Thursday, October 6, 2016

Greg Johnson Interviews Gilad Atzmon

Greg Johnson: I’m Greg Johnson. Welcome to Counter-Currents Radio! I am here in London with Gilad Atzmon, who is a writer that I have admired and read steadily for years. I’ve reviewed his book The Wandering Who? at Counter-Currents. And I just want to welcome you, Gilad!

Gilad Atzmon: I welcome you to my city!

GJ: Well, thank you! We’ve spent some time over lunch trying to just get to know one another better and I’d like my audience to know you a little better. You are one of the most prominent anti-Zionist Jews, or critics of Jewry, today, a Jewish critic of Jewry.

Describe your views and how you came to them.

GA: To start, just a light correction. I’m not a Jew. I don’t regard myself as a Jew, and I never speak as a Jew.

GJ: Okay.

GA: This is really crucial. You are right to argue that I am an anti-Zionist. I think that initially it was my frustration with Israel, Israeli politics, the Jewish lobby that made me interested in this discourse. But then one of the first things that I realized was that Israel defined itself as a Jewish state. It sees itself as a Jewish state from the day of inception, and in order to understand its politics, the first questions that we have to ask ourselves are “What is Jewishness?,” “Who are the Jews?,” “What is Judaism?,” “How are these terms related to Zionism?,” and I was very quick to realize that as soon as I asked these questions I was immediately in a conflict not with Israel, not with the so-called Zionists, but with our imaginary allies, with the Jewish anti-Zionists. People like the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Jews for Boycott, Jews for Debt. All of those people identify as Jews and progressive Jews.

Now I believe that conflicts are not necessarily bad things. They’re very revealing. One can hardly learn from agreement. When you have a conflict you start to ask questions. What’s happening? Why wasn’t I allowed to ask “What is Jewishness?,” “What is Judaism?,” “Who are the Jews”? These are the most relevant questions when it comes to the Jewish state, the state that defines itself as the Jewish state, especially now after the Israeli cabinet – and the next government is basically going to be the same cabinet — passed the Israeli national bill that affirms that everything Israel is doing is driven by Israel’s Jewishness.

I realized — it took me some time to say it loudly and clearly — that the Jewish anti-Zionists, the so-called progressive Jews who claim to support Palestine, are not the solution. They are actually the core of the problem. Their agenda is very clear: to restrict the discourse, to set very clear boundaries that would divert attention from the core of the problem.

GJ: How does that work?

GA: Very simple. Very, very simple. The way they do it is through correctness. They impose measures of correctness. They define the terminology. So it is very clear, for instance, to every person who deals with the Palestinian cause that the heart of the matter is the right of the return.

In 1948, seventy-five to eighty percent of the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed, brutally, by the Israelis and were prevented from coming back due to new Israeli legislation, the Law of Return, that is basically racially driven and not different from the Nuremberg Laws.

Most Jews who support Palestine never talk about al-ʿawda, the right of return. They started talking about ending the occupation. Now, while the right of return brings us back to 1948, to the inception of the Jewish state as a Jewish state, the Jewish anti-Zionists call for the end of the occupation, which would bring us to ’67, which means that around six million Palestinians are left out of their historic Palestine with no solution to the problem.

GJ: Right. So, they start the clock at 1967. That’s the problem that needs to be solved.

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