The Right to Self-Determination – A Fake Exercise in Universalism

A Citizen of the World, A Cosmopolitan and an Atheist

Last year in a little community church in Aspen, Colorado, at the question time following my talk, a middle-aged person at the back of the room stood up, presenting himself as follows:

“I am a citizen of the world, I am a cosmopolitan and an atheist. I would like to ask you something Mr Atzmon…”

“Hang on,” I stopped him, “please do not be offended by me asking, but are you by any chance a Jew?”

The person froze for a second, he couldn’t stop his face from blushing, everyone in the room turned around. Maybe they were curious enough to want to see what a 21st century self-loving cosmopolitan looks like. I, on my part, felt a bit guilty about it all, I didn’t have any intention to embarrass the man. However, it took him a few good seconds before he could get his act together.

“Yes Gilad, I am a Jew, but how did you know?”

“I obviously didn’t know,” I said, “I was actually guessing. You see, whenever I come across people who call themselves ‘cosmopolitans’, ‘atheists’ and a ‘citizens of the world’, they somehow always happen to be ‘Jews’ of the so-called ‘progressive’ assimilated type. I can only assume that ‘non-Jews’ tend to live in peace with whoever they happen to be. If they are born Catholic and decide to move on at a certain stage, they just dump the church behind. If they do not love their country as much as others do, they probably pack a few things and pick another country to live in. Somehow ‘non-Jews’, and this is far from being a scientific law, do not need to hide behind some vague universal banners and some artificial righteous value system. However, what was your question?”

No question followed. The ‘cosmopolitan, atheist and citizen of the world’, couldn’t remember what his question was. I assume that following the tradition of post-emancipated Jews he was there to celebrate his right to ‘self-determination’ in public. The man was using question time to tell his Aspen neighbours and friends what a great human being he was. Unlike them, local patriotic believers and proud Americans, he was an advanced humanist, a man beyond nationhood, a godless non-patriotic subject. He was the ultimate ‘self determined’ rational product of enlightenment. He was the son of Voltaire and the French revolution.

Self-determination is a modern Jewish political and social epidemic. The disappearance of the Ghetto and its maternal qualities led towards an identity crisis within the largely assimilated Jewish society. Seemingly, all post-emancipated Jewish political, spiritual and social schools of thought, left, right and centre were inherently concerned with issues to do with the ‘right to self-determination’. The Zionists would demand the right to national self-determination in the land of Zion. The Bund would demand national and cultural self-determination within the East European proletarian discourse. Matzpen and the ultra Israeli leftists would demand the right to self-determination for the ‘Israeli Jewish nation’ in the ‘liberated Arab East’, Anti Zionist Jews would insist upon the right to engage in an esoteric Jewish discourse within the Palestinian solidarity movement. But what does that very right to self-determination stand for? Why is it that every modern Jewish political thought is grounded on that right? Why is it that some ‘progressive’ assimilated Jews feel the need to become citizens of the world rather than just ordinary citizens of Britain or France or Russia?

The Pretence of Authenticity

It should be said that though identity search and self-determination are there to convey the pretence of a final march towards an authentic redemption, the direct result of Identity politics and self-determinative affairs is the complete opposite. Those who have to self-determine who they are, are those who are far removed from any authentic realisation to start with. Those who are determined to be seen as ‘cosmopolitans’ and ‘secular humanists’ are those who fail to see that human brotherhood needs neither an introduction nor a declaration. All it really takes is a genuine love for one another. Those who initiate and sign humanist manifestos are those who insist upon being seen as humanists while at the same time spreading some Zionist tribal evil around. Clearly, real genuine cosmopolitans do not have the need to declare their abstract commitment to humanism. Real citizens of the world, similarly, just live in an open world with no boundaries and borders.

I am surrounded, for instance, by jazz musicians of all colours and ethnic origins. People who live on the road, people who sleep every night in a different continent, people who make a living out of their love of beauty. Yet, I have never seen a Jazz artist who calls himself or herself either a citizen of the world or a cosmopolitan or even a beauty merchant. I have never met a Jazz artist who adopts an air of egalitarian importance. I have never met a Jazz musician who celebrates his or her right to self-determination. The reason is simple, authentic beings do not need to self determine who they are, they just let themselves and others be.

