Well, not much really…. Just that when you invite people who don’t consider each other to be “within the pale”, as British columnist David Aaronovitch said, then the discussion on anti-Semitism turns into character assassination.  

No one expected a calm discussion during the debate entitled “Anti-Semitism – Alive and Well in Europe?”, which was organised by the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. Along with Aaronovitch, the panel included Gilad Atzmon and the Observer columnist Nick Cohen. 

It’s not clear why Cohen was invited to join at the very last minute when his views, to the naked eye at least, are akin to those of Aaronovitch’s. It would be fair to describe both men as supporters of Zionism who believe that anti-Semitism is on the rise and that much of it is “unfairly” blamed on Israel’s actions. 

Atzmon’s views, on the other hand, are well-known to those who follow websites on Palestinian activism. He has very strong views on “Jewishness” and “Jewish identity”, and makes a clear distinction between Jews as a people and those who commit crimes in the name of “Jewish ideology”. 

Both Aaronovitch and Cohen launched an attack on Atzmon. Aaronovich took the podium for 18 minutes (when we were told each speaker would only have 10, and indeed Atzmon had less than 10) during which he gave a  theatrical performance, reading out paragraph after paragraph of Atzmon’s articles to prove the point that the man was “fascist”. I doubt anyone in the audience managed to grasp what he was saying, but when you spit out the word “Jews” then at least it gives the impression what you’re saying about them is bad! 

Cohen, other the hand, kept wondering, over and over again, why “upper-class”, “educated”, “white” people would waste such a beautiful spring day debating anti-Semitism with a “nutter” (well, at least I could say I learned something about racial and class prejudice that day!) 

One can imagine how shocked and angry Atzmon was by the time it was his turn to take the podium. And this is why the event became a missed opportunity. He  tried to steer the debate back to its theme, but at times his emotions failed him. In between having to answer to the attacks levelled against him by Aaronovitch and Cohen, and trying to remind people of what they came to discuss, much of his ideas were lost on those who’ve never followed his writings. 

Once the floor was opened for questions, a member of the audience said the discussion, as a whole, “was a profound disappointment”. 

So why did the Oxford Literary Festival invite Atzmon? After all, he’s the “proud self-hating Jew” who wonders how America has allowed its foreign policies to be shaped by “ruthless Zionists”. He’s the one who insists that the burning of synagogues is illegitimate, yet he believes the motivations behind such actions are political rather than religious or racial.

Cohen certainly conceded that whenever Israel launches a fresh attack on Gaza or Lebanon, synagogues and Jewish cemeteries are attacked in the UK. Yet somehow he refuses to accept the correlation between Zionist policies and anti-Semitism. He wants us to believe that anti-Semitism is fuelled by pure hatred for the Jews. After all, Chinese property wasn’t attacked in the aftermath of the Tibetan clashes last year. Sudanese property wasn’t attacked when Darfur was in the media. 

Well, Mr. Cohen, maybe it’s because China and Sudan are being condemned in the international community, especially in Britain, while Israel to this day is being hailed as the West’s indispensable partner. Maybe it’s because what Israel has committed in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead” earlier this year has created more devastation than what happened in Darfur (and this is according to the head of the International Red Cross). Maybe it’s because it is acceptable for British Jews to join the IDF, and actively take part in Israel’s wars, while British Muslims or Chinese or whatever would never dare join a non-British army. 

The response from some members of the “upper-middle class, educated, white” audience proved that these questions are not an endorsement of conspiracy theories. They are legitimate questions. 

One man raised the question of the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington. It was their pressure that led Obama to back down on his decision to appoint Mr. Freeman as an advisor, a man well-known for his criticism of Israel. “In those circumstances,” the man asked, “is a rise in anti-Semitism surprising when democracy is affected by that type of lobbying activity that prevents Obama from being able to appoint Ambassador Freeman?” 

We know what Atzmon would’ve said, but neither Aaronovitch nor Cohen answered that question. 

None of this justifies attacking synagogues or anti-Jewish graffiti. If anything, Atzmon – whom Aaronovitch and Cohen blasted as a “fascist” and a “nutter – was saying ordinary Jewish people “must be saved of the crimes imposed on them.” The crimes taking place in Palestine aren’t being committed just in the name of Israel, but in the name of the Jewish people. That’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s a fact. If you’re in doubt, go and read the Israeli government’s statements during Operation Cast Lead. 

Is it so outrageous to ask Jews in the UK to disassociate themselves from what is happening in Israel, without being labelled as an “anti-Semite”? Apparently it is. When people applauded Atzmon for making that point in the discussion, they were attacked by Aaronovitch who shouted “Shame on you! How dare you!”, even addressing one member in the audience by saying “You Sir, are an anti-Semite.”

In the aftermath of the July 7th attacks, Muslims were attacked everywhere. It became so dangerous that a fatwa had to be issued allowing women to take off the headscarf if they felt their lives were in danger. Yet at the same time, the Muslim community was under enormous pressure to disassociate itself from the terrorists who blew up those trains and busses. While they were being attacked themselves, they were still expected to make a clear statement that what happened on July 7th does not represent them and is not being committed in their name. 

Try and say that to the Jewish community today without being called an “anti-Semite”. 

Now I don’t want to ponder too much semantics but it is very ironic that anti-Semitism has been coined as a term exclusively for Jews when most of them do not belong to the Semitic race. Arabs, on the other hand, are Semitic. So if for one moment I, as an Arab, could reclaim that definition, I leave you with one point to think about. 

In the beginning of his speech, Aaronovitch wanted to illustrate just how bad Atzmon was. He quoted the Guardian’s Jon Lewis who described Atzmon’s writings as “extremely popular in the Arab world.” Aaronovitch then fixed his audience with a gaze and asked them to keep that sentence at the very front of their minds. 

On second thought, I think I did learn something about “anti-Semitism” that day. 

Dima Omar is a Palestinian journalist and filmmaker. She is based in London. 

To listen to David Aaronovitch reading Gilad Atzmon click here

To listen to David Aaronovitch’s tantrum click here

To Listen to Gilad Atzmon deconstructing antisemitism click here

To listen to Atzmon confronted with a outraged Jewish member of the audience click here
To listen to a disappointed member of the audience click here
To link to Aaronovitch confronted with a Jewish member of the audience click here
To listen to Aaronovitch’s closing remarks click here
To listen to Atzmon’s closing remarks  click here
  1. mary says:

    Thanks very much for this report. I wanted to go but went on the Stop the War Coalition rally at the US Embassy and march to Trafalgar Square. Many on the march were protesting about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

    This ‘debate’ seems to have been a Murdoch-style carve up of Gilad Atzmon outnumbered by two arch supporters of the Zionist terror state.

    It would be interesting to know if the event was well-attended.

  2. […] So what did we learn about anti-Semitism? By Dima Omar 2009 April 6 by kanan48 Palestine Think Tank. […]

  3. Good for Gilad! Anybody who knows Aaronovich would understand that he is incapable of discussion and prefers character assassination. Even his carefully selected out of context quotations failed to make his point and he had to rely on his own overemphasis on the words “Jew” and “Jewishness” as if they were abstract concepts. Not once did he attempt to deal with problems of Zionist ideology. This is no surprise for one who was equally at home with extreme Stalinist thinking as he is now with neo-conservatism. What a pity it is that he has missed the boat yet again with free market economics in free fall and his Zionist buddies all running for tax free bolt holes. His closeset allies now seem to the BNP, Israel’s newest friends and the crazy born again religious right in the USA baying daily for Israel’s punishment at the hands of god in the form of the Armaggeddon they all pray for. He has no shame. Being the political commentators’ equivalent of Ann Robinson, that is, paid for gratuitous abuse, is an occupation that pays well and when it gets down to it that is all the good David cares about.

  4. Shaukat says:

    If one read the Zionist literature from objective sources – one will find out that some of greatest anti-Semites have been Zionist Jews – including Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann, Lenni Brenner, Golda Meir, David Ben Gurion, etc.

    In Canada, we have columnist Eric Margolis – whose journalism career has been ruined by the powerful Jewish Lobby (CJC) for criticizing Israel and supporting some Muslim causes:


  5. […] one expected a calm discussion during the debate entitled “Anti-Semitism – Alive and Well in Europe?”, which was organised by the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. Along with Aaronovitch, the […]

  6. LanceThruster says:

    I doubt anyone in the audience managed to grasp what he was saying, but when you spit out the word “Jews” then at least it gives the impression what you’re saying about them is bad!


    This is so true. As a non-Jew, it is often hard to even bring the term up in discussion as the mere mention of it seems to invite accusations of bigotry. I am sorry that Gilad had to waste time on trying to deflect that criticism as most everything I’ve read of Mr. Atzmon’s in context seems supported by the facts (certainly worthy of discussion, at the very least).

    Maybe Gilad should have ready a list of Zionist quotes that could be hung around the necks of pro-Zionists like an albatross.

  7. The Saker says:


    What books/sources would you recommend to support that there is no “Jewish racial continuum”? That is something which I personally hold as evidently true by common sense, but which is very much disputed. See here:




  8. bozh says:

    we who negate Israel’s existence , do so because we do not want ever to reward ash’m with a state after their numerous crimes have been comitted against a defensless people who lived in the region for at least 7T yrs.
    once these land robbers call us names, it proves that we are right. labeling people this and that comes froma wretched, broken soul and they do not emanate from facts on the ground.

    to retain or reacquire calm, it is useful to remember the truth: labeling starts from s’mthing inside a person and not s’mthing outside the person.

    and also, we can only be against what person does or says; thus that is what we are against. let’s be proud of our work against israeli crimes against all of us. tnx

  9. Ha! Ha! Ha!….I just caught up with this and enjoyed the discussion.
    I don’t think Atzmon could be more clear if he tried. Who do you prefer,
    the snivelling pundits Aaronowitz and Cohen who support genocide, ethnic and
    cleansing and international war crimes and crimes against humanity
    in the name of their Jewishness and Islamophobia, or an Israeli
    musician from who dissociates from all this stuff and, in the words
    of the song, tells it like it is?

    When I don’t agree with Atzmon I say so. Here he clearly dissociates himself from
    all types of racism. Good quote from the Pocket Oxford Dictionary, Gilad.

