Israeli-born musician and writer Gilad Atzmon, who has renounced his Jewishness and Israeli nationality, explains Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in terms of Israeli culture, which is imbued with racism and a murderous hatred of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular.
In order to grasp the latest devastating and murderous Israeli expedition in Gaza, one must deeply comprehend the Israeli identity and its inherent hatred towards anyone who is not Jewish and towards Arabs in particular. This hatred is imbued in the Israeli curriculum, it is preached by political leaders and implied by their acts, and it is conveyed by cultural figures, even within the so-called “Israeli left”.
I grew up in Israel in the 1970s. People of my generation are nowadays leaders in the Israeli army, politics, economy, academia and the arts. We were trained to believe that “a good Arab is a dead Arab”. A few weeks before I joined the Israeli armed forces in the early 1980s, General Rafael Eitan, the chief of staff at the time, announced that the “Arabs were stoned cockroaches in a bottle”. He got away with it; he also got away with the murder of many thousands of Lebanese civilians in the first Lebanon war. In a word, Israelis manage to get away with murder.
Luckily enough, and for reasons that are still far beyond my comprehension, at a certain stage I woke up out of that lethal Hebraic dream. At some point I left the Jewish state, I evaded the Jewish hate-mongering, I had become an opponent of the Jewish state and any other form of Jewish politics. However, I am utterly convinced that it is my primary duty to inform every being that is willing to listen about that which are we up against.
Although the central purpose of Zionism was to transform Jews by “giving them a state of their own” and making them like any other people, it has failed miserably. The Israeli barbarism that we saw this week and too many times before is far beyond bestiality. It is killing for the sake of killing. And it is indiscriminate.
Fews people in the west are aware of the devastating fact that killing Arabs and Palestinians in particular is a very effective Israeli political recipe. The Israelis are indeed a confused people. As much as they insist upon seeing themselves as a “shalom-seeking” nation, they also love to be led by politicians with an astonishing record of murderous activity. Whether it was Sharon, Rabin, Begin, Shamir or Ben Gurion, Israelis love their “democratically-elected leaders” to be belligerent hawks with their hands dripping with blood and backed by a solid record of crimes against humanity.
We are weeks before an election in Israel and it would seem that both the prime ministerial candidates of Kadima and Labour, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, are trailing well behind the Likud candidate, the notorious hawk Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Livni and Barak need their little war. They must prove to the Israelis that they know how to engage in mass slaughter.
Both Livni and Barak have to provide the Israeli voter with some real exhibition of devastating carnage, so that he Israelis can trust their leadership. This is their only chance against Netanyahu. Seemingly, Livni and Barak are throwing tons of bombs on Palestinian civilians, schools and hospitals because this is exactly what the Israelis want to see.
Unfortunately, Israelis are not known for mercy and grace. Instead, they are appeased by retaliation and vengeance, they are cheered by their own limitless brutality. When former Israeli Air Force commander Dan Halutz was asked how it feels to drop a bomb on a highly populated neighbourhood in Gaza, his answer was short and precise. “It feels like a light bump on the right wing,” was his reply. Halutz’s cold, deadly manner was enough to secure his promotion to armed forces chief of staff shortly thereafter. It was General Halutz who led the Israeli army into the second Lebanon war. It was this man who perpetrated the destruction of Lebanese infrastructure and large parts of Beirut.
Seemingly, in Israeli politics Arab blood is translated into votes. It would obviously be very reasonable to charge Livni, Barak and the current armed forces chief of staff, Gabriel Ashkenazi, with first-degree murder, crimes against humanity and obvious breaches of the Geneva Conventions. But it would be far more meaningful to take into account that Israel is a “democracy”. Livni, Barak and Ashkenazi are giving the Israeli people that which they want: it is called Arab blood and it must come in vast quantities. This repetitive murderous practice, conducted by Israeli politicians, reflects on the Israeli people as a whole rather than just a few politicians and generals. We are dealing here with a barbarian society that is politically driven by bloodthirstiness and lethal inclinations. There should be no mistake: there is no room for these people among civilized nations.
Why the Israeli people are so remote from any notion of humanism is a big question. The generous and naïve humanists among us may argue that the Shoah, or Holocaust, left a big scar in the Israeli soul. This may explain why Israelis are obsessively cultivating that very memory with the support of their Diaspora brothers and sisters. The Israelis say “never again” and what they mean is that Auschwitz should never reoccur. This somehow allows them to punish the Palestinian for the crimes committed by the Nazis.
However, the realists among us do not buy this argument anymore. They are now beginning to acknowledge that it is more than possible that the Israelis are so incredibly brutal just because this is how they are. It goes far beyond rationality or pseudo-analytical assumptions. They say: “this is what the Israelis are and there is not much we can do about it anymore”. The realists among us have come to admit that killing is how the Israelis interpret the meaning of being Jewish. Gravely, many of us are coming to admit that there is no alternative humanist secular Jewish value system to replace the murderous Hebraic one. The Jewish state is there to prove that Jewish national autonomy is an inhuman concept.
I grew up in post-1967 Israel. I was raised in the wake of the Israeli mythical victory. We were trained to worship the “Israeli who shoots from the hip”, the platoon commando who shoots his Uzi automatic rifle in the direction of the Arabs and manages to win against four armies in just six days.
It may have taken me two decades too long to understand that the Israeli who “shoots from the hip” was actually the master of indiscriminate killing. Barak was one of those 1967 heroes, he was a master indiscriminate killer. Apparently, the Israeli cabinet has just approved his plan for the biggest raid on Gaza since 1967. Livni is more or less my age and, as we know from the news, she has internalized the message. She is now accumulating the necessary credentials as an indiscriminate murderer. Both Barak and Livni are taking Israel and Palestine into an election campaign of slaughter. Arab and Palestinian blood is the fuel of Israeli politics.
I may just suggest to Livni and Barak that it may not help them in the polls. Netanyahu is a genuine, authentic hawk. He doesn’t have to pretend to be a murderer, and as much as I despise him, he has yet to take Israel into a war. He probably understands better than them what the power of deterrence is all about.
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born musician, writer and anti-racism campaigner. This article appeared in Palestine Think Tank.