2009-10-16

The Zionist Dream, from delusion to vindictiveness

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Gilad Atzmon’s analysis of the Zionism strikes harmonious chords with other analyses of the psychology of fundamentalist Christianity, in particular with the latter’s self identity being grounded in a sense of natural worthlessness (consequence of sin) and in their belief that they can only become “whole” through fantasies that view others as inferior or worthless or evil. Compare the founding “ideals” of Zionism which include a desire to become “ordinary humans”, as if their self identity does not otherwise permit them them to see themselves as such.

Gilad Atzmon – the Wikipedia article

Gilad Atzmon’s website (including other articles)

From Delusion to Vindictiveness

Interpreting the Zionist Dream

By Gilad Atzmon

Early Zionism was indeed a cheerful dream, it was all about the transformation of the ‘Jew’ into a ‘civilised, respectful and authentic human being’. The founders of Zionism were inspired by the notions of ‘people like any other people’ and ‘nation amongst nations’. Reading early Zionists such as Nordau, Borochov and Gordon provides us with some very contemptuous references to Jewish character and identity that would make Nazi ideology look mildly liberal.

However, one is advised to take a short break for a second and to contemplate critically over the above Zionist dream. One may wonder what kind of people dream of ‘becoming human beings’. Can anyone imagine a French, English or Chinese man or woman who dreams of becoming an ordinary ‘human’? We can easily think of oppressed human beings who demand to be treated as humans (Palestinians, Civil Rights movements, anti Apartheid and so on). Yet, the Zionist dream is rather different. It is not just about the desire for recognition or equality, it is not just about being treated appropriately, it is also a dream of ‘self-transformation’. In fact, it is all about a miraculous metamorphosis from a morbid ‘abnormal’ state of being into an acceptable decent human form.

Within the context of a fictional fable we can easily imagine a cow that fantasises to become a dairy farmer, a pig who ‘dies to’ become a Kosher schnitzel, a snake who aspires to take over the Labour party and then to launch a new Zionist illegal war. And yet, it is pretty unusual to think of people who have managed to develop an aspiration to become ‘ordinary humans’.

An intelligible way to explain or interpret that very unusual dream is probably to assume that those who succumb to the Zionist dream are those who happen to believe that, as far as their natural state of being is concerned, they are indeed remotely human. One would rightly assume that those who dream to become humans must be convinced that humanity is somehow not exactly a characteristic that they happen to possess.

Yesterday during a talk at Librairie Résistances, Paris (a fund raising event for Gaza) I was asked for my interpretation of Israeli ‘evolving barbarism’, how is it possible that 84% of the Israelis supported the IDF genocidal crime in Gaza last December. “In order to understand how these Israeli murderous practices emerged” I said, “all we have to do is to trace back and reread the early Zionist ideologists.” We can easily learn from Zionist thinkers about their ‘dream’ and their vision of their fellow brothers. They, the founders of modern Jewish nationalism happened to admit somehow that something was totally corrupted within the Jewish identity, culture and character. However, they genuinely believed that it was amendable.

Zionism was there to bring about a new Jew, a civilised productive human being. It was indeed a very wet and epic dream. As an Israeli youngster I myself succumbed to this dream. I tended to believe that Israel was ‘my’ historic land, I regarded the Biblical protagonists as my direct ancestors. I was sure that, at least in the case of the so called ‘first Israelis’, the ideological transplant operation was a great success. We, the young Israeli natives tended to believe that we were all nothing less than a success story of ‘modified-civilised-humanist-secular-beings’.

Needless to say that the history of Palestine, the Palestinians and the Nakba was totally hidden from us. We didn’t see the Palestinians around us either, we were hardly aware of their suffering not to say their cause. We were in fact totally blind. We tended also to believe that our army was the ‘most humanist army around’. We grew up with the ‘1967 Victorious Diary’, a legendary chunky photo album every Israeli held in a prominent location on his book shelve. There in that glossy propaganda book an Israeli soldier was giving his water to an Egyptian prisoner. We regarded him as a symbol of our people’s endorsement of universal humanism. We were obviously not aware of the horrendous fact that the Sinai Desert was actually a slaughter field for hundreds of Egyptian POWs. Why didn’t we know? This in itself is a very good question. Our fathers who fought in this war must have known something but they kept quiet. Our parents who witnessed the 1948 convoys of Palestinians refugees should have known something about the Nakba but they somehow kept quiet. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t just our parents, we followed the exact same pattern. Once we ourselves matured into IDF soldiers, we did exactly the same, we turned a blind eye (1982 in Lebanon). And this has never changed. The Israeli moral awakening has never happened. By now I allow myself to argue that it won’t happen. The Zionist dream is just too comfortable. After more than one hundred years of moral phantasmic delusion the Israelis are deeply stuck in an ethical coma.

The Zionist dream of a ‘humanist metamorphosis’ has never matured into reality or practice. Quite the opposite, Israelis and Zionists have learned to see themselves through a phantasmic illusionary prism. Rather than being transformed into humanists for real, they have become ‘leading humanists’ in their own extreme judeo-centric dream.

