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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Questioning Jewish Progressive Wisdom

November 02, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

 There is an element of truth in the above…

There is an element of truth in the above…

By Gilad Atzmon

Earlier this week the Jewish Forward reported on Monday’s counter-Trump demonstration in Pittsburgh.

“They came in their thousands, singing Jewish songs and folksy protest anthems … (they were) holding signs denouncing Donald Trump as ‘President Hate.’”

I think it is not a clever move for leftist Jewish groups to declare that Trump is to blame for the terror attack in Pittsburgh. In fact, some might see it as irresponsible, and a response that could easily provoke further harassment and violence.

Most disturbing to me about the Jewish progressives’ response to Trump’s visit was the blunt dishonesty reflected in the signs and announcements of the protestors and organisers.

According to the Forward one sign read,

“you know who else was a nationalist? Hitler.”

Hitler was indeed a nationalist but so was Churchill, Gandhi, Herzl and even the 52% of the Brits who voted for Brexit. Nationalism isn’t the problem: Racism is.  Accordingly, we tend to believe that it was racism that drove Hitler’s discriminatory ideology. But the ‘progressive’  Jewish groups who opposed Trump this week aren’t free of racism. They themselves are operating as racially exclusive political groups. I have said it many times before. I struggle to see a categorical difference between Aryans only and Jews only clubs. To me, both are equally racist.

“Speakers from Bend the Arc, the progressive Jewish group that organised the march, castigated Trump and what they saw as his complicity in the attack, allegedly perpetrated by an anti-Semite who shared Trump’s anti-refugee views.”

It is comforting to learn that  Jewish progressives support some refugees; do they also support the Palestinian refugees?

Israel has prevented the ethnically cleansed Palestinians from returning  to their land for more than 70 years.  The Jewish State’s record on refugees and asylum seekers is appalling. But it seems the progressive Jews at Bend the Arc have little to say about that. I searched Bend the Arc’s web site and didn’t find any denouncements of the Jewish State’s anti refugee policies.  Maybe in the Jewish progressive universe one rule applies to the Jewish State and another rule to the sea of Goyim.

Noticeably,  the Bend the Arc event was not the only protest in town: A previous rally event had been held nearby, organized by the leftist Jewish group IfNotNow in collaboration with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other groups.

“We know Trump is responsible for violence in our city,” IfNotNow and DSA organizer Arielle Cohen told the Forward. “ Trump has been the enabler-in-chief.” I fail to see the evidence that supports Cohen’s strongly worded accusations. And I wonder whether the decision makers at IfNotNow and JVP grasp the danger they may inflict on their communities by making such provocative accusations.

It is interesting to contrast this reaction to that of the members of the African American congregation that was targeted in 2015 by Dylann Roof, a self-professed racist shooter, who killed 9 people who had invited him into their bible study. After the shooting, Mr. Roof was unrepentant but the reaction of the victims and their families contrasts sharply with the progressive reaction to the Pittsburg massacre.

At Mr. Roof’s bond hearing, the victim’s relatives spoke directly to Roof. “You took something very precious from me”  Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance said. “But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

“I acknowledge that I am very angry,” said the sister of DePayne Middleton-Doctor. “But one thing that DePayne … taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”

Each speaker offered Roof forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses. Not one speaker blamed political leaders or anti Black sentiment. They correctly saw Roof as the culprit, even as they compassionately prayed for him. There is much to admire in the congregation’s reaction. It was the opposite of inflammatory, intended to calm the situation.

If the goal is to unite America, to bridge the divide and calm things down, probably equating your president with Hitler and accusing him of the hate crimes of others is the worst possible path to choose.

 

Is Citizenship a Jewish Issue?

November 01, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Eve Mykytyn

Aviya Kushner’s piece in The Forward, “Why Trump’s Callous Call to End Birthright Citizenship is a Jewish Issue,” is a bizarre attempt at victimhood especially after a group of Jews have just experienced real victimhood. Mr. Trump has made no secret of his desire to stop illegal immigration from the south, and Jews may rightly be incensed that he is using immigration as a campaign tactic, particularly demonising Hispanics, but Ms Kushner fails to show how this is a Jewish issue rather than an issue for the United States as a whole.

Ms Kushner begins by raising the alarm that Trump has threatened to strip American-born citizens of their citizenship. First, as Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin point out in the New York Times, the president’s threat rings hollow. Like his promise of a 10% tax reduction, this seems a campaign line with little chance of success.  Second, his threat, although it is difficult to discern its precise terms, did not seem to be meant to apply retroactively. Third, it is generally accepted that the 14th Amendment, although intended to confer citizenship on former slaves, clearly states that citizenship in the United States is given to all born here. The words are clear.

