Arthur Koestler’s Zionist recruiters used anti-Semitic ideas

Koestler
Koestler

In his memoir, Arrow in the Blue (1952), Arthur Koestler says he learned about Zionism, to which he became a devoted adherent for many years, in 1922 when he was 17 and arrived at a Viennese technical university. There he was recruited to join a Zionist fraternity called Unitas. He relates the following encounter from a night of drinking and dueling:

At some point during the unofficial part of the proceedings, Hahn and Attila, both of whom were to become my intimate friends, involved me in a political conversation. Attila started by asking what I thought of Zionism. I answered truthfully that I had never thought about it and hardly knew what the word meant. It meant, in substance, explained Attila, that the Jews had been persecuted during some twenty centuries and that there was no reason to expect they would not be persecuted in the twenty-first. To argue with anti-Semites was all the more hopeless as the Jews were in fact a sick race. They were a nation without a country, which was like being a man without a shadow; and they were socially top-heavy, with a disproportionately great number of lawyers, merchants, intellectuals, and with no farmers or peasants–which was like a pyramid standing on its top. The only cure was: return to the earth. If Jews wanted to be like other people, they must have a country like other people and a social structure like other people. That was all there was to it, and there was no other way.

This seemed so simple and obvious that I wondered why I had not thought of it myself. But then, I had never been personally victimized or bothered by anti-Semitism, and had always regarded the so-called “Jewish Question” as the same kind of boring and remote subject as Municipal Autonomy or the War of the Spanish Succession.

Koestler relates that Attila’s real name was  Jacob Teller; he became a dentist in Tiberias. Hahn became a surgeon in Tel Aviv.

I just started reading Koestler (1905-1983) and understand that this is a tiny portion of his writings on Zionism. He moved to Palestine for several years, and wrote a lot on the subject. I’ll keep you posted as the story unfolds. Thanks to Theodore Sayeed.

P.S. Note that Jack Ross regularly sounds this idea: that Zionism entails self-hatred.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 108 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. CitizenC says:

    Hatred of non-Zionist Jewish existence, to be precise. And for the same reason, rejection of liberal society or its possibility, it involves anti-gentilism in equal measure. Zionism is simply the Jewish contribution to right-wing politics and ideology.

    • Krauss says:

      I’ve read a few books on Jacob Shiff, the premier Wall St banker at the turn of the last century. He was a German Jew who immigrated to America and became exceptionally successful as a banker and who supported Zionism(as well as German nationalism, for some reason). Still, the books on him are very limited despite the outsized importance that he had.

      Rothschild also funded the Jewish settlements in Palestine quite heavily before the WWII period.

      Simon Schama, the British Jewish intellectual, has even written a book about it.

      It’s called “Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1978)”
      It’s a very good book. Of course Schama is a Zionist and a lot has been toned down or even omitted, but it’s still a good generalist introduction to the forces that preceded the creation of the state. It’s also, at least for me personally, interesting to note the forces at play within the Rothschilds family and their own struggle with their identity.

      They might not be as brash as today’s Wall St backers of Zionism, but they too struggled with their identity. The Rothschilds were very early in assimilating, intermarrying and so forth. They had to, in order to prosper under the British Empire. And they weren’t as enthusiastic about Zionism to begin with, it was more like a remote hobby which they occassionally poured money in but over time, that increased for many reasons. It was also interesting to see how outside forces within the Jewish community goaded them both, often mildly, to contribute more.

      Still, they never quite felt at home within Israel. They were both Anglo Jews with a distinct European culture. And even if the Jews of Palestine tried to copy European culture, the Rothschilds were snobs and you get the feeling that they in some sense saw the Jews in Palestine as children to be coddled and to be managed.

  2. Shmuel says:

    Tom Segev discusses this aspect of Zionism – inter alia, as common ground between Zionists and the European leaders (particularly British) whose support they sought – at the beginning of One Palestine Complete.

    Koestler’s Vienna frat-pals were no different from their non-Jewish counterparts: drinking, duelling and talking about “normal” or “natural” peoples, the eroticism of native soil and the wonderfully romantic peasantry (at arms length, if you please). If ever proof were needed that Zionism is the legitimate child of European ethnic nationalism.

    • evets says:

      I notice that harsh Israeli critics of Zionism like Uri Avnery and Gilad Atzmon are even harder on Diaspora Jews and seem to believe that Diaspora germs are the cause of Zionist corruption and decay.

      • Uri Avnery is a decent man and does not deserve to be included in the same sentence with G. Atzmon.

        • evets says:

          ‘Uri Avnery is a decent man and does not deserve to be included in the same sentence with G. Atzmon.’

          I can split it into two sentences, or throw in a semi-colon if you like, but the fact is they do share a revulsion towards Diaspora Jewry (or some traditional Zionist caricature of same).

      • Shmuel says:

        Uri Avnery actually sees the policies he criticises as a corruption of Zionism, and still believes in the Zionist “negation of the diaspora”.

        Atzmon may have rejected Zionism, but has failed to shed some of its core beliefs.

        • mig says:

          Shmuel:

          Atzmon may have rejected Zionism, but has failed to shed some of its core beliefs.

          I don’t know, are there any “core beliefs” at all.

        • Shmuel says:

          I don’t know, are there any “core beliefs” at all.

          Assuming you’re not being facetious, “negation of the diaspora” (shelilat hagolah) is one.

        • mig says:

          Shmuel:

          Assuming you’re not being facetious, “negation of the diaspora” (shelilat hagolah) is one.

          I assume that you familiar with Shlomo Sand work ?

          link to youtube.com

          Besides of that, i don’t know what those core things are. First i must apologize, im non-jewish. Second, time after time, many other “core” myths has been more or less busted. Exodus from Egypt maybe never happened. Romans didn’t kick jews out from palestine, so that diaspora myth is just a myth, nothing else. And one curious note from that wikipage you brought up, all men who has given their theory, lived in 19th century. Was something created then that time, studied something and drawn some conclusions ? History is a living creature which changes form all the time. Many “beliefs” which we learned to be actual fact, has been more or less find out to be myth. But i wan’t to say also this, i’m not in the position to make final word from anything. I’m just curious from many things, and i see things how i see them or interpret how i do. No offence to anyone. Peace !

        • Shmuel says:

          mig,

          I wrote “beliefs”, not facts. The relation of these beliefs to actual reality (current or historical) is irrelevant.

          The reason that the thinkers who came up with the idea of the “negation of the diaspora” were all men of the 19th century is very simple. It is a 19th-century idea, rooted in European (particularly central and eastern – indeed, see Sand) Romanticism and ethnic nationalism.

          First i must apologize, im non-jewish.

          You are forgiven, although I believe there is a penalty. Cheques can be made out directly to Mooser ;-)

        • mig says:

          Shmuel:

          I wrote “beliefs”, not facts. The relation of these beliefs to actual reality (current or historical) is irrelevant.

          Was my original thought also.

          “The first precept was never to accept a thing as true until I knew it as such without a single doubt.”

