“”” In my formative years I blindly accepted every thing they told us about our ‘collective’ Jewish past: the Kingdom of David, Massada, and then the Holocaust: the soap, the lampshade, the death march and the six million. It took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not at all an historical narrative, freely debated by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people. As I mentioned before, historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and political lobbies. It took me years to grasp that my great-grandmother wasn’t made into a ‘soap’ or a ‘lampshade’ as I was taught in Israel. She probably perished of exhaustion, typhus or maybe even by mass shooting. This was indeed bad and tragic, but not that different from the fate of many millions of Ukrainians, on learning the real meaning of communism. The fate of my great-grandmother was not so different from hundreds of thousands of German civilians who died in deliberate, indiscriminate bombing, just because they were Germans. Similarly, the people in Hiroshima, who died just because they were Japanese. Three million Vietnamese died just because they were Vietnamese and 1.3 million Iraqis died because they were Iraqis.”””
From Purim to AIPAC89
‘Jewish-ness’ is a rather broad term. It refers to a culture with many faces, various distinctive groups, different beliefs, opposing political camps, different classes and diversified ethnicity. Nevertheless, the connection between the very many people who identify themselves as Jews is rather intriguing. I am attempting to trace the intellectual, spiritual and mythological collective bond that makes Jewish ideology into such a powerful political identity.
As we have seen so far, Jewish-ness is neither a racial nor an ethnic category. Nor do Jewish people form a homogenous group. Jewish-ness may be seen by some as a continuation of Judaism, I maintain that this is not necessarily the case either. Though Jewish-ness borrows some fundamental Judaic elements, ‘Jewish-ness’, being an ideological precept, is not ‘Judaism’. It is categorically different from Judaism. Furthermore, as we know by now, many of those who proudly define themselves as Jews have very little knowledge of Judaism. Many of them are atheists or non-religious, and may even overtly oppose Judaism or any other religion. Many such Jews also maintain their Jewish identity, however, and are extremely proud of it. The opposition to Judaism obviously includes Zionism (at least the early version of it), but is also the basis of much of Jewish socialist anti-Zionism, as we learned earlier from examples such as Julia Bard.
What constitutes Jewish-ness? Is it a new form of religion, an ideology or just a state of mind?
If it is indeed a religion, the next questions that must be asked are: What kind of religion is it? What does this religion entail? What do its followers believe? Is it possible to divorce oneself from it as one can step out of Christianity or Islam?
If Jewish-ness is an ideology, then the questions to ask are: What does this ideology stand for? Does it form a discourse? Is it a monolithic discourse? Does it portray a new world order? Is it aiming for peace, or for violence? Does it carry a universal message to humanity, or is it a manifestation of some tribal precepts?
If Jewish-ness is a state of mind, then the question can be raised as to whether it is rational or irrational. Does it lie within the expressible, or the inexpressible?
There is the possibility that Jewish-ness may be a strange hybrid – it can be all of those things at once (i.e. religion, ideology and state of mind). But it can also be none of these.
The Holocaust Religion
‘Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the philosopher who was an observant Orthodox Jew, told me once: “The Jewish religion died 200 years ago. Now there is nothing that unifies the Jews around the world apart from the Holocaust.”’ Remember What? Remember How? Uri Avnery 19.3.05 90
Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a Latvian-born philosopher at the Hebrew University, was probably first to suggest that the Holocaust has become the new Jewish religion. The Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir also pointed out91 that far from being merely a historical narrative, ‘The Holocaust’ contains numerous essential religious elements. It has priests (e.g. Simon Wiesenthal, Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt) and prophets (Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu, those who warn of the Iranian Judeocide to come). It has commandments and dogmas (e.g. ‘Never Again’) and rituals (memorial days, pilgrimage to Auschwitz, etc). It has an established, esoteric symbolic order (e.g. kapos , gas chambers, chimneys, dust, shoes, the figure of the Musselmann , etc). It also has a temple, Yad Vashem, and shrines – Holocaust museums – in capital cities worldwide. The Holocaust religion is also maintained by a massive global financial network, what Norman Finkelstein terms the ‘Holocaust industry’, as well as such institutions as the Holocaust Education Trust. This new religion is coherent enough to define its ‘antichrists’ (Holocaust deniers), and powerful enough to persecute them (through Holocaust-denial and hate-speech laws).
It took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not an historical narrative, for historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and politicians. At a certain moment in time, a horrible chapter in the history of humanity was given an exceptionally meta-historical status. Its ‘factuality’ was sealed with draconian laws, and its reasoning secured by social and political institutions.
The Holocaust religion is, obviously, Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish raison d’être . For Zionist Jews, it signifies a total fatigue of the Diaspora, and regards the goy as a potential irrational murderer. This new Jewish religion preaches revenge. It could well be the most sinister religion known to man, for in the name of Jewish suffering, it issues licences to kill, to flatten, to nuke, to annihilate, to loot, to ethnically cleanse. It has made vengeance into an acceptable Western value.
