Take It From the Rabbi’s Mouth

“The overwhelming majority of American Rabbis regard Zionism not only as fully consistent with Judaism but as a logical expression and implementation of it.””

— Document released on November 20, 1942 signed by 818 American Rabbis

The following  article was published on this site in May 2013. In recent weeks we have witnessed some anti Zionist rabbinical Jews  outraged by the attempt to equate Judaism and Zionism. I plan to write on the topic extensively, however,  a brief look at this 1942 rabbinical affirmation of Zionism  is rather revealing:

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Introduction by Gilad Atzmon

Every so often we come across a Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist’  who argues that Zionism is not Judaism and vice versa. Interestingly enough, I have just come across an invaluable text that illuminates this question from a rabbinical perspective. Apparently back in 1942, 757 American Rabbis added their names to a public pronouncement titled ‘Zionism an Affirmation of Judaism’. This Rabbinical rally for Zionism was declared at the time “the largest public pronouncement in all Jewish history.”

Today, we tend to believe that world Jewry’s transition towards support for Israel followed the 1967 war though some mightargue that already in 1948, American Jews manifested a growing support for Zionism. However, this rabbinical pronouncement proves that as early as 1942, the American Jewish religious establishment was already deeply Zionist. And if this is not enough, the rabbis also regarded Zionism as the ‘implementation’ of Judaism. Seemingly, already then, the peak of World War two, the overwhelming majority of American Rabbis regarded Zionism, not only as fully consistent with Judaism, but as a “logical expression and implementation of it.”

In spite of the fact that early Zionist leaders were largely secular and the East European Jewish settler waves were driven by Jewish socialist ideology, the rabbis contend that “Zionism is not a secularist movement. It has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism.

Those rabbis were not a bunch of ignoramuses. They were patriotic and nationalistic and they grasped that “universalism is not a contradiction of nationalism.” The rabbis tried to differentiate between contemporaneous German Nationalism and other national movements and they definitely wanted to believe that Zionism was categorically different to Nazism. “Nationalism as such, whether it be English, French, American or Jewish, is not in itself evil. It is only militaristic and chauvinistic nationalism, that nationalism which shamelessly flouts all mandates of international morality, which is evil.” But as we know, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the new Jewish State launched a devastating racially driven ethnic-cleansing campaign. Zionism has proven to be militaristic and chauvinistic.

Shockingly enough, back in 1942 as many as 757 American rabbis were able to predict the outcome of the war and they realised that the suffering of European Jewry would be translated into a Jewish State . “We are not so bold as to predict the nature of the international order which will emerge from the present war. It is altogether likely, and indeed it may be desirable, that all sovereign states shall under the coming peace surrender some of their sovereignty to achieve a just and peaceful world society (a Jewish State).”

Some American patriots today are concerned with Israeli-American dual nationality and the dual aspirations of American Jews. Apparently our rabbis addressed this topic too. According to them, there is no such conflict whatsoever. All American Jews are American patriots and all American decision makers are Zionists. “Every fair-minded American knows that American Jews have only one political allegiance–and that is to America. There is nothing in Zionism to impair this loyalty. Zionism has been endorsed in our generation by every President from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and has been approved by the Congress of the United States. The noblest spirits in American life, statesmen, scholars, writers, ministers and leaders of labor and industry, have lent their sympathy and encouragement to the movement.”

Back in 1942 our American rabbis were bold enough to state that defeating Hitler was far from sufficient. For them, a full solution of the Jewish question could only take place in Palestine. “Jews, and all non-Jews who are sympathetically interested in the plight of Jewry, should bear in mind that the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe. “

But there was one thing the American rabbis failed to mention – the Palestinian people. For some reason, those rabbis who knew much about ‘universalism’ and in particular Jewish ‘universalism’ showed very little concern to the people of the land. I guess that after all, chosennss is a form of blindness and rabbis probably know more about this than anyone else.

 

Zionism: An Affirmation of Judaism

http://zionistsout.blogspot.com/2008/03/zionism-affirmation-of-judaism.html

ZIONISMAN AFFIRMATIONOF JUDAISMA Reply by 757 Orthodox, Conservative and ReformRabbis of America to a Statement Issued by NinetyMembers of the Reform Rabbinate Charging ThatZionism Is Incompatible with the Teachings of Judaism

THE SUBJOINED REPLY was prepared at the initiative of the following Rabbis who submitted it to their colleagues throughout the country for signature: Philip S. Bernstein, Barnett R. Brickner, Israel Goldstein, James G. Heller, Mordecai M. Kaplan, B. L. Levinthal, Israel H. Levinthal, Louis M. Levitsky, Joshua Loth Liebman, Joseph H. Lookstein, Jacob R. Marcus, Abraham A. Neuman, Louis I. Newman, David de Sola Pool, Abba Hillel Silver, Milton Steinberg, and Stephen S. Wise.

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED RABBIS of all elements in American Jewish religious life,have noted with concern a statement by ninety of our colleagues in which they repudiate Zionism on the ground that it is inconsistent with Jewish religious and moral doctrine. This statement misrepresents Zionism and misinterprets historic Jewish religious teaching, and we should be derelict in our duty if we did not correct the misapprehensions which it is likely to foster.

We call attention in the first place to the fact that the signatories to this statement, for whom as fellow-Rabbis we have a high regard, represent no more than a very small fraction of the American rabbinate. They constitute a minority even of the rabbinate of Reform Judaism with which they are associated. The overwhelming majority of American Rabbis regard Zionism not only as fully consistent with Judaism but as a logical expression and implementation of it.

Our colleagues concede the need for Jewish immigration into Palestine as contributing towards a solution of the vast tragedy of Jewish homelessness. They profess themselves ready to encourage such settlement. They are aware of the important achievements, social and spiritual, of the Palestinian Jewish community and they pledge to it their unstinted support. And yet, subscribing to every practical accomplishment of Zionism, they have embarked upon a public criticism of it. In explanation of their opposition they advance the consideration that Zionism is nationalistic and secularistic. On both scores they maintain it is incompatible with the Jewish religion and its universalistic outlook. They protest against the political emphasis which, they say, is now paramount in the Zionist program and which, according to them, tends to confuse both Jews and Christians as to the place and function of the Jewish group in American society. They appeal to the prophets of ancient Israel for substantiation of their views.

TREASURING the doctrines and moral principles of our faith no less than they, devoted equally to America and its democratic processes and spirit, we nonetheless find every one of their contentions totally without foundation.