Freud taught us that the dream is there to prolong the sleep: a siren, a baby cry and a dripping tap that takes place in the outside would be incorporated into the dream so we can keep snoozing. The ‘Israeli humanist dream’ operates in a similar manner, it is there to prolong the Zionist snore, it is there to keep Jews aloof to the crimes that are committed by their state, and in their names. The disturbances that come from the ‘outside world’ such as the Goldstone report or Ahmadinejad’s valid criticisms are incorporated into their dream as ‘white noise’ motivated by ‘pathological antisemitism’. Though in reality the Jewish state is barbarian with no comparison, in their dream, it is nothing but ‘business as usual’.

The daily reality of Israeli barbarism in Palestine should bring us back to elaborate over the Zionist dream of transformation. In spite of the great promise, the Jewish state has failed to become a ‘nation like other nations’. Similarly, the Zionist people are not exactly ‘people like other people’ for no other people approve genocide collectively.

The Jewish state that was supposed to be a celebration of identity transformation became instead the ultimate embodiment of the morbid symptoms Zionism was there to heal. Israel has already managed to surround itself by gigantic ghetto walls, it spits fire and WMD on its indigenous population. It locks millions in concentration camps and starves them. As bizarre as it may be, only in the face of Israeli colossal barbarism, can one adequately understand the full meaning of the irony of the Zionist dream of humanist metamorphosis.

Zionism was doomed to fail: it is a blood related project, it is racially orientated and it is supremacist to the bone. The Zionist dream has become a true devastating nightmare for real: the Golem* Jewish State wakes up every morning to commit more and more crimes in the name of the Jewish people. With an arsenal of hundreds of nuclear bombs and motivated by a phantasmic Holocaust religion that preaches nothing but vengeance, there is no greater danger to humanity, humanism and our civilization than Israel and its lobbies around the world.

All I have to say is beware!

*Golem – a Yiddish Frankenstein

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)

30 Comments

  • rey
    2009-10-17 00:20:56 GMT+0000 - 00:20 | Permalink

    Marcionism is the solution. There the human being is not deficient as in Judaism and OT accepting Christianity. There the racist god of the OT is deficient, and being better than him (rather than like him) is the goal.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 00:32:04 GMT+0000 - 00:32 | Permalink

    Marcionism is also the answer to the worldwide aggression of Islam. Their god is the demiurge also. They need to quit seeking to be like him and be better than him like the Alien God.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 00:55:02 GMT+0000 - 00:55 | Permalink

    As for the comment “no other people approve of genocide collectively” that is simply not true, because Muslims approve of it as well as Jews, and why? They both worship the demiurge with absolutely no admixture of Marcionism in there.

  • 2009-10-17 07:20:41 GMT+0000 - 07:20 | Permalink

    You expose your ignorance of both Zionism and Islam. Zionism, which is the subject of the article you are commenting on, is not Judaism. The sense of “deficiency” you speak of, if you comprehend Gilad’s article and its historical context, has more to do with psychological and historical realities of the real world and nothing to do with “Judaism” per se.

    Your statements about Islam resonate with the all too depressing American isolationist ignorance and fantasies of the non-American world. There is little excuse for this among the internet savvy who can, if they wish, inform themselves more broadly.

    I have just returned rom a holiday in the world’s largest Muslim country and met many Muslims there, and established longer term friendships with some, and can assure you that I met not a single person (includind devout Muslims) there who have the slightest interest in any so-called program of “worldwide aggression” or “genocide”.

    No-one needs a new religion. Many leaders of Judaism initially opposed Zionism for its non-religious agenda. Some still do: see the photo attached to my post titled “the irony“.

    There have subsequently emerged extremist Judaistic and Islamic sects that preach violence but these are rejected by their mainstream matrices. The genocide perpetrated by Zionism is a counterpart to the same type of nationalist-supremacist inspired genocide of aboriginal peoples in the American and Australian continents. Zionism is the same order of political-nationalist ideology that European nations finally learned to jettison by the mid 1940’s.

    Fundamentalist Christian support for this Zionism, indeed any support for it, is terribly, criminally, misguided. To call on the Holocaust to further justify it is a cynical exploitation of the memory of Holocaust victims.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 07:45:24 GMT+0000 - 07:45 | Permalink

    “You expose your ignorance of both Zionism and Islam. Zionism, which is the subject of the article you are commenting on, is not Judaism.”

    I don’t buy that. The religion may not be at the forefront anymore, but it is in some way based on the idea. Why else would one little strip of land in a certain location mean so much? Why return to a land you haven’t been in for over a thousand years if its not because you secretly harbor the belief (even if you outwardly profess atheism) that you are entitled to that land because your god gave it to you? If it isn’t religious, any land would do. And as for Muslims not supporting worldwide aggression, they are good at duping westerners. I’m sure the guy who was training the 19 hijackers how to fly a plane didn’t think they were going to do anything violent either. Fact is, everyone needs a new religion–or an old one that’s new to us because its been suppressed.

