May 10, 2013
Unfolding as a personal meditation from the Jewish Diaspora, The Village Under The Forest explores the hidden remains of the destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya, which lies under a purposefully cultivated forest plantation called South Africa Forest.
Using the forest and the village ruins as metaphors, the documentary explores themes related to the erasure and persistence of memory and dares to imagine a future in which dignity, acknowledgement and co-habitation become shared possibilities in Israel/Palestine.
The Village Under The Forest is co-directed by Emmy-winner Mark Kaplan and scholar and poet Heidi Grunebaum. Captivating music by Gilad Atzmon is featured.
Below you will find the London Declaration on Antisemitism followed by a great analytical deconstruction by Stuart Littlewood.
The declaration doesn’t leave much room for doubt, Israel and its Lobby are in a state of panic. The London Statement is a clear attempt to stop discussion on issues to do with Jewish past, the Holocaust, the Jewish State and its Jewish nature.
Interestingly enough, the declaration provides us with an insight into Zionist projection. Far from being a universal statement, the declaration is primarily concerned with anti-Jewish discrimination. The declaration is a brutal and crude attempt to interfere with freedom of expression that is still regarded by some as a precious human value.
The declaration is full of logical flaws. Here is one example. Though Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, the declaration calls to stop those who “target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity” (1). I guess that the meaning of it is simple. Israel is happy to define itself as a Jewish State but it doesn’t like to be defined as such by others.
The declaration calls “national governments, parliaments, international institutions… to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of antisemitism and discrimination.” I would expect the Israeli Government to follow this call and to make sure that Israel, once and for all, becomes a ‘state of its citizens’ and succumb to principles of ‘human values’ and true democracy, because at the moment Israel is still a ‘Jewish State’ and its legal system discriminates non-Jews.
The declaration is an attempt to seal Jewish past “Governments must challenge any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivialises the Holocaust” (3). It is obviously clear that some Jews don’t like it when gentiles look into their past. But the question is why? Is there something secretive in Jewish past? The declaration also fails to define exactly what denial, denigration or trivialization may entail.
I guess that the desperate appeal to law and international community is taking place now because Israel and its supporters grasp that the tide has changed. -resentment towards Israel and its lobbies cannot be contained anymore.
I guess that Israel and its Lobby better learn to self-reflect rather than attempting to silence criticism.
The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism, signed by some of the worlds leading parliamentarians, represents a new era in global cooperation in the fight against antisemitism.
The London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism
We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, convening in London for the founding Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, draw the democratic world’s attention to the resurgence of antisemitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society.
We note the dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.
We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations in rhetoric and political action -against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel.
We are alarmed by Government-backed antisemitism in general, and state-backed genocidal antisemitism, in particular.
We, as Parliamentarians, affirm our commitment to a comprehensive programme of action to meet this challenge.
We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of antisemitism and discrimination.
We today in London resolve that;
1. Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity;
2. Parliamentarians should speak out against antisemitism and discrimination directed against any minority, and guard against equivocation, hesitation and justification in the face of expressions of hatred;
3. Governments must challenge any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivialises the Holocaust and must encourage civil society to be vigilant to this phenomenon and to openly condemn it;
4. Parliamentarians should campaign for their Government to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism -including the OSCE Berlin Declaration and its eight main principles;
5. The UN should reaffirm its call for every member state to commit itself to the principles laid out in the Holocaust Remembrance initiative including specific and targeted policies to eradicate Holocaust denial and trivialisation;
6. Governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for antisemitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness – or be party to -another gathering like the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and other related Intolerances in Durban in 2001;
7. The OSCE should encourage its member states to fulfil their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP;
8. The European Union, inter-state institutions, multilateral fora and religious communities must make a concerted effort to combat antisemitism and lead their members to adopt proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;
9. Leaders of all religious faiths should be called upon to use all the means possible to combat antisemitism and all types of discriminatory hostilities among believers and society at large;
- The EU Council of MinistersProhibitions
- Parliamentarians should legislate effective Hate Crime legislation recognising “hate aggravated crimes” and, where consistent with local legal standards, “incitement to hatred” offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;
- Governments that are signatories to the Hate Speech Protocol of the Council of Europe ‘Convention on Cybercrime’ (and the ‘Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems’) should enact domestic enabling legislation; Identifying the threat
- Parliamentarians should return to their legislature, Parliament or Assembly and establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of antisemitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action;
- Parliamentarians should engage with their governments in order to measure the effectiveness of existing policies and mechanisms in place and to recommend proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;
- Governments should ensure they have publicly accessible incident reporting systems, and that statistics collected on antisemitism should be the subject of regular review and action by government and state prosecutors and that an adequate legislative framework is in place to tackle hate crime;
- Governments must expand the use of the EUMC ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform policy of national and international organisations and as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;
- Police services should record allegations of hate crimes and incidents -including antisemitism -as routine part of reporting crimes;
- The OSCE
- Education, awareness and training
- The Council of Europe should act efficiently for the full implementation of its ‘Declaration and Programme for Education for Democratic Citizenship based on the Rights and Responsibilities of the Citizens’, adopted on 7 May 1999 in Budapest;
- Governments should include a comprehensive training programme across the Criminal Justice System using programmes such as the LEOP programme;
- Education Authorities
- The Criminal Justice System should publicly notify local communities when antisemitic hate crimes are prosecuted by the courts to build community confidence in reporting and pursuing convictions through the Criminal Justice system;
Media and the Internet
- Governments should acknowledge the challenge and opportunity of the growing new forms of communication;
- Media Regulatory Bodies should utilise the EUMC ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards;
- Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes;
- The OSCE should seek ways to coordinate the response of member states to combat the use of the internet to promote incitement to hatred;
- Law enforcement authorities should use domestic “hate crime”, “incitement to hatred” and other legislation as well as other means to mitigate and, where permissible, to prosecute “Hate on the Internet” where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written;
- An international task force
Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism
- Participants will endeavour to maintain contact with fellow delegates through the working group framework, communicating successes or requesting further support where required;
Please click the links below for French, German & Spanish translations.
London Declaration on Anti-Semitism: Seeking to Criminalize Criticism of Israel
Criticism of Israel cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
By Stuart Littlewood | June 4 2013
Australian federal and state MPs have been indulging in an orgy of anti-anti-Semitism by signing en masse the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism. Over 100 have put their mark on it.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that even more of the nation’s 226 federal parliamentarians in Canberra are expected to sign up, and all 105 federal Liberal MPs and senators have done so.
About 300 other lawmakers from some 60 countries have also signed, according to a spokesperson from the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism. Fifty of these are Canadians, 18 are British, six are Israeli and two are American (what, only two?).
Moreover, last month Australia’s Julia Gillard became the fourth prime minister to sign, after Britain’s Gordon Brown and David Cameron, and Canada’s Stephen Harper, who in 2010 signed the Ottawa Protocol, reaffirming the London Declaration.
The Stooges’ Pledge
So what exactly have they put their names to? The full document can be found here. It seeks to “draw the democratic world’s attention to the resurgence of anti-Semitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society”.
The authors of this one-sided treatise (the aforementioned Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism) want their 34 “commandments” enforced by all the big battalions – national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, non-governmental organizations and civil society.
In the process, of course, efforts to expose the tightening noose of Zionism on those very same areas of politics, international affairs and society, will be stifled.
Commandment no.1 states that “Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the state of Israel as a Jewish collectivity”.
Oh dear, how confusing. Here I was foolishly thinking the state of Israel was indeed some sort of Jewish collective since its founding document says:
“We, members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz Israel and of the Zionist movement hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel,to be known as the State of Israel. The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles… We appeal to the Jewish people throughout the diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding…”
Commandment no.6 states that “Governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for anti-Semitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena…”
In other words, mustn’t pick on, criticize or punish Israel for its horrendous crimes. It’s an old tune.
Commandment no.24 states that “Education authorities should ensure that freedom of speech is upheld within the law and to protect students and staff from illegal anti-Semitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts”.
But what exactly constitutes “illegal anti-Semitic discourse”? And is this an attempt to make boycotting illegal? Surely, that would be an infringement of personal and civil liberty.
Commandment no.29 states that “Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes.”
The heavy hand of state censorship rides again.
“A Flawed Document”
There is good, sensible stuff in the declaration but it is laced with neurotic nonsense. The above are just a few examples. Readers will find more to annoy them when they see the full text, including its hectoring tone, and may feel the whole thing trespasses too far on their personal discretion and good sense.
To their credit two Australian Green MPs, John Kaye and David Shoebridge, have publicly refused to sign the declaration, saying that the document,
“wrongly conflates valid criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism” and is “an unacceptable slander on those of us who speak up for the rights of the Palestinians. Criticism of the state of Israel… that is motivated by concern for a people dispossessed of their land, the consequences of a state that is founded on a religion or ethnicity or the actions of a government that ignores UN resolutions, is a valid contribution to public discourse.”
They add: “It is a tragedy that the London Declaration is a flawed document. The fundamental intent – to combat and end irrational hatred against a people – is too important to be subverted by the political objectives of Zionism.”
They further argue:
“When people of goodwill express their opposition to Israeli soldiers routinely humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints, the construction of an apartheid-style segregation wall through the West Bank or the brutal use of Israeli military force against civilians in Gaza, their motivation is not to denigrate the Jewish people but to highlight injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people.”
Is there a working definition of anti-Semitism? According to the European Forum on anti-Semitism,
“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
When did fact become myth? Is Jewish ownership of large sections of the media a myth? Is the subservience of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the US government to Israel a myth? Is repeated interference in church affairs by Jewish groups a myth?
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Legitimate worries over dual loyalty are here to stay.
There’s more to chew on in this part of the document:
Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
-Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.
-Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
-Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
-Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
-Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
Self-determination? The Israelis have denied the Palestinians their right to self-determination for decades and just recently opposed their moves towards statehood. And let’s get this straight: critics require from Israel only the same standards of behaviour expected of other countries, i.e. conformity with international law, proper respect for humanitarian law and acceptable standards of justice. This is core.
Furthermore, the state of Israel is always welcome to demonstrate to the world that it is not a racist endeavour after all. Wanted: a declaration against irrational hatred of all kinds, not just anti-Semitism
So, are you entirely comfortable with these “commandments”? Would you brandish the blue pencil or eagerly sign up like those fine, thrusting parliamentarians in Australia and Canada – and Brown and Cameron?
What’s the alternative? It seems to me that some Jews would do well to examine their own thoughts and deeds before pleading a special case. Tackling anti-Jewish hatred is a priority but not the only one. Hatred of non-Jews also needs to be curbed, and I’m thinking especially of the Israelis’ Arab neighbours – Christian and Muslim – whose lands, homes and resources they have stolen, whose economy, wellbeing and livelihoods they daily trash, and whose freedom, security and dignity they have long denied. This hatred often spills over into cruelty, murder and other atrocities such as out-and-out military assaults and mass bombing of civilians and infrastructure essential to life.
So here’s a suggestion for the promoters of both documents. Please delete the word “anti-Semitism” from the title and redraft to make it a fair and balanced undertaking against irrational hatred of all kinds.
That, hopefully, would earn universal support. Note the word “earn”. Reasonable, sensible people won’t be pushed and shoved.
It is astonishing how any self-respecting lawmaker could wholeheartedly subscribe to the declaration as it stands.
Gilad Atzmon – Alto Sax
Zane Musa – Soprano and Tenor Sax
Mahesh Balasooriya – Keyboard
Tony Austin – Drums
Hamilton Price – Bass
Recorded at The Mint, Los Angeles, May 17, 2013
Once again we see a familiar pattern: our united ‘progressives’ — a veritable synagogue, a collective of great humanists — lend their support to the oppressed. This time it is the ‘Syrian people’ whom they wish to liberate and their enemy is obviously Bashar Al-Assad.
It is a pattern we know only too well by now. Ahead of the ‘War Against Terror’ we witnessed years of intensive progressive Feminist and Gay rights groups campaigning for women’s rights in Afghanistan. The Progressive type also disapproves of the current state of the Iranian revolution. Too often he or she would insist that we must liberate the Iranians. This week, once again, we see a united front made by Tariq Ali, Ilan Pappe, Fredric Jameson, Norman Finkelstein and other very good people. They clearly want us to ‘liberate the Syrians’.
They campaign openly to topple Bashar al-Asad’s regime. They call the ‘people of the world’ to pressure the Syrian regime to end its oppression of and war on the ‘Syrian people.’ “We demand,” they say, that Bashar al-Asad leave immediately without excuses so that Syria can begin a speedy recovery towards a democratic future.”
So here we are. Ali, Jameson, Pappe, Finelstein & Co, in light of recent Israeli attacks on Syria, will you be kind enough, gentlemen, to tell us whom you support? Is it Assad or Netanyahu you side with?
One may wonder how it can happen that our progressives, in spite of their good will and humanist credentials, have managed once again to end up in bed with Bibi?
The answer is actually embarrassingly simple. The progressive philosophy is the latest and most advanced form of ideological choseness. Calling yourself a progressive obviously entails that someone else must be a ‘reactionary’. It is a self-appointed elitist standpoint that is inherently intolerant and supremacist.
Progressiveness is a precept devoted to the Tikun Olam (fixing the universe) ideology. It is premised on the idea that those who uphold progressive ideas ‘know better.’ They know what is right and who is wrong. The Progressive knows how to differentiate between the Kosher and the Taref. The progressive voices in this case somehow turn a blind eye to the embarrassing fact that it is actually the Syrian army, largely Sunnis, that is fighting the so-called ‘Syrian rebels’ who are a motley gathering of foreign mercenaries.
Perhaps our progressive interventionists could do with reading Robert Fisk more often — after all, Fisk may as well be the only reliable English-speaking reporter in the region. “The word ‘democracy’ and the name of Assad do not blend very well in much of Syria.” Fisk reports, but he continues, “I rather think that the soldiers of what is officially called the Syrian Arab Army are fighting for Syria rather than Assad. But fighting they are and maybe, for now, they are winning an unwinnable war.”
Bearing that in mind, I would expect progressive intellectuals, amongst them respected historians and political scientists, to be slightly more sophisticated and ponder a bit more before providing Israel with a moral green light to launch a new global conflict.