    Disgusting. Jew Hatred is one thing, and exists because we live in a nominally
    Christian country with a long history of anti-Judaism and Judaeophobia, and like all
    hatred we should expose and fight it.

    Postmodern anti-semitism is another, and is a confection with a clear agenda of its own.
    People whose agenda is exposed have tantrums like Aaronovitch. What else can he do
    when his ideological clothes are removed except holler in rage at his public nakedness?

    Paul Grenville.

  10. Mary Rizzo says:

    you are right Lance, and if you listened to the audio stream, it is amazing that this Aaronovitch thought a circus trick like that could even work. When it didn’t, and he started screaming at people to stop applauding, pointing at them, calling them names, it not only dropped the mask, but it simply pointed out a kind of behaviour that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any kind of debate, and I live in Italy, where the debates are VERY lively and can get into levels of volume that are annoying, but to actually try to silence people who are clapping, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like that before.

    Furthermore, the whole arrangement looked very creepy. 18 minutes for the first speaker, 9 minutes for the last one! At that point, they should have not kept Gilad to a 10 minute intervention, but let him continue another 9. The moderator should not have allowed the character assassination in the first place. But, as usual, Gilad manages to come out well in these things. It’s the force of the argument. When you are not climbing on mountains of lies, you don’t have to remember a strategy, you just say what you have to say.

  11. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville

    yes, aren’t those “snivelling pundits” sickening? The style, the content, all of it fails completely. And, they did not even prepare for the debate that was mentioned, just had the guys at HP draw up a list of quotes they thought would shock,,,, but don’t!

    Agreed, that Oxford Dictionary quote was a touch of genius, very good and very appropriate intervention.

  12. And in case anyone is any doubt about the ideological heir of Irgun leader and former Israeli PM Menachem Begin, here is current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaking in 1989:

     “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”

    Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.

    And here is the architect of the explosion at the King David Hotel himself (deaths in excess of 88, including 15 Jews):

    “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

    — Menachem Begin, the day after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine.

    Menachem Begin Prime Minister of Israel 1977 – 1983

    Begin is not the only terrorist PM of Israel. We may add the names of Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Shamir, operational commander of the Stern gang which killed UN mediator Count Bernadotte.

  13. Kalidas says:

    So then, there were NO Semites debating here? Neither Atzmon, Cohen nor Aaronovitch are Semites.
    Is this correct?

  14. Gilad says:

    @The Saker

    In fact Shlom Sands’ book will be the best possible source… as far as i am aware it will be available in English soon…

    for the time being you can look at this



  15. Gilad says:

    @The Saker

    Sorry meant Shlomo Sand

  16. Meanwhile it’s been available in French for the past six months, price 23 Euros. “Comment le peuple juif fut inventé” Schlomo Sand, publisher Fayard.

    Meanwhile there’s this, from the English edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, an invaluable source for current affairs:

    Israel deliberately forgets its history

    An Israeli historian suggests the diaspora was the consequence, not of the expulsion of the Hebrews from Palestine, but of proselytising across north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East

    By Schlomo Sand

    Every Israeli knows that he or she is the direct and exclusive descendant of a Jewish people which has existed since it received the Torah (1) in Sinai. According to this myth, the Jews escaped from Egypt and settled in the Promised Land, where they built the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon, which subsequently split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They experienced two exiles: after the destruction of the first temple, in the 6th century BC, and of the second temple, in 70 AD.

    Two thousand years of wandering brought the Jews to Yemen, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Poland and deep into Russia. But, the story goes, they always managed to preserve blood links between their scattered communities. Their uniqueness was never compromised.

    At the end of the 19th century conditions began to favour their return to their ancient homeland. If it had not been for the Nazi genocide, millions of Jews would have fulfilled the dream of 20 centuries and repopulated Eretz Israel, the biblical land of Israel. Palestine, a virgin land, had been waiting for its original inhabitants to return and awaken it. It belonged to the Jews, rather than to an Arab minority that had no history and had arrived there by chance. The wars in which the wandering people reconquered their land were just; the violent opposition of the local population was criminal.

    This interpretation of Jewish history was developed as talented, imaginative historians built on surviving fragments of Jewish and Christian religious memory to construct a continuous genealogy for the Jewish people. Judaism’s abundant historiography encompasses many different approaches.

    But none have ever questioned the basic concepts developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Discoveries that might threaten this picture of a linear past were marginalised. The national imperative rejected any contradiction of or deviation from the dominant story. University departments exclusively devoted to “the history of the Jewish people”, as distinct from those teaching what is known in Israel as general history, made a significant contribution to this selective vision. The debate on what constitutes Jewishness has obvious legal implications, but historians ignored it: as far as they are concerned, any descendant of the people forced into exile 2,000 years ago is a Jew.

    Nor did these official investigators of the past join the controversy provoked by the “new historians” from the late 1980s. Most of the limited number of participants in this public debate were from other disciplines or non-academic circles: sociologists, orientalists, linguists, geographers, political scientists, literary academics and archaeologists developed new perspectives on the Jewish and Zionist past. Departments of Jewish history remained defensive and conservative, basing themselves on received ideas. While there have been few significant developments in national history over the past 60 years (a situation unlikely to change in the short term), the facts that have emerged face any honest historian with fundamental questions.

    Founding myths shaken

    Is the Bible a historical text? Writing during the early half of the 19th century, the first modern Jewish historians, such as Isaak Markus Jost (1793-1860) and Leopold Zunz (1794-1886), did not think so. They regarded the Old Testament as a theological work reflecting the beliefs of Jewish religious communities after the destruction of the first temple. It was not until the second half of the century that Heinrich Graetz (1817-91) and others developed a “national” vision of the Bible and transformed Abraham’s journey to Canaan, the flight from Egypt and the united kingdom of David and Solomon into an authentic national past. By constant repetition, Zionist historians have subsequently turned these Biblical “truths” into the basis of national education.

    But during the 1980s an earthquake shook these founding myths. The discoveries made by the “new archaeology” discredited a great exodus in the 13th century BC. Moses could not have led the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land, for the good reason that the latter was Egyptian territory at the time. And there is no trace of either a slave revolt against the pharaonic empire or of a sudden conquest of Canaan by outsiders.

    Nor is there any trace or memory of the magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon. Recent discoveries point to the existence, at the time, of two small kingdoms: Israel, the more powerful, and Judah, the future Judea. The general population of Judah did not go into 6th century BC exile: only its political and intellectual elite were forced to settle in Babylon. This decisive encounter with Persian religion gave birth to Jewish monotheism.
    Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.
    Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea (2).

    Proselytising zeal

    But if there was no exile after 70 AD, where did all the Jews who have populated the Mediterranean since antiquity come from? The smokescreen of national historiography hides an astonishing reality. From the Maccabean revolt of the mid-2nd century BC to the Bar Kokhba revolt of the 2nd century AD, Judaism was the most actively proselytising religion. The Judeo-Hellenic Hasmoneans forcibly converted the Idumeans of southern Judea and the Itureans of Galilee and incorporated them into the people of Israel. Judaism spread across the Middle East and round the Mediterranean. The 1st century AD saw the emergence in modern Kurdistan of the Jewish kingdom of Adiabene, just one of many that converted.

    The writings of Flavius Josephus are not the only evidence of the proselytising zeal of the Jews. Horace, Seneca, Juvenal and Tacitus were among the Roman writers who feared it. The Mishnah and the Talmud (3) authorised conversion, even if the wise men of the Talmudic tradition expressed reservations in the face of the mounting pressure from Christianity.

    Although the early 4th century triumph of Christianity did not mark the end of Jewish expansion, it relegated Jewish proselytism to the margins of the Christian cultural world. During the 5th century, in modern Yemen, a vigorous Jewish kingdom emerged in Himyar, whose descendants preserved their faith through the Islamic conquest and down to the present day. Arab chronicles tell of the existence, during the 7th century, of Judaised Berber tribes; and at the end of the century the legendary Jewish queen Dihya contested the Arab advance into northwest Africa. Jewish Berbers participated in the conquest of the Iberian peninsula and helped establish the unique symbiosis between Jews and Muslims that characterised Hispano-Arabic culture.
    The most significant mass conversion occurred in the 8th century, in the massive Khazar kingdom between the Black and Caspian seas. The expansion of Judaism from the Caucasus into modern Ukraine created a multiplicity of communities, many of which retreated from the 13th century Mongol invasions into eastern Europe. There, with Jews from the Slavic lands to the south and from what is now modern Germany, they formed the basis of Yiddish culture (4).

    Prism of Zionism

    Until about 1960 the complex origins of the Jewish people were more or less reluctantly acknowledged by Zionist historiography. But thereafter they were marginalised and finally erased from Israeli public memory. The Israeli forces who seized Jerusalem in 1967 believed themselves to be the direct descendents of the mythic kingdom of David rather than – God forbid – of Berber warriors or Khazar horsemen. The Jews claimed to constitute a specific ethnic group that had returned to Jerusalem, its capital, from 2,000 years of exile and wandering.

    This monolithic, linear edifice is supposed to be supported by biology as well as history. Since the 1970s supposedly scientific research, carried out in Israel, has desperately striven to demonstrate that Jews throughout the world are closely genetically related.

    Research into the origins of populations now constitutes a legitimate and popular field in molecular biology and the male Y chromosome has been accorded honoured status in the frenzied search for the unique origin of the “chosen people”. The problem is that this historical fantasy has come to underpin the politics of identity of the state of Israel. By validating an essentialist, ethnocentric definition of Judaism it encourages a segregation that separates Jews from non-Jews – whether Arabs, Russian immigrants or foreign workers.

    Sixty years after its foundation, Israel refuses to accept that it should exist for the sake of its citizens. For almost a quarter of the population, who are not regarded as Jews, this is not their state legally. At the same time, Israel presents itself as the homeland of Jews throughout the world, even if these are no longer persecuted refugees, but the full and equal citizens of other countries.

