by Gilad Atzmon
This must-see short documentary by David Sheen and Max Blumenthal is about the appalling treatment of African migrants in Israel.
The film reveals a most ugly manifestation of Jewish ethnocentrism, exclusivism and bigotry, but you may notice that none of the Israeli racists in the film identifies as a ‘Zionist’ or showed any concern for the Zionist nature of Israel. Instead they, and without exception, express their deep concern with the ‘Jewish State’ its ‘Jewish character’ and matters pertaining to the Jewish religion and Jewish ‘purity’.
We see MK Ben Ari on camera saying “We are not an immigration State,.. our state is different – it is a Jewish State.. for me the Jewish people are precious…this is our only Jewish state”, and PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about demographic fears and the ‘Jewish character’ of Israel.
For over a decade now, I have been suggesting that Israeli racism is driven by Jewish supremacism rather than any Zionist ideology. I have argued that Zionism, largely, a foreign notion to most Israelis, is just one symptom of Jewish exclusivism – and for saying it, I have been denounced, harassed and smeared by most Jewish Left organisations and even a few Palestinians. But this documentary actually proves that, all along, I was right. For the Israeli, Jewishness rather than Zionism, is the guiding political signifier. This film is not about Zionist abuse or Israeli ‘new racism’, it is actually about Goy-hatred that is intrinsic to the Jewish political discourse.
So here are some questions that demand immediate attention:
For many years we have been hearing about the heroic Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, we have also learned (from Jewish progressives) about Jewish ‘caring for the Other’, for ‘justice’ and for ‘equality’. How then, do we explain the clear discrepancy between the clear racism of the Jewish state and this Jewish ethical impulse? Furthermore, how can we explain the fact that Jewish Diaspora political institutions are amongst the leading advocates of pro-immigration policies yet, Israel. as MK Ben Ari states, is “not an immigration state” – it is actually an anti-immigration apparatus.
Here, we detect a clear discrepancy between the Jewish Diaspora phantasmic, progressive mantra which attributes humanist and universal ethics to Jewish politics, and the reality of the Jewish state that is, itself, racist to the bone.
It is understandable that Max Blumenthal, David Sheen and many Jewish Left persons and organisations are devastated by the scale of ‘new’ racism in Israel. But I ask myself, how would progressive Jews-only organisations such as JVP or IJAN react to 100.000 Sudanese attempting to join their ranks. Would they accept them? I think we all know the answer to that.
If Jews want to really oppose racism, they may want to consider cleansing their own political culture of any trace of exclusivism. But my guess is that, by the time they get round to this, they won’t be Jews anymore – they would have become ordinary people, they might even accomplish the early Zionist dream and become people like all other people.
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.”