With Israel again in the headlines, and not for good reasons, we are compelled to take another look at Zionism and the near-magic ability of Israel to consistently evade opprobrium.
The nature and history of the state of Israel, and Zionism itself, continue to be a difficult and contentious topic to analyse with proper depth and balance. Much of the history consumed by the mass public has been hidden and deformed to suit the agenda of the current winners. Critics of Israeli policy, including many Jews, are frequently if not always tarred with the stigma of anti-semitism (itself a curious, sloppy label since many critics are seeking justice for Palestinians who, as Arabs, are also semites), and denied platforms of influence such as the media or academia, as well as political power.
Aside from its virulent and demonstrably criminal treatment of Palestinians, a form of virulent Apartheid mixed with ethnic cleansing, Israel is also taken to task for its role as a regional and even global sub-imperialist power, often working in cahoots with Washington to advance mutually advantageous schemes in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is no secret that Washington, perennially bathed in hypocrisy, has often used Israel as its willing proxy and accomplice to stir up trouble in some designated places (i.e., Eastern Europe, Central America, the Middle East), or provide technical, propaganda, and military support to brutal regimes justly regarded as pariahs by the world community. In that sense, Israel, which competes with the US for the number of violated UNO resolutions, has gradually earned the image of a ruthless and cynically amoral state. The US-Israel partnership has reached such depth and interpenetration that many now argue it is the Israeli tail that wags the American dog, a case of “malignant symbiosis.”
While prominent Jews such as Elie Wiesel (and of late the Neocons) often spoke about the Holocaust and denounced crimes (real or imagined) of repression and suppression in states regarded by Washington and NATO as foes and competitors in their quest for global domination, they rarely if ever raised their voices to condemn Israel, while helping to paint anti-Zionism as anti-semitism. Despite this pervasive and intentional slander, Israeli crimes have been so depraved, persistent and horrific in magnitude (abetted by Washington’s and the EU’s unconditional support for Tel Aviv) that the wave of global resistance has continued to grow, ironically giving legitimacy and succor to genuine antisemites, and in passing assisting the growth of a new generation of right wing parties. To its shame, a substantial segment of the US Jewish-American intelligentsia, typified by Saul Bellow, have also kept their silence about the Zionist state crimes, when not actively defending it. (See more on this below)
Today, Israeli policy critics comprise a distinguished and varied lot ranging from orthodox Jews, who oppose Israel on religious grounds (Neturei Karta), to secular critics such as Noam Chomsky, Lenni Brenner (Zionism in the Age of the Dictators), Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss), Glen Ford, Ilan Pappe (expatriate Israeli historian), Gilad Atzmon, Uri Avnery, Steve Gowans, Norman Finkelstein, and others of similar stature. And with each new Palestinian martyr killed by some IDF sniper, their ranks are bound to grow.
Denouncing Zionism not for the faint-hearted: the case of Norman Finkelstein
Finkelstein’s first major foray—embarrassing to many of the top intellectual lights of the time— involved the so-called From Time Immemorial controversy. The Wiki presents a useful summary:
From Time Immemorial had been praised by figures as varied as Barbara Tuchman, Theodore H. White, Elie Wiesel, and Lucy Dawidowicz. Saul Bellow, for one, wrote in a jacket endorsement that: “Millions of people the world over, smothered by false history and propaganda, will be grateful for this clear account of the origins of the Palestinians.”
Finkelstein asserted that the book was a “monumental hoax”. He later opined that, while Peters’s book received widespread interest and approval in the United States, a scholarly demonstration of its fraudulence and unreliability aroused little attention.
Is there an Holocaust Industry?
Let’s get this straight first: The fact there is an Holocaust industry does not negate there was an Holocaust.
Even a cursory read of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (2000) leads to uncomfortable and seemingly irrefutable conclusions.