The right to self-determination

The right to self-determination is often cited as the acknowledgment that “all peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” This very principle is often seen as a moral and legal right. It is also well embedded in the philosophy of the United Nations. The term self-determination was used in the UN Charter and has been defined in various declarations and covenants.

Though we all tend to believe that every human is entitled to celebrate his or her symptoms, the right to self-determination is in fact significantly meaningful only within the Western liberal discourse which accepts such a right and premises it on the notion of enlightened individualism. Moreover, the right to self-determination can be celebrated only by the privileged who can mobilize enough political power or military might to make this right into a practical reality. However, it must be mentioned that even within the Western liberal discourse, it is only Jews who premise their political power on the ‘right to be like others’. The reason is simple, though liberated Jews insist upon being ‘like others’, it is rather clear that others prefer actually to be ‘like themselves’. This obviously means that the Jewish demand to be like others is futile and doomed to failure.

It must be mentioned also that within oppressed societies, the right to self-determination is often replaced with the right to rebel. For a Palestinian in the occupied territories, the right for self-determination means very little. He doesn’t need to self-determine himself as a Palestinian for the obvious reason that he knows who he is. And just in case he happens to forget, an Israeli soldier in the next roadblock would remind him. For the Palestinian, self-determination is a product of negation. It is actually the daily confrontation with the Zionist denial of the Palestinian right of self-determination. For the Palestinian, it is the right to fight against oppression, against those who starve him and expel him from his land in the name of the Jewish rather-too-concrete demand to be ‘people like other people’.

As much, as the right to self-determination presents itself as a universal liberating political value, in many cases it is utilised as a divisive mechanism that leads towards direct abuse of others. As we happen to learn, modern Jewish demand for the right to self-determination is rather too often celebrated at the expense of others whether these are Palestinians, Arab leaders, Russian proletariats or British and American soldiers who fight the last pocket of Israeli enemies in the Middle East. As much as the right to self-determination is occasionally presented has a ‘universal value’, scrutinising the pragmatic sinister utilization of the very right within the Jewish political discourse reveals that in practical terms, it is there to serve the Jewish tribal interests while denying and even dismissing other people’s elementary rights.

The Bund and Lenin’s Criticism

It would be right to say that the Bund and the Zionists were the first to eloquently insist upon the Jewish right to self-determination. The Bund was the General Jewish Workers’ Union of East Europe. Like the Zionist movement, it was formally founded in 1897. It maintained that Jews in Russia deserved the right to cultural and national self-determination within the Soviet future revolution.

Probably, the first to elaborate on the absurdity in Jewish demand for self-determination was Lenin in his famous attack on the Bund at the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (1903). “March with us” was Lenin’s reply to the Bund, rejecting their demand for a special autonomous ethnic status amongst the Russian workers. Lenin obviously spotted the tribally divisive agenda within the Bund philosophy. “We reject,” said Lenin, “all obligatory partitions that serve to divide us”. As much as Lenin supported “the right of nations to self-determination”, he was clearly dismissive of such a Jewish right which he correctly identified as divisive and reactionary. Lenin supported the right of oppressed nations to build their national entities, however he resisted any bigoted, narrow nationalist spirit.

Lenin raised three main reasons against the Bund and its demand of cultural self-determination:

First. Raising the slogan of cultural-national autonomy leads to splitting the nations apart, and therefore destroying the unity of the proletariat within them.

Second. Lenin saw that the intermingling of nations and their amalgamation was a progressive step, while turning away from that is a step backwards. He criticized those who “cry out to heaven against assimilation.”

Third. Lenin did not regard the ‘non-territorial cultural independence’ advocated by the Bund and the other Jewish parties as advantageous, practical, or practicable.

Lenin’s approach to the Bund is rather significant and should be reflected upon. Using his sharp political common sense, Lenin doubted the ethical and political grounds of the right of Jews to self-determination, as much as the Bund demanded that Jews should be treated as a national identity like all other nationals. Lenin’s answer was strictly simple: “Sorry guys, but you aren’t. You are not a national minority just for the reason that you are not attached to a piece of geography.”

Matzpen and Wolfowitz

“The solution of the national and social problems of this region can come about only through a socialist revolution in this region, which will overthrow all its existing regimes and will replace them by a political union of the region, ruled by the toilers. In this united and liberated Arab East, recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination (including the right to a separate state) of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including the Israeli-Jewish nation” (Matzpen Principles)

Seemingly, Lenin’s criticism has never been properly internalised by Jewish so-called ‘progressive’ ideologists. Abuse of others and dismissal of elementary rights has become inherent to Jewish ‘progressive’ political thinking. Reading the principle document of Matzpen, the legendary ultra leftist Israeli group may leave one perplexed.

