Tribalism, racism and projection: time for Jewish activists to shun their racially-driven ideologies
By Gilad Atzmon
16 February 2012
Gilad Atzmon considers how racially-driven Zionists and Jewish
lobbies abuse the term “racism” and have turned "anti-racism" into a
tool to silence criticism of Israel, Jewish politics and Zionism. He
argues that rather than liberating the rest of humanity from racism,
Zionists, Israeli propagandists and self-styled Jewish “anti-Zionists”
should first emancipate themselves from their own racially-driven
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”(Anaïs Nin)
It doesn’t take a genius to see that people who are identified as
Zionist and Jews are, somehow, over represented in many blunders in
today’s world affairs. The pro-war, neocon think-tanks were
overwhelmingly saturated with Zionist Jews, and the “moral
interventionist” advocates within the media are also largely Zionist
Jews. The “brains” behind the so-called “Bush doctrine”
were Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby and, if that were not enough, at
the heart of the financial turmoil we also find Jewish persons and
financial institutions that are clearly recognizable as Jewish, such as
the Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Alan Greenspan, Bernie Madoff and
Racial exclusivity, fear, guilt and projection
Here one must ask an obvious question: why should any Jew anywhere in
the world be concerned in any way with these facts? Why should any
Jewish person be concerned with actions or ideas that he or she probably
has nothing to do with? Why should my Jewish neighbour, also subject to
the financial turmoil and with no connection whatsoever with Madoff,
Wolfowitz, David Aaronovitch or Lord “Cashpoint” Levy,
be at all concerned with current financial or imperial blunders for
which he has no responsibility? Why should my Jewish musician friends
who have no ties to Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), Community Security Trust (CST), Nick Cohen
or Alan Greenspan feel guilty for crimes or actions taken by others
just because they also happen to be Jewish? Would a Frenchman or an
Irishman in America feel threatened or potentially discriminated against
because of revelations that a few of their expatriates had been
involved in a major colossal scandal?
So, the question I raise here is a simple one: why should any Jew feel
guilty for crimes that are committed by other people – people he or she
does not know and is not affiliated with? And the answer is equally
simple - Jewish individuals have no reason to assume responsibility for
actions committed by other Jews. But the truth of the matter is, that
many Jews are extremely concerned about the current blunders: some feel
guilty, and many – potentially at least – feel threatened. I would say
that such a reaction merits our attention.
Amongst my other sins, I regularly monitor the Jewish media, and it is
obvious to me that Jewish institutions are put on alert by any scandal
that is even mildly associated with Jewish protagonists or institutions.
Jewish media outlets give the impression that every blunder associated
with a Jew is highly likely to turn itself into a wave of vile anti-Semitism.
We are left to wonder then whether the Jewish fear of anti-Semitism is
actually justified, or whether it is simply driven by a “fantasy of
In my latest book The Wandering Who?
I contend that Jewish fear of anti-Semitism is largely self-inflicted
and has very little to do with the surrounding reality. Jews tend to
regard themselves as a tribe and most Jews are subjected to a degree of
cultural and racially-driven indoctrination. On the one hand, the
religion of Judaism teaches its followers that “all of Israel are
responsible for one another" (Kol Yisrael areivin zeh l'zeh),1
while on the other hand the non-religious, secular, emancipated Jews
who identify themselves politically, ideologically and socially as Jews
they also operate within Jewish ethno-centric settings. Even
within the Palestinian solidarity movement we find Jews who operate
within “Jews only” cells such as JBIG (Jews for Boycott of Israeli
Goods) and IJAN (International Jewish Antizionist Network). Somehow,
they also feel primarily “responsible for one another”.
This reading of contemporary Jewish communities may reveal why many
Jews are alarmed by crimes committed by other Jews – Jews whom they
don’t even know.
