Palestinian and Palestine-solidarity activists issue critique and condemnation of Gilad Atzmon

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
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In the past two weeks Palestinian and Palestine-solidarity activists have issued two separate statements regarding Gilad Atzmon. I posted one in the Mondoweiss comment section here, and it generated quite a bit of discussion. Yesterday, a second statement was issued by Palestinian activists. Both are posted below in full.

Update: Atzmon has responded to the first statement below. You can read it on the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs website.

1. Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

For many years now, Gilad Atzmon, a musician born in Israel and currently living in the United Kingdom, has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it. He has done so through his various blogs and Internet outlets, in speeches, and in articles. He is currently on tour in the United States promoting his most recent book, entitled, ‘The Wandering Who.’

With this letter, we call for the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Atzmon’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination. We do so as Palestinian organizers and activists, working across continents, campaigns, and ideological positions.

Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.

Palestinians have faced two centuries of orientalist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.

We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.

The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.

As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.

When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.

Until liberation and return.

Signed:

  • Ali Abunimah
  • Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
  • Omar Barghouti, human rights activist
  • Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine
  • Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
  • Haidar Eid, Gaza
  • Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • Toufic Haddad
  • Kathryn Hamoudah
  • Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
  • Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada
  • Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
  • Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate
  • Andrew Kadi
  • Hanna Kawas, Chair person, Canada Palestine Association and Co-Host Voice of Palestine
  • Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist
  • Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY
  • Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico
  • Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
  • Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
  • Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London
  • Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate

2. Not Quite “Ordinary Human Beings”—Anti-imperialism and the anti-humanist rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon

Attempting to latch onto the just, vital, and growing movement in support of the Palestinian national liberation struggle, Gilad Atzmon is one of a very small and unrepresentative group of writers who have argued (in agreement with many Zionists) that there is no meaningful distinction to be made between Jews in general and Israeli atrocities. According to Atzmon, the latter are simply a manifestation of Jews’ historic relationship to gentiles, an authentic expression of an essentially racist, immoral, and anti-human “Jewish ideology.”

Atzmon’s statements, besides distorting the history of Jews and constituting a brazen justification for centuries of anti-Jewish behavior and beliefs, also downgrade anti-Zionism to a mere front in the broader (anti-Jewish) struggle. Atzmon has specifically described Zionism not as a form of colonialism or settlerism, but as a uniquely evil ideology unlike anything else in human history. In addition to any ethical problems, this line of argumentation actually strengthens Zionism’s grip and claim to be the authentic representative of Jews. It obscures the reality that Zionism is an imperialist and colonialist enemy of Jewish people and Palestinians, as well as the Arab people generally and all those oppressed and exploited by imperialism.

In his online attack on Moshe Machover, an Israeli socialist and founder of the anti-Zionist group Matzpen, Atzmon states:

Machover’s reading of Zionism is pretty trivial. “Israel,” he says, is a “settler state.” For Machover this is a necessary point of departure because it sets Zionism as a colonialist expansionist project. The reasoning behind such a lame intellectual spin is obvious. As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.[1]

For Atzmon, such views are “pretty trivial” and “lame” because he holds that Jews are in fact radically different from the French and the English. Of the many quotes we could provide in this regard, here is a small sampling:[2]

In order to understand Israel’s unique condition we must ask, “who are the Jews? What is Judaism and what is Jewishness?”[3]

Zionism is a continuation of Jewish ideology.[4]

The never-ending robbery of Palestine by Israel in the name of the Jewish people establishes a devastating spiritual, ideological, cultural and, obviously, practical continuum between the Judaic Bible and the Zionist project. The crux of the matter is simple yet disturbing: Israel and Zionism are both successful political systems that put into devastating practice the plunder promised by the Judaic God in the Judaic holy scriptures.[5]

Sadly, we have to admit that hate-ridden plunder of other people’s possessions made it into the Jewish political discourse both on the left and right. The Jewish nationalist would rob Palestine in the name of the right of self-determination, the Jewish progressive is there to rob the ruling class and even international capital in the name of world working class revolution.[6]

Were Jewish Marxists and cosmopolitans open to the notion of brotherhood, they would have given up on their unique, exclusive banners and become ordinary human beings like the rest of us.[7]

I do not consider the Jews to be a race, and yet it is obvious that “Jewishness” clearly involves an ethno centric and racially supremacist, exclusivist point of view that is based on a sense of Jewish “chosen-ness.”[8]

At the most, Israel has managed to mimic some of the appearances of a Western civilisation, but it has clearly failed to internalise the meaning of tolerance and freedom. This should not take us by surprise: Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and Jewishness is, sadly enough, inherently intolerant; indeed, it may be argued that Jewish intolerance is as old as the Jews themselves.[9]

Israel and Zionism then, has proved to be a short lived dream. It was initiated to civilise Jewish life, and to dismantle the Jewish self-destructive mode. It was there to move the Jew into the post-herem[10] phase. It vowed to make the Jew into a productive being. But as things turned out, neither the Zionists nor the “anti Zionists” managed to drift away from the disastrous herem culture. It seems that the entire world of Jewish identity politics is a matrix of herems and exclusion strategies. In order to be “a proper Jew,” all you have to do is to point out whom you oppose, hate, exclude or boycott.[11]

The conclusion to such views is not difficult to draw:

The endless trail of Jewish collective tragedies is there to teach us that Jews always pay eventually (and heavily) for Jewish power exercises. Yet, surprisingly (and tragically) enough, Jews somehow consistently fail to internalise and learn from that very lesson.[12]

More precisely, commenting on the climax of State violence directed at Jews in the 1930s, most famously by Germany, but also in most other European nations, Atzmon is clear:

The remarkable fact is they don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others.[13]

Within the discourse of Jewish politics and history there is no room for causality. There is no such a thing as a former and a latter. Within the Jewish tribal discourse every narrative starts to evolve when Jewish pain establishes itself. This obviously explains why Israelis and some Jews around the world can only think as far as “two state solution” within the framework of 1967 borders. It also explains why for most Jews the history of the holocaust starts in the gas chambers or with the rise of the Nazis. I have hardly seen any Israelis or Jews attempt to understand the circumstances that led to the clear resentment of Europeans towards their Jewish neighbors in the 1920’s-40’s.[14]

It is, as such, not surprising that Atzmon’s work has received enthusiastic reviews by such prominent members of the racist right as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Kevin MacDonald of the Occidental Observer, David Icke, and Arthur Topham’s the Radical Press. It should not be surprising that Atzmon has distributed articles defending Holocaust deniers and those who write of “the Hitler we loved and why.”[15] These connections ultimately serve the interests of Zionism, which seeks to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Jewishness. Zionist agents have repeatedly attempted to ensnare and link Palestinian, Arab, and/or Muslim rights advocates to Neo-Nazism, through dirty tricks and outright lies.

It is more surprising and disappointing, then, that a small section of the left has opted to promote Atzmon and his works. In the UK, the Socialist Workers Party promoted Atzmon for several years before finally breaking with him; his latest book The Wandering Who? has been published by the left-wing Zero Books (a decision that elicited a letter of protest from several Zero authors).[16] In the United States, the widely-read Counterpunch website has repeatedly chosen to run articles by Atzmon. Currently, in February and March 2012, Atzmon is on tour in North America, where several of his speaking engagements are being organized by progressive anti-imperialists who we would normally like to consider our allies.

While perhaps well-meaning, operating under the assumption that any opposition to Zionism is to be welcomed, progressives who promote the work of Atzmon are in fact surrendering the moral high ground by encouraging a belief-system that simply mirrors that of the most racist section of Israeli society. Anti-racism is not a liability; on the contrary, it is a principle that makes our movements stronger in the long fight for a better tomorrow.

As political activists committed to resisting colonialism and imperialism—in North America and around the world—we recognize that there can be different interpretations of history, and we welcome exploring these. Without wishing to debate the question of whether far-right and racist ideologues should be censored, or how, we see no reason for progressive people to organize events to promote their works.

In our struggle against Zionism, racism, and all forms of colonialism and imperialism, there is no place for antisemitism or the vilification of Jews, Palestinians or any people based on their religions, cultures, nationalities, ethnicity or history. At this historic junction—when the need to struggle for the liberation of Palestine is more vital than ever and the fault lines of capitalist empire are becoming more widely exposed—no anti-oppressive revolution can be built with ultra-right allies or upon foundations friendly to creeping fascism.

  • As’ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service, Turlock, CA
  • Suha Afyouni, solidarity activist, Beirut, LEBANON
  • Max Ajl, essayist, rabble-rouser, proprietor of Jewbonics blog site, Ithaca, NY
  • Haifaa Al-Moammar, activist, stay-at-home mom, and marathon walker, Los Angeles, CA
  • Electa Arenal, professor emerita, CUNY Graduate Center/Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Women’s Studies, New York, NY
  • Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Geneva, SWITZERLAND
  • John Baglow, writer, researcher, consultant, CANADA
  • Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • Dan Berger, Wild Poppies Collective, Philadelphia, PA
  • Chip Berlet, Boston, MA
  • Nazila Bettache, activist, Montréal, CANADA
  • Sam Bick, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, Québec
  • Max Blumenthal, author; writing fellow, The Nation, New York, NY
  • Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, New York, NY
  • Café Intifada
  • Paola Canarutto, Rete-ECO (Italian Network of Jews against the Occupation), Torino, ITALY
  • Paulette d’Auteuil, National Jericho Movement, Albuquerque, NM
  • Susie Day, Monthly Review, New York, NY
  • Ali Hocine Dimerdji, PhD student at The University of Nottingham, in Nottingham, UK
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor emerita, California State University
  • Todd Eaton, Park Slope Food Coop Members for Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions, Brooklyn, NY
  • Mark Elf, Jews sans frontieres
  • S. EtShalom, registered nurse, Philadelphia, PA
  • Benjamin Evans, solidarity activist, Chicago, IL
  • Steven Fake, author and activist, Reading, PA
  • David Finkel, managing editor, Against the Current, Detroit, MI
  • First of May Anarchist Alliance
  • Racheli Gai, Jewish Voice for Peace and Tucson Women in Black
  • Sherna Berger Gluck, professor emerita, California State University/Israel Divestment Campaign, CA
  • Neta Golan, International Solidarity Movement
  • Tony Greenstein, Secretary Brighton Unemployed Centre/UNISON, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Brighton, UK
  • Andrew Griggs, Café Intifada, Los Angeles, CA
  • Jenny Grossbard, artist, designer, writer and fighter, New York, NY
  • Freda Guttman, activist, Montréal, CANADA
  • Adam Hanieh, lecturer, Department of Development Studies/SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Swaneagle Harijan, anti-racism, social justice activism, Seattle, WA
  • Sarah Hawas, researcher and solidarity activist, Cairo, EGYPT
  • Stanley Heller, “The Struggle” Video News, moderator “Jews Who Speak Out”
  • Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, CANADA
  • Elise Hendrick, Meldungen aus dem Exil/Noticias de una multipátrida, Cincinnati, OH
  • Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer, New York, NY
  • Ken Hiebert, activist, Ladysmith, CANADA
  • Louis Hirsch, Jewish Voice for Peace (for ID purposes ONLY), Chicago, IL
  • Elizabeth Horowitz, solidarity activist, New York, NY
  • Adam Hudson, writer/blogger, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Dhruv Jain, Researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academie and PhD student at York University, Paris, FRANCE
  • Remi Kanazi, poet and author of Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance & Palestine
  • Tom Keefer, an editor of the journal Upping the Anti, Toronto, CANADA
  • Karl Kersplebedeb, Left Wing Books, Montréal, CANADA
  • Anne Key, Penrith, Cumbria, UK
  • Mark Klein, activist, Toronto, CANADA
  • Bill Koehnlein, Brecht Forum, New York, NY
  • L.A. Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, Los Angeles, CA
  • Mark Lance, Georgetown University/Institute for Anarchist Studies, Washington, DC
  • David Landy, author, Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel, Dublin, IRELAND
  • Bob Lederer, Pacifica/WBAI producer, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, New York, NY
  • Matthew Lyons, Three Way Fight, Philadelphia, PA
  • Karen MacRae, solidarity activist, Toronto, CANADA
  • Heba Farouk Mahfouz, student activist, blogger, Cairo, EGYPT
  • Marvin Mandell and Betty Reid Mandell, co-editors, New Politics, West Roxbury, MA
  • Ruth Sarah Berman McConnell, retired teacher, DeLand, FL
  • Kathleen McLeod, poet, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
  • Fred Mecklenburg, News & Letters Committees in Chicago, IL
  • Karrie Melendres, Los Angeles, CA
  • Matt Meyer, Resistance in Brooklyn, New York, NY
  • Amirah Mizrahi, poet and educator, New York, NY
  • mesha Monge-Irizarry, co-director of Education Not Incarceration; SF MOOC City commissioner, San Francisco, CA
  • Matthew Morgan-Brown, solidarity activist, Ottawa, CANADA
  • Michael Novick, People Against Racist Terror/Anti-Racist Action, Los Angeles, CA
  • Saffo Papantonopoulou, New School Students for Justice in Palestine, New York, NY
  • Susan Pashkoff, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
  • Tom Pessah, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Berkeley, CA
  • Marie-Claire Picher, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB), New York, NY
  • Sylvia Posadas (Jinjirrie), Kadaitcha, Noosa, AUSTRALIA
  • Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
  • Danielle Ratcliff, San Francisco, CA
  • Liz Roberts, War Resisters League, New York, NY
  • Manfred Ropschitz, UK
  • Jonathan Rosenhead, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
  • Emma Rosenthal, contributor, Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation, Los Angeles, CA
  • Penny Rosenwasser, PhD, Oakland, CA
  • Suzanne Ross, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, The Riverside Church Prison Ministry, New York, NY
  • Gabriel San Roman, Orange County Weekly, Orange County, CA
  • Ian Saville, performer and lecturer, London, UK
  • Joel Schwartz, CSEA retiree/AFSCME, New York, NY
  • Tali Shapiro, Anarchists Against the Wall, Boycott From Within, Tel Aviv, OCCUPIED PALESTINE
  • Simona Sharoni, SUNY, author, Gender & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Plattsburgh, NY
  • Jaggi Singh, No One Is Illegal-Montreal/Solidarity Across Borders, Montréal, CANADA
  • Michael S. Smith, board member, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY
  • Pierre Stambul, Union juive française pour la paix (French Jewish Union for Peace), Paris, FRANCE
  • Muffy Sunde, Los Angeles, CA
  • Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin, Bronx, NY
  • Tadamon! (http://www.tadamon.ca/), Montréal, CANADA
  • Ian Trujillo, atheist, Los Angeles, CA
  • Gabriella Turek, PhD, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
  • Henry Walton, SEIU, retired, Los Angeles, CA
  • Bill Weinberg, New Jewish Resistance, New York, NY
  • Abraham Weizfeld, author, The End of Zionism and the liberation of the Jewish People, Montreal, CANADA
  • Ben White, author, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination, and Democracy, Cambridge, UK
  • Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner, NYS Task Force on Political Prisoners, New York, NY
  • Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, founding member, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)
  • Asa Winstanley, journalist for Electronic Intifada, Al-Akhbar and others, London, UK
  • Miriam Yagud, Gloucestershire, ENGLAND
  • Ziyaad Yousef, solidarity activist 
 
* List in formation

Postscript:

This text is not intended as a comprehensive critique of Gilad Atzmon’s politics. It was written quickly by some North American anti-imperialists who learned of Atzmon’s 2012 speaking tour just days before it was to begin in late February 2012. At first it was thought it would be signed by just a few people, but the initiative quickly took on a life of its own, being posted to the web and to multiple listservs, discussed via email and on Facebook, and elsewhere, even before the wording had been finalized or a decision had been made as to how to use it (the initial assumption had been that it would be passed on to organizers with far less fanfare). Instead of a few signatures, within a week there were dozens, and emails continue to arrive from people wishing to sign on. We believe that this speaks to the deep frustration that many of us feel when confronted with Atzmon’s anti-Jewish beliefs, which constitute an affront to our anti-racist principles, as well as a distraction from the essential tasks of opposing colonialist genocide and Israeli apartheid. What this response makes clear is that for many anti-imperialists, opposing such racism remains essential to building a movement against imperialism and the myriad forms of oppression that both feed on and are fed by it.

Any subsequent news or information about this initiative will appear here on the Three Way Fight website (threewayfight.blogspot.com). Those wishing to endorse or discuss this initiative, or for more information, should email [email protected]. We wish to reiterate that we consider many of those promoting Atzmon’s work to be allies, but would ask that they reconsider their decision to do so. This is not a call for censorship, but for consistency and accountability.


[1] Gilad Atzmon, “Tribal Marxism for Dummies,” originally published in June 2009, republished on his Web site on April 24, 2011.
[2] Many more quotes like these could be provided, but we assume this is enough to show that these are not out-of-context or out-of-character remarks. If not, readers may wish to peruse the section of Atzmon’s website on “Jewishness” at www.gilad.co.uk/writings/category/jewishness
[3] Gilad Atzmon, “Tribal Marxism for Dummies,” Atlantic Free Press, July 2, 2009.
[4] Anayat Durrani, “Exposing Dangerous Myths,” Interview with Gilad Atzmon, originally published in Al-Ahram Weekly (May 19-25, 2011), republished on Atzmon’s Web site on May 19, 2011.
[5] Gilad Atzmon, “Swindler’s List: Zionist Plunder and the Judaic Bible,” Redress Information & Analysis, April 5, 2008.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Gilad Atzmon, “An Interesting Exchange With A Jewish Anti Zionist,” Atzmon’s Web site, August 17, 2011.
[9] Gilad Atzmon, “The Herem Law in the context of Jewish Past and Present,” Atzmon’s Web site, July 16, 2011.
[10] “Herem” is a Hebrew word that refers to banning or excluding someone; it is also the name of the repressive legislation Israel recently passed to enable punitive lawsuits against those calling for a boycott of the apartheid state. For Atzmon, this law is just one more example of Zionism’s Jewish uniqueness (guess he never heard of SLAPPs), as he concludes that “this is what Jews do best: destroying, excluding, excommunicating, silencing, boycotting, sanctioning. After all, Jews have been doing this for centuries.”
[11] Ibid.
[12] Gilad Atzmon, “A Warning From The Past,” Atzmon’s Web site, May 26, 2011.
[13] Quoted in Shabana Syed, “Time for World to Confront Israel: Gilad Atzmon,” Arab News, June 14, 2010.
[14] Gilad Atzmon, “Jewish Ideology and World Peace,” Atzmon’s Web site, June 7, 2010.
[15] Tony Greenstein, “Bookmarks & Invitation to Gilad Atzmon & Holocaust Denial,” JustPeaceUK, Yahoo! Groups, June 9, 2005.
[16] “Zero Authors’ Statement on Gilad Atzmon,” Lenin’s Tomb, September 26, 2011.

No Responses Yet

  1. Donald
    March 14, 2012, 12:21 pm

    I agree with this, but expect you may hear from some who don’t.

    This came up several days ago at JSF–

    link

    If you scroll down you’ll find a particularly good comment by “evildoer” in response to someone named
    “Maju”–I’d link directly to the comment, but when I tried to do so a few minutes ago my computer acted funny. I’m not sure what happened, so if interested you’ll just have to do a bit of scrolling.

    • kalithea
      March 14, 2012, 3:41 pm

      I believe “maju” ended up having the last word with good reason, although I disagree with maju regarding Atzmon and a couple of points.

      “Evildoer” has a totally defensive argument that doesn’t hold water.

      Maju, on the other hand, makes some great points about how Judaism is not a race and therefore can and should be criticized.

      I’m assuming from Maju’s arguments that this individual is an atheist. I hope atheists understand that even if you don’t believe in God; it’s clear that the Universe has laws; blowback and karma and you just can’t go around doing whatever the hell you want in this life. There is a common destiny mapped out for humanity; and morally/spiritually straying from it incures cyclical karma. And as far as technical/scientific evolution is concerned: we can try to cure and invent everything for years or centuries, but we’ve often discovered that “timing” and circumstances beyond our control have a lot to do with discovery. In other words, sometimes the answers come through “serendipity”; timing; luck and effort merging as ONE. Why are mysteries concealed no matter how hard we search for the answers and why are some unknowns revealed through serendipity?

      So one has to ask: How did the laws of the universe that govern our common destiny get mapped out? Did it just happen on its own?

      Evildoer is totally limited; maju makes some good points, but is also limited.

      • Hostage
        March 14, 2012, 11:02 pm

        Maju, on the other hand, makes some great points about how Judaism is not a race and therefore can and should be criticized.

        That’s absolutely correct. Atzmon’s book is supposedly about “Jewish identity politics”. The notion that ultra-orthodoxy’s rejection of enlightenment values is an inherited or immutable characteristic is utter hogwash. So, it’s irrational for anyone to talk about the demographic threat posed by Israel’s Haredi population as if the thinking of an entire generation of young people has already been predetermined or predestined, based upon their parent’s narrow minded religious beliefs and customs.

        In our struggle against Zionism, racism, and all forms of colonialism and imperialism, there is no place for antisemitism or the vilification of Jews, Palestinians or any people based on their religions, cultures, nationalities, ethnicity or history.

        I’m sorry, but that sounds like platitudinous nonsense. None of the signatories would hesitate to condemn the clash of religious values reflected in works, like the Kings Torah or H. B. Isherwood, Religion and Racial Controversy, Brighton: The Racial Preservation Society, 1970. The latter defended apartheid and segregation on biblical grounds. If you’re going to seriously discuss “Jewish identity politics” in modern-day Israel, then you need to drop this namby-pamby temporizing and get on with an honest discussion about the racist aspects of the various streams of Judaism and the fact that those aspects have been embraced or defended by several of the national religious parties which hold key positions in the Knesset and its committees.

        Mondoweiss, and mainstream media outlets, including the Forward, the LA Times, and the major Israeli daily newspapers actively criticized the strongly held religious and cultural beliefs of the extremist Orthodox Jews who attacked Naama Margolese, a 7 year old girl in the town of Beit Shemesh. They routinely condemn the same religious groups when they put-up warning signs for women and partition-off public thoroughfares or attack women on sex-segregated bus lines based upon their religion and culture. Religious superstitions and customs are perfectly fair game when you are discussing the march of civilization and political identity movements, including the Jewish national religious ones.

        All of this shreying about Atzmon’s book, has guaranteed him at least one more sale. Jewish Voice for Peace has signed-on to the Palestinian solidarity movement condemnation. So, I’m going to have to read it and see if I agree.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 7:19 am

        So, I’m going to have to read it and see if I agree.

        Good, please do, and let us know what you think. IMO, chapters 1 and 3 warrant particular attention.

        For anyone somewhat familiar with the wide range of controversial Jewish thought, is there anything in this book (or his other core writings) that is uniquely, unforgivably controversial? If there is, I didn’t see it. Does any of it justify the blanket condemnation from the long list of luminaries above? If so, I don’t see it.

        There’s something weird going on here and it needs better explanation. What in hell is ‘solidarity’ supposed to mean, anyway? Maybe I don’t want any part of that straitjacket.

  2. Dan Crowther
    March 14, 2012, 12:55 pm

    Here’s my thing though – what do you think consistent readers of Mondoweiss come away thinking, based on what they read here? I’ll tell you: That there is a international jewish cabal running roughshod over all of our lives.

    I for one am not a lobby fetishist. This is practically heresy here. Everyday “we” here lay the problems in the Middle East and elsewhere at the doorstep of “the jews” – so, it seems like we’re talking about degree, rather than full disavowment, in this case.

    The fact that Max Blumenthal signed onto the anti-atzmon letter is really surprising, I have to say, being of “Feel the Hate” video fame.

    Maybe a little distressing though that Atzmon here is the basis for such a unified call in a otherwise cluster-fuck of a movement, pardon my french. If only activists(and I mean all activists, not just here) could be as forceful in the face of their friends, neighbors and anti-rights agitators; but “the left” has always been better at ex-communications than they have about actually doing something. Zing!

    • Annie Robbins
      March 14, 2012, 2:07 pm

      Everyday “we” here lay the problems in the Middle East and elsewhere at the doorstep of “the jews”

      then you shouldn’t have a problem linking to a few posts as examples of what you are talking about. i’d appreciate it if you would because it sounds like we are hanging out at different sites.

      I for one am not a lobby fetishist. This is practically heresy here.

      could you explain to us what attracts you to this site?

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 2:19 pm

        i dont answer to you annie. and i dont have to explain anything to you.

        you’re really trying to say that mondoweiss doesnt, everyday, write about “the lobby” and jewish zionists wherever they roam? And that it leaves the impression with the reader that there is indeed a jewish cabal that is at least part of our fundamental problems? This has been remarked upon by many, not just me.

        This is going to be a pointless excercise, I criticized MW, therefore in authoritarian annie’s mind I have committed the ultimate sin.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 14, 2012, 2:37 pm

        i absolutely think we discuss the lobby here dan and would never disagree with that. but if it’s not your thing then why hang out here? i was just curious. i assumed everyone who hung out here was interested in the lobby.

        you’re really trying to say that mondoweiss doesnt, everyday, write about “the lobby” and jewish zionists wherever they roam?

        no, not at all. i was more curious about at the doorstep of “the jews”

        that’s just not my impression. it’s fine with me if you want to get all snooty about it. i was genuinely curious. i really want to see an example of at the doorstep of “the jews”. to me that sounds really like the site is pushing anti semitic discourse and it’s a completely different impression that i have. naturally you don’t have to respond, you can do whatever you want. maybe someone else can explain to me what you are talking about, if they agree with you that is.

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        March 14, 2012, 2:45 pm

        This site is the ONLY place you’ll see news of Palestine solidarity activism. That’s why it’s irreplaceable for now.

        However it should be replaced by a very active Arab-American student web site that goes 100% for total boycott against Israel, until the apartheid state is abolished. If only there were students out there who actually wanted to do that.

        The talk about “The Lobby” and ethnic stuff is really not my cup of tea. It’s navel-gazing.

        We need activism instead. Boycott, boycott, and more boycott.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 14, 2012, 3:07 pm

        why replaced? why can’t there just be a very active Arab-American student web site that goes 100% for total boycott against Israel also? beside, electronic intifada is a great blog. they just don’t have comments.

        i think it could be students hang out more on facebook and twitter.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 3:10 pm

        wolman’s “israel is sucking up all the air at the white house” is a good example of over-emphasis and I think the effort to make bibi netanyahu obama’s chief opponent in the election is more of the same, and i think that point has been reinforced over and over. also the adelson posts that basically said, “if obama loses, it’s gonna be because of this guy” —

        now, here’s the thing – i happen to agree with some of this. my point originally was to say, “the same anti-atzmon cats represented here could sort of make a similar argument about phil weiss, in that he writes daily about the nefarious and cultish activities of jews, the mindset behind their actions etc.”

        Or to put it another way – in atzmon’s world the bad guy is jewish, but you could say the same thing about mondoweiss.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 3:20 pm

        Dan, if you don’t think the lobby is the driving force behind US support/indulgence of Israel what do you think is?

        Is it all that oil we get from them..LOL…or the fact they do exactly what we tell them in return for all our billions and support?…. LOL….or that Israel helps spread US influence in the ME?…LOL….or that Israel keeps down Arab nationalism in the ME…LOL…or that Israel promotes democracy for Arab nations in the ME?..LOL….or that Israel contributes to peace and stability in the ME?….ROTFLMAO….or that Israel military attacks US enemies in the ME instead of visa versa?…LOL

        ROTFLMAO…..if Israel did anything for the US interest they wouldn’t need The Lobby.

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        March 14, 2012, 3:37 pm

        Yeah. The problem is a lack of activism. Web site or no Web site.

      • kalithea
        March 14, 2012, 3:49 pm

        I agree activism is CRUCIAL. But I’m not adverse to a discussion that attempts to source the problem that keeps activism from making headway. So they should go hand in hand to defeat the evil glue that holds Zionism together.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 3:59 pm

        “Dan, if you don’t think the lobby is the driving force behind US support/indulgence of Israel what do you think is?”
        ———————————————————

        Oh here we go. IVE NEVER SAID IT ISNT. I do indeed think “the lobby is the driving force behind US support/indulgence of Israel”

      • OlegR
        March 14, 2012, 7:20 pm

        I like your honesty Dan must be a soldiers trait.

        /you’re really trying to say that mondoweiss doesnt, everyday, write about “the lobby” and jewish zionists wherever they roam?/

        They don’t like to think in those terms it makes their head spin
        since it collides with their liberal views.
        So they just pretend it’s not there.

      • Dex
        March 14, 2012, 7:20 pm

        Agreed, agreed, and more agreed.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 7:56 pm

        Dan, I like to read your comments but I’ve asked you before to try to avoid ambiguity. (Don’t be opaque, cryptic, obscure, Oracle-like, etc.) People want to know what you actually think. If you are ambivalent, that’s fine – say so. My feeling is that you are still groping for firm opinions.

        Your exchange above with Annie was helpful. Among other things, you appear to want to oppose ‘The Lobby’ without having ‘the Jews’ mentioned. O.K., but many of us think that ‘the Jews’ (some of them) and Jewish identity are an important aspect of the Israel lobby and the Zionist ethnic nationalism that drives it. My guess now is that this makes you very angry and is the main reason why you periodically lash out at Mondoweiss and its participants.

        Again, considering that you like to comment here regularly, I want to suggest that you make a concerted effort to formulate and express your views in a coherent and consistent way, and back them up with some evidence when appropriate. As I told you on another thread, I value your comments – I just want to be able to understand them.

        P,S. – In return, if you think I am ambiguous in my comments, please let me know.

      • ToivoS
        March 14, 2012, 8:46 pm

        N49 you mention Mearsheimer 3 or 4 times in your defense of Atzmon.

        Mearsheimer was sent a prepublication of Atzmon’s Wondering Who. He wrote some positive things about it. This predictably brought down much criticism. Mearsheimer wrote in his defense that he had no idea of who Atzmon was and was unfamiliar with his earlier writings. He was simply responding to the book. Since then he has avoided further comment. He has shown good sense in keeping quiet.

        I think Mearsheimer made a serious mistake but at least he has acknowledged it by keeping quiet.

        BTW, Atzmon has done much more than just defending Ernst Zukel’s right to publish holocaust denial, he actively perpetuated it by sending out Paul Eisen’s supporting essay on Atzmon’s own listserve.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 9:03 pm

        thomson – haha, i really don’t know what to say here — ill try to be coherent and consistent, as for citation – not sure yet if I need it.

        My position in my original comment was pretty clear – im agains tribunals and blacklists etc – and i dont think gilad atzmon hates jews and wants them to die and all that jazz. the people who say they’re all about rights and etc. should be ashamed of themselves for stomping on his, he doesnt have to be out in front of the march, but these cats are saying hes just flat got to go
        – thats fucked up.

        Annie took my comments in a different direction – my comment about MW was to point out that phil writes about “the underbelly” of what he calls “jewish life” all the time – including stories of jewish conspiracy, espionage, war mongering, electioneering – you name it. For a couple weeks here, you would have thought sheldon adelson was actually paying phil for the press — haha. Maybe atzmon is further out on the branch, but phils on it too, that was my point.

        I don’t want to be “opaque” as you keep calling me – As Ive said a million times: the lobby, which is indeed a “jewish” endeavor — i dont buy the christian zionist stuff — has a ton of sway in the states and in the west generally, and does represent a powerful force in what is, in my opinion, the fascist element in US politics. On the Italian model, you could say.

        But I do notice that all the worlds main resource centers geographically are total bloodbaths. And the US has played a leading role in making it that way.
        You’re too knowledgeable for me to have to run down the list – but its long, the US just tends to support tyranny and murder in area’s where (1) it can (2) i forgot number two.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 9:30 pm

        Marine.

        And the fact that Oleg here is singing my praises should tell all of us, atzmon and phil are considered shades of the same color to the zio’s……

      • peeesss
        March 15, 2012, 2:09 am

        I thought we were finally getting away from the cry of “anti-semitism” every time an article, paper, book argued against the State of Israeli policies, especially toward the Palestinians. It seemed that people were finally wising up to that canard, especially at Mondoweiss, thank you. Now Gilad Atzmon writes a thesis that we may not totally agree with, if at all, but must it be portrayed as an attacki on every individual person who considers himself Jewish. Anti-semitic? Shlomo Sand has written a provocotive book, The Invention of the Jewish People. He refutes the whole history of the Jewish connection in Palestine that is attributed to the people who flocked to Palestine in the 30′s and 40′s and secured by force the State of Israel. He is a respected Professor in Israel and his book, I am told , a best seller there. His work is not considered “anti-semitic”. And to bring up David Duke ‘s positive response to Atzmon’s thesis is cheap. I am sure David Duke has agreed with many Pro-Palestinian views that are exhibited in Mondoweiss. Though David Duke may be a racist or an anti-semite does not negate some of the truths he may , for his own reasons, espouse.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 4:51 am

        the difference is that mw commentators don’t generalize from the israel lobby to all jews. and talking about inheritance of evil, what’s that about if not ignorance & racism?

      • OlegR
        March 15, 2012, 7:06 am

        Dan
        Never heard of this Atzmon guy before i read this article.
        But from what i have read by Phil is enough for me to put them in a close
        category . Phil is definitely playing with the hot potato of the Jewish
        influence in the world politics and he definitely uses rethoric that IMHO most Jews will automatically
        associate with “The Elders of Zion Protocols” antisemitic rhetoric from the past
        and the present.
        Why is he playing such a game is something that i do not understand
        nor do i really care to.

      • OlegR
        March 15, 2012, 7:08 am

        Peees
        / His work is not considered “anti-semitic”. /
        Yes it is.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 7:32 am

        Thanks, Dan, for replying – and with perfect clarity! Less importantly, I suppose, I agree with every word you said.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 7:39 am

        the difference is that mw commentators don’t generalize from the israel lobby to all jews. and talking about inheritance of evil ….

        yourstruly, if you are talking about Atzmon, he does not do those things, either.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 15, 2012, 11:43 am

        @ Toivo: Mearsheimer was sent a prepublication of Atzmon’s Wondering Who. He wrote some positive things about it. This predictably brought down much criticism. Mearsheimer wrote in his defense that he had no idea of who Atzmon was and was unfamiliar with his earlier writings. He was simply responding to the book.

        Toivos — don’t equivocate. Mearsheimer did not back down at all. He stood by his blurb. You insinuate he did not. Sorry, but this is bullshit innuendo. Why can’t you guys accept that Atzmon has some serious and legit things to say, even if you don’t like what he is saying?

        This smear job being perpretrated here has a real lobbyesque feel to it. -N49.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 12:03 pm

        from what i have read by Phil is enough for me to put them in a close category . Phil is definitely playing with the hot potato of the Jewish influence in the world politics and he definitely uses rethoric that IMHO most Jews will automatically associate with “The Elders of Zion Protocols” antisemitic rhetoric from the past and the present.
        Why is he playing such a game is something that i do not understand
        nor do i really care to.

        what we have here is a point scoring tactic called from the hasbara handbook called false equivalency.

        first, note the use of the word ‘definitely’ (twice), but also note it is his own and others opinions he is definite about in his second usage. but the word is there and used to butress his argument.

        next, he slides in the “The Elders of Zion Protocols” when associating phil with gilad, trying to cement this idea they have their commonality.

        and lastly, he assumes his analysis is correct and that one would agree and then asks a ‘have you beaten your wife lately’ question at the end ‘why is he doing what i claim he is doing?’

        then, after dropping the turd, he sashays away with an air of indifference (“nor do i really care to”)

        good job oleg! it’s the transparency i appreciate the most.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 15, 2012, 12:09 pm

        hahaha nice annie

        but you see what i was saying at the top? these clowns think of guys like phil, atzmon and blumenthal as shades of the same color — so why are other “jewish dissidents” going out of their way to expel atzmon? that was my original point. I get that he’s inartful etc. but blacklisting and such is distasteful, and should be to guys like the ones I mentioned, as the same stuff has been said and is thought by cats like Oleg and the “establishment” in general……

        A slippery slope as it were…..I dont think Phil has anything to apologize for, and frankly, neither does Atzmon, at least in my opinion — we should be giving the guy a chance to state his views, rather than having people tell us how awful he is, without much context.

