Where does Israel end and the Diaspora begin? Or Zionism end and Judaism begin?

Israel/Palestine
on 71 Comments

This is interesting. AB Yehoshua writes at Haaretz that the conflict remains unresolved because it is unprecedented in human history. John Mearsheimer has said the same thing: the special relationship is unprecedented, indeed for reasons that touch on Yehoshua’s reasoning. But Gilad Atzmon, whom I generally avoid here, seizes on Yehoshua’s point, to explore the borderless national and religious identity issues:

According to Yehoshua, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not really about territorial issues. “Territorial issues can be resolved” he says.  “In our conflict, both sides, struggle over national identity of the whole country.” Yehoshua offers here a very interesting insight that cannot be uttered within the boundaries of the Left discourse. For both parties, especially the Palestinians, he says,  “it is unclear what is the size of the people it is up against, is it only the Israelis or is it also the Jewish Diaspora as a whole.” Yehoshua raises here an issue I myself have been stressing for years. It is far from being clear to anyone (including  Israelis and Jews) where Israel ends and the Diaspora starts. It is also far from being clear where the Israeli ends and the Jew starts. I guess that for most contemporary Jews it is even far from being clear anymore where Zionism ends and Judaism starts. In the contemporary Jewish world there are no clear dichotomies. We are dealing with a spineless elastic metamorphic identity that shapes itself to fit every possible circumstances. This may explain how come the Jewish state can dually operate as an oppressor and a victim simultaneously.

The Israelis, according to Yehoshua are also subject to a similar confusion. They also cannot figure out whether it is just the Palestinian people they are up against or is it the whole Arab nation or even the entire Muslim world.  For Yehoshua, the conflict “lacks a clear demographic boundaries. This fact alone creates an initial deep distrust between the two peoples that prevents a possible solution.”

Yeshoua is far from being a brilliant mind, yet, he manages to analyse the conflict correctly just because he is free to think out of the Leftist box. Being a proud Israeli Jew he is free to say what he thinks without the need to appease half a dozen so-called ‘progressive’  Jews.  Yehoshua’s analysis makes a lot of sense to me though we draw the complete opposite conclusions. I believe that ti the Palestinian solidarity discourse  better liberate itself of any form of  dogmatic political thinking. It is about time  and look at the conflict for what it is.  We must engage in a true plural debate and emancipate ourselves of any traces of rigid and anachronistic thinking.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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71 Responses

  1. radii
    April 28, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Jews have been around as an identifiable culture for nearly 6000 years … zionism has been around a little over 100 years, so between 1/58th and 1/60th of the time Jews have been around

    zionism is a political movement based upon controlling particular land and setting up a supremacist system favoring one group over all others

    zionism will surely evaporate and jews surely will go on, but hopefully jews will have learned the lesson that being a jew involves the heart and the head and not borders on the ground

    • Pamela Olson
      April 28, 2011, 5:14 pm

      Amen.

    • Castle Keep
      April 30, 2011, 4:35 pm

      i thought the first record of Israel was the mrnepte (sp?) stele in 1200 bce, thus, 3200 years more or less.

    • MRW
      April 30, 2011, 6:36 pm

      Actually, radii, in it’s present form, Judaism has only existed since about 300 BC. It was a pantheistic religion before that, according to Israeli archeological findings.
      link to historykb.com

  2. Keith
    April 28, 2011, 7:16 pm

    “According to Yehoshua, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not really about territorial issues. “Territorial issues can be resolved” he says.”

    Gilad Atzmon is secular, and I suspect that AB Yehoshua is too. Even so, I find the statement absolutely incredible. Apparently neither of these guys is familiar with Zionist ideology regarding the redemption of the land of Israel. A primary driving force behind Zionist ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is the redemption of the land from non-Jews. This is a one-way street. The “un-redemption” of the sacred soil is to be fiercely resisted. This is firmly rooted in Orthodox Talmudic interpretations regarding non-Jews in Israel. In other words, there is a religious/ideological component to the conflict which renders rational territorial compromise extremely unlikely. It is all about territorial issues.

    • Keith
      April 28, 2011, 9:22 pm

      The Rabbinical injunction against giving up the “sacred soil” was clearly demonstrated when Israeli Rabbis met recently with the US ambassador to Israel. “The Rabbis handed the ambassador a Halachic Ruling signed by over 350 rabbis in Israel that forbids giving up land controlled by Israel today.” Not about territory?

      link to alethonews.wordpress.com

      • piotr
        April 30, 2011, 12:36 am

        This particular story is highly suspicious. It can be a spoof, details are scant and contradictory. There exists rabbis with such views, even plenty of them, just citing this story is not well advised.

      • Keith
        April 30, 2011, 12:22 pm

        PIOTR- “This particular story is highly suspicious.”

        Are you joking? Are you a Zionist? Why do you people deny everything for the sake of denying everything? Are you suggesting that the Orthodox Rabbis of Israel haven’t spoken out against returning even one inch of the soil of Eretz Ysrael to non-Jews? Or that Rabbis don’t routinely meet with Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ambassadors to press their case? Did you bother to click on the link to the source for this article? Try the link below to the source of this “suspicious” story.

        link to israelnationalnews.com

  3. quebecleft
    April 28, 2011, 9:14 pm

    Phil why do you avoid Gilad? i find his understanding of the relation between talmudic judaism and what we see in israel very illuminating.His grasp of the philosophical root of zionism and it’s subsequent racist construction is essential to the break down of the wall of illusional understanding the jewish community has about itself and its relationship to the world.
    i found that you are still incapable of a real break from what is troubling you.it was evident with helen thomas. You feel you have to tip-toe around and not shake the tree.Unfortunatly my experience is it is time to really be aggressive now if you think that zionism has to be defeated.Also you want to only adress yourself to the jewish community.You are what 3%.You have to adress the entire USA and the only way is the van damme way.You don’t want to offend the fence sitter around 2.5%.These people are sheep they go where the wind blows they just don’t want to be ostracise for their thinking.look what happened to goldstone.imagine a nice couple in queens

    • Danaa
      April 29, 2011, 1:18 pm

      I think I know why Gilad is in Herem, even among the most pro-palestinian, leftist, anti-zionist circles. The article from Yehoshua touches on it, which is the only safe way Phil can bring “the issue” into the conversation.

      Gilad, you see, went all the way. From an Israeli and a natural-born zionist to a place where Judaism itself is implicated in the crime of occupation. Not just Jews, as individuals or groups. But Judaism itelf, as a religion, as a culture and as a people apart. In so doing Gilad repudiates the entire package – biblical history, talmudic teachings, cultural finess, and achievement as attributes that tie inexhaurably EVERY Jewish person, the good, the great and the craven, to an an ongoing horror show, aiming – at it heart – to full ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of the land of Palestine.

      In particular, Gilad’s principal offense is two-fold: he freely uses the word THE in front of the JEWS, and he drew an arc to the bolshevik revolution days, in which Jewish participation was substantial, and some say, critical. Sometimes, as one who is not an aficionado of early, Russian style communism, I often wondered what it is that makes the blood of the leftiest of lefties boil the minute Jews and Bolshevik are mentioned in one sentence. What was there that happened in the earlier 20th centuries that causes such out-of-proportion reactions? what do they know, or suspect, that I don’t?

      Gilad is a very angry man, which is the part I understand, and which is why I am interested in his fate and the reaction to him. I feel an empathy born out of the same pool of raw rage, I think. We handle it differently, to be sure, but then he has the temperament of an artist where mine is that of a scientist. But I do see a commonality – on a personal level – as we both peak a language informed by fury. I don’t think it can be explained. other than to suggest that a permanent state of rage is what happens to some of us who feel they escaped from the clutches of a cult, losing in the process, key pieces of one’s own identity – the one that was completely immersed in the group. A commitment to a sense of rage is all the protection one has, really, against the fear of being somehow pulled back in, especially in moment of exquisite loneliness that ha nothing to do with how many people surround you and how much your opinion and self are valued or not..