    A global ethnocracy invokes the myth of the eternal nation, reconstituted on the land of its ancestors, to justify internal discrimination against its own citizens. It will remain difficult to imagine a new Jewish history while the prism of Zionism continues to fragment everything into an ethnocentric spectrum. But Jews worldwide have always tended to form religious communities, usually by conversion; they cannot be said to share an ethnicity derived from a unique origin and displaced over 20 centuries of wandering.
    The development of historiography and the evolution of modernity were consequences of the invention of the nation state, which preoccupied millions during the 19th and 20th centuries. The new millennium has seen these dreams begin to shatter.

    And more and more academics are analysing, dissecting and deconstructing the great national stories, especially the myths of common origin so dear to chroniclers of the past.

    Shlomo Sand is professor of history at Tel Aviv university and the author of Comment le people juif fut inventé (Fayard, Paris, 2008)

  17. […] WH put an intriguing blog post on Comment on Dima Omar – So what did we learn about anti-Semitism? by Paul…Here’s a quick excerptMeanwhile it’s been available in French for the past six months, price 23 Euros. “Comment le peuple juif fut inventé” Schlomo Sand, publisher Fayard. Meanwhile there’s this, from the English edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, an invaluable source for current affairs: … […]

  18. @Gilad & Paul: thanks! I will get the book in French. Cheers!

  19. Kalidas says:

    @Gilad – Thank you for your reply.

  20. Kalidas says:

    Another work, also not available in English, is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Two Hundred Years Together.”
    Rather odd these epic works are not yet available in English. Or perhaps it’s not odd at all..

  21. Shaukat says:

    Originally Posted By KalidasSo then, there were NO Semites debating here? Neither Atzmon, Cohen nor Aaronovitch are Semites.
    Is this correct?

    Any Palestinian could be more Semite than all the 13.5 million world Jews put together – who are either Berbers or Khazar Turks.

  22. Learned says:

    We learned that atzmon is an antisemite and that aside from his few supporters no one cares about him.

  23. The Saker says:

    @Kalidas: yes, “200 years together” is an amazing, extremely interesting and well-researched book which makes its point using only Jewish sources. I read it in Russian when it came out, but I believe that it has already come out in French too. If no authorized translation is made into English, I am quite certain that the text will simply pop-up on the Internet for anyone to download.

    The funny thing about Solzhenitsyn which is now accused of being anti-Jewish is that the bad old KGB was spreading rumors that is real name was “Solzhenitser” and that he was, crime of crimes, a Jew himself (not true). Then the Russian xenophobes wrote that his (2nd) wife, Natalia, also had some Jewish roots (true) and that made him a “philosemite”. Now he is labeled as anti-Semitic by the Zionists and their press….

    Just goes to show how inevitably stupid all racists are :-)

  24. Kalidas says:

    @The Saker – Anyone who is accused by both opposing factions is usually, like a cynic, right nine times out of ten.
    And what was the point Solzhenitsyn made, using Jewish sources exclusively?

  25. @Kalidas: Solzhenitsyn wrote a comprehensive history of Jews in Russia and in the Soviet Union. In the process he did expose some of the mythology such as the (in)famous pogroms and the role the government allegedly had in them. He also looked at the history of Jewish involvement in the Bolshevik movement. His basic thesis is that Jews and Russians need to stop living on myths about each other and begin a coexistence based on an objective reading of history in which both sides take an honest and hard look at the past.

    “200 years together” is really an addendum to Solzhenitsyn’s monumental “Gulag Archipelago” which he could only publish once back in his own country and, therefore, free from external pressures.


  26. Kalidas says:

    To answer the question: “So what did we learn about anti-Semitism?” I’d say what I’ve learned is there are a few Israelis, seemingly a small minority, who are not anti-Semites.
    Gilad Atzmon among them.

  27. […] will_fox added an interesting post today on Comment on Dima Omar – So what did we learn about anti-Semitism? by The…Here’s a small reading@Kalidas: yes, “200 years together” is an amazing, extremely interesting and well-researched book which makes its point using only Jewish sources. I read it in Russian when it came out, but I believe that it has already come out in French too. If no authorized translation is made into English, I… […]

  28. Marwan says:

    I just checked online and that book by Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, is available for pre-order on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.ca/dp/1844674223 (Canada)
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1844674223 (USA)
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1844674223 (UK / Europe)

    Just thought i’d share :-)

  29. Maju says:

    Oh, man! Would some nazi zionist dare to accuse me of being antisemitic, I would probably stand in anger and reply: “You are the antisemite here, sir, or are Palestinians not Semites?”

    Today Antisemitism is synonim with Zionism: it’s hatred and genocide against Palestinians, who by the way, are probably much more Jewish by ancestry than the so-called Jews themselves, at least Ashkenazi ones (a mix of ancient Hellenic Anatolians, Khazars and Central Europeans, maybe with a drop or two of Palestinian/ture Jewish ancestry). Those people should assume that they are standard Europeans (or in other cases Arabs, Berbers, Ethiopians, Indians…) of a minority sect and not any distinct “race” and that certainly they can only have a mythical claim to Palestine and not any historical right whatsoever in that land.

  30. I want to make it a matter of public record that I have apologised to David Aaronowitz by email for calling him a “snivelling pundit”. I do not know David, I have never read his articles, and I do not know what his views are. In any case it was completely unwarranted on my part to descend to personal abuse on the basis of listening to a recording. If he had distinguished between institutional anti-semitism, which does not exist in England, personal judaeophobia (fear and hatred of Jews as a collective), and anti-Judaism (characterisation of Judaism as a genocidal ideology, and hatred of Jews by Christians on the basis of their religion, and the resulting pogroms in, for example, Tsarist Russia) he might have made some headway in the debate, and demonstrated that Gilad exhibits reactionary views on race where his own ethnic group is concerned.

    I won’t call Gilad an anti-semite because the term itself is totally redundant. The term anti-semitism appeared in the language at the same time as Zionism; in the late nineteenth century. The two are connected. But judaeophobic, yes, on the evidence. I do not care for this attitude in him at all. But I am not into name calling. That is why I apologised to David.

    If David had been prepared to acknowledge that Gilad talks a great deal of sense about the behaviour of his native land, he might have been to distinguish the sense from the nonsense in Gilad’s oeuvre. But it would have taken a great deal more than ten minutes, or even the eighteen that David took to read out his potted quotations. If we characterise Christianity on the basis of its adherents’ behaviour in the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, we can with reason call it a genocidal ideology. If we characterise Judaism on the basis of the last two chapters of the Torah and selected statements from the Talmud, we can also correctly characterise it as a religion that advocates hate and genocide.

    Yet in neither of these two monotheisms is that the whole story: religion is always two sided. Judaism has also given us law and psychoanalysis: both are in a direct line of descent from the Talmud. In Yuri Slezkine’s reading of history (The Jewish Century), Judaism has also given us modernity. If secular Jews wish to resist Zionism as Jews, I have never had a problem with this. Gilad has, and his calling the Jews a “racially orientated group” does not alleviate the problem of his own essentialist reading of Jewishness. In my view Gilad is not a consistent thinker: he is primarily a brilliant composer of great jazz, an artist and a fantastic saxophonist.

    This is his gift to the world.

    He uses it to serve the liberation of the Palestinian people from Zionism. Fantastic. I’m right behind him. The man’s an inspiration. I don’t care for Gilad’s politics at all but his heart is where it should be.

    All the other stuff is secondary. In my view Gilad does stray into the territory of judaeophobia and anti-Judaism; and occasionally he does not. Jews are not connected by blood and soil to Palestine; in the Heideggerian reading the Palestinians are (see Ariella Atzmon’s article “Homeland as the Gift of Destiny: Homecoming between dwelling and settling” for the full Heideggerian treatment), but what does it matter? Why should it even be an issue? Vikings once conquered England; they brought their Norse ways and their Norse religion.

    If ancestrally you come from the East of my country you will have Norse genes in your makeup. Eventually the Jews in the Middle East will hybridise with Palestinians, or leave; this apartness is temporary, this racist supremacism is temporary, and it is the result of European colonialism a century too late. That is why in the larger scheme of things Israel does not stand a chance. It is the Johnny Come Lately of European imperialism, and it will leave the stage quite soon. We just have to help it on its way, and identify and support those forces that will help it on its way.

    Blood and soil are not the issue in Palestine; they never have been. We shall get sidetracked by issues of ethnicity, fascinating though they are. Conquest, colonialism, injustice and inequality are. The ideology described in Sven Lindqwist’s book Exterminate All The Brutes is alive and active in Palestine. Genocide is not Jewish; it is European, and Israel was founded by European colonialist Jews. We have just seen its results in Gaza. Zionism is a colonial ideology of capitalism; and so is Nazism. Hitler’s originality was that he fought a colonial war in the heart of Europe, and the Jews were its target. Hitler simply brought home what Leopold II of Belgium had done in the Congo almost a century earlier after the humiliation of Germany by the Allies at the end of the First World War and the defeat of the popular classes in the Weimar Republic. Following the defeat of Hitler this ideology was exported in its full genocidal glory to Palestine, with the full support of the international power elite; Stalin, Truman and Churchill.

    Let us focus on power and its abuse rather than on ethnicity; let us focus on a class analysis of Zionism and the Middle East. The Palestinians have allies; we saw it in the mass demonstrations in Egypt during the invasion of Gaza. Let us look beyond Palestine for destruction of Zionism to the peoples enslaved under the yoke of corrupt Arab plutocracies, whether monarchies or secular dictatorships, beholden to and dependent upon US and EU imperialism. When these peoples liberate themselves, as they shall, Zionism does not stand a chance; it will fall, as all empires do, under the demand for liberty and self-determination.

    Now it’s time for breakfast! Thanks for a great website, Palestine Thinktank!

  31. The Saker says:

    @Paul: hatred of Jews by Christians on the basis of their religion, and the resulting pogroms in, for example, Tsarist Russia

    I am sorry to say that you have got your facts wrong. This entire “Pogroms” business is what I call a “rehersal” for the “Holocaust” narrative: it serves as a purpose to obscure some other issues (such as the role Jews played in the Bolshevik movement in general and in its Trotskist branch in particular). Besides, it is also factually incorrect.

    I understand that challenging the nature or reality of the (in)fanmous “Pogroms” is a thought crime second only to doing so with the “Holocaust” so rather than substantiate my point I will simply refer you to the first volume of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “200 years together” which was already mentioned in this thread.

