From Bibi to Herzl

September 20, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Zionism vowed to make the Jews people like all other people. Israel promised to be the fulfilment of the Zionist aspiration. But the reality on the ground proved otherwise. It didn’t take long before Israel became ‘The Jewish State’ – a state like no other. In this talk, I present a new outlook of the Zionist project and its collapse. I can now throw new light on the most peculiar anomalies in Zionist history, such as labour Zionist brutality towards indigenous Palestinians in ’48, the rise in the prominence of the holocaust in Israel after ’67 and the current manufactured antisemitism hysteria.

I do apologise for the quality of the sound, we work hard to improve it.

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The Yom Kippur Syndrome

September 18, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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A message to Jews from Gilad Atzmon

When the Yom Kippur War broke out 45 years ago I was ten years old.  I recall a lot of fear all around me. Israel was my home and it was about to be wiped out. This is what I believed at the time, and this is what everyone around me repeated. We were all certainly caught unprepared.

My father was called up by the Air Force in the early hours of Yom Kippur (October 6th 1973). We didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. We didn’t know whether he was alive. In fact, we had good reason to believe he wasn’t. We were very worried.  For the adults around me, the first days of the war were a reminder of the Shoah. Israeli leaders, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan as well as the top Israeli military command appeared perplexed and hesitant on TV. Their message was: ‘the future isn’t clear, we may even witness the destruction of the 3rd temple.’

Years later, when I became an avid reader of history and military texts, it became clear to me that the collective Shoah dread into which we immersed ourselves was a manifestation of Jewish pre traumatic stress disorder (Pre TSD). We were tormented by a phantasmic fear. Neither the Syrians nor the Egyptian armies had plans to ‘destroy Israel,’ wipe out the Jewish state or ‘throw the Jews into the sea’. Their military objectives were, in fact, very limited. Neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians wished to expand their military ground operation beyond a few miles into the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Both Arab armies were dependent on Soviet ground to air missiles that severely limited Israeli air superiority above the battlefield. The Soviet missile umbrella provided about 10 miles of anti air cover and the Arab armies had no intent to proceed beyond that ‘safe’ zone.

It took me years to grasp that Israel’s panic during the first few days of the war led to some serious military blunders (such as the IDF’s disastrous counter offensive on the 8th of October). This panic was fuelled by projection.  Believing that the Arabs were ‘about to throw the Jews into the sea’, Israeli generals and cabinet members reacted irrationally and wasted their limited reserve forces in a  counter offensive that failed and cost many Israeli lives.

But why did the Israelis believe that the Arabs were about to throw them into the sea? Why did they assume the Arab armies were murderous or possibly genocidal? Why did PM Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan believe that the ‘3rd temple’ was about to be annihilated?  Simple, because the Israelis were and still are driven by lethal inclinations towards their neighbours. It was the Israelis who literally pushed the Palestinians into the sea in 1948 into the sea. Israelis were panicking because they were projecting their own symptoms onto the Arabs. 

In ‘The Wandering Who’ I elaborate on projection in the context of Jewish ‘pre traumatic stress.’ The principle is simple. The more murderous and sinister one is, the more fearful one becomes of others. Humans tend to attribute their own reasoning and symptoms onto others. Accordingly, the more menacing one is, the more sinister one believes the other to be.

Israelis consistently attribute their own racist and barbarian symptoms onto the Palestinians. The possibility that a Palestinian or an Arab would be as merciless as the IDF causes real and total panic for the Israeli. The thought that the Palestinians, for instance, would want to displace a quarter of Israeli citizens and massacre Israelis as the IDF has done to Gaza numerous times must evoke terror amongst Israelis and for a good reason.

But this state of collective anxiety is not unique to Israelis; it is embedded in Jewish culture. Basically, Jews are tormented by anti Semitism because they assume that their own ‘goy hatred’ is echoed by ‘Jew hatred’ from their gentile neighbours. As Martin Heidegger noted in the 1930s, the Jews opposed in the Nazis the racism which they recognized from themselves. Heidegger wrote in his Black Notebooks: the Jewish people, with their talent for calculation, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because

“they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest.”