Critics of the notion of ‘Holocaust religion’ have suggested that although veneration of the Holocaust has many features characteristic of organised religion, it has not established an external deity to worship. I could not agree less: the Holocaust religion embodies the essence of the liberal democratic worldview. It offers a new form of worship, having made self-loving into a dogmatic belief in which the observant follower worships himself or herself. In the new religion, instead of old Jehovah, it is ‘the Jew’ whom the Jews worship: a brave and witty survivor of the ultimate genocide, who emerged from the ashes and stepped forward into a new beginning.
To a certain extent, the Holocaust religion signals the final Jewish departure from monotheism, for every Jew is potentially a little God or Goddess. Abe Foxman is the God of anti-defamation, Alan Greenspan the God of ‘good economy’, Milton Friedman is the God of ‘free markets’, Lord Goldsmith the God of the ‘green light’, Lord Levy the God of fundraising, Paul Wolfowitz the God of US ‘moral interventionism’. AIPAC (the American–Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the American Olympus, where mortals elected in the US come to beg for mercy, forgiveness for being Goyim and for a bit of cash.
The Holocaust religion is the conclusive and final stage in the Jewish dialectic; it is the end of Jewish history, for it is the deepest and most sincere form of ‘self-love’. Rather than requiring an abstract God to designate the Jews as the Chosen People, in the Holocaust religion the Jews cut out this divine middleman and simply choose themselves. Jewish identity politics transcends the notion of history – God is the master of ceremonies. The new Jewish God, i.e. ‘the Jew’, cannot be subject to any human contingent occurrence. Thus the Holocaust religion is protected by laws, while every other historical narrative is debated openly by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people. The Holocaust sets itself as an eternal truth that transcends critical discourse.
More than a few Jewish scholars in Israel and abroad accept Leibowitz’s observation. Amongst them is Marc Ellis, a prominent Jewish theologian with a revealing insight into the dialectic of the new religion. ‘Holocaust theology,’ Ellis says, ‘yields three themes that exist in dialectical tension: suffering and empowerment, innocence and redemption, specialness and normalisation.’92
Though the Holocaust religion has not replaced Judaism, it has given ‘Jewish-ness’ a new meaning. It sets a modern Jewish narrative, situating the Jewish subject within a Jewish project. It allocates to Jews a central role within their own universe. The ‘sufferer’ and the ‘innocent’ march toward ‘redemption’ and ‘empowerment’. God is out of the game, He has been sacked, having failed in his historic mission. He wasn’t there to save the Jews, after all. In the new religion ‘the Jew’, as the new Jewish God, redeems himself or herself.
Jewish followers of the Holocaust religion idealise the condition of their existence. They then erect a framework for a future struggle towards recognition. All three of the following Holocaust ‘churches’ assign the Jews a major role with some global implications:
For the Zionist followers of the new religion, the implications seem relatively durable. They are there to schlep the entirety of world Jewry to Zion at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian people.
For Jewish Marxists, the project is slightly more complicated. For them, redemption means building a new world order, namely a socialist haven, a world dominated by dogmatic, working-class politics in which Jews happen to be no more than just one minority amongst many.
For humanist Jews, Jews must locate themselves at the forefront of the struggle against racism, oppression and evil in general. (Though the latter sounds promising, it is in fact problematic. In our current world order, Israel and the US happen to be amongst the leading oppressors. Expecting Jews to be at the forefront of humanist struggle sets them in a fight against their brethren and their supportive superpower.)
As we can see, the Holocaust functions as an ideological interface. It provides its follower with a logos . On the level of the conscious, it suggests a purely analytical vision of the past and present, yet, it doesn’t stop there – it also defines the struggle yet to come, a vision of a Jewish future. Nevertheless, as a consequence it fills the Jewish subject’s unconscious with the ultimate anxiety: the destruction of the ‘I’.
Needless to say, a body of ideas that stimulates the conscious mind (ideology) and steers the unconscious (spirit) makes a very good recipe for a winning religion. This structural bond of ideology and spirit is fundamental to the Judaic tradition. The bond between the legal clarity of the halakha (religious law, i.e. ideology) and the mysterious nature of Jehovah as well as the teachings of the Kabbalah (i.e. spirit) make Judaism into a totality, a universe in itself. Bolshevism – the mass movement, rather than the political theory – is built upon the very same structure, in this case the lucidity of pseudo-scientific materialism together with the fear of capitalist appetite. Neoconservative ideology is also in accordance with the same fundamental structure, locking the subject in the chasm between the alleged forensic lucidity of WMDs and the inexpressible fright of the ‘terror to come’.
This bond between the conscious and unconscious brings to mind the Lacanian notion of the ‘real’, or that which cannot be symbolised (i.e. expressed in words). The real is the inexpressible, it is inaccessible. In Žižek’s words, ‘the real is impossible’, ‘the real is the trauma’. Nevertheless, this trauma shapes the symbolic order and forms our reality.