      • OlegR
        March 15, 2012, 12:17 pm

        Annie how about that Syrian regime
        the one you are so supportive of?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 12:44 pm

        i have to admit i missed what is was you were saying at the top. i was caught off guard by the usage of quotemarks (‘scarequotes’)around “the jews” in the context of the sentence. it stood out for me.

        personally, i don’t blame “the jews” collectively for what’s happened there or for what is happening there currently although i know others do. i didn’t know if your quotemarks were to emphasize this collectiveness or not. i think this post is a really good example of jews who reject what’s happened there. i can’t blame them anymore than i can blame myself as an american. so i took your words even more literally because of the quotemarks because i thought that was your point. now, upon your clarification you’ve been more specific but it was not ‘pretty clear’ for me and still isn’t. i can’t say that is all your fault tho. i have largely stayed out of the gilad wars because it is, in a way, out of my range and i still do not fully understand the depths of reactions wrt intensity of purpose.

        i actually had to write a friend a few months ago and ask ‘what is all this gilad stuff about?’, something i was too embarrassed to ask about online to expose my naivete. once it was explained to me i began to understand.

        i think the public ritual of shunning is not one i am completely in sinc with. my inclination would be to not engage. i do think loud public shunnings call attention to people and drive them to fame even if it is not positive fame.

        but that said, there is clearly from my pov, an intensity that surpasses mere personal rejection. so when i read these letters i acknowledge this is very important to the signatories and it is because of my admiration for them that i take this seriously. i understand better now, more all the time really, why his ideas are rejected (as opposed to a year ago when i was very clueless) but i still do not fully understand why the need for such a loud public rejection. to me this creates a counterweight or something. like the elephant being concerned with the mouse. the bds movement is huge, the movement for palestinians rights is huge. gilad is one person and does not have the power to divide us in any meaningful way. perhaps i am wrong, perhaps he is more powerful than i imagined. these letters imply that.

        i do not recognize collective jewish traits nor extreme generalizations about all jews or judaism = zionism or anything like that. so it’s hard for me to take the man too seriously.

        that said, wrt “we should be giving the guy a chance to state his views” i don’t think phil and adam have any obligation to give him a chance at anything for it is their site. the letters are definitely news within the community and we report the news here so it make absolute sense we would publish the letters.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 12:53 pm

        oleg, please direct me to whatever source you are using to demonstrate this alleged ‘so supportive’ allegation of yours. then i will gladly address your amusing question.

        are you up to the task or just throwing little randon bombettes this morning? syria syria syria!

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 1:10 pm

        so why are other “jewish dissidents” going out of their way to expel atzmon?

        Isn’t the answer to that questions very easy? So they can’t be lumped together indiscriminately with him? Or assaulted via his half-baked ideas? Which ultimately would tarnish their own endeavors?

        Don’t you remember how Atzmon misused Phil’s openness to make his point? That was a clever way to turn Phil’s argument against himself, too clever for my taste. Atzmon surely doesn’t suffer from an inferiority complex. Quite the opposite, he seems to be quite convinced of his own genius. That’s a type I tend to have problems with.

        Mossad couldn’t have invented a better tool than Atzmon to hurt the struggle for Palestinian human rights, is that really so hard to see? Could you please stop using the term: “my man Phil” again from now on. That was you, wasn’t it? I admittedly, never liked it.

      • CigarGod
        March 15, 2012, 1:27 pm

        I don’t understand why you think Mearsheimer’s decision to avoid future discussion of Atzmon is admirable…but his writing of positive aspects of the book is not. Sounds like you favor mob power over discourse. Using that kind of force to silence you enemies, can also be used to silence you and your friends.
        That is a threat to the common good.

      • CigarGod
        March 15, 2012, 1:36 pm

        “..im agains tribunals and blacklists etc”

        Right on!
        I’m afraid too many think they are good things when they work for their side. Problem is, in the big picture, it works for and against all sides…and bottles up freedom of thought and expression.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 15, 2012, 2:36 pm

        “Could you please stop using the term: “my man Phil” again from now on. That was you, wasn’t it? I admittedly, never liked it.”

        NO.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 15, 2012, 3:33 pm

        Atzmon responds:

        link to deliberation.info

        …………….Sadly, Ali Abunimah has misrepresented my thoughts. Clearly there is no racism, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial in my writing. As determined as my detractors are to find it, they have failed to identify a single bit of evidence of such tendencies in my work. Ali Abunimah says on my behalf that “one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist.” What a ludicrous interpretation of my writing, in which I go out of my way to define the issue in categorical terms. What I am obviously opposing is Jewish racial exclusivity. If Israel is in the wrong for being a Jews-only State, I argue, then its Jewish critics better fight it using an inclusive, universalist ideology and practice.

        I am indeed critical of Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Jewish ideology. I am also critical of the Jewish cultural attitude toward history. I am critical of Jewishness and any form of Jewish exclusive political activism. And yet, I wonder, why should any person who seeks justice and peace object to my approach? Is Jewish culture or identity politics beyond criticism? Are Jews chosen after all.[?]
        ———————————-

        Probably worth reading what the guy has to say…..or maybe it isn’t (for some people)

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 3:51 pm

        yourstruly says:
        March 15, 2012 at 4:51 am
        the difference is that mw commentators don’t generalize from the israel lobby to all jews. and talking about inheritance of evil, what’s that about if not ignorance & racism?”

        Yes we and some do, also some generalize about gentile racism. Generalizing about Jews is however in “positive terms’ is usually done by Phil and some others. What we don’t see much of is generalzing about Arabs or Islam negatively which is good. So generalizing is done in some ways.

        Still, what this arguement seems to be about bottom line wrt Gilad, is did Jewishness as a tribe/culture have some anti-ism of it’s own.
        Does anyone think that White culture/tribalism had anti-isms, that for instance, produced a small group like the KKK? Or in other words, does it take/ or how much of a ‘general attitude’ does it take/ among a group to produce an extreme group of anti- ism?

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 6:32 pm

        Leander says, Mossad couldn’t have invented a better tool than Atzmon to hurt the struggle for Palestinian human rights ….

        Leander, your whole comment amounted to nothing more than a spiteful diatribe, with no substance behind it. My impression is that you are simply reacting reflexively to the lead of your favorite authority figures.

        Would it be too much to ask you to provide some reasoning to support your statement above? I’m sure that if you try you must be able to think of something that sounds logical.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 7:55 pm

        Annie says, i do not recognize collective jewish traits nor extreme generalizations about all jews or judaism = zionism or anything like that. so it’s hard for me to take the man too seriously.

        Annie, I’m afraid that you have been misled. Atzmon does not say that all Jews have any collective Jewish traits other than being Jewish. He does not make extreme generalizations about all Jews. He does not say that Judaism = Zionism or anything like that. Those false allegations, and others, have been made in order to discredit the man because a large portion of the Jewish ‘community’ do not like Atzmon’s characterizations of some types of Jewish identity and Jewish identity politics.

        That’s why the man himself has become so controversial. His actual views, as expressed in his core writings, are similar in many ways to some that I and others have expressed many times here at Mondoweiss. Those views would not gain applause in the wider Zionist-infested Jewish ‘community’. He addresses issues about Jewish identity, as it relates to Zionism, Israel, and anti-Zionism, that we deal with here regularly – more or less at Phil’s invitation. But his is an intentionally harsh criticism of a particular type of extremely ethnocentric Jewish identity that he implies is a critical foundation of political Zionism.

        It is important to note that Atzmon takes great pains to emphasize that these harsh criticisms are not directed toward Jews as a people or ‘race’, nor toward Judaism as a religion. He is talking about a portion of the Jewish people who, he says, choose to be extremely ethnocentric. (They weren’t born that way.)

        Unless you want to carry PC to outlandish lengths, I think you need to recognize that groups of people can be defined who have some common characteristics.

        Annie, if you look down below in this thread for two lengthy comments I addressed to Elliot and Sean McBride, you can read some of Atzmon’s own words in which he says most of what I explained above. In particular, I wanted to let him (indirectly) rebut charges of anti-Semitism and ‘racism’ made by some of our commenters here. I think it might help you to read those excerpts, and I can supply more if you want.

        I know that there is another side to this argument, but I think it is based at bottom on misreading, or worse, misrepresentation or falsification for purposes of the same ‘identity politics’ that Atzmon decries.

      • Bruce
        March 16, 2012, 12:34 pm

        @Dan Crowther

        “Israel is sucking up all the air at the White House” would not have been my title choice. That was Phil being snarky, as he tends to be when trying to write catchy titles.

        In my replies to some of the comments, I attempted to show that you don’t need to assert “the fundamental role of the Lobby in our problems” to explain the phenomenon observed. One can argue that the Lobby has an effect in all kinds of areas which wouldn’t seem obvious or natural – and influence that seems disproportionate – without asserting that the Lobby controls the US.

        In the end, the US and the American People make their own bad choices. If the Lobby repeatedly takes advantage, whom is at fault? It’s not like Uncle Sam is a defenseless, battered housewife.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 16, 2012, 1:55 pm

        the US and the American People make their own bad choices. If the Lobby repeatedly takes advantage, whom is at fault?

        i’m fully on board with this. we have to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for the trajectory. lots of kowtowing going on.

        i thought the title was perfect. i do think they are sucking up all the air and i am reminded of obama’s ‘every day’ response to sarkozy. the demands from israel seem constant, never ending. like the screaming child wanting all the attention. me me me. you have to tell them to take a time out once in awhile or the toddler runs the household and there’s no one to blame but yourself if you’ve got a domineering spoiled kid on your hands.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 16, 2012, 1:59 pm

        In the end, the US and the American People make their own bad choices. If the Lobby repeatedly takes advantage, whom is at fault? It’s not like Uncle Sam is a defenseless, battered housewife.
        —————————
        Agreed.

        And I did notice that you didn’t go “Full Blankfort” — haha.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 1:00 pm

        that makes sense.

    • gamal
      March 14, 2012, 8:35 pm

      I think the whole “zionist lobby” stuff is vastly overly played, zionist power consists of being ideological and political managers on behalf of the transnational empire head-quatered in America. the scene is in the process of changing, this whole ludicrous Jews run America and are wagging the goyish hound are deeply worrying this is perhaps a bit off topic, but

      let a ragged assed muslim( publically practising vajrayana/dzogchen buddhism my whole adult life) so not too many friends amongst my bretheren though to be fair they were always tolerant if exasperated, but my world collapsed and the two people who actually extended me any humanity at all, were the Chief Rabbi and a Zionist billionaire, i am suffused with warmth just recollecting their incredible personal kindness, especially during my late mothers final days, the Zionist billionaire was the only person and his converted wife, came to visit her on the death bed. the Rabbi is a bit of buffoon and got himself into all sorts of problems but what can i say he was needlessly kind to me personally and didnt in anyway benefit, quite the opposite.

      the zionist was sweet but you know ditzy he loved my old school father, they had a very warm personal relationship and established some organizations etc but when ever the big Z would start on some Hasbara type stuff the old man would gently tell him to shut up, which he seemed to appreciate, and was always unfailingly gracious, he was from Hungary and very old school too as was my late father but from egypt and Al-Azhar, the last generation to be trained in the old Socratic method, he attributed fundamentalism to the evolving modular nature of courses at AlAzhar and other Madrassas and the general decline of the culture of spiritual developement, positivism (in which he was a believer having been a student of Hans Eysenck at London University in the early fifties sent by Al-Azhar to learn some science) and the changing nature of life.

      let me say as i live out my days insecure, careful of every word i utter unemployable because of my past associations, and to be fair my outrageous behavior, Jewish Americans now blithely wondering just how staggeringly powerful they are, are going to soon find it is all an illusion, this crisis is systemic it is going to managed by means of low intensity conflict (a complete strategy of vassal state management not to say ideology) in the imperial space and austerity ( also a whole coherent policy, see eric lichten’s “class austerity power” NYC circa 75 was the testing ground) on the home front. So yeah what happens when that really bites just how popular are the media created notion of the disproportionate Jewishness of the managers and beneficiaries of this system going to be, the old narratives are exhausted, new ones will be needed

      wow it’s all there, you know the world is not as solid as it looks things are changing and actually in the name of our all to obvious common humanity i fear for you, i am fucked anyway its my own fault i am brave rather intelligent and felt for those who have to struggle to survive and never cultivated plutocrats lived in the ghetto, because its great if a bit tough etc, but professionally i have been involved with all sorts of state-managers, politicians the policy process etc. i was a professional muslim, never once used the mosque in my institution no one messed with me, occasionally dragged myself into work hungover no doubt reeking of alcohol, no one ever said anything, we trained imams for the european environment,

      i have never met a human being that i am superior too, or am able to judge, your hauteur and sense of invulnerability is more illusion than anything else, read some Issac Rosenberg, and this is not just obviously a threat to Jews as such, after all its never rothschild, makhtoum, behbehani, ibn saud, Spencer etc who suffer,

      Democratic illusions are exhausted, with the explosion of poverty at home and consequent repression and social stress, a load of preppy zionists and counter cultural jews and wealthy bankers etc, are an easy target and perfect distraction also maybe the managers need a little disciplining, china is rising south and central asia are theaters of war but the conflict is coming home of course it always does, the 1st world war started what 3?years after the battle of Omdurman.

      Already it is zionist or more ominously Jews who fomented war, what happens when they mange austerity, its not going to be pogroms i am sure but your lives are going to change “israel-firster”, the controversy of Norman G, boeski, ronson, levine Madoff, etc there is a narrative there, sorry its the buddhism i dont believe there is any underlying reality, it makes conversation difficult, i am reminded of Samuel Roths “The Jews Must Live” whose veracity i am unable to judge but it is a coherent tale of” Jewish” financial and political manipulation full of melancholy invective

      i personally feel that in all this, to reverse the normal flow of interrogation that islamists, currently dying in support of your cause ( yes they are supporting you, whatever their vile personal habits), resistance to a merciless and insatiable empire, i think they have the right to ask where is the euro/american left, whats up! i guess something fairly grave is going to happen in or over the next decade or so, what i am clumsily trying to show is the already deep and longstanding interpenetration and interpdependence of this world, we are not some mysterious encultured other, personally i never really know who we is i guess everyone. oh and i am not in anyway criticizing views in this thread by the worrying nature of the discourse i am not in anyway taking a position on lobby fetishism or other such stuff, i think the lobby like the FBI have numerous roles with in the system and am generally ignorant of american conditions and dont think i will be visiting anytime soon.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 12:40 pm

        … i think the lobby like the FBI have numerous roles with in the system and am generally ignorant of american conditions and dont think i will be visiting anytime soon.

        Gamal, I think I understand your sentiments, some of them.

  3. W.Jones
    March 14, 2012, 1:01 pm

    In the first letter, only the third paragraph, out of nine paragraphs, directly explains what it disagrees with about G.Atzmon. The rest of the first letter is mostly general, progressive statements rejecting racist anti-semitism, and are good statements.

    From what I read on his site, one of his main points is that many, like the religious group Neturei Kartei, are Jewish by religion or simply by ethnicity, and as such are separate from any nation-State idea. So it seems to me the first letter is mischaracterizing Atzmon in describing what it sees as his mischaracterizations.

    • W.Jones
      March 14, 2012, 1:36 pm

      “So it seems to me the first letter is mischaracterizing Atzmon in describing what it sees as his mischaracterizations.”
      I mean that it sounded like in reality Atzmon’s thesis wasn’t equating all Jews with the nation-State as the first letter’s third paragraph said, but rather explained that there are many people with many different views about the State who are Jewish by religion or ethnicity.

  4. NorthOfFortyNine
    March 14, 2012, 1:10 pm

    At the risk of getting my head cut off, here is what I have trouble squaring:

    Atzmon sees Zionism as “Jewish problem” — fair characterization?

    Yet Weiss sees the solution to zionism as one that is necessarily jewish in nature. Sure, Wiess says that non-Jews must be brought in to the mix, but there remains an exculsivist element to his prescriptions. Fair characterization?

    I can’t get my head around this. Can someone help? -N49.

    • Mooser
      March 14, 2012, 1:32 pm

      “I can’t get my head around this. Can someone help? -N49.”

      No matter what almost anyone says, our “historical memory” extends only to our own birth. Some people, born recently enough and under propitious circumstances, simply cannot imagine “the Jews” losing at anything. Especially American Jews! No matter what, we Jews are gonna come out a winner, even in a conflict with Zionism.
      From that essential “historical memory” all else flows. BTW, don’t confuse this “historical memory” with excuses plucked from, ostensibly, history.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 8:25 pm

        Mooser, your “historical memory” extends only to your own birth? Gosh, mine goes back a lot further. That was such a warm and comfortable place. Got a little cramped and stuffy sometimes. But there was so much fascinating stuff going on outside.

      • Charon
        March 15, 2012, 12:25 am

        You’re definitely right about historical memory, Mooser. Goes for anything really. Although the books are still around, we’ve ‘lost’ important historical knowledge that was common in even the mid-20th century due to kool-aid drinking and short-term historical memory.

        For example, all those radical Islamophobs can blame the West for what they perceive superficially as a threat. The whole “Islam is stuck in the dark ages” is in fact a modern creation, compliments of the USA, the UK, and France. See there was this 17th century kook named Mohammed Al Wahab who went around destroying historical relics and preaching a version of Islam that wasn’t Islam. Nobody paid attention to him. For whatever reason, the royal family House of Saud did. The British gave them control over most of the Arabian Peninsula in return for oil and they forced this archaic ‘theology’ on the masses.

        Similar thing happened in Iran. Iran was always cozy to the West, even before the CIA had the Shah turned into a dictator. What changed? After WWI, the Ottoman Empire fell and was confined to an independent and Sultan-free democratic Turkey in Anatolia. The rest was cut up over oil. We all know about Palestine, and Arabia was given to the Sauds. The Cold War and Israel kept the region in the dark. Mossad has even been caught ‘radicalizing’ people and promoting sectarian violence (like that guy in Egypt last year).

        Just like with Zionists, all those things that Islamophobs make excuses over are the fault of Western powers in recent history (which is why things are changing).

        Sorry to veer off topic. I see both sides, but I like Atzmon. I think folks are being too PC. What NorthOfFortyNine said above about exclusivism is something Atzmon has pointed out.

    • Elliot
      March 14, 2012, 1:57 pm

      N49, Phil is Jewish. He is also American. So, he sees Zionism as an American Jewish problem and offers an American Jewish solution. Much of that crosses over to mainstream America and to the rest of the world.
      “Jewish” doesn’t mean exclusivist. Once you take Zionism out of mainstream American Jewish (as opposed to Israeli or Orthodox Jewish), you’re left with religious practice and mindset that is not exclusivist.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 3:09 pm

        >> So, he sees Zionism as an American Jewish problem and offers an American Jewish solution.

        Fair enough. Atzmon also sees it as a “Jewish problem” w/o geographical bounds, albeit. What am I missing? -N49.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 3:30 pm

        @ Elliot: “Jewish” doesn’t mean exclusivist. Once you take Zionism out of mainstream American Jewish (as opposed to Israeli or Orthodox Jewish), you’re left with religious practice and mindset that is not exclusivist.

        Seriously? Not exclusivist? See South Park: “Jewbilee”, Season 3, episode 9

        Question: Does Donald want to ban South Park as well? -N49.

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

        @49 – finding examples of a Jewish superiority complex doesn’t prove that Jewishness is essentially rotten. Just like examples of any ethnic or group stereotype do not confirm anything except one’s preconceived prejudices.
        Sure, Jews need to clean up their act – along with every other group and individual.
        Christians, Muslims, sports fans, Americans, Brits, Obama groupies, Republicans, Red States, Blue States, NPR addicts can all be tarred with the same brush.
        Uniquely equating “Jewish” with “exclusivist” is racist.

      • ToivoS
        March 14, 2012, 5:02 pm

        N49 what you are missing is that Atzmon is an antisemite and Phil is not.

        Atzmon is also very devious and he frequently speaks in code so he can “reinterpret” his words if called out. One thing that he cannot escape, however, is his support of the views of Paul Eisen. I spent about an hour looking into this. Eisen is a supporter of the holocaust denial movement that was spearheaded by the likes of Irvine and Zundel. This is one of the purest manifestations of antisemitism alive today.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 6:04 pm

        @ Elliot — . You said, as I read it, that a trait of “Jewishness” did not include “exclusivist tendiencies.” That is how I read it.

        South Park suggests otherwise. My own experience, including being married to a jewish wife, suggest otherwise. Please don’t lecture me. -N49.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 6:13 pm

        @ Toivo: N49 what you are missing is that Atzmon is an antisemite and Phil is not.

        Phil is admittedly chauvanistic about many things jewish. That’s the great thing about Phil — is struggle with these issues is out in the open.

        But do I throw labels at Phil? Did I jump up and down at his “Church of Pedophila” remark? Etc.? Surely this forum needn’t degrade into name calling, even as some would have it. -N49.

      • ToivoS
        March 14, 2012, 6:33 pm

        Calling Atzmon an antisemite is not just name-calling. Anyone who propagates the views of Ernst Zudel about what happened in Auschwitz with “both sides of the debate should be heard” has earned the title antisemite.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 7:23 pm

        @ Toivo: Anyone who propagates the views of Ernst Zudel

        Donald below “propagated the views” of Atzmon. So I am not quite sure you mean that. What I think you are trying to say is that Atzmon endorses the views of Zundel. Am I correct here?

        If so, please provide substantiaiton. To my knowledge he has never done so. To my knowledge, he is simply supporting Zundel’s right to express his views without being thrown in jail. -N49.

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 7:30 pm

        @N49 – I said “uniquely” i.e. equating Jewishness with exclusiveness.
        I’m sure as a Jew, I have my own unreflected racism, exclusiveness and other unseemly attitudes. That doesn’t make Jewish essentially any of those.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 8:12 pm

        @ Elliot: @N49 – I said “uniquely” i.e. equating Jewishness with exclusiveness. I’m sure as a Jew, I have my own unreflected racism, exclusiveness and other unseemly attitudes. That doesn’t make Jewish essentially any of those.

        How many times around here have we heard “Jews are smart”? Generalizng about jews here is a pastime, but only when the generalizations are flattering. And I am fine with that.

        I am not saying exclusiveness is a uniquely “jewish trait”. But in my experience has it that there is a high degree of correlation between jewishness and exclusiveness. The writers at South Park (one of whom is jewish) have had the same experience. You, Elliot, have not. Maybe it is because you are jewish? Just askin’….

        Btw, here is a clip from the script for that South Park episode.

        Moses: Hold! [Kenny stops in his tracks as Kyle looks on. Kenny looks at Moses.] There is… an impurity.
        Garth: [still behind the tree] Oh no, he’s on to me, Haman.
        Chief elder: [the Scouts gasp and Kenny droops] An impurity, Moses?
        Moses: This child here is not kosher.
        Kenny: (Uh oh.) [Garth looks, curious. Kyle rushes to Kenny's side, and the Scouts move in on them.] (Help me, Kyle! What are we gonna do?)
        Kyle: Don’t worry. I know what to do.
        Chief elder: Scout Broflovski, have you defiled Jew Scouts by bringing a non-Hebrew to Jewbilee?! [the Scouts grow angry]
        Kyle: Elder, It’s not my fault. He told me he was Jewish.
        Kenny: (What?!)
        Chief elder: A non-Jew has inflitrated Jew Scouts and looked upon the face of Moses! He must be dealt with!
        Kenny: (I’m telling you, it’s Kyle you want. He’s the one who tried to get me in here, and you know it.)
        Chief elder: You are banished from here. You must leave before the great eating of carrot cake.
        Kenny: (What?!)
        Kyle: He doesn’t get cake??
        Moses: No cake for the impurity!
        Chief elder: Go now. You do not belong here. [points to the woods. Kenny comes out of the middle of the group and walks towards the woods. Kyle is sad for him. Kenny looks back, then faces forward and walks on]

        link to southparkstuff.com

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 8:43 pm

        Uniquely equating “Jewish” with “exclusivist” is racist.

        I didn’t see where NorthofFortyNine uniquely equated “Jewish” with “exclusivist.” Distorting an opponents views via extrapolation or extension is an old tactic of pilpul. And that , BTW, is a tactic used against some of Atzmon’s views and their defenders.

      • Pixel
        March 14, 2012, 9:59 pm

        “Zundel’s right to express his views without being thrown in jail. “

        Precisely!

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 12:44 am

        I suggest you define anti semite.
        If you can, I would love to see your definition.

      • CigarGod
        March 15, 2012, 5:14 pm

        “…his support of the views of Paul Eisen.”

        Which views?
        Are you saying Atzmon supports Holocaust Denial as defined by Eisen?
        or
        Are you saying he supports Eisen’s right to discuss any subject?

      • Antidote
        March 16, 2012, 9:06 am

        “Zundel’s right to express his views without being thrown in jail. “

        It wouldn’t surprise me if future generations of Americans (and Europeans, including Germans, and including German Jews*) recite the following:

        “First they came for the Holocaust deniers, but I wasn’t a Holocaust denier… then they came for the terrorist sympathizers, but I wasn’t a terrorist sympathizer…” Maybe reverse the order? Either way, same problem

        I am thinking of Evelyn Hecht-Galinsky, a prominent activist who has defended Atzmon’s right to express his opinions without being subjected to censorship and defamation

      • Djinn
        March 15, 2012, 3:29 am

        All religions by definition are exclusivist.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 5:03 am

        jewish is exclusivism? when at least half of jewish-americans (yourstruly included) are married to non-Jews?

    • Donald
      March 14, 2012, 2:05 pm

      “I can’t get my head around this. Can someone help? -”

      I don’t know. Did you look at the Atzmon quotes cited above? Are you comfortable with them?

      Here’s what I can’t understand–why people who react so strongly to Islamophobes have such difficulty seeing what is wrong with Atzmon. He’s not just criticizing Zionism, just like Islamophobes don’t just criticize violent Islamic extremists.

      Okay, I think I can understand it. In the most benign case, people are so irritated by false charges of antisemitism that when the real thing comes along they can’t see it. Or they just divide everything into two categories based on how they feel about Zionism, never mind that some people hate Zionism for reasons that aren’t so terribly nice when you look at them. If you identify yourself as an anti-Zionist and don’t ever consider the possibility that others might be anti-Zionists for reasons that have more to do with hatred than anything else, you might find yourself allied with neo-Nazis. Or that’s two possibilities. There are others which get even more unpleasant to contemplate.

      “Yet Weiss sees the solution to zionism as one that is necessarily jewish in nature. Sure, Wiess says that non-Jews must be brought in to the mix, but there remains an exculsivist element to his prescriptions. Fair characterization?”

      What does that have to do with Atzmon?

      “The remarkable fact is they don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others”

      See the teensy little issue here? Phil correctly sees that Zionism is in large part a Jewish problem, but somehow manages to avoid linking the outrage people feel towards Israel with the “outrage” that Europeans in the 1930′s felt towards Jews. This is no great credit to Phil–anyone of even average intelligence and ordinary decency would know better than to make that kind of linkage.

      Here’s another of Atzmon’s brilliant insights and when I say “brilliant”, what I mean is “unbelievably mindnumbingly stupid”.

      “Machover’s reading of Zionism is pretty trivial. “Israel,” he says, is a “settler state.” For Machover this is a necessary point of departure because it sets Zionism as a colonialist expansionist project. The reasoning behind such a lame intellectual spin is obvious. As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.”

      So according to the great jazz musician, when you compare Israeli policies to the the extremely brutal colonial rule of, say, the French, you’re portraying Jews as “ordinary people” rather than as, well, what exactly? Well, as “Jews”,which for Atzmon means something worse than the French who ran their colonies in equatorial Africa. (Which were, according to Adam Hochschild in “King Leopold’s Ghost”, as brutal as Leopold’s Congo Free State in which a large fraction of the population died.)

      If I were in charge of pro-Israel propaganda I’d be on constant lookout for a self-proclaimed anti-Zionist who linked his anti-Zionism with traditional anti-semitic beliefs. Boy, that would be convenient. Of course this propaganda gift would work better if there are people in the anti-zionist movement stupid enough to fall for it. We’re lucky nothing like that could ever happen.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 3:12 pm

        @ Donald: >> I don’t know. Did you look at the Atzmon quotes cited above? Are you comfortable with them?

        Atzmon has a very provocative way of saying things and is very much an in-your-face character. I can completely understand why the Palestinian Solidarity types don’t want him anywhere near their movement. I get that. He is bad for ticket sales.

        But when it comes to substance, well, I don’t see it. Mearsheimer didn’t either. –N49.

      • Donald
        March 14, 2012, 3:24 pm

        “But when it comes to substance, well, I don’t see it.”

        Look, I think that’s a choice you’re making, not to see it. He’s “in your face” in exactly the same way that Islamophobes are “provocative” and “in your face”. Hardly anyone here on the anti-Zionist side would have any trouble seeing what is wrong with what Atzmon says if one just altered it a little bit and made it about Muslims.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 3:39 pm

        I don’t see it either because the reaction to Aztmon looks like going nuclear to me. ..shades of zio assassins.

        What it looks to me in nutshell from just reading on here is:

        Gilad says – Jewish collective had some anti-isms of their own that contributed to zionism.
        Adam says–not so, the anti-ism of Zionism have nothing to do with Jewish collective.

        Looks like a chicken and egg argument to me.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 3:40 pm

        Donald,

        Do you really want us to believe that Gilad Atzmon is just like Pamela Geller or Robert Spencer? The tone and complexion of his writings are radically different from those of leading Islamophobes. He sounds much more like Voltaire or Thomas Jefferson than Meir Kahane.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 3:56 pm

        @ Donald: Hardly anyone here on the anti-Zionist side would have any trouble seeing what is wrong with what Atzmon says if one just altered it a little bit and made it about Muslims.

        Like? Let me help you: “The Palestinians did not serve their own interests when they (or, more properly, their leadership) supported Saddam Hussein in the first gulf war. That is, they were in this way part agents of own further misery.”

        Gasp!!! -N49.

      • Hostage
        March 15, 2012, 5:26 am

        Hardly anyone here on the anti-Zionist side would have any trouble seeing what is wrong with what Atzmon says if one just altered it a little bit and made it about Muslims.

        He is merely addressing typical claims made by Jewish commenters right here at Mondoweiss. So I don’t see anything inherently antisemitic about him mentioning them. I can show you links to discussions with Jews who claimed that Zionist-nationalism has always been an integral part of Judaism; that the three oaths are no longer relevant now that the state of Israel has been established; and that the religious beliefs of non-Zionist Jews regarding the allegorical return and the world to come are “repellent and discredited” and helped bring about the Holocaust, e.g. see a few of my responses here:
        *http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/chickens-coming-home-to-roost.html#comment-40825
        *http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/david-remnick-erases-norman-finkelstein.html#comment-404714

        There have been several articles about Netanyahu’s gift of the Book of Esther to President Obama and the history of Jewish violence associated with the religious holiday of Purim. The interview with Yossi Gurvitz would certainly not pass muster under the criteria published in the letters above. They attempt to place criticism of Jewish religion and culture beyond the pale. Gurvitz said Zionism is irrelevant or dead and that religion is a more important factor:

        You have to understand what the religious right means when they say of leftists, the multitude, they are the erav rav. This means the ones who left Egypt, the mixed multitude. It is a concept in Kabbalah– the Amalekite Jew. A Jew who isn’t really a Jew. He looks like a Jew, thinks he’s a Jew, but he’s an enemy of God. It’s been used in the Knesset, the word erav rav.

        If you think this Judaism is the wisdom of Israel, it’s not. This is the Judaism forced underground by the Christian regimes, censored time and again. It’s coming to the surface. Just about everyone knows this code here.

        These Jews … took the elements of the religion that were nationalistic and have been slumbering for 100s of years and awakened it. They took the hatred of mankind which had persisted in Judaism for millennia and gave it voice and force.

        But once Israel was created, many Jews saw it as the end of the three oaths, the Shloshet Ha’Shvuot. Two of these oaths enjoin the Jews not to mass-emigrate to Eretz Yisrael and not to provoke the gentiles.

        Now Israel has the right to use force, and every demon that was pushed into the basement is up and has an M16.

        Expressing solidarity with the Palestinians in pursuit of equal human rights doesn’t mean that we have to give the unenlightened religious beliefs and cultural views held by extremists factions, like Hamas, a free pass either.

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 5:59 am

        These Jews … took the elements of the religion that were nationalistic and have been slumbering for 100s of years and awakened it. They took the hatred of mankind which had persisted in Judaism for millennia and gave it voice and force.

        Gurvitz is talking about religious nationalists who have latched onto racist and nationalistic elements in Jewish tradition. He is not talking about “anti-Zionist Zionists”, “Jewish ideology”, “Jewish Marxists” or Jews becoming “ordinary human beings like the rest of us”. He does not confound Judaism and Zionism, and does not equate “Jewishness” with the worst elements in Jewish tradition.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 7:55 am

        He [Gurvitz] does not confound Judaism and Zionism, and does not equate “Jewishness” with the worst elements in Jewish tradition.

        Shmuel, I think that Atzmon typically does not do these things, either. You seem to have misread him – if you have read him.

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 8:16 am

        Shmuel, I think that Atzmon typically does not do these things, either. You seem to have misread him – if you have read him.

        I have read enough Atzmon to form an opinion, and have discussed the subject at length with someone (a long-time advocate of human rights in general and Palestinian rights in particular) who knows him and has followed his writings and public appearances for many years. I have also read his and others’ explanations of why his critics have supposedly misread him (or worse), and found them wholly unconvincing. The signatories of the above letters would seem to agree.

      • Hostage
        March 15, 2012, 2:08 pm

        Gurvitz is talking about religious nationalists who have latched onto racist and nationalistic elements in Jewish tradition. He is not talking about “anti-Zionist Zionists”, “Jewish ideology”, “Jewish Marxists” or Jews becoming “ordinary human beings like the rest of us”. He does not confound Judaism and Zionism, and does not equate “Jewishness” with the worst elements in Jewish tradition.

        Gurvitz statement that “They took the hatred of mankind which had persisted in Judaism for millennia and gave it voice and force” is exactly what Atzmon is railing against in what I’ve read and it cannot be reconciled with this position statement: “We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities.”

        I don’t even see how some of the writings of Joseph Massad about the march of civilization and Western culture can be reconciled with that statement. For example, he has described the women’s rights movement as “colonial feminism” and suggested that promotion of gay rights in the Middle East is a “missionary” conspiracy led by western orientalists and colonialists which “produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist”.
        link to jft-newspaper.aub.edu.lb
        link to al-bab.com

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 3:21 pm

        Donald, Here is Mearsheimer on Atzmon thoughts on the agency issue, an issue you bring up in your post as per:

        ““The remarkable fact is they don’t understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn’t understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others”

        His basic point is that the Jewish boycott had negative consequences, which it did. In Atzmon’s narrative — and this is a very important theme in his book — Jews are not simply passive victims of other people’s actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise. One can agree or disagree with his views about the wisdom of the Jewish boycott — and I happen to think he’s wrong about it — but he is not arguing that the Jews were “persecuting Hitler” and that this alleged “persecution” led to the Holocaust. In fact, he says nothing about the Holocaust in his post and he certainly does not justify in any way the murder of six million Jews.

        link to hurryupharry.org

        Donald, I must say I am uncomortable with your self-appointed role as to what is acceptable discourse and what is not. It is this sort of attitude that kept rational discussion of AIPAC and what-not in the closet for so many years. If you don’t like Atzmon, then don’t read him. -N49.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 3:49 pm

        “Jews are not simply passive victims of other people’s actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise. ”

        I agree with Mearsheimer on that. Real history agrees with Mearsheimer on that. Living on myth is also not wise.

      • Donald
        March 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

        “Donald, I must say I am uncomortable with your self-appointed role as to what is acceptable discourse and what is not.”

        I must say I feel uncomfortable with your self-appointed role as to what is acceptable discourse about what is acceptable discourse. People make moral judgments about other people’s comments here all the time and I’m making mine. If someone thinks Atzmon’s comments are acceptable, then that person has no standing to condemn Islamophobia. That person is just choosing which forms of bigotry he will condemn and which he will let slide. It’s a double standard.

        Are double standards “acceptable discourse”? In practice they sure seem to be.

      • Donald
        March 14, 2012, 4:28 pm

        Oh, let me add something. That defense of Atzmon’s remark that you copied was pathetic. In no way does it justify what he said. Now maybe Atzmon is too stupid to be able to write what he means, and so sometimes when he only means to criticize a particular tactic he accidentally sounds like he is comparing European anti-semitism in the 1930′s with criticism of Israel today. Maybe he only accidentally sounded like a Jew-hater. Gosh, that was careless, wasn’t it?