          Rene Descartes

        • Mooser says:

          Do you think Atzmon embraces any “core beliefs”, or just can’t rid himself of the Zionist manner of argumentation?
          Or as an alternative and less Israeli-centric theory I’ve always found his writing to be constructed pretty much like a bad jazz solo. Which is great, if you’re playing jazz.

        • Citizen says:

          Shmuel, what core beliefs of Zionism do you think Atzmon has failed to shed?
          Seems to me he self-identifies as a humane human first and foremost, or at the very least, is constantly trying to do that, and to be treated as such. And secondarily, as a musician specializing in jazz. Have you read The Wandering Who?

      • ColinWright says:

        “Diaspora germs are the cause of Zionist corruption and decay.”

        I’d be inclined to take the opposite view — that Zionist ‘corruption and decay’ are the inevitable result of the situation created by the founding of the Zionist state.

        ‘Zionists’ weren’t inherently evil — most of the immigrants to Israel have been at best semi-voluntary in the first place. It is the situation — the attempt to establish an exclusionary state on a land inhabited by another people by dispossessing that people in an environment that ruled out frank genocide or total expulsion.

        I doubt there could have been any other outcome. There never was, there isn’t, and there can’t be a ‘nice’ Israel. It has nothing to do with who you crew it with.

  3. Blake says:

    Arthur Koestler published a 255 page book titled “THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE” where he proved (Zionist propagandists say otherwise) that Eastern European Jews are neither Israelites nor Semites, but are instead Khazars, Mongols, and Huns. Most major newspapers and magazines reviewed the book during 1976.

    BTW, the Author and his wife were found dead in their bath at their home in London shortly after the book was released in an apparent double suicide – with their elbows slit!

    The Thirteenth Tribe is available free on the internet in pdf format:
    link to solargeneral.com

    • Actually, I believe he and his wife intentionally overdosed on barbiturates.

      • Blake says:

        I hope I have not opened a can of worms.

        You could be right but this leaves an element of doubt in my mind:
        “Despite significant inconsistencies, the police ruled their death a suicide.”

        • Mooser says:

          I don’t know, and hardly care, cause I don’t see how it makes any difference, if the “khazar” theory was ever conclusively proved. But there is no doubt that Judaism, both the religion and it’s adherents and proselytizers spread far and wide. Certainly far enough that an ethno-national congruity to Judaism is patently ridiculous.
          It’s a religion, and one of the great ones. Why isn’t that enough?

        • Keith says:

          MOOSER- “It’s a religion, and one of the great ones. Why isn’t that enough?

          If Jewish Zionists and organized American Jewry were content to be merely a religion and not a tribal people, it would be. Alas, there are power seeking advantages to tribal solidarity and organized power, hence, the legitimizing mythology of a people in exile returning home to the sacred soil.

        • Blake says:

          Mooser: I only mentioned it because MW did an article on him. I do not care about where Jews come from but I do care about how Zionists used religion (albeit in a twisted way) to steal Palestine. That duplicitous “law of return” that allows people whose ancestors never lived in the Middle East to “return” and excludes Palestinians whose ancestors always lived there, never to return to their homeland.

    • Blake- You can’t prove something like that, unless you can. I think it would be difficult to prove where today’s Jews came from without genetic proof. Did Koestler include DNA evidence? I don’t think so. If he did prove it, name three historians who accept his proof.

      • Blake says:

        @ yonah:
        1. Ben Zion Dinur, the father of Israeli historiography, was not hesitant about describing the Khazars as the origin of the Jews in Eastern Europe, and describes Khazaria as ‘the mother of the diasporas’ in Eastern Europe.

        2.The greatest historian on the origin and the history of the so-called or self-styled “Jews” in eastern Europe was Professor H. Graetz, himself a so-called or self-styled “Jew.” Professor H. Graetz points out in his famous “History of the Jews” that when so-called or self-styled “Jews” in other countries heard a rumor about so-called or self-styled “Jews” in the Khazar Kingdom they believed these converted Khazars to be the “lost ten tribes.” These rumors were no doubt responsible for the legend which grew up that Palestine was the “homeland” of the converted Khazars. On page 141 in his “History of the Jews” Professor H. Graetz states:”The Chazars professed a coarse religion, which was combined with sensuality and lewdness…After Obadia came a long series of Jewish Chagans (kings), for ACCORDING TO A FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF THE STATE ONLY JEWISH RULERS WERE PERMITTED TO ASCEND THE THRONE. For some time THE JEWS OF OTHER COUNTRIES HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONVERSION OF THIS POWERFUL KINGDOM TO JUDAISM, and when at last a vague rumor to this effect reached them, THEY WERE OF THE OPINION THAT CHAZARIA WAS PEOPLED BY THE REMNANT OF THE FORMER TEN TRIBES.”

        3. Prof Shlomo Sand in his book “How the Jews Invented Themselves” concluded that the Jews should be seen as a religious community comprising a mishmash of individuals and groups that had converted to the ancient monotheistic religion but do not have any historical right to establish an independent Jewish state in the Holy Land. In short, the Jewish People are not really a “people” in the sense of having a common ethnic origin & national heritage. They certainly do not have a political claim over the territory that today constitutes Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.

        Some more:
        The Jews of Khazaria by Kevin Alan Brook
        The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167–1900 by Adam Shear .
        Facts Are Facts by Benjamin H. Freedman

        • Citizen says:

          Thanks for sharing, Blake. Reading your responsive comment, I kept seeing that great bloated thing, the “history teacher,” Newt G declaring in all the earnestness he could muster to the American masses that the Palestinians were invented, just as Bibi had told him.

        • Blake says:

          Or Sheldon Adelson had instructed him with a few million dollars in campaign money, dare I say “bribe”.

          Prov. 11:6 – “the treacherous are caught by their own greed”

          Even Mitt Romney called that remark “incendiary”.

    • ColinWright says:

      The irony there is that I remember when that book came out. There was a determined effort to hoot it down. ‘Koestler is not a historian,’ etc.

      Then the first of our by-now familiar genetic marker studies came out. I’ll readily grant that it’s probably been superseded — but it did show that the Ashkenazim were at primarily descended from Khazars.

      Personally, I think Koestler’s theory must be a bit overstated. The Jewish culture of Eastern Europe obviously owes far too much to German Jewry to be primarily descended from Khazar roots. Show me the Yiddish words derived from Khazar if you want to convince me. However, it’s perfectly possible there’s something to it.

      • evets says:

        I read the book a hundred years ago but seem to remember that Koestler addresses the Khazar/Yiddish question. I believe the solution had something to do with German trading posts in the region, or some such thing. Not very convincing, but he did have some interesting stuff on the origin of skullcaps and hooked noses. Nothing to do with trading posts as I recall.

      • Mooser says:

        The point, Colin, is that because a religion moves, it doesn’t mean that all the people who embrace the religion are descended from the same people.
        What on earth do “genetic markers” have to do with it, unless you are trying to tie some kind of essential characteristics to them? Other than susceptibility or resistance to certain diseases or congenital defects of course, in which case “genetic markers” can be useful.