      Interestingly, the ones most offended by some of the things Gilad tries to articulate (emphasis on try) are diaspora Jews – totally excellent ones. Israelis do understand – all too well. In a strange way, only Israelis – current and ex-pat, know what really motivates Gilad, just as they know what motivated Vanunu. And in knowing they exact the penalties, harsh as they may be. Outside israel, many Jewish people feel – or rather, fear, that Gilad plays straight into the hand of old anti-semitic tropes. That he, in fact, bought into some of them. In other words, many feel that he feeds the beast, and for that he must be put – tethered to a pole – outside the tent, there to rave, alone, in his existential angst.

      As an aside, my comments are not meant a an endorsement of everything Gilad had to say about anything. Sometimes he does seem to have unique insights; other times he does seem to get carried away on the wings of analysis gone to never never land. My interest is a psychological/personal one. Have to say that, or else Mooser will sink his antlers into my backside, and I need it for dancing.

      • annie
        April 29, 2011, 2:31 pm

        excellent comment danaa. i’m not familiar enough gilad or w/history per se to offer a critique but i thought i would insert a hunch wrt What was there that happened in the earlier 20th centuries that causes such out-of-proportion reactions? what do they know, or suspect, that I don’t?

        my guess is it has to do w/the holodomor. there’s still plenty of debate wrt whether it qualifies as genocide but the sheer horror and coverup added w/the numbers involved regardless who was responsible competes with the holocaust, or some might think it competes w/the holocaust, or could when considering the genocides of the century. i think there’s an effort to down play the holodomor (i had never even heard of it until i went to see the movie defamation). look at the contrast of the way those two events are covered. one, not at all while the other….

      • Danaa
        April 29, 2011, 3:37 pm

        annie, following up on your speculation (thank for the idea!), here is something I found that Gilad apparently wrote, regarding the holodomor:

        link to rense.com

        This type of strong medicine presented as analysis may very well be the underlying reason he is considered so beyond the pale. Not allowed into the tent.

        Stuff apparently happened during the early days of communist Russia. Extremely bad stuff. For whatever reason it is kind of covered up (kind of, because it i mostly known, just not talked about much). Gilad, I think, must have discovered some of the old ugly history on his own, long after he left Israel (where such things were never taught – I can vouch for that fact as I never heard the word “holodomor” expressed by anyone, anywhere, though there were plenty of references to the inherent badness and anti-semitism of Stalin, Beria and crew, and probably a few references to the great famine caused by….yes, bad Stalin again. All very vague, usually dimised in a couple of paragraphs in history books that could otherwise be amazingly detailed). Being Gilad (who is fond of detective yarns), he dug his talons into the bad-old-stories and ran with it. But not having the credential of a historian or the temperament of a scholar, his writings on the subject could be dismissed – like so much anti-semitic rantings, this time by an obvious self-hating delusional malcontent. Gilad, being Israeli in aptitude and attitude, doesn’t take prisoners and so he fought back, and keeps doing so.

        The rest, as they say, is (ongoing) history.

        I think I should try some time for an above-the-line commentary on this topic – call it “Gilad in purgatory – or is it god’s headlights?”. What do you say? think it’ll be allowed?

      • Donald
        April 29, 2011, 7:56 pm

        I read about three lines into that link, Danaa, and then stopped. Maybe he’s got some interesting things to say, but the way he started out was too sweeping and I see why Phil mostly avoids the guy. The opening lines gave me the same creepy sensation I get when I read an Islamophobe.

      • Sand
        April 29, 2011, 9:19 pm

        To be honest, it gave me the creeps as well, however, I will be reading more about the “Holodomor”. The massive cynic in me would also try and find a source other than Rense.

        Also, we get films galore on the Holocaust — I even had to put up with another one shoved in front of me one when I had to watch a trailer of “The Debt” when all I wanted to do was escape into Jane Eyre movie… I mean, someone coming to see a Jane Eyre movie interested in seeing a glorified film about the Mossad catching Nazi’s — I mean Jeeezzz.

        Are there any Hollywood films on the “Holodomor”?

      • MRW
        April 29, 2011, 10:15 pm

        Donald, go back and read it. The document is cited up the ying-yang, and you can verify the sources given by checking the page numbers yourself. Tony Karon has published similar pieces of text.

      • annie
        April 29, 2011, 10:47 pm

        danaa, i will check out his link. there was a slight mention of it in the movie defamation and it flew right over my head. someone in the crowd in eastern europe asked foxman something about the holodomor (wrt genocide) and he brushed it off. something like..not now..when we left the threatre my friend asked me if i heard it and i asked what it was and she told me it was a genocide in the ukraine. when i got home i googled it and there was no wiki link, hardly anything except extensive sites from the urkraine and the urkranian government sites. (available in alternate languages). the next time i googled it was around a year later and there were lots of references and it was framed much differently and i could not find the ukranian sites anymore, and they were quite extensive w/many photographs and documents. the urkranians definitely have ideas wrt who was responsible. they say at least 10 million died. there was also a life magazine story about it that won some awards years ago. then it was silenced or something. anyway from wiki (check the dates, probably why it made it’s presents on the google sites during that one year.

        On January 12, 2010, the court of appeals in Kyiv opened hearings into the “fact of genocide-famine Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-33″. In May 2009 the Security Service of Ukraine started a criminal case “in relation to the genocide in Ukraine in 1932-33″.[31] In a ruling on January 13, 2010 the court found Joseph Stalin and other Bolshevik leaders guilty of genocide against the Ukrainians. The court dropped criminal proceedings against the leaders, Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Stanislav Kosior, Pavel Postyshev and others, who had all died years before.[32] This decision became effective on January 21, 2010.[33]

        On April 27, 2010, a draft Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe resolution declared the famine was caused by the “cruel and deliberate actions and policies of the Soviet regime” and was responsible for the deaths of “millions of innocent people” in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Russia.[27] Even though PACE found Stalin guilty of causing the famine, they rejected several amendments to the resolution, which proposed the Holodomor be recognized as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.[34]

        wiki is not a good source imho but it is worth looking into. when that many people die..it reminds me for the famine in china where the state demanded all the food and left none for the people. the ukraine was the ‘breadbasket’ for the soviet union and responsible for feeding the whole nation or something, and it was enforced strictly by stalin’s men, a well known group of them (like 15 or something). according to the ukranian government.

        this site was updated yesterday
        link to holodomor.org.uk

        edit: i just found the english version of a ukranian gov link (pdf)

        link to president.gov.ua

      • annie
        April 29, 2011, 11:09 pm

        danaa, I can vouch for that fact as I never heard the word “holodomor” expressed by anyone, anywhere, though there were plenty of references to the inherent badness and anti-semitism of Stalin….

        do you mean growing up in israel or do you mean until today?

      • Potsherd2
        April 29, 2011, 11:20 pm

        You know, you could ask Sabbah.

      • MRW
        April 29, 2011, 11:54 pm

        Donald, an easier link to Gilad’s republished article is here:
        Holocaust and Holodomor (Origins of Anti Semitism)
        link to henrymakow.com

        And it’s properly formatted.

      • Danaa
        April 30, 2011, 12:21 am

        Annie – I meant In Israel. Still, I heard of it only about 20 year ago, when I woke up as a political being. But even then , it was one crazy thing I never heard of among too many others to count, and I can’t say I understood its significance in terms of who was in charge then, other than the boogyman, Stalin. Frankly, like many others everywhere, I felt there is something extremely disturbing about the 20’s and 30’s in Russia, and found it uncomfortable to even read about it. Maybe there are periods of time when the underbelly of humanity is exposed. Too much violence, too little compassion, dead hope.

        That’s why I appreciate your suggestion now. It just didn’t occur to me, which by itself is strange. Perhaps the time is coming to air the extreme unpleasantness of times past that have been allowed to stay in musty caves for too long.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        April 30, 2011, 12:34 am

        “Are there any Hollywood films on the “Holodomor”?”

        Don’t know about that, but there have in the past been American documentaries produced about the role of the famous mining/civil engineer, Herbert Hoover, in leading the effort to alleviate the famine. I watched a rebroadcast of one of these recently on PBS. Sorry, though, don’t recall any mention of Jews, good or bad.

