Gilad Atzmon’s attack against me – the ‘merchant of JVP’ by Jonathan Ofir

on April 29, 2017 122 Comments

Two days ago, Gilad Atzmon published a piece on his blog, titled “the questions that Jonathan Ofir prefers to avoid”. These were questions he sent to me when he wanted to interview me over a year ago. At that point I didn’t know much about Atzmon, only read a few quotes, and recall being warned in advance by a friend, but I had given him a chance, when he approached. Then came the questions. 

Atzmon’s questions referred to my piece “To my fellow Israelis: We can stop this”. Among them: 

Do you really believe that the Jews or the Israelis can “stop it now”?

Have Jews ever stopped themselves voluntarily?

Obviously, I agree with you that Israel and Zionism are engaged in horrendous crimes. But as far as I can tell, Jewish Bolsheviks were engaged in crimes of an even greater scale.

According to Yuri Slezkin, Jews were “Stalin’s willing executioners”. Neocons, a Jewish American political school have inflicted greater disasters than Israel or Zionism.

Is it possible that Zionism is just one symptom of a disastrous Jewish political continuum?

Can you imagine a peace loving Jewish political existence?

Can you point at such a body in Jewish history?

I did a bit more background check, saw a video of a talk. The point of the questions appeared to be that ‘Jewishness’ was the problem, and if I didn’t concede to it, I would probably be regarded as an ‘anti-Zionist Zionist’ or ‘Zionist gatekeeper’ as Atzmon likes to say. I saw where it was going, and I realized that I would lose any way I answered. I politely backed out. I got admonished for lack of ‘intellectual integrity’. At that point I already knew that a distance had to be kept, and that anything I did or said would likely be held against me.  

But a few days ago, Michael Lesher wrote on Facebook that he was going to be doing a talk in New York on Sunday April 30 at which Atzmon would also be speaking. I thought it merited warning (and Lesher admitted to not actually knowing Atzmon), so I described my experience in the comments, and noted I hadn’t spoken about the issue publicly before.

Atzmon came on the thread:

“You Jonathan .. I also didn’t write about it publicly but i probably should.. I will just publish the questions you were not willing to answer so everyone knows what you are and who you work for.. correction .. by now everyone knows ..”.

After another person expressed support for what I write in general, Atzmon wrote:

“The tribe …. my dear,, spreading the myth of the good J (the banal AZZ’ mantra – zionism is bad but Js are good ..)..”

Then Atzmon published the piece called “the questions that Jonathan Ofir prefers to avoid,” and shared the link on the thread, writing:

“You asked for it,, now eat it”.

Now it gets even more interesting. Atzmon writes:

“You see Jonathan… out of your cyber ghetto we really do not appreciate this gatekeeping project you subscribe to… we are not afraid of any form of criticsm ,, we are not afraid of history revisionism either..we believe instead in free exchange ,,, we want more Athens and less Jerusalem..Reading Michael Lesher I get the impression that despite him being an orthodox Jew and unlike you, he also subscribes to athens ..Lesher criticism of contemporary rabbinical society is genuinely universal…anyway,, feel free to discuss the topic on my page,,,it is an open space just to make sure people of your ilk can meet the opposition”.

Notice, the use of double and triple commas. It seems very idiosyncratic for Atzmon. It’s interesting, because then comes a supporter of Atzmon who writes:

“Jonathan, I am not sure at this point of who you truly are, but i definitely notice you also admit not knowing much about Gilad Atzmon, and there is no doubt in my mind that you haven’t bothered yourself to read his book nor did you followed any of his talks proper ,,, so maybe before condemning Gilad’s message you should learn to listen,,, I believe this is an important piece to start with,,, [linking to a 2007 article by Atzmon].

Atzmon is delighted with this comment – and even with himself:

“my god [xxx],, how did you find it… Incredible … I moved a bit since then but it is indeed strong… And it explains very well why Ofir and the JVP are disturbed by my work.. i point at the J they are desperate to conceal the J ….”

At this point, I began to feel very much like Ali Abunimah, who wrote in response to Atzmon in 2013:

“I do not usually write in response to nonsensical online allegations by bigots. If I did I would have little time for anything else. However, I thought it was important to do so in this case.”

And why is this important, beyond the simple offensive ad hominem attacks that are part of Atzmon’s way and style? Because Atzmon makes his attacks against people whom he sees as subscribing to a global Jewish dominance. He believes that even attempts at Palestine solidarity such as BDS have been overtaken by ‘Jewish gatekeepers’ for Judeo-centric agendas, as it were. For Atzmon, ‘Zionism’ is just a mask for the real issue that is responsible for Palestinian suffering and much else: “Jewishness”. When Atzmon twisted Abunimah’s words, he wrote that

[Abunimah] “is just dishonest/stupid. Abunimah calls Israelis Zionists because he needs the so called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists to support his operation.”

So for Atzmon, those ‘liberal Jews’ who may come as far as challenging and opposing Zionism, are often ‘AZZ’s’ (‘anti-Zionist Zionists’). Thus Abunimah, who opposes all forms of racism including anti-Semitism, is for Atzmon simply a “Sabbath goy” (a gentile who performs work for Jews).

In 2012, various Palestinian writers and activists including Abunimah, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, professor Joseph Massad and others officially disavowed the racism and anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon.

So what does Atzmon want with me? He seems to want to expose me as a supposed “JVP merchant”, a “dedicated Jewish gatekeeper”. Now those terms can seem puzzling for some. What is this coded language? JVP stands for Jewish Voice for Peace. Atzmon believes that the American Jewish organization, which also supports BDS, is really about ‘Jewishness’ and giving Jews good PR, as it were. He says that “Liberal Jews want to make the [Palestinian] solidarity movement a Goyrein zone” and talks about “JVP, BDS and Jewish liberal terror”.

What is this “merchant” word about? Well, if you think about Shylock, the Jewish character from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the word is a code for the stereotype of the sleazy Jew. This is not just my unfounded association. Atzmon is fully aware of these stereotypes, as he writes:

“Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin [the Jewish dealer of stolen goods in Dicken’s Oliver Twist, ed.] and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum.”

