Jewish Politics in America – A Post Political View

November 14, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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I was invited to join the Unz Review, here is a link to my first contribution:

http://www.unz.com/

“The two contradictory Jewish ideologies (Identitarianism and Israelism) are each well- ensconced within the two rival ideologies that are tearing America apart. The red Republican counties want America to be Israel Again. The large metropolitan areas near America’s coasts have adopted the twelve tribes of Israel model – a loose Identitarian coalition threatened by Samaritans, Canaanites, Amalekites or as Hillary Clinton calls them the ‘basket of deplorables.’

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In 1994 I enrolled in a postgraduate course in philosophy at a British University. On my first day at the University I had to complete a few routine administrative duties such as registering my name with the philosophy department and meeting my supervisors. I was also told that I had to join the student union. Being a subservient type, I walked over to the Student Union hall where I soon realized that the task was slightly more complicated than I had expected. There were a plethora of student unions to choose from: The Black Student Union, The Asian Student Association, The Socialist Students, The Gay Student Society and more. Confused, I asked for assistance. They asked where I was from. When I told them “Israel,” I was told that the “Jewish Student Union” was my home.

It was then, at the Student Union Hall, that I first encountered the identity split between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. It would take some time before I was able to define this binary tension in philosophical or post political terms and before I understood the Jewish dilemma in terms of Nationalist/Identitarian dialectics. Two decades later, the political battle now going on in America is basically an extension of that internal Jewish debate.

Back in 1994 I didn’t see any reason to join the Jewish Student Union. I had never identified ‘as a Jew’ and Judaism meant little to me. Israel was my place of birth. My ‘identity’ as I then saw it was geographically oriented. Fortunately, I managed to complete my postgraduate course without becoming a ‘union member.’ But my thoughts about that morning at the student union hall have evolved into a few controversial books and hundreds of papers on ID politics and the current Identitarian dystopia.

In 2011 I wrote The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. The premise of the book was that if Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’ then we have to dissect the meaning of the J-Word. We have to grasp how Judaism (the religion), Jews (the people) and Jewishness (the spirit, ideology and culture) relate to each other and how these terms influence Israeli politics and the activities of the Jewish Lobby around the world. Instead of studying ‘Zionism,’ an archaic term that is not relevant to most Israelis, my book focused on Jewish identifications. I did not address the problematic question of ‘who and what Jews are,’ I tried instead to find out what those who call themselves Jews identify with.

While this question is certainly germane to an understanding of Israel and the Middle East conflict, it is also crucial to an understanding of the current American dystopia. Instead of asking ‘who Americans are’ let us explore what Americans identify with.

In the post-political era, America is divided into two camps, let’s call them Americans and Identitarians. Americans see themselves primarily as American patriots. They often subscribe to a nationalist populist ideology and, like the Israelis, identify with a piece of geography. On the other hand, Identitarians are primarily liberals and progressives. They identify themselves in biological and sociological terms, and they see themselves first as LGBTQ, Latino, Black, Jewish, feminist etc. Their bond with the American nationalist ethos is at most secondary and often non-existent.

This division in America between ‘nationalism’ and ‘identitarianism’ is similar to the dichotomy I observed at the student union hall in 1994. In fact, Israel has become a prime model for American nationalists. Similarly, it is Jewish progressive ideology that inspires Identitarians globally and in America in particular. It is the pervasiveness of Jewish ideologies within both nationalist and Identitarian discourses that sustains the dominance of Jewish and Israeli political institutions in American politics.

The Israeli Lobby’s hegemony over American foreign policy and its force in advocating policies that favor Israel has been widely recognized. Numerous studies on the topic have been published, such as: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Prof John Mearsheimer and Prof Stephen Walt), The Power of Israel in The United State (Professor James Petras). Alison Weir’s website, If Americans Knew routinely presents a devastating chronicle of Israeli intervention in American politics. The Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs has been producing outstanding work as well. The crucial question is, why have Americans let this happen?

My study of Jewish ID politics suggests that America isn’t just influenced by one Jewish lobby or another. The entire American political-cultural-spiritual spectrum has been transformed into a internal Jewish exchange. Most American do not see the true nature of the battle they participate in and, for the obvious reasons, their media and their academics do not help. It is more convenient to keep Americans in the dark.