In 1973 Israel believed that that the Arabs were out to eradicate them because this is exactly what the Israelis would have liked to do to the Arabs.

The Syndrome

Projection is just one aspect of the Yom Kippur war. I guess that, at least from a philosophical perspective, the most interesting aspect of the 73 War was that it marked a sudden switch from Judeo centric manic ‘hubris’ to melancholia, apathy and depression.

Following their outstanding 1967 military victory, the Israelis developed an arrogant disrespectful attitude toward Arabs and their military capability. Israeli intelligence predicted that it would take years for Arab armies to recover. The Israeli military didn’t believe that the Arab soldier had the ability to fight, let alone score a victory.

But on 6 October 1973, the Israelis had a devastating surprise. This time the Arab soldier was very different. The Israeli military strategy that was built on air superiority and fast ground maneuvers supported by tanks was crushed in only a few hours. The Egyptians and Syrians helped by new Soviet antitank and ground to air missiles managed to dismantle Israeli’s might. In the first days of the war Israel suffered heavy casualties and, as mentioned above, the Israeli leadership and high command were in a state of despair. This type of crisis wasn’t new to the Jews. It is consistently symptomatic of Jewish culture to be ‘surprised’ and overwhelmed by the Goyim’s fierce resilience.

The Israeli military fiasco at the first stage of the war was a repetition of a tragic syndrome that is as old as the Jews themselves. Jewish hubris that is driven by a strong sense of choseness and that repeatedly leads to horrific consequences is what I call ‘The Yom Kippur Syndrome.’  The syndrome can be defined as a repeated chain of events that drive Jewish societies towards an extreme irrational sense of pride, arrogance, self-confidence and blindness toward others and the tragedy that inevitably follows.

On October 6th, the Israelis realised that they had grossly underestimated their enemies.  But it wasn’t the first time such a mistake occurred in Jewish history. Every Jewish disaster is, to a certain extent, a repetition of the Yom Kippur Syndrome. In 1920s Berlin the Jewish elite boasted of its power. Some rich Jews were convinced that Germany and its capital were Jewish occupied territories. At the time, a few German Jews dominated banking and influenced Germany’s politics and media. In addition, the Frankfurt School as well as other Jewish school of thoughts were openly dedicated to the cultural uprooting of Germans, all in the name of, ‘progress,’ ‘working class politics,’ phenomenology and cultural Marxism. Then, almost from nowhere, as far as German Jews were concerned, a tidal wave of resentment appeared. And the rest is known.

But was there really a sudden shift in German consciousness? Should German ‘anti Semitism’ have come as a surprise? Not at all. All necessary signs had been present for some time. In fact, Early Zionists such as Herzl and Nordau correctly predicted the inevitable rise of European anti Jewish sentiments. But Jewish hubris prevented Berlin’s Jewish elite from evaluating the growing opposition around them. The Yom Kippur Syndrome.

The same could be said of the Jewish Lobby, AIPAC, Friends of Israel clubs in Britain, the BOD, the three British Jewish papers that, in the name of British Jewry, declared war on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  These Jewish lobbies and institutions that relentlessly seek influence over Western foreign affairs and the Labour Party in particular: do they grasp the level of resentment and the potential disaster they are bringing on their fellow Jews?

Can the Jew recover from the Yom Kippur Syndrome? Can the Jew somehow detect resentment as it grows and amend his or her ways?  All it takes is drifting away from choseness. But once stripped of choseness what is left of the Jew or for the Jew?

This may be the most devastating question and the true meaning of the existential Yom Kippur Syndrome; there is no Jewish collective ideological escape for the Jew. Zionism failed to provide the goods and the so called ‘anti Zionists’ have done little other than form their own racially exclusive enclaves of chosenness within the so called ‘Left over.’

The only escape route from the Yom Kippur Syndrome is personal and individual. Try leaving the tribe late in the night, crawl under the ghetto fence, dig a tunnel under the ‘separation wall’ if necessary and then once on land of the free, proceed quietly and modestly towards the humane and the universal.

