14 March 2012

Palestinian writers, activists disavow racism, anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon

Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.

Atzmon has gone out of his way to support and associated with those who declare themselves ‘proud’ to deny the holocaust. People like Paul Eisen, whose purpose is to ‘contextualize and re-humanize the person of Adolf Hitler, the National Socialist regime, and, indeed, the German people….’

It is therefore extremely welcome that some of the principal writers, academics and activists in the Palestinian community – people like Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, Omar Barghouti of the Boycott National Council, Professor Joseph Massad of Columbia University and Haidar Eid of Gaza, have put their names to this succinct and devastating statement. It makes clear, above all, that the liberation of Palestine, the Right of Return of the Refugees and the end to Zionism and Apartheid in Israel have nothing whatsoever to do with support for anti-Semitism.

This comes on top of the critique 'Not Quite "Ordinary Human Beings"—Anti-imperialism and the anti-humanist rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon.' headed byAs'ad Abu Khalil of The Angry Arab News Service.

Atzmon rejects the idea that Israel is a settler-colonial state. This merely lets Jews off the hook. In The Atzmon Defamation League, he writes that: As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time .... Israel is a Jewish nationalist settlement project and its Jewishness is inherent to its racist, tribal, exceptionalist nature.’

The logic is impeccable. If Israel is the Jewish state, then it isn’t solidarity with Palestinians that is required but a war against the Jews. BDS hasn’t worked because Israel is not an apartheid settler-colonial state - ‘its power and ties with the West are maintained by the strongest lobbies around the world.’ thus reversing the actual relationship. If the Left wants to stop Israel for real, then it must openly question the notion of Jewish Power and its role within Western politics and media.’

Anti-Semitism is no longer a danger to Jews. It is dangerous for Palestinians. Not only does it threaten to misdirect the movement onto false targets, but it plays into the Zionists’ hands by racialising the struggle. Zionists constantly attack anti-Zionists as ‘anti-Semitic’ when they are no such thing. There is nothing more that the Zionist leadership desires than an upsurge in traditional anti-Semitism. Without anti-Semitism there are no Jewish immigrants to Israel and without immigration there can be no Zionism. It is the lack of such immigrants today, more Jews leave than go to live in Israel, which is, in part, responsible for the political crisis of Zionism.

Those who believe in a latter-day exoneration of Hitler should ponder awhile. Zionist leaders, even during the holocaust, planned for the time when they would be able to reap the political advantage it would give. In the middle of the holocaust their minds were on the Biltmore Conference of May 1942 where the call for a Jewish State was made explicitly for the first time. Ben Gurion’s biographer described how ‘In spite of the certainty that genocide was being carried out, the Jewish Agency Executive did not deviate appreciably from its routine…’ (Teveth, The Burning Ground, 1987 844) Teveth concludes that ‘If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’ [851] Tom Segev likewise quotes Ben Gurion: ‘Although I was then chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, the enlistment of the Jewish people in the demand for a Jewish state was at the center of my activity.... the disaster facing European Jewry is not directly my business.’ [The Seventh Million, 98] Throughout 1939 and 1940, Hitler’s war against Europe’s Jews was not discussed once by the Central Committee of Mapai, Israel’s Labour Party and the ruling party of the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine). [Ann Porter, Kasztner’s Train, p.66]. Ben-Gurion admitted that ‘In these terrible days … I am still more worried about the elections of the (Mapai) branch in Tel Aviv’ (Segev 1994: 105). For Ben Gurion, ‘The harsher the affliction, the greater the strength of Zionism’ (Teveth 1987: 850).

The holocaust, which Atzmon and his friends question or deny, inevitably and predictably gave a massive boost to Zionism, which before World War 2 was a minority movement among world Jewry. As Theodore Herzl wrote in his Diaries: ‘Anti-Semitism has grown, and continues to grow and so do I.’ [7] It takes a certain sort of genius to want to strengthen the very forces that gave Zionism its critical mass.