        • Roya says:

          “The point, Colin, is that because a religion moves, it doesn’t mean that all the people who embrace the religion are descended from the same people.” But that’s exactly it. Whatever the original colonialist motives in founding Israel, today the core foundation of Zionism is pushed as ‘Jews need to return to their homeland of Eretz Israel,’ that because some Jews lived there 2,000 years ago, that all Jews today need to make an “ascent” and go ‘back home.’ This assumes that all Jews are descended from the same people, and this assumption is used to legitimize Zionism. Whether or not Jews are of one race or one ethnicity would not be relevant if it were not for Zionism. And make as much fun of genetic tests as you want, but Zionists have spent millions of dollars on genetic tests trying to prove that all Jews share common ancestry.

        • Citizen says:

          I read recently in one of the Israeli papers that there’s a movement within the Israeli medical profession to give all baby Jews all the same tests, instead of first sorting by various types of Jews and their special DNA, and testing each group for the peculiar congenital defects and diseases mostly associated with each group.

      • Blake says:

        Colin: When the Khazars in migrated to e. Europe their mother-tongue was an Asiatic language, referred to in Jewish Encyclopedia as “Khazar languages.” They were primitive Asiatic dialects without any alphabet or any written form. When King Bulan was converted in 7AD he decreed Hebrew the alphabet for Khazar language. The Hebrew characters were adopted to phonetics of the spoken Khazar language.

        Before it became known as the “Yiddish” language, the mother-tongue of the Khazars added many words to its limited ancient vocabulary as necessity required. These words were acquired from the languages of its neighboring nations with whom they had political, social or economic relations. Languages of all nations add to their vocabularies in the same way. The Khazars adapted words to their requirements from the German, the Slavonic and the Baltic languages. The Khazars adopted a great number of words from the German language. The Germans had a much more advanced civilization than their Khazar neighbors and the Khazars sent their children to German schools and universities.

    • Brewer says:

      “The Thirteenth Tribe” was roundly dismissed as an anti Semitic tract and consigned to false History bin along with the Protocols.
      Shlomo Sand gave it a dusting off and elicited this astonishing response from Israel Bartal, dean of the humanities faculty of the Hebrew University:

      “Here is what was written about the conversion of the Khazars, a nation of Turkish origin, in the Zionist Mikhlal Encyclopedia that the State of Israel’s Zionist Ministry of Education recommended so warmly…..: “It is irrelevant whether the conversion to Judaism encompassed a large stratum of the Khazar nation; what is important is that this event was regarded as a highly significant phenomenon in Jewish history, a phenomenon that has since totally disappeared: Judaism as a missionary religion…
      ….My response to Sand’s arguments is that no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically “pure.” Sand applies marginal positions to the entire body of Jewish historiography and, in doing so, denies the existence of the central positions in Jewish historical scholarship.

      No “nationalist” Jewish historian has ever tried to conceal the well-known fact that conversions to Judaism had a major impact on Jewish history in the ancient period and in the early Middle Ages. Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions. Important groups in the Jewish national movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely.”

      There is a website for modern day Khazars:

      link to khazaria.com

      Despite being an enthusiastic Zionist and regarded as one of the eminent scholars of his day (he was awarded the prestigious Sonning Prize “for outstanding contribution to European culture” and, in 1972, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire), Koestler’s “The Thirteenth Tribe” was considered detrimental to the Zionist cause so he was smeared and vilified. I can remember when one mention of Khazars was enough to get one branded an anti Semite and hounded out of any discussion. Today it is pretty much accepted.

      • piotr says:

        I read a summary of a study on Y chromosomes of a sample of Ashkenazi Jews, with roughly 10% Cohens, 10% Levis and 80% “normal Israelites”. Apparently both Cohens and Levis have surprisingly separate types of Y-chromosomes, with Cohens being clearly Cana’anite, and Levis having peculiar markers most frequent among some tribes of Western Siberia. Israelites were mostly Levantine, but with some Siberian minority.

        Unless you believe that the Welch have moral right to throw out all infiltrators and interlopers out of Britania, Gaelic Scots back to Ireland and Anglo-Saxons to Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, all this stuff of mythology and DNA is irrelevant.

        • Brewer says:

          Be very wary how you deal with DNA. Be aware that 96% of DNA is shared with primates. There are many interpretations of the data bandied around the internet. Most are not written by geneticists.
          The predominant opinion of geneticists is in line with common sense – Palestinians and Misrahi Jews are one and the same people –

          “(Palestinian “Israelis”) and Palestinia­ns, together as the one same population­, represent modern “descendan­ts of a core population that lived in the area since prehistori­c times”, albeit religiously first Christiani­zed then largely Islamized, and all eventually culturally and linguistically Arabized”
          – Ariella Oppenheim.

          …and Ashkenazis – not so much:

          “it is also consistent that the projection of the AJ (Ashkenazi Jewish) populations is primarily the outcome of admixture with || Central and Eastern European hosts that coincidentally shift them closer to Italians along principle component axes relative to Middle Easterners.”

          Steven M. Bray, Jennifer G. Mulle, Anne F. Dodd, Ann E. Pulver, Stephen Wooding, and Stephen T. Warren. “Signatures of founder effects, admixture, and selection in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.”

      • ColinWright says:

        “…No “nationalist” Jewish historian has ever tried to conceal the well-known fact that conversions to Judaism had a major impact on Jewish history in the ancient period and in the early Middle Ages. Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions…”

        If serious Israeli (and Jewish) historians understand this to be the case, they certainly make no effort to correct public statements by politicians and others that imply otherwise. One doesn’t hear anyone raising a flag when some columnist or American presidential candidate refers to ‘the Jews’ return to their homeland.’ In fact, in mainstream discourse it is assumed that this correctly states what has happened.

        The academics may well know such beliefs are false. However, they are apparently entirely willing to allow them to be believed to be true. This is gross hypocrisy.

        • Brewer says:

          Historians are people, subject to the same pressures as everyone.
          Should they be eminent enough to be paid heed to, they will face loss of tenure should they deviate too far from the party line.
          Most, in my experience, seem to enjoy toeing the line, smugly cherishing their monopoly on what is known as compared with what is commonly believed.
          Thus, assumptions about the past can only be reliably made by visiting the Historical record oneself, often guided (intentionally or not) by such as Bartal who, in this instance (in his zeal to devalue Sand), has probably overstepped the mark.

  4. The German Zionist rabbi Joachim Prinz wrote the same thing in his book ‘Wir Juden’ (We Jews), Berlin 1934. – The logic of his argument is also this: The anti-Semitic gentiles are right, therefore anti-Semitism will not go away. If anti-Semitism were built on prejudice or superstition it could fade out. But since it isn’t a prejudice it will not (as long as we are Diaspora Jews).

    • Mooser says:

      He wrote that in 1934? Gosh, I wonder what he thought of Africans, and Asians.

      • Mooser says:

        Klaus, if you happen to see a cite about that (Africans, Asians) for Prinz or similar figures in the Zionist movement, could you send it in? Thanks.

      • He wrote it in October 1933, published in 1934. He welcomed Hitler on the basis that he would outlaw intermarriage.