      • Danaa
        April 30, 2011, 12:48 am

        Donald – I didn’t say Gilad was easy on the kidneys, did I? as Jeffrey below pointed out, he has serious issues with “the tribe” and has been taking a two-by-four to express his reservations. Among others, he’s taken to trying to smash the covenant itself, as a symbol of all that’s gone wrong for the Jews. And smashers don’t make delicate wordsmiths. Then there’s the business of first finding that darn covenant – it’s not like it’s in plain sight, is it?

        That’s why I drew a comparison with escaping cults. There’s a high price to pay for stepping outside “the family”, and lot of confusion. Some kind of lose their moorings a bit and start seeing the world as divided between those who are still “in” and those who are “out”. At least for a while, till they get over the grieving part. After which the anger kind of settles into a steady emotional backdrop.

        Still, if you can get past the awkward introductory sentences (the part where you get hit over the head), and past the smashing part, there’s a sprinkling of insights, and a few other tantalizing tid bits. But it takes some fortitude, I’ll admit. May not be worth the trouble for you, especially as we don’t suffer from dearth of disturbing happenings…..

      • Danaa
        April 30, 2011, 12:53 am

        Thanks MRW for the better link. I agree that rense may not be the best place to send people to.

      • annie
        April 30, 2011, 1:04 am

        I felt there is something extremely disturbing about the 20′s and 30′s in Russia, and found it uncomfortable to even read about it.

        maybe it’s confusing for a reason. i’ve had a chance to read gilad’s link since you’ve posted it. i’ve also encountered holdomore debates on the internet although not in relation to that link mostly about the bolsheviks wrt ethnicities re stalins guys. y’know..i don’t think the main coverup about the holodomor is primarily who’s responsibile (jews vs not) i think it is the fact of such a huge genocide occurring, one that rivals the holocaust. it is as if it is supposed to stand alone and the holdomor arriving so close and taking it’s place right alongside the holocaust in the history of the 20th century is just..psycic blasphemy (consider how long it took for any recognition of the armenian genocide). but i will tell you i really did not expect gilad’s title “Holocaust And Holodomor (Origins Of Anti-Semitism)”. btw just realized it was a part one copy/pasting the title. here’s pt 2 (i have not read it yet). i think it is a stretch claiming ‘origin of anti semitism’ , it was in existence prior to that. it was the shock of reading ‘Holocaust And Holodomor’ together/joined at the hip. wow.

        another aspect of this is the dates (1932-33). it’s kind of chilling. especially considering the aversion in germany to communism and the rise of nazism. could it be possible there was no awareness of the holodomor in germany then? is it completely unthinkable there was any association? it’s just weird. and something i just read (can’t remember if it was gilad or another source i just read some different links) is that the ukranians were very anti semitic and also there had been pograms against jews in the ukraine prior to that (50,000/100,00 dead) and civil war the decade before (revenge factor). so it kind of pulls together a sense of the climate of the era. these back to back occurrences that i don’t think the holocaust can be divorced from. it creates a context even if that context is remote, no matter how remote. how much was germany influenced by events in russia?

        it seems we are supposed to view the holocaust in a limited timeframe..eliminating both past and future. we can’t connect it to current events on palestine (unless we want to connect it to the mufti!)and god forbid we look at 1932-33 in russia. just a bubble of genocide that deserves musuems and movies while everything around it pales in comparison. but there was a very big genocide just one decade before. hmm.

      • annie
        April 30, 2011, 1:11 am

        Then there’s the business of first finding that darn covenant – it’s not like it’s in plain sight, is it?

        what first finding of a darn covenant?

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 2:26 am

        Danaa and others,

        It appears Nicholas Lysson’s (NOT Lyssson) original article was published on Richard Bleier’s site:
        link to desip.igc.org

        Another interesting piece there is
        ON THE ORIGINS OF THE BALFOUR DECLARATION
        by Nicholas Lysson
        May 2006
        link to desip.igc.org
        ______________________

        Danaa,

        If you write that article you’re planning, take a look at this. Should also be available on Makow’s site with better formatting.
        link to rense.com

      • LeaNder
        April 30, 2011, 8:41 am

        Danaa, this is a recurring theme, and I have not followed the debate carefully. But I like your contributions a lot, and yes I can connect with anger, but I have German limits in this respect.

        Admittedly I can’t help but feel that Gilad, pretty much Rense, are sometimes enamored too much with extreme right wing conspiracy lore for my taste. …

        These comparisons (Holocaust – “holodomor”) always remind me of the German historian’s quarrel.

        The debate opened on June 6, 1986 when the philosopher and historian Ernst Nolte had a speech printed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, entitled Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will (“The past that won’t go away”). Nolte argued that the “race murder” of the Nazi death camps was a “defensive reaction” to the “class murder” of the Stalinist system of gulags. In his view, the gulags were the original and greater horror. In the face of the threat of Bolshevism, it was reasonable that the German people would turn to Nazi fascism.[7] He had already articulated this argument the previous year in an essay published in English: “Auschwitz… was above all a reaction born out of the annihilating occurrences of the Russian Revolution… the so-called annihilation of the Jews during the Third Reich was a reaction or a distorted copy and not a first act or an original”.[8]

        My position in this context is very clear. The Nazis merged the Jewish enemy to the point of no distinction with the communist threat. On the other hand yes, the Socialists and the Nationalists fought each other long before the Nazi reign of power.

        My core problem with the “normalization” of the Holocaust, or its comparison with the Ukraine famine, is that you have to accept the “truth” of the Nazis, which was clearly manipulative. The number of influential Jewish Bolsheviks was blown out of all proportions up to sometimes 98%. This road ultimately leads to whitewashing the Nazis. From this perspective they weren’t the willful manipulators wanting to reign the world, but poor victims of their paranoia. The reality is more that they wanted to become exactly what the blamed to Jews to already be: the ultimate rulers of the world.

        Fact is the Nazis willfully exaggerated the “Jewish” Bolshevik threat manipulating the percentage of Jewish Bolsheviks in leadership positions up to 90+ percent sometimes.

        [Hitler] claimed in an August 1920 speech that out of 478 Soviet delegates, 430 were Jews, “always the greatest enemies of the national Russian.” In the first article that he wrote for the ‘Völkisch Observer’, a January 1921 essay, “The Völkisch Idea and the Party,” Hitler argued that out of a population of 150 million, there remained “perhaps only 600.000 who, not appalled at the hideousness of the Jewish blood dictatorship, do not damn this people and its diabolical infamies.” In Hitler’s … view of Boshevik Russia, a small Jewish minority oppressed millions through terror. (page 229)

        So everybody that is enamored with these comparison should consider that he is moving into the confines of the conspiracy mindset of the Nazis, and ask himself it that feels right.

        There is a German librarian (google translation doesn’t work very well, that studied conspiracy lore: the Masons, the …, and not too long ago also published a book looking into Jewish Bolshevism between Myth and Reality. This guy seems to moving in German New Right circles, as the book was published by these, who obviously have an interest in balancing German guilt via the guilt of the other side. … The perpetrator ultimately turned into a victim. …

        It wasn’t easy for me to order it in the via inter-library loan, admitted. As I have no problem to admit my inhibition in this context. The introduction is by Nolte the leader of the above historian dispute Wikipedia article. But Rogalla in spite of some parts that feel peculiar, really shows a rather complex reality, including “a Jew” who murders a feared and prominent Jewish member of the Cheka, if I remember well. But yes, also regions that had a rather high number of Jewish representatives. Hungary. Hungary also surfaces as part of the larger Nazi-Network on the road to Russia in Kellog’s work linked above.

        The main problem may well be that this partial truth is pushed towards the right, and outside mainstream academic discourse, and nobody dares to handle it but the right. Both odd and understandable since it was at the center of the apocalyptic-Jewish-thread-scenario of the Nazis. …

      • Danaa
        April 30, 2011, 1:10 pm

        LeaNder – these are some mighty interesting themes you bring into this little discussion – and really good references.