America is rapidly moving towards a civil war. The divide isn’t only ideological or political. The split is geographical, spiritual, educational and demographical. In a Voxarticle titled, “The Midterm Elections Revealed that America is in a Cold Civil War,” Zack Beauchamp writes, “This is a country fundamentally split in two, with no real room for compromise.” Of the midterm election Beauchamp reports that “American politics is polarized not on the basis of class or even ideology, but on identity… One side open to mass immigration and changes to the country’s traditional racial hierarchy, the other is deeply hostile to it.” He correctly observes that “Republicans and Democrats see themselves as part of cultural groups that are fundamentally distinct: They consume different media and attend different churches; live in distinct kinds of places and rarely interact with people who disagree with them.”

Despite this American schism, Israel and its Lobby are somehow able to influence both sides, managing to finding pathways to the secluded corridors of both parties. Although Democrats and Republicans can no longer talk to each other, it seems that both are happy to talk to Israel and the Lobby. And it is at AIPAC’s annual conference that these political foes compete in their eagerness to appease a foreign state. This anomaly in American politics demands attention.

As a former Israeli, I had not observed the effects of the Israel/ Jewish Diaspora dilemma until I had my experience at the Student Union Hall in Britain. Israel was born with the Zionist desire to eradicate the identity of Jews as cosmopolitans. Zionism promised to bond the Jew with the soil, with a territory, with borders. Thus, it is consistent with the Zionist paradigm that Israel is notorious for its appalling treatment of asylum seekers, immigrants and, of course, the indigenous people of the land. Israel has surrounded itself with separation walls. Israel deployed hundreds of snipers in its fight to stop the March of Return – a ‘caravan’ of Palestinian refugees who were marching towards its border. Israel has been putting into daily practice that which Trump has promised to deliver. For a Trump supporter, Israel’s politics is a wet dream. Maybe Trump should consider tweaking his motto in 2020 into ‘Let’s make America Israel.’ This would encompass building separation walls, bullying America’s neighbors, the potential to cleanseAmerica of the ‘enemy within,’ and so on. It is not surprising that in 2016 Trump beat Clinton in an Israeli absentee exit poll. The Israelis do love Trump. To them, he is a vindication of their hawkish ideological path. Although during the election Trump was castigated as a vile anti-Semite and a Hitler figure by the Jewish progressive press, once elected, Fox News was quick to point out that Trump was actually the ‘First Jewish President.’

We can see that Israel, Trump and his voters have a lot in common. They want militant anti immigration policies , they love ‘walls,’ they hate Muslims and they believe in borders. When alt right icon Richard Spencer described himself on Israeli TV as “a White Zionist” he was actually telling the truth. Israel puts into practice the ideas that Spencer and Trump can so far only entertain. But the parallels between Israel and the Trump administration’s Republican voters is just one side of the story.

In my recent book, Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, I point out that while the old, good Left tried to unite us by insisting that it was not important whether one was Black, a Woman, a Muslim, a Jew or Gay; in the class war, we were all united against capitalism. It was the new Left that taught us to speak ‘as a’: as a Jew, as a Gay, as a Black and so on. Instead of being one people united in the struggle for justice and equality, within the post political realm we are pulled into endless identity battles.

Seemingly, this Identitarian revolution has been inspired by a few Jewish ideological and philosophical schools including, most importantly, the Frankfurt School. Truth must be said, when it comes to ID politics, Diaspora Jewish ideologists are often slightly more advanced than others, not because Jews are more clever than anyone else but simply because Jews have engaged in identity politics far longer than anyone else. While Gay identity politics is about four decades old and Feminism is maybe a century old, Jewish identity politics started in Babylon two and a half millennia ago. In fact, Judaism can be realised as an exilic Identitarian project. It deliberately and carefully sustains Jewish cultural, spiritual and physical segregation. Although Jews often drop their religion and dispose of God, many cling to Jewishness. For one reason or another, Jews often choose to operate within Jews- only political cells such as Jewish Voice for PeaceJewish Voice for Labour and so on. These Jewish bodies tend to preach inclusiveness while practicing exclusivity.

So it is hardly surprising that Jewish Identitarian philosophy and Jewish Identitarian success provides the model that inspires most, if not all, Identitarian politics within the New Left milieu in general and the current Democratic Party in particular. This isn’t the place to discuss at length or in depth the reasons behind Jewish identitarian success, however, it should be mentioned that while most Identitarians are taught to celebrate victimhood, to blame others for their misfortune, Jewish Identitarianism has a subtle dynamic balance between victimhood and entitlement.