Good luck

Me Too, America

September 14, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

For decades, America has been sending its young boys and girls to die for Israel. It sends billions of its taxpayers’ dollars to the wealthy Jewish State instead of supporting America’s own people in need and its deteriorating infrastructure.  This week John Bolton, the Trump administration’s national security adviser, expelled the PLO representative from Washington in response to the Palestinian request to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into Israel’s war crimes.

America has been metaphorically raped. It has been abused, humiliated and pushed by its so called ‘greatest ally.’ Its LOBBY has pushed America to agree to actions that have put America’s national security at risk.

And now the story that PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman has allegedly operated as a serial sex predator in the American capital suggests that we may have transcended the ‘metaphorical’.  America is being literally abused.

On Tuesday, Julia Salazar, the vibrant 28 years old Democratic socialist candidate in New York’s 18th State Senate District, defeated a 16 year Democratic incumbent in the primary election. Two days ago, Salazar publicly accused PM Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman, David Keyes, of sexually assaulting her.

Keyes denies any wrongdoing and called the accusations false. He announced yesterday that he was taking time off from his job at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to fight the allegations and clear his name.

But we have also learned that such accusations against Keyes were nothing new. The Time of Israel reports that there have been numerous complaints against Keyes. There is also news that Israel’s ambassador to the US was warned in 2016 by journalist Bret Stephens about Keyes’ allegedly inappropriate behaviour toward 14 women.

Stephens told the New York Times on Thursday of his warning to the Ambassador. According to the NYT report, Keyes was barred from visiting the Wall Street Journal’s offices because of his behaviour towards female staffers. Stephens also told the NYT he personally chided Keyes, calling him a “disgrace to men” and “a disgrace as a Jew.”

A few months ago, at the peak of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, genius Jewish comedian Larry David publicly shared his concerns. David spoke about “a very disturbing pattern emerging” of predators accused of sexual harassment. He bravely admitted, “not all but many of them are Jews.” Then David expressed his wish.  “I don’t like when Jews are in the headlines for notorious reasons. I want ‘Einstein discovers the theory of relativity,’ ’Salk cures polio.’”

I am afraid that David Keyes is not going to provide the goods.

Occupied Britain

September 14, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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Rabbi Sacks: “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite.”

Tories: “Listen to the holy gentleman.”

Archbishop of Canterbury: “Tories have increased poverty.”

Tories: “Must keep religion out of politics.”

The End of Zion

September 12, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Before the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, the Hebrews are commanded to make an audit – an overview of their standing in the world. Haaretz, the paper of the so called ‘thinking Israelis,’ followed that Mitzvah, polling Israeli Jews on their attitudes toward Jewishness, Judaism, God and ‘the Jew.’

The Jewish God

The Jewish God is, without doubt, a spectacular invention. He (she or it) was invented by the Jews to love them especially. The Jewish God comes across as a jealous and vengeful character. He engages in genocidal projects, using WMDs of chemical and biological warfare as the early Egyptians could testify. Clearly the Jewish God would stand no chance at The Hague, but Jews seem to love their God, or more likely, are fearful of their own invention.

One may wonder why the Jews invented such an unpleasant deity. Couldn’t they contemplate a merciful and kind father instead? Initially, Zionism was a secular nationalist Jewish movement that tried to separate Jews from their evil God, to make them enlightened people. With that in mind, it is fascinating to examine what was missing from the Zionist secular ‘promise.’

Not a lot apparently.

According to Haaretz’ poll, “54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe in God, and another 21 percent accept the existence of an undefined superior power other than God.” These results resemble the American attitude toward God. A poll published by Pew Research a few months ago found that 56 percent of Americans believe in the original God of the Bible and another 23 percent in a superior force. It is worth noting, however, that unlike the Jewish god, the American God is largely Christian – kind and merciful.

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Haaretz’ poll reveals the intimate relationship between right wing politics and Judaism. 78% of the Israeli right believe in God. Only 15% of the left are believers. This means that as Israel becomes more religious, the fate of the Israeli left is sealed. This is hardly surprising. Left is a universal attitude. Judaism is a tribal precept. Left Judaism is a contradiction in terms, the tribal and the universal are like oil and water, they do not mix. The Israeli left is destined to die out (assuming that it isn’t dead already).

