Truth In Your Face

December 22, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

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German Speaking website Muslim-Market interviewed me this week about the current debate around my recent appearance at the NRhZ ceremony.  We spoke about History, the Holocaust, Israel, Jewishness… all those things Germans prefer to shove under the carpet.    

http://www.muslim-markt.de/interview/2017/atzmon.htm

MM: Mr. Atzmon, there has been a lot of nonsense written about you in the western media because of your critical positions on Israel. We would like to use this interview to understand your opinion and to correct the false reports. It is said, for example, that you are relativizing Hitler’s crimes against the Jews. Is that true?

Atzmon: I will be as clear as I can. To start with, I am subject to slander and defamation because I extended my critique of Israel beyond the boundaries of mere political criticism or denunciation of ‘Zionism.’

I realised that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State we better find out what the ‘J word’ stands for: Who are the Jews? What is Judaism and what is Jewishness? While Israeli Jews have a relatively good understanding of these 3 concepts and how they relate to one another and to Zionism, to Israeli politics and to Israeli existence, the Jewish Diaspora and Jewish Left in particular prefer to keep these notions blurred and confusing. This is the primary reason for the campaign against me. I moved the discourse beyond the banal Zionism vs. ‘anti’ rant. Those who follow my work understand that digging into Jewishness, the ideology at the core of choseness, of which Zionism is just one symptom, provides many answers. Further, if I am correct, it may suggest that the solidarity movement was led astray for decades and didn’t achieve a thing for good reason. I should also mention that in my work I have never criticised Jews as people, or as a race, biology or ethnicity. I also refrain from dealing with Judaism (the religion). I restrict myself to criticism of ideology, politics and culture.

MM: … and what about the Holocaust?

Atzmon: My position in regard to the Holocaust is very clear. I argue that history is the attempt to narrate the past as we move along. As such, it must remain an open dynamic discourse that is open to change and revision. I contend that history is essentially, a revisionist adventure. I am therefore against all history laws (Nakba, Armenian Genocide, Holocaust etc.) Like many other scholars, I see that the Holocaust has been reduced to a religion. It is dogma. It lost its universal reflective qualities, it is not about an ethical message anymore. And if the Holocaust is the new religion, all I ask is to be an atheist.

To address your question. The notion of ‘Holocaust relativization’ is in itself a meaningless or absurd notion. History is a relative adventure. We grasp the past by, for example, equating Hitler with Stalin. We examine the difference between the ethnic cleansing committed by the 3rd Reich and that in Palestine by Israel.

Hence the demand to stop thinking about the past in relative terms is in itself a religious dogmatic demand for blind adherence. I won’t surrender to such a ludicrous rule and no one else should.

MM: You once said that you are proud to be a self-hating Jew. Why don’t you just convert to another religion as you have already changed your citizenship?

Atzmon: To start with, I do not discuss my personal religious affairs in public. But I can assure you that I have not been a Jew for many years. I am not the type of a person who could easily join any organised religion. But I enjoy following Jesus’ ecumenical lesson in my own way. I learned to love my neighbours, and to seek truth and peace. This is my personal Jihad.

MM: There are quite a number of Jews, including those in Israel, who resist the policy of occupation. For example, we had the honor of interviewing peace activist Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan. Your criticism of Israeli society is portrayed as completely undifferentiated in the media. Is your view really that sweeping?

Atzmon: I don’t agree with that portrayal. I have a lot of respect for some Israeli dissident voices such as Shlomo Sand, Gideon Levy, Uri Avnery, Nurit Peled, Yoav Shamir, Israel Shamir, Israel Shahak and others. I refer to their work occasionally. I was the first one, outside of Israel, to review Sholomo Sand’s ‘The Invention of the Jewish People.’ As I mentioned above, I do not criticise people or religion. I deal with ideology, politics and culture.

MM: As an Israeli army soldier you were in Lebanon and saw Palestinian refugee camps. What influence did this experience have on your development?

Atzmon: It was Lebanon 1982 that made it clear to me that I shared little with my people and would have to drift away sooner or later. It was in Lebanon, upon seeing the refugee camps that I grasped the extent of the ethnic cleansing that took place in Palestine in 48. While In Lebanon, I realised that me dwelling in a Jewish State on someone else’s land was crossing an ethical red line. You have to understand that back in 82 no one in Israel spoke about the Nakba. Then and there, I saw first hand how duplicitous the Israeli project was.

MM: A few days ago, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a severely handicapped man whose legs had been amputated. What is the effect of such cruel acts by their own army on the population of Israel?

Atzmon: As far as I can tell, the effect is minimal, and this is exactly where my research begins. How is it possible that people who have suffered so much throughout their history can inflict so much pain on others? How is it that the oppressed becomes the oppressor? How is it possible that just 3 years after the liberation of Auschwitz the newly born Jewish State ethnically cleansed Palestine?

MM: After all that has happened, can you imagine a day that Jews, Christians and Muslims will live together in peace in Jerusalem?

Atzmon: This is history for you. The European Jewish past is an endless chain of disasters. In the Muslim world, on the other hand, Jews enjoyed their life and prospered. It is more than possible that culturally and ideologically equating Arab Jews with Ashkenazi Jews could provide all the answers we need, but this is exactly the type of research we are prevented from conducting.

MM: Let’s discuss the event in Berlin a few days ago, which some had tried to prevent. What was your impression of the event and were you able to convey your message?

Atzmon: I thought the event was incredible. It was well attended. You could breathe the spirit of resistance. The crowd was mixed. Many youngsters. I was shocked by the support I received.

MM: What is the motivation for your nerve-wracking and multi-sacrifice commitment to justice and peace in Palestine? We ask this question to encourage others who sooner or later give up in the face of the apparent superiority of the Zionist state.

Atzmon: It is way beyond Palestine by now. It is Syria, Libya, Iraq, and it extends to Greece and Portugal, and then Britain the USA and beyond. By now we are all Palestinians. We are all oppressed by that which we are not even allowed to articulate.

I am living on this planet and like others, I want to be emancipated. I guess that the ferociousness of the animosity against me suggests that some people out there are really afraid of my message. Considering that I am not a political figure nor am I an activist, I take it to mean that they must be afraid of my thoughts. This is worrying but it is also a compliment.

MM: What are your next projects, can we expect another book?

Atzmon: I never know what’s next. But I can tell you, it could be many things, except boring.

MM: Mr. Atzmon, we thank you for the interview.

German original:

 

22.12.2017

Gilad Atzmon ist 1963 in Jerusalem in eine jüdische Familie geboren. Sein Großvater war Mitglied in der zionistischen Terrororganisation Irgun. Er soll großen Einfluss auf die gesamte Familie gehabt haben. Nach seiner Schulausbildung begann Atzmon seinen Wehrdienst in der israelischen Armee. Als im Juni 1982 die israelische Armee im Libanon einmarschiert ist, empfand er großen Unmut. Als Mitglied im Musikkorps der israelischen Luftwaffe (IAFO) musste er im Sommer 1984 an einer Konzertreise bei den israelischen Truppen im Libanon teilnehmen. Er sah das israelische Gefängnis Ansar im Südlibanon und traf Tausende gefangener Palästinenser, die unter unmenschlichen Bedingungen eingesperrt waren. Diese Erfahrungen prägten seine späteren Aktivitäten im Einsatz für Frieden.

Gilad Atzmon verließ Israel und lebt seit 1993 in Großbritannien. Da sein Musikstudium ihm nicht genügte, obwohl er zu den weltbesten Jazzmusikern aufgestiegen war (er spielt Saxophon, Klarinette und andere Holzblasinstrumente), studierte er Philosophie an der Universität von Essex. Im Jahr 2002 wurde er britischer Staatsbürger. Im gleichen Jahr erschien sein erster Roman: A guide to the perplexed. Er griff den Titel einer berühmten, auf Arabisch abgefassten Schrift des jüdischen Philosophen Moses Maimonides auf: Anleitung für Zweifelnde. Sein Roman wurde in 18 Sprachen übersetzt. Der Roman versetzt den Leser in das Jahr 2052 und blickt zurück auf den Untergang des Staates Israel. Sein zweiter Roman My one and only love gilt ebenfalls als  scharfe Abrechnung mit der Kultur und Politik Israels.