I would tend to believe that it is about time our progressive humanists engaged in a preliminary ethical investigation. They should find out, once and for all, what it is that constitutes moral grounds for any form of intervention. I believe that before you preach ‘Tikun Olam’ and claim to ‘fix the world’ in the name of the usually cited ‘civil society’ and ‘international law,’ you may want to consider fixing yourselves first.
In his new book, “The Invention of the Land of Israel”, Israeli academic Shlomo Sand, manages to present conclusive evidence of the far fetched nature of the Zionist historical narrative – that the Jewish Exile is a myth as is the Jewish people and even the Land of Israel.
Yet, Sand and many others fail to address the most important question: If Zionism is based on myth, how do the Zionists manage to get away with their lies, and for so long?
If the Jewish ‘homecoming’ and the demand for a Jewish national homeland cannot be historically substantiated, why has it been supported by both Jews and the West for so long? How does the Jewish state manage for so long to celebrate its racist expansionist ideology and at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab peoples?
Jewish power is obviously one answer, but, what is Jewish power? Can we ask this question without being accused of being anti-Semitic? Can we ever discuss its meaning and scrutinize its politics? Is Jewish power a dark force, managed and maneuvered by some conspiratorial power? Is it something of which Jews themselves are shy? Quite the opposite – Jewish power, in most cases, is celebrated right in front of our eyes. As we know, AIPAC is far from being quiet about its agenda, its practices or its achievements. AIPAC, CFI in the UK and CRIF in France are operating in the most open manner and often openly brag about their success.
Furthermore, we are by now accustomed to watch our democratically elected leaders shamelessly queuing to kneel before their pay-masters. Neocons certainly didn’t seem to feel the need to hide their close Zionist affiliations. Abe Foxman’s Anti Defamation League (ADL) works openly towards the Judification of the Western discourse, chasing and harassing anyone who dares voice any kind of criticism of Israel or even of Jewish choseness. And of course, the same applies to the media, banking and Hollywood. We know about the many powerful Jews who are not in the slightest bit shy about their bond with Israel and their commitment to Israeli security, the Zionist ideology, the primacy of Jewish suffering, Israeli expansionism and even outright Jewish exceptionalism.
But, as ubiquitous as they are, AIPAC, CFI, ADL, Bernie Madoff, ‘liberator’ Bernard Henri-Levy, war-advocate David Aaronovitch, free market prophet Milton Friedman, Steven Spielberg, Haim Saban, Lord Levy and many other Zionist enthusiasts and Hasbara advocates are not necessarily the core or the driving force behind Jewish power, but are merely symptoms. Jewish power is actually far more sophisticated than simply a list of Jewish lobbies or individuals performing highly developed manipulative skills. Jewish power is the unique capacity to stop us from discussing or even contemplating Jewish power. It is the capacity to determine the boundaries of the political discourse and criticism in particular.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not ‘right wing’ Zionists who facilitate Jewish power, It is actually the ‘good’, the ‘enlightened’ and the ‘progressive’ who make Jewish power the most effective and forceful power in the land. It is the ‘progressives’ who confound our ability to identify the Judeocentric tribal politics at the heart of Neoconservatism, American contemporary imperialism and foreign policy. It is the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist who goes out of his or her way to divert our attention from the fact that Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and blinds us to the fact that its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols. It was the Jewish Left intellectuals who rushed to denounce Professors Mersheimer and Walt, Jeff Blankfort and James Petras’ work on the Jewish Lobby. And it is no secret that Occupy AIPAC, the campaign against the most dangerous political Lobby in America, is dominated by a few righteous members of the chosen tribe. We need to face up to the fact that our dissident voices are far from being free. Quite the opposite, we are dealing here with an institutional case of controlled opposition.
In George Orwell’s 1984, it is perhaps Emmanuel Goldstein who is the pivotal character. Orwell’s Goldstein is a Jewish revolutionary, a fictional Leon Trotsky. He is depicted as the head of a mysterious anti-party organization called “The Brotherhood” and is also the author of the most subversive revolutionary text (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism). Goldstein is the ‘dissenting voice’, the one who actually tells the truth. Yet, as we delve into Orwell’s text, we find out from the Party’s ‘Inner Circle’ O’Brien that Goldstein was actually invented by Big Brother in a clear attempt to control the opposition and the possible boundaries of dissidence.
Orwell’s personal account of the Spanish Civil War “Homage To Catalonia” clearly presaged the creation of Emmanuel Goldstein. It was what Orwell witnessed in Spain that, a decade later, matured into a profound understanding of dissent as a form of controlled opposition. My guess is that, by the late 1940’s, Orwell had understood the depth of intolerance, and tyrannical and conspiratorial tendencies that lay at the heart of ‘Big Brother-ish’ Left politics and praxis.
Surprisingly enough, an attempt to examine our contemporaneous controlled opposition within the Left and the Progressive reveals that it is far from being conspiratorial. As in the case of the Jewish Lobby, the so-called ‘opposition’ hardly attempts to disguise its ethnocentric tribal interests, spiritual and ideological orientation and affiliation.
A brief examination of the list of organisations founded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI) presents a grim picture – pretty much the entire American progressive network is funded, partially or largely by a liberal Zionist, philanthropic billionaire who supports very many good and important causes that are also very good for the Jews. And yet, like staunch Zionist Haim Saban, Soros does not operate clandestinely. His Open Society Institute proudly provides all the necessary information regarding the vast amount of shekels it spreads on its good and important causes.
So one can’t accuse Soros or the Open Society Institute of any sinister vetting of the political discourse, stifling of free speech or even of ‘controlling the opposition’. All Soros does is to support a wide variety of ‘humanitarian causes’: Human Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, equality, democracy, Arab ‘Spring’, Arab Winter, the oppressed, the oppressor, tolerance, intolerance, Palestine, Israel, anti war, pro-war (only when really needed), and so on.
As with Orwell’s Big Brother that frames the boundaries of dissent by means of controlled opposition, Soros’ Open Society also determines, either consciously or unconsciously, the limits of critical thought. Yet, unlike in 1984, where it is the Party that invents its own opposition and write its texts, within our ‘progressive’ discourse, it is our own voices of dissent, willingly and consciously, that compromise their principles.
Soros may have read Orwell – he clearly believes his message – because from time to time he even supports opposing forces. For instance, he funds the Zionist-lite J Street as well as Palestinian NGO organisations. And guess what? It never takes long for the Palestinian beneficiaries to, compromise their own, most precious principles so they fit nicely into their paymaster’s worldview.
The Visible Hand
The invisible hand of the market is a metaphor coined by Adam Smith to describe the self-regulating behaviour of the marketplace. In contemporary politics. The visible hand is a similar metaphor which describes the self-regulating tendency of the political-fund beneficiary, to fully integrate the world view of its benefactor into its political agenda.
Democracy Now, the most important American dissident outlet has never discussed the Jewish Lobby with Mersheimer, Walt, Petras or Blankfort – the four leading experts who could have informed the American people about the USA’s foreign policy domination by the Jewish Lobby. For the same reasons, Democracy Now wouldn’t explore the Neocon’s Judeo-centric agenda nor would it ever discuss Jewish Identity politics with yours truly. Democracy Now will host Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, it may even let Finkelstein chew up Zionist caricature Alan Dershowitz – all very good, but not good enough.
Is the fact that Democracy Now is heavily funded by Soros relevant? I’ll let you judge.
If I’m correct (and I think I am) we have a serious problem here. As things stand, it is actually the progressive discourse, or at a least large part of it that sustains Jewish Power. If this is indeed the case, and I am convinced it is, then the occupied progressive discourse, rather than Zionism, is the primary obstacle that must be confronted.
It is no coincidence that the ‘progressive’ take on ‘antisemitism’ is suspiciously similar to the Zionist one. Like Zionists, many progressive institutes and activists adhere to the bizarre suggestion that opposition to Jewish power is ‘racially motivated’ and embedded in some ‘reactionary’ Goyish tendency. Consequently, Zionists are often supported by some ‘progressives’ in their crusade against critics of Israel and Jewish power. Is this peculiar alliance between these allegedly opposing schools of thoughts, the outcome of a possible ideological continuum between these two seemingly opposed political ideologies? Maybe, after all, progressiveness like Zionism is driven by a peculiar inclination towards ‘choseness’. After all, being progressive somehow implies that someone else must be ‘reactionary’. It is those self-centric elements of exceptionalism and choseness that have made progressiveness so attractive to secular and emancipated Jews. But the main reason the ‘progressives’ adopted the Zionist take on antisemitism, may well be because of the work of that visible hand that miraculously shapes the progressive take on race, racism and the primacy of Jewish suffering.
We may have to face up to the fact that the progressive discourse effectively operates as Israel’s longest arm – it certainly acts as a gatekeeper and as protection for Zionism and Jewish tribal interests. If Israel and its supporters would ever be confronted with real opposition it might lead to some long-overdue self-reflection. But at the moment, Israel and Zionist lobbies meet only insipid, watered-down, progressively-vetted resistance that, in practice, sustains Israeli occupation, oppression and an endless list of human rights abuses.
Instead of mass opposition to the Jewish State and its aggressive lobby, our ‘resistance’ is reduced into a chain of badge-wearing, keffiyeh-clad, placard-waving mini-gatherings with the occasional tantrum from some neurotic Jewess while being videoed by another good Jew. If anyone believes that a few badges, a load of amateur youtube clips celebrating Jewish righteousness are going to evolve into a mass anti-Israel global movement, they are either naïve or stupid.
In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that current Americans’ sympathy for Israel has reached an All-Time High. 64% of Americans sympathise with the Jewish State, while only 12% feel for the Palestinians. This is no surprise and our conclusion should be clear. As far as Palestine is concerned, ‘progressive’ ideology and praxis have led us precisely nowhere. Rather than advance the Palestinian cause, it only locates the ‘good’ Jew at the centre of the solidarity discourse.
When was the last time a Palestinian freedom fighter appeared on your TV screen? Twenty years ago the Palestinians were set to become the new Che Guevaras. Okay, so the Palestinian freedom fighter didn’t necessarily speak perfect English and wasn’t a graduate of an English public school, but he was free, authentic and determined. He or she spoke about their land being taken and of their willingness to give what it takes to get it back. But now, the Palestinian has been ‘saved’, he or she doesn’t have to fight for his or her land, the ‘progressive’ is taking care of it all.
This ‘progressive’ voice speaks on behalf of the Palestinian and, at the same time, takes the opportunity to also push marginal politics, fight ‘Islamism’ and ‘religious radicalisation’ and occasionally even supports the odd interventionst war and, of course, always, always, always fights antisemitism. The controlled opposition has turned the Palestinian plight into just one more ‘progressive’ commodity, lying on the back shelf of its ever-growing ‘good-cause’ campaign store.
For the Jewish progressive discourse, the purpose behind pro-Palestinian support is clear. It is to present an impression of pluralism within the Jewish community. It is there to suggest that not all Jews are bad Zionists. Philip Weiss, the founder of the most popular progressive pro-Palestinian blog was even brave enough to admit to me that it is Jewish self -interests that stood at the core of his pro Palestinian activity.
Jewish self-love is a fascinating topic. But even more fascinating is Jewish progressives loving themselves at the expense of the Palestinians. With billionaires such as Soros maintaining the discourse, solidarity is now an industry, concerned with profit and power rather than ethics or values and it is a spectacle both amusing and tragic as the Palestinians become a side issue within their own solidarity discourse.
So, perhaps before we discuss the ‘liberation of Palestine’, we first may have to liberate ourselves.
Gilad Atzmon’s latest book is: The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics
- Jewish Voice for Weizmann (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Is Palestinian Solidarity an Occupied Zone? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Is the Anti-Occupation Movement Driven by Defenders of Genocide? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
If there is one message that unifies critics of Israel and advocates for Palestinian rights, it is “End the Occupation.” As with many unifying messages, however, it is successful partly because of its ambiguity. What land and which people are occupied? And what are the terms under which the “occupation” will be ended.The ambiguity allows groups as disparate as Hamas and J Street to chant the phrase with very different images in mind. Hamas and other anti-Zionists argue that all of the land defined by the British Mandate of Palestine is occupied territory, while J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists commonly refer only to Israel’s 1967 territorial conquests as “occupied.”
The dividing line between these two views has been articulated By Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of JBIG (Jews Boycotting Israeli Goods):
…there are many people within the movement who share the opinion – which is general throughout the West – that Israel needs to exist as a Jewish state, should exist as a Jewish state. And there are many Jews and others in the movement who don’t want to criticize that fundamental fact.[i]
Wimborne-Idrissi is undoubtedly correct in her assessment: public opinion in the West generally supports what is called “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”[ii] However, most Palestinians fail to understand why this “right” should trump their rights and why Palestinians should be made to pay for its exercise with expulsion from their homes.
Indeed, they may be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of people that claim to advocate for justice on their behalf but fail to defend their right to return to their homes. On the one hand, these “defenders” of Palestinian human rights claim to oppose Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians, both inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel and in other areas under Israeli control. On the other hand, these same champions of Palestinians will not lift a finger to correct and defend against the more massive ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948. It is as if 1967 is the dividing line between which criminal activity must be accepted and which must be resisted.
Do such persons really oppose ethnic cleansing as a matter of principle or merely as it suits their whim? The passage of time does not appear to be an issue. If 1948 seems like a long time ago, let us remember that there is no statute of limitations on such matters, as the prosecution of Nazi war criminals from an even earlier era illustrates.
J Streeters and other “soft” Zionists may appear to be allies of Palestinians, but they are not. Their overwhelming consideration is to create and maintain a Jewish state, and to mould it into their image of a liberal democracy that they can feel proud of. Palestinian rights and welfare are entirely subsidiary to that objective.
This explains why J Streeters defend Israel’s “right to exist,” i.e. the ethnic cleansing of 1948. They may not like ethnic cleansing, but it was necessary for the creation of a Jewish state, which has a higher order of priority. On the other hand, they see the current ethnic cleansing policies of the state of Israel as corrosive to the kind of state they would like to have. This is why they want to “end the occupation.” Look what it is doing to Israeli youth! Look at how it is driving Israel into the hands of “extremists.”