 “All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Trump has stated erroneously that no other country grants citizenship by birth, once again dissing our neighbor to the north. He is generally correct however, most countries including all of Europe, do not grant citizenship by place of birth alone. So if  citizenship by place of birth is a problem, it is not uniquely a Jewish problem or even an American problem.

Ms Kushner recites a number of places and times that Jews were denied citizenship and/or expelled. She ends this list  with the confusing line that, “Citizenship also means the right to leave. To flee, life intact. By the late 1930s, it became virtually impossible for Jews to find shelter elsewhere.”  While it is true Jews had trouble finding refuge during World War II, the problem was that citizenship did not protect them. In the context of the holocaust, citizenship was irrelevant. If anything, the Nuremberg Laws stripping Jews of their citizenship, encouraged Jews to find safety elsewhere.

“President Trump’s comments that he could override the Constitution and remove citizenship, at will, should send alarms throughout the Jewish community…History says so.”  Actually, there may be many reasons to disagree with President Trump, but perhaps the alarm in the Jewish community should come from incorrectly positing themselves as victims.

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.

Jewish Lesson on Racism

October 03, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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Text analysis by Gilad Atzmon

The JVL (Jewish Voice for Labour), a pro Corbyn racially exclusive Jews-only cell that does not accept non Jews into its ranks, is attempting to teach us about racism and anti Semitism.

Instead of opposing all forms of racism and bigotry on a universal basis, the Jews only ‘left’ group has adopted the ‘anti Semitism’ cry. Together with FSoI (Free Speech on Israel), a ‘predominantly Jewish campaign group,’ it has published a disturbing document that confirms that their primary concern is Jewish suffering.

The document: https://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/definitionBooklet.pdf

“We,” the Jewish bodies unanimously state,” believe that the following comments will be helpful to those drawing up Labour’s disciplinary code, and perhaps more widely.”

I will review each of the JVL/FSoI’s comments.

Implications of taking this view of antisemitism

1.  Stereotypes

Racism commonly stereotypes groups as inferior in ways that enable discrimination against them. Such stereotypes function by scapegoating a targeted group, deflecting blame for society’s problems from their real causes. Antisemitic stereotyping has historically been used to dehumanise Jewish people, giving license to treat them in ways not otherwise acceptable. Use of such stereotypes is unarguably antisemitic conduct.

Gilad: It has been a while since the Jews have been treated as an ‘inferior’ collective. On the contrary, it is the hegemony of Jews in certain domains that is often criticised.  Much has been written, for instance, about Jewish lobby groups dominating American and British foreign affairs. Jewish pressure groups have imposed the IHRA definition of antisemitism on governments, political parties and institutions. Prominent Jews such as Alan Dershowitz boast about “Jews contributing disproportionally..” raising the question of whether JVL would allow goyim to do the same: to point at the very power Jews often brag about.  

 

2.  Expressions of antisemitism

Certain words and phrases that refer to Jews in a derogatory way are unquestionably antisemitic. Terms which associate Jews with malevolent social forces clearly fall into this category. Extreme examples are the blood libel (that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies), and the claimed existence of a powerful but secret Jewish cabal that controls the world.
Seemingly neutral or positive terms can also be used in antisemitic ways. For example, assertions that Jews are unusually clever or especially ‘good with money’ make the unwarranted assumption that all Jews share similar characteristics. Commonly, there is a negative, antisemitic edge to such views.

 Gilad: Not surprisingly and consistent with their Zionist brethren, the JVL and the so called ‘Free’ Speech on Israel attempt to impose a Jerusalemite regime of correctness to suppress any attempt to look into Jews, their culture and their political settings. Is it racist to acknowledge that Blacks are great jazz musicians, or often superb at sports? If it isn’t, why is it anti-Semitic to discuss Jews as being powerful, clever or even influential? 

3.  Terminology

Jews, Israelis and Zionists are separate categories that are too frequently conflated by both supporters and critics of Israel. This conflation can be antisemitic. Holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government is antisemitic. Many Jews are not Zionist. The majority of Zionists are not Jewish but fundamentalist Christian Zionists. Over 20 percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish.