Im Jahr 2011 wurde sein Buch The wandering who? A study of Jewish identity politics veröffentlicht. Gemäß Atzmon ist ein jüdischer Staat „grundsätzlich unfähig, die Region in eine Aussöhnung zu führen“, solange nicht aus der jüdischen Identität „alle Spuren ideologischen Überlegenheitsdenkens getilgt werden“. Seine klare antizionistische Haltung hat zu extremer Feindschaft aus Kreisen der Israel-Lobby geführt, die ihn nicht nur inhaltlich, sondern auch persönlich angreifen. Das Buch wurde in zwölf Sprachen übersetzt und erschien in Deutschland beim Zambon-Verlag.

Gilad Atzmon ist verheiratet, hat zwei Kinder und lebt mit seiner Familie in London.

Das Interview wurde in englischer Sprache geführt. Um mögliche Schwächen der Übersetzung zu vermeiden, wird das englische Original im unteren Teil hinzugefügt.

MM: Sehr geehrter Herr Atzmon, in den westlichen Medien wird sehr viel Unsinn über Sie verbreitet, weil Sie Israel gegenüber sehr kritisch sind. Wir wollen gerne dieses Interview dazu nutzen, Ihre authentische Meinung zu verstehen und die Falschmeldungen zu korrigieren. So heißt es z.B., dass Sie die Verbrechen Hitlers an den Juden relativieren würden. Ist das wahr?

Atzmon: Ich will mich so klar ausdrücken wie möglich aus. Zunächst bin ich Verleumdungen und Diffamierungen ausgesetzt, weil ich die Kritik an Israel über die Grenzen der bloßen politischen Kritik oder der Denunzierung des “Zionismus” hinaus ausgeweitet habe.

Ich habe erkannt, dass, wenn sich Israel als jüdischer Staat definiert, wir besser herausfinden sollten, wofür das “J-Wort” steht: Wer sind die Juden? Was ist Judentum und was bedeutet Jüdischsein? Während die israelischen Juden diese drei Begriffe relativ gut verstehen, wie sie zueinander in Beziehung stehen, zum Zionismus, zur israelischen Politik und zur israelischen Existenz, bevorzugen die jüdische Diaspora und die jüdische Linke im Besonderen diese Begriffe verschwommen und verwirrend zu bewahren. Dies ist der Hauptgrund für die Kampagne gegen mich. Ich habe den Diskurs über den banalen Zionismus gegen “Anti”-Tiraden hinausgehoben. Diejenigen, die meiner Arbeit folgen, verstehen, dass das Eintauchen in das Jüdischsein, die Ideologie mit dem Kern des Auserwähltheit, bei der der Zionismus nur ein Symptom ist, viele Antworten liefert. Fall ich also recht habe, könnte das auch darauf hindeuten, dass die Solidaritätsbewegung jahrzehntelang in die Irre geführt wurde und aus gutem Grund nichts erreicht hätte. Ich sollte auch erwähnen, dass ich in meiner Arbeit niemals Juden als Menschen, Rasse, Biologie oder ethnische Zugehörigkeit kritisiert habe. Ich unterlasse es auch, mich mit dem Judentum (als Religion) zu befassen. Ich beschränke mich auf Kritik an Ideologie, Politik und Kultur.

MM: … und wie ist es mit der Holocaust?

Atzmon: Meine Haltung zum Holocaust ist sehr klar. Ich behaupte, dass Geschichte der Versuch ist, die Vergangenheit zu erzählen, während wir uns voran bewegen. Als solches muss es ein offener dynamischer Diskurs bleiben, der offen für Veränderungen und Überarbeitungen ist. Ich behaupte, dass Geschichte im Wesentlichen ein revisionistisches Erlebnis ist. Ich bin deshalb gegen alle Geschichtsgesetze (Nakba, Armenien Genozid, Holocaust etc.). Wie viele andere Gelehrte behaupte ich, dass der Holocaust nun zu einer Religion reduziert worden ist. Es ist ein Dogma. Es hat seine universellen Reflexionseigenschaften verloren, es ist keine ethische Botschaft mehr. Und wenn der Holocaust die neue Religion ist, erbitte ich Atheist sein zu dürfen.

Um Ihre (ursprüngliche) Frage zu beantworten. Der Begriff der “Holocaust-Relativierung” ist an sich eine sinnlose oder absurde Vorstellung. Geschichte ist ein relatives Erlebnis. Wir begreifen die Vergangenheit, um beispielsweise Hitler mit Stalin zu vergleichen, um den Unterschied zwischen ethnischer Säuberung durch das 3. Reich und in Palästina durch Israel zu untersuchen.

Daher ist die Forderung, nicht mehr über die Vergangenheit im Hinblick auf vergleichbare Bedingungen nachzudenken, eine religiöse dogmatische Forderung nach blindem Gehorsam. Ich werde mich einer solch lächerlichen Regel nicht beugen und niemand sollte das tun.

MM: Sie sollen einmal gesagt haben, dass Sie stolz seien, ein selbsthassender Jude zu sein. Warum konvertieren Sie nicht einfach in eine andere Religion? Die Staatsbürgerschaft haben sie ja bereits gewechselt.

Atzmon: Grundsätzlich diskutiere ich meine persönlichen religiösen Angelegenheiten nicht öffentlich. Aber ich kann Ihnen versichern, dass ich seit vielen Jahren kein Jude mehr bin. Ich bin nicht der Typ einer Person, die sich leicht einer organisierten Religion anschließen könnte. Aber ich erfreue mich daran, die ökumenische Lektion Jesu auf meine Weise zu befolgen. Ich lernte meine Nachbarn zu lieben, und Wahrheit und Frieden anzustreben. Das ist mein persönlicher Dschihad.

MM: Es gibt eine ganze Reihe von Juden, auch in Israel, die sich gegen die Besatzungspolitik wehren. Wir hatten z.B. die Ehre die Friedensaktivistin Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan zu interviewen. Ihre Kritik an der israelischen Gesellschaft wird in den Medien immer sehr undifferenziert dargestellt. Ist Ihre Kritik wirklich so pauschal?

Atzmon: Ich stimme der Darstellung nicht zu. Ich habe großen Respekt vor einigen israelischen Dissidenten wie Shlomo Sand, Gideon Levy, Uri Avnery, Nurit Peled, Yoav Shamir, Israel Shamir, Israel Shahak und anderen. Ich beziehe mich gelegentlich auf ihre Arbeiten. Ich war der erste aus Israel, der Shlomo Sands “Die Erfindung des jüdischen Volkes” rezensiert hat. Wie ich bereits erwähnt habe, kritisiere ich weder Menschen noch eine Religion. Ich beschäftige mich mit Ideologie, Politik und Kultur.

MM: Als Soldat der israelischen Armee waren Sie auch im Libanon und haben palästinensische Flüchtlingslager gesehen. Welchen Einfluss hatte diese Erfahrung auf Ihre Entwicklung?

Atzmon: Es war der Libanon 1982, der mir klar machte, dass ich wenig mit meinen Mitmenschen teile und früher oder später wegdriften müsste. Es war im Libanon, als ich die Flüchtlingslager sah, als ich das Ausmaß der ethnischen Säuberungen in Palästina im Jahr 48 begriffen hatte. Im Libanon wurde mir klar, dass in einem jüdischen Staat im Land von anderen zu wohnen ein ethische rote Linie überschritt. Sie müssen verstehen, dass rückblickend in 82 niemand in Israel über die Nakba sprach. Ich erkannte dann und dort aus erster Hand, wie doppelzüngig das israelische Projekt war.

MM: Erst vor wenigen Tagen haben israelische Soldaten einen schwer behinderten Mann, dessen Beine amputiert sind, erschossen. Welche Rückwirkung haben solche grausamen Taten der eigenen Armee auf die Bevölkerung in Israel?

Atzmon: Soweit ich das beurteilen kann, ist der Effekt minimal und genau hier beginnt mein Erforschen. Wie ist es möglich, dass Menschen, die in ihrer Geschichte so viel gelitten haben, anderen so viel Leid zufügen können? Wie kommt es, dass die Unterdrückten zum Unterdrückern werden? Wie ist es möglich, dass nur drei Jahre nach der Befreiung von Auschwitz der neu geborene jüdische Staat Palästina ethnisch gesäubert hat?

MM: Können Sie sich nach allem, was geschehen ist, vorstellen, dass Juden Christen und Muslime eines Tages gemeinsam in Frieden in Jerusalem leben?

