By Gilad Atzmon
Max Blumenthal’s Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a good read: A personal journey of a young American righteous Jew who finds plenty of faults in other Jews in general and in The Jewish State in particular.
Blumenthal is a very good writer, his flow is fantastic. His delivery is overwhelmingly juicy on the verge of gossipy. He doesn’t pretend to be objective, precise or accurate. In the Kindle version I couldn’t find a single reference for any of the many quotes in the book. But who cares – precision and accuracy are not well appreciated within the contemporary progressive milieu. But this lack is far from posing a problem. It actually contributes to chronicle the journalistic account of contemporary Israel.
Blumenthal’s book is a powerful expose of Israeli exceptionalism, deep and sinister Goy hatred, Judeo-centric bigotry, supremacy and a vast collective lack of ethical awareness. But Blumenthal fails to ask the most important question: why is the Jewish State so bad? Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel suffers from an acute deficiency of theoretical and ideological depth or understanding. Through the entire book Blumenthal fails to present a single valid argument that explains why the Jewish State is such a horrid place. And if Zionism and the Jewish State are as bad as Blumenthal suggests, how is it possible that Zionism has become the political voice for the vast majority of world Jewry?
Blumenthal is entrenched within a restricted cliched progressive terminological trap. His universe is split by a set of binary oppositions: Zionist is bad / the ‘anti’ is good, ‘Right’ is vile / ‘Left’ is kosher. Colonialism is there to tag everything in a horrid light. When he runs out of superlatives, he pulls ‘Fascism’ out of the box.
But the truth of the matter is that this binary tagging procedure fails to explain a single thing. Zionism is not a colonial movement. Colonialism is defined as a clear material exchange between a ‘mother state’ and a ‘settler state.’ In the case of Israel and Zionism, we can clearly point at the ‘settlers’ but it is far from obvious who the ‘mother’ is. Right-wing ideology may be horrid, but in the history of Israel and Zionism it is actually the Leftist Zionists and Israelis who committed the most vile atrocities against the indigenous Palestinians. Fascism also doesn’t explain Israeli behaviour. If anything it is the resemblance with Nazism that may explain the biological determinist philosophy that drives israeli Judeo-centric politics and culture.
So what is it that motivates Blumenthal to write such an extended work that actually teaches us very little about the core problems? I believe that Blumenthal’s agenda is very simple: he is desperate to defame Israel and Zionism, which is totally reasonable, yet he also tries to vindicate the Jews as a collective, pointing at a few sporadic good Jews. This manipulative and dated strategy had been successful for a while, but it hardly helped the Palestinians. If anything, it diverted attention from the vast tribal operation that drives Israel, Zionism, as well as the Jewish dissidence.
In recent years it has become rather clear that the Jewish organisations that rally for Palestinians and their rights are, sadly enough, as exclusive and racially driven as the Jewish State which they allegedly oppose. I assume that no one expects a Palestinian to become the chairman of the pro-Palestinian Jewish Voice For Peace for the same reason that we are not going to see an Israeli Palestinian becoming Israel’s Prime Minister any time soon. The ‘progressive’ Jews-only organisations are, like Blumenthal, primarily dedicated to the fight against ‘anti-semitism’ and in practice are very quick to label legitimate criticism of Jewish politics and power as ‘anti-Jewish racism.’ In short, as Jeff Blankfort suggested recently, “Jewish anti Zionism has shown itself, for the most part, not to be a solution, but a continuation of the problem.”
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel came under a lot of criticism. Zionist book burners of all sorts discredited the book and its author. Nevertheless, Blumenthal may have learned the necessary lesson. Being himself a devoted book burner, he must know by now that It is actually the detractors who often transform a controversial text into a commercial success.
I really want Blumenthal’s book to succeed and be read widely. Being a theoretician, I do not have the time for any kind of field work. I establish a conceptual and intellectual framework with the hope that some would find the energy, the time and the the funds to gather the necessary evidence to support my theses. Whether Blumenthal understands it or not, this is exactly what he did in his latest book. He brilliantly though unwittingly managed to produce a pretty impressive journalistic account in support of my criticism of Jewish identity politics and tribal supremacy.
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics – available on Amazon.com & 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.”