Anthony Julius is a prominent British lawyer and academic, best known for his actions on behalf of academic Nazi hunter Deborah Lipstadt. It was Julius who perpetrated the destruction of history revisionist David Irving’s career.
However, Anthony Julius is far more than just an academic and a lawyer. He is also a devoted Zionist who has established a reputation for his opposition to ‘new anti-Semitism’. Adding to the list of his accomplishments, he is also a founding member of Engage, the notorious British Zionist smear operator. On top of that he is also founder member of the UK based Neo-con think tank known as the Euston Manifesto.
A few days ago I came across a two part paper named ‘Jewish Anti-Zionism Unravelled: The Morality of Vanity’1Apparently, it is a study made by Anthony Julius. It didn’t take me long to gather that Julius’s text should be read and understood. It must be scrutinised not because it is an important informative text, but because it serves as an invaluable document.
As one may guess, Julius is far from being stupid. He is by far more sophisticated, educated and eloquent than the average Zionist operators we come across on a daily basis. Thus, it is rather depressing to admit that his deconstruction of some large sectors of the Jewish political and ideological left is more than valid. As bizarre as it may sound, in places his criticism of his dissident anti-Zionists brothers and sisters is not far at all from the discomfort expressed rather often by Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity activists concerning Jewish anti-Zionism.
However, it should be mentioned that as much as Julius succeeds in exposing some serious inconsistency as well as a fundamental lack of integrity within the Jewish left discourse, his own study suffers badly due to his own lack of understanding of the intellectual foundation of anti-Zionist debate and the people who happen to carry this emerging discourse forwards.
From Politics to Humanism
The author’s biggest failure lies at the very premise of his study. Initially Julius tries to grasp the shift between the ‘modern’ and the ‘contemporary’ Jewish political anti-Zionism assuming that political anti-Zionism is still in place. Julius apparently fails to see the very obvious. Though pre WWII Jewish anti-Zionism had been largely politically orchestrated and ideologically orientated, contemporary anti-Zionism and Jewish anti-Zionism in particular is not at all politically leaning. If Julius would take a deep breath and view the list of ‘contemporary’ voices he himself had chosen to quote within his study (me included), he would notice that none of them are political activists. Neither Jacqueline Rose nor Tony Judt nor Ilan Pappe nor Oren Ben-Dor, nor Uri Davis nor myself are operating as politicians or within political cells. We all act as humanists, academics and artists. We write, we offer some critical thoughts, we compose music we make films and so forth.
The question that comes to mind is how is it that a prominent lawyer and an intellectual such as Julius fails to recognise such an obvious fact. The explanation is shockingly simple. It is actually called projection. Zionism is a form of blindness and Julius is apparently imbued in it. Julius is doomed to interpret his subject of research while employing his own tribal Judeocentric worldview. Because Zionist Jews operate constantly and solely within politically and racially orientated cells, they tend to believe that their dissident brothers must be operating within very similar settings.
Thus, rather than reading Julius’s study as academic scholarship, at times we should endorse some sceptical approach and take his different insights as a glimpse into the Zionist mindset. Julius’s paper is actually a glance or even a journey into the dark Zionist world.
Tribal vs. Universal
Once we manage to transcend ourselves beyond Julius’s Ziocentric limitations, we are left with a very interesting reading and eloquent exposure of some the fallacy entangled within Jewish anti-Zionism.
“Jewish anti-Zionism,” says Julius, “inaugurates a return for many Jews to some kind of Jewish identity.” But then what does he mean by Jewish identity? Who are the Jews, are they a racial group? Are they a cultural group?
In order to address the issue Julius elaborates and scrutinises the ideological message behind “Independent Jewish Voices” (IJV).
The IJV was launched on February 5 2007 by 150 prominent British Jews such as Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, historian Eric Hobsbawm, lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman and others. The organisation was there to refute “the widespread misconception that British Jews speak with one voice – and that this voice supports the Israeli government’s policies.” The IJV was there to shake the hegemony of the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Though the IJV attracted a lot of media attention in early February 2007, it died soon after. A quick glance at the IJV website and its news page reveals the embarrassing fact that the IJV last news update happened on February 12 2007, just a week after its bombastic launch. In other words, the IJV is a dead political entity. It was set to create a media impression of Jewish dissidence and Jewish liberal pluralism. But as it seems, as far as the IJV is concerned, its dissidence is rather fictional.