Zionism is not a secularist movement. It has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism. Scripture and rabbinical literature alike are replete with the promise of the restoration of Israel to its ancestral home. Anti-Zionism, not Zionism, is a departure from the Jewish religion. Nothing in the entire pronouncement of our colleagues is more painful than their appeal to the prophets of Israel—to those very prophets whose inspired and recorded words of national rebirth and restoration nurtured and sustained the hope of Israel throughout the ages.

 

Nor is Zionism a denial of the universalistic teachings of Judaism. Universalism is not a contradiction of nationalism. Nationalism as such, whether it be English, French, American or Jewish, is not in itself evil. It is only militaristic and chauvinistic nationalism, that nationalism which shamelessly flouts all mandates of international morality, which is evil. The prophets of Israel looked forward to the time not when all national entities would be obliterated, but when all nations would walk in the light of the Lord, live by His law and learn war no more.

Our colleagues find themselves unable to subscribe to the political emphasis “now paramount in the Zionist program.” We fail to perceive what it is to which they object. Is it to the fact that there are a regularly constituted Zionist organization and a Jewish Agency which deal with the mandatory government, the Colonial office, the League of Nations and other recognized political bodies? But obviously, even immigration and colonization are practical matters which require political action. The settlement of a half million Jews in Palestine since the last war was made possible by political action which culminated in the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate. There can be little hope of opening the doors of Palestine for mass Jewish immigration after the war without effective political action. Or is it that they object to the ultimate achievement by the Jewish community of Palestine of some form of Jewish statehood? We are not so bold as to predict the nature of the international order which will emerge from the present war. It is altogether likely, and indeed it may be desirable, that all sovereign states shall under the coming peace surrender some of their sovereignty to achieve a just and peaceful world society.

Certainly our colleagues will allow to the Jews of Palestine the same rights that are allowed to all other peoples resident on their own land. If Jews should ultimately come to constitute a majority of the population of Palestine, would our colleagues suggest that all other peoples in the post-war world shall be entitled to political self-determination, whatever form that may take, but the Jewish people in Palestine shall not have such a right? Or do they mean to suggest that the Jews in Palestine shall forever remain a minority in order not to achieve such political self-determination?

PROTESTING their sympathy both for the homeless Jews of the world and for their brethren in Palestine, our colleagues have by their pronouncement done all these a grave disservice. It may well be that to the degree to which their efforts arc at all effective, Jews who might otherwise have found a haven in Palestine will be denied one. The enemies of the Jewish homeland will be strengthened in their propaganda as a result of the aid which these Rabbis have given them. To the Jews of Palestine, facing the gravest danger in their history and fighting hard to maintain morale and hope in the teeth of the totalitarian menace, this pronouncement comes as a cruel blow.

We do not mean to imply that our colleagues intended it as such. We have no doubt that they are earnest about their fine spun theoretical objections to Zionism. We hold, however, that these objections have no merit, and further that voicing them at this time has been unwise and unkind.

We have not the least fear that our fellow Americans will be led to misconstrue the attitudes of American Jews to America because of their interest in Zionism. Every fair-minded American knows that American Jews have only one political allegiance–and that is to America. There is nothing in Zionism to impair this loyalty. Zionism has been endorsed in our generation by every President from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and has been approved by the Congress of the United States. The noblest spirits in American life, statesmen, scholars, writers, ministers and leaders of labor and industry, have lent their sympathy and encouragement to the movement.

Jews, and all non-Jews who are sympathetically interested in the plight of Jewry, should bear in mind that the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe.

An Allied peace which will not frankly face the problem of the national homelessness of the Jewish people will leave the age-old tragic status of European Jewry unchanged. The Jewish people is in danger of emerging from this war not only more torn and broken than any other people, but also without any prospects of a better and more secure future and without the hope that such tragedies will not recur again, and again. Following an Allied victory, the Jews of Europe, we are confident, will be restored to their political rights and to equality of citizenship. But they possessed these rights after the last war and yet the past twenty-five years have witnessed a rapid and appalling deterioration in their position. In any case, even after peace is restored Europe will be so ravaged and war-torn that large masses of Jews will elect migration to Palestine as a solution of their personal problems.

Indeed, for most of these there may be no other substantial hope of economic, social and spiritual rehabilitation.

 

THE freedom which, we have faith, will come to all men and nations after this war, must come not only to Jews as individuals wherever they live, permitting them to share freedom on a plane of equality with all other men, but also to the Jewish people, as such, restored in its homeland, where at long last it will be a free people within a world federation of free peoples.

 

Of the 757 Rabbis listed below, 214 are members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform); 247 are members of the Rabbinical Assembly of America (Conservative); and the rest are affiliated with the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox) or the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. The total represents the largest number of rabbis whose signatures are attached to a public pronouncement in all Jewish history.

To see the scanned image in PDF format with the list of signers, click here

 

Note: A version of the above statement was released to the press on November 20, 1942. By that time 818 rabbis had signed on. It appears in Samuel Halperin’s The Political World of American Zionism. (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1961) 333.

 

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics     Amazon.com  or Amazon.co.uk

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The Antisemitism Fallacy; Let’s Focus on Palestinians

Source

‘We can thus confidently dissociate anti-Zionism from antisemitism.’ (Photo: File)

By Blake Alcott

Speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 16, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron repeated the popular formula that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. According to Macron, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel expressions are “a new type of anti- Semitism.” We hear this almost daily, and pretty soon one of us anti-Zionists will land in jail for arguing that only a democratic, Palestinian state in Palestine has a right to exist there.

Only a few decades ago, and only for a few decades, Zionism was racist, but now, according to the head of Security Council member France, the allegation is that it is anti-Zionism that is racist.

There is however a large logical flaw in this argument that believing Israel should be replaced by a democracy is antisemitic: The anti-Zionist position denies only the right of a Jewish state to exist in Palestine, at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. It does not deny the right of Jews, or ‘the Jews’, to a state of their own somewhere, at nobody’s expense. Nor does it necessarily affirm it. This pro-Palestinian position simply denies the right of any state, whether Jewish or anything else, to impose itself on Palestine against the will of the indigenous Palestinians.

The issue, that is, has never been Yes or No to the question of Jewish self-determination as such, embodied in a state. Even if the answer is Yes, a Yes to Israel does not follow: the claim of some Jews, or Zionist Jews, or European Jews, or Christian Zionists, that ‘the Jews’ own Palestine does not stand up. The land belonged and still belongs to the flesh-and-blood twentieth-century inhabitants whose ancestors had lived there for centuries or millennia.

Instead, the issue has always been on whose land and at whose cost a Jewish state could justly be established. Palestine could always be ruled out because on any rational moral standard the property rights and political rights of the Palestinians – be they Moslem, Christian, Jewish or atheist – had precedence.