    • 2009-10-17 07:59:12 GMT+0000 - 07:59 | Permalink

      Read a bit about the history of Zionism. Its leaders included atheists who used the Bible as a blueprint for a national homeland. Even the non-religious can use the Bible for non-religious ends. (Extremist religious Zionists have since 1967 assumed a more prominent base of its support, but that is but one chapter to the story.) The Biblical beliefs formed part of a cultural identity and of course Palestine was the logical choice for people imbued with such a cultural identity. But mainstream religious Jews opposed Zionism at the beginning.

      Your equation of “Muslims” with “19 hijackers” is the same level of logic as equating “two-legged creatures” with “human”. All 19 hijackers were muslim, therefore all muslims are potential terrorists? Socrates is a man, therefore all men are Socrates?

      To smear the whole for the acts of a handful is the same “logic” that is at the root of all racism and intolerance.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 08:05:23 GMT+0000 - 08:05 | Permalink

    And why would the Zionists zealously guard that land against ancient foes by committing genocide against them (as you are alleging the Israelis are doing, which is totally your allegation and one I’ve never even heard of before) like their ancestors supposedly did in the past according to a religious book, unless they believe in that religious book and believe that ‘god’ gives them the right to commit said genocide? The argument that the religion is not behind Zionism in some way is foolish. But then again, if your accusations of genocide are false, then the link between the religion and Zionism is broken. So perhaps, when you say that Zionism is not based on religion, what you really mean is that you made up the story about the Israelis committing genocide in the present day. After all, you say that Ahmedinajad has ‘valid criticisms’–this is the same guy who says he wants to wipe Israel off the map! I think you betray some anti-semitism there. Are you making up the sotry of Israelis committing genocide because you hate Jews? Your taking of side is unwise, and perhaps secretly religiously motived(?) by a pro-Islamic view?

    This is a sticky subject and one would be well advised to not take sides. I don’t. I say both sides are wrong and religion has a whole lot to do with it. They need a new religion that teaches that you don’t go trying to kill off all of the other guy for a piece of land. They need a new religion that says people of diverse ethnicities can get along together and live in the same nation and there doesn’t need to be a Jewish nation and a Palestinian nation. There can be one nation that accepts both. I’m not going to impose a new religion on them. I’m just saying they need one. But that conflict over there will just simply go on forever as long as both sides keep thinking in tribal BC mentality that this land is only for their kind and the other kind needs to be exterminated. That is exactly the problem, and its part racial and part religious, but to a lot of extent the religions and ethnicities are blurred as though they are one and the same.

    The only solution is a religion to unite both together, a religion not based on ethnicity, which means neither Judaism nor Islam. “You show your ignorance: Judaism and Islam are not based on ethnicity.” They are based on worship of certain holy sites, which turns into territorialism, and territorialism eventually becomes ethnic squabbles. Is this not true?

    The whole idea that the Creator dishes out land to his favored people (and idea at the root of Judaism and Islam), the idea that Abraham was granted by the demiurge some special status above all others and his children from one son or the others is supposed to rule the world, to the Jews Isaac and to the Muslims Ishmael, is clearly at the heart of this conflict, even for those whose religious feelings are cool and who only have these religious concepts as a vague ethnic remembrance.

    A religion that doesn’t venerate the Creator, but a God from a foreign universe, could very well solve this problem. But I suppose atheism will find a better way to improve people’s morality by arguing that religion has nothing to do with any of what it obviously does have something to do with.

    • 2009-10-17 09:31:44 GMT+0000 - 09:31 | Permalink

      You raise many points that are commonly expressed and need and deserve to be answered. I will do so in a comment further below.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 08:21:08 GMT+0000 - 08:21 | Permalink

    And speaking of the onesided treatment, you want to talk about how the Zionists supposedly aspire to be human. What about how the Palestinians supposedly aspire nothing greater than to blow themselves up to kill off a handful of Zionists??? And you say neither side needs a new religion?

    • 2009-10-17 09:17:48 GMT+0000 - 09:17 | Permalink

      It appears you have misunderstood Gilad Atzmon’s (not my) article. He is addressing how the Jews felt “left out” in a sense from the “rest of the nations” throughout an era of strong national identities and movements. They had no “nation state” like other “nationalisms” — and there may even be something of their taking on the negative view of their persecutors. Zionism, it might be said, was born out of a victimhood mentality as a way of compensation.

      As for “how the Palestinians supposedly desire . . . to kill . . .” sadly reflects misinformation and a very narrow understanding of Middle East situation and events. It may be the dominant message where you are, but with the internet you have the opportunity to broaden your understanding and knowledge. (e.g. informationclearinghouse.info is a regularly updated collation of news sources from around the world — not just one perspective from one corner of it).

