The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics
Washington, D.C.: Zer0 Books, 2011
Gilad Atzmon (born 1963), is an author I have followed for years without even trying, thanks to the efforts of helpful anti-Semitic spammers who make sure that I receive at least five links to every new Atzmon piece. (My rule is that if I get more than five links to a given article, I will read it.) Atzmon is a Jew born in Israel who now lives in England, where he supports himself as a jazz saxophonist.
Atzmon is also a prolific author of political commentary on Israel, Zionism, and Jewish issues in general. He is also the author of two novels, A Guide to the Perplexed and My One and Only Love. The Wandering Who?, his first non-fiction book, is a collection of his articles.
Self-Hatred, Self-Extermination, and Decadence
Gilad Atzmon belongs to the category of Righteous Jews. He is an eloquent and fearless critic of the loathsome dishonesty, hypocrisy, and truculence of the apologists of Jewish mischief around the world. He has been called an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and a self-hating Jew. He calls himself a “proud self-hating Jew.”
I used to think that the concept of the “self-hating Jew” was just another question-begging verbal cudgel to silence Jewish dissent. But that was silly, really, because self-hating whites are as common and prolific as rats. Practically the entire leadership stratum of the white race is now infected with the mental virus of ethnic self-hatred, with ethnic self-extermination seen as the only path to redemption.
Reading though The Wandering Who?, I see the same pattern, which was not apparent when I encountered these articles separately: Gilad Atzmon really is a self-hating Jew. Indeed, he is a self-exterminating Jew, an advocate of Jewish assimilation into a common, leveling, all-consuming “humanity.”
Now, I will grant that, viewed objectively, the Jews give the rest of us far more reason to hate them than to love them. But still, I find it disquieting when a Jew thinks this way. From a biological/Nietzschean point of view, it strikes me as decadent. It is as if conscience and objectivity have hypertrophied and metastasized like cancers to the point of threatening their owner’s survival.
A healthy organism is not “objective” about its own survival. One may entertain all sorts of legitimate doubts about the wars and oppression and lies undertaken in the name of one’s people. But a healthy organism cannot contemplate the void of extinction without rebelling. When it comes to survival, a healthy organism takes its own side.
It is possible for Jews to be critical of their own people without hating them or themselves. Examples include Yuri Avnery, Yoav Shamir, and Norman Finkelstein. But Atzmon is like our self-hating white leadership. If he had his way, Jews would disappear as a distinct people altogether, blending into the great cosmic oneness of liberal global humanity, the graveyard of peoples that seems like utopia to those who, through self-hatred, have become weary of life. Liberal nirvana as ethnic self-annihilation.
Positive and Negative Identity
According to Atzmon, there are three kinds of Jews: (1) followers of Judaism, (2) human beings who just happen to be of Jewish origin, and (3) Jewish chauvinists who emphasize their Jewishness over any bonds of common humanity. “The first two categories,” he notes, “may denote a harmless and innocent group of people” (p. 16).
The Jewish chauvinists, however, are another matter. They include Zionists, who are Jewish political nationalists. But for Atzmon the category really encompasses all Jews who have any ethnic self-consciousness, no matter how attenuated or anemic, etiolated or ironic.
Atzmon actually calls distinctly ethnic foods and practices “symptoms.” The disease, apparently, is ethnic self-consciousness. The cure is deracination, the loss of a sense of ethnic distinctness, the removal of all boundaries to merging into a sea of universal humanity and global homogeneity.
Atzmon believes that the only positive source of Jewish identity is the religion of Judaism. Therefore, Jews who no longer follow Judaism, no longer have any reason to think of themselves as Jews. For Atzmon, secular Jewish ethnic identity survives not through the positive affirmation of the Jewish religion but merely through the negation of non-Jews. In Atzmon’s words, “Emancipated Jews are identified by negation—they are defined by the many things they are not” (p. 61).
The core of this negative Jewish identity is fear and hatred of the goyim, which is cultivated through constantly rehearsing and reliving the history of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, we are told, is entirely unrelated to Jewish behavior but is instead merely an irrational manifestation of evil on the part of non-Jews. Religious Jews are God’s chosen people. Secular Jews are Hitler’s chosen people.
Yes, religious Judaism also contains a great deal of chauvinistic hatred of non-Jews and prescriptions to exterminate them and take their lands. Atzmon would not deny that. But in addition to these negative elements, there is a positive affirmation of Jewish identity. Once that religious affirmation is gone, argues Atzmon, the positive content of Judaism is reduced to gefilte fish and klezmer, plus ethnic self-assertion and ethnic hatred, i.e., chauvinism and kitsch.
