Category Archives: philosophy

Gilad Atzmon – Anatomy of an Unresolved Conflict

According to Hegel, attaining ‘self-consciousness’ is a process that necessarily involves the other. How am I to become conscious of myself in general? It is simply through desire or anger, for example. Unlike animals that overcome biological needs by destroying another organic entity, human desire is a desire for recognition.

In Hegelian terms, recognition is accomplished by directing oneself towards non-being, that is, towards another desire, another emptiness, another ‘I’. It is something that can never be fully accomplished. “The man who desires a thing humanly acts not so much to possess the thing as to make another recognise his right. It is only desire of such recognition, it is only the action that flows from such desire, that creates, realizes and reveals a human, non biological I.” (Kojeve A., Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, 1947, Cornell Univ. Press, 1993, p. 40). Following this Hegelian line of thinking, we can deduce that in order to develop self-consciousness, one must face the other. While the biological entity will fight for its biological continuity, a human being fights for recognition.

In order to understand the practical implications of this idea, let us turn to the ‘Master-Slave Dialectic’. The Master is called the Master because he strives to prove his superiority over nature and over the slave who is forced to recognize him as a master.

At first glance, it looks as if the master has reached the peak of human existence but as we shall see, this is not the case. As has just been stated, it is recognition that humans fight for. The master is recognised by the slave as a master but the slave’s recognition has little value. The master wants to be recognised by another man, but a slave is not a man. The master wants recognition by a master, but another master cannot allow another superior human being in his world. “In short, the master never succeeds in realising his end, the end for which he risks his very life.” So the master faces a dead-end. But what about the slave? The slave is in the process of transforming himself since, unlike the master who cannot go any further, the slave has everything to aspire to. The slave is at the vanguard of the transformation of the social conditions in which he lives. The slave is the embodiment of history. He is the essence of progress.

A Lesson in Mastery

Let us now try to apply the Hegelian Master-Slave Dialectic to the notion of Jewish ‘chosenness’ and exclusivity. While the Hegelian ‘Master’ risks his biological existence to become a master, the newborn Jewish infant risks his foreskin. The chosen infant is born into the realm of mastery and excellence without (yet) excelling at anything. The other awards the chosen baby his prestigious status without the requirement of facing any process of recognition. And in fact, the ‘chosen’ title is given to Jews by themselves (allegedly God) rather than by others.

If, for instance, we try to analyse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the Hegelian mechanism of recognition, we realise the impossibility of any dialogue between the two parties. While it is more than clear that the Palestinian people are fighting for recognition, which they declare at every possible opportunity, the Israelis avoid the whole recognition issue altogether. They are convinced that they are already fully recognised in the first place. They know who they are – they are born masters who happen to live on their ‘promised land’. Israelis refuse to join the dialectic ‘meaning transformation’ game and instead divert all their intellectual, political and military efforts into demolishing any sense of Palestinian recognition. The battle for Israeli society is to suppress any Palestinian symbol or desire, whether material, spiritual or cultural.

Strangely enough, the Palestinians are managing quite well in their fight for recognition. More and more people out there are now beginning to understand the just nature of the Palestinian cause and the level of inhumanity entangled with the entire concept of Zionism and Jewish politics in general. More and more people out there find the Palestinian people and their spokesmen very easy to empathise with. Even the Hamas who were despised by most Western political institutions are now managing to get their message across. The Israelis, on the other hand, are falling behind in such manoeuvres. The average Western listener finds them almost impossible to sympathise with. While a Palestinian will call you to share his pain and misery, talking straight to your heart, the Israeli spokesman will demand that you to accept his views. He will insist on selling you a ready-made fantastic historical narrative; a repetitive tale that starts somewhere around Biblical Abraham, continues with a series of Holocausts and leads eventually towards more current bloodshed. It seems as if the Israelis, the masters, always present the same faceless story. Can Abraham and the Holocaust justify Israeli inhuman behaviour in Gaza? Not really, and the reason is simple, Abraham and the Holocaust and historical narratives in general do not evoke genuine emotional feelings. And indeed, the Jewish political world is so desperate to maintain its narrative that the last Holocaust has now been transformed into a legal narrative. The message is as follows: “beware, if you doubt my narrative you will end up behind bars.” This is obviously an act of desperation.

Following Hegel, we learn that recognition is a dynamic process; it is a type of understanding that grows in you. While the Palestinians will use all their available, yet limited, resources to make you look at their faces, in their eyes, to carry you into a dynamic process of mutual recognition, the Israelis would expect you to accept their narrative blindly. They would expect you to turn a blind eye to the clear fact that as far as the Middle East is concerned Israel is an aggressor like no other. Israel is an occupying regional super power, a tiny State heavily engaged in exploring different nuclear, biological and chemical arsenals. It is a racially orientated apartheid state that bullies and abuses its minorities on a daily basis. Yes, the Israelis and their supportive Jewish lobbies around the world want you to ignore these facts. They insist upon being the victims, they want you to approve their inhuman policies referring to Jews endless suffering.

How is it that Jewish politics has become aggressive like no other? It is simply the fact that from a Jewish political perspective, there is ‘no other’. The so-called other for them is nothing but a vehicle rather than an equal human subject. Israeli foreign affairs and Jewish political activity should be comprehended in the light of a severe lack of a ‘recognition mechanism’. Israeli and Jewish politics, left right and centre, is grounded on locking and fixing of meaning. They would refuse to regard history as a flux, as a dynamic process, as a journey towards ‘oneself’ or self-realisation. Israel and Israelis view themselves as if they are external to history. They do not progress toward self-realisation because they have a given, fixed identity to maintain. Once they encounter a complex situation with the surrounding world, they would then create a model that adapts the external world into their chauvinist self-loving value system. This is what Neo-conservatism is all about; this is what the fantasmic yet sickening newly emerging Judeo-Christian discourse is all about.

As sad as it may sound, people who are not trained to recognise the other are unable to let them be recognised. The Jewish tribal mindset: left, centre and right, sets Jews aside of humanity. It does not equip the followers of the tribal mindset with the mental mechanism needed to recognise the other. Why should they do it? They have done so well for many years without having to do so. Lacking a notion of an other, indeed transcends one far beyond any recognised form of true humanist thought. It takes one far beyond ethical thinking or moral awareness.

Instead of morality, every debate is reduced into a mere political struggle with some concrete material and practical achievements to aim for.

Hegel may throw some further light on the entire saga. If indeed one becomes aware of oneself via the other, then the ‘Chosen subject’ is self-aware to start with. He is born into mastery. Accordingly, Israelis are not practicing any form of dialogue with the surrounding human environment since they are born masters. In order to be fair to the Israelis, I have to admit that their lack of a recognition mechanism has nothing to do with their anti-Palestinian feelings. As a matter of fact, they cannot even recognise each other – Israel and Israelis have a long history of discrimination against its own people (Jews of non-European descent such as Sephardim Jews are discriminated against by the Jewish elite, those of Western descent). But are progressive Jews any different? Not really. Like the Israelis and similar to any other form of tribal chauvinist ideology, they are continuously withdrawing into self-centred segregated discourse that has very little to engage or grab the interest of anyone besides themselves. Consequently, like the Israelis who surround themselves with walls, the Jewish progressive cells have already set themselves into cyber ghettos that are becoming increasingly hostile to the rest of humanity and those who supposed to be their comrades.

Historic Materialism

If one cannot establish relationships with one’s neighbour based upon recognition of the other, there must be another way of establishing a dialogue. If one cannot form a dialogue based upon empathy with the other and the rights of the other, one must pursue another mode of communication. It seems as if the alternative ‘chosen’ dialogical method reduces any form of communication into a materialistic language. Almost any form of human activity, including love and aesthetic pleasure, can be reduced to a material value. The Chosen political activists are well practised in using this method of communication.

Recently the Israeli ultra-Zionist author A B Yehoshua has managed to upset many American Jewish Ethnic leaders at the American Jewish Committee conference by saying: “You [Jews in the Diaspora] are changing jackets … you are changing countries like changing jackets.” Indeed, Yehoshua came under a lot of pressure following his remark, he was very quick to regret his statement. However, Yehoshua’s insight, while far from being original, is rather painfully truthful.

It is quite apparent that some politically orientated Diaspora Jews are engaged in an extremely fruitful dialogue with any possible core of hegemony. Yehoshoua’s criticism was fairly spot on. Following Yehoshua, once it is clear that a new country is becoming a leading world super power, it won’t take long before a wave of liberated assimilated Jews would try to infiltrate into its governing elite. “If China ever became the world’s foremost super power,” he warned, “American Jews would migrate there to assimilate rather than in the US.” (http://www.amin.org/eng/uncat/2006/june/june30-1.html).

A decade ago, at the peak of the legal battle between major Jewish institutions and the Swiss Bank, Norman Finkelstein stood up and said that very little remains of the Jewish Holocaust apart from various industrial forms of financial bargaining for compensation. According to Finkelstein, it was all about profit-making. Without any criticism intended by me about financial compensation, it appears as if some people are quick to translate their pain into gold. (It is important to mention that pain as well as being transformed into gold, can be transformed into other values such as moral or aesthetic ones). However, the possibility of transforming pain and blood into cash stands at the heart of the Israeli false dream – that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially the refugee problem, is resolvable. Now we know where this assumption originates. The Israelis, as well as Jewish leading institutions, are fully convinced that if they were happy to come to a financial settlement with the Germans (or the Swiss for the matter), the Palestinians would be equally happy to sell their lands and dignity. How do the Israelis arrive at such a strange conviction? Because they must know better than the Palestinians what the Palestinians really want. How? Because the Israelis are brilliant, they are the Chosen People. Moreover, the chosen subject doesn’t even try to engage with the human in the other. Sixty years after the Nakba, the mass the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians, the vast majority of Israelis and world Jewry do not even start to acknowledge the Palestinian cause, let alone do they show any form of empathy.

When you talk to Israelis about the conflict, one of their most frequently used arguments is the following: “When we (the Jews) came here (to Palestine), they (the Arabs) had nothing. Now they have electricity, work, cars, health services, etc.” This is obviously a failure to recognise the other. It is typical of the chauvinist colonialist to impose one’s own value system on the other. In other words, the Israelis expect the Palestinians to share the importance they attach to the acquisition of material wealth. “Why should the other share my values? Because I know what is good. Why do I know what is Good? Because I am the best.” This arrogant and completely materialistic approach obviously lies at the heart of the Israeli vision of peace. The Israeli military calls it ‘the stick and the carrot’. Seemingly, when referring to Palestinians they actually have rabbits in their minds. But, as bizarre or even tragic as it may sound, the Israeli born, ultra-left Mazpen movement was not categorically different. They obviously had some revolutionary dreams of secularisation for the Arab world. They obviously knew what was good for the Arabs. Why did they know? Shall I let you guess? Because they were exclusively and chauvinistically clever. They were the Marxists of the chosen type. Hence, I wasn’t overwhelmingly surprised that as time went by, the legendary ‘revolutionary’ Mazpen and the despised neo-conservatism actually united into a single catastrophic message: “We know better what is good for you than you yourselves do.”

Both Zionists and Jewish leftists have a “New Middle East dream”. In Peres’s old fantasy the region turns into a financial paradise in which Israel would stand at the very centre. The Palestinians (as well as other Arab States) would supply Israeli industries (representing the West) with the low cost labour they need. In turn, they, the Arabs, would earn money and spend it buying Israeli (Western) goods. In the Judeo progressive dream the Arabs leaves Islam behind, they become Marxist cosmopolitan progressives (East European Jews) and join the journey towards a world revolution. As much as Peres’s dream is sad, the Judeo Marxist version is almost funny.

As it seems, within the Zionist dream, Israel would establish a dual coexistence in the region where the Palestinian people would be the eternal slaves and the Israelis their masters. Within the Judeo progressive cosmopolitan dream, Red Palestine will establish a dual coexistence in the region where the Palestinian people would be the eternal slaves of a remote Euro-centric ideology. If there is a big categorical difference between the two Judeo centric ideologies, I just fail to see it.

However, according to Hegel, it is the slave that moves history forward. It is the slave that struggles towards his freedom. It is the slave who transforms himself and it is the master who eventually vanishes. Following Hegel, we have good reason to believe that the future of the region belongs to the Palestinians, the Iraqis and nation Islam in general. One way of explaining why Israel ignores this understanding of history relates to the conditional detachment of the exclusive ‘chosen’ state of mind.

Welcome to Cuckoo land

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian doctor who lives and works in the occupied West Bank, referred to Israel as “trying to be David and Goliath at the same time” (Dr. Barghouti was speaking at a debate at the House of Commons, 22 Nov. 2000). According to Dr. Barghouti, this is impossible. He also claimed that “Israel is probably the only State that bombs a territory it occupies.” He found this very strange and even bizarre. Is it really strange to be David and Goliath simultaneously? Is it really strange to destroy your own property? Not if you are insane. The lack of mirroring (again, seeing oneself through the other) can lead people, as well as nations, into strange dark corners. The lack of a framework which would allow you to discern your own image through the other, the lack of a corrective mechanism, appears to be a very dangerous state of affairs.