These are the problems that make it impossible for Zionism – which insists its state must be in Palestine – to have any ethical justification. That the imposed state is Jewish is not relevant. Relevant is only that it imposed, necessarily through military force.

Anti-Zionism – better, pro-Palestinianism – thus takes no stand at all on the general question of Jewish self-determination. It can even, in spite of strong arguments in principle against ethno-religiously defined states, hold great sympathy for the wish of many Jews for a haven where they are safe from European persecution. But not at others’ existential expense.

For this discussion, it is not even necessary to define what one means by ‘Jewish state’. Whether it is something cuddly, with a flag showing the Star of David and Hanukkah instead of Christmas, or the real Zionist entity which legally privileges Jews and refuses ethnically-cleansed Palestinians their right of return, is of no relevance. Either state, if rejected by a majority of Palestine’s indigenous people, is illegitimate.

This is in fact what it means to reject Israel’s legitimacy: it is a British-enabled, European colony. A necessary condition of the Zionist state was and is the eradication of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. The case for Israel’s illegitimacy thus has nothing to do intrinsically with Judaism or Jews, but only with the fact that Zionism threw the first stone of aggressive colonialism. The rightful polity never wanted Israel, period.

That is to say, that from a moral point of view Zionism’s problem is that Israel is in the wrong place. Any place would be wrong if the state’s existence presupposed military conquest and ethnic cleansing. That the antisemitism that gave rise to Zionism in the first place was European, having nothing to do with Palestinians, merely rubs salt in the wounds of Palestinians and of justice.

Thus, we can say that Israel has no right to exist (it is not right that it exists), where it is and in the manner that it maintains itself, without saying a single word about Jews, a Jewish collective, Jewish statehood or Jewish self-determination. We are talking about Palestine and Palestinians.

We should in fact start any discussion of Palestine and Israel with Palestine, not with philo- or antisemitism or with the ins and outs of the Zionist endeavor or with the historical claims of some long-ago residents. In the beginning of modern political Zionism were indigenous Palestinians, and their enduring and inalienable rights should be our focus, a positive focus in no need of defense against far-fetched accusations concerning one or the other attitude towards Jews and their national aspirations.

Our arguments for the sole legitimacy of a state determined by the majority of the Palestinians – wherever they now live – do in fact entail the negatively-expressed conclusion that Israel is illegitimate. But the argument for Palestinian self-determination, in Palestine, makes no necessary mention of the particular non-indigenous ethnic or religious group in terms of which Israel defines itself. Thus, the claim that the anti-Zionism entailed by full recognition of Palestinian rights is antisemitic simply falls flat for lack of an object.

The IHRA Definition

The conflation of opposition to Israel with opposition to Jews is thus embarrassingly illogical. Yet we see the President of France doing exactly that, and likewise the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), but before looking at that organization’s definition, what is antisemitism? It is not all that complicated. It is antipathy or violence towards Jews, or any other abuse of them, because of their descent or religion. (Without this motive, violence and abuse remain crimes, but not racist ones.) Nobody can help who their ancestors are, so such attitudes and actions are criminal and racist.

The definition of antisemitism now being used to shift the term away from Jews as such over on to Zionism and Israel has a long history, but here it is, black-on-white, in its influential IHRA version: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Although the formulation “hatred toward Jews” leaves out the decisive phrase ‘because they are Jews’, let’s accept this so-called “non-legally binding working definition” adopted by the IHRA on May 26, 2016.

Then come the illogical parts: “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. … Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life… 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 endeavor.”

But of course, anti-Zionism doesn’t target Israel because it is a “Jewish collectivity” (whatever that means) and it doesn’t deny the abstract right of any ethnic or religious group to try to peacefully set up its own state. It does identify Zionism as racist against the non-Jews of Palestine.

Again, you can shout from the rooftops for the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the form of a sovereign state – if done without violence on land purchased fair and square – and still reject Zionism and Israel. Saying that the wrong of European persecution of Jews does not justify the wrong of Palestinian dispossession is an ethical stand independent of the ethnicities or religions involved. Where is the antisemitism?

Baffling, at first sight, is the IHRA’s use of the phrase “a state of Israel” in place of “the state of Israel”. My guess is that the authors of the definition know very well that there are sufficient non-anti-Semitic reasons to reject Israel – mainly that it is in Palestine, paid for by the Palestinians. Through this elision I think they are trying to pin on us anti-Zionists opposition to any Jewish state, anywhere. But we have seen that this isn’t true. With full sympathy for any ethnic or religious groups under persecution, we are agnostic on this point.

Freedland Weighs in

Next we have the same conflation committed by J. Freedland, the Guardian’s house apologist for the violent colonial entity in Palestine and who, to the discredit of that paper’s editors-in-chief, was and perhaps still is entrusted with overseeing the paper’s foreign-affairs editorial policy.

On April 29, 2016 Freedland explained in an elaborate, if not baroque, piece in his newspaper why returning Palestine to its rightful owners – why affirming the Palestinians’ right to self-determination – is racist against Jews.

He sets the stage for the conflation by drawing an analogy with a theoretical black state, rather than a Jewish one – “the only place in the world where the majority of the population… were black.” He then imagines there are a lot of people who reject this state, want it replaced. Disingenuously omitting mention of any reasons for this rejection (for instance the state’s discrimination against non-blacks), he then asserts that such an attitude would obviously be anti-black racism, parallel to antisemitism: All good people “on the left… would be suspicious of this insistence that loathing of the world’s only black country was separate from attitudes to black people in general, especially because most black people had a strong affinity with this country, seeing it as a constitutive part of their own identity.”

The non-sequitur is obvious. To oppose Jewish or Aryan or Muslim or Hindu or Martian country X because it eliminates, expels and discriminates against other ethnic groups is not to oppose Jews, Aryans, Muslims, Hindus or Martians, respectively.

The argument is empty enough, but arguing from black people’s “strong affinity with this country” reduces it to a mere point about the subjective feelings of some ethnic or religious group. And in fact, Freedland then leaves his analogy with the hypothetical black state to attest that Jews have “this connection to – this need for – Israel. … 93% [of British Jews] told a 2015 survey that Israel forms some part of their identity as Jews. … Though Israel’s creation came at a desperately high price for Palestinians… it is impossible for most Jews to see it as a mistake that should be undone.”

One can only ask, since when do the feelings of any group override ethical principles and historical context? Using the obvious analogy, since when would the “affinity” of southern U.S. whites for a slave-owning polity override the rights of blacks in that territory? Surely such whites were heartbroken upon the demise of the Confederate States of America.

Freedland next detaches the discussion from fact or ethics altogether by claiming, with a straight face, that “when Jews call out something to be antisemitic”, it is antisemitic. This is Alice-in-Wonderland logic.