I tend to believe that Julius is fully aware of the fact that the IJV is not active, however for some reason he decided to elaborate on the IJV’s message and its ideological teaching aiming at the exposure of the fallacy within Jewish anti-Zionism.
Julius cited the IJV opening document:
The “Independent Jewish Voices” (IJV) opening statement endeavoured to ‘reclaim the tradition of Jewish support for universal freedoms, human rights and social justice.’ ‘Judaism,’ it continued, “means nothing if it does not mean social justice And Moses’ instruction to Israel was cited, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20).
I assume that there is something both the IJV as well as Anthony Julius prefer to be very secretive about.
First, there is NO “Jewish tradition of universal freedoms”. Indeed, in the cathedra of the history of humanism more than just one Jew occupied a prominent seat. More than just one Jew taught us universalism and brotherhood, whether it was Christ, Spinoza, Marx or Simon Weil. But as sad as it may be, these provocative beings were brutally expelled and ostracised by their brothers.
Second, Moses’ reference to ‘Justice perusing’ (Deuteronomy 16:20) could have established a major ethical argument in favour of Jewish universal tradition. Yet this was the same Moses who just a few chapters earlier vowed to bring his people to the Promised Land where they are allowed to rob and loot the indigenous people. “A land with large, fine cities you did not build, houses filled with choice things you did not accumulate, hewn out cisterns you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — and you eat your fill.” (Deuteronomy: Six 10-11). Seemingly, the IJV’s Moses, who was presented as an icon of universal humanism, is in fact a (very) early Zionist invader as well as the mastermind behind the Israelite collective looting culture.
Anyhow, Julius truly notices that the myth of Jewish universalism and profound ethics is repeated by many of the IJV signatories. “As a Jew,” says one, “I feel a particular duty to oppose the injustice that is done to Palestinians.”
“The anti-Zionist,” says Julius, “is not just a Jew like other Jews; his dissent from normative Zionist loyalties makes him a better Jew. He restores Judaism’s good name; to be a good Jew one has to be an anti-Zionist.”
Though Julius is sharp enough to trace the obvious righteousness within the IJV call, he happens to miss a further severe logical flaw here. When a so-called ‘better’ Jew refers to himself as a ‘Jew’, what is it that he refers to? Is it his racial belonging? Is it biological determinism in play? Is it the ethnic identity or is it again the collective belief in the comforting qualities of chicken soup? It is clear that statements such as: “As a Jew I feel a particular duty” or in general, “as a Jew I feel X, Y or Z” exposes the IJV in a very non-flattering light. It bluntly and foolishly admits a certain level of Jewish dogmatic homogenous collectivism that defies the initial claim of independence.
It is therefore not very surprising that the IJV died a week or two after its launch. Intellectually it couldn’t hold more than a week or two. It failed to bridge the gap between Athens and Jerusalem or rather, between the universal and the tribal. It failed simply because this gap may be unbridgeable. Once a secular Jew insists upon operating as an ‘independent’ humanist, he becomes an ordinary human being leaving behind all traces of tribal particularities and privileges.
Julius continues, “There is the objection (to Zionism) ‘in the name of universalism’. The Jewish anti-Zionist would argue that the national project has debased the Jewish character by making it ordinary.” Seemingly, Julius himself fails to see how deep is the logical absurdity in such a statement. If there is indeed a ‘Jewish Character’ with some cosmopolitan characteristics as opposed to ‘ordinary’ nationalist traits, then gravely, we would have to admit that Jews can never join humanity as equals. Jews can never intermingle with the ‘ordinary’. As bizarre as it may sound, once again we notice that Jewish universalism appears to operate as a maintenance project of Jewish chauvinism and tribalism.
Julius continues, “the Jewish anti-Zionist says ‘Jewish particularism’ of every kind must be rejected; Jews should not cut themselves off from their fellow students, workmates, and neighbours. Jews should seek a ‘Jewishness not sealed behind walls of conviction’, but open to the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.” Again, the absurdity behind such a statement is mind blowing. On the one end it refers to Jews as an ideal lucid homogenous collective, yet in the same breath it insists upon making this collective characterless. The truth of the matter must be said here. As long as Jews regard themselves as a homogenous collective and operate as a collective they happen to install a barrier between themselves and the rest of humanity. False calls for humanism and employment of Marxist jargon can’t and won’t cover it up.