The first generation of Israeli leaders (Ben-Gurion, Eshkol, Meir, Peres, Begin) grew up in the Diaspora, mainly in Eastern Europe. Being a Jew living in a non-Jewish environment forces one to develop a sharpened self-awareness and imposes a certain kind of mirroring. Moreover, early Zionism is slightly more developed than other forms of Jewish tribal politics for the simple reason that Zionism is there to transform the Jews into ‘people like other people’. Such a realisation involves a certain amount of necessary mirroring. However, this was not enough to restrain Israeli aggressive acts (e.g., Deir-Yassin, Nakba, Kafer Kasem, the ’67 war, etc.) but it was more than enough to teach them a lesson in diplomacy. Since 1996, young leaders who were born there have led Israel into the state of ‘chosenness’ (Rabin, Netanyahu, Sharon, Barak, Olmert). Whilst in their earlier years they were imbued with an intense traditional Jewish anxiety, as they grew up this was overtaken by the legacy of the 1967 ‘miracle’, an event that turned some of the ‘chosen’ ideologies into a messianic extravaganza. This fixation with absolute power exacerbated by Jewish anxiety coupled with ignorance of the ‘other’ leads to epidemic collective schizophrenia, both of mood and action; a severe loss of contact with reality that gives way to the use of excessive force. The recent “Second Lebanon War” was an obvious example for that matter. Israel retaliates with machine guns in response to children throwing stones, with artillery and missiles against civilian targets following a sporadic uprising, and with a total war to a minor border incident. This behaviour should not be explained by using political, materialist or sociological analytical tools. Much greater understanding could be gained by situating the conflict within a philosophical framework, which allows a better understanding of the origins of paranoia and schizophrenia.

The Israeli Prime Minister, representing both ‘David and Goliath’, can talk about the vulnerability of Israel, Jewish pain and Jewish misery in one breath and about launching a massive military offensive against the whole region in the next. Such behaviour can only be explained by seeing it as a form of mental illness. The funny/sad side of it is that most Israelis do not even realise that something is going terribly wrong. Being a born master leads to the absence of a ‘recognition mechanism’. Inevitably it leads toward blindness. This lack of a recognition mechanism results in a split psyche, being both ‘David and Goliath’ at one and the same time. It seems that neither Israel nor Israelis can any longer be partners in any meaningful dialogue.

Adel Samara – A Global Massacre Against Gaza

source Kanaan Online (thanks to Nadia Hasan for the forward)

Note: I certainly need help in answering the following two questions:

· What is going on in the mind of a Palestinian infant in the last moments of his or her life when a US/Israeli rocket strikes him/her?

· What do Israeli military leaders tell their pilot when he shows them the picture of that infant?

The debate on whether Israel will launch a large scale or “limited” aggression against Gaza is pure nonsense and meaningless. Any “limited” aggression against civilians, by an army with most recent US inventions of war machine and Zionist inhuman behavior, will kill many people.

The most important question, however, is somewhere else: What are the reasons and who is really behind this holocaust?

The main reason can be summarized as “No Resistance in the Era of Globalization” (NOREG). This should remind us of the fact that US neo-cons regime, western capitalist regimes, and Arab comprador regimes support and encourage Zionists to wipe out Hezbollah as the main force of resistance in this era. That is why, the war of summer 2006, was a precious gift for Arab regimes. But fortunately, the results were deeply disappointing.

Since 2006, if one does not mention the holocaust in Iraq, Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority (PA) stand in the camp of: “No Resistance in the Era of Globalization” NOREG.

This is an international camp. It transcends national, ethnic, religious and ideological boundaries. That is why, Arab rulers, Zionists, US neo-cons, Anglo-Saxon, French, German regimes are in one camp.

Accordingly, the war against Gaza is a decision from a terrorist leadership of all these regimes, and the Zionists are its paw. It is the war of regimes and ruling classes that is aimed at liquidating all forms of resistance.

Any Palestinian, Arab or Thirdworld-ist who stands on the line of resistance is a candidate for termination: Baghdad , Gaza , Lebanon , Serbia …etc are all fields for implementing this rule.

Rockets are not the Reason

Those who pretend that rockets are the reason behind the current Zionist massacre are liars. If we have to look for a reason for that massacre, it should be found in the1948 Zionist occupation of Palestine, the eviction of Palestinians from their homeland, and the Zionist insistence on terminating the Palestinian Right of Return (RoR) by all means. Three quarters of the population of Gaza are refugees who were evicted as a result of the occupation of Palestine in 1948, and who are part of a large community of Palestinian refugees amounting to 6.5 million scattered all over the globe. Why shouldn’t they resist?

The Zionist regime, US and most of western capitalist regimes, and later many Arab regimes are hand in hand supporting the Zionist settler and criminal regime working on terminating the RoR. Oslo Accords follow the same direction albeit it is not directly written in their text.

It is worth noting that the Zionist massacre is not only because Hamas stands for the RoR and refuses the recognition of the Zionist regime. It is well known that the Zionist massacres against the Palestinian people had never ceased since 1948, and Palestinian resistance will never stop as well.

It should be also noted that Palestinians are the only native people who still resist the white settlers, while in other white settlements, i.e. USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the native people had been mainly terminated while some have given up the struggle.

Will there be a big war?

This form of question is a simplification of facts. Israel does not need more than this level of holocaust against civilians. It is in Israel’s interest to force Palestinians into another mass eviction than to kill all of them at once. Zionists have never changed their plans: to occupy Palestine in its entirety, but ….void of its people. That is why; they prefer Palestinians’ self- ‘transfer’.

Of course, this does not eliminate the possibility of launching a massive war against Gaza or a massive destruction as the Zionists did in Lebanon 2006[1] considering the fact that the camp of globalization in their support. It is not an exaggeration to note that the transfer of Palestinians is a real possibility now.

One of the reasons for delaying a more extensive war is the Zionist expectation that they will lose more soldiers in a fierce face to face battle, a loss they are never ready for. For a colonial settler entity that fights for importing more settlers, losses of soldiers is of catastrophic consequences. The Zionist entity, Israel, is the only white settler regime that is still ‘buying’ new settlers, while the US white settlement is building a wall against Mexican immigrant workers who are fighting to enter the country even as slaves. During 2007, the number of settlers who left the Zionist regime exceeded the new incoming immigrants.

Bin Laden in Gaza !

A year or so ago, the PA repeated that some al-Qaeda fighters are in Gaza. Later, the PA and some Arab rulers repeated the same lies and accused Hamas of facilitating the infiltration of al-Qaeda militant to Gaza.

This propaganda is another war against resistance. As a matter of fact, many do not buy the story that there is a single al-Qaeda organization. I believe that the NOREG consider any militant all over Arab, Islamic and even Third world as al-Qaeda. Even if there is one single al-Qaeda, the question is: Who created it? Who started terror in the modern world history? It is the western capitalist regimes and later the comprador capitalist classes in the periphery against their own people.

The most dangerous part of the peoples’ enemy propaganda is its ability to mix all Arab and Islamic militants in one pot[2] and show that they are the so-called al-Qaeda or the Salafi!

Unfortunately, some Arab thinkers fall into that trap. In their criticism to Political Islam (PI), they are being lured by the hatred of the Zionist and western leftists towards Arab and Moslem resistance. Some of these writers are keen to proof to the Zionists and western leftists that they are not religious, and they are anti pan-Arabism …etc. They strive to be accepted in western leftist circles!

One of the bad results of this subjugation is that they confirm that Arab people support Salafiyah! That is why; Zionists and many western leftists used the victory of Hamas to ‘prove’ this pretence. These Arab writers failed to explain that in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and other Arab countries, the people have to choose between PI and the comprador which betray their history, memory, present, and future.

As long as these Arab leftist writers help the deformity of PI groups, they are, whether they mean it or not, placing socialist/Communist Arabs in the camp of imperialism. This, in fact, delays the re-emergence of an Arab radical left.

If Hamas wants to create something, it will not create al-Qaeda; it will create other fighters for Hamas! But, since the war machine is that extensive and is declared against the Palestinian people, why would not Palestinians create many al-Qaedas?

Israel Fights for Arab Regimes as well

This is another dimension or reason of the massacre in Gaza. We must remember that Arab regimes were and still are terrified by the Palestinian struggle. When the first Intifada erupted, the goal of Arab regimes was to keep their citizens away from its influence. When Hezbollah liberated South Lebanon, and later defeated the Zionists in 2006, Arab regimes were devastated.

When Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, Arab regimes were terrified again, and a global, though gradual, coup d’état started against it. The crisis reaches its peak when Hamas defeated Fateh in June 2007.

Consider the following developments: the Zionist aggression in Gaza is a protection for Arab regimes from the expansion of this phenomenon. One should keep in mind that these regimes are ready to pay any price to avoid the provocation of their suppressed people.

The Two Weak Wings

Anyone who believes that the Zionists will reduce their aggression, is either naïve or cooperating with them. It is an entity that was created against the Arab Homeland especially the Palestinian people. That is why, they have no alternative but to prove and emphasize their role.

If radical people in the region want to re-build their power and to fight for a united Arab socialist Homeland, defeat of the Zionist regime, and achieve the RoR, they must first start their battle against two local groups:

· The ruling comprador classes in Arab Homeland;

· The various groups of local intellectuals: the westernized, renegade communists, NGOized political activists and many academicians who are tied (and financed) in one way or another, by the bloody regimes of the United Sates, many other western regimes, and even the Zionist regime.[3]

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[1] The arrival of the US Cole warship to the Lebanese shores is a direct threat for another destruction of that country.

[2] That is why; the comprador regime in Morocco arrested lately some leftists with Political Islamists. It should be noted that these arrests are in fact directed against the influence of Hezbollah of Lebanon as a new current which is not a fundamentalist. It might attract leftists as well.

[3] A very recent example of those intellectuals is the Moroccan poet Abdullatif Al-Lua’bi, who is visiting the occupied WBG now during the mass extermination of Palestinians in Gaza under occupation invited by the French Cultural Center. For those who are not familiar with the issue of normalization, any Arab who visits the occupied WBG is in fact normalizing with the Zionist occupation and recognizes the Zionist regime.

The Author is a Palestinian Marxist Economist living in Ramallah.

Ariella Atzmon – The Miracle of Chanukah and how to bring the Global Energy Crisis to an end

What is Chanukah?
When the royal Hasmonean family overpowered and was victorious over the Greeks, they searched and found only a single cruse of pure oil… enough to light the menorah for a single day.
A miracle occurred, and they lit the menorah with this oil for eight days.
(Based on the teaching of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)

An alternative prayer
O mighty stronghold of my salvation
to praise You is a delight
Here I am to beseech
Reveal your almighty immense power
Perform the Chanukah oil miracle
Once again
For the sake of all humanity
and bring the global energy crisis
to an end

December: long, dark, chilly nights are cheerfully brightened by the many flashes of lights that shine through the curtained windows. Walking the streets of London at this time of the year, we come across glowing Christmas trees beside the flickering Chanukah candle lights. What do these lights stand for? How do these two kinds of lights affect our emotions? Which associations, reflections, and thoughts are triggered by these lights?

To get closer to an answer we just have to add a soundtrack to the sight of these lights. While listening to Christmas carols, we are enveloped by a pastoral atmosphere and the sweetness of spiritual tranquility meaning ‘Love’, ‘Care’ and ‘Beauty’. However, when listening to Chanukah songs, suddenly we are captured by shrill cries of triumphalism. It is the vociferous praise to God for creating miracles to rescue his ‘treasured ones’ from ‘wicked nations’. We can trace the violent terminology in hymnal phrases: eg. ‘slaughter’, ‘obliterating the names of those who blaspheme the Israelites’, and calls for God to ‘avenge’ ….

Hence, Chanukah is about God’s miracle (the cruse of pure oil), and the triumph of Judaism over Hellenism. The celebration of Chanukah is a tale of war and the victory of the sons of light over the forces of darkness[1].

The Chanukah rite starts with the kindling of lights and blessing the Menorah (Chanukah lamp) with words of praise:

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, king of the universe,
Who performed miracles for our forefathers, in those days,
At this time”

Just after kindling the lights it is customary to sing two hymns. The first repeats the above prayer to ‘commemorate God’s saving acts, miracles and wonders’, and the second hymn is Maoz Tzur (see below), which each Jew, secular or orthodox, atheist or a believer, knows by heart. Yet most of them never pay attention to the message carried by these Aramaic (ancient Hebrew) words. The essence of Chanukah as the representation of Jewish history is contained in these few lines:

And there we will bring a thanksgiving offering
When You will have prepared the slaughter
For the blaspheming foe
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn
The dedication of the Altar

Since Chanukah is mainly about God’s miracles, it might be worthwhile to reflect upon the nuances which the term ‘miracle’ includes, and what they imply about the breach between Hellenism and Hebraism.[2]

The Greek mind was engaged in intellectual apprehension of the harmony of the cosmos, and in the laws and order of nature, where every separate entity is a part of a whole. The Greeks saw the divine power as manifested in the cosmic law whose existence should and could be grasped by reason. In the Hellenic tradition, the gods did not create the cosmos. On the contrary, they just represented the highest order produced by the cosmos. Crucially the Gods cannot violate natural Law: they themselves are bound to observe and to supervise the Law, and to act in harmony with the cosmos.