        His basic argument for Palestine was what Koestler’s pal said above:
        “the disproportionately great number of lawyers, merchants, intellectuals, and with no farmers or peasants” – that created abnormal Jewish Diaspora characteristics that the Germans and other people were right to dislike.

  5. -”the Jews were in fact a sick race.”

    One should note that Koestler – or rather his pals – use the word ‘race’ in a loose way, meaning ‘people’. And they must not mean racist anti-Semites. Because how should anti-Semitism go away once the Jews are in Palestine if it were racist anti-Semitism?

    • The Zionist theory of attempting to solve the Jewish problem by changing the nature of the Jews, was lofty idealism of a sort. But let’s face it, the urge to assimilate exists within most Jews, and is thoroughly espoused by Phil here on Mondoweiss. So once we accept the urge to assimilate (into the majority population by a member of the minority population), then we certainly have to accept that urge in people 90 years ago. Fact #2 is that the nations of Europe or the nationalists of Europe or a significant percentage of the elites of nationalist Europeans, would not accept the Jews as part of their nations. This was the experience of Herzl when he attempted to join a German nationalist fraternity, and I don’t know if Pinsker had the same experience or if the pogroms, a historical event, were enough to serve the purpose of personal rejection, by having that rejection played out on a large scale. So now we have two facts: an urge to assimilate and rejection by the local nationalists. Voila- let’s have our own nationalism.

      The urge to assimilate is partially an urge to wear the mask of the dominant culture and partially an urge to hide or erase the face of the minority culture that will be masked by the dominant culture. The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

      Since Woody Allen was mentioned here yesterday, his chameleon man in “Zelig” serves the purpose of a demonstration of the urge to fit as an expression of self hatred.

      • ColinWright says:

        “…Fact #2 is that the nations of Europe or the nationalists of Europe or a significant percentage of the elites of nationalist Europeans, would not accept the Jews as part of their nations…”

        I question that ‘fact.’ Jews were accepted to a greater or lesser extent by all the nations of Western Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Aside from Disraeli, Britain had one quite unconverted member of the Sassoon family as a cabinet minister in the 1930′s, and of course the poet Siegfried Sassoon was himself the product of assimilation carried to its logical conclusion.

        The French were usually accepting of ‘their’ Jews and indeed, Vichy France attempted to refuse to hand ‘French’ (as opposed to ‘foreign’ Jews over to the Nazis. Then too, wasn’t Leon Blum a Jew?

        Denmark of course proved entirely unwilling to renounce its Jews, and I believe Jews were perfectly welcome in Holland. Even in Germany, one of the minor tragedies of the Holocaust were these various German Jews who saw themselves as good Germans and only wanted to be allowed to participate in Germany’s rebirth.

        Then, the intermarriage rate in Weimar Germany was quite high — something like 20%, if I recall correctly — and of course the various uncertainties about the pedigrees of various Nazi leaders is also suggestive of the degree to which Jews had been assimilated into German society.

        Then, I’ll note Mussolini’s reluctance to participate in Nazi anti-semitism. Finally, if I recall correctly, Franco was part Jewish. All this suggests that Jews were certainly managing to get into the party, even if they weren’t welcomed by all.

        No doubt all this could be turned on its head and all sorts of evidence from the Dreyfus affair to the Holocaust cited to show just the opposite, but I don’t think you can have ‘the nations of Europe…would not accept the Jews as part of their nations.’ Not without demonstrating it.

      • piotr says:

        Sorry, just think what the movie Zelig would tell to a Zionist reporter.

      • “The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.” – yonah
        ————————————————————————
        Oh boy – so many people have assimilated somewhere over the last 2000 years without being ‘self-haters’. If the Jews didn’t want to assimilate somewhere – and ‘self-hate’ themselves – they should have stayed in Palestine and not come to Europe – you got that?
        My father’s family is originally Dutch, moved to Germany some 250 years ago. – I’m German, not a ‘self-hating Dutch’.

        • libra says:

          KB: My father’s family is originally Dutch, moved to Germany some 250 years ago. – I’m German, not a ‘self-hating Dutch’.

          Klaus, no doubt it must have seemed like a big step at the time but I’m not sure that your paternal forbearer’s switch from from Dutch to Deutsch makes you an expert on assimilation.

          I think you’d be much more convincing had you upped sticks yourself and were writing from Vienna, say.

        • libra – I somehow don’t get your joke, or maybe it isn’t a joke.

          Anyway, I might be a (partly) ‘self-hating’ German but to be a Dutch one doesn’t make sense to me (nor did it to my father, grandfather, great-grandfather …). BTW, I only know of the Dutch origin via the Bloemkers who emigrated to America. They are more interested in genealogy than we are.

      • Shmuel says:

        The urge to assimilate is partially an urge to wear the mask of the dominant culture and partially an urge to hide or erase the face of the minority culture that will be masked by the dominant culture. The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

        Really? How about sincere admiration for the dominant culture or some aspect of it, economic/social interest, romantic love, prior acculturation, a tenuous to non-existent connection/familiarity with one’s “native” culture, a difficult or unwelcoming family or community, a human tendency toward integration, the “dominant” part of “dominant culture”, the “American dream”, or any number of other reasons?

        Assimilation is. You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean that its motives are necessarily nefarious (mask, hide, erase, hatred).

        • Shmuel- Actually I think the urge to assimilate is partly an urge to appear the same as everyone else. And as such it contains good and bad.

          Someone in the Village Voice some time ago wrote that his reaction to having a chasid sit next to him on the subway train was the same as his reaction to having a drag queen sit next to him. As a closeted Jew, or one who does not manifest his Jewishness at most moments, this chasid was loudly broadcasting Jewishness, just like the drag queen was loudly broadcasting his gayness while the subdued gay, trying to pass in certain situations, or at least not broadcast his orientation at all moments, does not want the drag queen sitting next to him.

          I of course exaggerated, but I think what I said contains a kernel of truth. It isn’t as if the phenomenon of denying Jewishness doesn’t exist and hasn’t existed for some time. A friend on Long Island had a third grade teacher who asked all her students, what religion are you? Which obviously was acceptable to ask in 1960, but not today. and he answered, “I’m Jewish, but we’re not religious.” Nothing self hating per se, but do you think any of the Catholic kids, even those who didn’t go to church, would have answered that way?

          I hate wearing a yarmulka and have hated it since being a kid. Is this self hate? Not strictly. It’s a desire to fit in. When a kosher meal is ordered for me on a flight, I hate it. I don’t want to stand out. I want to fit in. Okay, so it’s not self hate. But the Jewish urge or command is to stand out, is to be different, so the urge to be the same contains a rejection of this command.

          Koestler’s friends took this to an extreme on a national scale or a broad scale, and I think the phenomenon also exists on an individual basis. My use of terms: mask, hide, erase are clearly exaggerations and thus extreme ways of expressing the point, but I think it’s a valid point.

          When Kirk Douglas told people he was half Jewish when he was in fact Jewish from both sides, what was that? That was masking and hiding. Today’s American dream is an innocuous goal for the masses and happens to include the idea of not rejecting one’s past. This was not so in the 20′s at the time of Koestler’s friends “self hate”. Until the cultural revolution of the 60′s the dominant culture of America demanded leaving the past behind. thus to confuse the possibly neutral process of assimilation today with the assimilation demanded in an earlier time, is an anachronism. The dominant culture that rejects the diversity of its citizens is not hateful per se, but it is not tolerant.