Already in 1962 Jewish Matzpenists had a plan to ‘liberate’ the Arab world. According to Matzpen’s principles, all you have to do is “overthrow all (Arab) existing regimes” so “recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including (of course) the Israeli-Jewish nation.”

It doesn’t take a genius to grasp that at least categorically, Matzpen’s principles are no different from Wolfowitz’s Neocon mantra. Matzpen had a plan to ‘overthrow’ all Arabs regimes in the name of ‘socialism’ so Jews can ‘self-determine’ who they are. Wolfowitz would do exactly the same in the name of ‘democracy’. If you take Matzpen’s Judeo-centric ‘progressive’ text and replace the word ‘Socialist’ with ‘Democratic’ you end up with a devastating Neocon text and it reads as follows:

“The solution of the national and social problems of this region, can come about only through a democratic revolution in this region, which will overthrow all its existing regimes and will replace them by a political union of the region … Recognition will be granted to the right of self-determination of each of the non-Arab nationalities living in the region, including the Israeli-Jewish nation.”

Seemingly, both the ‘legendary’ progressive Matzpen and the reactionary despised Neocons use a similar abstract concept with some pretence of universality to rationally justify the Jewish right to self-determination and the destruction of Arab-grown regional power. Seemingly, both Neocons and Matzpen know what liberation may mean for Arabs. For the Matzpenist, to liberate Arabs is to turn them into Bolsheviks. The Neocon is actually slightly more modest, all he wants is for Arabs to drink Coca Cola in a westernised democratic society. Both Judeo-centric philosophies are doomed to failure because the notion of self-determination is overwhelmingly Euro-centric. Both philosophies are premised on an enlightened notion of rationality. Both philosophies have very little to offer to the oppressed, instead they are there to rationalise and provide the colonialist with some fake ‘universal’ legitimacy.

Clearly, Matzpen has never had any political power, it never had any political significance since it has never been in any proximity to Arab people, not to say Arab masses. Consequently, Matzpen could never affect Arab people’s lives nor could it destroy their regimes. However, Matzpen is seen by Jewish Leftists around the world as a significant chapter in the Israeli left. It is seen as a singular moment of Israeli ethical awakening. Thus, it is actually embarrassing or even devastating to find out that the most enlightening and refined moment of Israeli-left moral awakening produced a political insight that is no different categorically to George Bush’s infamous attempt at Liberating the Iraqi people. It should be clear beyond doubt that Jewish ultra leftists (a la Matzpen) and Zionised Anglo-American interventionism (a la Neocons) are in fact two sides of the same coin or may I allow myself to say two sides of the very same Shekel. They are very close theoretically, ideologically and pragmatically. Both political thoughts are Judeo-centric to the bone yet, they both pretend to premise themselves on universalism and aim towards ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’. But at the end of the day they aim toward Jewish self-determination at the expense of others.

The Right to be Like Others -The Zionist Logic

The following is a collection of extracts taken from a document submitted to the United Nations COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS in 2005.

It was composed by the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations (CBJO) and B’nai B’rith. It helps to grasp how Jewish organisations implement political power around the claim for self-determination.

As a point of historical departure of its statement, the CBJO chooses the ‘end of the Holocaust’ and the creation of the UN. The link is rather clear and intentional. The role of the UN is set as one that will save the Jews from any further genocidal attempts.

“As the world marks the 60th anniversaries of the end of the Holocaust and the creation of the United Nations this year, we in the human rights community have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the principles contained in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other foundation documents of the international human rights regime. One of the most fundamental of these rights is that of self-determination. This right guarantees other human rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security of person, preservation of honor, equality under the law.”

It can be seen that at this stage the right to self-determination is conveyed in universal terms. But do not let yourself be misled just yet. It won’t take long before the Zio-centric twist will reveal itself.

“The events revealed sixty years ago when Allied forces entered and liberated the Nazi concentration camps could have been prevented if only the Jewish people’s right to self-determination had been protected and fostered…. As the history of the Jewish people in the 20th century demonstrates, without a State of their own – the fulfillment of the right to self-determination – the Jewish people were at risk of discrimination, isolation, and ultimately, extermination.”