Naturally, Jewish ideologists are at the helm of the Identitarian revolution. Maybe more well known is the fact that a chief funder of that revolution is financier George Soros and his Open Society Institute. Soros may genuinely believe in the Identitarian future: It is cosmopolitan, it is global, it defies borders and states but far more significantly, it also serves to divert attention from Wall Street and capitalist crimes: as long as Identitarians fight each other, no one bothers to fight Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and corporate tyranny. Soros didn’t invent this strategy, it has long been called ‘divide and conquer.’

The abovesheds light on the depth of influence of Jewish politics in America. While Israel is an exemplar of contemporary Republican goals, Democrats are emulating Jewish Diaspora identitarianism. The two contradictory Jewish ideologies are each well- ensconced within the two rival ideologies that are tearing America apart. The red Republican counties want America to be Israel Again. Thelarge metropolitan areas near America’s coasts have adopted the twelve tribes of Israel model – a loose Identitarian coalition threatened by Samaritans, Canaanites, Amalekites or as Hillary Clinton calls them the ‘basket of deplorables.’

The story of Jewish political strength in America doesn’t end there. A New York Jew can easily metamorphosize from an hard-core Identitarian into rabid Zionist settler and vice versa, but such a manoeuvre is not available to ordinary Americans. White nationalist Richard Spencer can not make the political shift that would turn him into a progressive or a liberal just as it is unlikely that a NY transsexual icon would find it possible to become a ‘redneck.’ While Jewish political identity is inherently elastic and can morph endlessly, the American political divide is fairly rigid. Jewish ideologists frequently change positions and camps, they shift from left to right, from Clinton to Trump (Dershowitz), they support immigration in their host counties yet oppose it in their own Jewish State, they are against rigid borders and even states in general, yet support the two state solution in Palestine (Chomsky). Gentiles are less flexible. They are expected to be coherent and consistent.

It was this manoeuvrability that made PM Netanyahu’s 2015 speech in front of a joint session of Congress a ‘success,’ although it might well have been considered a humiliation for any American with an ounce of patriotic pride. As we wellknow, Bibi can communicate easily with both Republicans and Democrats just as he cansimultaneously befriend Trump and Putin. He deploys snipers at the Gaza border with orders to kill while considerately peppering his statements with LGBTQ human rights advocacy. Not many Americans have dared to address this topic, but I believe that there are some who, by now, can see the situation clearly.

It was the Israeli in me who saw the disparity between ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’ at the Student Union Hall because I was raised as an Israeli patriot. I was trained to love and even die for the soil I mistakenly believed to be mine. As an Israeli, I was also trained to think tribal but speak universal, and I learned how to whine as a victim yet exercise oppression. But at a certain point in my life, around my thirties, I started to find all of it too exhausting. I wanted to simplify things. I demoted myself into an ordinary human being.

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Divide and Conquer

November 07, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

I am not even remotely a Trump supporter,  but I do think that he has managed to expose the spectrum of western political morbidity, both left and right. Trump is the ultimate Post Political icon — the symptom as well as the disease.

For the last four decades, the West has been subjected to an intense cultural and social revolution. The cause of ‘social justice’ has made some fundamental changes in western society.  Elementary rights, such as the freedom to think openly, have been eradicated and replaced by a strict regime of correctness. In retrospect, it was reasonable to believe that there was little significant resistance to these social justice heroes. During that time, it seemed that their agenda had prevailed. Just five years ago it looked as if the Tyranny of Correctness was here to stay. But then, unexpectedly, the tide changed.

First the Scottish referendum let us know that every other Scot wanted to separate from the Kingdom. Soon after, half of the Brits voted to split from the EU, and then, totally unexpectedly, Trump won the presidential election.

It was Trump’s victory that really brought the identity war to the fore. For whatever reason, it was Trump and his combative rhetoric that most clearly exposed the demarcation line that divides the West.

America, like the rest of the West, is split into  ‘Identitarians’ and ‘Nationalists:’ Identitarians identify politically with their symptoms. These symptoms may be ethnic or cultural but most often are biological (skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, race, etc.). Nationalists, on the other hand, are people who identify politically with a piece of geography that is defined by their national borders.