For the Jew not the Many

The poll reveals that “Slightly more than half of Jewish Israelis believe that their rights to the Land of Israel derive from God’s divine covenant in the Bible.” I guess this doesn’t leave much hope for peace. “56 percent believe that the Jewish people are chosen people.” This leaves even less hope for peace. And to remove any possible doubt of a peaceful resolution anytime soon, Haaretz reveals that “Seventy-nine percent of right-wingers believe that God singled out the Jews… Seventy-four percent of right-wingers believe that Israel holds a divine deed for its land.”

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The vast majority of Israelis appear to adhere to a rigid Judaic notion of choseness that is translated into an entitlement to someone else’s land.

I wonder what the 13% of Israeli ‘leftists’ who see themselves as ‘chosen’ understand left ideology to be. Is ‘for the Jew not the Many’ how they interpret social justice?

The Jewish Deity

In my latest book, ‘Being in Time,’ I argue that a cultural study of the Jews and their many religious precepts (Juda-ism, Athe-ism, Zion-ism,  Holocaust-ism, Moral Intervention-ism, everything-ism etc.)  reveals that Jewish religions can be characterised as a set of ideas that facilitate entitlements. The holocaust, thought by some Jewish scholars to be the most popular Jewish religion, is attached to a list of entitlements that are cultural, political and, of course, financial.  Zionism, another popular Jewish religion, holds that it was the ‘God of Israel’ that promised Palestine to the chosen people. But Jewish entitlement is not just an Israeli or Zionist attitude. When Jewish anti Zionists offer their political positions, they first declare their unique ‘Jewish entitlement’ to their beliefs. ‘As Jews we are there to kosher the Palestinian Solidarity movement.’ Many of the same Jews who ‘legitimised’ the Palestine plight, are busy these days giving a kosher stamp to Jeremy Corbyn. In general, the Jewish left’s entitlement has been exercised by disseminating ‘kosher stamps’ that paint ‘the Jews’ in a positive, humane light.

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Israel seems to be divided on religious issues but the trend is clear. With 51 percent believing that the Jews’ right to Israel stems from God’s promise, regional reconciliation probably isn’t the next project in the ‘pipe line.’

Darwin didn’t make Aliya

The poll suggests that Israel is separating geographically and culturally: “eighty-five percent of Jerusalemites believe in God, compared with only 44 percent in Tel Aviv and the central region. Only a quarter of Israeli Jews fully keep Shabbat, but 66 percent keep it in Jerusalem as compared with just 15 percent in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Thirty-seven percent don’t believe that humans and apes share a common ancestor – a disturbing finding – but in Jerusalem the anti-Darwinians enjoy an absolute majority of 81 percent while in Tel Aviv they’re in a distinct minority ‘of only’ 27 percent.”

Israel is getting “Jewier”

Haaretz notes that “the most startling gaps are generational. In Israel in 2018, the younger the Jew, the more likely he or she is to be more religious, observant, conservative and willing to impose his or her beliefs on others. Sixty-five percent of the population would let supermarkets and groceries operate on Shabbat, but that position is supported by only 51 percent of people between 18 and 24, compared with 84 percent of those 65 and older.”

Haaretz points out that that the religious shift of young Israelis “stands in stark contrast to current trends in the United States and Western Europe, where millennials are ditching religion in droves.” In Israel, “younger Jews go to shul at twice the rate of their parents and grandparents, while in the United States and Western Europe the opposite is true.” In other words, “Israel is getting Jewier, at least for the time being.”

These results indicate that Israel is drifting away from enlightenment. Zionism promised to modernise and civilise the Jews by means of ‘homecoming,’ but the Jewish state has achieved the opposite result. While Israel has transformed itself into an oppressive dark ghetto surrounded by humongous concrete walls, it is actually the young diaspora Jews who are ditching the ghetto.

 

Transcending ‘Chosenness’: Journey of an ‘ex-Jew’

September 11, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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GA: TRT published yesterday this extensive interview. Those who struggle with my ideas or fail to understand where I come from, may want to read this article. It clarifies where I stand on most relevant issues.