Here, Finkelstein argues that Elie Wiesel and others exploit the memory of the Holocaust as an “ideological weapon”. The purpose, writes Finkelstein, is to enable the State of Israel, “one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, [to] cast itself as a victim state”; that is, to provide Israel “immunity to criticism”.
As fully expected by all parties, the book aroused a fiery controversy. The very notion that something as painful and sacred as the deliberate mass murder of millions of Jews could be transformed into an engine for profits, self-promotion and political propaganda, struck many as heretical if not downright ethically shabby. Of course, most of the critics were already perched on the very stratum of opinion makers that Finkelstein denounces as part of the pro-Israeli claque.
The book received a hostile reception in some quarters, with critics charging that it was poorly researched and/or allowed others to exploit it for antisemitic purposes. The German historian Hans Mommsen disparaged the first edition as “a most trivial book, which appeals to easily aroused anti-Semitic prejudices”. Israeli Holocaust historian Israel Gutman called the book “a lampoon”, stating “this is not research; it isn’t even political literature… I don’t even think it should be reviewed or critiqued as a legitimate book.” The book was also harshly criticized by Brown University Professor Omer Bartov and University of Chicago Professor Peter Novick.
However, preeminent Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg said the book expressed views Hilberg himself subscribed to in substance, in that he too found the exploitation of the Holocaust, as Finkelstein describes, “detestable”. Asked on another occasion if Finkelstein’s analysis might play into the hands of neo-Nazis for antisemitic purposes, Hilberg replied: “Well, even if they do use it in that fashion, I’m afraid that when it comes to the truth, it has to be said openly, without regard to any consequences that would be undesirable, embarrassing”.
Hilberg is rare for his honesty, but as he points out, the truth is the truth and it’s useless to deny it: sooner or later it will surface to the embarrassment of many, albeit not necessarily those who profited most from hiding it. Which leaves us pretty much where we are at present, facing a huge machine of disinformation prepared to keep cranking out lies in the service of Israel, even as her crimes and dysfunctions mount with each passing day—again, a curious mirror to the trajectory exhibited by her own principal champion, the United States.
Anti-Zionism, anti-semitism, and the shameful passivity of too many American Jews
The brutish age of Trump, as many foresaw, with Zionism literally in the first family’s bosom, has brought Israel’s lawless impudence to a new height. The bizarre spectacle on May 15, of a crowd of worthies celebrating the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem, in defiance of practically every international norm and convention, such act underscored by Israel’s savage repression of protesting Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prompts the question that many Jews throughout the West and especially the US are loath to ask themselves: how long can I remain silent and passive in the face of Israeli crimes? Am I not responsible for these outrages, which, incidentally, are giving (as pointed earlier) a new lease on life, a new respectability, to fierce anti-semites everywhere?
Obviously, some will say with some reason on their side, that American Jews cannot be held responsible for the crimes and excesses of the Likud zealots, and Netanyahu in particular, nor can they be held fully accountable for the crimes and plots of the Neocon gang sitting atop US foreign policy, many of whom also happen to be Jewish. Some things simply escape the control of ordinary citizens, and most Jews living in America, like the rest of the population, are not exactly shapers of policy but helpless recipients of policy. This despite the fact that Jewish-Americans are well known for outranking almost all other ethnicities and subcultures (only ascending Asians have recently surpassed them in that regard) for their accomplishments in almost all fields of social interaction, from the professions, to media presence (few can match Jews as communicators), entertainment, the arts, and the rarified (and often suspect) world of big business and high finance. But the fact is, embarrassing as it may sound to Jews themselves, there are plenty of poor Jews out there, some outstanding for their mediocrity, oxymoronic as it sounds. Schmuck, shlemiel, and shlimazel, after all, are all Yiddish words. (And irreplaceable, too.) So there’s no escaping the responsibility of American Jews for at least trying to reign in Israel’s colossal disregard for lawful, let alone moral behaviour.
