The radicalization of Yossi Gurvitz

Israel/PalestineUS Politics

On our recent trip to Israel and Palestine, several people told us to meet the blogger Yossi Gurvitz because he is such a freethinker.

We met up at a restaurant in Tel Aviv 2 weeks ago and Gurvitz did not disappoint– he held forth for an hour about Israel’s coming crisis and how little we as secular American Jews could understand about what was happening.

A former yeshiva boy who started blogging 10 years ago and gained a following for his unblinking ideas about politics and religion and is now in the stable at +972, Gurvitz, 42, said he has become radicalized by Israel’s crisis and is working to prepare his society for a one-state political future. Recently he was investigated by the government for incitement for comments about violent resistance.

What is Israel’s crisis? Israeli society has been taken over by Jewish supremacists, Zionism and liberalism are finished, and it is just a matter of time before Israel loses American liberals and later the Christian right.

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.”

There’s an upside. But you’ll have to read the interview…

Below you’ll find a typescript of Gurvitz’s comments. And above is a 12 minute video we did at the end of the meal, with Gurvitz’s requiem for the two-state solution.

The video contains some ideas not expressed in the interview below. To summarize:

Zionism is a spent force in Israeli society. “There are now three Revisionist Zionists left in the Knesset and the rest of Likud sees them as dangerous leftists.”

What about liberal American Jews coming to save Israel? “That’s a doomed project… They will be seen as foreigners.”

Can Israel save itself? The awakening of socialism is the best sign. Liberalism has always meant equal but separate. Socialists are calling for equality. Maybe the social democrats of J14 can save us.

“I’m not sure Partition is possible anymore. There are 400,000 settlers in the West Bank. No one has the political will and capital to remove them. Trying to remove them will result in a civil war. I don’t think it’s an option anymore.

“I’m pretty sure the two state solution is dead and we have to work on a one state solution. How that will work I honestly have no idea.”

What should Obama do? Remember what George H.W. Bush said about Yitzhak Shamir? “That’s the number. When you’re serious, call us. Until you’re serious, don’t come to us.”

Now here is the typescript of our untaped conversation with Gurvitz on Israel’s crisis. Our comments in italic.

I think we’re going to meet a crisis. Last fall I actually believed it would involve the UN — that it would grant Palestinians some sort of rights, some sort of state. I think there’s a very good chance Netanyahu government will attack Iran. I believe they’re priming the public for that possibility. Ehud Barak was pictured fondling a missile.

The situation is unsustainable but I think most Israelis willfully blind themselves to this. The more the public understands the situation is unsustainable, the more it locks itself into a non-seeing, non-hearing position.

The crisis around the statehood initiative?

I believe this would make the very presence of the settlements illegal, the very presence of soldiers guarding the settlements illegal… If the P. A. demanded that they withdraw, Israel would be under pressure from the world to leave. Of course this didn’t happen. I think Obama was swindled or actually coerced by Netanyahu and I think this was a strategic mistake because it undermines the US position in the Middle East.

Now it looks like the old status quo. The US government is the embodiment of the Israeli position. The only reason we’re not hearing more about this is because of the crisis in Syria.

What are we going to see? I think we will see an Obama second term and inexorable pressure on Israel to grant civil rights to everyone in mandatory Palestine or to end the occupation. Obama will be much more combative than the Obama of the first administration. Mostly I see Israel losing the support of the liberal establishment in the US. And once it loses the support of the liberals, it becomes the South Africa situation, and that is not sustainable.

Meantime, in Israel we are seeing the Jehovahiztion of the Israeli public. Ignorant, radical Jews are turning more to symbols of Jewish superiority than actual Jewish values. It’s getting harder to be a liberal except in Tel Aviv. Everyone is thinking about a second passport.

This is a spiral that will leave Israel more fanatic, more religious, less able to communicate with the western world– and ironically more part of the extremism of the Middle East. I’ve been writing about the Jewish Brotherhood. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, our extremists have never had to face reality and soften. Because even when they wield power they claim that the real power is the hands of the liberal elites.

Unlike the US, we have no constitution. No Basic Law grants equality. The Israeli religious right has blocked that. The only reason we have freedom of the press is because of the Supreme Court decisions. The right is already using this as a way of attacking the Supreme Court, which is becoming more fearful, less willing to use its power.

Unless something drastic changes, and it could happen– I’m betting on the J14 movement– liberal Israel is dying, and it won’t be in existence in 5, or 10 years. Some elements will be kept as a figleaf, for the Zionist Jehovahist regime. The liberals will leave, those who can.

When that happens, the liberal part of the US will no longer be so willing to defend Israel and its policies. Then without the US, Israel will be hanging by its threat to use nuclear weapons. It will become a second North Korea.

There’s a history here. In 2004 a Maariv columnist demanded that the government nuke France. Because France is an enemy of Israel, and about to collapse into a Muslim Republic, a supporter of Iran– so we should nuke them first. The editor was fired for publishing it after the French ambassador made an official protest. The Foreign Minister [Avigdor Lieberman] suggested when he was in the opposition, that Israel nuke the Aswan dam. So there’s a reason the Egyptians won’t meet him.