The Holocaust religion fits nicely into the Lacanian model. Its spiritual core is rooted deeply in the domain of the inexpressible. Its preaching teaches us to see a threat in everything. Yet, the core narrative, the trauma is sacred. It is protected, it is untouchable, very much like the dream. You can recall your dream but you cannot change it.
Interestingly enough, the Holocaust religion extends far beyond the internal Jewish discourse. In fact, it operates as a mission , and not only because its shrines are built far and wide, the Holocaust is now being touted as a possible pretext for nuking Iran. Both Israeli leaders and Jewish lobbyists around the world seem to be interpreting the Iranian nuclear energy project as a Judeocide in the making. Clearly, the Holocaust religion serves both right and left Jewish political discourse, but it appeals to the goyim as well, especially those who preach and advocate killing in the name of ‘freedom’, democracy and ‘moral interventionism’.
To a certain extent, we are all subject to this religion; some of us are worshipers, others are just subject to its power. Those who attempt to revise Holocaust history are subject to abuse by the high priests of this religion. The Holocaust religion constitutes the Western ‘real’. We are neither allowed to touch it, nor are we permitted to look into it. Very much like the ancient Israelites who were to obey their God but never question Him, we are marching into the void.
Scholars studying the Holocaust as a religion (in terms of theology, ideology and historicity) are engaged mainly with structural formulations: its meanings, rhetoric and historical interpretation. Some search for the theological dialectic (Marc Ellis), others formulate the commandments (Adi Ofir); some investigate its historical evolution, others expose its financial infrastructure (Norman Finkelstein). Most are engaged with a list of events that happened between 1933-45, however none of the Holocaust-religion scholars have expended any energy studying the role of the Holocaust within the long-standing Jewish continuum. From this point onward, I shall maintain that the Holocaust religion was well established a long time before the Final Solution (1942), well before Kristallnacht (1938), the Nuremberg Laws (1936) and even before Hitler was born (1889). The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves.
Jewish existence is dominated by pre-mediated fear, a phenomenon I coined earlier on as ‘Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome’ (Pre-TSS). Unlike Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which stress is a direct reaction to an event that has or may have taken place in the past, the trauma sensed within the condition of Pre-TSS is founded on an imaginary episode set in a hypothetical or imaginary future – in other words, on an event that has never taken place. In Pre-TSS, the fantasy of future terror pre-empts the conditions that shape the present reality. From an historical perspective, Pre-TSS can be realised as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The amplified fear matures into a traumatic reality.
The dialectic of fear has dominated the Jewish existence and mindset far longer than we are ready to admit. For, while Jewish ethnic leaders have exploited it politically since the early days of emancipation, it is much older than modern Jewish history. In fact, it is the heritage of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), there to induce in Jews a pre-traumatic state. The Jewish Old Testament sets out binary frameworks: innocence/suffering and persecution/empowerment. The fear of Judeocide is entangled with Jewish spirit and culture.
The American anthropologist Glenn Bowman, who specialises in the study of exilic identities, offers a crucial insight into the subject of fear and its contribution to identity politics: ‘Antagonism is fundamental to the process of fetishisation underlying identity, because one tends precisely to talk about who one is or what one is at a moment in which that being seems threatened. I begin to call myself such and such a person, or such and such a representative of an imagined community, at the moment something seems to threaten to disallow the being that the name I speak stands for. Identity terms come into usage at precisely the moment in which, for some reason, one comes to feel they signify a being or entity one has to fight to defend.’93
Bowman emphasises that it is fear that crystallises the notion of identity. However, once fear matures into a state of a collective pre-traumatic stress, identity re-forms itself.
It was the Bible that originally set the Jews in a state of Pre-TSS and initiated the fear of Judeocide, the Bible that paints the Jewish universe as a disaster waiting to happen. Increasingly, Bible scholars have come to dispute the historicity of the Scripture. For instance, Niels Lemche (in The Canaanites and Their Land ) argues that the Bible was, for the most part, written after the Babylonian exile, and that those writings rework (and in large part invent) previous Israelite history to reflect and reiterate the experiences of those returning from the Babylonian exile.94
In other words, the Bible was written by home-comers, and incorporates hardcore exilic ideology into a historic narrative, very much in the manner of early Zionist ideologues who regarded assimilation as a death threat: ‘The communities which aggregated under the leadership of the Yahwehist priesthood (at the time of the Babylonian exile) saw assimilation and apostasy not only as social death for themselves as Judeans but also as attempted deicide. They resolved to maintain an absolute and exclusive commitment to Yahweh who, they were sure, would lead them back to the land from which they had been expelled. They prescribed blood purity as a means of maintaining the borders of the national community, thus proscribed inter-marriage with those surrounding them. They also established a series of exclusivist rituals that set themselves off from their neighbours, and these not only included a surrogate form of temple worship but also a distinct calendar which ritualistically enabled them to exist in a different time frame than the communities with which they shared space. All of these diacritical devices served to mark and maintain difference, but did not prevent them from trading with and thus being able to sustain themselves amongst the Babylonians.’95
The spectacular readings by Bowman and Lemche of the Bible and the Judaic narrative as a manifestation of exilic and marginal identity help explain the fact that Jewish-ness flourishes in exile, but loses its impetus once it becomes a domestic adventure. If Jewish-ness is indeed centred on an émigré collective survival ideology, it will prosper in exile. Once back in the dreamed-of homeland, the ideology melts into the void. Looking at Jewish history in this way also helps us to understand the success and failure of modern Jewish nationalism. Like Judaism, both Zionism and Jewish ‘progressive’ ideologies are exilic by nature. They make some sense when considered in their pre-revolutionary era, but become totally meaningless once metamorphosis has occurred. To a certain extent, the wall with which Israel now surrounds itself symbolises a return to the exilic Jewish condition of the old European ghettos. Similarly, the Bund did survive the Soviet revolution, but became meaningless soon afterward and ceased to exist as an organic revolutionary setting.