Atzmon: Das ist Geschichte für Sie. Die europäisch-jüdische Vergangenheit ist eine endlose Kette von Katastrophen. Auf der anderen Seite genossen Juden in der muslimischen Welt ihr Leben und entwickelten sich. Es ist mehr als nur möglich, dass sich kulturell und ideologisch angleichende arabische Juden mit aschkenasischen Juden alle Antworten bereitstellen, die wir benötigen. Doch genau dies ist die Art von Forschung, an der wir gehindert werden.

MM: Kommen wir zu der Veranstaltung in Berlin vor wenigen Tagen, die einige versucht haben zu verhindern. Wie war Ihr Eindruck von der Veranstaltung und konnten Sie Ihre Botschaft herüberbringen?

Atzmon: Ich fand die Veranstaltung unglaublich. Es war gut besucht. Man konnte den Geist des Widerstands atmen. Die Menge war gemischt, viele Jugendliche. Ich muss zugeben, ich war überwältigt durch die Unterstützung, die ich aus dem Saal erhielt.

MM: Was ist Ihr Antrieb für diesen nervenaufreibenden und mit vielen Opfern verbundenen Einsatz für Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in Palästina? Wir fragen diese Frage um anderen Mut zu machen, die früher oder später vor der scheinbaren Übermacht der zionistischen Gegenwehr aufgeben.

Atzmon: Es geht weitaus um mehr als Palästina. Es geht um Syrien, Libyen, den Irak, und es erstreckt sich auf Griechenland und Portugal, und dann Großbritannien, die USA und darüber hinaus. Inzwischen sind wir alle Palästinenser. Wir sind alle unterdrückt durch das, was wir nicht einmal artikulieren dürfen.

Ich lebe auf diesem Planeten und wie andere möchte ich befreit sein. Ich vermute, dass die Wildheit der Feindseligkeit gegen mich auch darauf hindeutet, dass einige Leute da draußen wirklich Angst vor meiner Botschaft haben. In Anbetracht der Tatsache, dass ich keine politische Figur bin und nicht einmal ein Aktivist, nehme ich an, dass einige Angst vor meinen Gedanken haben müssen. Das ist beunruhigend, aber es ist auch eine Anerkennung.

MM: Was sind Ihre nächsten Projekte, können wir mit einem weiteren Buch rechnen?

Atzmon: Ich weiß nie, was als nächstes kommt. Aber ich kann Ihnen sagen, es könnten viele Dinge sein außer Langeweile.

MM: Herr Atzmon, wir danken für das Interview.

Englisches Original

UN idiot: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Jewish

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Antonio Guterres, the newly installed United Nations secretary general and a Friend of Israel told Israel Radio on Friday that “it was completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”

This is no news to people who have studied the history of Temple Mount and Jewishness from some objective sources. The Zionist narrative of Temple Mount, just like Holy Holocaust is all based on fakes, frauds, and forgeries (watch video below).

The so-called Temple Mount (Solomon Palace or Haikale Sulemani) and part of Old City of Jerusalem were destroyed by Romans in 70 AD to crush the anti-Rome armed rebellion by the people of Judea, who were not Jewish. Majority of them belonged to Hebrew tribes also known as Bani Israel who were descendants of 12 sons of prophet Israel (Jacob). These people who lived in Arabian peninsula converted to Christianity and Islam with the passage of time. Over 90% of current world Jewry is not Israelites but Khazarian Turks.

Israeli historian Dr. Shlomo Sand, author of books The Invention of Jewish People’, ‘The Invention of the Land of Israel’, and ‘How I ceased to be a Jew’ has claimed that the word JEW was invented in late 18th century – most probably by Christian Zionists.

The photo above clearly shows that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of Rock are not built on top of the Temple Mount. And the so-called Wailing Wall under the Al-Aqsa Mosque is not the foundation wall of the Temple Mount – but of a Roman fortress.

In October 2016, UNESCO declared that Old City of Jerusalem (occupied East Jerusalem) had nothing to do with Judaism.

But don’t expect Netanyahu stop speaking through Antonio Guterres’ mouth in the future.

Related Videos

Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon

July 31, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

GA: A very interesting piece of writing by Eric Walberg. Along the years I have learned a lot from Walberg, one of the very few creative thinkers left within the Left.

Source: http://ericwalberg.com/

Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon

By Eric Walberg

For years now, I’ve known there was something wrong when my well-meaning anti-Zionist Jewish friends found it necessary to join Jewish anti-Zionist groups opposing Israel. In the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, in Canada, Not in Our Name; in Britain, Jews Against Zionism — every country has its group, usually more than one. “I am a Jewish witness against Israel,” I would be told. Sounds good, even brave. Sand’s latest deconstruction of Jewishness and Israel, How I Stopped Being a Jew (2014), makes it clear why my suspicions were well founded.

Barely 100 pages, it is a page-turner, a precis of his earlier more scholarly works, arguing that the romantic, heroic age of Jewish nationalism, as embodied in the creation of a Jewish state, is coming to an end. Israel will not disappear, but it is an anachronism, an embarrassment in the postmodern age. A reminder of the horrors of Nazism, but not as the Zionist crafters of the “holocaust industry”, or “holocaust religion”, would have it. The Zionist project is exposed by Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and many more Jewish critics as reenacting the same policies of yesteryear. A flawed answer that is doomed, “an insidious form of racism“.

For the Israeli Sand, the Jewish “national” identity is a fraud (an Israeli identity is fine); the only viable Jewish identity is a religious one, and as a nonbeliever, he logically concludes,  “Cogito, ergo non sum.”

Gilad Atzmon takes Sand’s logic further. He tore up his Israeli passport, becoming an ex-Israeli as well as an ex-Jew. 

What’s so wrong with a secular, ethnic Jewish identity? Well, it can be based on only one of two things: persecution (being “forced” into being a Jew whether one likes it or not, as in the Nazi’s racial laws) or being “born” into the Jewish people. The former is no longer an issue and the latter is full of holes, and based on a dangerous myth.

When was the Jewish People invented?

Sand’s answer is simple:

“At a certain stage in the 19th century, intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people ‘retrospectively’, out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people.”

For Jews, this required a homeland, and the westernized Jewish elite were able to provide this. As the West suffered one mortal blow after another (WWI&II), Zionism took on a new meaning. Voila! Israel.

But the exile legend is a myth. Sand is a historian and couldn’t find any texts supporting it. The Romans did not exile peoples.

“Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.”

Jews continued to live in the Holy Land through thick and thin, freer under Muslim rule than Christian, but even the latter never “ethnically cleansed” them. Most converted to Christianity or Islam. Voila! The (Christian, Muslim) Palestinians. However, a tiny core stuck stubbornly to the original monotheism, nurtured by the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC (the only bona fide exile–from which they returned, the earlier Egyptian exile legend being crafted much later, when the Torah was written down and collected in the 3rd century BC).

Jews are not a race but rather a collective of many ethnic groups who were hijacked by a late 19th century ‘national’ movement. There is no racial or ethnic basis for being Jewish any more than there is for being Christian or Muslim. The great majority of those who today consider themselves Jewish are descended from converts in Central Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa, not from ancient Hebrews expelled from the Holy Land by the Romans. They are not ethnic “Semites”, of near eastern origin, or ethnic anything else.

Atzmon is a noted jazz musician, and deconstructs a popular 1970s Israeli pop song by Shlomo Artzi: All of a sudden a man wakes up in the morning. He feels he is people and to

Scene from Shoval’s ‘Youth’ (2016)

everyone he comes across he says shalom.Artzi’s youth suggests Jews suddenly became “people” thanks to the state of Israel, conflating being Jewish with being Israeli, suggesting only Israelis can really feel free as Jews. What Artzi ignores is that feeling proud to be an Israeli is only for those Israelis who have “Jew” stamped in their passport, and, among them, only those who are blind to the bloody colonial basis for this privilege. Hardly a recipe for a healthy feeling.

Can a liar tell the truth?

Israel is a “democratic and Jewish state” according to Israeli law. The “Jewish” nature was first defined in the Declaration of Independence of 1948. The “democratic” character was added by the Knesset in 1985. This is a contradiction in terms, as Jewish by definition determines the state according to race, making it undemocratic for those in the state not Jewish. In cartesian lingo, both ‘A’ and ‘not A’ are true.