Let us therefore be clear. We are dealing with people whose opposition to ethnic cleansing is not very firm and whose primary interest in “ending the occupation” is to do what is good for Israel, not for humanity and least of all for Palestinians.[iii]
Indeed, one wonders why these advocates for Israel oppose a massive expulsion of the remaining Palestinians in all of the land held by Israel. Expulsion is clearly not a “red line” for them, and it is an expedient method of “ending the occupation.” I suspect that they harbor a nagging guilt for the theft and massacres of 1948, but not enough to want to give up the stolen property. Rather, they hope to expiate their guilt by returning a portion of the territories seized in 1967 for the purpose of creating Palestinian Bantustans. (The South African Bantustans served a similar purpose of assuaging the guilt of white supremacists.)
Regardless of the hypocritical games that Jewish supremacists in the movement play amongst themselves, Palestinians and human rights advocates must not be lured into false partnerships with them just because we share some of the same immediate tactics and objectives, such as stopping the growth of Jewish settlements, boycott of (some) Israeli products and institutions, an end to land confiscations, etc. Rather, we must expose the racist foundations and objectives of these ethically inconsistent elements within “the movement,” and avoid alliances with them.
Currently, I fear that we may be doing the opposite, i.e. allowing the “end the occupation” movement to be driven by the interests of people whose agenda requires Palestinians to give up inalienable rights and which rewards those who take those rights away from them.[iv] It is not in the interest of Palestinians and principled human rights advocates to make common cause with such morally compromised persons.
Dr. Paul Larudee is a human rights advocate and one of the co-founders of the movement to break the siege of Gaza by sea. He was deported from India on 31st December, 2012.
[i] Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gVT6abeaGas
[ii] International law does not provide for the right of states to exist. Rather, states come and go as a matter of historical and social forces. International law describes the rights and obligations of states, but does not require that any given state must exist.
[iii] Gilad Atzmon (The Wandering Who, Winchester: Zero Books, 2011, p. 102) makes a similar argument with respect to Jewish anti-Zionists, i.e. that they are motivated by what is good for Jews and that they believe that a Jewish state is bad for the Jews. Atzmon contends that this is just another instance of Jewish exceptionalism, which will be the cause of injustice even if the form of the injustice is not Zionism per se. Even if this is the case, social justice groups are notorious for pursuing justice while failing to practice it, and this may be an instance of such. I do not discount the possibility that cliquishness, tribalism and exceptionalism are causes of injustice in many cases, but ridding human nature of this tendency is beyond the scope of most advocacy efforts, even if it deserves a place in all of them.
[iv] An instance of this is the Palestinian BNC (BDS National Committee). Although nominally Palestinian, its main website is in English, with the Arabic translation largely unfinished. An unauthorized amendment to its original mission statement, inserted at an unknown time, appears to remove the property seizures of 1948 from consideration as occupied Palestinian Arab land. This appears to be a concession to “soft” Zionist elements within the BNC-led BDS movement. The amended statement does not appear in any authorized Arabic version of the mission statement.
- Jewish Voice for Weizmann (alethonews.wordpress.com)
I just came across a JVP press release (Jewish Voice for Peace) reporting a massive advertising campaign to counter the AIPAC Annual Conference in Washington. Apparently, from today 100 billboards will be stationed in DC Metro bearing a simple but important message.
“AIPAC Does Not Speak for Me”.
AIPAC is certainly a danger to world peace and yes, it is a positive development that a Jewish organization should confront its impact on American foreign policy.
But still, JVP’s tactics are problematic. If anything, they reveal the deep confusion inherent in Jewish politics in general, and Jewish progressive thinking in particular.
On the one hand, JVP’s campaign is simple and transparent: it states “AIPAC does not speak for me. Most Jewish Americans are pro-peace. AIPAC is not.” But on the other hand, JVP falls short in offering any universal or ethical solution to the conflict in the Middle East.
“According to a recent poll by pollster Jim Gerstein” reads the JVP’s press release, “82% of Jewish Americans support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
So, if I understand it correctly, 82% of Jewish Americans support a solution that dismisses the most essential and elementary Palestinian right to return to their land, in effect supporting the existence of a Jewish State in historic Palestine, at the expense of the Palestinians and their rights. In other words, the so-called ‘good peace-seeking Jews’ ,who are the vast majority of Jewish Americans (according to JVP), support an utterly non-ethical solution.
But the reference to Gerstein’s statistics is even more embarrassing. Are we interested in what the Dutch think about the solution of the conflict in Ireland? Do we care if Indians approve the Italian recent polls? No, we don’t but, for some reason, we are desperate to find out what ‘Jewish Americans’ think of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The reason for this is obvious – Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and many Jewish Americans see Israel as their homeland and obviously, they care about their homeland and its politics. In that respect, Zionism should be seen as a success story – a trap into which JVP is foolish enough to fall. By referring to Gerstein’s statistics, JVP actually confirms that Jews are bonded spiritually and politically with their Jewish state and so are subject to an intense conflict of identity.
Chaim Weizmann, the legendary Zionist and the first Israeli President, somehow knew of all those JVPs to come. Already in the early days of Zionism, he observed the Jewish political inclination towards marginalism; he wrote “there are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.” Whether Weizmann was correct or not is open to discussion, but clearly, JVP accepts Weizmann’s observation. JVP refers to the American Jews as ‘Jewish Americans’. It regards Jewishness as a primary political quality and it refers to Jews as a distinctive marginal ethno-centric group.
Interestingly, the ‘anti’ Zionist JVP is actually the embodiment of Weizmann’s Zionist wet dream. It may not agree with AIPAC on some side issues to do with settlements, occupation and Israeli policies, but it agrees on the fundamentals – “there are no American Jews, but only Jews living in America.” And as if this is not enough, JVP, like AIPAC supports the existence of a Jews only State in Palestine.
I guess that from Weizmann’s perspective JVP is Zionist to the bone. It openly promotes the two state solution because, like AIPAC, it is primarily concerned with Jewish tribal interests rather than human rights, ethics, or universal thinking.
JVP, like any other Jews-only ‘progressive’ organisation, may speak universal but it still thinks tribal.
A poorly-written but still revealing briefing was published a few days ago by J-BIG. J-BIG may sound like an Israeli penis enlargement clinic but is in fact an acronym for Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods - a Jews Only political organisation set up to promote Jewish interests amongst Palestinian solidarity in general and the BDS movement in particular. The briefing was apparently published in order to “help BDS campaigners to defy the accusation of antisemitsm” and to explain “how the charge of antisemitism applies (actually) to Zionism itself.”
It doesn’t take long for an intelligent person to grasp that Zionism is fuelled by anti-Semitsm. In fact, early Zionists were candid enough on occasions to admit that the enemies of the Jews may actually have a point.
Here are some comments made by Early Zionists about their fellow Jews.
‘The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually.’ (Our Shomer ‘Weltanschauung’, Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936, p.26. As cited by Lenni Brenner
‘The fact is undeniable that the Jews, collectively, are unhealthy and neurotic..’ Ben Frommer, The Significance of a Jewish State, Jewish Call, Shanghai, May 1935, p.10. As cited by Lenni Brenner
‘The enterprising spirit of the Jew is irrepressible. He refuses to remain a proletarian. He will grab at the first opportunity to advance to a higher rung in the social ladder.’ (The Economic Development of the Jewish People, Ber Borochov, 1916
So in this regard, early Zionism, could actually be seen as a unique moment of Jewish self-reflection. It’s certainly true, and J-BIG are correct in suggesting that Zionism, and later on Israel, both invested heavily in anti Semitism, transforming it into the very raison d’être of the Jewish national project.
But what about these so-called ‘anti’ Zionist Jews and J-BIG? Do they not also invest in ‘anti Semitism’ and in most cases even invent its existence simply to justify their own existence? In fact, our J-BIG ‘anti’ Zionist Jews are even more sinister than their Zionist twins because J-BIG are clearly making a huge effort to transform the entire Palestinian solidarity discourse into a new front in their eternal battle against anti Semitism. It’s as if anti-Semitism is a Palestinian issue. And why do they do it? Probably because primarily they are concerned, not with Palestine, but with their own tribal interests. So, as much as they love to keep the ‘J’ big, they also happen to keep the ‘P’ somehow smaller or at least secondary.
It takes our J-BIG agitators about 1000 words of mangled logic and convoluted reasoning before they get to the point and reveal their true motivation. “Some misguided supporters of the Palestinians have attributed their oppression to an international Jewish conspiracy, to ‘Jewish power’, to ‘a Jewish spirit’, etc.”
Here we go again. In spite of the fact that Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’, despite the fact that its airplanes are decorated with Jewish symbols and its murderous actions are supported by powerful Jewish lobbies around the world, our Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists still insist that we do not address the core of the problem. They want us to oppose Israel while avoiding the crucial fact that Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’. In effect, they want us to fight Israel but with both hands tied behind our back. And why? Is it because they are concerned with some universal ethical issues? I don’t think so. No, the real reason is that, knowingly or unknowingly, they are actually committed to a tribal cause and I think we all know which tribe we’re talking about.
Whether we like it or not, Israel is openly driven by a dynamic force which it interprets (rightly or wrongly) as the true “Jewish spirit” and whether we like it or not, Israel’s supporters around the world utilise every possible aspect of Jewish power. And this is no conspiracy. Everything is done right out in the open for all to see. Even the Jewish lobbying within the Palestinian solidarity movement is pretty much in the open, as proved by the J-BIG pamphlet. Philip Weiss, the man behind the Jewish progressive blog Mondoweiss was even honest enough to admit to me a year ago that his support of Palestine is “motivated by Jewish self interests.”
So, I guess that the most crucial question here is what exactly are those ‘Jewish self-interests’ and how do they relate to ethics in general and to the Palestinian plight in particular?
Unfortunately, our ‘progressive’ J-BIG agitators have managed to drag some Palestinian academics and activists to fight their battles for them and, once again, they openly brag about the fact that “leading Palestinian commentators and activists reject such ‘support’ as damaging the Palestinian cause. Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti and Rafeef Ziadeh were among dozens who denounced any who point to the ‘Jewish’ character of the oppression of Palestinians.
Clearly, without mentioning my name, our ‘progressive J-BIG refer here specifically to the call by Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah and others to disavow yours truly.
Since I am found to be at the centre of this campaign I should mention that by now enough prominent Palestinians activists, humanists and academics have stood up for me and my writings – something J-BIG fails to mention. Furthermore, I actually welcome the debate on those crucial matters and I am more than happy to be at its very centre. This week, Counterpunch published Blake Alcott’s detailed analytical study of the call for my disavowal. Alcott established beyond doubt that what some of our leading Palestinians were led to sign was a very problematic text. What led a bunch of devoted Palestinian academics and activists to join a Jewish campaign without even engaging in some elementary research? What led Abunmiah & Co to disavowal a fellow intellectual turning their back to the notion of intellectual integrity and freedom of expression? I think we should be told.
Interestingly enough, my latest book The Wandering Who attempts to provide an answer. It elaborates on the Jewish political nature of Israel and its lobbies but it also points at the destructive role of those lobbies within the left, the Anti War Campaign and the Palestinian solidarity movement. Again, I don’t speak about any conspiracy. As far as I am aware, this is all taking place before our very eyes. Abunimah & co kept silent about this affair for almost a year and they probably know why. I guess that they are still searching for something that may look remotely like an argument or even an excuse. After all, It is slightly unusual for Palestinians and Arabs to adopt the most vile Talmudic Herem culture. As Palestinian poet Nahida Izzat suggests, it demands an explanation.
Here is my message to J-BIG, Abunimah and anyone who is willing to listen. It would be impossible to grasp the success of Israel and Zionism without scrutinizing the role of Jewish culture, ideology and the significant impact of the Sabbath Goy within the American Administration but also in Palestine. After all, many of us do realise by now that, at least, from a Jewish political perspective, the Palestinians are merely Goyim du jour. Nothing really new, yet very painful if you happen to be a Palestinian.
Panel at Cooper Union NYC led by Anne-Marie Slaughter, 28 September 2006:
Tony Judt: I just… I’d just like to say one very quick thing about [the difficulty of getting anything critical of Israel into the mainstream media]. When I submitted an article about the Israeli Lobby debate — that Mearsheimer and Walt kicked off — to a very well known American, North American, newspaper [NY Times], I was asked by the editorial directors would I mind telling them whether I’m Jewish or not. They felt it was something they would like to know before they published it.
Martin Indyk: But they published it.
TJ: I told them I was Jewish. (Audience laughs.)
This review of Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics and the anti-Atzmon essay by Ali Abunimah and some 20 co-signatories called Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon is an effort to unite the movement for one secular, democratic state (ODS) in historic Palestine of which both Atzmon and Abunimah are adherents. Edward Said wrote,
The absence of a collective end to which all are committed has crippled Palestinian efforts not just in the official realm, but even among private associations, where personality conflicts, outright fights, and disgraceful backbiting hamper our every step.
In his last years Said put such a “collective end” into words – for coexistence between Jews and Arabs in one state – and now, at the end of a decade that has witnessed outstanding articles, books and conferences articulating this vision, a chasm opens up. If our effort is not to be crippled both sides must bury the hatchet.
Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, Rafeef Ziadah and other signatories, as well as other ODS supporters known to me who have disavowed Atzmon, have made enormous contributions to justice for Palestinians. Their accusations are worth examining, which requires examining The Wandering Who? and some of Atzmon’s blogs and videos with an eye out for the racism, ‘antisemitism’ and Holocaust denial of which Granting accuses him. I haven’t read everything, of course, and there are certainly mistakes in my judgment, so I welcome any feedback and debate.
The call for disavowal accuses Atzmon of 5 trespasses:
(1) He claims to speak for Palestinians.
(2) He denies that Zionism is settler-colonialist.
(3) He believes that to self-identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist.
(4) He denies the Holocaust.
(5) He is an ‘antisemite’, a racist.
Two general observations: First, Granting’s accusations are formulated indirectly, not ‘in so many words’; but a reading of the short document shows that these are what it boils down to. Second, Granting itself does not include any proof or evidence for the accusations; there are no examinations of Atzmon’s texts, even out of context. Neither are there explicit definitions of the terms ‘racist’ and ‘antisemitic’ that would by rights accompany such severe accusations. For such more detailed definitions and arguments I have searched the web in vain, but of course the web is large, and if I have missed something I hope somebody tells me. I’m restricting my analysis almost entirely to Wandering on the assumption that evidence for the accusations would be there, if anywhere.
