By William A. Cook
‘The Wandering Jew, like Cain, is Everyman. We are what we will to be: Cain or Abel, with a soul or without one, sympathetic to our fellows or indifferent, human or non-human.’ — William A. Cook, ‘The Eternal Jew Goes on Forever,’ 24/08/09.
(The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. Gilad Atzmon. O Books. 2011)
Gilad Atzmon’s insight into the organism created by the Zionist movement in his book, The Wandering Who, is explosive; it tears the veil off of Israel’s apparent civility, its apparent friendship with the United States, and its expressed solicitude for western powers—Britain, Canada, Australia, France and Germany—exposing behind the veil, the assassin ready to slay any and all that interfere with its tribally focused ends. In February of this year, Atzmon characterized Islam and Judaism as tribally oriented belief systems rooted not in “enlightened individualism,” but rather in “…the survival of the extended family.” These belief systems have nothing to do with personal liberties or personal rights; they have to do with securing the realm of their respective “ways of life.” But unlike tribalism in Islam, tribalism in Judaism “can never live in peace with humanism and universalism” (4). “Both religions stand as systems that provide thorough answers in terms of spiritual, civil, cultural and day to day matters.” In this regard, “…both Islam and Judaism are more than just religions: they convey an entire ‘way of life,’ and stand as a thorough attempt to answer crucial questions regarding being in the world…”
The Wandering Who is a personal journey of a man born in Jerusalem, raised in the Jewish ‘way of life,’ infused with the myths of the founding of the Jewish state; “Supremacy was brewed into our soul, we gazed at the world through racist, chauvinistic binoculars. And we felt no shame about it either” (5). Inducted into the Israeli military during the 1980s he served in Lebanon, and, in his late teens, experienced an epiphany caused in good measure by careful listening to voices beyond the wall that encircled him in the ghetto that is the Israeli state. This epiphany forced a distinction in identity versus identifying, between self-reliance and obedient servant to an ideology, a distinction that recognized Jews as people, Judaism as a religion, and Jewishness, an ideology that determines identity politics and a resulting political discourse.
What, then, characterizes a Jew? Atzmon distinguishes among those who follow the Judaic religion; those who regard themselves as a human being who happens to be of Jewish origin; and those who put their Jewishness over and above all other traits. Chaim Weizman, the first Israeli President and a Zionist, identified being a Jew as a ‘primary quality’ above citizenship, occupation, head of household, indeed “Jewishness becomes the key element and fundamental characteristic of one’s being.” Vladimir Jabotinsky wrote “…the nucleus of his spiritual structure will always remain Jewish, because his blood, his body, his physical racial type are Jewish” (“A Letter on Autonomy,” 1904). It is this identifying principle that Atzmon sees as corrosive, not only to Judaism, but to the safety and security of the Jewish people, their friends and their neighbors. “…probably then and there I left Chosen-ness behind to become an ordinary human being” (6). “For me to be Jewish is, above all, to be preoccupied with overcoming injustice and thirsting for justice in the world, and that means being respectful toward other peoples regardless of their nationality or religion, and empathetic in the face of human suffering whoever and wherever victimization is encountered” (“On Jewish Identity,” 1/15/2011).
Significantly, Atzmon turns to the ancient tale of the wandering Jew to reap the complexities inherent in the contradictions that beset Judaism in today’s world: tribalism versus universalism, chosen-ness versus democratic equality, rule by defiance of law versus nations ruled by law, control of government by Zionist controlled ideology versus responsiveness to the voice of the citizenry, and tribalistic morality where morals are fabricated for political utilitarian ends versus the inalienable rights of all endowed by nature.
The legend’s primary symbolic value resides in its identification of ‘otherness,’ the unique concept of ‘chosen-ness,’ that separates the Jews from the rest of humanity resulting in an ideological and psychological isolation that becomes a strategic tool used by the Zionists and the Neo-Cons to manipulate the Jewish people and the formation of the Jewish state. Jabotinsky and Weizmann’s “primary quality” of Jewishness prevents assimilation, thus forcing the Jew to remain always an alien wherever he or she resides. Personal identification can only exist in the tribe, a virtual and absolute commitment to Jewishness, making possible the use of Jews around the world as “sayanims” (assistants) to further the goals of the Jewish state (17). “The sayan is a person who would betray the nation of which he is a citizen out of devotion to a notion of a clannish brotherhood” (17).
“There are thousands of sayanim around the world. In London alone, there are about 2,000 who are active, and another 5,000 on the list. They fulfill many different roles. A car sayan…running a rental agency, could help the Mossad rent a car without having to complete the usual documentation. … a bank sayan could get you money if you needed it in the middle of the night, a doctor sayan would treat a bullet wound without reporting it to the police…The idea is to have a pool of people available when needed who can provide services but will keep quiet about them out of loyalty to the cause (17).”
