Truth, Truthfulness and Palestine
Sun 10 June
By Gilad Atzmon
A healthy society doesn’t need a ‘truth movement.’ But we Americans, Brits, French and Germans are far from healthy and our so-called ‘truth movements’ haven’t led us towards any sources of light. The question is: Why?
One possible answer is that ‘truth movements’ are ideal environments for the operators of controlled opposition -- those who insist upon vetting any discussion about the truth by claiming to know what ‘the truth’ is, what it comprises and who its enemies are.
Karl Popper posited that since no number of scientific experiments could definitively prove a scientific theory we should utilise a methodology based on falsifiability. While we posses the means to refute a scientific theory or scientific ‘truth,’ we lack the ability to verify a single scientific theory by means of experiments. For instance, if you state that ‘the sun rises in the East’ is a valid scientific truth, a single occasion of the sun popping up early in the morning in the West will refute your theory. “Building Number Seven” may not point at the culprit behind 9/11 but it is thought to refute the official 9/11 narrative. Furthermore, history laws such as Holocaust denial laws in Europe or the Nakba law in Israel exist to defy alteration, refutation or scholarly debate about the past. Instead of helping us to grasp our past, the existence of such laws reveals to us that some parties are desperate to stop anyone from exploring what really happened.
The French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard observed in his book, ‘Heidegger and The Jews’ that history may claim to tell us what happened, but most of the time ‘history’ is institutionally engaged in concealing our shame. The Americans, for instance, conceal the brutality of slavery, the Brits conceal the crimes of the empire, the Jews suppress any inquiry into Jewish accountability for Jewish history’s chain of disasters and so on. The message here is that instead of simply learning history from historians, we may well benefit from adopting a psychoanalytical approach to try to understand what historians work to conceal. We should ask why does America build a holocaust museum in every city? Why did the Brits make the Imperial Wars Museum into a Holocaust shrine? We may even want to understand how it is possible that on the same day Israel celebrated “the biggest Gay Pride Parade in the region” hundreds of Israeli snipers were deployed on the Gaza border with orders to shoot every Palestinian who might try to break out of the Gaza concentration camp. Israel’s liberal LGBT attitude is basically a pink-wash, an attempt to conceal Israel’s abusive racist policies towards the indigenous people of its land.
But there is reason to be optimistic. Against the odds, and despite the open assault on truthfulness, truth has a unique ability to unveil itself.
In this presentation today we will look at Palestine and Israel in the light of truth and truthfulness and we will find out that by now we are all Palestinians. Like the Palestinians we are not allowed to utter the name of our oppressors.
Trump and Truthfulness
If truth reveals itself however involuntarily, President Trump is a leading vehicle or, perhaps, an arch facilitator, for such process to take place. Let us, for instance, examine Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. This cataclysmic political decision was criticised by every reasonable figure globally but it actually provided the opportunity for the truth to unveil itself.
Just a few hours after Trump’s televised announcement, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas informed Vice President Pence who was at a state visit in the region that he was persona non grata in Ramallah. President Abbas’ reaction to Trump’s Jerusalem move was to declare that America can no longer act as a negotiator, it is a side in the conflict. It was Trump’s Jerusalem move that finally allowed the penny to drop. America hasn’t just taken a side in the conflict, it may as well be an Israeli colony.
Truth Shines on the Jewish Solidarity Spin
Over the last two decades the Palestinian solidarity movement has become a toy for Jewish solidarity. The results of this have been devastating. The core Palestinian plight, namely The Right of Return was practically wiped out and replaced by Israel-friendly terminology such as ‘End of Occupation’ – a set of peaceful sounding bites that in practice legitimise the existence of the pre-1967 Jewish State. New sound bites were attached to the Israeli Palestinian conflict such as: apartheid, colonialism, settler colonialism and even BDS. These misleading terminologies were designed to convey the image that the Israeli Palestinian conflict was not unique, that it had precedents in history. Of course, this is simply wrong and consciously misleading. Zionism is based upon the ludicrous idea that Jews have the right to return to their ‘homeland’ after 2000 years. Who else should enjoy such a ‘universal’ right? Can my Italian drummer claim my house in London as a ‘Roman offspring’?
But Trump’s Jerusalem move reminded the Palestinians that the denial of the Right of Return is at the core of their plight. It is the Right of Return that they should fight for, the Right of Return and nothing but that Right. Since March we have seen huge protests by Palestinians on the Gaza border. These protests have cost a lot of Palestinian lives. Hundreds were murdered by Israeli snipers, thousands have been injured, but the truth has prevailed. The current resistance by the Palestinians has achieved more of an impact than 20 years of wasted diluted kosher solidarity: Israel is now on the defensive: boycotted culturally and spiritually. PM Netanyahu visited every significant European capitol in the last few days begging for support on Iran. He found closed doors. The Argentinian football team cancelled its visit to Israel. Today I read in the Israeli press that more and more Spanish municipalities ban Israeli cultural events. These measures are a direct reaction to Israeli barbarism in Gaza and beyond.
Killing From Afar
The Austrian Philosopher Otto Weininger dedicated his valuable text ‘Sex & Character’ to a harsh deconstruction of the ‘female character,’ and then concluded his work by suggesting that the Jewish male is a woman. Weininger killed himself shortly after, he probably couldn’t stand the fact that he himself was an effeminate character as well as a Jew.
