The 3rd CategoryThe 3rd Category and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement by Gilad Atzmon
As far as self perception is concerned, those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:
1. those who follow Judaism.
2. those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin.
3. those who put their Jewishness over and above all of their other traits.
Obviously, the first two categories specify an harmless group of people. We do tend to respect religious people, as they are generally expected to be living inspired by their beliefs and are expected to abide by some sort of a higher spiritual code. Needless to say, we have no problem with the second category as well. One cannot choose one’s origin. We agree that people must be respected and treated equally regardless of their origin or their racial and ethnic belonging.
However the third category is largely problematic. Clearly, its definition may sound inflammatory to some. And yet, bizarrely enough, it is a general formulation of Chaim Weizmann’s view of the Jewish identity as expressed in his famous address at the First Jewish Congress: “There are no English, French, German or American Jews, but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.”
According to Weizmann, a prominent Zionist figure, Jewishness is a primary quality. You may be a Jew who dwells in England, a Jew who plays the violin or even a Jew against Zionism. But above all else you are a Jew. And this is exactly the idea conveyed by the 3rd category. It is all about viewing Jewishness as the key element in one’s being. Any other quality is secondary.
This is exactly the message the early Zionists were interested in promulgating. For Weizmann, Jewishness is a unique quality that stops the Jew from assimilating within the nation he is a citizen of. He will always remain an alien. This very line of thinking was more than apparent in most early Zionist writings. Jabotinsky, the founder of right wing Zionism, takes it even further. He is more than firm that assimilation is impossible due to some biological conditioning. Here is what he had to say about the German Jew: "A Jew brought up among Germans may assume German customs, German words. He may be wholly imbued with that German fluid but the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish, because his blood, his body, his physical racial type are Jewish." (Vladimir Jabotinsky, 'A Letter on Autonomy', 1904). The reader may notice that these outrageous racist ideas predate Nazism. Jabotinsky wasn’t alone, even the Marxist Ber Borochov who refers the Jewish condition to some historical and material circumstances is suggesting a remedy that is particular to Jewish people, i.e. Jewish Nationalism in which Jews will practice some proletarian activity, namely production. As it seems, Borochov lets Jews be separated from the international proletarian revolution. Why does he do this? Just because Jews are uniquely Jewish or at least the Zionists tend to believe they are.
However, one may rightly ask whether it was the Zionists who invented this 3rd category?
In fact, it is not that way at all.
Seemingly, Shakespeare had noticed this very pattern three hundred years earlier. Shylock, the famous money lender from Venice was a proper 3rd category Jew. He clearly admits that more than anything else he is a Jew who possesses many human features. ‘I am a Jew’ says Shylock, “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” And yet Shylock insists that he shares many human features: “Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is.” Shylock claims to be essentially similar to the entire humanity: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?....” Noticeably, according to Shylock the Jew is as vulnerable as an ordinary human being and yet he is primarily Jewish.
This is indeed the essence of Zionism, The Zionist is first and foremost a Jew. He can’t be just an ordinary British citizen who happens to be of a Jewish descent. He is rather a Jew who dwells in Britain. He is a Jew who speaks English, he is a Jew who gets his health services from the NHS, he is a Jew who happens to drive on the left side of the road. He is the ultimate Other. Generally speaking, 3rd category Jews are the ultimate Others. Just because they are always somewhere at the margins of or apart from any given human condition or human landscape.
As it seems, Shylock was a Zionist, he fitted perfectly into Weizmann’s model. He was a 3rd category Jew. However, Shylock didn’t make it to Palestine. He didn’t engage himself in confiscating Palestinian land. He wasn’t even an Israeli soldier. In fact the 3rd category Jew doesn’t have to move to Palestine. Apparently, dwelling in Zion is merely just one possible practice within the Zionist philosophy. In order to become a proper Zionist you don’t have to wander. Sometimes it is actually better if you stay exactly wherever you are. Let us read what Victor Ostrovsky, an ex-Mossad agent, is telling us about 3rd category Jews.