‘Nationalists’ are not necessarily right-wing. As I explore in my recent book, Being in Time-a Post Political Manifesto, Trump’s nationalist populism shares some characteristics with left icons such as Bernie Sanders and the populism of British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. All three politicians resist divisive Identitarian ideologies. Steve Bannon, the bete noir of liberal America, explored this idea in a recent televised debate: “It is not a question whether populism is on the rise.. the only question before us is whether it is going to be populist nationalism or populist socialism…”

Populism is back everywhere, which raises the question of whether Trump is, in fact,  a populist. Does he actually care for the people or about the people? I do not see any clear evidence of that. Trump behaves as an oligarch, bonded with international oligarchy. Trump is popular, but ‘popularity’ and ‘populism’ are distinct concepts. The former refers to being loved by the people, the latter is someone who cares for the people. Liberals and progressives who castigate Trump as a ‘fascist’ should understand that while fascism is defined as a ‘National Socialist’ endeavour, Trump is more a ‘National Capitalist.’  He is popular because he successfully delivers a populist message.

This morning there is a new political situation. Trump is not going to save America. Even if he once believed that he could do so, the window for such a manoeuvre has closed. It is unlikely that Trump will be able to make significant changes. The Democratic House of Representatives will likely reject his initiatives. Despite this, Trump’s presence in the White House has revealed the conflict that shatters the West. The old political battle between Left and Right has been replaced by post- political Identitarian wars. WW3 is not going to be fought between countries, or states or across borders. It will be a war that splits states, societies and even families apart.

While Donald Trump’s promise to make America Great carried little substance, the red portion of the map of America shows a clear divide. As you move away from America’s coasts, a lot of people do not want what the liberals are offering. They want work, secure borders, education and health services. They want America to be great for real. They want justice and equality. They may or may not be bothered by uncertain or unconventional genders, they are far more concerned with being able to get a decent job.

Whether anyone within the Democratic or the Republican party truly understands this longing is an open question. But I have no doubt that the thirst for a radical change is going to bring more populist politics to America and beyond.

To understand the current dystopia read Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

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

What It Means to be Israeli: Reflections on Identity From an Israeli Peace Activist

By Miko Peled
Source

SÃO PAULO — (Opinion) To clarify the conditions of Israeli society and Israeli attitudes towards peace and justice, it is important to identify what it means to be “Israeli.” That was the premise of a recent speech I gave at a conference titled “Oslo at 25 – An Elusive Peace,” recently held at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

My role was to speak about “initiatives from within Israeli society in favor of peace and justice for the region.” The conference included a wide array of speakers from around the world, all experts on the different aspects of the Middle East. I was asked to speak on one of the panels along with Dr. Azzam Tamimi, Afif Safia, and Professor Alvaro Vasconcelos. The panel was chaired by Professor Arlene Clemesha of the University of São Paulo.

What is Israeli Identity?

In my book, The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, I try to describe what an Israeli is and Palestine is, and I do this through the journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Palestine being a small country, no journey within it can be very long. However, the journey of an Israeli into Palestine is that of one who ventures out of the safe sphere of the privileged occupier, where the roads are well paved and the water flows freely, to that of the occupied, the oppressed, the “other,” where reality is vastly different.

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Zionists will argue that it was in fact anti-Semitism that brought about the need for the creation of a new identity for Jewish people, the Israeli identity, which is aggressive and bold. But was this really an improvement in the conditions of Jewish people? Members of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community feel very differently.

While some argue that the Holocaust and the anti-Semitism prevalent in Europe throughout the centuries are the justification for the existence of the state of Israel, the fact is that most Jewish people who escaped anti-Semitism sought refuge elsewhere. Only a small fraction of Israelis today have family members who survived the Holocaust.

In a conversation I had with Rabbi Dovid Feldman from New York, I mentioned to him that as Israelis we look down at the rather pale, frail appearance of the Ultra-Orthodox community. “You have no idea how hard we work to maintain this look,” he replied. He went on to say that the Zionist version of a “strong” Jew is antithetical to Judaism.

More than one member of this community has told me, “Israel is no place for a Jew.” In a conversation with Rabbi Elhanan Beck, who moved from Jerusalem to London, Beck told me:

I’ve lived in the U.K. for 36 years and, even with my obvious Jewish look (long beard and traditional clothes), I have never experienced anti-Semitism. Furthermore, neither I or my children have ever seen a soldier; I do not know what a British soldier looks like. In Jerusalem, children see soldiers and guns all around them. So how is Israel a safer or better place for Jews?”