This flawed logic now lies at the heart of what it means to call oneself a secular Jew, either Israeli or ‘diaspora’. Sand joins other ex-Jews, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir, and Will Self, who have renounced Jewishness, either as secularists, or as converts to Christianity, shedding a contradictory, now empty, signifier.  Given what Israel has become, “democratic” and “Jewish” are no longer compatible. Sand rejects the faux Jewish nationalism served up by Zionism, which excludes non-Jews from the narrative, and is left with nothing except himself, his books, his sense of right and wrong. A lonely world.

Atzmon takes Sand’s attack on identity politics a step further, arguing in The Wandering Who that secular Jewish anti-Zionism feeds into the Zionist narrative, the do-gooder counterpoint to the more sinister role of the diaspora, taking Sand’s concerns to an even more uncomfortable conclusion: The Jewish Diaspora is there to mobilize lobbies by recruiting international support. The Neocons transform the American army into an Israeli mission force. Anti-Zionists of Jewish descent (and this may even include proud self-haters such as myself) are there to portray an image of ideological plurality and ethical concern.*

Sand dismisses both religion and nationalism as the basis for his identity. Atzmon argues both are legitimate, though they both are perverted in the case of the Israeli state. Nationalism is an authentic “bond with one’s soil, heritage, culture, language”, a cathartic experience, not at all “empty” as a signifier.  Though nationalism may well be an invention, it is still “an intrinsically authentic fulfilling experience”. It can be misused, is often suicidal, but nonetheless, “it sometimes manages to integrate man, soil and sacrifice into a state of spiritual unification.”

What is especially moving about ex-Jews like Sand, and ex-Israel ex-Jews like Atzmon, is that they are trapped by their own Israeli heritage, whether or not they emigrate. Reading Sand’s book in Hebrew, writes Atzmon,

“is for me, an ex-Jew and ex-Israeli, a truly authentic experience that brings me closer to my roots, my forgotten homeland and its fading landscape, my mother tongue or shall I simply say my Being.”

He is confronted not by some “‘identity’ or politics but rather the Israeliness, that concrete nationalist discourse that matured into Hebraic poetry, patriotism, ideology, jargon, a dream and a tragedy to follow.” Israel’s present state has “robbed him of that Israeliness which was once to him a home.”

Hollow identity

Most still yearn to keep a diaspora Jewish identity alive. Judith Butler’s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2013) is by a liberal-leaning Jew who feels she must salvage her Jewishness from Israel’s nationalism and occupation policies. “A new Jewish identity might emerge that connects Tel Aviv with New York’s Upper West Side, Berlin, Paris, London and Buenos Aires — and all of them on an equal footing,” writes Carlo Strener in hisreview.

For Sand and Atzmon, there is no “new Jewish identity” possible, because there is no diaspora. French Jews are French. Canadian ones are Canadian. It’s fine to be a believing ‘person of the Book’, and even an Israeli, speaking Israeli (really a new language) and being a citizen of a well-behaved multi-ethnic nation state, based on universal norms, like France or Canada. But everyone eats matzo balls already.

Assimilation is not like extermination, despite Golda Meir’s cries of “Wolf!” Non-religious Jewishness will continue to evaporate, along with Christian and Muslim identities for those who abandon their faith. There is no shame in calling oneself an ex-Christian or ex-Muslim. 

Occam’s Razor: less is more

Anti-Zionists “rightly see [Zionist] policies as threatening the renewal of Judeophobia” that identifies all Jews as a “certain race-people, and confuses them with Zionists.”** Yes, but, as Atzmon argues, this “confusion” is part of the agenda, pushing Jews outside of Israel to support Israel unthinkingly and accept the resultant resentment they experience as “anti-Semitism”.

And even if they protest–as Jews–they inadvertently support the “Zionist world conspiracy”:

If those who call themselves anti-Zionist Jews without having lived in Israel, and without knowing its language or having experienced its culture, claim a particular right, different from that of non-Jews, to make accusations against Israel, how can one criticize overt pro-Zionists for granting themselves the privilege of actively intervening in decisions regarding

Codepink’s Medea Benjamin

the future and fate of Israel?* 

The Jewish signifier undermines the anti-Zionist one. Slots muddy things. Medea Benjamin, a “one percenter, a nice little Jewish girl” founded the now legendary peace group Codepink. QAIA (Queers against Israeli apartheid) folded when its organizers realized by highlighting their ‘gay’ signifier, they were doing more harm than good. The queers don’t have the luxury of renouncing their queerness, but thoughtful Jews like Benjamin similarly downplay their own tribalism, and Sand and Atzmon have renounced it, as the honorable way out of their Catch-22.

xxx

* Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who?, Zero Books, 2011, p70.
** Shlomo Sand, How I Stopped being a Jew, Verso, 2014, p94–95.

Jews on ‘Jewishness and Zionism’

Rehmat

The Jewish-controlled media rarely mentions the ‘self-hating Jews’ who claim that Jewish religion has nothing to do with Zionism or state of Israel. I can count many of them including Hajo Meyer, Shlomo Sand, Gilad Atzmon, Richard Falk, Israel Shamir, Medea Benjamin, and Paul Eisen. Hajo Meyer addressed Never Again for Anyone conference in Toronto (Canada) on January 31, 2011 (Listen below).

There are many Jewish organizations and on-line news sites which pretends to be anti-Zionism but support the so-called ‘Jewish uniqueness’ such as Jewish Voices for Peace, Jewish Witness for Peace and Friends, Mondoweiss,Jews San Frontiers, etc.

Jewish writer G. Neuburger explains the difference between Judaism and Zionism (here).

On July 30, 2016, Canadian journalist and author Eric Walberg posted an article on his blog, entitled, Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon. In case some reader may not know, Dr. Shlomo Sand is an apologetic Zionist Jew while Gilad Atzmon is a rebellious Jew.

The (Jew) exile legend is a myth. Shlomo Sand is a historian and couldn’t find any texts supporting it. The Romans did not exile peoples. “Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.” Jews continued to live in the Holy Land through thick and thin, freer under Muslim rule than Christian, but even the latter never “ethnically cleansed” them. Most converted to Christianity or Islam. Voila! The (Christian, Muslim) Palestinians. However, a tiny core stuck stubbornly to the original monotheism, nurtured by the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC (the only bona fide exile, the earlier Egyptian exile legend being crafted much later, when the Torah was written down and collected in the 3rd century BC),” says Walberg.

Jews are not a race but rather a collective of many ethnic groups who were hijacked by a late 19th century ‘national’ movement. There is no racial or ethnic basis for being Jewish any more than there is for being Christian or Muslim. The great majority of those who today consider themselves Jewish are descended from converts in Central Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa, not from ancient Hebrews expelled from the Holy Land by the Romans. They are not ethnic “Semites”, of near eastern origin, or ethnic anything else,” adds Walberg.

Jewish Power, Political Correctness And The ‘Left’

Jewish Power is the capacity to silence criticism of Jewish Power

Israeli Report: Jews are Khazarians

Rehmat

In 2010, when veteran White House UPI correspondent Helen Thomas told Israeli Jews occupying Palestine to go back to their ancestral homelands in Europe, her 50-year career as a journalist was ruined by the Zionist Mafia.

On March 18, 2014, Jerusalem-based The Times of Israel, reported that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a ‘scholarly study’ which claimed that the Western Jews occupying Palestine are not from the so-called 12-tribes of Israelites, but children of Mongolian Khazar tribes who adopted Jewish religion and established an empire in Ukrainian part of Russia. The study was done by a team of scholars from leading research institutions and museums.

The Zionist regime and its western-controlled mainstream media has avoided mentioning the existence of such study because it negates the very founding myth of the “G-d’s promise of Holy Land to Jewish people” – or that the West Bank is in fact the “Judea and Samara” of the biblical Jewish empire.

Hungarian Jew historian and ex-communist Arthur Koestler was the first Jewish author, who proudly admitted the Jewish-Khazarian bloodline in his 1976 book,The Thirteen Tribe. Koestler was not an anti-Zionist. He just wanted to convince the Christian world that the ancestors of the present-day Jewish people were not involved in the murder of Christ.

Later, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand in his book, The Invention of Jewish People, expanded Koestler’s views by arguing that Judaism is based on religion and not race – its followers descended from various racial groups who converted to Judaism, therefore, they don’t constitute a nation or need a “Jewish state” of their own.

Israeli historian, professor Eran Elhaik (Johns Hopkins University) in a 2013 study claimed that Jews are not Semitic people, and therefore, has no claim over historic Palestine.

