By Gilad Atzmon
“Jews can be anti-Semites too!” is the title of Jewish settlers outlet Israel National News' article dedicated to my work by one Manfred Gerstenfeld. Needless to mention that being subject to a smear campaign led by the Israeli ultra nationalist outlet is pretty much the kind of publicity I wish for. However, I would point out to Gerstenfeld that his title is slightly misleading. Jews are not Semites and I haven't even been a Jew for two decades now.
Settler Gerstenfeld is desperate to prove that yours truly is an ‘antisemite'. Let’s examine his arguments, one by one. I am genuinely quoted as saying that I am totally “against Holocaust denial." I clearly resent those who deny the genocides taking place in the name of the Holocaust. Palestine is one example…” (http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/after-all-i-am-a-proper-zionist-jew-by-gilad-atzmon.html)
I guess that in the eyes of settler Gerstenfeld, supporting Palestine equals anti-Semitism. But considering the obvious fact that the Palestinians are Semites*, taking their side is actually the ultimate form of philo-Semitism. But I will dutifully address Gerstenfeld’s concern regarding the Holocaust and its denial. I believe that history must be subject to revision. This applies, as well, to the Holocaust otherwise it becomes alienated from history and alien to historicity. The Holocaust in its current state is reduced into a religion, a dogma. To insist that the Holocaust is subject to revision is by no means a form of denial. On the contrary, it integrates this chapter into our human past. It becomes a universal ethical lesson instead of another celebration of the primacy of Jewish suffering. Such a transition in our take on the holocaust can prevent the Jews and their institutions from repeating the same mistakes that they have made throughout their history, having made the Jewish past look like a Shoah continuum.
Gerstenfeld, who writes in an ultra right-wing settler outlet curiously complains that in my work I “attack”, as well, some Jewish anti-Zionists. In an article titled Goyim Must Obey, Atzmon accuses the Jewish anti-Zionists of telling “Goyim and even Palestinians what they may or may not do and who they may or may not listen to." Here, Gerstenfeld’s language lacks accuracy. I do not “attack” people. This is what Israel does to its enemies. I actually criticize people whom I believe to be wrong. My weapon is my pen. However, the quote above is genuine and I stand by my words. I believe Jewish political lobbying is a total disaster. It is very dangerous for Jews, in particular.
I am indeed critical of all forms of Jewish politics, left and right, Zionist and ‘anti’. I challenge Jewish political identification because it is racially oriented. I argue in the open that from a Judeo-centric perspective Israel and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) are identical. We are dealing with two racially exclusive Jewish clubs. In fact, and this is slightly embarrassing, Israel may even be mildly less racist than JVP, for in the Israeli Knesset the 3rd biggest party is Arab, yet JVP leadership is purely and exclusively Jewish.
Gerstenfeld mistakenly writes, “Atzmon even attacks Jews who completely disavow Judaism and Zionism.” Once again the settler believes that I have “attacked” Shlomo Sand and Avigail Abarbanel. I have great respect for Sand and dedicated to his work a chapter in my previous book, “The Wandering Who.” I am critical of some aspects of the work of Sand and of Abarbanel. And yet, I wonder, does intellectual criticism of Jewish writers equate to anti-Semitism? If it does, it suggests that Jews are actually beyond criticism. This is probably the real meaning of “chosenness” in the eyes of some rabid Zionists.
Gerstenfeld is desperate to prove that I am an anti-Semite. But the one thing he can’t find is where I express hatred to Jews for being Jews. Instead, he seeks the help of the IHRA’s (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism. According to the IHRA “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews, as such, or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy, or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions, is an example of anti-Semitism.”
Gerstenfeld suggests that some of my remarks fall in the above category. Gerstenfeld then attempts at cherry-picking but fails to find fruit. “Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say, ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past?” (www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2016/8/28/utopia-nostalgia-and-the-jew) Gerstenfeld is kind enough to also quote my answer. “The progressive Jew grasps that the working class is nostalgic for a pre-Jerusalem-dominated society - a time when American politics wasn’t controlled by the likes of Saban, Soros, Goldman Sachs and other global capitalists who are isolated from production, manufacturing, and farming.”
Gerstenfeld foolishly fell into a trap here. He actually admits that my reference is not to the Jewish people, per se, but to the progressive Jews which is a politically identified sector within American Jewry.
I do accept that Gerstenfeld is not happy with me pointing the finger at Jewish oligarchs like Soros, Saban and, more precisely, at their corrosive role within American politics. But maybe Gerstenfeld should make sure that Jewish press outlets stop bragging about Jewish billionaires being the ‘Five Top Democratic Donors’ as they do here, here and here…
Gerstenfeld, who is probably not the most developed thinker, repeats the same mistake. The IHRA definition asserts that “accusing Jews ‘as a people’ of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews is anti-Semitism.” I totally agree with the IHRA definition. Jewish people shouldn’t be implicated collectively by the crime of a single Jewish felon, a sex offender, or a tyrant. But in the following quote I suggest the complete opposite. “Talking of apologies, the Board of Deputies (BOD) has yet to apologize for Lord Janner allegedly raping British orphans when he was their president and therefore pretty much the representative of British Jews.”
Rather than asking Jews, or British Jews, for that matter, to disassociate themselves from Lord Janner, I expect the Board of Deputies of British Jews to apologize for the sex crimes allegedly committed by their President, especially because the BOD claims to represent British Jews. Is it truly anti-Semitic, I wonder, to expect Jewish institutions to take responsibility for their actions and associations?
In my recent satirical dictionary “A to Zion” I define anti Semites as ‘brutally honest people, often of Jewish origin.’ I guess that I should confess. I am brutally honest and I was a Jew for thirty years.
* I am fully a ware that Semite is a reference to a set of languages rather than race.