open space is something I’ve written about before. Open spaces replicate all the power imbalances that already exist in society (and also allow space for some that have been festering for some time). I shouldn’t even have to write this, but what happened to Jewish people under the Nazis is not some abstract point of academic argument, it’s an open wound that causes actual people, actual pain. To fail to hide this stuff is to have a huge sign saying “Jews not welcome”. Indymedia is part of the problem, unless it understands that there are many ideas that are directly in opposition to anyone’s liberation, and to host them is to be part of that opposition.

  1. What I originally wanted to write about, which is now relegated to a footnote, is my feeling that the way Scott Hamilton wrote about World War 2 in the post is problematic:
    The hall is a public asset that is supposed to commemorate the loss of New Zealand life in war, and to serve the needs of the community around it. I don’t believe that our community needs Jew-baiting and Maori-bashing. I think it is particularly inappropriate that Uncensored plans to use the hall on an Anzac weekend, when New Zealanders will be remembering the thousands of their countrymen and women who died opposing the same Nazi ideology that so many of the contributors to Uncensored promote.

    I don’t know if Scott Hamilton actually believes that or if he’s being disingenuous. From what I know of his politics I suspect the latter. I can see why it’s very tempting in circumstances such as these, to play on the popular image of world war two as a great war against fascism, and ‘our brave boys’. However, for anyone with a serious criticism of imperialism it’s important that we acknowledge that that while there may have been many soldiers who saw their participation in the war as part of the fight against fascism in defence of liberty, that’s not what was being prioritised by those who were commanding the armies. I don’t think it’s acceptable to play dumb about these issues, even for a good cause. []

This entry posted in Anti-Semitism. Bookmark the permalink. 

3 Responses to Political Anti-Semitism in New Zealand

  1. Thank you for this, Maia.

  2. 2
    sanabituranima says:

    once you’re arguing ‘yes the holocaust actually happened’ you’re already disrespecting the dead and the survivors).

    Yes, that is a very difficult issue. I agree, but at the same time, I worry about letting such remarks go unchallenged.

  3. 3
    PG says:

    However, for anyone with a serious criticism of imperialism it’s important that we acknowledge that that while there may have been many soldiers who saw their participation in the war as part of the fight against fascism in defence of liberty, that’s not what was being prioritised by those who were commanding the armies.

    What was being prioritized by the commanders? (and are you referring to military or civilian commanders, i.e. General McArthur or Presidents Roosevelt and Truman — sorry for U.S.-centrism but I don’t know who the NZ military commanders in WWII were). Both the Allied and the Axis powers in WWII were imperialist (see also Japan’s propaganda in Asia about how it would free the continent from European imperialism … only to replace it with Japanese imperialism, yay!), and the alliance of democracies with the USSR problematizes the idea that this was a fight for anyone’s liberty. But nonetheless there was more freedom under the non-USSR Allied powers than any of the Axis powers.

    I don’t think the colonized peoples of the Allied powers had an obligation to support the Allies that were denying them their own freedom and self-determination. (The Quit India movement seems to me morally acceptable if not pragmatically wise.) But certainly the political rhetoric of the Allies was about “the fight against fascism in defence of liberty.” Notwithstanding his support for the Quit India movement, even Gandhi perceived Britain to be fighting fascism, although to the extent he perceived Nazism/fascism to be an offshoot of imperialism, he saw it it as somewhat self-contradictory to demand that India remain a colonized state but also that it help Britain fight fascism.