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 5:57 pm

        I must say I feel uncomfortable with your self-appointed role as to what is acceptable discourse about what is acceptable discourse.

        I think all discourse is acceptable discourse, Donald. I say the more rope you give some people,the better.

        You may beg to differ. Apparently, you do. -N49.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 5:58 pm

        Donald, Do you think Mearsheimer is a racist sympathizer? -N49.

      • seafoid
        March 14, 2012, 6:03 pm

        Living on the myth that history is over is insane.

      • Donald
        March 14, 2012, 8:07 pm

        “I think all discourse is acceptable discourse, Donald. I say the more rope you give some people,the better.”

        Fine. I agree. If some anti-Zionists really are anti-semites, then let’s have it out in the open.

        “You may beg to differ. Apparently, you do. ”

        I used to disagree, about a month ago in fact. I’ve changed my mind. See above. I think that if some of the commentariat at Mondoweiss admires Atzmon and wants to defend him, then let them have all the rope they want. The Palestinians don’t need us. God help them if they do.

        As for Mearsheimer and others who defend Atzmon, I’ve already outlined various reasons why someone might do that which don’t require anti-semitism, but here they are again, with one added.

        1. Ignorance of some of what he’s said, perhaps followed by an unwillingness to admit one has been wrong.
        2. Resentment over all the false charges of anti-semitism, which leads people to refuse to see the real thing when it’s in front of them.
        3. Simple stupid political partisanship. Our side good, their side bad. If someone is an anti-Zionist, he must be a good guy. Though this is similar to 2, I guess. People get so angry it’s like pulling teeth to get them to admit that anything said by someone against a self-proclaimed anti-Zionist could be true.
        4. Anti-semitism.

        Or it could be mixtures of various things.

        By the way, your Saddam Hussein quote was also pretty pathetic. It’s like you want to defend something defensible rather than what Atzmon actually says. Of course it was stupid for Arafat to side with Saddam in 1991. Duh. That’s not Islamophobia or a racist comment against Palestinians. Compare that with a claim that so long as they identify as Palestinians they will inevitably side with savage dictators, because that’s the essence of what Palestinian nationalism is all about. Now see that? That was a fair analogy to what Atzmon says. Possibly it isn’t nasty enough, but it’s closer to the real thing than yours.

        Excuse me, though. The Rush Limbaugh school of acceptable discourse on feminazism is hosting a lecture on women’s rights and I don’t want to miss it.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 8:55 pm

        @ Donald: As for Mearsheimer and others who defend Atzmon, I’ve already outlined various reasons why someone might do that which don’t require anti-semitism, but here they are again, with one added.

        1. Ignorance of some of what he’s said, perhaps followed by an unwillingness to admit one has been wrong.

        Are you saying Mearsheimer is ignorant of what Atzmon wrote? If so, say so.

        2. Resentment over all the false charges of anti-semitism, which leads people to refuse to see the real thing when it’s in front of them.

        Do you believe Mearsheimer is this petty? Really? If so, say so.

        3. Simple stupid political partisanship. Our side good, their side bad. If someone is an anti-Zionist, he must be a good guy. Though this is similar to 2, I guess. People get so angry it’s like pulling teeth to get them to admit that anything said by someone against a self-proclaimed anti-Zionist could be true.

        Again, do you really think a dude of Mearsheimer’s stature would be so petty?

        4. Anti-semitism.

        Well, I guess that settles it then!

        Donald, have you read The Wandering Who? -N49.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 9:10 pm

        If someone thinks Atzmon’s comments are acceptable, then that person has no standing to condemn Islamophobia.

        More Donald pontification. Not infallible, intrinsically debatable.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 9:23 pm

        Donald says, As for Mearsheimer and others who defend Atzmon, I’ve already outlined various reasons why someone might do that which don’t require anti-semitism ….

        Here’s another to add to your narrow list: Some of the controversial things that Atzmon (like many another Jewish writer) says may actually be wholly or partially true, but extraneous to your own purposes, preferences, or core beliefs.

      • Hostage
        March 15, 2012, 9:58 pm

        If someone thinks Atzmon’s comments are acceptable, then that person has no standing to condemn Islamophobia.

        I think that we can discuss the state of the existing laws on Holocaust denial or the Armenian and other genocides without endorsing the idea that remembrance or memory laws serve exactly the same purpose as laws prohibiting forms of incitement to discrimination, like Islamophobia or Anti-Semetism.

        Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that every individual has the right to be free not only from discrimination on grounds of race, religion and national origins, but also from incitement to such discrimination. That doesn’t mean that opinions about historical facts can be penalized or that everyone has to abandon studies or discussions on comparative religion. Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights doesn’t permit the prohibition of an individual’s right to hold an opinion on the grounds that it is erroneous or an incorrect interpretation of past events. link to www2.ohchr.org
        *See for example paragraph 19 of the observations on Hungary’s memory laws and “The Law of Holocaust Denial in Europe: Towards a (qualified) EU-wide Criminal Prohibition”
        *http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=CCPR/C/HUN/CO/5
        *http://centers.law.nyu.edu/jeanmonnet/papers/09/091001.html

        In a more recent example, the French Constitutional Council declared legislation that criminalized denial of genocide – as recognized by a law- is inherently unconstitutional. So far, only the French version of the decision has been posted but Translate gives a very good rendering of the body of the opinion:
        *http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/francais/les-decisions/acces-par-date/decisions-depuis-1959/2012/2012-647-dc/decision-n-2012-647-dc-du-28-fevrier-2012.104949.html
        *http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/decision/2012/2012-647-dc/decision-n-2012-647-dc-du-28-fevrier-2012.104949.html&ei=g5xiT9PmE-TS2QXowNy1CA&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Ddecision-n-2012-647%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DiRN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26prmd%3Dimvns
        I’ve previously commented on legal developments in the UN committees in that area, e.g. link to mondoweiss.net

        Adam and Phil have a perfect right to avoid discussions on all of these topics, since Jewish organizations in other countries have asked their courts to block websites using various incitement and memory laws.

      • Donald
        March 16, 2012, 7:03 pm

        “That doesn’t mean that opinions about historical facts can be penalized or that everyone has to abandon studies or discussions on comparative religion. Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights doesn’t permit the prohibition of an individual’s right to hold an opinion on the grounds that it is erroneous or an incorrect interpretation of past events. link to www2.ohchr.org”

        I’m not really talking about legal standing. I shouldn’t use legal terms around a lawyer, I guess. I meant moral standing. People who are (rightly) sensitive about Islamophobia should show the same concern about anti-semitism.

        To the various questions about Mearsheimer–

        I don’t know why he defended Atzmon. I happened to become aware of Atzmon’s anti-semitic ravings at the same time I became aware of Atzmon. I’ve also seen him when he’s on his best behavior and sure, anyone can say some pretty devastating things about Zionism and the bigots who support Israel no matter what it does. Mearsheimer might have seen that. If, however, he saw some of the comments listed in this article and still defended Atzmon, then he’s wrong.

        Anyway, hiding behind Mearsheimer’s august authority seems like another evasion to me. Plenty of otherwise intelligent people have defended Israel too. So what? Atzmon says disgusting things alongside those things that most anti-Zionists might agree with, including me, and the reasonable statements do not cancel out or explain the noxious ones. And besides, my list of reasons was actually meant for people here who defend Atzmon. You’re the one who decided to cite Mearsheimer as some sort of shield. As for pettiness, I’m petty sometimes and have on occasion noticed I’m not the only one. Being too proud to admit one is wrong, or being stupidly partisan on some issue–been there, done that, and for damn sure seen it in others. When it comes to political arguments, one sort of expects the worst to come out much of the time.

        One thing that struck me about Atzmon–for me, the key to understanding the I/P conflict was my own upbringing in the immediate post Jim Crow south. I had a nine year old best friend who was glad Martin Luther King was killed. He was the norm. I heard all sorts of white rationalizations for the treatment given black people, all sorts of defensiveness about Southern history. So when reading about Israel, it all sounded familiar. Then I read Atzmon and for him, the comparison of Israeli colonialism to other forms is somehow bad, because it understates the real evil of it. That’s anti-semitic, pure and simple. It’s also stupid. Israel is a country with a crappy human rights record based on an ideology that (to them) justifies their crimes. Well, join the club. That doesn’t excuse them, but if we in the US weren’t intimately involved in their crimes and weren’t constantly being told of their glorious democratic values I’d lump them in with all the other crappy countries with crappy human rights records (including ours). Atzmon in his dumbest comments sounds like he has some delusional megalomaniac sense that he comes from some specially evil people.

        This stuff matters because anti-Zionism is supposed to be a subset of anti-racism, and if people really want to see a one state solution with both Palestinians and Jews living together in peace there shouldn’t be a whiff of either anti-Arab racism or anti-semitism. I don’t think it’s very healthy that people could read some of those comments by Atzmon and say nothing more than oh, well, sometimes he’s provocative or pretend that there’s no problem. The claim that there is no problem is a problem.

        As for this blog, I’d be curious to see what people would say if they were assured of complete anonymity and all rules on what could be said were lifted. Several years back the comment section had quite a few open Holocaust deniers and also open anti-Arab racists, one of whom I still see posting at other blogs using his real name–he’d probably come back given the chance. And we had a David Irving fan here until about a year ago, someone who openly called himself an anti-semite. He fit right in. Well, lift the rules–I want to see who is comfortable with whom. Or I would, except I’m getting sick of this place again. I expect Israel apologists to be insensitive jerks with racist attitudes. Well, truth be told why should one expect any better from the anti-Israel side? We’re all sweetness and light, free of all forms of hatred? Yeah, sure we are.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 5:11 am

        colonialism begets racism.

  5. Mooser
    March 14, 2012, 1:36 pm

    Gilad Atzmon should read this letter and absorb its most essential and important aspect: Not one of the signees has a single bad word to say about his playing, or his other musical activities (composer, arranger, wide-ranging genre collaborator).

  6. HRK
    March 14, 2012, 1:39 pm

    I’m not going to defend Atzmon for the simple reason that I haven’t read all that much of him. (I actually bought his book, but being the lazy reader that I am, I only skimmed over it.) I do know he favors individualism, however.

    I would like to ask: Don’t Jews frequently describe themselves as a tribe? Don’t they frequently describe themselves as a people, a nation (even when they reside in other nations), a collective, and a family?

    (I didn’t even think it was that controversial to describe the Jewish system as tribal–in fact, just last night I e-mailed Phil a letter in which I unselfconsciously described the Jewish system as a tribal one.)

    Please describe to me what being Jewish is, if not about being part of a distinct tribe.

    • Elliot
      March 14, 2012, 2:04 pm

      Please describe to me what being Jewish is, if not about being part of a distinct tribe.

      HRK – This issue was already covered by Napoleon three hundred years ago.
      Being Jewish is about culture, religion, stories and holding a vision for a world that does not have boundaries.

      To the extent that being Jewish is tribal, how is that different from the American tribe, the NASCAR tribe or any other group?

      I haven’t read much Atzmon either but I’ve heard the accusation that he rejects all Jewishness as being evil, even uniquely evil. I haven’t seen a rebuttal of that.

      So, how does Jewishness, tribal or otherwise, equate with Atzmon’s analysis?

      • HRK
        March 14, 2012, 2:28 pm

        “To the extent that being Jewish is tribal, how is that different from the American tribe,” etc.

        Different in degree, maybe?

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 3:09 pm

        HRK – Atzmon makes an essential point, not one of degree. I don’t see him making the distinction that you do. Per Atzmon, Jews are a uniquely rotten group.

        @ Dan Crowther – if you don’t want to expel Atzmon, what would you have us do with them instead? Sounds like you are not so sure he is as bad as advertized. As a Jew who is close in my views to Atzmon’s I do reject him and that doesn’t make me authoritarian. It doesn’t make these Palestinian leaders authoritarian either to repudiate a racist.
        Dunno about excommunication though. Sounds cool but can’t get into it as I never learned the rules for that one.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 4:05 pm

        Elliot — if you dont like the guy, cool man. I dont know what else to say, Ive seen the guy give talks in front of jewish groups on the internet and there’s always someone who comes at him as a racist/anti-semite etc. and after he explains himself, they quiet down and sometimes agree with him.

        Why not let the guy have a forum? If we’re gonna spend all this energy bashing him over the head, why not a Mondo Video Blog or something? I dunno, seems like it might be worth it. You say your views are similar, but then you call the guy a racist – what gives?

        link to youtube.com

        link to youtube.com

      • kalithea
        March 14, 2012, 4:34 pm

        “repudiate a racist”

        So someone who choose to criticize a fundamental flaw with his religious tribe is a “racist”? Since when to race and religious beliefs equate?

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 4:41 pm

        Atzmon was born into his Jewishness, he didn’t convert to a religion.
        Jewishness is not Judaism.

        I’m curious why he doesn’t change his name to indicate his disdain for all things Jewish…wait…who would listen to Joe Smith ranting about Jewishness?

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 14, 2012, 9:42 pm

        Elliot says, I haven’t read much Atzmon either but I’ve heard the accusation that ….

        Just below that, here’s Elliot advising HRK:

        HRK – Atzmon makes an essential point, not one of degree. I don’t see him making the distinction that you do. Per Atzmon, Jews are a uniquely rotten group.

        Please! That seems to be pretty typical of the Atzmon-haters. (For the record, I have read a good bit of Atzmon, including his articles at Counterpunch and his latest book, The Wandering Who.)

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 6:07 pm

        To the extent that being Jewish is tribal, how is that different from the American tribe, the NASCAR tribe or any other group?

        Barriers to entry, that’s what. -N49.

      • seafoid
        March 14, 2012, 6:09 pm

        “Being Jewish is about culture, religion, stories and holding a vision for a world that does not have boundaries.”

        Jewish must be reclaimed from Zionism. The “world that has no boundaries” was traded for a mystical cult built around the worship of the land that belonged to the Palestinians.

  7. seanmcbride
    March 14, 2012, 1:56 pm

    This is mostly a message to Phil Weiss directly (and several comments from the Mondoweiss on Friendfeed group):

    link to friendfeed.com

    link to friendfeed.com

    The grandiosity and stridency of this excommunication carries the odor of traditional left-wing totalitarianism. Something about it is disturbing, regardless of how one feels about Gilad Atzmon. A pronouncement has been delivered. Shut down your mind and stop thinking. The evildoer must be exiled to Siberia.

    You know, I like Adam Horowitz, but he is not nearly as intellectually sophisticated as Philip Weiss, and that is simply a plain fact. Weiss should have kept his blog fully focused on himself alone, like Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole, Stephen Walt, Jeffrey Goldberg and other leading bloggers. The non-Weiss presence at the blog is diluting Mondoweiss and dragging down its quality.

    Weiss is interesting because he is not a boring conventional leftist, or rightist, or political hack of any kind. Conventional leftists are boring as hell — and they have a well-documented track record of committing horrendous world class crimes. Truly independent thought terrifies them. They tend to travel in herds, clump up into dull groups. They make collective pronouncements. They are as self-righteous as any religious fundamentalist.

    Mondoweiss started falling apart as soon as conventional leftists began to infiltrate it and take it over. Phil needs to clean house and get back on track.

    • seanmcbride
      March 14, 2012, 2:19 pm

      Additional note:

      I am conflicted as hell about all these issues. It pains me to have posted such a critical comment about Mondoweiss, but the spirit spontaneously urged me to speak out.

      I am very sympathetic to Adam’s concerns about permitting raw (or even subtle) antisemitism to creep into critiques of Israel and Zionism — in fact, I have been rather heavy-handed myself in trying to combat that. Who am I to cast a stone at Adam?

      So — I dunno… Still sorting this crazy stuff out. I think what troubles me most is gang-banging anyone — collecting a group (angry mob?) to expel a free-thinking individual from the community. That rubs me the wrong way. One naturally thinks of Socrates, Christ, Spinoza and long list of similar archetypal patterns of behavior — including Stalin’s and Mao’s purges.

      Atzmon has made some offensive and disturbing statements. But he is a creative and truth-seeking person who is not without some important insights. I am not prepared to utterly demonize him.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 2:37 pm

        im with mcbride on this point: excommunications/expulsions are authoritarian and yeah, they kind of rub me the wrong way too……

  8. Jeff Klein
    March 14, 2012, 1:59 pm

    The Atzmon controversy presents some thorny problems. First, what progressive isn’t opposed to ethnic hatred and racism? Atzmon’s language is often intemperate and deliberately inflammatory. It is understandable that Palestinians and solidarity activists should want to disassociate themselves from any hints of an ideology that could give comfort to anti-Jewish racists.

    On the other hand, “cultures” exist and it seems illogical to shield “Jewishness” as a culture (not a religion) from criticism, even though we all acknowledge that individuals have the capability of accepting or overcoming the culture of a group to which they belong by decent.

    Perhaps Jews are no different in many respects from other ethnicities which practice internal solidarity and hostility to outsiders. And the history of their persecution makes this even more understandable than in other cases. But to deny that the sense of chosenness, standing apart, and innate superiority plays no part in “Jewish” attitudes, pro-Israel politics and in the actual playing out of Zionism today is to deny a reality that I believe must be confronted. This does not justify hatred of Jews in general, but it is a view that cultures can be culpable and that Zionism will not be overcome without a critique of the cultural foundations of modern Zionism and Jewish exceptionalism throughout history.

    Don’t take my word for it, read Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion:
    The Weight of Three Thousand Years link to biblebelievers.org.au for example — or any number of contemporary Jewish fiction writers.

    Do I have to remind MW readers of Eastern European extraction that the expression in Yiddish for “stupid” is goyische kop?

    • Elliot
      March 14, 2012, 2:11 pm


      to deny that the sense of chosenness, standing apart, and innate superiority plays no part in “Jewish” attitudes… is to deny a reality that I believe must be confronted.

      I know many practising Jews who are active members of the Jewish community yet they reject the notion of chosenness, standing apart and innate superiority. The problem with Atzmon is not that he addresses problems that Jews have – along with every other group (not just ethnicities), but that he lumps all Jews together. That’s where it becomes anti-Semitic and that’s why Ali Abunimah et al were right to reject Atzmon. And not just as a savvy political move.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 4:05 pm

        “The problem with Atzmon is not that he addresses problems that Jews have – along with every other group (not just ethnicities), but that he lumps all Jews together”

        Hummm….so that is the racism issue in Atzmon? Admit I haven’t read much of him to know.

        But sounds weird to me….considering that there are about 2 trillion statements by zionist, Jews, and others circulating at any given time describing the “Gentile collective ‘ as inherent bigots, latent bigots, anti semites in-waiting, as having the disease of anti semitism. See those statements ALL the time on Mondo.

        So this Aztmon is racist for saying Jews collectively are bigots but Jews not racist for saying Gentiles collectively are bigots.

        Must admit that racism distinction escapes me.

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 5:10 pm

        I’d agree with that. Any human being who rejects an entire ethnic group as inferior is a racist. I, too, have not read much Atzmon and am going on the quoted statements (that I have not seen refuted anywhere).
        But, I see no difference between Meir Kahane’s racism against Arabs and Atzmon’s racism against Jews.
        If you label an entire group and deny the legitimacy of their group identity as Atzmon has done, you’re a racist.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 14, 2012, 8:08 pm

        So this Aztmon is racist for saying Jews collectively are bigots but Jews not racist for saying Gentiles collectively are bigots.

        anyone who says non jews are collectively bigots is a bigot. all jews don’t claim non jews are bigots.

      • RoHa
        March 14, 2012, 9:03 pm

        “all jews don’t claim non jews are bigots.”

        Quite a few Jews do claim that non-Jews are bigots, so I think you should write “Not all Jews claim non-Jews are bigots.”

      • RoHa
        March 14, 2012, 9:03 pm

        “the legitimacy of their group identity ”

        What does this phrase mean?

      • pnkfloid
        March 14, 2012, 9:37 pm

        Hummm….so that is the racism issue in Atzmon? Admit I haven’t read much of him to know.

        Then why are you bothering to comment.?

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 12:48 am

        Why are you bothering to ask pinkie?

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 2:56 am

        Here is Elliot speaking:

        I haven’t read much Atzmon either but I’ve heard the accusation that he rejects all Jewishness as being evil, even uniquely evil. I haven’t seen a rebuttal of that.

        The problem with Atzmon is not that he addresses problems that Jews have … but that he lumps all Jews together. That’s where it becomes anti-Semitic ….

        I, too, have not read much Atzmon …. But, I see no difference between Meir Kahane’s racism against Arabs and Atzmon’s racism against Jews. If you label an entire group and deny the legitimacy of their group identity as Atzmon has done, you’re a racist.

        Jewishness [a term used by Atzmon in a special way - TR] is not Judaism. I’m curious why he doesn’t change his name to indicate his disdain for all things Jewish

        (my emphasis added)

        Here is Gilad Atzmon speaking for himself:

        I will present a harsh criticism of Jewish politics and identity. Yet, it is crucial to mention at this early stage that there will be not a single reference to Jews as ethnicity or race. In my writing, I differentiate between Jews (the people), Judaism (the religion), and Jewish-ness (the ideology). This book doesn’t deal with Jews as a people or ethnicity…. In short, those who are searching for blood or race-related interpretation of Zionism will have to look for it in someone else’s work.

        In my work, I also refrain from criticizing Judaism, the religion…. I deal with Jewish Ideology, Jewish identity politics, and the Jewish political discourse….

        … Or, alternatively, what do people mean when they call themselves Jews? As far as self-perception is concerned, those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

        1. Those who follow Judaism.
        2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish
        origin.
        3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above their other traits.

        The first two categories may denote a harmless and innocent group of people…. The third category is problematic…. You may be a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin or even a Jew against Zionism, but above all else you are a Jew. And this is exactly the idea conveyed by the third category.

        It is about viewing Jewishness as the key element and the fundamental characteristic of one’s being. Any other quality is secondary. This is exactly the message the early Zionists were interested in promulgating…. This line of thinking was apparent in most early Zionist writings…. These racist ideas predate Nazism. Jabotinsky wasn’t alone ….

        The Zionist is first and foremost a Jew. He can’t be just an ordinary British citizen who happens to be of a Jewish descent. Though he is British by birth he is also the ‘ultimate other’ by choice.

        from “The Wandering Who” (2011), Chapter 1, The Right to Elaborate

        (my emphasis added)

        Unlike you, Elliot, I have read a good deal of what Atzmon has written, including the book from which I quoted above. The excerpts I presented are typical and representative of his views, for the most part. Notice the following:

        1. Atzmon does not “lump all Jews together,” as you said without having read him. This is the reason you gave for saying he is “anti-Semitic,” which is false.

        2. He does not “reject all Jewishness as being evil,” as you said. He specifically does not do that. He created the term Jewish-ness (with a hyphen) to represent the ideology of a particular kind of Jew, which he defined as outlined above.

        3. You say, “If you label an entire group and deny the legitimacy of their group identity as Atzmon has done, you’re a racist.” This is incorrect. I deny the legitimacy of the KKK; that doesn’t make me a racist. Secondly, Atzmon, like me, doesn’t consider Jews to be members of a “race” – a categorization I consider to be prima facie illegitimate. Thirdly, Atzmon goes to considerable lengths to say that he doesn’t think that being a Jew by birth or heritage, or subscribing to Judaic beliefs, is illegitimate. Rather, he wishes to render a harsh criticism of a kind of “Jewish ideology” (his term) he describes as “Jewish-ness” (not Jewishness in a more general sense). He thinks that Jews who conform to the strictures of “Jewish-ness” do so by choice or indoctrination – not by accident of birth – like, say, joining the Jewish Kiwannis Club and attaching your entire identity or sense of self to that.

        4. Atzmon’s ideas about the relationship between “Jewish-ness” and political Zionism are interesting but a bit complicated, and seem to be beyond the concerns you expressed. I think I may have some problems with his views in this area, given my own concept of political Zionism as Jewish ethnic nationalism.

        Bottom line: Your contention that Atzmon is anti-Semitic or racist seem to be based on no knowledge of what he actually thinks, and have little if any merit when examined in light of his core writings.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 6:56 am

        what purpose does making such ridiculous generalizations such as this or that people collectively are bigots serve? that of planning for collective punishments, perhaps?

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 9:30 am

        Thomson,

        Thanks so much for posting that passage from Atzmon’s writings, which I hadn’t read before. You just demolished all the hysterical and uninformed nonsense that has been posted by the anti-Atzmon contingent here. They know very little about his work and are easily pushed around by crude propaganda. They are not careful and independent thinkers. Atzmon clearly is a careful and independent thinker. He makes fine-tuned distinctions in developing his arguments and those arguments are well-grounded in reality.

        On a specific point: I agree with you that Zionism = Jewish ethnic nationalism. I think it is also obvious that Zionism has deep ideological roots in ancient Judaism. Ancient Judaism was a messianic ethnic nationalist movement that defined itself largely in terms of endless apocalyptic conflict with “the nations” — with ethnic outsiders. We are talking more about a psychological and personality type here than an ideology. The ethnocentric ideology is the product of psychology and personality. (Most ideologies are, I think.)

        As for clumping all the Jews together into a monolithic lump: that is what the organized Jewish establishment specializes in. We see that activity every day. And the organized Jewish establishment is the official voice of the Jewish community — if it weren’t, that community would have produced a different establishment. *Within* that community there are many individual dissenters, dissidents and free thinkers, of course — but not nearly enough to have any meaningful impact on the politics of Israel, the Israel lobby and the Jewish establishment.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 4:30 pm

        Sean says, *Within* that community there are many individual dissenters, dissidents and free thinkers, of course — but not nearly enough to have any meaningful impact on the politics of Israel, the Israel lobby and the Jewish establishment.

        Exactly. That’s why I pay a lot of attention to the dissenters and free thinkers in Jewish thought. Spinoza, Martin Buber, Hanna Arendt, Avraham Burg, Ilan Pappe, and a host of others come to mind. Atzmon is just one more in a long list of Jewish dissidents who, to varying degrees, have stood at the margin of the margin of society – the margin, in Atzmon’s diction, being Jewish culture.

        But what Atzmon has done is to take a vantage point beyond the margin of the margin, outside the ‘community’, to provide a blistering critique of an aspect of Jewish culture (not shared by many Jews) that we are all familiar with, and that he labels ‘Jewish-ness.’ The hyphen is important because it distinguishes the Jewish-ness of a subset of Jews inculcated with a ‘Jewish philosophy’ that permeates their identity and identity politics – from the ordinary Jewishness that is an attribute of almost all self-identifying Jews. (In the latter sense, ‘Jewishness’ = being a Jew.)

        Atzmon insists that not all Jews are alike in some very significant ways. However, perhaps for the sake of conciseness, he makes a mistake in portions of his discourse by referring to ‘Jews’ as though they were some homogeneous cultural group. A close reading of his work should indicate to anyone that he actually is talking about that subset he delineated. Jews imbued with the ‘Jewish-ness’ identity tend to be political Zionists and to engage in Jewish identity politics. But some may be anti-Zionists. The cultural attribute of ‘Jewish-ness’ does not equate to Zionism but is a foundation on which political Zionism was built. Again, many many Jews are not subject to this cultural disease – but they experience its influences in various ways because, or if, they are within the marginal (unassimilated) ‘community.’

        In Chapter 6 of his book, named “Think Tribal, Speak Universal,” Atzmon writes ironically of the opposition he has faced:

        At a certain stage, around 2005, I thought to myself that I might be King of The Jews. I have achieved the unachievable, accomplished the impossible. I have managed to unite them all: Right, Left, and Centre…. Jews for this and Jews for that, for the first time in history all spoke in one single voice. They all hated Gilad Atzmon equally.

        … Yet, I was slightly confused by my own achievement…. I was what some call an ‘independent critical thinker’, I may also be what some Jews regard as a ‘proud, self-hating Jew’. Could it be that it was my comprehension of the Jewish political identity that brought so much Jewish animosity to my door?

        At the time I came across an interesting insight into the subject of anti-Semitism. It goes like this: ‘While in the past an anti-Semite was someone who hates Jews, nowadays it is the other way around, an anti-Semite is someone the Jews hate.’

        My guess is that a large part of the Jewish opposition to Atzmon comes from the fact that he does criticize major aspects (not all) of Jewish political culture and identity from his chosen vantage point beyond the margin of the margin, from outside the ‘community’ – all the time carrying on his back the burden of his own Jewish identity initially formed as an Israeli. He criticized elements of the tribe right out there where the goyim were listening.

        But I must say that I don’t understand the virulence and viciousness of much of the attacks on Atzmon. In a dark and ugly way, it seems to confirm some of his analysis of Jewish identity and identity politics.

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 11:03 pm

        Thanks for the info Thomson, helpful.

      • kalithea
        March 14, 2012, 4:41 pm

        Yeah but the majority holds everyone else back. So Atzmon deals with the majority mindset and the ENABLING by the minority.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 5:20 am

        you got it!

    • Dan Crowther
      March 14, 2012, 2:32 pm

      Jeff Klein once again making a very important contribution.

    • Shmuel
      March 14, 2012, 2:38 pm

      the expression in Yiddish for “stupid” is goyische kop?

      Not exactly. A racist Yiddish expression for “stupid” is “goyishe kop”. There are other, non-racist ways of saying “stupid” in Yiddish (Harkavy’s dictionary lists dum and narish). Are there no racist expressions in your language? Were there not far more of these expressions half a century ago, when Yiddish basically ceased to develop as a spoken language?

      I think this is the crux of the matter. Shahak points out racism in Jewish culture and tradition. Atzmon seems to assert that racism is Jewish culture and tradition. That’s his business of course. It becomes the business of all of the prominent Palestinians who signed the above letter, when he and his followers insist that his struggle is the same as theirs. Judging by Atzmon’s reaction to As’ad AbuKhalil (The Angry Arab), he will simply dismiss the whole lot of them as “Sabbath goys”, “collaborators” and “anti-Zionist Zionists” – all in the name of the Palestinian struggle of course.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 3:08 pm

        Shmuel,

        I’ve read only bits and pieces of Atzmon and don’t feel confident about judging his work as a whole. But is it that case that Atzmon has argued that “Jewishness” is inextricably entangled with >>ETHNOCENTRISM<< at various levels of intensity, from mild to messianic, mystical and militant?

        One can be a Christian without being ethnocentric — in fact, Christianity is explicitly and decidedly NOT ethnocentric — all ethnic groups stand as equals and are encouraged to dissolve and merge within Christianity. Can one, on the other hand, be a Jew without being situated in a separatist ethnic identity and culture?

        Even secular leftist Jews are often *ethnocentric* in their outlook. They frequently organize their politics around battles with their ethnic enemies — as some Jews are now uniting against Gilad Atzmon as an ethnic enemy.

        With regard to Israel and Zionism — and the EU has just confirmed once again that the Israeli government is enabling ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories — does the worldwide organized Jewish establishment bear significant responsibility for the human rights violations that Israel continues to commit in the name of Jewish ethnic nationalism? Is this largely a Jewish issue or not? Is the Jewish community as a whole generally responsible for the policies of the organized Jewish establishment?

      • Shmuel
        March 14, 2012, 4:27 pm

        as some Jews are now uniting against Gilad Atzmon as an ethnic enemy

        Is that what it’s about? I know that’s what Atzmon would like to believe (hence the labelling of non-Jews who criticise him “collaborators”, “Zionists” and “Sabbath goys”), but I don’t think Abunimah or Barghouti or Massad or Kobti or AbuKhalil are particularly concerned with such nonsense. You could also give Jewish critics like Ash or Blumenthal or Brenner or Beinin a little more credit than that – although Atzmon’s own silliness about “anti-Zionist Zionists” (criticising him is sufficient proof) conveniently rules that out.

      • LeaNder
        March 14, 2012, 6:46 pm

        all ethnic groups stand as equals and are encouraged to dissolve and merge within Christianity.

        Hmm? Interesting argument. Does “dissolve and merge within Christianity mean, they should turn into Christians? Should I demand that of the Muslim over here too? No more mosques, after all we have quite a few Romanesque Churches and a Gothic Cathedral.

        This is the Mosque by the way. Do you remember the debate? And this is the Synagogue. Cologne had two, only one was rebuilt. Do you think they both should go?

      • tokyobk
        March 14, 2012, 7:15 pm

        Yes, that is the Robert Spencer idea about Islam. One cannot pronounce the shahada and remain a fully human member of the world community, having sworn allegience to the ummah.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 9:24 pm

        LeaNder,

        My point was that Christianity is not an ethnocentric or nationalist religion — it is a universalist ideology — members of all ethnic and national groups within Christianity are treated with *equality*.

        Christian evangelism, crusading and conversion by force is an entirely separate issue. Obviously I oppose that. And I am an ex-Roman Catholic now — not a Christian. But I admire certain values in Christianity — like those mentioned in the preceding paragraph — tran-nationalism, universalism and egalitarianism. (And I also admire many values in Judaism as well.)

        Messianic ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism lie at the root of the Jewish tradition and especially of ancient Judaism. Much of that ethnocentrism has continued to permeate modern Jewish secular civilization — including secular (and allegedly) progressive Zionism. Zionists never tire of pointing out that their ideology is grounded in the Torah.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 9:30 pm

        Shmuel,

        Once again you skipped over the main points in my comment. Is the Jewish tradition overall heavily saturated with ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism? Of course it is — any serious student of the subject knows that.

        Does the contemporary worldwide organized Jewish establishment embrace that ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism? Passionately. In many cases fanatically. Does that establishment claim to speak for all the Jews? Yes it does — stridently so.

        It seems to me that Gilad Atzmon is involved in a thoughtful argument with that ethnocentric tradition — a tradition that is driving Israel right over the cliff. He is trying to get to the root of the problem. You don’t have to agree with him, but you would be more credible if you were able to engage in a reasonable argument with him — or me.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 3:16 am

        Leander, your sense of humor is a bit off. I think you know very well that he meant ethnic groups which are already Christian [without barriers to entry] standing as equals within Christianity. Were you intending to express an anti-Christian bias?

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 3:18 am

        Sean,

        I remarked on the part of your comment that seemed most pertinent. To relate to the other point you raise (although probably not to your satisfaction), Jewish tradition is not inherently or essentially ethnocentric, although Zionism – a European, colonialist, blood and soil nationalist ideology – has stressed the parts of Jewish tradition that are. As in Christianity, the struggle between “Athens and Jerusalem” has always been internal as well as external. In the pre-war Modern Era, Athens was winning, hands down.

        Of course Zionists claim that theirs is the most “authentic” expression of Jewish tradition. Omar Barghouti (here and elsewhere) rejects that assertion as anti-Semitic.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 3:40 am

        Sean says, I’ve read only bits and pieces of Atzmon and don’t feel confident about judging his work as a whole. But is it that case that Atzmon has argued that “Jewishness” is inextricably entangled with >>ETHNOCENTRISM<< at various levels of intensity….

        Sean, I think that, concerning Atzmon’s views on this point, you might find my long reply to Elliot helpful – it’s a short distance above. Shmuel has told me before that he hasn’t read much of Atzmon, so not fair to pick on him. I prefer to let Atzmon address your point (indirectly) in his own words. There’s more I could add to fill in some gaps, if you like – but, again, in his words.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 6:45 am

        yes, it is the human rights violations that israel and the organized jewish community claim are being committed in the name of all jews that stokes antisemitism today. and yes, this is a jewish issue, but also a universal human rights issue, one that non-jews ignore at their own peril, what with israel &/or america hot to make war on iran, even though this could lead to wwiii. as for whether the jewish community as a whole generally is responsible for the policies of the organized jewish establishment, first of all would knowing the answer to this question get us any closer to liberating palestine? say, for example the answer is yes, what then, incarcerate all jewish-americans or worse, with the expectation that whoever’s president will then say something like, “at last, no israel lobby, i hereby declare the u.s-israel special relationship null and void. and by the way i’ve ordered our ambassador to the u.n. to introduce a resolution that returns palestine to its people?” yeah, fat chance! but even if there were no IL, there’s no reason to believe that by itself this would liberate palestine. after all, independent of the zionist entity, empire does have its own interests in the mideast. which is not to say that publicly discrediting the IL lobby won’t advance the palestinian cause, contrariwise, it surely will, only that there’s nothing to be gained* by holding the entire jewish community responsible for israel’s crimes, the culprits to go after are the leaders of the major zionist (christian as well as jewish) organizations, along with politicians who put the zionist entity’s interests before those of america. this assumes, again, that the vital contribution that we americans have to offer palestinians is the severance of the u.s-israel special relationship, such that, we pull this off and we can count on the palestinian people doing whatever it takes for them to regain their homeland.