Transcending ‘Chosenness’: Journey of an ‘ex-Jew’

An interview By Nafees Mahmud

How a former Israeli citizen Gilad Atzmon left Israel and how becoming a musician helped him understand Palestinian suffering.

 

LONDON — If you are despised by both conservative Zionists and liberal anti-Zionists, it can only mean one thing: you are Gilad Atzmon.

Born in Israel in 1963 into a Zionist household, he saw his birthplace as the Jewish promised land and says he was expected to serve and cement the Israeli ideology of Jewish supremacy.

However, at age 17, he was mesmerised by the sounds of African American jazz musician Charlie Parker. As a passionate Israeli, this challenged what he’d believed up until that point: only Jews produce greatness.

Serving as a paramedic and musician in the Israeli military during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, he witnessed the immense suffering of Arabs.

At this point, he says, he began to view life “from an ethical, rather than a Zionist point of view.”

Years later he moved to Britain to study philosophy and launched his career as a jazz musician. Today, he attempts to enlighten and unite people through his art.

Yet his work as a writer examining Jewish identity has seen him described as a peddler of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He argues that this is an attempt to censor honest analysis of, and reflection upon, Jewishness’ immense impact on mass culture, politics and global economics through the likes of The Frankfurt School and Milton Friedman.

As Israel increasingly meets international criticism and boycott, Atzmon believes his former homeland can only be seriously challenged for its injustices, if it is understood in the wider context of Jewish identity politics – a context he is trying to remove himself from. TRT World spoke to him to find out why.

 

TRT WORLD: As a musician, how do you feel about Lana Del Ray and many others cancelling their performances at the Meteor Festival in Israel following pleas from the BDS campaign?

Gilad Atzmon: It’s a beautiful thing.

I don’t support BDS mounting pressure on artists, but I think it is well appreciated when artists refuse to perform in states where there are so many crimes against humanity. I myself decided to boycott Israel a long time before the BDS movement was born. Since 1996, I haven’t visited my home country.

There have been major stories in the news this year regarding Israel. One of the most significant was the Jewish nation-state bill. What do you make of that?

GA: It confirms what we’ve known for more than a while: Israel is the Jewish state and everything that is happening in Israel should be understood within the context of its Jewishness. It confirms what I’ve been saying for many years. We must dig into the notions of Jews, Jewishness and Judaism to understand the difference between these three and the relationship between them.

Break that down for us.

GA: I make a clear differentiation between Jews, the people, which I regard as an innocent category; Jewishness, the ideology; and Judaism, the religion.

I argue that both Jews and Judaism are innocent categories. The fact you are born a Jew doesn’t make you a war criminal or a supremacist. Also, Judaism is a relatively innocent notion. We know the only genuine Jewish collective who really operate actively for Palestine are Torah Jews, Orthodox Jews.

When it comes to Jewishness, this is complicated.  I had a debate about this with a supremacist Jew yesterday and his argument was there is no such thing as Jewishness – it changes along the years. I couldn’t agree more, elasticity is inherent to Jewishness.  One thing that remains constant is the exceptionalism. Jewishness is different explorations of the notion of “chosenness.

” Some Jews feel they are chosen because they are elected by God, some Jews feel they are chosen because they are Bolsheviks, and a week later they can feel chosen because they are supporting a free market – like Milton Friedman. They can feel chosen because they are religious, and they can feel chosen because they are secular. It is this exceptionalism that is the core of “chosenness,” that is racially driven, that I believe is the common ground for all Jewish cultures.

This is why I have never in my life referred to Jews biologically, nor as a race, nor ethnicity. But I believe supremacy is something that is essential to Jewishness. This is why instead of talking about “Jews” I talk about the people who identify “politically” as Jews.

Gilad Atzmon (Tali Atzmon/)

You’ve made a 180 degree turn from what Israel represents, but tell us about your childhood during which you say you were heavily influenced by your Zionist grandfather.