The other facet of the struggle today is the growing number of mainly young Jews who are ‘coming out’ against Zionism and Israel. This is something of great concern to the Zionist leaders. As Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods stated when it was founded, we are there to make the Boycott Kosher! To say that boycotting Israel is a perfectly normal thing to do to an Apartheid State and has no more to do with anti-Semitism than boycotting South Africa or Nazi Germany had to do with racism. Jewish activists have been in the forefront of the academic and cultural boycott. Anti-semitism can only reinforce the hold of Zionism.

Tonight none will be more disappointed than Alan Dershowitz, the ADL, Jon Benjamin, Harry’s Place and all the other Zionist echo chambers and court historians for the Apartheid State of Israel. This is not the message that they want people to hear. Atzmon’s utterances are music to their ears and it is for this reason that this statement is all the more welcome. It is a statement that should be widely used against Zionists who seek to exploit the anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon.

Tony Greenstein

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

Note: This statement was first published by the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and is authored by all of the undersigned.

March 13, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until liberation and return.


Ali Abunimah

Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Omar Barghouti, human rights activist

Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine

Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Haidar Eid, Gaza

Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Toufic Haddad

Kathryn Hamoudah

Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada

Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate

Andrew Kadi

Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist

Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY

Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico

Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine

Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London

Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate


  1. Tony, just wondering what you make of the letters apparent internal contradiction. On the one hand the authors state:

    "our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands."

    Yet at the same time they also proclaim:

    "Challenging Zionism ... must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity."

    Given the fact that the area was the homeland of the Jews for well over 1000 years, albeit 2000 years ago, does it not strike you as a denial of that history to then characterise the return of Jews to that same area as nothing more than a colonial movement akin to European colonialism in the Americas and Australia? Those movements were of one group of people into area with which they had no historic connection whatsoever. I wonder what your response is to the suggestion that equating Zionism with those colonial movements is in essence to deny the historic connection of Jews to the area in question which is something the letter writers claim must never happen.

  2. HP crossposted it. HP's commentariat's reaction was hilarious and proved how little they care about racism, including antisemitism itself.

  3. Anthony,

    As a Jew, I am the descendents of the people who built the pyramids. I was really touched when I could see with my own eyes what my ancestors achieved. I therefore sent a letter to the Egyptian tourism ministry, demanding that 25% of the proceeds from tourists visits these monuments be paid to a fund I manage, from which I will disburse reparations for all Jews for the crimes committed against us in ancient Egypt.

    Please send me your address and I will send you a monthly check as soon as I get a positive reply.

  4. Anthony,

    I'm surprised that you don't welcome the clear disavowal of Gilad Atzmon. It is not his interpretation of history that is the problem so much as his virulent attacks on Jews as Jews.

    As you say it is an 'apparent internal contradiction.' In fact it is no contradiction at all.

    We cannot reconstruct the world on the basis of who apparently lived where two or three thousand years ago and there is no point in doing so since most of those stories are simply myths.

    So it is with the ancient Hebrews, who for the most part wouldn't have defined themselves as Jews and who intermixed with the Canaanite and other tribal peoples.

    The statement is clear. Zionism is a modern European settler colonial movement. It is no accident that Zionism arose in the late 19th Century, not earlier. Yet there was no need for it to have arisen then if in fact the Jews harboured a deep seated longing to 'return'. So deepseated that, despite the lack of border controls, 98% of those who emigrated from the Pale of Settlement between 1850 and 1914 went to Britain and the US, not Palestine.

    Likewise I welcome the assertion that challenging Zionism must not become an attack on Jewish identities, which in the past century and a half have taken many different forms, as I'm sure you are aware.

    It isn't a fact that 'the area was the homeland of the Jews for well over 1000 years, albeit 2000 years ago'. We know very little of the people who lived there and among whom the Hebrews lived. We do know that there was a war between Judah and Israel but even about that we know very little.

    What is clear is that there was no expulsion at the time of the 2nd Temple, nor does any serious historian any longer maintain such. Joseph Flavius didn't mention it and surrounding cities like Alexandria had large Jewish merchant quarters. So regardless of whether Jews or Hebrews lived there the fact is that they either left voluntarily or intermixed with the local populace.