If Hellenism stands for philosophical thought, science and art, Judaism presents us with unquestioned righteousness and unconditional observance.

In Jewish thought, the world belongs to God; and He upholds it by His power. God sustains human life and man owes him obedience. In the Hebrew monotheist religion, the transcendent, almighty jealous God never tolerated other gods than Himself. And so Hellenistic polytheism confronted the Jews with their worst enemy.

According to the Old Testament, the world should be viewed as being beyond man’s control. Even history is not the study of the past as a means of discovering laws that govern past events. According to Bultmann[3] regarding the conflict between Hellenism and Hebraism, in the Hebraic tradition, history is narrated to serve as an account for God’s favor and punishment. Thus, in the Old Testament politics is not the center of interest, it is rather God’s purpose and His inscribed moral demands that are.

Since the Jewish God is a tribal God who creates miracles for his people, Judaism views the world as a sphere where God rules by history, and the best of God can be revealed in the history of His people. Genesis should be seen as the first chapter of history and this historical saga develops through Noah, his three sons, up to the Israelites’ development as a nation.

History for the Israelites was, and still is, the revelation of God’s will in controlling the world on their behalf. Natural disasters for the sake of God’s care for His chosen people never evoked ethical questioning in the course of Jewish thought. According to Jewish tradition, Individual human beings do not think of themselves as particular instances of the universal. They were never encouraged to think of themselves in the wider context of the harmonious unity of the whole cosmos. There is no possibility of wrestling with problems of suffering and misery, personal or national; all these questions should come under God’s omnipotence and His unfathomable wisdom.

According to the Old Testament, man who was created in the image of God, should not be interpreted in the light of the world, but the world should be interpreted in the light of man. Since the world is created for man’s sake, he should not attempt to assimilate and harmonize himself into it. Despite this anthropocentric Jewish attitude, God’s rule is ‘observantly’ established. Being completely subservient to God’s everlasting dominance makes people cautious about their conduct themselves towards God’s authority. This awareness is rewarded “Keep in mind that the reward of the righteous for preserving the Torah is reserved for the hereafter” We can find parallels to this style of ‘bookkeeping accountancy’ in all other offshoots of Jewish monotheism.

Hebrew monotheism did not originate in theoretical reflection. According to the story of Genesis, God created the world out of ‘chaos’. In the beginning was the word, and, by speaking, God differentiated between light and darkness. The same almighty God who created the universe can also destroy it, and perform miracles. God’s revelation of Himself is not seen in the natural course of ‘natural’ history, but in unusual and terrifying occurrences, such as floods, storms, earthquakes, stopping the sun from moving, and drowning Pharaoh’s troops in the Nile. Any attempt to reason with God is doomed to failure. Human beings are totally dependent on God’s will. It is observance and faith, and not ethics, resulting in limitless gratitude to God that may be awarded.

The same line of reasoning is revealed also in the Jewish understanding of the word ‘miracle’. God’s miracles are meant to shake the universe, to upset the Laws of nature, and to undermine the harmony of the cosmos.

‘Miracle’ might be defined as ‘an event which can not be attributed to human or natural agency, but to supernatural agency’. A miracle should be seen as an act which demonstrates control over nature, and which aims to serve as evidence for omnipotent divine intervention. God creates miracles to save the Israelites from His and their polytheist enemies. In fact, almost all Jewish festivities are historical reminders of miracles and victories involving God’s aid.

Here we come back to the festivity of Chanukah, which epitomizes the breach between Judaic monotheism vs. polytheist Hellenism in the understanding of God’s role in history. The main theme of Chanukah is the miracle that happened after the Hasmonean victory over the Greeks. Hence, after the liberation of Israel from Hellenic dominance, and the reclaiming of the holy temple as the lighthouse of God, they searched and found only a single cruse of pure oil which was enough to light the Menorah for a single day. And then by breaking and violating the most basic law of nature regarding the conservation of energy, a miracle occurred; they lit the Menorah with this oil which lasted for eight days (what a miraculous solution this could be for solving our present-day global energy crisis….)

The most famous liturgical poem (Piyyut) of Chanukah, the Maoz Tzur, recalls events of divine intervention in chronological order.

It starts with the ‘Passover’ miracle where

“Pharaoh’s army and all his offspring
Went down like a stone into the deep”

It goes on with Purim where God

“To sever the towering cypress
Sought the Aggagite, son of Hammedatha
But it became a stumbling block to him
And his arrogance was stilled
The head of the Benjaminite You lifted
And the enemy, his name you obliterated
His numerous progeny –his possessions-
On the gallows You hanged”

And ends with the miracle of cruse oil,

Greeks gathered against me
then in Hasmonean days.
They Breached the walls of my towers
and they defiled all the oils;
And from the one remnant of the flasks
A miracle was wrought for the roses
Men of insight – eight days
Established for song and Jubilation

Chanukah is established as eight days of festivity praise and thanksgiving to God. Hellenism, which was viewed by the Jews as a “noxious blend of hedonism and philosophy” was overcome by the Maccabees who were empowered by God’s spirit. In other words, Chanukah is giving thanks to God for rekindling the torch of Israel as a light unto the nations.

We can see that the idea of the miracle in Judaism is an essential part of the Judaic tradition regarding the special role of the ‘chosen people’ as the ‘holy nation’. With the loyalty to God that illuminates the way for the “supra-rational” “supra-egotistical essence of the Jewish soul, they confronted the whole Hellenistic tradition of rational thinking.

Jewish history is not interwoven with stories of political narration and achievement; it is rather the product of a covenant of mutual obligations. It is marked by disasters and by gifts which are the sign of God’s will. The faith in their magic power supplies the Jewish people with a belief in a kind of supra-natural power. An interesting and very compelling point is that even those who rashly define themselves as ‘Jewish atheists’ or ‘secular Jews’, by the substitution of Judaic observance with Jewish rites (such as chanting Chanukah hymns) they safeguard the eternity of the Jewish race.[4] In the off chance that God will show-up by performing one more miracle for his people, it is always worthwhile to stay around!

Since time immemorial, Jews have had confidence in a divine agency that will overturn the order of nature (SEDER OLAM) resulting in their being rescued from the wicked nations. This trust in the tribal/national God is common both to believers and to secular Jews. Otherwise why do secular and atheist Jews keep insisting on proclaiming their Jewishness?

This trust in the mystic, eternal, mutual covenant between God and his people results in a pattern of arrogance, so to speak, that helps to maintain the stereotype attached to Jewish people. The fact that ‘miracles and wonders’ and ‘saving acts, are likely to be manifested in concrete terms, if not by God, then by his holy people should be seen as a major threat to the whole world. It is the old warning of the ‘writing on the wall’ that might make a comeback from Babylon (Iraq) and on to Persia (Iran).

Maoz Tzur (A Chanukah Hymn-written in the 13th century)

O mighty stronghold of my salvation,
To praise You is a delight
Restore my house of Prayer
And there we will bring a thanksgiving offering
When You will have prepared the slaughter
For the blaspheming foe
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn
the dedication of the Altar

my soul had been sated with troubles,
my strength has been consumed with grief.
They had embittered my life with hardship,
With the calf-like kingdom’s bondage
But with his great power
He brought forth the treasures ones
Pharaoh’s army and all his offspring
Went down like a stone into the deep

To sever the towering cypress
Sought the Aggagite, son of Hammedatha
But it became a stumbling block to him
And his arrogance was stilled
The head of the Benjaminite You lifted
And the enemy, his name you obliterated
His numerous progeny – his possessions
On the gallows You hanged

Greeks gathered against me
then in Hasmonean days.
They Breached the walls of my towers
and they defiled all the oils;
And from the one remnant of the flasks
A miracle was wrought for the roses
Men of insight – eight days
Established for song and Jubilation

Bare Your holy arm
And hasten the End for salvation –
Avenge the vengeance of your servant’s blood
From the wicked nation.
For the triumph is too long delayed for us,
And there is no end to days of evil,
Repel the Red One in the nethermost shadow

And establish for us the seven shepherds

[1] In this case the Hasmonean family against Edom, Asshur, Mohave, the whole pagan world including the Greeks as the sons of darkness.
2
http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2007/08/ariella-atzmon-athens-or-jerusalem.html
[3] (1956) Bultmann Rudolf., Primitive Christianity, The Fontana Library, pp. 40-51
[4] http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2007/11/gilad-atzmon-politics-of-anti-semitism.html

Gilad Atzmon Interview: Tangling with the Oppressor – What really matters is what Palestinians Do.

Interviewing Gilad Atzmon is never easy, but always interesting. It’s challenging because when it comes down to it, there is so much material, it has to be drastically reduced to make an interview fill an acceptable, customary length that is palatable to the average reader. It is interesting because he is able to effortlessly and authoritatively address a wide range of topics in an entertaining way. Although a frequent participant on the Peacepalestine blog and regularly published there, the last formal interview I did with him was in April of 2005. A lot has changed since then, both in the world Atzmon comments about, Israel-Palestine (and the activism movements that are born of this issue), and in his own career. Since then, he has released a CD under a pseudonym, recorded his soon-to-be released album with The Orient House Ensemble, composed theatre music and embarked on a multi-media project. As much as I would have liked to share that side of the discussion, this interview doesn’t address the artistic aspects of Gilad Atzmon, but sheds more light on his thoughts about the events that take place in the world we live in.
Mary Rizzo

Mary: For years, regarding Israel-Palestine we’ve heard, One State, Two State, now even Three State Solution. What kind of perspective do you see?

Gilad: It should be clear by now that any discourse of resolution may have very limited relevance with the reality on the ground. Thus, we better leave this issue behind.
Mary: You’ve expressed on many occasions that your primary concern is supporting the liberation of the Palestinian people. The question at this time might get confusing for the public who see Palestinians of the two principle parties of the Unity Government involved in armed clashes of the militia. How can anyone effectively support a group that is itself divided into factions?

Gilad: It’s true that they seem divided and for more than a while we’ve been witnessing an emerging crisis within the Palestinian society as a whole. But, for some time, it’s been clear to me that this very conflict, this factionalism, is something we shouldn’t interfere with. At any rate, it’s nothing that is new. Palestinians are divided by circumstances that are created by a Jewish State and its continuous abuse of human rights and its genocidal approach.

Mary: So Palestinian division is something that we need to view as a more or less ordinary and established condition?

Gilad: It is symptomatic to societies under oppression and the Israeli abuse of human rights is no doubt exceeding anything we may be familiar with. However, first we have to recognise where these divisions are. There are 3 separate and distinct and opposing discourses. We have the Palestinians who possess Israeli citizenship, they fight for equal rights. But then, as soon as they express their totally legitimate demands, they are called traitors and have to run for their lives from the Israelis like in the case of the adorable Knesset Member Azmi Bishara.

The second discourse is formed in the Occupied Territories, with the starved Palestinians in Gaza and those in the West Bank who are slightly better off, demanding an end to occupation. They all are calling for that, and it’s been recently that we on the outside can see that the Palestinians in the OT have been largely divided not about the goal, but about the tactic to be employed achieving the withdrawal of Israel. While the Fatah is willing to negotiate its way through, Hamas leaders largely believe in defiance.

The third group is obviously the Diaspora Palestinians, they demand to return to their lands and homes. Many of them live in refugee camps and we can see that their living conditions are often inhumane.

All three groups have totally legitimate demands, this is clear. Yet, Every Western Palestinian solidarity campaigner who tries to offer help runs into severe danger of supporting one cause but dismissing the two others, that is, if he is even aware of the seriousness of the situation of the others. While fighting for the right of return, which is no doubt the backbone of the Palestinian cause, one may end up dismissing the urgency of worsening starvation in Gaza. Those who fight against occupation and those who are determined to break the siege are at a danger of ignoring the millions of Palestinians who are stranded in camps all over the Middle East. Clearly, the majority of solidarity activists can see truth and urgency in the 3 apparent Palestinian causes. Yet, engagement in one front usually leads to dismissal of the 2 others.

This is why I’ve been suggesting that we divert the focus. Rather than interfering with Palestinian internal debate we have to diagnose the root of the problem. My take on the subject is simple and clear. We have to be in the struggle against their oppressors. It is the Jewish State that has created and maintains the Palestinians in a condition of suffering. It is the Jewish State that employs tactics of divide and rule. It is Israel’s supportive lobbies around the world which we must critically confront. It is Israel and its astonishingly powerful lobbies in Washington and in Europe that are behind the misery in Gaza, rather than inter-Palestinian clashes. There’s no other way around this. You can’t bring about an end to the oppression if you refuse to tangle with the oppressor.

Mary: So what is your role? Is it possible that you do not regard yourself as activist, not even a political artist anymore?

Gilad: When it comes to me, I am engaged in scrutiny of the complexity of the Jewish world. I aim towards understanding the notion of Jewish racial brotherhood. I want to understand the relationships between the Jewish State and the Jewish world, between Israel and Jewry, between Jewishness and Zionism. I want to find out whether there is any real categorical difference between Zionists and ‘Jews Against Zionism’ because as far as I can see, both are racially orientated activities.