Slowly but surely, we can now see the shift from the universal ethical approach to a Judeo-centric self-centred argumentation. However, it is crucial to mention that prior to the big war western and American Jews were emancipated and enjoyed rights to self-determination, yet not many Jews thought that such a right should be celebrated in Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian people. Moreover, thinking in retrospective terms makes it rather clear that the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’ has brought Holocaust on the Palestinian people. In other words, the Jewish right to self-determination has very limited positive impact on humanity and human reality. Something the UN Human Rights Commission better take into account.

“As we reflect on this history, we must note the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and its new manifestation – anti-Zionism. In various intellectual circles, on university campuses and in the media, the Jewish people’s basic human right to self-determination is being eroded on a daily basis through misrepresentations and false equations. These anti-Zionists portray the Jewish people’s self-determination as excluding Palestinian self-determination. Some wish to turn back the clock of history by advancing a “one-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a proposal that was rejected by the General Assembly in 1947 precisely because it would have denied the Jewish people their right of self-determination…. Anti-Zionism is a dangerous path, for it hinges on the destruction of the Jewish State. As such it runs counter to the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights….”

Interestingly enough, the gifted people at the CBJO do realise that sooner or later someone is about to question the ethical validity of the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’. In fact this is exactly what I myself plan to do within a page or two. Zionists are clever enough to grasp the possibility that their ‘carte blanche’ to ruin millions of lives in the Middle East in the name of fake universal concept may expire one day.

However, the CBJO are aiming towards an optimistic resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This is at least what they want us to believe:

“Today, we see remarkable progress in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian people have elected a government – one that has pledged to reject terrorism as a political weapon in favor of democracy and peace. This path of promoting peaceful co-existence with the Jewish people marks an important turning point from the Palestinian policy of violence. … All resolutions passed by this body under this agenda item should seek to affirm the right to self-determination for the Jewish people alongside that of other peoples…. Only then will the Commission on Human Rights be true to its founding principles. Only then will the CHR be part of the solution, instead of exacerbating the problem. Only then will this body demonstrate that it has retained the lessons that should have been learned 60 years ago, upholding and defending the basic right of the Jewish people to self-determination alongside a democratic Palestinian State.”

As we can see, the CBJO is there to tell the Palestinians who they are and what they should be, i.e., democratic and secular. Wrongly enough, the right-wing CBJO is no different to the legendary ‘progressive’ Matzpen and the implications must be clear from now on. There is no left and right within modern secular Jewish politics but rather self-centric tribal orientation which produces fake images of political diversity for obvious reasons.

One State, Two States or Just a State Of All Its Citizens

Not many Palestinians and Arab intellectuals take part in the One State/Two State debate. The reason is pretty obvious, Palestinians and Arabs do realise very well that issues to do with the future of the region are not to be determined by academic institutes or Palestinian solidarity conferences but rather on the ground. The impact of a single Qassam rocket hitting in the Western Negev is far greater than any form of intellectual conclusive discussion to do with ‘conflict resolution’. As it seems, the demand for ‘one State’, be it secular, democratic or Islamic is theoretical and rhetorical and has no implication whatsoever on the Israelis who still possess the political power and military might to maintain the Jews-only State.

As much as the notion of self-determination has zero significance on Palestinian people, the same is so for the verbal demand for one State. At a time of starvation in Gaza and genocidal plans announced by the Israeli Government, debates regarding the future of the region seem to be a luxurious endeavour explored by the privileged.

If anything, the debate over the one State solution is there to maintain the Israeli and Jewish hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. The reason is pretty simple, every discussion that aims at political resolution naturally takes into account the ‘Jewish right to self-determination’. This would be the case forever unless we allow ourselves to introduce a radical political and intellectual shift into the discourse. Like Lenin in 1903, we must call into question the true validity of the notion of the right to self-determination. Following Lenin, we should allow ourselves to admit the possibility that the Jewish right to self-determination is actually divisive or may even be a false call. It is there to be celebrated by the rich and colonial and the privileged at the expense of the weak and the oppressed.