          I think the assimilation idea is a deep one and while my explanation is simplistic and resembles the superficial sound bite, the way to improve on my explanation would be to say, it is more complicated than that. To merely assert “Assimilation is.” is to reject my simplicity and embrace shallowness in its stead.

          What did you think of the movie Zelig? Did you feel it had any relevance to the Jewish experience?

          How do you react when people wish you a Merry Christmas? Do you just wish the same back to them without any inner turmoil? When you read of Phil’s Christmas tree, do you feel that is just an urge to be part of the
          American dream? Part of the dominant culture? If Judaism has been hollowed of all meaning (as it is for Woody Allen) then adoption of the dominant culture makes sense. But doesn’t that add up to hating a Judaism or Jewishness that is hollow and offers nothing?

          When Tony Judt wrote that he was more comfortable in church than in synagogue (paraphrase) is that a totally innocuous statement without any negative aspects?
          As I wrote, I think the issue is very rich, both psychologically and anthropologically and politically as well.

          (What does Tariq Ramadan say about assimilation? Does he view it as a neutral phenomenon?)

        • Shmuel says:

          Thanks for the detailed response, Yonah. The problem with your comment lay precisely in its sweeping generalisation. Of course there are people who join another culture out of an aversion for their own, and there has never been a shortage of Jewish anti-Semites.

          There is nothing inherently “self-hating” in not wanting to stick out (sometimes threatened by others directly or indirectly “outing” you – although I think your term “closeted Jew” is another unwarranted generalisation), or in wanting to choose when, where and how to express the various aspects of your identity. I disagree that standing out is a Jewish imperative. Secular or assimilated Jewish attitudes to haredim are also complex, and may or may not have to do with “self-hatred”, although prejudice and intolerance certainly play a role.

          Of course there are generational and geographical differences, which I hinted at in my very partial list of possible motives for assimilation. The anachronism of blanket characterisation was yours.

          I wrote that “assimilation is” because I felt that your exclusively negative judgement of the “urge to assimilate” was the result of excessive subjectivity. There is nothing shallow about that. The entire point of my comment was that the phenomenon is a complex one that cannot simply be chalked up to “self-hatred” – even as hyperbolic shorthand.

          I haven’t seen Zelig.

          Merry Christmas. Having lived almost exclusively among Jews until about 10 years ago, this is relatively new to me. When I first started receiving Christmas greetings, it felt a little weird (a feeling I shared with a couple of friends from predominantly Muslim countries), but it passed. I now happily give and receive Christmas greetings as a matter of normal social interaction, without feeling any pressing need to celebrate the holiday in any way shape or form. I can’t compare myself to Phil, because I grew up with minimal exposure to Christmas (first in a pretty insular Orthodox Jewish environment in Canada, and then in Israel). Christmas is simply not a part of my culture, nor does it hold any attraction for me. It is, on the other hand, a part of the culture in which Phil was raised (although perhaps not without conflict) and it is a part of the culture in which his wife was raised. Phil is Jewish, but there are also a lot of other facets to his identity and that of his family. No, I don’t see hatred there, nor do I see it as a symptom of some Jewish “hollowness” (which may or may not be the case).

          I haven’t read enough Tony Judt to speculate on the reasons why he made such a statement. A cousin of my wife’s made a similar statement – explaining that she was raised an atheist among Catholics, and is simply more familiar (for social reasons) with Catholicism than with Judaism.

          A rich subject indeed, but one that is often over-psychologised, over-politicised and overburdened with extraneous considerations.

        • Sibiriak says:

          The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

          This is so wrong. It assumes that one’s real, essential, “self” is determined by the ethnic, religious, cultural, or whatever, group one is born into.

        • Although the lyrics from Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm cast doubt on the conformity of both sticking with one’s roots and of trying to fit into a different culture as well, they popped into my head, so I quote them here:

          Well, I try my best
          To be just like I am
          But everybody wants you
          To be just like them
          They say sing while you slave and I just get bored

        • Shmuel- I don’t normally read Jewcy, but I read it yesterday and it had an interesting piece about “bagel-ing”, letting a fellow Jew or a more obvious Jew than you, know that you’re a Jew, too. The precise opposite of squirming when a chasid sits next to you on the subway.

          I think the original Zionists were doctrinaire believers in acts of will and the antisemitism of Koestler’s friends was more extreme for their belief system and the role of dogma in their lives. I think that the urge to assimilate is natural (with a mixture of the urge to differ or maintain individuality or a differing identity mixed in) and I think post WWI middle Europe contained the seeds of what came afterwards and the impossibility of assimilation was felt by some and with it the question of where to, and with it a rejection of the past and a belief in a new future. I don’t think labeling Koestler’s zionist friends as antisemites without raising questions about assimilation gives a complete enough picture of the dynamic that is the topic of the post.

        • Shmuel says:

          The precise opposite of squirming when a chasid sits next to you on the subway.

          The squirming is a dead giveaway, along the lines of “what masekhta are you learning?” Best to go with a cool but audible “Oh dear, I’m going to be late for mass – again.”

          I think it was more than just the impossibility of assimilation under the circumstances prevailing particularly in Central and Eastern Europe at the time. It was a certain 19th-century vision of the world (viz. Europe) as composed of organic nations, which necessarily had a deep, spiritual/mystical bond to their national territory. It was the idea that the only valid form of identity and culture is national and the only valid form of national identity is organic. Anti-Semitic tropes regarding Jewish “internationalism”, “rootlessness” and “parasitism” thus fell on fertile ideological ground.

          There was no internal, Jewish compulsion to accept such definitions of identity or nationhood (or any other modern paradigms), although they could easily be expressed in Jewish idiom (see e.g. A.I. Kook or A.D. Gordon). They were in the intellectual air breathed by Jews and non-Jews alike, in Vienna, Heidelberg and Odessa. If educated Jews heard the same lectures and read the same books and newspapers and feuilletons as their non-Jewish counterparts, why would they reach different conclusions? And yes, this worldview also entailed contempt for “traditional” or stereotypical Jews, with their “luftgesheften” and alienation from all that is noble and good in the world (such as duelling and a romantic peasant class decked out in billowing shirts and braids the colour of ripe wheat – see e.g. “Israeli” folk dancing and early Zionist ritual). You’re right. Assimilation does have a lot to do with it.

        • Mooser says:

          “Although the lyrics from Dylan’s…”

          Are you talking about Dylan Thomas, or Bob Dylan nee Robert Zimmerman? At least he has never tried to be anything but himself!