Mary: Is the Jewish world directly implicated in the oppression? Wouldn’t it be more direct to deal exclusively with Israel and its supporting States? We all know that sometimes the citizens of a State don’t fully support their leaders, and this is true in the West and elsewhere. Why is Israel different?

Gilad: This is indeed a set of crucial questions. The first question to be asked is what is this thing called ‘Jewish World’? Is it the world of all the living Jews? Is there such a world? Is there such a collective entity? The answer is NO, yet it is symptomatic to Jewish ethnic politicians to talk in a collective manner, whether it is in the name of the holocaust, or its victims, the sufferers. As we know, Sharon informed us after the Jenin massacre that it was done in the name of the Jews. Did he have the mandate to say it? Not really. As it seems there is a fairly organised set of Jewish bodies who are supporting the Jewish State in the name of the Jews, and we also see far less organised miniature groups who oppose Israel in the name of the Jews. These two opposing political identities teach us nothing about the Jewish world, but rather about a Jewish political tendency to talk in the name of the Jewish people. This probably is one of the manifestations of Jewish political management within a liberal democratic environment.

I wouldn’t be able to assure you that Moshe Cohen from Golders Green London is supporting the Israeli oppression, yet I can tell you categorically that Israeli oppression is conducted on behalf of Moshe Cohen. This leaves us in a very complicated situation. Now, let’s assume that Mr Cohen doesn’t agree with Israel. He can then try to react politically as a Jew, he could easily shout ‘not in MY Jewish name’, but this would mean blaming all his brothers for supporting Israel. This would indeed approve the Israeli claim for acting in the name of the Jews. The Israeli foreign minister will be able to claim after the next massacre that it was done in the name of world Jewry except Mr Cohen from Golders Green. Alternatively, Cohen can as well shout ‘not in OUR Jewish names’ but then he would be as guilty, as much as Israel is guilty, of assuming a Jewish intellectual, ethical and ideological collective. Thus, I believe that only two possibilities are left a Jew to oppose Israel politically, either to act as an ordinary human being rather than as a chosen one, or alternatively to oppose the Jewish State in the name of Jewish values and that would mean to suggest a humanist interpretation of Judaism. This is what Torah Jews manage to do to a certain success.

However, I do believe that since Israel insists upon regarding itself as the Jewish State, we are entitled to tackle it as a Jewish State. I believe that if there is a lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, it is the devastating impact of racism and political racism. We have to fight racism. As it seems there is not a single legitimate racially exclusive political movement in the West except the Jewish ones, whether we speak about Zionism or ‘Jews against Zionism’. We have to stand up against any form of a racial segregative formula.

Mary: But if an activist group is organised by race, and here we could get into a debate as to whether or not Jewishness is a race or if it is something else, that doesn’t mean that it is racist, does it? That would make all groups that organise on behalf of their race into racist entities. The civil rights group the NAACP, which represents American Blacks would get this same label if I’m following your logic.

Gilad: Let’s divide the answer into two parts. The first question is whether Jews form a race. The answer is NO, yet Jewish political activism is by definition racially orientated. Bizarrely enough, it may be possible that Israel is more open to the idea of Jews being multi-racial than London Jewish Socialists who celebrate their Yiddish culture but may have far less in common with an Iraqi Jewish socialist. The second question is slightly more complicated. Is a racially orientated liberating activity necessarily a racist cause? I would say that we should never pass judgment on the oppressed. However as far as I am aware, not a single liberation and civil rights movement stopped other ethnic or racial identities from joining in. We know of many white Americans (many of them Jews) who joined the civil rights movement. We know of Jews who were active in the PLO over the years. Yet, I am not aware of many Goyim who joined the Bund.

Mary: Getting back to the initial part of our discussion, your policy is to never take sides if the debate or the clash involves only Palestinians?

Gilad: Recognising the historical injustice against the Palestinian people and watching the escalating Israeli barbarism my moral duty is clear to me. I just support the Palestinian people and their different choices even if those are contradicting. Rather than trying to fit the Palestinian struggle into a decaying 19th century working class philosophy or any other ideology, I fit myself to their call. I do regard Palestine and the Palestinians as the avant garde and the forefront of the battle against modern evil.

Mary: What is modern evil?

Gilad: It is clearly Zionism and the current Zionised Anglo-Americanism colonialism.

Mary: So you don’t classify Abbas or Dahlan as traitors of their people, opportunists or even politically mislead? You abstain from criticising them?

Gilad: I have seen people within our camp who happen to be judgmental of Abbas for his recent moves and I can see where they come from. I can understand the frustration. I myself happen to be angry rather often, yet, I am the last to be judgemental about any Palestinian act. My job, or may I suggest, our job is to understand different modes of thinking amongst those who’ve been living under occupation for four decades, those have been dispossessed for sixty years, those who face the most brutal interpretation of the notion of the Jewish secular supremacist world view.

My task is to throw light on the situation, to understand the justifications of various acts, to give reasons, to let reason be. I am there to remind whoever wants to listen that the Hamas was democratically elected by the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the PA, and that means the West Bank as well as Gaza. I am there to remind my Western listeners that there has never been a Palestinian dream of two states: CNN is still talking about the shattered Palestinian dream of the 2 states solution. I am there to alert my Western listeners that Shalom is not peace and in fact there is hardly any voice for peace within the Jewish world.

Mary: Would you say that Israelis start to understand that solution to the conflict may be beyond reach?

Gilad: Israelis do anticipate their doomsday, they are now surrounded with total defiance. Israel comes to realise its temporality and Avrum Burg’s invaluable interview with Ari Shavit exposes it. Clearly, there is no room to talk about solutions anymore, the conflict will mature into a single Palestinian State. And I am rather delighted about that.

Mary: We’ll get back to the implications of Burg in a few minutes, but you are stating that the Palestinians never had a dream, as the CNN is putting it, of a Palestinian State alongside an Israeli one, even though the PLO had endorsed this.

Gilad: First, let’s be accurate here, What CNN is referring to is a dream of a unified Palestinian State of the lands beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, yet, looking at the map reveals that there is no such State, as far as we can see, it is Gaza and the West Bank with a huge Jewish ghetto in the middle. This is not a unified State. Moreover, the two State solution has never been a Palestinian dream and will never be one. It was maybe a possible vision of a settlement, nothing more than that. And as many of us have been predicting for more than a decade, it would never work out because it dismisses the Palestinian cause.

Mary: I imagine that now, after the formation of a “technical government” headed by Fatah, many activists are relieved that the economic strangulation against parts of what would be the future Palestine is being lifted by the unfreezing of some funds. But in similar way, they are glad Hamas is out of the official picture, that their warnings against Hamas being in government were fulfilled. Maybe some think of saving the saveable and letting things in Gaza run whatever course they may. The West Bank for “Palestine” and Gaza for “Hamas”.

Gilad: It is rather obvious that many Palestinian solidarity campaigners happen to associate themselves with the Fatah, with Abbas and his emergency government. We are living in a world that seemed to be free at one point. I believe that people should follow their heart. Yet, I believe that to support Palestine is to respect the choice of the Palestinian people. That means to congratulate the Hamas and the people of Gaza for their defiance. The Hamas had eventually to take position by force. This is really amazing when you think about it. I am not surprised that Tony Blair, once a war criminal and now a peace envoy, sanctioned the Hamas, but then, we better ask ourselves, what did we do to support the legitimate choice of the Palestinian people?

Mary: Do you think then that this moment is they eye of a hurricane, or is the division going to take even more dramatic turns?

Gilad: I want to believe that civil war in Gaza is over.

Mary: Hardly a civil war, it can be classified as a preventive military or paramilitary action that is popular these days in the Middle East. Hamas took control of the situation before a Fatah coup that they feared was in the air.

Gilad: But we have to look at it in a bigger picture. We have to remember that Hamas won the election both in Gaza and the West Bank. Practically speaking, the current Emergency Government in Ramallah is actually the one that is involved in an act that is forcefully moving an elected Government. They do it with the support of the West and Israel. The current Emergency Government will be operating with Israeli backing and with the support of the Israeli occupation forces. In the long run, this may be a kiss of death to the Fatah movement, a secular agenda that had been leading the Palestinian struggle for many years. This is a big shame.

Mary: Obviously, you want to combat Israel as it is the cause of the suffering of so many people. For a while, it seems as if there were no concrete efforts around to combat Israel, but recently there has been a growing movement to make a boycott of some sort against Israel as a means of protest. Do you think it’s a good and effective tool for change?

Gilad: Boycott is a real complicated issue. For years we’ve been arguing in favour of divestment and boycott. At the time I supported any form of boycott in Israel, its products and its culture.

There are some elements in the boycott that are obviously very welcome. For instance, the fact that UK unions are standing up against Zionist evil is a major shift in the very right direction. The Boycott is certainly bad news for Israel and this is wonderful news in itself. Yesterday, I went to a reading of a play, it was actually a theatrical adaptation my latest book. The producer is Jewish, and at a certain stage when we were discussing the meaning of the play he stood up and said. “You see, we had a Jewish State, it is now sixty years later, and it is a very horrible place, it is so horrible that it has now been boycotted. And this is there to make us think, where did it go wrong?” This is the most positive impact of the boycott. It makes people reflect.

Yet, I have some serious reservations, which I am inclined to mention.


One, I see a tremendous difference between banning an avocado and a book. I would welcome any form of financial restrictions on Israel and its supportive bodies yet, I truly believe in freedom of speech and oppose any form of Maccarthyism or intellectual censorship of any sort. Thus, interfering with academic freedom isn’t exactly something I can blindly advocate. Unlike some of my best enlightened friends, I am against any form of gatekeeping or book burning. But it goes further, I actually want to hear what Israelis and Zionists have to say. I want to read their books. I want to confront their academics. If justice is on our side we should be able to confront them.

Mary: Of course, they won’t stop writing or proposing their ideas, and actually, they might become more reactionary in the process.

Gilad: Actually, I do not think that they can become any more reactionary. The second point is, to impose a boycott is to employ a boycotter. When it comes to an academic boycott I would expect the inquisitor in charge to be a scholar of great esteem. This isn’t the case obviously. The reason is simple. As it naturally happens, major intellectuals are engaged in scholarship rather than in union politics, working class and proletarian activity. Seemingly, it isn’t the leading minds in British academic life and ethical thinking who are leading the Boycott. In fact it is the other way around, the boycott is led by some minor academics with very little to say about ethics and even less to say about the specific conflict. This fact is actually repeatedly exposed in televised debates. The anti-Zionist movement in Britain has yet to find the appropriate eloquent answer to the Dershowitzes of this world.

Three, when it comes to the Palestinian solidarity discourse I can identify two modes of discussion: the ethical and political. The ethical mode is obviously evoked by a natural humanist reaction to the endless flood of images of Israeli criminal activity. The political discourse, on the other hand, is pretty much autonomous and detached from the conflict. It has a lot to do with maintenance of some particular decaying old-school socialists within the fading progressive Western discourse. It has very little to do with Palestine and the transitions within the Palestinian struggle. When it comes to the current boycott we are unfortunately operating within a political mode rather than an ethical one. I say unfortunately, because Palestinian reality is neither an isolated event in history nor it is isolated in the region. Had the academics been ethically orientated, they would have to ask themselves what they, their unions and Universities have been doing to stop the ongoing slaughter in Iraq. What do they do to oppose the British Government that is engaged in crimes not different from Israel’s? What are the British academics doing now to stop the British value system from a total collapse? I am very sad and ashamed to say that as far as State terrorism is concerned Blair and Olmert are pretty much an equal match. If this isn’t enough, Brown Launch is not very promising either. Yet, British academics expect the Israelis to do something they fail to do.

However, as I said before, I am in favour of any form of restrictions on Israel, on its financial sectors, yet, by behaving politically while avoiding an ethical debate we are actually losing to the Israelis and to their lobbies.

Most importantly, if we decide to go for an academic Boycott, if we decide to burn books or to silence other people’s thoughts, then I really want to know why do we stop with Israeli academics or institutes? Shouldn’t we really ban any possible contact with any Zionists, people and institutes who openly support the idea of a racist State? As you certainly realise, unlike South Africa, Zionism, the ideological core behind Israel, is a global movement. Shouldn’t we ban as well any form of racially orientated activity? Shouldn’t we stop academic as well as smear campaigner David Hirsh and his racially orientated cohorts and then later continue with Jewish Socialists (being a racially oriented ‘progressive’ group)? Where do we draw the line? I do not know the answers, instead I believe that the best way around it is to support freedom of speech categorically, whether it is David Irving, David Hirsh or even Tony Greenstein.

Mary: OK, so you fully support any kind of instrument that puts pressure and pulls the economic rug out from under Israel, but you have some reservations about the academic boycott against Israeli universities, because of the nature of the boycott being restricting academic freedom.

Gilad: I would even just call it intellectual freedom. I do love diversity. To impose a single narrative is in itself a Talmudic approach and I have to resist it. Being trained as a continental philosopher, I know very well that the proponents of the most enlightening ideas in the late 19th century and pre WWII 20th century were not exactly progressive. How to say it, Heidegger was a Nazi at least for a while and as it seems, both Levinas and Leo Strauss were courageous enough to admit that the man may be the greatest thinker of our millennium.