Gurvitz also suggests Israel could lose the American right.

Four days ago a church was desecrated in Jerusalem. As part of a pricetag attack. This happens all the time. When the pricetag people run out of Muslim targets, they will concentrate more on Christian targets. When that happens, the American Christian right will realize that the Israeli right is hostile to Christianity.

Why is all this inevitable?

Zionism as a force is dead. The people who are actually speaking in the name of Zionism are speaking in religious and metaphysical and mystical truths. They are not speaking in the secular Zionist tradition. A poll two weeks ago—about 70 percent consider themselves to be the chosen people. American Jews think we as Jews are chosen to carry out tikkun olam [social justice]. Israeli Jews think something different—we are the chosen people of God, we are chosen to do anything we damn well please. To take people’s land. Take peoples lives. There is actually no mainstream force standing against the Jewish brotherhood.

This is not just the religious people, it’s a large part of the secular people buying into it. Israel’s Jews refuse to accept the legitimacy of the marriage of Jews and non-Jews. You American Jews really don’t understand us. They think we’re gutsier… American Jews… think of Zionist liberals. They’re older, they’re still thinking about the late 70s, early 80s, the golden age of Israel’s liberalism.

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. What may change the picture is the J14 movement. It’s alive. It will be coming back after Passover. J14 has its faults, but it is the only movement that has put Israeli Arabs speakers out front. Many Palestinian Israelis are not quite happy with the result, but…. once Israelis realize that inequality harms everyone in Israel aside from the 1 percent, then they will begin to see the Palestinian as a partner in struggle. We’ve seen it in the north, if the movement isn’t crushed.

Liberals are dead, socialists are coming up. Most socialists are poised toward equality.

Tell us your story, Yossi.

I was born in January 1970 in Petah Tikva. My parents are National Orthodox. My father is an electrical contractor who is in real estate. My mother is a housewife. I studied in the Yeshiva till I had a personal crisis and left the Yeshiva for the army in 1989. It looked like a liberation, strangely enough.

I started to do my bit for leftist ideology and got transferred to the Gaza Strip so I could stop the atrocities. That didn’t work very well. They hid them from me. I did manage to get my commander tried for slapping a Palestinian child. And one day they tried to abandon me in a refugee camp. [An officer] drove me to a refugee camp and told me to step out of the car, “your brother’s over there, go join him.” I cocked the gun, putting a bullet in the chamber. I didn’t point it at him, but he got the message, and he told me to drive back.

Everything I did was supportive of the occupation in every waking moment. I’m still doing penance. That’s the liberal trap. They say to you, You want to change the world, go there, be there. But it’s always compromising. It’s much bigger than you. You will go to prison if you don’t order the bulldozers to demolish the house.

I’m in the Meretz party. Meretz used to embody this liberal thinking. If you want to prevent atrocities, join the fighting units, serve in the territories where you can see atrocities, prevent them. That simply doesn’t happen.

I went to the university and got a degree in history. I had a personal crisis about not getting a master’s degree. I spent several years working in a chemical factory [in a clerical position]. I started blogging in 2002. I was writing on various forums in the 90s. Even before. In 2006 I stared my own blog. Friends of George. It is mainly a Hebrew blog. It quickly gathered steam. During the Second Lebanon war I started writing critically in ways that were not common. That attracted a lot of readers, also including a few death threats.

Recently I had my run in with the law. I was investigated for incitement two months ago.

Tell us about the radicalization of the left.

We see a radicalization on both sides. The leftists are becoming more radical and the right wingers, too. When I radicalized—and I did—I attracted more radicals. I’m going to the demonstrations; that’s the definition of a radical around here. Bil’in is basically a reenactment of the first intifada. Everyone is playing a part. No Palestinian is trying to throw a grenade, and generally in Bilin the soldiers don’t use lethal force….

I have really high hopes for what will happen in the next few months. I’m doing what I’m doing because I think it’s the right thing to do, but the Israeli government is using us to legitimize itself. ‘You see, we’re a democracy.’ The protests have very little influence on the general public. But they’re important because solidarity is important and it gets international coverage, which is always important.

You say we American Jews don’t understand this Judaism. Elaborate.

Rambam [Maimonides in the 12th century] writes, If a Jew has intercourse with a gentile child three years old and a day, the child should be executed for misleading the Jew, making him sin. Those texts are still valid. We don’t understand them, but they are valid.

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. [In the former rabbinical tradition] the rabbis tried to housetrain Jewish messianism. The old way of thinking was, the messiah will lead Jews to victory. The rabbis made the messiah a supernatural being capable of talking to birds and animals. This mystical being was a dam against Jewish messianism in Ashkenazi Judaism, and the eliminationist elements against Christianity were held down by this teaching.

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. The third orders the gentiles not to treat the Jews too badly.

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

48 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    March 9, 2012, 10:21 am

    Wow, man, Gurvitz is a force.

    He mirrors my views on the “liberal” position, and his education he received in the military — your really not doing much good by “signing up” to change institutions from the inside.

