By Gilad Atzmon
A poorly-written but still revealing briefing was published a few days ago by J-BIG. J-BIG may sound like an Israeli penis enlargement clinic but is in fact an acronym for Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods – a Jews Only political organisation set up to promote Jewish interests amongst Palestinian solidarity in general and the BDS movement in particular. The briefing was apparently published in order to “help BDS campaigners to defy the accusation of antisemitsm” and to explain “how the charge of antisemitism applies (actually) to Zionism itself.”
It doesn’t take long for an intelligent person to grasp that Zionism is fuelled by anti-Semitsm. In fact, early Zionists were candid enough on occasions to admit that the enemies of the Jews may actually have a point.
Here are some comments made by Early Zionists about their fellow Jews.
‘The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually.’ (Our Shomer ‘Weltanschauung’, Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936, p.26. As cited by Lenni Brenner
‘The fact is undeniable that the Jews, collectively, are unhealthy and neurotic..’ Ben Frommer, The Significance of a Jewish State, Jewish Call, Shanghai, May 1935, p.10. As cited by Lenni Brenner
‘The enterprising spirit of the Jew is irrepressible. He refuses to remain a proletarian. He will grab at the first opportunity to advance to a higher rung in the social ladder.’ (The Economic Development of the Jewish People, Ber Borochov, 1916
So in this regard, early Zionism, could actually be seen as a unique moment of Jewish self-reflection. It’s certainly true, and J-BIG are correct in suggesting that Zionism, and later on Israel, both invested heavily in anti Semitism, transforming it into the very raison d’être of the Jewish national project.
But what about these so-called ‘anti’ Zionist Jews and J-BIG? Do they not also invest in ‘anti Semitism’ and in most cases even invent its existence simply to justify their own existence? In fact, our J-BIG ‘anti’ Zionist Jews are even more sinister than their Zionist twins because J-BIG are clearly making a huge effort to transform the entire Palestinian solidarity discourse into a new front in their eternal battle against anti Semitism. It’s as if anti-Semitism is a Palestinian issue. And why do they do it? Probably because primarily they are concerned, not with Palestine, but with their own tribal interests. So, as much as they love to keep the ‘J’ big, they also happen to keep the ‘P’ somehow smaller or at least secondary.
It takes our J-BIG agitators about 1000 words of mangled logic and convoluted reasoning before they get to the point and reveal their true motivation. “Some misguided supporters of the Palestinians have attributed their oppression to an international Jewish conspiracy, to ‘Jewish power’, to ‘a Jewish spirit’, etc.”
Here we go again. In spite of the fact that Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’, despite the fact that its airplanes are decorated with Jewish symbols and its murderous actions are supported by powerful Jewish lobbies around the world, our Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists still insist that we do not address the core of the problem. They want us to oppose Israel while avoiding the crucial fact that Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’. In effect, they want us to fight Israel but with both hands tied behind our back. And why? Is it because they are concerned with some universal ethical issues? I don’t think so. No, the real reason is that, knowingly or unknowingly, they are actually committed to a tribal cause and I think we all know which tribe we’re talking about. .
Whether we like it or not, Israel is openly driven by a dynamic force which it interprets (rightly or wrongly) as the true “Jewish spirit” and whether we like it or not, Israel’s supporters around the world utilise every possible aspect of Jewish power. And this is no conspiracy. Everything is done right out in the open for all to see. Even the Jewish lobbying within the Palestinian solidarity movement is pretty much in the open, as proved by the J-BIG pamphlet. Philip Weiss, the man behind the Jewish progressive blog Mondoweiss was even honest enough to admit to me a year ago that his support of Palestine is “motivated by Jewish self interests.”
So, I guess that the most crucial question here is what exactly are those ‘Jewish self-interests’ and how do they relate to ethics in general and to the Palestinian plight in particular?
Unfortunately, our ‘progressive’ J-BIG agitators have managed to drag some Palestinian academics and activists to fight their battles for them and, once again, they openly brag about the fact that “leading Palestinian commentators and activists reject such ‘support’ as damaging the Palestinian cause. Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti and Rafeef Ziadeh were among dozens who denounced any who point to the ‘Jewish’ character of the oppression of Palestinians.
Clearly, without mentioning my name, our ‘progressive J-BIG refer here specifically to the call by Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah and others to disavow yours truly.
Since I am found to be at the centre of this campaign I should mention that by now enough prominent Palestinians activists, humanists and academics have stood up for me and my writings – something J-BIG fails to mention. Furthermore, I actually welcome the debate on those crucial matters and I am more than happy to be at its very centre. This week, Counterpunch published Blake Alcott’s detailed analytical study of the call for my disavowal. Alcott established beyond doubt that what some of our leading Palestinians were led to sign was a very problematic text. What led a bunch of devoted Palestinian academics and activists to join a Jewish campaign without even engaging in some elementary research? What led Abunmiah & Co to disavowal a fellow intellectual turning their back to the notion of intellectual integrity and freedom of expression? I think we should be told.
Interestingly enough, my latest book The Wandering Who attempts to provide an answer. It elaborates on the Jewish political nature of Israel and its lobbies but it also points at the destructive role of those lobbies within the left, the Anti War Campaign and the Palestinian solidarity movement. Again, I don’t speak about any conspiracy. As far as I am aware, this is all taking place before our very eyes. Abunimah & co kept silent about this affair for almost a year and they probably know why. I guess that they are still searching for something that may look remotely like an argument or even an excuse. After all, It is slightly unusual for Palestinians and Arabs to adopt the most vile Talmudic Herem culture. As Palestinian poet Nahida Izzat suggests, it demands an explanation.
Here is my message to J-BIG, Abunimah and anyone who is willing to listen. It would be impossible to grasp the success of Israel and Zionism without scrutinizing the role of Jewish culture, ideology and the significant impact of the Sabbath Goy within the American Administration but also in Palestine. After all, many of us do realise by now that, at least, from a Jewish political perspective, the Palestinians are merely Goyim du jour. Nothing really new, yet very painful if you happen to be a Palestinian.
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics and Jewish Left’s spin in particular Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist, novelist, political activist and writer.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”