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

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Jeremy Corbyn, Jewish Assimilation and the Lobby

August 21, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Although the following quotation is from an old text that refers to an earlier era and different geo-political conditions, it provides an impeccable analysis of the current Zionist campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party and the false alarm of antisemitsm.

“The ghettoized Ashkenazim (both in their Communist and their Zionist organizations) were inspired to obstruct emancipation by every possible device (including assassination in the last resort) while the story of their persecution was hammered, as an intimidatory warning, into the consciousness of the Western Jews and, as a rightful claim for succour, into that of the Christian West.

The Gentile politicians of the West presented these fictions to their peoples as truth, for they had found that powerful Jews, in all countries, were able to assist parties favoured by them with money, press support and votes; the return they required was support for the cause of the “persecuted” Jews in Russia and for the ‘return’ to Palestine. In effect this meant that politicians who sought these favours had to subordinate national interest to two causes ultimately destructive of all nation-states: the revolution (communism) and the ambition to acquire territory for the dominant race (Zionism).”* Douglas Reed 1955.

According to Douglas Reed the threat of antisemitism is designed primarily as a means to prevent Jewish assimilation. In The Wandering Who? I show that the fear of assimilation is not exclusive to Zionism, the Jewish political left and Jewish anti Zionism serve the same objective. By giving a place in the Jewish world to ethically inclined Jews they prevent such Jews from integrating with humanity as equals. The mechanism is straight forward: ‘You do not have to become a Goy in order to oppose Israeli criminality, you can just join JVP and oppose Israel ‘as a Jew.’ Similarly, you don’t have to oppose Corbyn’s detractors as an ordinary Labour member, you are better off celebrating your Jewish privilege and support Corbyn as a member of Jews for Jeremy or Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).

Exclusively Jewish ‘dissenting’ bodies serve another crucial purpose: they operate to exclude gentiles from sensitive Jew-related discourse. Palestine solidarity has been dominated by Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist political bodies for more than a decade. These bodies have never been interested in solving the Palestinian plight; they have never echoed the Palestinian core demand for the right of return. Instead they have called for the ‘end of the occupation (practically legitimizing the Jewish State within pre 67 lines),’ the ‘Two States Solution,’ and BDS measures against Israel. Instead of fighting for the Palestinians’ right to return to their land, they have produced a noisy exchange between Zionists and the so-called ‘anti’s’ over Jews’ right to BDS. Thanks to the Jewish solidarity groups the discourse of the oppressed has been shaped by the sensitivities of the oppressor.

The same dynamic has been affecting Corbyn’s support campaign. Britain’s NO 1 anti racist doesn’t need a ‘kosher certificate’; from a supportive Jewish lobby. He doesn’t need the ‘as a Jew, I believe in Jeremy’ declarations. The same dynamic that obliterated the Palestinian Solidarity movement has so far had a disastrous effect on Corbyn’s supporters. They foolishly positioned  the ‘good Jews’ at the forefront of their campaign and let the campaign for the leader of the largest British national party be reduced to an internal Jewish spat in a greater Judeo-centric battle against assimilation.

Reed continues, “The Gentile politicians of the West presented these fictions (of Jewish persecution)  to their peoples as truth.” This is an unfortunately apt description of Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s call for Corbyn’s resignation over the ‘antisemitism’ crisis. Our PM, Therea May, also accused Jeremy Corbyn of allowing anti-Semitism to ‘run rife’ in Labour.  But why do they openly act this way? Do they really believe that antisemitism is ‘rife’ in the UK?

Back in 1955, decades before AIPAC was formed and the Conservative Friends of Israel was exposed as Israel’s long arm, Reed provided a possible explanation of current British political maneuvering.  They do it because they “found that powerful Jews, in all countries, were able to assist parties favoured by them with money, press support and votes.” Reed argues that Western politicians who accept the lobby’s favours scarify their national interests. This observation from 1955 explains why Britain and the USA have been fighting Zio-con wars and the prospect of world peace is progressively fading away.

When Douglas Reed died in 1976 his entire prolific career as a journalist and a commentator was dismissed. The Times‘ obituary condemned him as a ‘virulent anti-Semite.’  During my intellectual career I have learned that too often it is the so called ‘bigots,’ ‘anti-Semites’ and ‘racists’ who understand the world and its meaning better and ahead of anyone else. I guess that the take home message is: when they attempt to burn a book, make sure that this text is at the top of the pile next to your bed. If they attempt to silence a voice, attend to this voice before you do anything else. Because Jewish power is the power to obliterate the discussion on Jewish power.