    Not for nothin’ but he sounds/reads alot like Atzmon. (if we actually read what the guy writes) — I have to guess that my man Phil got a little uncomfortable by some of what Gurvitz said, especially the part about American Jews kind of being superfluous in the overall struggle for non-jewish rights in Palestine. That had to sting….ha.

    • seafoid
      March 9, 2012, 12:10 pm

      The hasbaradim are clueless

      • Sir, – On reading Raymond Deane’s letter (March 7th), I came to the conclusion that the writer obviously hopes and believes that if you continuously throw muck at a subject, at least some of it will stick.
      Facts are conspicuously absent.
      Israel is not an apartheid state. Muslim Arabs make up a fifth of Israel’s population and in a recent confidential poll, 80 per cent stated that they did not want to live in an Arab state. Israeli Arabs are to be found in all aspects of Israeli society – supreme court judges, ambassadors and, not least, 14 are members of the Knesset. Hospital and medical care is not separate, as it was in apartheid South Africa.
      Palestinians are among the 7,000 slaughtered in Syria over the past year, but there is not a mention of this in Mr Deane’s letter.
      As one who visits Israel on a regular basis, I can state categorically that all its citizens are treated equally.
      At long last persecuted Jews have a safe haven in Israel. I lived through the 1930s and vividly remember German Jews begging unsuccessfully for life-saving visas.
      Almost half of Israel’s present Jewish population originated from Arab countries. It would be unthinkable that anyone should suggest that these Jews be transported back to Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, etc.
      As the Chinese say, “be careful what you wish for”. – Yours, etc,
      JOE BRISCOE,
      Clonskeagh,
      Dublin 14.

      • lysias
        March 9, 2012, 2:40 pm

        I wonder if Joe Briscoe thinks Protestants and Catholics were treated equally in pre-independence Ireland.

  2. marc b.
    March 9, 2012, 10:36 am

    not that much of what he says is news to those of us paying attention, but when you read gurvitz you can’t help but see the similarities between israel and the states. and none of the similarities are flattering.

  3. pabelmont
    March 9, 2012, 10:55 am

    Fabulous interview, very scary but tells the picture we all (if maybe with less clarity) see every day in the settler atrocities against Palestinians — and the siege of Gaza.

    He says: “”I’m not sure Partition is possible anymore. There are 400,000 settlers in the West Bank. No one has the political will and capital to remove them. Trying to remove them will result in a civil war. I don’t think it’s an option anymore.”

    This (with its undercount of the settlers by 250,000, possibly the number in the “neighborhoods” of Jerusalem) shows only an intra-Israeli view.

    We all know that — left to itself, its external circumstances unchanged — Israel will keep on keeping on, with settlements, house demolition, murder, torture, the siege, destroying olive trees, etc. so there’ll be no change for the better unless and until the world external to Israel applies pressure to change the Israeli mind. President Obama could incite the international world, but probably will not. BDS is slow but moving in the right direction.

    This interview shows what we already know — and shows it at the molecular level, so to speak, explaining horribly disturbing details we never guessed — that Israel will not solve the problem for us, as matters are today, and is unlikely to do so tomorrow.

  4. seafoid
    March 9, 2012, 11:22 am

    ” When the pricetag people run out of Muslim targets, they will concentrate more on Christian targets. When that happens, the American Christian right will realize that the Israeli right is hostile to Christianity”

    That’s what I thought when I saw the news. The Jewish ultras hate Christians and Muslims equally.

    link to youtube.com

    myrightword.blogspot.com/2011/10/jesus-and-shiloh.html

    “Ariel Ben Yochanan said…
    B”H – Yisrael, please, don’t buy into the establishment thought that differentiates between the various xtian denominations just because they say “we love you”. It has absolutely no basis, they ALL attribute godly status to subjects other than Hashem and they are now actively worshipping on the Land, an activity that exposes us to great dangers. We are put here to serve Hashem and if we fail to do this basic minimum, well, we’ll be in trouble G-d forbid. Are we instructed to restore and preserve their pillars and stones of worship or to destroy them? No need to answer, the question is rhetoric. The fact is that Shilo should not attract xtians, not as visitors, not as workers and not as missionaries. Shilo should repel them. It is true that we are pressed by Ishmael, but running to the arms of Esav is no solution. The war is a three front one: Ishmael, Esav AND the erev rav. We have to be alert on ALL three fronts. See The Three Front War on thetorahrevolution.blogspot.com”

    The Israeli economy is propped up by Christians and Muslims

    • lysias
      March 9, 2012, 2:41 pm

      The Jewish ultras have been spitting at Christians in Jerusalem for years. Our media just haven’t been reporting it.

  5. ahadhaadam
    March 9, 2012, 11:58 am

    When I see good people like Gurvitz it makes me sad, knowing that they are trapped inside an ideological system, the end product of Zionism, that simply cannot change from within. I will have to quote here a much more brilliant writer than myself:

    Yes, the soldiers and the officers who refused to participate in the oppression are very good guys and they did a good deed. But I am worried it will be used to promote good feeling of Israel’s supporters, to legitimize the very structure of apartheid. Their brave words are already used to support the ‘unilateral separation’, a code word for fencing the Palestinians into one big well guarded zone. One can’t change the paradigm of the Jewish state, the paradigm of oppression and apartheid, from within. A character of Raspe’s book, Baron Munchausen (probably familiar by Terry Gilliam’s movie) extracted himself and his horse out of deep bog by pulling up his plait (see the picture below). If you believe this “tall story”, you may believe that the good guys can change Israeli Jewish society without joining forces with Palestinians.

