By Gilad Atzmon
We learned this week that the Israeli police have recommended indicting PM Netanyahu for bribery. Some Israeli commentators opine that this move by the Israeli police is the end of Netanyahu or at least the beginning of his end. I am not convinced that this is the case, Bibi has proved to be both resilient and resistant. In any case, Netanyahu won’t be the first Israeli politician to face trial and possible imprisonment. His predecessor Ehud Olmert was sentenced after being convicted of fraud, breach of trust, bribery and tax evasion.
Disdain for the law and a lack of ethics are deeply entrenched within the Israeli elite and in its political leadership in particular. Yet, unlike Bibi and Olmert, Moshe Katzav wasn’t really interested in mammon, bribery or fraudulent activity. When Katzav was president, it turned out that predatory sexual behaviour was his thing. He was exposed and paid the price. On 22 March 2011, Moshe Katsav became the first former President of Israel to be sent to prison when he was sentenced to seven years with two additional years probation for rape, indecent acts, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice.
Disregard of elementary ethics, it seems, is so common in the Jewish State political universe that Wikipedia decided to dedicate a special page to this social phenomenon titled “List of Israeli public officials convicted of crimes or misdemeanors.”
This begs the question, what is it with the Jewish State and its criminality? Wasn’t Zionism a promise to fix the Jews, to make them productive and ethical or as an early Zionist phrased it -- ‘people like all other people’?
In fact, the Zionist promise may actually explain why so many Israeli politicians have ended up behind bars or at least faced indictment. The early Zionist promise expressed a desperate Jewish wish to morph into a civilised nation, to depart from Jerusalem and bond, once and for all, with Athens.
In my latest book Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto, I return to Leo Strauss’ realisation that while Jerusalem is the city of revelation, commandments, mitzvoth, a set of litigations that prescribes what to do and what no to do: Athens is the birth place of philosophy, ethics and aesthetics. While in Athens we think things through, in Jerusalem we follow "naaseh v'nishma" (Hebrew) -- ‘do first, understand later.’ Jerusalem, as such, is an anti ethical sphere for in Jerusalem the ethical judgment is replaced by rigid litigation, regulation and obedience.
In Israel, no doubt we see some deep institutional criminality within the political sector. But on the other hand, the fact that Israeli public figures end up behind bars and on a routine basis suggests that the Zionist inclination to revolutionise and amend the Jew is still there. Not many states see their leaders jailed one after the other and not within the context of a coup or a radical regime change.
Zionism can be seen as an intense dialectical tension between the ‘imaginary Athens,’ that phantasy of Jewish spiritual and ethical metamorphosis, and the ‘Jerusalemite oppressive reality,’ the rigid form of Talmudic obedience, litigation and political survival subject to legal loop holes.
As far as I can tell, this dialectic doesn’t exist in the Jewish diaspora’s institutional universe. Let’s look at a few examples. Lord Greville Janner was exposed in British media as an alleged arch sex predator. New allegations about Lord Janner keep surfacing in Britain. A closer look into Lord Janner’s timeline reveals that at the time he was allegedly engaged in multiple incidents of predatory behaviour he was the president of the Board Of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), a body that claims to ‘represent British Jews.’ Lord Janner was practically the head of British Jews but Lord Janner was also the founding patron and the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Trust. To date, not one of these Jewish bodies has apologised or expressed any concern over their association with Lord Janner.
Recently we learned from the Jewish Chronicle that Jeremy Newmark, a dubious labour politician as well as an ardent Zionist was ejected from his seat as chief executive of the Jewish Community Leader after an audit revealed that he “he deceived the organisation out of tens of thousands of pounds and misled charities about the cost of projects he worked on.” The JC further revealed that the leaders of the Jewish organisation were engaged in an intensive cover up. They apparently didn’t see a duty to inform the British public that Newmark had a failure in his ethical record.
If you think that what I describe here is only a Zionist diaspora symptom I may disagree with you. JVP, Mondoweiss and other Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist organisations have been following the same Jerusalemite path, using every trick in the Hasbara book and attempting to silence critical voices that do not fit within their Judeo Centric ‘solidarity’ program. These solidarity bodies have subverted the terminology of the solidarity movement in order to eliminate the core of the Palestine plight, namely the Palestinian Right of Return. They have employed Talmudic Herem (excommunication) tactics against those who dared think freely or creatively (Alison Weir, Greta Berlin, yours truly and even Miko Peled). Here in Britain the Jewish ‘Free of Speech on Israel’ uses the same tactics to ensure that the discourse of the oppressed is dominated by the sensitivities of the oppressor. Sadly, it isn’t Athens, ethics or the universal that fuels these Jewish so called ‘progressive’ organisations, instead they are motivated by the most banal crude tribal concerns.
I guess my verdict may be disappointing to most peace lovers as it is devastating to me.
Much as many of us hate Israeli aggression and despise Zionism, it is possible that when it comes to the Jews; Israel, and its phantasmic Athenian ethos is slightly ahead of the diaspora self identified political Jews both Zionist and the so called ‘anti.’ This may explain why the real and most profound whistleblowers; people who contributed significantly to the understanding of the essentiality of Israel, Zionism and Jewishness have been Israelis and ex Israelis, people like Israel Shahak, Uri Avneri, Gideon Levi, Shlomo Sand, Israel Shamir and the Palestinian Sayed Kashua.
Despite its endless list of sins, Zionism has brought to life a form of Jewish dialectics that has produced a significant body of dissent and a greater understanding of the problematic aspects of choseness in general and Jewishness in particular.
If they wants to burn it, you want to read it ...