GA: I don’t think you can talk in my case about 180, 45 or even 360 degree turns. I see my role as a philosopher, and as a philosopher, my job is to refine questions rather than subscribe to or recycle slogans. I’m working now on Zionism, and I find – this is interesting – you’ll be the first one I explore this idea with. I grew up in a society that saw itself as a revolutionary society. I was subject to an ultranationalist upbringing driven by complete contempt towards the diaspora Jew, something I didn’t understand because I was growing up in Israel and I didn’t know any diaspora Jews. But the diaspora Jews were seen by us as a bunch of capitalists, unsocial abusers of the universe, and we were born to become ordinary people – workers. My father was a hard-working man, my mother was a hard-working woman and I was raised to be a hard-working Israeli.

Unlike the diaspora Jews who went like lambs to the slaughter in Auschwitz, we were raised to fight and, accordingly, I was happy and looking forward to dying in a war. This was my upbringing. Let me tell you: when the war came, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to die for Israel. I started to understand that something wasn’t right.

Now, I never understood what the problem was with the diaspora Jews. All I knew was that when you immigrate to Israel, we called it aliyah. Aliyah means ascending. If you leave Israel and become a diaspora Jew, it is called yerida descending. So here, you already see within Zionism an internal concept of “chosenness;” so the Israelis are the “uber-chosen.”  What I do understand, nowadays, looking at the shift that happened in Israel after 1967, Israel gradually stopped seeing itself as the Israeli state and more and more as the Jewish state. The dichotomy between “us” the special emancipated Israelites and the diaspora Jews started to disappear.

As we became a Jewish state, we started to adopt more and more Jewish symptoms. We became victims, we started to cry about the Holocaust. When I was young, we looked at the Holocaust with contempt. We looked at the Jews who went like lambs to the slaughter with contempt. If you don’t believe me, read Tom Sergev: The Seventh Million. It’s about the million who survived the Holocaust, how badly they were treated in Israel. There are films about it. My parents tell me, and you can hear it from a lot of people, that they were not allowed to play with or bring home young survivors of the Holocaust. They were looked upon by the Israelis at the time as sub-humans. There is a film about it: Aviya’s Summer.

What I understood recently is that I was initially very enthusiastic about this Israeli revolution. I agreed with it.

I just wanted to be an ordinary human being. But as Israel was transforming into a Jewish state, I had to leave the country.

What were you taught at school about the creation of Israel?

GA: We were misled. We were told the Palestinians left willingly. I didn’t hear the word nakba until the late nineties. However, when I was in Lebanon in 1982, I started to see all the refugee camps. I started to dig into it and I realised the scale of the ethnic cleansing.

Can you share some of the things you saw?

GA: I don’t like to talk about it. But when I saw the Israeli army in Lebanon, I understood that we were not as righteous as we claim to be and this was the beginning of my transition in the early 1980s. My journey really started there.

What was the tipping point that made you leave?

GA: Very simple – the Oslo Agreement of 1993. Until that point, there was a common belief that we, the Israelis, wanted peace. When I look at the peace deal that was imposed on the Palestinians, I realised by then the Palestinians were the ones expelled from the country that I believed to be mine. I understood then that we don’t mean peace, that what Israel means by peace is security for the Jews.

This is why I am not hopeful. You will not hear me talking about resolution. Israel will be defeated into a solution by the facts on the ground.

How did music change you? It’s part of your journey away from Israel, isn’t it?

GA: It was the first time I understood that I can join a discourse that is universal – aiming at beauty – rather than being a part of an ultranationalist tribal ethos. If jazz was the music of the oppressed, I gladly joined the oppressed and learned their language and I made it into quite a successful career.

How does being a jazz musician aid your philosophical work?

GA: In my thirties, I tried to integrate Arabic music into my jazz. By then I could pretty much play any kind of music, but I realised how difficult it is for me to play Arabic music which is surprising because I grew up with Umm Kulthum, the Egyptian singer, all around me.

I found it really difficult. But then I realised that in Arab music it’s all about the primacy of the ear, as opposed to Western musical education where they put you in front of notes and you have to learn to translate the primacy of the eye. The West is obsessed with the primacy of the eye but humanity is all about the primacy of the ear.  Primacy of the ear is where ethics starts. We have to listen to each other. I made a huge effort to listen to the Palestinians and understand their plight. If you were a Jewish journalist you would say: “What about listening to the Jews?” I say listening to the Jews is not necessary because you get it all over – from the media to the Holocaust museums. But Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Libya is the holocaust that is most relevant for us now.