That which maintains the Jewish collective identity is fear. As in the case of the Holocaust religion, Jewish-ness sets the fear of Judeocide at the core of the Jewish psyche, yet it also offers spiritual, ideological and pragmatic measures with which to deal with this fear.
The Book of Esther
‘Haman said to King Achashvairosh, “There is a nation scattered and separated among the nations,[the Jews] throughout your empire. Their laws are different than everyone else’s, they do not obey the king’s laws, and it does not pay for the king to tolerate their existence. If it pleases the king, let a law be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay to the executors ten thousand silver Kikar-coins for the king’s treasury.”’ The Book of Esther, Chapter 3
The Book of Esther is a biblical story that forms the basis for the celebration of Purim, probably the most joyously celebrated Jewish festival. The book tells of an attempted Judeocide, but also of Jews who manage to change their fate. In the Book of Esther , the Jews rescue themselves, and even get to mete out revenge.
It is set in the third year of the reign of the Persian king Ahasuerus (commonly identified with Xerxes I). It is a story of a palace, a conspiracy, the aforementioned attempted Judeocide and a brave and beautiful Jewish queen – Esther – who manages to save her people at the very last minute.
Ahasuerus is married to Vashti, whom he repudiates after she rejects his command to show herself off to his assembled guests during a feast. Esther is selected from amongst many candidates to be Ahasuerus’s new bride. As the story progresses, Ahasuerus’s prime minister, Haman, plots to have all the Jews in the Persian empire killed in revenge for a refusal by Esther’s cousin Mordechai to bow to him in respect. Esther, now queen, plots with Mordechai to save the day for the Persian Jews. At the risk of endangering her own safety, Esther warns Ahasuerus of Haman’s murderous anti-Jewish plot. (As she had not disclosed her Jewish origins beforehand, the king had been unaware of them.) Haman and his sons are hanged on the fifty-cubit-high gallows he had originally built for Mordechai. As it happens, Mordechai takes Haman’s place as prime minister. Ahasuerus’s edict decreeing the murder of the Jews cannot be rescinded, so he issues another one allowing the Jews to take up arms and kill their enemies – which they do.
The moral of the story is clear. If Jews want to survive, they had better infiltrate the corridors of power. In light of The Book of Esther , Mordechai and Purim, AIPAC and the notion of ‘Jewish power’ appears to be an embodiment of a deep Biblical and cultural ideology.
However, here is the interesting twist. Though the story is presented as a record of actual events, the historical accuracy of the Book of Esther is in fact largely disputed by most modern Bible scholars. The lack of clear corroboration for any of the book’s details with what is known of Persian history from classical sources has led scholars to conclude that the story is mostly or even totally fictional. In other words, the moral notwithstanding, the attempted genocide is fictional. Seemingly, the Book of Esther encourages its (Jewish) followers into collective Pre-TSS, making a fantasy of ‘destruction’ into an ‘ideology of survival’. Indeed, some read the story as an allegory of quintessentially assimilated Jews, who discover that they are targets of anti-Semitism, but who are also in a position to save themselves and their fellow Jews.
Reading the Haman quotes above, while keeping Bowman in mind, the Book of Esther shapes an exilic identity. It sews existential stress and is a prelude to the Holocaust religion, setting the conditions that turn the Holocaust into reality. Interestingly a very similar, threatening narrative is explored in the beginning of Exodus. Again, in order to set an atmosphere of a ‘ Shoah to come’ and a liberation to follow, an existential fear is established:
‘Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.” Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.’ Exodus 8-11
Both in Exodus and The Book of Esther , the author of the text manages to predict the kind of accusations that would be leveled against Jews for centuries to come, such as power-seeking, tribalism and treachery. Shockingly, the text in Exodus evokes a prophesy of the Nazi Holocaust. It depicts a reality of ethnic cleansing, economic oppressive measures that eventually lead to slave labour camps ( Pithom and Raamses). Yet, in both Exodus and the Book of Esther it is the Jews who eventually kill.