No ethnic or religious identity

There is an unproven claim — more of a myth — that all Jewish people today are descendants of the children of Israel or the ancient Hebrews who lived in Palestine several thousand years ago. Even though this story is perpetuated, the fact is that not a single Jewish person alive today can trace their ancestry to the ancient Hebrews, nor can they show where their ancestral home or land was located, nor do they possess as much as a key to that home. So Israelis are not natives of the land.

In addition to that, Jewish people are ethnically different from one another. The ethnic differences between Yemeni Jews and Polish Jews are evident in every aspect of their existence. Those non-Europeans who ended up in Israel faced very different realities owing to the racist tendencies that were prevalent among the ruling Israelis of European descent. Even today, when racism is less obvious, the ethnic and cultural differences are still obvious.

Whether or not Israelis, who are by and large a secular society, are really Jewish is another question. According to the strict interpretation of Jewish law — which completely and without compromise rejects secularism and Zionism — the so-called Jewish identity of the Israeli people is put in question: Jewish law prohibits Jews from sovereignty in the Holy Land, and sovereignty in the Holy Land is what Israelis are all about. Furthermore, if one does not follow Jewish law, the meaning of one’s Jewish identity is in question.

It, therefore, can come as no surprise that growing up as an Israeli one learns to hate Arabs and to hate orthodox non-Zionist Jews. A great number of the larger Orthodox communities, as in the state of  New York, for example, are survivors of the Holocaust and are strictly anti-Zionist. Clearly, Israelis cannot identify with them.

So if Israelis are not natives of the land on which they live, and their Jewish identity is in question, who are they?

A New Creation

“Israeli-ness” is a new creation, a new political and social entity that in many ways is similar to the white society in South Africa and the Americas. Israeli society was built on a racist, settler-colonial ideology, and it too is guilty of genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population.

Zionism, the ideological foundation of Israel and of “Israeli-ness,” is incompatible with justice and equality with the indigenous people of Palestine — and therefore is incompatible with what we might see as Peace. Zionist ideological claims to the “Land of Israel” are absolute and, as has been made clear over seven decades of Zionist control of Palestine, will not compromise.

What few attempts Israel has made to negotiate “peace” with the Palestinians should be viewed as tactics to serve the larger strategy of controlling the land, the people and the resources. The Oslo Agreement is no different from the massacres of Deir Yassin or Kfar Kassem that were intended to create a mass exodus of Palestinians and allow for more land to be taken by the Zionist state. Oslo was no different from the Israeli massacres in the refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, or the recurring attacks on Gaza, or any other attacks on Palestinians that are in fact too many to count.

In a recent interview, I was asked whether it is fair to say that one should not blame the Israeli people but rather the government. Had the state of Israel not been a democracy for Jews, that claim would have some truth to it. But the Israeli governments represent Israeli society. Israelis live in a democracy, they vote in high numbers and they’ve elected and re-elected leaders who have executed brutal attacks against the Palestinian people over the past seven decades.

Israeli attitudes towards peace and justice can be clearly viewed by observing the policies that consecutive Israeli governments have executed towards Palestinians. Ongoing violence and injustice with no end in sight, until such a day that Zionism and its racist ideology are brought down and replaced by an inclusive democracy that provides complete equal rights to all who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Gilad Atzmon on Sunday Wire Discussing the last Synagogue Shooting

October 29, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

I was interviewed yesterday by Patrick Henningsen/Sunday Wire about the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I offered my view of this tragic event and also allowed myself to offer an alternative view of the current dystopia. Unlike most liberals and so called ‘progressives,’ I see the constant rise in mass shooting events around the globe as a symptom of a radical shift in our human landscape. We are rapidly drifting away from empathy and tolerance. In the discussion I suggested that we better look at the root of that shift and identify the disease instead of focusing on the symptoms.

The interview starts at around 22:30 and is about one hour long,

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From Bibi to Herzl

September 20, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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

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

Julia Salazar and Jewish Privilege

September 04, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

A few years ago in Portland, a pro Palestinian activist told me that he was a bit uneasy. A recent study of Portland’s demography had found that the number of Jews in the city had doubled overnight. This concerned my activist friend for the obvious reasons. Jewish migration is often attached to political and cultural transitions. He asked me, as an expert on Jewish affairs, what is it that brings so many Jews to his northern American city.  I thought about it for maybe 30 seconds and, even without examining the evidence, I offered a possible answer. “It is certainly easy to imagine that many Jews migrated to your city, but it is more likely that what happened is that many more people, Jews and gentiles, have chosen to identify themselves as Jews.”