    I would only say that to anyone with even a basic understanding of Marxism the nature of what really happened during the so-called “Pogroms” is immediately understandable: it is very much similar to the 14th cenntury French “Jacqueries” rather than to an act of violence based on religious bigotry (“hatred of Jews by Christians”). As a matter of fact, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Imperial government had nothing to do with these events, other than the fact that they totally condemned them and tried to stop them.

    Also, note that the pogroms all took place in what is today Moldavia and the Ukraine and never in Russia proper. Even more interestingly, many pogroms took place during the Russian Civil War in areas controlled by the Reds and some were even committed by Red units (and thus no “Tsarist” or “Christians” were involved in these). What do you think that is?

    Anti-Jewish acts of violence, some of them truly appalling ones, did really take place. Just as the Nazis did their very best to exterminate as many Jews as they could. But both the “Pogroms” and the “Holocaust” have long left the realm of history to become a reallying call in the realm of ideology. They are always used, along with the “Protocols” by Zionist Jews to obfuscate, distrort, conceal and otherwise manipulate any discussion which risks to become unbearably logical and fact-based.

  32. ByTheWay says:

    @Paul Grenville – I haven’t read such a big heap of nonsense for a long long time…

  33. I’m fine with facts. I do not know the whole story. I do not read Russian, but French and Spanish.
    I did not know about Reds’ pogroms against Jews. I would have to see that substantiated. Most
    peculiar and it makes little sense. In general Jews fared well under Bolshevism, as they did after
    the French Revolution. As for the Nazi genocide of the Untermenschen, these were Poles, Slavs
    in general, Jews and Roma, plus gays. The greatest number of deaths due to Nazism were among
    Slavs. Jews were second numerically speaking. Jews flocked to Bolshevism for obvious reasons, and
    just look at how many revolutionary figures have been Jews: Marx, Spinoza, Freud to start with. Of course
    the genocides are used as an ideological buttress for the Zionist state: so what? One would expect it.
    Gilad clearly stated to me once in an email that while he agreed with Hitler’s diagnosis he disagreed with his methods. He has the advantage of having read Mein Kampf. I have not. So what is the diagnosis exactly? The Jews as a disease in the body politic, as vermin, as lice? Where have I heard this kind of language before? When Zionist Jews talk about the Palestinians it is exactly the same kind of language: they are
    “cockroaches”, etc. All those who believe that Hitler has something to offer the world in the form of a diagnosis of “Judaeobolshevism” should read Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism by Michael Parenti to get some perspective on what fascism actually was, and what it wasn’t.

    Zionist Jews talk about Palestininas it is exactly the same kind of language

  34. @Paul: I’m fine with facts. I do not know the whole story. I do not read Russian, but French and Spanish. I did not know about Reds’ pogroms against Jews. I would have to see that substantiated. Most
    peculiar and it makes little sense. In general Jews fared well under Bolshevism, as they did after
    the French Revolution.

    The thing is that while some Jews in the Ukraine were poor, other were not, at least not when compared to the Ukrainian peasants. This is why all pogroms had a strong class-struggle component both before and after the Revolution. True, many Jews did well in the Bolshevik Party, but the influence of that party was more felt in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and other Russian cities. In the Ukraine, a great deal of anarcho-socialist parties existed, some with Ukrainian nationalist agendas, and a lot of the anti-Jewish pogroms under the Reds were simply seen by them as popular anti-bourgeois resistance operations. Again, this was very much like the Jacqueries. Since you read French, may I point you to this:


    Kind regards,

    The Saker

  35. 27 Euros! Plus postage from France. And I haven’t read Schlomo Sand yet in French,
    though I have it. Schlomo Sand supports the Jewish state, by the way. I saw an interview of
    his in Télérama in French. He said even the child of a rape has a right to survive. Yeah, right.

    Vineyardsaker’s last remark made sense to me. Zionism also germinated in the
    Pale of Settlement among better off Jews. See Chaim Weizmann’s Trial and Error,
    a copy of which I have. I would like to know more about Makhnov.

    We should not even use the term Holocaust, which means “totally burnt”, even less so the Hebrew word Shoah, which suggests subliminally that the solution is Israel. The neutral term is Nazi genocides, which restores plurality, and limits them in time and to a particular social formation. Nazism’s purpose was to restore the profitability of big business by crushing the organisations of the German working class and driving down wages after the slump 1929-33, and by militarising the economy and putting it on a war footing. I am not clear what the purpose of the genocides was, or how rational this was in terms of the German economy.

    Judaeophobia was a mobilising tool in the Weimar republic against Communism. Clearly the ultraleftism of Stalin’s Third period of the Comintern, in which Social Democrats were seen as fascists, played a role in the victory of Hitler and the eventual triumph of Zionism, an outcome of the triumph and eventual defeat of Hitlerism. Stalin had his own national autonomy experiment with the Jews in Birobidzhan, a bit of Eastern Siberia on the seaboard and near China which accepted 100,000 Soviet Jews, and supported the partition of Palestine, giving recognition to the Jewish state. Stirring up the masses did not work in every European country within the orbit of Nazism; see The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria’s Jews Survived the Holocaust by Tzvetan Todorov and Arthur Denner on the case of the Bulgarian Jews, none of whom were transported, but remained in Bulgaria throughout the war. Garaudy’s Mythical Foundations of Israeli Policy
    (I have an English copy: the French appears to be unobtainable thanks to French political correctness concerning the Nazi genocides) points out that by far the most popular destination for Jews fleeing Nazism was the Soviet Union, second was the United States, and a very poor third was Palestine.

    I cannot prove it, but I suspect Zionism needed a partial genocide of the Jews in order to triumph. What a propaganda gift for the Jewish state as well. There were certainly instances of collaboration between Zionist Jews and Nazis. Eichmann learned Yiddish, went to Palestine in 1937, and declared that if he were Jewish he would have been a fervent Zionist. The common thread is the Zionists’ diagnosis that the Jews suffered from a neurasthenic disease that only a national movement would cure in a return to the land of Palestine (Max Nordau), and the view of the Nazis that Jews were vermin infecting the body politic, and needed to be cleansed out of Europe. The defeat of the German working class meant that the cure could be put into operation, and ensured the successful birth of the progeny of Nazism, with the collaboration of the British ruling class, Zionism.

    My point about Gilad is not to have a pop at him; but to suggest that jazz and this website are his greatest contributions to the Palestine liberation movement, not his cloudy Heideggerian lucubrations and sallies into postmodernism as in his article on The Wandering Who? As for his politics, it’s clear that no-one will touch him now, not the Indymedia anarchists, and certainly not the SWP. The Morning Star carried a feature on his music recently, so perhaps it’s the Stalinists’ turn.

  36. Maju says:

    I cannot prove it, but I suspect Zionism needed a partial genocide of the Jews in order to triumph. What a propaganda gift for the Jewish state as well.

    That is just obvious. The handful of Zionists needed such a catastrophe to happen, because most Jews just wanted to “be normal”, to assimilate. The religious barriers of the ancien regime had fallen and they felt as German, French, Polish, Russian, etc. more than “Jews”, when they were not outright humanist internationalists, like so many bolsheviks.

    Hitler in fact flirted with them: he wanted to get rid of Jews, so Zionism or a rather tamed variant of it was a reasonable solution. The nazis considered creating Jewish deportation colonies in places like Uganda or Madagascar in fact.

    But whatever the case, before 1939 there were only 10% Jews in Palestine, mostly native Arab Jews. In 1946, they were 33%! The Holocaust mobilized European Jews en masse towards the Zionist dream. Nightmare for the natives – but nobody cared much about “natives” yet at that time in fact, a time when black people were still discriminated against nearly everywhere, and that real racism applied in fact to every non-European, with almost no exceptions. It was only in the decades to come that cutural and political racism began to be challenged seriously. You still find such hidden racist prejudices in “perfectly normal” people born in the 40s: you think they are normal, rather liberal, humanist… and then they say despectively “but they are negroes!” – and you just can’t but think: poor idiot!

    Zionists also jumped to that cart and in fact they used to call Palestinians “negroes”, as to dehumanize them sybolically, depriving them of rights in their own European racist imperialist minds, not so different from Hitler’s after all.

  37. A Syrian colleague has informed me that Hitler regarded Arabs in the same light as Jews. No surprises there then. The twentieth century has witnessed two types of genocides; passive genocide due to excess mortality and an economy hostile to human needs, and active, industrialised genocide of ethnic groups. The genocide of Palestinians is largely a passive genocide: the Palestinian economy is not allowed to function; it is stifled. Gideon Polya estimates the excess mortality of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank at 300,000. At times it moves into an active phase, during Israel’s military rampages. Gaza is a stain on the conscience of the West, and shows the complicity of our media with genocide. The Nazi genocide of Jews (casualties 5.1 million according to Raul Hilberg, or around 80% of Europe’s Jews) and other groups (7 million, including 3 million Poles) and so, possibly, was Stalin’s Gulag, which led to the deaths of between 900,000 and 1,000,000 Soviet citizens according to the latest Russian research. The largest passive genocide of the twentieth century was during the restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s: excess mortality in the area occupied by the former Soviet Union was 15,000,000. Russia has an ongoing demographic crisis; its population is shrinking. I refer people to the blogger Robert Lindsay for more. And to Gideon Polya.

    I sent the following to Aaronowitz, or Aaronowitch, something I wrote for a local website. He says he is a non-Zionist. He grew up in a Communist family. He did not reply. He is some kind of neoliberal. I never read his journalism.

    Why Boycott Israel
    By Paul Grenville

    “In the past the world knew how to fight criminal policies. The boycott on South Africa
    was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing,
    academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support.
    This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable
    Israeli violence.

    We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of
    the brutal occupation. We call on the world to condemn and not become an
    accomplice in Israel’s crimes.”

    The above is part of a document signed by leading Israeli artists, writers and
    intellectuals and ordinary citizens during the war on Gaza and published on January
    7th 2009. It is not the first (see http://www.matzpun.org.) Matzpun is the Hebrew word for
    conscience. This IS a matter of conscience. If you knowingly buy Israeli goods you
    are complicit with the war crimes of the Israeli state. If you unknowingly buy Israeli
    goods now is the time to inform yourself, now is the time to stop. Not buying Israeli
    goods is ethical shopping.