"The next day Ran S. delivered a lecture on the sayanim, a unique and important part of the Mossad's operation. Sayanim - assistants - must be 100 percent Jewish. They live abroad, and though they are not Israeli citizens, many are reached through their relatives in Israel. An Israeli with a relative in England, for example, might be asked to write a letter telling the person bearing the letter that he represents an organization whose main goal is to help save Jewish people in the diaspora. Could the British relative help in any way?.....There are thousands of sayanim around the world. In London alone, there are about 2,000 who are active, and another 5,000 on the list. They fulfill many different roles. A car sayan, for example, running a rental agency, could help the Mossad rent a car without having to complete the usual documentation. An apartment sayan would find accommodation without raising suspicions, a bank sayan could get you money if you needed it in the middle of the night, a doctor sayan would treat a bullet wound without reporting it to the police, and so on. The idea is to have a pool of people available when needed who can provide services but will keep quiet about them out of loyalty to the cause. They are paid only costs." 
I assume that it must be clear that sayanim are basically 3rd category Jews. People who regard themselves primarily as Jews. The sayan is a man who would betray the nation in which he is a citizen just to satisfy a bizarre notion of a clannish brotherhood.
Zionism, an International Network
We are now starting to realise that Zionism shouldn’t be seen merely as a nationalist movement with a clear geographical aspiration. It isn’t exactly a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine. Zionism appears to be an international movement that is fuelled by the solidarity of 3rd category subjects. To be a Zionist means just to accept that more than anything else you are primarily a Jew.
“You have at your disposal a non-risk recruitment system that actually gives you a pool of millions of Jewish people to tap from outside your own borders. It's much easier to operate with what is available on the spot, and sayanim offer incredible practical support everywhere”  …. In fact what we see here is an extraordinary degree of racial solidarity. But as bizarre as it may sound Jews are far from being a single race.
So if it isn’t a racial solidarity, what is it that leads the sayan to run the risk of years of imprisonment? What did Jonathan Pollard have in his mind when he clearly betrayed his country? What do those 2,000 sayanim here in London have in their minds when they betray their Queen? I assume that we are left here with one possibility: the solidarity of the 3rd category Jews. It is namely a solidarity of the people who regard themselves primarily as Jews.
I tend to regard Ostrovsky’s testimony as a very reliable report. As we know, at the time, the Israeli government was using every possible means to stop the publication of his books. In fact, this strange Israeli activity was more than an affirmation that Ostrovsky was indeed a Mossad agent and that the story that he is telling is rather genuine.
In a radio interview Joseph Lapid, at the time an Israeli senior columnist, opened his heart and told the world what he thought of Ostrovsky: “Ostrovsky is the most treacherous Jew in modern Jewish history. And he has no right to live, except if he's prepared to return to Israel and stand trial.”
Valerie Pringle, the journalist on the other side of the line asked Lapid: “Do you feel it's a responsible statement to say what you've said?”
Lapid: “Oh yes, I fully believe in that. And unfortunately the Mossad cannot do it because we cannot endanger our relations with Canada. But I hope there will be a decent Jew in Canada who does it for us.”
Pringle: “You hope this. You could live with his blood on your hands?”
Lapid: “Oh no. It's to...only it will not be his blood on my hands. It will be justice to a man who does the most horrible thing that any Jew can think of, and that is that he's selling out the Jewish state and the Jewish people for money to our enemies. There is absolutely nothing worse that a human being, if he can be called a human being, can do”.
Lapid, later a member in Sharon’s cabinet, makes it more than clear: to be a Jew is a deep commitment that goes far beyond any legal or moral order. It is far more essential than any universal ethical perception. Clearly, for Lapid, Jewishness is not a spiritual stand, it is a political commitment. It is a world view that applies to the very last Jew on this planet. As he says: the Mossad can’t really kill Ostrovsky, thus, it is down to a ‘decent Canadian Jew’ to do the job. As is evident, a Zionist journalist is expressing here the most outrageous of views. He encourages a fellow Jew to commit a murder in the name of the Jewish brotherhood. In short, not only does Lapid affirm Ostrovsky’s report about the world of sayanim, he also confirms Weizmann’s view that from a Zionist point of view, there are no Canadian Jews but only Jews who live in Canada.
I think that the above leaves us with enough room to conclude that at least in the Zionists’ eyes, Jewishness is basically an international network operation. Ostrovsky refers to racial solidarity, I call it 3rd category brotherhood and Weizmann calls it Zionism. But it all means the very same thing. It is all about commitment, a global agenda that pools more and more Jews into an obscure, dangerous fellowship. Apparently, Zionism is not about Israel. Israel is just a colony, a territorial asset violently maintained by a mission force composed of 3rd category Jews. In fact, there is no geographical centre to the Zionist endeavor. It is hard to determine where the centre of Zionist decision making is. Is it in Jerusalem? In the Knesset, in Sharon’s cabinet, in the Mossad, or maybe in the ADL offices in America? It might as well be somewhere in Wall Street? Who knows?