      “The Palestinians”, you and many others should know, do not support terrorism. (I base this statement on discussions with several Palestinians in the West Bank, with discussions with westerners who have lived and worked in the West Bank, and from in depth reports and scholarly research published in various books on the Palestinians and state of Israel.) Even though in a free election they voted for Hamas, all political commentators from the area conceded that that was more a sign of frustration with the corruption of the hitherto existing Fatah led government than love of Hamas. Further, Hamas came to power on the basis of a large minority vote that gave them the majority representation — they did not come to power with majority public support. (International observers all said it was a free and fair election.) The same anomalies occur in most countries where proportional representation and electoral boundaries are involved — including Australian and its various state elections.

      But where any people are subjected daily to dehumanizing humiilation of the occupation, to regular loss of land and crops (by wanton destruction), to having open sewage piped from neighbouring occupying settlers into their own villages, to walls and road blocks such that many cannot make it to hospitals or visit relatives or continue education, to mass punishments for the actions of a few, to arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, intimidating shootings that sometimes randomly kill, . . . this is all designed by expansionist occupiers (not self defence of an originally allocated bit of land) to destroy and prevent any resurgence of a Palestinian culture and identity. People who have no hope — who are dehumanized this way — death is preferable to many such people. And if some of those decide to seek vengeance on a people they see as responsible for their plight, how can we sit back in our comfy western living rooms and say “we must not take sides” in this dispute as if both sides are equally culpable! (Of course murder of any kind by any side is evil. I am not suggesting one is justified against the other — but we do need to get a sense of justice and understanding.)

      Please read my review of Hage who also discusses suicide bombing in the Palestinian context.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 08:42:34 GMT+0000 - 08:42 | Permalink

    sorry. i will not even bother commenting on this type of stuff in the future. atheism and moral theism are so incompatible that there is just no way to discuss this subject between the two perspectives. atheism denies that things based on religion are based on religion. of course you’re probably thinking the opposite, that i deny that what is not based on religion is not. no point in us arguing this. be as onesided as you want. i’m done.

    • 2009-10-17 09:26:25 GMT+0000 - 09:26 | Permalink

      Why should an atheist be any less moral than a theist? Why should a theist be any more moral than an atheist?

      Surely if the basis of one’s morality is the edict of an external authority then one has a very immature basis for moral behaviour. That is the morality of children merely doing what their parents tell them for fear of punishment or hope of reward. To the extent that the external edicts are internalized they become “right” merely because “So and So says so!”

      Morality that is grounded in identity with one’s common humanity, that seeks the welfare of humankind because of its intrinsic nature and one’s identity with it, is surely a less arbitary and more secure basis for sound moral judgments, I would think.

      As I say below: Am I any less moral than a theist for believing in tolerance, respect, humanity and democratic processes for all, and for attacking ethnic cleansing and racism and violence? Am I less moral for attempting to understand the violent crimes by studying the facts on the ground (not the myths of a religious text) as a necessary prerequisite for finding the most stable solution?

  • 2009-10-17 10:50:52 GMT+0000 - 10:50 | Permalink

    Hi Rey — You raise some important questions that need and deserve serious responses. I do not question your sincerity. I trust you will not question mine — nor my “morality”, atheist though I am.

    rey:

    And why would the Zionists zealously guard that land against ancient foes by committing genocide against them (as you are alleging the Israelis are doing, which is totally your allegation and one I’ve never even heard of before) like their ancestors supposedly did in the past according to a religious book, unless they believe in that religious book and believe that ‘god’ gives them the right to commit said genocide?

    Neil: Never heard of the allegation of genocide? But you read it in the article by the Jewish writer I published above. The allegation of genocidal acts against Palestinians is made by religious Jews themselves. See Zionism and the Art of Genocide Denial and Jews Against Zionist Genocide in Palestine for starters — just two sources I picked up from a google search in 2 seconds. Read other (including Jewish) scholarly research, in particular by Ilan Pappe and Nur Masalha, Raja Shehadeh (a Palesitinian), et al. See a broader perspective of news sources such as those at informationclearinghouse.info et al. (Also another recent article by Pappe.)

    I have a link in my blog’s right margin to sources that give “the other side of the story” almost never heard in a few powerful countries, particularly the U.S. from what I understand. You live in the reportedly “free-est” and richest and most free-media-swamped nation on earth so how come you have never heard what the rest of the world knows?

    As for the term “genocide”, I am not using it in the biblical sense, but in its contemporary meaning as defined during the post-World War 2 efforts to criminalize and prevent repeats of what happened in the 1940’s. See the UN Human Rights definition:

    This convention bans acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. It declares genocide a crime under international law whether committed during war or peacetime, and binds all signators of the convention to to take measures to prevent and punish any acts of genocide committed within their jurisdiction. The act bans killing of members of any racial, ethnic, national or religious group because of their membership in that group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, inflicting on members of the group conditions of life intended to destroy them, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and taking group members’ children away from them and giving them to members of another group.