Strictly speaking there is thus no case, only claims. Atzmon is innocent till proven guilty. It is unfair, difficult and inefficient to put the burden of proof on the accused. Nevertheless, I’ve read the book carefully and ended up writing a defense of it that includes several criticisms, quoting Atzmon at length along the way. Please also see the favourable reviews by Mazin Qumsiyeh and John Mearsheimer, and a less favourable one by Elias Davidson. I ignore denunciations of Atzmon by Alan Dershowitz, Tony Greenstein and Jeffrey Goldberg because they consist of associative thinking and are based on often-unreferenced quotations out of context. Preceding Granting, in late February 2012, was a similar critique of Wandering that actually contains 12 quotations from Atzmon.
The five accusations
(1) Guiding the Palestinian struggle
Granting claims that Atzmon “for many years now… has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it.” Since I am sure the Granting signatories do not reject all ideas of all outsiders, this leaves it unclear what counts as acceptable opinion and support. It is moreover legitimate for Atzmon and other Israeli citizens to advocate visions of the future of their country – necessarily including Palestinians.
Granting’s concern becomes clearer through the further statement that “As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle.” Atzmon has in fact elsewhere agreed with this:
It is our duty (as human beings) to show our support to the Palestinian people but we are not allowed to tell them what to do. We are not allowed to tell them what is right or wrong, we can only offer ourselves as soldiers…
Ignoring the absurdity of the idea of ‘telling Palestinians what to do’, roles between the oppressed and those in solidarity with them must always be negotiated. In this case however I know that there is almost total agreement between Atzmon and the “principles” of the movement guided by the signatories: Right of Return, equality not apartheid within Israel, liberation of the West Bank and Gaza, and perhaps even a preference for one over two states.
Granting claims that “Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project… ” The text of Wandering does not support this claim. Atzmon in several places explicitly affirms that Zionism is settler-colonial. (pp 9, 88, 101, 165) In apparent contradiction, he does in one place write that it “is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine”. (p 19) In my reading this means it is not just a run-of-the-mill colonial movement out for economic or geopolitical gain: there is no mother country unless it is world Jewry, and Zionism’s only colony is Palestine, which was chosen over Argentina and Uganda for cultural and/or religious reasons. Atzmon elsewhere objects to the “misleading” colonialism paradigm because he regards Zionism as a unique racialist project, not motivated by material exploitation for the (non-existent) homeland.
Atzmon is basically asserting that the settler-colonialist paradigm is not sufficient to explain Zionism: Zionist events like the attack on the Mavi Marmara, dropping White Phosphorus on Gaza, slicing up the Holy Land with separation walls, and indeed the original expulsion of “the vast majority of the Palestinian indigenous population just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz… have nothing to do with the colonialist nature of the Jewish state…” (pp 181-182) To be sure, the term “nothing” overstates the case, but his claim is that more than colonialism is involved. I’m inclined to agree when I read for instance Netanyahu’s December 2012 statement that “We live in a Jewish state, and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The Western Wall is not occupied territory. We will build in Jerusalem because this is our right.”
(3) Jewish political identity
Granting interprets Atzmon’s complex sociological concept of Jewish-ness to mean that
Zionism… is… part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist.
Now, to say that self-identifying as a Jew entails Zionism is prima facie absurd, and I do not find the claim in Wandering. I agree with Granting that Atzmon is wrong in his blanket criticism of anti-Zionist Jewish groups. I also find Atzmon at places abstruse on this issue of the relation between world Jewry, “Jewish ideology” and Zionism.
But confusion is abated when we realise that his definition of Zionism differs from the standard, broad ‘movement for a Jewish state in Palestine’. Rather: “I suggest that it makes far more sense to regard Zionism as a tribal Jewish preservation project [aiming at] the prevention of assimilation…  Accordingly, Zionism should be seen as an amalgam of different philosophies specialising in different forms of tribal separatism, disengagement and segregation.” (p 70) Atzmon is thus talking only about a political self-identity, so Granting misrepresents him.
Atzmon sets up three non-exclusive basic categories: “Jews (the people), Judaism (the religion) and Jewish-ness (the ideology)… or identity politics, or political discourse”. (p 15) The book does not criticise Jews, the first category, does criticise a few aspects of Judaism, the second, and argues for 200 pages against the third, Jewish-ness, and against those who “put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.” (p 16)
I am confused as to whether Atzmon wants to say that politically identifying with Jewish-ness entails Zionism. In numerous places criticises or laughs at Jewish tribalism (pp 19, 32, 56, 113, 116, 164-165, 172, 181-184), writing that “to identify politically as a Jew and to wonder what is ‘good for the Jews’ is the true essence of Jewish tribal thinking...” (p 184) Zionism “united the tribe on many levels” (p 46) and “is grounded on a very specific realisation of the Jewish identity as a synthesis of racial awareness, religious awareness and nationalistic awareness”. But while Jewish-ness is an ethnically-based political ideology, Atzmon doesn’t show that non-Zionist Jewish political identities are inconceivable.
Granting’s signatories must have misread the sentence, “To be a Zionist means to accept that, more than anything else, one is primarily a Jew.” (p 19) This says that all Zionists are 3rd-category Jews, not the reverse. The context moreover is a specific discussion of sanayim, Mossad agents living abroad.
I do however fault Atzmon’s statement that “… considering the racist, expansionist Judeo-centric nature of the Jewish State, the Diaspora Jew finds himself or herself intrinsically associated with a bigoted, ethnocentric ideology and an endless list of crimes against humanity.” (p 48) What does “intrinsically” associated mean? Merely being “associated” (by others) with something bad is one thing; but when this is “intrinsic” it could mean that the bad thing is indeed “part and parcel” of being a Diaspora Jew.
(4) Holocaust denial
Atzmon throughout acknowledges the Holocaust, shoah or Judeocide, asserting however that it should be studied historically like other ethnic exterminations. (pp 43, 70, 130-131, 154, 175-176, 182, 185-186) And we need to see how the Holocaust is used in the destruction of the Palestinians – a position shared by Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Adi Ophir, Norman Finkelstein and Marc Ellis. (pp 148-152, 162) I do find imprecision in his statement that the “Holocaust… [is] not an historical narrative, for historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and politicians” (p149); to be consistent with everything he writes about the Holocaust this should read “not merely an historical narrative”.
As much as I was a sceptic youngster, I was also horrified by the Holocaust. In the 1970s Holocaust survivors were part of our social landscape. They were our neighbours, we met them in our family gatherings, in the classroom, in politics, in the corner shop. They were part of our lives. The dark numbers tattooed on their white arms never faded away. It always had a chilling effect. Yet I must mention that I can hardly recall a single Holocaust survivor who ever attempted to manipulate me emotionally.” (pp 185-186)
Further, “It is the Holocaust that eventually made me a devoted supporter of Palestinian rights, resistance and the Palestinian right of return.” (p 186)
An earlier blog reads,
[T]he form of Holocaust denial that really bothers me is the denial of the on-going Palestinian Holocaust. This Holocaust is documented and covered daily by the western media. The turning of residential Palestinian cities into concentration camps; the deliberate starvation of the Palestinian population; the withholding of medical aid from Palestinian civilians; the wall that tears the holy land into isolated cantons and Bantustans; the continuous bombardment of civilians by the IAF are known to us all. This Holocaust is committed by the Jewish state with the support of world Jewry.
This accusation by Granting is absurd.
(5) Racism and ‘antisemitism’
Atzmon writes nothing against Jews by origin, i.e. against anybody based on their genetic heritage or ‘race’; yet this would be the precondition for justifying the allegation of ‘antisemitism’/racism because ‘semitic’ refers to an ethnos or race. I trust moreover that ‘some of his best friends are Jewish’, and he vows:
I will present a harsh criticism of Jewish politics and identity. Yet… there will not be a single reference to Jews as ethnicity or race… This book doesn’t deal with Jews as a people or ethnicity. If anything, my studies of the issue suggest that Jews do not form any kind of racial continuum…  I also refrain from criticisng Judaism. Instead, I confront different interpretations of the Judaic code. I deal with Jewish Ideology, Jewish identity politics, and the Jewish political discourse. I ask what being a Jew entails. (p 15; also pp 147-148)
Again, his first two categories – religious Jews and Jews by origin – are “harmless and innocent”. (p 16) No one is calling for harm to Jews. (p 131)
Atzmon does once lambaste Judaism for tribalism because it so closely adheres to an ethnic rather than religious concept of itself (p 113) and sees a continuum between the Bible and Zionism (pp 120-122). But he says clearly,
I am against racism and in fact in my writing you won’t find a single racial reference. Moreover, when I write about Jewish identity I analyse it in ideological and philosophical terms. For me Jewishness is a mind set. Nothing to do with the quality of one’s blood or the religion of one’s mother.
He does unfortunately make several statements that refer to “Jews” where “Jewish-ness” or “Zionist” would be more accurate and consistent with the whole book. He for instance writes of “European and American Jews” who have assimilated and cast aside their “Jewish identity”, where he means their Jewish political identity or identification with the “tribe”. (pp 64-65) He rightly says that all Jewish Zionists sign up to the Jewish-ness ideology, but he should avoid any ambiguity suggesting that all Jews adhere to Jewish-ness.
Blurring occurs when he omits the qualifier ‘political’ in writing of “the Jew within”, “the Jewish understanding of the past” or occasionally of “Jewish identity”. (pp 95, 173, 135) He does however usually precisely include it, for example in writing that one “can hardly endorse a universal philosophy while being identified politically as a Jew.” (p 39; also pp 102, 138, 145, 174) Imprecision burdens as well the statement that “Jewish people… can never be like ‘other people’, for those who demand to be seen as equal must feel inherently and categorically different.” (p 52) I also miss clear definitions for the phrases “the Jewish condition” (p 184) and “the wider Jewish problem”. (p 15)
Atzmon’s use of the phrase “Jewish lobbyists” (pp 152, 171) has been challenged, clarity speaking for “Israel lobby” or “Zionist lobby”. It is however at least mitigating that most Jewish Zionist lobbyists themselves refer to themselves and their organisations as ‘Jewish’, and that Zionists themselves appropriate Jewish identities to oppress Palestinian Arabs – for instance with the Holocaust (pp 130-134) or Judaic symbols on fighter planes (p 140). As Zionist Michael Bar-Zohar puts it, “If you’re attacking Israel, this means you are attacking Jews.” But why should one language-rule be valid for pro-Israel lobbies and another for its critics? (pp 149-151)
Granting in addition accuses Atzmon of ‘”allying” himself with “conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities”, but offers no evidence, nor even a definition of what “allying” would look like. I urge Atzmon to make his language less ambiguous, but given that he is criticising what he sees as the dominant Jewish political culture, not Jews in general, his book in fact supports Granting’s position that “our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism.”
Benny Morris, in an interview with Jewish Chronicle and Guardian Zionist Jonathan Freedland, defends himself against Freedland’s suggestion that his critical, negative claims about Arab culture “could be seen as” racist by rejoining that he [like Atzmon] is speaking of a dominant political culture, not Arabs as a genetically defined ethnic group. Morris’s ambiguities are between statements that ‘all Arabs’ or ‘a majority of Arabs’ or ‘Arabs’ or ‘Arab culture(s)’ place relatively low value on human life, but it seems the generalising nature of sociological analysis always entails a degree of conflation between (1) the dominant norms of the group and (2) all members of the group. Nietzsche walked the same tightrope in his Kulturkritik of Christianity. But the issue is the quality of Morris’s or Atzmon’s or Nietzsche’s empirical evidence and cultural analysis – a well-known academic field – not whether any such investigation is racist. It is not, since there is no appeal to ethnic causality which is the criterion for both positive (e.g. ‘philosemitic’) and negative (e.g. ‘antisemitic’) racism.
The advertisement for Wandering claims: “Since Israel defines itself openly as the ‘Jewish State’, we should ask what the notions of ‘Judaism’, ‘Jewishness’, ‘Jewish culture’ and ‘Jewish ideology’ stand for.” The Jewish state and its behaviour is an explicandum of the first order, costing as it does Palestinian lives and livelihoods. He quotes Israel’s first president: “‘There are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.’ In just a few words, Weizmann managed to categorically define the essence of Jewish-ness.” (p 16) With this concept he hopes to correct and add to our understanding of Zionism.
Atzmon told Ha’aretz:
The Israelis can put an end to the conflict in two fucking minutes. Netanyahu gets up tomorrow morning, returns to the Palestinians the lands that belong to them, their fields and houses, and that’s it. The refugees will come home and the Jews will also finally be liberated: They will be free in their country and will be able to be like all the nations, get on with their lives and even salvage the bad reputation they have brought on themselves in the past 2,000 years. But for Netanyahu and the Israelis to do that, they have to undergo de-Judaization and accept the fact that they are like all peoples and are not the chosen people. So, in my analysis this is not a political, sociopolitical or socioeconomic issue but something basic that has to do with Jewish identity.
The anti-Zionist as well as the pro-Zionist discourse cannot be separated from the Jewish discourse.
At a One Democratic State conference in Stuttgart in 2010, attended by both Atzmon and Abunimah, the latter argued that this ‘culture’ category is useless:
I think that to use language that blames a particular culture – [Atzmon] was talking about Jewish culture – is wrong [applause] because such arguments could be made about anyone. We could blame German culture for the history of Germany, we could blame British culture for the history of British imperialism, we could blame Afrikaner culture for apartheid in South Africa. And this really doesn’t explain anything at all. (emphasis added)
Atzmon counters that this is
what historians, sociologists, anthropologists, intellectuals are doing when they try to understand historical and political development. The historians and sociologists who look into the Nazi era, don’t they look into German culture, into German philosophy, into the work of Wagner, both as a writer and as a composer, into the work of Hegel, and the German spirit, into Christian antisemitism, and the impact of the Protestant church, don’t they look into a Martin Luther, and his infamous book about the Jews and their lives? Don’t they look into German Early Romanticism? We are in the 21st century. We understand very well that culture, politics, history, heritage, religions, are all bonded together.