Atzmon’s language about me is further condescending, as he regards me as a “boy”, and alters my last name to “offir”. He obviously thinks this is amusing.

So, Atzmon believes I work for JVP (which I don’t, but I support their aims, am on their Facebook group and receive their mails).

Even those who desperately try to defend Atzmon’s statements as merely critical ones, seem somewhat unconvincing when you actually take a look at statements from his book ‘The Wandering Who?’, as in:

“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 [for] 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… 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, people in Hiroshima died just because they were Japanese… [As devastating as it was], at a certain moment in time, a horrible chapter was given an exceptional meta-historical status.” (pp 175, 149).

Thus – no gassings mentioned, and so many others killed. Not that big a deal in itself, as it were. This can be said to be the “soft core holocaust denial” which Deborah Lipstadt refers to, also in relation to the current US administration’s approach:

“Soft-core denial is much more insidious and squishier but when you know something is not quite right,” she told us [Washington Post]. “When you take out the identity of the victims, when those victims were specifically targeted, that is a form of rewriting history, and that’s what denial is all about.” 

Given, Atzmon seems to be somewhat more educated on this one than White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer, but this only means his assertions are often harder to spot.

Atzmon writes in his attack on me:

“I recently read a disgusting private exchange between Ofir and a peace activist where Ofir used the most abusive crypto Zionist tactics and argumentation (antisemitism, holocaust denial you name it.) I have since then witnessed Ofir disseminating the usual kosher progressive mantra. I am not impressed”.

Atzmon does not provide quotes, so it’s very hard to see what he’s talking about, and in what context. Talking about anti-Semitism in itself is not contentious – neither is usage of the term Holocaust denial. Leveling those charges against an individual is something I rarely do. If I establish such aspects in a person, I usually just disengage completely. I have blocked numerous anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers in social media. They should just be ignored and disassociated from. 

I could also simply have chosen to ignore Atzmon, or disconnect, as I did a year ago. Was it a mistake to warn publicly about him, and provoke his ire? I’m not sure, but it brought his public attack against me. Would it then be wise to ignore that? I have thought about it for a few days, and reached the conclusion that it’s more than just about me. Like Ali Abunimah, I thought that it was important to do so in this case, to make a public response.

Gilad Atzmon thinks that “time is ripe for the rest of us to know what questions Jonathan Ofir would prefer to avoid.” I think more people need to know about Gilad Atzmon’s bigotry and anti-Semitism, under the guise of a ‘peace activist’.

As for Atzmon’s questions, I regularly voice my critique on both Zionism and Judaism, and I don’t need a person like Atzmon leading me up the path.

Atzmon’s questions speak volumes on their own.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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    • n

      April 30, 2017, 6:11 pm

      The three key disputable items are the 6 million figure, the gas chamber showers,and claim Hitler always planned to exterminate the Jews once he was in power.
      The 6 million figure is not disputable. It can easily be arrived to, or something close to it, without reading any boring history volumes. Hungary – 400,000, Romania- 400k, Poland- 3m, Russia and Ukraine, 1.5m, Czechoslovakia, Greece. 100k. All these people are simply missing. There are no reports of Greek Jews or Hungarian Jews being tucked away somewhere. Everyone saw them leaving, nobody knows where they are.
      The third claim- nobody claims that Hitler always planned to exterminate all Jews. The final decision was taken in 1942.
      As to the showers, this is a favorite in the denial universe despite many eye witness report. I say, who cares how they died? All these people were sent to Aushwitz and were worked to death or starved or whatever. They died.
      Only solution – Israel needs to significantly increase the nuclear arsenal and include ICBMs in it. The arsenal should be announced to the world as well. No other way.

      MaghlawatanMay 1, 2017, 7:02 am

      At least half of the 6 million were shot dead in Poland and the Soviet Union by Nazis and their helpers.
      The book Bloodlands by Snyder is very informative.
      Nukes and ICBMs are stupid. Israeli society is rotting from the inside.
      Do you think it was a good idea to include the Mizrahim in the project?ith April 29, 2017, 5:40 pm

      JONATHAN OFIR- “The point of the questions appeared to be that ‘Jewishness’ was the problem, and if I didn’t concede to it, I would probably be regarded as an ‘anti-Zionist Zionist’ or ‘Zionist gatekeeper’ as Atzmon likes to say. I saw where it was going, and I realized that I would lose any way I answered.”

      Lose what? Why would answering Atzmon’s questions, which apparently you agreed to, have been such a problem? You make it sound like you are a victim under attack. Since these interview questions were prefaced by positive comments about your video, why the fear? It is at least somewhat informative that your listing of Atzmon’s questions appear cherry-picked for effect. Below are the first question and part of the second question which appear to me non-threatening.

      “1. Your decision to present your moving appeal in English is a significant choice. Rather than talking to Israelis you talk about Israel. I went through a similar transition, rather than talking to Jews I made a decision to talk about Jews.

      What led to your decision?

      2. I am slightly confused by your attitude to Zionism:

      a. You seem to argue that Judaism and Zionism are distinct entities; is this really the case? Is there a clear dichotomy? Where does Judaism end and Zionism starts? After all, rabbinical Jews are atthe forefront of the racist crimes against Palestinians.

      b. I understand that some rabbinical communities are opposed to Israeli and Zionistcrimes, but they are certainly small in number and have limited influence, don’t you agree?”

      I think a discussion on Judaism versus Zionism versus “Jewishness” could have helped clarify your respective positions. I suspect that your “background check” indicated to you that any association with Atzmon would have negative consequences for you with much of organized Jewry, so you opted out.

      JONATHAN OFIR- “This can be said to be the “soft core holocaust denial”….”