But then, it is of course more than possible that there is no decision making process at all. The beauty of a network operative system is that not a single operator within the network is fully familiar with the network but is only aware of his personal role within it. This is probably the biggest strength of the Zionist movement.
Looking at Zionism as a global network operation would determine a major shift in our perspective of current world affairs:
The Palestinians, for instance, aren’t just the victims of the Israeli occupation, they are rather the victims of 3rd category Jews who decided to transform Palestine into a Jewish national bunker. The Iraqis, are better seen as the victims of the those 3rd category Jews who decided to transform the American army into a Jewish mission force. The Muslim world should be seen as a subject to some neo-conservative 3rd category tendency to make Nathan Sharansky’s Democratic ideology into the new American Bible for the 3rd world.
It is pretty depressing indeed.
The Jewish humanist
The Palestinian activist Reem Abdehadi, when asked for her opinion about Jewish anti Zionist campaigners, said sarcastically: “they are very nice, all fifteen of them…”
We must admit that not many Jews are there to fight against Zionism. However, amongst those few who engage themselves in this battle we find some people who insist upon doing so under the Jewish banner, e.g. Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, etc.
While writing this paper I have started to ask myself what category those Jewish leftist groups belong to. Clearly, they do not fit into the 1st category. Jewish left is a ‘religious’ atheist tendency. They really don’t like to involve God in politics or in anything else. In most cases they are hostile to Judaism and even to those Orthodox Jews who happen to stand up to Zionism. But it isn’t only Judaism that they dislike. They aren’t fond of Islam or Christianity either. Those amongst them who endorse the idea of a one state solution do insist that the future Palestine must be ‘a secular’ and a democratic state’. Not that I am in any position to suggest what the future Palestine is going to be, I would just try to propose that it must be down to the citizens of this future state to decide what type of kingdom they prefer to live in.
Anyhow, those Jewish leftists fail as well to fit into the 2nd category. They do not regard themselves as ordinary humanists who happen to be of Jewish descent. If they were, they would simply join the Palestinian Solidarity movement like other Jews who prefer to act mainly as humanists. But then, rather than joining the Solidarity Campaign, they form some exclusive political cells that allow them to operate under the Jewish banner.
Consequently, we must admit that they all belong to the 3rd category. In fact they prefer to regard themselves as ‘Jews who hold some leftist views’. Clearly, amongst those groups you will find some wonderful people who genuinely believe that Zionism is wrong, that Zionism is racist and nationalist. But in fact these people are themselves operating as 3rd category Jews. They all act politically under a Jewish banner. In practical terms, they all follow Weizmann’s school. Rather than being Humanists who happen to be Jewish (2nd category), they are Jews who happen to be Humanists. But then, since acting politically under a Jewish banner is in fact the very definition of Zionism, it is reasonable to deduce that all Jewish left activity is in practice not more than a form of left Zionism. One may ask whether it is really possible to be a left Zionist? Is there left and right in a network group that is set primarily on a racial category and clannish brotherhood?
The answer is no. There is no left and right within Zionism but rather different right wing political apparatuses. Some Zionist political calls are adopting the shape of left discourse. I had noticed for instance that Jewish Marxists insist upon calling each other comrade. In fact they are mainly engaged in Marxist verbal rituals. But apparently, this isn’t enough. Ideology is more than a mere language game. In reality, those Jewish left clubs are operating as the body shield of the 3rd category identity. This may explain the fact that as far as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign is concerned, those groups are primarily engaged in guarding some 3rd category Jewish interests that have very little to do with the Palestinians and their daily misery.
If to be more precise, those Jewish left groups are engaged mainly in searching for ‘anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and Jew haters. Somehow, they always find them amongst the most active and devoted 2nd category Jews. As it seems (to me at least), for these Jewish sporadic cells, Palestinian solidarity is just another instrument to draw attention to the myth of Jewish humanism. I will try to be very clear and transparent here. There is no Jewish secular humanism. No doubt many humanists happen to be Jewish and yet there is not a single Jewish secular humanist theorem or text. This is mainly because Jewish secularity is not a philosophical position. It is rather a complete abandonment of God. Jewish secularity is a form of ethnicity based merely on some exclusive tendencies and a vague collective memory of some ritual heritage.
