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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Ryan Dawson and Gilad Atzmon on Palestine and the rest of Us

October 15, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

In this extended discussion Ryan Dawson and yours truly delve into the Jerusalemisation of our universe. We identify that which sustains tyranny of correctness, the Zionification of our politics and even the elements that control the opposition and suppress a prospect of a better future.

Smear and Shekels

October 04, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

Haaretz reveals today that Canary Mission a Hasbara defamation outlet that was established to  “spread fear among undergraduate activists, posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights,” is funded by one of the largest Jewish charities in the U.S.

According to Haaretz; the Forward, an American Jewish outlet,  “has definitively identified a major donor to Canary Mission. It is a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million.” We could have guessed the funding was from such an organisation. We somehow knew that it wasn’t the Iranian government or Hamas who sent shekels to the Zionist smear factory.  Haaretz continues, “for three years, a website called Canary Mission has spread fear among undergraduate activists, posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. The dossiers are meant to harm students’ job prospects, and have been used in interrogations by Israeli security officials.”

Canary Mission is indeed a nasty operation and far from unique. We have seen similar efforts within the Jewish institutional universe for some time. It might be reasonable to opine that smear has become a new Jewish industry. Consistent with the rules of economics, many new Jewish bodies have entered the profitable business, and these outlets have competed mercilessly with each other for donations and funds.

This is precisely a variation on the battle we have seen in Britain in the last few years. Almost every British Jewish institution joined the ‘Corbyn defamation’ contest, competing over who could toss the most dirt on the Labour party and its leader. The outcome was magnificent. Last week at Labour’s annual conference, the party unanimously expressed its firm opposition to Israel and took the Palestinian’s side.

Badmouthing is not really a ‘Zionist symptom.’ Unfortunately, it is a Jewish political obsession. In between its fund raisers, it seems that Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) invests a lot of energy in smearing some of the more dedicated truth tellers. Mondoweiss, another Jewish outlet, practices this game as well.

I, myself, have been subjected to hundreds of such smear campaigns by so called ‘anti’ Zionist Jews who were desperate to stop the circulation of my work on Jewish ID politics. But these frantic efforts only served to support my thesis that the issues to do with Israel and Palestine extend far beyond the Zionist/anti debate. We had better dig into the meaning of Jewishness and its contemporary political implications.

Once again the question is, why do self-identified Jewish activists use these ugly tactics? Why do they insist upon smearing and terrorising instead of engaging in a proper scholarly and/or political debate?

Choseness is one possible answer. People who are convinced of their own exceptional nature often lack an understanding of the ‘other.’ This deficiency may well interfere with the ability to evolve a code of universal ethics.

The other answer may have something to do with the battle for funds. As we learned from Haaretz, the Canary Mission is funded by one of the richest Jewish American funds. Badmouthing has value. ‘You defame, we send money.’  Unfortunately this holds for Zionists and ‘anti’ alike.

Crucially, in this battle, Jews often oppose each other.  Haaretz writes that the Canary Mission “has been controversial since it appeared in mid-2015, drawing comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist.” And it seems that some Zionist Jews eventually gathered that the Canary smear factory gives Jews a bad name.

Tilly Shames, who runs the campus Hillel at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, told the Forward that  “the tactics of the organisation are troubling, both from a moral standpoint, but have also proven to be ineffective and counterproductive,”

Shames said that Canary Mission’s publication of dossiers on students on her campus had led to greater support for the targeted students and their beliefs, and had spread mistrust of pro-Israel students, who were suspected of spying for Canary Mission.

This dynamic can be explained. My study of Jewish controlled opposition postulates that self-identified Jewish activists always attempt to dominate both poles of any debate that is relevant to Jewish interests. Once it was accepted that Palestine was becoming a ‘Jewish problem,’ a number of Jewish bodies became increasingly involved in steering the Palestinian solidarity movement. We then saw that they diluted the call for the Palestinian Right of Return and replaced it with watery notions that, de facto, legitimise Israel.

When it was evident that the Neocon school was, in practice, a Ziocon war machine, we saw bodies on the Jewish Left steer the anti-war call. When some British Jews realised that the Jewish campaign against Corbyn might backfire, they were astonishingly quick to form Jews for Jeremy that rapidly evolved into Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). The battle over the next British PM became an internal Jewish debate. The rule is simple: every public dispute that is somehow relevant to Jewish interests will quickly become an exclusive internal Jewish debate.

Hillel activists see that Canary Mission is starting to backfire. Together with Forward and Haaretz, they have quickly positioned themselves at the forefront of the opposition.

Imagine yourself Free to Conflate

October 01, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

How many time have you heard the so-called ‘Jews in the movement’ warning others not to conflate Judaism and Zionism? How many times have the usual suspects attempted to absolve the ‘J word’ while blaming ‘Z’ related crimes?  How many times have you had to apologise or withdraw any comparison between these two apparently similar notions? What does ‘conflation’ mean in the Jewish-Zionist context?