    Also from the 1948 Convention on Genocide:

    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    * (a) Killing members of the group;
    * (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    * (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    * (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    * (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    What is happening to the Palestinians is an attempt to “Bantustan” them (even more so than was the case in apartheid South Africa), to reduce them to tiny islands of (Indian-aboriginal type) reservations. Regular destructions and disruptions of infrastructure and basic services and human freedoms of movement and ability to live in secure healthy villages and homes, to produce crops and trade, as well as regular arrests and shootings, is directed at destroying any possibility of a viable Palestinian culture and proud national identity.

    rey:

    The argument that the religion is not behind Zionism in some way is foolish. But then again, if your accusations of genocide are false, then the link between the religion and Zionism is broken. So perhaps, when you say that Zionism is not based on religion, what you really mean is that you made up the story about the Israelis committing genocide in the present day. After all, you say that Ahmedinajad has ‘valid criticisms’–this is the same guy who says he wants to wipe Israel off the map! I think you betray some anti-semitism there. Are you making up the sotry of Israelis committing genocide because you hate Jews? Your taking of side is unwise, and perhaps secretly religiously motived(?) by a pro-Islamic view?

    Neil: I simply ask you to read the history of the Zionist movement. It was not a religious movement. It was opposed by many, probably most, of the religious Jews in the beginning as being anti-biblical — denying the need for a Messiah to restore Israel — taking the matter into their own secular (god-defying) hands.

    If you have really read what I said about Ahmedinajad then you are misrepresenting my comments here. Denying the right of a racist state to exist in any part of the world is a good thing, especially one with a long and ongoing record of ethnic cleansing (first within the 1948 borders and since 1967 in piecemeal throughout the occupied territories). That’s what the world (most of it) long said about South Africa when it’s leadership insisted on its right to be a state for whites in a black land. What the Middle East needs is a democratic non-racially based state in Palestine — for both Jews and Arabs alike. Dismantling a state founded on racial exclusivism and ethnic cleansing would go a long way to creating a peaceful middle east.

    Is any of this anti-semitic? Not at all! Am I pro-Islamic. No way! I no more support Islam than I do Judaism or Christianity or paganism. But I do support the rights of all to their religious beliefs. These arguments are also pushed by many good Jews living in Israel and beyond. They recognize that Israel cannot be allowed special exemption for the rules that apply to the rest of the world, and as long as that is the case, there will always be conflict. In fact, granting Israel such a special status is a sure way to foment anti-semitism in the world. It also does no favours to the Jews who believe in Zionism.

    rey:

    This is a sticky subject and one would be well advised to not take sides. I don’t. I say both sides are wrong and religion has a whole lot to do with it. They need a new religion that teaches that you don’t go trying to kill off all of the other guy for a piece of land. They need a new religion that says people of diverse ethnicities can get along together and live in the same nation and there doesn’t need to be a Jewish nation and a Palestinian nation. There can be one nation that accepts both. I’m not going to impose a new religion on them. I’m just saying they need one. But that conflict over there will just simply go on forever as long as both sides keep thinking in tribal BC mentality that this land is only for their kind and the other kind needs to be exterminated. That is exactly the problem, and its part racial and part religious, but to a lot of extent the religions and ethnicities are blurred as though they are one and the same.

    Neil: Germany invaded and occupied France in 1940. A French resistance movement arose. Would you have said that one would be well advised not to take sides, that both sides are wrong? With the consistent exception of just two nations, pretty much the whole world recognizes this is the same situation in the middle east according to international resolutions, especially since 1967.

    It is natural in Christian America to think of the protagonists as being religiously motivated. That is how Christian America views the Middle East through its Bible. Two brothers tit for tatting over their father’s inheritance. But that is not the reality on the ground, although religious extremists are tending to dominate more than in the past. The conflict began between a secular (even “socialist”) Israel and Arabs organized around political, not religious, leaders and parties. Religious extremists on both sides have been relative latecomers to the fray. The reality on the ground is not a quaint brotherly squabble as per biblical stories, but an issue of outright ethnic cleansing. What the west did not tolerate in the Balkans it actively supports in the Middle East.

    rey:

    The only solution is a religion to unite both together, a religion not based on ethnicity, which means neither Judaism nor Islam. “You show your ignorance: Judaism and Islam are not based on ethnicity.” They are based on worship of certain holy sites, which turns into territorialism, and territorialism eventually becomes ethnic squabbles. Is this not true?

    Neil: Jerusalem had long been the peaceful centre of three religions. Ethnic cleansing (not “squabbles”) is a relatively recent historical event. Jews and Muslims have long lived and worshiped together in the same lands throughout history. These are facts of history. Your statement is an oversimplification and not true according to the facts of history.