Russian Jewish historian Dr. Simon Dubnow had claimed in 1926 that Jews have historical rights to colonize Crimea. “Jewish colonies have existed there since the nineteenth century. The historic rights of the Jews to colonize Crimea and the entire Black Sea coast from Odessa to the Caucasus cannot be doubted and it is certainly desirable in a region where for two thousand years our ancestors have, under the Greeks and the Scythians, engaged in agriculture,” he said.

On March 4, 2014, Jeffrey Veidlinger, in a Op-Ed at Jewish Tablet magazineclaimed that before Crimea became a Russian ethnic stronghold, it’s a Jewish homeland.

On May 6, 2014, the deputy head of Dnipropetrovsk, B. Filatov and Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoyski announced a plan to build a New Zion: Promised Land in the Zionist liberated Ukraine. Kolomoyski’s fellow Jewish oligarchPetro Poroshenko is the current president of Ukraine.

The Times of Israel is an online Israeli propaganda outlet founded by British-born Israeli Jew journalist David Horovitz in 2012. Horovitz earned his ‘Star of Zion’ wing in 1994 after pinning Israeli Mossad’s bombing of AMIA in Argentina onto Lebanese Islamic resistance Hizbullah.


River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Shlomo Sand and The Jewish Left’s Lie

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The following extract is lifted from an Haaretz article discussing Shlomo Sand. The Author, Anshel Pfeffer has managed to grasp the gist of Sand’s argument that is identical to the criticism I developed in The Wandering Who: Jewish anti Zionism is a spin. It is not ethically grounded, it is not universal either! It exists to convey an image of Jewish dissent – or shall we call it what it is – a controlled opposition apparatus.

http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.626312?v=026A89510E1121BC919983707F199320

“I realized this at a lecture he gave last month at the London Middle East Institute and the Center for Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Nearly 300 people came to listen to Sand talk about his (Shlomo Sand) new book; a great many of them of that specific demographic that, for want of a better description, can be labeled “conflicted Jews.” In the Q&A part of the lecture, two of them asked Sand, with real pain in their voices, “instead of stopping being a Jew, why didn’t you write ‘How I Stopped Being an Israeli?’”

They simply couldn’t understand how their admired writer, who has dedicated a major part of his writing career to dismantling what he sees as the fake mythology of Jewish nationalism, and lambasting the Israeli state, could deny the Jewish part of his identity in favor of his Israeli one. But Sand has done the opposite of what they expected of him (and some of them have actually done themselves). Not only has he constructed for himself a new form of Israeli identity, but he denies these secular, progressive, non-Zionist Jews their intellectual integrity. He ridicules those who claim to be upholding Jewish values while criticizing Israel, and writes that they are no different from “overt pro-Zionists.” These “anti-Zionist Jews” who have never lived in Israel, he writes, “claim a particular right, different from that of non-Jews, to make accusations against Israel.” Living in their “diaspora,” a term he dismisses with quotation marks, they are “granting themselves the privilege of actively intervening in decisions regarding the future and fate of Israel.”

No universalist ethics

Sand denies the special right of secular non-Zionists to band together as Jews, as they do in dozens of organizations and forums, and sit in judgment of Israel. He goes further, accusing them of the same sin as Jewish nationalists; of trying to claim that there is something special or better about their Judaism. “But Zionism did pick up a lot of things from Judaism,” he argues. “And even if Zionism is not Judaism, it doesn’t mean that Judaism is an ethical religion – Judaism doesn’t allow marrying a non-Jew. Jewish ethics are not the ethics I dream of, it’s not universalist ethics.”

….There is nothing ethical about Judaism, says Sand, blasting away the much cherished liberal notion of tikkun olam – if it’s enlightened, then it’s universal, and therefore not Jewish. The long lists of brave Jewish revolutionaries and human rights advocates so beloved of progressive Jews mean nothing, he claims. If anything, they were denying their parochial Jewish roots and joining a bigger and better global brotherhood of man and woman.

Sand is the scourge of anti-Zionist secular Jews. Criticize Israel, by all means, he tells them; but if you identify yourselves as Jews when doing so, you’re phonies. You don’t get any special moral standing just by accident of birth. You are no better than the goyim. “

SHLOMO SAND AND JEWISH IDENTITY: CRYSTALLISATION OF HOPE

GA: The following is a Marxist review of Shlomo Sand’s latest work in the light of The Wandering Who?

By Communist Explorations

Shlomo Sand’s new book,How I Stopped Being a Jew(Verso, 2014), as he says, an extended essay (of just over 100 pages), is something that may come to be seen as very significant in years, maybe even decades to come. This Israeli writer and academic is someone of considerable courage who has braved death threats and opprobrium in Israel, not just for support for the rights of the Palestinian people, but also for his attempts to analyse the history and myths that provide the ideological, and insofar at those ideologies grip people and social classes, material basis for the oppression of the Palestinians.

Sands has written scholarly works that question in historical terms the idea that Jews were seen as in any sense a nation prior to an attempt to create a nation-like mythology for them during the mid-to-late 19th Century. His work The Invention of the Jewish People resurrected from obscurity several facts that are very inconvenient for Zionist ideologues – such as the fact that there was no exile of Jews from Palestine in late Roman times, andthat the so-called Jewish diaspora around the Mediterranean, later spreading throughout Europe and the Middle East/North Africa and even wider, was the product of widespread proselytism and conversion, not exile.

He reiterated the long-known, but historically buried understanding that many, if not most, Jews of East and Central European heritage had their ultimate origin, not from the Levant, but rather from Khazaria, an early medieval kingdom and empire of Turkic origin in the far Eastern fringe of Europe, roughly coinciding with today’s Ukraine and Caucasus region, that was converted from above by its monarchy around the 8th Century. He therefore concluded, in a manner that is really very devastating to the entire Zionist project and the racist myths that justify it, that the Palestinians were much more certain to be descendants of the ancient population of Hebrews, whose state Israel claims to be the resurrection of, than the Jewish population whose armed settler movement created Israel. This resurrection of facts at least some of which were once acknowledged by many, including by many early Zionists, turns the entire rationale for Israel upside down.

He was also the author of a sequel, also highly regarded but perhaps less well-known, titled the Invention of the Land of Israel, as well as a number of shorter essays on similar topics.

The historic importance of his new book, How I Stopped Being a Jew,  is that is a part of the crystallisation of a trend among radical intellectuals of Jewish and often Israeli origin that offers the potential to provide an opening whereby the Israel-Palestine conflict can be resolved in a democratic manner. This means as a matter of democratic principle that it has to be resolved through the restoration of the full rights of the Palestinians. Sand represents a part of this broad trend, with some differences, whose most prominent representative up to now has been the Jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, representing people of Jewish origin who have come to recognise that the secular Jewish identity, which was the basis of the Zionist movement that created Israel, and which is still the mainstay of Israel’s ruling class, is empty and self-contradictory, and insofar as it has a political manifestation, harmful.

Third Category

At first sight, the title of Sand’s book seems impossible – no one can ‘stop being’ a person of Jewish origin, any more that someone can stop being black, European, Chinese, or of any other ethnic background. But for Sand, it is not his ethnic origin that he is renouncing, but something else. One weakness of his book is that it is not entirely clear what, if it is not an ethnic origin, Sand is renouncing and ceasing to be.

The_Wandering_WhoFortunately, the theoretical basis of this has already been worked out by Gilad Atzmon in his writings,  both before and in his 2011 work The Wandering Who , where he divided people of Jewish origin into three non-mutually exclusive ‘categories’: Religious Jews (Category 1), those of Jewish origin who regard themselves as no different to others of whatever origin (Category 2), and finally those who regard their Jewish traits as being more important than any other of their traits (category 3). Individuals in these categories may overlap, but nevertheless it is only the third category that is directly political, and which has the capacity to behave in an oppressive manner to non-Jews, as most obviously demonstrated in Israel. Though Sand does not explicitly say this, obviously what he has ‘stopped being’ in his own concept is a ‘third category’ Jew.

Another way of looking at this, from my point of view as a Marxist, is from the point of view of chauvinism. Someone who has a chauvinistic attachment to a particular identity, particularly a national or communal identity, and considers that entity either superior, or in other sense more important, is a national or communal chauvinist. This feature, or symptom, would seem to be as characteristic of those who proudly, in this day and age, proclaim themselves ‘Jewish’, as e.g.English chauvinism is of those who proudly proclaim themselves to be of ‘English’ identity.