Abunimah’s position is of course untenable, while at the same time it remains to be seen whether Atzmon’s concept of ‘Jewish-ness’ really earns its keep.
Perhaps “Jewish-ness” is not strictly necessary to refute Zionism and support ODS. However, on the principle of ‘know thine enemy’ it may assist us in fighting Zionism and negotiating with Israel – were it ever to come to the table. I moreover submit that analysing the hoary topic of ‘what it is to be a Jew’ is of much interest to many Jews who are now doubting their support of the Jewish state. It seems to me that the issue can contribute to both an intra-Jewish discussion and to the discussion of how to stop the Jewish state’s murderous ethnic cleansing. Why should it do only one or the other?
One Granting signatory, Omar Barghouti, has sought in terms similar to Atzmon’s to explain Zionist crimes against Palestinians, the “relative-humanization” of Palestinians, and how Zionists live with it. His explanatory concept is ‘Jewish fundamentalism’, relying partly on the thought of Israel Shahak to find cold-bloodedness and justification for Jewish ethnic superiority in some “tenets of Jewish Law”. The Midianite genocide and certain Torah passages provide precedents for what is happening today. Atzmon likewise relates Israeli behaviour to Biblical precedents (pp 120-122, 157-162), yet in the main looks at secular Jewish culture, whereas Barghouti is perhaps focusing only on religious Jewish culture. Or, if it is not Atzmon’s anti-Jewish-ness that Barghouti finds racist, antisemitic and Holocaust-denying, what is it?
As for the content of Jewish-ness – in the broadest terms merely “Judeo-centric political discourse” (pp 88, 55, 145, 197) – Atzmon characterises it as (1) exclusivist, (2) based on the uniqueness of Jewish suffering, (3) supremacist and (4) uncannily paralleling some Old Testament stories. (pp 121, 160, 188) He writes for instance that
assimilation has never been presented as a Jewish political call. It was rather individual Jews who welcomed and enjoyed European liberal tendencies. The Jewish political call was inspired by different means of tribal, cultural or even racially-orientated segregation. (p 32)
As evidence that it is more “tribal” than many other groups Atzmon points to a relatively high resistance to assimilation, strong halachic marriage rules (procreative isolation), and high hurdles for conversion to Judaism. (pp 19, 32, 56, 113, 116, 164-165, 172) The bridge to Zionism, in Atzmon’s view, seems to be that a combination of exile, cohesion and chosenness, together with feelings of unique suffering, led to both a strong desire for an ethnically-defined rather than secular-democratic state and a sense of righteousness (and thoroughness) in its establishment at the expense of indigenous people.
I don’t know much about either Judaism or Jewishness, but I think Atzmon’s evidence for the trait of supremacy is inadequate. (see pp 2, 101, 181-182) True, Zionist acts are racially supremacist, but the book does not give a rigorous proof that feelings of ethnic superiority inhere in the Jewish political culture. But this is a question of content; that he writes about it is certainly kosher.
We should perhaps not forget that Hess, Jabotinsky, Weizmann and all Israeli politicians have tied the state as closely as possible to Jewish history and culture. (pp 16-17, 139) The Law of Return, the Jewish National Fund, Jews-only settlements and roads, the very concept of Eretz Israel, and Israel’s Declaration of Independence are racist. Negative Kulturkritik is not.
Atzmon unexpectedly even has a good word for Jewish-ness in seeing its “complexity” and the “duality of tribalism and universalism… at the very heart of the collective secular Jewish identity… ” (pp 148, 162, 56) “Secular collective Jewish identity” is made up of both elements, “Athens” and “Jerusalem”. (pp 56, 57, 78) In conciliatory mode he ambivalently asserts that while there is no such thing as a “Jewish humanist heritage’… there are some remote patches of humanism in Jewish culture, [which however] are certainly far from being universal.” (p 113) By reference to the ethnic particularism of Jewish-ness he suggests an answer to the question “How is it that… Israel and its lobbies are so blind to any form of ethical or universal thinking?” (p 177, emphasis added)
Another writer seeking connection between “Jewish resources” and a universal, egalitarian ethics is Judith Butler, whose new book Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism promises a rewarding look at this topic which should be debated, not silenced by the charge of ‘antisemitism’ or denying the legitimacy of cultural explanations in principle.
Imagine an exam question: “Is the following statement antisemitic?:
The reopening of the tunnel [beneath al-Haram al-Sharif] seems… an act of arrogant triumphalism, a sort of rubbing of Palestinian and Muslim noses in the dirt. This had the added effect of pouring fuel on the smoldering sectarian competition that has been the city’s long-standing bane. I do not think there is any doubt that this Lukud assertion of what is unmistakably Jewish power over Muslim holy places was intended to show the world… that Judaism can do what it wants.
Atzmon speaks of “Jewish nationalism, Jewish lobbying and Jewish power” (p 145), interpreted perhaps by Granting with the somewhat vague phrase “attacking Jewish identities”. But cannot one speak of a political ideology that sees itself as Jewish using the term ‘Jewish’ with its bundle of ethnic, religious, and political meanings?
Atzmon asks several taboo questions.
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start asking questions… We should strip the Holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place. The Holocaust, like every other historical narrative, must be analysed properly… Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they geniunely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? (pp 175-176)
People who place such questions out of bounds “are doomed to think that anti-Semitism is an ‘irrational’ social phenomenon that ‘erupts out of nowhere’. Accordingly they must believe that the Goyim are potentially mad.” (p 182) It is a matter of simple logic that to ask why Jews were hated in Europe is not to presuppose that there were good reasons.
It took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not at all an historical narrative [for] historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and political lobbies. It took me years to grasp that my great-grandmother wasn’t made into a ‘soap’ or a ‘lampshade’ as I was taught in Israel. She probably perished of exhaustion, typhus or maybe even by mass shooting… The fate of my great-grandmother was not so different from hundreds of thousands of German civilians who died in deliberate, indiscriminate bombing, just because they were Germans. Similarly, people in Hiroshima died just because they were Japanese… [As devastating as it was], at a certain moment in time, a horrible chapter was given an exceptional meta-historical status. (pp 175, 149)
The “Holocaust religion” freezes a certain narrative in law while Holocaust research follows normal historiographic rules; the claim of its uniqueness is ‘philosemitic’, and its severity is used to justify, with the logic of two wrongs’ making a right, the ethnic cleansing of people having nothing to do with the Holocaust. (pp 148-153)
Evil questions came naturally to Atzmon:
[At age 14 he] asked the emotional tour guide if she could explain the fact that so many Europeans loathed the Jews so much and in so many places at once. I was thrown out of school for a week. (p 184)
“As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionist lobbies and their plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering.” (p 176)
Ben White has similarly asked, “Is it possible to understand the rise in anti-semitism?” This requires defining both ‘antisemitic’ and ‘understand’. One poll question asked people if they “can understand very well that some people are unpleasant towards Jews”. While White is not anti-Semitic and not unpleasant towards Jews, he “can… understand why some are.” First, Israel subscribes to the racial supremacy of Jews, and Zionists “equate their colonial project with Judaism”, and although reacting to this racism and injustice with “attacks on Jews or Jewish property [is] misguided”, it can be understood politically. Second, since the Western media are overwhelmingly pro-Israel, some people believe, again “misguidedly”, the idea of a “Jewish conspiracy”. We must live with the ambiguity of the word ‘understand’.
Similarly, when Atzmon calls violence against non-combatants who are Jewish by origin “rational”, we must acknowledge the ambiguity of the term ‘rational’, which doesn’t mean ‘morally justified’. Atzmon defends his statement that burning down a synagogue can be “a rational act” by explaining that by “rational” he means that “any form of anti-Jewish activity may be seen as political retaliation. This does not make it right.” One can ask why such violence occurs, just as we can ask why the Jewish state commits and condones violence against innocent Palestinians and the destruction of olive trees and water cisterns. It can be Israeli racism, but it could also be ‘rational’ behaviour for Israel’s security. Antisemitism expert Antony Lerman, also, has noted that many acts against Jews in Europe were tied to Israel’s unjust behaviour – they were political, not irrational in the sense of arbitrary, or necessarily motivated solely by hate of Jews.
Another hot topic that might can approach solely in terms of Zionism, not Jewish-ness, is that of the economic, political and media power of Zionists who are also Jews in part motivated by allegiance to their ethnic group. Atzmon covers this briefly (169-172), his Exhibit A being the ardently pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle’s listing of the relatively large number of Jews in the UK Parliament (all hard or soft Zionists). Exhibit B is billionaire Haim Saban who says, according to a New Yorker portrait, “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel… [The Arab] terrorists give me a potch in the panim…”; he openly seeks influence in “political parties,… think tanks… and media outlets…”, has tried to buy the LA Times and NY Times to push his agenda, and “harbors a wariness of Arabs that may stem from growing up as a Jew in Egypt.”
To declare out of bounds the subject of Jewish, as opposed to merely Zionist, influence in politics, finance and media is to claim that support for Zionism by many powerful people has nothing at all to do with the fact that they are Jewish, or rather, that they politically identify as Jews. Xstrata boss Mick Davis’s charity ‘United Jewish Israel Appeal’ (‘Powering young people in the UK and Israel’, ‘Strengthening Jewish identity and the connection to Israel’), is merely pro-Israel; in spite of its name, its slogans and its activities furthering Judaisation in “the Galil” and the Negev, it has nothing to do with Jewishness, no ethno-cultural content whatsoever. The Anti-Defamation League in the US, on this view, is merely a group protecting Jews from ‘antisemitism’, only coincidentally pro-Israel. Everybody knows this is fiction, and the subject appears taboo for critics but not for supporters of Zionism.
Again, one can strip Herzl’s movement for a Judenstaat to its settler-colonialist bones, but given an interest in promoting pro-Palestinian public opinion, one can look at this subject soberly, with no ‘antisemitic’ intent. Whether Jewish-ness and Zionism connect here, and whether this makes any difference in understanding Zionist oppression of Palestinians, are open questions, and I for one look for ‘Zionist’ rather than ‘Jewish’ publicists. But why should this be taboo? At any rate, on this subject Atzmon delivers a one-liner: “As I have said earlier, I do not believe in Jewish conspiracies: everything done in the open.” (p 76) But his real view is that “In fact the opposite [than a conspiracy] is the case. It isn’t a plot and certainly not a conspiracy for it was all in the open. It is actually an accident.” (pp 30, 21)
To be avoided is the situation where only supporters of Israel can point to ethnic-ideological connections while critics of Israel cannot. If we want to understand the entity committing the Palestinicide, the only line to be drawn is at hate speech based on ethnic, racial and religious criteria.
The ambiguity of ‘Jewish’
As shown above, some of Atzmon’s statements fail to distinguish clearly between his 2nd and 3rd categories – between Jews by biological origin and those whose priority is their (Jewish) cultural identity – and could thus be read as ‘antisemitic’. I find however no evidence of hate of, distaste for, or even criticism of, ‘Jews’. Complicating judgment of these statements is the fact that when they are ‘philosemitic’ they are not, in our mainstream discourse, seen as objectionable. (p 51) Not only ‘Jewish humour’, but quotidian political analysis routinely refers to ‘Jewish’ – not ‘Zionist’ or ‘Israeli’ – identity.
One Israeli analyst for instance correlates Israeli “right” and “left” stances with “where on our scale of identity we place Jewish identity”, quoting Netanyahu saying, “The leftists have forgotten what it is to be Jewish.” Still, I believe Atzmon should avoid sentences that use the unqualified terms ‘Jews’ or ‘Jewish’ when the subject is identity politics. The statement “I grasped that Israel and Zionism were just parts of the wider Jewish problem” (p 15) is understood by those familiar with a long intra-Jewish discourse, but not by the wider world. It takes a lot of context to de-fuse a statement like, “With contempt, I am actually elaborating on the Jew in me” – the context coming three paragraphs later, namely that “Jewish-ness isn’t at all a racial category… ” (pp 94-95)
As already touched on, while the Jewish supremacy of the Jewish state’s Zionism is obvious, Wandering does not demonstrate to my satisfaction that Jewish-ness is supremacist. Now if Jewish political culture (‘Jewish-ness’) is Zionism, the claim is tautologically true, but Atzmon maintains throughout that they are different. To be sure, adherence to any ethnically- or religiously-defined group arguably implies a belief that the group is a bit better than rival groups: upholding türklük, or saying ‘I am a Christian’ says something about Kurds, and perhaps Islam, as well. But Atzmon’s claim is not only open to empirical examination, it is not a claim about (all) Jews as an ethnicity, and therefore not racist. Nevertheless, because this claim is so central to building the bridge between Jewish-ness and Zionism it deserves more argument.
Jews Against Zionism
Atzmon criticises groups that mix ethnic Jewish identity with the non-ethnic political goals of socialism and anti-Zionism; they put their Jewish-ness above the content of their political stance in addition to excluding non-Jews. (pp 62, 71-76, 86-87, 102-105) Groups such as British Jewish Socialists, Jews for Boycott of Israeli Goods, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, or Jewish Voice for Peace remain, he says, within the discourse of ethnicism rather than universal humanism:
Even saying ‘I do not agree with Israel although I am a Jew’ is to fall into the trap. Having fallen into the trap, one cannot leave the clan behind – one can hardly endorse a universal philosophy while being identified politically as a Jew. (pp 38-39)
He gives an instance of the conflicting loyalties of Jews who oppose Zionism or support socialism as Jews by relating a Jewish Chronicle interview with two founding members of British Jewish Socialists who want also to belong to the Jewish ethnic group or nation.
I do differentiate between ‘the leftist who happens to be jewish’ – an innocent category inspired by humanism, and ‘the Jewish leftist’, which seems to me to be a contradiction in terms, for the left aims to universally transcend itself beyond ethnicity, religion or race. Clearly ‘Jewish left’ is there to maintain a Jewish tribal ethnocentric identity at the heart of working class philosophy. (pp 116-117)
The Marxist European Bund also mixed pro-socialist and pro-Jewish goals (pp 56, 116, 181), but I am not aware of what substantial differentiae would set Jewish socialism off from other brands.
It is however Atzmon’s attack on Jewish anti-Zionists that prompts the passage in Granting stating,
We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.