    I don't understand why that gives me or you the right to colonise that land now and claim rights which trump the indigenous population on the basis of a book called the bible. In fact the first Zionists who used the bible so were non-Jewish, but that is another story.

    There was no connection between Jews in Europe and Palestine, apart from some Orthodox Jews going to pray and die and study and who lived off chalukah. They certainly did not see their presence as having any political connotations and nor did the vast majority of jews at that time.

    If you don't see why the 'right' of a member of the Brooklyn Bible Belt or a JDL supporter is no right compared to that of those who lived there before being forcibly expelled, then you will just have to accept that there are some differences which are based on an entirely different philosophy.

    You ask what my response is to the suggestion that equating Zionism with those colonial movements is in essence to deny the historic connection of Jews to the area in question. You also say that it is 'something the letter writers claim must never happen.'

    Well I've never claimed it! Zionism was a colonisatory movement AND WAS SEEN AS SUCH BY ITS FOUNDERS. Look up Herzl and Weizmann for their views on Cecil Rhodes and Jan Smuts.

    Even the first Zionist bank was called the Jewish Colonisation Trust and Baron Hirsch's Jewish Colonisation Agency took over Edmond de Rothschild's settlements in 1899.

    Zionism rewrites the past to justify the present and that is what you are doing. Herzl was unconcerned by historical myths, except for their mobilising power, and more concerned with present day reality. And at that time colonisation was seen as a good thing which Zionism sought emulate. They didn't claim a right to settlement based on what happened 2,000 years ago (such myths are best left to the category of the thousand year reich) but on the a priori rights of white european settlers.

  5. Gert

    HP's reaction was so predictable as to be boring. Sarah Palin made stupidity into a political attribute, HP puts stupidity on a pedestal.

    The comments are tediously boring and self-congratulatory - Goodwin Sands excepted. Dave Rich of the CST is hung up about whether there has been 2 centuries of imperialism, orientalism simply isn't understood as a concept (too many syllables I expect!)

    The appropriately named 'mind the crap' says 'I have stated here several times – tongue-in-cheek – that the pro-Israel crowd would benefit by encouraging Atzmon and publicizing his statements.' If I were her/him I'd remove the bit about his tongue.

    They have all the blindness you come to expect of western racists. And with it, not a glimmer of understanding of what it was like to be expelled.

    Why they even reach back for that old forgery Joan Peter's From Time Immemorial.

  6. "...by the way, those who follow such things do know who they are: Tony Greenstein, Mark Elf, David Aaronovitch, to name a few of those among the "anti-zionist zionists" whose pathological obsession with Atzmon has made them the object of ridicule and disgust among British Palestinian solidarity groups.) Incidentally, their so-called "solidarity work" consists of writing, mostly in their blogs, and attacking Gilad Atzmon; Atzmon, on the other hand, is well-known for organizing highly successful fund-raising events for Palestinian charities, and for introducing Western audiences to the beauty and depth of Palestinian indigenous culture...."


  7. Well its interesting how I am lumped in with the man who tried to ban me, David Aaronovitch and the person, also DA who I took to the libel courts. No matter, for the anti-Semites all that matters that we are Jewish.

    As for being an anti-Zionist Zionist, it shows how little anon understands about Zionism. Perhaps there is such a thing as an anti-racist racist?

  8. Thanks, Tony.

    The funny thing with Zionists a la Anthony is that the only reconquista they seem to support is the Zionist one. Not a thought spared for Scandinavians, Italians or French, all of which have a ‘historical connection’ to Britain! Quite discriminatory but what’s new?

    Not to mention the real plight of the many ‘First Peoples’ around the world who’ve had land and/or resources pulled away from under them, often very recently and by movements quite similar to Zionism. Or the plight of the Palestinians who surely have a legitimate claim to their own homeland i.e. Palestine? (I’m assuming Anthony isn’t a Palestinian denier although these days you have to be careful with that assumption!)