Atzmon simply dismisses a much more substantial positive foundation for a secular Jewish identity: nationhood, kinship, peoplehood, blood. Jews are the seed of Abraham. As Kevin MacDonald points out, genetic studies show that Jews are a distinct people. Widely separated Jewish communities are more genetically related to one another than to the peoples among whom they live. No, Jews are not a “pure” race. They have picked up a good deal of foreign blood in their wanderings. But Jewish identity does not require purity. All it requires is a taint.
Jewish peoplehood is a “positive” basis of a common Jewish identity. Yet it is not religious. Indeed, it is more fundamental than Judaism. The Jews were a people before the covenant, before the law, before the religion of Judaism. And Jews remain Jews even when they reject Judaism. Even if every single Jew became an atheist, there would still be Jews. Judaism would then be just a phase that the Jewish people once went through.
The Ethics of Ethnic Partiality
Atzmon argues that the preservation of a Jewish identity in an emancipated, secular context is simply unethical. When Jews were emancipated from the control of their rabbis and allowed to take part in life outside their ghettoes, they adopted a conscious policy of speaking publicly in the universalistic moral language of Christianity and the liberal Enlightenment. But among themselves, they continued to practice ethnic partiality:
“Be a Jew at Home and a Goy on the Street.” . . . Rather than encouraging the modern Jew to genuinely assimilate into a homogeneous authentic universal ethos of equality, the Haskalah [Enlightenment] Jew is destined to live in a dual, deceptive mode, if not practically a state of schizophrenia. (p. 55)
Schizophrenia aside, this policy has served Jews well. They have ridden it all the way to political and cultural hegemony over whites. It boils down to the principle that what is theirs, they keep; what is ours is negotiable. When Jews want something from whites, they appeal to white universal morality, objectivity, and impartiality. And whites very often grant Jews their requests. But when whites want something from Jews, Jews have no compunction about practicing ethnic partiality, although of course they need to keep this cloaked lest they provoke reprisals. As Michael Polignano writes:
In every transaction between a partial man and an impartial man, the impartial man is at a disadvantage. When the impartial man has a benefit to confer, the partial man appeals to the other’s impartiality and often walks off with the prize. But when the impartial man needs something from the partial man, his appeals to impartiality fall on deaf ears. As social interactions multiply, so do the partial man’s advantages at the expense of the impartial man. (The essence of the Jewish strategy of dominance is to practice ruthless partiality while urging their victims to be free of prejudice and partiality.)
If whites keep playing by rules like that, we will have nothing in the end.
Atzmon flatly states that “This behavioral code, though being very pragmatic happens to be non-ethical by definition” (p. 57). He has two arguments for this claim. First, “It is based on deception—both self-deception and deceiving the other” (p. 57). Second, Atzmon accepts Kant’s claim that genuine ethical principles are universalizable, and claims that a dual ethical code fails to meet that criterion (pp. 62–63). Atzmon’s conclusion is that for emancipated Jews to lead ethical lives, they must adopt a single, universal ethical code, which is the moral basis of Jewish assimilationism.
Atzmon’s first argument, of course, is correct: Jews are guilty of deception when they preach universalism to us and practice partiality among themselves.
His second argument, however, does not follow. Ethnic partiality need not be deceptive. One can be quite frank about it. And one can consistently will it to be a universal law. One can be partial to one’s own kind—and allow others to be partial as well. This is the basis of what Frank Salter calls “universal nationalism.”
It would be perfectly consistent, ethically speaking, if Jews were to drop their deceptive use of universalism and frankly embrace a universal nationalism. But of course, Jews have no incentive to do this, because the present arrangement delivers them real power, which they prize far more than mere intellectual consistency. So it is we whites who will have to end the charade, and the only practical way to do this is to separate ourselves completely from Jews. Which brings us to the topic of Zionism.
Atzmon believes that the logical conclusion of secular Jewish chauvinism (negative identity) is Zionism, i.e., Jewish racial nationalism: the project of creating and maintaining Israel as a Jewish homeland; Jewish fascism, if you will. Atzmon claims that even avowedly anti-Zionist secular Jews who retain a Jewish identity are complicitous in Zionism, which seems like a paranoid exaggeration were it not the case that Atzmon has been persecuted by just such Jews for his anti-Zionist views.