I can think of three reasons for such a situation:
1. Projection: because some Jews regard themselves as a racially
exclusive tribe, they tend to believe that others – non Jews – will also
regard them as such. In other words, many Jews project their own
ethno-centric symptoms onto the goyim [gentiles], i.e. they think the goyim are as racially driven as they are.
2. Guilt: because some Jews tend to regard themselves as a racially
exclusive tribe, they feel guilty for not stopping those members of the
tribe who are involved in some major blunders.
3. Conjunction: both 1 and 2.
It is increasingly clear, then, that at the heart of the Jewish fear of
anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish bigotry we find Jewish racial orientation
manifesting itself in various forms of projection and guilt. Although
it is clear that Jews do not actually form a race, there is little doubt
that Jewishness – and especially Jewish secular discourse – is racially
or at least tribally driven. Not many people are aware of the racial tension
between different Jewish communities such as Ashkenazi and Sephardi
Jews. In Israel the blood donation of black citizens with Ethiopian
background is disposed of for "medical reasons". The Israeli legal system is saturated with discriminatory, racist and supremacist laws against the Arab and non-Jewish populations.
To a certain extent, then, the fear of anti-Semitism inherent in the
Zionist and Jewish secular political discourse is fuelled by the belief
that the “other”, i.e. the goy, [gentile] may well be equally driven by a similar racist ideology.
Some Jews, it must be said, might offer reasons to reject the above
explanation: they might argue that Jewish history (i.e. that endless
chain of shoas) proves that 'the sons of Israel' would be
justified in being on a constant state of alert. Jews, they might say,
should be constantly aware that their neighbours might turn against them
at any given moment.
I suggest that we are dealing here with a “chicken-and-egg” situation:
while some Jews would agree among themselves that anti-Semitism is
largely an "irrational disease", a few historians, such as Bernard Lazare, were brave and honest enough to ask why and how exactly Jews have managed to bring so much pain on themselves.
Racism versus anti-racism
Racism is a big word with some very bad connotations. Being accused of
racism is one of the most hurtful and potentially damaging labels
around. Yet, how many racists really think in biological determinist
terms? How many racists out there really think in terms of genes or even
skin colour? I guess not that many.
While acknowledging that racism had a significant cultural and
politically lethal impact between the late 19th century and the middle
of the last century, in today’s politics the word “racism” is often
misused, mistakenly used or in some cases consciously used to mislead
and even to silence.
Although discrimination against minority groups is unfortunately common
and totally unacceptable, it is not necessarily always motivated by
crude racism. Islamophobia, for instance, is commonly regarded as a
contemporary manifestation of racism but I would challenge such an
understanding. Islamophobia, I contend, is not driven by racism but
rather it is actually a crude symptom of intolerance – xenophobia
manifested as hatred, bigotry and discrimination. My English Muslim
convert friends are often subjected to abuse by Jewish campaigners (both Zionist and ‘anti’ Zionists)
and the English Defence League – but not because of their genes,
biology or the colour of their skin, but rather because they are
different, because they challenge the Western value system and because
they oppose Israel and its lobbies. Clearly, they are perceived by some
as a public enemy but that reaction cannot always be understood solely
as racism per se.
Similarly, it is beyond doubt that it is not easy to be black in
multicultural Britain. As a jazz musician I see first hand how my black
friends are often treated in this country and I see plenty of evidence
of institutional anti-black bigotry. I read about black youngsters being
stopped and searched by police between one to four times a day. This is
unacceptable and clear evidence of discrimination.
But is this really always about racism? Is it driven solely by
biological determinism? Is it really about genes, blood or skin colour?
This is indeed an open question and obviously I would not rule out the
possibility of anti-black (biological) racism. However, I tend to
believe that in contemporary multi-ethnic societies most cases of
anti-black bigotry and discrimination are various manifestations of
deep, thuggish xenophobic feelings mixed with some examples of deep and
sinister cultural intolerance. In other words, often enough, the
contemporary bigot is not concerned at all with biological matters but
rather with social constructs and culturally driven symbolism.2 This is surely a matter of serious concern, and in some case it is driven by murderous inclinations and it must be dealt with, but it isn’t necessarily (biological) racism per se.