      “This can be said?” Are you saying it or disingenuously implying it? While Atzmon lacks Finkelstein’s scholarly prose, their views are at least somewhat similar. There was the historical Nazi holocaust and there is the Zionist constructed Holocaust narrative which they exploit. The insistence that the Holocaust was both uniquely evil and the culmination of 2000 years of Gentile Jew-hatred is part of the Zionist narrative. To question the narrative is not the same as denying the essential facts of the event. I might add that Norman Finkelstein has also been accused of being a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite.

      Atzmon is not alone in trying to analyze the effect of Judaism and Jewishness upon the Jewish state. Israel Shahak felt that “Historical Judaism and its two successors, Jewish Orthodoxy and Zionism, are both sworn enemies of the concept of an open society as applied to Israel. A Jewish state, whether based on its present Jewish ideology or, if it becomes more Jewish in character than it is now, on the principles of Jewish Orthodoxy, cannot ever contain an open society.” (p13, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

      There are a few other things, however, I’ll leave it at this.

      Good points, Keith. I was about to make one of those myself (the one about the Holocaust being turned into something of a cult-like jewish gatekeeping aspect).

      Now, it is true that Atzmon can be artless. Even his questions can be phrased as an offense so it’s not surprising that he elicits defensive reactions. Not that I don’t understand how one could become so brittle given the attacks leveled against him for many years now. But psychologism aside, I think Ofir, despite denials, was probably given ample warnings that any association with Atzmon is poison in any and all jewish communities/organizations. Of course, being from israel, Ofir should recognize the MO of someone like Atzom. Something like offense is the best defense? a certain aggressiveness, whether justified or not?

      That being said, I probably would have also cringed at the question on Bolshevism. There is something about that line of questioning that makes me uncomfortable, and not because I care to be a gate-keeper, of any kind, for anyone. By now, that part of history – in general – the entire 1917 revolution, in fact – is so fraught with inaccuracies, exaggerations and mythologies that short of being a scholarly historian I am not sure I would be able to answer any question about that part of Russian history. Just heard someone on NPR who was researching Lenin’s train trip back to Russia. Who funded it and for what purpose, she asked? was Lenin a tool of Western powers – or in particular of the German powers who sought a withdrawal of Russia from WWI. plausible, but true? false? who knows? how would anyone ever know what transpired in lenin’s mind?

      I only bring this up because i see – among European Jews of marxist leanings, never Americans – an ongoing debate about Trotsky. May be Gilad has by now figured out what it’s all about, I sure didn’t.

    CitizenApril 30, 2017, 9:50 am

    @ Danaa

    Bolshevist Revolution–the very disproportionate role of Jewish leaders–this is generally a taboo subject in America. Even the Noble Prize Winner Solzinitzin (sic) from Russia could not get his book 200 Years Together incorporating it published in English translation here.

    Similarly, Chapter 16 of The Last Days of the Romanovs, naming the Jews running all the revolutionary parties (Translated from the French Edition by Nathel) has only days ago been
    for the first time published in English translation.

    Goodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 11:13 am

    Ah, the old enemy, Judeobolshevism. Wasn’t there a guy who ran for chancellor on an anti-Judeobolshevism platform? Gimme a second, I’m sure I’ll come up with it.

    See what Atzmon drags in?

    catalanApril 30, 2017, 12:16 pm

    “Bolshevist Revolution–the very disproportionate role of Jewish leaders–this is generally a taboo subject in America”. – Citizen
    You will be pleased to find that it is an extremely popular subject in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. That’s why I got out of there when the going was good. Now I live in gorgeous New Mexico, where being Jewish appears to be a positive thing, if a thing at all, something that I still, after 20 years of living in the States, have a hard time getting used to (like the stores full of food). I am very grateful for living here; as to Israel, I say, quadruple the nuclear arsenal. Having the ability to destroy life on earth several times over is the most effective way to keep the enemies at bay. Let talknic discuss the partition plan and the students in Portland boycott Israeli hummus and feta, who cares…

    Jonathan Ofir

    April 30, 2017, 3:18 am

    Keith, I’ll try to be short, and give you full disclosure on some of your wonders.

    First of all the questions are in Atzmon’s own article which I linked to. At first, I didn’t think it was necessary to put them all out there, I thought the last multiple question could do. Then in the editorial process, there was interest to have the questions appear early in the article, to give the reader a sense. So then I put them all up, but it ended up being like a lecture by Atzmon instead. So I opted for a selection.

    You, too, in seeking to convey the ‘positive’ point, have made a selection. We need to summarize to convey a point, and that’s not suspicious or unfair.

    My point is not that all of Atzmon’s points are suspicious. I am making the critical point of how he takes those points and where he leads them. It’s the low point that I am pointing out. My point about ‘losing’ is that with him, if you don’t agree to the assertions, you are still on his interview turf. And it seemed that it was not a discussion as much as it was a ‘test’. I don’t want to be tested by a person with such notions.

    • Jonathan Ofir

      April 30, 2017, 4:28 am

      And Keith, as to Finkelstein’s points on Holocaust –
      Finkelstein uses two distinct terms in regards to the Nazi Holocaust: One is “Nazi Holocaust”, to refer to the actual events. The second is “Holocaust” to refer to the ‘industry’ around it.
      Finkelstein does this, I believe, precisely in order to differentiate the two aspects.

      I do not need to get into the “soap” issue Atzmon brings. That is known to be a hoax disseminated by Simon Wiesenthal and Deborah Lipstadt also notes this. That’s a shameful invention, and there were others. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a genocide, with gassings, and a Holocaust, if you see what I mean.

    • itizen

      April 30, 2017, 4:35 am

      I agree with Keith. And I don’t see how Jonahtan Ofir’s response to Keith amounts to “full disclosure.” What is very clear is Ofir does not want to present, by addressing them, certain of Atzmon’s basic questions as legitimate, rational, worthy of inquiry. Maybe somebody can map out a three column chart of factors clarifying distinctions between Judaism versus Zionism/Jewish State versus “Jewishness”? Certainly the main media and influential mainstream politicians conflate all three, usually, in the case of American media and politicians, omitting any speech about Zionism, or even naming it.

    • Goodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 9:05 am

      “I am making the critical point of how he takes those points and where he leads them.”

      Atzmon is a man who’s spent the last decade waving both hands and shaking one leg over the line into the region of anti-Semitic rhetoric, so that his supporters can say “oh but he never actually *stepped* across the line and therefore Atzmon’s anti-Semitism isn’t an issue.”

      The Holocaust denial thing – ask Atzmon how many Jews the Nazis killed, and watch him dodge and weave and leave open the possibility that the “six million” is really only Jewish propaganda – is just the most blatant example, and the one that finished off his reputation among anti-Zionists in London, but that’s only part of the racism Max Blumenthal has attacked Atzmon for.

      As far as I can discern , the two key claims of the classic Holocaust narraative that are denied by “Holocaust Deniers” are the 6 Million victim figure, and the gassing by shower of Zyklon-B in special chambers. Anybody else?

      “Maybe somebody can map out a three column chart of factors clarifying distinctions between Judaism versus Zionism/Jewish State versus “Jewishness”?”

      “Jewishness” is simply Atzmon’s nebulous, never-defined catch-all for every bad thing he wants to say about the Jews while maintaining a paper-thin façade that he’s not talking about the Jews per se. It’s a flimflam. But there are parts of his audience practically begging: “Filmflam me about Jews, Atzmon! I want to say, believe, and disseminate bad things about The Jew Per Se but I need a layer of rhetorical dodges and dog whistles to make it seem all right as long as I don’t self-examine too closely.”

      When you don’t want to answer inconvenient questions, accuse the questioner of Holocaust Denial, and figuratively drop the mic and walk off the stage in victory.

      The commenters seem to think we should run a list of Pamela Geller’s questions about Islam, too. That’s Atzmon’s game too. They both have figured out what is responsible for these conflicts, and it’s one religion.
      If they could only talk about all religions, that might be interesting. But of course they can’t.

      Donald JohnsonApril 30, 2017, 12:30 pm

      Phil– completely agree. Atzmon is very much like the Islamophobes. All those poor misunderstood bigots want to do is ” ask questions”. The giveaway is the focus on one religion and the obvious demonizing, but sure, it’s only about honest historical inquiry.

    • erApril 30, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Seems to me that Atzmon simply takes the Zionist-style rhetoric and stands it on it’s head. He’s talking about Israel-Jews the way they talk about everybody else, (is the best I can put it.)

      itizenApril 30, 2017, 4:40 pm

      I’m fairly sure everyone here knows Americans have been undergoing historical revisionism of what use to be taught to our children as American History for decades now. I don’t agree with anyone who doesn’t apply the same rigor to the classic Holocaust story. De facto banning of books or speakers should not be tolerated. All ideological oxen should be gored.

      oniFalicApril 30, 2017, 5:14 pm

      @Philip Weiss. Atzmon is quite clear that he has no problem with Judaism qua religion. Geller acts as if her issue is Islam qua religion, but the areas of Islam that she attacks are generally very similar to Judaism. Her real issue is the difficulty of enmeshing Islam either to serve Zionism or to be silent about Zionism as organized Christianity mostly is. (I am willing to be corrected on this point.) Unlike Atzmon, who is a decent writer in English and in Modern Israeli Hebrew, Geller is impossible for me to read for any length of time.

      Atzmon seems to be like me a victim of Israeli education or indoctrination, who became totally disgusted on realizing that most everything that he learned about Judaism, Zionism, Jewish history, and Zionist history consists of lies. (Note that Israelis from our background (secular, pseudo leftist progressive) don’t generally distinguish Judaism, Jewishness, the Jewish people, and Zionism. We have to learn to make the distinctions that Atzmon and I try to make.

      Eventually, I learned how to put Judaism, Jewishness, and Zionism into context and to think about them rationally from a reasonable comparative perspective as modern academic historians are supposed to analyze history. Developing such critical historical thought patterns is the point of academic history programs just as learning to think critically about the law and to formulate legal arguments or opinions according to acceptable legal reasoning, forms, and principles is the point of law school.

      Atzmon is a rather gifted autodidact, but his analysis suffers from the lack of a critical historical perspective. He is also rather unfair to Philip Weiss, but then Atzmon has worked neither as a journalist or as a serious (non-propagandist) historian. I have problems with Weiss’s approach to Jewish history, culture, identity, and religion, but I post anonymously and work hard to conceal my identity because I know what Zios want to do to me. Obviously Weiss suffers from constraints that I don’t experience. Atzmon has yet another situation because he is a professional musician with a following in Europe. He is somewhat immune to a lot of Zionist attacks, and they may even give him a helpful “buzz”.

      eithApril 30, 2017, 5:34 pm

      JONATHAN OFIR- “Keith, I’ll try to be short, and give you full disclosure on some of your wonders.”

      Rather than respond to this response to my comment, I am going to go to the bottom of the comments section and make a fresh comment to permit comments to my comment and comments to these comments. I plan on doing an analysis of your article to determine what exactly happened, why you are writing this article for Mondoweiss, and why Mondoweiss chose to publish it, along with an observation on Gilad Atzmon. Ambitious,no? Sound good? Wish me luck!

      Hughes976April 30, 2017, 9:16 pm

      If Pamela Geller wishes to test us with a series of questions about Islam, I say ‘bring it on’. Not that I for my part would be able to answer serious questions about Islam (perhaps they would not be serious) but I think I would be interested in commening on the relevance of her own answers to her political agenda.
      If someone else wishes to pose questions on Christianity and its relationships with imperialism and with Zionism I would think those questions should be answered rather than refused. What is the value of my ‘identity’ (as they say) as a Christian if I am not prepared to answer questions from the critics of my religion as rationally as I can?

      “I’m fairly sure everyone here knows Americans have been undergoing historical revisionism of what use to be taught to our children as American History for decades now.”

      ROTFLSMAJAO!! I’ll say!