Tell us about some of the thinkers, philosophers and activists who have influenced you?

GA: I am disgusted by most forms of activism and I think activists have very little to contribute to our understanding. This is why they achieve nothing.  They are part of the controlled opposition. I ended up learning German philosophy. I started with Immanuel Kant and what I took from him is the ability to refine questions. Then Hegel, Nietzsche and most important, Heidegger who is the ultimate master in refining questions, and this is what I do. By refining questions, I can see the answers are flexible. They are changing as the questions are shifting.

Heidegger was about “being,” right?

GA: Obviously, but being is the goal. How do you reach the understanding of “being,” if ever? Through questioning. What is “being?” What is that thing that is unique, most fundamental to us human beings? What he called dasein. This “Being,” with a capital B, that we can never touch.

So, what were you told “Being” was when you were growing up in Israel?

GA: I guess that being an Israeli meant, at the early stage of my upbringing, being forceful, being determined, fighting for what you believe in and the willingness to sacrifice for that goal. Believe it or not, in that sense, I am 100 percent Israeli and I had to leave Israel because Israel was not Israel anymore. It stopped being Israeli. It became Jewish, and Jewishness is celebrating victimhood which is something that I would never do. I prefer to die than be a victim.

How do you describe yourself now?

GA: I aim at a universal understanding of humanism. To be a universal humanist is a challenge for everyone, it’s a task rather than a state of being. It is being inspired by the ability to see yourself as an ordinary creature. To remove yourself from any sense of privilege.

Universal humanism is not the human rights declaration, not a set of commandments. It’s an organic thing that is changing all the time and is finding itself to be more and more inclusive, and this is why you can only aspire to become one and work on it twenty-four seven rather than declare yourself to be one.

Is universal humanism not part of the cultural Marxist doctrine, which you find impedes human flourishing?

GA: On paper, yes. But in reality, definitely not. The new left, cultural Marxists – the Frankfurt School – are all people in the open who define who is in and who is out.  They invented no platforming. How can people who adhere to no platforming be universalists?

Aren’t you still seeing the world from a Jewish perspective despite trying to move beyond this?

GA: I hope not, you know. Some people would argue they see some Jewish traits in my thinking, and I accept that. The one thing that I would admit to you is that the one thing I learnt from Otto Weininger – he’s one of the people who inspired me – is that in art, self-realisation is the realisation of the world. So while a scientist looks at the world and tells us something about the world, artists close their eyes and write a poem, and through this poem we understand the world, or through a symphony – and this is the most important thing. So when I look at myself, I occasionally deconstruct the Jew that is left in me. It’s not a privilege, it’s an instrument towards developing a better understanding and a better world.

This interview has been edited for clarity

Jews and Gentiles

September 10, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Early Zionism was a significant and glorious moment in Jewish history; a moment of dramatic epiphany fueled by self-loathing. The early Zionists promised to save the Jews from the Jew and to liberate the Jew from the Jews. They were disgusted by the Diaspora non-proletarian urban Jewish culture which they regarded as parasitic.  They promised to bond the new Hebrews with labour and soil. They were convinced that they could transform what they saw as a greedy capitalist into a new ‘Israelite hard working peasant.’  They believed that they could make the ‘international cosmopolitan’ into a nationalist patriot, they believed that they knew how to convert Soros into a kibbutznik: they were certain that it was within their capacity to make Alan Dershowitz into a Uri Avneri and Abe Foxman into a peacenik. They promised to make Jews into people like all other people while failing to realize that no other people really want to resemble others.

Zionism has been successful on many fronts. It managed to form a Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous people of Palestine. The Jewish state is a wealthy ghetto and one which is internationally supported. But Israel is a state like no other. It is institutionally racist and murderous.  It begs for American taxpayers’ money despite being filthy rich.  Sadly, Zionism didn’t solve the Jewish problem, it just moved it to a new location. More significantly, not only did Zionism fail to heal the Jews as it had promised to do, it actually amplified the symptoms it had vowed to obliterate.