* The Controversy of Zion – Douglas Reed pg. 177 to upload pdf of Reed’s book click here

To support Gilad’s legal cost

 

 

Zuckerberg On Denial and Being Wrong

July 20, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

In an interview with technology website Recode, Mark Facebook  Zuckerberg stated that posts from Holocaust deniers should be allowed on Facebook.

In response to a question on Facebook’s policy on fake news, Mr. Zuckerberg offered, without prompting, the example of posts by Holocaust deniers.

“I’m Jewish and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he told reporter Kara Swisher. “I find it deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

He added, “everyone gets things wrong and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”

Despite the fact that FB has earned itself a reputation as a tyrannical Zionist force and an enemy of elementary freedoms, Zuckerberg expressed a clear position consistent with whatever is left of the true American spirit and the 1st Amendment.

The Jewish press is totally upset by Zuckerberg’s policy.  Israeli commentators denounced his remarks.  Here in Britain, the editor of the so called ‘anti-fascist’ magazine Searchlight, Gerry Gable, told the BBC that  “Because of his financial powers, he [Zuckerberg] just does a bit of tinkering without understanding how this material could inspire crazy people to firebomb synagogues, mosques or churches.” I can’t see how comments about the past incite violence against “synagogues, mosques or churches.” But of course, “crazy people” can firebomb anything at anytime, regardless of Zuckerberg’s recent intervention. I’d advise the Gable that the perception of Facebook as a tyrannical Zionist power that silences differing viewpoints may be far more dangerous for Jews and others.

I probably should have finished today’s article here. But I just can’t stop myself from taking this discussion at least one step further.

Here is a point to ponder: with Zuckerberg presenting a reasonable and tolerant attitude to historical debate, WWII, history revisionism and the Holocaust can easily be reduced to an internal Jewish debate. This is the point I make in my recent book, ‘Being in Time.’ I contend that when Jews accept that something about their culture, ideology or politics is perceived as a ‘Jewish problem,’ some Jews are quick to form a satellite opposition.

When it became clear that the criminality of the State that defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’ had become a Jewish problem, Jews for Palestine was created. The Palestine solidarity movement was rapidly reduced to an internal debate among Jews. Here in Britain, some Jews grasped that the Jewish campaign against Jeremy Corbyn is very dangerous for the Jews.  Jews for Corbyn was formed. At the moment, the future of the Labour party has become an internal Jewish debate between the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement and the so called ‘anti’ Jewish Voice for Labour. Neocon wars are now an internal Jewish debate between Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky. In his brave essay, ‘On The Jewish Question,’ Karl Marx comes to the conclusion that Capitalism is a ‘Jewish symptom’. Not surprisingly, many of his followers were of Jewish origin and the battle of capitalism (for and against) became an internal Jewish discourse. It is possible that Zuckerberg, who is not stupid, can sense the growing resentment to FB’s Zio-centrism and he is clever enough to present a new more liberal principled view. He even kindly allows the rest of us to be wrong.

In ‘Being in Time’ I note that the emergence of a Jewish satellite opposition is not necessarily a conspiratorial maneuver. It is only natural for Jews to oppose the crimes committed in their name by the Jewish State. It is equally natural for Jews to oppose Zio-con global wars. It is also reasonable for Zuckerberg to try to amend the negative impression his company bought itself in recent years and to decide to promote basic freedom of speech. The outcome, however, could be problematic. The entire debate on elementary rights and freedoms can easily become an internal Jewish discourse.

To understand ID politics read

Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

On Jewish controlled opposition:

No Fly Zone over Israel

February 13, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

Syria possesses the ability to impose a no fly zone over northern Israel.

Syria possesses the ability to impose a no fly zone over northern Israel.

Interview with Gilad Atzmon on recent news by Alimuddin Usmani

http://lapravda.ch/

Alimuddin Usmani: On the 10th of February, Syrian anti-aircraft units managed to use an old Soviet anti-aircraft missile built in the sixties to shoot down an Israeli F-16.

 What is the significance of this military incident?

Gilad Atzmon:  I do not know much about the type of anti air missiles the Syrians used.  It seems that the Israelis were also perplexed by Syrian anti air capacity. But what we do know is that the Israeli F-16 wasn’t in Syria’s air space. It was well within Israel, in fact not too far from Haifa’s sky. This means that Syria possesses the ability to impose a no fly zone over northern Israel. This is undoubtedly  a positive development. It may even restrain Israeli aggression.

AA: According to Israeli minister Bennett, “Israel must act systematically against the Iranian octopus“.