    • Chu
      March 9, 2012, 12:36 pm

      And what’s also problematic, which they discuss in the interview, is that Israeli Zionism is being funded by the Jewish American diaspora, which funds the US politicians (et al.) to ignore the growing problems of the Israel state. Israel seems to be forming into a statewide cult in the Middle East. They hate everything and feel no remorse, and Yossi explains it in detail.

      Israel created their own zoo-like cage for their survival, or so they think. They’ve had opportunity to resolve their disputes over the decades, but decided against it because it means negotiating their selfish dream of greater Israel. I think they are so desperate to leave their compound, and sincerely hope to drive a vehicle outside their confined territory. Inside they are stewing like bad apples rotting in a barrel and poisoning the entire lot. Believing they are chosen, they should recognize that they are creating their own demise. But, only a prophet from the heavens could tell them that.

  6. Chu
    March 9, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Gurvitz has great candor, and a seemingly keen insight. Sadly, his comments reinforce the rotten realty of Israel declining future. Thanks for the translation. How many more Yossi’s exist inside Israel? 5%?

    • anonymouscomments
      March 10, 2012, 10:16 pm

      Less than 1%. I took a very unscientific poll over a few months…. found two Jewish Israelis with a view towards justice in my everyday experiences.

      Of course I am excluding the Israelis I met in the West Bank, through ICAHD, or at a small cafe in Jaffa explicitly built for shared use and peace seekers. The amazingly sad thing is that there are literally LESS THAN 2,000 Jewish Israelis in Israel who are *active*, and see the conflict with clarity.

      I mean this… we are talking about a few hundred people out of millions. Of course, there is likely a small minority of Jewish Israelis who are explicitly apolitical, but if pressed may understand the situation and seek justice in the theoretical sense, but they are silent because they have no hope, and because they would be harshly condemned and marginalized by their own family and society if they voiced their opinions.

      It is stunningly hopeless on the Jewish Israeli front. Nothing but racist groupthink or at best disengagement/silence. In fact, racist comments are par for the course, and receive no condemnation. You get the harsh reactions when you voice the truth and understanding…. so nobody does.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    March 9, 2012, 12:44 pm

    RE: “…with Gurvitz’s requiem for the two-state solution.” ~ Weiss

    A LATE WINTER AFTERNOON’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, brought to you courtesy of the makers of new Ziocaine Xtreme®: It’s guaran-damn-teed to blow your effing mind!
    Requiem For A Dream / Music composed by Clint Mansell, performed by the Kronos Quartet. / From the soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky’s second film. (VIDEO, 05:21) – link to youtube.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      March 9, 2012, 1:11 pm

      P.S. THIS IS A PHENOMENAL FILM: Requiem for a Dream, 2000, UR, 102 minutes
      A widow’s growing dependence on amphetamines and a self-help television show parallels the struggles of her heroin-addicted son and his girlfriend and friend in Darren Aronofsky’s bleak drama.
      Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Janet Sarno, Keith David, Sean Gullette, Ben Shenkman
      Director: Darren Aronofsky
      Netflix Availability: DVD and Blu-ray
      NETFLIX LISTING – link to movies.netflix.com
      REQUIEM FOR A DREAM TRAILER HD HQ – best scenes of a movie (VIDEO, 03:32) – link to youtube.com
      P.S. Be certain to watch/listen to “The making of…” and the “Director’s Commentary” in the bonus/extra features. Aronofsky has some interesting things to say about addictions that I think apply to Zionism (and many, many other things) as well. Also, try to have Dolby/DTS 5.1 audio when watching the feature film. They make very good use of the side/rear channels. And Ellen Burstyn’s acting is absolutely brilliant!

      ALSO CHECK OUT: Pi, 1998, R, 84 minutes
      Darren Aronofsky’s jarring black-and-white brain-bender is a haunting examination of one man’s numerical obsession. The story follows a fragile number theorist who’s on the trail of a 216-digit number that could unlock the secrets of the universe.
      Netflix Availability – Availability: Streaming and DVD
      NETFLIX LISTING – link to movies.netflix.com
      Pi movie trailer (VIDEO, 01:41) – link to youtube.com
      π, Trailer (VIDEO, 01:57) – link to youtube.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        March 9, 2012, 5:28 pm

        P.P.S. Alphaville (Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution), 1965, UR, 99 minutes
        Directed by cinematic legend Jean-Luc Godard, this mesmerizing sci-fi noir centers on secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) and his mission to destroy Alpha 60, the sentient computer that controls Alphaville by destroying freedom of thought or individuality. Brilliantly realized and crafted, Godard’s 1965 film helped to lay the foundation for future sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner, The Terminator and The Matrix.
        Language: French (English subtitles)
        Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD (Streaming until 3/15/12)
        NETFLIX LISTING –
        ALSO ON YouTube [French language with Croatian subtitles] (1:39:38) – link to youtube.com
        Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Trailer [VIDEO, 00:58] – link to youtube.com

