Israel Shahak,

2 Bartenura St.,


Israel 92184

19 january 2000

The Editor of Commentary


Since Justus R. Weiner had attacked my name and book in last Commentary issue [January 2000], in his last attack against my friend Edward Said, I want to answer him. In the first place, although it is true that I have co-coined, with my friend for about thirty years Yeshayahu Leibovitz, the term "Judeo-Nazism" (although I use it in wider meaning than he) his statement that I have "vague Trotskyite sympathies" shows Weiner's total ignorance about Israeli Jewish society. Not only I have been all my life an opponent of Marxism and socialism of all shades, but I have proclaimed in a letter-to-the-editor of Haaretz after 1996 election that I voted for Netanyahu (as a lesser evil, admittedly) in that election. When, in 1999, Shulamit Aloni, in interview to Haaretz Supplement called Netanyahu "fascist", I answered in another letter-to-the-editor that it is she who deserves that label. The views of Weiner about me are important only as showing that he lives in Israel only from geographical point of view. In other ways, including his attack on Edward Said whose great reputation in the elite of Israeli-Jewish society was not shaken by his libels, he lives in a bubble of American Jewish emigrants of his ilk. It is beneath my honor to dispute the label "fringe-figure" that Weiner attached to my name, but let me point out that after his first attack on Said, Haaretz asked my, and not his, opinion on that matter. In my view Weiner's effort to show that Edward Said has no or little connection with Jerusalem or the Palestinians is just another example of Jewish Nazism, closely resembling what German Nazis had said about German Jews in 1920s and 1930s. They, also tried, quite like Weiner to show that the "connection" of many Jews with Germany was weak; that they, or their ancestors were born or grew in countries east of Germany, that they did not "properly" absorb German culture, etc. Many of the Nazi facts were correct, but what made their ideology so hateful is that at the same time they tried to shake "connection" of Jews with Germany they also held that outsiders who did not live in Germany, but were of Aryan race or German ancestry have a strong "connection" with it, which the Jews lack because they are Jews. In the State of Israel religion has replaced race but the denial of "connection" of human beings to a place in which they were born is very similar. Israeli laws, Zionist ideology and Jewish religion (in its orthodox form) assume that persons converted to Judaism (in "proper" manner) at this moment in Peru, acquire the "connection" to Jerusalem which Said lacks. (If Said converts to Judaism, his "connection" will also be instantly recognized.) Not only will such convert be given legal right to live in Jerusalem, a right that that all non-Jews, whatever their feelings about it, lack, but he will be given more than $20,000 for his "absorption" in it. Israeli discrimination against all non Jews and the ideology, derived ultimately from laws against non Jews of the Jewish religion on which it is based, resemble, except the detail on conversion, Nazi ideology against Jews and other "inferior" races. Just as it was the Nazi ideology which was primary cause of the extermination of the Jews, which took place when the German Nazis had the power to do it, and not before, so the Zionist ideology of Labor and the religious kind; of the two groups which are chief proponents of the ideal of "pure" Jewish society, which may lose its "Jewish character" by being "contaminated" through too great contact with non Jews (the Arabs in the Middle East) believes in separation, otherwise called "apartheid". This policy can yet result in extermination of Palestinians if its proponents will feel themselves strong enough, and if more of them become as zealous as some of them already are. It has caused expulsion of many of them, not only in times of war but also during peace and victory. From the point of Jewish religion there will be no problem in carrying out an extermination of Palestinians, including children, if there will be an opportunity to do so without too much danger to the Jews; important rabbis of religious Zionism have pronounced long ago, strictly according to the halacha, that there is a religious duty of killing every member of a nation with whom the Jews are at war. A rabbinic proclamation that the Palestinians are at war with Jews will suffice. Let me add that in last issue of "Zion,' (Vol. LXIV, 4), quarterly of The Historical Society of Israel, an article by E. Horowitz cited many Jewish religious authorities who held extermination of every human being descended from the race of Amalek as religious duty, especially applicable to Messianic times. Many Zionist religious rabbis hold that we are now at beginning of Messianic times. A rabbinic decision that Palestinians are "really" Amalekites, and about the latter, prophet Samuel ordered in the name of God: "kill both man and woman, infant and suckling", I Samuel, 15, 3, is needed, together with politically "good situation", and a genocide undertaken by pious Jews as a "mitzva" becomes a distinct probability.