GA: The reference to Iran as an octopus is new to me. I have seen the octopus imagery used to portray the idea of Jews having  domineering powers.  The image I am referring to is one of octopuses  decorated with a Star of David and holding the planet in their hands.  I do wonder what led Minister Bennett to use such a metaphor. Is it the fear of being encircled and eventually squashed by mighty Iran or maybe Bennett was simply projecting, attributing his own characteristics to the Iranians. This question can remain open. I can say with certainty that since Bennett is a religious Jew, he won’t eat calamari any time soon and he probably doesn’t even know what he misses.

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What is fascinating  about the incident is that for years we have seen Israeli politicians vow to attack Iran. We have seen Jewish leaders worldwide push for military actions and sanctions against Iran. The facts are undeniable: Israel feels surrounded and Bennett seems to admit it by employing the octopus metaphor.

AA: Recently a French-Syrian woman was forced to quit a song show due to some comments she made a while ago on Twitter criticizing the French government’s stance on terrorist attacks.

 What is you take on the above?

GA: This farce highlights the duplicity at the core of so-called multi culturalism and ‘diversity.’ We love and care for the ‘other’ but only so as long as the other conceals his or her otherness. We love Muslims as long as they pretend to be Jews. I see this form of  progressive  ‘diversity’ as an anti humanist oppressive force.

AA: Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian activist was arrested on the 19th of December for slapping an Israeli soldier who was standing outside her home. She is still in prison, awaiting a trial. What is your opinion about this girl?

GA: I am afraid that my linguistic abilities fall short in describing my admiration for this Palestinian teenager. I am not impressed by the Palestinian solidarity movement. And now many see the solidarity movement as a controlled opposition apparatus, largely dominated by Jewish organisations and outlets  (JVP, IJAN, Mondoweiss etc.). This has led to a discourse of the oppressed  shaped by the sensitivities of the oppressors. Instead of talking about the Right of Return we have been subject to a barrage of notions, ideas, tactics and political tools that are set to limit the resistance and in practice, facilitate recognition of the Jewish State and its right to exist (to read more  http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2015/5/16/the-jewish-solidarity-spin).

Ahed Tamimi represents uncompromising resistance. She wants her land to be free, and I don’t doubt  that her wishes will come through

AA: Tell us something about your next gigs.

GA: I am on my way to Barcelona. I am writing to you while seated in a plane. Tonight I will be talking about my new book Being in Time. I will probably be asked about Catalan independence in light of my  post political theory although I have nothing to say about it. I do not really understand the Catalan situation nor do I know how or where to locate it within my criticism of the current global dystopia, I hope that by the end of the night I will have learned  more about Catalonia. A lot of my ideas were born out of intense exchanges with the many people I have encountered while being on the road. It is the differences that  spark thinking and originality, concepts that are seriously lacking in the monolithic tyranny of correctness that is imposed on us.

The Banality of Good pt. 6: Jewish Power and Identity Politics

February 03, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

By now, we are all Palestinians. Like the Palestinians we aren’t really allowed to dig into the true meaning of our oppression. Our opposition is shaped by the sensitivities of our oppressors.

By now, we are all Palestinians. Like the Palestinians we aren’t really allowed to dig into the true meaning of our oppression. Our opposition is shaped by the sensitivities of our oppressors.

 

By Clara S and Gilad Atzmon

Jewish Power and Identity Politics

Clara:   You show how Jewish institutions influence US policies, that it all happens in the open and that the Zionist lobbyists boast about their power. So, are Jews, in fact, controlling the world, just as the Nazis claimed they were?

Gilad: This is another multi layered question for which we must first clarify the terminology. Do the ‘Jews’ (the people) control the world? Absolutely not. But a few segments within the Jewish elite are certainly dominant and vastly over-represented within media, finance, culture, academia, politics, political lobbying, Hollywood and so on.  I elaborate on this volatile topic in my new book ‘Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto. The book was partially inspired by ‘The Jewish Century’, the monumental text by Yuri Slezkine that attempted to explain what it was within the Jews that made the 20th into their century: What is it about Jews and their culture that made them dominant in the West?  In Being in Time I offer a few of my original ideas. I also attempt to examine some other theories that have been largely rejected, but that I find  helpful.

My study suggests that the Jewish elite is extremely sophisticated as well as gifted.

Clara:   If they are so gifted, why do you see ‘their dominance in western culture’ as a problem? Can’t we all profit from their extraordinary talents?

Gilad:  To start with, we did and we do. That which we criticize is also that which makes our life special.  The obsession with the global free market which we hate is entangled with the imaginary sense of freedom we purport to celebrate.  The widespread  consumerism we hate is part of the illusion that we can posses whatever we want.