We should stand up and ask openly why exactly Jews or anyone else deserves a right to self-determination. Isn’t it true that the right to self-determination always comes at the expense of someone else? We should stand up and ask, what moral right entitles a Brooklyn Jew to self-determine oneself as a Zionist and a future occupier of Palestine? We should openly ask what exactly entitles an Israeli born Jew the right to dwell on Palestinian land at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian? Am I entitled to demand the right to self-determine myself as a NASA Astronaut, or alternatively as a heart surgeon? Would you let me fix your heart based on my false self-inflicted recognition as a heart surgeon?

These questions are far from being easy to answer. Yet, we shouldn’t stop ourselves from raising them. Like Lenin, I tend to dismiss the Jewish legitimacy of the right to self-determination as a false divisive call. Instead, I would suggest an alternative ethical approach, which I borrowed from Ex MK Azmi Bishara, the Palestinian intellectual who had to run for his life from Israel in spite of being a Parliament member. Bishara moved beyond the one State/ two State debate or the Judeo-centric right to self-determination. He coined a brilliant political notion, namely ‘a State of all its Citizens’. Rather than a State of the Jews, Bishara suggested to make it into a State of the people who dwell in it.

Azmi Bishara is a vigorous intellectual and a well-known critic of the Israeli State. In numerous writings and public appearances, he has maintained that the Israeli State’s self-definition as ‘Jewish and democratic’ is discriminatory. Bishara calls for an Israel that would be a ‘State of all its citizens.’ Bishara has openly pointed to a direct conflict between the Jewish majority and the Palestinian minority over the definition of nationality in Israel. He articulates a trend among the Arab-Palestinian minority that poses a demand for socio-economic and political equality not only in formal law, but in civic citizenship and nationality. It would be right to say that Bishara’s approach is a political exercise in the Palestinian right to self-determination. Consequently, however, it didn’t take long before Bishara had to run for his life and search for a shelter out of Israel.

As we have seen, the right to self-determination is a luxurious approach at conservation of power. It is not going to be celebrated by any group but those who are already rich, strong and privileged. Zionists can boast all these qualities, as well as possessing the necessary power and military might to maintain their ‘right to self-determination’. However, given the reality on the ground, instead of demanding some rhetorical rights, we should fight for the Palestinian and Arab right to rebel against the Jewish State and against global Zionist imperialism. Instead of wasting our time on rhetorical fantasies and academic exchange, we better expose Jewish tribal politics and praxis. To support Palestine is to be courageous enough to say what we think and to admit what we see.

Gilad Atzmon, now living in London, was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of The Wandering Who and Being in Time and is one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached via his website. Read other articles by Gilad, or visit Gilad's website.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Chandi Sinnathurai said on March 20th, 2008 at 4:16am #

    One state. Two state. State of all its citizens. SELF-determination. The latter principle, universal or local in its application, it seem to be the vaguest even in the UN documents – perhaps for a reason. What Atzmon points out here is crucial: “right to self-determination can be celebrated only by the privileged who can mobilize enough political power or military might to make this right into a practical reality.” In the Palestinian struggle against the Jewish state, and the “Counter-terror” measures, how far one must evoke the principle of self-determination ‘at the expense of others’. What is the solution?

  2. sk said on March 20th, 2008 at 9:13am #

    It’s funny how the transposition of a single word in literature of the ‘legendary’ ‘ultra-leftist’ Matzpen can turn it into a Neocon screed. Apropos how ‘both Neocons and Matzpen know what liberation may mean for Arabs’ (Bolshevism for the former and shopping malls for the latter) Amitava Kumar commented on this phenomenon in a book review:

    For some members of the radical left, particularly in the West, people in developing countries are an ideological abstraction, on whom fantasies of liberation are projected from a comfortable distance. These fantasies are not infrequently laced with condescension.

    Notions of left and right dissolve in the teleological determinism–or ‘motor of world history’ philosophy–whose mysteries these ‘cosmopolitan’ ‘atheist’ ‘intellectuals’ from their vantage position in the ‘vanguard’ have discerned.

    To force oppressed peoples of the Third World into the Procrustean bed of their ideology (‘smelly orthodoxy’ as Orwell called it), these ‘secular humanists’ will prove themselves second to none in bloody-mindedness when they get half the chance. If they don’t get a chance, they’ll carry on their gatekeeper function in agitprop, keeping the possibility of meaningful dialog low and forcing their cant-ridden ideological worldview into any debate at the first opportunity.