Zionism, either consciously or subconsciously took Weininger very seriously. In its early stages Zionism saw itself as an alpha male factory. It brought to life the new Israeli -- the Sabra named for the prickly pear. The diaspora assimilated Jew, was, in Zionist eyes, indistinguishable from the outside but calculating and mean on the inside. In contrast, the new Israeli Sabra was to be rough and tough on the outside, yet sweet and humane on the inside.
The Zionists promise was to construct the new Jew, to make him and her into warriors -- Combatants that could fight for their cause unlike their Diaspora relatives who were thought to have surrendered like ‘lambs to the slaughter.’
Israeli history suggests that this project seemed successful for a while. In Israel’s early days young Hebrews were willing to fight and die. Indeed, they won a few successive battles (1948, ‘56 and ‘67). I was brought up within this Spartan environment. My peers and I looked forward to sacrificing ourselves on the Jewish nationalist altar. This has clearly changed. The Israeli army is no longer a winning army. Not only does it lack decisive victories, more often it finds itself defeated, withdrawn from the battlefield with its tail between its legs.
What we have seen on the Gaza border in the last two months reveals that Otto Weininger’s observation was indeed prescient. Again the truth has unveiled itself however involuntarily. The Israeli army is an army that kills from afar. It is basically a barbarian criminal outfit dominated by the cowardly nature of its members.
The Israeli military elite has dreaded a March to Jerusalem for decades. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians marching back to their lands, homes, cities and villages is something that can’t be easily addressed militarily. Generals are naturally fearful of such incidents because they entail unpredictability. It is impossible to predict how a lone rifleman will react when confronted by thousands of angry Palestinians closing in on him -- will he stay to defend his position or will he run for safety? And what about the air force, can we count on an F-16 pilot to drop a napalm bomb on unarmed Palestinians marching towards Tel Aviv? Seemingly the Israeli generals have found an answer to the above dilemma – they kill from afar.
Israel has deployed thousands of snipers in Gaza. They are ordered to kill from afar. Not exactly the early Zionist heroic image of a face to face warrior who sees the eyeballs of his foe as he fights for his survival. But the snipers are not alone. Israeli pilots also rocket Gaza from a distance while cruising over the Negev or the Sea. Both the snipers and the pilots are supported by dozens of drones that are controlled by boys and girls who operate in safety and comfort in air-conditioned units.
Otto Weininger’s diagnosis had some merit. Apparently the alpha male transition didn’t work as the early Zionists wished.
We Are All Palestinians
Truth, as we know, is under attack in the West. It doesn’t take a genius to identify the elements that see truth as a threat and seek to suppress truth seeking. The political means that have been designed to suppress truth and truthfulness operate openly. At one stage this online conference was named ‘The Left Out Forum.’ It is the platform for scholars and humanists who unveil the shame that the Left in its current permutation can’t handle. How did it happen to the Left? This is easy to explain – at a certain stage the good old Left was hijacked by the so –called ‘New Left’ -- a corrosive set of ‘ideologies’ that are designed to suppress truth and truthfulness.
The New Left assault on truth is facilitated by two means. The first is ID politics – a divisive crude attempt to teach us to speak ‘as a’ (as a woman, as a Jew, as a Lesbian, as a Black, etc.). ID politics has either consciously or not removed us from authenticity and authentic thinking. Instead of pondering for ourselves, we learned to think ‘as a’ in a collective manner (as a Jew, as a Trans, as a Gay, etc.)
The second New Left tactic is so-called ‘Political Correctness.’ PC culture is basically politics that doesn’t allow political opposition. Interestingly enough, this is exactly how we define authoritarian and tyrannical discourse. The truth of the matter is that tyrannical conditions are light in comparison with PC culture because PC is driven by self-suppression. It represses our ability to express ourselves authentically, and even more dangerously PC stops us from thinking independently.
All of this has led me to the conclusion that in the world in which we live, we are all Palestinians. Palestine is not just some far away conflict. It is here all around us: like the Palestinians we are unable to explicitly utter the name of our oppressors. Like the Palestinians, our dissent has been compromised. In Britain, the police will knock on your door as soon as you tweet your thoughts about Israel and its Lobby. America is catching up. Like the Palestinians, our truth has been hijacked but it has not been murdered.
Truth, as we have seen, is a lasting enduring concept. Truth is that which unveils itself against all odds. Whether we like it or not, truth will shine upon us as it has shined upon Gaza and Palestine in the last two months. However, the truth may not be where we expect to find it.
Otto Weininger taught us that “in art self- realisation is realisation of the world.” The artist, according to Weininger, hits the truth by means of self-reflection. Trying to universalise Weininger’s insight may suggest that truth happens to unveil itself to us because the truth is in us. Truth is not what you find out while examining the world, it is not in the press or in the media, on CNN, the BBC or the Guardian of the Judea. Truth is not what you find in academia or even in a truth movement’s pamphlets. Truth unveils itself because truth is that which we find within ourselves. Truth is found when we close our eyes in disbelief. It reveals itself when we look inward, when we learn to attend to our inner voice of reason and ethics.
Truth is not a personal esoteric experience. Quite the opposite, it is that kernel of humanity we all share. It is that which makes us into one, a one that transcends political affiliation, identity, gender, race, ethnicity or biology. As in Palestine, sooner rather than later, we will realise that truth, so to say our truth, that which we share, is the only thing worth fighting for!
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