Mary: Well, there will always be individuals who express their thoughts in one way or another, and in the case of Israel, they could even seek employment abroad, so intellectual freedom doesn’t seem to be at risk here. But were a boycott of Israeli universities to be implemented, wouldn’t academic freedom in Israel be a small price to pay if it will be an effective tool to fight Israeli practices? Isn’t there a lot of research and development going on that harms Palestinians, and wouldn’t it be worthwhile to cut the funding off of this as well?

Gilad: Maybe, I do not know, this is why I kept quiet about the issue. I do not know the answers and I do not even try to search for them. I am not a politician nor am I an activist, it isn’t my duty to say, “what next?” I am sharing my concerns with those amongst us who are willing and capable of free thinking. However, if you ask me for my final word about boycotts and other revolutionary progressive initiatives, I would then adopt Ben-Gurion’s take on the subject: ‘It doesn’t really matter what some British Unionists Say, what really matters is what Palestinians Do’! I am far more interested in Hamas’s belligerence.

Mary: On the subject of academic freedom, Norman Finkelstein has been denied tenure at his University, probably for political reasons, and this might be an argument against mixing politics and scholarship. What is your view on this?

Gilad: Why do you say ‘probably’? Certainly for political reasons. More than once I have praised Finkelstein and his work for Palestinian people. I do believe that his contribution is indeed invaluable. I would even say that Palestinian solidarity would look very different without him. I try to keep up with Finkelstein and to read everything he publishes. In most cases I totally agree with him, in some my disagreement is rather marginal.

Yet, I have a single minor criticism of Finkelstein’s attitude rather than his academic work. If his work has as much academic value as we all believe it has, then his personal history may not be relevant to the validity of his argument. Of course, I have no intention of telling Finkelstein what to do or what to say. Finkelstein, as much as anyone else, is entitled to argue: “I have the right to speak out because my parents are survivors,” but we have to accept that there is a down side to it. It simply excludes those who were fortunate enough not to be sons and daughters of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

Similarly, two months ago I saw Ilan Pappe, whom I highly regard as a pillar of academic resistance to Zionism, presenting his argument for the One State Solution. He started his argument by saying: “As a son of German Holocaust survivors…” Again Pappe, whom I view as a very important voice, mistakenly and most likely unconsciously, excluded anyone who failed to be a holocaust victim. I am most certainly sure that both Finkelstein and Pappe are not intending to exclude anyone, I just believe that they should be rather careful and avoid using such argumentation. I am totally convinced that their arguments are strong enough without bringing their personal history into discussion.

Mary: Some people don’t see it that way, some see it as giving more emotional impact to the message, and therefore, making people more open to accepting it. They might think, “If sons of Holocaust survivors are fighting Israel, then it’s okay for anyone to do it.” It might open up a gate that was previously considered shut.

Gilad: I totally accept it. I do not dismiss the emotional value as well as the impact of personal history, but I think that since the crime is so obvious, it is time to open the discourse and to welcome any form of ethical and intellectual intervention.

Anyhow, we were talking about academic argumentation. And I believe that at least academically such tactic is counter-effective. Let’s, for the course of discussion, say that I am unfortunate enough to suffer of impotency. Clearly, it is beyond doubt that such a psychological and physical condition would affect or even shape my vision of reality. Every time I fail in bed, my realisation of the notion of human suffering may get one step further. I for instance could legitimately start my next talk about the Israeli Palestinian conflict by saying: “As an impotent, I can understand Palestinian suffering, as an impotent I can feel the pain, I can understand what hope is all about.” Clearly, it is my impotence that sets me in an empathic journey towards others’ pain. Yet, in spite of the legitimacy, in spite of the fact that I evidently celebrate my symptoms, I fail to establish an academic argument. I reduce ethics into mere sympathy.

Mary: However, sympathy can lead to empathy and that is a necessary quality for an activist. He or she has to identify with suffering and bear witness to it.

Gilad: I accept it, yet I expose its down sides academically and exclusively.

Mary: But I think that another crucial matter is, one can indeed refer to a specific personal experience, but in this instance, quite unlike a personal experience such as impotency, we are dealing with a vicarious experience, someone else’s. It might actually be misleading, promoting the idea that victimhood gets passed from generation to generation, and that those who were survivors of the holocaust survived the worst possible event, making any other experience pale in comparison. In a way, it discounts the enormity of human suffering that we know is not limited to the Holocaust alone.

Gilad: In fact, regarding the argument of a vicarious experience, second-hand trauma, we could easily refine the impotency model. Let us assume for a second that my sexual performance is actually absolutely perfect but it was really my grandfather who was impotent. I can always argue that it was my grandfather’s misery and my grandmother’s frustration that shaped my father’s reality. It is my father’s fears that made me sleepless, and it is these fears that made me into a victim that should receive a constant free supply of Viagra and beyond. I am sorry to say it, listening to people who are my generation talking to me about themselves being Holocaust victims sounds sick and pathetic to me. I feel sorry for them and sorry for those who take them seriously.

And regarding the personal testimony matter, we have to remember that a rational argument should be applicable and valid regardless of the origin or the personal circumstances of its proponent. Newton’s Physics goes beyond gender, race or ethnicity. Scientific laws are supposed to be intelligible regardless of the family history of the ones who bring it to the world. Objects are falling at a certain speed whether your parents were in Auschwitz or in Deir Yassin. This quality of free rational thinking is something we have managed to lose as far as the academic world is concerned. We are witnessing a rapid deterioration in Western reasoning capacity. We are subject to this immense political correcting of the academic world. My advice to academic contributors to the solidarity discourse is to stand out and speak their hearts. To operate as genuine human beings, as proper authentic ethical thinkers rather than corrected politicians who need to send their ancestors back to Auschwitz in order to secure a green light to say what they believe in.

Mary: Back in 2005, you seemed to believe that Amir Peretz’s victory as leader of Israel’s Labor Party was nothing short of a revolution. Yet, he has turned out to be, at least when one thinks about the bloodbaths endured by Palestinians and Lebanese residents and citizens, a major disaster. Why did he fail so miserably?

Gilad: There was good reason to believe in Peretz, that he was different. He was neither part of the Military Junta nor a member of the Ashkenazi elite. Peretz’s election slogan was very simple: ‘once we address our social problems we will be ready to talk peace with our neighbors’. Indeed, Israeli isn’t ready to discuss peace, neither to its neighbour nor to itself. Peretz was sincere enough to admit it. Yet, he wasn’t modest enough to insist upon taking a socially orientated ministry. He insisted upon becoming the security minister, something that would qualify him as the future Prime Minister. The end of the story is known. Lacking the necessary military background, the man and his PM over-reacted to a simple kidnap operation and ended up in a total military defeat to a miniature paramilitary organisation. It is beyond doubt that once Peretz took his seat at the defense ministry, he refrained from acting as an Arab Jew, instead he followed the Zionist traditional Ashkeno-Centric world view of the Iron Wall. He let the Army escalate a minor border event into a war. However, I still want to believe that eventually, after all the belligerent Baraks and Netanyahus, a true and genuine second or even third generation Arab Jew Israeli may come to reflect about the peaceful conditions Jews enjoyed in Arab countries. At the end of the day, anti-Semitism and endless conflicts belong to the history of European Jews, it is something European Jews brought to the region. It has nothing to do with Arab Jews and their history.

Moreover, I still want to believe that if there is chance of a true willingness for peace within Israeli society, it will have something to do with the realisation of the largely oppressed Arab Jews in Israel that their true brothers in the region are the oppressed Palestinians. Such an act would shatter once and for all the Ashkenazi political hegemony in the Israeli realm.

Mary: You’re very heavily involved with “political scuffles”, people who attack you politically as well as insisting that your influence could damage “honest and principled activists”, just to take a recent quote by a blogger who focuses on Jewish identity issues and ties that in to his protest against Zionism. It’s normal and natural to be attacked by Zionists, but why are attacks from these anti-Zionist quarters so virulent?

Gilad: Let us first try to be precise, as it seems now, those who indeed attack me are five Bundists, socialist Jews, people who may have been an important voice at a certain stage but had gradually become a burden or even white noise. They indeed exhaust all their energy fighting me and other free thinkers, they run motions, dedicate blogs but they had been defeated time after time. But I cannot complain, their attack contributed a lot to the circulation of my thoughts. They as well helped me refine my view of Zionism and Jewish modern identity.

As you know, I am not a politician, I have never been one and I do not have any plans to become one. Being involved with Palestinian discourse for a decade I have come across the most enlightening people. None of them were politicians or politically orientated activists. In fact they were always attacked by politicians and largely by this miniature group of people who for some odd reason regard themselves as ‘Progressive’ Jews. It took me some time before I realised that Progressive Jews are manifestly seeking hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. They insist that the case of Israel must be realised solely via the very limited materialist spectrum. They love working class politics.

Mary: Well, you will have to admit, in the West, most of the supporters of Palestinians approach it from a leftist point of view, just as in the Arab world it would be an issue of Arab liberation. It might be unavoidable to treat it in the ways we do, we can’t create activists from a vacuum.

Gilad: I do not agree. It is rather obvious to me and I see it in my concerts night after night all over the world. The vast majority of Western people are devastated by Israeli brutality. The support of Palestine is a natural ethical reaction. Yet, when ordinary people follow their hearts and join the solidarity movement, this is where rather often they meet a bunch of decaying non dialectical socialists who insist upon telling them how to think and what to say according to some pre-WWII text books. This fact alone explains why there are hardly any Palestinians in the Solidarity movement and why this movement doesn’t expand into a mass movement.

Mary: Would you argue that socialist thinking is dead?

Gilad: Not at all, I am in total favour of a dynamic dialectical socialist worldview. A week ago I played in huge solidarity event in Germany put together by the Communist party. It was a gathering event of artists from all over the world. It was a solidarity event with refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kurds, Iranians. In a few days I will perform at Marxism 2007, again as far as I can tell, the Socialist Worker’s Party in the UK tries to move forward with the flood of events. They understand that Working Class is a dynamic notion. They understand that if there is a working class in Britain, this notion has changed radically in the last 30 years.

However, we can’t choose who is claiming to be on the side of the Palestinians, and if people whose interpretation of reality is only understood from the viewpoint of working class politics, I am obviously convinced that they are totally deluded as to the interpretation of the Middle East problem. They make the reality fit the worldview they have rather than adapting their view to reality. They are entitled to do so as long as they do not try to silence other people’s views. Israel regards itself as a Jewish State and in order to understand the scope of its activity we have to understand what Jewishness stands for. What racial brotherhood is all about. Moreover, the industrial revolution is yet to make it to Gaza, hence, Marxist ideas have never become overwhelmingly popular amongst the Palestinian people. However, I wouldn’t resist a limited colonial interpretation of the conflict but the insistence to limit the discourse to working class interpretation is moronic and somehow emblematic to these five ‘Progressive’ Jewish activists.

Mary: But basically you disagree with their view that bringing about a kind of secular socialism for Palestinians and Israelis will resolve the problem of oppression.

Gilad: Have you ever tried to talk ‘socialism’ to a Palestinian? I actually tried. They usually tend to laugh or just lose interest. Marx, or shall we rather say Marxism, has nothing to do with their reality. However, I believe that by now, after 110 years of Zionism, 60 years of the Nakba, 40 years of occupation, our beloved Socialists, Marxists, Mazpenists, Bundist ‘Progressive Jews’ and the Jewish Socialists had enough time to resolve the conflict and liberate us all by turning the entire region into a red haven. May I reveal for the first time that as an 18-year-old red activist, while being an IDF soldier, I was affiliated with some radical anarchist groups in Israel. Like the rest of my comrades, I was convinced that sooner or later ‘Arab and Israeli working class would unite against the bourgeoisie Zionist colonial evil’. It took a few years before I opened my eyes to the astonishing fact that there was no ‘Jewish working class’ and Palestinians refused to fit into the Eurocentric class model. That was when I realised that I was left with no other option but shelving my red shirt at least momentarily.

Mary: That’s pretty interesting, both the fact of the activism of your youth and that you claim that there is no Jewish working class. But, as to socialist ideas having no truck with Palestinians, I would think that the case of the FPLP in some small way contradicts this, even though, they are a different breed of socialists, basically a nationalist movement with progressive ideas.

Gilad: Indeed, and even they disappeared. Moreover, from time to time I meet the odd Palestinian Matzpenists, mainly in Europe. I do not try to argue that Palestinian Marxists are non-existent, I just come to acknowledge the clear fact that their voice is as less than marginal. This is not a criticism but rather an observation.

Mary: But, back to where we were, you are saying that the Western progressives’ activism is stuck in a vision of reality that never was: the belief that if class issues are addressed, the rest will be resolvable, but the reason of oppression in Israel has never been class, but rather a question of race, is it not?