The problem is that with the former, guilt about some of the terrible crimes that have been committed against people of Jewish origin means that Jewish chauvinists get a much easier ride than the latter kind of chauvinists particularly on the left, and the more subtle varieties of such chauvinism are often not noticed at all, or are even the object of deference by the Western left. However, Atzmon’s distinctions have value because in dealing with the secular Jewish identity we are not dealing with a national identity, but with something slightly more problematic and more difficult to define.

Sand’s elaborations have a different emphasis to Atzmon’s in several ways. Indeed, both he and Atzmon have complementary strengths and weaknesses over some of the most controversial aspects of this subject matter, as I address later in this review. His own narrative of how he reached his conclusion, when combined with Atzmon’s clearest material, throws new light on the nature of the Jewish secular identity.

Secular Jewish identity

Sand focuses both on the specific ‘emptiness’ of the secular Jewish identity, and its exclusivity, in a manner that complements and fills out Atzmon’s material. Jewish secular identity is for him an artificial construction,  which having no real history or tradition, uses similar political tools to define itself as were used by the Nazis themselves. Thus he says that “in certain respects, Hitler was the victor of the Second World War”. his ideology survived and prospered in the shape of a belief in ‘DNA’ and a ‘direct lineage down the generations’, inducing ‘fears, guilty consciences and ignorance’ among non-Jews, combined with ‘victimisation, narcissism, pretentiousness and … crass ignorance’ among the ‘new Jews’ – meaning secular Jews (p5-6). He continues on the same theme:

If, until a recent past, and despite all persecutions, being a Jew continued to mean worshipping a particular god, stubbornly following a host of religious commands … history was now to bring surprising illusions in the field of modern identity politics. From now on, in the eyes of both anti-semites and philo-semites alike, a Jew would always be a Jew, but not on account of the cultural practices and norms that he or she followed. The individual would be perceived and considered a Jew not because of what he did, what he thought or what he said, but on account of an eternal and mysterious essence inherent in his personality. Indeed,  Zionist scientists in Israel and elsewhere even introduce genetics..” (p15)

Such myths are for Sands meant to bolster something that is inherently weak and incoherent:

“Knowing that there is no specific mode of everyday life that could bind together secular individuals of Jewish origin across the world, it is impossible to assert the existence of either a living, non-religious Jewish culture, or of a possible common future, apart from vestiges handed down from a declining religious tradition.” (p22)

However, the derivation of the Jewish identity from the Jewish religion (it has no origin independent of this) means the creation of a unique kind of identity. Those who fail to maintain the core beliefs of other religions do not tend to identify strongly with those religions – they simply become atheists and ex-Christians, Muslims, etc. The secular Jewish identity is something that Zionists flatly claim is a key part of a national identity, or even arguably the whole of it. Other Jews, including some militant ‘anti-Zionists’, do not make this claim, but nevertheless cling tenaciously to this identity and express extreme antagonism to any ‘traitorous’ people of Jewish origin who renounce and denounce it. Sand points out the extremely exclusive nature of this secular identity:

“You can, for example, become an American, British, French or Israeli citizen, just as you can cease to be one. You can become an activist in a socialist movement, leader of a liberal current, or member of a conservative party; you can also resign from any one of these. All churches welcome proselytes. Anyone can become a fervent Muslim or Jew.

“But how can you become a secular Jew if you are not born of parents considered to be Jews? That was the question that struck me, and that I could not manage to resolve. Is there any way of joining secular Jewry through a voluntary act, in the form of a free choice, or is this instead a closed club whose members are selected as a function of their origin? In other words, are we not dealing with a prestigious club that, by accident but not by chance, sees itself as comprising the descendants of an ancient tribe?” (p90).

This is why all those apologists for Zionism who claim that Israel is simply an expression of ‘self-determination’ of a Jewish ‘nation’ like all the others around the world, are engaged in a mendacious falsehood. For the non-Israeli, overseas bearer of this purely hereditary identity, for all without a deep religious commitment to Judaism (which is what conversion requires; it is a long and arduous process), is in a legally privileged position vis-a-vis even actual Israeli citizens of non-Jewish origin. As Sands explains, for a foreign-born Jew:

“It is enough to make a short visit to Israel, readily obtain an identity card, and acquire a second residence there before returning immediately to their national culture and their mother tongue, while remaining in perpetuity a co-proprietor of the Jewish state – and all this for simply having been lucky enough to be born of a Jewish mother.

“The Arab inhabitants of Israel, on the other hand, if they marry a Palestinian of the opposite sex in the occupied territories, do not have the right to bring their spouses to live in Israel, for fear that they will become citizens and thereby increase the number of non-Jews in the promised land..[…].. If an immigrant identified as Jewish arrives from Russia or the United States along with his non-Jewish wife, the latter will have the right to citizenship. However, even if the spouse and her children are never considered Jews, the fact that they are not Arab will prevail over their not being Jewish…” (pp 84-85)

The crude ethnocentric (i.e. racist) nature of the very concept of ‘Jewish’ nationhood is shown with reference to the question of language, which unlike most of even the imperialist nations, plays a major role in determining who is part of the nation. Not so in Israel:

“… in everyday life, cultural Israelisation has reached a high level of maturity (even Israeli Palestinians have undergone acculturation and speak perfect Hebrew). But instead of recognising this identity, enshrining it, and seeing it as the melting pot of an inclusive republican and democratic consciousness, the opposite has occurred, with the state becoming ever more Judeocentric.”

Even as a non-Marxist, he is able to notice that this element of social being affects the social consciousness of prominent Jewish establishment and ruling class figures outside Israel, though if anything his analysis is somewhat understated:

“According to the spirit of its laws, the State of Israel belongs more to non-Israelis than it does to its citizens who live there… Various nabobs of Jewish origin from around the world thus feel the right to intervene in Israeli life; through massive investment in the media and the political apparatus, they increasingly seek to influence its leaders and its orientation.

“Intellectuals who know well the state of the Jews is their own also figure among the ranks of the ‘new Jews’. Bernard-Henri Levy. Alan Dershowitz, Alexandre Adler, Howard Jacobson, David Horowitz, Henryk M. Broder and numerous other champions of Zionism, active in various fields of the mass media, are quite clear about their political preferences. Contrary to what Moscow meant for Communists abroad in former times, or Beijing for the Maoists of the 1960s, Jerusalem really is their property.” (p84)

And he draws his conclusion thus:

“How, in these conditions, can individuals who are not religious believers but simply humanists, democrats and liberals, and endowed with a minimum of honesty, continue to define themselves as Jews? In these conditions, can the descendants of the persecuted let themselves be embraced in the tribe of new secular Jews who see Israel as their exclusive property? Is not the very act of defining yourself as a Jew an act of affiliation to a privileged caste which creates intolerable injustices around itself?” (p87)

And in dealing with the reflection of this in the Jewish diaspora, he also points out how even those who oppose Zionism in the name of some ‘Jewish’ authority in fact play into the hands of the Zionists, irrespective of their intentions:

“But if those who call themselves anti-Zionist Jews without having lived in Israel and without knowing its language or having experienced its culture claim a particular right, different from those of non-Jews, to make accusations against Israel, how can one criticise overt pro-Zionists for granting themselves the privilege of actively intervening in decisions regarding the future and fate of Israel.” (p94)

Holocaust – rights and wrongs

In his review of Sand’s book, Gilad Atzmon, asks the question “Shlomo Sand decides to stop being a Jew – but has he succeeded?” and raises a number of criticisms, summarised in the view that Sand’s book is

“saturated with endless caveats inserted to disassociate the author from any possible affiliation with anyone who may be viewed as an opponent of Jewish power, critical of Jewish identity politics or a challenger of the mainstream historicity of the Holocaust.”

He goes on to make several expanded criticisms, which reflect his own conceptions, which I will summarise briefly and make my own views clear. One thing that is clear is that Atzmon, as is well-known, speaks plainly and does not care about Western squeamishness about polemical assaults on current Jewish-Zionist behaviour using the most tragic elements of Jewish history as a polemical cudgel. This can be an engaging and provocative method of argument; however in some cases it can be counterproductive. He justifies it as follows:

” Unlike Sand, I am convinced that the ‘progressive’ is but a secular extension of Jewish tribal ‘chosen-ness’. After all, if you are a ‘progressive’, someone else must be a ‘reactionary’. In other words, progressiveness is in itself a non-universal intolerant discourse.

