Dershowitz on Europeans and Irrationality
by Gilad Atzmon
Noam Chomsky wrote of Dershowitz that he is a “remarkable liar” and “slanderer.” These problematic traits Chomsky noted of the former Harvard professor have proved useful. I might not have seen Dershowitz’ most recent recycled rant had he not mentioned my name and, as always, lied about me.
In his article, Dershowitz claims that I deny that the “Holocaust is historically proved.” Wrong! I argue that all historical narratives ought to be discussed freely and debated fearlessly. This treatment may not be applied to the Holocaust. The Holocaust has been minimised by its present status as legally protected religious dogma. If the Holocaust is the new religion, I defend my right to be agnostic.
According to Dershowitz, Atzmon “believes that Jews may well have killed Christian children to use their blood to bake Passover matzah.” If Dershowitz would just bother to actually read the work that he cites, he would learn that it wasn’t I who produced this sceptical recital of the Jewish blood libel, it was Ariel Toaff, an Israeli professor at Bar Ilan who back in 2007 published a book titled “Blood Passover European Jews and ritual murder.”
Then Dershowitz arrives at his oft-repeated lie about me, Atzmon “thinks it’s ‘rational’ to burn down synagogues.” I am taking this opportunity to address his insane accusation for the first time. I would think that I shouldn’t need to inform Dershowitz that the words he ‘quotes’ have never appeared in any of my writings or my talks. I have never and would never incite violence nor have I ever been questioned, let alone charged by any law enforcement authority anywhere in the world about anything I have written or said.
Back in 2005, the Guardian published a story about UK Jewish pressure groups that submitted a dossier of allegations of antisemitsm at the London SOAS University. The dossier included the following: “Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestinian activist and musician, who gave a talk to students this month, arguing: ‘I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act’.”
At the time, Zionist Jewish groups attempted to file a complaint with the police but were shown the door as they 1. failed to produce any evidence, and 2. failed to grasp that my SOAS lecture presented a philosophical study of rationality in conflicts in general and in anti Semitism in particular. All this I explained on the pages of the Guardian a week after the paper published the original erroneous article. As I wrote at the time, the quote attributed to me was both “inaccurate and taken out of context. By no possible interpretation did I justify any form of violence against Jews, Jewish interests or any innocent people.” I have never and would never incite violence nor have I ever been so much as questioned by any law enforcement authority anywhere in the world about anything I have written or said.
Funny, I would expect a professor at the Harvard Law School capable of grasping the distinction between rationality and ethics. I’ll explain. War crimes are most often also rational acts of war, however unethical. For example, dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, although likely in the running as the ultimate unethical act, was a ‘rational act’: it delivered a clear message to the Soviets and other interested parties by demonstrating the terrible destructive power of the newly born A- bomb. The stated intention behind the act was was an immediate and total surrender by the Japanese to end the war.
Writing of the contents of my actual lecture, I held my ground as I still do. I claimed that “since Israel presents itself as the 'state of the Jewish people', and bearing in mind the atrocities committed by the Jewish state against the Palestinians, any form of anti-Jewish activity may be seen as political retaliation. This does not make it right.”
Dershowitz’s inability to distinguish between the concepts of ‘ethics' and ‘rationality’ is at the core of his simplistic argument: His writing can seem removed from either intellectual integrity or academic consistency. It seems Dershowitz does not feel a need to adhere to the Athenian intellectual ethos. He is doing just fine in Jerusalem.
Dershowitz’s article is entitled, “Why it’s not surprising to see Jew-hatred increase in Western Europe.” The answer Dershowitz provides is certainly banal. His claim: Europeans are basically a bunch of anti-Semites who have perpetuated the “myth” that the Holocaust was “the work of German Nazis aided perhaps by some [Eastern European] collaborators.” Instead Dershowitz claims that the Holocaust was a collective project perpetrated by “Nazi sympathizers and collaborators among the French, Dutch, Norwegians, Swiss, Belgians, Austrians, and other Europeans, both Western and Eastern.” Dershowitz, purportedly a legal ‘scholar’ fails to provide a single source for this claim.
Let’s assume charitably that Dershowitz fails to see he might be making things worse by calling a large percentage of Europeans murderers and/or Nazis and that in so doing he provokes opposition to himself and everything associated with his Zionist project.
Dershowitz must believe that opposition to Jewish politics and Zionist crimes has no cause, no rational basis. He writes, “the pervasive anti-Semitism and irrationally hateful anti-Zionism that has recently surfaced throughout western Europe toward Israel should surprise no one.”
Dershowitz is being either intentionally misleading or delusional. Apparently, he is convinced that any increase in opposition to Jews is related to Israel’s criminality. He complains that Leftists single out Israel for criticism. “Where are your demonstrations on behalf of the oppressed Tibetans, Georgians, Syrians, Armenians, Kurds, or even Ukrainians?” he asks. Even the misguided professor should know that the Tibetan Lobby in Washington is not quite as powerful and influential as AIPAC. Dershowitz ought to find out how many Tory MPs are members of the “Conservative friends of Georgia.” I suppose I don’t need to add that the Syrians have yet to terrorise the British Labour Party and its leader on behalf of their leader Bashar Al-Assad.
Perhaps the opposition to Jewish pressure groups all over Europe is a reaction to some of the insanely aggressive and ugly politics openly perpetrated by Jewish pressure groups and Israel’s lobbyists.
To accuse Labour members, for instance, of ‘irrationality’ and ‘racism’ for being upset when they learned that Shai Masot, an Israeli secret agent, was interfering with their party politics, is to deny rationality itself. Accusing the Poles, who see themselves as among the primary victims of WW2, of anti-Semitism for defying Israel’s demands for restitution verges on the absurd, especially considering the fact that Israel is a monument to a gross racist ethnic cleansing crime driven by the decision to plunder another people’s land.
After censuring ethically oriented and patriotically driven Europeans as ‘irrational’ for defying a foreign criminal country’s interference in their political affairs, Dershowitz sets the parameters for his own particular definition of objectivism. “Any objective person with an open mind, open eyes…must see the double standard being applied to the nation-state of the Jewish people. Many doing so are the grandchildren of those who lethally applied a double standard to the Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. They must be shamed into looking themselves in the mirror of morality and acknowledging their own bigotry.”
I suggest that before Dershowitz ‘shames’ Europeans for seeing Israel for what it is, the ardent Zionist caricature might have to accept that crimes committed by a state that calls itself ‘The Jewish State’ and decorates its tanks and airplanes with Jewish symbols may inflict shame on the entire Jewish people. Certainly many Jews are genuinely troubled and distressed by this fact. Before Dershowitz condemns Europeans, Dershowitz should consider performing the elementary intellectual exercise of examining his argument in a wider context: He should look into the possibility that the Jewish past is an ongoing disaster for a reason. If Dershowitz is interested in learning about rationality, looking introspectively for the logos that has made Jewish history into a chain of pogroms would be a great project for his retirement.
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