But if this is not racism, then what is it? I reiterate that it is
better understood as different forms of deep cultural and political
intolerance within the context of some severe and troubled ethnic
So one might ask, why do we restrict our understanding of what fighting
racism means when it is actually more likely to be forms of
intolerance, ethnic tension and cultural discrimination which we should
be protesting against?
I suggest that the confusion here between deep intolerance, cultural
discrimination and racism is not coincidental but is there to serve a
clear Zionist political cause. Peculiarly enough, it is there to
maintain a clear racial orientation and segregation at the heart of the
multicultural discourse. In many cases those who oppose racism must be
able to think in racial categories first, otherwise their opposition
would be in vain.3
Paradoxically, then, anti-racism, which many of us identify with, may
in some cases evolve into a racially-driven discourse. Often it can even
jeopardize the process of natural integration and the shift towards
harmonious social relationships.4 It may even dismantle the true self-reflective and mirroring process among both the victim and the aggressor.
For within a public discourse controlled by “anti-racist” ideology, the
victim of any racist slur is immediately redeemed. He or she does not
have to self-reflect on his or her actions, for there is not much he or
she can do about their biologically-determined conditions. Zionists and hasbara campaigners,5
for instance, tend to dismiss criticism of Jewish politics and Israeli
actions as “anti-Semitism”. By so doing, they basically switch off. They
are able to ignore their surrounding reality by referring to any
possible criticism of their actions as just another example of blind,
“racially”-driven hatred towards Jews. Instead of taking the criticisms
on board and examining them by means of self-reflection, Jewish
political discourse has evolved into an insular and window-less
Equally, the so-called “racist” or “aggressor” can also dismiss the
anti-racist call because his or her criticism is largely ignored. The
“aggressor” knows that in most cases the issue is not actually about
“race” per se but rather about some acute political, cultural
and ideological issues, so this enables him or her to ignore the issue
altogether. In spite of the fact that within the contemporary
anti-Zionist discourse no one criticizes Jews for being Jews or
employing any racially-driven ideology or terminology, Israeli hasbara
and Zionists agents attempt to silence Israel’s political critics by
tossing the anti-Semitic label in the air. This tactic obviously fails
to silence Israel’s critics but it certainly maintains an abyss of
mutual deafness between Zionists and their critics. So, we are left with
two parallel discourses that have lost all hope of any future exchange.
I believe that this fact alone underlines the gravity of the prospect
of peace. Anti-racist politics is in constant danger of erecting walls
of deafness that maintain intellectual, political and ethnic segregation
at the heart of our public discourse. Rather than promoting hope,
integration, tolerance, harmony, assimilation and dialogue, anti-racism
could easily promote deafness and insularity exactly where attentiveness
and exchange are most needed.
It took me some time to realize that in many cases it is Zionist and
Jewish lobbies that maintain and promote the “anti-racism” political
discourse, and they do so for two main reasons:
1. Being submerged in a racially-driven discourse themselves, they are bound to think in terms of racial political categories.
2. Racism/anti-racism is convenient because it removes any
responsibility from the victim. If Jews are hated just for “being Jews”,
then the Jew is ethically flawless.
The implications of all this are grave: as long as Jewish identity
politics and Zionism are shielded by categorical definitions of
“anti-racism”, Jews can avoid any form of self-reflection.
But Jews and Zionists are not alone here. The “left” also is interested
in an anti-racist discourse because it maintains the left’s relevance
as being in the vanguard of progressive “ethical insight”. The left has
set itself up as the defender of the weak, and this is indeed admirable.
Through the years the left has sided with the “blacks”, with the
Zionists, with the Jew, with the Iraqi and even with the Palestinian.