        Just to touch upon these two comments:

        1. “The Nazis merged the Jewish enemy to the point of no distinction with the communist threat.”

        2. “The main problem may well be that this partial truth is pushed towards the right, and outside mainstream academic discourse, and nobody dares to handle it but the right. ”

        This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? historical facts cannot be aired to brush off the cobwebs because of fear that there are those old creepy creatures lurking underneath. We cannot get to the full truth of what happened in 1930-1932 because there were jewish people involved in unsavory deeds. Wow – what a revelation, says the devil in me….or is it the scientist? and because Jews suffered an infection during the times of a great plague, we can now not research the disease? honor the victims of purges? shed some belated tears for millions of peasants who died unnecessarily?

        The avoidance of transparency, of proper historical research, is what serves as fodder for conspiracy theories that then stray far off the main course, off onto a trail full of exaggeration and misinformation, only to be buried even deeper into the fogs of history. As you say – when the scholars and academics of the left avert their eyes, the topic gravitate to the province of the far right, which then serves like a sign for “civilized” people of the left to stay away from. A vicious circle of disinformation subject to the tug of ideologies not the focus of a microscope.

        You said it especially well in this passage:

        “My core problem with the “normalization” of the Holocaust, or its comparison with the Ukraine famine, is that you have to accept the “truth” of the Nazis, which was clearly manipulative. The number of influential Jewish Bolsheviks was blown out of all proportions up to sometimes 98%. This road ultimately leads to whitewashing the Nazis. From this perspective they weren’t the willful manipulators wanting to reign the world, but poor victims of their paranoia.”

        This was also the crux of the 2006 Ynet article MRW brought into the conversation too (thanks, MRW!).

        I do see a parallel between the weirdness of discussions of Jewish privilege and the history of bolshevism in Russia. Both need to be stepped around so gingeely that many informed and erudite people simply prefer to stay out of the discussion altogether. This interesting phenomenon was touched upon well also by Jeffrey Blankfort’s post below, which illustrates the way in which informed discourse in the ranks of the left has been not only marginalized, but the “left” has been effectively marshaled to DEFINE the allowed boundaries of discourse. You see it in the way sites like JSF police themselves to prevent any Gilad “cross-contamination”. And they have excellent anti-zionist bona fide otherwise. This far and no more, they seem to say. I hate to bring in Mooser again (not fair to single him out so), but it is illustrative in this case – the way even the most irreverent can turn into a fire hissing dragon at the mere mention of a pro-noun “The”.

        That is exactly why I think it’s time to bring some air into these old skeleton closets. Even at the cost of turning up some smelly old laundry. Let it be aired out among scholars and generally informed people with interest in history and social dynamics of groups. Wrestle it out of the right into the center, where it can be turned over, mused over, tussled around, commented upon and dissected into all the complex bits. I would like to see certain ‘controversial” subjects, like the one brought up by someone like Gilad, treated more scientifically, by those who are so inclined. Why should he get all the references? why should rense?

        We all realize that some great delicacy will be required to separate fact from fiction, ideology from dispassionate observation and truth from fear. But, as a people, really as a species, we should have evolved to the point of being able to do that. At worst, we should be able to find a few brave souls willing to don some serious hazmat suits as protection from poisonous radiation. they do it with nuclear plants, don’t they?

        As for the case of Gilad, I think he makes as good a flash-point as any. He has made many points and claims over the years. No reason I see to not turn these over and separate chafe from flak. Not everything he said makes sense, not everything is true,certainly not everything is original. Personally, having read a few selections of hi commentary, it is my opinion that, not having a scholarly temperament, he finds it difficult to separate opinion and emotion from verifiable facts of history and politics. Though in his defense I’ll say that in some ways, this is no different than making Kagan the canary in the mine of Jewish privilege, as Phil has done before. Both require serious qualifiers. Neither can be all out representative of any one group.

        OK, that’s all I can put down for now (too much already).

        Thank again, and also for the historical origin of the German saying I quoted. Will use it to hammer my German friends. That’ll be fun….

      • Keith
        April 30, 2011, 1:36 pm

        LEANDER- You make an excellent contribution to an excellent discussion.

        “The Nazis merged the Jewish enemy to the point of no distinction with the communist threat.”

        Yes, and the reason they did this was that it is very common for people in power to interpret events in such a way as to justify actions taken for different and unacknowledged reasons. There is a strong ideological bias in historical interpretation and presentation. This ideologically biased historical “reality” forms the basis for our ongoing interpretation of current events. Reality perception is strongly influenced by elite misrepresentation of historical reality, a subjective reality in any event. “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” That sort of thing.

        This has great significance when it comes to the myth of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism. This is one of the core beliefs in classical Judaism, and in its modern, secular equivalent Zionism. It also resonates within reformed and secular Judaism. Eternal and irrational anti-Semitism is a virtual article of faith of many Jews which profoundly influences their perceptions of reality. It is presented as a 2000 year continuum which is beyond dispute. The possibility that this history is largely myth, where actual events have been misrepresented to conform to an ideology which seeks to shape group attitudes in a certain way so as to promote group solidarity and group goal attainment, is never even considered. Further, that somehow determining the actual “truth” of the matter is an impossible task given conflicting biases and different historical circumstances in the past. What seems clear, however, is that eternal and irrational anti-Semitism posits Gentiles as inherently evil, which is anti-Gentile chauvinism, but which is not perceived as such by Jews who believe in intrinsic Gentile anti-Semitism, and eternal Jewish victim-hood, objective reality notwithstanding.

        Although different in many ways, there is an interesting connection between Gilad Atzmon and Israel Shahak. Both were secular Israeli Jews whose exposure to the Judaic religion was with Israeli orthodoxy. Both tend to conflate Zionism and Judaism, which in Israel may be understandable, particularly as Israel becomes progressively more “Jewish.”
        Shahak maintained that the “Jewish enlightenment” never came to fruition in Eastern Europe, the birthplace of blood and soil Zionism. A critical part of enlightenment being a critical examination of the culture and belief systems. He advocated such a cultural introspection. “Therefore, the real test facing both Israeli and diaspora Jews is the test of their self-criticism which must include the critique of the Jewish past. The most important part of such a critique must be detailed and honest confrontation of the Jewish attitude to non-Jews.”

      • annie
        April 30, 2011, 1:57 pm

        what an interesting post leaNder/danaa. i had no idea there was such a strong association and an ongoing current debate, never heard of nolte or his ‘theory ‘ ( “race murder” of the Nazi death camps was a “defensive reaction” to the “class murder” of the Stalinist system of gulags)

        i agree w/danaa, some serious historians should tackle this and we should not be afraid to look at old skeletons no matter how perverse they are.

        both of you, thanks for a very interesting discussion.

      • Donald
        April 30, 2011, 2:18 pm

        Timothy Snyder deals with some of these issues in his articles in the New York Review of Books and in his book “Bloodlands” (which I haven’t read yet.) He and some other historians say that Stalin’s death tolls are somewhat inflated, though still terrible. The “holodomer” according to him (and a Ukrainian historian who was in the NYT a couple of years ago) killed about 3 million Ukrainians, not 10 million. On the other hand, Snyder says the documents show it was deliberate killing, a true genocide, as opposed to “merely” insane economic policy that caused a massive death toll (as with the Irish and Indian famines under the British). That has been the historical debate–whether the famine was deliberate genocide or not and Snyder says it was.

        I’m always bemused when people say they didn’t know how terrible it was under Stalin–I knew about the Ukrainian famine for about as long as I knew about the Holocaust and it’s a cliche to say that Stalin killed more people than Hitler and incidentally, Timothy Snyder disputes that last point as well. I tend to believe him, though morally it doesn’t make much difference. Both killed many millions in deliberate genocides.

      • LeaNder
        April 30, 2011, 2:18 pm

        Danaa, I agree with everything you say, and will have a look at MRW’s link, no time now, though. I don’t have a problem with Gilad, but I surely have a problem with the easy dot-connectors.