    One has to ask also whether Anthony, a lad born and bred in Albion no doubt, feels this ‘historical connection’ and how? By sheer magic? I’ve an uncle in Brooklyn, does that give me a stake in Brooklyn?

  9. Herzl condoned antisemitism and "understood it historically" often meeting with antisemites and winning their support (Arthur Balfour and Mark Sykes, people who drew the Zionist entity's borders with their colonial rulers, were both antisemitic, not to mention the Tsarist Minister Plehve who organised pogroms) while attacking Émile Zola and French socialists for criticising it. He saw Israel as the defence of the Christian Europe from the barbaric Orient.

  10. "As for being an anti-Zionist Zionist, it shows how little anon understands about Zionism. Perhaps there is such a thing as an anti-racist racist?"

    Well, I don't think there is such a thing as an anti-zionist zionist.

    But there is such a thing as an 'anti-racist' racist.

    David Cameron for a start, and indeed the entire membership base of the 'Conservative Friends of Israel' who claim to be opposing racism, when in fact they are promoting it against Israel's victims.

    Ditto for the analogous Labour and Liberal lobbying groups.

    They can accurately be called 'anti-racist' racists. Though the quotes are important.

  11. The key words Redscribe use to describe Cameron and his govt. are 'claims to be'. In fact they have been pursuing a racist anti-immigration agenda since they came in. They preside over a system that pillories any group that they can to preside over the consequences of divide and rule.

    And that means their 'anti-racist' rhetoric is just that - rhetoric.

    Rastko is of course right. Zionism, never mind Herzl, historically pardoned anti-Semitism and 'understood it'. Read Chaim Weizmann's autobiography and look up the parts on William Evans-Gordon, where he describes him as a 'kindly' man who just could not put up with seeing the streets of London turned into an extension of the Warsaw or Plonsk.

    I don't recall seeing Herzl attacking Emile Zola as such, though the myth that Herzl was motivated by the Dreyfuss Affair is another Zionist lie. In fact when his pamphlet 'Der Judenstaat' was first published he rushed round to Eduord Drumont, the most rabid anti-Semitic leader of the time and leader of the anti-Dreyfusards, then elected as an MP for Algiers, and asked him to do a review. He obliged and Drumont did indeed print a favourable review of Herzl's book in his paper La Libre Parole.

    Good biogrpaphy on Herzl is Desmond Stewart's Herzl. Herzl likewise subscribed to the most vile of anti-Semitic caricatures in his articles Mauscel, directed at Edmond Rothschild who had refused to support his mad cap schemes.

    Not only did he parley with Plehve but Count Witte & others in the Czarist government. Witte said aloud to him that he wished he could drown all 6 million Jews in the Black Sea. But none of this put Herzl off!

  12. "The key words Redscribe use to describe Cameron and his govt. are 'claims to be'. In fact they have been pursuing a racist anti-immigration agenda since they came in. They preside over a system that pillories any group that they can to preside over the consequences of divide and rule."

    But the immigration point misses out the specifics. They do not motivate their immigration policy by means of a specific claim to be opposing racism. They might claim that this form of national chauvinism is 'colour-blind' and that it undercuts racism (which is obviously complete nonsense), but they do not accuse left-wing opponents of their immigration policy of being racist.

    Their specific means of promoting racism in the case of Israel is with a claim that the opponents, and victims of Israel, are racist.

  13. Well in my view all immigration controls are racist.

    But sections of the ruling class and in particular the press do accuse anti-racists of 'anti-white racism', they certainly accuse Muslims of 'anti-Semitism' at the drop of a hat but even if they didn't claim this it wouldn't matter.

    I accept that, to some extent at least, Zionism relies to a much greater extent on accusations of racism as do many settler colonial movements such as Ulster Loyalism and Apartheid in its day

  14. Tony, Herzl criticised Zola and complained that the Jews "seek protection from the socialists and the destroyers of the present civil order." Tony Cliff (who was born in Palestine in 1917 and grew up a Zionist) mentions it in his article "The Jews, Israel and the Holocaust."