        *lots to lose, however, as it would be a distraction that could be exploited by the powers that be, as with islamolpobia, incarceration of japanese-americans during wwii, etc. etc.

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 8:35 am

        My point was that Christianity is not an ethnocentric or nationalist religion — it is a universalist ideology — members of all ethnic and national groups within Christianity are treated with *equality*.

        The most important word in this statement for me seems to be “within”. Strictly any Jew could say the same about his own religion, don’t you think?

        Messianic ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism lie at the root of the Jewish tradition and especially of ancient Judaism.

        The flaw of your statement is that the nation as defined in Judaism is exactly the same as the nation as defined in European nationalism. To do so you need to put Herzl’s, a secular Jew’s, Zionist nation on a level with the nation as defined within Judaism. I don’t think that’s legitimate. I’ve never seen anybody arguing that European nationalism grew out of Jewish nationalism.

        What about having a look at the diverse definitions of nation in the OED over the centuries? Obviously the German Wikipedia entry is more extensive than the English one.

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 9:31 am

        anti-christian bias?

        Thomson Rutherford, I wrote this before, a long time ago. Yes, to the extend that I struggled with my Christian education and identity in post WWII Germany, no doubt. It started with nine, when I had to confess, did I have contact with people not belonging to my faith. My best friend at the time happened to belong to a different “nation”, so I was highly irritated and somehow furious. Besides I was living in a diaspora as far as my faith was concerned then. Was I to only make friends with the ones that belonged during and after school? Besides, the demand seemed to contradict everything they had taught me. That was only the first crash with religious authorities. As a teenager and young adult I was obsessed with the many ways the elites in earlier centuries controlled both the worldly and spiritual realms, the extend to which they controlled and propagandized the masses to their own advantage. And no doubt, the female role model they offered. To a certain extend I still associate the Christian religion as mass movement with double standards. Look at the superficially highly religious 19th century, no century before had as many brothels and prostitutes. And don’t you think they need customers? Didn’t they have to be good Christians at the same time? I am not aware the church preached they should follow their lusty desires? …

        I am older now and think that the disappearance of religion may create a vacuum that could be filled with the wrong ideas, but what do I know.

        Humor? It’s essential for survival. It’s an prerequisite to not take myself too seriously but neither whatever kind of ideologues.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 9:40 am

        Shmuel,

        You wrote: the “Jewish tradition is not inherently or essentially ethnocentric.”

        But clearly that is not true — passionate and messianic ethnocentrism pervades the Jewish tradition from its origins in ancient Judaism to the contemporary religious Zionism which is now dragging the Israeli and American governments behind it. The secular founders of Zionism were also intensely ethnocentric. Even David Ben-Gurion relied heavily on ethnocentric biblical imagery to justify the entire Zionist project.

        The Bible is largely the chronicle of the endless violent struggles of a particular ethnic group, the self-defined “chosen people,” against “the nations” — other ethnic groups, ethnic outsiders.

        Can you name any major Jewish groups that *don’t* define themselves in ethnocentric terms? I can’t think of any. Help me out. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is perhaps the most powerful Jewish institution in the world (perhaps even more powerful than the Israeli government) and it is stridently ethnocentric in its claims to speak for “the Jews” and “the Jewish people.”

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 10:45 am

        Sean,

        The Bible is also full of stories of god-sharing and intermingling, and includes books without any particular ethnocentric focus, such as Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Hellenistic Judaism was not especially ethnocentric, and the Middle Ages and Renaissance saw attempts to preserve Jewish religious identity within broader cultural and social contexts (even to the point of religious relativism, at times). In the Modern Era, Jewish Reform (in Germany, Hungary, the U.S., Britain, etc.) sought to focus on universal ethics and full membership in the societies in which Jews resided; Jewish socialists and other cultural Jewish movements had similar goals. Even Hirsch’s Neo-Orthodoxy sought to establish Judaism as a non-national religious identity, fully participant in general society and national identity. Mass Jewish immigration sought integration, and I believe that even assimilationism can be considered – if not a “Jewish tradition” (although I think that is debatable), at least an important part of the Jewish experience.

        The Conference of Presidents may be powerful, and it may claim to speak for all Jews past, present and future, but that doesn’t mean that it actually does, or that its worldview is inherent to Judaism.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 11:21 am

        Shmuel,

        I recognize that there are many positive and non-ethnocentric strains in both the Jewish religious and secular traditions. But ethnocentric and ethnic nationalist themes do indeed dominate the ancient biblical narrative and those are the themes that have been embraced by secular and religious Zionists in contemporary times — from left-wing David Ben-Gurion through right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu. Gilad Atzmon is courageously going head-to-head against that tradition.

        I greatly appreciate that you are one of many Jews around the world who is trying to nurture the truly universalist and trans-ethnocentric strains in Jewish civilization. You have my respect and gratitude — and please keep up the good work.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 11:53 am

        LeaNder,

        You wrote:

        “The most important word in this statement for me seems to be “within”. Strictly any Jew could say the same about his own religion, don’t you think?”

        You are missing the important distinction here: if either Irish Christians or German Christians (both ethno-religious groups) defined themselves as “the chosen people,” as “the Christians,” you would be correctly analogizing to Judaism. But they don’t. Christianity is not an ethnocentric or nationalist religion or ideology. In fact, it explicitly rejects and condemns ethnocentrism and nationalism as the basis of religious belief.

        Paul in Romans 10:12:

        ‘For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.”

        Christianity is a trans-ethnic and trans-national religion and ideology. Jewish hostility towards Christianity through many centuries (carefully documented by Israel Shahak, Yehoshafat Harkabi and many other Jewish scholars) has been primarily motivated by Christian rejection of the ethnocentric and nationalist character of pre-Enlightenment Judaism.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

        LeaNder,

        You wrote:

        “The flaw of your statement is that the nation as defined in Judaism is exactly the same as the nation as defined in European nationalism. To do so you need to put Herzl’s, a secular Jew’s, Zionist nation on a level with the nation as defined within Judaism. I don’t think that’s legitimate. I’ve never seen anybody arguing that European nationalism grew out of Jewish nationalism.”

        Leading Zionists themselves — from secular leftists like David Ben-Gurion to religious rightists like Benjamin Netanyahu — and *all* religious Zionists — have situated contemporary Jewish nationalism (Zionism) within the messianic nationalist tradition established in ancient biblical Judaism. I think you need to study this subject in greater depth than you have to date.

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 2:37 pm

        Leading Zionists themselves — from secular leftists like David Ben-Gurion to religious rightists like Benjamin Netanyahu — and *all* religious Zionists — have situated contemporary Jewish nationalism (Zionism) within the messianic nationalist tradition established in ancient biblical Judaism.

        Obviously because those are the bits an ethnic-nationalist colonialist would like best, no? Hermann Cohen, Buber, Levinas, Baeck, Kaplan, Heschel, Ellis and many many others have found very different things in Jewish tradition. It all depends on what you’re looking for in the first place. Shlomo Sand points out, for example, that secular Zionist historiographers and ideologues were perfectly willing to treat the parts of the Bible they liked (the blood and soil bits) as Gospel truth (if you’ll pardon the expression), while utterly rejecting everything that didn’t jive with their modern, secular worldviews (especially the supernatural God bits). Fancy that.

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 2:41 pm

        Thanks for the kind words, Sean. Glad to hear you don’t think I’m just another anti-Zionist Zionist ;-)

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 4:37 pm

        LeaNder,

        I believe sean is talking about Christians within Christianty not being of preliminary ONE ethnic. Nothing to do with bringing ethnics to Christianty or “dissolving” their ethnicity to be included or classified as Christian.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 4:31 pm

        Shmuel,

        Regarding the total craziness surrounding Israeli issues:

        The Israeli government and the Israel lobby have loudly and relentlessly hammered into the heads of the world — of *everyone* — that Israel is the official state of “the Jews” and of “the Jewish people” — all of them. But God forbid if any critic of Israel actually believes that claim.

        So who is to blame for creating all this confusion? For lumping all Jews into a single group? For synonymizing the entire Jewish tradition with Zionism? Are non-Jews and antisemites responsible for generating these toxic propaganda memes? Is Gilad Atzmon guilty of creating this mess? No. Which group on the planet is most responsible for enabling the policies and propaganda efforts of the Israeli government and the Israel lobby? The worldwide organized Jewish establishment — which is the official voice and representative of the worldwide Jewish community.

      • Shmuel
        March 14, 2012, 6:53 pm

        Sean,

        Whether Atzmon created his own mess or merely absorbed the racism of his Israeli upbringing is not important. The only relevant question is whether the Palestinian liberation movement should be “granting it quarter”.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 14, 2012, 8:21 pm

        The only relevant question is whether the Palestinian liberation movement should be “granting it quarter”.

        Shmuel, I agree that it should not. The world is not ready and embracing a loudmouth like Atzmon would only set the movement back.

        I just take exception to this pile-on calling the guy a racist. Atzmon is not a racist. The name calling is beneath us. -N49.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 9:14 pm

        Shmuel,

        I don’t think Atzmon is the problem. I think a much greater problem is the worldwide organized Jewish establishment which claims that Israel, which continues to commit major human rights violations that reek of systematic ideological racism, is the official representative of “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” — all Jews.

        It is almost like this establishment is going out of its way to prove Atzmon’s point. Shouldn’t you be much more incensed at the Jewish establishment that Atzmon is deconstructing than at Atzmon? I don’t understand your priorities.

        You completely sidestepped the main point in the comment of mine you responded to.

      • Shmuel
        March 15, 2012, 3:26 am

        N49,

        Whether Atzmon is a racist or merely flirts with racism is immaterial. The signatories of the above letters have come to the conclusion that he does not represent the values of the movement and should therefore not be given a platform by the movement. They wouldn’t have bothered if he didn’t have a significant – both well-intentioned and less well-intentioned – following. It may look like a “pile-on”, but I don’t think they had much choice.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 9:54 am

        self-proclaimed voice and representative of the worldwide jewish community, but didn’t nazi germany declare itself the voice and representative of all germans, of all “aryan” people? and how many people have to say “not in my name” before such generalizations break down?

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 10:12 am

        I think a much greater problem is the worldwide organized Jewish establishment which claims that Israel, which continues to commit major human rights violations that reek of systematic ideological racism, is the official representative of “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” — all Jews.

        If you assume that the Holocaust was only the peak of 2000/(3000 I read this number also somewhere, but don’t remember where) years of prosecution, what you describe as racism above, could well be a rational decision: To provide a land for the Jews that had no land to go to. I will leave the colonial aspect out, since it doesn’t seem to be on your mind in this context.

        Interestingly Peter Beinhart has argued that the Israeli ROR should be changed to a right of return for people that are prosecuted only. I doubt this is a standard in European countries. What about the US? Do US citizen ever loose their right to return to the US or their citizenship?

        What I wonder is this: No matter what unwanted outcomes the “Zionist solution” created, do you deny it may have been at a specific point in time among the best solutions for a group of people?

        One of my own paradoxes is this. I don’t like wars, I wish Germany would have decided to remain neutral like Switzerland and Sweden after WWII, ideally after WWI, but when I am confronted with US isolationist demands in the 30′s, I somehow am in deep troubles. I can understand they don’t want to sacrifice their lives for foreign people, I probably wouldn’t want to either, but obviously I profited from the fact that many did.

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 12:35 pm

        Is Gilad Atzmon guilty of creating this mess?

        Sean, I’d suggest you read Otto Weiniger’s chapter on Judaism, that inspired Atzmon’s “Jewishness”. My impression is, Atzmon is simply riding a wave. Do you honestly believe his quite busy life as a musician left him much time for dealing with the subject profoundly? Or that beyond provocation and the resulting popularity that was his intend? Have you read the book?

        Otto Weiniger, Judaism in Sex and Character:

        The Jewish race, which has been chosen by me as a subject of discussion, because, as will be shown, it presents the gravest and most formidable difficulties for my views, appears to possess a certain anthropological relationship with both negroes and Mongolians. The readily curling hair points to the negro ; admixture of Mongolian blood is suggested by the perfectly Chinese or Malay formation of face and skull which is so often to be met with amongst the Jews and which is associated with a yellowish complexion. This is nothing more than the result of everyday experience, and these remarks must not be otherwise understood ; the anthropological question of the origin of the Jewish race is apparently insoluble, and even such an interesting answer to it as that given by H. S. Chamberlain has recently met with much opposition. The author does not possess the knowledge necessary to treat of this ; what will be here briefly, but as far as possible profoundly analysed, is the psychical peculiarity of the Jewish race.

        Thus the fact is explained that the bitterest Antisemites are to be found amongst the jews themselves. For only the quite Jewish Jews, like the completely Aryan Aryans, are not at all Antisemitically disposed; among the remainder only the commoner natures are actively Antisemitic and pass sentence on others without having once sat in judgment on themselves in these matters; and very few exercise their Antisemitism first on themselves. This one thing, however, remains none the less certain: whoever detests the Jewish disposition detests it first of all in himself; that he should persecute it in others is merely his endeavour to separate himself in this way from Jewishness ; he strives to sljke it off and to localise it in his fellow-creatures, and so for a moment to dream himself free of it. Hatred, like love, is a projected phenomenon; that person alone is haled who reminds one unpleasantly of oneself. The Antisemitism of the Jews bears testimony to the fact that no one who has had experience of them considers them loveable—not even the Jew himself; the Antisemitism of the Aryans grants us an insight no less full of significance: it is that the Jew and the Jewish race must not be confounded. There are Aryans who are more Jewish than Jews, and real Jews who are more Aryan than certain Aryans. I need not enumerate those non-semites who had much Jewishness in them, the lesser (like the well-known Frederick Nicolai of the eighteenth century) nor those of moderate greatness (here Frederick Schiller can scarcely be omitted), nor will I analyse their Jewishness.

        * Zola was a typical case of a person absolutely without trace of the Jewish qualities, and, therefore, a philosemite. The greatest geniuses, on the other hand, have nearly always been antisemites (Tacitus, Pascal, Voltaire, Herder, Goethe, Kant, Jean Paul, Schopenhauer, Grillparzer, Wagner) ; this comes about from the fact as geniuses they have something of everything in their natures, and so can understand Judaism.

        I added the note, since these names sometimes surfaced in your lists added to the current “antisemites” David Samel is alluding to here. I would argue that in many of the cases listed above, apart from the different historical context, the truth is slightly more complicated. Remember Martin Luther, was initially a philosemite, who then was disappointed that the Jews obstinately denied to join his new religion.

        I try to shut up for a while.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 2:15 pm

        LeaNder,

        I think you just blew all circuits in this thread with that Weiniger quote — it is overloaded with inflammatory ideas that appear to be antisemitic but are quite complicated. I don’t have time to unpack those paragraphs now (or to get up to speed on Weiniger), but this passage could be read as *philo-Semitic*:

        “The greatest geniuses, on the other hand, have nearly always been antisemites (Tacitus, Pascal, Voltaire, Herder, Goethe, Kant, Jean Paul, Schopenhauer, Grillparzer, Wagner) ; this comes about from the fact as geniuses they have something of everything in their natures, and so can understand Judaism.”

        One could develop this idea into the proposition that genius pervades the collective Jewish spirit and psyche — and that non-Jewish geniuses connect to that energy.

        In any case, why not read Atzmon’s book and discuss particular passages from it? I just downloaded it from Amazon Kindle to my smartphone and will try to read it over the next week. If I uncover antisemitism in the book (and my antennae for detecting Judeophobia are pretty sensitive), I will scream bloody murder in future comments. For now, my impression is that Atzmon is challenging the fierce ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism that has been promoted by the worldwide organized Jewish establishment as the defining feature of “the Jewish people.”

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 3:05 pm

        yourstruly,

        Have the German people accepted responsibility for the crimes that were committed by the Nazis — who were for a time the official representatives of the German nation? For the most part, yes, I think. And the Jewish community demanded that they accept that responsibility — rightfully so.

        I strongly opposed the Iraq War, but I feel responsibility as an American for all the damage, pain and suffering we have inflicted on Iraqi civilians.

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 5:57 pm

        I think you just blew all circuits in this thread with that Weiniger quote … n any case… I just downloaded it …

        No doubt, to paraphrase Henry Miller, only the genius recognizes a genius, the rest is dishwater. ;) Unfortunately from what I saw on Google books it feels a waste of time.

        The complete Hitler quote, by the way, would be:

        Gilad Atzmon: ‘There was only one decent Jew, and he killed himself, when he discovered that the Jew lives on corroding the Volkstum/Peoplehood of others.

        Even Hitler mentioned him, admitting: ‘There was one decent Jew, and he killed himself.’ This man was Otto Weininger, and although he was one of the most influential thinkers of the first four decades of the twentieth century, few are still similar with his thoughts or have even heard his name. Weininger was an anti-Semite as well as a radical misogynist. He didn’t like Jews or women, yet, as you might have already suspected, he was a Jew himself and, insofar as historical research can disclose such truths, an effeminate one.

        Weininger was an aphorism artist. Many of his statements can’t be taken seriously. Some of his anti-woman and anti-Jewish rants evoke the image of a naughty schoolboy struggeling to understand the concept of adulthood. Yet Weininger is an astonishing thinker. His understanding of the notion of genius could easily fit into the final section of Kant’s third critique; his understanding of sexuality is overwhelmingly astute given that his book was published when he was just twenty-one years old. Many of Weininger’s opponents happen to admit to the man’s brilliant talent. Simply put, there is far too much wisdom in for us to cast him aside without looking

        There is a personal side to my admiration: Weininger helped me grasp who I am, or rather who I may be, what I do, what I try to achieve and why my detractors invest so much effort trying to to stop me.

      • LeaNder
        March 15, 2012, 6:15 pm

        sorry, I wanted to add Gilad Atzmon in front of the cited paragraphs, after I posted it, and only now I notice, I put it in front of the wrong paragraph. I was too concerned with keeping the link intact.

        dito: few are still similar with his thoughts = few are still familiar …

        I am via Karl Kraus and Ludwig Wittgenstein. I read him ages ago.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 7:05 pm

        LeaNder,

        You may have noticed that Ludwig Wittgenstein (Jewish, and my favorite modern philosopher) was an admirer of Weininger and that Weininger had completed his brilliant work by the age of 23 (no one denies that he was brilliant — perhaps a genius).

        Wikipedia reports: “Isolated parts of Weininger’s writings were used by Nazi propaganda, despite the fact that Weininger actively argued against the ideas of race that came to be identified with the Nazis.” link to en.wikipedia.org

        Regarding Jewish antisemitism of the crude variety: are you aware that Howard Stern has used the expressions “Jewy Jewman” and “Kikey Kikeman” with an intonation that is, well, complex? And that Jewish-influenced Hollywood (Jewish-influenced according, just the other day, to Shimon Peres) has reproduced and highlighted many antisemitic archetypes over the years? This is not a simple topic.

        But what does this have to do with Gilad Atzmon? Tell you what: post the three most antisemitic quotes you can find from Atzmon’s writings — let’s take a look at them *in context* and see what he’s saying.

        The worldwide organized Jewish establishment is a much bigger problem for “the Jews” than Gilad Atzmon — these machers have firmly tied the identity and fate of all Jews to the behavior of some of the worst extremists in Israeli society — especially the religious Zionist settlers who continue to pursue the *racist* enterprise of building Greater Israel.

      • LeaNder
        March 17, 2012, 10:52 am

        Sean, my last words on this topic, or better still my last comment for a while:

        Gilad Atzmon writes in his book as cited by me above:

        Weininger was an anti-Semite as well as a radical misogynist.

        I am afraid it is not as simple as that.

        Weininger quite obviously in his thesis and later published book struggles with the racist antisemitism he was confronted with. His thesis opens an escape route. Male, the good, creative, Female, Jewishness are all just principles everyone shares and ultimately is free to develop. Even a non-Jew can be “Jewish”, just as the most rapid antisemites always talked about the Jews and their supporters.

        Everybody, non-Jewish and Jewish Austrians and/or Germans et al can choose to strengthen the respective “good” aspects in himself.

        Karl Kraus, himself a very special case among the self-hating Jews wrote to Weininger after he read his book that he a) liked it a lot b) liked it as a lover of women. … Not that his general assessment of the “female” is completely untarnished by Zeitgeist, but in this field he no doubt went quite far against the reigning ideologies.

        Kraus by the way published Weininger in his Fackel, do you think Weininger would have accepted were he simply an antisemite and not the most outstanding case among the self-hating Jews struggle against antisemitism?

        If you finished reading, I would be pleased about an answers to the following questions:

        a) to what extend he acknowledges the very different political realities in early 19th century and now.

        b) why and how exactly he compares Weininger’s struggle with his own.

        c) If he doesn’t make a distinction between now and then, could this trigger in some people’s mind the idea that ultimately the Nazis already fought the “good fight” against “Jewishness”?

        and last but not least:
        c) why his book is an important contribution to the larger MW debate?

      • kalithea
        March 14, 2012, 4:47 pm

        “when he and his followers insist that his struggle is the same as theirs…”

        No-oh, I doubt he sees himself oppressed to that level; and I doubt his goal is to diminish the suffering of Palestinians.

        I think his own personal feeling is a kind of oppression inflicted on him took the form of “an attempt at exclusivist indoctrination from cradle to grave”.

      • seafoid
        March 14, 2012, 6:15 pm

        Yiddish is full of richness . There’s more than one way to identify stupidity.

        Hot a kop vee a shpilkeh kepl dee grais -Has a head the size of a pinhead

        Klert tsee a floy hot a pipik-Wonders if a flea has a belly button.

      • LeaNder
        March 14, 2012, 6:27 pm

        Atzmon seems to assert that racism is Jewish culture and tradition.

        That’s my impression, Shmuel.
        ****************************************************
        When I read the following I thought about you. I give you the larger context, it’s at the very end.

        One of the most provocative of these articles [by Joseph Roth] , published in a Prague newspaper in August 1934, is entitled ‘The Blessing of the Wandering Jew’.

        In this article Roth argues that it is a mistake for Jews to identify themselves with any form of nationalism. Those who still see Germany as their ‘Vaterland’ are particularly deluded. But Roth is also critical of the programme of Zionism. The Jews, he argues, are far older than the concept of ‘nation’. They owe their identity to their religious mission: ‘They were scattered through the world to spread the name of God’. The Nazis have denounced the Jews as ‘cosmopolitans’, not more nationalist barbarians. Why should it be a disgrace not to belong to a nation? ‘Legs and feet’, Roth writes in conclusion, ‘have been given by God to man, so that he can wander over the face of the earth [...]. Wandering is not a curse, but a blessing’ (Roth, III, 532).

        Not surprisingly, Roth conception of the Wandering Jew provoked outrage among Zionists. And the Prague newspaper published a series of articles by other German-Jewish writers repudiating Roth’s position. The only way to put an end to the two-thousand years of wandering on the blood- and tear-soaked road to the diaspora’, they argued, was ‘the return home’ to Palestine (Roth, III, 539). Clearly, in the political situation of 1934, the Zionists were right. There was no alternative but to try to get as many Jews as possible out of Germany, with the hope of resettlement in Palestine. But in the longer term Roth’s cosmopolitan ideals may also deserve respect. He feared that once the Jews had a state of their own they might become as nationalistic as those European nations which had oppressed them. And he felt that Zionism might lead to the betrayal of those religious and humanistic values which he particularly associated with the Jews.

        The Wandering Jew: A Leitmotif in German Literature and Politics, Edward Timms.

        It’s Timms inaugural lecture for the Centre of German Jewish Studies, which he founded, I linked to above, p. 29f of the manuscript. He goes on to state that Roth’s concept has been “more systematically developed in recent debates about ‘post-modern’ identity”.

  9. Boycott Israel on Campus
    March 14, 2012, 2:10 pm

    All of this sound and fury about a musician whose heart is on the side of Palestinian liberation, and who has a wicked sense of humor. I mean, he calls himself a “Proud self-hating Jew”. Don’t you guys recognize that it’s a joke? It totally negates itself. Just let it go. Have a good laugh.

    What I like about Gilad is his defiance in the face of racism. Zionism is the proudest expression of racism currently (no joke), and it has directly and indirectly killed millions.

    So Gilad, be as defiant as you are against the racists. And try to get a boycott-Israel resolution proposed at your city council, too, OK? You are famous these days, with all of these hysterical condemnations of you flying about. You might as well use the fame and yell for boycott.

    None of those people condemning you have bothered to march into any town council and demand a boycott resolution against Israel. Until they do, it can hardly be said that the BDS movement even exists. So they represent a movement that doesn’t exist.

    Good luck!

  10. James North
    March 14, 2012, 2:26 pm

    Both statements critical of Atzmon that Adam reproduces here are eloquent and completely persuasive.

  11. Boycott Israel on Campus
    March 14, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Correction:

    I noticed that one of the Atzmon excommunication signers is Tom Pessah.

    Tom actually did push for a Berkeley resolution to divest from SOME companies that supported the Israeli military.

    Tom did that 2 years ago. Good for you, Tom.

    But Tom, why the dead silence on divestment ever since? Why can’t divestment be pushed today at Berkeley? Or at any other campus?

    That is much more pressing than this inquisition against Gilad Atzmon.

    Go Gilad — keep showing defiance against “Israel” and against Zionism.

    That’s more than anyone at Berkeley is doing these days.

  12. Justice Please
    March 14, 2012, 3:29 pm

    I can only judge by some articles I read from Atzmon. But as far as I know, he does not equalize Jews and Zionism. But he asks the question, how do Jews definde themselves, when they are neither a political nor a biological “people”.

    Also, he rightfully points out that there is more evil among Jews than only Zionism. He points to Jewish suprematists and racists, who are not necessarily Zionists. (Yossi Gurvitz also pointed out Jewish suprematism).

    Of course, merely stating that Jews are just as capable of being assholes as other humans, and therefore Jewish racism and suprematism exists, is taboo in many circles.

    In his own words, describing The Wandering Who:

    “Gilad examines the tribal aspects embedded in Jewish secular discourse, both Zionist and anti Zionist; the ‘holocaust religion’; the meaning of ‘history’ and ‘time’ within the Jewish political discourse; the anti-Gentile ideologies entangled within different forms of secular Jewish political discourse and even within the Jewish left. He questions what it is that leads Diaspora Jews to identify themselves with Israel and affiliate with its politics.”

    So the only difference to, say, Philip Weiss, is that Gilad recognizes that racism is not per se a feature of only religious Jews, but of some secular Jews also.

    • tokyobk
      March 14, 2012, 7:28 pm

      Judaism initself is racism is his point and frankly that might be a legitimate discussion in a philosophy class or yeshivah (i wonder if people here know how much dissent is a feature built into Judaism) it is a useless and harmul position in the P-I discussion, and he is not giving it iut of love for his people, as he says. And That is is exacty what Geller and Spencer believe about Islam. No Muslim can be good as a practioner of Islam (their good qualities can override Islam). Its really sick, frankly. Again, I am all for open critiques of religion, it is the essentializing aspect that makes Atzmonthan useless as a Palestinian ally and irrelavent as a Jewish critic.

      • piotr
        March 14, 2012, 8:20 pm

        Judaism is no more racist than Shinto. Both religions have the potential of encouraging the worst kind of tribalism. But no religion is perfect, so it is dangerous to have perfect followers of anything. Humans can read “Who shall cast the first stone” and conclude “caedite eos!”.

        The worst slaughter occurs at the gates to Paradise.

      • Justice Please
        March 15, 2012, 3:14 pm

        tokyobk,

        “Judaism initself is racism is his point”

        From what I read, he says that Judaism (= Jewish religion) and secular Jewish culture have some racist content and produced many racists. He doesn’t say that Judaism or Jewishness can’t get rid of their racist contents, that they can’t evolve to something more positive.

      • CigarGod
        March 15, 2012, 3:36 pm

        “He doesn’t say that Judaism or Jewishness can’t get rid of their racist contents, that they can’t evolve to something more positive.”

        Doesn’t God have to weigh in on any revisions?

  13. seanmcbride
    March 14, 2012, 3:42 pm

    To discuss and analyze Gilad Atzmon’s writings, go to the source and judge for yourself. Come to your own conclusions:

    link to gilad.co.uk

    I am going to make a stab at it when I find time. In the meantime, the enraged lynch mob vibe coming from Atzmon’s critics is really arousing my curiosity. How many times have we seen this? Over and over and over again? I am allergic to self-righteous and morally outraged mobs of all kinds.

    And the names who signed this decree of excommunication — who are they, really? Is one supposed to be impressed by them simply because they are Palestinians? I am being reminded of why I find ethnic nationalists of all strips to be tiresome. They are wasting our time.

  14. Talkback
    March 14, 2012, 3:51 pm

    I’ve read Atzmon’s last book. On page 16 he writes that he doesn’t have a problem with those who follow Judaism or those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin. He has a problem with those who put Jewishness over and above all of their other traits. And he sees Zionism as the tool to preserve this agenda.

    • American
      March 14, 2012, 4:12 pm

      “He has a problem with those who put Jewishness over and above all of their other traits. And he sees Zionism as the tool to preserve this agenda.”

      Well I would agree with that too but said a ‘certain kind” of Jewishness. The kind that zionism definitely want to preserve.

      • Talkback
        March 15, 2012, 9:28 am

        “Well I would agree with that too but said a ‘certain kind” of Jewishness. The kind that zionism definitely want to preserve.”

        Atzmon goes further, because he is pro individual and anti collective. Which means he puts being an indivudal above being a Jew or member of the Jewish or any other collective. He claims that on the other hand and in the eye of the Zionists being a Jew is the primary ‘quality’. Therefore Zionism chooses anti-assimilation and separatism to preserve Jewishness.

        To him Israel is just one (territorial) aspect of Zionism.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 11:12 am

        Talkback,

        Another smart comment. My sense is that Gilad Atzmon’s argument is with collectivism and groupthink in general in all their manifestations — ethnocentric, religious, ideological, etc. He is challenging the collectivist tradition in which he was raised because that is the tradition he knows best. People from all traditions who challenge their respective collectivist conditioning and brainwashing are easily able to recognize one another as comrades in arms in the cause of independent thinking in the quest for truth.

        I’ve noticed a fair amount of collective conditioning and groupthink in some of the comments in this thread. Collectivists whose beliefs are challenged tend to become very anxious and angry — they identify with their collectivist belief system — they are one with it. Challenge their belief system and you challenge the very ground of their being. They feel like their very lives and existence are being threatened.

    • tokyobk
      March 14, 2012, 7:34 pm

      You actually stumbled on it perhaps unwittingly, Atzmon thinks Judaism is a “trait” that can be above or below other traits, like being kind. This is the Spencer Geller line on Islam. Ones goodness is mitigated by ones Islamness.

      PS, an bservant Muslim is never going to eat Pork or drink wine and wants to pray five times per day. Religious Muslims want to be part of the ummah and want to make the Hajj. Since none of those things interfere wi being a g ood citizen of any country, the rest of us just need to accept that sometimes a Muslim is going to put her or his Islam first. Those of us that can’t accept that are just bigots.

  15. David Samel
    March 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Surely the most overused, deceitful, and morally offensive tactic employed in defense of Israel is the antisemitism smear directed at critics. Finally, after many years of this bullshit, the accusation has lost at least some of its sting. It’s simply too difficult to get away with calling people like Tutu and Carter Jew-haters. The character assassins have suffered at least a small measure of the disgrace they deserve. Along comes Atzmon, with his professed concern for Palestinian rights and his lengthy history of comments that invite genuine scrutiny, rehabilitating the assholes and offering at long last a legitimate target for their venom. Is Atzmon really and truly a bigot, antisemite, Jew-hater, whatever? I don’t know and I don’t care if he can cleverly defend himself from the charge. He can muse all he wants about the nature of Jewish people and their exceptional(ly bad) history, but when he pretends to defend Palestinians from Israeli oppression, he is no more help than Osama bin Laden. Atzmon adds nothing to the cause and is a self(ishly)-appointed poster boy for destructive controversy. Dershowitz probably considers him intellectual viagra. No wonder these prominent people, mostly Palestinians, are so forcefully distancing themselves from him. James North sums it up perfectly: Both statements critical of Atzmon that Adam reproduces here are eloquent and completely persuasive.

    • W.Jones
      March 14, 2012, 6:01 pm

      The first letter isn’t persuasive to those familiar with Atzmon’s main thesis that there are in fact a broad range of views among Jews and that many are in fact not Zionist.

      But on the other hand, he does cause controversy unnecessarily- this is someone who writes in his book that he intentionally played bad-sounding music to be disruptive of the military he was in. In other words, I feel part of his psychology enjoys being disruptive of what he feels around him is an authoritarian system. And what comes out in this context does seem to me to be at times inherently “bad music.”

      In any case, I think one standard in judging his works could be: what would it look like if it was a white person or African American criticizing white society or black society in a similar way?

      Personally, I find Atzmon’s quote marked [6] offensive, as you could replace the word “Jewish” with the word “Italian”, and it would be equally applicable, as you can find many fascists and radical socialists in Italian society too.

      And yet it is important I think to remember- I feel a danger in this kind of group-attack on Atzmon, because it lacks any positive appreciation of his good parts- that he is a dissident too. In pouncing on him, the situation can develop into a witch-hunt where everyone is condemned who approved/es of any good things he has said. And this has already happened sometimes.

      Chomsky spent time on a kibbutz, practically is an anarchist Zionist (as Finkelstein has said), and opposes any boycott. Yet the progressive community has not signed such a mass letter against Chomsky. And I don’t think they should denounce him or others, either, for the same reason.

      Otherwise it is dissenters silencing dissent for dissenting from their collective view- right or wrong.

      And finally- one interviewer asked Atzmon pointedly if he wants Israel’s destruction, and he became very sad and emotional saying no he does not want this, he wants them to change from the mistreatment and the bad ways.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 6:21 pm

        “Yet the progressive community has not signed such a mass letter against Chomsky”

        Of course not, Chomsky claims The Lobby doesnt’ exist, that everything wrong with the world and Israel is the evil US and Israel is simply our pawn.

      • W.Jones
        March 14, 2012, 10:09 pm

        OK, so to recap:

        Chomsky is a foremost activist for Palestinian rights, strongly downplays the lobby, associates himself with old-school anarchist Zionism (having an ethnic non-governmental community in the Holy Land), defines the State as basically only a colony of Britain and the US, and rejects the boycott movement as hypocritical. His biography compares him to Spinoza for being a dissident within his own community.

        Atzmon is an Israeli dissident and strong supporter of Palestinian independence, but expresses strong criticisms of his own community, which apparently include some stereotypical mischaracterizations. Here we are presented with two chain letters by Palestinian Solidarity activists denouncing him as making stereotypes. But no such letter exists against Chomsky as far as I know.

      • W.Jones
        March 14, 2012, 10:39 pm

        “But no such letter exists against Chomsky as far as I know.”
        And that’s good of course. But what does the context of Spinoza suggest?

  16. Blake
    March 14, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Personally I think Gilad Atzmon’s heart is in the right place and I admire his courage in the face of adversity from all sides. Why should he not defend human rights and injustice of the native people of Palestine. Has it not gone on long enough already!

  17. Danaa
    March 14, 2012, 4:38 pm

    This putting Gilad Atzmon in herem is utterly disgusting to me. It is very very reminiscent of the way Jewish authorities colluded with the christian establishment in Amsterdam to put Spinoza in herem.

    I would like to register my agreement with SeanMcbride who put up one of the more incisive comments here.

    The reasons for my disgust will be put forth in a longer post indue course. For now, let me just say that this “circling the wagons” is precisely the kind of dynamics that brought the left down, time and time again, at least in the West.

    I realize the Palestinian activists need the support of Jewish people, especially as they are the ones in clear and present danger of being “disappeared”, and are in no position to fight against the enormous powers that bear down on them without some help, especially from the ones who live within the power or at least in its shadow. I also understand that many feel they have no choice but to bow to the “superior” understanding of the tribal gate keepers about what “anti-semitism” is and isn’t. This is very much in tune with someone like MJ Rosenberg agreeing not to use “Israel Firster”. People can be convinced that the battle is about something larger and it’s not worth wasting energy on “skirmishes”. Be they a proper label or an Atzmon.

    But as many people here understand and perceive on a gut level, argumentation aside, we are witnessing the worst of the worst of tribal politics perhaps for a good reason. I believe this may be so because many, if not most, know (in a way that is not quite “knowing”) that the “great battle” is already lost.