Though I am totally convinced that the majority of the IJV signatures are well meaning and genuine peace lovers, the philosophy they happened to succumb to is rather embarrassingly lame. However, this is not big news. This flaw at the heart of the IJV’s declaration failed in every form of Jewish tribal left thinking for over a century. It is this very basic fault that made ‘Jewish anti-Zionists’ (JAZ), the Bund and IJV look like the ‘Best universalists amongst tribalists’ or alternatively ‘the ultimate tribalists amongst the universalists.’
“In the IJV’s principles,” cites Julius, one of its foundations includes “putting human rights first; repudiating all forms of racism; and giving equal priority to Palestinians and Israelis in their quest for a better future… (these are) principles that unite people of goodwill…group or ethnic loyalty, by contrast, is not a principle – or not a worthy one, at least.” “It must be,” answers Julius with scorn, that it is “Jewish quality to have no qualities at all.” It is very sad to admit, but Julius has a point here. As much as I would prefer to support the well-intentioned IJV agenda, I have to confess that the cosmopolitan attitude expressed above is totally irrelevant and even counter-effective as far as the Palestinian national struggle is concerned. As much as Julius insists upon the right of Jews to celebrate their symptoms as Jews, it is the humanist duty to insist upon a similar right of Palestinians to celebrate their ‘group or ethnic loyalty’. It is rather shocking to admit that Zionist and Palestinian criticism of Jewish anti-Zionism is almost similar.
At this point, Julius is ready to pour a rain of contempt over his dissident brothers. “These Jewish anti-Zionists claim to speak as the moral conscience of the Jewish people. They no longer assert, as their revolutionary forebears once did…they play the part of scourges of the Jewish State.” ‘The scourge’, explains Julius, is a kind of “moraliser, that is, a public person who prides himself on the ability to discern the good and the evil. The moraliser makes judgments on others, and profits by so doing; he puts himself on the right side of the fence. Moralising provides the moraliser with recognition of his own existence and confirmation of his own value.”
But Julius doesn’t stop just there, he continues, “a moraliser has a good conscience and is satisfied by his own self-righteousness. He is not a self-hater; he is enfolded in self-admiration. He is in step with the best opinion. He holds that the truth is to be arrived at by inverting the “us = good” and “other = bad” binarism.
Julius should have grasped that ‘self-loving’ and ‘binary opposition’ settings are exactly that which set any form of Jewish tribal left within the ever-growing rabbinical tradition. The real meaning of secularism within the Jewish tribal left discourse means the replacement of ‘God-loving’ with ‘self-loving’, The modern Jewish tribal leftist believes in himself. And the binary formula he adopts should be read as Us = kosher / Other = taref.
However, if Julius would spend some time looking in the mirror while contemplating over the issues of ‘binarism’ and ‘self-loving’ he may find out that he is falling into the exact same trap. The Euston neo-conservative think tank he himself founded is intellectually premised on the exact same parameters. It is based on white liberal ‘self-loving’ and ‘binary opposition setting’ in the shape of us/them, kosher/taref, West/the rest.
Once again we notice, that Julius’s study is fuelled by projection. Once again we see that as much as it is interesting to read what Julius has to say, it is far more interesting to ask why he says what he says. Every insight Julius provides us with stands as a revelation concerning the Zionist project and the Zionist mindset.
The Crypto Zionist’s Role
Only in the last part of his study, Julius reveals his true motivation. Apparently the British Zionist academic has some Judeocentric conspiratorial expectations from his fellow dissident brothers. He would like to see them fighting the anti-Semites in the Palestinian solidarity discourse. He would like to see them operating as Sayanim.
The development of his argument is rather interesting.
According to Julius, the Jewish anti-Zionist “wrongly assumes that group loyalty is inconsistent with the ethical life, and that universalist moral foundations cannot sustain a version of nationalism.”
This is indeed reassuring to see that Julius asserts the most radical form of right wing views. Seemingly, the man learned a lot from the revisionist historian he managed to defeat in court. However, the truth must be said. Julius is absolutely correct here. There is NO contradiction between group loyalty and the ethical life. Torah Jews prove it beyond doubt. This is why Torah Jews are far more popular amongst Palestinian solidarity campaigner than any other Jewish collective. Julius is also correct to argue that there is no contradiction between universalist moral foundations and nationalism. Again this insight is no different to the Palestinian critiques of the cosmopolitan Jew. A Palestinian would rightly say: ‘If you are a cosmopolitan Jew who opposes nationalism, how exactly do you plan to support my Palestinian national struggle?’