Jewish identification in the 21st century is an obvious privilege, some might claim, the ultimate political privilege. As we know, Judeo-centric exceptionalist politics are protected from criticism by different legal and cultural instruments such as the bogus IHRA definition of antisemitism and the tyranny of correctness. If you are a Jew, you are perceived as a well-connected character, probably slightly more ‘sophisticated’ than the average American. Whether we like to admit it or not, a young law school graduate, may benefit from appearing to be Jewish as he interviews for his first job at a NY law firm.

Last year in San Diego, an astute Palestinian- American friend, loudly joked during the Q&A following my talk: “I really don’t understand my people. All we have to do is to convert en mass into Judaism and then make Aliya and take our land back.”

It is hardly a secret. In the world in which we live, the ultimate political privilege is reserved for Jewish ID politics. The Jewish Identitarian ethos goes far beyond Jewish political orientation. It is the piece that unites the Jewish right and left. The Zionists claim the right to live ‘in peace’ on someone else’s land. The so-called ‘anti’ Zionists insist that their Jewishness places them in the very special position to “kosher” the entire pro Palestinian movement.

N.Y. State Senate hopeful Julia Salazar is just 27 years old, but she has clearly grasped the universe around her. She wants to be elected and she understands that being a Jew is the quickest path to her goal. The Brooklyn candidate stated that her Jewishness is based largely on “family lore,” but to her great surprise, the Jews weren’t happy to take her in. Haaretz quickly pointed out that Salazar doesn’t belong to the chosen people.  A Jewish ex-friend told the Israeli paper Salazar had “admitted she couldn’t go on Birthright trip because she wasn’t Jewish.”

Apparently the ‘ex friend’ told the Israeli paper that “As someone who values and cherished my Jewish identity, I’m incensed at the idea of another person fabricating a similar identity for political gain, for the purposes of recognition and to get ahead in life.”  The message here is unambiguous although hardly news. Jewish identity is an exclusive tribal setting that is racially defined. Unless Salazar can show her mother’s Jewish racial purity, she is basically out of the Jewish club and can’t be a beneficiary of the Jewish privilege.

The Zionist outrage around Salazar is to be expected. For whatever political reasons, Salazar who runs in Brooklyn, decided to adopt the Jewish pro BDS position. In the eyes of Israel firsters she committed two crimes: she ‘pretends’ to be a Jew and then, if this were not enough, she actually pretends to be a ‘self hating’ one.

The good news for humanity, however, is that Salazar, like many others, can read the political transition in the west. She probably sees how popular Corbyn is in Britain despite the relentless and duplicitous campaign against him. Salazar may understand that many people see Israel as the ultimate evil.  She may even believe that Trump won the election because he was “dog whistling” by pointing at Soros, the Fed, Goldman Sachs, etc.  But it goes further. Salazar is living in NYC and she may well sense or even share her neighbours’ renewed anger every year when the list of “NYC 100 Worst Landlords” is published. Perhaps Salazar believes that the only chance to survive in American politics in the current climate is to become a Jew. To oppose Israel as a Jew, to oppose NYC slumlords as a Jew, to oppose AIPAC as a Jew. Perhaps Salazar believes that the only way to emancipate America from what may seem to some as Jewish hegemony, is to become a Jew. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Here is the bad news for Salazar, it is not going to work. The Jews have rejected the young Latina. Apparently she isn’t racially qualified.

The Jewishpress writes today. “There are, at least, three reasons why many of us (Jews) find her vaguely annoying. These are:1) Her apparently untrue claims to be Jewish. 2) Her antisemitic anti-Zionism. 3) Her anti-democratic socialism.”

But it isn’t only the Zionists who reject the young Latin Jewish candidate, the so-called ‘Jewish Progressives’ do not really want her either.  The Jewish ‘progressive’ Forward isn’t pleased with Salazar either. Mijal Bitton writes “… the Salazar dustup revealed a fundamental and seldom explored paradox in the liberal discourse on identity: the tension between essential and exclusive identity politics predicated on group experiences on the one hand, and notions of identity that validate choice and malleability in how individuals self-identify on the other.”

Not surprisingly, Bitton, like most Identitarians, doesn’t understand the crux of ID politics. The so called ‘paradox’ she refers to is actually inherent in the dialectic tension that forms the core of the Identitarian discourse.