    It occurred to me that perhaps what is really happening behind the scenes is a kind of mental preparation for the end game. Unfortunately, and heart-breakingly, the palestinians in Israel may already be doomed. It’s not about one-state or two-state and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s about the zionists looking for ways of hiding the tracks of what they are doing and the worse they are about to do. Outside israel, for the good Jews of the world, who may well perceive somewhere in the outer reaches of their consciousness what is about to happen, it’s about desperately trying to dissociate themselves and the ones they know and love from blame for the crimes unfolding.

    This may well be where the denounciation of Atzmon comes in. He keeps telling them all, even someone like Adam, or Max Blumenthal, that they have skin in the “game” and that no one is entirely innocent, not even him, or for that matter, me. maybe that’s what no one wants to hear.

    Read these “dennounciations” for what they are. There is desperation between the lines, behind the thoughts. There is the despondency of the blame-game that’s already upon us.

    But then again, just because the end is nigh, does not mean that action is pointless. Far from it – humanity is weighed and measured by the depth and breadth of action against evil. Not by whether the “good guys” win at the end. My chief concern is that our past, as it is taught to us wherever and whoever we are, is replete with instances where, in hindsight we realize the “good guys” would have had a better fighting chance, were they not so weighed down by purity tests of their own making.

    • Dan Crowther
      March 14, 2012, 4:50 pm

      “For now, let me just say that this “circling the wagons” is precisely the kind of dynamics that brought the left down, time and time again, at least in the West.”

      BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!

      Danaa, you go up to my first comment, I say the same exact thing!!
      I agree with your post the whole way through. Well said.

    • Elliot
      March 14, 2012, 5:14 pm

      Danaa, are you accusing Adam Horowitz, Max Blumenthal and the rest of your list of “desperately trying to dissociate themselves and the ones they know and love from blame for the crimes unfolding.”?

      • Danaa
        March 14, 2012, 6:29 pm

        Elliot, I am accusing the entire Jewish community everywhere, you and me included, and everyone who barely even thinks of themselves as “Jewish” or knows they are, right along with the many philo-semitic friends – good, not so good, whatever. And that includes even Gilad himself. The point is that I see very very bad things happening in the not too distant future in Israel and a serious all-out cover-up by zionist sympathizers abroad. My warning is about the tricky nature of culpability. Gilad’s point is that we all are, in a way, culpable, even if to different degrees, on account of having certain “tribal” sympathies, or just familial sensitivities, even if only a tiny remnant of those are exercised. When the time comes, we will all be culpable because we did not do enough to dissociate ourselves from what’s going on when we could, when there was still time. When we look back some day on these times, assumig we are around, it’ll be clear that we did not, in fact, use every means at our disposal, often because of feelings of kinship, including to those closest to us, or even, just because we were not inclined to “rock the boats” too much.

        The culpability aspect goes to the heart of collective responsibility, and that’s what makes [some] people so uncomfortable about what Gilad is trying to say (not always artfully, I admit). You, I, Phil, Adam and many many others may have done plenty (to our mind) to wash our hands off the criminal nature of Israel’s actions. But have we really done enough in practice to avert the worst? have we really done all we could?

        And it’s not like I don’t understand what “all we could” means. So you tell me, do you feel you, personally, have and are really doing enough? is it not true that if, as I suspect, Israel is on a collision course with a crazy destiny of their own making (cf, for example, Yossi Gurvitz’s post from the other day about the messianic cults taking over), isn’t the time for talking reason over and the time for administering some meds begins? and what are those meds?

        The reason you may not see (or choose to) what I am saying is because the worst is not yet upon us, so “collective culpability” sounds like a silly game with “anti-semitic” overtones. But, for whatever reason, I see an oncoming train, carrying very little reason in its wake. And I believe Gilad sees it too, as does Yossi, and perhaps they and a few others know it’s pointless to reason when madness is in the air. Maybe many are just busy trying to get out of the way. But if the “way” turns out to be a highway, it may not be as simple as all that. I only sound warnings. Kind of like Cassandra (and we know how much good it did her to be right, and I most certainly hope I’m wrong, or at least not totally right about everything).

      • David Samel
        March 14, 2012, 10:38 pm

        Danaa – You are one of my very favorite MW writers, and while I can tolerate disagreement, I’m surprised we see this issue so differently.

        As for your theory of Jewish culpability, why should someone who is Jewish feel a special burden to take on this issue? What if a Jewish person devotes his/her time to pro-choice activism (or anti-abortion for that matter)? Don’t they have that right? Do we as Americans have a special obligation to throw ourselves into stopping our own country’s military misadventures, which have cost far more lives over the past decade than Israel has caused since the beginning? What if an American Jew devotes major time to ending our wars and ignores Israel. What about Lori Berenson, an American Jew who got involved in South American liberation movements? Does she deserve Atzmon’s ire? Some of us might refrain from speaking out from fear of antagonizing our fellow Americans, just like you think Jews might do wrt Israel. Do any of us do all we can to better humanity? Of course not. We could all do more. Why should Jews be more accountable on this score than non-Jews?

        I continue to feel that to the extent Jews unquestionably accept the undeserved privileges Zionism bestows upon them, it is a very human trait, not a Jewish one. It’s one of the primary stories of human history and folly. Singling out Jews as exceptional, good or bad, is just plain wrong, and that’s what Atzmon does.

        And finally, regardless of how you feel personally about his philosophy, regardless of how he touches an inner chord, do you foresee any realistic possibility that he can be of assistance in bringing freedom and justice to Palestinians? I see him as a negative influence entirely. If he wants to contemplate the nature of Jewishness, can’t he do it on a platform far away from Palestinian rights? If he did, this mass shunning, well deserved in my opinion, would be of no importance to him and those who find him interesting.

      • Elliot
        March 14, 2012, 10:47 pm

        You, I, Phil, Adam and many many others may have done plenty (to our mind) to wash our hands off the criminal nature of Israel’s actions. But have we really done enough in practice to avert the worst? have we really done all we could?

        Your handwashing metaphor is Biblical (Deuteronomy 21:1-9). In the case of the murdered man who is found between two cities, the elders of both cities come to the dead man and “wash their hands” and declare that they (and, by extension, the residents of their cities) had not shed this man’s blood. And they had no knowledge of the identity of the murderer.

        All us activists are doing just the opposite. Drawing attention to the problems and fighting them, before there are deaths.
        The problem I have with your approach is twofold: efficacy and reasonableness. What do you gain by making everybody culpable? There is a point of diminishing returns: you get more guilt and less action.

        And if all Jews are guilty of Israel’s impending pile-up, regardless of how much they fight against it, then what of all the other groups that are implicated in Israel: Western Christians (Christian Zionists, Christian imperialists), Americans, Brits – how about, all humankind? Every human being has dark recesses of the soul and act out mindlessly all manner of evil that results in terrible calamities.

        At some point, I also want to live a normal life. Yes, man-made disasters will continue to happen, and yes, I will have had some part in the making of those. But I’m not going to turn my life over to berating myself to what more I could have done. We all have limits of engagement.

        What is Atzmon achieving by blaming Israel on Jewishness?

        And this is all before we even address the truth value of Atzmon’s assertions.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 11:27 pm

        Elliot,

        You wrote:

        “What is Atzmon achieving by blaming Israel on Jewishness?”

        Are you saying that Israel and Zionism are NOT the product of “Jewishness,” Jewish ethnocentrism and Jewish ethnic nationalism? The worldwide organized Jewish establishment — which is the representative of the worldwide Jewish community — claims that Israel and Zionism are the official voice of “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” — of the Jewish tradition.

        Comments?

        The Jewish establishment has accepted full responsibility for Israel and all its deeds in the name of “Jewishness,” Jewish values, the Jewish people, Jewish manifest destiny, etc.

        Why in the world are you picking on Atzmon over this toxic meme, which has been heavily promoted by mainstream Jewish organizations?

      • Danaa
        March 15, 2012, 1:18 am

        David:

        Do we as Americans have a special obligation to throw ourselves into stopping our own country’s military misadventures, which have cost far more lives over the past decade than Israel has caused since the beginning?…. Some of us might refrain from speaking out from fear of antagonizing our fellow Americans, just like you think Jews might do wrt Israel.

        The answer to your question is, of course, yes – Americans of sound mind and good will do have that obligation. Obviously, there are not enough of them since the bad stuff continues. However, I’ll add that insofar as at least some American wars – like Iraq – had major agency from Israel and collusion from neocon friends in the US – those who find themselves sharing a Jewish heritage (if not identity or affinity) with neocons, have that much more of an obligation. And not just to speak out against the neocons in their midst but to also campaign forcefully against the nationalist entity of Israel that directed and inspired the actions of said neocons, not to mention those among their own established organizations who colluded through silence, right along with so many of their liberal bretherns. That last part is what has not been done, or at least not sufficiently.

        I see merit in Atzmon because he highlights not so much the shrillness of the zionists and the vicious arrogance of so many Israelis (he takes those for granted) but because he draws attention to the many many Jewish people who were and still are silent about the fact that Iraq was an atrocity encouraged, fomented and supported by way too many Jewish people, which includes just about all Israelis. It’s not just about the fact that some Jewish-centric liberal publications (NYTs comes to mind) have never seen fit to apologize for urging and condoning the war criminals who were responsible for countless killings of Iraqis and destroying their country; it’s that too many of the same so-called liberals – and the publications that represent their viewpoints – are keeping silent about the drums of war against Iran and the toxic Islamophobia coming from very Jewish corners. So, I ask – where’s the forceful pushback against Israel from the Jewish quarters? wherefrom the shraying multitudes at the recent AIPAC? and just how many were there among the – Occupy Aipac fighters (more power to them)?

        My point all along has been that it’s about numbers. The assembly of anti-israeli-apartheid activists is miniscule. Can they even fill up an auditorium of 1000? organize a march of 10K? where are the rest?

        Atzmon believes apparently that the “rest”, those 99% of the Jewish community that are not out there holding Israel’s feet to the fire, are hiding comfortably within their tribal cocoon. I think we all realize that were there 50,000 Jewish people united in action against what israel is doing (not to mention the calls for attacking Iran) it would make a difference. The fact that there may be 50,000 who keep quiet does not help. Israelis are not in the habit of parsing silences.

        I know we agree that Zionism has hijacked Judaism, and Israel has cowed the jewish people of America – powerful as some of them are. The trouble is, Jewish people – religious, cultural and everything in between – have not been able to break out from the the cell where their souls are being held hostage. Atzmon posits that this is because of the ties that bind (aka Jewish-ness). I await to see him proven wrong on that score.

        As for the insidious ways that Jews everywhere become complicit in whatever israel is doing, I’ll quote Seanmcbride’s comment from just above:

        The Israeli government and the Israel lobby have loudly and relentlessly hammered into the heads of the world — of *everyone* — that Israel is the official state of “the Jews” and of “the Jewish people” — all of them. But God forbid if any critic of Israel actually believes that claim.
        So who is to blame for creating all this confusion? For lumping all Jews into a single group? For synonymizing the entire Jewish tradition with Zionism? Are non-Jews and antisemites responsible for generating these toxic propaganda memes? Is Gilad Atzmon guilty of creating this mess? No. Which group on the planet is most responsible for enabling the policies and propaganda efforts of the Israeli government and the Israel lobby? The worldwide organized Jewish establishment — which is the official voice and representative of the worldwide Jewish community.

        back to your questions:

        regardless of how you feel personally about his philosophy, regardless of how he touches an inner chord, do you foresee any realistic possibility that he can be of assistance in bringing freedom and justice to Palestinians? I see him as a negative influence entirely.

        Unfortunately, for me it’s a bit of the “Day After” already. I can’t help it that I see the bad stuff up ahead. I wish I didn’t, but there it is. I think Gilad is tormented by bad visions as well. So he is already in a “blame mode”. And perhaps, to some extent so am I. The rest is just wordsmithing and his may not have been the most artful choices. That being said, I absolutely have no wish to discourage anyone who’d lend a hand to the Palestinian struggle, for it is a noble one. Indeed in the larger scheme of things, winning may not be as important as how well the battle was fought (I know this sounds better than it is in reality and I’m no better at losing than anyone else). I understand that you – and others – want it to be a “clean” fight. But sometimes, clean is the enemy of the effective, because it limits the number of fighters and can sap the spirits of one too many supporters. Gilad fights dirty, that’s true. It may make many cringe. Maybe that’s because, in his mind, he is already fighting the final battle, so has no use for niceties any longer, even as for others it is just the beginning – ever hopeful – as they array their forces . I happen to think that, given how powerful your real enemies are, purity may be a luxury already. Besides, excommunicating someone like Gilad gives way too much comfort to the bad guys. It also makes them believe in their own power to define the terms of the battle even more than they do already.

        ____
        PS I hate to disagree with you as well, but perhaps just as well we are not peas in a pod? for one, some differences may be inspiring (for excessive length, if not quite substance). For another, it got you to lose your no doubt best ever, very excellently reasoned prior post to me, the one that would have surely convinced me, once and for all (I may have had something to do with that little “loss”- connections with The Matrix and all). Sorry for that brilliant dissertation, now lost forever, but here I remain still unconvinced and unrepentant, for you to try again, some day.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 10:18 am

        well said, david.

      • David Samel
        March 15, 2012, 10:50 am

        Danaa, with respect to an American’s obligations to oppose US military adventurism, you miss my point. Where should a Jewish American devote his/her energies? To the follies of both countries? What if he/she prefers to be an abortion advocate, organize opposition to the death penalty, fight against economic inequality? Do those struggles pale in comparison, unworthy of the time of Jewish activists, who should be devoted to the I/P issue instead? Whether or not you think that people have the right to sit on their asses or must actively work to change their world, why should people who are born Jewish have a special additional obligation by virtue of their birth? If you and Atzmon think that Jews should be held to a higher standard, I think you should re-think.

        My most important question dealt with Atzmon’s contribution to the Palestinian cause. You hint that because Atzmon fights dirty, he is effective, but you don’t explain that at all. What is Atzmon really doing to help? Is he hurting more than helping? The Palestinians who are united in condemning him are clearly more hopeful than you for the future, and they think Atzmon is a drag on their progress. I see their point, and although you defend Atzmon’s overall philosophy, you do not explain why they are wrong about whether his contributions to their cause are positive or negative. Do you really believe that the quotes appearing in the second letter of condemnation have any chance of moving the discussion in the right direction? If you think that BDS or other international pressure is necessary to push Israelis, doesn’t Atzmon give great ammunition to those who falsely smear BDS as an anti-Semitic movement? And, with respect to the issue of a Jewish obligation to speak out against Israel, is Atzmon’s language likely to motivate them to do so, or antagonize them by signifying that there really is an anti-Semitic component to anti-Zionism?

        Finally, as to my previous complaint about losing a brilliant comment in cyberspace, I was of course kidding. I mean, I did lose my comment and was quite frustrated, but it was only a little longer and no more brilliant ;-) than the one I reconstructed.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 8:39 pm

        but not in my name!

    • Newclench
      March 14, 2012, 6:13 pm

      I’m truly laughing out loud. Really Danaa, “denunciations” bother you? You haven’t ever engaged in a little denouncing yourself here and there?
      Atzmon and his supporters are a ball and chain on the leg of the Palestinian cause.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 14, 2012, 7:03 pm

        blog comment “denounciations” are the equivalent of organized blacklisting?

        that’s a good one clencher – you got me laughing now…….

      • kalithea
        March 14, 2012, 7:37 pm

        Get back to me when the cause goes south and you’re left with no clue why.

      • Blake
        March 14, 2012, 10:50 pm

        Atzmon prides himself of being apolitical and acts solely as an individual. He does not need supporters, he speaks only for himself.

    • American
      March 14, 2012, 6:26 pm

      Spot on Danaa!

    • Pixel
      March 14, 2012, 9:49 pm

      I second it with another spot on!

      Thanks, Danaa!!!

    • Shmuel
      March 15, 2012, 3:37 am

      Danaa,

      I know we don’t and won’t agree on this, but I think you focus too much on why you think Atzmon says what he says in the way that he does. You share his background, so you feel qualified to interpret where he’s coming from and what he means. I share some of that background. Although I was not born in Israel, my personal experience is of the far more racist and ethnocentric religious-Zionist educational system, in Israel and abroad. I broke with it and so did you. I don’t think Gilad has.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 15, 2012, 7:36 pm

        Although I was not born in Israel, my personal experience is of the far more racist and ethnocentric religious-Zionist educational system, in Israel and abroad. I broke with it and so did you. I don’t think Gilad has.

        Serious charges, Shmuel. Citation? -N49.

      • Shmuel
        March 16, 2012, 2:57 am

        Serious charges, Shmuel. Citation?

        In a nutshell, Atzmon has internalised the Israeli/Zionist division of the world into Jews and everyone else, with the difference that he has decided to be on what he sees as the everyone else side. He has also accepted the Israeli “the whole world is against us” meme (except that he adds ‘with good reason’) and, in directing much of his ire specifically at diaspora Jews (‘Israeli Jews are not Zionists’), the “negation of the diaspora” as well. His explanation of why Zionism is not colonialist (because there is no “Mother State”) is also classic Israeli apologia, although he uses it to level far worse charges.

        I think he is clearly a product of Israeli education, although obviously not exactly what his teachers and the Ministry of Education had in mind.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        March 16, 2012, 12:46 pm

        Thanks, Shmuel. I was hoping for a link to somethig Atzmon actually said or wrote. ?? -N49.

      • Danaa
        March 15, 2012, 10:06 pm

        Shmuel, I am indeed guilty of running off with psychological/hysterical interpretations, but at least it’s not just in Atzmon’s case. Where I do see commonality with him is on the emotional plane where rage lives, and sometimes overshadows. You are right that I broke with almost all that I was brought up with, but there’s still a quiet fury that goes with having had to excise my own history, even if most of the baggage was dumped along the way. You may also be right that Gilad didn’t quite set aside his own baggage, and keeps lugging it everywhere he goes, but different people handle things differently, and not everyone can play merry butterfly. Hey, fact is he wrote a book and I didn’t [yet]. And he has the wherewithal to put himself on the line, despite having no proper scholarly background to fall on. On a personal level I respect non-laziness and courage above all, right next to character. The first two are often obvious, the last takes time to figure out and it may never be possible to know with some people.

        In Atzmon’s case , what he offers are opinions that he went some distance to formulate. He did so with some commitment and conviction, even if the research to back it all was not always as broad and deep as some would wish. The truthfullness of any opinion is always a moving target, all the more so with something as rich in detail and history and controversy as Jewish identity “wars”, connection to zionism, and all that jazz. People could most certainly critique and debate Gilad’s choice of the trifecta of Judaism, Jews, and “Jewish-ness”. It does seem a bit simple, but almost any attempt to divide things to do with Jews is. For myself, I just wish he did not choose that last word to represent something that’s close to some amalgamation of ideology, ethnicrentrism, culture, tribal heritage, religion and peoplehood. I wish he came up with a more neutral sounding term that has no “jewish” in it. That alone would have spared him much of the wrath he invites, since the word is not without history or connotations, so he ends up spending much energy on defining over and over what he means. I wish I had a better word to offer, but so far have come up empty. Be that as it may, what I disapprove of is this opprobrium that is directed his way, which seems strangely out of all proportion to whatever violations he may have committed (see also Keith’s comments below).

        As to you and Samel and others maintaining that Atzmon is detrimental to the pro-Palestinian solidarity movement, I know and understand where you come from and what the real concerns are, but I beg to differ for both tactical and strategic reasons. These reasons have to do with my conception of where the real battle is at, and a gut level conviction that Atzmon has his uses, perhaps not alongside you all but as another battle front, that can run on parallel tracks. It doesn’t hurt to have good activists/bad Gilad thing going and his way which strikes many as “under the belt” may pay dividends that are not easy to fathom now (yes, I always had those little Napoleonic fancies).

        What’s bad is this excommunication/shunning bit. It makes the Dersch happy beyond words – just think about that. And it makes me, and quite a few others who are 100% on the side of the “good guys”, very unhappy. Whether such state of unhappiness matters to anyone, I do not know, but suspect that perhaps it should.

      • Shmuel
        March 16, 2012, 3:34 am

        Danaa,

        Your attempts to judge Atzmon favourably (so you were paying attention in Talmud class, after all; see Avot 1,6) are admirable and even persuasive, on a personal level. Nevertheless, his conclusions are what they are. You don’t see them as harmful to the Palestinian cause, but a bunch of prominent Palestinian leaders of that cause do. Doesn’t that mean anything? They see his views as incongruous with their struggle for freedom and equality and consider him a liability to that struggle. It’s too easy to dismiss their appeal as weakness or “Stockholm syndrome” or even “collaboration”, and too easy to condemn it as an act of “excommunication”.

        In the last Atzmon thread, you dismissed my question about the existence of any limits at all, as “pilpul” (perhaps more in the realm of “shakla ve-tarya” than “pilpul” proper), but let’s say there is a line beyond which you too would not grant Palestinian solidarity support or platforms, the issue is not really “excommunication” per se, but where to draw the line. Abunimah and Barghouti and the others think it should be drawn here.

      • Danaa
        March 17, 2012, 2:00 am

        Shmuel,

        So, are you advising me to follow in the footsteps of Nittai whose very next verse (Avot 1:7) admonishes to: “keep far from an evil neighbor and do not associate with the wicked; and do not abandon belief in retribution”? ** i.e., on the one hand, we should give everybody the benefit of a doubt, but on the other hand we must keep away from them evil ones, and even apply a good measure of retribution.

        So, here I stand, accused of naivete ascribing merit willy nilly, whereas the truly savvy would recognize the inherent evil that Atzmon brings and knows to seek retribution, as prescribed in the above articles of excommunication?

        But she who knows not her verses from vices would ask: but who is to judge what evil is? because it’s not what it is that’s the question, but the who that presume to part good from bad and hand us the verdict.
        ___
        ** now look what you made me google…..

      • Shmuel
        March 17, 2012, 4:41 am

        So, are you advising me ..

        No. I was noting that you were following the advice to “judge every man favourably”. You decided to jump to the next Mishnah (sorry about the googling), but I’m glad you did. The point I have been trying to make these past few days is that you can find just about anything you want – good, bad or indifferent – in Jewish tradition (and experience); it all depends on what you’re looking for. Avot is a case in point. It contains wisdom and folly, superstition, misogyny, love of mankind and chauvinism. It was redacted in the second century for God’s sake. A modern Jew may seek out and stress things like “judge every man favourably” or “don’t judge anyone until you are in his place”, and a reactionary Jew might prefer “don’t speak overly with a woman” or “God wished to benefit the Jews and therefore lavished Torah and precepts on them”. “Turn it over and over for everything is found therein”(ibid. 5, 19).

        You want to be a fascist? I’ll find you the right verses and passages. You want to be a vegetarian? No problem (see A.I Kook on the subject). M.M. Kaplan referred to Jewish tradition as an idiom by means of which we must strive to express the best values of the age.

        I was steeped, stewed, sautéed and fricasseed in Jewish tradition, yet somehow (even when I was still religious – living in an ultra-nationalist environment) managed to distil humanistic values from it. Did I miss the point? Was I not paying attention? What part of “only you are called man” did I not get? Then there are those (like Herzl) who were not raised in Jewish tradition at all, but in other traditions and cultures. Why would their ideas be the natural expression of things they had never heard of?

        The Zionist Jewish culture in which you were raised was specifically engineered to reinforce certain ideas and not others, while presenting itself as the only natural and authentic interpretation of the “Jewish spirit”. That is precisely what all streams of Judaism have done “since time immemorial”. Secularism simply made it easier, because it could utterly ignore the bits it didn’t like (not that religious streams haven’t done that as well, but they sometimes need to finesse things rather than ignore them). Again, see Sand.

        Exceptionalism imbibed with mother’s milk? Values unconsciously transmitted in the most assimilated of Jewish households? Maybe, but why only the bad and why must the bad necessarily come from within?

        Gurvitz (like Shahak) asserts that there’s a lot of bad in Jewish tradition, and that Zionism and Israel have managed to bring out and nurture the very worst (even among the non-Zionist Haredim). I agree, but that’s not the same as asserting that the bad is inherent to the identity itself. (I know, I know, “Atzmon never said that”.)

        I think I’ll shut up now, and try to write something about Palestine for a change.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 9:26 am

        Shmuel,

        German leftists in the 1930 could have discussed the wonderful diversity of German culture, and its many positive values and features (Beethoven, Goethe, Schiller, etc.), but that would not have spared the German people of collective responsibility for the deeds of Nazism.

        The contemporary Jewish establishment, with little dissent (certainly no effective dissent) from the Jewish community at large, has framed and defined the Jewish tradition and Jewishness in terms of militant Zionism, Greater Israelism and the endless wars of “the Jewish people” against Amalek. Jewish religious extremists in the occupied territories are dragging the entire worldwide Jewish community behind them with virtually no resistance.

        Is Gilad Atzmon a villain for having pointed out this fact?

        What am I missing?

      • David Samel
        March 17, 2012, 10:25 am

        Shmuel, that’s a brilliant summary. Even your very last line is not a throwaway. I think I’ll shut up now, and try to write something about Palestine for a change. Look at how Atzmon has bitterly divided the MW community, who generally agree on so many other things. Sure, it is possible for him to defend himself, and others to defend him, but why does he choose to skirt the boundaries of anti-Semitism? He’s nothing but a self-created distraction. It is so easy and so much more effective to support Palestinian rights without going near where he chooses to go. It’s almost as if he’s saying “Look how controversial I can be.” Yes Gilad, good for you.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 12:04 pm

        David Samel,

        You wrote: “Why does he choose to skirt the boundaries of anti-Semitism?”

        Let’s see the three most antisemitic quotes from Atzmon’s writings according to you. Post them and let us analyze them in context.

        So far I have not seen the slightest evidence that Atzmon’s detractors have the skills to read texts with even moderate complexity — and Atzmon’s texts are quite complex.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 1:29 pm

        Then there are those (like Herzl) who were not raised in Jewish tradition at all, but in other traditions and cultures.

        Herzl attended a Jewish elementary school and took classes in Judaism at his secondary school. He and his parents also attended a modern synagogue. link to books.google.com

        His grandfather was an orthodox rabbi, who advocated the establishment of Jewish colonies in Palestine:

        Theodor Herzl’s grandfather, Simon Loeb Herzl, was a fervent disciple of Rabbi Judah Alkalai (1798-1878) who, for most of his life, had been a preacher in Semlin, near Belgrade. This Rabbi astounded his congregants when, among other pronouncements, he published a textbook declaring that establishing Jewish colonies and a Jewish State in the Holy Land was the necessary prelude to the Redemption of Israel and to the Restoration of the Temple of Jerusalem for the coming of Messiah. Thus, this Sephardic Rabbi Judah Alkalai, along with, for instance, the Ashkenazi Rabbi Zvi Kalischer of Prussia were representatives of a very tiny minority of European and American Rabbis who supported the religious concept of the Jewish people returning progressively to Palestine in order to recreate Israel and to restore the Temple.

        However the vast majority of Rabbis (and religious Jews) opposed violently this view and were divided (to simplify matters with modern vocabulary) between “Reform Jews” and “Orthodox Jews”

        link to unitedisrael.org

  18. piotr
    March 14, 2012, 4:42 pm

    There is a lot of self-styled “Jewish Community” “International Jewish Activity” and Jewish supremacy to write about, and to formulate criticism which is within reasonable bounds of different opinions. Being an individual without a professorial chair or organized movement, Atzmon does not deserve a very high level of scrutiny, and attacks leveled at him mirror attacks on people who criticized him here.

    Atzmon crossed the lines of reasonable, basically condemning “Jewish culture” in totality of time (all times) and space (all self-claimed Jews). “Tribal Marxist for Dummies” is a good litmus text. It is hard to imagine what could prompt the vitriol in that article apart from deep prejudice.

    Atzmon was criticized by Zionists as “holocaust denier”. This is rather silly. But he is dangerously close to something worse: justifying Holocaust.

    One has to stress that not everything written by Atzmon is beyond the pale, and the witchhunt “did you, or you did not approve of Atzmon two years ago” which is already ongoing has to be resisted.

    • kalithea
      March 14, 2012, 5:12 pm

      “Atzmon was criticized by Zionists as “holocaust denier”. This is rather silly. But he is dangerously close to something worse: justifying Holocaust.”

      Justifying the Holocaust??? No! THAT’S FALSE. What I believe he’s saying is that he understands how the Universe responds to our STUPIDITY, IGNORANCE. What he’s saying is that we DON’T CONTROL the consequences of our actions, we can only control our CHOICES, decisions…and ignorant actions always have bad CONSEQUENCES.

      Atzmon is a REALIST. Universal balance can only be driven by our higher self, if and only if we put our higher self on that balance; we can’t cheat on that level. If we put primal drive forward we get back a primal consequence. Therefore we must always question the selfishness of our belief system. You can’t expect to crank evolution forward with “others” if you’re not willing to evolve and purge your own deep-seated flaws or ADMIT THEY EXIST. I believe Atzmon is admitting they exist and that those flaws led to Zionism and could lead to more disastrous consequences.

      • American
        March 14, 2012, 6:28 pm

        Also spot on Kalithea.

      • piotr
        March 14, 2012, 8:02 pm

        “Therefore we must always question the selfishness of our belief system.”

        You should also observe conflicting notions of altruism. One is to be ready to fight for your nation and to die in that fight. In a feudal system this is the duty of the noble class which had a rather flexible notion of allegiance. In principle, a noble could choose any allegiance but was honor bound to keep it. Then there was progress, the circle including “us” that should apply altruism to each other extended to whole nations. This of course poses the question how to treat minorities, especially those present in many countries. The hitherto feudal notion of allegiance and honor can patch the system but obviously there may be problems.

        Then we have the idea of “universalism”, human rights for all etc. Resisting this idea is not peculiar to Zionism. One could say that Zionism is unusually resistant to universalism, but attributing that to unique aspects of Jewish culture is anti-Semitic. Also, I do not think it is true: look what decades long conflict did to Buddhists of Sri Lanka.

      • seanmcbride
        March 14, 2012, 9:07 pm

        piotr,

        You wrote:

        “One could say that Zionism is unusually resistant to universalism, but attributing that to unique aspects of Jewish culture is anti-Semitic.”

        Doesn’t messianic and xenophobic ethnic nationalism lie at the heart of the Jewish tradition — in the Torah, Old Testament and Talmud? The vision of a long succession of conflicts and wars against “the nations” (other ethnic groups), culminating in the triumph of Moshiach over the unchosen nations?

        Now, yes — many Jews have worked their way out of that ideological box, especially since the European Enlightenment, but that militantly anti-universalist tradition is alive and well in significant elements of the world today — and especially in Israel.

      • piotr
        March 14, 2012, 11:39 pm

        Torah is part of Old Testament. Old Testament is part of Christianity too. My estimate is that largely religious wars in XVII Europe proportionally killed more people than wars of XX century. And I read how theologians of American Enterprise Institute work on reviving the militant reading of New Testament, using Christ words like “I bring you a sword.” And of course we know that Christianity can also be universalist, humane and tolerant.

        Religion is not a box. Many religious people think that they have a source of immutable principle which are true, and truth does not change. But on the level of prescriptions, what religions “command to do” they change quite quickly.

        As far as Jews who are serious about religion, there is a not so small segment that does not recognize Israel, or, at the very least, the authority of the State.

        On the other end of the spectrum, big proportion of Jews does not truly care about Torah and Talmud. They cheerfully eat clams, wear mix thread, celebrate Jewish holidays for purely cultural reasons etc. If they succumb to xenophobic ethnic nationalism, they do it in pretty much the same way Europeans were doing a little while ago (a mode of thinking that is by no means forgotten).

        Importantly, how can we envision peace in Middle East? All nationalists and religious people should become apostates? There is some logic to it, but Communist experience is discouraging.

      • kalithea
        March 15, 2012, 12:28 am

        Forget the weird digression and twisted logic. THIS was the main goal of your reply: “but attributing that to unique aspects of Jewish culture is anti-Semitic”.

        I’ll bet your seams were ripping to get that out of your system.

        TOO BAD! You picked the wrong argument with me. I’ve always been a rebel at heart. No matter how much anyone tries to control my perception; bully me, threaten me, OR lay the guilt trip on me; they still can’t bend my conviction. I’ve been moved to tears and outrage by gut-wrenching images of inhumanity, but my conviction remains the same: getting the big picture right with the truth always in hand is what will induce understanding and save humanity. And your reply was a LAME attempt to fudge the truth and delay what you really wanted say to me.

        So save your label and your judgmental prouncements. I don’t give a rat’s ass and it definitely won’t influence my conviction.

      • andrew r
        March 15, 2012, 2:41 am

        First, a full disclaimer, I’ve argued with Atzmon here before, basically explaining how he and Israel Shahak are not alike.
        link to mondoweiss.net

        “Doesn’t messianic and xenophobic ethnic nationalism lie at the heart of the Jewish tradition — in the Torah, Old Testament and Talmud? The vision of a long succession of conflicts and wars against “the nations” (other ethnic groups), culminating in the triumph of Moshiach over the unchosen nations?”

        This begs the question why political Zionism originated in Basel and not Baghdad or Jerusalem. Of course Atzmon can’t answer that and wouldn’t give a damn about it anyway because where historical knowledge fails him, he falls back on prejudice.

        In all my attempts to read him, I saw no evidence that he seriously researched the history of any Jewish community anywhere in the world or the Zionist movement for that matter. Or that he has any sort of framework for how Jewish tradition and political behavior inform each other. Shahak did, though I think he was too Eurocentric in linking the chauvinistic texts with the radical settler movement. So does Etan Bloom whose thesis on Ruppin touches on how Jewish traditional roles became secularized, yet still diffused into Zionism. Atzmon rehashes cliches about “Jewish Marxists”. His target is one undifferentiated mass called Jews and nouns preceded by the adjective “Jewish”. There’s nothing specific about his critique. There’s no reason to listen to him anymore than Nonie Darwish or Walid Shoehat.

        He may or may not know this much: The early settlements in Palestine did not behave as if Jews were superior to the goys. They behaved as if white Europeans were superior to orientals, and it showed not only in their shabby treatment of Arabs, but also in their shabby treatment of oriental Jews. The founder of the kibbutz movement, Arthur Ruppin, expected them to die of natural causes for the weakness of their race, and did not want them as part of the Zionist movement, though he acceded to recruit a handful for menial labor. You have to be kidding me to assert that came from Judaism. Ruppin got that from the eugenics movement in Germany. There’s a lot more baggage attached to that than Atzmon would bother to unravel. Etan Bloom did some of the work.

        And it’s out and out ignorant to portray Zionism as the natural outgrowth of the Torah, Talmud… Herzl himself was uneducated on Jewish religion. For God’s sake, the guy expected dueling (as in, take ten paces, turn, fire) to be regulated in his Jewish state. That would not be possible in a Jewish theocracy. Herzl, Ruppin, Ben-Gurion, Weizmann, and virtually all the figures who were important in creating the Usurping Entity were atheists and turned their backs on rabbinical education. And they hated haredim. Yet Ben-Gurion did giveaway important state functions to the two chief rabbis, namely education and conversion, though notably not legislation. The Zionist movement’s relationship with religion is a lot more complicated than ten-cent analyses about chauvinism in the texts.

        I too am amazed that people who’d know better than to say something like “9-11 came from the Koran” would go around saying Israel is caused by Jewish tradition. That right there is in agreement with Zionism, not calling out Atzmon’s barenaked bum.

  19. ahadhaadam
    March 14, 2012, 5:47 pm

    I don’t see why they would do that. It’s not like he’s part of the Palestine solidarity movement or in any official position. Are they hoping to get a Kosher stamp by denouncing him?

    I personally see it as his own personal ravings, I don’t think it has much of an effect in any way. Most of his assertions could be fairly easily debunked and do not hold up to scrutiny. His obsession with Jewish identity politics and Jewishness is perhaps his personal vendetta but has nothing to do with Palestine. Let the self-styled philosopher rave on – at least he brings some attention to the Palestinian issue.

    We don’t need to study Boer history or Boer identity politics to abolish Apartheid and so we don’t need studies of Jewish identity politics to abolish Israeli Apartheid.

    • Boycott Israel on Campus
      March 14, 2012, 6:13 pm

      The analogy to Boer history is perfect.

    • American
      March 14, 2012, 6:33 pm

      “we don’t need studies of Jewish identity politics to abolish Israeli Apartheid”

      Also true. The identity or whys are immaterial to ending the mess. It’s wrong, just end it period.