        Concerning this:
        Though in his defense I’ll say that in some ways, this is no different than making Kagan the canary in the mine of Jewish privilege, as Phil has done before. Both require serious qualifiers.

        Yes obviously, these guys have their own type of academic <"conspirologes" to name just the most obvious, but many aren’t that far off. But that’s why the academic discourse will change on many of their pet subjects. I can see this in the work of some of my favorite academics. Reality dictates attention. And some are well prepared.

        I am off for today, but give me a hint about what you are alluding to here:

        I hate to bring in Mooser again (not fair to single him out so), but it is illustrative in this case – the way even the most irreverent can turn into a fire hissing dragon at the mere mention of a pro-noun “The”.

      • Donald
        April 30, 2011, 2:26 pm

        Also, on the Ukrainian slaughter of Jews in the Russian Civil War–that seems to me to be something that is “more forgotten” (to use a somewhat barbaric phrase) than the fact that Stalin was comparable to Hitler in the number of people he murdered. I’m guessing it’s forgotten mainly because the Reds were the bad guys from an American perspective and we tend to get confused by situations where the supposed good guys (the Whites) were if anything just as bad and conceivably (if they had won), even worse. Plus the Holocaust puts all earlier episodes of mass killing of Jews into the shade. But it is odd that the comparatively small pogroms in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s get more press than what happened a couple of decades later.

      • Donald
        April 30, 2011, 2:57 pm

        A couple of other points.

        First on Gilad Atzmon–I know comparatively little about the history of Jews and Judaism and it seems to me to be a bad idea to start off with someone who has such a deep problem with them. It would be like the mistake many Americans made after 9/11, where they decide to learn about Islam by reading someone like Bernard Lewis or worse, Robert Spencer. You can probably take any group and paint them as demonic if you have centuries of material to work with.

        That said, of course it would not surprise me if the standard view of the history is biased–I’ve seen a few indications of that myself even from what little I know. Several years ago when reading a popular history of the Byzantine Empire, for instance, I was surprised to find out that Jews had slaughtered tens of thousands of Christians during the reign of Heraclius–Heraclius in turn wished to exterminate all Jews. I had never heard of this. James Carroll in “Constantine’s Sword” makes no mention of it (Heraclius is not in the index) and at first glance you’d think he would be Exhibit A in the long history of Christian anti-semitism, since here you have the Byzantine Emperor seriously wanting to attempt a “Final Solution” 13 centuries before Hitler. But it doesn’t quite fit the morality play that we’re supposed to hear, I guess–true, there is a genocidal anti-semitic Emperor, but there are also Jews murdering Christians. It’s exactly what you’d expect from real history when two sides who hate each other both happen to have the power to commit atrocities–atrocities are duly committed. But it’s not politically correct victim history.

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 6:50 pm

        Danaa, if a full sphere represents all the coordinates of the universe, and we should choose our three to stand upon and define ourselves, then you and I stand at the same point:

        This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? historical facts cannot be aired to brush off the cobwebs because of fear that there are those old creepy creatures lurking underneath. We cannot get to the full truth of what happened in 1930-1932 because there were jewish people involved in unsavory deeds. Wow – what a revelation, says the devil in me….or is it the scientist? and because Jews suffered an infection during the times of a great plague, we can now not research the disease? honor the victims of purges? shed some belated tears for millions of peasants who died unnecessarily?
        .
        The avoidance of transparency, of proper historical research, is what serves as fodder for conspiracy theories that then stray far off the main course, off onto a trail full of exaggeration and misinformation, only to be buried even deeper into the fogs of history. As you say – when the scholars and academics of the left avert their eyes, the topic gravitate to the province of the far right, which then serves like a sign for “civilized” people of the left to stay away from. A vicious circle of disinformation subject to the tug of ideologies not the focus of a microscope.

        This too: “You see it in the way sites like JSF police themselves to prevent any Gilad “cross-contamination”. And they have excellent anti-zionist bona fide otherwise.” Even our beloved Mooser will not brook a conversation about the Bolsheviks here…as happened a year or two back. My babushkas (actually great-aunts) lived there at the time, and their diaries tell different stories.

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Donald,

        You really ought to read Lysson’s original here.

        Secondly, what we are going to know about the history of the world in the next 10 years is going to erase all the lies and fabrications we have believed so far.

        (1) Google translation of the originals available globally, as more and more are put online.
        (2) The Gutenberg Press is only 560 years old. Those who got their mitts on one controlled the stories, not the truth.
        (3) The truth will eventually prevail, because the stories have created wars, and future generations are not going to stand for them.

      • Donald
        April 30, 2011, 8:35 pm

        MRW–the Lysson link you provided is broken, or rather, it says the piece on the Holocaust and the Holodomor isn’t there. Anyway, eventually I will get around to reading Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands”. Part of his point, I gather, is that the Nazi and Stalinist regimes between the two of them killed 14 million civilians in Eastern Europe from 1930 to 1945, with Stalin initiating the genocidal period with the Holodomor.

        On Jewish history in general, I think I’d want to read standard sources first if I ever get around to studying the topic.

      • annie
        April 30, 2011, 8:51 pm

        the link works for me donald

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 9:31 pm

        Donald, the Lysson piece is replete with “standard sources” and official document sources. Frankly, that’s all it is: an aggregate of them.

      • LeaNder
        May 1, 2011, 11:50 am

        (3) The truth will eventually prevail, because the stories have created wars, and future generations are not going to stand for them.

        MRW, I may misunderstand, but are you talking about some kind of absolute truth? Do you think there is one ultimate truth e.g. about “the English”, to choose one earlier item, in which our perceptions clashed? What’s your definition of truth in our context here? The truth will set you free? Veritas nos liberabit? The question is to what ends? To normalize and complicate the narratives on both sides so they can’t be utilized for specific ends? … How do you define:truth.

        Let me nitpick one passage out of Nicholas Lyssson’s article. Pat Lang once wrote something that somehow sticked: the challenge is to dance in chains. One thing that probably didn’t chance over the centuries, is, that we are all servants to a larger or lesser degree.

        What could this mean in the arendar system? What Lyssen does give us is the context, he does not tell us anything about how and why “the Jews” ended up as arendars? How much of the money they pressed out of the peasants ultimately went to the nobility? Where I would agree is that the Jewish 2000-year-narrative sometimes seems to leave out the suffering of others. Inquisition didn’t only target the Jews.

        And if they were arendars for such a long time exploiting the peasants, why were they so poor , and e.g. needed the help of the Western Jewish communities to support them on their way to the US? Also what do you think about the collective punishment that arises in the story below, if you do not support it as a part of the Israel/Palestine power struggle?

        Graetz (vol. 5, p. 7) also says Khmelnytsky had personal reasons for leading the revolt: “A Jew, Zachariah Sabilenki, had played him a trick, by which he was robbed of his wife and property.” It says everything, of course, that it was possible by trickery to rob a Cossack of his wife.

        Arendas did not disappear after the Khmelnytsky uprising. See Jewish FamilyHistory. org/ Grand_ Duchy_of_Lithuania. htm (“During the 18th century, up to 80 percent of Jewish heads of households in rural areas [of what are now Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and parts of Poland] were arendars, that is, holders of an arenda”). Pogonowski, p. 72, describes the return of the Jews to the Ukraine after 1648-54. Similarly, see Simon M. Dubnow, History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, vol. 1, p. 158 (1916).

      • annie
        May 1, 2011, 1:01 pm

        80%? is that realistic?

      • LeaNder
        May 1, 2011, 2:18 pm

        Yes, Annie, it does sound peculiar, Lysson on the other hand he gives Simon Dubow as source, including page. (With more time, I would like to take at his use of sources) But my hypothesis is that you won’t find in Dobow what he writes here, at least not the way he suggests.