    Palestinian organizations have been calling for the boycott of Israeli goods for years.
    We should finally listen. The war on Gaza was not fought against an army, but
    against the civilian population with the most modern, deadly and in some cases
    illegal weapons. 1434 civilians died and over 5,000 were injured. Over 300 children

    Gaza does not have an army. Gaza does not have an airforce. Gaza is an
    overcrowded strip of land bordering Egypt, contains nearly one and a half million
    Palestinians, many of whom are the descendants of those who fled southwards in
    1948, driven out by the Jewish militias, an illegal act of ethnic cleansing,
    accompanied by massacres of unarmed civilians in Tantura, Deir Yassin and other
    villages, over 400 of which were then razed to the ground.

    Israel has not changed its nature in the intervening years since its foundation in
    1948. Schools, hospitals and police stations in Gaza were repeatedly targeted by the
    Israeli Air Force in January. Israeli soldiers confronted and killed unarmed civilians in
    their houses. Shells containing white phosphorous, an illegal weapon which burns
    human flesh down to the bone, were dropped on a UN school. A UN compound
    containing provisions and supplies for Palestinians, which repeatedly contacted the
    Israeli army beforehand, was shelled and set on fire. These are war crimes. Illegal
    Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME for short) weapons were used in Gaza. These
    weapons shred the body and sheer off limbs leaving a stump that does not bleed.
    They are illegal. What is more, the killing goes on since the ceasefire. Gaza is now a
    killing field.

    Gazan civilians cannot leave their cage. Gaza has been blockaded for three years.
    The blockade is illegal in International Law. The Palestinians of Gaza are
    malnourished for want of food. They continue to die for want of access to hospital
    treatment. Over 99% of Gazan children examined by psychiatrist Dr Khalid Dahlan
    have suffered trauma. Gaza is not allowed to trade. Gazan fisherman are not
    allowed to fish.

    The remains of the Gazan economy have been destroyed by the
    Israeli bombing. Antiquated sewerage systems have been smashed by the bombing.
    The water is not safe to drink. What is the word that describes Israel’s treatment of
    Gaza? If you are in any doubt check out this article by a Jewish Israeli historian, Ilan
    Pappé, at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6374.shtml If you knowingly buy
    Israeli goods you are supporting this. Who can defend this? What am I talking about
    here? Ask yourself.

    Things are not much better in the Palestinian West Bank, illegally occupied for 41
    years by the Israeli army. Unemployment is 70% among the 3.1 million Palestinians
    there. Over 40% of the best Palestinian land on the West Bank has been illegally
    confiscated for illegal Jewish settlements. The illegal Jewish settlers bear arms and
    harrass and kill Palestinians constantly. 500,000 of them now live on illegally
    confiscated Palestinian land. The Israeli settlements pipe their sewage directly onto
    Palestinian farmland.

    No Palestinian is allowed to bear arms, unless he is working
    for the Israel state. There is no legal recourse for the Palestinians, either for the
    killings or for the land confiscations. A wall snakes across Palestinian land, isolating
    Palestinian towns like Qalqiliya, now entirely surrounded by a 25 foot wall, cutting off
    Palestinian villagers from their own olive groves and farmland. 600 checkpoints on
    the West Bank staffed by bored, frustrated youths of the Israeli Defence Forces,
    monitor and control all Palestinian movements. People are delayed for hours at
    checkpoints on the whim of the Israeli army, and women have given birth at a
    checkpoint and lost their babies. Over 11,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails, many
    for years without charge. Many of them are under 18. 18,000 Palestinian homes
    have been illegally demolished on the West Bank since 1967.

    Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and West bank is far worse than
    Apartheid ever was. South African blacks were part of the Apartheid economy, not a
    surplus population with levels of unemployment running at 70% in the West Bank
    and over 80% in Gaza before the war. There was no question of ethnically cleansing
    the South African blacks from their homeland. Palestinians are not welcome or safe
    in Gaza and the West Bank, and increasingly they are not welcome as citizens of
    Israel. Arbitrary mass arrests greeted the largest ever peaceful Israeli demonstration
    during the war of 150,000 people in the Galilean village of Sakhnin. Peaceful Palestinian
    protests in Hebron on the West Bank were greeted with mass arrests and live ammunition
    (http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/3783). Who can defend this? Who would tolerate it
    here? What is this democracy that the EU states embrace with open arms?

    We saw the deafening silence of the international power elite, on both sides of the
    Atlantic, during the illegal war on Gaza. The international boycott of South Africa,
    coupled with the resistance of the ANC, was pivotal in bringing De Klerk to the
    negotiating table and ending the formal existence of Apartheid in South Africa. Israel
    is an even more oppressive case of colonial rule of a subject population, in which the
    UK has been complicit from the beginning.

    I believe that a mass international boycott campaign can bring pressure to bear on
    the Israeli state to seek a resolution of the conflict with the native Palestinians that is
    based on the minimum requirements of justice and the International Consensus as
    represented by the United Nations annual vote on the resolution of the conflict, and
    the rulings of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, not the US Road Map
    to nowhere. This is the absolute minimum, and can only become an agenda for
    resolution of the conflict if made a demand of an international mass boycott

    Who cannot support this? Do not be complicit! Supporting the boycott in whatever
    form you can affirms your own dignity and morality in the face of illegality and
    immorality, and sends out a clear message both to the Israeli regime and our own

    Here are some resources for further investigation:

    http://boycottisraelnow.com/about.htm. A campaign started by Muslims


    http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/42 Jason Kunin, a Toronto Jew, on Why Boycott


    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/gazafactsheet.html Understanding the Crisis in

    7394. The Jerusalem Post. Boycott campaigns do make a difference.

    Ronnie Kasrils, a South African Jew, on why Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is far worse
    than Apartheid.

  38. Inside Israel, too, that is within the borders established in 1967, the mortality rate of
    Palestinian Arabs is double that of Israeli Jews…So much for the Jewish and democratic

  39. I mean before 1967. Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have mortality rates running at double that
    of their Israeli Jewish occupiers.

  40. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville
    To be honest, I’ve just skimmed over all these comments, and shouldn’t really respond if I’m not clear about all of the comments. However, a few thoughts of mine from Paul’s post here I feel I need to comment on.
    1) why should anyone need to apologise to David Aaronovitch? That he decided (or had help from Harry’s Place) how to organise his time (and double it) in the panel discussion demonstrates that he had no real intention of arguing the point, but attacking one of the other panelists is as clear as day: if I go to a talk, I prepare myself, give a dry run with a stop watch and see how much time I have to improvise should another issue become important. Kind of like packing for a trip, pack everything you KNOW you absolutely can not do without, then take half of it out. Aaronovitch, intervening in the way he did can only be described as a “snivelling pundit” (I would opt for worse) because attacking the opponent as the strategy is no strategy at all, and it is clear by the recording and especially his shouting down the public to stop applauding. Is this normal, mature behaviour? I think it isn’t, and I have no problem saying it, despite the (despicable) material Aaronovitch produces on his own. I wonder how he responded to you, Paul.

    My second point (there may be more, but for now, will focus here) is on your claim that you don’t support Gilad’s politics. As far as I know, and I can claim to be fairly certain of his politics due to close affiliation for something around 7 years, has always been to condemn Zionism and to condemn the exertion of power (Jewish, Western, Imperialist, American, UK) whenever it interferes with the legitimate rights and need for freedom and liberation of Palestinian people. This is his politics. I agree with it entirely. To have these politics doesn’t mean to be “anti-Western” (if I was, I’d be living in some other place than Europe), anti-Jew (how can one be anti-Jew if one does not consider Jews a race? I don’t and neither does Gilad and many others who are condemned by the likes of Aaronovitch), anti-American (I was born there, most of my family lives there, I love these people), but… Imperialism, like Zionism, is an ideology, as is the concept of “Jewish tribalism”, which seeks to group people together who may have NOTHING in common, not race, religion, political affiliation… what they have in common is nothing, but they allow themselves to be categorised as a race, just like the Nazis did to people who were of Jewish origin (when that meant believing in the Jewish religion). These are people who maybe today are even anti-Zionists, but they spent time in Israel working on Kibbutzes, studying, what have you, why?? Because they believed they were entitled to because they were of Jewish origin.

    You see, today maybe they no longer apply to make Aliyah or get a student grant, but they sign petitions or open letters “as Jews” and in this sense.. they act in a racially oriented way. Some of these petitions do not even have elements a decent person could sign, believe me, I get them in the mail all the time, things like “back to the 67 borders, stop oppression against Palestinians and give security to Israel,” and more of the same. I won’t even recognise the legitimacy of the 67 borders, but these self-styled Jewish anti-Zionists will sign something like this, why? Because they still believe there is something that makes sense in signing “ethnically” divisive petitions. This is where Gilad protests, and I am with him here. If you call him Judeophobe for it, it means you don’t understand at all what he is saying.

  41. Mary Aaronowitz’s reply was self-justificatory. Funnily enough he did reply. You are welcome
    to see it but I won’t post it here. Or maybe I should. It is not that interesting. He did not respond to my invitation to engage on the subject of boycotting Israel and the genocide in progress..

    Your other points, on David’s behaviour, I can only agree
    with. I didn’t see any point in abusing him just because I had
    a strong reaction to his readings and his tone of voice.

    For the rest, I would have to go back and see
    if I was making any sense on the first place.

    I don’t believe the term race has any scientific
    meaning at all. Ashley Montagu demonstrated this,
    at least to my satisfaction. Racism is first of all a
    belief in race. Institutionalised, it leads to discrimination
    and persecution. I cannot see Gilad persecuting anybody.
    I’ve met him on a couple of occasions. He is certainly not
    racially aware in the sense that a racist would be.

    Where Gilad sees a Zionist Jew, I suppose, I see a colonialist. I read a lot of
    Gilad’s articles and no, I suppose I never really get the point. Some of
    them are very funny. My favourite is the Logical Investigation of Anti-semitism.
    I feel Gilad thinks there is a specificity about Jewishness, and it is evil. That I call judaeophobic.
    It is such a black and white attitude – “Jews are this, Judaism is this”, when it’s extremely
    diverse. I can’t see what else you can call it.