    • kalithea
      March 14, 2012, 7:27 pm

      If you think it’ll be as easy to abolish Israeli Apartheid as it was South African Apartheid; I got news for you!

      • W.Jones
        March 14, 2012, 7:50 pm

        Hmmm what would you think about “White Boers United Against Apartheid”?

        One difference of course is that Dutch Boers were not discriminated historically. But maybe they were oppressed by the British empire who controlled their land? So maybe you have a similar situation where Boers are progressive in demanding their own country, but reactionary in their ethnic-oriented politics?

        Or maybe I shouldn’t even consider comparisons?

      • piotr
        March 14, 2012, 8:26 pm

        Concentration camps were invented to control Boers. Afrikaners were as close the Israeli Jews as Christians can get. For example, they view themselves as Elect, basically, Calvinist equivalent of “chosen”. The land was historically first, Blacks were interlopers (according to their traditions). South Africa Act preceded Balfour Declaration by 5 years.

      • kalithea
        March 15, 2012, 12:53 am

        Yes-yes, but did they exercise extraordinary influence over the largest military power in world that in turn sways the opinion of European countries?

        Ergo I stand by my comment…and I’ll go even further: it may just take a catastrophic event before Palestinians will be set free.

      • piotr
        March 15, 2012, 11:52 am

        “and I’ll go further: …”

        Well, I disagree that Jews are unique (Hindus are unique, Muslim are unique, Shinto are unique, etc.)
        I agree that Israel must perceive a calamity to change the course. In optimistic scenario, BDS and some mild threats/encouragement from “the West” will deliver the perception of calamity in a safe manner. In another scenario, a triple alliance will coalesce, Egypt, Turkey and Iran, with men, arms, money and will. I call it “new Saladin”. Then the threat will be real. As the West wobbles and East is ascendant, I think we are talking about 5-10 years. So Israel has a window of opportunity: between success of BDS and success of new Saladin. If new Saladin comes first, then the prediction of Imam Khomeini will come true.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 12:21 pm

        piotr,

        Let me add you to the list of awesome minds on Mondoweiss. :) Where else in the blogosphere can one encounter such visionary thoughts? Yes, this is a scenario to seriously consider — it may happen.

    • yourstruly
      March 15, 2012, 10:38 am

      jackpot! we didn’t need to study Boer history or Boer identity politics to abolish south african apartheid and we don’t need jewish identiy politics to abolish israeli apartheid.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 9:27 pm

        yourstruly says, … we don’t need jewish identiy politics to abolish israeli apartheid.

        I respect your opinion, but I think you are wrong. Please explain how you would go about abolishing Israeli apartheid without ‘turning’ a whole lot of dedicated Jewish Zionists. Since, for most of them, Zionism is a critical part of their identity, if not the dominant part, and founded on Jewish ethnocentric nationalism, how can these powerful people be turned without major changes to their core sense of Jewish identity?

        Neither the U.S. nor the world will go to war with them. How else do you think the Palestinians are going to be saved from destruction?

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 1:26 pm

        sorry, my wrong. I wasn’t thinking clearly about identity politics, in the early a.m brain fog got it mixed up with religiousness. as to how to turn zionists, i’d do it by emphasizing universalism, by word and by example.

  20. gitelsura
    March 14, 2012, 5:50 pm

    I think Atzmon gets a pass from some on how crudely he expresses his ideas because he is, I understand, a brilliant jazz musician. But his jazzy approach to Jewish history, riffing on a few themes (tribalism; exceptionalism) and ignoring the myriad of others that evolved, often in direct tension with those more primitive precepts, leads to a ridiculously superficial analysis that smells of racism.

    If Atzmon had written a journal about his struggle with, and repudiation of, Jewish identity following years of zionist indoctrination, I would read it with interest and empathy. But for historical understanding, why would anyone rely on his narrative, which skims through the millennia on the whirlwind of his disillusion and rage, without depth or data?

    • W.Jones
      March 14, 2012, 10:13 pm

      If I am American, and engage in exagerrated and sometimes incorrect stereotypes about Americans, like saying we are too fat, lazy, not intelligent, uneducated, militaristic, etc., am I anti-American?

      What about Bill Crosby criticizing African Americans? I think it is presumptively offensive when someone who doesn’t belong to a group stereotypes it, but perhaps the opposite is true when it is about one’s own background, because it is ultimately about oneself.

      What do you think?

  21. seafoid
    March 14, 2012, 6:26 pm

    I think the 2 letters demonstrate a focus and a ruthlessness that previous Palestinian activists have perhaps lacked. Getting dragged into arguments about individuals is not what the Palestinians are about.

    Judaism is a real mess. Someone on MW a while ago related something someone said at a seder table. “I don’t believe that . Jews wouldn’t do that.” And they do, and then some.

    I think Israel is probably going to try an Endloesung for the Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing, blessed by any number of rabbis. Nobody to stop it.

    • Terryscott
      March 14, 2012, 9:40 pm

      “Judaism is a real mess.”
      As opposed to what? Catholicism? Islam??? What a silly thing to say.
      And is this the same Seafoid who predicted the imminent collapse of the Israeli economy a year ago?

      • seafoid
        March 15, 2012, 4:50 am

        It’s great that you’re paying attention .

        If Judaism were a financial instrument it would be shorted to death. The balance sheet is unsustainable unless management dumps the Zionism business unit and gets back to what it is good at – morality.

  22. Boycott Israel on Campus
    March 14, 2012, 6:49 pm

    The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has jumped to trumpet the news:

    “Palestinian activists disavow Israeli musician Atzmon”, at –

    link to jta.org

    “…The signatories include EI’s founder, Ali Abunimah, who is an anti-Zionist, and Joseph Massad…”

    • kalithea
      March 14, 2012, 8:50 pm

      I’m sure the JTA is bursting with smugness and self-righteousness thanks to those who have no problem sacrificing Atzmon and the truth. Here’s a perfect example of the truth that’s being denied biting back. The consequence for those who choose to label and ostracize Atzmon is that they find themselves empowering idiots who diminish the cause we’re supposed to be defending. Good job y’all! (eyeroll).

    • seanmcbride
      March 14, 2012, 9:01 pm

      Does the term “Goldstoning” ring a bell? I would love to know what “arguments” were used to induce them to gang-bang Atzmon. So much for any reputation that Abunimah and Massad may have had for being fearless independent intellectuals. (To be honest, I have never paid much interest to either of them — the buzz just wasn’t there.)

  23. Keith
    March 14, 2012, 7:08 pm

    LORDY, LORDY, here we go again. Another Gilad Atzmon stoning! Why, oh why, do folks feel threatened by Atzmon? I’m not. And if I’m not, Phil and Adam and a whole bunch of others shouldn’t be either. As I commented previously, ‘In many ways, the most significant thing about Gilad Atzmon is the reaction to Gilad Atzmon. There is nothing about him which can possibly explain the extent of the vitriol and demonization.’ For example, recently we had a thread on Yossi Gurvitz. You know, ‘Yossi, Yossi, he’s our man, if he can’t do it, no one can!’ On the “Liberal American Jews are Giving Themselves Permission to Say Goodbye” thread, CHU linked to a 2007 Gurvitz screed (I loved it, but that is another story). All of you Atzmon bashers need to read this and incorporate it into you thinking. link to ygurvitz.wordpress.com

    Final comment: I am sick and tired of all of this “anti-Semitism” BS. Of all of the racisms, anti-Semitism is toward the bottom of the ‘threat list.’ There is more to this obsession than the understandable defensiveness of a weak and defenseless minority. The Jews are not a weak and defenseless minority. Far from it. They are an integral part of the US power structure. Some of the worst offenders in this are the Jewish Marxists who utilize theories of economic determinism to mask the presence and impact of Jewish tribal solidarity, a factor, along with others, which they deny even exists. Lastly, Gilad Atzmon, along with Yossi Gurvitz and Israel Shahak, are/were informed by their experiences in Israel. For all practical purposes, there are no Reformed Jews in Israel. Primarily, just secular and various shades of Orthodox. Reformed American Jews seem incapable of understanding the extent to which Israeli “Jewishness” is alien to American “Jewishness,” hence, overreact to what Atzmon says. This unwholesome American Jewish obsession with “anti-Semitism” is something which needs to change if there is to be any dialogue, understanding, or progress.

    • kalithea
      March 14, 2012, 8:34 pm

      “This unwholesome American Jewish obsession with “anti-Semitism” is something which needs to change if there is to be any dialogue, understanding, or progress.”

      Don’t hold your breath. If it’s happening on this site; if we’re censored here; don’t expect change on this issue. I’m not only flabbergasted; I’m beyond livid at the backward step and herd mentality regarding Atzmon. One thing I can’t stand is when the TRUTH is stomped on the way it is every time a discussion of Atzmon happens on this site.

    • Danaa
      March 14, 2012, 8:56 pm

      Keith, sometimes you sure make sense…(OK, quite a few times).

      What you point out here is certainly true. There seems to be a cadre of British and American Jewish people, of the anti-zionist persuasion, that seem to be driven mad by Atzmon. Like you, I said before that his critique makes sense in an israeli context, where his label of “Jewish-ness” is self-evident. This is something that Atzmon came up with to define that elusive je ne sais quoi that Israelis, free of gentiles, are blessed by. Israel further extohls a trans-national, deeply tribal identity, reaching out to ALL Jews who qualify for citizenship by virtue of being from the tribe, and everyone who comes from there understands perfectly well what this means.

      May be way too many Jews outside israel don’t want to process that Israel was built on a tribal identity, one defined, strangely enough by the same Nuremberg’s Laws, once used to exclude, now turned to include even the most liberal or rabid of zionists. All aboard that dutifully celebrate the distinction from the gentile-type humans , as in “The Jewish State”.

      Along comes Gilad who, chutzpah of chutzpahs, lumps the liberal, illiberal, neocon and anti-zionists under one tribal umbrella – right there in the company of their wayward Israeli cousins. The horror! What if the goys catch wind of that? why, it might make them reach for that long hidden protocol hidden in the attic! what if they really lump us into one (which of course Israel does daily to the deafening cheers of many American bretherns-in-arms).

    • seanmcbride
      March 14, 2012, 8:57 pm

      Keith,

      Great post — *smart*.

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 1:08 am

        Agree Keith, very smart post.

    • Pixel
      March 14, 2012, 9:57 pm

      Agreed. Thanks, Keith!

    • Thomson Rutherford
      March 15, 2012, 5:21 am

      Keith, an excellent post!

    • Chu
      March 15, 2012, 10:46 am

      Keith,

      This act of shunning Atzmon could be done to Gurvitz as well, which is why I posted that screed. Atzmon may be quite offensive often, but he seems to be expressing his frustration as he removed the yolk of Zionism.

      Max Ajl implied last year when the Atzmon debate began that he was a saboteur for the movement, and this is why they are stoning him.
      link to saboteur “some of the groupies here seem to think Atzmon is our ally, while it is clear that Zionist Nakba deniers are our enemy. as are saboteurs. of which Gilad is one, whether in effect or in intent. take from that what you wish.”

      Avi who used to post here, could almost be lumped into the same category as Atzmon, Gurvitz, etc. Was Avi banned or did he just move on?

      • Keith
        March 15, 2012, 3:30 pm

        CHU- First of all, thanks for the link to Gurvitz. I loved it. It was everything that a deliciously nasty polemic should be. My kind of guy! You’re right. If he ever gets on some folks radar screen, he’ll be pilloried. Both Atzmon and Gurvitz are generally consistent with Israel Shahak who endured more than his fair share of abuse. I followed your link to Max ajl. Small wonder this Jewish Marxist loathes the author of “Tribal Marxism for Dummies.” (see my comment below) I have no idea what became of Avi.

      • Danaa
        March 15, 2012, 10:18 pm

        Chu: “Was Avi banned or did he just move on?”

        I am pretty sure he wasn’t banned. He may just be busy working and taking a break (like we all do sometimes?), and someone mentioned somewhere that Avi_G who may or may not be the same as the “old” Avi chose to remove himself. I miss him too, all the Avi-s, in fact. His was certainly an interesting and unique voice and we have way too few Israelis – ex or not – posting here, such as it is.

    • Keith
      March 15, 2012, 3:34 pm

      SOME ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS- What can’t be emphasized enough is that the reaction to Atzmon is far more significant and instructive than the man himself. Don’t get me wrong, I like Atzmon, but I don’t consider him all that unique or significant.

      I have come to conclude that this ongoing Atzmon brouhaha reflects the extent to which perceived anti-Semitism/Jewish victim-hood is the essential group unifier of those who self-identify as Jews. Once upon a time, a “Jew” was religiously defined. This was the era of Classical Judaism, very different from Reformed Judaism or secular “Jewishness,” although many modern Jews seem unaware of that reality. In “The Wandering Who?”, Gilad Atzmon quotes Uri Avnery: “Yeshayahu Liebowitz, the philosopher who was an observant Orthodox Jew, told me once: ‘The Jewish religion died 200 years ago. Now there is nothing that unifies the Jews around the world apart from the Holocaust.’” The Holocaust depicted not so much as a historical event comparable to other instances of mass murder, but as the symbol and ultimate proof of eternal anti-Semitism and Jewish victim-hood.

      Most Jews, protestations of anti-Semitism notwithstanding, view being a Jew as a positive thing. There are material and psychological benefits to being part of a privileged group, particularly one which can claim eternal victim-hood thereby deflecting all criticism and inquiry. As such, perceived anti-Semitism performs a unifying function and is eagerly sought out. Not real anti-Semitism, which is threatening, but relatively innocuous instances which can be misrepresented and blown all out of proportion. Why else would so many Jews surf the web looking for “anti-Semitic” websites, and know the names of “anti-Semitic” authors? A lot of effort seems to go into this, at least in some quarters, and since there is very little true anti-Semitism the rewards must lie elsewhere. In other words, attacking Atzmon primarily serves to promote Jewish solidarity and reinforce group mythology. Why else call so much attention to Gilad if not to wildly inflate the threat of anti-Semitism?

      It must be said that Atzmon has been intentionally provocative towards the Jewish left, particularly the Jewish Marxists. In his essay, “Tribal Marxism for Dummies,” he writes that “Jewish Marxism is basically a crude utilisation of ‘Marxist-like’ terminology for the sole purpose of the Jewish tribal cause. It is a Judeo-centric pseudo intellectual setting which aims at political power.” He continues, mixing together valid insights with some petty and contentious comments about Moshe Machover. He concludes with the following: “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.” Gilad Atzmon said that? No, Karl Marx said that. Having mercilessly critiqued Jewish “Tribal Marxism,” he ends with a statement by their icon Karl Marx which some might characterize as “anti-Semitic.” He figuratively spits in their face. Jewish Marxists loathe Gilad Atzmon. They can’t help themselves.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 15, 2012, 7:52 pm

        That was a hell of a great post Keith. You’re a very good writer my brother.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 15, 2012, 9:02 pm

        Keith, thanks for that highly informative comment. Well done!

      • Danaa
        March 15, 2012, 10:31 pm

        Keith, you put your finger in the belly of the jello. Good Marxist Goulash, indeed.

        I think, BTW, that this Marxist stuff is much more relevant to the Europeans, jews and philo-activists. Most Americans can’t make heads or tails of it, as they really don’t track much with Marx. What the Americans fear most is the wrath of The Dersch, the sourness of the Commentary, and the vitriol of Goldberg. The error of the solidarity camp in the US is that they fight with one hand tied behind their back, always looking over their shoulder. The error of the Europeans is that they are perpetually spooked by Karl in the rear view mirror, grinning with mirth. Don’t know what the errors of the Australians are. Do they ever err?

      • American
        March 15, 2012, 11:44 pm

        “I have come to conclude that this ongoing Atzmon brouhaha reflects the extent to which perceived anti-Semitism/Jewish victim-hood is the essential group unifier of those who self-identify as Jews.
        There are material and psychological benefits to being part of a privileged group, particularly one which can claim eternal victim-hood thereby deflecting all criticism and inquiry”

        Spot on again Keith. My view exactly.
        The Galid furor is to me just another example of not wanting the above to be noticed cause gee, they might lose all those wonderful special privilages and political tools.
        As if anyone looking hasn’t caught on already. LOL

      • Chu
        March 16, 2012, 12:25 pm

        Good points. A large component to tribal unity can be achieved when acting as guardians for the tribe; especially if the group lacks the bonds made through organized religion, which the (non-religious) tribalists lack.
        Many non-practicing Jews consider themselves Jews but feel that religion as a whole is outdated and have no understanding of the Torah whatsoever, and it seems that many use Tikkun Olam as their motivator for maintaining their Jewishness. I know a few who think this way, and on the low end of it they are also quick to point out who are the famous Jews when the topic arises and who are Anti Semites, etc.

  24. OlegR
    March 14, 2012, 7:14 pm

    Well this is an interesting reading material

    • Terryscott
      March 14, 2012, 9:43 pm

      It sure is Oleg. I haven’t seen lies, paranoia, and bad faith on this level since the Trotsky-Stalin wars swept western Marxism!

      • OlegR
        March 15, 2012, 6:38 am

        This so reminds me of the
        debates among Russian nationalists factions that i have followed in the past few years.
        They are also constantly purging the unworthy to keep the camp
        clean and the cause untainted.
        I guess it’s a deeply human thing.

  25. kalithea
    March 14, 2012, 8:55 pm

    LET’S BE HONEST: Why don’t you want others here to know I’ve been censored multiple times on this thread????????????

  26. kalithea
    March 14, 2012, 9:06 pm

    God help the Palestinians when they have Jews on their side who so cleverly, artfully dodge the truth. In a better world, they’d have Atzmon leading the charge. He doesn’t run from the truth; he grabs it and runs WITH it!

  27. RoHa
    March 14, 2012, 9:09 pm

    “The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination.”

    Of course, the Palestinian people do not have a right of self-determination qua “a people” any more than the Jews have a right of self-determination qua “a people”.

  28. Dagon
    March 14, 2012, 9:14 pm

    To all of the signers i say NUTS.PC is nuts.When your clock breaks you dont go to the mechanic.Atzmon is the trained and experienced watchmaker.Go to him fools.

  29. Pixel
    March 14, 2012, 10:01 pm

    This is mind-bending and really disturbing.

    • American
      March 14, 2012, 10:43 pm

      I suggest the Palestines need to avoid the Stockholm syndrome.
      Sounds like what is happening to me with the letter signers.

  30. Inanna
    March 14, 2012, 10:46 pm

    Sign me up. I agree with both statements. Anyone who defends Atzom is not reading the crap he writes when he says Jewishness is ‘inherently intolerant’. That is racist essentialisation. It should not be tolerated.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      March 15, 2012, 8:50 pm

      … crap he writes when he says Jewishness is ‘inherently intolerant’.

      Ianna, I don’t know if it makes any difference to you, but Atzmon normally takes pains to distinguish between ‘Jewishness’ (the attribute of being Jewish) and ‘Jewish-ness’, a term he uses to indicate the attribute of having an extremely ethnocentric Jewish identity. He doesn’t say all Jews possess ‘Jewish-ness’, only some (by choice, not birth) – particularly those who are Zionists or tend to support Zionism.

      His harsh criticism is directed toward ‘Jewish-ness’, not ‘Jewishness’. Unfortunately, the hyphen – which is very significant in his clumsy and provocative terminology – is often dropped at some points in his discourse, leading to unnecessary confusion about ‘condemning all Jews’, etc. In a comment above addressed to Elliot, I provide some excerpts from Atzmon which clarify the distinctions I have just tried to explain for you.

      Of course, if you happen to be one of those extremely ethnocentric Jews, all this is not likely to soothe you.

      • Inanna
        March 16, 2012, 6:41 am

        I’m not a Jew. I’m an Arab Christian. And those distinctions you make are without a difference. Just replace the word Jewishness with Islam and I’d call him an Islamophobe.

      • seanmcbride
        March 16, 2012, 9:06 am

        Check it out: this is the level of discussion and debate that is being provided by Atzmon’s emotional enemies. Not one of them has taken the trouble to read and understand his writings.

      • lareineblanche
        March 16, 2012, 8:11 am

        His harsh criticism is directed toward ‘Jewish-ness’, not ‘Jewishness’.

        Is this like the distinction between “blah” and “black”?
        link to mediaite.com
        If so, then I’m entirely convinced…

  31. HRK
    March 14, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Individualism and tribalism exist on a continuum. So a group on the right side will always have something in common with a group to the left side. Yet, of course, there might still be important differences.

    If you were to try to design a group with a high degree of group solidarity or tribalism, one thing you might do is start with a group of people of the same ethnicity and then create a religion which would be amost exclusively practiced by that group. Religion unites disparate peoples, so having a religion which doesn’t seek converts keeps the two strongest identity plates (ethnicity and religion) stacked one on top of the other, and it keeps the original people group separate and hence more unified–hence more likely to be prone toward being tribal. If you look at the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, wasn’t tribal unity the point of all the admonitions/warnings against intermarriage–even to the point that, I believe, some Jews who intermarried were killed by other Jews?

    Also: Do Jews tend to be conservative on issues which intersect with their ethnic interests? Please don’t bring in abortion, etc. (Liberal Jews tend toward atheism, and so, because of that, they tend toward the pro-choice position.) I’m talking, again, about issues which intersect with Jewish interests. The answer to all but the most deluded is a very obvious yes. Why does AIPAC have a gazillion dollars to spend on what benefits Jews only in Israel/Palestine? Because AIPAC has a lot of motivated donors. Because a lot of Jews are keenly interested in policing the boundaries of their perceived interests.

    Of course, one would expect that the more tribal a group, the more likely it is to behave in a way which is conservative on matters which interesect with its perceived interests.

    Also, wouldn’t we expect that the more tribal a group is the more likely it is to be able to resist the pull of assimilation? Has any group ever resisted the pull of assimilation to the extent of the Jews? 4,000 years and counting.

    And, finally, wasn’t it Phil, in a previous exchange with Atzmon, saying something to this effect: [Atzmon to Weiss]: I went on to ask Weiss: “What does the word ‘Jewish’ mean for you?”

    Weiss was short and precise in his response : “My mother, my father, my grandparents, a family feeling, us-ness, in distinction to the Them.”

    But also in the interview there’s this: Phil: “I believe all people act out of self-interest. And Jews who define themselves at some level as Jews — like myself for instance — are concerned with a Jewish self-interest. Which in my case is: an end to Zionism. A theory of political life based on altruism or concern for victims purely is doomed to fail.”

    So here we see Phil exhibiting both tribal (Us, Them) and conservative (altruism . . . doomed to fail) features.

    Lastly, doesn’t it stretch the bounds of plausibility to believe that prior to 1948 Jews were supposedly the most liberal of all people groups, but after 1948 Jews became a people group tending to support an expansionist Israel? How have they flipped so fast from liberal to conservative? (My explanation: when it comes to their own interests, they were always a conservative group to begin with. Tribalism is conservative. Marxism benefitted Jews in Russia/the Soviet Union, at least at first. Multiculturalism, at least in its first manifestations, was perceived as being beneficial to Jews in the diaspora. And, yes, I do think conservatism explains some of the persecution which has befallen Jews over the millenia. But also: we can live with a conservative world Jewry. Ultimately, it’s their choice to live as they see fit. We gentiles have to respect that. What we can’t live with is extreme over-reaction to the Other on either the gentile or Jewish side, though.)

    I know this might bother some Jews who like to fancy their group as liberal. (If you think I’m wrong, tell me why–I won’t promise to change my mind, but I will promise to consider what you’re saying.) Remember, I’m not talking so much about individual Jews, I’m talking about the group as a whole. And I’m talking about looking at conservatism through the prism of where one’s group interests intersect.

    • piotr
      March 15, 2012, 12:14 am

      I have my own theory why Jews survived “persecution which has befallen Jews over the millenia”. At least in Christian Europe, Jews were the most protected religious minority, more precisely, most consistently tolerated religious minority, due to the theological Christian dogma. This was exception from the choice of conversion or death given to pagans and heretics.

      Given the general lack of tolerance, the tolerance was not perfect and of course, it lapsed here and there .

      The theory that Jews were attracted to Marxism out of “tribal conservatism” is seriously flawed in my opinion. Marxists of Jewish origin were apostates from religion and community. There were also cases of Christian converts who were joining virulently nationalistic movements, but clearly Marxist parties were normally more attractive to young Jews than parties based on exclusivist nationalism.

      • W.Jones
        March 15, 2012, 11:34 am

        agreed.

  32. RudyM
    March 14, 2012, 11:19 pm

    Okay, okay, I’ll order a copy of the Wandering Who, even though I’ve already spent too much money on books this month. (I never seem to read things when I order them interlibrary loan, so I mostly don’t even bother with that.)

  33. Pixel
    March 15, 2012, 12:01 am

    ATZMON’S RESPONSE:

    A Response to Ali Abunimah & Co. by Gilad Atzmon

    Scroll down for Atzmon – the top article by Gordon Duff is also worth reading. It comes from an entirely different point-of-view on the subject.

    • Pixel
      March 15, 2012, 6:56 am

      I’ve neglected to thank you, Adam, for this post. I hate to admit it but, until I read it, I had no idea this was going on.

      Here’s another take on the “disavowal” which was written by a non-Jew, non-Israeli, non-Palestinian writer.

      Why Hate Gilad Atzmon Pt. 2: “He’s WRONG!” (Or Is He?)

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 2:26 pm

        pixel, after reading your 2 references, some thoughts

        Gilad Atzmon – “if Israel is in the wrong for being a Jews-only state, I argue that its Jewish critics better fight it using an inclusive universalist ideology and practice”

        yt – no argument here

        Gilad Atzmon – “I am critical of Jewishness and any form of jewish exclusive political activism.”

        yt – not sure what this has to do with palestinian liberation

        “to what extent has Jewish identity politics contributed to the disaster?”

        yt – but if the immediacy of the moral argument against the settler state doesn’t suffice to sway the public, how will going into identity politics do the job?

        conclusion from this thread + the 2 “Veterans Today Military And Foreign Affairs Journal” articles – I’m not sure whether delving deeply into Jewish identity will serve or hinder the cause of justice for palestine. Hinder it by taking our eyes off the prize, especially at a time when the urgency is so immediate. Given what precious little time is available for preventing an Iran War, since the gory details of israeli savagery (which do get out on the internet) don’t move the public, what makes Atzmon think that delving into Jewish history and identity will succeed in turning a notoriously history aversive public around? Isn’t it just as likely to turn the public off?

      • Hostage
        March 15, 2012, 3:37 pm

        “to what extent has Jewish identity politics contributed to the disaster?” . . . yt – but if the immediacy of the moral argument against the settler state doesn’t suffice to sway the public, how will going into identity politics do the job?

        How exactly have you managed to avoid the issue in your encounters with the people of StandWithUs, campus Hillel societies, Jewish studies departments, the political parties, and our government when they negate Jewish universalism and promote the cultural and historical necessity of Jewish ghettoism in Israel?

        See the comments of Profs Ilan Pappe and Marc Ellis on David Landy, “Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel” link to zedbooks.co.uk

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 8:18 pm

        yes, of course i’m quite familiar with the jewish identity crisis between the ghettoism and universalism but the identity crisis altzmon insists is the defining one is about whether jews are ordinary people or in some ways uniqely evil. it’s our getting bogged down in the latter “manufactured crisis” that i believe could be so divisive that the palestine liberation struggle could be adversely effected.

      • seanmcbride
        March 15, 2012, 8:55 pm

        yourstruly,

        Do have direct quotes with cites and links in which Gilad Atzmon has argued that Jews are “uniquely evil”? Let’s look at them.

        Mainstream scholars of Christian and European history have published *thousands* of books which are highly critical of those traditions without being made the target of angry lynch mobs. Intelligent people can discuss these issues.

        The bizarre thing about the Atzmon situation is not Atzmon, but the mentality of his attackers — there is the tone here of Old Testament stonings or Stalinist purges. They have totally lost it. They rather exemplify the peculiar identity politics that Atzmon has challenged — apparently he really struck a nerve.

        Anyway, let’s see the damning quotes. Maybe he really is a satanic monster who needs to be expunged from decent society.

      • yourstruly
        March 15, 2012, 11:17 pm

        o’k’, uniquely evil is implied in his rebuttal of the abuminah letter (see pixel’s comment, 12:01 am) – Atzmon’s “Zionism does not fit the colonial model”

        since he describes Zionism as being terribly oppressive and therefore evil, if it’s not colonialism, what is it other than some unique evil. and since, according to him, zionism = judaism, and since he believes all jews (whether we know it or not) are zionists), it follows that he believes jews are uniquely evil.

      • seanmcbride
        March 16, 2012, 9:26 am

        yourstruly,

        You didn’t come close to making the case that Atzmon has asserted that “the Jews” or even Zionism are “uniquely evil.” You just made that up out of thin air without a single persuasive quote to support the implication you invented.

        Where has Atzmon argued that Zionism is more oppressive than the Stalinist Soviet Union, Maoist China, Nazi Germany or any other number of oppressive regimes?

        And you’ve got this completely backwards:

        “according to him, zionism = judaism, and since he believes all jews (whether we know it or not) are zionists), it follows that he believes jews are uniquely evil.”

        Wrong. Atzmon is in open revolt against the Jewish establishment which ITSELF has erased the distinction the Zionism and Judaism and which has worked relentlessly to define “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” — ALL Jews — as members of a single monolithic blob based on primitive ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism.

        Seriously, the intellectual level of Atzmon’s detractors is quite sad. Those who signed that anti-Atzmon letter should be embarrassed and withdraw their endorsement from it.

      • Hostage
        March 16, 2012, 3:09 pm

        o’k’, uniquely evil is implied in his rebuttal of the abuminah letter (see pixel’s comment, 12:01 am) – Atzmon’s “Zionism does not fit the colonial model”

        He stated that the reason it didn’t fit the colonial model was because the Zionist project wasn’t launched from a Jewish mother country. That objection obviously is not aimed at the subsequent events surrounding the establishment of illegal settlements beyond the Green Line.

        what is it other than some unique evil. and since, according to him, zionism = judaism, and since he believes all jews (whether we know it or not) are zionists), it follows that he believes jews are uniquely evil.

        Wow an entire string of implausible straw men. Saying that Zionism is a continuation of Jewish ideology is not really saying that zionism = judaism. In the final analysis Weizmann, Ben Gurion, and Jabotinsky weren’t interested in practicing Judaism. They could have done that in Poland or Russia.

        In any event, please name all of the modern political movements that have taken over a territory and dispossessed the lawful inhabitants – with the cooperation and assistance of the international community of states – based upon a dubious 3,000 year old religious claim or “historical connection” to the land.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 9:28 am

        sean, thanks for straightening me out, the zionism = judaism was from one of his critics. but didn’t he say that jews (all?) were other than normal people. if so (and following this thread and the supplied links, isn’t easy), doesn’t such a generalization smack of stereotyping? i don’t see anything wrong with examining identity politics, but stereotyping, whether based on religion, sex, color, always sets off alarm signals in me. you’re sure Atzmon’s not doing that?

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 9:59 am

        yourstruly,

        I haven’t read enough Atzmon to be entirely sure of his main argument, but this is my impression of him so far: he is in revolt against the program of the Jewish establishment to frame and define the Jewish tradition and “Jewish-ness” in terms of militant and xenophobic ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism (Zionism).

        If you believe that it is a travesty to equate and synonymize Judaism (and Jewish civilization, which is much broader than Judaism) with Zionism (with narrow and militant ethnocentrism and ethnic nationalism), then your beef is with the Jewish establishment, not with Atzmon.

        Now, if I have this wrong (and it is possible that I do since I have only read some of Atzmon’s writings, not all of them), others here can perhaps straighten me out by providing the Atzmon quotes which suggest a more sinister agenda. Let’s look at the quotes and their context.

        To define oneself as a Jew in the year 2012 is to define oneself as a Zionist — as an ethnic nationalist — and as rather an extreme one at that — Likud Zionism and Greater Israelism now dominate Zionism as a whole. The Jewish establishment, and the Jewish community which supports it, is responsible for creating this self-ghettoizing and ethnocentric cultural environment, not Atzmon. Atzmon is reporting on things as they are.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 10:02 am

        hostage, given that zionist israel insists that it speaks for all jews, might it not be said that zionism is a hijacking of judaism? as for jewish ideology, what percentage of jews do you think have more than a cursory familiarity with those bronze age writings and their various appendages? yet somehow the thoughts of mostly unknown authors are supposed to be influencing the large number if secular jews? what’s influencing them, i believe, is the israel lobby (and its minions in congress) with its continuous playing of the antisemitic/holocaust card, the overcoming of which, isn’t this what nailing these israel firsters is about? – we expose them for the traitors they are and there goes the u.s.-israel special relationship? as for naming all of the modern political movements that have taken over a territory and dispossessed the natives – with the cooperation and assistance of the intenational community of states – none i know of, unless modernity extends circa 500 years, when europe’s conquistadores took off for the “new world”? and no there weren’t any ancient religious claims or historical connections cited as excuses, although the popes did sanction converting the heathens to christianity.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 10:17 am

        To define oneself as a Jew in the year 2012 is to define oneself as a Zionist — as an ethnic nationalist

        why?

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 10:29 am

        Because the Jewish establishment has enforced this cultural and political regime through relentless propaganda over many decades. This is what the Jewish establishment wants. And most of the Jewish community is going along with the program.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 10:40 am

        iow, since most of the Jewish community is going along with the Jewish establishment concept that to define oneself as a jew one must be and support zionism it therefore becomes true. iow, atzmon is simply reinforcing (or doubling down) on what “the Jewish establishment” has been claiming all along.

        so what’s a jew to do who doesn’t agree? de jew? that’s what eee used to say.

        it sounds rather convoluted. for the most part that is why i stay out of these conversations. i’m not jewish and arguing about what and who jews are seems to be more of a jewish thing.

        getting non jews to line up on one side or the other in the middle of a mud fight, that’s what this feels like to me. can’t they sling it out amongst themselves over their self identification? if some jew wants to stand up and say ‘i am not a zionist and i am jewish’ what’s so wrong with that? and if atzmon wants to claim all jews are inherently zionist isn’t that in agreement with the ‘jewish establishment?’ so why freak, it doesn’t sound that unusual.

        so much fuss over one guy.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 10:46 am

        annie,

        How the Jewish community is choosing to define itself is having an enormous impact on American Mideast policy, on American foreign policy in general and on the overall destiny and well-being of America as a whole. All Americans would be well-advised to get up to speed on that debate and weigh in on it — their own vital interests are at stake.

        Ideology drives politics. You can’t change politics without dealing with the ideologies and belief systems behind political movements and programs.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 10:50 am

        Sean, thanks for taking the time to elaborate on Atzmon’s writings. for me it’s the last paragraph that’s contentious. i (and not me alone, i’m sure) define myself as a jew precisely so that people will question whether all Jews are ethnic nationalists. And if I didn’t believe we shall overcome, I wouldn’t be devoting so much of my time & energy to the liberation of palestine and the undoing of zionist israel. together we’re going to prove Altzmon wrong (better, see to it that history proves him wrong

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 11:04 am

        yourstruly,

        Far from minimizing the contributions of Jewish dissidents from the Jewish establishment on Zionism and ethnic nationalism, I want to emphasize that I honor their independent-mindedness and heroism, and consider them to represent “Jewishness” at its best, in my opinion.

        But, God damn, are they ever being overwhelmed and marginalized by the Sheldon Adelsons and Haim Sabans of the world. From year to year the situation just keeps getting worse. Likud Zionism in the year 2012 is much more powerful in Israeli and Americans politics than it has ever been. All the key trendlines are discouraging and disastrous.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 11:07 am

        How the Jewish community is choosing to define itself is having an enormous impact on American Mideast policy,

        no it isn’t. people who claim to speak for the jewish community are having an enormous impact on American Mideast policy.

        jews are no different than anybody else, they each have their own mind. seriously, could anyone say “the american community is choosing to define itself as….” or “How the american community is choosing to define itself is having an enormous impact on…” ‘the american community’ just like ‘the jewish community’ is all over the map. people who claim to speak for masses of people in total, for the most part, are on a power trip.

        in order to break the chain of belief you have to start with yourself. look around you at the jews you know and ask yourself if they are really ‘the same’. the ones i know are not. ask yourself if they vote in a ‘the jewish community election’ wrt their own identity. you strip power from individuals by consigning them to group think.

        now someone like danaa who comes from israel can speak to her perceptions of group think wrt that community, and i will listen to her. i will listen to anyone. but what i believe is another story, what i believe comes from my own personal experience wrt people and human nature. and in this regard i do not think jews are very different than the rest of us. a free thinker is a free thinker, jewish or not. a person who follows the pack is just that, and there are plenty of those in all ethnic groups. jews don’t have a monopoly on following the pack.

        israelis, imho, have been thru decades of zionist brainwashing which includes the oppression of another people, they are very different than most americans, i would imagine. atzmon was raised there so his viewpoint is likely heavily impacted by his past. everyone sees thru their own lense. people are diverse and societies morph and change generationally and thru crisis. self identification is personal.