        • Mooser says:

          Don’t worry about me, “yonah” (what have you done with “Wondering Jew”?) I’ve got that handled! Now, admittedly, I don’t run into too many Jews but when somebody says, after giving me ‘that look’ which tells me their Jewdar is beeping, “Say, Mooser, aren’t you Jewish” I usually pitch a fit, screaming “Who told you that? It’s a foul and contemptible lie which I will trace to its source and nail to the counter! How dare you!” and etc. The mixture of threat and hysteria usually closes the discussion.
          I never, ever do the hail-fellow-Jew-well-met thing. Because if it wasn’t for Jewish busybodys like that trying to ruin me, nobody would ever know the ugly truth. And if they ask me about my appearance, my accent, my manner of speaking, my tendency to tightly clutch the change in my pocket, I tell them I’m in character for a role in a play, but that isn’t the real me.
          How do you handle it?

        • - ” I don’t think labeling Koestler’s zionist friends as antisemites without raising questions about assimilation … ” yonah

          Assimilate into what?

          Koestler’s friend wanted the Jewish people to assimilate into the World Community, become a normal member – “be like other people” – of THAT community. See his compelling argument:
          -”If Jews wanted to be like other people, they must have a country like other people and a social structure like other people.”-

          The label “anti-Semtic” is misleading. It’s ‘anti-DiasporaSemitic’.

        • Mooser, more often than not you are a pain in the neck. But your above comment to yonah is hilarious. – Well, ‘noblesse oblige’ as we Germans say.

        • Avi_G. says:

          Shmuel says:
          July 13, 2012 at 2:28 am

          The urge to assimilate is partially an urge to wear the mask of the dominant culture and partially an urge to hide or erase the face of the minority culture that will be masked by the dominant culture. The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

          Really? How about sincere admiration for the dominant culture or some aspect of it, economic/social interest, romantic love, prior acculturation, a tenuous to non-existent connection/familiarity with one’s “native” culture, a difficult or unwelcoming family or community, a human tendency toward integration, the “dominant” part of “dominant culture”, the “American dream”, or any number of other reasons?

          Assimilation is. You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean that its motives are necessarily nefarious (mask, hide, erase, hatred).

          I think one can also view assimilation as a form of survival. It’s akin to not rocking the boat, conforming to fit it.

        • When Shmuel says:
          “to assimilate is partially an urge to wear the mask of the dominat culture”,

          he is echoing what the Nazis said about the German Jews: ‘They are wearing a mask, their Germanness is mimicry’ etc. What Shmuel – as a Jew – says implies that the Nazis were (partially) right: It WAS a mask .
          Shmuel isn’t aware that like Koestler’s friend he proves the anti-Semites right.

        • Shmuel says:

          When Shmuel says …

          That was not me, but Yonah. I disagree with Yonah’s characterisation of the “urge to assimilate”.

        • Yes of course, sorry Shmuel.

        • Klaus B.- If you see the movie Zelig by Woody Allen, you will be able to relate to the point that I was making. See it. Or don’t. I exaggerated the point and to take what I was saying “partially” as the whole of the issue of assimilation is in fact to distort what I was saying.

          As far as I can tell the Nazis might have used the “mask” argument, but it wasn’t their major argument against the Jews. Their two arguments as I understood them were racial and political. The Jews were an inferior race and like vermin. The Jews spread the disease of Bolshevism. I suppose a drawing or two from der Stumer might have portrayed the Jew as a diabolical Jew at home but an assimilating Aryan like good German in the street.

          I don’t know what the essence of German-ness was in 1933 or in 1919 when Hitler first joined the NSDAP. It is difficult to know what the essence of Jewishness was in 1933 or today.

          I think labeling Koestler’s friends as antisemites is superficial without an attempt to understand the times or the context of what assimilation entails. I think any attempt to understand the mindset of Jewish university students in post WWI middle Europe would require some thoughtful studying and reading.

          I think labeling my comments as echoing the Nazis is interesting. Either interesting or stupid or both.

        • Sorry yonah, but my response to you wasn’t posted, don’t know why.
          Concerning your: “labeling Koestler’s friends as antisemites is superficial”
          - I referred you to my comment to Phil Weiss below.

        • Carowhat says:

          The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

          The urge not to assimilate must then be a form of self-love. You could be right. I see astonishing amounts of self-love among some posters here.

    • Mooser says:

      Well, Klaus, when you find a tight, coherent definition of “race”, please let me know. I’ve never been able to figure out what it is beyond the normal variation in appearance among humans.

      • My point was: If the ‘bad’ Jewish characteristics that both the anti-Semites and Koestler’s friend and Prinz decry are thought to be inherent in the Jewish blood, ‘race’ (today DNA) – these bad characteristics would show up again in Zionist Palestine and there would be no end to anti-Semitism.

        But Koestler’s friend and Prinz (also Herzl) thought otherwise: the bad Jewish characteristics will disappear once the people is in Palestine as a ‘normal’ people, farmers etc.
        ——————————————–
        On the question of the definition of ‘race’, I might get back to you.
        It’s a question of statistical correlation. When you construct a category, ‘race’ of people, using a certain physiological criterium (say shape of eyes) but this criterium doesn’t correlate with anything else (say life expectancy) then the construct of the ‘eye shape-race’ was useless. – I’m not a physical anthropologist.

        • Mooser says:

          Why not just drop the concept of “race” entirely. I never remember anybody calling black, brown, yellow or silver Labrodor Retrievers different “races” of dogs? Do you think the concept of “race” in humans does more good than harm? Does it have any positive use?
          And you don’t have to be a “physical anthropologist” to recognise a human being.

        • “Does it [the concept of race] have any positive use?”

          Let me quote anthropologist Marvin Harris:
          —————-
          The races that most people distinguish, such as “black”, “yellow”, and “white” races (or “Negroid”, “Mongoloids”, and “Caucasiens”; or “African”, “Asian”, and “European”) are not taxonomically valid categories. The discrepencies between popular ideas about race and scientific principles of taxonomy are so great that an increasing number of anthropologists advocate that the concept of race ought to be dropped from anthropology textbooks. – It would be preferable to substitute the concept of ‘population’ for the concept of race.
          A ‘population’ is simply any group of people whose members interbreed with more than random frequency and who exhibit different gene frequencies when compared with neighboring groups of people.
          ————————————————————————————
          From a sociological point of view the “popular ideas about race” are of some use because people act on them – they matter. For instance: If I how the skin color of an American, I can predict his voting behavior better than if I say knew whether he has a college degree or not. The correlation between skin color and voting is higher than between education and voting. So in this case the popular concept of black/white race is of use. But note: the voting behavior is not the consequence of a genetic trait, it’s just correlated to it.

        • I should have added that in the case of the ‘black American race’, they are a ‘population’ in Harris’ terms, since its “members interbreed with more than random frequency”. Harris’ term ‘population’ is of course less loaded than the term’race’.

        • Carowhat says:

          “Does it [the concept of race] have any positive use?”

          If you’re an Olympic track coach for the 100 meter dash, it’s smart to take a look at race. God knows every other coach will.

    • tree says:

      Because how should anti-Semitism go away once the Jews are in Palestine if it were racist anti-Semitism?

      The early Zionists were believers in the “scientific racism” and polygenism of their day. They planned to “improve” the Jewish “race” in Palestine. Eugenics was a significant part of early Zionist thought. The parallels to early 20th century German thought are very apparent.

      See this on Arthur Ruppin, “Father of the Zionist Settlements”, and a German Jewish sociologist and eugenicist.