    • erApril 30, 2017, 10:18 pm

      .” I plan on doing an analysis of your article to determine what exactly happened, why you are writing this article for Mondoweiss, and why Mondoweiss chose to publish it, along with an observation on Gilad Atzmon.”

      Gee, that’s great! Do you happen to have any information on any one, or all of those things?

      chinococcusMay 1, 2017, 5:55 am

      Falic,Thank you for the obvious common sense of your interpretation of Atzmon.Allow me a single correction, about your “Atzmon is quite clear that he has no problem with Judaism qua religion”. In fact, he has the same problem with it as religion that you, me and some others also have, and he just can’t afford the luxury of not exposing the nonsense.

      oodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 8:41 am

      “To question the narrative is not the same as denying the essential facts of the event.”

      This is a good example of how Atzmon likes to hide behind blur-words.

      Atzmon isn’t merely “questioning the narrative” in the Finkelstein sense, he’s “questioning the narrative” in the Holocaust denial sense. That’s why he’s going to go speak at the Holocaust denial organization “Institute for Historical Review” next week on May 6. This is the sort of thing that rightfully wrecked his reputation in the UK left, who took the time to peer through the blur and then was appalled by what Atzmon was really up to.

      But Atzmon hopes you don’t make the distinction between Finkelstein and David Irving. After all, they’re both “questioning the narrative of the Holocaust,” so they both must be noble souls, right?

      osephAApril 30, 2017, 8:57 am

      Whomever accused Norman Finkelstein of being a Holocaust denier and an anti-Semite might want to come back to reality, as he’s clearly neither if you have ever heard him speak or read any of his books.

      Goodwin Sands

      April 30, 2017, 9:23 am

      Agreed. But the case of Atzmon is very different; Atzmon wants to portray himself as a Finkelstein figure, while he’s really more like the Fred Leuchter of Jews.

        • April 30, 2017, 10:11 am

          Whomever accused Norman Finkelstein of being a Holocaust denier and an anti-Semite might want to come back to reality, as he’s clearly neither if you have ever heard him speak or read any of his books.

          Oh really. And what has reality to offer to convince this person to come back to it?

          CitizenApril 30, 2017, 5:35 pm

          “Holocaust Denying” & “Holocaust Industry”:
          Caveat, I don’t agree with the review writer that “holocaust deniers” simply want to latch on some small factual items of the Holocaust to discredit the Holocaust narrative generally. The three key disputable items are the 6 million figure, the gas chamber showers,and claim Hitler always planned to exterminate the Jews once he was in power. Obviously, these three items pose a uniqueness, which Finkelstein shows has been exploited to the max as a profitable business and political club.

          oodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 6:01 pm

          Oh, look, FPP = Focal Point Press – that is, David Irving’s imprint.

          You’re citing David Irving’s personal website as where you get your news from.

          Did you think no one would notice, or just that – as in Atzmon’s target audience – no one would care?

          Atzmon sure brings ’em out, doesn’t he.

          erugaApril 30, 2017, 6:47 pm

          “Holocaust Denying” & “Holocaust Industry”:

          Thanks for the link

          “Atzmon sure brings ’em out, doesn’t he.”

          non-kosher remains best kosher 🙂

          eithApril 30, 2017, 8:10 pm

          GOODWIN SANDS- “You’re citing David Irving’s personal website as where you get your news from.”

          Citizen linked to a book review by Adam Bresnick which appeared in the 11/5/2000 edition of the Los Angeles Times. You are saying that “fpp” is David Irving’s personal website? Is the book review the same as appeared in the LA Times? Perhaps you would care to comment on the book review rather than using David Irving as a tar baby? Incidentally, not all of us frequent “anti-Semitic” websites like you do, hence, have no idea that “fpp” has some special significance. But the article is what it appears to be: a book review in the Los Angeles Times. Yet more Zionist claims of anti-Semitism where none exist in order to vilify and stifle discussion.

          Hughes976April 30, 2017, 9:23 pm

          I have never quite been able to work out where Finkelstein or indeed Atzmon stands on the dire events called Holocaust. On the whole F seems to stand with Hilberg but maybe not quite consistently.

          ooserApril 30, 2017, 9:32 pm

          “Did you think no one would notice, or just that – as in Atzmon’s target audience – no one would care? “

          “Goodwin” my friend, you haven’t spent a lot of time in the Mondo comment section before now, have you?

          oodwin SandsMay 1, 2017, 6:40 am

          “Incidentally, not all of us frequent “anti-Semitic” websites like you do”

          Buddy, if you think David Irving’s own personal website is not anti-Semitic but merely “anti-Semitic” then there’s not much I can do to help you.

          onah fredmanApril 29, 2017, 8:23 pm

          Gilad atzmon is a rabid dog.

          ooserApril 29, 2017, 8:57 pm

          My answer to Atzmon’s questions would be along the lines that Judaism is a set of religious precepts and Zionism the belief that those who are Jewish, and only they, have an inherent right, now commonly called birthright, to a share of sovereignty over Palestine, others having a share only by the reasonable generosity of the true heirs. I consider Zionism to be a false proposition. If Judaism implies Zionism then the precepts of Judaism must, for me, be false to an important degree. It would seem that the majority of those considering themselves to be of Jewish religion do consider that Zionism is implied, but there is a dissenting minority. I think it’s fairly clear that the link is not logically watertight, so it is possible, to use Atzmon’s terminology, for Judaism to end short of Zionism as a set of beliefs about God and ethical behaviour. I do understand Atzmon’s reluctance to believe that the dissenting religious minority or the other relevant, overlapping minority, that of dissenting Israelis, stands any foreseeable chance of stopping the Zionist agenda, which has been marked with so much success, admiration and
          reward, in its tracks. It is still right and important to make the effort, though. Maybe Almighty God will bend the arc of the universe a bit. I think that Atzmon’s questions should be answered rather than refused.
          Some Soviet people of Jewish background did terrible things, granted. They suffered also. But the truth or falsity of the Zionist idea is the question and we will not find the answer to that question in the records of the past or its chapters of atrocity.