        When I read it, I didn’t follow the link in the same paragraph, that’s were the percentage comes from:

        Many Jewish families lived and worked on land and in towns owned by wealthy landowners and nobility. The archival fonds containing documents about the property of the landowners also include names and other information about Jews. The arenda system, under which one used a prepaid, short-term lease (usually for one to three years) to operate all sorts of businesses or to lease land, was widespread among the Jews. Many Jews leased farms, mills, taverns and other businesses from the landowners. During the 18th century, up to 80 percent of Jewish heads of households in rural areas were arendarz, that is, holders of an arenda (lease).

        The link leads to information about Lithuanian Jews, while the context suggests it’s all about the Ukraine. Also while the first chapter is about the Ukrainian famine, and the 1930’s the next paragraph seems to assemble data over several centuries to make its point. In the case above, the link only provides the percentage, while it absolutely ignores the context. capice? This guy surely has an agenda.

      • MHughes976
        May 1, 2011, 3:31 pm

        Snyder’s ‘Bloodlands’, to my mind, is a disappointing book too dependent on secondary, in particular on Polish and Ukrainian nationalist, sources.
        It suggests that Stalin did indeed start the process of mass murder and was responsible for far more deaths than Hitler was before the War, though the overall number of Stalin’s victims has been exaggerated and the balance is reversed when we consider the total of victims up to 1945. Secondly, it claims that Stalin’s Great Terror was a matter of ‘race’ and nationality as much or more as of ‘class’.
        It does seem as if the Revolution gained the greatest support from the Polish and Jewish minorities within the Russian Empire – unsurprisingly, since these would surely have been the most open to ideologies coming from the West. In an atmosphere of extreme insecurity it was easier to trust those of one’s own nationality and to suspect others. So Stalin was able to release Polish and Jewish agents on the Russian and Ukrainian populations, crush resistance among them, and then to turn on and destroy the agents he had used, discrediting their national groups in the process. Russians, and even more Stalin’s very own Georgians, led by Beria, were promoted over the dead bodies of Polish and Jewish communists.
        For my money Snyder doesn’t really prove that this bloody politicking among racial groups was the same in spirit, which I think he means to suggest, as Hitler-style anti-Semitism. Like previous anti-Stalinists he blames Stalin personally for everything.
        I suppose Atzmon is arguing that it was less Stalin’s personality than the influence of Jewish advisors, acting in a Jewish rather than a Marxist spirit, that led to the decision to use Great Terror methods. Jewish advisors were certainly present at the beginning of the process but I don’t think we have any evidence that they seriously influenced Stalin rather than merely followed his orders – and it extremely clear that he was not a man to be trifled with.
        At most I think that these facts reinforce some scepticism about complacent ideas such as that ‘the Jews are always for the underdog’. But what they really illustrate is the point we all really know, that there is no short cut via race or religion to being morally good or bad.

      • MRW
        May 1, 2011, 8:12 pm

        LeaNder,

        How could I talk about “an absolute truth?” Can you? I will settle for facts being made manifest that are otherwise hidden, purposely or not, for various reasons and agendas. So much of history is denied and hidden, and our knowledge of it short. Small entries in diaries (such as the wives of famous men or seemingly insignificant side players), only now being discovered, give small facts and details that function as extraordinary new grouting in a national pattern previously thought to be otherwise…and we have to rearrange the major tiles in the floor pattern, as in ‘what actually happened at that moment’ that we thought to be otherwise. Like archeologists do. Like scientists do.

        I hew to what Danaa wrote here, to that attitude in paragraphs 5 & 6.

        (It’s really no different than what happened in this country after 9/11 —and still prevails in large social spaces—when you couldn’t bring up the idea that a kerosene file, a jet fuel fire (because that’s what it was) has never brought down buildings that size in a 10-second fall in the history of mankind. Never. Ever. The heat of those fires (per NIST) falls below the temperature of a blue flame on a stove. But saying that was not allowed.)

        BTW, Tony Karon wrote about the arendars here. Scroll down to this paragraph. He mentions a book if you want to know more about it.
        I have spent my subway commute this winter reading Paul Kriwaczek’s sweeping history Yiddish Civilization, a must-read and endlessly revealing tale of the years between the Roman Empire and the collapse of the heym.

        Just for future knowledge, I have long got over the notion that because some preserved news piece, wiped from the web otherwise, is parked at a conspiratorial site and should therefore be reason for me to dismiss it. It’s the nature of the Internet beast these days that all copies destined for removal aren’t caught. Thank god. So, frankly I don’t give a hoot if 3rd party content is aggregated on someone’s site that I couldn’t get otherwise, and it indicates nothing to me. David Duke, for example, has preserved content that he didn’t write. The fact that I find an article there that I may need to read is immaterial to me. The content of the piece is. I don’t buy unipolar thinking and I don’t buy that people who don’t think like me 90% of the time will not think like me the rest of the time. I write this because I think Lysson’s agenda was balancing the other side of historically unknown but available information. I’m interested in the latter, and his article was a treasure trove.

      • Hu Bris
        May 1, 2011, 11:12 pm

        LeaNder: “This guy surely has an agenda.”

        Oh shock! Horror! someone with an agenda . . . RUN!!!!

        In short, then, the history of Jewish relations with Slavic peasants—together with the much longer history of Jewish attitudes toward “the nations”—has enormous rele-vance in explaining why hereditarily-Jewish Bolsheviks in the 1930s, using supposedly scientific Marxist terminology, defined the Ukrainian peasantry as the “class enemy” and carried out a policy of genocidal starvation. In The Jewish Experience, p. 364 (1996), Norman Cantor freely admits as much:

        The Bolshevik Revolution and some of its aftermath represented, from one perspective, Jewish revenge. . . . During the heyday of the Cold War, American Jewish publicists spent a lot of time denying that—as 1930s anti-Semites claimed—Jews played a disproportionately important role in Soviet and world Communism. The truth is until the early 1950s Jews did play such a role, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. In time Jews will learn to take pride in the record of the Jewish Communists in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. It was a species of striking back. (Emphases added.)

        Edwin Schoonmaker, Democracy and World Dominion, pp. 211-12 (1939) confirms Cantor’s point:

        Fifteen years after the Bolshevist Revolution was launched to carry out the Marxist program, the editor of the American Hebrew could write: “According to such information as the writer could secure while in Russia a few weeks ago, not one Jewish synagogue has been torn down, as have hundreds—perhaps thousands—of the Greek Catholic churches. . . .” (American Hebrew, Nov. 18, 1932, page 12.) Apostate Jews, leading a revolution that was to destroy religion as the “opiate of the people,” had somehow spared the synagogues of Russia. (Emphases added.)

        link to mondoweiss.net

        . . . . a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar’s, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action.

        Perhaps bolshevism might best be described as ‘Schiff’s Revenge’?

      • Hu Bris
        May 1, 2011, 11:34 pm

        Donald – perhaps on your intellectual travels you might find time to deconstruct the etymology/meaning of the Georgian surname ‘Djugashvili’

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        April 29, 2011, 4:14 pm

        Danaa,

        That’s a very interesting post concerning the writings and thoughts of Gilad which have indeed rocked Jews across the board to the core, not the least of whom those who are both anti-Zionist and closely connected to their Jewish identity. For Gilad these two are incompatible. Rather than identifying as Jews, Jews should see themselves primarily as human beings and operate from that perspective. Maintaining the importance of the Jewish identity, for him, ultimately places those who do so more on the side of the Zionists than against them and for that reason, to be human, Jews need to reject that identification which he classifies as “Jewishness.” In pushing an envelope that needed pushing, he makes no exceptions, and that is where I disagree with him. There are always exceptions.

        For the most of my four decades of experience with this issue, the major obstacles that I have encountered have not come from the organized Jewish community/Zionist establishment, but from Jews on the Left who openly identify as such and whether they claim to be anti-Zionist, non-Zionist, or left Zionist, it has made little difference.
        One and all, with a handful of exceptions, they have been the ones that until now, have blocked any discussion of the Israel Lobby and going back to the 80s, have been the ones, as leaders of the various Marxist and Trotskyist organizations and assorted solidarity groups who successfully endeavored to keep the Palestinian issue separate from all the other international struggles and far from the top of the movement’s agenda. My early efforts to raise the issue of The Lobby led to me being labeled “anti-Semitic, (skipping right past the self-hating stage) and called a “loose cannon” and Palestinian groups, sadly, under their influence (their being Worker’s World (today’s ANSWER) and Line of March (now defunct) also tended to marginalize me and the speaking invitations dried up.