  15. Tony, it isn't Zionism that relies more heavily on accusations of racism. It would make no sense it in itself.

    One has to read here the history of the tightening relations of the state of Israel with imperialism against the backdrop of third world decolonization, the civil rights movements and the whitening of Jews, which all happened at the same period.

    The result has been a peculiar re-racialization of Jews in the West as a kind of non-white white group, namely a group that is white in relation to privilege but is simultaneously racialized (and for obvious reasons participates in this racialization) as a model minority, one that through its racialization provides ideological support for the "post-racial" and "anti-racist" status of Western liberalism and imperialism.

    Israel started of course to take advantage of that, and it is probably worth researching when, but it couldn't have happened before 1967, and probably is much later, I would say around the same time as the holocaust becomes a cultural fixture in the US.

    Attributing all this to Zionism seems to me baseless.

  16. Rastko

    I defer to your knowledge. I've never come across the quote but it is entirely consistent with his view that Emancipation was the cause of all the Jews' ills. If you are correct and you only cite a secondary source, Cliff, then it shows that Herz's motivation as being the Dreyfuss campaign is more ludicrous still. In fact Stewart proves conclusively it couldn't have been.

    The point you make Evildoer is more complicated. I agree that Zionism makes much more use of accusations of racism, there can be no doubt about that. They have milked the holocaust for all its worth. However they are not unique in this and I can remember members of the UDA telling us how the Ulster Protestants were a put on minority at a time when some Loyalists wanted independence from the South and Britain - allegedly.

    As for reracialisation. I don't think it is happening but clearly Zionism does make some Jews feel like outsiders. However it's an oppression of the mind!

    Tony, Herzl criticised Zola and complained that the Jews "seek protection from the socialists and the destroyers of the present civil order." Tony Cliff (who was born in Palestine in 1917 and grew up a Zionist) mentions it in his article "The Jews, Israel and the Holocaust."

  17. Tony, you should watch tv series more (on second thought you shouldn't. Just know they are there). Half of US comedy today is about Jewishness as a kind of non-threatening exotic ethnicity.

    Zionists could not appeal to the holocaust so successfully if it weren't a function within imperialism. Can you deconstruct the "responsibility to protect" without the holocaust as ultimate referent?

    I'm not saying Zionists are not calling their enemies racists today. I'm saying the effectiveness of this strategy depends on and derives from larger processes. Zionism in itself was not anti-racist, not even rhetorically. It was so not anti-racist that I have a heavy book on my shelf discussing how come the concept of racism has been almost completely absent from Israeli academic sociology before the nineties. You can't use concepts you don't have, even rhetorically.

  18. http://www.salem-news.com/articles/march162012/disavow-atzmon-ni.php

    Tony - we don't agree about much, I suppose, but I thought we might have a similar view of the piece I link to above.

    I thought, by the way, that the piece written by some university Palestinian society representatives, deploring O'Keefe, made a better effort at communicating a genuine concern about antisemitism.

  19. Yes Sarah we don't agree on much but I welcome very much the grassroots condemnation of Atzmon.

    But look at HP. They reprint the statement of Ali Abunimah and Omar and others, people with real respect and authority within the palestine solidarity movement and exiled Palestinian community, and what is the response? A series of utterly juvenile comments about the borders of the Ottoman Empire etc. It is as if having a metaphysical lobotomy is a required attribute of being an HP commenter. And of course, despite the synthetic rage, because it's nice to have a genuine anti-Semite for once, they promptly banned me because az=as!

    Evildoer. No I get very little time to watch TV.

    Of course you'll get this shmaltzy Jewishness, which has nothing to do with a genuine sense of tradition of being Jewish. It's just saccharine.

    The holocaust isn't a function within imperialism but rather a harking back to an event which they now distort historically (e.g. the failure to allow the refugees in just as the same people now persecute latin american refugees).

    They have done the same to the slave trade. Oh yes our Queen Mrs Windsor paid tribute to Wilberforce on his 200th anniversary conveniently forgetting that the future William IV, the Duke of Clarence, spoke in the House of Lords against abolition of the slave trade.

