Introduction by Gilad Atzmon — gilad.co.uk Sept 5, 2013
A few weeks ago some of us were rather amused to see Max Blumenthal, in conversation with Paul Jay (The Real News Network), deliver the usual anti-Zionist Zionist (AZZ) spiel. After the program many Palestinian solidarity and anti-war commentators were outraged and demanded that Jay provide me with a right to reply. So Jay approached me, asked to clarify a few issues and promised to come back to me shortly with an answer. I didn’t hold my breath because since the incident I had learned a little about Jay’s political affiliations and motivations.
Yesterday, he came back with his answer (see below) which he manages to stuff with a pile of confused and jumbled arguments that convey profound intellectual ignorance and are riven with a host of embarrassing contradictions. But one thing was for sure. Gilad Atzmon would not be appearing on Jay’s show. Why? Because, above all, Jay is a coward and must have realised that he doesn’t stand a chance of countering my ideas in front of a camera, not even in his own studio.
I define Jewish Power as the power to divert the attention from Jewish Power and Paul Jay clearly engages in just such an endeavour. In fact, my main contribution to this discourse is probably my capacity to expose this very power and the manner in which it is wielded (Actually, all I do is hand the microphone to my detractors and let their symptoms speak for themselves).
But Jay’s muddled text cries for attention because it is an invaluable glimpse into the deeply corrosive and dishonest attitude that currently contaminates Palestine solidarity, the anti-war movement and the entire peace movement.
Jay attempts to build his entire argument around the notion that I am an ‘anti Semite’ only to eventually admit that actually I am not. “Since the late 19th century the term (anti Semitism) has been used to mean hatred of Jews….Do I believe you (Gilad) hate all Jews? No. But your theory leads to that”
Well, I have some news for Jay & Co. ‘Theories’ do not hate, ideas do not kill, it is people who hate and people who kill. My ‘theories’ are there to enlighten people, including Jews. My ideas offer Jews, even the so-called progressive Jews such as Jay himself, an opportunity to self-reflect and, hopefully, to correct that which needs correction. But here we have a problem. As I explore in The Wandering Who, Jewish identity politics is a general state of blindness, a detached collective mind-set which Jay himself proudly exhibits. We know that the Israelis will accept no criticism and their Jewish so-called opponents react exactly the same. Time after time, they kill the messengers – or at least attempt to do so. This is why I am not at all angry with Jay, in fact I feel for him. He is trapped – metaphysically, spiritually and intellectually. Jay’s plight is the Jewish tragedy – a disastrous tale I explore fully in my writing. From a psychoanalytical perspective the man is in ‘denial’ and, like other progressive Jews, he, for the time being, resists therapy.
Now, before I let you read Jay own words, allow me to address some of his mistakes:
Jay fails to grasp the obvious distinction between ‘Judaism’ (the religion), ‘Jews’ (the people) and ‘Jewishness’ (the Ideology). In my work I concentrate on Jewish ideology and since I believe that every ideology and politics must be subject to criticism, this obviously includes Jewish identity politics. Jay, on the other hand, tries to block any criticism of Jewish politics and ideology. Is this because he believes that Jews are chosen? You be the judge.
Jay proclaims “the internalization of racism is not inherent in identifying ones cultural and ethnic roots as being Jewish, and to do so, is nothing uniquely Jewish.” Now, if Jay is correct, what is it that makes the ‘Jewish state’ Jewish? And what is it that makes JVP (Jewish Voice for peace) Jewish? Moreover, How many Goyim served as the secretary of JVP or ‘Jews for Justice’ in the last decade? Not one is the answer, and the reason has much to do with racial and ethnic qualification. Sooner or later even Jay will have to admit that by its very nature, Jewish politics is exclusivist.
Jay, who goes on for six pages about my criticism of Jewish politics, apparently doesn’t understand a thing about Judaism, Zionism and their relationship with Jewish textual heritage. For example he is particularly concerned my interpretation of the following Biblical verse: “Then when the Lord your God brings you to the land he promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you – a land with large, fine cities you did not build, houses filled with choice things you did not accumulate, hewn out cisterns you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – and you eat your fill.” Deuteronomy: Six: 10 –11. No one who reads the above can turn a blind eye to the continuum between the Biblical call for plunder, the Zionist project and the Israeli practice. But Jay simply attempts to smokescreen this glaring fact.
Interestingly enough, in my latest book The Wandering Who I try to rescue Judaism out of this continuum. But Jay, being a secular Jew, doesn’t want anyone to fiddle with his cultural heritage in spite of the fact that he himself is totally unfamiliar with any Jewish text, let alone its cultural meaning.
So here is the story Jay seems to miss: Judaism is not driven by the Torah – the Talmud is a central text of Judaism. It was actually Zionism that revised and revolutionized the relationship between Jews and their forming texts and made the Torah into its primary text. Hence, Biblical plunder is deeply rooted in the new Hebraic culture, Israeli politics and legislation, a topic about which Jay is obviously clueless which may explain his obvious fear of facing me on his show.
It takes six pages for Jay to spit out his banal, materialist, Marxist clichés regarding Israel and its origin. “Israeli state is a product and significant piece of the system of international capital”. But here is the problem Jay is unable to integrate into his system. Israel defines itself as “The Jewish State”, its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols and, as I write these lines, its Jewish Lobbies are pushing for, on its behalf, a war in Syria. And as if this were not enough, the Jewish progressive network invests all its energy in trying to stop us from discussing it at all. This is the reality Jay attempts to disguise. But he can’t. No one can, not anymore. If anything Jay’s conduct in this affair only reveals the destructive and sinister power of Zionism within media in general and within the anti war movement in particular.
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics, available on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk
Paul Jay to Gilad Atzmon
CC: Alison Weir, Harvie Branscomb Jeff Balnkfort, Monir Deeb Shahram Vahdany, Janet Mcmahon, Delinda C. Hanley, Paul Latudee and others
Dear Gilad, you asked for a chance to respond to Max Blumenthal’s accusation that your views are anti-Semitic. I promised to read some of your work and then reply. I’ve now read enough to give an answer.
First let me make a few things clear about my point of view.
I think any state based on religion or ethnicity is racist and inherently anti-democratic. Israel fits that bill, as do others.
I think the occupation of the West bank and siege of Gaza is illegal. In the brutal wars against the Palestinian people, Israel has committed countless war crimes.
If this was 1948, I would be opposed to the establishment of the State of Israel. A democratic, secular, inclusive state where everyone who was living on the territory of Palestine could become a citizen is what should have been created.
That is what should happen now. If Palestinians vote for a two-state solution that is their right, but it’s also their right to demand one-person one vote and thus transform the current Israeli state into a truly democratic one.
Now, let’s turn to your thesis.