Identitarianism doesn’t reveal ‘what people are,’ instead it tells what people ‘identify as.’ John identifying himself ‘as a gay’ doesn’t necessarily mean that John is a homosexual. It only reveals that John likes to see himself and to be seen by others ‘as gay.’ This essential understanding of the misleading nature of the Identitarianism was explored by the comic ‘Daffyd Thomas – The only Gay in the village.’ Thomas identifies as ‘a gay.’ He adopts gay symbolic identifiers, he speaks as one, he demands the attention and the privilege of one, but at the same time he is totally removed from the sexuality that has traditionally been the crux of ‘being’ gay.

In an attempt to resolve Salazar’s Jewish identity complex, Bitton argues that Salazar’s defenders have two arguments: “The first defends her on the grounds that she represents a hybrid identity distinctly Latin/Sephardi/non-white, and as such inaccessible and misunderstood by her white, Ashkenazi, American critics. The second defends her on the grounds that Jewish identity, like Salazar’s, is malleable and does not fit into one mold.”

Both arguments can be summed into a single intellectually duplicitous doctrine that is set to block criticism of any given Identitarian discourse. It attributes blindness to the Other.  But isn’t this exactly what Jewish institutions are doing routinely? Just a month ago, in a letter to the Labour Party ruling Body, British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote “It is astonishing that the Labour Party presumes that it is more qualified than…the Jewish community to define antisemitism.” Essentially, the Chief Rabbi is complaining that a bunch of Goyim in the Labour party see themselves as qualified to decide what antisemitsm is for the Labour party.

So, while the British Chief Rabbi claims that ‘antisemitsm’ is a Jew -protected discourse, Bitton complains that Salazar’s identity as Latina, Sephardi, or as a Jew of Color, intrudes on protected property; “it can only be understood, and interrogated, by the small number of those born into similar identities.”

In fact, Salazar has been copying Rabbi Mirvis’ tactics. This doesn’t only confirm that she is a Jew, it may qualify her to become Brooklyn’s chief Rabbi.

Bitton says of Salazar defenders that, “According to them, Salazar’s minority group identity confers upon her certain inalienable rights of representation inaccessible to others, but she can also legitimately choose to be Jewish in her own individual way.”

This may seem a contradiction to some. But this is exactly the primary rule of Jewish ID politics. Jewish identification is largely a racially exclusive club. But those who manage to fit in are totally free to choose their own way; they can be orthodox, conservative, reform, secular, atheist, self loving, self hating, Zionists, anti or even AZZ (anti Zionist Zionists). The members of the Jewish Identitarian club are welcome to select any combination of the above while knowing that any criticism from an outsider can be dismissed as a form of ‘antisemitsm.’ But candidate Salazar can’t take part in this Identitarian exercise. Why? Because she isn’t racially qualified.

Whether Bitton understands it or not, her futile attempt to deconstruct Salazar reveals that the Jewish Identitarian concept is, in practice, an exercise in Jewish racial classification. There is no difference between Salazar’s identitarian choice and JVP or other Jewish progressive schools of thought. None of the Jewish progressive schools is asked to clear its contradictions. The JVPs are not asked to source the so called ‘Jewish values’ that stand at the core of their ‘Jewish activism.’ The only difference is that Salazar isn’t racially Jewish. Her mother’s blood is not of the right kind. She is, accordingly, rejected.

Bitton herself seems to grasp that her attempt at deconstruction of Salazar achieves little.  Bitton ends her Forward article by admitting that “Salazar’s story demands that we (Jews, presumably) explore the way in which we approach identity. Is it malleable, individual and pro-choice, or it is essential, exclusive and inherited? And if it can be both, then those who choose a selective approach to identity must demonstrate moral consistency in their rhetoric.”

I guess that the answer is really simple. Jewish identity is both malleable and racially exclusive. It is elastic enough to fit different Jewish tribal interests. Salazar, I believe, would face no problem from whatsoever in becoming a ‘Jew’ if she were a supporter of Israel and an enemy of BDS. Israeli patriots are noticeably racially tolerant of Goyim who support the Jewish national project as many Russians immigrants to Israeli could happily attest.

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To understand ID politics and Jewish ID politics in particular read

The Wandering Who? & Being in Time

 

Israel’s National Bill and the Jewish Solidarity Spin

July 24, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Last Thursday the Israeli Knesset adopted Israel’s National Bill. The law specifies that self-determination is “exclusive” to the Jewish people. It endorses the establishment of Jews-only settlements as a part of Israel’s national interests.  The National Bill demotes Arabic from an official national language to “special” status. Israel’s national symbols include the Israeli flag, the menorah, Jewish holidays, the Hatikva national anthem, the Hebrew calendar and Israel’s Independence Day.