Yes, Atzmon targets that part of the pro-Palestinian movement defining itself as ‘Jewish’, believing that in the long run the cause is best served if we shed our ethnic political identities. He is asking whether, when the message is that “not all Jews are Zionists” (p 102), the main goal is to protect the good name of Jews, to retain some Jewish-ness, or to further the Palestinian cause. I believe Atzmon is here too severe in his critique, firstly because many such Jews fighting for Palestinian rights have impeccable motives, and secondly because there is a gain for Palestinians when a message to world opinion is that criticism of Israel does not entail being against Jews as Jews.
I am not aware that investigations into both ‘Jewishness’ and ‘Jewish ethics’ in connection with Zionism have revealed any difference in content between ‘Jewish’ anti-Zionism and ethno-religiously neutral anti-Zionism (i.e. universal ethics). I also accept the common observation that “Anti-Zionist (or Israel-critical) organizing, then, plays a crucial role in establishing a new secular Jewish identity, a field dominated by Zionism in Western nations for decades.” But again, the groups often identify themselves as Jewish for public-relations reasons, and indeed, why shouldn’t some such activists promote both anti-Zionism and the good name of their Jewish ethnos?
The social-marketing desirability of de-coupling Jewishness from criticism of Israel, which Atzmon misses or rejects (p 102), is expressed by the group ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (which nota bene supports the two-state solution and is thus not anti-Zionist):
As well as organising to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain, we extend support to Palestinians trapped in the spiral of violence and repression. We believe that such actions are important in countering antisemitism and the claim that opposition to Israel’s destructive policies is itself antisemitic.
While in the long or even medium run it is good to eliminate ethnocentricity from politics, there is perhaps now still some benefit for the Palestinian cause in having explicitly Jewish allies.
Finally, it slanders the many sincere anti-Zionist Jews organised as Jews to claim that they “hate the Goyim” (p 55), that they are (only) there “to keep the debate within the family” (p 102). While I sympathise with Atzmon’s attempt to “untangle the knot” (p 15) of religion, ethnicity and Jewish identity politics, and agree we should first and foremost explicitly embrace universal ethics, he here overstates his case. It also seems merely polemical to claim that “when it comes to ‘action’ against the so-called ‘enemies of the Jewish people’, Zionists and ‘Jewish anti-Zionists’ act as one people – because they are one people.” (p 102) Philosophical analysis of what Zionism has to do with Jewish-ness is still a nascent field, and I urge Atzmon to criticise but not ridicule all organised ‘anti-Zionist Jews’.
Atzmon offers a cogent argument that Alan Greenspan’s economic policies were disastrous, but asserts that Greenspan, by creating an economic boom, “found a… way to facilitate or at least divert… attention from the wars perpetrated by the largely Jewish neo-conservatives in Afghanistan and Iraq.” (pp 27-30) He however neither offers evidence that Greenspan intended the boom to enable the expensive warmongering, nor criticises him for Zionism. He merely calls him a “rich Jew”. (p 27) This not only feeds the ‘antisemitic’ picture of the unscrupulous Jewish money-grubber but is based on Greenspan’s being a Jew by origin, not any purported Jewish political identity or culture. I also happen to know that the foreign-policy views of Greenspan are much closer to those of Ron Paul, and that in 1969 he paid for the bail and lawyer of my best friend who had refused to be drafted to go fight in Vietnam. Atzmon’s digression on Greenspan is harmful or at least pointless in the battle for justice for Palestinians.
An objection to Granting
The anti-colonialist ‘self-determination’ discourse must today compete with the individual-rights discourse. While Atzmon adheres strictly to the latter and sees the dangers in the self-determination of groups (pp 52, 105-106), Granting refers to the Arab-Palestinian “homeland” and the “self-determination… of the Palestinian people” (emphasis added); the text speaks of “our native lands”. The “our” can refer to those comprising the large majority of those who have lived there during the last dozen-plus centuries and happened to be ‘Arabs’ or ‘Semites’ and overwhelmingly Moslem; or it can be ethnicist, meaning Arab Semites, perhaps describing the signatories. Here perhaps we have contrasting visions of the one-state vision broadly shared by Atzmon, Barghouti and Abunimah, the latter seeing the constitution more in terms of bi-nationalism rather than the state’s absolute blindness towards ethnicity and religion. Yet why would this would be a reason to “disavow” Atzmon?
The signatories speak of “the struggle for Palestine and its national movement” and of theirs as “the Palestinian movement”. They also claim some rights in “defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle” and “the philosophy underpinning it”. Some sectarian as well as secular anti-Zionist Palestinians might disagree with this but, recalling the very first accusation against Atzmon (above), the point is that unless one excludes Israeli Jews from voting in the future secular, democratic state, Atzmon can speak not only universally but for himself as a citizen. I agree that one state is a bigger ask for the Palestinians than for the Israeli Jews, who as colonists are being invited to remain. But even outsiders like myself have the right to support any part of the ‘Palestinian movement’ we agree with. These questions about homelands and leadership deserve discussion rather than disavowal.
Granting speaks as well of Atzmon’s “obsession with ‘Jewishness’”, but this would surely be only Atzmon’s problem. The call moreover characterises Atzmon’s “attacks on anyone who disagrees with his [alleged] obsession with ‘Jewishness’” as “vicious”. However, in Wandering he aims no criticism at critics of his concept of Jewish-ness, and while I find sarcasm that occasionally goes too far, “vicious” is a crass mis-characterisation.
Other takes on Jewishness
How does Atzmon’s anti-Jewish-ness compare with other types of pro- or anti-Jewishness? Witness a Jewish-critical statement of Meron Benvenisti:
I would say that what characterizes us collectively is ethnic hatred, ethnic recoil, ethnic contempt and ethnic patronizing.
He balances this generalising take on the Jewish “collective” with the caveat that “I would not categorize us all as racists”, exactly paralleling Atzmon’s distinction between 2nd- and 3rd-category Jews; he attests racism only of a “large segment” of Jewish Israeli society. Benvenisti by the way also makes the statement that he is “proud to be a white sabra [native-born Israeli Jew]”. Is Benvenisti an anti-Jewish racist, a pro-Jewish one, or neither?
Philo-Jewishness statements likewise may or may not be ‘philosemitic’. In a Guardian interview Arnold Wesker utters, “A reverence for the power of the intellect is for me a definition of Jewishness:…” Now, a definition has a genus and one or more differentiae, so what distinguishes “Jewishness” as a type of sociological reification is a reverence for the power of the intellect. The inescapable corollary is that other ethnic (religious? cultural?) groups have no, or less, such reverence. It is perhaps evidence of this purported reverence that a website proudly lists Jewish Nobel laureates.
What are we to make of the observation of one of these Nobel laureates, Saul Bellow, on a trip to Jerusalem, that “a few Arab hens are scratching up dust and pecking”? That “Jewish claims in Jerusalem are legitimate”? That Israelis have a tough life “all because [they] wished to lead Jewish lives in a Jewish state”? That “When the Jews decided, through Zionism, to ‘go political’, they didn’t know what they were getting into”? That (according to A.B. Yehoshua) “Perhaps there is something exceptional in all our Jewishness [which] to us… is clear and we can feel it…”? That Bellow’s one academic colleague who criticised Zionism “went out to jog on a boiling Chicago afternoon and died of heart failure”? Bellow, who believes in “the moral meaning of Israel’s existence” and that it “stands for something in Western history”, uses ethnic, political and culture concepts interchangeably. Is Bellow an anti-Arab racist, a pro-Jewish one, or neither?
Many Jews-by-origin reject Zionism but retain Jewishness. Paul Knepper writes of Michael Polanyi:
In making the case for a Jewish state as the solution to anti-Semitism, Zionists had thrown up an array of mistaken identities, defining Jewishness in political, religious, and cultural terms. Polanyi rejected this as inward-looking, even reactionary; he pursued an outward-looking understanding based on the relationship of Jews to non-Jews. Polanyi saw assimilated Jews [like himself] not as running away or denying Jewish identity, but instead, as pursuing a truer and more significant expression of Jewishness.
Atzmon agrees with the first sentence but argues against finding identity in what one is not, and abandons the quest for Jewish-ness as such. (pp 31-36, 58-63, passim)
Eric Hobsbawm, the unobservant Jew who called himself a “non-Jewish Jew” and “not a Jewish historian [but an] historian who happened to be Jewish” (also Atzmon, pp 16-18), similarly saw a need to retain some “Jewishness”, even if it consisted merely of not being ashamed to be Jewish. He said of his friend Isaiah Berlin in contrast, “His Jewish identity implied identity with Israel because he believed that the Jews should be a nation.”
I have read only the introduction to Judith Butler’s Parting Ways, where she outlines the Jewishness of her formation and many of the ethical sources she draws on but acknowledges the paradox – perhaps contradiction – of holding values that are simultaneously universal and Jewish. (pp 26, 18) As the jacket of her book states,
Jewish ethics not only demand a critique of Zionism, but must transcend its exclusive Jewishness in order to realize the ethical and political ideals of living together in radical democracy.
She is a proponent of one secular, democratic state in Palestine searching for “a different Jewishness… [and] the departure from Jewishness as an exclusionary framework for thinking both ethics and politics.” (p 2) Her book promises [recalling Polanyi, above] “to locate Jewishness in the moment of its encounter with the non-Jewish, in the dispersal of the self that follows from that encounter [mainly with Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish].” (p 26)
Within Israel’s left, Atzmon’s ideas and formulations ruffle few feathers. As Ha’aretz journalist Yaron Frid says, lamenting Israel’s loss of Atzmon, “The score, for now: 1-0, Palestine leading.” In Israel Atzmon’s mother commented, “[The book] is not at all anti-Semitic. Gilad has a problem with Jewishness, he talks about three categories of Jews, but you have to read everything to understand – rather than bring quotations and take them out of context… I am very proud of my son.” (ibid.) But a mother would say that, wouldn’t she?
Atzmon insists that the desire for a Jewish nation arises out of Jewish suffering’s experienced specialness and asks what is then left of Jewish-ness when identification with (the uniqueness of) Jewish suffering is overcome. He asserts that Israel is not just another colonial power, but one driven by a distinctly Jewish ideology, and he convinced me that we must understand this Jewish-ness to understand for instance AIPAC, or to see that the West Bank to be given up by Israel in some phantasmagoric two-state settlement is not the West Bank, but Judea and Samaria. Yes, talking about a culture as opposed to some number of that culture’s members holds risks of conflation and ambiguity, and some of Atzmon’s discussion is an intra-Jewish one. But his book undoubtedly illuminates the ‘prosemitic’ racist ideology fatal to Palestinians. Perceptions differ, of course, but I do not see how anyone can read the whole book, with open ears, and find Atzmon ‘antisemitic’ or racist.
Granting’s signatories write that they “stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights.” I urge them to re-read (or read) Wandering, present a definition of ‘antisemitic’ racism, and based on textual evidence debate whether Atzmon’s words fulfill it. Because Jew-hatred has been so trivialised by Zionists, accusations of ‘antisemitism’ must be especially well-argued. For the ODS movement unity at any cost is not essential, but we need our energies to help transform Israel into a normal country respecting all humans’ rights. Unless racism is proven, one should bury the hatchet.
Blake Alcott is an ecological economist living in Cambridge, England. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
- Why we must defend those who dare to speak about the ideology of Jewish supremacy (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Lasse Wilhelmson and Freedom in Sweden (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Forbidden words, taboo topics, witch hunts, smear campaigns, excommunications, thought-policing and book banning are no longer the trademark of fascists and right wing extremists, the profession is shared now by Jewish “anti-Zionists,” alleged “friends of Palestine.” We are left watching in astonishment and disbelief as some “anti-Zionists” are doing the work of hyper-Zionists the likes of ADL and BoDoBJ.
I have recently witnessed the ostracizing and excommunication of two activists, Paul Eisen and Gilad Atzmon, by my local group affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) using the Zionist method of character assassination of using the labels “racist” “anti-Semitic” as a method of muffling truth.
Yet, among the numerous intellectuals and political activists that have publicly defended Atzmon are many Jews for whom I have only high praise and have expressed much admiration.
It seems that those who wish to stifle discourse are acting as controlled opposition. They attempt to block intellectual discussion, suppress academic freedom, obstruct rational and scholarly debate, filter vital information and smother serious research that examines three main identifiable problems:
The problem of the ideology of Jewish supremacy
The problem of global Jewish-Zionist networking and lobbying
The problem of idolizing the holocaust (which is used as a tool to further Zionist aims)
In 2009, soon after the Gaza massacres, by sheer coincidence I came across the word Neshama. Curious, I googled the word, and lo and behold a Pandora’s Box opened before my eyes; a new learning curve began; I learned about a group called Chabad Lubavitch. I was horrified to discover the supremacist ideology at the core of this group and the level of influence accomplished by the Rebbe and his followers.
Horror-struck, I started investigating, studying then writing about two main issues; the supremacist ideology and the high influence of this prominent organization, attempting to alert our Jewish PSC allies to the danger of such ideology and influence… only to be faced with utter silence.
The problem of the ideology of Jewish supremacy
First; if we accept that Zionism is defined by the crime of genocide and the ethnic cleansing of a nation and has caused the wiping out of a country, then investigating the motivation behind such crime is essential to fight it and hopefully to defeat it. Without unfiltered scrutiny, we would never know who we are dealing with and how to stop them.
Second; supremacism in Jewish ideology is not above criticism; like every other ideology, it should be transparent, accessible and not kept secretive. Without unfiltered scrutiny we would never know what animates Zionists to act with such aggravated cruelty and sadism.
Third; to accuse of “anti-Semitism” and “racism” those who expose Jewish supremacy, is the equivalent of covering up the ideology behind the crime and dissuading people from learning about it, hence challenging and fighting this form of racism.
Dismissing such supremacist beliefs as irrelevant and obsolete would be a huge mistake because these views are the very motor that charges, motivates and energizes the Jewish settlers in Palestine, and gives them the sense of entitlement to do what they do without feeling any guilt or remorse.