      Luschan’s views concerning the polygenetic nature of the Jewish race led Ruppin to argue in his Juden der Gegenwart that the Jewish race was composed of a combination of two groups, a Semitic group which included the Assyrians, Babylonians and Arabs, and a Hittite one which included also the Amorites (Amoriter).144 In later periods, Ruppin continued to produce categories and definitions according to these same principles. More than two decades later, in the Soziologie der Juden, after adding the new definitions of Eugen Fischer and Hans Günther (Ruppin 1931b, I, 7), to Luschan’s views, he finally defined the racial composition (Rassekomponenten) of the ancient Hebrews as a combination of three elements (Volkselemente): Aramäer (Nordsyrien), Beduinen (arabisch-siniatische Steppe) and Philister (Südeuropa) (Ruppin 1930, I, 17).

      Ruppin’s writings are fuelled by a constant urge to differentiate the [Ashkenazi] Jews from the Semites and especially from the Bedouin race – the original (Ur) Semites according to Luschan – which Ruppin, like most racial thinkers, perceived as inferior (as will be shown later). Whatever the composition of the Jews, according to Ruppin there was no racial connection between them and the yellow and black races (Ruppin 1930, I, 17). The three color components of the Jewish skin were in different shades of white, from light (hellen) white (Aramär), tanned (gebräunten) (Philister) and light brown (hellbraun) (Beduins) (Ruppin 1930, I, 20)

      link to tau.ac.il

      Ruppin sought to “improve” the Jewish race in Palestine by breeding out what he considered the true Semitic elements (as exemplified in his mind by the Bedouins). That mindset really explains a lot of the Zionist actions and attitudes towards the Palestinian Arabs, and even towards the Arab Jews from Yemen and elsewhere, who were also discriminated against by the Zionist Ashkenazi Jews.

  6. yourstruly says:

    there is another reason why israel firsters such as alan dershowitz are self-haters, which is that israel’s occupation of palestine is why “they” (the arab/islamic world) hate us (america) and why the blowback (including 9/11) “they” already have inflicted upon us. while stirring up reminders of an antisemistism long gone in america, so far at least this blowback hasn’t turned the public against our nation’s mostly jewish israel firsters, but should israel drag the u.s. into an iran war and by the dozens the body bags keep coming home, what’s to prevent what starts as a public outcry against israel firsters from degenerating into widespread attacks upon jews in general? and if an iran war doesn’t elicit such a response, consider what’ll happen should said war descend into wwiii en route to doomsday? what does this say about jewish neocons? that not only are they self-haters, they’re a threat to all living beings.

    • Mooser says:

      “what’s to prevent what starts as a public outcry against israel firsters from degenerating into widespread attacks upon jews in general? and if an iran war doesn’t elicit such a response, consider what’ll happen should said war descend into wwiii en route to doomsday? what does this say about jewish neocons? that not only are they self-haters, they’re a threat to all living beings.”

      Hopefully, you don’t know what you just wrote. A ‘shorter’ might be: ‘If people are attacking Jews, they must be a danger’

      • yourstruly says:

        not that jews are a danger (any more than japanese-americans were a danger after pearl harbor) but that there’s a history in america of hate (whether earned or unearned) towards individual members of a minority group turning into hatred towards that entire minority. right now this is happening re: muslim-americans.

        • Mooser says:

          Thanks for the explanation, your’s truly. I had a hard time parsing that sentence, and I’m sure some of mine don’t make a linear line either.

    • Roya says:

      Yourstruly, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Alan Hart, but he expresses a similar notion in his three part series Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.

  7. Dan Crowther says:

    Im with Ross – I’ve always thought zionism required an internalization of anti-semitic sentiments, and also a sort of weird brute fetish. Like Hitchens said, ” I cant accept that taking doctors and philosophers from europe and making them farmers in palestine is “progress”

    • Mooser says:

      Dan, that’s what Zionists (Fredblogs is a great example of this) can’t grasp: that comprehending the nature and extent of, and dealing with, anti-Semitism is completely different from “internalising” anti-Semitism. And one is necessary and one is worse than useless.

    • ColinWright says:

      “Like Hitchens said, ” I cant accept that taking doctors and philosophers from europe and making them farmers in palestine is “progress” “

      Interestingly, that sentence packs three forms of bias into one sentence. Jews are necessarily and inherently ‘doctors and philosophers,’ to be a ‘doctor or a philosopher’ is more valuable than to be a farmer, and Europe is better than Asia.

      • Dan Crowther says:

        well you’d have to take that up with hitchens (good luck)

        but i think you get his point, and the point in general – the idea of devolving back into an agrarian society as penance for being too educated, urban, intellectual and physically slight can only be the idea of , dare i say, a self hater. ya know, you gotta play the hand your dealt…..

        • ColinWright says:

          It’s a romantic idea — and it had cousins all over Europe.

          One can find traces of it in everything from the English pre-Raphaelites to those Russian revolutionaries who tried to ‘go to the people.’ It was a strong element in Nazi ideology. Vichy France tried to ‘regenerate’ its youth by putting them to work in the fields and the forests. There are strands of it in Kipling. Heck, Gandhi seemed to have something like it in mind for India.

          I have it. I’m eternally going outside and working on the deck, or planting some potatoes, or doing anything but the taxes. I want to move to ten acres somewhere and raise goats. I’ve a strong suspicion I’ll change my mind once I’ve got the goats, but…

          So this was an element in the Zionist dream. Somewhat more pronounced, and more strongly tinged with a sense of communal self-disgust — but not really something apart. Just another strand…

          Deep down inside, Hitchens probably wanted to raise goats too. He just didn’t want to admit it.

        • homingpigeon says:

          Whatever you do, don’t plant stuff and try to raise goats at the same time. Done that. Big mistake.

        • evets says:

          Colin -

          So you’re saying Zionism is a form of tax evasion — or would never have been born if the Jews of Europe had their own decks.

          Is that what it all comes down to?

        • Mooser says:

          “well you’d have to take that up with hitchens (good luck)”

          In a way, it was. At least he avoided spontaneous combustion.

  8. Roya says:

    Considering that Arabs are Semites, and therefore that Palestinians are Semites, there’s nothing more anti-Semitic than Zionism.

    • homingpigeon says:

      I recommend that this argument not be used. English is a chaotic language and the definitions of anti-Semitic and Semitic are not logical. “Semitic” refers to language groups including ancient Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic and a few other Ethiopian languages. “Anti-Semitic” is an expression coined in Europe 150 years ago to refer specifically to the phenomenon of hating Jews irrationally and blaming them for every ill in society. It was a poor choice but it has stuck and means what people think it means, though it does confuse the discussion. So, a Semite, a speaker of a Semitic language, could indeed be an “anti-Semite,” an irrational hater of Jewish people. A “philo-Semite,” a recent term used to describe people who irrationally love Jewish people and believe all blessings come from them, could really hate Hebrew and Arabic grammar.

      • Roya says:

        And you just brought up how the word anti-Semite is inherently discriminatory and anti-Semitic. It was coined to refer to only Jews, thereby denying the Semitic nature of other groups.