But for some reason, the left has failed to side with the leading
contemporary anti-imperialist force: the Muslims. The left has also
failed to recognize that, in Europe, the Muslims are the real oppressed
working class, and the left clearly failed to side with the
democratically-elected Hamas or the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. I
suggest that the left's failure to side with the Muslims is symptomatic
of a deep and inherent Western intolerance: the left is not racist but
it is fundamentally soaked with cultural and ideological intolerance –
possibly a state of mind related to the practicality and pragmatism of
being “progressive”.6. I guess that some people may feel very special just because they believe in equality.
Naturally, the cause of “anti-racism” binds together some elements within the left with the Zionists and the hasbara
campaign. Arguably, so-called “anti-racist” politics has become just
another symptom of the Zionification of the Western political discourse,
with the supportive left seen as a mere Zionist instrument. This may
explain why the UK's leading anti-racist campaign group Hope not Hate 7
is an offshoot of the Zionist Searchlight Magazine. It also explains
why the same Zionist Hope not hate attempts to censor the freedom of
speech of Muslim leaders in Britain. It explains why the alleged
“anti-racist” Harry’s Place (which is closely affiliated with
Hope not Hate) won the UK section of the Islamic Human Rights
Commission’s Annual Islamophobia Awards in 2006. In Germany, the
“anti-racist” Antideutsche Antifa coalition is openly pro-Israel, pro-Zionist and also anti-Islam.
My guess is that these rabid Zionist and pro-Zionist campaign groups
planted themselves at the heart of the so-called left because there they
are better able to fight Israel’s enemies. But it goes further. In the
last UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign's annual general meeting, two Jewish campaigners
who openly operate within an exclusive “Jews only” political cell
(J-BIG) proposed a motion against racism. I guess that the absurdity of
the situation is clear and doesn’t need further elucidation.
So, as we can now see, some of the leading supremacist and intolerant
forces within our contemporary political discourse have managed to
locate themselves directly at the very heart of the “anti-racist” call.
Furthermore, as it becomes clear that Israel and its lobbies are the driving force
behind Islamophobia, it is pretty astonishing to find that Zionist
bodies also dominate the “anti-racist” discourse. The meaning of it is
pretty simple: racism and its opposition has gradually become an
internal Jewish affair.
The conclusion is simple. It is time for us to move on, to admit that
racism and biological determinism have no significant role in today’s
public and political discourse. We must rethink and redefine exactly
what it is that leads towards social discrimination and cultural
intolerance. Racism in its crude form belongs largely to the past. Our
multi-ethnic universe is not inherently racist and therefore anti-racism
cannot be a universal call. In many cases, “anti-racist politics” is
actually there to divert the attention from some institutional
discriminatory policies and ideologies.
It is increasingly obvious that the anti-racism campaign, in its
current form, is there to serve some clear political interests and is
largely controlled by racially-driven Zionists, Jewish lobbies and
Jewish pressure groups. It is there to silence any criticism of the
Israeli lobby, Israel, Jewish politics and Zionism.
I began this paper by asking why should any Jew feel guilty for crimes
that are committed by other people whom he or she does not know and with
whom he or she is not affiliated? The answer should by now be obvious:
Rather than liberating the rest of humanity from racism, Zionists, hasbara
campaigners and self-styled Jewish “anti-Zionists” should first
emancipate themselves from their own racially-driven ideologies.
Stopping projecting their own tribalism onto their surrounding reality would certainly be a good place to start.
1. To read more, click here.
2. I tend to believe that clashes between ethnic and
political groups in Britain are fuelled by social tension and demography
rather than by hatred towards skin colour.
3. One cannot pontificate over the meaning of anti-x without obtaining first a certain comprehension of x.
4. Minority groups engaged in varied discourses of
victimhood (for instance) may miss some opportunities to integrate into
wider social, ethnic and political structures.
5. Hasbara – Israeli propaganda
6. In practice this is no different from the Jewish secular sense of “chosenness”.
7. According to its official website Hope not Hate is “Searchlight's campaign to counter racism and fascism”.
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