But this is a  problem as well.  The world we live in is not a nice place. It is  dystopic and we the people are becoming more nostalgic by the minute. At an earlier  point we saw ourselves as free subjects. Now not much is left of that decaying freedom.  We are reduced to consumers. The politicians who should  represent our needs and desires mostly just facilitate consumption by means of credit. Manufacturing has died on us and the prospect of a better future is remote. I addressed these troublesome issues in ‘Being in Time’. I believe that the identitarian revolution, or rather, the New Left ideology has a lot to do with the above. The Western subject has been indoctrinated to think and speak ‘as a’: as a gay, as a woman, as a black, etc. We learn to identify with our biology (gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, etc.)  We learn to see ourselves as an aggregation of biologically oriented tribes. Our people are a construct of multiple Israelite tribes, but the Israelites are better than anyone else at being Israelites, they have been doing it for 3000 years.

Clara: So identity politics are a Jewish construct?

Gilad: Exactly. And here is the most problematic twist. In ‘Being in Time’ I argue that the New Left has fallen into the Nazi trap. Dividing humanity by biology (race, skin colour, gender etc.) requires that we define ourselves and others in biological terms.  Instead of uniting under a dynamic universal ethos we are subject to new categories that make human universal harmony impossible.

We live in a totally fragmented society. Instead of fighting together for our common and universal needs, we are divided into identitarian groups and fight each other.

 Clara:   Biology? Doing what the Nazis did and even defining a ‘race’ when there is none? I see your point: a nice twist indeed.

Although defining oneself in terms of identity seems to be natural: we (nearly) all have experiences of loss and discrimination because of our ‘biological’ identity: as a woman, as a member of an ethnic minority, as somebody with a handicap, because of our sexual orientation, and on.

 Gilad: True. It is natural for people to identify with their biology.

This is why half of the Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. This is why ID politics is the only so called Left ideology that has gained in popularity. It also explains some of what what attracted the masses to Nazism.  And then, it also explains the logos at the core of Jewish tribalism.

 Clara: Gilad, I have a lot of sympathy for anti-discrimination and emancipatory movements. Without them I still would not have the right to vote and my independent career would not have been possible. The homosexual couple in my neighbourhood would have had to pose as cousins and a lot of barrier-free railway stations would be non-existent. And I, personally, love the mix of different ethnic cultures we experience in Germany, in spite of the problems that come with it.

For me as a teacher it has always been important to make sure I support those students who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths. The motto of our school is ‘Diversity is our strength’ and I stand by that.

 When I first encountered criticism of identity politics I didn’t take it seriously because I found the criticism regressive: it came from the kind of people who want to send women back to, as the German saying goes, Kinder, Kueche, Kirche (kids, kitchen and church), forbid abortion, kick out foreigners and view homosexuality as something sick. Though there were increasingly aspects to the ‘multi-culti’ and open-border ideas that made me wonder. I must admit that it was not until the last American presidential race that I realized that within the Democratic Party, identitarian politics had replaced policies that were, in my opinion, ‘genuine Left’ such as improving people’s social and economic situation and anti-imperialism. And I realized that the same had happened to the left in Germany.

 So has the Left been captured by identitarians?

 Gilad: Yep, I fully understand. Like many others, I used to agree with Left ideology  but as I grew older I found the Left to be increasingly  delusional, dogmatic and frequently  duplicitous. I couldn’t detect any suggestion of dialectical thinking. Even the aspiration towards equality had somehow evaporated. In ‘The Wandering Who’ I shifted. Instead of asking what the ‘J-word’ represents, I asked what do people mean when they identify themselves as Jews? In ‘Being in Time’ I employed an identical strategy. I asked what is it that people who identify as Leftists adhere to?

The answer was pretty troubling. The New Left shares little or nothing  with old Left values. The New Left is tribal, biologically oriented, and it is authoritarian and often proto fascist. The Left was not simply captured by the identitarians, it was hijacked. The New Left is occupied territory and this is another reason why we are all Palestinians.

This is why I argue that by now the Left / Right dichotomy is meaningless and on the verge of futile. Welcome to the post-political condition.

Clara: We are all Palestinians?

Gilad: I believe that it was me who coined the popular adage, ‘by now, we are all Palestinians.’ The meaning of this saying is devastating.

Like the Palestinians we aren’t really allowed to dig into the true meaning of our oppression.  The boundaries of pro Palestinian discourse are shaped by Jewish sensitivities. Tragically, this is an adequate description of our Western dissent.  Our opposition is shaped by the sensitivities of our oppressors.