          DanaaApril 30, 2017, 3:33 pm

          beautiful comment MHughes. But unfortunately since you didn’t mention either the Holocaust or Bolshevism, it won’t be deemed of deserving a retort by the likes of goioodwin sands. Certainly not good old yonah, who these days issues epithets, it seems (well, I excuse him. Fatigue is a terrible thing).

          But FWIW, I liked your comment (well, we agree, in general*, so that helps….).

          * there are always those specifics though….

          lyn117May 1, 2017, 12:09 am

          The problem I have with a lot of this blaming by Atzmon of Judaism (or Jews) for a bunch of ills, is similar to the problem I have blaming any other religion for a bunch of ills. Sure, ala Israel Shahak, you can dig up a bunch of talmudic thought advocating mass murder of innocent civilians and, as Max Blumenthal noted, truly believed and taught by certain Jewish religious leaders. Rather horrible stuff. But I don’t personally know any Jews who actually follow that kind of thinking, virtually all my Jewish friends and acquaintances are atheists who believe in equal rights, abhor genocide and so on. When I look at it, that Judaism and this Judaism are radically different sets of beliefs. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s not up to me to say what someone else’s beliefs are, and if they want to call their beliefs Judaism and themselves a Jew, I’m not about to argue. And only blame the ones who actually advocated genocidal acts.

          In answer to the question, ‘Do you really believe that the Jews or the Israelis can “stop it now”?’ or a lot of the others, I’d probably just say, ‘Do you really believe that humanity can “stop it now”?’

          Hughes976April 30, 2017, 8:45 pm

          Thanks very much for kind words – I meant to refer to Bolshevism by the term ‘Soviet’, though perhaps some people use ‘Bolshevik’ only for the revolutionary, not for the Stalinist phase. I think it’s very important to say what we mean by ‘Zionism’. Its relationship with Judaism, colonialism, nationalism can then be more clearly discussed. I see no reason not to answer Atzmon’s questions or indeed not to answer the questions that Zionists may put to us. Of course some matters may be well beyond our knowledge, so ‘I do not know’ is sometimes a legitimate answer to a question.

          anaaApril 29, 2017, 10:45 pm

          Part of me understands the torments of Atzmon. The part that sees neocons continue to walk among us, free as birds, even rewarded – amply – while their crimes resulted in rivers of blood on the other part of the world. I cringe at the sight of horrific war criminals, every bit as abominable as certain fascist types, people like Feith, whose hands are dripping with the blood of innocents , being actually interviewed on TV as if they were not criminal serial killers. Even considered for a job in Trump’s administration – which sort of smelled like Eichmann appointed to a UN’s human Rights commission or something (luckily for us all, even trump could not go that far). This part of me cannot forgive the jewish community that sheltered and covered up for the likes of Wolfowitz, kagan, Ledeen et al with platitudes about – hey, it’s not just jews! what about Cheney? oh sure. Cheney. that totally mclarifies things, don’t it?

          Possibly, though temperamentally very different from Atzmon, I too would launch at tirades if cornered by certain individuals. The ones who hold the Feith et al cover-up by the jewish establishment guilty as charged (for being basically willing to forgive the thugs for Empire and israel) but then recoil at expanding beria’s ethnicity to a historical cover up by the entire jewish establishment of Russia. Unlike Atzmon though I would never be so quick to hold an entire community (even a tribe) guilty because of some Jewish connection by some to some very bad things.

          Still, on bad days, I rant much as Atzmon does. On bad days when the magnitude of the crimes and abominations committed against the Syrian people, the Iraqi people, the Libyan people, the Yemeni people, become impossible to ignore. I know many jewish people (and of course, many many non-jewish people), people i respect, expressed their disgust with the neocons every bit as deeply and clearly as I did and do. I also know that many of the jewish people who failed to be suitably disgusted simply because they had not much knowledge about foreign affaires in general, much as most Americans. After all, it’s the unique privilege of those who live in the heart of the beast to not know what the beast does when it goes on its rampages.

          But still, there is that little voice that says – of all its subjects and citizens, the Jews of the Empire should not use apathy or ignorance as a way out of witnessing that which must be witnessed, if civilization is to continue. If too many of them do just that, then perhaps they are all guilty?

          All that being said, a world without the like of Ofir is a sad world indeed. I have never seen an article of his I didn’t like or appreciate. Of all the people out there, if I were Atzmon, I would let it slide, Even on a bad day.

          osephAApril 30, 2017, 9:08 am

          “After all, it’s the unique privilege of those who live in the heart of the beast to not know what the beast does when it goes on its rampages.”

          Amen, I couldn’t have said it better myself. At the end of the movie “A few good men”, Jack Nicholson lectures Tom Cruise about essentially protecting his freedom. Let me say this, if the price to pay for my freedom to live in relative safety and security in the US(A! USA! USA!) is the continued murder of innocent people around the world (in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, etc.), that’s just not a compromise I am willing to accept. There has to be a better way, and there is. Dismantling the military-industrial complex will not be an easy task.

          Danaa~ thank you very much for this that I also hold true:

          “All that being said, a world without the like of Ofir is a sad world indeed. I have never seen an article of his I didn’t like or appreciate. Of all the people out there, if I were Atzmon, I would let it slide, Even on a bad day. ”

          Mr./Maestro Ofir is a reflective human that I’ve appreciated since his voice came upon this stage. I eagerly await his articles because are honestly presented, well- written, and factual. He is truly amazing and has the honesty and a voice that should never be quelled. Your voice is always welcomed, too~ a necessary voice of reason and a balm that makes me believe that justice and peace will, and can, prevail.

          I miss Taxi, Seafoid, Hostage, and Walid so much. Gilad Atzmon also has a voice that he needs to get out. He appears to be tortured , but … that’s his own journey, isn’t it? I can only offer my condolences for his pain and appreciation for his journey toward the light.

          Thank you, Danaa and Jonathan.