By now there is no doubt that expulsions of Palestinians, some carried out in peace time, were undertaken for the purpose of making Palestine "free of Arabs" (in German "Arabrein", corresponding to the Nazi declared wish of making Germany "Judenrein"). There is no need to quote any of the "new historians" whose writings, as shown in recent Hebrew publications, quite often contain malicious omissions and even falsifications - in both directions, let me add; right wing or centrist Israeli historians show the ideology which dictated "the transfer" much better. So, when Dr. Uri Milstein, a staunch supporter of Israeli right writes in "The Rabin File" (English translation published by Gefen Books, 12 New Street, Hewlett, NY 11557, 1999) that the real aim of Labor Zionists in 1948 was "Greater Israel in Stages", involving "a state with borders as broad as possible, and with as few Arabs as possible" (p. 107), he is right. When subchapter about Palmach in his book is entitled "From the New Jew to an Overabundant Aryan Aggressiveness" he is also right. When in this section he writes about the great admiration felt in Palmach for a person "whose qualities and talents made him a super-male", and "symbolized the Aryan vitality of which Nietzche had spoken, the Super Man" and adds that "this parallel development - in Palestine and Germany - was so terrifying that all the social and cultural researchers shied away from dealing with it and characterizing its symptoms", he is especially right (p. 130). In a more indirect way, Walter Laqueur, certainly not a leftist, in his history of Zionism, wrote when analyzing real aims of A.D. Gordon, a left Zionist leader who opposed violence, that in spite of this, he wanted to achieve a situation in which every field in Palestine will be cultivated only by Jews and every tree there planted only by Jews. This means, although Laqueur leaves the implication for his readers, that A.D. Gordon wanted an "Arabrein" Palestine, but shied away from the logical conclusion of what is involved by his aim: not only violence and discrimination inflicted on those who will be evicted, but also deep corruption and deterioration on the Jews themselves.

As to my book "Jewish History, Jewish Religion; the Weight of Three Thousand Years", let me first say that Weiner does not even attempt to contradict one of the numerous quotations from classical halachic sources and contemporary pronouncements by some Israeli rabbis, illustrating the totally inhuman attitude of Judaism (as developed from Talmudic times and continued in present Jewish orthodoxy), to non Jews. He only claims, like all spokesmen for totalitarian movements, that the book is anti-Semitic.

In exactly the same way, the communists used to dismiss all claims about Stalin's murders as being an evidence of anti-communism, and therefore not reliable. Any testimony about Taliban or protest against the death sentence of Rushdi is dismissed by Muslim zealots as being an anti-Muslim act. I am not one of those Christian clergymen who use to go to their knees and accept Israeli claims if threatened by an accusation of anti-Semitism. I am a proud member of a society which has to a great extent liberated itself from the yoke of rabbis and "scholars" servile to them; and which differs from American Jews, among whom considerations of "the Jewish interest" determine not only one's opinion but one's facts; as considerations of "interest of USSR' used to do for fellow travellers. In absence of argument about what my book says, I will just quote few facts which have occurred after it was published. Let me begin with interview with rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, an important leader of Chabad Hassidism, by "Jewish Weekly" (New York) on 26 April 1996, published on the same day, in Hebrew, in Haaretz. Rabbi Ginsburgh, "asking rhetorically... If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him?", answers his own question: "'The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value', he explained. 'There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish". My book said the same thing about "The Torah". A few days after Haaretz published Ginsburgh's Nazi views, its regular correspondent, Ya'ir Sheleg, published an article calling on all orthodox rabbis to repudiate Ginsburgh's views. None of them did so, nor did any American Jewish leader or any of those who write in "Commentary". The rabbis did not repudiate Ginsburgh since his views are a logical consequence of the halacha and Lurianic Kabbala and many pious Jews share Ginsburgh's ideal he formulated: a Jewish Dr. Mengele whose victims are non Jews. Let me add that Ginsburgh remains an influential figure in the USA Jewry and is, to some extent, respected by all Israeli governments. Even this example alone shows that my views on prevalence of Jewish Nazism are correct.

However, an analysis of practice of torture by state of Israel for so many years, shows how views similar to those expressed by Ginsburgh (only tempered by the fear of reaction by other countries), influence Israeli policies. It is not only the now admitted fact that Israel used torture which is important; more important is the fact that only non Jews were tortured by the Jewish state. A Palestinian suspected of distributing a leaflet was tortured if he refused to say who gave it to him. A Jew suspected of the gravest crimes was never tortured if he refused to give a valuable information. There was no attempt to torture Yigal Amir when he refused to give names of the rabbis who gave him a "heter" (religious permission) to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin. I am opposed to all torture and I spend some of my time in recent years in castigating the Israeli left for condoning Arafat's tortures by their silence, but if application of torture is determined by belonging to a religious group, this seems to me similar to extermination determined by belonging to a racial group. It is clear that principles which guided Ginsburgh also guided, in a modified form, Israeli use of torture. I am sure that had torture been used only against Jews in a country the term "Nazism" would be used about practices of such a state. I have no hesitation in using - together with Yeshayahu Leibovitz - the same term about the Israeli practices.