  8. Annie Robbins
    March 9, 2012, 12:49 pm

    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. [In the former rabbinical tradition] the rabbis tried to housetrain Jewish messianism. The old way of thinking was, the messiah will lead Jews to victory. The rabbis made the messiah a supernatural being capable of talking to birds and animals. This mystical being was a dam against Jewish messianism in Ashkenazi Judaism, and the eliminationist elements against Christianity were held down by this teaching.

    jewish messianism has taken hold israel, and spreading. is that what this means?

    this is an incredible interview with an incredible man. thank you very very much.

    • American
      March 9, 2012, 1:28 pm

      Whether zionism was doomed from the beginning to turn out to be batshit crazy or not, that’s where it’s at now.
      It’s hysterical , absolutely mind boggling hysterical that the world has pampered, fed and fostered the Zio insanity for 63 years.
      Well, someone is going to have to deal with the monster now or wait for it to implode on itself and a lot of other people.
      Either way — deal with it, don’t deal with it, it will end just like all messianic movements have, only difference is how many people it finally takes with it.

      • seafoid
        March 9, 2012, 5:07 pm

        I think it’s going to go back to Masada.

      • dahoit
        March 10, 2012, 11:23 am

        Hey,if they want Masada,that’s their choice.My issue is leave US out of it.
        Unfortunately,that is not the case.

    • Bumblebye
      March 9, 2012, 4:40 pm

      Annie
      I hope you’ll be reporting on your own speechifying yesterday – spotted you on the flier Miko’s put up:
      link to mikopeled.files.wordpress.com

      • Annie Robbins
        March 9, 2012, 8:21 pm

        ah, you saw that. ;)

        it was an amazing experience. i am not sure how to describe it. it was my first presentation tho, and the feedback was very very positive. will be flying home tomorrow..perhaps i will wait for the video. we’ll see.

      • Bumblebye
        March 9, 2012, 8:31 pm

        Yes, saw it earlier this week, and OOH goody, looking forward to the video!
        :-D
        (I shought you might put something up mentioning before it happened, but no! Nerves, much?)

      • Annie Robbins
        March 9, 2012, 9:17 pm

        nerves much? i quit front paging (for the most part) a couple weeks ago to start preparing. i went out of my mind. a complete wreck, but fortunately i relaxed somewhat at the last minute.

      • Bumblebye
        March 9, 2012, 9:30 pm

        We wanna see you shine, so it better be the video!
        We know you’re brilliant, see?
        (oh dear, my tyop in above comment makes me sound half-cut)

    • Hostage
      March 9, 2012, 11:33 pm

      this is an incredible interview with an incredible man. thank you very very much.

      Yes I’m a huge fan of his articles at +972 Magazine. Earlier this week I was worried that by concentrating on Zionism or Nationalism per se, that Phil might avoid articles or discussions like this one about the more troubling role played by this rise of so-called religious ultra-orthodoxy. Most American Jews aren’t familiar with the subject.

      We are talking about a country so messed-up that Israeli Palestinian MKs have to listen to serious discussions about the need for a proposed bill (with co-sponsors from several political parties) that would grant Jewish leaders immunity from prosecution for incitement to commit genocide so that they can continue to use responsa in Jewish law like the crap mentioned in the interview above or to promote the wholesale massacre of Gentile men, women, and babies. See the subsection: “MKs: Rabbis Must be Protected” in: Rabbis to Explain ‘Torat HaMelech’ Controversy

      There have been several articles that touched on the problem in the last few days, but this one really “hit the nail on the head”. Thanks to Phil, Scott, and Yossi!

      • Annie Robbins
        March 11, 2012, 6:24 am

        what a weird link hostage.

  9. American
    March 9, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Once again.

    Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings…Consider the end.’

    “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans”..Milton Mayer

  10. American
    March 9, 2012, 1:54 pm

    “What should Obama do?”

    First, US liberal Jews aren’t going to save Israel.
    Much less the Zios.
    One State solution isn’t going to save Israel, it will be apartheid and in another generation the underclass Palestines will do a Libya or Egypt on them.

    Cut off the aid.
    Cut out the UN vetoes.
    Give Israel a dead line to remove their settler and settlements from Palestine.
    If they don’t, send in US and international forces to remove them.
    And secure their nuke facilities and put them under IAE inspection.
    Get on the bully pulpit and tell the US Israel Firsters if they object to Israel being made to uphold international law and unviersal human standards they know where the airport is and good riddence and goodby.

  11. Marian
    March 9, 2012, 3:22 pm

    It was actually US Secretary of State James Baker [who worked for George Bush senior] who formulated the remarkable comment, “Call us”

    • ahadhaadam
      March 9, 2012, 3:44 pm

      Not remarkable at all. The idea that Israeli leadership will call the US in order to achieve peace is ridiculous. It’s almost like expecting white nationalists in S. Africa to ask for outside help to abolish Apartheid when they receive full support for it from their benefactors.