Throughout The Wandering Who?, particularly at the beginning of chapter 7 (pp. 58–9), Atzmon offers many quotes from the founders of Zionism that he thinks are self-evidently damning. The founders of Zionism recognized that anti-Semitism rises from real conflicts of interest between emancipated Jews and non-Jews competing for economic, political, and cultural dominance. They recognized that Diaspora Jewry tended toward a parasitic and destructive economic and cultural profile. They recognized that Jewish emancipation also opened the way for the destruction of the Jewish people through assimilation into European society. They recognized that, since Jews could not return to the ghetto, the only solution to both anti-Semitism and assimilation was the creation of a Jewish homeland in which Jews can live as Jews without daily facing competition with non-Jews or the temptation to assimilate into their society.
As a White Nationalist, this all sounds quite reasonable to me. Thus I think it is a shame that the Zionist project has failed to create a homeland for all Jews. Instead, we have more Jews in America than in Israel. And Israel has become a menace to the world due to its paranoid and aggressive policies and its vast arsenal of conventional, biological, and nuclear weapons.
Where did Zionism go Wrong?
But it is worth asking why, precisely, the Zionist project went wrong. For Atzmon, the answer is simple: ethnonationalism, by its very nature, leads to monstrous behavior. Whites cannot be White Nationalists, because that will lead to acting like Nazis. Jews cannot be Jewish Nationalists, because that leads them to acting like Nazis as well. Atzmon writes about his visit in 1984 to an Israeli prisoner of war camp in occupied Lebanon: “The place was a concentration camp. The inmates were the ‘Jews’, and I was nothing but a ‘Nazi’” (p. 6).
From my viewpoint, however, ethnonationalism does not entail brutality. Indeed, in the long run, it is the only real alternative to the destruction of all peoples by liberal globalism, with all the hot and cold violence that entails. The reason that Israel is such a powerful, aggressive, treacherous state is not because of Zionism per se. It is because of the failure to complete Zionism.
Specifically, Israel is a problem because of the power of the US Jewish community, which has effective control of America’s mass media and both political parties, which allows the Jewish community to dictate American foreign policy in the Middle East. The United States gives billions in direct aid to Israel every year, plus billions more in indirect aid. The United States has also spent more than a trillion dollars on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are direct results of Jewish control of American foreign policy.
Because of Jewish domination of the United States, Israel can afford to be an aggressive and expansionist power. What would happen if the United States shook off Jewish control? What would happen if the Zionist project were completed and all Jews settled in Israel?
It seems highly unlikely that Israel would cease to exist. Jews are a wealthy, powerful people on their own, even without the ability to bleed off the lives and money of other people for Jewish gain. But without control of the United States, Israel would be forced to become a better neighbor. Israel has a lot of simmering disputes with its neighbors because it currently has no incentive to settle them. Ideally, I would like to see a two-state solution, a Jewish state to which to send our Jews, a Palestinian state to which to send our Palestinians.
The dream of the Zionists was that the Jews would become a normal people in a normal homeland. That has not happened yet because whites have allowed Jews to have it both ways: to be national Jews in Israel and international Jews abroad (while always working for the interests of Israel). Jews are not going to change this situation, because it works to their advantage. Only whites can change it, by breaking the power of Diaspora Jewry and forcing them to go to Israel. But it would be nice, occasionally, to encounter an honest Jew who sees the logic of this. Because this solution is really the only way of avoiding a far more ferocious settlement of differences down the road.
The “Innocence” of Religious Judaism
Atzmon claims that religious Jews “may” be “a harmless and innocent group of people” (p. 16). Yet by Atzmon’s own standards, religious Judaism is just as morally “guilty” as secular Jewish chauvinism. First, as I have argued, the secular idea of a Jewish people is just as “positive” a basis for Jewish identity as Judaism. Second, Judaism is the basis of the extremely negative attitudes toward non-Jews that Atzmon attacks in secular Jews. Third, Judaism sanctifies the same dual ethical code, including deception, that Atzmon attacks in secular Jews. Finally, although Zionism was initially a secular movement, religious Jews are the fastest growing population in Israel and the most aggressive and enthusiastic Zionists. And why wouldn’t they be, given that the secular Zionists were merely following the precedents of the Bible in taking Palestine as a Jewish homeland?
