Here’s a bit more Kammo, but firstly an apology: of the many helpful and friendly pieces of advice Harry’s Place is glad to receive from well-meaning critics is that we have, on the odd occasion, perhaps focused a tad too heavily on obscure figures on the far left such as the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, and also perhaps concentrated ever so slightly too much on events and issues surrounding Israel. You may or may not agree with this; personally being neither Jewish nor Israeli, my interest in such issues is limited, and consequently I haven’t written a great deal about Israel or the Middle East, but I’m afraid I’m about to. The reason is an article I was alerted to via Oliver Kamm, in which Gilad Atzmon offers his unique perspective on the recent war in Southern Lebanon, and on comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. I’ll Gilad continue:
There is a trend amongst us all, the critical voices of Israel and Zionism. Time after time we compare Israel to the Third Reich; we equate the IDF to the Wehrmacht, we find a resemblance between the Israeli Air Force’s tactics to the blitz technique of the Luftwafe, we occasionally associate Sharon’s and Olmert’s war crimes with those of Hitler. I myself have fallen into this very trap more than once. But I have now made up my mind. This fashion of speaking must be stopped once and for all.
To regard Hitler as the ultimate evil is nothing but surrendering to the Zio-centric discourse. To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook. To compare Olmert to Hitler is to provide Israel and Olmert with a metaphorical moral shield. It maintains Hitler at the lead and allows Olmert to stay in the tail.
Israel has already established a unique interpretation of the notion of wickedness that has managed to surpass any other evil. It is about time we internalise the fact that Israel and Zionism are the ultimate Evil with no comparison…It is a modern representation of the man who kills women, children and the elderly, the Hebraic victorious master of blind indiscriminate retaliation.
Now is the time to stand up and say it, unlike the Nazis who had respect for other national movements including Zionism, Israel has zero respect for anyone including its next door neighbours. The Israeli behaviour should be realised as the ultimate vulgar biblical barbarism on the verge of cannibalism. Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison. Hence, there is no room for comparison between Israel and the Nazis…The Israelis demolish for the sake of demolishing. Israel is indeed an evil with no comparison.
If we want to save this world, if we want to live in a humane planet, we must focus on the gravest enemy of peace, those who are wicked for the sake of evilness: the Israeli State and world Zionism. It is about time to get out of the closet and to say it all loudly…We have to admit that Israel is the ultimate evil rather than Nazi Germany…We should never compare Israel to Nazi Germany. As far as evilness is concerned, we should now let Israel take the lead.
In Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism there’s a chapter where he talks about an essay in the Spanish newspaper El País by Portugese novelist José Saramango in which Saramango had also compared Israel to Nazi Germany, describing the 2002 Israeli siege of Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah – a siege in which nobody had died – as “a crime comparable to Auschwitz”, and in Berman’s words, “tracing Israel’s policies to Judaism itself”. Berman said of the essay that:
the beautiful souls of the European literary class (had) found themselves once again deposited willy-nilly on the rhetorical soil of the traditional extreme right, fulminating about Judaism, its obsessive hatefulness, its spirit of vengeance, its effort to reduce the rest of the world into docile echoes of its will, and its bloody crimes.
In describing Israel as “the Hebraic victorious master of blind indiscriminate retaliation”, and its behaviour as “the ultimate vulgar biblical barbarism on the verge of cannibalism”, Atzmon is on exactly the same ground. But like many Harry’s Place readers – and me – Kammo is wary of attaching too much significance to what he calls “ravings that I would wish to take professional advice upon before dismissing the hypothesis that their author is clinically insane”, and explains that he only does so because Atzmon has for the last three years been a listed speaker at “the summer jamboree of the Socialist Workers’ Party”. In 2005 the SWP issued a statement which admitted that “some of the formulations on his website might encourage his readers to feel that he is blurring the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti Zionism”. In his response he explained that for him, “Zionism, being a racist expansionist movement, is no different from Nazi ideology”. Now of course it’s worse. Perhaps he’s just getting more right wing as he gets older.