A Glimpse into Jewish Guilt and Aggression
October 16, 2016 / Gilad Atzmon
Some Jews were not delighted by Donald Trump's recent reference to "International Bankers". Trump declared this week that his rival Hillary Clinton is somehow "an instrument of a vast conspiracy involving scads of money and international banks".
You may note that Trump didn't refer to Jews, nor did he point out any ethnicity or religious group. However, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, was quick to react using the Twitter platform. "Trump should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur antisemitism," Greenblatt said, and then added, "Let's keep hate out of campaign."
One may wonder at this stage why a leading American Jew sees "hatred" in Trump's critical reference to "International Banking"? Is it because Greenblatt knows that the International Bankers who fund Clinton's presidential affair belong to one particular ethnic group? Is it possible that Greenblatt believes that the bankers at Goldman Sachs, along with individuals like Haim Saban and George Soros, may have one or two things in common apart from being filthy rich?
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was also alarmed by Trump's true observation that: "This election will determine if we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system."
Once again, Trump didn't refer specifically to Jews, yet the JTA must have gathered that he had Jews in mind. The JTA probably knows something many of us may have gathered but prefer to suppress.
I guess the good news is the sudden appearance of Jewish guilt. Greenblatt and the JTA act out of guilt. They do know that international banking is a Jewish territory, and that makes them feel uncomfortable. But the tragic news is that Jewish guilt hardly leads to ethical reflection, and too often it is quick to transform into aggression.
If Greenblatt was genuinely concerned with defamation and the safety of American Jews, he should have lobbied the herd of Jewish international bankers to remove themselves from American politics. But for Greenblatt and others within his tribal milieu, Jewish power is the power to silence the very discussion of Jewish power!
In practice, Greenblatt, an American Jewish leader, is telling the Republican presidential candidate which topics to avoid.
I would like to tell Greenblatt and his acolytes that this development is very dangerous to American people, and to American Jews in particular.
Can Jews Ever Leave Their Cult?
October 12, 2016 / Gilad Atzmon
Baruch Spinoza left the Jews. Heinrich Heine became a Christian. A few others, such as Israel Shamir and myself, a decade ago, simply drifted away.
Recently, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand announced that he too was no longer a Jew. I read his manuscript in Hebrew with great interest, but soon realised that while he indeed stopped identifying as a Jew, he still hadn't removed himself from kosher binaries.
"I don't write for anti-Semites, I regard them as totally ignorant or people who suffer from an incurable disease" (How I Ceased To Be a Jew, p. 21). Lines like these, echoing as they do the language of the ADL, made me feel very uncomfortable and, when it came to the Holocaust, Sand, who is usually so astute and profound, somehow managed to lose it. The Nazis are "beasts", and their rise to power he described metaphorically as a "beast awakening from its lair". Despite my respect for Sand, I would expect a leading, inspirational historian and a former-Jew to have moved beyond such banal hasbara-recycled clichés.
This week, in the Jewish progressive magazine Mondoweiss, Avigail Abarbanel, an ex-Israeli and anti-Zionist, informed us that she too has now "left the cult". I agreed with most of Abarbanel's arguments against Israel and Zionism, but I was nonetheless alarmed at the intellectual dishonesty at the core of her argument.
"Rarely can people inside a cult see where they are. If they could, the cult wouldn't be what it is," Abarbanel points out. "They think that they are members of a special group that has a special destiny, and is always under threat." Thus does Abarbanel describe the Israelis, yet she fails to mention that this is also an accurate description of the Jewish left in general and the Mondoweiss/JVP cults in particular, to which she herself belongs. As we now know, just as Israel claims for itself a special place amongst the states of the world, so do the anti-Zionist Jews who, when it comes to anti-Israeli politics, operate within Jewish, racially exclusive political cells (JVP, IJAN, etc.). So, if Abarbanel thinks that Israelis are at fault for being a "special group", perhaps she should inform us what is the criterion that legitimates JVP and Mondoweiss being a special group within the solidarity movement?
Abarbanel continues: "Cult members are taught from birth that the world outside is dangerous, that they have to huddle together for safety." This is indeed a good description of Israeli collective psychosis, but it is also a perfect portrayal of Mondoweiss' operational mode, and it puts Mondoweiss' campaign against Alison Weir and Greta Berlin in perfect context. It also explains why Mondoweiss banned Jeffrey Blankfort and why the Jewish outlet changed its comment policy just to make sure that it can block any attempt to criticise the Jewish state in the light of Jewish culture and my own study of Jewish tribalism. Just like Israel, Mondoweiss is terrified of the "dangerous world out there". As far as Abarbanel's definition of cult is concerned, Mondoweiss, JVP, and Israel are actually identical.
Abarbanel is obsessed with the holocaust, and this is hardly surprising. The Holocaust is currently the most popular Jewish religion. The prominent Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz observed in the 1970s that Jews believe in many different things, but all Jews believe in the holocaust. "Have I forgotten the holocaust? No. Of course not," Abarbanel writes. "Persecution of Jewish people throughout history was very real indeed." And if you expect Abarbanel, a psychotherapist by profession, to question why it is that Jews have been "hated throughout history", you're probably wasting your time. In Abarbanel's universe, the persecution of the Jews is a metaphysical constant. It is beyond questioning. In her view, Jews are victims and the Goyim are oppressors. "Jews were a hated and despised group among many cultures in Europe, and Jews have always had an uneasy co-existence with non-Jews. Any marginalised or persecuted group has an uneasy relationship with the dominant culture. Once you have been discriminated against, it's hard to trust."
So again, despite "leaving the cult", Abarbanel's take on the holocaust is well within that same hasbara cult she claims to have left.
Actually, one would expect a psychotherapist to advise the Jews to look in the mirror and actually identify what it is about them that invokes so much animosity in so many different times and in so many different places. This is something Bernard Lazare, an early Zionist, did just over a century ago when he identified what it was in the Jews that has made Jewish history into such a disastrous continuum. Sadly, Abarbanel falls far short of this task. She is unable or unwilling to examine what is it in the Jew or in Jewishness that provokes animosity; for her, this is one step too far, because to look into that question may suggest that Israel is not the problem – it is but a symptom of the problem.
In Abarbanel's universe, the Jews are always the victims, and all they have to do is to separate their victimhood from their identity. This is strange, since if victimhood is embedded in Jewish existence, then surely it must also be inherent in Jewish identity. My guess is that the day Jews manage to distinguish between their victimhood and their identity will be the day they simply stop being Jews.
The meaning of this is simple. Abarbanel may have left a cult, but she didn't leave the cult. Operating well within the realm of Jewish ID politics, her task is simply to convey the image that not all Jews are bad. Abarbanel advises the Israelis to self-reflect; perhaps once in a while she should do the same. Other than that, I wish her luck in her cultural divorce project.