To conflate is to combine two or more sets of information or ideas into one. When accused of conflation, we are blamed for bringing  (distinct) things together and fusing them into a single entity; of mixing together different elements and failing to ‘properly distinguish’ among them or of mistakenly treating such elements as equivalent.

Conflation might be unmerited if two completely remote concepts were fused without substantiating or justifying the correlation.  But this is not the case with Judaism and Zionism, nor is this the case for Jewishness and authoritarianism, nor for choseness and exceptionalism.

Although at its inception Zionism was openly hostile towards Judaism and Diaspora Jewish culture, the profound Zionist phantasy of a collective Jewish metamorphosis didn’t last long.

Early Zionists vowed to fight what they saw as a Jewish cultural malaise. They intended to eradicate Jewish ‘non proletarian’ inclinations as well as the Jewish sense of choseness and to make ‘Jews people like all other people.’ It didn’t take long before Jewishness, that deep sense of Jewish exceptionalism, hijacked the Zionist revolution. The notion that Jews were entitled to ‘self determine themselves’ on someone else’s land itself, in fact, entailed the end of the Zionist ‘revolutionary’ tale.

The wish to become ‘people like all other people’ confirmed that Zionists could never become people like all other people: no other people wish to become people like all other people.

From its formation, Zionism has been a racially oriented national liberation movement. The project has been an exclusively Jews-only movement  and not just anyone could join. In other words, as much as early Zionism was driven by animosity towards Jewish  exclusivity, it actually adopted the most problematic aspect of Jewish biological doctrine.*

I guess a possible explanation of this is that Zionism, like all other Jewish identitarian formations, is an attempt to furnish the Judaic moment with contemporaneous meaning and a nationalist dream. The ‘revolutionary’ Bund that was formed in the same year (1897) offered Jews a different solution, that of a ‘cosmopolitan’ socialist redemption. Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists are just another Jews-only club that convey the message that not all Jews are as bad as Bibi.

This is where conflation comes into play, transcending the literal and grasping at the essential. Conflation is a moment of epiphany, the moment of an abrupt realisation that things that seems remote or foreign to each other actually belong in the same category. To conflate is to exercise the human ability to synthesise, to think in abstract terms, to extend one’s view from the object to meaning. It is therefore disturbing  that our so-called ‘allies’ in the solidarity movement are upset by the rest of us exercising our human capacity to put things together and think in categorical and abstract terms.

To be sure, Judaism which is a religious precept and Zionism which is a political movement are distinct entities. We all know that some rabbinical Jews clash with Zionism and Israel. Yet when examined as aspects of Jewishness – the celebration of Jewish exceptionalism-  Zionism and Judaism have a lot in common. And it is hardly a secret that the vast majority of Judaic sects accept the inherent spiritual bond between Zionism and Judaism.

A crucial question is why the so called ‘Jews in the movement,’ who are largely secular, are offended by the conflation of Judaism and Zionism? What is it that they try to hide or suppress? Is it that they aren’t as ‘secular’ as they claim to be or is it because they are actually far more Zionist than they are willing to admit?

* This unique form of lack of self awareness isn’t only a Zionist symptom. In fact, Jewish so- called ‘anti Zionists’ are contaminated by the same symptom. Jewish Voice for Peace that opposes Zionist Jewish exclusivity is, in fact, more racially exclusive that the Jewish State; while in the Israeli Knesset the third biggest party is an Arab party, in Jewish anti Zionist organisations you won’t find a single gentile in a steering position. The British Jewish Corbyn support group (JVL) made it clear on it website that Goyim could join only as ‘solidarity members’ not as proper members. True membership is reserved for racially qualified members of the tribe.

Occupied Britain

September 14, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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Rabbi Sacks: “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite.”

Tories: “Listen to the holy gentleman.”

Archbishop of Canterbury: “Tories have increased poverty.”

Tories: “Must keep religion out of politics.”

The End of Zion

September 12, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

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

The Jewish God

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

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

Not a lot apparently.

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

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

For the Jew not the Many

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

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

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

The Jewish Deity

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

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

Darwin didn’t make Aliya

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

Israel is getting “Jewier”

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

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

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

 

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

September 11, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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

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

An interview By Nafees Mahmud

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Gilad Atzmon: It’s a beautiful thing.

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

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

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

Break that down for us.

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

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

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

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

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

Gilad Atzmon (Tali Atzmon/)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you share some of the things you saw?

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

What was the tipping point that made you leave?

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

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

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

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

How does being a jazz musician aid your philosophical work?

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

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

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

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

Heidegger was about “being,” right?

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

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

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

How do you describe yourself now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

This interview has been edited for clarity

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