The Jewish Solidarity Spin: Video and Text
By Gilad Atzmon
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 18, 2015
This is pretty much a summery of my argument against
Jewish power and the corrosive impact of Jewish left.
If you are interested in my work or even oppose
everything I do, I urge you to watch (or read) this talk.
The Jewish Solidarity Spin
By Gilad Atzmon
The Nabil Test
In order to grasp the way in which contemporary
solidarity terminology operates to deceive and derail the Palestinian
cause, we will look at a few theoretical simulations that will help to
clarify the corrosive nature that is the contemporary pro Palestinian
Nabil is a fictional 25-year-old Palestinian,
3rd generation refugee born and living in Sabra and Shatila, Lebanon. Nabil
is unemployed. No prospect of a future for him. As a Palestinian refugee his
chances of higher education or a decent job are non-existent. Nabil
cannot even obtain a travel document. He is stranded in the camp.
Let’s try to predict the effect the Solidarity
project will have on Nabil.
The ‘End of The Occupation’ will likely have no
impact on Nabil’s life whatsoever. Colonialism and settler colonialism are
theoretical terms that have no impact on his reality or his day to day life.
Apartheid? For Nabil and many like him, it is actually an Arab country that
discriminates against him and turns his life into a compete misery. BDS?
Nabil has no interest, there are no Israeli products in the camps. Nabil’s
interests lie in the Right Of Return. He may not necessarily want to return
to his land. But he wants his rights to be recognized once and for all. He
wants his children to have citizenship and enjoy the prospect of a better
Yusuf, another product of my imagination, is a
70-year-old Palestinian in Gaza. He has lived most of his life in Khan
Younis. Unlike Nabil, Yusuf is educated. For many years Yusuf believed that
he would return to his land near Be’er Sheva; by now, he has lost hope.
Yusuf knows that the ‘End Of Occupation’ has nothing to do with him.
Gaza is not under occupation; it is, in fact, an open-air prison. Yusuf
could correctly argue that colonialism is a theoretical notion that has zero
significance to him and his people. Yusuf may well think that when Palestine
was subject to the British Mandate, Palestinians were better off. So as far
as he is concerned, genuine colonialism might actually improve his
situation. Apartheid? In the jail Yusuf dwells in, there is no Apartheid. He
is locked behind walls because he is a victim of Jewish racism or Jewish
exclusivism; you decide. Yusuf is not very happy with BDS, to start with it
only applies to Israeli products produced in the occupied territories. BDS
doesn’t address his plight as a refugee, and like many in Gaza, Yusuf may
actually like Israeli Humus in tins. Yusuf knows that the besieged in Gaza
are dependent on Israeli products.
But like Nabil, Yusuf understands pretty well what
the Right Of Return stands for. He wants to return to Be’er Sheva. He wants
his rights enforced. For Yusuf, the Right Of Return is the core of the
solution to his plight.
But now let us now examine the case of Avi, a classic
Israeli peace campaigner. Like my own father, Avi was born in 1938 in Tel
Aviv. He has lived all his life in Israel’s biggest city. He sometimes waves
his Palestinian birth certificate just to prove his true attachment to the
land. Avi regards himself as a reasonable Israeli who wants to resolve the
conflict and live in peace. But here’s the irony, unlike Nabil and Yusuf who
were apathetic to the ‘End Of Occupation’ slogan, Avi is very enthusiastic
about the call. Avi doesn’t want to rule over another nation, at least this
is what he says. When you suggest to Avi that Israel is a colonial state,
Avi will giggle, “If Israel is a settler state, then I want to return to my
mother state, just tell me what this state is.” Like most Israelis of his
generation and background Avi is happy to leave Israel for good as soon
as tomorrow morning. Apartheid? Avi is not happy to see how Palestinians are
treated, he wants the oppression to stop immediately. BDS? Avi supports the
call with all his heart. Avi doesn’t like the settlers, he has nothing in
common with them. He sees them as an obstacle on the road to ‘peace,’ he
despises their messianic attitude, he feels shame at being associated with
them. So far, Avi, a light Israeli patriot agrees with the entire new
Palestinian solidarity terminology and for a reason.
The new Palestinian solidarity terminology is
designed to appeal to Avi at the expense of Yusuf, Nabil and the vast
majority of the Palestinian people. But the key difference is this: for Avi
the Right of Return is a red flag; he sees it as an attempt to rob him of
his ‘Jewish homeland.’ Avi’s empathy toward Palestine and Palestinians ends
once the demand for their return is raised. Avi sees the Right of Return as
a call for a ‘new holocaust.’ “We have suffered enough” he says, “Israel is
Have you ever wondered what is it that attracts
people from all over the world to Palestine and the plight of the
Palestinians? Are the Palestinians the people who suffer the most on this
planet? Is the situation in Palestine more dramatic than malnutrition in
Africa or the horrors in Syria and Iraq? The answer is ‘probably no,’ and
yet, since the 1980s the Palestinian solidarity movement has gained momentum
and grown. Why?