He then three times says that that “something” which “Jews” subjectively declare to be antisemitic is opposition to Israel’s “right to exist”. “Most Jews will defend Israel’s existence”, although it was “forged in bloodshed”. Yes, this is chilling right-wing stuff, but the general problem is that if such group feelings are the only compass, disagreements can only be settled by violence.

Freedland also rides hard the fact that Israel is “the world’s only Jewish country” – implying I suppose that were there several Jewish states, it would not be antisemitic to fundamentally oppose one or the other of them. But whether there is one ethnocracy of type X, or many, is irrelevant to the point that it is the racist violation of others’ rights in any one of them that motivates fundamental opposition.

Finally, Freedland graciously allows us to criticize Israel “for this or that policy”, but if we feel it is “better that this one black [Jewish] country had never been created”, we are OK with the “periodic persecution and slaughter” of a black/Jewish “minority”. Opposing British imposition of Zionism in the 1930s, as we oppose it now, we “would have denied those 6 million [Jewish victims] the one lifeline that might have saved them.” And if that isn’t antisemitic, what is?

This seems to be the ‘lifeboat ethics’ argument of soft Zionism – it was either us or them. But Freedland is making the further claim that taking the side of the Palestinians in the lifeboat necessarily entails racial prejudice towards the Jews in the lifeboat. Again, a non-sequitur. But what is noteworthy is that since all Palestinians, ever since Zionism was put to paper, opposed the politicide it entailed, all Palestinians are, according to J. Freedland, anti-Jewish racists. A more slanderous, historically ignorant and generalized assertion, more devoid of empathy for the dispossessed and cleansed Palestinians, is not imaginable.

Go to Jail

Macron, Freedland and the IHRA don’t get the point because they don’t take Palestinians seriously. Palestinians are simply not relevant to their stories, which begin and end with the Jewish experience. Because the indigenous Palestinians are the monkey wrench ruining their conflationary arguments, they don’t count. Orientalism is alive.

Our immediate cause of concern however, due to the power of these Zionists, is now to stay out of jail. The IHRA, which has equated anti-Zionism and antisemitism, is not nobody. It is made up of countries, namely all EU countries except Bulgaria and Portugal plus Argentina, Israel, Switzerland and the US. The European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism has adopted the IHRA definition word for word, as has the Austrian Government and the UK Government, albeit not as law but only as policy guidance.

We have seen that the President of France has a solo part in the IHRA choir, and it so happens that France has a recent history of trying to criminalize fundamental opposition to Israel and even to the rights-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Concerns about freedom of expression aside, the attempt is to criminalize as Jew-hatred the well-argued identification of Israel as a racist and usurpatory state.

In the US as well, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passed the Senate unanimously on December 1, 2016. The Act’s Section 3 defines antisemitism by reference to the US State Department’s Fact Sheet of 8 June 2010, which in turn, you guessed it, adopts as its definition of antisemitism the IHRA definition. Under the Fact Sheet’s heading “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” we find our old chestnut: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” Don’t forget, antisemitism is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The IHRA definition has, to be sure, recently been rejected in an essay in the London Review of Books and by a legal opinion refuting the definition’s allegation that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is antisemitic: “Unless such a claim was informed by hatred to Jews, it would not be antisemitic to assert that as Israel defines itself as a Jewish state and thereby by race, and that because non-Jewish Israelis and non-Jews under its jurisdiction are discriminated against, the State of Israel is currently a racist endeavor.” To date, fortunately, the Macrons and Freedlands do not openly assert that racist states have a right to exist.

In light of such refutations of the definition, a bill was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on 17 May 2017 seeking implicitly to unite all concerned behind the IHRA’s absurd definition.

My point about the definition’s basic fallacy is not new. Already forty-two years ago Palestinian liberationist Shafiq al-Hout gave a lecture in Ottawa soon after the General Assembly had passed its resolution condemning Zionism as racist: “There was an intense discussion after my speech, with one rabbi asking: ‘You have talked about the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, but don’t the people of Israel also have the right to live by themselves in their own state?’ I answered: ‘Yes, they do – as long as it is on land that legitimately belongs to them, and not over land that they have annexed.’ He then metaphorically cut his own throat by saying: ‘But that means less than 10 percent of the land.’ I smiled, as I fine-tuned his answer: ‘Yes, 6.4 percent, to be precise.’” (Al-Hout, My Life in the PLO, p 136)

Clear Language

I’m suggesting it is a good defensive argument to explain that denying Israel in no way implies denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Israel is a particular way in which (some) Jews can self-determine, and it is of necessity in a particular place, Palestine. There might be other places, and other ways of self-determining that do not require murder, dispossession and humiliation of another ‘self’. However, how and where the real Israel was ‘done’, and is still done, is immoral.

However, such defensive work is necessary only because Zionism has succeeded in setting the agenda of the debate. It has started with the Jewish, rather than the Palestinian, experience, and ridden on Western sympathy for persecuted Jews, enabling libelous accusations of antisemitism to seem legitimate. Anti-Zionists end up in the dock.

In reality, though, the burden of proof is on the person who accuses another person of something as horrible as racism. Supporters of all the rights of all the Palestinians are innocent until proven guilty. Proof of guilt requires demonstration of a necessary connection between wanting the removal of the state of Israel in favor of a Palestinian state comprised of all Palestinians, and ill-will towards Jews as Jews. This necessary connection cannot of course be found because it is not there.

I think we should simply say that when we are talking about who should rule the land of Palestine, we are first and foremost talking about just that – not about Jews, or Muslims, or Christians. Yes, it was Zionism which entered the picture through British power, uninvited, but it could have been anybody of any ethnicity. On the other hand, it wasn’t just anybody who got expelled and degraded, but by necessity the Palestinians who were living there.

In other words, I think we should shift the focus onto the rights of Palestinians. The end of the state presently occupying (all of) Palestine is not the point. It is only a consequence of justice. The entire argument which leads to a Palestinian successor state to Israel can and should be made without having to mention the specific ethnicity or religion by which Israel defines itself. If justice for Palestine leaves no choice but rejecting Israel, so be it. It has nothing to do with Israel’s being a Jewish state.

It might be a blessing in disguise that the Zionists have gone out on such an illogical limb, because it opens space for re-framing the debate from negative to positive: What? Anti-Jewishness? We only want to redress injustices to the population of a colonized country. We are looking for a state to function in a de-partitioned Palestinian homeland which achieves redress. There is no room for any state entity not chosen by the colonized and expelled, whatever its ethno-religious self-definition.