Gilad: Race may sound a bit abstract. Let’s call it racial brotherhood, cultural supremacist views, blood orientation and so on. Anyhow, the problem with the Jewish activists who attack me is actually centred on the fact that my views sit outside their narrow political thinking. I am focused on ethical thinking. My criticism of Israel as a racially orientated paradigm actually exposes as well the sickening aspect of Jewish socialism. The argument is so easy. If you are a socialist, you are my comrade and I do not care whether you are a Jew, a Muslim, Black or Buddhist. Yet, our progressive Jews insist to import their exclusive blood system into the progressive discourse. By doing so they located themselves within the Zionist discourse, like Zionists, they say we are ‘people like other people’ yet we are ‘slightly different’.

I will admit that I initially I took these people seriously, these progressive Jewish left activists, but then I have learned that when it comes to being morally pure, the most vocal protester against me, the one who was obsessively trying to teach me ethics, actually has a list of acts of petty criminal activity under his belt. I wouldn’t hold his past against him, yet, I cannot let a shoplifter teach me or anyone else morality. As if this is not enough, he and his friends were banned from different academic institutes for being anti-Semitic. With all due respect, I cannot let such a person call me an anti Semite. Another anti-Atzmon ‘progressive’ smear activist happened to run a Jews only blog where attacks against me are pretty constant. He can make any kind of blog he wants, but it’s pretty clear that progressive Jews are always operating in racially orientated cells, and I am free to feel that his blog is exclusivist and will remain that way. It’s the nature of the club. Not ‘many’ Abeds and Mohammeds are registered with the Jews against Zionism group, and I don’t see any articles about Palestinians on that blog either. It’s obviously a second-rate issue to the Jewish progressive identity.

Mary: Well, two little-known activists in Great Britain shouldn’t be such a threat. Why do you respond to their provocations and why not simply just ignore them?

Gilad: Actually, I wouldn’t necessarily blame them for provoking me, it is more likely that I actually provoke them, I expose their fallacy. At a certain stage, and not that long ago, I realised that these Bundists embody the essence of the Jewish secular tragedy. They are the epitome of the emancipated Jewish emptiness. On the one hand they failed to make it into the universalist discourse. On the other hand they are left detached from their own cultural heritage. In their misery they praise their Yiddish culture without understanding the role of this language and without even speaking the language. These Bundists embody the collapse of Jewish progressive cosmopolitanism. It would be impossible to understand where Zionism came from without confronting this unique bizarre identity. For me, monitoring them is no different from visiting the safari of rare animals.

As we know, the Bund doesn’t exist anymore, it was actually defeated in WWII. As far as Jewish people are concerned, Zionism won the Jewish street. Monitoring the UK cell and their activity explains to me what Zionism was there to repair. They are microcosms of Jewish extreme wrong thinking. In my eyes they are actually far worse than proper Zionists.

Mary: Don’t you think that this is an exaggeration?

Gilad: Actually, I am totally convinced about that. One of the most decent beings amongst them is the award-winning poet Michael Rosen. Rosen publicly defines himself as: a ‘Socialist’, a ‘secular Jew’, a ‘progressive man’. Recently I found out that Rosen has been expressing himself pretty eloquently in support of the Boycott. Nothing is obviously wrong with that, but then to my great astonishment, I found out that the same Rosen, the one who calls to Boycott Israel, was as well taking part in a notorious right wing London Jewish Book Week as a family entertainer. For those who do not understand yet, the Jewish Book Week is supported by the Israeli Embassy and the rabid Zionist organisation UJIA, an organisation that currently sets gala tours for the 60th anniversary of the Israeli State. Looking at it from a progressive point of view, I cannot make up my mind whether Rosen’s behaviour is treason or just total hypocrisy. When we asked Rosen how come, how is it that he, of all people, a boycott enthusiast, ended up participating in a Zionist event, he was stupid enough to admit that he gave it some real thought, “I had my doubts about appearing at JBW and so I asked all sorts of people whose opinions I trust whether they thought it was a good idea or not.” Rosen, the one who calls to boycott Israeli academics ended up in bed with the Israeli Embassy.

Mary: Not that I’m familiar with Rosen’s writing…

Gilad: Good point, there is no writing. There is no contemporary body of work, no critical or political body of writing. Along with him, there are just some forum comments, really only concerned with stopping the Palestinian discourse becoming what he and his friends call anti-Semitic. To a certain extent they operate as an ADL mole within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. In short we are facing here an unacceptable level of hypocrisy and ignorance on the verge of complete betrayal.

Mary: In some of your writings you defined these folks as crypto-Zionists and Third Category Jews.

Gilad: I am afraid that my argument is now even more conclusive. When a Marxist politician is found lying, we are entitled to call him a Marxist liar. When a Republican politician is found spying for the enemy we are entitled to call him a `Republican spy’. Yet, when a Boycott campaigner who insists to act politically under the ‘Jewish’ banner (as a Jewish Socialist, or a Jew against Zionism, etc.) is found in bed with some ultra-Zionist institutes, we must refrain from calling him a Jewish hypocrite. Here is the trick. Jewish progressive ethnic campaigners are interested in a singular one-sided discourse. They are happy to act as ‘Jews’ but refuse to be criticised as Jews. When they act politically they say we are ‘people like other people’ but when you criticise them politically they hide behind their racial identity. Whether this is funny or revolting is a matter of taste. However, this is a complete repetition of the Zionist tactic. In other words, we are entitled to conclude that Jewish Socialists and any form of Jewish exclusive activism is nothing but another form of Zionism.

Thanks to these so-called ‘Progressive Jews’ I have understood the validity of the criticism of Jewish cosmopolitanism, the bizarre notion of peoplehood devoid of soil. I realised why these few Bundists could never establish a true authentic solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian cause is primarily about soil. Cosmopolitans may be able to recognise Palestinian misery, yet they cannot identify with the yearning to their land. While Bundists talk about their peoplehood, Palestinians do not need to talk about peoplehood, they do not have to invent or reinvent their culture. Like Germans, French and Albanians, they simply live through their culture. Unlike Zionists and Bundists included, who aim to be ‘people like other people’, Palestinians are there to start with. They are ‘people like other people’. They do not have to aim towards cultural renaissance. People who are culturally orientated can simply transcend themselves beyond the awareness of their culture. They are moulded and transfixed by their by their own soil, cuisine, language and landscape. They live their culture and move it forwards by the means of creation.

This is why Zionism with its Hebrew revival may have been more successful than the Bund. Rosen and his ilk are telling us about their unique Jewish culture, about their Yiddish, yet, they don’t even speak the language. Their creativity within their own culture is zilch. They don’t write Yiddish books, they don’t read Yiddish papers, they don’t have Yiddish Rock & Roll they do not translate anything into Yiddish. And there is very little to translate from Yiddish anyway. They are basically spreading some ghetto nostalgic nonsense, they basically bullshit for the sake of bullshitting. And as I said many times before, they have the full right to do so, yet, I am there to remind them that chicken soup is neither a political argument, nor it is a moral stand.

Mary: So, as long as you continue to criticise your detractors and present the inconsistencies of their reasoning, they will continue to run smear campaigns against you, call you an anti-Semite and try persuade people from hosting you at political and public events. As long as they keep doing that, you will continue to have reason to criticise their logic. Kind of a vicious circle. Is there going to be an end to it?

Gilad: Seemingly, in spite of all the smears, I survive. In fact I won in every battle I decided to take on. As it seems, by fighting me they have managed to annihilate themselves. Every time, they raise their head I learn more about the level of Jewish ideological secular delusion. It will be very boring when they raise their white flag, but this will never happen. In spite of them being humiliated at the PSC AGM recently, in spite of bandleader being exposed as a convicted criminal, in spite of Rosen’s shameful crypto-Zionist behaviour, they never surrender. Only people with dignity can admit defeat, and dignity is exactly what they lack. People who lie to themselves so extensively find it far easier to lie to others.

Though they have managed to silence some of the most important contributor to the Israeli Palestinian discourse they have totally failed with me. There are two secrets here, which I am happy to share.

One: Rather than talking to Jews, I am talking about Jews and the subject I am interested in is basically Jewishness. Many of my readers and supporters are actually orthodox Jews, assimilated Jews and ex-Jews. But it obviously goes far beyond Jews. Since more than a few scholars identify the current emerging global conflict with some extensive Zionist lobbying in America, the questions to do with the Jewish issue are becoming more and more relevant and popular. A while ago I have taken the risk of saying what I believe to be the truth and as it seems, people around do appreciate my truth-seeking endeavour. Some Jews called me an anti-Semite, some Elder Londoners picketed my readings, it didn’t stop me and it didn’t stop anyone from booking me again. Quite the opposite, it made me far more popular than I have ever wanted to be.

Two: I do not join any organisation or organised religion. I do not let politicians into my world. Generally speaking, I despise any form of political activity and activism in general. I believe in ethical orientation. I keep independent. At the end of the day I am primarily an artist and light cultural terrorist.

Mary: A recent interview with Avrum Burg has caused a great amount of interest. I know you were particularly surprised by it, and said it contained “cosmic changes”. At the risk of having to revise your views once time has passed and things turn out to be less cosmic than we hope, could you elaborate on how this interview affected you?

Gilad: To a certain extent, Burg didn’t come with a major intellectual or ideological revelation. Yet, Avrum Burg, isn’t really an ordinary man, he isn’t exactly a Palestinian solidarity campaigner. Quite the opposite, Burg has been for years the ultimate epitome of Israeliness and the mainstream Israeli political establishment. He was the great hope of the Labor Party’s Young Guard. After that the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Speaker of the Knesset, a candidate for the Labor leadership.

We must remember that as the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Burg was Mr Aliyah (Jews moving to Israel). Now he changed his mind, he is Mr Yerida (Jews moving out of Israel). When a man with such a political history stands up and suggests Israelis to apply for foreign passports and leave the country ASAP, when a man of such an intellectual capacity admits that “Israel is Fascist” we must confess that a change of spirit is noticed in the air.

For us, the fact that Israel is indeed Fascist may not be such a revelation, we know for years that Israeli legislation is racially orientated. We know that Burg’s old Israeli Labor Party has always been dedicated to the belief in socialism of one race (National Socialism). However, Burg was the one who stood up and confronted the Israelis with their bitter reality. He basically tells the Israelis, ‘We aren’t any better than Hitler’. And this is a revelation!!!

But it gets deeper, Burg is there to say: “Of the three identities that form me – human, Jewish and Israeli – I feel that the Israeli element deprives the other two.” As an observant Jew, Burg actually admits that Israeliness opposes humanism and Judaism. This may not be new to many of us, but no one has ever had the guts to say just that to the Israelis (maybe except me but I am just a saxophonist).

However, Burg manages to throw some interesting light onto the notion of Zionism and Israeliness. In the interview he says “I am a human being, I am a Jew and I am an Israeli. Zionism was an instrument to move me from the Jewish state of being to the Israeli state of being. I think it was Ben-Gurion who said that the Zionist movement was the scaffolding to build the home, and that after the State’s establishment, it should be dismantled.”

This is certainly a major and crucial point. As it seems, Zionism doesn’t mean a thing for the contemporary Jew born in Israel. Zionism is a Diaspora-orientated notion. Zionism is there to differentiate between Abe Foxman and Roland Rance. Both are Jews, both operate in racially segregated political cells, yet, one is a Zionist the other is a Jewish Anti-Zionist (big deal). When it comes to Israelis who were born in Israel, the idea of a Jewish State isn’t something to celebrate. For Israelis, a Jewish State it isn’t something you have to aim towards or ideologically endorse. Being an Israeli means being a Jew and living in a Jews-only State. When I joined the IDF 25 years ago, I did it because this was the only available interpretation of my Jewishness. I was a Jew living in the Jewish State and joining the Jews’ army was the natural outcome.

The word Zionism is almost meaningless in Israel and within the Israeli discourse it is actually non-existent. Zionism may mean something to the American settlers in the West Bank or the new wave of French immigrants to Israel, but not much more than that. If this indeed the case, we may as well internalise the fact that anti-Zionist campaigning is hardly affective in the case of Israel. As much as Israelis do not regard themselves as Zionists, they are hardly affected by anti-Zionism.

Mary: Although if this is the state of affairs, is Burg really addressing people outside of Israel, in his urging that the Zionist structure be dismantled? Are we again at a Nemo propheta in patria situation?

Gilad: I don’t know the answer. I was pretty surprised that Burg’s ideas were not highly circulated. I do not know a thing about circulation of thought in Jewish circles. I can see that even in Israel his ideas were attracting some attention but not enough. At the end of the day, in order to maintain the Israeli murderous policies, a collective blindness is elementary. My interest in Burg is totally intellectual, I do not know if he has any significant political power anymore, I guess he doesn’t. Yet his ideas will echo for a while and even more than a while.

Gilad Atzmon is a musician-composer. He is particularly well-known both for his fiction and his political analysis which is widely published. His sites are Gilad Atzmon and Artie Fishel and the Promised Band.

Mary Rizzo is a translator, art restorer and especially Pro-Palestinian activist who runs the blog Peacepalestine. She is a founding member of Tlaxcala, a vibrant network of (proudly) radical activist translators that publishes a wide range of articles by anti-imperialist writers and thinkers from around the world in a dozen languages. This interview will be available in other languages on Tlaxcala in the near future.

