Tikkun appears to have realised – either at the time of publishing the article or shortly thereafter – that Shamir is widely regarded notorious anti-semite. Perhaps they came across the article by Shamir, fingering Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun, as part of the global Jewish conspiracy. Whatever the reason, they have published the following preface to his article:
[Editor’s note: Like most of what Israel Shamir writes about Israel, this article reflects a perspective that has far too little sympathy for the fate of those killed and wounded when the Palestinian named Hosam charged his huge tractor into a bus in the center of Jerusalem. We publish it here nevertheless because of our commitment to provide our readers with perspectives that they are unlikely to hear in the mainstream media and which present ideas with which we must grapple. In this case, the attempt to humanize the Palestinian is part of our discourse–a Tikkun commitment to see the spirit of God in every human being, even those who do hurtful or muderous acts. We only wish Shamir could do the same thing for Israelis as he does so well here for Palestinians. And his hatred of Judaism itself might have been grounds to simply dismiss the article, except that it represents a growing sentiment among many Israeli secularists. ]
Yeah, right. My suspicion is that they’ve screwed up, and are now trying to provide themselves with cover.
Veteran anti-fascist campaigner, Karl Pfeifer wrote to Tikkun to query their decision to publish this anti-semite:
On Sep 16, 2008, at 11:13 AM (this is Los Angeles Time K.P.), Karl Pfeifer wrote:
you are now publishing the article of a Russian-Swedish antisemite with close relations to Neonazis like Horts Mahler or David Duke, who is writing under the name Israel Shamir, whose name was Jöran Jermas and who is called now Adam Ermash.
There are two possibilities:
1. you knew who this man is, than you are one of “Ochre” or “Sone” Israel (Israelhater)
2) you don’t know who he is, than you are a sloppy editor.
You’ll see, from Tikkun’s response, that they couldn’t give a toss about Pfeifer’s concern. In fact, they simply took the piss out of a Pfeifer – for whom English is a second language – for making a minor spelling mistake:
Von: Tikkun Magazine [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Gesendet: Dienstag, 16. September 2008 21:00
An: Karl Pfeifer
Betreff: Re: Israel Shamir
Thanks for the heads-up.
By the way, the word “than” is a comparative (“cappuccino is better than drip coffee”). You probably meant to write:
“you don’t know who he is, THEN you are a sloppy editor.”
thanks again for the heads-up,
I find that response to Karl more telling than the original publication.
Karl puts the possibilities well. Either Tikkun knew who “Shamir” is, or they do not. If they do, they are happy to publish the works of neo Nazis and anti-semites, as long as they present themselves as allies of the Palestinians. If they don’t, they’re just foolish.
I’d be very interested to know whether they put the “apologia” in, after it was pointed out to them who “Shamir” is, or whether it was in from the beginning. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt. However the response to Karl indicates that they treat the whole business as a joke. They’d rather mock a foreigner’s spelling mistake, than engage with what is a pretty serious issue.
There’s another factor too. Tikkun claims that Shamir’s views represent a “growing sentiment among many Israeli secularists”. I wonder how far that is true. Atzmon is a huge supporter of Shamir. The Southampton law lecturer, Oren Ben Dor is certainly a defender of Atzmon, and I think has also adopted some of Shamir’s anti-semitic essentialising about “Jewishness”. He wrote :
“Zionism can be conceived as a symptom the non-empathetic manifestations of which are historically and existentially continuing certain facets of Jewish being and thinking. It is very important to ask whether the originary aggression of victim mentality as well as the choseness-begotten separateness existentially links the Zionist and the Jewish question.”
So, Tikkun might well be right. There may indeed be a certain body within Israeli secular thinking which has basically concluded that the world’s problems are not simply caused by “Zionism”: but by “Jewishness”. Some proceed from there to argue that Jewish Power controls foreign governments, generally corrupts the world, and so on.
Shamir’s “Jewish Power” thesis has also permeated sections of the international extreme Left: a millieu in which the boundaries between far Right and far Left has long been crumbling. The hosting of Atzmon by the SWP illustrates that fact, as does the publication of Shamir and Atzmon by “Counterpunch”. If anything, I suspect that “Jewish Power” conspiricising is absolutely endemic on the extreme Left, which has – until recently – managed to present these theories as an expression of “anti-Zionism”. However, many of theym would love to be able to say “Yes, we do believe that the Jews are trying to control the world, and the world’s press, are motivated by love of money, kill gentile children, and poison wells”, without being accused of anti-semitism. That’s why the SWP and Counterpunch has been so keen to showcase people presenting themselves as ethnic Jews, who run “Jewish Power” theses. It also explains the enthusiasm for the respectable version of the “Jewish conspiracy” theory peddled by Mearsheimer and Walt.
I wouldn’t say that the entire extreme Left has embraced anti-semitism. Andy Newman on Socialist Unity has been very outspoken in opposition to it. However, there are many many others who are utterly unconcerned about old fashioned “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” style racism within extreme Left politics. The fact that Jenna Delich circulated material from Joe Quinn and David Duke claiming Jewish control of the press, and anti-semitic conspiracism claiming that Mossad was behind 9/11 is evidence of that. The reaction of her defenders shows precisely how little the far Left cares about countering the pushing of neo-Nazism within Left wing fora. They care little about it because, frankly, a lot of them have already decided that the allegation that “Zionists” are secretly controlling the world is a progressive, Left wing view. Anti-semitism has also been absorbed, by osmosis, into a significant part of the far Left.
Today, Tikkun publishes a clumsy apologia when it is caught out publishing a neo Nazi who believes that Jews control the world. Tomorrow, it won’t need to: because these views will be completely mainstream and uncontroversial within progressive politics.
OK, there have been developments. The Z-Word blog publishes a further exchange between Karl Pfeifer, and Tikkun.
Weirdly, I wrote an email to Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun which is almost identical in content to the one Karl wrote. I’ve had a reply. I won’t reproduce it, because I’ve not asked permission to do so. However, the gist of it is that Rabbi Lerner did not know about the “Shamir” piece, doesn’t know who put it up, and will take it down.
I would very much like to know how the piece got published in the first place. It would make sense for Tikkun to explain: because it is only a matter of time before “Shamir” and Atzmon publish on this whole episode.