Interestingly, the Book of Esther (in the Hebrew version of the Bible; six chapters were added to the Greek translation) is one of only two books of the Bible that do not directly mention God (the other is Song of Songs ). As in the Holocaust religion, in the Book of Esther it is the Jews who believe in themselves , in their own power, in their uniqueness, sophistication, ability to conspire, ability to take over kingdoms, ability to save themselves. The Book of Esther is all about empowerment. It conveys the essence and metaphysics of Jewish power.
From Purim to Washington
In an article titled ‘A Purim Lesson: Lobbying Against Genocide, Then and Now’, Dr Rafael Medoff expounds on what he regards as the lesson bequeathed to the Jews by Esther and Mordechai: the art of lobbying. ‘The holiday of Purim,’ Medoff says, ‘celebrates the successful effort by prominent Jews in the capitol [sic] of ancient Persia to prevent genocide against the Jewish people.’96 This specific exercise of what some call ‘Jewish power’ (though Medoff does not use this phrase) has been carried forward, and is performed by modern emancipated Jews: ‘What is not well known is that a comparable lobbying effort took place in modern times – in Washington, D.C., at the peak of the Holocaust.’97
Medoff explores the similarities between Esther’s lobbying in Persia and her modern counterparts lobbying inside FDR’s administration at the height of the Second World War: ‘The Esther in 1940s Washington was Henry Morgenthau Jr., a wealthy, assimilated Jew of German descent who (as his son later put it) was anxious to be regarded as ‘one hundred percent American.’ Downplaying his Jewish-ness, Morgenthau gradually rose from being FDR’s friend and adviser to his Treasury Secretary.’98
Clearly, Medoff also spotted a modern Mordechai: ‘a young Zionist emissary from Jerusalem, Peter Bergson (real name: Hillel Kook) who led a series of protest campaigns to bring about U.S. rescue of Jews from Hitler. The Bergson group’s newspaper ads and public rallies roused public awareness of the Holocaust – particularly when it organized over 400 rabbis to march to the front gate of the White House just before Yom Kippur in 1943.’99
Medoff’s reading of the Book of Esther provides a glaring insight into the internal codes of Jewish collective survival dynamics, in which the assimilated (Esther) and the observant (Mordechai) join forces with Jewish interests on their minds. According to Medoff, the parallels to modern times are striking: ‘Mordechai’s pressure finally convinced Esther to go to the king; the pressure of Morgenthau’s aides finally convinced him to go to the president, armed with a stinging 18-page report that they titled “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews.” Esther’s lobbying succeeded. [Ahasuerus] cancelled the genocide decree and executed Haman and his henchmen. Morgenthau’s lobbying also succeeded. A Bergson-initiated Congressional resolution calling for U.S. rescue action quickly passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – enabling Morgenthau to tell FDR that “you have either got to move very fast, or the Congress of the United States will do it for you.” Ten months before election day, the last thing FDR wanted was an embarrassing public scandal over the refugee issue. Within days, Roosevelt did what the Congressional resolution sought – he issued an executive order creating the War Refugee Board, a U.S. government agency to rescue refugees from Hitler.’100
Doubtless Medoff sees the Book of Esther as a general guideline for a healthy Jewish conduct: ‘The claim that nothing could be done to help Europe’s Jews had been demolished by Jews who shook off their fears and spoke up for their people – in ancient Persia and in modern Washington.’ In other words, Jews can and should do for themselves. This is indeed the moral of the Book of Esther as well as of the Holocaust religion.
What Jews should do for themselves is indeed an open question. Different Jews have different ideas. The neoconservatives believe in dragging the US and the West into an endless war against Islam. Some Jews believe that Jews should actually position themselves at the forefront of the struggle against oppression and injustice. Indeed, Jewish empowerment is just one answer among many. Yet it is a very powerful one, and dangerous when the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and AIPAC act as modern-day Mordechais and publicly engage in extensive lobbying efforts for war against Iran.
Both AIPAC and the AJC are inherently in line with the Hebrew Biblical school of thought. They follow their Biblical mentor, Mordechai. However, while the Mordechais are relatively easy to spot, the Esthers – those who act for Israel behind the scenes – are slightly more difficult to track.
Once we learn to consider Israeli lobbying within the parameters drawn by the Book of Esther and the Holocaust religion, we are then entitled to regard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the current Haman/Hitler figure. In addition to the AJC and AIPAC, President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Lord Levy are also Mordechais, Obama is obviously Ahasuerus, yet Esther can be almost anyone, from the last Neocon to Dick Cheney and beyond.