Activist Networks… No More Neutrality

Ten Theses on Non-Democratic Electronics
Organized Networks Updated

By Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter
(thanks to Bifo from the Rekombinant list for passing this along)

1. Welcome to the politics of diversion. There is a growing paradox between the real existing looseness, the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’ on the one hand, and desire to organize in familiar structures such as the trade union, party and movement on the other. Both options are problematic. Activists, especially those from the baby boom generation, do not like to speculate on the potential of networks as they fluctuate too much – an anxiety perhaps fuelled by the instability of their pension funds. Networks are known for their unreliability and unsustainability. Even though they can scale up in unprecedented ways, and have the potential to perform real-time global politics from below, they also disintegrate in the same speed. Like Protestant churches and Christian sects, leftist political parties and traditional union structures can give people a much needed structure to their life. It is hard to argue against the healing, therapeutic value that such organisations can have on societies and neighbourhoods that are under severe pressure of disintegration. What we observe is that these two strategies are diverging models. They do not compete, but they do not necessarily overlap either.

2. Uphold the synthesis. Think Global, Act Local. It sounds obvious, and so it should be. But what is to be done in a situation of growing gaps, ruptures and tensions? It is naive to think that old trade union bosses are likely to give up their positions, in the same way as political parties will not risk their institutional commitments for some digital hipsters. The question then becomes how to arrange temporary coalitions, being well aware of the diverging interests and cultures. We see this happening in unique ways amongst activist bloggers and, for instance, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. Instead of ‘managing’ disruptive technologies, it should be also taken into consideration to radically take sides with the new generations and join the disruption. It is high time for radical politics to take the driver’s seat and suppress the compulsive response to point at ‘damaging consequences’. Let’s get rid of moral pedagogies and shape the social change we envision.

3. Applied scalability is the new technics. How to crack the mystery of scalability and transformation of issues into a critical proliferation of protest with revolutionary potential? With the tendency of networks to regress into ghettoes of self-affirmation (the multitudes are all men), we can say that in many ways networks have yet to engage ‘the political’. The coalition building that attends the process of trans-scalar movement will by design create an immanent relation between networks and the political. Moreover, it will greatly facilitate the theoretical and analytical understanding of networks. Tension precipitates the will to utterance, to express and to act. And it is time for networks to go to work.

4. Dream up Indymedia 2.0. No more Wikipedia neutrality. Where are the social networking sites for activists? The Internet flagship of the ‘other globalization movement’, Indymedia, has not changed since its inception in late 1999. Of course the website has grown – there are now editions in dozens of language, with a variety of local and national nodes that we rarely see on the Net. But the conceptual basics are still the same. The problems have been identified a long time ago: there is an ongoing confusion between the alternative news agent model, the practical community organization level and strategic debates. All too often Indymedia is used as an ‘alternative CNN’. There is nothing wrong with that, except that the nature of the corporate news industry itself is changing.

5. The revolution will be participatory or she will not be. It there is no desire addressed, not much will happen. YouTube and MySpace are fueled with no shortage of desire. Rightly or not, they are considered the apogee of participatory media. But they are hardly hotbeds of media activism. Linux geeks – leave the ecosphere of servicing free software cartels. The abbreviation policy, from G8 to WTO, has failed, precisely because abstract complex arrangements within global capitalism do not translate well into the messy everyday. By contrast, the NGO movements, at their best (we won’t go into a catalogue of failures here), have proven the efficacy of situated networks. The problem of trans-scalar movement, however, remains. This was made clear in the multi-stakeholder governance model adopted by government, business and civil society organizations throughout the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society (2003-2005). Here we saw a few CSOs find a seat at the negotiating table, but it didn’t amount to much more than a temporary gestural economy. At the same time, as CSO participants scaled the ladder of political/discursive legitimacy, the logic of their networks began to fade away. This is the problematic we speak of between seemingly structureless networks and structured organizations. The obsession with democracy provides another register of this social-technical condition.

6. The borders of networks comprise the “‘non-democratic” element of democracy’ (Balibar/Mezzadra). This insight is particularly helpful when thinking ‘the political’ of networks, since it signals the fact that networks are not by default open, horizontal and global. This is the mistake of much of the discourse on networks. There is no politics of networks if there are no borders of networks. Instead of forcing ‘democracy’ onto networks, either through policing or installed software, we should investigate its nature. This does not mean that we have to openly support ‘benevolent dictatorships’ or enlightened totalitarian rule. Usually networks thrive on small-scale informality, particularly in the early existence of social structures.

7. The borders of networks are the spacings of politics. As networks undergo the transversal process of scalar transformation, the borders of networks are revealed as both limits and possibilities. Whereas in Organized Networks 1 we emphasized what happened to the ‘inside’ of a network, we will look here at what happens to the edges. In the process of growth the kernel of a network crystallizes a high energy. After some months or, for the lucky ones, a few years, there is no longer an inside of networks, only the ruins of the border. This is an enormous challenge for networks – how to engage the border as the condition of transformation and renewal?

8. There are no citizens of the media. Find and replace the citizen with users. Users have rights too. The user is not a non-historical category but rather a system-specific actor that holds no relationship to modernity’s institutions and their corresponding discourse on rights. What is needed, then, is total reengineering of user-rights within the logic of networks. As much as ‘citizen journalists’, liberal democratic governments, big media and global institutions are endlessly effusive about their democratic credentials, organized networks are equally insistent in maintaining a ‘non-democratic’ politics. A politics without representation – since how do networks represent anything? – and instead a non-representational politics of relations. Non-democratic does not mean anti-democratic or elitist. It has proven of strategic importance to loosen ties between ‘democracy’ and ‘the media’. Let’s us remember that the citizen journalist is always tied to the media organs of the nation-state. Networks are not nations. In times of an abundance of channels, platforms and networks, it is no longer necessary to claim ‘access’. The democratization of the media has come to an end. People are tired of reading the same old critique of NYT, CNN and other news outlets that are so obviously Western and neo-liberal biased. It is time to concentrate our efforts on the politics of filtering. What information do we want to read and pass on? What happens when you find out that I am filtering you out? Do we only link to ‘friends’? And what to make of this obsessive compulsion to collect ‘friends’? Would it be alright if we replaced friends with comrades? What could object against the tendency to build social networks? Wasn’t this what so many activists dreamt of?

9. Governance requires protocols of dissensus. The governance of networks is most clearly brought into question at the borders of networks. Control is the issue here. Borders function to at once regulate entry, but they also invite secret societies to infiltrate by other means. The contest between these two dynamics can be understood as the battle between governmental regimes and non-governmental desires. We do not have to decide here as we have split agendas: we long for order in times of chaos and simultaneously overload and dream of free information streams. This brings us to the related issue of sustainability. If the borders of networks consist of governmental and non-governmental elements (administration vs. inspired sabotage and the will to infiltrate), then we can also say that the borders of networks highlight their inherent fragility. How can this be turned into a strength for the future of networks? There are always overlaps of identity and social structures.

10. Design your education. At the current conjuncture we find inspiration in the proliferation of education-centred networks, of non-aligned initiatives, of militant research. Education, of course, has always been about the cultivation of minds and bodies in order supply capital with its required labour-power. Organized networks have a crucial role to play in the refusal of subjugating labour and life to the mind-numbing and life-depleting demands of post-Fordist capital. And it is through these ‘edu-networks’ that we see some of the most inspiring activities of new institutional invention. This, we believe, is where energies can be directed that engage in practices of creative collaboration. What we need is a conceptual push and a subsequent ‘art of translation’ in order to migrate critical concepts from one context to the next. It is time to reclaim an avant-garde position and not leave the further development of such vital techno-social tools to the neo-liberal corporate sector. What we say here about new media and Internet can also be transposed to other sectors of education and research. Over the next decade, half of the world population will use a mobile phone and two billion the Internet. How are we going to use this potential?

Gilad Atzmon – The Dialectic of Negation

Ideological and political thinkers often start out with the task of defining their subjects. It should be assumed that they have come to their conclusions through intellectual processes of deduction and categorical research. Here are some (devastating) quotes that expose what early Zionist ideologists had to say about their brothers, those for whom they were developing a nationalist project based on a philosophy of racial ethnic identity:

“The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline.” (Our Shomer “Weltanschauung”, Hashomer Hatzair December 1936, p.26. As cited by Lenni Brenner 1)

“The fact is undeniable that the Jews collectively are unhealthy and neurotic. Those professional Jews who, wounded to the quick, indignantly deny this truth are the greatest enemies of their race, for they thereby lead them to search for false solutions, or at most palliatives.” (Ben Frommer, The Significance of a Jewish State, Jewish Call, Shanghai, May 1935, p.10. As cited by Lenni Brenner 2)

“The enterprising spirit of the Jew is irrepressible. He refuses to remain a proletarian. He will grab at the first opportunity to advance to a higher rung in the social ladder.” (The Economic Development of the Jewish People, Ber Borochov, 1916 3)

“The emancipated Jew is insecure in his relations with his fellow-beings, timid with strangers, suspicious even toward the secret feeling of his friends. His best powers are exhausted in the suppression, or at least in the difficult concealment of his own real character. For he fears that this character might be recognized as Jewish, and he has never the satisfaction of showing himself as he is in all his thoughts and sentiments. He becomes an inner cripple, and externally unreal, and thereby always ridiculous and hateful to all higher feeling men, as is everything that is unreal. All the better Jews in Western Europe groan under this, or seek for alleviation. They no longer possess the belief which gives the patience necessary to bear sufferings, because it sees in them the will of a punishing but not loving God. Max Nordau (Address at the First Zionist Congress, Max Nordau, 1897 4)

Early Zionist ideologists were pretty outspoken when it came to their Diaspora Jewish brothers. Ber Borochov eloquently diagnosed the inherent Jewish non-proletarian tendencies. Max Nordau didn’t spare words when confronting the intrinsic post-emancipated Jewish social incompetence he saw. In the eyes of Hashomer Hatzair, the Diaspora Jew is nothing but a caricature and for Ben Frommer, it is nothing less than neurosis, which we are dealing with. Seemingly, early Zionists were rather fearless when elaborating on the social conditions of their brothers. Yet, they were optimistic, they somehow believed that a ‘new beginning’ would cure the emancipated Jew of what seemed to some as an inevitable ‘disgraceful’ fate. They believed in a global Jewish ‘homecoming’, they were convinced that such an endeavour would heal the Jews of their symptoms.

In an article published just after the first Zionist Congress (1897) Ahad Ha’Am, probably the prominent polemist at the time, wrote “…the Congress meant this: that in order to escape from all these troubles (the Jewish anti-social symptoms as described by Nordau) it is necessary to establish a Jewish State.”5

Being inspired by 19th century ideologies such as Nationalism, Marxism, Early Romanticism, Darwinism and Life Philosophy (Leben Philosophie), early Zionists preached for the emerging of the bond between the Jew and his soil. Naively, they believed that the love of farming, agriculture and nature would turn the Emancipated Jew into an ordinary human being. Early Zionists predicted that Zionism would create a new authentic form of Jewishness in which Jews would be entitled to love themselves for who they are rather than who they claim to be. While the socialists amongst them were talking about a new commitment to working class ideology (Berl Kazanelson, Borochov, A.D. Gordon), those on the right wing (Jabotinsky, Frommer) dreamed of a master race that would emerge and rule the land.

Both right and left truly believed that due to their homecoming, Jews would be able to replace their traditional traits centred on chosenness with aspirations towards sameness. They genuinely believed that Zionism would turn Jews into ‘people like all people’.

As much as early Zionists had never tried to disguise the extent of their prophetic dream, they didn’t make any efforts to conceal their contempt towards their brothers either. In their emerging fantasy of national awakening, Jews were to divorce from their greed and money seeking as well as their cosmopolitan tendencies. In their vision, Zion was there to transform the Jew into an ordinary organic human being. The move to Zion was there to fill the chasm created by emancipation. The settlement in Zion was there to give birth to a new man. A Jew who looks at himself with pride, a Jew who fills Jewishness with meaning. A Jew that is defined by positive qualities rather than by mere negation.

The Dialectic of Negation

As much as things can be defined by what they are, things are just as well defined by what they aren’t. As much as something is defined by positive qualities for being X, Y and Z, it can also be defined by not being V, R and N. As much as my ‘cousin’ can be understood as the child of my uncle or aunt, it can as well be defined by an endless list of things this person fails to be. For instance he or she isn’t my sister, my brother, my grandmother, a potato, an airplane etc. Similarly, as much as a German subject may be defined by being a German national, who may speak the German language and eats Wurst for lunch, the same German subject can be easily defined by the endless list of qualities and characteristics he lacks or fails to be. He isn’t French or English, he doesn’t speak Spanish or Farsi, he doesn’t eat humus for lunch, he is not a potato and he is far from being a red brick house.

When it comes to Jews, things are getting complicated. While observant Jews can easily list more than a few positive qualities they identify with, they for instance follow Judaism, they practice Jewish laws, they follow the Talmud, they follow Kosher dietary restrictions, etc., emancipated secular Jews have very little to offer in terms of positive characteristics to identify with. Once you ask a secular Jew what makes him into a Jew you may hear the following: “I am not a Christian nor am I a Muslim.” OK then, but what is it that makes you into a Jew in particular? You see, he may say, “I am not exactly an American, French or British. I am somehow different.” In fact, emancipated Jews would find it hard to list any positive quality that may identify them as Jews. As it seems, emancipated Jews are identified by negation. They are made of the very many things they are not.