    • unverified__5ilf90kdApril 30, 2017, 2:27 pm

      I totally agree with Citizen’s comments on this subject. I have read GA’s book “The Wandering Who” and his articles; GA’s analysis of Zionism etc is profound in my opinion. I find GA’s conclusions very convincing and helpful to me in understanding the outrageous behavior of the Jewish lobby in the USA. I have never seen any criticism of GA’s book that had any logical or factual basis. John Mearsheimer even praised this book although he was predictably called an antisemite by many Jewish pundits for his opinions. Thankfully this antisemitism canard has only devalued the concept and led to even more rational criticism of Zionism. The people on this site who call GA a “rabid dog” etc are merely apologists for the already tarnished irrationality that leads to selfish and criminal Zionist goals.

    • Goodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 2:50 pm

      “I have never seen any criticism of GA’s book that had any logical or factual basis.”

      Then you have not looked very hard at all. The book broke his reputation in the UK, not because of Zionist machinations, but because of its innate anti-Semitism, which explains Zionism by an argument boiling down to, “Well you know what those Jews are like, say no more! say no more!”

    • alkbackMay 1, 2017, 5:51 am

      Goodwin Sands: Then you have not looked very hard at all. The book broke his reputation in the UK, not because of Zionist machinations, but because of its innate anti-Semitism, which explains Zionism by an argument boiling down to, “Well you know what those Jews are like, say no more! say no more!”

      Well, we do know what those Zionist Jews are like, don’t we? But what has this got to do with antisemitism besides your innate antisemitic conflation of Zionists and humans who happen to be Jewish?

      Hi Jonathan,

      I’m sorry you had such a negative experience with GA on the internet, but given how many internet creeps there are in this Movement, I think it is worth reflecting on why this particular creep keeps getting so much attention.

      GA mixed anti-Semitic rhetoric with genuine critiques about privileging Jewish voices, and nowhere is the latter more obvious than in the management of JVP — from the name to the organizational makeup to the constant lagging behind the rest of the movement to the repeated insinuations that Arab anti-colonial sentiment is unacceptable or even anti-Semitic, etc.

      Those matters deserve to be critiqued; they are far greater obstacles than anti-Jewish fringe writers. I worry that excessive focus on GA and failure to criticize him for the right reasons contributes to mystifying this greater issue.

      I think much of GA’s analysis of his chosen political subjects are very insightful, and rarely heard by the general American pubic, which has a stake in the matter, and because the USA is the lone superpower, so does the rest of the world. Unfortunately, yes, sometimes he hurts his attempt to wake up the public by spouting anti-semitic rhetoric blurb-like comments, e.g., on Twitter. I have yet to see any reasonable criticism of, e.g., his book The Wandering Who, or his article Being In Time.

    • anaaApril 30, 2017, 3:37 pm

      Sorry for the typos (and that’s the only thing I am apologizing for, now and ever). Overran the edit time window, darn….

    • oodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 4:51 pm

      Atzmon is a big gift-wrapped present to the Zionists. Anyone at all familiar with the history of anti-Semitic rhetoric will see Atzmon as playing its greatest hits, over and over, while hoping to transpose them into the key of anti-Zionism in a way that gets other anti-Zionists to take up the tune. He is a one-man series of ringing refutations of the idea that anti-Zionism is untainted by anti-Semitism. All he has to offer is a negative example of how not to promote anti-Zionism.

      Atzmon’s approach to Jewishness is essentialism, and that essence is in Atzmon’s eyes one hundred percent purely terrible. That he pimps for Holocaust denial on the side is not a minor little footnote in this context. He hates the very idea of Jews.

      The only way to go forward to any kind of productive exchange on Jewish identity – or Jewish anything – is to put him in the bin.

    • anaaApril 30, 2017, 11:26 pm

      You want to put Atzmon “in the bin” (whatever that means). His sin apparently being one of playing into the hands of some supposed anti-semites (the current existence of which I have not been able to confirm, not having met or witnessed any these past few decades).

      So Goodwin, if the bin is for Atzmon, what fate would you prescribe for the actual evil doers? yes, I mean, the Netanyahus, the Feiths, the Wolfowitz’s, the Horowitzes, the Dershowitzs,the IDF pure-of-arms, the baby killers in Palestine, the pervertors of American foreign policy towards bombing still more countries, the whole multitude of zionism justifers, and bayers for ever more spilled blood?

      Seems to me that the sins of Atzmon, such as they are, pale by comparison with the sins of actual killers, murderers and accomplices to murder. Of thieves and liars. Of genocide peddlers. Of each and every one of those millions of israelis who just couldn’t get enough of dead children in Gaza, and still can’t.

      But may be you are more interested in some anti-semitic purity tests than real victims of the urges of palestine? may be the pogromists are, well, just slightly “mistaken” and are going a wee-bit over-board, but Atzmon? why he be guilty of the gravest of sins – dumping on the tribe (rightly or wrongly, does it really matter?).

      So, excuse me if I don’t care to join in your witch-burning rituals. Or your holocaust-effigy wavings. A bitt oo busy here watching real fires consuming real innocents… in an ongoing holocaust, not that one in the past.

    • alkbackMay 1, 2017, 5:30 am

      Goodwin Sands: “Veterans Today?

      Guilt by association fallacy?

      Goodwin Sands: “All he has to offer is a negative example of how not to promote anti-Zionism.”

      LOL. It’s more of a negative example of how not to promote Jewish identity politics.

      April 30, 2017, 11:22 am

      Strange how studiously you’re avoiding his scheduled talk – not his first – at the neo-fascist Institute for Historical Review, coming up next week.

      You wouldn’t trust a flat-earther to lecture you on astrophysics. Why would you let someone who pimps for Holocaust denial lecture you on the Jewish character?

      onald JohnsonApril 30, 2017, 12:28 am

      Atzmon is at best a troll. You can see it in the comparison of the deaths of German civilians in bombing raids to the Holocaust. Indiscriminate bombing is a war crime, but the Allies stopped killing civilians when the war was over and Hitler would not have stopped killing Jews. Hitler intended to wipe out the Jews and the Allies did not intend to wipe out the Germans.