  9. ColinWright says:

    There is a pronounced element of denial — if not actual self-hatred — in Zionism.

    Traditionally, Jews lived in the ghetto, and the shetl, and in other self-contained communities.

    This had the virtue of preserving their identity — even if the cost was pretty high. However, no problems with figuring out who you were, that has to be granted.

    Then came the enlightenment — and the wholesale changes in Europe. And the discrediting of religious tradition. And worst of all, America.

    Jews could escape — but obviously, at a cost. That nice, complete identity would evaporate. Each individual would be adrift — and in this new sea, the ‘Jewish’ tag would be inevitably be washed off. The Jew’s ultimate fate would be to vanish in a sea of corrosive toleration. He was fated to become a Steven Spielberg — perhaps happy and successful, but the Judaism as more of a footnote than an identity.

    Hence Zionism. In this way, Jews could remain a people. Israel is the next best thing to a ghetto.

    Is it coincidental that they seem to be constantly building a wall around it?

    • Citizen says:

      No, no more coincidental than the growth of the movement within the American Jewish Community today that is fighting “The Silent Holocaust” of high intermarriage, of assimilation into the classic American melting pot, or the creation of programs to give young Jews a free trip to Israel to immerse them in romantic Israel, or putting an Arab on trial for not mentioning to a Jewish girl he hooked up with he was an Arab.

      The actual holocaust and the silent holocaust, what does this mean? Neither hating jews nor loving jews is desirable? Is that the message to the non-jews?

      • Who said this?: ‘The gentiles used to chase the Jews to kill them; now they chase the Jews to marry them.’

        Around 1900, the Russian Czar and the German Kaiser meet. Says the Kaiser to the Czar: ‘You kill your Jews your way; I do it my way, I permit them to intermarry.’ (Civil marriage was introduced in Germany in 1871 but it doesn’t yet exist in 2012 in Israel.)

    • Keith says:

      COLIN WRIGHT- “Hence Zionism. In this way, Jews could remain a people.”

      This is similar to Israel Shahak’s view that Zionism was a rejection of the enlightenment and a means to maintain Jewish tribalism, to reinvigorate the collective. I agree. Additionally, I have toyed with the idea that Marxism is, in essence, an attempt to expand the collective and make it more inclusive, guided by the vanguard of the elite, a de facto secular Rabbinate.

  10. RE: “they were socially top-heavy, with a disproportionately great number of lawyers, merchants, intellectuals, and with no farmers or peasants–which was like a pyramid standing on its top. The only cure was: return to the earth.” ~ Arthur Koestler

    MY COMMENT: And so now Israel brings in migrant workers from Thailand, the Philippines, China etc. to do a lot of the jobs (like farm laborers) that Israelis do not want to do (and will not allow Palestinians to do)!

    SEE: “The right to love” ~ by Noa Galili, Ynet News, 02/17/11
    Op-ed: Israel only Western country banning migrant workers from engaging in romantic relationships

    (excerpts) The UN committee to abolish discrimination against women has recently published its conclusions. One prominent area of their report was the way Israel treats its migrant workers, and in particular the Ministry of Interior’s controversial regulation – which states that if a foreign worker is caught in a romantic relationship, her work visa will be denied.
    Yes, you read that right. The essence of a migrant worker, their whole existence and purpose is in a simple definition: They are here to work…
    …Israel’s motives, as well as her policies in regards to bringing the migrant workers here to work, don’t stop at philanthropy. The system works like this: The State and manpower companies bring the workers here, and in the process make a fortune. Bringing these laborers here makes a very nice profit for the companies and our country, employing them here and – believe it or not – deporting them, is profitable for the parties involved. The ones who pay the heavy price are solely the women who came here to work.
    Sadly, the right to fall in love isn’t the only privilege denied to foreign workers here in 2011. Israel is the only Western country that forbids migrant workers from engaging in romantic relationships. . .

    ENTIRE OP-ED – link to ynetnews.com

  11. rmsoran says:

    Those weren’t anti-Semitic ideas, they were reflections of the reality in the European Jewish communities at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century.
    And it’s a pity that you know so little about Koestler. Because if you do, then you also can’t know much about most of the Jewish European history. Therefore this strongly limits your ability to correctly analyze any of the issues involved in antisemitism, Zionism and Antizionism and pre-1967 Israeli society.
    Sorry for you … and for Mondoweiss.

      • The point is:
        These (Zionist) ideas weren’t borrowed from the anti-Semites. They were generated – as “reflections of the realities in the European Jewish communities …” inside these communities and happened to fit those of the anti-Semites.

        The above headline: “Arthur Koestler’s Zionist recruiters used anti-Semitic ideas” suggests that the ideas weren’t authentic Zionist ones but *borrowed* from the anti-Semites. – I don’t think Koestler’s above text wants to say that.

        - Both sides came to the same conclusion: Jews have to leave and have their own state. That’s the solution to the ‘Jewish questiion’.

    • Mooser says:

      “Those weren’t anti-Semitic ideas, they were reflections of the reality in the European Jewish communities at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century.”

      Time marches on, tho doesn’t it, and not a word of your pilpul will call it back. I may be crazy, but at least I don’t suffer from Nostalgie de la shtetl combined with small-time megalomania and control issues.

  12. RoHa says:

    “the Jews had been persecuted during some twenty centuries … they were socially top-heavy, with a disproportionately great number of lawyers, merchants, intellectuals, and with no farmers or peasants … I had never been personally victimized or bothered by anti-Semitism, and had always regarded the so-called “Jewish Question” as the same kind of boring and remote subject as Municipal Autonomy or the War of the Spanish Succession.”

    Gee! How persistent, pervasive, and cruel that persecution must have been.

  13. Carowhat says:

    Gee! How persistent, pervasive, and cruel that persecution must have been.

    That reminds me of a rabbi I once heard on my car radio one winter evening lamenting the fact that so many young Jews believed their history was long litany of oppression. He said it was quite the opposite. For long stretches of Jewish history, he said, Jews lived in peace and security, enjoying more prosperity than the other people among whom they lived.

  14. Blake says:

    An Israeli documentary on Israeli television called “ Zionism & Herzl: The Anti-Semitic Side of Zionism” showed that, at first, Herzl thought that assimilation into the enlightened European society & culture would make an equal German citizen-despite his Jewish ethnicity- out of him but that failed to work as expected. Later on he tried to get rid of his Jewishness by inviting the Jews living in Vienna to convert en masse to Christianity which he considered a more purified religion.

    Even Herzl and Zionism had an “anti-Semitic” side to him/it. Lol.

  15. evets says:

    yonah -

    I gather that you grew up in an Orthodox community. From that starting point assimilation would naturally entail an act of will, conscious denial/rejection etc. But the opposite is true at this point for many Jews. For them, the assumption of Jewish identity would require an act of will and self-denial. Their grandparents already made the leap away from Judaism (for a variety of reasons, not all ignoble).

  16. Citizen says:

    And now, for a relevant treat, let’s all watch Dirty Dancing.

  17. tommy says:

    Koestler’s Promise and Fulfilment: Palestine 1917–1949 was a very informative book.