        Some of this is in an article I wrote in 2003, The Israeli Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions

        For a current example of the problem, one only needs to look at the BDS campaign launched by Palestinian civil society which calls for a international boycott of Israel. It is only in the US that the campaign is limited to boycotting corporations that do business in the West Back as if it was they and not Israel, with the support of diaspora Jewry, that has its foot on the neck of the Palestinians. While the Zionist propaganda apparatus has declared the BDS campaign to be a subterfuge for “delegitimizing” Israel, the one being conducted in the US is, in fact, quite the opposite of that. Israel is not the problem, is the unspoken message of the organizers here, occupation is. And that gets us back to Gilad.

        It has been self-declared anti-Zionist or non-Zionist Jewish activists who have been allowed to set the parameters within which activist policy on behalf of the Palestinians can be waged or discussed i this country. Happily there are exceptions and some important ones. Otherwise we would not be having this online exchange.

        P.S. While it is true, Gilad is angry at the injustices that his former homeland produces daily, he also has a sense of humor which makes what he writes extremely effective which is really what angers many of those who disagree with him who accuse him of providing “fodder for the antisemites.”

        Most of these, and particularly his anti-Zionist” Jewish critics in the UK are as equally vociferous in denying the power of the Israel Lobby as I found out when I gave a talk on the subject over there a few years ago. For one of them, Tony Greenstein, “speaking abut the Lobby is “the first step to Holocaust denial.” ‘Nuff said.

      • Danaa
        April 29, 2011, 5:42 pm

        Jeff, Thanks for the thought-provoking comments – I am still musing over them, and would like to respond when I find a little more time later.

        For now, just a quick note: you may find it funny, but I partly had you in mind when I wrote the comment about Atzmon (no need to take responsibility for the multiple typos though – those are entirely my own …). Something about those seemingly impermeable boundaries of which you speak tweaks the scientist in me. Boundaries can tell us important secrets about the human condition, the infinite number of ways in which we can segregate ourselves into defensible castles of the mind. Which then become prisons.

      • MRW
        April 29, 2011, 10:21 pm

        Danaa, I concur with annie’s comment about your excellent post. Rout You Are.

        Jeffrey, yours too.

      • MRW
        April 29, 2011, 10:32 pm

        Every time I mention Sever Plocker’s astounding column Stalin’s Jews in YnetNews a few years ago, some MFA hire or WeeBee-er pipes up about how all that info’s been discredited. That article Gilad republishes — the one Donald refuses to read ;-), I’m ribbing you, D — puts a lie to that bullshit.

        The subhead to Plocker’s column is We mustn’t forget that some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish.
        link to ynetnews.com

      • Evildoer
        April 30, 2011, 12:34 pm

        The reason diaspora Jews are more likely to be offended by an openly judeophobic discourse than Israeli Jews is that judeophobia is fundamental of dominant secular ashkenazi culture in Israel, although Israelis call it “Shlilat Hagalut.” Israelis are not shocked by this because they see this kind of racist discourse as normative, and that can stay with them long after they have officially repudiated it. (and it also rhymes with the general racism of Israeli culture). As long as you think like an Ashkenazi Israeli you won’t understand what is offensive about Atzmon.

      • Danaa
        April 30, 2011, 2:29 pm

        You can take the Israeli out of the Ashkenazi-Israeli but you can never take the Ashkenazi out of the Israeli, no matter how far they run. Is that what you are saying?

        I think there’s some truth to that. Growing up Ashkenazi in israel means growing into feelings of superiority the likes of which can be found almost nowhere else. Every day your superiority is reaffirmed in all its manifestations. Every incident anywhere proves it. Every Jewish achievement is yours – the Eistein and the madoff are yours too. Clever buggers that they are. The sight of all those Mizrahi around cements it. So racism is indeed normative and intense dislike – even revulsion – of all things ashkenazi diaspora (what you call judeophobia) is part and parcel of it all. We have a poster here called Avi. He know all about Ashkenazi privilege and then some…(and to know, is not always to like, right?)

        Understanding all that, why can you not see why someone like Gilad, waking up to his own racism and finding it disturbing, and indeed revolting, will turn around and bite the “hands” that fed that little beast? turning on Israelis is almost too easy a target. Child’s play, really. But turning on the entire Ashkenazi culture? and history? and religion? now there’s a big bad target to shoot arrows at. I don’t know Gilad but I sense his secret enjoyment at the howls of protest his writings generate? positively spine tingling, that.

        As I said above, a big part of my own interest (for obvious reasons) is the psychological drama of Gilad in Galgatta. It is riveting, you must admit.

        And, of course, you are right:

        ” As long as you think like an Ashkenazi Israeli you won’t understand what is offensive about Atzmon”.

        Mia Culpa.

      • Evildoer
        April 30, 2011, 4:17 pm

        Danaa,
        I can understanding the psychology all right. I went through that stage myself, and I liked the humor of his early writing. I understand why people engage in gratuitous violence, including symbolic violence, to salvage a sense of self. But shouting insults while wanking off to the sound of exploding kneidalach is a dead end. Add to that the pseudo-intellectualism, the faked expertise in all thing Jewish, and what you get is the Jewish twin of Walid Shoebat.

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 6:54 pm

        Evildoer,

        Perhaps I am confused. Are you saying that what we are having here is “an openly judeophobic discourse?” Or what Atzmon provokes?

        Even though I recognize this thread is dead.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        April 30, 2011, 8:15 pm

        This is one of the most fascinating discussions to date on Mondoweiss and am just running in and out today but when you suggest, Danaa, “that I don’t know Gilad but I sense his secret enjoyment at the howls of protest his writings generate? positively spine tingling, that.,” I do know him and can affirm that you are right. He does enjoy seeing the pack of British anti-zionist Jews in the UK who have had the field to themselves for a long time, frothing at the mouth and far more unhappy, it seems, with Gilad than they are with Israel.

      • MRW
        April 30, 2011, 9:38 pm

        This is one of the most fascinating discussions to date

        Agree.
        BTW, Atzmon’s piece on Veteran’s Today (Atzmon’s site is not loading for me today): Gilad Atzmon: Drama in London
        link to veteranstoday.com

        He writes: “The venue as well as the panelists (except myself funnily enough) came under severe pressure that verged on abuse….”

      • Evildoer
        April 30, 2011, 12:35 pm

        Sorry, I posted it in the wrong place.

        The reason diaspora Jews are more likely to be offended by an openly judeophobic discourse than Israeli Jews is that judeophobia is fundamental of dominant secular ashkenazi culture in Israel, although Israelis call it “Shlilat Hagalut.” Israelis are not shocked by this because they see this kind of racist discourse as normative, and that can stay with them long after they have officially repudiated it. (and it also rhymes with the general racism of Israeli culture). As long as you think like an Ashkenazi Israeli you won’t understand what is offensive about Atzmon.

      • annie
        April 30, 2011, 2:04 pm

        hi evildoer, your comment will fall down below the other comments preceding yours that responded to the same comment you did. i sometimes find it helpful to reference either the person/comment i’m repsonsiding to w/either the posters name or a segment of the text i’m referencing. especially in long posts with lots of comments.

      • Max Ajl
        April 30, 2011, 3:18 pm

        Some interesting reflections on Atzmon and Yehoshua over at JSF: link to jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com

      • Castle Keep
        April 30, 2011, 4:42 pm

        Gilad in a ‘conversation’ of sorts with Michael Conniff.
        link to youtube.com
        Two of Gilad’s handicaps are lack of complete control of English language, combined with a larger and more detailed grasp of the history than his interlocutor. Gilad’s knowledge and rationality are better suited to academic debate.

        Conniff’s handicaps are stupidity, ignorance, arrogance, and obnoxiousness and a general willingness to betray his dishonest intentions. Other than that, he’s a great guy.

