Gilad Atzmon: On Jewish Loyalty
Recognizing Israel as uniquely Jewish is one of the key demands made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest talks with the Palestinians. However, Foreign Minister Lieberman took it one step further. He demands all Israelis swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. Liebermann’s campaign slogan is "no loyalty, no citizenship."
"We can't continue to ignore issues like that of Hanin Zuabi, who identifies completely with the other side," Said Lieberman on Sunday. He was referring to an Israeli Arab member of Knesset who was stripped of her parliamentary privileges after sailing aboard the heroic Mavi Marmara, and being witness to the Israeli massacre in high seas.
So here we are : Israel is basically a Western liberal ‘multi cultural’ society where all different ethnicities and minorities are demanded to swear loyalty to the ultimate form of chauvinist Jewish tribal practice.
Issues to do with loyalty are of the essence within Jewish political discourse. It was the doubt regarding Dreyfus’ loyalty that transformed Herzl into a Zionist. It was loyalty to the Jews that made Jonathan Pollard betray the USA. It was Mordechai Vanunu’s ethical and universal commitment that pushed him away from Jewish loyalty. As we know, he still pays a heavy price for that commitment. As it seems, ‘loyalty to the Jews’ is a crucial demand within the Zionist discourse.
But here we face a clear difficulty. Though it is clear that political Jews demand loyalty, it is far from being clear what this loyalty is. Neither Liebermann nor anyone else has ever suggested what ‘loyalty to the Jewish state’ stands for. Clearly, no one, not even the Jewish left has ever managed to point to a Jewish universal, moral or ethical value system for there is no such a system.
I guess that Jewish loyalty is an empty signifier: it is a dynamic notion; it changes constantly; it is impossible to pinpoint. As it happens, Jewish loyalty is removed from any notion of universalism, ethics or integrity. All it means in practice is, ‘Jews come first’.
In his recent video Max Blumenthal managed to collate a few Jewish morbid youngsters who were enthusiastic to swear loyalty to the Jewish state, its Jewish army and its commanders. Clearly the Goldstone report didn’t make enough waves in Israel or young Zionist circles around the world. One of the American Jewesses was happy to send Palestinians away from her land if they fail to swear an oath to Jewish primacy. Another Jewess admitted that when it comes to loyalty, Israel comes first while her motherland, Canada, comes second. This obviously raises a question. Political Jews; who are they loyal to?
Since loyalty is crucial within the Zionist discourse we may want to extend our study and challenge those who identify and operate politically as Jews to tell us about their loyalty. I would love, for instance, to know about Lord Levy, the number one fundraiser for the Labour party at the time this party dragged us into a criminal war : who is he loyal to, Israel or Britain? And what about Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen: are they primarily loyal to this Kingdom or to the Jewish state? I wonder because they both rallied for the Iraq war in the British national press. And what about David Miliband, the leading candidate for the Labour premiership, who is also listed on an Israeli Propaganda site as an Israeli propaganda writer, who is he loyal to? I guess that every member of the Labour’s, Conservative’s and Lib Dem’s Friend of Israel had better be challenged and the sooner the better.
However, in case you think that Liebermann is alone in his demand for loyalty, you are pretty wrong. Here in Britain, Lord Goldsmith, (yes the same Goldsmith who kindly offered Tony Blair a ‘legal’ green light to invade Iraq in 2003) is also enthusiastic about loyalty.
Back in 2008 Goldsmith recommended the introduction of ceremonies for all school-leavers to mark "the passage from being a student of citizenship to an active citizen". He said he favoured an oath of allegiance to the Queen but the statement could alternatively be a pledge of loyalty to Britain.
Lord Goldsmith was quoted by The Independent suggesting that Britain did not face a crisis of shared citizenship, but added that national pride had declined over the past 20 years, particularly among the young. He warned that “one third or more of black people did not identify with their home country.”
I guess that Goldsmith may be correct, there is a possible decline in British pride but this decline is not 20 years old. It is actually the direct outcome of some disastrous policies he himself was supposed to stop. What exactly Goldsmith is expecting our kids to be ‘proud of’ or identify with? Is it the criminal wars he himself approved legally? Is it the fact that Britain doesn’t find the legal strength to deal with the people who dragged us into these wars and made us all complicit in a genocide?
The similarity between Liebermann and Goldsmith is pretty obvious. “One third or more of black people did not identify with their home country” says Goldsmith. Like Liebermann, Goldsmith somehow knows in advance, who may not pass the ‘loyalty test’. The image of an ‘inclusive policy’ is there to enhance differences and marginalize minorities. Like Liebermann, Goldsmith at the time failed to suggest what the British values are. Instead, he reverted to symbolism and legalism as a substitute to ethical thinking.
The days of Israel are numbered, there is no way to rescue the Jewish state for it is founded on tribal and racist ideology. However, Britain can still liberate itself of its Neocon phase. All it has to do is to de-Zionise its political system and media. Instead of being loyal to states, we had better stay in tune with ethics and universalism. Instead of succumbing to moral interventionism, we just have to search in ourselves for moral guidelines.