      Why would Israel do that? There is no cost associated with Israel’s Apartheid and policies of ethnic cleansing and the conflict serves to keep the Jewish communities from fighting each other as they probably would if there was peace, and of course, to continue receiving financial support and to keep the military establishment in control.

  12. seafoid
    March 9, 2012, 5:26 pm

    Very interesting interview. Maybe next time you go ,Phil, you could talk to Shir Hever who wrote “the Political economy of Israel’s occupation” . The meltdown will be a mixture of politics, Judaism and economics and he has good insight into all 3 .
    Gurvitz’s white hope is J14 and some kind of socialism but the oligarchs won’t allow that. So an economic crash is far more likely. If American Jews cut off the money supply it could get Israel to the table before the situation is lost for Israel.

  13. Keith
    March 9, 2012, 8:53 pm

    “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.”

    Israel Shahak discusses this in “Jewish History, Jewish Religion.” Around the 13th century, thanks to Jewish converts who translated, the Christian elites became aware of the extreme anti-Christian and anti-Gentile Talmudic writings in classical Judaism, and had the offending parts removed, or as actually occurred euphemized , Gentile replaced by idolater, heathen, etc. Now, in Israel, the euphemisms are being replaced with the original anti-Gentile phraseology.

    Quoting Shahak: “The persistent attitude of classical Judaism toward non-Jews strongly influence its followers, Orthodox Jews and those who can be regarded as its continuators, Zionists…. Since 1967, as Israel becomes more and more ‘Jewish’, so its policies are influenced more by Jewish ideological considerations than by coldly conceived imperial interest.”

    • Keith
      March 10, 2012, 12:47 pm

      To pursue this a little further, I think this phenomenon of ideological fundamentalism is reflected in the thread on Netanyahu giving Obama the story of Esther. What is the purpose of highlighting an ancient myth? It would seem that rationality has given way to the logic of the myth. No need to bother with factual distortions when fairy tales can be quoted verbatim. And believed. Both in Israel and the US, a uniquely religious country among the industrial nations. It should be further noted that as neoliberalism spreads additional misery to the 99%, when people feel threatened, a defensive retreat into fundamentalism is virtually inevitable. Cheers.

  14. Pixel
    March 10, 2012, 12:04 am

    Phil, what you guys have been – and are – doing is INvaluable.

    Never doubt that. Never stop.

    It does matter.

    It does make a difference.

  15. Richard Congress
    March 10, 2012, 10:35 am

    re: “Rambam [Maimonides in the 12th century] writes, If a Jew has intercourse with a gentile child three years old and a day, the child should be executed for misleading the Jew, making him sin. Those texts are still valid. We don’t understand them, but they are valid.

    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. [In the former rabbinical tradition] the rabbis tried to housetrain Jewish messianism. The old way of thinking was, the messiah will lead Jews to victory. The rabbis made the messiah a supernatural being capable of talking to birds and animals. This mystical being was a dam against Jewish messianism in Ashkenazi Judaism, and the eliminationist elements against Christianity were held down by this teaching.

    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. The third orders the gentiles not to treat the Jews too badly.

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

    Gurvitz is describing the core, basic element of Judaism. It is an ingrown, reactionary, patriarchal, tribal creed once it’s stripped of its 19th to 20th century secular wrappings. Real events in the world have begun to peel back these artificial layers. Will it drag supposed liberalized, progressive Jews along with it? Hopefully the trend toward skepticism at least among young American Jews will continue and deepen.

    I like Dan Crowther’s remarks re: Gilad Atzmon. I doubt that the self-appointed group of censors on the left who want to ban him from the Palestine solidarity movement have read anything he’s written beyond a few random quotes. These people should also seriously study what Israel Shahak and Schlomo Sand have written.

    • wondering jew
      March 10, 2012, 4:51 pm

      Richard Congress knows what is the core basic element of Judaism. There were great rabbis who demurred from describing the basic core element of Judaism, but Richard Congress knows. We are so lucky to have him here to enlighten us.

  16. wondering jew
    March 10, 2012, 4:48 pm

    1. Gurvitz cites the second intifada as a major trauma from which Israel needs to recover in order to get the majority of the society rested enough to deal with the situation rationally. This idea is never mentioned by Phil and it is good to hear it from Gurvitz.

    2. Even though Yeshaya Leibowitz turned out to be right with his basic contention vis a vis the moral dangers of the occupation, his usage of the “Judeo Nazi” rhetoric was one of the keys to his marginalization by Israeli society. I don’t see this rhetoric as helpful and Gurvitz’s citation of this rhetoric alienates me from him and pushes me in the direction of seeing him as “out of touch”.

    3. James Baker, the secretary of state under Bush pere, was the one who said, here’s our phone number, call us when you are serious.

    • Donald
      March 10, 2012, 5:08 pm

      ” Gurvitz cites the second intifada as a major trauma from which Israel needs to recover in order to get the majority of the society rested enough to deal with the situation rationally. This idea is never mentioned by Phil and it is good to hear it from Gurvitz.”