Clara:   So could we say that emancipation has been replaced by victimization? Are identity politics a  powerful movement of people who see the world through the restricted perspective of victims of racist, sexist or some other prejudice or discrimination?  Is its philosophy that ‘The world would be a better place, if everybody saw it the way I do’; ‘If xy changed his attitude, I could fulfill my  potential, I cannot do that because xy doesn’t let me do it’? Then it is always somebody else who is made responsible. No wonder that white males, who until now were symbols of oppression, also want to be recognized as victims. The steps from this thinking to hate and destructive violent behaviour are not that big:

“We shall have our manhood. We shall have it or the earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it.” That is how Eldrige Cleaver  described the needs of blacks.  The way the MeToomovement brings down male ‘perpetrators’ also seems to be more driven by spite and the wish to humiliate than by the wish to bring wrong-doing to light and peace to women who have been scarred. True ‘souls on ice’!

And because we have to be ‘politically correct’ we are not allowed to criticize  victims so as not to hurt their feelings. But this doesn’t heal the harm. You go on feeding this particular ‘child,’  it will never be satisfied and will grow into a big fat monster crying ‘feed me!’ till the end of time.

But how does Jewish victimization and their huge success in the 20th century connect?

Gilad  It is amazing for me to read your comment  because I examined  ID politics and victimhood using a similar approach in ‘Being in Time’.  On the one hand we are all broken into biologically oriented tribes. We are defined by our skin, gender, mother’s gene, sexual orientation, yet it is only the biologically identified Jews who have a state, hundreds of atomic bombs, squadrons of F-35s and the question is why? Let me shock you. Because Jewish identity involves self- hatred. Early Zionism was the promise to change the Jews, to relieve them of their victimhood. To make them people like all other people. When identitarians learn how to hate themselves, they may start to move forward, they may even find their path back to the universal.

Clara:   Do you mean that self-hatred was the key to Zionism and if Jewishness hadn’t hijacked Zionism, the Jews could have found the path to the universal?
Gilad: Exactly, Zionism was driven by hard core self-loathing. A core principle of  Early Zionists was ‘negation of the Galut (Diaspora)’. This form of self-hatred  fuelled the fantasy of a new Jewish beginning. Zionism was a form of Jewish empowerment, that tried to replace victimhood.

Clara:   ‘… but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong …’

Gilad: Yes. Instead of blaming the Goyim for anti-Semitic crimes, early Zionists looked into Jewish history and culture and tried to identify what is it in Jewish culture and politics that brings about anti-Semitism. This may explain why Jewish identitarianism has achieved far more than other  identitarian groups. Early Zionism, as far as I am concerned, was an astonishing transition in Jewish history.  Yet, the fact that it failed is even more significant. It might mean that there is no collective remedy to the Jewish question. If Jews want to rescue themselves, they must break out alone into the night, in the dark, with the hope that they may meet the universal at daybreak.  

If they want to burn it, you want to read it …

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The Banality of Good pt. 2: Blaming the Victim?

January 26, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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Blaming the Victim? 

By Clara S. and Gilad Atzmon

To read part 1 http://www.gilad.co.uk/

German: https://opablog.net

Clara:   You know, when I saw the pictures of the kids killed in Gaza while playing on the beach in 2014, I was shocked again. But I was told to accept that these people had brought their fate upon themselves using their kids as human shields. Hadn’t I heard that before? Didn’t the Nazis say the Jews deserved to die because they had brought so much evil upon the world?

And you have just told me, that the Holocaust survivors were treated kind of the same by their fellow-citizens.

So here’s my next question: When I read your book I couldn’t help to think,
“Does Gilad really want to say that the Jews were responsible themselves for what had happened to them”? 

In chapter 21 you write: “65 years after the liberation of Ausschwitz we should be able to ask – why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their neighbours”? (The Wandering Who?)

Isn’t that just like telling a victim of rape that she should have dressed more properly or stayed at home altogether? That is outrageous!

Gilad: ‘Don’t blame the victim’ is a popular, however problematic, proclamation. It begs for attention. We must ask some crucial questions who and what is a victim? What forms victimhood? What are the circumstances in which a crime is taking place? As you may imagine, I actually gave a lot of thought to these questions.  The ethical judgment here is far from being a universal algorithm. On the contrary, it is the particularity of the judgment that aspires at a universal maxim instead.