The new National Bill legislates what has been an active policy of segregation and discrimination by Israeli authorities since Israel’s inception. As many critics of the bill noted, the bill reveals that in the Jewish State Jews and goyim are not equal citizens.

It is crucial to point out that the bill doesn’t define Israel as ‘the Judaic State.” It repeatedly refers to Israel as the state of the ‘Jewish People.’ In Hebrew, the law is named the ‘Nation Bill.’ The law refers to the ‘Jewish State’ and the ‘Jewish folk.’ It provides an invaluable glimpse into the true meaning of Jewishness particularly as perceived by Israeli Jews.

In 2011, I published The Wandering Who? The basic premise of the book was definitional. I argued that if Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, in order to understand that term, we have to ask: who are the Jews? What is Judaism? What is Jewishness? And then we could proceed to try to figure out how these terms relate to each other. How do they affect the world in which we live, Israeli politics, Jewish pressure groups and so on.

As I expected, not a single Israeli or Zionist opposed the principles of my study. Israelis and Zionists do accept that Israel is the Jewish State. They are intimately familiar with the discourse of Jewishness (יהודיות) and the meaning of the term. However, despite the fact that my study was praised and endorsed by some of the most respected academics and humanists, Jewish Palestinian solidarity activists were desperate to silence me and erase my work. Just a few weeks after the book came out, Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah managed to gather another 20 Palestinians to call for my ‘disavowal.’ Clearly Abunimah didn’t want or approve of my attempt to focus on the core ideology and culture that drives Israeli supremacy, discrimination and brutality inflicted on his own people. A few years later, Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist Tony Greenstein was foolish enough to reveal that it was he who had actually “engineered” Ali Abunimah’s call for my ‘disavowal.’

To learn about the Abunimah/Atzmon dispute watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hrJcMO88EI

Jewishness, as I argue in The Wandering Who?, is a wide ranging array of ideas that celebrate different variations on choseness – a radical sense of tribal exceptionalism. Zionism, for instance, made its followers feel special – because unlike their Diaspora brethren, the Zionist promised to transform the Jews into ‘people like all other people.’ In so doing, the Zionists vowed to become ordinary people, yet ‘chosen’ in comparison with the Diaspora Jews.  Zionism failed completely. It quickly evolved into a Jewish supremacist criminal entity. Jewish anti Zionist institutions were invented to form a satellite opposition to Zionism. The Jewish anti Zionists are there to show that ‘not all Jews are Zionists.’ By their lights, the anti -Zionists are the real chosen people. They are so chosen that ordinary goyim aren’t racially qualified and so can’t really join their league. If this observation upsets you, try to count the non-Jews on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Jewish anti Zionism is, as practiced, a political discipline that is there to police the Palestinian solidarity discourse by thwarting any focus on the basic tenets that drive Zionism, Israeli policy and the Jewish lobby around the world. Jewish anti Zionism acts to eliminate any reference to the ‘J-word.’

In 2012, the Jewish pro-Palestinian site Mondoweiss changed its comment policy to bar any discussion of Jewish culture in the context of Israeli politics.  “From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy” editors Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz openly declared.

JVP, probably the largest pro-Palestinian Jewish activist network, has dedicated much of its time and energy to silencing those who dare to look at Israel’s actions in terms of Jewishness, Jewish culture and Jewish politics. In its performance of the Talmudic Herem practice, JVP has excommunicated ‘transgressors,’ including some of the greatest spokespersons for  Palestine such as  Alison Weir and Greta Berlin.

And now there is a dilemma. In 2018 the Jewishness of the Jewish State is no longer a product of “Gilad Atzmon’s imagination.”  It is a cardinal Israeli law approved by the Knesset. Will Ali Abunimah and the Jewish Solidarity network come to their senses? Will they be brave enough to admit leading their followers astray for decades? Will they have the courage to self-reflect and address the fundamentals that fuel the oppression of the Palestinian people?

I somehow doubt it. I do not believe that the institutional Jewish solidarity is an authentic movement. More likely, it is there to make sure that the boundaries of solidarity with the oppressed (Palestinians) are shaped by the sensitivities of the oppressor (Antisemitsm, Holocaust etc.).

 

To learn more about Jewishness and Jewish ID Politics visit Gilad’s on-line bookshop

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