    But as I said, this is really secondary, and rather unimportant. I can’t get in a lather about it.
    Even Gilad’s remark to me about agreeing with Hitler’s “diagnosis” in Mein Kampf.
    I find it stupid and judaeophobic, and I’m really surprised at him but I can’t get in a lather about it.
    Even with Judaism in the Torah, there is a side that I would qualify as really vile, a side
    you see in the teachings of the rabbis to young IDF murderers in Gaza which goes right
    back to Numbers (a chapter Gandhi hated) and then there is another side, that you
    find in Isaiah (most communists like Isaiah) and the Psalms.

    I only find Jewish people offensive when they behave like Zionists,
    because I oppose genocide and colonialism. Then they are full of (usually
    well concealed) colonial arrogance.

    I am reading Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist again. It is so instructive. Almost everybody was like this a century ago in the UK. The attitudes linger on, the attitudes of empire, in relation to Gaza. I can’t see anything specifically Jewish about these attitudes. It’s empire. Chomsky chose the title Exterminate all the Brutes for a recent article on Gaza. It was well chosen. I don’t see where focussing on the Jews gets us, except up David Aaronowitz’s nose. As Israel starts to fall apart, a lot of Israeli Jews will desert
    Zionism for something better. After all, even though they’re living in a stolen country, one in three
    of them lives in poverty. It’s something like this. A credit crunch plus a really effective boycott
    could bring about an explosion where suddenly ethnicity is secondary, EVEN in Israel,


    I’ve not seen any pro-Israel activity on the inside of a synagogue.
    I would have walked out if I had. But it may go on.

  42. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville

    The point is: if Gilad doesn’t see Jews as a race, and sees “Jewishness”, which is what he calls a tribal kind of awareness of being “different” … but by the definition of many of these people who call themselves Jews not united by anything in particular such as race, ethnic group, religion, belief system…. what is there that makes a Jew a Jew… the idea that Jews are fundamentally a category, ie., different. To be against Jewishness (in the secular sense) is to be against a racial categorisation of people. It is actually very Anti racist! Gilad doesn’t buy this “we are Jews stuff” obviously, and those who DO are playing out the thing he calls an ideology of “Jewishness”. If I sign a petition as a Jew, that means that I in some way must identify myself as one: I don’t practice the religion, I don’t believe they are an ethnic group, and they certainly aren’t a nation… then what is it about me that would be Jewish? I don’t know!

    That there is a lobby of people who sustain things known as Jewish interests -can include a lot of things, from Israel to absence of being criticised, to being able to condemn others are anti-semites because they dare to say things that bother some people such as point out that it is really pretty much a peculiarly Zionist thing to have 52% of an administration (more than half) Jews who are also declared Zionists, in a country where the population of Jews is under 2%. It simply is something that any normal person would point out as being a Zionist success and totally relevant to the power of Jews and Zionists in the US administration, and is not a racist statement. To twist that into one means that one doesn’t understand Zionist power at all.

  43. Mary Rizzo says:

    Paul, you wrote:

    I’ve not seen any pro-Israel activity on the inside of a synagogue.
    I would have walked out if I had. But it may go on.

    How odd… last few times I was in one, there was the Israeli flag right there on the Bimah. I am talking about in the US and in Europe as well. I’m not a great frequenter of synagogues, but when I have to go for some reason, I always find that little item.. and I always have.

  44. Well thank you Mary. I feel we are tlking a past each other a little bit, but never mind.

    Ok, I shall come clean. I have only been to a synagogue once in my life. It is the first and now probably the last time. After all, I’m a goy, and I’m not welcome anymore. Someone’s Bar-Mitzvah. It was in Finchley. It was lovely. It was a Reform synagogue. Maybe that makes a difference. Sure, there was singing in Hebrew, but religious singing, no singing of the Israeli national anthem and no Israeli flag, in fact no references to Israel of any kind! Maybe I just got lucky….

    Of course, of course, I accept that Israel is at the centre of British Jewish life. Most people accept power and most people are quite conformist. Jews are no exception. I don’t care much about states, religions, national borders etc. I feel a certain sense of European identity, not English particularly. Your other points in this email: I can’t see anything to disagree with strongly. Jews are two ethnicities and none. Both the Sephardis and the Ashkenazis can trace a certain “bloodline”, but in both cases it has been considerably diluted, in the first case by Berber, Arab and Spanish blood, and in the second by waves of conversion throughout Ashkenazi history.

    I’ll tell you what I feel is Jewish. It is the aura of specialness that no other group quite claims for themselves. Special suffering, special history, special dispensations, special silencing operations, and special types of illegality all under an aura of sanctity. I’m talking about modern Jewishness.

    Maybe you are right about the tribal identity. I’ve always balked at this because I know so many exceptions.
    Almost only exceptions. It was only when I came across right wing Jews for the first time in my life that I noticed there was a certain conformity, a certain type of thinking, or rather non-thinking.

    And then I meet Jews who just don’t want anything to do with it, neither the religion nor Israel. My friend’s like that. About the only thing she’s interested in are the pretzels, a smattering of yiddish, and the jokes. The other one has even less identification with her heritage. It means nothing to her.

    I bought a copy of Jewish Socialist once on a Gaza demo and I think it’s a great magazine. No specialness there. Yet these socialists still want to be identified as Jews. In this case it must be a familial, cultural thing. It isn’t necessarily a racial identification with radical Jews is it, since they would reject out of hand the concept of race, or at least any radicals worth their salt would…That is an instance, I would suggest, of diversity. But I guess it’s really really marginal and not making any headway.

    I sent you a couple of emails to your PTT address. I launched my own personal Exocet at Zionist Jewishness and anti-semitism, back in January, and from an Is it good for the Jews Judaeocentric perspective. It was very destructive, but not in the way hoped. Apparently the smashing of icons did not work. It produced murderous feelings in the recipient instead,


  45. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville
    well, I suppose there are going to be some synagogues without the flag…I have only ever seen ones with them, and in the most prominent place too, but then again… I’ve been in more synagogues than David Aaronovitch, but certainly not all the synagogues that exist.

    Yet, you seem to essentially agree that there is this quality of “exceptionalism”, even when one calls himself a Jewish Atheist or Jewish Marxist (if we are talking about an orthodox Marxist, they would see the world united in class, not in ethnic or religious groups, or no?) so therefore, to call this thing tribalism, is not Judeophobia, and I take issue with you calling someone that name when it’s not true. Putting in some cryptic bit about Hitler is also odd…

    What is the game?

  46. Mary I made myself clear already. Why should I repeat myself?

    I don’t have a “game”. I am genuinely inconsistent and genuinely naive.

    You think I am undercover for the Jewish Chronicle? Aaronovitch works for it.
    I found out yesterday, looking at the other blog running on Aaronovitch.

    There is something that feels unhealthy here but I cannot work out
    what it is. Lack of a socialist perspective maybe.

    The Hitler reference is genuine, yet it produced no reaction at all. I wish it were not.
    Nothing cryptic about it. What would I have to gain by lying?

    Why would I want to read Solzhenitsyn? His novels, yes, but as a historian?
    I am not even familiar with the territory. I have to review They Destroyed Iraq
    and Called It Freedom (Geoff Simons), something I look forward to, but it’s long too.

    Anyway, Good luck. I won’t be back. I’ve been wasting time better
    employed in activism. I had a similar experience on Itszone. One ends up
    feeling exposed, and in strange company, a little at sea, wondering why the
    hell one bothered in the first place.

    Regards to Gilad. I look forward to the new album.

  47. Right away from “anti-semitism”, as for two states/one state, I believe it is necessary to completely defeat and uproot Zionism (not Jews) from the consciousness of the world. An (interim) two state solution as
    envisaged by Hamas the UN, the Arab league and the ICJ, would in itself be a
    major liberation for the people of Palestine. Inside Israel, it would be seen as a major
    defeat for Zionism. Unfortunately such a temporary resolution would perpetuate the
    iniquitous Jewish state for a few more years. Are there any Palestinian organizations
    asking for more than a demilitarised Gaza and West Bank plus a reparations package?

    The PLO and Fateh both talk about a Palestinian state next to the Jewish one.

    Hamas is for two states. Does that make it a Zionist organization?

    No, it’s the position of political weakness.

    Obviously I don’t believe it is necessary to tail Hamas’ two state agenda in the West.

    I think the two states/one state debate is a false dichotomy. Both would be iniquitous, and
    not on ethnic grounds, but because as neoliberal capitalist economies (like South Africa) they would
    still be in the orbit of imperialism with an extremely unequal distribution of wealth, exacerbated
    by Jewish ethnocracy, which, like white power and wealth in South Africa, will either take generations
    to dismantle, or a revolution.

    I’m sorry, Gilad is not anti-imperialist in his orientation. He’s a Hebrew speaking Palestinian nationalist. Nationalists in occupied countries are usually anti-imperialist in orientation. It does not mean they have a grasp of what it is. G does not have a problem with imperialism as such, and he has no analysis of it; he has a problem with something called Jewish power, which he confuses apparently with neoliberal capitalism, which has large numbers of Jews at the very top of its hierarchies. All his discussions of Jewish identity are, I have to admit, very very interesting, but I believe they are (largely) beside the point. He’s an artist. I maintain that’s his major contribution to the Palestinian struggle, not the writings.

    If you focus on the fantasmatic, such as Jewish Power, you are not even interested in the question of how to defeat imperialism in the Middle East, and you will never get there. If Palestinians love Gilad, it’s because he’s a Jew and he’s on their side. I am having a bunch of local uprooted (descendants of) Palestinians over for a meal this Sunday evening. I love to cook and entertain.

    Maybe we shall discuss Gilad, if they have heard of him (he is really becoming quite a celebrity since Erdogan). And I may play them his music (in particular Exile).

    The only force capable, potentially, of defeating imperialism in the Middle East (and Zionism) are the Arab working classes. They have yet to show their potential. Because Gilad, like all nationalists (Ghada Karmi is no different) focusses on the box of Palestine, and because he (quite rightly) wants the Palestinians to win, he doesn’t look at the regional picture at all. Neither did I in my published article Israel’s Key Vulnerability on PTT, and that was my mistake. So an article like Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land hugely overestimates, from where I’m standing, the strength of the Palestinian opposition to Zionism, as well as the likelihood of its success.