While turning a blind eye may be secretly justified as giving Israel—the country of last recourse in case of trouble—a pass to survive and prosper, this is also now accelerating the growth of general anti-Jewishness in many quarters, and creating, too, via Israel’s own reckless and arrogant policies (as seen in its constant warmongering in Syria and Iran) the conditions for its own unraveling, nuclear-tipped missiles or not. Israel’s left, such as it is, must be given support, and that support starts with speaking out on Israel’s crimes, the sheer arrogance and wrongheadedness of Likud chauvinism, and America’s cynical and utterly corrupt blind subservience to Tel Aviv’s actions, a policy far more likely dictated by a commonality of oligarchic class interests dominant in both countries (as well as the EU) than the ostensible question of protecting “the only democracy in the Middle East” and similar drivel.
Bad karma on the rise
The silence of American Jews regarding Israel is compounded by their tacit approval, or insouciance, of what prominent Jews in government and media—from the notorious russophobes Adam Schiff, a demagogic Democrat from California, and Rachel Maddow, an MSNBC disinformer— have been doing to stir up trouble with Russia on the basis of groundless allegations first concocted by the Hillary camp in conjunction with CIA operatives, former and current.
The cynical promotion of Russiagate, a form of induced national psychosis with a view to prepare the populace to accept the possibility of all-out war (of late joined by the EU’s two most notorious vassal states, France and Britain) has reached truly reckless dimensions, driving two heavily nuclear-armed superpowers ever closer to a catastrophic confrontation—all on the basis of outrageous lies.
Everyone with a passing knowledge of recent US history and foreign policy knows that the leading drivers of the anti-Russia obsession and perennial wars of choice (they gave us already the Iraq war, remember?)—all predicated on the PNAC doctrine that America must remain the global hegemon, the sole superpower, at any cost—are the neocons deeply embedded in the highest echelons of policymaking. But here’s the rub: most top neocons are Jewish, some holding dual Israeli/American papers. (Russiagaters should look into that, as a form of right-under-their-noses suspect meddling in the affairs of the United States.).
Why do we mention this? Because it was the neocons who, among other things, embroiled the US in the Ukraine (on Obama’s watch) (1), first in pursuit of a regime-change color revolution and eventually an outright coup in 2014, in which Neonazi elements were first enlisted by the US, and continue to wield extraordinary influence in what is now a clearly failed state. The upshot of this cynical act is that Kiev and Lviv—two major Ukrainian cities—are crawling with Neonazis these days, and anyone can see them, or bump into them, as they are everywhere and have rarely tried to hide their presence or nasty political predilections. The only ones who apparently rarely manage to see them are those who should be seeing them or looking for them as part of their metier: Western journalists, especially American.
A key player in the making of this mess was former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who, with husband Robert Kagan, are both Jewish and prominent neocons.
The fact that powerful Jewish neocons support Neonazis is certainly more than embarrassing, it goes against the official narrative that all Jews, and America along with them, must support Israel at any price as a last bastion against the feared resurgence of such malignancy on the world stage. So where is Rachel Maddow here, when we really need her? Why isn’t she and her ilk whipping up some furor among her loyal followers that US officials are actually abetting the empowerment of Nazis in an strategically critical nation, all because it suits America’s designs to check Russia’s emergence as as fully sovereign nation, and one also capable of playing a decisive role in world affairs? In fact, why is Maddow not frothing at the mouth (as she does when it comes to evil Russia) when denouncing the betrayal of Jewish oligarchs in Eastern Europe, and, again, particularly in the Ukraine, where they have shamelessly stepped forth to actually fund and lead Neonazi formations? Igor Kolomoisky (dual citizenship, Ukrainian/Israeli) is notorious for fomenting and supporting Neonazi militias, virtually private armies, which he has used on various occasions to protect his extensive private assets.
