The American Left, the Jewish Question and the Repetition Compulsion

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 BY GILAD ATZMON

By Gilad Atzmon 

A few days ago, Ynet (the biggest Israeli media outlet) reported that the American progressive movement has come to acknowledge the problematic role of its Jewish elements. The Israeli outlet revealed that in the eyes of emerging progressive circles within the American left, Jews are perceived as “white oppressors” at the core of America’s social injustice. The Ynet report is based on a recent study made by Dafna Kaufman, an analyst at the Israeli Reut institute.

“The contemporary discourse of the American left divides society into (identitarian) squares: you are either with us or against us – and the Jews are left out.” Ynet sums up Kaufman’s argument. “Although the vast majority of American Jews support the Democratic Party, progressive circles no longer really allow Jews to be part of the struggle for social change, as long as they continue to be pro-Zionist and actively express their Jewishness.”  You may have already noticed that the Israeli outlet doesn’t refer solely to ‘Zionists’ as most Palestinian solidarity campaigners do out of fear of the ‘Jews in their movement.’  The Israeli news outlet refers to ‘Jews,’ ‘Jewishness’ and also to ‘Zionists’ as an integral organic spectrum of Jewish life, culture, identity and politics.   

Ynet stresses that the American Left has developed an intolerance towards Jewish politics and Jewish identitarianism. “The report further indicates that the radical progressive faction contributes to the growing exclusion of Jewish community organizations from the American left by denying Jews the right to complain about their discrimination or anti-Semitism.” Ynet quotes Kaufman’s report, “Jews are being identified as strong white oppressors, and so is the State of Israel.”

Ynet asks, ‘can I be white, Jewish, liberal and Democrat?’ Kaufman answers “Of course you can be, but some of your rights are pretty much revoked. You can be an ally in social struggles, but you can’t be at the center of the issue.” I guess that what Kaufman is telling us here is that you can be a ‘Jew’ and a ‘Lefty’ but your role as controlled opposition might have come to an end.

Ynet stresses that “it is important to remember that Jews have made progress in American society through the establishment, and this is a significant part of the influence of Jews on the United States, yet the progressive movement is very anti-establishment. Therefore, the conclusion is clearly that the Jews are the oppressive white. Of course, the real picture is more complex, but this binary division puts the Jews in certain boxes.”

The above Israeli discourse reminds me of an old Israeli joke:

An Israeli arrives at Heathrow. The immigration officer asks “occupation?”

“No” replies the Israeli, “just visiting.”

In the joke, the Israeli sees himself as an occupier, and also accepts being perceived as one, but most significantly, he is totally at ease with his role as an occupier. The British immigration officer is obviously blind to all of that, as he is engaged in routine questioning. He might even miss the joke. In the American reality as depicted by Ynet’s article, the progressives are awakening to the reality that has been openly inflicted on their movement by some powerful and loud lobbies, well-funded think tanks and pressure groups.  

The Jewish fear of anti-Semitism is exactly that moment of awakening, the tormenting thought that the immigration officer actually understands the joke and even allows himself to laugh loudly. This is exactly what the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan meant by  ‘the unconscious is the discourse of the other.’ It is the fear that the other sees you for what you are and even dares to share his/her thoughts about you with everyone else. Accordingly, if Jewish power is the power to silence criticism of Jewish power, then the fear of anti-Semitism is the tormenting thought that this power wanes off: the thought about people starting to call a spade a spade and even worse: leftists sticking to their principles of equality and justice. 

The other day, I asked a progressive member of my family to define history: “we learn about our past mistakes so we don’t repeat them in the future,” he cleverly said.  I corrected him slightly. ‘We learn about our past mistakes so we can understand our future mistakes within context.’  Delving into this complexity from a psychoanalytical perspective brings to light the notion of ‘Repetition Compulsion.’ Repetition Compulsion is often defined as a psychological phenomenon in which a human subject repeats an event or its circumstances over and over again. This entails putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again. The concept of repetition compulsion was first introduced by Freud who pointed at a situation in which “the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed, he acts it out, without, of course, knowing that he is repeating it …”

Yet, the Freudian concept fails to accurately describe the emerging dangerous circumstances as described by the Ynet article. As we know, self-identified Jews are fully aware of and actively identify with Jewish past suffering.   But, for one reason or another, some people do not learn from their past mistakes. They keep repeating the same mistakes and expect different outcomes.

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Israeli News Live: Gilad Atzmon on the Jewish Question

 BY GILAD ATZMON

On this extended interview I delved together with Steven and Jana Ben Nun into some of the most troubling questions to do with my work on Jewish ID politics and the true meaning of drifting away from Athens and its ethos. I can already see that many people have watched this interview in the last few hours. I hope you like it and share it with friends and foes.

Thanks for supporting Gilad’s battle for truth and justice.

My battle for truth involves a serious commitment and some substantial expenses. I have put my career on the line, I could do with your support..