    Why do we need a religion to unite people together? Why not maintain our cultural identities and differences? I live in Singapore where Chinese, Malays, Indians, Europeans, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Philippinos, Indonesians and Arabs all live together without having one religion — the state even has holidays for each of the major religions, Buddhist-Taoist, Hindu, Moslem, Christian. But here there is no situation of ethnic cleansing or racially supremicist ideology of one group over the others. So it works. No need for a new religion. Just a matter of people banishing, or at least restricting the freedoms of, racist policies and acts. I think even the U.S. has made some progress in that direction without a new religion.

    rey:

    The whole idea that the Creator dishes out land to his favored people (and idea at the root of Judaism and Islam), the idea that Abraham was granted by the demiurge some special status above all others and his children from one son or the others is supposed to rule the world, to the Jews Isaac and to the Muslims Ishmael, is clearly at the heart of this conflict, even for those whose religious feelings are cool and who only have these religious concepts as a vague ethnic remembrance.

    Neil: “Clearly at the heart of this conflict”? Only if you listen to bible preachers. Clearly that biblical message IS part of the propaganda used to justify the side responsible for ethnic cleansing and creeping genocide according to the UN definition of the term. One can find many references to extremist Jews in Israel and the post 1967 occupied territories who believe they are justified in killing Palestinians because the Bible/God gives them licence. But they are a minority.

    rey:

    A religion that doesn’t venerate the Creator, but a God from a foreign universe, could very well solve this problem. But I suppose atheism will find a better way to improve people’s morality by arguing that religion has nothing to do with any of what it obviously does have something to do with.

    Neil: Why “the Creator”? Only one? The Western Christian one? Why not Buddhism? (I find them as a whole much more laid back and tolerant of differences.)

    I addressed the “morality” question in an earlier reply.

    Am I any less moral than a theist for believing in tolerance, respect, humanity and democratic processes for all, and for attacking ethnic cleansing and racism and violence? Am I less moral for attempting to understand the violent crimes by studying the facts on the ground (not the myths of a religious text) as a necessary prerequisite for finding the most stable solution?

    Am I immoral for not seeking to understand the causes of current events through the tales in an ancient text — although I do not deny that that ancient text has played a large part in modern events.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 12:19:56 GMT+0000 - 12:19 | Permalink

    When I said “moral theism” above I was not implying atheists cannot be moral, but distinguishing my theistic viewpoint from that of groups like the Calvinists who would defend genocide if they felt their ‘god’ had commanded it (i.e. immoral theism).

    Now, you and I really agree to some extent. I agree there needs to be one state that is not biased for or against either Arab or Jew. They need a real modern democrasy where all ethnicites and religions can get along. But I just don’t see such a democrasy ever happening politically or militarily in Palestine. Israel’s politicians will never chose it and a western power can’t just go in and impose it.

    • 2009-10-17 17:01:52 GMT+0000 - 17:01 | Permalink

      South Africa dismantled its apartheid regime very largely as a result of the pressure of world opinion. If the U.S. (Israel’s chief military and economic benefactor) were to impose the same sorts of pressure on Israel to comply with international law and withdraw from the occupied territories and allow those she has expelled from their homes the right to return, or at least give them substantial compensation, you would see a most dramatic turnaround in events in the Middle East.

      Meretz, for example, is one party that does have a policy to dismantle the illegal settlements in the occupied territories. So one can never say what Israel’s politicians will never do. There are many (not yet enough) courageous Israelis who do actively work for peace with Palestinians and oppose their government’s military expansionism, illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing policies.

      It is a matter of will. The U.S. government is unlikely to change its policies without pressure from its citizens. Maybe the latest Gaza atrocities were the beginning of a turning point that might lead to a loss of U.S. public support for Israel — I read that for the first time that a significant ratio of U.S. citizens were becoming concerned that Israel is not so “pure of arms” as they have long believed. I can hope.

  • rey
    2009-10-17 12:28:05 GMT+0000 - 12:28 | Permalink

    As for the UN’s definition of genocide, they commit it themselves according to reports I’ve read online that the UN itself has sterlized large portions of the population of several African countries stealthily through immunizations that have this as the side effect. And it is the UN that created the state of Israel, right? The UN will be no help in stopping any genocide. What options are left that are not expended?

    • 2009-10-17 17:18:22 GMT+0000 - 17:18 | Permalink

      Regretfully I have to say that it appears you have been exposed to what many educated people would call the paranoid over-the-top looney-literature about the U.N. that has as much credibility as reports of alien abductions or Jewish world conspiracies. (It appears to be not uncommon among certain groups within the U.S. for some reason.) The UN is nothing more than an assembly of nations that include the US working on projects openly together wherever possible. When not possible, nothing happens since there is no-body to do anything. Check your sources, and the credibility of online sites where you read this nonsense. Or if you have evidence to the contrary then please do let me know.

      Israel in 1948 rejected the borders that had been assigned to it and agreed at the UN by force of arms. Israel has been in defiance of the UN resolutions ever since its creation. Only one other nation has, sadly, consistently joined Israel in attempting to undermine the strength of UN resolutions by voting with Israel in defiance of the UN. See, for example, a very dated list of UN resolutions and US vetoes.