So, is there a Jewish Conspiracy to run the world?
Not really. First it must be clear that 1st and 2nd category Jews have nothing to do with all the above. For 1st category Jews, being Jewish means practicing Judaism. To follow a spiritual call and to obey God’s law. As we know, Zionism is still far from being popular amongst ultra orthodox Rabbis. However, I must admit that some would rightly argue that following the teaching of the Talmudic law many religious Jews do regard themselves as a chosen category. For me, this simply means that they fall into the 3rd category rather than the 1st one. This probably applies to the orthodox sects that allied with Zionism throughout the course of time.
The second category Jews have no intention of taking part in any global Jewish networking. They regard themselves as an ordinary and liberated human beings with no special privilege. Amongst the 2nd category Jews we find the most enlightening emancipated humanists. Those very great intellects that contributed to 20th century liberal and humanist thinking. As we all know, hardly any of them came from Israel or a Zionist faction.
When it comes to the 3rd category, we are faced with a slight problem. I tend to believe that the 3rd category Jews are mutually acting together. But then whether they are fully aware of it or not is a big question. Throughout the years they have formed a network that operates as a global Zionist body shield. They simply act in harmony, they protect each other. Even when they fight against one another, they depict an image of pluralism. I think that this is the essence of Zionism’s miraculous success.
A week ago I read a brilliant insight by Rowan Berkeley on Peacepalestine website. Rowan, a Londoner whom I know vaguely, had been flirting in the past with the idea of becoming a Jew. In the following comment he is aiming to explain the common Jewish take on Zionism. In fact, without realising it, he describes the 3rd category tactic:
“First they ask, Do you believe that (Jewish) Nationalism is a Good Thing, or a Bad Thing?
If you say it is a Good Thing, they will direct you to the Jewish Right, which will tell you that Jews have as much of a right to be nationalistic as anybody else does.
If you say it is a Bad Thing, they will direct you to the Jewish Left, which will tell you that you are not allowed to protest against Zionism on any basis other than Marxist or Anarchist Proletarian Internationalism - thus disqualifying almost all the actually existing anti-Zionist movements in the Arab world.
They can get away with this ideological shell game because each individual discursive arena is controlled by one or another Jewish faction.”
Yes, I do believe that Rowan’s insight hits the nail right on the head. He is absolutely correct. But then, unlike Rowan I do believe that Jews Against Zionism are genuine. They simply fight Zionism without realising that they themselves are Zionists. Without realising that they are the most orthodox followers of Weizmann’s school. If they are really interested in bringing Zionism down, their tactics are obviously wrong.
I wrote to some of them about the subject before, I have seen some discussion about my views in many different Jewish left circles and yet, I have never come across any argumentative response from any of those sporadic exclusive groups. Rather than being confronted with my thoughts, they are solely engaged in labeling. I have already been: ‘a self hating Jew’, ‘a Christian fundamentalist’, ‘a Holocaust denier’, ‘an apologist for Holocaust deniers’, ‘a neo-nazi’, ‘a Stalinist’, ‘a Zionist agent’, ‘an anti-Semite’ and many more.
Two weeks ago, a small group of Jewish leftists picketed against me in front of a Marxist bookshop. I tried to write to them arguing that if Palestine is on top of one’s agenda, a protest in front of the Israeli embassy or any other 3rd category Jewish institute would be far more effective. They dismissed my call.
I am fully aware of the fact that crucifying me and burning my books is no doubt a proper 3rd category practice, but unfortunately it isn’t going to help the Palestinian at the checkpoint. It isn’t going to help the millions of refugees who have been living for almost six decades without elementary rights.
Israel is an inhuman political setup and we therefore must fight it as human beings rather than as sporadic ethnic or religious groups.
 (Chaim Weizman, First Zionist Congress 1897).
 (Shylock, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare).
 By Way of Deception", Victor Ostrovsky , St. Martin's, 1990 pg 86-7
 Ibid pg 87
 If anything, Zionism in its early days was aiming towards the establishment of such a philosophy, a form of Jewish secular ethics. Obviously such an attempt was doomed to failure. Just because Zionism is unethical by definition, being that it engages in the continual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people.