Writing on Vox.com, Amanda Taub notes that,
Kolomoisky, an oligarch who is also the governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, is a significant backer of the pro-Kiev private militias fighting in the country’s east. He funds the Dnipro Battalion, a private army that, according to the Wall Street Journal, has 2,000 battle-ready fighters and another 20,000 in reserve. Newsweek reported that Kolomoisky has funded other militia groups, as well. (We just got a glimpse of how oligarch-funded militias could bring chaos to Ukraine, vox.com, Mar 23, 2015)
So Jewish Ukrainian oligarchs are openly in bed with Neonazis and no one seems to mind, including the self-assigned champion of Zionist honor and Jewish welfare, the blowhard B. Netanyahu.
The Holocaust—a brand worth monopolising
As discussed above, critics of Israel and Zionist posturing like Norman Finkelstein have questioned the cynical use of the Holocaust for less than honorable purposes. Finkelstein has no use for “professional Holocaust survivors,” a brand in which E. Wiesel excelled, with the not quite disinterested help from middlebrow cultural megaphones like Oprah Winfrey (the latter saw career benefit in further ingratiating herself with powerful Jewish barons in the media and entertainment industries, you can never prove your fealty often enough), while Wiesel, ever the manipulator, saw no insurmountable ethical problem in allowing himself to be so used, since he too was deriving profit from the association. The duo sealed their mariage de convenance with their visit to Auschwitz, synonymous with Hitlerite mass murder. I suppose the visit—besides its cloying sentimentality—was useful to open the eyes of the last guys who had been living under a rock for the last 90 years, and who’d never heard of Nazi crimes, but then again, at least in America, basic knowledge of history can never be taken for granted. I’ll give them that.
Inevitably, the Wiesel/Oprah pilgrimage to Auschwitz (incidentally while horrible and lethal, not the worst the Nazis actually deployed in their nightmarish network of death camps) stirred the blood of various anti-semites, who found the occasion opportune to begin clobbering the public mind, or whoever would listen, with one of their pet historical revisionist lines: the Holocaust never happened.
Why dyed-in-the-wool folks “Jew haters” would go to such ludicrous lengths to discharge their venom is beyond me, since, like it or not, the fact of the Holocaust cannot possibly be denied. East is East, you know. Maybe such people are cut from the same cloth of those who believe the US won World War II single-handedly, more or less; or who think Russia meddled in America’s sacrosanct elections in 2016, lustily bombed women and babies in Syria, or that it “took over” the Crimea (which belonged to them for centuries, by the way), and has repeatedly invaded the Ukraine, shot down MH17, and is now, right now, plotting the enslavement of all of Western Europe, starting with the subjugation of Poland and the ever-paranoid Baltic statelets, for no discernible gain…hence we can never be too careful and NATO must be preserved.
But, friends, Holocaust deniers, who are generally true anti-semites, should not be confused with people who merely resent the Jewish/Israeli monopolisation of the term “Holocaust”. Why? Because, as the case of Israel proves, claiming great victimisation usually gives the franchise holder immunity to commit great crimes. And if you are not into great crimes sans pénalité, then it grants you great sympathy all round, and who doesn’t like that? I know I do. In this, Jews, in general, have been rather myopic about the consequences of their attempt at hoarding of this word. They forget that such monopoly creates enemies, and that only fools can indulge in the wholesale spawning of enemies without fear of some untoward occurrence down the line. But even if we don’t worry about the creation of enemies, Holocaust hoarders forget that any history book can puncture their conceit: long before there was a Hitler menace at large in the world, the Turks had engaged in the systematic, mass extermination of Armenians, one of the earliest 20th century genocides proper. The Wiki is again useful in this regard:
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց ցեղասպանություն,[note 3] Hayots tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, was the Ottoman government‘s systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians,[note 2]mostly citizens within the Ottoman Empire. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Ankara 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert.
Is that horrid enough? The Turks in this regard share the Israelis and Jews, in general, desire to keep the Holocaust as a private brand, in the family, so to speak. They just don’t like it much when people begin to nose around that very dark chapter in their recent history.