One possible answer is that Palestine has been a
symbol of gross and global injustice for almost seven decades. As such, it
provides a legitimate ideological, political and spiritual vehicle to
criticize Jewish power; the Lobby, Hollywood, Jewish over-representation in
finance, politics, media and so on. This explanation is consistent with the
Zionist and Hasbara claim that anti-Zionism is a ‘Jewish issue.’ Seemingly,
Zionists and Hasbara merchants aren’t always wrong. Indeed, healthy and
genuine opposition to Israel, Zionism and the Lobby entails an understanding
of Jewishness, Jewish culture and Jewish identity politics. Zionism is a
Jewish nationalist movement, Israel defines itself as a Jewish State, and
the Israeli Lobby is a Jewish political adventure concerned primarily with
Bottom line- Israel and its crimes can only be
understood fully within the context of Jewish racism, Jewish exceptionalism
and Jewish culture.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, anti-Zionist
and pro-Palestinian scholars such as Israel Shahak and Israel Shamir delved
into issues of Jewishness and the Talmud. Their studies of Zionism and
Israeli chauvinism identified an ideological and cultural continuum among
Israel, Zionism, Jewish religious heritage and culture. At about the same
time, Hasbara and Jewish progressive organisations apparently gathered that
the Palestine solidarity movement had become a ‘big problem;’ it endangered
Jewish global interests. Since then, there has been a sharp rise in support
for Palestine from Jewish progressive and left circles. By 2011, Jewish
organizations like JVP and Jewish media outlets such as Mondoweiss dominated
the Palestinian solidarity discourse. But this Jewish pro- Palestinian
enthusiasm came at a high price.
Palestine Cause vs. Jewish
The Right Of Return is at the core of the Palestinian
cause. It positions the 1948 Nakba and the suffering of refugees as the
primary issue, it places Gaza into historical context and highlights the
gross injustices perpetuated and sustained by Israeli politics since 1948.
It clearly illuminates the racist nature of the Jewish state and its
immigration laws. The Right Of Return offers a clear course of action that
unites Palestinians in the region and in the Diaspora, but it evokes fear
amongst Israelis, Zionists and Jewish anti- Zionists.
Jewish solidarity has been shockingly effective in
subduing the call for the Right Of Return. It was gradually diluted and
eventually drowned in a tsunami of duplicitous terminology designed to
appeal to Jewish supporters like Avi at the expense of Palestinians like
Nabil and Yusuf and their essential rights.
examine some of the solidarity movement’s current terminology.
End Of The Occupation
The call for the ‘End Of The Occupation’ was the
first indication that something had gone terribly wrong. On its face, the
call appears humanist and peaceful, politically pragmatic and even populist.
The truth of the matter is the complete opposite. The ‘End of The
Occupation’ is a legitimization of Israel through the back door - it
confirms that the Jewish State within the pre-1967 green line borders is a
valid and legitimate political unit. ‘End Of The Occupation’ limits the
solidarity discussion to the West Bank; it is nothing short of a spit in the
face to 6.000.000 Palestinian refugees and a complete dismissal of their
right of return.
Another grossly misleading term promulgated by the
Jewish progressive solidarity campaigners is ‘colonialism.’ The term conveys
the false image that Jewish nationalism is as bad as British or Dutch
colonialism but not worse. Such a delusional vision of the Zionist project
may also vaguely offer the prospect of a future ‘resolution’ in some sort of
a ‘post colonial’ phase. But Zionism is not colonialism nor has it ever
been. Zionism is a movement with no precedent in history. Can you think of
another historical moment when people ‘returned’ to an imaginary ‘homeland’
after 2000 years and asked the indigenous population to move out to make
room for the former ‘residents?’ Colonialism requires a material and
spiritual exchange between a ‘mother state’ and a ‘settler state.’ The
Jewish State is a settler state but there is no mother state to Zionism or
Israel. When prominent solidarity activists refer to Zionism as
‘colonialism’ they are either being intentionally misleading or simply
displaying a unique form of ignorance that one would not expect from
educated and highly motivated activists.
One may suggest that though Zionism is not a colonial
apparatus, the relationships between Israel and its West Bank settlements
establishes a quasi colonial correspondence between a ‘Mother,’ and a
‘Settler’ State.’ Wrong: The Jewish Settlements did not form a new state in
the West Bank. What we see instead is an ideologically driven territorial
expansion, a form of Judeo-centric Lebensraum philosophy and practice.
In recent years a new terminological spin popped up
within the Palestinian solidarity ranks, namely; ‘settler colonialism.’ I
guess that my criticism of the colonial paradigm struck a few of the
so-called progressive anti-Zionist enthusiasts. They were pushed to revise
their theoretical narrative. Their efforts brought forth a new ad hoc
deformed dysfunctional theoretical baby. But the term ‘settler colonialism’
does not illuminate anything. It seems a desperate attempt to further
conceal the truth of the Jewish National project.