      • David Samel
        March 17, 2012, 11:18 am

        Annie, what you’re saying is so obviously true that it is a shame you even have to say it, but I’m glad you did. As for Sean, do you really want to urge Americans to debate “how the Jewish community is choosing to define itself”? That sounds an awful lot like Peter King’s Islamophobic inquisitions.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 11:47 am

        annie,

        Keep in mind that we are talking about two distinct things here: 1. the Jewish *community* — all self-identifying Jews worldwide and 2. the organized Jewish *establishment*, which speaks officially for the Jewish community.

        The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations probably occupies the top of the pyramid of the organized Jewish establishment: you can see the 50 member organizations on Wikipedia here:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        There may be a few dissidents in the Jewish *community* regarding Israel and Zionism, but there are very such dissidents among the collection of Jewish organizations that are united under the umbrella of the Conference of Presidents — the Jewish *establishment*.

        The organized Jewish establishment continues to define “Jewishness” largely in terms of militant (and militaristic) Jewish ethnocentrism and Jewish ethnic nationalism. In recent decades it has consistently continued to drift rightward in perfect synchrony with the Likud Zionists who control Israel.

        Most Americans and most people all around the world now firmly believe that Israel and the Israel lobby speak for “the Jews” and “the Jewish people.” That propaganda meme has been relentlessly hammered into their heads by the organized Jewish establishment, with little effective opposition from the Jewish community. And we now have the makings of a potential major catastrophe before us.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 12:00 pm

        David Samel,

        You wrote:

        “As for Sean, do you really want to urge Americans to debate “how the Jewish community is choosing to define itself”? That sounds an awful lot like Peter King’s Islamophobic inquisitions.”

        Surely you must be kidding. Have Jews had any business entering into debates about how Roman Catholics, Protestants or Muslims define themselves? They have often entered those debates very aggressively when those self-definitions impinged on their interests.

        Pro-Israel activists — driven by a xenophobic ethnic nationalist ideology — often a *messianic* and xenophobic ethnic nationalist ideology — are having enormously destructive effects on the American interest. As we speak, the Israel lobby, based on its narrow ethnic nationalist ideological agenda, is trying to drive Americans into a war against Iran that could be more disastrous for the United States than the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars combined.

        Americans would have to be completely crazy *not* to massively intervene in these ideological and cultural debates within the Jewish and Zionist worlds. I am shocked that would you dare to suggest otherwise.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 12:16 pm

        annie,

        How much responsibility do you think the German community should assume for the German establishment and its policies in the 1930s? None? Some? Quite a bit? A great deal? Total responsibility? Keep in mind that there were many German dissidents during that era.

        How much responsibility should the American community (people) as a whole take for the policies of the American establishment during the Bush/Cheney era — especially the Iraq War? I would argue a great deal — and I and most Americans I know strongly opposed that war and worked against it.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 12:24 pm

        Trends in Jewish communal politics in the US:

        “On Iran, Most Americans Favor Diplomacy But Most American Jews Favor War – OpEd”

        link to eurasiareview.com

        “In a new University of Maryland poll of American public opinion, only 24 percent of those polled said they favor an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program. A national poll of American Jews however, shows that 66 percent of them favor an Israeli attack on Iran.”

      • David Samel
        March 17, 2012, 12:59 pm

        Sean, are you seriously suggesting that you cannot see any distinction between engaging in a debate about “how the Jewish community is choosing to define itself” and the role of the Israel lobby and others in trying to promote war against Iran? I sure do. You can question, criticize, and condemn the warmongers for what they say and do, regardless of whether or not they are Jewish or see themselves as part of the “Jewish community.”

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 1:18 pm

        sean, i do not care how The organized Jewish establishment continues to define “Jewishness” and i do not care if Most Americans and most people all around the world now firmly believe that Israel and the Israel lobby speak for “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” and if what you say is true, that opposition from ‘the Jewish community’ has had little effective opposition, it does not mean that it has not had lots of opposition, it just has not been effective which is not surprising given the strength of the lobby and their supporters.. so, i identify with people who oppose organizations to identify them, and i support those people and i happen to think there are many of them.

        and i think we are a growing movement and many of those people are in our movement.

        How much responsibility do you think the German community should assume for the German establishment and its policies in the 1930s? None? Some? Quite a bit? A great deal? Total responsibility?

        ask someone else. i don’t think creating a parallel between the german community in the 1930′s wrt individual jewish self identification today illuminates the movement in terms of how to best move forward tactically ending the occupation which i suppose is why we don’t discuss it here.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 1:48 pm

        from “The Wandering Who, A Study of Jewish Identity Politics,” Gilad Atzmon, pp 4-5:

        “As far as self-perception is concerned, those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

        1. Those who follow Judaism.
        2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin.
        3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.

        The first two categories denote a harmless and innocent group of people.

        We tend to assume that religious people are generally inspired by their eliefs and are expected to abide by some sort of a higher spiritual and ethical value system. Accordingly, Judaism can be grasped as an ethical belief system. ** Judaism was the symbolic identifier of the Jews for at least two millenia. . . .

        The second category is also pretty innocent. One cannot choose one’s origin. Ethical minds would agree that people must be respected and treated equally . . .

        The third category is problematic. Its definition may sound inflammatory to some. And yet, bizarrely enough, it was the formulation given on the eve of the 20th century by Chaim Weizmann . . .: “Ther are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.” In just a few words, Weizmann managed to categorically define the essence of Jewish-ness. It is basically a ‘primary quality.’ You may be a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin or even a Jew against Zionism, but above all else you are a Jew. And this is exactly the idea conveyed by the third category.

        It is about viewing Jewish-ness as the key element and the fundamental characteristic of one’s being. Any other quality is secondary. This is exactly the message the early Zionists were interested in promulgating. For Weizmann, Jewish-ness was a unique quality that stopped the Jew from assimilating or disappearing into the crowd. The Jew would always remain an alien.”

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 1:53 pm

        hostage, given that zionist israel insists that it speaks for all jews, might it not be said that zionism is a hijacking of judaism? as for jewish ideology, what percentage of jews do you think have more than a cursory familiarity with those bronze age writings and their various appendages? yet somehow the thoughts of mostly unknown authors are supposed to be influencing the large number if secular jews?

        I self-identify as a secular Jew, because I am a person of Jewish descent. I can also recite the Torah, Talmud, and Rashi’s Commentaries if the occasion arises, in much the same way that many English speakers can unselfconsciously recite biblical references from the works of Shakespeare or employ Jewish idioms from the King James or other vernacular version of the Bible. The premise of many Jewish studies programs is that Jewish literature, religion, and philosophy are integral parts of Western culture. So, I’d guess that most Jews have heard about those brozne age writers and some of their ideas.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 2:31 pm

        thanks for straightening me out, the zionism = judaism was from one of his critics. but didn’t he say that jews (all?) were other than normal people. if so (and following this thread and the supplied links, isn’t easy), doesn’t such a generalization smack of stereotyping?

        I just got his book and no, he did not say that. He specifically states that he is not talking about all of the harmless people who follow Judaism or happen to be of Jewish origin, just those people who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits (page 16). Think of Elliott Abrams, who said that Jews must stand apart in every society they happen to live in or Theodore Herzl who claimed that Jews had lost the ability to assimilate and could not possibly lead normal lives among Gentiles.

        Atzmon said that if the Jewish Marxists and cosmopolitans that founded the State of Israel had been open to the notion of brotherhood, they would have given up on their unique, exclusive ways and simply aspired to become ordinary people like the rest of us. Pointing out the snobbery of folks like Elliott Abrams, Theodore Herzl, or Ber Borochov is neither anti-semetic nor racist.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 2:34 pm

        You wrote:

        “Sean, are you seriously suggesting that you cannot see any distinction between engaging in a debate about “how the Jewish community is choosing to define itself” and the role of the Israel lobby and others in trying to promote war against Iran?”

        Are you saying that you do not see the fundamental and central connection between the organized Jewish establishment defining Jewishness in terms of Jewish ethnic nationalism, Zionism and loyalty to Israel and the role of the Israel lobby in promoting all the policies it promotes — including conflict and war with Iran?

        The organized Jewish establishment — headed by the Conference of Presidents (which in turn includes AIPAC as one of 50 component organizations) is the lead driver behind the Israel lobby. It claims to speak for the Jewish community as a whole and frames all its arguments in terms of the interests of “the Jews” and “the Jewish people.” Most Americans by now have been conditioned to believe that the Conference of Presidents, AIPAC, Likud and the Israeli government DO in fact speak for the Jews and the Jewish people — all of them that count. Any others are by definition self-hating Jews and quite possibly terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.

        So, yes, I think this is an exceedingly important issue for discussion and should now be front and center for debate in American politics as the campaign to attack Iran from the Israel lobby grows ever more shrill.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 2:49 pm

        To define oneself as a Jew in the year 2012 is to define oneself as a Zionist — as an ethnic nationalist . . . why?

        Good question, because Atzmon says that those who follow Judaism or who are merely of Jewish descent can be perfectly harmless, unless they also happen to put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits. He cited Chaim Weizmann who said there are no English, French, German, or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany, and America. Atzmon explains that it is about viewing Jewish-ness as the fundamental element of your being that prevents you from assimilating into Gentile society. These individuals don’t view themselves as normal or ordinary, and it is neither racist nor antisemetic to point that situation out.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 2:49 pm

        Annie,

        That sector of the Jewish left which has challenged Likud for the last half century or so probably reached the peak of its influence just before the failure of the Oslo Accords and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a religious Zionist (Yigal Amir). It has been in decline ever since and currently the Jewish left is having no impact whatever on the policies of the Israeli government or the Israel lobby. Just a point to keep in mind. This movement is going downhill, not uphill, and people need to ask themselves why that is happening.

        With regard to the collective responsibility of ethnic, religious and national groups for the policies of their official representatives, I think that is an important question to think about.

        I mentioned responsibility for the Iraq War by the American people. I could have also mentioned the Vietnam War, slavery, apartheid South Africa, Fascsist Italy, Imperial Japan, the Confederate South and on and on — there are hundreds or thousands of examples.

        How much responsibility do the Israeli people bear for the policies of their government and illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories? They voted Likud into office and in any case settlements expanded at even a faster rate under “left-wing” Labor than under “right-wing” Likud.

        How much responsibility do Christians through the anti-Jewish eras of Christianity bear for its misdeeds? One could argue quite a lot and many serious minds have made that argument.

        Certainly Germans as a whole were held responsible (and have held themselves responsible) for the crimes committed by German ethnic nationalism.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 2:50 pm

        the battle isn’t over how the Jewish community defines itself but over exposing these israel firsters for the traitors they are, whereupon, americans, regardless of religion, race or sex will dissociate themselves from said traitors as well as everything they stand for. This outcome + Palestinian resistance will throw off the Zionist occupier & return Palestine to its native people. At the same time an Iran war will be aborted. Afterwards there’ll be plenty of opportunity to discuss not only Jewish but American identity politics too.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 2:57 pm

        I agree, but what’s new about taking on these israel firsters for the traitors they are? For all the harm they’re doing they should enjoy the enmity of all peace and justice seeking people. We’ve been saying this on mw for how long now? Not sure where going into indentiy politics adds anything on this subject. It’s in the struggle that not just Jewish but American identity will be revealed.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 2:57 pm

        iow, atzmon is simply reinforcing (or doubling down) on what “the Jewish establishment” has been claiming all along.

        No not at all. It would be helpful if people would stick to citing what he actually said about “Jewish-ness” and the ideology of the Jewish Marxism of Ber Borochov and stop libeling the guy.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 2:57 pm

        There is Atzmon’s perfectly reasonable argument in a nutshell — *in his own words* — and none of his detractors have understood, addressed or discussed it in an intellectually honest way — instead they smeared him with the kind of language that is indistinguishable from the kinds of attacks on political opponents that are typically used by Alan Dershowitz or Abraham Foxman. For shame.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 3:00 pm

        Atzmon says that those who follow Judaism or who are merely of Jewish descent can be perfectly harmless, unless they also happen to put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.

        not sure how that is applicable wrt my question about defining oneself as a jew in the year 2012 is to define oneself as a Zionist. does it mean to define oneself as a jew is 2012 is to “put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits”?

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 3:16 pm

        More and more Jews are doing this right now. For sure still too few but with these Israel firsters hyperventilating in their desperation to bring on an Iran war, our voices are being heard, on the internet if nowhere else. I think it’s a distraction from the immediate task of preventing another war to get all worked about identity politics. Are we to suspend the struggle to liberate Palestine until we settle the identity question? Whose interests would that serve?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 3:17 pm

        German ethnic nationalism, like zionism, is manifested by the state and the actions of the state.

        self identity always being political requires every person self identifying to relate to the state and to the political. some people just do not. that is true regardless of ethnicity.

        i am well aware israel is becoming more rightwing. i very much agree the lobby, as a structure, is fomenting that. i just happen to believe the support for the lobby is what makes it so powerful. in this regard i spread the blame around more than lots of people. if there’s some jew not being political living in the hills of montana playing the flute and taking her kid to ballet lessons and gardening i hold her as responsible for our israel policy as i do my neighbor. i think it’s an american problem and a global problem and everyone should be working to abolish our unending support for apartheid. With regard to the collective responsibility of ethnic, religious and national groups for the policies of their official representatives, I think every group is responsible. given the fact jews are a very small group i think there’s lots of untapped power out there facilitating and supporting that little state. i think focusing all our energy trying to get jews to fix it is a lost cause. i think we should spend our energy getting everyone to fix it. like an intervention. personally, i think obsessing on jewish identity politics or jewish ideology ( wrt to fixing the problem ) at the exclusion of the rest of the 98% is a mistake.

        i guess that is why i am not that concerned in this particular controversy over one man’s ideas.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 3:25 pm

        “How much responsibility do Christians through the anti-Jewish eras of Christianity bear for its misdeeds? One could argue quite a lot and many serious minds have made that argument.”

        could you name those “serious minds” who make that argument, please?

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 3:30 pm

        annie,

        Now I see what was behind your brief remark, with this expanded argument of yours. It resonates with me. But I can’t shake the gut intuition that American Mideast policies won’t improve (and with that change, improve to relieve the plight of the Palestinians) until a critical mass of Jews reaches the same level of insight as Hostage and Shmuel. So, all of these issues are still up in the air for me.

        When I look around me now, I see the Israeli government and the Israel lobby agitating with all the considerable power at their disposal to push American Mideast policy in a much worse and more dangerous direction than it already is on — and the last decade of that policy has already been hugely disastrous, with trillions of dollars dumped down the drain in failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 3:31 pm

        So how many Jewish-Americans agree with Chaim Weizmann. Hardly if any that I know. It’s why so few of us take “advantage” of the so-called right to return. Yes, there are some who publicly state they regard Israel as their homeland, but they’re certainly not in the majority. Furthermore it’s not true that there isn’t considerable assimilation into the society at large, including but not limited to inter-religious marriage. As for not viewing ourselves as normal or ordinary, from the thousands of celebrity-seeking Americans who try out for American Idol & other “reality shows”, are there any Americans who don’t consider themselves superior and exceptional?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 3:41 pm

        sorry hostage, i mistakenly dropped the question marks from my response. i was trying to understand what sean had written. here is the exchange:

        me: To define oneself as a Jew in the year 2012 is to define oneself as a Zionist — as an ethnic nationalist

        why?

        sean: Because the Jewish establishment has enforced this cultural and political regime through relentless propaganda over many decades. This is what the Jewish establishment wants. And most of the Jewish community is going along with the program.

        me: iow, since most of the Jewish community is going along with the Jewish establishment concept that to define oneself as a jew one must be and support zionism it therefore becomes true? iow, atzmon is simply reinforcing (or doubling down) on what “the Jewish establishment” has been claiming all along?

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 3:43 pm

        How much responsibility do you think the German community should assume for the German establishment and its policies in the 1930s?

        They recently announced the third round of reparations payments to Jewish victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The latest payments will go to Moroccan Jews whose freedom of movement was violated by the Vichy government. link to jpost.com

        The government of Israel was advised to stop building The Wall and pay compensation for the very same reasons.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 4:08 pm

        does it mean to define oneself as a jew is 2012 is to “put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits”?

        No, since a person of Jewish descent or a person who follows Judaism can identify themselves as Jews and still embrace universalism and brotherhood while leading ordinary lives among Gentiles.

        Atzmon went out of his way to make a careful distinction between the harmless members of those groups and the members who practice particularism and view their Jewish-ness as the primary element of their personality that makes them unique.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 4:35 pm

        So how many Jewish-Americans agree with Chaim Weizmann. Hardly if any that I know.

        Atzmon is only critiquing particularism or “Jewish-ness” of the sort described by Weizmann, Jabotinsky, et al. He does not include all of the followers of Judaism, or those who merely identify themselves as persons of Jewish descent.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 4:51 pm

        teta mother me,

        You can find a list on Amazon.com of over 500 books on the subject of Christian antisemitism right here:

        link to amazon.com

        Enjoy.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 4:54 pm

        But I can’t shake the gut intuition that American Mideast policies won’t improve (and with that change, improve to relieve the plight of the Palestinians) until a critical mass of Jews reaches the same level of insight as Hostage and Shmuel.

        right, i got it. try shaking that gut intuition and i will tell you why. i am sure there is NOTHING the lobby would like better than for you, and by extension every american (the world for that matter) to believe just that. that things won’t change until we can convince ‘the jews’ we don’t want to kill them to change.

        by taking on this task we are basically putting all our eggs in one basket. the REALITY is (unless you believe jews are all powerful) there are a lot of other people out there ripe for the picking wrt ending apartheid. people who don’t care, people who don’t know, people who would care if they knew, people afraid to speak out, etc etc etc..all the same kinds of circumstances many jews are in , mentally. however, unlike jews, the other 98% probably has less attachment to israel (gee, ya think) and therefore can be more easily persuaded wrt joining our movement. in fact for most people, even jews, the idea of freedom and equal rights is appealing. so while everyone and their brother is obsessed with changing jews…there’a a huge untapped market for rejecting apartheid that is not jewish. largely being ignore except by the lobby. believe me, the lobby is really not ignoring this market. in fact, the lobby is obsessed with this market and working their asses off cornering it, censoring it, manipulating it and going largely unopposed because why? we’re busy trying to change the lobby and the jews!

        just between you and me (let’s pretend no one else is listening ok) there are a lot of jews obsessed with jews. have you noticed that? i’m merely suggesting we might move this thing along a little faster if we actually target the other 98%, because contrary to popular opinion (and the opinion of most of our political representatives), i think we matter. there’s lots of us. and lots of jews will join us. lots of them. together, we could make a difference. if jews want to obsess on jews let them! but obsessing one man’s philosophical concept of jewish ideology and then arguing about it and dividing over it (which some think it has the potential to do) seems rather diversionary. i can understand why jews would fight about it, after all it is about them. but me? i guess dissecting the jewish mindframe is just not that fascinating for me. it might be helpful wrt jews changing and understanding themselves but while that’s happening we’ve got lots of work to do that revolve around the political and there are millions of people out there, people who are crucial to any boycott, who are not jewish. in fact, 98% of the population here is not jewish. so if you want to focus on the 2% wrt educating them fine. more important we educate the others. get them to stand up and make a difference, find their power. that is the only way we can wrestle power away from the lobby..by replacing it with something else. empower the something else. go after the support for the lobby, target the same people the lobby is targeting. most of who they are targeting are not jews. the lobby targets the masses. that’s our target too, or it should be.

        btw, check out this comment:

        link to mondoweiss.net

      • Danaa
        March 17, 2012, 5:06 pm

        Sean, your comment:

        “But I can’t shake the gut intuition that American Mideast policies won’t improve (and with that change, improve to relieve the plight of the Palestinians) until a critical mass of Jews reaches the same level of insight as Hostage and Shmuel”.

        Is pretty much what I have been trying to say all along as well. There are simply not enough Jewish people who’ve either reached enlightenment or have at least begun to seriously question the dominant narrative to make a dent in the power structure. And enough so to take action to arrest , much less reverse the tragic unfolding course of events. Phil and others bring up the young Jewish people’s growing estrangement from Israel as a zionist enterprise that would matter to them. But if they are young now, the great schism we are all waiting for is decades away, till their influence come into play, assuming the majority ever goes beyond mere apathy. And that’s the crux of the matter – mere apathy towards Israel and/or their elders’ unquestioning support of the zionist enterprise does not a movement makes.

        Sadly, the numbers are not there to make enough of a dent – if even 5% of the Jewish people rose up against AIPAC that might make a difference and shake things up a bit. Right now, I don’t even see those 50,000-60,000, only, at best fewer than 10,000 every activist and writers/bloggers included. That’s not enough to change anything. Were it enough we wouldn’t have 29 ovations for the yahoo and a totally cowed US congress this year. Were it enough, Kucinic would not have lost his primary. Were it enough, we would see a heck of a lot more push back against the Iran war drums. But what push-back there is from the Jewish corner, it’s not loud enough to make the front pages of the NYTs. I happen to believe that the single most significant corner comes from the jewish corner because that’s where the push for bombs comes from.

        And if the numbers are not there now, how long do we need to wait and do the Palestinians have the luxury of waiting, those are the questions that concern some of us.

        I believe the Palestinians do not have the 10 years to wait till the push-back against The Lobby and the Jewish establishment becomes impossible to ignore. Heck, I am not sure they have 5 years. And if they don’t have the luxury of time and the numbers needed increase too slowly, what solution is there? well, it so happens that there are some things that CAN be done. Influencing israel is a non starter but American jewish people can be shaken up a bit so the numbers of which I speak start increase faster. And how do you shake them up? with more pictures and testimonials of Israel’s cruel acts? with more hand wringing over the decline of democracy in Israel? with more evidence of that country’s decline into theocracy? with dire warnings about the consequences to America if israel keeps dragging it into ill-guided adventures that hurt the national interest? I doubt any of these, though laudable all, will be enough. What is needed in addition to all that is something that makes the Jewish people worry a bit more about losing some of their privilege gathered so painstakingly over the years. Yes, that’s called fear-mongering, but for the average person (and I mean the average Jewish person) fear is a much stronger motivator than all the words of wisdom combined. Jews are no different in this regard than anyone else.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 5:18 pm

        thank you Sean, but you made the claim, “serious minds believe XXX.” Which among those 500 books were written by “serious minds?”

      • Danaa
        March 17, 2012, 5:18 pm

        Continuing comment:

        And the “numbers game” is where Atzmon comes in and his quest for focusing at least some conversation on questions of Jewish identity, ideology and even history. It is not what he says that is so threatening (despite the condemnation manifestos above). It’s that the issues are raised at all, and once they are, the old fears creep in. Including the old question – what if the goys want to join in on the conversation? where will it all end? etc. But fear is good, I say. It can help train the mind on what’s really at stake. And perhaps, just perhaps, the conversation itself will increase the “numbers’ of the ones we need just a bit faster.

        I believe this is what’s behind the libelious smearing of Gilad Atzmon, as evidenced in these shameful manifestos of excommunication. It is not that the legion of his detractors think that he is out to lunch on the issues he raises. Or whether he is right or wrong. Or that he might in some conceivable scenario hurt the palestinian solidarity movement any more than the other attempts to silence and/or split it up. It’s that he is effective. Which means, he does bring the element of fear into the equation. And this is an element that many of the activists in the forefront are not ready to face yet, ie, that without wielding the fear of losing something there can be no hope of gaining victory.

        It is clear to me at least, that the time has come to show a different kind of courage. The ultimate one. I also happen to believe that without facing those fears, we will stand apart, and as we do we will all lose in the end – together.

    • Pixel
      March 15, 2012, 7:00 am

      fyi: Gordon Duff, mentioned above, is Jewish. (Does that matter? Yes, I think it does.)

      • W.Jones
        March 15, 2012, 12:49 pm

        I hope M.W. will run Atzmon’s response.

  34. seanmcbride
    March 15, 2012, 11:37 am

    There are some awesome minds on this blog — Thomson Rutherford, Keith, Shmuel, Hostage and at least a dozen others. Mondoweiss draws more intelligent engagement than any other blog in the world.

    Thanks, Phil Weiss, for having triggered these valuable conversations with your restless and truth-seeking spirit. I am convinced that there might be light at the end of this tunnel.

  35. piotr
    March 15, 2012, 12:01 pm

    You offended at least dozen people as not awesome, Sean. But being awesome, we will let it pass.

    • Dan Crowther
      March 15, 2012, 1:23 pm

      Im awesome. Fact.

      hahaha — I have to say, McBride on this thread was indeed…….awesome!

  36. seanmcbride
    March 15, 2012, 12:53 pm

    By the way, in case you haven’t noticed — we are ALL suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome. We are all intensely worked up about crazy goings-on in the Holy Land. Help me lord. :) A mysterious phenomenon indeed. Bring on the psychoanalysts, please.

  37. ToivoS
    March 15, 2012, 6:34 pm

    Mearsheimer seriously hurt his reputation when he wrote the blurb to Atzmon’s book. I think his approach to this scandal was reasonable — namely respond once with a statement that he was unaware of Atzmon’s reputation but merely critiqued the book itself. Since then Mearsheimer has remained silent, hoping time will distance himself from his error.

    Unfortunately, this letter by the Palestinians is reigniting the scandal and Commentary is using it now to tarnish Mearsheimer again. What a total cock-up, Atzmon is most certainly toxic; get too close and get burned.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 15, 2012, 6:55 pm

      Mearsheimer has remained silent, hoping time will distance himself from his error.

      this kind of speculation really isn’t helpful. maybe he just has nothing more to say.

      Mearsheimer seriously hurt his reputation

      if he is less of scholar in your mind just say so, but please do not pretend to speak for everyone. he wrote a review of the book, get over it.

      • ToivoS
        March 15, 2012, 7:46 pm

        Annie scolds: if he is less of scholar in your mind just say so, but please do not pretend to speak for everyone. he wrote a review of the book, get over it.

        I do not think any less of Mearsheimer. I happen to do political analysis that may sound speculative. But acknowledging that Mearsheimer made an error by getting too close to Atzmon can very well be helpful. At least as a warning to others as to the land mines that are out there.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 15, 2012, 9:24 pm

        scolds? your theatrics aside.. either you think less of him or you do not. if, as you say, you do not, then he did not hurt his reputation wrt yourself. he did not hurt his reputation with me either, so that makes two of us thus far. since using the word ‘please’ translated into a scold in your reality i’ll just say it straight up. don’t pretend to speak for everyone. not everyone has a fear of these landmines you speak of, mearsheimer could be one of those people. you say he’s ‘hoping time will distance himself from his error’ and unless you have something to back it up it probably is speculation on your part unless you are a friend of his and know something we don’t.

      • ToivoS
        March 16, 2012, 1:07 am

        Sorry annie but you did scold me. I like you but I am trying to defend myself from your insinuations that I am your enemy.

        I do believe that Mearsheimer made a big booboo when he endorsed Atzmon. It was a political error . He has to deal with it. I wish he just came out and admitted his error but he didn’t. I suppose he just hopes the whole sorry mess just goes away. I don’t think so.

        Like I said before, I am someone who is political. I have 20 years of experience in political campaigns. Mearsheimer stepped in a big pile of Atzmon feces. For those of us who support Walt and Mearsheimer this is a real problem. We cannot wish this away.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 16, 2012, 1:11 am

        your insinuations that I am your enemy.

        i think you have a very active imagination, it would never ever have occurred to me to think of you as an enemy, but thanks for the warning.

        I suppose he just hopes the whole sorry mess just goes away.

        your supposing works for me, thanks

      • ToivoS
        March 16, 2012, 1:19 am

        Thank you annie, I am glad you do not see me as your enemy. Let me repeat then: we have a political problem on our hands. Mearsheimer is a very important voice and it would be sad to see him discredited.

      • Danaa
        March 16, 2012, 2:30 am

        Mearsheimer did a brave and forthright thing endorsing Atzmon’s book, because it was an interesting contribution to the discussion about how things got to the sorry place they are in. I hope the one thing that comes out of this runnish witch hunt is that more people will buy and read the book.

        I think I’ll write him a Thank you note. he should know that there are thousands of us who admire his integrity.

      • Hostage
        March 16, 2012, 3:24 pm

        we have a political problem on our hands. Mearsheimer is a very important voice and it would be sad to see him discredited.

        I think Mearsheimer stopped loosing sleep over the opinions of the publishers and editors of Commentary magazine long before he and Walt published their first article on The Lobby in the London Review of Books.

        Mearsheimer runs the international studies center for the University of Chicago. He isn’t an anti-establishment figure like many of the signatories of these letters. So he doesn’t need endorsements from Abunimah, Barghouti, Massad, et al. None of those people are considered heavy weights in the academic or professional political science or foreign relations community.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 5:23 pm

        I was surprised at the depth and objectivity of Atzmon’s book. I’d only encountered him in videos, and his persona on camera is different from his written voice. I suspect he is not as fluid with English as might be important when dealing with live audiences, on-the-spot (what I call “stand up thinking,” as against writing, which is “sit down thinking.”) His writing is more precise and thoughtful than his live presence.

    • seanmcbride
      March 15, 2012, 7:14 pm

      TovioS,

      You wrote:

      “Unfortunately, this letter by the Palestinians is reigniting the scandal and Commentary is using it now to tarnish Mearsheimer again. What a total cock-up, Atzmon is most certainly toxic; get too close and get burned.”

      Please explain how Gilad Atzmon is more toxic than the organized Jewish establishment (including AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, etc.) which is marching in lockstep with Likud, Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, religious racists and terrorists in the occupied territories, demented Christian Armageddonists like John Hagee, Iran War ringleaders motivated by dreams of Greater Israel, bloodthirsty neoconservatives, etc. And what precisely is the ideology and identity politics that is driving that crowd?

      Please do explain.

      • ToivoS
        March 16, 2012, 1:14 am

        Explain what Sean. We should not spend our precious efforts trying to explain Atzmon. We should work for justice for the Palestinians. Atzmon is a total distraction and should excluded from our movement.

      • Danaa
        March 16, 2012, 2:20 am

        ToivoS, you can call for excluding Atzmon all you want. As long as you understand that you are excluding quite a few of us in the process. Perhaps, we’ll just sit back and watch what you can do with your army of purists to stop the ongoing ethnic cleansing. And while we are on the subject, just exactly what successes have you logged lately to your oh-so-special solidarity account? how many water wells did you save? how many settlers did you convince to pack up and leave? have you had the slightest success persuading a single israeli to repent, or just stop sipping their latte for a second and smell the flowers of evil growing all around them?

        More importantly, can you point to a single congressional representative you have been able to bring back from their bought and paid for genocide endorsing agenda? and how will the denunciation of Atzmon help in turning Adelson et al into human beings?

        Sure, the palestinians need members of the tribe to be on their side, weird exclusionary, purifying rituals notwithstanding. What choice do they have? Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself some day, standing at the head of a rag tag troupe of the purified – all 100 of them, wondering where the heck did Palestine disappear to, as you were busy expunging those whose truth you find inconvenient?

        Bottom line is way simple: israel will continue to do what it does as long as it has the full-throated support of the US. And the US will support whatever Israel does, however horrid their deeds, because our government, media and much of the national security apparatus are occupied by those oh-so-Jewish interest peddlers, who, for the most part don’t mind at all if the Palestinians were to just up and disappear. And while the awful personages of Schumer and Debra Wasseman and Wexler and Goldberg and Krauthammer et al (and we can easily list a thousand) continue to push for and support ethnic cleansing (which they know very well is what’s happening), you find time to go after one Atzmon, who simply pointed out that these are a bunch of toads (no disrespect to amphibians intended).

        Personally, I’d love to see all this energy put into denouncing Schumer, the great AIPAC’s enforcer, or Wolf Blitzer, or Bloomberg, or Ackerman, or Yoffe, any other slime ball. But that would be too hard, wouldn’t it? maybe even dangerous?

      • piotr
        March 16, 2012, 5:43 am

        This is totally unfair, because Schumer, Wesserman and many others were criticized here, and will be.

        I also think that the most toxic Zionist should be selected and the other camped publically urged to denounce her or expose themselves as crypto-fascists.

        My nomination is Rachel Abrams (nome de blog Bad Rachel) who recommend feeding Palestinians to fish (sharks and stargazers) and is one of the three Directors of Emergency Committee for Israel, the other directors being, if I recall, Cristol and Bauer (Christian Zionist member). As we know, this astroturf outfit has some rich backers so they can afford full-page ads. Unlike Atzmon who did not place any ads and did not recommend feeding anyone to anything. Or inflicting any injuries.

        I see it as a very good talking point on TV: so you support feeding human bodies to fish? And EIC, astroturf that it is, has two high profile collegues of Bad Rachel, she has high profile husband (implicated in war crimes in Central America during Reagan years), some anonymous rich backers etc.

        Dershowitz is more slippery. He would propose judicial review so “fish warrants” could be requested and granted.

      • seanmcbride
        March 16, 2012, 9:10 am

        ToivoS,

        You wrote:

        “Explain what Sean. We should not spend our precious efforts trying to explain Atzmon. We should work for justice for the Palestinians. Atzmon is a total distraction and should excluded from our movement.”

        Why would any intelligent and independent-minded person choose to associate with a “movement” (“our movement” — really?) in which mediocre and doctrinaire leftists are trying to enforce ideological discipline with a heavy hand and Stalinist methods? The notion is absurd.

        Also, most of us here care about the plight of the Palestinians, but our politics are not Palestinian-centric — not even close. And most of us, I am guessing, would not find Palestinian ethnic nationalism to be any more appetizing than Jewish ethnic nationalism, Irish ethnic nationalism or German ethnic nationalism. Most of us are Americans who are turned off by primitive ethnic and religious feuding.

        I am still waiting for *anyone* in this thread, or any of the signers of that substance-free anti-Atzmon letter, to post here the three best quotes from Atzmon’s writings that demonstrate his monstrous antisemitism. Let’s have a look at them and analyze them.

        I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around Atzmon’s writings yet, but I have seen enough in this discussion to come to the conclusion that Atzmon’s emotional enemies are on very thin ice indeed. Not one of them so far has been able to engage in a rational discussion about Atzmon’s writings.

      • seanmcbride
        March 16, 2012, 9:14 am

        ToivoS,

        You wrote:

        “Explain what Sean.”

        Can you read plain English? I was very clear about what I think needs explaining. Here it is again:

        “Please explain how Gilad Atzmon is more toxic than the organized Jewish establishment (including AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, etc.) which is marching in lockstep with Likud, Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, religious racists and terrorists in the occupied territories, demented Christian Armageddonists like John Hagee, Iran War ringleaders motivated by dreams of Greater Israel, bloodthirsty neoconservatives, etc. And what precisely is the ideology and identity politics that is driving that crowd?”

        Do you have a response?

      • Danaa
        March 16, 2012, 12:57 pm

        Piotr,

        Schumer, Wesserman and many others were criticized here, and will be.

        They were but are the “shunned” as the boycott brigade is urging be done to Atzmon? are they villified for the traitorous atrocity-supporting quislings that they are?

        You are mentioning Abrams, and The Dersch. Others may mention Pam geller. But these are minor personalities, everyone’s punch bag. The same with Pam Geller. Who is she? what’s her influence? All of these individuals are mere red meat put out there in the water so the unwashed masses can chomp at the bits. No one is accused of “anti-semitism” for going after Dersch. But going after Debra dearest? she who was put in her position for no merit anyone of us can see other than to appease the tribe and bring in the dough from that corner?

        The trick is to go after the “nicer” guys that have official positions and even hold elected office.. Wasserman and Schumer are zionist shills and influence peddlers. But they have the proper PC attitude on birth control, so they get gently criticized – is that it?

        Where are the demonstrations? the fiery articles in the papers listing their myriad of anti-human rights positions? where is the picketing outside their offices? where are the cartoons depicting them hugging fascists like Yahoo to their bossom? where are the calls to tell them to get out to that beloved land of milk, honey and persecution ?

