Gilad Atzmon

jazz artist-world music-live dates-author-thoughts-Jewish Identity-Politics-Athens & Jerusalem-The Wandering Who?

Welcome to Gilad Atzmon's webpage. This site provides information about Gilad's musical and intellectual activity.  

The Banality of Good Pt. 5 - Pre TSD, Zionism and Empire

eistein Palestine_edited-1.jpg

 By Clara S and Gilad Atzmon

Clara:   After having read Exodus as a teenager I was convinced that after the Holocaust finding a new home in Israel and fighting anyone who threatened their existence was quite an understandable reaction of the Jewish people.

Gilad: Do you mean killing Arabs and taking their land in the name of Jewish suffering?  If this is what you mean, you should bear in mind that Arabs and Palestinians in particular had nothing to do with Jewish suffering. In fact, in Palestine and in the Arab world Jews were living in peace and harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbours. 

As I explained before, with a manifestation of Pre TSD the so-called ‘victims’ envisage an imaginary hostile reality. The only way to prevail is, to act first, to fight anyone who might be in the way. Next we see the erection of ghetto walls, the prospect of peace and harmony evaporate. In short, welcome to the contemporary dystopia.

Israelis today, for instance, are genuinely tormented by a future nuclear conflict with Iran.  Yet, instead of resolving this volatile situation trying to calm the tension, Israeli politics and Jewish Lobby activity actually escalate this tension. The reality on the ground is devastating. The entire region is under a threat of a war that can easily deteriorate into a nuclear conflict.

Zionism was initially a promise to ‘civilize’ the Diaspora Jews by means of ‘homecoming.’  We, I include myself in order to simplify the argument, were supposed to evolve into ‘people like all other people.’ This surely meant living in peace with our neighbours. This project clearly failed.

We are told by most anti Zionists that Zionism hijacked Judaism. I believe that the facts on the ground suggest that it is (almost) the other way around.

Zionism that was initially an anti Jewish movement (some would say anti-Semitic) was hijacked by Jewishness (as opposed to Judaism). It was once again the chosenness (Jewish exceptionalism) that abolished the initial affinity towards the universal. It was Jewishness that guaranteed that Israelis would be unlike any other people. It was Jewishness that retained chosenness at the core of the Zionist thought.  By the way, this exceptionalist shift within early Zionism was subject to a vivid debate.

Clara:   Wasn’t Einstein still an old-school Zionist, when he wrote to Chaim Weizmann in 1929 that if Jews could not coexist peacefully with Arabs, “then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering?”

 Gilad: Indeed and this is the crux of the matter. Einstein realised already in 1929 that hostility towards the indigenous is sadly embedded in Jewish culture. Einstein could see as early as 1929 that the Zionist movement was already making the Palestinians into the new Goyim.  This was probably devastating for him and it clearly produces a devastating understanding of the Jewish continuum. 

 Clara:   You argue that it has basically been the belief in their chosenness which has led to the many disasters in Jewish history.

Now this is not a Jewish ‘speciality’. I have always been wondering how Europeans (and later US-Americans as well) felt entitled to conquer the world, to take the land, exploit the resources and manpower, impose their culture and religion on foreign peoples and killing them when they were in the way. This feeling of racial and cultural superiority has always puzzled me. And it wasn’t and isn’t only greed. Many of us were and are true believers in the mission of promoting ‘western values’ all over the world be it for religious or secular reasons. And even those of us who are critical of what is going on still tend to display a kind of colonialist attitude. I admit I have been asking myself more than once ‘What is it in Christianity and western culture as a whole that has made it so disastrous for the world?’

Gilad: Let us closely examine the notions of chosenness. To start with chosenness is not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when you celebrate your chosenness on the expense of the other.  For orthodox Jews Judaic chosenness is interpreted as a moral burden. It is the duty to serve the world with an exemplary ethical behaviour (please do not ask me how many orthodox Jews follow the above). While in Judaism chosenness can be interpreted as a moral duty, in secular Jewish culture it is often realised as a sense of exceptionalism that is racially oriented. The Zionists, for instance, believe that they can ‘return’ to a land after 2000 years and to reinstate their Biblical reign of power. Let me assure you, not many Italians claim for acres in Britain based on the Roman’s reign in the land more or less around the same time. But the anti Zionists are following exactly the same path. The Jewish pro Palestinian activists do believe that they are in a very special position within the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. They are the ones who give the rest of us a “kosher stamp.“ The Jewish anti Zionists have in practice established a realm of Jewish privilege at the core of the discourse that is set to fight the supremacist abuse invoked by their brethren.   I came to the conclusion that Jewish ID politics is basically a collection of different ideas that facilitate self love. 