Accordingly, the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitsm should be regarded as a Zionist admission that the task of making Jews people like all other people has been a complete failure. No other people have so intensely and institutionally engaged in the suppression of other people’s freedom of speech. Jewish and Zionist bodies work openly and in concert to silence every possible criticism of their state. The real reason for the fight to make the IHRA definition law is that the Zionist position on antisemitism is indefensible.  If the Jews need a special definition of hatred against them (as opposed to a definition of hatred that includes hatred of any people based on race or religion) it proves that, at least in the eyes of the Zionists who push for the definition, Jews are somehow different.

In addition, and for quite some time, history laws and regimes of correctness have been employed to block our access to the Jewish past. This is paradoxical given the fact that the Zionist project is a historically driven adventure: while Zionists often claim their right to self determination on their so-called ‘historical land,’ no one else is allowed to critically examine the Jewish historical past. The Jewish past is, instead, what Jews consider to be their past at a given moment, and as the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand suggests, this so called ‘narrative’ is often an ‘invention.’  No one is permitted to look into the validity of claims made about Jewish participation  in the slave trade. Gentiles are not entitled to look into the role of Jewish Bolsheviks in some colossal communist crimes. The Nakba is legally isolated by walls of Israeli legislation. And it is axiomatic that no one may freely engage in critical thinking on any topic that is even tangentially related to the holocaust. For my suggestion that Jews should self reflect and attempt to understand what it was that led to the animosity against them in the 1930s, I am castigated by some Jewish ethnic activists as a holocaust denier.

French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard taught us that history claims to tell us ‘what happened’ but in most cases it actually does the opposite: it is there to conceal our collective shame. To suppress their shame, Americans build holocaust museums in every American city rather than explore their own slave holding past. Rather than deal with their dark imperial history, the Brits allocated a large part of their Imperial Wars Museum to a Holocaust Memorial. Both American and British holocaust museums fail to address the shameful fact that both countries largely blocked their gates to European Jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust. According to Lyotard, the role of the true historian is to unveil the shame, removing layer after layer of suppression. This painful process is where history matures into ethical awareness. And then, there is no examination of responsibility for historical wrongs in the Zionist narrative, for the notion of shame, that instigated the Early Zionist ideology, is totally foreign to Zionist culture and politics.

Israel not only couldn’t be bothered to build a Nakba museum: it does not even acknowledge the Nakba. Zionists didn’t express remorse that their Jewish state deployed snipers to hunt Palestinian protestors, killing hundreds and wounding thousands of them.

Neither Zionists nor Israelis feel the need to find excuses for the fact that their laws are racist: Palestinian Israeli citizens are 7th class citizens and the rest of the Palestinians who live in Israeli controlled territories are locked up in open air prisons. Zionism doesn’t have to deal with shame because shame involves uncanny introspection, it entails humility, ordinariness.   Unlike the Americans and the Brits who made other people’s suffering into their empathy pets, the Zionists, the Israelis and Jews in general are clearly happy to celebrate the primacy of Jewish suffering while making sure everyone else adheres to this principle.  Zionism skillfully put into play the means that suppress criticism all together. But by doing so, Zionism essentially blinded its followers to its own crimes, and it put an end to the dream to become people like all other people.

Although Zionism was an apparatus invented to fix the Jews, to make them ordinary, it had the opposite effect. It made it impossible for its followers to integrate into the rest of the nations as a people amongst people. While Zionism was born to obliterate choseness, as it was practiced it was hijacked by the most problematic form of  Jewish exceptionalism. Interestingly enough, today, just ahead of the Jewish new year, Haaretzrevealed that 56% of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosen. I guess the rest see themselves as exceptional.

 56% of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosens.

56% of Israeli Jews see themselves as chosens.

If some Zionists out there are still committed to the original Zionist dream, then owning the shame that is attached to the Zionist sin is probably the way forward. Because as things stand at the moment, the only public figure who insists upon seeing Jews as people like all other people and actually act upon it is, believe it or not, Jeremy Corbyn.

Tomorrow (9-11) in Manhattan I will dig into the history of Zionism from Herzl to Bibi:

From Herzl To Bibi Poster.jpg

 

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