For us Palestinians and for our supporters in the solidarity movement, it is a matter of extreme importance to inspect and scrutinize the ideology that motivates and animates the Jewish settlers in our occupied Palestine in order to better understand it, hence combat it. Restricting our understanding of the occupiers, their ideology and mindset cripples our ability to fight back against them knowledgeably and effectively. Furthermore, in our day and age, racism has become outlawed, when people learn about the extent of the ideological racism in the Zionist entity, it will enable us to fight them in their weakest point, thus, bring the day of our liberation closer.
The problem of global Jewish-Zionist networking and lobbying
First; when we look at Zionism as a crime, again, then logically we must identify and investigate the modus operandi. Failure to do so would leave us unable to understand how our oppressors operate and succeed.
Second; with regards to the Jewish-Zionist lobby: investigative work that examines information, no matter how well concealed, and attempts to identify at least some of the culprits and the real criminals behind the fearmongering, the endless wars and the catastrophic conditions that our world suffers is neither racist nor anti Semitic.
Third; devoid of proof or evidence for their false accusations the controlled opposition gate-keepers insidiously filter information through intimidation and by labeling anyone who dares to divulge vital facts. They disable Friends of Palestine (FoP) members from understanding the animus and the methods used to install and to perpetuate the criminal Zionist project, in particular the global network of collaborators who organize and effectively manipulate world policies by coercing world governments into continuous support of the Zionist project in spite of its growing inhumanity.
Expecting to become myself sooner or later a victim of such smear and filtering activity, I always utilize extensive links to primary sources I quote, mostly Jewish organizations. The network formed by these organizations involves large sections of Jewish communities worldwide, and its ultimate role is generally to support the Zionist entity, by inserting themselves in influential positions.
Suppression of inquiry amounts to a dynamic protection system (by peripheral concealment) of the global Zionist network.
Lite-Zionist critics of Israel are attempting to impose on FoP their restrictive dogma, i.e. that a majority of Jews worldwide, whether Zionist “diaspora” or “Israelis”, are not the manipulators of international policy with regards to “Israel”, but the complacent, docile instrument of U.S. imperialism.
To persist, such dogma imperatively needs, again, to filter out glaring facts such as the over-representation of Jewish-Zionist dual citizens in vital areas of UK-US policy making, or the cross-pollination of racist and supremacist ideology between many Talmudic Rabbis and many Secular Jewish-Zionist Organizations supporting the Zionist project.
The persistence of this dogma also requires strict and repressive censorship and gagging of whomever tries to scrutinize, analyze and discuss the facts, let alone expose them to an audience concerned by matters of equality and humanism, such as FoP and the Palestine solidarity movement in general was supposed to be. That is how and why smear campaigns with killer words such as “anti-Semitism” or “racism” are launched.
At best, such activity on part of alleged “friends of Palestine” is irresponsible. The logical implication of such nonsense, would be that Jewish Israelis, almost all of them serving at least 2 full years in the Israeli army, are just naïve and innocent victims. Thereby, this nonsensical dogma exculpates the notoriously perverted cruelty and psychopathy of the Israeli military’s crimes, up and down the command ladder.
The problem of idolizing the holocaust
First; “Facts” do NOT need laws to enforce or defend them, what they require is research to examine their narrative and correct it for better accuracy and understanding. The denial of these principles will invariably lead to the eradication of the Science of History, and thus cause the blind repetition of more genocides, as we already see in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan… Much like what we see with the cover up and suppression of information about The Truth about 9/11, who benefited and how the event was used to create a climate of hatred and fear which enables the power elite to continue waging wars of aggression and extermination.
Second; without understanding how the holocaust has been used by Zionists, from its onset til this very day, we would continue to succumb to intimidation and give allowances that legitimize and justify the existence of a criminal entity. By insisting on keeping an aura of holiness, uniqueness and exceptionality around the holocaust which would continue to put it above any historical event, preventing researchers from examining how this event has been used, and how it enables our occupier to continue to use it as justification for what they do in Palestine.
The holocaust ought to be studied as a historical event with a historical narrative that has NO sacred or exceptional dimension. The emotional, dogmatic and sacred luggage that has been attached to it has been systematically used and is still used by Zionists to justify and minimize their ongoing heinous crimes in Palestine, as well as the claim of special status with special benefits in their respective countries.
Third; there is absolutely no link -strictly none- between the so-called Holocaust and Palestinians. Nowhere can Palestinians be incriminated in the abhorrent oppression committed by central Europeans against Jews during World War II.
I, as a Palestinian, am not prepared to live in guilt, nor to pay for crimes my people haven’t committed. We refuse to accept and will reject forcibly if necessary, pathologically violent and racist Jewish occupiers.
Military conquest, terrorism, robbery, torture, ethnic cleansing and slow genocide ongoing since the arrival of the first Zionists in Palestine almost one century ago (i.e. before the holocaust) does NOT make someone the rightful “owners” or “co-owners” of my homeland, it makes them abject and violent occupiers.
I and with me my People are not accepting any more to keep having to listen to this narrative shoved down our throat with the repetition of tragedies about legendary love stories, human-fat soap or human-skin lamp shades in order that the Zionists continue to deceive, to trade with and reap the profit by deception and theft of a historical crime that has already been dealt with, and while they continue to use it to justify the ongoing theft of Palestine and extermination of Palestinians.
When someone claims to be in the solidarity movement with Palestine, but then at a crucial time when the Palestinian struggle for Liberation gains momentum, engages in such blatant cover up and concealment of vital information and analysis that would enable people to better understand the core problematic issues and how to effectively deal with them, I and with me every member of the FoP and the Palestine solidarity movement, have the right to question the dubious intentions and motivations of such acts, and to evaluate the damage such people are causing to the movement, hence to Palestinians.
I would like to add a thought about the accusation of racism and anti-Semitism used as a method to silence debate. Anti-Semitism is nothing but one form of racism. Jewish supremacy is yet another form of racism. All forms of racism are vile and ought to be rejected.
An aggravating factor makes the accuser’s motives appear to be even more dubious. Indeed the false accusations of racism is inconsistent with their deafening silence about the mountain of evidence of the wide-spread existence of the ominously racist Jewish supremacist ideologies. This utter silence is a glaring attempt to deflect from the real racism about which I happen to have done extensive research during the past 2 years.
Also, I perceive the attacks as an attempt to block intellectual debate about the problem of global Jewish-Zionist networking and lobbying, which to me is very worrisome, to say the least, when coming from self proclaimed “Friends of Palestine.”
What I find really mind-boggling and hard to fathom in all this is the inconsistency with regards to racism.
On the one hand they do not hesitate to throw such a label against many honorable activists, scholars and intellectuals, in fact they label as “racist” and “fools” anyone who exposes the revolting yet well concealed Jewish supremacy, anyone who notices the effect of Jewish-Zionist networking or who objects to their disproportionate over-representation in key positions with all what it entails of conflict of interest and promotion of the interest of a foreign entity at the detriment of the interest of their national constituency. Yet, on the other hand, mystifyingly, the same people, who without hesitation accuse us of racism, stay utterly mute about the massive, revolting and offensive racism that fills thousands of pages in the Talmud, and major Jewish religious books! And I am not talking about some fringe lunatic fundamentalists who use these always mutating texts as tools, what I am talking about is the inter-connective network of people deeply entrenched in the main centers of government, power and capital, and who are veritably driving policies, war-mongering and hate-mongering!
This sharp contrast between the fervent reaction of those disloyal activists to alleged “racism” on one hand, and on the other, their apathetic deflated reaction or lack thereof, to the sickening anti-human racism emanating from Jewish sources with its correlation with Zionists’ activities, leaves me speechless, beyond words.
Since I started exposing this racism, and over the past two years, I heard NOT ONE WORD about their outrage, opposition or willingness to expose or fight Jewish supremacist ideology, such as seen in the writing of one of the most respected, most reputable Jewish philosophers Moses Ben Maimon (also known as Maimonides).
“Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah is considered by traditionalist Jews even today as one of the chief authoritative codifications of Jewish law and ethics.” Moses Ben Maimon sees no problem with subjugating and enslaving gentiles:
“They shall be your subjects and serve you.”
“The subjugation they must accept consists of being on a lower level, scorned and humble.
They must never raise their heads against Israel, but must remain subjugated under their rule. They may never be appointed over a Jew in any matter whatsoever.”
He also talks about the right of the Jewish king to:
“wage a milchemet hareshut, (war of aggression) i.e. a war fought with other nations in order to expand the borders of Israel or magnify its greatness and reputation.“
These “chief authoritative codifications of Jewish law and ethics” do not see any ethical predicament with “Jewish wars” of extermination and annihilation either.
Since this notorious ideology is the unequivocal underlying animus and root cause of the Zionist aggression and occupation, and since the “facts on the ground” prove the cross-pollination between this degradation and the secular Zionist aims, including the irrefutably slow-genocidal Zionist military policies, scrutiny and criticism of this racist supremacist filth is not a matter of fringe theology, but a vital matter of totalitarian politics.
Now, where is their outrage against such blatant Jewish racism and supremacy and terrifying nihilistic ideology? Don’t they claim to be against racism wherever it comes from? Why don’t they have the guts to condemn and campaign against such racism?
Is it not ludicrous to hear them condemn instead, those who expose and vehemently oppose such racism?
Without using any commonsense they jump into the ADL bandwagon and rub shoulders with Zionists!
If someone obstinately objects to the massive control and unwelcome influence and the robbing of others rights and property, under the pretext of divine entitlement, does that person become the unreasonable “bigot” !
What kind of skewed logic is that?
This inconsistency is incomprehensible to me.
Why are they entitled to classify people and to dictate to people what they should read and what they should avoid?
Why this condescending attitude that appears to be claiming to know what is best for people and selecting their intellectual diet for them?
Why deprive people of the right to read a wide range of opinions, including my own writing, and allow them to make up their analysis, and conclusions without manipulation, repression or restraint?
In my writing I vehemently criticize racist Jewish ideology, but I never accuse all Jews of being racist, never put them -or anyone else for that matter, in one basket. Ever.
In my writing I quoted the poll that 95% of USA Jewry support Israel as a Jewish state and 90% of British Jewry believe that Israel is the ‘ancestral homeland’ of the Jewish people, and concluded that most world Jewry are supportive of the theft of Palestine.
Truth is that the majority of world Jewry insist that Jews have a right and claim to the land. Including some of our Jewish “anti-Zionist” friends under whatever pretext. Their claims are not acceptable and unjustifiable!
I have pointed out the influence of organized Jewish networks, such information is available for any serious researcher, it can be easily verified, yes it is troublesome to find such a tiny group extremely overrepresented in so many vital areas of public affairs, such as finance, media, security and policy making, more so when the interests of such a group are in conspicuous conflict with the interest of the larger group, and when this minority supports a genocidal entity that has not evolved in six decades.
Over-representation is as unfair as under-representation, and if anti-racists take it upon themselves to defend the rights of the under-represented minorities, it is of equal importance to do the same with over-representation.
Perhaps such questions of over-representation might have not surfaced had the behavior of those in question been shrouded with morality and humanity. Had they been working to establish social justice, building homes, schools and hospitals instead of destroying and polluting the planet for generations to come, and instead of law of the jungle where the super-rich eat the poor to the last bone, had they chosen cooperation instead never-ending conflict, and promoted peace and justice instead of fomenting perpetual wars.
No one should be slandered for observing and objecting to such blatant mockery of morality, equality and justice.
I do not need to focus on Christian Zionists because their ideology is almost entirely sourced from the Old-Testament which is none other than the Jewish Torah! Most authentic Christians consider the Christian Zionists as worshipers of “Israel” and of the “Jewish people” rather than God, and in that sense they share the same ideology as Jewish-Zionist supremacists, in terms of their reverence and idolization of the Jewish people as the “Chosen”, they are one and the same. Furthermore, those who occupy my land, those who drove me out of my homeland, and those who are still depriving me from going home are the Jewish Zionists.
I criticize the deafening silence of anti-Zionist Jews with regard to the racism that thrives amidst many Jewish communities. A silence which I believe will backfire one day, as they would be seen as not only complaisant but also complacent by deflecting away and concealing horrendous truths.
My criticism is motivated by concern and genuine care for good Jewish individuals that I have known and those whom I don’t know, because of what I perceive as the danger that would befall all of them if they continue to ignore the supremacist ideology, the growing influence of the adherents of this ideology and if they continue to ignore all the warning signs that point to accumulating bottled rage against such villainy, which no doubt would one day manifest itself violently as an inevitable backlash to much unsaid, yet felt, oppression and unspoken, but lived, subjugation.
I find it rather pathetic that the only defense mechanism that the accusers come up with is the smear, slander and the accusation of being a “racist” against anyone who pokes the boil exposing the pus infesting inside one of the most vile racist and supremacist ideologies thriving at the heart of some Jewish teachings as per Mishna Torah, Zohar, Tanya, and Talmud. By insisting on dismissing Jewish supremacy and Jewish-Zionist networks they only promote the most cruel and degenerative racism to be found on the planet by means of concealment and shifting attention away from the real racism that I vehemently fight and deplore.
The persons who resort to accusation, suppression, character assassination and smear campaigns very cunningly and dishonestly omit to mention that those who expose and condemn the racist concepts of “chosen-ness”, “exceptionality”, “superior morality”, “superior intelligence”, and “Jewish entitlement of world leadership” do not invent these concepts. It is not racist to expose or quote such abomination, it is not a crime to bring such Jewish-claims to the public awareness. Any honest criticism should be directed against those who believe such filth and make such revolting claims.
To those individuals who take part in such ADL style smear campaigns of accusation of racism, I say:
I accuse you of acting as a smoke screen to cover up real racism as manifested by Jewish supremacists
I accuse you of acting as protectors and gatekeepers of the global Jewish Zionist networks and lobby groups by denying their existence and effectiveness.
I accuse you of complicity by insisting to conceal planned crimes against humanity as manifested in the supremacist nihilistic Chabad ideology.
Any Solidarity Movement with Palestine should take the opinions, the interests, and the future well being of Palestinians at heart, otherwise, it speaks only for itself, not for Palestinians.
Palestinians have the right to fight for the full liberation of their country, those who are willing to march with us all the way are welcome, those who are not, may look for other more convenient and less controversial campaigns to support.