  • rey
    2009-10-18 05:03:26 GMT+0000 - 05:03 | Permalink

    I’m sure plenty of UN believers would have thought the oil for food scandal was a hoax not too long ago too. And as for the US putting pressure on Israel to leave the settlements. It was done with the Gaza strip, and then what happened? Everyone got together around a cmpfire and sung cumbaya? Nope. Palestinian extremists used the land they had just been given to launch rockets further into Israel. That’s exactly what will happen each time Israel gives up any land: retaliation for what supposedly was done before will be the response not thanks. And then Israel will take that as its cue to roll the tanks back in. The situation over there will never be resolved because neither side can be the bigger man. They both want each other exterminated so there is just no way they’ll ever learn to live together.

    • 2009-10-18 08:54:08 GMT+0000 - 08:54 | Permalink

      It is regrettable that only one version of the Middle East story appears to be conveyed by mainstream U.S. media. The simple fact of the so-called Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is that news media at the time (apart from in the U.S. it seems) made it clear that Hamas was agreeing to halt rocket attacks on 2 conditions: (1) Israeli withdrawal and (2) lifting of the Gazan blockade. Israel continued to make low sonic boom flyovers of Gaza and kept the blockade in place.

      What’s so bad about a blockade? See What You Don’t Know About Gaza.

      No, I am not condoning Hamas rocket attacks. But I do condemn the pro-Israeli media perpetrating the racist myth of Israeli goodness and victimhood versus Palestinian treachery and evil.

      Israel regularly makes much of its so-called “land for peace” actions (e.g. Sinai), but a look at the facts shows this is nothing but a propaganda sham. Her decisions to withdraw are economic and strategic. Withdrawing from desolations and deserts to focus energies on taking over more and more of Palestinian arable land in the West Bank is seen for what it is by everyone except Israel’s supporters.

      You also say that “they want each other exterminated”. Yet the mainstream media has not told you that Hamas has offered peace with Israel and that it is Israel and the U.S. who have rejected its offers. Why has the media has not even bothered to make these things known in their mainstream outlets in the U.S.? See, for example, this article from an Israeli newspaper: Hamas: we’ll move toward peace if Israel leaves occupied lands (that is, returns to the pre June 1967 borders). This, in fact, is virtually the same offer as made by the rest of the Arab world for peace with Israel (See Arab Peace Initiative).

      Even Jewish groups themselves have recognized that past Israeli offers for peace as negotiated with U.S. mediation have been a sham, a cover for the destruction of the Palestinian people by relegating them to South African like bantustan existence. See, for example,

      Conflict in Maps,
      — a report of a Canadian lawyer for a Palestinian peace delegation,
      — and another by a member of the Palestinian peace negotiation,
      — and one by another Israeli, Jeff Halper.

      If those do not convince, there is an Israeli publication (Haaretz) with the words from the Israeli PM himself: Sharon’s Bantustans.

      You will look in vain for any Israeli or U.S. denial of these claims that Israel’s “peace” means reducing the Palestinians to live in the equivalent of aboriginal/Indian reservations.

      There can be no peace without justice. Or until one side finally has enough and submits unconditionally to the terms of the other. They don’t need another religion there. Those powers who have influence on Israel need to be pressured by their citizens to pressure Israel to either withdraw from their illegally conquered territories and administer a just deal to the refugees OR incorporate Arabs as citizens with equal rights in a non-racial democratic state, which will in effect mean the end of the current state of Israel as a political and racial entity.

    • 2009-10-18 10:07:41 GMT+0000 - 10:07 | Permalink

      Regarding misinformation about UN programs, I have attempted to find the source of your claim about the UN enforcing some sort of quasi-genocidal sterilization program on large swathes of African populations and all I have found so far is a report that claims a U.S. fact-finding mission found no evidence for such claims in the case of the UN program in China, and another that sterilization is rare in Africa. What is the evidence I am missing?

  • David Hillman
    2009-10-18 06:27:17 GMT+0000 - 06:27 | Permalink

    Dear Neil,
    I love your blog but I think you have made a mistake in publishing Gilad Atzmon.
    As a general point I do not think that any humanist or atheist (I am an atheist) need be militantly anti religious. We certainly need not be enemies of sincerely religious people. I think you agree with this.For myself I feel closer to those religious people who fight alongside me for what I think are worthwhile struggles than to Militant atheists tainted with Islamophobia (like Christopher Hitchens) orZionophiles(like Steven Weinberg).Though I question thir presuppositions as rationally as I can I attack no-one’s religion.
    Atzmon not only attacks Judaism as such, he also attacks Jewishness – he actually thinks there is an essence of Jewishness. (This is not the same as attacking Zionism – and antiZionism is truer to historic Jewish tradition).
    To be blunt, Atzmon is a racist. If you read his stuff carefully you may agree. I have my own differences with Tony Greenstein, but he writes well on this here : http://azvsas.blogspot.com/search?q=Gilad+Atzmon .
    I do hope you do not take offence for any reason fpr any part of this comment, which is meant positively.

    • 2009-10-18 10:03:08 GMT+0000 - 10:03 | Permalink

      I see no anti-semitism or racism in the article I quoted. Can you point out what you see as anti-semitic statements by this Jewish author?