    Israel will be crushed like a pomegranate pip when the popular masses rise against it all over the Middle East, but not before. Meanwhile Palestinians are just trying to exist. They are hardly winning, and while the Jewish state is in deep kaka, it is not falling.

  48. Maju says:

    Why would I want to read Solzhenitsyn?

    Good question: I have only seen his books in the hands of fascists. And I mean real fascists of the kind of going voluntary to fight for fascism back there in the 30s and 40s. Cryptofascists also (those are legion) .

  49. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville

    If you feel out at sea, you may want to reflect on why… you have been treated extremely well here, we have published several of your papers, including ones on boycott when some of the Anti Zionist Jews try to insinuate that Gilad fights the boycott, and then you make several comments that are there to stir up waters and wonder why the waves pick up? You call one of the editors a Judeophobe, without really and truly being able to say why… that the evidence he points out, and from his perspective is Judeophobic would only appear that way to someone who will not accept that it is Zionism that is running the game in order to keep international equilibrium balanced in favour of imperialistic power. He has explained it in over a hundred papers, there is little to add to it, I would imagine. It is a fight against tribalistic interests when they are in conflict with the rights of other human beings and their very existence (I don’t need to point out who the tribe is).

    Again, to drop little comments that no one can verify about Hitler is just “odd”, wouldn’t you say think so? Looks like a kangaroo court. Perhaps it is a UK thing to do. Look, my husband comes from Forlì, city in the north of Italy where Mussolini comes from. It’s also been the “reddest” area of Italy since the fall of Fascism. You would think that a city like that, with all the major public works being programmed by Fascists (the Fascio – symbol where the name comes from – decorated everything, streetlamps, civil buildings, schools, parks, piazzas, water works, manhole covers, road indications, etc), after the defeat of Fascism would cancel out every trace, wouldn’t you? Well, the Italians of Forlì are more intelligent than that. They left all the works in place that still functioned, and when one walks through that city today, still the reddest of them all, one sees the fascio everywhere, in fact, it’s not been blotted out like other imperialist symbols in Europe, which includes the Swastika, Hammer and sickle and other signs. Seems that even a dictator once in a while did something acceptable and for the benefit of the entire community. So, I don’t know what quote you want to pull out that Gilad was commenting on, but this is the trick of some people, to say Mussolini and expect hands to stretch out before one, same to Hitler, to reject everything, totally, tout court, because that is what is expected. Let me just say, in Italy it doesn’t work that way, there is a grey area that Italians know exist, and the magic word of the name of a Nazi or Fascist dictator doesn’t give such a knee jerk reaction as maybe one hopes to obtain, and why? I don’t know why.

    As to the Arab working class, I have always found this almost funny, and I have several Marxist Palestinian friends, several of which have been published for the first time in English on PTT. We have had great discussions, we agree to disagree about a few issues, but at the end of the day, they see ARAB nationalism as an essential element to defeat Western Imperialism, and PALESTINIAN nationalism is part of it. They do not see much at all in common with any other Western Working Class, and in fact, they themselves doubt that there are many points in common. They are Marxists who don’t believe that much in the International Socialist for many reasons. Again, I don’t know every Marxist Palestinian, but every single one of them I know does not hold out 5 seconds of hope in the Western Working Classes to liberate them, because they realise the WWC does not recognise Arab nationalism, and therefore, can be of little help to them, and in fact, they are precisely that.

    I also do not totally agree with your point that “if Palestinians love Gilad it’s because he is a Jew and he’s on their side”. May be the case in your circle, but I think that the second part is the essential one, HE’S ON THEIR SIDE!” I think that once the novelty wears off of his background, one doesn’t even think about it anymore. To be really honest, sometimes I forget that he’s from Israel, much less that he was raised as a Jew. It is just so marginal to what he says sometimes and I think this is the case with most people I know who support him and gain from his writing and speaking. There are LOADS of Israelis and Jews who claim to be on the side of the Palestinians. The proof is in what they actually say, how far they are willing to go to support Palestinians, including to support even a choice that may not be personally attractive, but if it is the Palestinian choice, it is supported 100%.

  50. Yes Mary, you have treated me well. Especially as I did not have anything particularly original to say. In addition Gilad has treated me well. And what you say is fair. Gilad commented that as soon as someone says Hitler leftists go all weak at the knees. To be honest I find this a macho use of language and I can’t see the point. Hitler needs a phenomenological analysis that places him inside, not outside history. The latter only dovetails with the Zionist propagandist understanding of the Hitler phenomenon. I have a rather irritating book called Understanding the Nazi Genocide by an Italian trotskyist, Enzo Traverso, who uses the word Shoah throughout the text. I nearly sent the book to Gilad when I realised that actually, Traverso’s own understanding of the event is deficient. Oh and very Jewish. Traverso is of course a Jew.

    Mary I don’t really think I should go quoting Gilad’s emails to me and my responses, or even the entire discussion on that occasion. It would not be appropriate here would it? I will email the whole discussion I had with him on that occasion to you privately. My reaction at the time was to think, well this guy’s got some weird ideas. Where on earth does he get them except from fascist groups? As I’m sure you are aware most of the criticism of what are termed Jewish tribal interests come from fascists like David Duke and the Republican Right like Mearscheimer and Walt. The latter have some fairly obvious things to say, but they have no analysis of US capitalism and imperialism. As if it would magically change its spots and become all humanistic and cuddly if Jews were removed from all those positions of power and replaced by WASPS! Do you see my point?

    Now the latter are not racist in the least; they simply focus on the preponderance of Jews in US politics, and Jewish power and control, to the exclusion of all else, including the analysis of US imperialism and militarism. It is very interesting how Jews have managed to migrate to the very top of the global power hierarchy, but I am not sure how significant that is, since empire and its depredations all over the world, including numerous genocides, existed before the US Jews got there! Do you see my point? So Jews are in positions pf power in a global and highly destructive empire that threatens human existence on this planet
    (US capitalism until now has been the number one force driving global climate change, which threatens
    the continuation of the human species). But so what? Does it change anything? What does that tell us? How does it change the analysis? How does it affect the Palestinian struggle? Is it of use? These are genuine, not rhetorical questions, by the way…The problem is still Empire, how to roll it back. If Jews are part of the Empire, it’s because they are ruling class Jews, with the vast majority of non ruling class Jews also in agreement with what Israel is doing in the Middle East. But how significant is this? What does it mean?
    There are roughly ?15 million Jews worldwide. If they were all vapourised tomorrow by a special secret process known only to a brilliant Palestinian scientist, d’you think the world would look different?

    Gilad certainly managed on that occasion to offend what he saw as my parochial leftist understanding of 20th century European history. He also suggested it was deficient. We discussed the failure of the Allies to bomb the railway line to Auschwitz, for example. I think he suggested that the line had to remain so that Hitler could get his soldiers to the Russian front, something the Allies wanted too, as they feared Communism more than Nazism. Actually this makes sense. Stalin, not Hitler, was the ultimate nightmare for the ruling classes of Western Europe, as the triumph of the former would have meant their termination.

    Yes I’ve seen one or two things on here by Palestinian or Arab marxists, and I certainly don’t claim to be one of those. Neither do I have any affiliation with the International Socialists/SWP. The only thing I have time for is the Palestinian issue.

    On Jewish tribalism, I have acknowledged before that yes, the phenomenon exists but it would not have the power it has in the US without the vast Christian electorate, who have the same Zionist perceptions of the Middle East as the bulk of US Jews. It’s a case of a Judaeo-Christian-neoliberal alliance, which is global in scope. Is Tony Blair a Jew? Is Bush? Is Berlusconi? Obviously not, yet they are totally in accord with empire. Now if Gilad had something fresh to say, I am not sure what it is. I have not read all 100 papers. Each time I read something by him I find he focusses on the Jews to the exclusion of other factors. It is odd. Is it judaeophobic? I don’t know anymore. It sounds that way to me. I am not name calling here, neither am I calling Gilad a fascist (as you know now Aaronovitch compared him with Nick Griffin). I am genuinely puzzled.

    When he talks about “judaeo-bolshevism” (another piece of terminology he has pinched from the fascists) what on earth does he mean by that? Is anti-communism at the bottom of it? I suspect this is probably the bottom line. Gilad has rejected the Left and socialism, and Palestinian nationalism fills the gap.
    Palestinian nationalism shows amazing persistance and determination and resourcefulness. Actually Gilad has these qualities too. But if you cross over the ethnic divide in Israel and support the occupied people struggling for liberation, which is admirable in itself, and at the same time you reject socialism/marxism
    and any materialist philosophy of human liberation and equality, then where are you going to get your ideas from?

    Gilad describes marxism as a “disaster failure philosophy”. Is it so clear cut? Gilad is a Germanophile, nothing wrong with that. He has even described himself as a GERMAN philosopher! Will your ideas come from German existential philosophers? The US Republican Right? Fascist groups? If you reject leftist thinking you have to purloin your ideas from somewhere else. The result is curious, very curious. I read Gilad’s first novel. It was hilarious and wicked, and I mailed a copy in Hebrew that he sent me off to an Israeli in Yahud. Never heard what the latter thought of it…

    May I suggest that both he and you read a short study to put the record straight both on fascism and communism. I mentioned it before. Michael Parenti’s “Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism And The
    Overthrow of Communism.” (City Lights books, San Francisco, 1997). I have been prepared to learn things from Gilad. Actually I have learned a LOT from Gilad, despite his odd ideology, He is nearly always illuminating, quite often funny, and seemingly well informed, as well as PASSIONATE, which I like.

    Now Gilad can learn something from an old Commie, even if he does not accept Parenti, he can at least read a good Italian American marxist who is not in the least interested in defending the Soviet system, but in showing us how little we know of it (I include myself), and comparing it with fascism, the other contender for our hearts in the last century.

    I shall read Solzhenitsyn in the French when I can afford the book and when I have finished with Schlomo Sand, also in French, but I am not very hopeful given what I know of Alexander already. Cancer Ward was good.