Macron’s statements to Netanyahu with which this article began have drawn a reply from Israeli writer Shlomo Sand, who balks when Macron says that “Anti-Zionism… is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism.” After first pointing out that Zionism is not Judaism and that many Jews were and are anti-Zionists, he fingers the ethical problem, namely the fact of the overwhelming anti-Zionist majority of indigenous Palestinians, and incisively wonders of Macron “if [he] seriously expect[s] of the Palestinians that they should not be anti-Zionists!” He says of himself, not as an anti-Semite, but “as a democrat and a republican… I cannot support a Jewish State.”

There is no need to beat around the bush any longer over Israel’s ‘right to exist’. Anti-Zionism is not just criticism of this or that Israeli policy but of the very idea of an ethno-religious state in violation of the wishes of Palestine’s rightful citizenry. It is a no-brainer that the Zionist state should give way to a democracy in Palestine. Yet many supporters of Palestinian rights often fudge this issue, claiming that a state in Palestine that is somehow ‘Jewish’ is somehow tolerable.

This includes supporters of the two-state solution such as Barack Obama or Jeremy Corbyn, a Zionist solution tautologically, because one of the two advocated states is, alas, an intruded Jewish state in Palestine. But there is no reason to fear charges of racism when rejecting Israel. That rejection follows logically from the positive rights of the Palestinians, absent all connection to the antisemitic type of racism.

We can thus confidently dissociate anti-Zionism from antisemitism. To do this we need only stress that what must be corrected – the usurpation of Palestine, against the will of the people of Palestine – has nothing to do necessarily with Israel’s Jewishness, only with its colonialism and racism. But we can go one better by retaining a Palestinian orientation. That is, the whole discussion is first and foremost a question of justice for the dispossessed, from which the illegitimacy of Israel simply follows. It is a question of Palestine, not of Israel.

– Blake Alcott is an ecological economist and the director of One Democratic State in Palestine (England) Limited. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com

 

Deconstructing Apartheid and Colonialism

Stephen Sizer on the Zionist ‘Hasbara handbook’

July 31, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

Former vicar Stephen Sizer tells it like it is. When Israel supporters identify a critical voice they will do the following:

1) Persuade, ingratiate and befriend the Zionist critic
2) Private written & spoken attacks, often anonymous
3) Smear character to friends, colleagues, bosses and/or in press/publicly
4) Report criminal ‘hate crime’ allegations to police

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Palestine, Syria, ID Politics and the West

July 30, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

Interview by Dina Y. Sulaeman – Indonesia Center for Middle East Studies

http://ic-mes.org/politics/interview-with-gilad-atzmon/

Dina: In your book, “The Wandering Who”, you wrote extensively  about Jewish identity politics. Is ‘identity politics’ special for Jews?

Gilad: No, not at all. In my new book, ‘Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto,’ I present a universal approach to identity politics.

Jewish identity politics is a model for identity politics in general. In the west, we have witnessed the evolution of gay ID politics, black ID politics and so on. ID politics operates to teach people to speak and think ‘as a’;  ‘as a black’, ‘as a lesbian’, ‘as a feminist’, ‘as a Muslim’, etc. It is an attempt to break apart all the established and traditional social structures. Why? Because, the Jewish elite is fearful of the old structures, they tend to believe that anti-Semitism is rooted in the established edifice and in working people being united. The Frankfurt School and thinkers like Wilhelm Reich managed to revolutionise society– in the name of ‘progress,’ we are now divided and detached from our ‘reactionary’ roots.  But it is devastating that the left has been united against working people forging a cohesive identity… this is very strange because the left is supposed to look after the working people and unite and inspire them to action. The left in the west is disturbed by the fact that the working people always vote for the flag, for the right, for the nationalist, for Trump, for Hitler and so on. Accordingly, modern ID politics is a project that developed out of this unique intellectual and political bond between the left and Jewish intelligencia. The Jews are better at ID politics than any other group for an obvious reason. For the  gay, the black, the Muslim, the feminist or the lesbian, ID politicsis a new thing.  Jews have been doing itfor 3000 years — Jewish culture is identity politics.

It would be reasonable to argue that ID politics is an attempt to Jewify (as opposed to Judify)  the entire social order. It has been a project that has caused some devastating cultural, social and political impacts.

Dina: So, there are differences between the  ‘Jew’ and ‘Judaic’ thing.  In your book, you said that the problem, in Palestine for instance,  isJewishness rather than  Zionism. Can you explain it?

Gilad: It is confusing. Jewishness is the belief that the Jews are somehow special, chosen, privileged and should enjoy and celebrate their privilege. Not all Jews subscribe to this idea, but many of them do. Even the Jewish anti-Zionist will say, ‘listen to us, we can say something that you (goyim, gentiles) can’t, we as the Jews in the movement,  give you a ‘kosher stamp.’ They are  basically claiming that ‘we are privileged’.  Even Jewish anti-Zionists subscribe to hard corechoseness. Norman Finkelstein, whom I admire intellectually, used  to say, I can say it because my mother was in a concentration camp.  What about you Dina? Your mother wasn’t in Auschwitz, can you still think or express your thoughts ? Or support Palestine? Or do you have to send your mother to Auschwitz before you make a judgment on Israel or other aspects of Jewish power? Choseness is, unfortunately, embedded in Jewish thinking.

Zionism is just one symptom of Jewish choseness. Interestingly enough, and this is my first time I have said this in an interview, some people, including some of my best friends, say that ‘Judaism was hijacked by Zionism.’  I say NO.  It is the other way around — Zionism was hijacked by Jewishness and eventually Judaism.

Zionism was initially an anti-Jewish movement. Zionism started in  the late 19th century. It proclaimed that Diaspora Jews were an ugly parasitic identity; they didn’twork, they didn’tfarm, they were traders and bankers, capitalists, usurers, exploiters and so on, ..but this wasn’t entirely their fault. It had happened because Jews  didn’t  have a land of their own. “Once we settle in Palestine, all of that will change.”  And, indeed, they went to Palestine and for two weeks they worked on the land and built factories.  But then they found out that the Palestinians were cheaper [labour] and they all became Jews again.   It is amazing that Zionism was a secular movement that promised to ‘civilise’ the Jew. But then ideological Zionism was hijacked by Jewish exceptionalism and later by Judaic choseness. While early Zionism operated to defeat choseness, Israel and Zionism have little to offer but chosenism.