Brenner and Prinz
I have asked what Jewish-ness stands for. Though I accept the complexity of the notion of Jewish-ness, I also accept Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s contribution to the subject: the Holocaust is probably the new Jewish religion. However, I also take the liberty of extending the notion of the Holocaust itself. Rather than referring merely to the Shoah , i.e., the Nazi Judeocide, I believe the Holocaust is actually engraved in the Jewish culture, discourse and spirit. The Holocaust is the essence of the collective Jewish Pre-TSS, which predates the Shoah . To be a Jew is to see a threat in every Goy , to be on a constant alert. To internalise the message of the Book of Esther is to aim for the most influential centres of hegemony, to collaborate with power and bond with rulers.
The American Jewish Marxist historian Lenni Brenner is fascinated by the collaboration between Zionists and Nazism. In his book Zionism in the Age of Dictators , Brenner presents an extract from a book written by Rabbi Joachim Prinz and published in 1937 after Rabbi Prinz left Germany for the US: ‘Everyone in Germany knew that only the Zionists could responsibly represent the Jews in dealings with the Nazi government. We all felt sure that one day the government would arrange a round table conference with the Jews, at which – after the riots and atrocities of the revolution had passed – the new status of German Jewry could be considered. The government announced very solemnly that there was no country in the world which tried to solve the Jewish problem as seriously as did Germany. Solution of the Jewish question? It was our Zionist dream! We never denied the existence of the Jewish question! Dissimilation? It was our own appeal! … In a statement notable for its pride and dignity, we called for a conference.’101
Brenner then cites extracts from a memorandum sent to the Nazi Party by the ZVfD ( Die Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland , or Zionist Federation of Germany) on 21 June 1933: ‘Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition … On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit our community into the total structure so that for us too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible … Our acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group … We believe in the possibility of an honest relationship of loyalty between a group-conscious Jewry and the German state …’102
Brenner doesn’t approve of Prinz’s point of view, nor of the Zionist initiative. Filled with loathing he writes: ‘This document, a treason to the Jews of Germany, was written in standard Zionist clichés: “abnormal occupational pattern”, “rootless intellectuals greatly in need of moral regeneration”, etc. In it the German Zionists offered calculated collaboration between Zionism and Nazism, hallowed by the goal of a Jewish state: we shall wage no battle against thee, only against those that would resist thee.’103
Brenner, a Marxist and totally unfamiliar with the culture and ideology entangled with his subject matter, fails to see the obvious. Prinz and the ZVfD were not traitors, they were genuine Jews, adhering to a very Jewish cultural code. They followed the Book of Esther , assuming the Mordechai role. They tried to find a way to collaborate with what they correctly identified as a prominent emerging power. In 1969, Prinz confessed: ‘Since the assassination of Walther Rathenau in 1922, there was no doubt in our minds that the German development would be toward an anti-Semitic totalitarian regime. When Hitler began to rise and, as he put it “awaken” the German nation to racial consciousness and racial superiority, we had no doubt that this man would sooner or later become the leader of the German nation.’104
Whether Brenner or anyone else likes it or not, Prinz proves his authenticity as a Jewish leader, possessing a highly developed survival ‘radar’ mechanism that fits perfectly well with the exilic ideology. In 1981 Brenner interviewed Prinz. Here is what he had to say about the ‘collaborator’ rabbi: ‘[Prinz] dramatically evolved in the forty-four years since he was expelled from Germany. He told me, off tape, that he soon realised that nothing he said there made sense in the US. He became an American liberal. Eventually, as head of the American Jewish Congress, he was asked to march with Martin Luther King and he did so.’
Once again, Brenner fails to see the obvious. Prinz didn’t ‘evolve’ – he remained a genuine Jew, and an extremely clever one, a man who internalised the essence of Jewish émigré philosophy: in Germany be a German, and in the US be American. Be flexible, fit in and adopt relativistic thinking. Prinz, a devoted follower of Mordechai, realised that whatever is good for the Jews is simply good.
Listening to this invaluable interview105, I was shocked to find out that Prinz actually presents his position eloquently. It is he rather than Brenner who provides a glimpse into Jewish ideology and its interaction with the surrounding reality. He understood the German Volk and its aspirations and Prinz presents his actions as a proud Jew. From his point of view, collaborating with Hitler was indeed the right thing to do. He was following Mordechai, and probably searching for an Esther as well. It is only natural that Prinz later became President of the AJC and a prominent Jewish American leader, despite his collaboration with Hitler.
Zionism vs. Exile
Once we learn to look at Jewish-ness as an exilic culture, as the embodiment of the ‘ultimate other’ we can understand it as a collective continuum grounded on a fantasy of horror. Jewishness is the materialisation of fear politics into a pragmatic agenda, as is the Holocaust religion. It is as old as the Jews themselves. Prinz could foresee the Holocaust; both Prinz and the ZVfD could anticipate a Judeocide. From a Jewish ideological point of view, they acted appropriately in collaborating. They were committed to their esoteric ethics set within an esoteric cultural discourse.
