BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Sat., April 29, 8:30 p.m.: Radical attorney Stanley Cohen is a veteran of the East Village’s anarchic squatter battles versus the police. And he proudly notes that his mouth was bloodied for the first time when he was 16 and was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in an anti-war march.
So the threat by some “antifa” (anti-fascist) activists to picket Sunday evening’s panel discussion at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s isn’t going to stop him from participating, he vowed.
“This is the first time I will cross a picket line,” Cohen told The Villager, “because I believe the picket line is nothing short of a fascist attempt to censor.”
Cohen is one of four panelists who will talk at the event. However, it’s another one of the speakers, Gilad Atzmon — a jazz sax-playing “Holocaust revisionist” and allegedly anti-Semitic Jew, according to his critics — who the antifa activists will be protesting against.
“I disagree with Gilad on a lot of things,” Cohen said. “And I will debate Gilad. But I believe the essence of resistance is speech. There are people on that panel that are going to challenge him.”
The event is titled, “The Post-Political Condition: Trump, Brexit, the Middle East…What Next?”
According to a description on Atzmon’s Web site, the panelists will “elaborate on the collapse of identity politics, the crisis within new Left thinking and the future of liberal and progressive thought.”
Cohen, the first scheduled speaker, will hold forth on “The Insular View of the American Left.”
“That’s exactly what this is about,” the attorney said of the planned demonstration. “Identity politics and politically correct is so nonsense.”
For his part, Atzmon will expound on “The Tyranny of Correctness — Deconstructing Identity Politics and Understanding Its Origin.”
Cohen said Atzmon’s views on Israel were clearly shaped by his time serving as a medic in the Israel Defense Forces.
“It was a life-changing situation for him,” Cohen said.
“I think his last book drove people nuts: ‘The Wandering Who?’ This is a very intelligent guy.”
Cohen is, frankly, shocked at the activists’ plan to protest outside the event.
“This is lunacy,” he said. “This is Theatre 80 St. Mark’s in the East Village.”
Cohen, whose past clients include Hamas and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, admits that he, too, like Atzmon, has been branded a self-hating Jew.
As for what he plans to talk about Sunday, Cohen noted, “I am probably going to beat up [Julian] Assange and WikiLeaks in public. I think they’re becoming partisan. Trump is going after him right now because it’s convenient. There is zero chance that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks — which is him — is going to wind up in an American courtroom.”
Bottom line, Cohen said, he won’t be stopped from doing the event.
“I am a purist when it comes to speech and the First Amendment,” he stated. “I am not going to be intimidated from participating in a discussion of the issues in the East Village in 2017.”
Cohen said, however, that he is worried that “Canadian J.D.L.” types will show up and instigate violence, as happened last month at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention in Washington, D.C. In that incident, members of the Jewish Defense League from north of the border beat up a middle-aged Palestinian teacher.
“I have some friends coming with me to this event,” Cohen said. “They’re Palestinian and they’re women. If anything happens to them, the s— is going to hit the fan — and I’m not talking about violence.”
Legal action, then?
“Absolutely,” he assured. “Absolutely.”
The other two panelists are Michael Lesher, author of “Sexual Abuse, ‘Shonda’ and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities,” who will speak on “Jewish Identity vs. Jewish Religion,” and Professor Norton Mezvinsky, who will discuss “The Quagmire of Current Political Terminology in U.S. Society.”
The discussion, at 80 St. Mark’s Place, will be in two two-hour halves, running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., including a one-hour Q & A, and finally an hour-long jazz concert by Atzmon. Suggested admission is $10, according to Atzmon’s Web page.
East Village journalist Bill Weinberg, who plans to be on the picket line Sunday, said the protesters will be there for the duration of the five-hour event.
Correction: The original version of this article implied that the protesters might want to “disrupt” or “shut down” the event. But Bill Weinberg — who intends to be on the picket line and has been an outspoken critic of both Atzmon and the event — said that they just plan to protest.