      If not, but you can see something specific in another article of his which betrays a racist agenda then please cite it here.

      I have read sweeping generalizations and claims about his racism but I have not found any racism in any of the examples offered in support of this accusation.

      Until I see the evidence I will suspect that Gilad is yet another victim of ADL or similar propaganda that attempts to intimidate all critics by smearing them with the label of anti-semitic.

      A certain notion of national or racial identity can imbed racist assumptions within it, as is the case also with a certain style of Australian identity proudly worn by some Aussies. But critiquing these forms of group identity does not make me a racist against my fellow Australians. I take the time to critique their cultural identities because I “love” Australia and Australians and don’t want that sort of racism contaminating our broader identity.

    • 2009-10-18 11:05:03 GMT+0000 - 11:05 | Permalink

      Gilad has responded to the charges of anti-semitism. It would be worth seeing if or how well his response addresses those accusations. See The Strange Case of Gilad Atzmon.

  • rey
    2009-10-18 12:56:29 GMT+0000 - 12:56 | Permalink

    I actually have heard that Hamas offered “peace” to Israel. But that offer is exactly the same as the offer of grace to the non-elect in Calvinism; its a sham and empty gesture. I don’t believe a Hamas offer of “peace” anymore than I believe that Catholics don’t worship Mary or that Calvinists don’t believe their god is the author of evil, or that Barak Obama didn’t know that ACORN gets loads of money from the Federal Government or that Obama somehow never heard “Reverend” Wright’s racist sermons when he sat in his church for 20 years. People lie. That’s something you don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to know. And when you’ve got an organization that says in its charter (or whatever its called) that it wants Israel exterminated and then it turn around and offers “peace” I think you’d have to be kinda naïve to not see through it. My beliefs may not seem any more plausible to you than the “flying spaghetti monster” but I think I may yet be a little more street smart than you on this stuff.

    • 2009-10-18 13:06:41 GMT+0000 - 13:06 | Permalink

      What about the Arab offer for peace that I also referred to and that was also supported by the pre-Hamas government and the current Palestinian President and that was also rejected outright by Israel? (We are talking about a brutal occupation and ethnic cleansing of lands captured in June 1967 and the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. Not a squabble between biblical brothers over some disputed inheritance.)

      Do you think that any peace offered by an Arab or Muslim state a sham?

      I think it is significant you did not respond to the evidence I offered for the nature of the so-called peace offers from Israel and the U.S. for the Palestinians — to live in outcast reservation enclaves.

      Even Jews in Israel are currently discussing the end of the state of Israel when Arabs finally outnumber Jews within their jurisdictions and have the power, as happened in South Africa, to force a democratic non-race-based alternative in the place of the current race-based state. Yet somehow when an Arab or non-Arab Muslim calls for the end of the race-based state of Israel many westerners display their racist fears by interpreting those statements as threats of a wanton bloodbath at the hands of the heathen.

    • rey
      2009-10-18 13:20:21 GMT+0000 - 13:20 | Permalink

      Lol. Just read part of that latest article you linked to by Gilad Atzmon. (This is my last comment) if one really believes what he says there, i.e. that American Jews run the world, then one is well on his way to believing in the god of the Old Testament’s existence and that he has some influence in the world, I’d say. Neil, are you sure you’re still an atheist? I don’t see how else one could believe that a persecuted minority could control the whole world unless their god was stacking things in their favor. Crazy conspiracies about Jews ruling the world may end up making a theist out of you. Watch out!

      • 2009-10-18 13:43:25 GMT+0000 - 13:43 | Permalink

        If you read Gilad’s article you will see that most of his argument is an attempt to stress that he is not critiquing “Jews” at all, but Zionists. Again if you read the context you will see that he is referring to an old (Bush era) article in which he is discussing those who have the power to influence the foreign policy of the world’s superpower. This is no secret or off the planet conspiracy theory. It is well documented research. See this review of Petras’s book or Google Israel lobby Petras United States for a wealth of informed discussion.

        And another report from two more scholars originally posted in the Chicago Tribune. This is decidedly not the same nonsensical groundless mythmaking that characterizes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  • keith
    2009-10-19 17:38:30 GMT+0000 - 17:38 | Permalink

    Neil wrote–“Morality that is grounded in identity with ones common humanity, that seeks the welfare of humankind because of its intrinsic nature and ones identity with it, is surely a less arbitrary and more secure basis for sound moral judgements”.
    That’s beautifully stated, Neil. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote that down.

    • 2009-10-19 18:10:36 GMT+0000 - 18:10 | Permalink

      Gee, thanks Keith. I feared it was cumbersome but if a reader was patient enough she could figure out what I was trying to convey.

  • 2009-10-21 07:08:43 GMT+0000 - 07:08 | Permalink

    As for one-sided peace efforts, this latest report in the Israeli press on the assertions of a prominent Jewish lawyer – – – http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1122342.html

    For background on this Jewish lawyer see http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Analysis-The-problem-with-Goldstone

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.