Zionism held out great promise. It could convert Jews into Israelites, and identify and fight the Galut , the exilic aspect of the Jewish people and culture. But Zionism was doomed to failure, for obvious reasons: within a culture metaphysically centred on exilic ideology, the last thing you can expect is a successful homecoming. In order to live out its promise, Zionism had to liberate itself from Jewish exilic ideology, and from the Holocaust religion. Yet it has failed to do this. Exilic to the bone, Zionism turned to antagonising the indigenous Palestinians in order to maintain its fetish of Jewish identity.
As it failed to divorce itself from Jewish émigré ideology, Zionism lost the opportunity to develop any form of domestic culture. Consequently, Israeli culture and politics are a strange amalgam of indecisiveness, a mixture of colonial empowerment with the Galut’s victim mentality.
Connecting the Dots
Donations, Think Tanks and Media Outlets
Following the 2010 British parliamentary election, the Jewish Chronicle published a list of Parliament’s twenty-four Jewish MPs – twelve from the Conservatives, ten from Labour and two from the Liberal Democrats. British commentator Stuart Littlewood elaborated on these figures and presented the following analysis:
‘The Jewish population in the UK is 280,000 or 0.46 per cent. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons so, as a proportion, Jewish entitlement is only three seats. With 24 seats Jews are eight times over-represented. Which means, of course, that other groups must be under-represented, including Muslims. If Muslims, for instance, were over-represented to the same extent as the Jews (i.e. eight times) they’d have 200 seats. All hell would break loose.’106
Why are Jews so overwhelmingly over-represented in Parliament, in British and American political pressure groups, in political fundraising and in the media? Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul multibillionaire, interviewed in The New Yorker , offered an answer. At a conference in Israel, Saban described his formula. His ‘three ways to be influential in American politics,’ he said, were: make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.107
As I have pointed out earlier on, there is no such a thing as ‘Jewish conspiracy’. Everything is in the open. In front of TV cameras from all over the world, listed Israeli-propaganda author, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband gave Israel the green light for Operation Cast Lead, suggesting in Sderot that ‘Israel should, above all, seek to protect its own citizens.’108 In practice, Miliband made all British people complicit in a colossal Israeli war crime. Miliband also pushed for an amendment of British universal jurisdiction laws just to remove the threat of Israeli politicians and generals being arrested once they landed in the UK109. Openly Zionist Lord Levy raised funds for the Labour Party at the time when it launched, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, a criminal war in Iraq intended in part to erase one of the last pockets of Arab resistance to Zionism. I cannot determine whether Lord Levy was involved in any political decisions, yet he, too, was not shy about his status as Tony Blair’s ‘No 1 fundraiser’. In the media, Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen enthusiastically advocated the same criminal war in the name of ‘moral interventionism’. Cohen also founded the Euston Manifesto ‘think tank’ to support neoconservative ideologies in Britain.
Miliband, Levy, Aaronovitch and Cohen are all in line with Saban’s thinking: influence, donations, think tanks, media. The Saban formula is deeply brewed in the Judaic religious tradition, and in Jewish culture and ideology. Saban’s formula is informed by Mordechai – Saban internalised the true meaning of the Book of Esther . However, it goes further. As much as Jews are advised by some Judaic texts to bond with rulers, democracy in its current state has provided us with some very flimsy characters in leading political positions.
Zionism and Democracy
Milton Friedman admitted in the 1970’s that ‘free markets’ are good for the Jews. Zionists and Jewish ethnic campaigners take it further – they appear to love democracy. The Jewish state claims to be ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. Israel’s supporters around the world also advocate conflicts in the name of ‘democracy’. Tragically enough, killing in the name of democracy is what Neocons call ‘moral intervention.’ Indeed, democracy is the ideal political platform for the Zionist influence merchant. Democracy today, especially in the English-speaking world, is a political system that specialises in positioning inadequate, unqualified and dubious types in leadership positions. Two such democratically elected leaders launched an illegal war in Iraq, and marched the West into financial disaster.
Running a state is not an easy task, and surely requires talent and training. In the past, our elected political leaders were experienced politicians who had achieved something in their lives, whether in academia, the financial world, industry or the military. Candidates for premiership had curriculum vitaes to share. Evidently this is not the case anymore. Time after time, we are left with a ‘democratic choice’ to give our vote to one or another laughable young failure: rising political ‘stars’ who have achieved little or nothing in their lives, who are unqualified to run a state. We are imprisoned by a catastrophic political system that pretends to reflect our ‘free choice’.
And what qualifications did Blair or Bush possess before taking the wheel? What experience can David Cameron call upon to rescue Britain from total disaster on every front (the financial crisis, the Middle East, Afghanistan, education, the NHS and so on)? The answer is none. Our lives, our future and the future of our children are in the hands of ludicrous, clueless characters. Indeed, the 2010 election in Britain resulted in a hung Parliament, as no single leader could persuade the public that he had the talent, the integrity or even just the aura of true leader.
But here is the news: as much as our elected leaders are totally clueless, the Sabans and the Lord Levys are far from being so. They know exactly what to do, and have been doing it for three thousand years. They are the followers of Mordechai and Esther , and know how to translate the moral of Purim into British and American practice.