There is a problem with certain interpretations of Judaism. I do accept that some  orthodox  interpretations of Judaism may defy supremacy. But I’ve yet to come across any Judaic perception that I can accept as ethicalor universal. Judaism is not a universal precept:

  1. It’s tribal. It does not refer to  “us” as humanity, it is, instead, all about  “us” the Jews.
  2. There are no ethics in Judaism. In Islam or Christianity, you are expected to  take action based upon belief such as’ jihad,’ you purify yourself. In Judaism‘ethics’ is replaced by ‘commandments’ and ‘mitzvoth’, you follow rules to do this and that, and rules not to do that and this. You are not supposed to make an independent judgement. They tell you, “don’t kill, don’t steal.” Human beings do not need to to be told not to kill, theyknow it’s ethically wrong. In Jerusalem, regulations replace ethics!

Dina: but then when we say that the root of the Palestinian problem is Jewishness (not Zionism), they will call us anti-Jew or anti Semites.

Gilad: It is not nice, but this is a tactic that has been used to silence the discussion. However, we are not talking here about individual  people, we are referring to ideology and we are supposed to be able to criticize ideology. But, as we can see, some Jews don’t want us to do that, and for an obvious reason!

Do you have identity politics here in Indonesia?

Dina: well..yes… We have some Muslim groups that keep saying that the muslims are oppressed by the Chinese and the Christians; they accused the government of being pro-Chinese/Christian.

Gilad: I’m not familiar with Indonesian society and politics, but you just confirmedwhat I have been saying –identity politics is always used as an attempt to weaken the hegemonical structure.

As a nation, we enjoy  the ability to mobilise  as one people. It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim, Christian, or Hindu, we are together, caring for each other, because we share the same land, and our most important values as a country are health, education, and work (production, manufacturing). If I speak instead ‘as a Muslim,’  ‘as a Christian,’  ‘as a woman,’  ‘as a lesbian,’ I contribute to the breaking of society into sectors. The most interesting thing about the sectorial break is that each sector is a cosmopolitan one. If I define myself as a Muslim identitarian then the border of my identity is not the physical border of Indonesia, it extends to Malaysia, the Middle East, the Balkans and even Europe and the United States. If I define myself as a gay, the border also transcends  beyond my country. This is exactly how Jewish identity operates. Jews, as we know,  are not attached to any piece of geography, it is a cosmopolitan  identity.  Zionism initially attempted to defy Jewish cosmopolitanism.

In America, for instance, I speak about the patriots vs. the identitarians, the patriots who see themselves primarily as Americans. So you can be black, you can be gay, you can be a Jew, but you say: I’m an American who happens to be black, I’m an American who happens to be a Jew, I’m an American who happens to be gay. But the identitarians  see themselves primarily as sectarians:   I’m a gay who lives in America, I’m a Muslim who lives in America.  And it’s a very big difference. Because if you are primarily gay, your primary interest is in promoting gay rights and gay interests, for example, to have a dedicated hospital for AIDS. If you are black, you want to see special budget allocations for black people and their needs. But for patriots, whoever they are, the most important thing is a new factory so that we, as a collective (gays, black, Jews, women etc) , have a good reason to wake up in the morning and go to work.

Dina: So in your view, nationalism is very important, right?

Gilad: If global capitalism is a problem, and I thinkit is, then, national socialism may be the answer. What I mean by national socialism is localism combined with equality. I don’t mean racism, I’m anti racist. I am also opposed to tyranny. I would say that my vision of national socialism is similar to that of George Orwell. It is patriotic yet humanitarian: anti racist and anti tyrannical.

Dina: Now I want to talk about Syria with you. Do you think the Syrian conflict distracted public opinion towards Palestine?

Gilad: It did, this is a very clear observation. The crisis in Syria is a hideousdisaster and it has definitely distracted attention from Palestine, and who benefits from that? Israel, of course. This is why it shouldn’t surprise us that the major players in the creation of this crisis were Israel and its supportive Jewish Lobbies. And it shouldn’t surprise us that Israel and the Jewish Lobby are now changing sides. In the beginning they supported Al Nusra, now they seem to be with the Russians. Turkey has switched sides too, they still don’t like Assad but they prefer Assad to having a Kurdish State on their eastern border . So we are dealing with a level of deadly global opportunism. Many within the the pro-Palestinian activist network  are also changing sides, they were anti Assad initially and are now pro Assad.

The Palestinian leaderswere not very politic here. The Assad regime was very supportive of Palestine. Hafez, Bashar’s father, fully supported Hamas. It was devastating  to see how quickly Hamas decided to oppose Assad. I understand why it happened… Qatar, the Saudis, the Sunni alliance, the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t like to criticize Palestinians and their politics  but they were not very clever here.

Dina: ok last question, what is the future of Palestine?

Gilad: I don’t think that we are moving toward a peace negotiation, a peace plan or an orchestrated reconciliation. When people talk about two states, what they really mean is two Jewish states. But I believe that within the next 20-30 years we will see a Palestinian majority on the land. It’s a just a matter of time. Here I agree with Abbas. Everybody likes to hate Abbas. But Abbas understands that time is on the side of the Palestinians. For Abbas demography is the one and only Palestinian bomb.

Dina: So you don’t agree with jihad?

Gilad: I didn’t say I am against jihad. If Palestinians resist, they will always get my support. They live in hell and I will always support them. This is my role. But I’m not in position to advocate a solution or push a political or military mantra. I see myself as a (Hebrew speaking) Palestinian,  but I don’t live there. I cannot urge people to get themselves killed while I live comfortably in London. I cannot tell them to sit and wait either. It is not my role. My job as an intellectual is to try to explain what is happening. Abbas says that if we engage in active war, they [the Israelis] will throw us all out, they will kill us, they have no mercy, and he is absolutely right. So, we just have to sit and wait;  this land will be Palestine from river to the sea.

Dina: do you refer to  demography?

Gilad:  Absolutely!

theduran.com: Gilad Atzmon on politics in music, Roger Waters, Palestine and humanitarianism

by Adam Garrie

http://theduran.com

Jazz musician, author and philosopher Gilad Atzmon spoke with The Duran about Roger Waters verses the Israel lobby, the place of politics in music, freedom versus dogma and Palestinian freedom in the 21st century.

Recently, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has been in the news, not for his North America musical tour but for his politics. As an outspoken supporter of Palestine, he has come up against the Israel lobby in many western countries.

Recently, various pro-Israel activists have financed the making of a film against Waters called Wish You Weren’t Here,a mockery of the Pink Floyd album and song Wish You Were Here.

Even among politically minded musicians, few talk about the Israel/Palestine issue. I recently spoke with acclaimed jazz musician, philosopher, social commentator and pro-Palestine thinker Gilad Atzmon about his reaction to the latest attempt to smear Roger Waters over his advocacy of Palestinian justice.