“Drifting away from Jewishness towards true and genuine universalism can be realised as the emergence of a unique critical sensitivity towards every possible aspect of Jewish tribal operation. Such an act involves a certain amount of self-loathing rather than merely ‘despising’ the ‘Jews around you’. Sand is not there yet. Instead of hating himself, he actually perfects his argument against his Jewish neighbours. In practice, he is still engaged in an internal tribal debate.”

The problem with this technique is that, while it may bring about important insights when breaking free of lifelong indoctrination in a pathologically racist cultural environment, it is still individualistic, psychological, and highly subjective. The racist depravity of this indoctrination Atzmon broke from should not be underestimated, by the way… such underestimation among well-meaning Gentile leftists is why Atzmon’s purple prose produces such unease in those circles, as well as such apoplexy among ‘left’ Jewish chauvinists and purveyors of ‘progressive’ identity politics. The subjective aspects of this psychological method of analysis can lead to, not just a ‘critical sensitivity’ to ‘tribal operations’, but also to an over-sensitivity, and ‘seeing’ things that are of doubtful, if any, significance.  There are some weaknesses in Sand’s book as compared with Atzmon’s work, but there are also important elements that are stronger. I will spell this out here.

In terms of where Sand is stronger, there is the question of the Nazi genocide, Holocaust or Shoah (I generally use the term ‘Nazi Genocide’ because of the abuses of history that are associated with those other terms). Sand explains pretty well the workings of the Israeli Holocaust cult, and does not fall into a great big elephant trap that the Zionists’ misuse of this historical event in a cynical manner has created for their principled opponents, breaking from Zionism and political Jewish-ness. Sands lays out the mechanism of the cult pretty well:

“From the final quarter of the twentieth century onwards, the memory of almost all the victims not designated by the Nazis as Semites has disappeared. The industrialised crime has become an exclusively Jewish tragedy. Western memory of the Nazi concentration camps and exterminations has been more or less emptied of other victims: Roma, résistants and other opponents, Communists and socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Polish intellectuals, Soviet commissars and officers, and so on. With the relative exception of homosexuals,  all those exterminated by the Nazis, in parallel with the systematic assassination of Jews and their descendants, have also been wiped from the hegemonic network of memory. “

He notes that in Western culture generally, and also in Israel, for the first two decades after the Second World War, the Nazi Genocide was if anything underplayed, and relegated to a marginal position in history. This was partly for pragmatic reasons, as Western imperialism sought to reintegrate West Germany, whose ruling class was massively complicit with Nazism, into NATO and its alliance against the USSR. It was also because in Israel the particular way that large numbers of Jews died, without much apparent resistance, was seen as embarrassing, and was therefore played down.

The turning point came with the 1967 war, the victory of Israel against the Arab states, and the conquest of more Palestinian and other Arab territory. This gave birth to a need for a more aggressive ‘national’ myth: “The Jewish victim, hidden yesterday on account of his or her weakness, now culminated in the Jewish martyr” (p62). He goes on

“The marginal position that the Judeocide had occupied until then in the memory of Judeo-Christian civilisation was clearly intolerable.”

But:

“To be sure, this mattered far more for Zionist and psuedo-Jewish politics. It was not enough that the memory of the victims should be engraved in the consciousness of the West. What was demanded was the specificity, exclusiveness and total national ownership of suffering…

“All other victims were therefore dismissed, and the genocide became an exclusively Jewish matter. Any comparison with the extermination of another people was now forbidden. That is why, when Armenian descendants in the United States demanded a day of recognition to commemorate the massacre committed by the Turks, the pro-Zionist lobby joined with the latter in an attempt to block the demand. All past and present crimes were necessarily minuscule in the face of the gigantic massacre of Jews during the Second World War…

“Hitler’s desire to exclude Jews from the ranks of ordinary humanity has found a perverse form of expression in the memorial policy adopted by Israel and its supporters across the Western world; Zionist rhetoric, in fact, has increasingly insisted on the eternal specificity of the victim rather than the executioner, of the Jew and not of the Nazi. In other words, there are hosts of murderers like Hitler, while there have never been and will never be victims like the Jews. Gamal Abdul Nasser was the first to be called the ‘New Hitler’, before being replaced by the Palestinian Yasser Arafat and the Iraqi Saddam Hussein; most recently, the role fell to the Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In this view of the world, and this construction of memory, the singularity of the European continent’s history, from the Enlightenment on, does not lead to the Nazi organisers of the death industry but solely to the dead and persecuted of Jewish origin.”  (pp62-3)

This is the concrete form that is taken today by the cult of the Holocaust. It is a systematic distortion of a real historical event, designed to make it exclusively a Jewish affair, to provide the justification for the confiscation of Arab land to create Israel, and all that followed from it. However, the great big elephant trap that I was speaking of is the understandable assumption, because this historic event is used in a mendacious manner in the here and now to justify, that there must be something exaggerated about it, or even something fundamentally false. People who are too young to have direct experience of the events of the 1940s, and been exposed to concentrated indoctrination in the Israeli holocaust cult, are prone to draw angry but not necessarily historically lucid conclusions from the existence of this cult.

Actually, though there are elements on the fringes of the historical body of material about the Nazi genocide that are problematic and even false, the overwhelming bulk of the charges against the Nazi regime were true, and testified to people of a wide range of backgrounds and political standpoints, from left and right, on both sides of the former Iron Curtain. As Sand notes, there was a time when in both Israel and the West, discussion of Nazi crimes was frowned-upon from above, and discouraged. Being a ‘premature anti-fascist’ or a ‘premature anti-Nazi’ was a allegation that was used to destroy the careers of those with leftist politics during the McCarthy era in the USA, for instance.

It is a fact that half-truths are more insidious than outright lies. What is even more insidious is something that is overwhelmingly true, but from which elements have been subtracted and distorted to give a false picture that one group, and one group only, was criminally massacred, when in fact a variety of different populations were similarly, and brutally, killed. That truth with mendacious subtractions is even more insidious than an ordinary half-truth, let alone an outright lie, and to mistakenly write off the matter as unreliable, as  Gilad Atzmon sometimes seems to do, or as an outright pack of lies, as does Paul Eisen, is to fall into a political trap laid by those who exploit the Nazi Genocide to justify racism today. All this does is help the Zionist propaganda machine to demonise them.

Cult of victimhood

Atzmon’s material on the ‘Holocaust religion’ is not entirely wrong, however. In particular, his analysis of the Book of Esther, the biblical basis for the Jewish festival of Purim,  in theWandering Who, is insightful. It notes the significance of this fictional account of a supposed attempt at genocide of the Jews in Persia, which points to the fact that the exploitation of Jewish suffering, whether alleged or real, did not begin with the Nazi Genocide but goes back possibly thousands of years. It also points to a practice that many Zionists, in particular, take pride in: the perspective of seeking to maximise Jewish influence in the corridors of power and thus get others to do their bidding.

Such behaviour is not unique, indeed a cult of victimhood is also part of Catholic Christianity and Shi’a Islam, for instance, where in extreme cases severe and bloody self-punishment is practised out of ‘empathy’ with the martyred. What is unusual is the incorporation of such things into a secular culture, and thus the birth of a secular cult of victimhood. This could throw some light on how this baleful and retrograde trend could interact with reactionary and warped trends in other cultures, for instance that of ‘Volkisch’ Germany in the late 19th/early 2oth century, and help to create the political conditions where a genocidal anti-Jewish movement could come into being and grow to be a decisive force.

Though we should be opposed to all restrictions on political debate of matters such as the Nazi genocide,  a stance of hostility to those who support the programme of fascism and Nazism, and thus deny the facts of the genocide in reality to defend a programme of genocide, is completely justified, just as much as hostility to apologists for Zionist crimes. The Nazi genocide, as Sand is quoted above as noting, was not an exclusively Jewish matter at all. Jews were the numerically largest group of victims, but this reflects the fact that Jews were more numerous than say, Roma, in the territories conquered by Hitler’s regime. If the Roma had been more numerous, they would have been the main victims.