    Of course Zionism was not anti-racist, it was a unique Jewish reaction that held aS inevitable and it 'understood' it. Of course this will have an effect on Israeli academia and not just sociology but history where there are separate Jewish history departments.

  20. Tony, your answers do not seem to suggest that you read what I wrote. I give up.

  21. Evildoer

    you are probably right! I had my book launch today complete with pathetic EDL picket (I'll blog later on that) so I've been distracted. But I agree that Zionism has never been anti-racist, though rhetorically it is on occasion, but purely for its own racist purposes if u see what I mean.

    In Russia at the beginning of the last century that was not so true of individual Poale Zion groups who engaged in self-defence against pogroms but that was nothing to do with their Zionism.

    But at base u r right. In Israel Zionism was never anti-racist except at the fringes. Indeed they tried to redefine racism as cultural protection etc. E.g. the defence of the JNF.

    Not sure what you mean though when u say 'Zionists could not appeal to the holocaust so successfully if it weren't a function within imperialism.' What is a function of imperialism? Zionism presumably. I wrote 25 years ago about the development of opposition to anti-semitism as the respectable anti-racism of the right.

    Not sure what you mean when you say 'Can you deconstruct the
    "responsibility to protect" without the holocaust as ultimate referent? What and whose responsibility to protect?

  22. Tony,

    Kudos on your book launch!

    I mean that there is a liberal anti-racist discourse in which Jews play a unique ideological role of proving the anti-racist credentials of modern liberalism/imperialism. This role developed over time, and drew a lot of power, not from ideas inside Zionism, but from the ideological meme of the opposition between "Democratic" and "Totalitarian" regimes that became popular in the West. That distinction is the link to the holocaust and how it is brought to play ideologically.

    I think the history of this process is still to be written mostly. But this role doesn't come from Zionism at all. The regional role of Israel probably played a role in its inception, but not Zionism qua ideology.

    In order for Jews to play this role, they have to be racialized as an ethnicity, even though, precisely in fact, without discrimination or any other disadvantage.

    My (contentious) point is that this racialization is NOT the anachronistic vestiges of the history of the far less pleasant racialization of Jews in earlier period. Rather, it is a new process that has some new features and in which some of the old material is being re-used in new ways.

  23. Evildoer, I won't respond instantly but think about the points you make but it is clear that Jewish participation e.g. in the civil rights movement in the USA was often predicated upon not criticising Israel. Likewise when Black parents objected to white teachers and their role in New York schools they were accused of 'anti-Semitism' because many/most of the teachers were Jewish.

    I certainly think that imperialism has consciously used the holocaust in order to bolster its own credentials and Zionism has been happy to go along with this and encourage it. I agree it is not something unique to Zionism. Imperialism has always covered itself in a humanitarian mask.

  24. Karl Marx wrote in 1843:

    "In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism."

    So I guess he must be considered an antisemite alongside Gilad Atzmon.

  25. The last resort of the desperate. I don't recall that Marx spoke of 'Jewish Marxism'. He was opposed to such racial and national absurdities and Hess's declaration that race struggle was primary and class struggle secondary was symbolic of their break (Moses & Jerusalem).

    Marx spoke when Jews were still trapped into feudal positions in Eastern Europe, where the development of capitalism had been halting. Marx was, even then, behind the times, in terms of changes within the Jewish community but the association of Jews with money, usury etc. was not without foundation then.

    However we are 150 years on and some people anon let their ideas develop, as Marx would have been the first to advocate.

  26. Lenni Brenner also uses that quote from Herzl's diaries in his 'Zionism in the Age of the Dictators', giving as his reference
    Raphael Patai (ed.), The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, vol.II, pp.672-3. The quoted portion about French Jews and the Left campaign for Dreyfus is:

    "They [French Jews] seek protection from the Socialists and the destroyers of the present civil order ... Truly they are not Jews any more. To be sure, they are no Frenchmen either. They will probably become the leaders of European anarchism."