This is exactly where Zionism interfered. It was there to set the Jews in a project that aimed towards an authentic identification. Zionism was there to let the Jew reflect upon himself in terms of positive qualities. Within the Zionist phantasmic reality, the generations of home-comers were there to declare: ‘We are the new Jews, we are Israelis, we are human beings like all other human beings, we live on our land, the land of our fathers. We speak Hebrew, the language of our forefathers, we eat the fruit and vegetables that we, ourselves farmed on our soil.”

Evidently, Zionism has failed completely due to various reasons. Though the Israelis speak Hebrew and dwell on a land they associate with their collective past, the ‘new Jew’ failed in transforming himself into an authentic humanist. Israel is an urban capitalistic society that maintains its existence at the expense of others. The bond to soil and nature didn’t last long. If this is not enough, Israelis didn’t really manage to divorce the dialectic of negation. Israel has never become a state of its citizens. It is still a racist state that employs racially orientated immigration laws.

In fact, Zionism could never have prevailed. It has been entangled with colonial sins from day one. Yet, as much as Zionism has quickly established itself as a criminal practice, some of its criticism of the emancipated Diaspora Jewish identity is worth looking into. At the end of the day, the so-called emancipated Diaspora Jew is still defined by negation and this fact alone has very many grave implications.

The Politics of Negation

‘Dialectic of negation’ is there to throw light over the murderous reality that has been set by the Wolfowitzes, the Perles and other emancipated warmongers such as the AJC (American Jewish Committee) that is currently lobbying for a war against Iran. It is not really surprising that both in America and in Britain it was mainly Zionists lobbies that were lobbying enthusiastically for a war in Iraq. In the name of ‘Democracy’, Coca-Cola and ‘Human Rights’ Israeli lobbies were and still are promoting the whipping of country after country.

As far as the newly emerging Neocon ideology is concerned, we are apparently moving from a discourse of ‘promised land’ into politics of ‘promised planet’.

But is it only the Neocons that are here to take the blame? At the end of the day, the Neocons are not that far off from their Bundist parents.

I suggest that we slow down and to ask ourselves what Jewish Diaspora identity means in the 21st century. We better try to find out whether the notion of emancipated Jewish identity has changed at all since the early Zionists exposed its problematic character more than a century ago. We better ask how for instance does a ‘Jewish Marxist’ refer to his Jewishness after all? During my years in Europe I have come across groups of people who call themselves ‘Jews for Peace’, ‘Jews for Justice in Palestine’, ‘Jews for this’ and ‘Jews for that’. I have recently heard about ‘Jews for Boycott of Israeli Goods’. Occasionally I end up asking myself what stands at the core of this racially orientated separatist peace-loving endeavour. I may as well admit that though I have come across many German peace activists, I have never come across an Aryan Palestinian Solidarity group or even Caucasian Anti-War campaigners. It is somehow Jews and only Jews who engage in racially orientated peace campaigning.

As frightening as it may sound, Borochov and Nordau had provided us with the answer. In the seeking of a ‘political identity’, the emancipated Jew ends up succumbing himself to the dialectic of negation. His political identity is defined by what he isn’t rather than by who he is. United as a group, they aren’t Germans, they aren’t British, they aren’t Aryans, they aren’t Muslims, they aren’t just ordinary proletariats, they aren’t just common working class people. They are Jews because they aren’t anything else. At a first glance it seems as if nothing is wrong in being defined by negation. Yet, a deeper critical glance into the notion of negation may reveal some of the devastating aspects of this form of emancipated dialectic.

Ethical thinking may be the first victim of the dialectic of negation. In order to think ethically, genuine, authentic, organic thinking is of the essence. According to Kant’s categorical imperative, an ethical being acts ‘only according to that maxim by which he can at the same time will that it would become a universal law’. In other words, Kant identifies ethical thinking with a positive, authentic, genuine orientation that sets one at a self-search for universal insight. Clearly, such a process involves thorough self-reflection. Negation, on the other hand, requires the opposite, it involves scouting and searching into others’ praxis. Again, rather than understanding who you are, you are engaging in differentiating yourself from the other. Rather than looking into oneself, the negating subject sets his relationships with his surrounding environment based on pragmatic and practical decision-making. At most, he may present a pretence of ethical thinking but not more than that.

Early Zionists were critical enough to expose the non-ethical characteristics amongst their fellow brothers. Zionism was there to erect a new ethical Jew, a genuine moral being. Yet, the premise was flawed from the very beginning. Zionists wanted to make Jews ‘people like other people’. To a certain extent they wanted Jews to convey the pretence of being people like other people. The failure of the Zionist dream made it clear that even the new Jew, the Zionist, cannot engage in authentic ethical thinking. At most, they look ethical instead of becoming ethically orientated.

As frightening as it may sound, looking at Israeli Hasbara as well as at Ziocon politics around the world and especially in America and the UK, it reveals the bitter truth of the matter. Ziocons and Hasbara always presents an ‘ethical like’ argument. They would employ what seems as a moral excuse in order to introduce destruction and carnage. As we know the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is also the one that has been starving millions of Palestinians in concentration camps for decades. Similarly, the Wolfowitzes and Perles dragged America and Britain into a futile criminal war in Iraq in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘liberalism’. Clearly the Palestinians and the Iraqis are victims of the politics of negation. But they are not alone. The Western subject who is stained with the crime of genocide is as well a victim of the Western shift towards politics of negation. Rather than defining ourselves by who we are, we get accustomed to our politicians defining us for how we hate (or whom is it we suppose to hate: red, ‘axis of evil’, Islamofascists, etc.).

More frightening is the fact that people who succumb to the dialectic of negation cannot engage in peace-making and reconciliation. The reason is simple; the notion of peace may entail a collapse of the mechanism of negation. From the point of view of negation, reconciliation means elimination. Loving your neighbour may lead towards an identity loss. As early Zionists observed, the condition of emancipation set the Western Jew into a complicated identity crisis. Making peace with humanity would mean the loss of the Jewish identity. Needless to say that in the last centuries millions of European and American Jews have chosen peace and assimilation. They have divorced their Jewish identity and disappeared into the crowed. Yet, those who maintain negation as a means of identifying are those who inherently and categorically oppose the notion of peace. Painfully enough, more than often they do just that in the name of peace.

Most interestingly is the fact that emancipated Jewish identity is defined by negation may help us to realise why is it that emancipated Jews are so often settling comfortably in political campaigns and revolutionary movements: They are always against something. It will be the bourgeoisie, capital, colonialism, Islam, human rights abuse, historic revisionism, Zionism and so forth. Seemingly, the journey between ‘dialectic of negation’ and ‘politics of hate’ is rather short.

Negation and the Palestinian Solidarity Discourse

To be an emancipated Jew is to be defined by negation. And it is this fact alone that may explain why it is that the Palestinian solidarity intellectual discourse is saturated with emancipated Jewish contributors. More than a few Jews indeed oppose the Zionist crime. Yet, due to their emancipated secularist enthusiasm, sometimes it looks as if the Palestinian discourse has been transformed into a Jewish internal debate.

The reason is simple, negation of Zionism is a good enough reason to set a powerful Jewish political identity. Though this may explain why Jews are so involved in Palestinian solidarity, it may additionally explain why the Palestinian solidarity movement has never made it into a global mass movement. Apparently, not many people around are that keen to join a liberal synagogue. As it seems, though the battle against Zionism suits some righteous Jews for their personal and political needs, the Palestinian people were the last to benefit from the Jewish moral awakening.

However, I am the last person to argue that Jews should have no say in the Palestinian solidarity movement. As things stand, righteous Jews around the world are highly motivated to help Palestine. Considering the scale of the crimes committed by the Jewish state this may as well make some sense. Yet, emancipated Jews should be aware of their role in the movement. Emancipated Jews should learn to differentiate between their own self-centred political interests and the Palestinian cause that is becoming a very dynamic notion saturated with complexity. I truly believe that Jews would contribute much just by letting the solidarity movement take off and leave the Ghetto.

Saying just that, an old Jewish joke comes to mind:
Q: What is the difference between a dog and a Jewish mother?
A: A dog lets go of the bone sooner or later…

It is time for emancipated peace-loving Jews to follow the dog rather than their mothers, they should just let go. I would suggest that for a Jew to fight Zionism is to turn his back on Jewishness and to make peace with humanity. To fight Zionism is to prove that Nordau, Frommer and Borochov were totally wrong. The Jew is not timid, he is brave enough to face the evil within.

For a Jew to fight Zionism is to move from Jerusalem to Athens, to join humanity and to leave the politics of negation behind.

1 http://www.marxists.de/middleast/brenner/ch02.htm#n10
2 http://www.marxists.de/middleast/brenner/ch02.htm#n10
3 http://www.angelfire.com/il2/borochov/eco.html
4 http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/6640/zion/nordau.html
5 http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/6640/zion/jewishproblem.html

Sherif El Sebaie – Historical Mystification "what Judeo-Christian tradition"?

Third part on the Declaration of Values – Utopia and Mystification

In the two previous parts I took the opportunity of denouncing the enormous historical mystification that the Declaration of Values, Citizenship and Integration, drawn up by a “Scientific Committee” from the Ministry of the Interior, would implicitly pass off as credible and as the Only and Incontrovertible Truth, by submitting it prior to the approval and undersigning of the members from the Islamic Council of the Ministry, and then to the one of the representatives of the religious communities and hence, maybe, to that of the immigrants themselves who aspire to live in Italy. Quite fortunately, the great mystification is included in the rhetorical introduction of the document and therefore­ – turning a blind eye – ­one might even say that it is excluded from the document and that, as such, it is not subject to signers’ approval.

Notwithstanding, affixing a signature to a document that is introduced in such a partisan way might be interpreted by some as a substantial sharing of the content of the introduction as well. Which is why we should ponder and debate about it, even together with the “Scientific Committee” itself, still before thinking of signing that document.

I believe that it’s extremely serious that in a democratic state, where freedom of speech, opinion and research is guaranteed by the Constitution, anyone at all is demanded or even obliged – cost of exclusion from an office or from the right of residence itself­ – to sign, it is basically to recognize as valid and truthful a document offering with extreme nonchalance a historical theory that is the exclusive product of rhetorical propaganda not backed up by any proof or reliable evidence whatsoever.

The document presented by the Ministry, as matter of fact, takes for granted the existence of a “Judeo-Christian tradition” (please take note: they speak of “tradition” rather than “contemporary period”) and the rising of anti-Semitism through Europe as taking place only in the “20th century”. Well, the fact that a Judeo-Christian tradition has never existed and that anti-Semitism has epitomized a sort of lowest common denominator of the entire history of Europe, are matters of fact. And it happens that the main promoter of anti-Semitism was no less than the Christian-Catholic tradition itself, and the Italian-Catholic one in particular. Upholding this serious accusation, yet, is not yours truly but History itself. Namely, One story: that of Edgardo Mortara, a Jew who was kidnapped when he was 6 by the Holy Roman Church at Bologna in 1858.

Papal police knocked at the door of a Jewish merchant, Momolo Mortara, and took one of his children, the little Edgardo. The family tried desperately to oppose, but it was all in vain: the Inquisitor has found out that Edgardo was secretly baptized by a maid. Since the laws of the Church don’t allow a Christian child to be raised by a Jewish family, he orders the child to be transferred to Rome, at the Catechumen’s House, in order to improve his Catholic education. An affaire about which history books today even don’t even make a mention, but one that caused great scandal in 19th century and aroused heated quarrels in Europe and America and has been reconstructed with great detail by David I. Kertzer (1948, New York), an expert in Italian history and professor of Anthropology and History at Brown University in Providence (Rhode Island), in his book “Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” , published by Random House Inc. and translated in Italian by Rizzoli in 1996 and proposed again by BUR (note: Rizzoli’s Universal Library) in 2004 with the title “Prisoner of the King Pope”.

I’d like to share with you some of the acute observations the author raises at the end of the study. The first one reads: “On the whole, the treatment that the Church reserved for the Jews hasn’t been willingly discussed by the Church’s historians. It arouses too many embarrassing questions, especially after the Holocaust: who, in Europe, promoted the habit of demanding Jews to wear coloured marks in order to be more easily identified? Who, throughout the centuries, taught that any relation between Jews and Christians would tarnish the Christians and that it should be punished with force? It was much more convenient to consider the Italian Racist Laws of 1938 as provisions having nothing to do with the Church and even with Italy and as being a sort of imposition, the fault of foreigners.” A trend, this one, that survives still today, although through necessary adjustments: not only does the Italian media place the blame on immigrants for every possible and imaginable evil taking place in Italy­, while ignoring the beams in its own eyes – ­but still today the Church’s historians (and not they alone) don’t want to debate about and much less to hint at the direct responsibilities as regards the Holocaust tragedy.

Sherif is an Egyptian-Italian blogger extraordinaire: his blog
Translated from Italian by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of
Tlaxcala, network of translators for linguistic diversity. It is on copyleft, and may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author and translator are cited.