Adam Garrie: As someone who started life as a musician, I have a special affection for music and I would personally never judge my emotive experience at listening to a piece of music based on the politics of the composers and/or performers. At the same time, I am deeply political and am consequently always attentive when musicians decide to get political.

It is nothing new. From Beethoven’s 9th symphony, to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture and Strauss’s 4 Last Songs, musicians have always been immersed in world events. People look to the revolutionary attributes of jazz heroes like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Roland Kirk and Miles Davis to the folk, pop and rock music of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Pink Floyd as a source of meaning that ties the political into the emotional and dare I say the spiritual also.

What do you think the connection is and ought to be between music and politics?

 Gilad Atzmon: To start with, although historically musicians and artist have been highly involved in politics, I am not so sure that this is the case anymore.  The culture industry has evolved into a subservient operation. First it reduced beauty into a commodity and  then utilized it as a propaganda tool. Our (music) festivals are funded by banks and politically oriented cultural institutes.

There is no doubt, for instance,  that Jazz, the voice of the oppressed, has lost touch with its original poignant revolutionary impetus. It has been mostly reduced into emotionless scholarly noise verging on academic masturbation.

While politicians operate within a giving symbolic order, artists question conventions and re-invent symbolism. At present, the domineering aspect of the industry reduces the artist into a propagator of accepted conventions utilizing acceptable symbolism. I rebel against all of it. I prefer to dig and to seek the truth, I don’t claim to know the truth but I love excavating.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcYy1L67S-I

 AG: When it comes to the issue of Palestinian freedom and dignity, three people who can justifiably be called music legends stand out as  artists who have used both their music and their voices to speak out, there is yourself, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine). Are these artists different than others who talk about political issues, people who tend to flirt with the establishment for example like Bono?

GA:  First, thank you for considering me a ‘legend.’ Supporting Palestine is no doubt a noble cause. Moreover, since the music industry is largely an extended Jewish syndicate, opposition to the Jewish State is a self-inflicted death sentence. As you would expect, not many reasonable people choose to sentence themselves to death.

Robert Wyatt has been supporting Palestine because he is the most authentic mench around. Waters performed in Israel a few years ago, he witnessed the oppression, he was moved by it. He joined the solidarity movement. My case is a bit different.

I was born in Israel. It took me many years to grasp that Israel was Palestine and I was living on someone else’s land. When I understood this, I immigrated to London where I found that Diaspora Jews who operate politically as Jews (Zionist as well as ‘anti’) are far more obnoxious and even dangerous than Israel is. The Lobby (AIPAC, LFI, CFI, CRIFF) dominates USA, UK and French foreign affairs. It pushes us into wars. Unfortunately,  a similar Jewish lobby dominates the Palestinian solidarity movement and has managed to reduce the Palestinian call for a ‘Right of Return’ into an internal Jewish debate about the ‘Right to BDS’ (Boycott, Divest & Sanction Israeli goods).  I started to ask myself questions relating to Jewish power and the Jewish past. I realised that Palestinians are just the Goyim du jour. If we want to help Palestine, we have to understand that by now we are all Palestinians.

Bono, is an interesting case. I would love to believe that he is a genuine and empathetic human being. But too often his activity somehow coincides with neocon interests, colonial imperialism and mammonism in general. Whether Bono is informed enough or not is beyond me. I have never looked into his case in a scholarly manner.

 

 AG: Have you ever personally feared that your musical career could be harmed because of your philosophical, sociological and political statements even though you’re an ardent advocate of peace and human dignity for all?

GA: Assaults against my artistic activity occur daily. Promoters and presenters of my work are subject to a constant barrage of pressure and even threats. Very rarely they succeed in having a gig of mine cancelled.

However, this is crucial. In Europe there are broad hate speech prohibitions. Despite the endless attempts to silence me, not once have I been questioned by a law enforcement body anywhere around the world about anything I said or wrote.

AG: Imagine you are the child in a secular Jewish/Zionist home. You like listening to Pink Floyd’s records as almost all young people have done since the 1960s. Your parents then tell you not to listen anymore because of Roger Waters’ views on Palestine. What might you feel? Would listening to Roger’s music become an act of youthful rebellion decades after The Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall were recorded?

GA: If Zionism was a promise to make Jews people like all other people, then stopping your children from listening to Pink Floyd guarantees that they won’t be people like other people.

AG: In addition to speaking out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, Roger Waters encourages all musicians to boycott Israel. What are your views on this and if you were invited to Israel to perform your music would you go? If you went would you feel that you would be at risk of violence due to your philosophy and statements?

GA: Yesterday in Prague I met two Israeli musicians who used to work with me in the 1980s. We ended up talking about Roger Waters. They weren’t politically oriented people however, they suggested that Waters is on shaky moral ground because Waters mounts pressure on artists to join BDS and boycott Israel. Let me shock you, I am also troubled by that. The fact that Palestinian solidarity activists can’t differentiate between a tomato and a poet or between an avocado and a historian troubles me.  I am an avid advocate of freedom of speech and expression. I want beauty and ideas to travel freely.

Every discourse is a set of boundaries.  I was invited last year to participate in the 30th Red Sea Festival. My personal boundary is that I will not visit the Jewish State or any other state that is set to serve the interest of one race. I vowed not to visit Israel unless it is a state of its citizens and by that I mean that it is Palestine from River to the Sea.

AG: Roger Waters often pens open letters to fellow artists. Here is your opportunity to do the same. What would you write to Roger?

GA:  Dear Roger:

As a hero of humanity and freedom who made the prospect of a bright future into a song, I urge you to distinguish between Athens and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city of revelation and commandments, it provides us with a set of laws that define right and wrong. Athens, on the other hand, is the symbol of philosophy, beauty, science and reason.  Activists belong to Jerusalem, philosophers are from Athens. You cannot fight Jerusalem while being a Jerusalemite. Athens is where you belong. Let’s enable people to think for themselves and learn to make ethical judgements. Let us choose Athens rather than setting a different tyranny of correctness.

AG: Roger Waters is now 73. His musical statement has been very much ingrained on the world and that won’t be taken away. If there was a young man of 17 with the musical talents of for example yourself or Roger and the political views of either yourself or Roger, would you advise them to hold their tongue for the sake of their career assuming you were asked with sincerity and respect?

GA: I guess that I pay a price for being outspoken, but I am very happy. I am a free agent. As I said above, I am not an activist, I don’t advise people what to do or what to say, I endeavor to help people form their own thoughts as they move along. The same rule applies to me, my thoughts are shaped and reshaped constantly. For me this is what Being in Time is all about.

 

AG: Gilad, you recently played on Pink Floyd’s ‘final’ record, The Endless River featuring the line-up of David Gilmour, Nick Mason with archived recordings from the late Richard Wright. If you are able to do so, can you disclose if your politics were discussed during the recording sessions given that the elephant in the room would have been the fact that your politics are most similar to the ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters who was not on that particular album?