      This is obvious and shouldn’t need to be spelled out, but when you see someone arguing like this it is a clear sign that if you engage this person you are going to be wasting a lot of time refuting nonsense.

      .JonesApril 30, 2017, 10:05 am

      I wonder if he could intentionally be trying to create conflict in the solidarity movement. If he were legitimate, why would he be opposing BDS.

      It seems like if someone wanted to derail the SOlidarity movement they would create people saying outrageous things to create inner conflict.

      fstusApril 30, 2017, 10:11 am

      Actually the allies killed over 1 million Germans after the German government had surrendered after being giving a guarantee that the violence would stop (best guess 1.7 million), most from starvation in prison camps. And yes, the fire bombing of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, etc. were horrific war crimes not to be blithely excused.

      Goodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 11:28 am

      I think there’s a simpler explanation – Atzmon is the Donald Trump of the anti-Zionist movement. He discovered he could get a buzz by saying edgy things about Jews, liked the attention, said edgier things, the racist dog whistles got more and more distinct, and Atzmon got locked in a spiral that took him all the way to running interference for the Holocaust denial movement and going to their gigs. Many people saw through Atzmon early in that spiral, some later in that spiral, and some never will.

      The difference is that the anti-Zionists sussed him out and turned him out, while the Americans made Trump president.

      itizenMay 1, 2017, 5:16 am

      @ Goodwin Sands:

      And even simpler explanation may be that Atzmon suspects too many Jews involved in BDS or anti-Zionism are so involved as they wish to preserve a distinction between being Jewish and being Humanist? If so, an analogy may be those who criticize J-Street as AIPAC-Lite. This might explain why Atzmon decided he was no longer a Jew. I asked him, in effect, via Twitter, if the Hillel The Elder strain of Judaism might not be also a strain of Humanism, but I never got a response. Perhaps he thinks if so, then why not simply identify as a humanist?

      Yeah, I heard that claim around 1990– ” Other Losses” . So we are supposed to believe that in Western prison camps a gulag level death rate occurred and was successfully covered up.

      Two other points. I didn’t dismiss Allied war crimes– I pointed out that the Holocaust was worse. It clearly was. That is true even if Other Losses was true.

      And this is exactly the sort of bad faith argument that pops up with people like Atzmon. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize Zionism and even what Finkelstein calls the industry without having to sink to the level of someone who thinks the Holocaust was the same as the bombing of civilian populations. You don’t have to think the Holocaust was uniquely evil and beyond any other atrocity in history, but you also don’t have to wallow in far right arguments that downplay it either.

      itizenApril 30, 2017, 5:22 am

      I suggest Atzmon’s POV is larger than Ofir’s:

      Goodwin SandsApril 30, 2017, 8:48 am

      Veterans Today? A wacky conspiracy site full of Holocaust deniers? Really?

      This is Atzmon’s audience now that the left has repudiated him — the alt-right and the “there are Jews under my bed” crowd. That he still occasionally scents it up with a bit of anti-Zionist rhetoric demonstrates mostly how easy it is to fool some people if you clang the “I’m being censored by Zionists” bell at the same time.

  1. Danaa

    April 30, 2017, 3:17 pm

    Goodwin Sands, how about you respond to my points, not just citizen’s? or MHHughs976’s thoughtful comments?

    I ask for a reason – which is other than defend Atzmon’s assaults on polity and politeness. (which I’ll grant he does – with apparently great relish). GA made it apparently his mission to call any and all writers and speakers of jewish origin to account over their tribal connection. No matter how they might rise above it or side-step it, they will, by definition, be forever guilty of whitewashing something or other to do with the tribe. I am sure GA will find me guilty too (perhaps of secret gatekeeping? as in juggling the keys to the gate while standing in the way?).

    The point some opf us make – and on which we may be accused of cavorting with Atzmon – is that the fact that there is indeed a tribe is nothing either new or particularly controversial, but the cult that grew out and from within the tribe – zionism – is a uniquely toxic element that the entire tribe is called to recognize and atone for.

    In making this last point I am on the same page, I believe, as Phil and the other writers and contributors to this blog. And very much with Jonathan Ofir, given his writings. The difference however is one of degree and demand for atonement. My demands are probably harsher because people like me cannot seem to be able to package the reality of the very evil things israel has done and is doing, and the eviler it’s planning to do, ars something semi-benign (as in the old adage s “they all do it” and power gets to your head”, etc.).

    I find commonality with Atzmon on the level of unforgiveness. Sometimes I track with jeremiah rather the “nice” isiah (cf. Ellis, a modern version). I want to see evil shouted from roof-tops. I want to see perpetrators punished (how exactly I am not sure, because violence is not my cup of tea). Atzmon brings rage into the conversation. And for that I would rather he stayed in then be shunned.

    Of course, for the many who want a gentler, scholarlir take on evil and its many doers and promoters inside the tribe, there is Abigail Abarbanel.

  2. ddictionMythApril 30, 2017, 9:55 am

    This is pretty confusing to me and I’m not sure what to make of it yet. I am not a Zionist but I am a very proud Jew and hopefully soon Israeli. I believe in One State with equal rights for all. Part of the problem is that the Zionist Christians in the US have made settlers dependent on aid, and the rich Jews (e.g. Adelson) have made the Haredi dependent, and the US government and the UN have made the Palestinians dependent (Trump just boosted aid to Palestinians while cutting everyone else!) so now everyone’s trying desperately to protect their franchise. Maybe guys like Atzmon are trying to fan the flames of ‘anti-Semitism’ to keep alive the pretext for supplying aid to both sides to ‘keep the peace’, but of course that is simply extortion. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to stop trying to ‘help’ them – ‘tough love’. Addiction similarly had lots of factions and fake factions but I eventually figured out everyone’s angle and I will here too. 🙂


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