“In Zionist eyes Jewishness is an international network operation…to be a Jew is a deep commitment that goes far beyond any legal or moral order” (19). Atzmon identifies a functioning organism controlled by Zionist ideology and Neo-Con sayanim in the United States that has yoked Israeli interests to those of the United States using a document titled the USA Defense Planning Guidance Report for fiscal years 1994-1999. “In the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region’s oil. The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel’s security.” (22). This manipulative strategy “transformed the Jewish tribal mode into a collective functioning system.” It also transformed “the American and British armies into a Zionist mission force” as Israel and the Neo-Cons manipulated the governments of the UK and the US to attack Israel’s enemies in Iraq while imposing sanctions on Syria and defending its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians and its wanton destruction of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009.
Atzmon illuminates the inner soul, or more correctly, the lack thereof, of the Israeli state as it has evolved from early Zionism to a politically astute merger of ancient Judaism with secular purposes to attain its goals. It is in this respect the abortive grandchild of Leo Strauss, a Professor and teacher of Paul Wolfowitz and the Neo-Cons who clustered about his determinist altar—Richard Perle (former Defense Policy Board Chairman), William Kristol (Chief Editor of the Weekly Standard), Gary Schmitt (Chairman and Director of the Project for the New American Century), Stephen Campone (Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under Rumsfeld), Abram Shulsky (friend of Perle and head of Rumsfeld’s special intelligence unit sometimes characterized as the “Specious Planning Unit”), Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who are connected through the PNAC (Project for the New American Century)—all “leaders” of course accepting without question a brand of determinism that controlled human life with some born to lead and the vast majority born to follow.
I had tracked the emergence of this cult that came to power in an article published in 2003, “Moral Insanity: the Cabal that Corrupts,” and offer two paragraphs that capture the consequences of this deception.
“Since Strauss taught that nature’s determinism thrust the “wise few” into positions of leadership over the “vulgar many,” and since virtue is defined by the elite who rule, and since morality does not exist, and since justice is merely the interest of the stronger, and since the rule of the wise is absolute, authoritarian and unquestionable, and since religion is “the glue that holds society together,” using religion for political ends, like lying, deception, secrecy, and intimidation, is a good necessary to achieve the determined goals of the government. Manipulation of the “vulgar masses” becomes an end in itself and the distortion of words and concepts becomes the means to that end…
“Only a Straussian Cultist would have the arrogance to create a National and International policy on behalf of 300 million people when they represented none of them. Two years later, a year after 9/11, this report became “The National Security Strategy Report of the United States of America,” a document that details how America will act, nationally and internationally, during the second Bush regime. Needless to say, few Americans ever saw the details of this report before it became policy—not the average American citizen nor their representatives in Congress nor the Senate. Yet we are the ones who must pay for the plans these men designed, be victims of the world’s censure as they carry out their designs, and fall prey to their restrictions on civil liberties imposed by this regime as “security measures.””
Atzmon’s analysis reveals strategies used by the Zionists to control their population: “Some marginal politicians seek to publically ‘shame’ their integrated brothers and sisters. This serves two purposes. First, it conveys a clear message that real assimilation is impossible…Second, it pushes the assimilated being towards collaboration with his old clan. ‘You will never escape who you are so you better be proud of it’” (34). But it does not stop there. The Zionist lobbies tell the assimilated Jew “You will never escape who you are so why not be proud of it and work with us.” Indeed, this very assertion undermines a moral foundation as it forces the American Jew to succumb to that “primary quality” of Jewish-ness above loyalty to his nation. “First they are Jews and only then are they humanists” (35).
Zionism, as Atzmon notes, has used Jewish ‘separatism’ and its resulting ‘insecurity in relations with his fellow beings’ to coerce obedience and commitment. This tactic has been characteristic of the Zionist power since the Mandate period. In the Introduction to The Plight of the Palestinians, I presented evidence of such coercion from the classified documents of the British Mandate Police, most especially the Hagana Oath that forced an allegiance to the Zionist High Command:
“The Haganah Oath goes deeper than fear. In effect, it declares that an individual has turned his/her conscience over to the High Command thus accepting what is right and what is wrong as determined by that authority regardless of local, state or international law, indeed, regardless of the morals, values and traditions of Judaism. This commitment is forever, to death.
“From the moment an individual takes the oath, they are committed to a life of secrecy and hence of disloyalty and betrayal to those they are most intimate with in their day to day life. Neither their actions nor their true identity is discernible to those with whom they interact regularly. This is a life that encapsulates the necessity of lies, deceit, coercion, extortion, and obedience to a group that dictates the actions one must pursue; freedom no longer exists, self-direction no longer exists, loyalty to others no longer exists, indeed, friendship with others is compromised or impossible, one becomes the subject of that group, a veritable slave to their desires and wills. The mindset that promotes such control allows for spying, for deception of friends, for ostracism in one’s own community for thinking differently, for imprisonment without due process, for torture, even for extrajudicial executions. It is a total commitment to a cause that supersedes all others determined and dictated by an oligarchy in silence and subject to no legitimate institution and to no one (xxvi).”