Gilad: Although not all Jews are Zionists, Israel defines itself as ‘The Jewish State’ and Israel is racist and abusive entity. Sadly, the racially exclusive JVL in accepting gentiles only as ‘solidarity members’ and not as full members, is actually more racist than Israel. In Israel, Arabs can be citizens and their politicians can be proper members of the Israeli Knesset. How many Arabs or Goyim are included in JVL’s steering body? Not one…

4.  Political discourse

Free speech is legally protected. Within these legal limits political discourse can be robust and may cause offence. There is no right not to be offended. The fact that some people or groups are offended does not in itself mean that a statement is antisemitic or racist. A statement is only antisemitic if it shows prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.
The terms ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionist’ describe a political ideology and its adherents. They are key concepts in the discussion of Israel/Palestine. They are routinely used, approvingly, by supporters of Israel, but critically by campaigners for Palestinian rights, who identify Zionist ideology and the Zionist movement as responsible for Palestinian dispossession. Criticising Zionism or Israel as a state does not constitute criticising Jews as individuals or as a people and is not evidence of antisemitism.
There have been claims that any comparison between aspects of Israel and features of pre-war Nazi Germany is inherently antisemitic. Similar objections have been raised to likening Israel’s internal practices to those of apartheid South Africa. Drawing such parallels can undoubtedly cause offence; but potent historical events and experiences are always key reference points in political debate. Such comparisons are only antisemitic if they show prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.

Gilad: Here a Jewish group is dictating the terminology that may be used to criticise Jewish power, history or culture. This is a classic example of a Jewish controlled opposition in which the discourse of the oppressed is defined by the sensitivities of the oppressor. JVL & Co kindly allow us to compare Zionism and Nazism but may we dig into the Jewish nature of the self- defined “Jewish State”? What about comparing the Nazi Party and JVL?  Both are racially exclusive: the former Aryans–only, the latter Jews-only.   

5.  Boycott, divestment and sanctions

A common focus for allegations of antisemitism is the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeted on Israel. The three elements of BDS are internationally recognized as legitimate and non-violent strategies for securing political change. So, advocating for BDS would only be antisemitic if accompanied by evidence that it is motivated not by this purpose but by racially-based hostility towards Jews.

Gilad: it is predictable that the JVL is keen on BDS. While the Palestinians are primarily seeking the ‘Right of Return,’ the Jewish solidarity project is dedicated to replacing the right of return with the ‘right to BDS.’ This agenda is, practically, a back door legitimisation of the Jewish State with the 1967 borders.

6.  When Antisemitism Is Alleged

As with any allegations of racism, accusations of antisemitism must be taken seriously and investigated. But principles of natural justice and due process must be respected and applied: the person accused should be accorded the normal presumption of innocence until the case is resolved. Allegations do not constitute proof.
Antisemitic attitudes may be more or less intense.* Some people are deeply antisemitic, others less so. Yet others whom it would be unreasonable to class as antisemitic may nevertheless hold some attitudes, in dilute form, which will make some Jews uncomfortable. Following a finding of antisemitism there remains a decision to be made about whether discussion and education, rather than a formal disciplinary approach, is more appropriate.
Indirect discrimination could inadvertently occur, where actions have the effect of selectively disadvantaging Jewish people even though no hostile motive towards Jews is present.  Once a case of such discrimination comes to light, those responsible should take all reasonable steps possible to eliminate the problem.  Unwillingness to take such steps would be evidence of antisemitism.
The systematic murder of millions of Jews (and so many others) is exhaustively documented. It is therefore inconceivable that Holocaust denial or expressions of doubt over its scale could be motivated by genuine investigatory scepticism. The implication of antisemitic intent is, for practical purposes, inescapable.

* See Institute of Jewish Policy Research report Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain, 2017

 

Gilad: It took the JVL/FSoI only a few lines before they produced a blanket rejection of WWII historical revisionism. This is not a convincing definition of anti Semitism. I wonder if the JVL or FSoI could explain how exploring the past and drawing whatever conclusions, can be interpreted as ‘discrimination of the Jews for being Jews.’ As we can see, the ‘predominantly  Jewish’ Free Speech on Israel isn’t about freedom of speech in general. Quite the opposite It is actually set to define the boundaries of freedom.

 Overview

The understanding of antisemitism on which this analysis is based reaffirms the traditional meaning of the term. This is important in the light of attempts to extend its meaning to apply to criticisms often made of the state of Israel, or to non-violent campaigns such as BDS. A charge of antisemitism carries exceptional moral force because of the negative connotations rightly attaching to the term. It is illegitimate to make such claims to discredit or deter criticism, or to achieve sectional advantage. To do so is to devalue the term.

To be clear: conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews’.

 Gilad: This removes any doubt that JVL/FSoI are not committed to a universal fight against bigotry. Racial bigotry is ‘hatred or discrimination against X for being X.’ The JVL/FSoI are committed to the fight against (alleged) Jew hatred. The JVL is an exclusive Jewish body focused on the primacy of Jewish suffering. As such, the difference between JVL and Zionist bodies is marginal. We are dealing with a crypto Zionist body.

Left open are questions of: 1. How does this racially driven body fit with Labour’s values? And, 2. How Labour’s leader, a man who genuinely opposes all forms of racism, agrees to count such a bluntly racist group amongst its supporters?

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.

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