Settler colonialism posits a situation in which super
power ‘A’ facilitates the settlement of ethnic group ‘B’ on land ‘C.’ This
action may lead to grave consequences for the indigenous population ‘D.’ But
this explanation is problematic. The A-B-C-D scenario has nothing in
common with Zionism, Israel or the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It was the
Zionists (B) who persuaded Britain, then a super power (A), that a Jewish
homeland in Palestine (C) was the way forward. In short, instead of the
A-B-C-D chain of events that form ‘settler colonialism,’ when it comes to
Zionism, there is a B-A-C-D chronology. It is the ethnic group ‘B’ that
pushes super power ‘A’ to act in its favour. No interpretation of
colonialism, settler or otherwise, provides any support to Palestinian cause
nor does it further our understanding of the conflict.
Another inapt concept ascribed to Israel in a
transparent attempt to divert attention from the unique and devastating
reality on the ground is ‘Apartheid.’ The term suggests that Israel is
only ‘just’ as bad as South Africa or the southern United States. The truth
is worse. Apartheid is a racist system of exploitation but Israel doesn’t
want to exploit the Palestinians, it wants them ‘gone.’ At least from an
ideological perspective, Israel is a Hitlerian racially-driven, expansionist
Tragically, this lethal exclusivism is consistent
with Zionist philosophy and some radical, yet popular, interpretations of
the Judaic call. The so-called ‘Jews in the movement’ are uncomfortable with
a realistic rendering of Israeli politics. They much prefer Israel to be
grouped with other vile regimes within a recognized historical pattern such
as colonialism, apartheid, etc.
When the call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of
Israeli goods was established in 2005 in Ramallah its first demand was for
its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantl[ing] the
This call didn’t leave room for interpretation. Back
in 2005, the BDS movement disputed the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
But in 2010, its primary goal was changed
significantly, it now reads:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab
lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall” (http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro).
There is no public record of the process that led to
this change. And as if to prove its deceptive nature, the change appears
only in English and has never been integrated into any of the official BDS
publications in Arabic. It is likely that most Palestinians are not aware of
the change made on their behalf by people who claim to be their ‘grass root’
representatives. My study suggests that the change in the BDS goal statement
that de-facto legitimizes the Jewish State took place at the time the BDS
became popular amongst Jewish activists and accepted funds from liberal
Zionist George Soros’s Open Society Institute. You can read more about BDS,
Soros money promoting BDS campaign here:http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/israelpalestine-and-the-queer-international-a-book-review-by.html
It is devastating that even the call for BDS has
become an instrument to legitimise the Jewish State within its pre 1967
A Jewish Solidarity Pet
The logical conclusion of this analysis is pretty
devastating. A decade of Jewish left hegemony within the pro-Palestinian
movement has reduced the Palestinians and their plight into a mere
‘solidarity pet.’ The Palestinians have been instrumental in an internal
Jewish political show that has led nowhere. The Palestinian cause and the
Right of Return have been watered down and replaced by terminology that was
set to derail the solidarity movement and has succeeded remarkably.
Like the Israeli left, the current solidarity
terminology is primarily focused on the West Bank: the End of Occupation,
BDS, Apartheid and Colonialism can only be understood in reference to the
situation in the West Bank, because the ‘Jews in the movement,’ are
primarily interested in the West Bank. This is easily understood. The Jewish
world and Israeli society have no interest in Gaza or the sand around it
(except for the emerging possibility of stealing the natural gas under its
waters) Israelis and world Jewry do care about the West Bank. Many Israelis
and Jews see the West Bank as an integral part of historic Eretz Yisrael-The
Land of Israel. However, many other Israelis and Jews like Avi believe that
Tel Aviv is an appropriate fulfilment of the Zionist dream. They do not care
at all about the West Bank or Biblical Eretz Yisrael.
It is this internal Jewish political debate
regarding the West Bank that has managed to shape the entire Palestinian
solidarity discourse diverting the attention from the Palestinians and their
Though it is no surprise that people who identify
politically and primarily as Jews (JVP, IJAN, JFJFP, J-big, Mondoweiss etc)
are also primarily concerned with Jewish interests, it is legitimate to ask
how these Jewish interests have succeeded in dominating the solidarity
movement of another people. How is it possible that the Palestinian
solidarity movement has been reduced into a ‘Jewish Voice’ that is almost
totally dismissive of the Palestinian cause? How is it possible that it is
Jewish voices that dominate the battle against the Jewish State? Would
Nelson Mandela allow a bunch of recovered Afrikaners run the Anti- Apartheid
struggle on his behalf? Would Malcolm X let ex KKK militants dominate the
terminology of his campaign? How did it happen to the Palestinians
that their solidarity discourse is attuned to the voice of the oppressor
rather than the victim?
I believe that the ability to articulate these
questions may suggest that deep in our hearts we know the answers.
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