GA: We didn’t touch upon politics, we were there for music. What fascinated me was that I initially experimented with my tenor sax. It wasn’t easy, I am not the ideal Pink Floyd saxophonist. Then I went into the control room and told David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera that in my mind, I  heard something completely different—a Turkish clarinet. I played one take, there was silence. David said that it was beautiful but totally foreign to Pink Floyd’s sound.  I agreed, he was correct. But I told him that this was what I heard. I didn’t think that my clarinet would make it into the Album, but it did. The explanation is simple: through art, beauty reveals  itself as an authenticity.

 

 AG: Do you think condemnation of artists like yourself, Roger Waters, Robert Wyatt and others from the Israel lobby has any negative effect on how your music is perceived and enjoyed? On the contrary does it have a positive effect or is it immaterial to most music lovers?

 GA: If anything, the attacks provide humanity with a glimpse into the vindictiveness that is unfortunately embedded in Jewish Identity politics, both Zionist and anti. My response; the more they attack, the faster and louder I play. Still, there is something I fail to understand. If the lobby is upset by my criticism of Jewish Identity politics, all they have to do is make sure that the saxophone is constantly shoved into my mouth. They should insure that I play 24/7, they should book my gigs rather than try to cancel them.

Gilad Atzmon’s book Being In Time: A Post Political Manifesto is available now on: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com and gilad.co.uk.   

Palestinian Expo 2017: The UK Government and The Lobby

June 27, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

PalExpo.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Over the last decade, Palestinian solidarity has been hijacked by many Jewish organisations – JVP, IJAN, J-BIG – and also by other insipid left-leaning groups that in practice, have reduced Palestinian solidarity into a paradigm that is lame, meaningless and leads absolutely nowhere. This loose collective of tribal and Identitarian merchants has managed to reduce the magisterial Palestinian call for Right of Return into a squalid and self-serving Jewish internal debate about the ‘Right to BDS.’ The discourse of the oppressed is now defined by the sensitivities of the oppressor.

Palestine Expo 2017 , scheduled to take place on the weekend of July 8-9 at the QE2 centre, could have been an attempt to re-instate the meaning of Palestine: its culture, its politics and its call for liberation. It could have reinvigorated resistance and, most importantly, put the Right of Return at its heart. It could even have attempted to redefine and solidify the Palestinian conditions for peace in the region.

But it didn’t aspire to do any of those things. Featuring Jewish anti-Zionist voices, and endorsed by various Jewish organisations, it instead attempts to give voice to the most politically-correct and Jewish-friendly vision of solidarity available. And guess what, it didn’t work. Instead of welcoming this Zio-friendly approach, British Jews, utilising all their lobbies and employing every trick in the Hasbara playbook, have act institutionally and aggressively to cancel the event

Yesterday, we learned from the Jewish Chronicle that the British Government in the person Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has threatened to cancel the Palestinian cultural festival in central London next month over the organisers Friends of Al-Aqsa’s (FOA) ‘support of Hamas’. In a letter sent to FOA on June 14, Mr Javid said he was considering calling it off, citing: “concerns that your organisation and those connected with it have expressed public support for a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas, and that you have supported events at which Hamas and Hezbollah – also proscribed – have been praised”.

I guess that the recent election results haven’t taught the Tories the necessary lesson, that people are sick and tired of these manufactured ‘terror’ concerns, especially when they know that it is actually the British government that has been launching, one after the other, immoral and criminal Zio-con wars.

According to the notoriously Zionist Jewish Chronicle, Ismail Patel, founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, “is closely linked to several Islamic organisations and has openly expressed support for Hamas in the past, calling the group “no terrorist organisation.” Needless to say, Patel is spot on. Hamas is a democratically-elected body which, against all odds, manages with some success and without being their fault, the biggest open-air prison known to humankind, and whose militancy should be understood only in the context of its resistance to Israeli blockade, oppression and occupation. Anyway, as far as I can see, the conference is not voicing any particular support for Hamas.

Image result for Gilad Atzmon and Holocaust denier Paul Eisen

The JC then goes on to list further crimes of the FOA. It has “actively promoted boycotts of Israel and has hosted antisemitic musician Gilad Atzmon and Holocaust denier Paul Eisen on its website.” Well, as far as supporting boycotts is concerned, surely boycotting Israel is an entirely peaceful act, so if the British Government is really so fearful of terror, boycotting Israel may well be the way forward.

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As for yours truly, I have nothing to do with this event and naming me as an ‘antisemite’ means very little unless one of these Jewish institutions that does this on a daily basis stands up and defines exactly what it is that I am not allowed to say. What exactly is the ‘crime’ of which I am accused? As things stand, I have never been questioned about any of my views or statements by a single law enforcement authority around the world. If the JC really believes I am guilty of any ‘hate crime’, then it really ought, once and for all, say what it is. The JC also doesn’t much like Paul Eisen, one of the very few authentic humanists around and who is repeatedly labelled a ‘Holocaust denier’ just because he insists that the Holocaust be treated as an historical narrative rather than as a religion. Is this really a crime in the UK?

By now, British Jewish institutions should surely have grasped that these old, recycled anti-Semitic/Holocaust denier labels have lost their power. After all, they tried it with Corbyn and as we know, if anything, it only contributed to his popularity and near victory in the last election.

In a letter replying to the Secretary of State, Mr Patel correctly states that the government is interfering unlawfully in this event and added that ministers had “failed to provide any satisfactory reason as to why they have chosen to cancel an event which seeks only to celebrate Palestinian culture and heritage.”

I would have liked to think that the Tories, now accused of BBQ-ing hundreds of working Brits and Muslims in Grenfell Tower, would have learned their lesson and behaved sensibly for a change.  And here is the good news, they certainly did! As I was about to post this article I learned from the Jewish press that despite the Jewish lobby relentless pressure  Palestine Expo 2017 is going ahead. A spokesman for Mr Javid said:

“We have worked with the QEII Centre to carry out checks following concerns raised about the Palestine Expo 2017. Following these checks, we have agreed the event can take place as planned.”

Seemingly calls to Boycott Israel and posting Gilad Atzmon and Paul Eisen articles is still a kosher adventure in the eyes of British law.

I guess that the British government may have learned its lesson after all. With a bit of luck,  it may even subscribe to Athens against all odds and turn its back to Jerusalem…

If you want to grasp this crucial dichotomy between Athens and Jerusalem, Being in Time is the book for you: Amazon.co.uk ,  Amazon.com  and   here.

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