Atzmon elaborates on his contention that the Zionists intentionally manipulate Jewish separatism to their advantage by instilling a myth of persistent persecution against Jews as evidence of their need to support the Israeli enterprise, a virtual effort at ghetto building, and one that results in a form of Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome induced by a continual grand narrative of Israeli victimization caused by the Holocaust: being driven into the sea, being wiped off the map, delegitimized, all portend the impending disaster that awaits the Jewish state.
Such perception forces the Diaspora Jew to confront the significance of the promise and fulfillment of the Zionist dream, the return to Zion. “By bonding Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora continuum, the Settler replaces the ‘negation of the Diaspora’ with a ‘negation of the Goyim’ (a return of the Jewish pre-Zionist condition).” This effectively stops the possibility of Jewish assimilation and promotes a return to tribal distinctiveness, albeit with political and global interests. Concomitantly, “It leaves the Diaspora Jew in limbo. He or she is neither assimilated into their surrounding social environment nor settled in a Jewish state” (43). Rejection then of the Zionist call must be understood as an act of treason or a form of self-hatred. Unfortunately, yet reflective of the symbolic nature of the legend of the Wandering Jew, “…it emphasizes the racist and expansionist Judeo-centric nature of the Jewish State. .. and the Diaspora Jew finds himself or herself intrinsically associated with a bigoted, ethnocentric ideology and an endless list of crimes against humanity” (43).
Chosen-ness determines its own end. What the Chosen believes through the books that give them their unique status must be truth. Since the words used are not theirs, but the words of their G-d, they are immune from the limitations of language (32). The Chosen need only respond to themselves to find identity, but in their affiliation with their group, not humanity at large. Atzmon notes that the religious understanding of Chosen-ness carries with it a moral burden to “stand as an exemplary model of ethical behavior,” but in the Zionist mind that has been “reduced to a crude, ethno-centric, blood-oriented chauvinism”… a kind of “tribal supremacism, in which ‘love yourself as much as you hate everyone else’ becomes a pragmatic reality” (86). Consequently, “This form of supremacy lies at the heart of the Zionist claim for Palestine, at the expense of its indigenous inhabitants” (87). Justice is not a consideration.
Perhaps the most insidious corruption imposed on the Jewish people and on their religion by the Zionists who garnered control of the new state of Israel was the manipulation of the Holocaust into both a religion and an industry. Norman Finkelstein covers the creation of the industry, Atzmon, with the help of Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a Latvian-born philosopher at the Hebrew University, and Adi Ophir, an Israeli philosopher and Associate Professor at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University, takes on the description and the consequences of transforming the Holocaust into a religion. Leibowitz, according to Uri Avnery (19.3.05, “Remember What? Remember How?), stated that “The Jewish religion died 200 years ago. Now there is nothing that unifies the Jews around the world apart from the Holocaust.” Atzmon suggests that Lebowitz might have been the first to recognize that the Holocaust had been made into a religion with priests, prophets, commandments and dogmas, rituals and temples.
“The Holocaust religion is, obviously, Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish raison d’etre. 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 licenses to kill, to flatten, to nuke, to annihilate, to loot, to ethnically cleanse. It has made vengeance into an acceptable Western value (127).”
Let us return now to the wandering Jew of legend. In 1848, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote “A Virtuoso’s Collection,” an exotic tale of the strange and fantastic that subsumes the legend in the personage of the Virtuoso.
“Hawthorne uses the legend to capture that mystery of behaviour that has haunted writers for centuries, a mystery that still befuddles our scientists that search for an explanation for actions that seem devoid of “natural sympathies,” actions that elicit no response to human suffering, emotional or psychological, to physical pain and anguish, to loss of those loved, a child, a son or daughter, a father or mother, actions inflicted for no perceivable reason, where guilt has not been determined nor compassion considered. The legend captures the man that witnesses the suffering of the innocent, the Christ bearing His cross though guilty of nothing but the spirit of human compassion for his brothers and sisters, the sacrifice of atonement, yet mocks the innocent to “go on quicker,” for the Wanderer “is linked with the realities of this earth… to what I can see, and touch, and understand, and I ask for no more.” Nothing can stand in his way as he rushes through life acquiring all that this world can offer, and at any expense, regardless of his impact on others. “The soul is dead within him,” Hawthorne proclaims, the natural sympathy for his fellow humans does not exist.