Let me deal more briefly with other new facts. When the Israeli Haredim demanded that they will neither donate nor receive blood transfusion from non Jews, because their blood is "impure" (as German Nazis claimed about Jewish blood), they were supported by some of most distinguished Israeli rabbis, including the former Chief Rabbi, Mordechay Eliyahu. On the day that I write this answer, I read in "Yediot Ahronot" that rabbi Eliyahu opined in a meeting of Chabad supporters that Damascus belongs to Jews, and that Syria should return it to them as a condition of peace, because Damascus was conquered by king David. When Israel had sent a rescue team to Rwanda, Haredi papers protested that the team violates Sabbath to help non Jews. Rabbi Aviner, one of the more moderate rabbis of Gush Emunim, opined that Jews should shoot at non Jewish little child who throws stones on a car. Because of the difference in halachic treatment of non Jews and Jews, he did not say that Jewish children in Israel who throw stones at cars on Sabbath should be shot at. After Baruch Goldstein had murdered 29 innocent Muslim worshippers, rabbi Moshe Levinger was asked by Nahum Barnea whether he is sorry about their death. Levinger answered that he is also sorry about dead flies. No Orthodox rabbi spared a moment from his condemnations of Reform and Conservative rabbis, to say a few words against this comparison. In my view it is a Nazi comparison. The Hebrew press has shown how great was the support that Goldstein enjoyed in the religious neighborhoods of Israel. It has also shown that he began his career when serving as doctor in Israeli army, by refusing, on religious grounds, to treat non Jews, including Druse soldiers. When army wanted to court-martial him, the religious parties pressurized Defense minister to drop the case. I can imagine what leaders of USA Jews would say about an USA army doctor refusing to treat Jewish soldiers for religious reasons but, in my view because of pernicious influence of Jewish religion and false considerations of "the Jewish interest", in the case involving non Jewish soldiers in the army of Jewish state they were silent. I do not have any hopes that Wiener will ever investigate such cases. Let me add that, in my view, it is not by chance that Kahane, Goldstein, Ginsburgh and Wiener are all American Jews. Contrary to many Israeli Jews who in recent years liberated themselves from the tyranny of Jewish religion and the even worse servitude to "Jewish interest", USA Jewry remains totally enslaved to both. This, in my view, is the main reason why so many young Jews escape from it.

Let me finish by saying that just as I am of the opinion that Jewish Nazism exists, so I hold that there is Arab and Muslim Nazism. It is in my view an intellectual crime committed by many of the "new left" not to mention the fact that Haj Amin El-Husseini, the Palestinian leader in 1948 (and long before and after) was a guest of Hitler and visited, with approval, Auschwitz during the extermination. I consider Islamic Jihad a Nazi movement and Hamas to be significantly Nazilike, and I favor views of professor Yehoshua Porat about the influence that Hamas' views have on Arafat. In a situation, where forces of Nazism exist on both sides, the greatest hope - not so much of peace but of prevention of Nazism - lies in friendships between Palestinian and Jewish individuals devoted to common humanity overriding religious and national barriers, who believe in democracy and equal rights for all human beings. Since I don't believe that humility is a virtue, I declare that I am very proud that for many years Edward Said is my friend and I am his, and I am even more proud to be damned for this friendship by Jewish chauvinists! Our long friendship is not without disputes; we differ on many issues, from music of Verdi to the idea of bi-national state but all our disagreements actually increase the friendship we feel one to the other. I am now moderately optimistic (of course, not for the next few years) about the situation. one of the chief reasons for my cautious optimism is the fact that in recent years many of my fellow Israeli-Jews respect me more when I say with pride that I am a friend of Edward Said. This represents an enormous change for the better; which is much more important than all the peace conferences. In that hope I defy Weiner and all those who resemble him!

Sincerely Yours

Israel Shahak



(Dette er et brev fra Israel Shahak til redaktøren av Commentary, New York, i anledning av Justus R. Weiners angrep i Commentary, September 1999, på Edward Said i anledning dennes memoarer "Out of Place", og et nytt angrep av Weiner i Commentary, January 2000, bl.a. også på Israel Shahak. Posted by permission from Israel Shahak.


Se i denne anledning

Edward Said: "Defamation, Zionist Style"


Alexander Cockburn: "Defending the Integrity of Edward Said"


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