Self-Hatred and the Logic of Assimilation
For Atzmon, the only alternatives to Jewish chauvinism are religious Judaism or Jewish assimilation. Since Atzmon was raised a secular Jew, Judaism is not an option. Thus he chose assimilation. Atzmon decribes how his passionate attachment to a non-Jewish art form, jazz, was the beginning of the breakdown of his Jewish chauvinist upbringing: “. . . my emerging devotion to jazz overwhelmed my Jewish nationalist tendencies; . . . it was probably then and there that I left Chosen-ness behind to become an ordinary human being” (p. 4). After his first trip abroad, he felt “I somehow already yearned to become a Goy or at least to be surrounded by Goyim” (p. 7).
Why does Atzmon’s enjoyment of a non-Jewish musical form lead him to reject his Jewish identity? Why does he think it is either one or the other? Why is it all or nothing? A person with a healthy positive sense of ethnic identity would not experience the achievements of other peoples as a reproach or refutation. Do Jews really premise their sense of self-worth on the absolute worthlessness of other cultures, such that their ethnic identity could be overturned by a single Charlie Parker record? That does not sound like the Jewish culture-vultures I have seen in action. Besides, such a brittle people could never have stuck around this long.
Why can’t Atzmon simply be an ethnic Jew who appreciates the ethnic arts, cuisines, etc. of other peoples? Jazz, after all, is not a “universal” art form, but an expression of black American identity. (Atzmon specifically mentions black American jazz musicians). Why then is Atzmon willing to reject his own ethnic identity merely to embrace a “symptom” of black American ethnic identity? Later on, he embraces the “symptoms” of Palestinian identity, learning Arab music and going so far as to call himself a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian.
And if Atzmon is willing to embrace the ethnic “symptoms” of other people, why does he take such a jaundiced view of secular Jews who wish to embrace their own ethnicity? (See especially pp. 72–75.) I think the answer to all these questions is that Atzmon is driven by ethnic guilt (self-hatred) to seek to efface his own ethnic identity and to embrace alien identities.
This is the real meaning of cultural universalism or multiculturalism. There is no “global” or “universal” culture or multiculture. (Although with enough mixing, there someday will be.) Today, though, there is merely a global marketplace in which the dead and decontextualized products of authentic, integral cultures are purchased and consumed in inauthentic ways by the deracinated children of other cultures. Multiculturalism is just a “symptom” of cultural decadence, an expression of the cultural death-wish of the self-loathing, the alienated, and the rootless.
And make no mistake: whites are being intentionally cut off from our roots, force-fed a corrupting synthetic junk culture, and taught to hate ourselves in order to destroy us. In Israel, Jews use pornography and “Western” popular culture as weapons in their ethnic warfare against the Palestinians. Their cousins in Europe and America are using the same tools against us, to the same end.
Matt Parrott likens universalism to a suicide cult like Jonestown. Shedding one’s ethnic distinctness to merge with a universal humanity is the ethnic equivalent of suicide. Jews since Paul of Tarsus have been poisoning the wellsprings of white civilization with this cosmic Kool-Aid.
It is inevitable that, from time to time, a Jew like Atzmon will drink it as well. But Jews routinely decide on policies knowing full well that some Jews will inevitably fall victim to retaliation or “friendly fire.” But they coolly calculate that, even with such casualties, these policies still serve their greater ethnic interests.
* * *
From a White Nationalist point of view, I have more in common with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, than with Gilad Atzmon, the self-exterminating Jew. I don’t want Jews to assimilate to white society. I want them to leave it. I have no objection to Jewish nationalism, so long as they pick up their own tab. In fact, I insist upon it. But I do object to Diaspora Jews suppressing and stigmatizing our own nationalism.
Atzmon preaches liberal universalism, whereas I would destroy it. Liberal universalism would be fatal to whites even if it had not made us susceptible to a Jewish takeover. I am trying to get my people to swear off the cosmic Kool-Aid, and although it might tickle some people’s Schadenfreude to watch Atzmon quaff the stuff, I think it is far more important to overthrow it as a principle.
The Wandering Who? is, in short, a disappointing book. It does not deserve to be mentioned alongside the works of such Righteous Jews as Israel Shahak, Israel Shamir, Yoav Shamir, or Norman Finkelstein. The book is, moreover, very poorly edited. The titles of books are frequently not italicized, Immanuel Kant’s first name is rendered “Emanuel,” words are capitalized for no apparent reason, it bristles with ugly pomo/cultural studies jargon, and the like.
Yes, Atzmon digs up interesting quotes. Yes, he skillfully demolishes bad arguments. But that does not change the fact that his overall argument is wrongheaded. Gilad Atzmon is definitely a brave man. But bravery in the defense of false and destructive principles makes him an admirable enemy rather than an ally or a friend.