Let’s for instance examine the case of young woman X who was raped in the park in the middle of the night. She was subject to sexual assault something she didn’t consent to. The case of a rape is established. X was a victim. However, we also learn that X made a conscious decision to cross the park half naked, in the middle of the night, knowing that this given park is known for its bad reputation as far as sex predatory activity is concerned. Will you agree that while X is a victim of a rape, she, to a certain extent, brought it on herself?  She took an unreasonable risk.  And what would you say about X if you learned that she has been raped in the same spot on a regular basis five times a week for the last two decades? X is still a victim, those who rape her are still criminals, yet would you be interested to examine X’s mental making?

The case of Jews, Jewry and Jewish history is actually different altogether.  To start with, we are dealing with an ethnic group (as opposed to an individual).  Furthermore, I myself do not deal with people; Moshe, Yossef or Yaakov. I deal instead with ideology, culture and politics. The answer to the questions ‘Why were the Jews hated? Or why did European people stand up against their neighbours?’ led me to a study of the culture, the ideology and the politics that form Jewish identity. I ask ‘what is it in Jewish culture, ID politics and ideology that evokes animosity in so many different places and different times in history’?
I do believe, and this is fundamental to my work, that Jews like all other people are born innocent. I argue that some elements in Jewish culture, such as tribal chosenness, have made things complicated for many Jews all along Jewish history.

Clara:    Wait a moment: of course this victim isn’t acting very sensibly. But still, I hold to it that I want to live in surroundings where my safety is secured and I do not have to expect that kind of “activity”, no matter how eccentric I may be …

Gilad: This is somehow more fundamental than just being eccentric.

I believe that since Jewish history is a chain of disasters, we must understand once and for all ‘what is it in Jewish culture, politics and ideology that puts Jews, the people, at risk’. By the way, I didn’t invent this question. It is this question exactly that initiated the Zionist movement. It was thinkers like Bernard Lazare who elaborated on the Jewish question in an attempt to grasp, once and for all ‘why the Jews?’ The difference between early Zionists (Herzl, Lazare, Borochov, Nordau etc.)  and myself is that early Zionists believed that Jews could be morphed collectively into something else.  I am not sure that this is the case. I am not convinced that there is a collective solution to the Jewish question. I believe that some break out as individuals. I hope that I, myself, have managed.

Clara:   It’s also what communists tend to believe in, that they can forge a new and better kind of human being. I used to think that way, too. Today I have some doubts about how realistic that idea is.
But back to the question of ‘blaming the victim’ once more:It is a well-established fact that victims of abuse tend to seek the reason for what has happened to them in themselves. The guilt they feel is a way of finding a meaning in the egregious things they had to suffer, of trying to control the uncontrollable. Aren’t you doing exactly the same?

Gilad:   I certainly do.  I believe that considering Jewish history being a chain of disasters, Jews must examine themselves by means of self reflection instead of accusing the Goyim. As you know, I am a follower of the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger who revealed to us that in art self realization is realization of the world. The more I look into myself, the better I understand the world around me.

Clara:    Well, I’m not sure. Many victims blame themselves for things they are 100% not guilty of. That is not a healthy way to cope with traumatic experiences.

 Gilad:   Who decides? How do we figure out the exact percentage of our accountability? Should we care about such percentage? I actually believe that understanding reality in categorical terms is way more helpful. Examining, for instance, the case of X may reveal that being a rape victim satisfies X’s needs. I guess that you can extend this analogy as you wish.

Clara:    If it were that way, we would indeed have to think about X’s frame of mind. But for us who do not draw satisfaction from being a victim it maybe all comes down to the question of responsibility. To take responsibility for the things I can change and to accept that there are a lot of things I cannot. It’s hard enough for an individual to find out which is which. Can a group go through such a process? Having started and lost two world wars the Germans as a collective have been blamed and blaming themselves for all the bad things which happened to them as a result. Now some people have started questioning whether the shock and awe tactics of bombing Dresden and other cities really was necessary to win the war (not to forget the atomic bombs which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki). My mother, for example, lost everything she had during the bombing of Leipzig, luckily no one in the family was killed. But this is seen by others as an attempt of justifying the atrocities committed by my people.

However, if an individual like yourself claims to take responsibility for a whole group, the other members might not be amused. No wonder that some of your fellow Jews call you a well-poisoner.

Gilad:   I do not think that those people are my ‘fellow Jews’ for I haven’t been a Jew for many years and they aren’t exactly my fellows.  Rather than blaming Jews I ask Jews to look into their culture, ideology and politics and ask themselves why? Why pogroms, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism?  Zionism promised to transform the Jews, to make them loved, it failed miserably, why? If Jews are struggling to come with an answer, as I mention before, early Zionism is a good start. I, once again recommend the work of LazareBorochovEhad Ha’am and even Herzl. Responsibility, if you wish, starts with self reflection.