  4. Jeffrey Blankfort
    April 28, 2011, 10:01 pm

    In practice, the critical differences between Jews in Israel and those in the diaspora,are not geographical but ideological. This has been enhanced through the internet and establishment and/or co-optation of the leading Washington “think tanks” in which Israeli and American Jews go through the same doors and perform the same tasks interchangeably, the foremost among them being spreading pro-Israel propaganda and pressuring elected US officials to do nothing to threaten the “special relationship.”.

    Hence, in both the Israeli and US press, one finds virtually the same op-ed pieces, with the exception, of course, of those that appear in Ha’aretz and Yediot Ahranot, and criticize Israeli policy which are excluded. Whereas in the past some of those did make it to the editorial pages of the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times, those days are over. (That’s what might be called controlling the media).

    Whether pro-Israel American Jewish activists become Israeli citizens or not seems to be more of a political than a personal decision based on what is best for Israel. Thus, we can have a David Makovsky who served as editor of the Jerusalem Post for 10 years decide not to become an Israeli citizen which would have limited his ability to testify before Congressional committees which he frequently does.

    Needless to say, the arch Zionist agent Dennis Ross who has served every administration from George Herbert Walker Bush to Obama would never have been in the position to serve Israel as he has were he to have made aliyah.

    On the other hand, we have people like Connecticut-born Likudnik Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, who has served for years as an articulate mouthpiece for Israel, one of those talking heads who speak perfect English and are never asked about their American background; ditto Michael Oren today.

    One might well ask, how come Alan Dershowitz, Abe Foxman, Morty Zuckerman, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeffrey Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Tom Friedman, and their ilk, not become Israeli citizens, as many, incorrectly believe they are? Simply because in the case of Dersh, Foxbreath, Zuckerman, Goldbug, Krauthammer, and the fatuous Friedman, it would limit their ability to come across as American Jews who care passionately for Israel, and in the case of Perle, Wolfy, Libby, Feith, Indyk, Elliot Cohen, Stuart Levey, all the Kagans, et al, they would not be eligible for critical appointments with attendant security clearances in Washington.

    That’s just another area, and a very important one, in which the Zionist International, the ZIONTERN, manages to game the system with nary a peep from those who should be watching the store. What’s that? You say they’re running the store? I forgot about that.

  5. Graber
    April 28, 2011, 10:24 pm

    Krista Tippett, of On Being, has an interview with Mohammad Darawshe on her latest episode. They discuss his dual identity as a Palestinian and as an Israeli citizen. link to being.publicradio.org

  6. American
    April 29, 2011, 2:35 am

    “In the contemporary Jewish world there are no clear dichotomies. We are dealing with a spineless elastic metamorphic identity that shapes itself to fit every possible circumstances”

    Exactly. This why I say and believe that there can’t be any long term accommodating of zionism. One simply cannot reason with something that morphs and morphs and redefines and contridicts itself further and further away from any kind of known reality every time any reason or logic or light is applied to it.

  7. quebecleft
    April 29, 2011, 9:06 pm

    Why is everything so complicated? Gilad is my brother.You have to be able to give up and then reconnect with the world.You will still be able to be jewish and be part of humanity. there is so much gibberish but everybody prefer to spend endless hours discussing your identidy instead of resolving the problem.

    i can resolve this problem in 15 minutes. You can challenge me anytime

  8. Hu Bris
    May 1, 2011, 11:33 am

    Regarding Russian Bolshevism in the early 20’s, and what Annie above coyly refers to as ‘ethnicities':

    The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell
    Hotel Continental
    Stockholm
    25th June 1920

    Dearest O

    I have got thus far on my return, but boats are very full and it maybe a week before I reach England. I left Allen in a nursing home in Reval, no longer in danger, tho’ twice he had been given up by the Doctors. Partly owing to his illness, but more because I loathed the Bolsheviks, the time in Russia was infinitely painful to me, in spite of being one of the most interesting things I have ever done.

    Bolshevism is a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar’s, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action.

    I was stifled and oppressed by the weight of the machine as by a cope of lead. Yet I think it is the right government for Russia at this moment. If you ask yourself how Dostoevsky’s characters should be governed, you will understand. Yet it is terrible. They are a nation of artists, down to the simplest peasant; the aim of the Bolsheviks is to make them industrial and as Yankee as possible. Imagine yourself governed in every detail by a mixture of Sidney Webb and Rufus Isaacs, and you will have a picture of modern Russia. I went hoping to find the promised land.

    All love – I hope I shall see you soon. “

    . . . . a close tyrannical bureaucracy, with a spy system more elaborate and terrible than the Tsar’s, and an aristocracy as insolent and unfeeling, composed of Americanised Jews. No vestige of liberty remains, in thought or speech or action.

    Sounds remarkably like where the USA is heading, has been heading, since Sept 11 2001

    • MRW
      May 1, 2011, 7:31 pm

      Thanks for this comment, Hu Bris. Very interesting. Something I didn’t know. My babushkas, who lived in St. Petersburg and Moscow, wrote about this in their (many volumned) diaries. The influx of foreigners driving events, but they were gone by the start of WWI. One side of my family lived in Russia from the late 1830s until then.

      • Hu Bris
        May 1, 2011, 9:35 pm

        1st Commandment of the Church of Completely Ineffectual Pseudo-Anti-Zionism:
        “thou Shalt not ‘point things out’, lest some well-programmed useful-idiot become “offended””

        2nd commandment of the Church of Completely Ineffectual Pseudo-Anti-Zionism:
        “Thou shalt NEVER entertain any thought which might eventually give rise to the conclusion that by their insularity and open racism and rejection of all thing Goyish, the tribe might have well been deserving of at least some of the hatred expressed by at least some of the people who suffered because of actions carried out by influential members of the tribe, lest some well-programmed useful-idiot become “offended””

      • Hu Bris
        May 1, 2011, 10:17 pm

        Cohn-Sherbok says of a founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl: “He warned that if our Christian hosts were to leave us in peace for two generations, the Jews would merge entirely into surrounding races.” Id. Herzl also wrote in his conclusion to Der Judenstaat (1896): “Universal brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream. Antagonism is essential to man’s greatest efforts.”

        In his book (p. 209) Cohn-Sherbok says that “in the past ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders were profoundly aware of this dynamic.” One of his examples is Schneur Zalman of Lyady, the first Lubavitch Rebbe and author of Ha’tanya (1796), the fundamental book of the Habbad movement, whose first chapter famously concludes by saying gentile souls “contain no good whatever.”[11] In 1812, Zalman worked with the anti-Semitic Czar Alexander I to defeat Napoleon. He feared Napoleon would liberate the Jews, who might expect to benefit materially—although that’s a much-disputed calculation—but whose souls would be lost to assimilation and intermarriage.

        a finer example of “Is it good for THE Tribe?” would be harder to find

      • Hu Bris
        May 1, 2011, 9:51 pm

        According to Arthur Koestler, large waves of migration from the East resulted in an influx of Ashkenazim/Khazar migrants into the Ukraine and Kiev in particular somewhere in the 11th/12th Century.

        Because of their semi nomadic nature the Khazars did not invest their wealth in buildings etc, and so arrived in Kiev with much wealth intact in, I presume, the form of Gold

        At some point not too long after the influx, they managed to establish political control of the city of Kiev. My memory of Koestler’s account is not perfect by any means, but I vaguely remember (I may be wrong on some minor details) that Khazar/Ashkenazi rule lasted at most 50 years, before the indigenous people revolted and expelled them from the city itself, or at least took measures to prevent them from holding political power in the future.

        It seems that wherever Ashkenazim/Khazars go they engender the same reaction. It should by now have occurred to them, and to others, to ask ‘Why?’

        Simple ‘Jew-Hate’ is too childish an answer

        If a child were moved from school to school because it was constantly at odds with it’s classmates, to only blame the classmates, and to constantly reject outright the possibility and that it might have something to do with the behaviour of the child itself, would be simply moronic.

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