    More specifically about the campaign for Dreyfus, Brenner states that "Herzl, the most famous journalist in Vienna, did nothing to mobilise even one demonstration on behalf of Dreyfus. When he discussed the matter, it was always as a horrible example and never as a rallying cause. In 1899 the outcry compelled a retrial. A court martial affirmed the captain's guilt, 5 to 2, but found extenuating circumstances and reduced his sentence to ten years. But Herzl saw only defeat and depreciated the significance of the vast Gentile sympathy for the Jewish victim."

    Brenner includes the following quote from Herzl:

    "If a dumb beast were tortured in public, would not the crowd send up a cry of indignation? This is the meaning of the pro-Dreyfus sentiment in non-French countries, if indeed it is as widespread as many Jews estimate ... To put it in a nutshell, we might say that the injustice committed against Dreyfus is so great that we forget that we are dealing with a Jew ... is anyone presumptuous enough to claim that of any seven people two, or even one, favor the Jews? ... Dreyfus represents a bastion that has been and still is a point of struggle. Unless we are deceived, that bastion is lost!"

    For which Brenner gives the reference Ludwig Lewisohn (ed.), Theodor Herzl: A Portrait, pp.219-20.

  27. If your blog was a truly anti racist blog then you would be focusing on issues other than Jewish "persecution" and how "active" jews are in the Palestinian cause and focus a little closer to home - like the present racism affecting Black people in the UK courtesy of the metropolitan police. But, I guess that because there is a form of discrimination overshadowing that of "jewish oppression", you are not interested!

  28. It doesn't surprise me that you are afraid to put a name to a comment, Anonymous.

    I have never once suggested either that Jewish 'persecution' outweights all others. In fact I've never spoken about Jewish 'persecution' at all. Not surprising since Jews aren't persecuted! This is another example of an Atzmonite building up a straw man so that he can then demolish him.

    Unlike, I suspect you my dear Anon, I actually made the effort to attend the MacPherson hearings into the murder of Stephen Lawrence over a decade ago. The Met's behaviour is as appalling as it is predictable. But why do you use one example of racism to belittle another?

    And another sign of the deaf Atzmonite - my opposition to anti-Semitism in the Palestine solidarity movement springs from a desire above all to prevent the Zionists using oddballs like you to draw support when none should be available. In other words, since you seem to be one sandwich short of a loaf, anti-Semitism hurts Palestinians not Jews by and large.

    So your presumptions are entirely untrue, having spent much of my life fighting fascism and racism wherever it comes from. And what is your excuse anon?

  29. Ben the best biography of Herzl by far is still Desmond Stewarts. Thanks for the citations.

    But anyone reading Herzl understands all too well that to him, anti-Semitism was a means to an end. He used the metaphor of steam in a engine. All he wanted to do was channel it, hence his grotesque journey to parley with von Plehve, organiser of the pogroms.

    Zionism inevitably came in opposition to socialism, because for it the struggle in the here and now was futile against the 'inherently' anti-Semitic non-Jew. Socialists by contrast do believe in the here and now.

    There is no evidence that Herzl even took Dreyfus to be anything other than guilty. He certainly wrote no articles attacking the clerical military caste that prosecuted him. On the contrary, when his 'Jewish State' was published he rushed to Edouard Drumont, of La France Juive fame. This virulent anti-Semite and supporter of the anti-Dreyfusards, was more than happy to accede to Herzl's request for a favourable review of his pamphlet.

    And why not? Everything that Herzl said chime wit h the anti-Semites. The Jews were strangers? But the Zionists agreed. The Jews had disreputable habits? Again the Zionists agreed, except that they held out the 'cure' to be depositing themselves on another's land.

    Bernard Lazarre, one of the earliest supporters of Dreyfus, joined the initial Zionist Actions Committee but left soon afterwards when he realised that combatting anti-Semitism was not Herzl's cup of tea.

    In fact the legacy of Dreyfus and the Dreyfusards lived on. It helped immunise French society against anti-Semitism and despite the collaboration of Vichy, 75% of French Jews survived the holocaust, something unprecedented elsewhere in Western Europe (Denmark excepted).

    Herzl of course had in any event 'pardoned' French anti-Semitism (Diaries about p.8!).


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