Julius correctly suggests that anti-Zionist Jews fall into contradiction when they hold that while dispersion is good for the Jews, it is bad for the Palestinians, and when they demand of the Jews that they disavow ‘nationalism,’ while valuing the Palestinians’ “continuing struggle for justice;” Julius obviously hit here on some severe level of lack of integrity within the Jewish left discourse.
In short, it seems as if Julius manages to establish a profound criticism of Jewish anti-Zionism. Seemingly, Jewish anti-Zionism is inconsistent to the bone. Due to the impossibility to bridge the gap between the tribal and the universal, Jewish anti-Zionism is doomed to fall either into inconsistency or lack of integrity.
But here is where Julius comes with some clear suggestions regarding the Jewish role within the left. Trotsky, according to Julius, wasn’t operating as a Jew, yet he could “smell anti-Semitism in others”. But Julius doesn’t stop just there. “Contemporary Jewish anti-Zionists,” he says, “have lost the sense for it.” It is clear beyond doubt that Julius expects his dissident brothers to keep up day and night tracing and fighting the anti-Semites. He expects the Jewish anti-Zionists to operate as Sayanim, people who are motivated to operate as Zionist agents due to Jewish tribal brotherhood.
As funny as it may sound, Anthony Julius describes here the exact role taken by the discredited UK JAZ group who for a while worked day and night fighting, smearing and lobbying against those whom they regard as anti-Semites. Bearing in mind that Julius is a Zionist who calls the anti-Zionists to fight anti-Semitism , it is impossible not to see JAZ as an integral part of the Zionist plot on the verge of Sayanim.
Julius continues, “Jewish anti-Zionist contributions to anti-Semitically inflected positions taken by non-Jewish anti-Zionists consist of the following: (a) to give cover to the holders of such positions by endorsing them ‘as Jews’ (b) to endorse those positions as true, with the all the authority of an ‘insider’ or ‘expert’.”
It is very clear that as far as Julius is concerned, anti-Zionist Jews are not exactly ordinary human beings. They are primarily Jews and must serve their tribal interests first. At large, Julius’s expectations from his fellow brothers fall short of fulfilment. Not a single prominent Jewish anti-Zionist has ever joined the Zionist hunting expedition. They obviously have far better things to do. Those who were and still are foolish enough to follow Julius’s instructions and become hunters of anti-Semites have managed to marginalise themselves within the anti-Zionist movement beyond repair. If they were acting as double agents at some stage, they are now exposed in a very unflattering light.
The reason is simple. Every genuine anti-Zionist realises that if Israel is the Jewish State and the crimes committed by this State are committed in the name of the Jewish people then we are bound to ask, ‘who are the Jews? What is Judaism? And what is Jewishness?’ There is no alternative than to question the Jewish lobby and the role of Jewish media. These are the parameters of contemporary anti-Zionism, this is what anti-Zionism is all about, and if this is what new anti-Semitism is all about, we have nothing left to admit to the hunters than being anti-Zionists means we are going to be hunted sooner or later.
Interestingly enough, the IJV collapsed because independent, assimilated intellectuals tend to operate independently, they do not and could not succumb to tribal concerns. Prominent independent voices could never operate in an atmosphere of a synagogue. The IJV collapsed because its prominent members were too independent to operate as a fig leaf for the Jewish national project.
Sadly, we would have to admit that as much as the Jewish left is inconsistent to the bone, as much as it loses its way between Athens and Jerusalem, Zionism is unfortunately a success story. It is consistent, it knows exactly where Athens is but it prefers the road to Jerusalem. Zionism is a proud tribal project, it gives a new dynamic contemporary meaning to Jewish existence. Unfortunately this meaning is oppressive and murderous on the verge of genocidal. Since Zionism is a monolithic voice of the Jewish people, the future of anti-Zionist discourse will inevitably address a scope of issues to do with the Jewish question.
As much as I do not agree with Julius’s prime agenda, I tend to agree with many points raised by him. Jewish anti-Zionism is a futile project. It leads nowhere, it is there to make Jews look nice and to dismantle a real debate about Zionism and Jewish nationalism in general. If secular Jews intend to resist Zionism genuinely rather than just gather a momentary sympathy to their cause, then the only way to do it is to join the human family and to act as ordinary people. Such an act would give the French revolution and emancipation a real new meaning.
- Anthony Julius, “Jewish Anti-Zionism Unravelled: The Morality of Vanity,” (Part 1) Z Word, March 2008 and (Part 2), April 2008. [↩]