However, you are correct. European colonialism, Slavery, British imperialism and contemporary Ziocons are all forms of chosenism. The problem that we face with Zionism or Israeli brutality is that it celebrates that form of exceptionalism in front of our eyes, yet, we can’t really talk about it.

Clara:   So the real tragedy is that, if Israel’s enemies united and if they defeated the country, all the fears would come true – the self-fulfilling prophecy of a new ‘Holocaust’, which could have been prevented by true ‘self love’, learning from the past and making peace in time.

Gilad: I feel very comfortable with that. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State. If we want to grasp the actions of Israel, its lobbies and world Jewry we must dig into the meanings of Jewishness and Judaism, we must ask who are the Jews. We must delve into Jewish culture and ideology. We should become familiar with Jewish survival strategies.

Clara:   Speaking of unveiling Jewish lobbies: You have just mentioned contemporary ‘Ziocons’. What or who do you mean by that?

 Gilad: Zioncons are those Neocons who send young American and Brits to die for Zion in the name of Coca Cola.

Clara:   For Zion? They fought/fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, some in Syria, it’s an empire of more than 760 military bases worldwide …

 Gilad:   Pretty much so. Zionism is no longer a geographically limited nationalist ideology. I often argue that the Neocon school points at a clear global shift from ‘a promised land’ to ‘a promised planet.’

Clara:   So that without the Neocons the state of Israel would not be so strong and powerful, look at Trump’s support of making Jerusalem the capital of Israel? And without the support and lobbying of rich and powerful Zionists the Neocons couldn’t control US-American politics the way they do?

 Gilad:  I wish I could say that. As I write these lines I read about Bibi Netanyahu successful visit in India. Israeli strategists know that America is on its way down. They are already zigzagging their way into the corridors of power of the new emerging powers. Russia, India and China.

Clara:   At one point you ask in ‘The Wandering Who’ (p.25, kindle edition) „How did America allow itself be enslaved by ideologies inherently associated with foreign interests?” Another one of your ‘anti-Semitic’ sayings.

 Gilad: Indeed this silence of American political establishment, media and academia demands our intellectual attention. I often argue that Jewish power is the power to suppress discussion on Jewish power. I believe that the 1st step in the right direction is to unveil the meaning of this power, to grasp that which they work hard to conceal and suppress.

Clara:   Could we see the Neocons and the Zionists as two not necessarily very brotherly siblings with similar mindsets working together against a multipolar world? A world where nations solve their collisions of interests in peaceful negotiations with respect to international law? A world where the people living in a country are more important than the wish to control some distant part of the world or the supposed interests of Israel? I have found that for many issues I am concerned with I have to talk about the American Empire. But since the Neocon –dominated Empire is entangled with Zionism, and because Jewish elites are mixed up not only with Israeli politics but with the politics of Empire, criticising these kinds of policies is still very difficult: as soon as you touch Jewish or Israeli influence the question of being a Nazi or an anti-Semite lingers behind every corner. It is hard to think straight in such an environment!

Gilad:  Once we break out of the tyranny of correctness we grasp that Neocons are practically Ziocons, in other words, the Neocons and the Zionists are one. Why is it so difficult to discuss it? Because Jewish power is the power to silence criticism of Jewish power.  Jewish power is maintained by the so called ‘Left’ (new Left really) I will prove it to you. Who was it who tried to silence you recently when you questioned the campaign against Atzmon, was it the Zionist federation, the Israeli embassy? Not really, it was the so-called  ‘lefty’ Rubikon and the ‘anti’ Zionist Elias Davidsson. Let me tell you, we are now very close to the bone.  A continuum has been established.

If they want to burn it, you want to read it ...

cover bit small.jpg