With Purim in mind, we may be able to suggest an answer to Littlewood’s query as to why the Jews are over-represented. We are dealing here with an exilic cultural setting that preaches lobbying, influence and control. Shaping political thought is the true meaning of the Book of Esther . Saban, with his remarks, is either candid or foolish enough to admit this formula in public.
The absence of a Book of Esther at the heart of Islam or Hinduism may explain why other marginal groups in Britain are ‘merely’ represented adequately and proportionately in British politics and media. Moreover, it is unlikely that this situation will change anytime soon. As opposed to most minorities and marginal identities in the West, Judaism is an exilic religion and Jewish identity is a product of exilic indoctrination.
Truth, History and Integrity
Back in 2007 the notorious Jewish American right-wing organization, the ADL (The Jewish Anti-Defamation League) announced that it recognised the events in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred as ‘genocide.’ The idea of a Zionist organization being genuinely concerned, or even slightly moved, by another people’s suffering could be a monumental transforming moment in modern Jewish political history. Early in 2010 the ADL once again engaged with the Armenian question. However, in 2010, it was no longer convinced that the Armenians had suffered that much. It ended up lobbying the American congress not to recognise the killings of Armenians as ‘genocide’.
Following the rapidly developing rift between Israel and Turkey over the Turkish commitment to the Palestinian cause the ADL will no doubt have to change its take again. And yet, one question must be raised here. How is it that an event that took place a century ago is causing such a furore? One day it is classified as ‘genocide’, the next, it is demoted to an ‘ordinary’ instance of one man killing another. Did an ‘historical document’ suddenly pop up on Abe Foxman’s desk? Are there new facts that led to such a dramatic revision?
The ADL’s behaviour is a fascinating glimpse into the notion of Jewish history and the Jewish understanding of the past. From a Jewish political perspective, history is foreign to any scientific or academic method. It transcends beyond method, factuality or truthfulness. It also repels integrity or ethics. Following Shlomo Sand, we can argue that Jewish history is a phantasmic yet pragmatic tale that is there to serve the interests of one people only. It engages with the basic question of whether a given account is ‘good for the Jews’ or not. In practice, the decision on whether there was an Armenian genocide or not is subject to Jewish interests: is it good for the Jews, is it good for Israel?
As Sand cleverly pointed out, history is not particularly a ‘Jewish thing’. As mentioned earlier, for almost two thousand years Jews were not interested in their own or anyone else’s past, at least not enough to chronicle it.
Shlomo Sand’s account of the ‘Jewish Nation’ as a fictional invention is yet to be challenged academically. The only opposition one can find is political. The dismissal of factuality or lack of commitment to truthfulness are actually symptomatic of contemporary Jewish collective ideology and identity politics. The ADL’s treatment of the Armenian topic is just one example. The Zionists’ dismissal of a Palestinian past and heritage is another example. Lenni Brenner’s categorical failure to interpret Rabbi Prinz’s inclination to collaborate with the Nazis is symptomatic. The Jewish collective and political vision of the past is inherently Judeo-centric and oblivious to any academic or scientific procedure.
When I was young and naïve I regarded history as a serious, academic matter. As I understood it, history had something to do with truth-seeking, documents, chronology and facts. I was convinced that history aimed to convey a sensible account of the past based on methodical research. I also believed that an understanding of the past could throw some light over our present and even help us to shape a better future.
I grew up in the Jewish state and it took me a while to understand that the Jewish historical narrative is very different. In the Jewish intellectual insular world, one first decides what the historic moral is, then one invents ‘a past’ to fit.
When I was young, I didn’t think that history was a matter of political decisions or agreements between a one Zionist lobby and another. I regarded historians as scholars who engaged in research following strict procedures. When I was young I even considered becoming an historian.
In my formative years I blindly accepted every thing they told us about our ‘collective’ Jewish past: the Kingdom of David, Massada, and then the Holocaust: the soap, the lampshade, the death march and the six million.
It took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not at all an historical narrative, freely debated by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people. As I mentioned before, historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and political lobbies. It took me years to grasp that my great-grandmother wasn’t made into a ‘soap’ or a ‘lampshade’ as I was taught in Israel. She probably perished of exhaustion, typhus or maybe even by mass shooting. This was indeed bad and tragic, but not that different from the fate of many millions of Ukrainians, on learning the real meaning of communism.
The fate of my great-grandmother was not so different from hundreds of thousands of German civilians who died in deliberate, indiscriminate bombing, just because they were Germans. Similarly, the people in Hiroshima, who died just because they were Japanese. Three million Vietnamese died just because they were Vietnamese and 1.3 million Iraqis died because they were Iraqis.
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start asking questions. We should ask for historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the Holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place. The Holocaust, like every other historical narrative, must be analysed properly.
65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should be able to ask – why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask what purpose Holocaust denial laws serve? What is the Holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionist lobbies and their plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering. We will maintain our complicity in Western imperialist crimes.