      It’s mentioned all the frigging time, it seems to me, though not by Phil. I didn’t need to hear it from RW countless times to be aware of it. We all know the storyline–Barak made an incredibly generous offer, Arafat didn’t budge, the intifada broke out, then the terrible suicide bombings, and the Israeli peace camp just melted away and Benny Morris decided that the problem with the Nakba was it hadn’t been thorough enough.

      Look, it’s obvious that the suicide bombings of the second intifada would traumatize Israelis. Understood. 1000 civilian deaths in a population of several million would be traumatizing. At some point maybe it will cross Israeli minds that the Palestinians lost several times that number of civilians and live under much harsher conditions.

      “his usage of the “Judeo Nazi” rhetoric was one of the keys to his marginalization by Israeli society”

      I don’t like the usage, but how is it that every enemy Israel has ever had gets compared to Hitler? I wouldn’t use the Nazi comparison for various reasons, including the fact that it might chase people away, but one can’t help but notice how often Israelis use it themselves.

    • Bumblebye
      March 10, 2012, 5:31 pm

      Please explain why Israelis must be given time to “recover” from the “trauma” of the 2nd Indifada, yet the Palestinians don’t seem to be considered to be traumatized by over 65years of dispossession, refugeehood, loss of land, loss of self-determination, constant raids and imprisonment by their occupiers, military offensives by same, and so on and so forth? It disgusts me to read in Israelcentric media all the mewling over poor traumatized Israelis after the weekends bombings, while constantly referring to “terrorists” in relation to Palestinians who *actually* died and were severely wounded in significant numbers. And, incidentally, even Israeli sites noted the rockets were a *response* to Israeli bombings!

  17. Newclench
    March 10, 2012, 6:31 pm

    Great job bringing this guy here. He’s right: the language of pro and anti Zionism is strange, mystifying. Zionism IS a spent force. On the right, they are simply fascist and borrow some of the language of historic Zionism. On the far left, they are fighting something that barely exists as a coherent ideology. The only real authentic Zionists worth debating are some old time academics and seriously old school labor party/kibbutz types and the three revisionists that Yossi mentions.
    In the USA, Zionism has more currency precisely because of the ignorance of the situation in Israel. The strongest (non Orthodox) Zionists are often those with the least awareness of the situation there.

    Time to look at the situation there as a puzzle with lots of pieces that need to fit together, not as some kind of holy war by the folks who ‘get it’ against the folks who ‘don’t get it.’ (Note how that applies to a bunch of different folks…)

  18. Justice Please
    March 11, 2012, 7:36 pm

    “every demon that was pushed into the basement is up and has an M16″

    Great wording.

    By the way, I’m glad Gurvitz mentions one elephant in the room, which often gets ignored by “progressives”: Jewish supremacism. It’s here, some or many Jews believe in it, and it’s a problem. “Jews are better than others” is not one bit less horrific than “Germans are better than others”, so please let us find ways to banish Jewish supremacism from acceptable discourse like we have banished Germanic supremacism from acceptable discourse.

    • Justice Please
      March 11, 2012, 7:39 pm

      From the transcript:

      “A poll two weeks ago—about 70 percent consider themselves to be the chosen people. American Jews think we as Jews are chosen to carry out tikkun olam [social justice]. Israeli Jews think something different—we are the chosen people of God, we are chosen to do anything we damn well please. To take people’s land. Take peoples lives. There is actually no mainstream force standing against the Jewish brotherhood.”

  19. teta mother me
    March 16, 2012, 9:29 am

    re

    “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.””

    WRMEA sponsored a conversation between Gilad Atzmon and Norman Mezvinsky in Washington yesterday (Helen Thomas was in the audience!! She was invited to ask the first question.) Mezvinsky and Atzmon paid close attention to the issue Yossi Gurvitz raised — that the rabbinic controls have come off and the “demon” of choseness in the Jewish psyche is on a rampage with no prospects for containing it.

    This is a brand new concept — when I heard Yossi Gurvitz mention it, it didn’t register, but as I think about it, a lot of puzzle pieces fall into place. On the way home I listened to Robert Kagan on C Span talk about his new book on US as enforcer of the ‘new world order’ that emerged post-WWII — another puzzle piece fits; Yuri Slezkine’s “The Jewish Century,” another piece of the puzzle.
    What is going on?
    It’s certainly not anything Christians were taught in Sunday school about Israel. I’d appreciate hearing more about how this impulse has emerged at various times in Jewish history. Is Esther the seed of this notion, and is this what the Jewish civil war ~60 CE was about — the outcome of which was Masada — is this what is referred to when people talk about the ‘Masada’ complex? Were the Maccabees an expression of this outburst of “messianic supremacism”? Should we be troubled that Herzl closed Der Judenstaat with the battlecry, “The Maccabees will rise again!”?
    And if the rabbinate was/is so essential to containing these impulses, who or what regulates the rabbis? Rabbi Broide: “When it comes to achievements in life, not to many Presidents in this country, not to mention others, reach the sole of Netanyahu, and just for that he deserves a lot of respect as opposed to Hussein Obama or Monsieur Sarkozy.”