And there are other claimants as well, with good titles to the terrible distinction of industrial scope victimisation. The brutal treatment accorded Russians and other Eastern Europeans (untermenschen) by the Nazis ended up costing the Soviet Union 27 million people: that figure included of course many soldiers and combatants, but it also included several million helpless civilians, whom the Nazis, without the benefit of herding them into death camps, simply massacred across vast expanses of Russia or liquidated by criminal neglect or denial of their means of basic sustenance. Other respectable voices have also made a compelling case that greedy Western Europeans, by bringing their vaunted superior civilisation to the American shores, also unleashed a several-centuries-long genocide, costing the native populations (and those forcibly brought from Africa as slaves) tens of millions of people, not to mention unspeakable suffering inflicted by the new lords.
Talking about Jewish things is never easy. Jewishness is almost always synonymous with “complicated”. And Jews, in their complexities and contradictions are also ultra-sensitive to any perceived injury, to flesh or mind. And how could it be otherwise? Their long history is punctuated by external and self-inflicted horrors, almost calculated to creating a very schizoid, guarded inner personality (psychobabble, granted). Tales of conquest, submission to a higher power and wholesale death, followed by a reversal of roles, with Hebrews in the executioner’s seat. The Bible, read impartially, like a Martian might, drips with crazy violence and bloodthirsty Gods, including their often ridiculous commands to sacrifice a loved one to prove fealty to the Almighty, who, by logic should scarcely need such offering; wage brutal war on some perceived enemy, or commit mass kidnapping of females (for this, the Jewish God was less than original; this practice was common in antiquity, as even Roman protohistory speaks of the kidnapping of the Sabine women).
For a refresher course in gentile barbarism toward Jews all we need is to read Barbara Tuchman’s enthralling tome on the Middle Ages, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. It’s literally an eye-opener. It was for me, and I thought Huizinga was the last word. So if you think the Germans are (or were) unique in their ferocious anti-Jewish prejudices, read Tuchman, and, while in the neighborhood, take a look at Hugh Thomas’s classic, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire 1490-1522, where, among other nuggets, you’ll find plenty of insight on why the Jews were resented in medieval Europe (spoiler: much had to do with the nobles and the Catholic Church, who used them for unpopular tasks). Or maybe the whole thing is very easy. As Maimonides is reputed to have said,
The riddle of Jewishness is a mystery hiding in plain sight.
But whatever the true nature of Jews, and probably there is no such thing for Jews or any other segment of humanity, one thing is certain: In America they have a critical role to play now, for only they can reopen a general debate on the morality of Israel’s actions, and the role played by many establishment Jews in the fomenting of wars in the Middle East and other latitudes, and the further dismantling of an already largely eviscerated democracy. They can mobilise and try to stop the madness and the slide of humanity toward the abyss, or they can do nothing. Either way, Netanyahu and his ilk, those who make the wounds, have counted for much too long on the deafening silence of righteous American Jews. In the interim, too much has happened.
The ball is now literally in their court.
(1) The Neocon mafia is certainly not all Jewish, although they constitute the majority at this point. That said, US foreign policy of confrontation with and/or destruction of Russia, or any competing power, is also a product of pure, 100% Anglo-Saxon protestant ruling class machinations: it was “Pappy” Bush— George H. W. Bush—who played a major role in betraying the promise to despicably naive M. Gorbachev that, if the Soviet Union was to be dismantled, the US would not roll NATO up to her frontiers. In fact, the expectation by Gorbachev was that upon the dispersal of the Warsaw Pact, NATO, too, would be disbanded. Alas, we know that what Washington was planning was the exact opposite.
Published on Jul 11, 2009
Empire Files: Israeli Army Vet’s Exposé – “I Was the Terrorist”
A significant number of Israeli soldiers have come forth to denounce Israeli policy against Palestinians and refuse to obey further orders, a form of “conscientious objector” in IDF uniform.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found
In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all.— Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report