Clara:   So how would you describe yourself if not as a Jew?

Gilad: To start with I avoid any form of political identification … I am a jazz artist, I am a writer, I am British, I am an ex Jew and ex Israeli, I follow the message of Christ but do not follow any organized religion.

If they want to burn it, you want to read it …

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Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

Amazon.co.uk  ,  Amazon.com  and   here  (gilad.co.uk). 

Daily Sabah: Exclusive interview with Gilad Atzmon

Comment:

Brother Gilad said: To survive is to win.

I say: To Win is to Survive and to Survive is to Resist. To Win Palestinians should realize that Palestine is a Part of Greater Syria “Bilad Asham”. They should bury Afratat’s slogan about “Palestinian Independent  Decision”. Thanks to Syria and allies for keeping the Palestinian Cause alive. Thanks to Daesh for breaking Sykes-Picot borders. Thanks to stupid TRUMP for uniting real Arabs and Real Muslims and Real Humans.

UP

Daily Sabah: Exclusive interview with Gilad Atzmon

January 22, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

I left Israel because I didn’t want to live on someone else’s land.

I left Israel because I didn’t want to live on someone else’s land.

https://www.dailysabah.com/

Gilad Atzmon In an interview with Daily Sabah’s editor Burak Altun digging into  the current crisis in the Middle East

Burak Altun: Mr Atzmon, you are one of the most gifted jazz musicians around. In addition, you  are actively engaged in peace in the Middle East and criticize the state of Israel  within that context. I can see two separate identities here – you are a musician and a political activist. At the social and political level, you complain about identity politics in the West. What is it all about?

Gilad Atzmon: To start with, you are very kind in your description of me, but let me correct you. I am not a political activist, I have never been involved in politics and I prefer to stay away from the so called activist community. The reason is simple. Activists always know the answers. I am a philosopher. My task is refining the questions. I can easily live in peace with more than one answer and even with competing and contradicting  answers.

However, let me address your question regarding identity politics. In the world in which I grew up the role of the political and especially Left politics was to point at that which unites us. Our left icons insisted that it didn’t matter whether one is a Muslim, Black, Jew or Woman, we were all united against the mammonites, those capitalist plunderers in the City. But this has  changed. At a certain stage the Left decided to embrace new tactics. We were taught how to speak ‘as a’: as a woman, as a Jew, as a Black, as a gay and so on. Instead of being united we were set up to fight each other. In this New Left/progressive universe, we the people are divided by our biology yet the global market is united in its war against us the people, against humanity and humanism.

How do you explain the allegations of anti-Semitism, which are repeatedly directed against you? You yourself differentiate between Judaism (the religion) and Jewish politics.  According to the logic of those who accuse you, critics of “Islamism” must be Islamophobes.

The accusation of anti-Semitsm is obviously an empty one. It is designed to stifle criticism of Israel and Jewish power. In my entire life I have never criticized Jews or anyone else as a people, race, biology or ethnicity. I deal solely with ID politics, ideology and culture!   For me racism becomes a problem when blind hatred is performed, when you hate X for being X, when you hate Black people for being Black or when you hate White people for being White. I can’t think of anyone who hates Jews for being Jews. I would admit that more than a few may oppose Jews for what they interpret as Jewish politics, Jewish Lobbying, Jewish ideology and so on. This tendency deserves our attention. It clearly deserves Jewish attention but Jewish power is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power.

Now, your point regarding Islamists and Islamophobia deserve attention. I don’t believe that there are such things as ‘Islamists’ or ‘Islamism.’ In Islam, like in Judaism, there is no distinction between the political and religio.  Islamism is a Zionist/Neocon invention. It was created in an attempt to draw an imaginary dichotomy between the religious reality and the political. It is basically a projection of the Jewish post-assimilation reality on the Muslim world. It was invented in order to provide a ‘rationale’ for America and Britain so they could flatten Arab cities on behalf of Zion.

You said once in an interview for Russia Today that your charm is your defense against the antisemitic allegations. Can you elaborate? Can a likeable person basically not be an anti-Semite? And do you sometimes wonder if your critics are secretly playing your music before they go to bed? 

My comment on George Galloway was obviously comical. It is pretty obvious that a person who plays music every night with many Jews and shares platforms with rabbis cannot be ‘anti-semitic.’ It is hardly a secret that many of my supporters are Jews and even Israelis.

I would have loved to think that my detractors can enjoy my music. But I do not have any reason to believe that they are aesthetically inclined.

You grew up in a Zionist family and witnessed the Lebanon War in 1982. Would you be so committed to peace in the Middle East today if you had not had that experience? How do you feel about it when you reflect on your past?