“Hawthorne grappled with this image of the lost soul, severed from the roots that carry all in the concept of humanity, where each is a brother or a sister to another and to all; where the teachings of the faiths that sustain humankind across the globe find love and compassion the fundamental life force that binds all and gives meaning to all; where mercy and kindness serve to heal and advance the commonweal; where the island that is this planet unites all humankind in bonds of necessary and never ending ties if there is to be a future for our children; this is the source of the human spirit that emanates from one all embracing soul that is the common experience of all that must endure the suffering and pain that is this life suffused and made endurable by the springs of love that give joy to the world. This is a concept that requires of all, sharing of all things, that each might survive despite the ravages of time and circumstance. It is the essence of all faiths that truly believe in the human spirit and the uncertainties that control our lives. It finds repulsive, as a consequence, those who seek to destroy the unity of spirit that binds all together in favour of personal gain, sought in the material acquisitions made possible in this world, regardless of the havoc wrought to achieve their ends.
“The image of the Wandering Jew reflects that person who abandons his fellows for personal gain, who forfeits human love and compassion for the artefacts of this world gained at any expense, satisfied with the acquisition of wealth, of position, of power even when achieved by devastation and death since ultimately only he exists and all routes to his end are achieved. All humans are expendable and are, then, by definition inferior to the man free of moral or spiritual restraints.
“The Wandering Jew is then, as metaphor, another rendering of the story of Cain who slew his brother, for which act he was cursed by God Almighty to wander the earth a fugitive…. The Wandering Jew, like Cain, is Everyman” (William A. Cook, “The Eternal Jew Goes on Forever,” 8/24/2009).”
Gilad Atzmon brings us to this understanding as it applies in our day; he is our Hawthorne who journeys through our time to illuminate the consequences of actions that deny, indeed, that defy the oneness of humanity to benefit the few at the expense of the many. He writes a critical and devastating explanation of Jewishness as it has been manipulated to control the Jewish people and impose the will of the Zionist dictators in Israel and the U.S. on the American people through control of the U.S. Congress. He unravels the nuances that veil the arrogance, the deceit, and the hypocrisy of those in power, why they are so bound by terrorism and force, revealing in the process the horror of their betrayal and the emptiness of their words.
He comprehends Hawthorne’s description of the Virtuoso, the Wandering Jew, as it fittingly captures the mindset of those who impose a deterministic and amoral direction on political events both in the United Nations and the United States, “…there was a bitterness indefinably mingled with his tone, as of one cut off from natural sympathies, and blasted with a doom that had been inflicted on no other human being, and by the results of which he had ceased to be human. Yet…it seemed one of the most terrible consequences of that doom, that the victim no longer regarded it as a calamity, but had finally accepted it as the greatest good that could have befallen him.”
That frame of mind accepts no guilt because it has rejected personal conscience as the basis for actions in lieu of tribal security; the tribe alone determines right: individualism, natural rights, self-reliance, personal responsibility in a democracy no longer exists. This mindset, clustered in a functioning, global, tribal concentration of power, focuses on one voice, theirs. It denies democracy yet calls itself democratic; it speaks of universalism but protects only itself; it proclaims brotherhood with nations that exist by rule of law even as it defies all laws but its own; it presents itself as a nation imbued with the righteous morals of ancient times yet establishes policies that are apartheid in character.
To not defend this frame of mind is to damn self and the Jewishness that gives them an identity. It is in effect a self-inflicted torture; an incredibly powerful identity fabricated out of ancient tales that gives the most ordinary of them superiority over others who must be denigrated and even destroyed. It’s a tribal character, protection of the group at all cost or lose self in the multitudes with which one must live. It had a place in ancient days, but cannot exist in a world where 192 nations share covenants with each other based on equality, respect and human dignity.
To hold to their beliefs they must negate similarity and equity, as well as justice and freedom for all. Given the power they possess and the money they use to control the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament, with similar controls being exerted in Canada, Australia, France and Germany, as Atzmon graphically demonstrates, the dangers of an elite few dominating the direction of international policies threatens international security and the quest for peace.
This 21st century Jew, like Jeremiah of old, wanders the world warning of an impending doom hidden behind the mask of civility that is the Israeli state. The world meets this nation in the halls of the United Nations through its pin-striped representatives who speak fluently and even eloquently of rights, of democracy, of justice, of self-defense, and of terrorism that threatens the civilized world. Yet behind that mask of civility reside a nation and its fascist belligerent leaders whose sole purpose is to control the very organizations erected to bring equity and justice to all. Their purpose, to gain time to achieve their end, the creation of Eretz Yisrael through the continuing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people. Gilad Atzmon fears this end for the Jews and defies the Zionists that preach it. The Wandering Who proclaims the choice; we are Everyman, one in soul, one in sympathy, one in respect and dignity for all humanity.
– William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His latest book, The Plight of the Palestinians, was published by Macmillan this past August. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit: www.drwilliamacook.com. (This review was first published in CounterPunch.org)