        After all, these are the people who are organizing carte blanche for whatever Israel is doing to the Palestinians. They are the ones who are “beyond the pale”, not Atzmon, who is trying to point out their tribalism which allows them to collude with the wormy worlock Cantor. Oh, but they don’t collude on gays, you say? and that’s a “get out of jail” card?

      • piotr
        March 17, 2012, 4:51 pm

        Atzmon shall not be invited to post on this blog (and many others) but he is probably most welcome to comment if he stays within limits. There was no proclamation to shun his person, his concerts, records and his books.

        Concerning Rachel Abrams, Schumer, Dersch, Geller, I really did not see any interactions between them and the anti-imperialist camp to decide if they are already shunned or not. I selected Rachel Abrams as a person for “shunning challenge”. She advises to feed human flesh to fish and hobnobs with the powerful, so the powerful can be challenged to shun her. Which they probably will not. At the very least, they will show rank hypocrisy, as they spout about human rights at occasion.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 5:25 pm

        given the choice between excluding Commentary and excluding Atzmon, hmmmm

        uuummm,

        o gee

        Commentary.
        get the hook.

      • Sand
        March 17, 2012, 5:49 pm

        Danaa, Mr ‘Powerful’ senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Gary Ackerman is saying bye bye. :)

        However, “…As recently as two weeks ago, Ackerman resisted rumors that he would call it quits, sending a Tweet saying “Republican rumor mill is 100%, Absolutely Wrong. I’m running.”
        link to thejewishweek.com

        But, poof all of a sudden: “Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York retiring”
        link to usatoday.com

        Oh yeah, and from the above USA Today article:

        “…Last October, Ackerman traveled to Israel to bring home a U.S.-Israeli citizen detained in Egypt for four months and accused of espionage…”

        They neglected to mention that the U.S.-Israeli citizen (Grapel) also “…worked as an intern for the congressman…”
        link to jweekly.com

        Figures. I wonder what the angle is, as well as what Mr Ackerman’s next job will be — e.g. a member of some Israeli think tank?

  38. piotr
    March 16, 2012, 6:18 am

    “The grandiosity and stridency of this excommunication carries the odor of traditional left-wing totalitarianism. Something about it is disturbing, regardless of how one feels about Gilad Atzmon. A pronouncement has been delivered. Shut down your mind and stop thinking. The evildoer must be exiled to Siberia.”

    Atzmon first spends considerable energy attacking Marxists who are anti-Zionists. And he gets a proper “party trial”. What else did he expect? He should count himself lucky that he is in figurative Siberia rather than in real one. But seriously, the nature of this attack, on anti-Zionist Jews, was very revealing.

    The accusation of anti-Semitism is horribly overused, but it does not mean that the true anti-Semitism does not exists, and that some anti-Semites are anti-Israel (although classic anti-Semites tend to support Israel, better to have Kikes there than here*, and do not care what happens to Palestinians who are, after all, also Semites),

    * very approximate translation, English somehow lacks good anti-Semitic phrases.

  39. lareineblanche
    March 16, 2012, 11:46 pm

    Atzmon seems to me to be a Zionist, to put it simply.

    Read through some of this, and I haven’t read much of Atzmon’s writings, nor do I have time to, but from the little I’ve seen, he seems to have a lot in common with them. He also doesn’t seem to understand the implications of the arguments he’s making, but maybe he’s incapable of it.

    I wouldn’t put him in the same category of people like Shahak or Gurvitz, his writing seems to be less scholarly and lucid. Honestly, I can’t understand why so many here are obsessed with defending him as if he were some helpless animal. If his writings stand on their own, there should be no problem.

    The central problem seems to me this attempt to define some mysterious “Jewish essence” which is unique, attempts to separate itself from the rest of humanity, and is responsible in some way for gentile reactions to it, although not necessarily equivalent to any real “guilt”. He insinuates that one cannot be a Jew without somehow being a Zionist, or that Zionism is a natural and necessary outgrowth of being Jewish, all of which implies that one would have to renounce being Jewish in order to live in harmony with Palestinians or anyone else – but this is strikingly similar to Zionism, and why I say he is at heart a Zionist, or hasn’t been able to throw that part of his education off.

    The constant references to “Jewish Marxism” (whatever that is) are rather strange, as if “Marxism” could not exist without Judaism, which is totally absurd. Marx wrote about it, yes, but that doesn’t mean that “Jewishness” is a defining and necessary characteristic of Marxist thought. He also insinuates that being Jewish implies a rather unique form of tribalism, which completely ignores that just about any identity on Earth, whether it be religious, ethnic or nationalist, exhibits some form of tribalism. We see it everywhere. Jewish tribalism presents no more barriers to enjoying the “brotherhood of man” than any others do, that I can tell.

    It also seems to me some very smart people are confusing facts with ideology – ideology and philosophy are not simply a collection of facts, but rather methods of thinking and constructing ways of understanding the world. You cannot simply point to one phrase and say “This – is an example of antisemitism, behold!”. There are patterns, tendencies, and they add up to a clear picture once everything is assembled. I think Atzmon is very clever and knows how to change the subject to deflect attention from his central theses.

    Does all this make him an antisemite? In my opinion, yes. Does this mean everything he says is wrong? Of course not.

    • seanmcbride
      March 17, 2012, 10:09 am

      lareineblanche,

      You wrote:

      “The central problem seems to me this attempt to define some mysterious “Jewish essence” which is unique, attempts to separate itself from the rest of humanity, and is responsible in some way for gentile reactions to it, although not necessarily equivalent to any real “guilt”. He insinuates that one cannot be a Jew without somehow being a Zionist, or that Zionism is a natural and necessary outgrowth of being Jewish, all of which implies that one would have to renounce being Jewish in order to live in harmony with Palestinians or anyone else – but this is strikingly similar to Zionism, and why I say he is at heart a Zionist, or hasn’t been able to throw that part of his education off.”

      Wow — do you see how intellectually tangled up and confused your thoughts are? THINK — “He insinuates that one cannot be a Jew without somehow being a Zionist, or that Zionism is a natural and necessary outgrowth of being Jewish…”

      It is the worldwide organized Jewish establishment, officially speaking for the worldwide Jewish community, that has made this claim. And if it is “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” themselves who are making this claim, it must be true — who would be a better authority on the subject? They are speaking for themselves and their own ideology and agenda.

      You’re attacking the messenger. Start focusing on the message and who produced the message.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 10:29 am

        do you see how intellectually tangled up and confused your thoughts are? THINK — “He insinuates that one cannot be a Jew without somehow being a Zionist, or that Zionism is a natural and necessary outgrowth of being Jewish…”

        It is the worldwide organized Jewish establishment, officially speaking for the worldwide Jewish community, that has made this claim. And if it is “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” themselves who are making this claim, it must be true — who would be a better authority on the subject? They are speaking for themselves and their own ideology and agenda.

        i do not really really think it sounds tangled up or confusing. granted sean, we are two people, neither of which has read very much atzmon although i will concede you are more familiar than myself. but what you seem to be saying (or explaining what atzmon is saying) is that because “the worldwide organized Jewish establishment” officially claims to speak for the worldwide Jewish community, and in that capacity claims one cannot be a Jew without somehow being a Zionist…then agreeing with them..somehow confirms it? and that makes it….correct? it sort of begs the question…what about jews who do not think “the worldwide organized Jewish establishment” speaks for them?

        in conclusion are you saying you agree that self identifying jews are all zionist?

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 10:40 am

        annie,

        You said: “are you saying you agree that self identifying jews are all zionist?”

        No. I am saying that most self-identifying Jews in the year 2012 are Zionists and that they define their Jewishness within the framework of Jewish ethnic nationalism — Zionism.

        Isn’t this evident to the entire world? It is not a controversial proposition.

        Yes, there are Jewish dissidents in the picture, but their impact on real world politics is utterly inconsequential. From the standpoint of the Jewish establishment, they are nobodies.

        For myself, I think that “Jewishness” — the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism — but no one is listening to me — certainly not the Conference of Presidents or AIPAC.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 10:46 am

        I think that “Jewishness” — the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism

        yeah, i agree with that.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 2:43 pm

        are you making a claim that “Jewish civilization” is in someway different from all other civilization?

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 2:54 pm

        me? no, i think dominant spirit of mankind as a whole — is a positive value that transcends religion and politics.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 3:05 pm

        re Annie at 2:54 pm –

        then it’s difficult to understand the meaning of this statement that you “agree with:”

        ” ‘I think that “Jewishness” — the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism’

        yeah, i agree with that.

        should we substitute “dominant spirit of mankind as a whole” for “Jewishness” –

        ‘I think that “Jewishness” dominant spirit of mankind as a whole — the dominant spirit of Jewish dominant spirit of mankind as a whole/ /civilization as a whole/ — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism’ ????

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 3:10 pm

        teta mother me,

        I think all civilizations have unique characteristics that make them valuable and interesting — Indian, British, American, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese, Irish, Persian, etc. But I might make the argument that Jewish civilization has been exceptionally influential in world history (look at the impact of the Bible on world culture) and especially creative in the arts, sciences and commerce during the last century or two (see Yuri Slezkine’s “The Jewish Century”).

        Slezkine’s book is here:

        link to amazon.com

        But I think we are entering a phase of human history where all civilizations are going to need to work together and merge their cultures as a matter of human survival (with the threat of WMDs lurking in the background and all that).

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 4:01 pm

        should we substitute “dominant spirit of mankind as a whole” for “Jewishness”

        no, here’s the trajectory of my thinking from the original statement:

        “‘I think that “Jewishness” — the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism’ ”

        translates to:

        “‘I think the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism’ ”

        personally, i think the dominant spirit of civilization (in general, iow i dropped the ‘jewishness’ because the sentiment wrt ethnicity is shared by many) as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both religion or politics , iow, thru the contributions of multiple existing factors the dominant spirit of civilization is positive.

        then i replaced mankind for civilization. not mankind for jewishness.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 4:56 pm

        Slezkine’s book is on my shelf. I’ve noticed that many reviewers think the “Mercury-Apollo” theme is a distraction, but it is central to the narrative of the first part of the book. Mercury — Jews — are they who defy borders and rules; Apollo is the stodgy rationalist. Slezkine’s argument — flawed, in my opinion — is that society cannot function without the “trickster” “alien group” Mercury to act as broker between the diverse groups.

        Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Mar 4 2012 in which he implied the centrality of Esther to his thinking processes regarding Iran was an epochal moment. In my opinion, whether he recognizes it or not, and he obviously does not, he revealed something very ugly about present-day Judaism AND Jewish bible. Here is what he revealed — and revelled in: judging from the Esther story understood in its historical context, present day Jews are still embedded in the fictitious and barbaric moment of 2500 years ago when greed and the inordinate quest for power overcame any moral sensibility.

        The Greek myth of the house of Atreus is not nearly as homicidal as the Esther story — even if the intent was to cook a child and serve him for dinner, nobody ‘bit’ except distracted Persephone, and Pelops only lost a shoulder. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think the Greek people celebrate the festival of the barbequing of Pelops. The Jewish people, on the other hand, ‘celebrate’ the festival of Purim and teach their children that it is okay to strive for the ultimate power in a nation; it is okay for young women to prostitute themselves in the quest for power and wealth; that it is okay to slaughter 75,000 innocent people in one’s quest for power and wealth; and underlying it all, that it is okay to distort the facts of history and to create a psychological mindset that prevails to this day, that claims that “everybody is out to get us but we will kill them first and that’s okay.”

        It is simply not true that Persian sought to kill Jews; quite the opposite: Persians under Cyrus liberated Jews and for more than 200 years supported and financed their return to Jerusalem. My reasoning may be wrong, but I can only conclude that Jews have built 2000 years of an annihilistic tendency on a lie.

        As for the “extraordinariness” of the bible, it’s an oft-repeated claim but the devil is in the details. 1847 is an earth-shattering date in bibleolatry; that’s when archeologist first unearthed artifacts like the Cyrus Cylinder and other writings and evidence that revealed that most of the Old Testament stories were perhaps 500 years old and of Sumerian or Egyptian or Persian vintage, by the time they made their way into the Old Testament.
        That undermined the authority of the bible as the “divinely revealed word of god.”
        As well, it is important to recognize that every compilation of the bible, before AND after 1847, has been undertaken by a political authority for the purpose of aggrandizing political power. Constantine imposed his political will on the canonization of the New Testament, vanquishing Marcion, who had created a network of churches that relied on ‘Christian’ scriptures divorced from the Hebrew texts.
        King James had a new bible compiled and annotated to underscore the Divine Right of Kings.
        Scofield was supported by zionists to annotate a bible to change “turn the other cheek” Christians into pro-Israel zionist Christian warriors.
        Amy Jill Levine recently (Nov 2011) published a Jewish annotated New Testament whose purpose is to zionize Jesus and turn remaining Christians into Warriors for zionist Israel.

        The bible has been one of the most heavily marketed books in the world, a circumstance that came about by chance as well as by design — many monarchs and rulers saw the advantage of insisting that their subjects believe that ‘god ‘ll get ya’ if you disobey the king’s commands. It’s an old trick — Herodotus reports that the King of Lydia whispered to his conqueror, the King of Persia, that his soldiers could be kept from plundering Lydian treasure if they were told that the gods frowned upon such behavior.

        One final point — Yossi Gurvitz made a cryptic remark in the interview Phil posted a few days ago —

        “What is Israel’s crisis? Israeli society has been taken over by Jewish supremacists, Zionism and liberalism are finished, . . .
        Oh, and a messianic view of the Jewish religion that was suppressed for millennia by the rabbinical tradition now dominates the Israeli psyche– “and every demon that was pushed into the basement is up and has an M16.” link to mondoweiss.net

        Gilad Atzmon makes a similar point in his book and on tour: zionism in Israel has burst rabbinic controls and is running wild — and heavily armed and dangerous. Atzmon closed his conversation with the directive that Jews are incapable of controlling zionism. He does what he can, at a tremendous cost. He is vilified and receives more hate mail and threats than most people should be expected to bear. He said his only agenda is to prevent the deaths of more innocent people. He said it is up to us, Americans, to get out in public and start telling the truth.

        Jewish supremacism is at the heart of the Esther story — Esther might be the first zionist, except that rather than seeking to return to “zion,” Jerusalem, Esther elected to remain in Persian empire/Babylon. Esther is among the “demons that were pushed into the basement” but, as we heard Netanyahu remind us, is now “up and has an M16″ — and nuclear weapons and nuclear capable submarines aimed at the heart of Persia.

        You’ll have to pardon me if I fail to celebrate Jewish contributions to “civilization.” In the Chris Hayes-moderated discussion between Jennifer Mizrahi and Mustafa Barghouti link to mondoweiss.net Barghouti protested that Israelis had killed Palestinian leaders; Mizrahi attempted to justify the assassinations as legitimate since the victims were “planning to carry out another attack.” When Barghouti objected that Israel had acted as “judge, jury, and executioner,” Mizrahi, Esther in a red dress, said, “US did it to bin Laden,” to which Barghouti responded, “That’s not the behavior of a civilized country.”

        Civilized is as civilized does.
        When the Jewish collective, and the American collective, can rein in their respective governments and begin to act civilized, then they will be entitled to that appellation.

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 5:09 pm

        thank you. Now I follow your thinking, Annie.
        I was just being mule-headed I’m afraid. thanks for patience.

      • piotr
        March 17, 2012, 5:14 pm

        Irish or Jews can be aware of their “Irishness” or “Jewishness” but as a rule they were but participants in a much wider civilization, AS INSIDERS of that civilization. Was Jonathan Swift English or Irish (I think he was an Irish Anglican)? Clearly, he was great.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 17, 2012, 5:22 pm

        any time teta. btw, i don’t think most governments are very civilized. i think most people are tho.

      • yourstruly
        March 17, 2012, 11:25 am

        sean,

        just because this worldwide organized jewish establishment claims that it speaks for jews everywhere doesn’t make it so. while still relatively small, resistance to the jewish “officialdom” is growing, especially among our youth and on the internet. besides, it’s not clear how large a proportion of jews it’ll take to effectively shatter the image of zionist hegemony.

      • lareineblanche
        March 17, 2012, 2:52 pm

        It is the worldwide organized Jewish establishment, officially speaking for the worldwide Jewish community, that has made this claim.

        Understood Sean, but where I don’t agree is in accepting these individuals speaking for Jews worldwide, who are for the most part Zionists, as the only legitimate exponents and perfect realizations of “Jewish thought” (if such a thing does exist), nor do I think all Jews do either.

        It is one interpretation, and just because it has become the dominant one – through bullying, better organization, aggressiveness – doesn’t mean it is the correct and only one. This type of “essentialist” thinking posits that there is something in the DNA, or seed, of a particular mindset any cultural group subscribes to which invariably destines it for a particular behavior – which, if we apply the same elsewhere, can also lead one to the conclusion that there is something inherently poisonous about “Catholic” ideology because of the Inquisitions and crusades, “Anglo-Saxon” ideology because of brutal British and American colonialism [are we to believe that this is what drove Europeans to ethnically cleanse and exterminate the AmerIndians? Are all Europeans condemned to wander the Earth colonizing and slaughtering because it's in their "ideology"?], “Islamic” ideology which leads one to become an irrational suicidal martyr, “Germanic” ideology which leads one to be disciplined and subservient to authority… – you see where this can go. Such mental constructions are mostly fictional, cultural constructions, and are subject to modification ; there’s nothing inherently fixed in stone about any of them, they are to be situated in their historical contexts.

        I’m all for stripping away such labels and simply living according to purely humanistic ideals, but this does not necessarily preclude anyone feeling affinity for of belonging to any cultural or ethnic group or particular tradition. We shouldn’t have to obliterate all of our differences or particularities in order to do that.

        I haven’t read Shahak or Harkabi, nor do I say that there is nothing of worth in their writings, as obviously there must be. Of course there are good reasons to critique Judaism and its proponents throughout its history (as much as there can even be said to be a consistent, main current of it). Nor do I think that any cultural institution or religion is beyond reproach – nothing should be banned from discussion (and, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have banned Blankfort from commenting, if it were up to me, either). However, having an open, frank discussion doesn’t mean that we get to turn our brains off. And I don’t think that we should feel forced to reflexively support someone simply because he labels himself “anti-Zionist”.

        Here is a recent exchange between Atzmon and Noel Ignatiev, in which Atzmon seems to not really have a handle on what’s going on :
        link to pmpress.org

        Atzmon is also published on and supported by Veterans Today – I hate guilt-by-association accusations myself, and one shouldn’t be judged by whatever groups choose to make use of one’s statements, but even according to Blankfort (see above exchange), Dean is a “white supremacist”. This isn’t a charge one makes lightly, and it does make the VT suspect – indeed, Israel Shamir, in a hissy-fit of utter pseudo-intellectual rubbish, recently accused Ali Abunimah of being manipulated by Zionists (!!!), Ingrid R. Zundel, who repeatedly refers to the “Holocaust” (w/ the scare quotes), etc., etc. – which all should really disqualify them from any serious discussion. They consistently portray themselves as an “avant-guard” of “victims” of intellectual MacCarthyism instead of seriously considering critiques.

        In the end, just because someone exhibits some antisemitic tendencies (in my opinion), it doesn’t mean he is necessarily a despicable, evil and irredeemable person, either – and like I said, it doesn’t mean that he is systematically wrong on everything, nor does it mean he has nothing relevant to say.

      • CigarGod
        March 17, 2012, 3:49 pm

        “…there is something in the DNA, or seed, of a particular mindset any cultural group subscribes to which invariably destines it for a particular behavior…”

        Why are human’s exempt?
        Virtually every domesticated form of life on this planet is constructed this way.

      • seanmcbride
        March 17, 2012, 4:02 pm

        lareineblanche,

        With regard to past ideologically-motivated misdeeds by the groups you mentioned — Roman Catholics, Brits, Muslims, Germans, etc. –we try to understand those misdeeds by understanding the ideologies that motivated and drove them — at least that is what serious students of intellectual history try to do.

        If any of those groups were to indulge in similar behavior today, we would of course be taking a very close look at their ideologies yet again — that would be the reasonable thing do.

        Jewish ethnic nationalism (Zionism) in the contemporary era has come to dominate the agenda and values of the worldwide Jewish establishment — there is no way to ignore that. The ideology must be examined closely and opposed or condemned when it deserves being opposed or condemned.

        With regard to Veterans Today — aspects of the publication make me uncomfortable — it’s not at the top of my reading list, for sure — but it is covering some important issues that other publications are afraid to touch. I doubt that Gordon Duff or Alan Sabrosky, who are both Jewish, are antisemites. Perhaps you can make the case that they are if you want to try.

        I am judging Gilad Atzmon by the writings of his I have perused so far (only a relatively small proportion) — not by his associations. So far it strikes me that he is raising important questions about the current course of mainstream Jewish politics in a way that is not antisemitic — and, in a way, is very Jewish (in terms of speaking truth to power with intellectual force).

    • Hostage
      March 17, 2012, 11:20 am

      Honestly, I can’t understand why so many here are obsessed with defending him as if he were some helpless animal. If his writings stand on their own, there should be no problem.

      I wonder why so many otherwise intelligent people are being so blithe about applying the label of racism and antisemitism to Atzmon and Zero books in the midst of a promotional tour without providing any real citations, quotes, or examples to substantiate those claims?

      It may be intended as sarcasm, but there is a kernel of truth to the label “anti-Atzmon Defamation League”, since the signatories are engaging in defamation and libel per se. Allegations that are injurious to a person in their trade, business, or profession are actionable and damages may be presumed unless they’re rebutted. You really can’t hide behind the shield of a screen name in order to make libelous comments either.

      The constant references to “Jewish Marxism” (whatever that is) are rather strange, as if “Marxism” could not exist without Judaism, which is totally absurd. Marx wrote about it, yes, but that doesn’t mean that “Jewishness” is a defining and necessary characteristic of Marxist thought.

      Israel has a Communist party, but the conflicts between Marxism and Jewish nationalism were reconciled and rationalized away using elements of Judaism by its Socialist party. That ideological work was done by the Jewish Marxists of Poale Zion, like Ber Borochov, Nahum Syrkin, et al. There wouldn’t have been a “Jewish state” without the Labor Socialist movement that ran the Jewish Agency during the Mandate era and governed Israel until the 1970s. Their propaganda and political platforms made extensive use of references to Judaism, Jewish history, and the concept of messianism. Their ends were set forth as the in-gathering of the so-called exiles, restoring the Jewish nation and reviving the Jewish state and its independence “which had been destroyed, supposedly forever, at the time of Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva.” None of that had anything to do with Karl Marx. See for example Ben Gurion’s address when introducing the Law of Return and Nationality Law in Netanel Lorch (ed), Major Knesset Debates, 1948-1981, Volume 2, JCPA/University Press of America, 1993, pp 611 – 613.
      link to jcpa.org

      • piotr
        March 17, 2012, 12:57 pm

        In “Tribal Marxism for Dummies” Atzmon attacked anti-Zionist Jewish Marxists. So it was not the question of Marxism being employed to justify Zionism. Neither it was the question of Marxism being a totally wrong in everything because it is a wrong philosophy, Atzmon did not make that claim (at least, not directly). One problem with this article is that it is more vehement than lucid, so different people get offended in different ways.

        My reading was that Marxists who proclaim themselves Jewish cannot correctly analyze anything because their thinking is hopelessly tribal. As he recapitulates the claims of these Marxists, they seem to me very conventional Marxists claims, but Atzmon finds them absurd. As you may notice, a Marxist reader is already sufficiently offended and that provided quite a few signatories of the second letter above.

        I am not a Marxists, so disparaging the validity of a standard Marxist analysis does not offend me. However, Atzmon does not seem to be aware how conventional the criticized claims are and attributes their vileness to the fact that the authors remained “tribal”. On top of that, the only difference between the criticized claims and what Atzmon views as correct claim is the uniquely vile Jewish angle of colonialism or anything that Jewish do.

        Hostage is correct that “tribal Marxism for dummies”, a national form of socialism if you will, is an actual ideology that can be validly criticized. But this is not what Atzmon did in his article.

        My impression is that if you agree with Atzmon then the only hope for settling ME peacefully is to re-educate all Jews there in Pol-Pot style camps (with better nutrition, but on similar scale) to cleanse them from the memory of Jewishness. This is similar to the vision of Avigdor Lieberman to enclose Palestinians for 20 years, remove their vile tendencies and then check if peace with those currently vile people is possible.

        The phenomenon of a person who changes his convictions by 180 degree while retaining the form of thinking and general convictions of his formative years is not rare.

      • Hostage
        March 17, 2012, 3:15 pm

        In “Tribal Marxism for Dummies” Atzmon attacked anti-Zionist Jewish Marxists. So it was not the question of Marxism being employed to justify Zionism.

        It’s too late to tell that to Ben Gurion now and he was certainly guilty of using Marxism to justify Zionism.

        At any rate here is some material from “The Wandering Who”, page 17:

        ‘A Jew brought up among Germans may assume German customs, German words. He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish, because his blood, his body, his physical racial type are Jewish.’ (Vladimir Jabotinsky, ‘A Letter on Autonomy’, 1904).

        These racist ideas predate Nazism. Jabotinsky wasn’t alone, even the Jewish Marxist Ber Borochov, who refers the Jewish condition to historical and material circumstances, suggested a remedy that was particular to Jewish people, i.e. Jewish Nationalism. An ideology in which Jews would practice some proletarian activity, namely production, yet maintain their national and cultural symptoms. Borochov sets Jews apart from the international proletarian revolution. Why does he do this? Because Jews are uniquely Jewish or at least the Zionists tend to believe they are.

        The Zionist is first and foremost a Jew. He can’t be just an ordinary British citizen who happens to be of a Jewish descent. He is rather a Jew who dwells in Britain. He is a Jew who speaks English

      • lareineblanche
        March 17, 2012, 4:14 pm

        Allegations that are injurious to a person in their trade, business, or profession are actionable and damages may be presumed unless they’re rebutted.

        Hostage, I hadn’t thought of this, and you’re right, this could have negative consequences on Atzmon’s career, and shouldn’t have been undertaken without serious thought. Perhaps it was rather insensitive and not well-timed. This doesn’t change the substance of the argument, however. He’s no doubt a perfectly decent and honorable fellow in his personal life, but his writings are public, open statements which indicate a clear point of view, and are open to discussion.

        You say the statement was given “without providing any real citations, quotes, or examples to substantiate those claims”, in which case, I presume you mean the statement published by the EI – the second statement, however provides ample citations, as you surely read above :

        Zionism is a continuation of Jewish ideology.[4]

        The never-ending robbery of Palestine by Israel in the name of the Jewish people establishes a devastating spiritual, ideological, cultural and, obviously, practical continuum between the Judaic Bible and the Zionist project.

        These clearly establish his point of view on the matter : that in his inability to envisage “Jewishness” without Zionism and Palestinian dispossession, he seems to be somewhat of a Zionist himself. I’ll repeat, he seems to believe that it is impossible to be Jewish without being a Zionist. It’s rather unambiguous. His only solution to this problem is to renounce being Jewish. Now, if he says otherwise elsewhere in his writings, it’s only proof that he’s a bit confused, I’d say. It seems important to me to understand this, as it’s not just a minor detail.

        As for “Jewish Marxism”, thank you for the info (of which you seem to have an inexhaustible supply) but you seem to precisely illustrate my point :

        the conflicts between Marxism and Jewish nationalism were reconciled and rationalized away using elements of Judaism by its Socialist party.

        There were inherent conflicts which had to be reconciled, and so we see this was a concerted effort to synthesize two separate schools of thought. There was nothing necessarily inherent in “Jewishness” which predisposed it towards Marxist, or socialist thought in the first place. This is confusing
        1) the use of ideologies to support and give substance to a certain project (establishing a Jewish ethnocratic state)
        2) inherent and necessary properties of certain cultural or ethnic identities

        That is, there may be such a thing as a Jewish form of Marxism, but it was not a law of nature, or something inherent in “Jewish thought” which made it so, it was partly created – much like 19th century Zionism.

  40. seanmcbride
    March 17, 2012, 10:49 am

    annie,

    I wrote: “I think that “Jewishness” — the dominant spirit of Jewish civilization as a whole — is a positive value that transcends both Judaism and Zionism.”

    You wrote: “yeah, i agree with that.”

    So we now constitute a philosophical and political movement of two people. :) Wish us luck. :)

    • Annie Robbins
      March 17, 2012, 10:55 am

      think positive sean, i bet there are at least three of us out there.

      ;)

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 3:16 pm

        before I could be persuaded to join I’d like to understand what Sean means and what Annie agrees with.

        Sean seems to suggest that ‘Jewish civilization’ is a separate entity; Annie agrees with this statement but qualifies it, saying “the dominant spirit of mankind . . .”

        So what IS the Charter of your philosophical movement; is “Jewish civilization” a separate entity from “the dominant spirit of mankind as a whole?”

  41. Sheldonrichman
    March 17, 2012, 11:40 am

    For the record, I will say that Gilad Aztmon has been treated shabbily. His book is important and courageous. (I have my disagreements.) His critics either have not read his work or they lie about what he says. The disavowal statements are shameful.

    • teta mother me
      March 17, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Agree, Sheldonrichman.

      I expected “The Wandering Who?” to be cynical and unpolished, but Atzmon presents observations that are as intellectually astute as they are heartfelt. —- But I must admit, I’ve read only the first 50 pages or so; I keep going back to the Foreword, in which he weaves the various experiences that shaped him — his Zionist Irgun grandfather; Bird Parker’s music; seeing Palestinian freedom fighters from Lebanon in a barbed wire outdoor cage in a sun-scorched IDF POW camp; seeing the 3′ X 4′ concrete boxes –”solitary confinement units” where prisoners were stowed for 2 days at a time; learning to play Arab music, all these experiences Atzmon wrapped up in this concluding paragraph:

      “Through music, and particularly my very personal struggle with Arab music, I learned to listen. Rather than looking at history or analysing its evolution in material terms, it is listening that stands at the core of deep comprehension. Ethical behaviour comes into play when the eyes are shut and the echoes of conscience can form a tune within one’s soul. To empathise is to accept the primacy of the ear.”

      Contrast that paragraph with Robert Kagan’s most recent spitball in the American eye.

  42. teta mother me
    March 17, 2012, 2:23 pm

    from “The Wandering Who, A Study of Jewish Identity Politics,” Gilad Atzmon, pp 4-5:

    “As far as self-perception is concerned, those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

    1. Those who follow Judaism.
    2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin.
    3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.

    The first two categories denote a harmless and innocent group of people.

    We tend to assume that religious people are generally inspired by their eliefs and are expected to abide by some sort of a higher spiritual and ethical value system. Accordingly, Judaism can be grasped as an ethical belief system. ** Judaism was the symbolic identifier of the Jews for at least two millenia. . . .

    The second category is also pretty innocent. One cannot choose one’s origin. Ethical minds would agree that people must be respected and treated equally . . .

    The third category is problematic. Its definition may sound inflammatory to some. And yet, bizarrely enough, it was the formulation given on the eve of the 20th century by Chaim Weizmann . . .: “Ther are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.” In just a few words, Weizmann managed to categorically define the essence of Jewish-ness. It is basically a ‘primary quality.’ You may be a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin or even a Jew against Zionism, but above all else you are a Jew. And this is exactly the idea conveyed by the third category.

    It is about viewing Jewish-ness as the key element and the fundamental characteristic of one’s being. Any other quality is secondary. This is exactly the message the early Zionists were interested in promulgating. For Weizmann, Jewish-ness was a unique quality that stopped the Jew from assimilating or disappearing into the crowd. The Jew would always remain an alien.

    This line of thinking was apparent in most early Zionist writings. Jabotinsky took it even further. He was adamant that assimilation was impossible due to biological conditioning. Here is what he had to say about the German Jew: ‘A Jew brought up among Germans may assume German customs, German words. He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish,*** because his blood, his body, his physical racial type**** are Jewish.’ (Vladimir Jabotinsky, ‘A Letter on Autonomy,’ 1904)”

    Atzmon was in DC last week and was interviewed by Norman Mezvinsky. The first topic they discussed was, What is a Jew? Mezvinsky defined his concept of himself — first, a human being; second, an American; third, a Jew. Pressed to distinguish whether #2 and #3 were ever reversed, Mezvinsky said, No, but they are inseparable — I am an American who is Jewish; first and foremost I am a human being.”
    Mezvinsky had earlier explained that religiously he is a Lubavitcher — that is what forms his spiritual connection to being a Jew.

    ** Very intriguing comment Atzmon made in discussion with Mezvinsky — Atzmon said “Jews have no ethics. Their code of conduct is the rules from Moses, the Covenant, so that if they obey those rules, they are obeying god. But there is no Jewish system of ethics, to evaluate right from wrong.” He elaborated.

    ***

    “”Jabotinsky frankly admitted that in his youth he ‘had no inner contact with Judaism.’ . . .[B]orn and bred in a city where every third person was a Jew, where the leaders of the Jewish intelligentsia — Achad Haam, . . .Ben Ami, . . .Ravnitzky . . .-were . . .active, . . .young Jabotinsky has no interest whatsoever in anything Jewish. [p. 38-39] . . .
    It is difficult to overestimate the decisive role Italy played in Jabotinsky’s spiritual formation. . . .Rome exercised a tremendous and all-embracing influence [on his personality]. ‘If I ever had a spiritual fatherland,’ said Jabotinsky, ‘it was Italy more than Russia. . . .The Italian period in Jabotinsky’s life was most important for the shaping of his intellectual world.” p 49]

    “The Jabotinsky Story; Rebel and Statesman, The Early Years;” Joseph Schechtman, 1956.

    ****

    “[Jabotinsky] was far from handsome, and he knew it: short, stocky, and with a negroid profile and lips. But a high forehead, keen eyes, and an animated expression lent a kind of attractiveness and charm to his plain face. [Jabotisnky exercised obsessively in an attempt to re-form his body.]

    Schechtman, p. 35.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 17, 2012, 2:49 pm

      Atzmon was in DC last week and was interviewed by Norman Mezvinsky. The first topic they discussed was, What is a Jew? Mezvinsky defined his concept of himself — first, a human being; second, an American; third, a Jew. Pressed to distinguish whether #2 and #3 were ever reversed, Mezvinsky said, No, but they are inseparable — I am an American who is Jewish; first and foremost I am a human being.”
      Mezvinsky had earlier explained that religiously he is a Lubavitcher — that is what forms his spiritual connection to being a Jew.

      ** Very intriguing comment Atzmon made in discussion with Mezvinsky — Atzmon said “Jews have no ethics. Their code of conduct is the rules from Moses, the Covenant, so that if they obey those rules, they are obeying god. But there is no Jewish system of ethics, to evaluate right from wrong.” He elaborated.

      ***

      do you have a link to the interview teta?

      • teta mother me
        March 17, 2012, 3:19 pm

        only my notes and recording.
        There was a videographer there; perhaps it will be posted on Atzmon’s or WRMEA’s website.

    • andrew r
      March 17, 2012, 5:46 pm

      “Very intriguing comment Atzmon made in discussion with Mezvinsky — Atzmon said “Jews have no ethics. Their code of conduct is the rules from Moses, the Covenant, so that if they obey those rules, they are obeying god. But there is no Jewish system of ethics, to evaluate right from wrong.” He elaborated. ”

      This contrasts heavily with Shahak in ‘The Weight of 3000 Years’:

      From the ethical point of view, classical Judaism represents a process of degeneration, which is still going on; and this degeneration into a tribal collection of empty rituals and magic superstitions has very important social and political consequences. For it must be remembered that it is precisely the superstitions of classical Judaism which have the greatest hold on the Jewish masses, rather than those parts of the Bible or even the Talmud which are of real religious and ethical value. (The same can be observed also in other religions which are now undergoing revival.)

      You can’t read Shahak and come away with the impression that there’s a “Jewishness” as Atzmon pushes it. Shahak actually cared about religious practice as it evolved (or degraded as he’d put it) based on social conditions and the demands of circumstance.

      And the ‘Wandering Who’ passage quoted above doesn’t take into account that Weizmann and his ilk saw Jewishness as a national grouping irrespective of religious practice (Though their views on the sacred text is a complex subject in itself). This is from the era where it was common for men of science to postulate the biological characteristics of national groupings – what we call eugenics – and that’s the context for the rise of political Zionism. Does Atzmon deal with that at all? If not, he’s a charlatan.

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