    Now I have to go and make Hummous because I have promised my Jordanian Palestinian friend that I would have some on the table tomorrow,



  51. Paul Grenville to mary
    show details 6:17 AM (2 hours ago)


    Dear Mary

    Obviously, compared to Gilad, who reads Hebrew of course, my reading is as yet very small, and will remain so compared to his. I only read three languages. Not Arabic. Not Hebrew. I want to learn Farsi.

    Here are some of the volumes (photos) I have tried to read. To date, most are by Jews,
    not that that matters in itself. It was important to me that they were Jewish writers because I suddenly
    found myself among Jews, and for the first time in my life, to whom Israel was an acceptable notion, and so I had to confront the issue. Within months what I found was so shocking that I immediately started corresponding with Gilad. That was back in 2007. So I owe Gilad a lot. Then I corresponded with Moshé Machover and Avigail Abarbanel as well. As for Palestinians, I did not know who I could correspond with. Said was dead. I met Gilad and at the time (2007) he did not agree with the intellectual and cultural boycott of Israel. As the degeneration of Israeli intellectual life is painfully apparent, he may have changed his view since then. Even if he has not, I am sure he has good reasons.

    As for economic boycott, I would be very surprised if Gilad has bought so much as an Israeli avocado since leaving the country in 1994. I would imagine he backs it 110%. I would not suggest otherwise.

    In addition, I read “The Other Side of Israel” by Susan Nathan, a South African Jew who immigrated to Israel and went to live with Palestinian citizens of Israel in the township of Tamra, and Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi’s Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel, and downloaded over 400 articles on Israel and Palestine from the Internet, including many of Gilad’s. I sent the Beit-Hallahmi book to an Israeli in Israel but he didn’t read it. I wonder even if he read Gilad’s novel in Hebrew that I sent him. He never made any remark about it.

    My own (added: extremely limited – since I don’t want to go to the country) experience is that Israelis don’t want to hear the story, they don’t want to know, they want to remain ignorant. It’s too challenging to their humanist self-conception. Since Israelis are by and large not even worth talking to about their own complicity in Judaeofascism, the only people worth associating with are the Palestinians. That’s why Ilan Pappé was pretty much kicked out and received all those death threats from Israelis while he was still in Haifa. It’s a culture that bears comparison with the culture of German and Italian fascism; intense conformism, intense machismo, and a culture of abuse of all kinds, as well as a very violent culture. What is different from fascism is I guess the tribalism of Israeli Jews, and the entirely deluded sense of proprietorship over the land and laughable belief in their genetic connection with the Hebrews of antiquity.

    I can’t claim to have read all of the 400 plus articles. There just isn’t time. Recently I tried to get stuck into the Shlomo Ben-Ami book but it immediately stuck in my craw. I couldn’t get past chapter 1. The reason why is obvious. He’s a Zionist, and claims legitimacy for the Jewish state.(added – However as Gilad says you have to respect the opposition and study them.) That is the only way to win. I shall have to persist with Ben-Ami if I am to understand where the Left Zionists are coming from, yet I am not looking forward to this encounter.

    I also read Jewish Chronicle when I can get hold of it. Funny I never noticed David Aaronovitch as a contributor. When I apologised to Aaronovitch and posted the fact on PTT I had no idea who the guy was, even though, on the recording, he sounded pretty horrid. The guy simply wasn’t on my radar at all. I had heard a little about the other one, Cohen, and it didn’t sound good.

    I have apologised to Gilad before for calling him an anti-semite, because he demanded it, and at the time, I meant it. But it is better to thrash the issue out in genuine and honest open debate, if that is possible.

    (added) If you really wish me to take issue with particular articles of Gilad’s, I shall do that too, but I did once before with him, re the article he wrote on the military debacle of the Lebanon war, much of which was very valuable, since he was flagging up a study at that time only available in Hebrew. The second paragraph of the article, however, contained some classic stereotyping from what I remember, and appeared to hold Jews responsible for their own genocide, and naturally, since he wrote it, Gilad could not see what it was that I found objectionable. By the way there is no question of attacking Gilad here. I have immense respect for what he is trying to do,

    with best wishes,

    3 attachments — Download all attachments View all images
    981K View Download
    950K View Download
    894K View Download

    (added) Re Western working class and the Arabs, I agree. Hopeless, almost, forget it. Resistance to the Project for the New American Century is coming not from the metropole, but from the periphery, from South America and from the Arab world, for example. The Egyptian marxist Samir Amin said so long ago, and keeps saying so, and he is right of course. The SWP/Trotskyite Left is not. That is why supporting the Palestinian struggle, without any form of moral superiority (we have none) or attempt to direct the direction chosen by the Palestinians, is a priority, an absolute priority. So I agree with your second point, too. It’s not for us to tell them what to do or how to think. Most Palestinian organizations are for two states at the moment, a result of grave weakness and isolation. But that is changing, and the political position of Hamas and the PLO, the latter more compromised by its past of participation in the Palestinian Authority and de facto acceptance of the Occupation of the West Bank – may well change too as they get stronger and feel more support internationally, and especially in the Arab world. Fateh seems so compromised I am not sure they will do anything except collaborate with the Israelis and police and suppress and spy on their own people.

    The PFLP/DFLP hold out, I believe, for something more than two states: namely the overthrow of Zionism/the Israeli state. Correct me if I am wrong on this point. I may be talking rubbish. Internal Palestinian politics is so labyrinthine it is best to say nothing, or else reveal the extent of your own ignorance, as I just have here….

  52. Date: Fri, May 1, 2009 at 9:01 PM


    I am mistaken about Gilad.

    I tend to become manic and regret what I’ve written later. I suggest you take down all my comments suggesting Gilad Atzmon is judaeophobic, if it matters, or just delete all my comments on PTT, or print this, if anyone cares. But I don’t think they do. Blogs are full of irrational comments and mine are no exception.

    I am well aware that, most of the time, the insignia of Jewishness, whether it be Judaism or cultural baggage, are being mobilised by the Jewish community on behalf of Israel. I had a conversation this evening with a close friend who happens to be half-Jewish , and who has never been to Israel in her life. I pushed her hard on why she thought my piece Why Boycott Israel, which I gave her a copy of, should cause hatred. It all came down to her view of the Holocaust (most of the generation before that of her mother were killed in it) and Israel as the ultimate place of refuge. Now I would never have fingered L- as pro-Israel in the least. Whether this is tribalism exactly I wonder. Maybe it is the mythologising of Jewish oppression that is really pernicious, and maybe this is tribal, and this is carried in uncritical form by someone nonintellectual like L-.

    L- also repeated the myths about Arabs being violently anti-semitic and Ahmad dinner jacket as she called him wanting to destroy Israel. It was an unpleasant surprise. I’ve known this person twenty years.

    I’m done with apologising, after apologising to that prat Aaronovitch, now that I know who he is.

    I’ve been reading Roy Ratcliffe carefully on The Case of Atzmon, published nearly a year ago on PTT. I know Gilad’s intention is entirely humanitarian. I’ve always known this. Let’s face it, I grew up in a culture that is judaeophilic, Jew loving, and to encounter an ex-Jew like him who questions Jewishness, critiques Jewish identity and identifies a dark side to Judaism (all the monotheisms seem to have a dark side in practice) that may underlie our genocidal culture is quite a shock. I live in a Judaeochristian culture. We have a love/hate relationship with Jews. (deleted)

    It may be that Judaism and Jewish supremacism is at the heart of white supremacism generally and hence of the very negative view Western cultures have of Arabs and Islam. It may be that I just disagree with Gilad’s emphasis on Jewish Power (I still think it’s a fiction: the real issue is imperialism and colonialism: whether or not Jews are at the heart of the power structures and their ideologies is a complete red herring in my view), not with the substance of his argument with the Jews.

    Some time ago Mary, you created a petition identifying the issue of anti-semitism as something that was splitting the pro-Palestinian movement in the hands of a group of British anti-Zionist Jews, and I signed (I’m around the 1240 mark), and left a comment, agreeing with those who felt that the purpose of the Palestine Solidarity Movement was not to campaign against anti-semitism, but to support the Palestinians in whatever form that took. I still hold that view.

    I ordered a copy of Blackshirts and Reds by Parenti for Gilad, but that may be another red herring, and arrogant of me to boot. I thought I’d include a dedication from the Verkoyansk Committee of Ideological Correction (I think Verkoyansk was part of the Gulag). One of my correspondents told me you have been an anti-fascist activist, so you probably know far more about it than I do from books.

    Paul Grenville

  53. Mary Rizzo says:

    @Paul Grenville

    Yes, Paul, often people we have known for years come out of the closet when we get close to the Israeli bone like your friend did. It is sad. The degree they go to defend some things is what makes some of them less tolerable than others. I had one friend from my teens, a very close friend, we were in a band together, we used to spend all our free time hanging out, often at the expense of really making our partners angry, and we never talked politics until out of high school. I “discovered” in 82 just how bad Israel was. I told him. He decided that he would be my enemy. Not that we could simply disagree, but that I was his “enemy”. He did many things to try to hurt me and in some of them succeeded. It felt really awful to me, to see this person so full of hatred. I’ve seen that kind of stuff hundreds of times since. I see it here every day. Israel for some is a red line.

    About me fighting Fascism.. I’m far too young for that! But I have indeed been the translator for years of ANED, the Associazione Nazionale per Ex Deportatees in Nazi Camps. It is an association of Italian (mostly) political prisoners who were in Nazi camps. I’ve translated (as a volunteer) the descriptions of every camp into English, including items never before published on the Italian camps, translated hundreds of testimonies, did the translation of the presentation booklet for tourists to the Museum of Judaic Culture in Milano which dealt with the section on the Italians in the Holocaust as well as the audio that is for tourists to visit the museum. My work helped to capture an SS criminal who escaped to Canada. I was given recognition by this group for my work and they published some lovely articles about my work. But, alas, they too asked me to not offend too many of our readers, with my commentary against Israel, which I asked we print some items about Palestine and Israel in the quarterly magazine, as several had moved to Israel and many had family there. I was offended they were offended, since if one is against racism, occupation and intolerance, one does not make exceptions. So, I left my activism with that group, and started to concentrate more attentively to the Palestinian issue rather than be divided in several issues.