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From the River to the Sea: The Inevitable End of Settler Colonialism in Palestine

By Miko  Peled
Source

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JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — The call “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be Free” brings out the worst in the Zionist spokespersons. From CNN and Fox News to the various Zionist trolls and spokespersons around the world: “Aha!” they say, “The true face of these anti-Semites has been exposed.” Panic seems to strike as they assert that this is “a call for genocide of the Jews.” But the assumption that a free Palestine calls for the expulsion or killing of Jews is one that is made mostly by Zionists who can see Palestine only as a place where one side rules over and kills the other, but never where all people live in peace. Furthermore, it has become basic strategy to always cry “anti-Semitism” when the Zionist narrative is challenged.

Where should the Jews go?

After a lecture I gave at University College of London alongside Dr. Azzam Tamimi, where I discussed the merits of the One State from the River to the Sea, I was asked by a Jewish student, “Where should the Jews go?” My reply was, “Why do you want them to go?” That was a reaction similar, though far less loud, to the reactions to Marc Lamont Hill’s speech at the United Nations, and both are indicative of the same thinking: a free Palestine means death to the Jews. However, the vision of a free Palestine (from the River to the Sea, where else?) is one of a country in which all people live free as equal citizens under the law. If anyone who lives there now does not want to live in a state in which all people are governed by the same laws, then perhaps that will not be the place for them.

Where else?

If Palestine is not from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea than where is it? Even if there was once an argument in support of the Two State Solution — or, in other words, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital — Israel killed it. For over fifty years, or since the war of June 1967, consecutive Israeli governments had made it clear through statements and creation of facts on the ground that the entire country is Israel and belongs to Jews and is for Jews to settle. No part of the country has been spared the spread of Zionist settler colonialism, violence and restrictions.

Israel turned the Gaza Strip into a concentration camp. Its residents, through actions of the State of Israel and no fault of their own, are mostly homeless refugees with soaring levels of poverty and unemployment. Clearly, the Gaza Strip in its present condition is not fit to be part of any state, and the first condition in any agreement must be the lifting of the siege, rebuilding, and rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants.

The West Bank no longer exists. It is now called Judea and Samaria and — like the Naqab, Al-Jaleel, and most other parts of Palestine — it is littered with settler colonies built at the expense of Palestinians and in violation of Palestinian rights. The areas in which Palestinians still reside are in fact small prisons with economic and political limitations that make life practically impossible. Travel for Palestinians between different parts of what used to be the West Bank is restricted at best and is at times impossible — and this includes even the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority, who requires a permit from Israel in order to travel within the areas in which he has authority.

East Jerusalem, like its Western half, has been ravaged by settler colonialism to a point where in some areas Jerusalem has become unrecognizable. Unlike in West Jerusalem, where the ethnic cleansing was absolute and not a single Palestinian family remains, the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem has not yet been completely successful. However, towns and villages like Bir-Nabala, Qalandia, A-Ram, and others — areas that are adjacent to the city and that were once flourishing business and residential districts — are now ghost towns as a result of the Zionist ethnic cleansing campaign.

Calling out Israel

The arguments in favor of a partition of Palestine and the creation of two states have always been weak and impractical. This was particularly true after 1948 when Israel was established on 78 percent of Palestine and Zionist settler colonialism was internationally legitimized and accepted. However, the final nail in the coffin of the partition idea was hammered in by the Zionists themselves after 1967 when the remaining 22 percent of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, was taken by Israel.

The building of settlements, destructions of towns, villages and neighborhoods was immediate and it was clear to anyone who was paying attention that this conquest was irreversible. The discussion on a Two State Solution at that point only allowed Israel to build new, Jewish only settler-colonies in the newly conquered lands, claiming that if one day there will be a peace agreement they will consider removing them.

Palestine never ceased to exist from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, and even the renaming of the country as “Israel” has not changed that. At the same time, the discussions of partition and a Two State Solution did not slow down the seven-decade-long Zionist rape and pillaging of the country. So today, when discussing a free Palestine, as Dr. Marc Lamont Hill did, one has no choice but to mention all of Palestine, from the River the Sea, and yet Dr. Hill still received a barrage of criticism from all directions.

How it will end

The question as to how the Zionist regime and settler colonialism will be brought to an end is an important one to discuss. The clearest and most practical vision to date seems to be that, as in South Africa, the Zionist state will have no choice but to capitulate. This will happen largely as a result of the success of the BDS campaign, political isolation, and on-the-ground Palestinian resistance. Every Israeli prime minister, from this moment on, must know that he or she is likely, like De Klerk in Apartheid South Africa, to announce the end of the apartheid regime in Palestine, unconditionally release the Palestinian prisoners, and call for one-person-one-vote elections. This will lead to the creation of a legislature and a government that represents all people who live between the River to the Sea.

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