I denounce any person or group who pretends to speak in my name as a Palestinian, yet behind closed doors, they plot and whisper about how to mute Palestinian voices and curtail the spread and impact of daring Palestinian opinions.
I denounce any person or group who claims to work for Palestine, yet their actions are contrary to the legitimate interest and aspirations of Palestinian people. Allowing themselves to be used as a vehicle to secure the future of the Jewish-Zionist invaders by facilitating the permanent takeover of Palestine with the pretext of “two peoples, one future” blather or “equal rights to both sides” nonsense.
I denounce any person or group who turns a blind eye and reacts with a deafening silence to the unimaginable repulsive racism that oozes from some Jewish supremacist groups, yet instead, hysterically and shamelessly react to someone who accidentally came to discover such horrors.
Finally, I fully trust the Palestine solidarity movement to have the intellectual integrity and capacity to see through the fog of manipulation, and to have the assertiveness, the respect for their own intellect and enough open-mindedness to look at many sources of information, and that they have the courage to read for themselves and evaluate what they read independently, without having some gurus spoon-feeding them with filtered, processed, misrepresented or manipulated information.
Nahida Izzat is a Jerusalem-born Palestinian refugee who has lived in exile for over forty five years, after being forced to leave her homeland at the tender age of seven in 1967, during the six-day war. She has a degree in mathematics, but art is one of her favorite pastimes. She loves hand-made things and so makes dolls, cards, and most of her own clothing. She also writes poetry, participates in written dialogues and believes in building bridges, not walls.
For some time, Swedish Palestinian female TV presenter Gina Dirawi has been chased by Sweden’s Zionist protagonists within the media. Dirawi has been outspoken about Israeli crimes and Palestinian rights. But recently when she referred to Lasse wilhelmson’s book ‘Is The World Upside down?’, all hell broke loose. Wilhelmson is critical of the Jewish state, Zionism and Jewish power. Wilhelmson was one of the first thinkers who pointed at clear ideological and spiritual affiliation between Zionism and the Left, a theme I myself developed in my work. The Swedish media would prefer to keep Wilhelmson in the fringe. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet now seems to want him in jail. What we see here is an outrageous and unacceptable assault on freedom of expression. The following are two of Lasse’s answers to his detractors.
Lasse Wilhelmson’s Reply to Åsa Linderborg - Cultural Editor of the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet
In your capacity as Chief Cultural Editor for Aftonbladet, in your article Let’s take a look at this shit (28th November 2012), and in front of the entire Swedish nation you have ‘named and shamed’ me (including a photo) as an evil pershon who deserves condemnation and also probably to be locked up. And why? Simply for holding some opinions. (1)
Reading through the article, which incidentally does not include one single quote from my book Is the World Upside Down?, I ask myself, why would you do that? After all, you’re an educated person, an intellectual, a significant representative of the Swedish cultural elite. You have written a prizewinning book about your childhood, you’re an influential voice of the Swedish left and you have presented yourself as a “free speech fundamentalist”.
You write: “Wilhelmson hates Jews and denies the Holocaust – he always puts inverted commas round it, and he thinks Israel as a nation should be wiped off the map”. I have already accounted for my view on “Holocaust deniers” in my reply to Expo, so here I will do it in the form of some questions for you:
1. Do you consider that what happened to the Jews during the Second World War as a historic event that can be legitimately researched, discussed and revised as we do with other historic events?
If the answer is no then my next question is: Why?
If the answer is yes, the question is: In that case, why is it that, in so many western countries, so many who have done so, have been sentenced to prison?
2. Do you know of any other historic events in our time where people have been imprisoned for having an opinion that differs from the norm?
And lastly to you as a “free speech fundamentalist”:
3. Do you think opinions should be punishable?
Accusations of hating a whole population carries with them, I think, a considerable burden of proof. You have produced none. Asa, I do not hate people, only deeds and ideas, and above all, hypocrisy. But perhaps it is you who hates people who do not share your views – for example, me.
You say that I believe that Israel should be obliterated, though I have never expressed myself in that way. I could say that you are lying, but I prefer to think you are simply deluded..
In my lifetime, I have appeared many times in the media and I have always been given the chance to defend myself when attacked – except that is, when the questions concern Zionism and its short-term goal of a Jewish state in Palestine. Why is this? Could it be that what I have to say is dangerous – perhaps just a little too close to the truth?
Why do you behave in the manner of witch hunts and book burnings when I am simply trying to understand how the world works and which forces lie behind war and misery? My book includes much about this, complete with notes and references.
Over time, I have indeed come to embrace views other than your comfy “leftist” ones. Nowadays, I think ideologies and religions have both light and dark sides – sometimes they are used to liberate people, sometimes to persecute. But, above all, I believe that in order to set ourselves and others free, our thinking must be liberated from the prohibition of forbidden thoughts and from limited thought systems.
In my book you have probably read the introductory ‘chicken’ article, which shows that, even at a basic level, the world can be not exactly as we think it is. And the epilogue too which is an attempt to indicate a direction for our lives which incorporates love and solidarity, without resorting to violence. (2)
You’ve probably also read about my personal background and how my thinking has changed and why. You will know that, in my very full life, I have achieved quite a lot as an activist in the left movement, for the people of Vietnam, as a trade unionist, as a member of one of the contemporary Communist parties and also in many other non-profit organisations. Why, it could be that I am even more versed in Marxism and its classical texts than even you are.
In my home municipality of Täby, I have taken part in local politics for 24 years, working on very real issues there and in the surrounding region. I was a member of the district council and, at one point, I was on the board. I am currently the chairperson of a road committee in the countryside and have just written its Jubilee brochure, with many stories about how an old Swedish farming community has changed over a century.
I have always been a public person and have never hidden behind anonymity. Many know me, or have heard of me, in various contexts. I have five children and many grandchildren and I am married. Have you thought about how your, and the rest of the media’s attempts to make me an object of hate will affect them all? Perhaps that might give you pause for thought?
You know Asa, I think the real reason for your hatred (?) of me lies in the fact that I have pointed out the connection between Zionism and Marxism, between your left and the Jewish Zionist ‘left’, and, of course, the glaring similarity between rightwing-Zionism and Nazism. Zionism is, in fact, both left- and right-wing, its goal is a Jewish state in Palestine. (3)
This is why the Sweden Democrats, the most Israel-friendly party in our parliament, have the same fundamental attitude as most of the “left” that claim to support the Palestinians: that the Jewish state is permanent and that the exiled Palestinians can never, as UN resolutions say they must, return home in any way other than symbolically. They must content themselves with a pseudo-state of 10-20 percent of the original Palestine (the two-state solution) – a situation which can lead to neither justice nor peace between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, nor in the whole of the Middle East and beyond.
Because Zionism (or rather now, post-Zionism), has the whole world as its goal. It is the most significant expression of Anglo-American imperialism and its criminal wars and, to achieve its new world order, its power elite controls the making of ideologies (media) and central banking (the dollar).
Åsa, you don’t have to freak out just because someone suggests that your lifelong right/left map does not actually reflect reality. Such behavior gives the impression that the left that you so personify, is really completely and utterly anti-intellectual.
PS. Do you remember that we once met? It was at a meeting about ten years ago when the social democrats manoeuvred you and other communists off the board of Ordfront (publisher & culture magazine). I gave you a copy of Folket i Bild (leftwing magazine) in which I had published a long article on Zionism. The article included the revelation that Karl Marx had, the somewhat older, Moses Hess as his personal socialist mentor – my “communist rabbi” Marx was wont to call him. Hess wrote three fundamental articles that leave clear tracks in The Communist Manifesto and, soon after, Hess wrote the book “From Rome to Jerusalem”, Zionism’s magnus opus. According to the official founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, this book says everything you need to know about Zionism. I’ve often wondered if you ever read that article. (4)
1 December 2012
1. Let’s take a look at this shit
2. Epilogue (Quo vadis)
3. What is Zionism?
4. Zionism, more than traditional- colonialism and apartheid
The above-mentioned article (1), published on November 23rd, 2012, and which has been widely distributed throughout the media, is an assault on Gina Dirawi, a young TV presenter of Palestinian origin.
It is no secret that Expo (Swedish Searchlight) dislikes Gina Dirawi, and any other Palestinians, who occasionally express dismay that their homeland has been stolen and many of its citizens exiled. Expo never criticizes the racist nature of the Jewish state and its genocidal policies (see UN Convention) vis a vis the Palestinians, but rather launches witch-hunts against those that do.
The book referred to as ‘anti-Semitic’ is mine. It is “Is the World Upside Down?” (2009), a selection of articles I wrote and interviews I gave from 2003 to 2009. Several articles are co-written with others. The book is about Palestine, the neocolonial wars and Zionism (2), and also contains a re-evaluation of certain “truths” about twentieth century history as imposed by the victors of both the Russian Revolution and the two World Wars. The book can also be understood as a personal journey – an attempt to assume a humanitarian approach, independent of ideologies and religions.
The campaign against Gina Dirawi is a clear case of guilt by association – a common, but extremely distasteful and unethical, tactic. This campaign uses distorted interpretations and a false taboo-image of the book and its author.
A few things to ponder ….
- Are we to no longer read books that do not comply with our preconceived ideas? Are we to no longer read books to improve our knowledge and even, perhaps, to understand our lives and the world we live ii? Are we no longer to read books other than for pure entertainment?
- Do we need moral gate-keepers to tell us which books we may read? Rather than being openly and freely discussed, are readers and writers to be simply branded? Have we really gone back to book burning? Is it only the elderly among us that remember Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1953).
- Why is it that the media always and routinely publishes Expo’s articles but seldom checks for accuracy, out-of-context facts and quotes, interpretations, value judgments and sources?
I can see no humanitarian and righteous solution to the situation in Israel/Palestine except that all exiled Palestinians be permitted to return home and regain their possessions. This is in full accordance with UN resolution 194. Jewish settlers who do not wish to live in equality and harmony with other Palestinians between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, should return to the countries from which they came. This may seem utopian, but all else leads only to catastrophe – even for the Jews themselves in Israel/Palestine and the surrounding world.
I always try to be careful not to blame whole groups when certain members of those groups behave badly or illegally and, as far as I know, I have never done so. Yet it is often precisely this of which I am accused – but only when it comes to Jews. I still await some substantial, contextual proof of my transgressions so I can correct or explain myself.
I do not hate people, but I do hate double standards – especially hypocrisy – a hypocrisy most blatant when it is about anything to do with Israel/Palestine, Jews and Zionism. Hypocrisy disgusts me as totally incompatible with ethics and morals. It is this which underpins the harsh words I often use in my political articles.
For the most part, I criticize the Jewish “Mafia” who are among the richest and most influential people in the western world, and also all those who serve their cause. I also criticize Jewish lobbies and Jewish settlers. If I speak of ‘Jews’ I do so in the same way I might speak of ‘Palestinians’, ‘Swedes’ or any other group. Obviously, ideologies, religions, mentalities and cultures can be criticized in more general terms.
In my opinion, it is no myth but a fact that there is a Jewish Mafia (just as there are Chinese and Italian Mafias) which has a disproportionate influence on the world economy, ideology (media and Hollywood etc… ) in the western world and on American foreign policy. And this situation is repeated in most European countries. This influence is used, for the most part, quite openly and by many very famous people.
It is also true that Jews often put loyalty to the Jewish state before loyalty to the country in which they live.
It must be legitimate to discuss all these things openly and freely without witch hunting and book-burnings.
Most of what I write, I base on articles found in Israeli newspapers and documents in Jewish libraries, together with books from Jewish professors of history and political scientists. So far, most of the information can still be found on the internet.
I believe that Zionists misuse Judaism, similar to the way in which Crusaders misused Christianity, let alone the Wahhabites’ misuse of Islam. I have warned that the international crimes of the Jewish state and the Jewish Mafia could well have a boomerang effect on all Jews if they are not able to distance themselves from it. After all, the Jewish state is proclaimed in the name of all Jews, and all Israel’s wars are waged by weapons bearing Jewish religious symbols.
In the Expo article I am quoted: “There has been animosity against Jews all through history. But it is often induced by the Jews themselves through their behaviour.” What is wrong with that? The same applies to all groups especially any group of people who see themselves as better than other people and particularly, “God’s chosen people.” But my strongest reaction is reserved for the way Jews have taken upon themselves a monopoly of suffering that overrides the suffering of others and is used to legitimize Israel’s policies and treatment of the Palestinians.
Furthermore, rather than history, always subject to discussion and revision, the Holocaust with its capital H, has, I believe, been transformed into a religious taboo dogma, Most outrageous is when it is used for political reasons to start new wars and legitimize genocide against the Palestinians who, we must always remember, had nothing whatsoever to do with any persecution of Jews.
As far as I know, there are no Holocaust deniers who deny that brutal crimes and atrocities were committed against the Jews, as well as other groups, during the Second World War. All the so-called Holocaust deniers, including those who have been convicted and imprisoned, have merely observed and reconsidered various parts of the official dogma. (3)
The term “anti-Semitism” (4) is no longer viable because of its political use to discredit various critics of Israel, or to vilify people. As Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli MP, said in an interview to the famous American radio/TV reporter Amy Goodman: “It’s a trick, we always use it”. (5)
As far as the term “conspiracy theorist” goes, that too is misused for political reasons. There have, and always will be, conspiracies in the corridors of power, and the powerful and their geeks will always call those who try to understand their conspiracies, conspiracy theorists – meaning some kind of sick fantasists. This is Orwellian doublespeak. There are, indeed, so-called crackpots all over the place - many planted by those in power to create confusion.
And finally: I talk and discuss with everyone. My articles are published anywhere. I am always a public person and I wish to debate facts – something I have rarely been offered to do in the ten years I have been writing about these issues. Free speech, what free speech?
If what I have written here and elsewhere means that I am a “conspiracy theorist”, “anti-Semite” and “Holocaust denier”, then so be it. I hope and expect that soon there will be many more of us.
30 november 2012
1. Expo´s article
2. What is Zionism?
3. Why is the Truth Dangerous?
4. Anti-Semitism as a political weapon
5. It’s a trick. we always use it.
- Former Member of Israel Idf – Gilad Atzmon – Exposes Zionist Anti-zionism! (2012indyinfo.com)
- An Open Letter to Ali Abunimah & Co (thetruthseeker.co.uk)