More to the point is that confused criticisms of the Zionist Holocaust cult, are an inevitable and natural consequence of the existence of the existence of that cult. Free discussion of questions relating to this is a legitimate part of defeating Zionism politically. Attempts by Zionists and other purveyors of Jewish identity politics to target and witch-hunt those raising questions about, or even making errors concerning,  the Zionist cult are chauvinistic acts in themselves, and should be firmly opposed.

‘Jewish Power’

One criticism raised by Atzmon of Sand’s work is correct though, and that over the question of what Atzmon calls ‘Jewish power’ internationally. I do not use that term. I discuss this in materialist terms as the power of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie. Ordinary working class and middle-class Jews have no more real power than working class and middle-class gentiles, in American and British society, for instance. And Sand’s book does not contain any analysis of such organisations as AIPAC (in the USA), the ‘Friends of Israel’ factions in all major UK-wide political parties in Britain, CRIF in France, etc. These organisations wield considerable power in mainstream politics within their respective countries, and have been particularly effective at smearing and damaging the careers of mainstream politicians who are deemed too critical of Israeli crimes.

The material basis for their power is not in the ‘lobbying’ power of atomised Jewish people (who are a tiny percentage of the population of all these countries) but rather the fact that Jews are represented in the ruling classes of these countries far beyond their numbers in society as a whole, and many such Jewish bourgeois have a high degree of loyalty to Israel based on a kind of a nationalist consciousness. Even though Jews, in whose interests these overseas Jewish bourgeois claim to act (largely openly through these organisations) are not a nation, this consciousness, derived from loyalty to Israel as the supposed nation-state of the Jews, is a material force to be reckoned with in the world, and can be called a kind of semi-national consciousness, brought into solid existence by Israel and Zionism. The historical reasons for this power of the Jewish bourgeoisie are addressed in my theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism (on this website here), and are derived from some of the early insights of Karl Marx on the Jewish question, as well as later Marxists such as Abram Leon.

Sand actually shows some real confusion in trying to address this question: He writes about Marx:

“Charles Fourier and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon were not alone in the sacrifice to historical stupidity that consists of characterising Judaism as the worship of a money-god: the young Karl Marx himself slipped in that direction for a while. The fact that Jews and their descendants distinguished themselves as bankers and businessmen was indeed not due to chance, but the causes of this phenomenon were socio-historical, not ideological. The latter explanation was attempted by Werner Sombart, but he went astray in several of his hypotheses.” (p68)

Sand is mistaken in believing that Marx said that Jews worshipped a money-god. The key passages Sand is referring to are the following:

“Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.

What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.” (On the Jewish Question, 1844)

The use of obscure terminology and metaphor, derived from Hegel’s mode of expression, make this less clear than perhaps it ought to be to contemporary readers, but Marx is here talking about “socio-historical, not ideological” causes. “Not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew” means exactly what it says: the ‘real Jew’, that is, the Jew as determined by socio-historical causes is primary, the ‘religion’ – including the ‘secular’ elements –  is derived from those causes. The “worldly god” Marx is talking about is again, “secular”, i.e. based in the material world, not religious ideology. At the point Marx wrote this famous essay, he was already a firm materialist, and had rejected Hegel’s idealism, which would have placed ‘ideology’ or ‘spirit’ as primary, but he was still using Hegel’s mode of expression in a polemic against those who still followed Hegel’s idealism (such as Bruno Bauer).

Sand cites Werner Sombart as having “gone astray” in his hypotheses in attempting to explain the overrepresentation of the Jews in banking and business in social and economic terms, but he does not seem to be aware of the work of Abram Leon inThe Jewish Question:  A Marxist Interpretation (1950), where he put forward his famous theory of the Jews as a medieval trading ‘people-class’ in a natural, non commodity economy. Leon criticised many of what he felt were failings in Sombart’s work at some length in this book. Unfortunately Leon was murdered in Auschwitz, and did not survive WWI;, his book was published posthumously and obviously he did not live to see the foundation of the state of Israel and the post-WWII evolution of the Jewish Question in general. I am attempting to use Leon’s approach to produce an updated analysis of the post-WWII reality, which is the basis for my draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism, referred to earlier.

When Sand talks, accurately and indeed with great perceptiveness and courage as far as he goes, about how “the State of Israel belongs more to non-Israelis than it does to its citizens who live there” he has yet to properly elaborate the implications of this, which is necessary to deal with the fact that partisans of Israel do not merely exercise power in Israel … but also play a major role as part of the parallelogram of forces that determines policies in major imperialist world powers, most importantly the United States, and have influenced them in Israel’s favour, including in situations outside the narrow parameters of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, such as wider wars in the Middle East, Iraq etc.

Sand is at this point a heroic, but liberal figure, though with something of a Marxist past, which he now appears to regret. However, the advent of a social movement that can weaken the hold of Israeli racism to the point of allowing a democratic solution to the Israel problem will take a widespread ferment among the most far-seeing intellectuals. Serious social change is often preceded by such ferment. As part of my conclusion, I quote Gilad Atzmon on why the opportunity now exists for such a development to take place:

“Departing from Jewish-ness, Jerusalem and any other form of Judaic tribalism, and leaving ‘Chosen-ness’ behind. This is probably the only type of secular Jewish resistance to Zionism one can take seriously.

[…]

“Nowadays, biological determinism is – hopefully – behind us, and people are free to escape their so-called ‘fate’. Nowadays, hardly anyone thinks in terms of blood – except Zionists, Israelis and, embarrassingly enough, some of the so-called Jewish ‘socialists’.” (The Wandering Who, p 87)

While I would not concur with Gilad Atzmon that the alternative to this tribalism is ordinary nationalism and ties to ‘the land’ – that seems to me replacing one form of exclusivism with another – I would concur with the above sentiments. What Sand’s evolution, following on from Atzmon’s and others of the same trend, portends is a crystallisation of hope, that the conflicts in the Middle East can be resolved in a progressive manner, that a break can be made by significant sections of the Israeli Jewish population with all kinds of Jewish exclusivism, and that they can make common cause with the Palestinian people to restore them to their homeland on the basis of equality between Jew and Arab in a genuine melting pot, a single democratic polity.

This requires genuine universalism, not the phoney, tainted ‘internationalism’ of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, in Israel and elsewhere, but genuine internationalism, which is most of all represented by the programme of Marxism and communism, with the demand for ‘Workers of the World Unite’. That is the real logic of Sand’s rejection of the secular Jewish identity, not the mere liberal humanism he espouses, which does not have the tools to do the job he wants to do. The most treasured aspirations of Sand, and those who will no doubt follow him, can only be achieved by an internationalist, communist programme that attacks capitalism and imperialism itself, in which the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie plays a key political role. Socialists must engage with this progressive trend among intellectuals and radicals of Jewish origin in a sustained and fraternal manner to be able to influence them to deepen their critique. We have things to learn from this process, as well as positive things to contribute.

Shlomo Sand: Racist Israeli society disgusts me

Rehmat

On Sunday, the president of the Zionist entity, Reuven Rivlin accused Israeli Jews for turning country into a violent and sick society. Israel’s most controversial academic and author, Dr. Shlomo Sand agrees with Rivlin. He recently called Israel as one of the most racist societies in the Western world.

The two Zionist Israeli Jews are the living examples of what American Jewish writer, Avi Gleizer has called the most brainwashed people in the world. I know the great majority of Jews occupying Palestine since 1948 are Europeans, but unfortunately, Palestine has never been part of the “Western World” even before Moses brought the Egyptian slave Jews to this part of the world.

Dr. Shlomo Sand is author of books like ‘The Invention of Jewish People’‘The Invention of the Land of Israel’, and ‘How I ceased to be a Jew’. A reader of these books cannot miss the obvious though that while Dr. Sand is disgusted with the Talmudic culture of racism and genocide, he still believes in his tribe being the “chosen-one” and Holocaust as new Jewish religion.

I’m aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It’s taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they’re doing, and because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologize. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particular prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of anti-Semitism is only too well known,” says Dr. Sand.

I’m sure Dr. Sand knows that the so-called ‘Far Right’ parties in Europe like France’s  National Front, Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn are considered “anti-Semite” because their leaders support Palestinian cause even though they all have Jews among them. Contrary to that anti-Muslim White Supremacist parties like Dutch Party for Freedom and Britain’s English Defense League are honored by Israel.

Israel-born British Jewish author Gilad Atzmon has rightfully compared Dr. Sand with British gay comedian Daffyd Thomas, who try to make his sexual orientation being unique. Watch a video below.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

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