    • seanmcbride
      March 16, 2012, 3:17 pm

      teta mother me,

      Now you’re getting into the real stuff. Contemporary messianic religious Zionism (and even secular Zionism to a degree) has its roots in ancient biblical archetypes and psychological drives and syndromes. This current surge of biblical and Maccabean messianism is probably going to end in an apocalyptic catastrophe — all the signs are there.

      • Shmuel
        March 16, 2012, 5:03 pm

        Sean,

        Modern national identity is taken for granted, but it actually took a lot of hard work – including selectively dragging out and reworking old stories and myths, to fire passions, “forge the nation” and demonstrate its origins “in the mists of time” (see e.g. the first part of Sand’s Invention of the Jewish People). The Italians had the Romans, the French the Gauls, the Germans the Teutonic tribes and mythology, the Jews the Israelites, the Bible and some carefully selected and packaged history.

        Would you say that Italian nationalism (not to mention Fascism) has its roots in ancient Rome (take a gander at the Italian national anthem, for example), or was ancient history and mythology manipulated to serve the creation of a national ethos?

        As Sand points out, the Italians and the French now know that the “ancient roots” of their respective national identities are a crock. The Zionists on the other hand (beginning with the “proto-Zionist” historiographers, heavily influenced by all the national identity-building around them) were so wildly successful that not only do a majority of Jews buy their crap about an unbroken chain of national identity and longing for political sovereignty in their “homeland”, but so does the rest of the Western World (and beyond).

        Modern Jewish nationalism was the invention of secular and at least partially assimilated European Jews. They were not overcome by “Maccabean messianism”, but by 19th/20th-century European (especially Central and Eastern) romantic nationalism, from which they were largely excluded. So they went looking for their own ancient tales of glory – all the more so because they had internalised the widely-held view that Jews were lesser beings because they lacked such manly virtues. Another sine qua non for “full humanity” was a land to love and work (see e.g. the works of A.D. Gordon) and irrigate with vast quantities of sweat, blood and poetry. One would have to have been a complete idiot not to latch onto Biblical (and extra-biblical, in the case of the Maccabees, Massada, etc.) tales of Jewish heroism and other praiseworthy qualities with a conveniently built -in national territory inhabited by barely civilised savages ripe for colonisation by superior Europeans. We were a real people after all!

        European Jews (despite their “ancient biblical archetypes and psychological drives and syndromes”) weren’t buying, and it took a dreadful amount of effort and a terrible catastrophe to get enough of them on board to make a go of it. A key element of the Zionist strategy was in fact to convince Jews (and non-Jews) that there was nothing new about this “Jewish national identity” but that it was as old as the world itself (or very nearly). This was not true, but it was eventually effective – playing on existing elements in Jewish tradition, some of which had been long forgotten or even actively rejected, and some of which were merely on the path to extinction, due to the incredible upheavals of modernity, emancipation, enlightenment, immigration, etc.

        A related topic is the Zionist use of socialism (hugely popular among young European Jews of the idealistic variety) to promote their brand of Jewish nationalism (see Z. Sternhell’s The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State).

        In other words, everything was “kosher” – from Genesis to Josephus to the Inquisition to Tolstoy to Marx to pogroms to Mussolini to “free love” – to sell the idea of ancient-modern (“altneu”) Jewish nationhood. They worked with what they found and invented the rest. The only thing that mattered was to be a “normal nation” – which, in the eyes of the Zionist founders meant blood and soil and ancient glory and modern chauvinism. And then the Golem took on a life of its own.

    • Hostage
      March 16, 2012, 8:44 pm

      This is a brand new concept — when I heard Yossi Gurvitz mention it, it didn’t register

      In 1999 Norton Mezvinsky teamed-up with the late Israel Shahak to coauthor “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel”. A couple of years earlier Prof. Shahak had written “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years”. Gurvitz was touching upon many of the same themes that were addressed in those works.

  20. MHughes976
    March 16, 2012, 4:34 pm

    My suggestion would be that in its original conception the Messiah was the desire of all the nations, not just of the Israelites, and that on his arrival many nations – I think that means all – will be reconciled to the true God. Some biblical archetypes aren’t all that bad.
    That said, I think Gabriel Piterberg (Returns of Zionism) makes the point that the Zionists were determined to bypass rabbinic authority by returning to the direct authority of the Bible – selectively, of course, and with overwhelming emphasis on Joshua. Latterly on Esther, it seems.

    • Shmuel
      March 16, 2012, 5:52 pm

      That said, I think Gabriel Piterberg (Returns of Zionism) makes the point that the Zionists were determined to bypass rabbinic authority by returning to the direct authority of the Bible – selectively, of course, and with overwhelming emphasis on Joshua. Latterly on Esther, it seems.

      Rabbinic Judaism was perceived as weak and emblematic of diaspora existence, both a product and a cause of the “abnormal” Jewish “condition”. Exceptions were made for “fighting rabbis” such as Rabbi Akiva, who joined Bar Kockhba in his rebellion against the Romans, or Judah Halevi who could be portrayed as an “oleh” and “proto-Zionist” (“My heart is in the east and I am in the farthest reaches of the west”).

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