It is hard to say. I am not a political person. I am doing what I am doing because I am curious.

I left Israel because I didn’t want to live on someone else’s land. But when I witnessed the Jewish Diaspora Zionists’ hawkish attitude and even worse, the duplicity at the core of the Jewish anti-Zionist discourse, I realised how intense Jewish identity is. I started to dig into it. We are dealing with complex and fascinating people who are shaped by a very old tribal philosophy that morphs quickly. By the time you think that you understand Jewish ID politics, it only suggests that Jewish ID politics has already morphed into something else. 

My philosophy hero Otto Weininger taught me that in art, self exploration is exploration of the world. For me, self reflection is understanding the troubling affairs around us. I guess that this is why Jews are so troubled by self hatred. It is an attempt of unveiling the concealed, the deepest secrets Jews tend to hide from themselves.

I do not need to ask you how about your stand on the U.S. decision regarding Jerusalem – but it would be interesting to know if you see a long-term departure from the “Trump’s Middle East policy. At the moment, the outcry is particularly great – which is partly due to the relevance of  Jerusalem. However, there had been no constructive development in the Middle East under Obama’s leadership. How do you rate the role of the USA – and especially the Israel lobby? You once said that AIPAC offered you money to become a member. Was the amount not big enough? 

Trump doesn’t have a middle East policy. And this is not a bad thing. America is not a key player anymore and this is a very positive development. We should thank Trump and Kushner for it. But it is true that this deterioration didn’t start just a year ago. I believe Obama made a conscious decision to pull out from the region. 

There is no doubt that AIPAC has been dominating American Middle East policy for a long time and it is totally obvious that AIPAC was serving the interests of a foreign state rather than American national interests. Americans can only blame themselves for letting this happen.

Since I left Israel, I have never been approached by a single Israeli or a Zionist body who tried to buy my support or collaboration.  The Jewish institutions and people who attempted to bribe me a few times in the past were of the Jewish anti-Zionist persuasion. I was offered to be ‘looked after’ and protected as long as I accepted their duplicitous terminology or just dumped my own. They wanted me to limit the discussion to Zionism and to make sure I drift away from the study of Jewish ID politics. Several times I was asked to denounce and disavow several people. I always rejected any dialogue with these kinds of tribal agent. In some cases I exposed these attempts. 

How do you rate the recent move by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) led by President Erdoğan against the Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Will the UN resolution do something?

I’ll be honest with you. I do not think that anyone, including President Erdoğan, can liberate the Palestinians except the Palestinians themselves. How they do that is indeed a complicated question. I believe that Abbas is right. Time is their weapon. To survive is to win. The only people who can destroy the Jewish state are the Jews themselves. This is how they have always done it along their history.

In recent years, President Erdoğan has repeatedly, loudly complained of the Israeli government’s behavior towards the Palestinians and used harsh words such as “terrorist state” or “child murderer” regarding Israel. Many leaders of Arab states would never dare to do so that concretely. So Erdoğan’s popularity in Palestine seems very high. Do you believe that President Erdoğan can build a powerful counter-pole to Israel and the United States? It seems as if the EU member states have also moved a bit toward the Palestinians politically since the last Jerusalem crisis – even if they are looking for political pressure against Israel in vain.

President Erdoğan was indeed outspoken when it comes to Israel but I do understand how volatile the situation he is in. He has to deal with a very complex situation. Syria, the Kurds, Gülen, NATO, Russia and the USA. Unfortunately, Israel is a key player in all of that. We have seen the Turks swinging on issues to do with Israel. At the end of the day, Erdogan was elected to serve the Turkish people and this mission is probably difficult enough considering the complexity involved.

Do you still believe in the possibility of a two-state solution?

I’ve never believed in a two State Solution. And I am not so sure that the discussion about solutions is leading anywhere. It is designed to keep some activists busy so they have something to shout in their gatherings and pickets. 

What we really see is facts on the ground. Israel and Palestine are one state. One electrical grid, one international pre dial number (+972), one sewage system yet this state is oppressive, abusive and often genocidal towards the indigenous people of the land. Why? Because Israel defines itself as ‘the Jewish State.’ It is a state of the Jews rather than ‘a State of its citizens.’ For the situation to be resolved Israel must be ‘de-Jewishified’ (stripped of its Judeo-centric  exceptionalism and become  a state of its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion). However, when this happens Israel will become Palestine from the river to the sea.

Thank you very much for the interview Mr Atzmon, and good luck with your music and your political commitment to peace in the Middle East.

All the best…

 

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