  3. sk said on March 20th, 2008 at 9:22am #

    Oops, a telling mistake in last post where I confused the Neocons with the Matzpen in their respective ideological predilection–Shopping Malls for Matzpen and Bolshevism for Neocons. Only that ideological error, and a little formatting error, are corrected below in this repost:

    It’s funny how the transposition of a single word in literature of the ‘legendary’ ‘ultra-leftist’ Matzpen can turn it into a Neocon screed. Apropos how ‘both Neocons and Matzpen know what liberation may mean for Arabs’ (Shopping Malls for the former and Bolshevism for the latter) Amitava Kumar commented on this phenomenon in a book review:

    For some members of the radical left, particularly in the West, people in developing countries are an ideological abstraction, on whom fantasies of liberation are projected from a comfortable distance. These fantasies are not infrequently laced with condescension.

    Notions of left and right dissolve in the teleological determinism–or ‘motor of world history’ philosophy–whose mysteries these ‘cosmopolitan’ ‘atheist’ ‘intellectuals’ from their vantage position in the ‘vanguard’ have discerned.

    To force oppressed peoples of the Third World into the Procrustean bed of their ideology (‘smelly orthodoxy’ as Orwell called it), these ‘secular humanists’ will prove themselves second to none in bloody-mindedness when they get half the chance. If they don’t get a chance, they’ll carry on their gatekeeper function in agitprop, keeping the possibility of meaningful dialog low and forcing their cant-ridden self-serving ideological worldview into any debate at the first opportunity.

  4. Arch Stanton said on March 20th, 2008 at 2:17pm #

    “Instead of wasting our time on rhetorical fantasies and academic exchange, we better expose Jewish tribal politics and praxis.”

    I concur with the first part, but as to the second, so what? Israeli “tribal politics and praxis” have already been exposed, repeatedly. The fact is, that without massive US support Israel would be forced to negotiate immediately and sincerely, giving “the right to self-determination” a whole new meaning in that area of the world. On the other hand, the US and Zionist hierarchy would probably rather see the entire earth become a hollow smoking crater than give up their illicit strangle hold on the resources of the region. Hillary Clinton isn’t the only one with her hand in the monkey trap.

  5. hp said on March 20th, 2008 at 2:38pm #

    Don’t forget the most important territory of all.
    The fairy tale land of our very own ZOG.
    In the last twenty five years, they’ve done a bang up job of turning those three letters into the equivilent of UFO.
    Let the joking begin..

  6. LanceThruster said on March 21st, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    Auther Joseph Heller once remarked, “Catch-22 means people have the right to do to you anything that you cannot prevent them from doing to you.”

    Thanks for another excellent piece, Gilad.

  7. Giorgio said on March 21st, 2008 at 4:49pm #

    With all due respect for Gilad Atzmon’s intellect, which I greatly admire and respect, and after reading his long exposé of the Zionist’s contorted logic for their millennial longing for a solution to their “right to self-determination” at the expense of someone else’s rights, here is what I proposed in another context which, in my view , is far simpler to achieve.

    It is now crystal clear to me that NO honourable solution to this Israeli-Palestinian conflict is possible. Anything that Israel puts on the table is just crumbs and stale leftovers for the Palestinians to take it and lump it! Therefore I see only two scenarios that can be played out which can give both the Israelis and Palestinians viable, honourable and independent States.

    1: The Worst-Case Scenario

    I would strongly recommend that the Palestinians give up their suicide bombing frenzy, which leads nowhere other than further punishment, misery and land grabbing by the State of Israel. This only provides the Israelis with the opportunity to cry out “foul” and play up the “victim syndrome” which for the last 60 years they have developed to a fine art.

    Adopt the Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha approach.

    The Palestinians strength is not guns, bombs or missiles. It is its own people, and large numbers of them, reinforced by their determination. Now just imagine a well organised, drilled, multitude (half a million, 1 million, 2 million…10 million, even!) of men, women, children, young and old, armed only with their teeth, hands and fists, moving as a mighty wave, a human tsunami, into different and separate points of the Israeli’s occupied territories to reclaim their stolen land.
    The very thought of it would scare the shits out of the Zionists. It could turn into a bloodbath, for the Israelis won’t hesitate to shoot and kill the defenceless. But by their sheer strength of numbers: the children scratching the Israeli’s faces and biting off their ears; the women spitting on their faces and with their nails gouge their eyes out, and the men with their bare fists ripping off their gut inside out; this, eventually but surely, would force the Israelis to eat humble pie, and bite the dust!
    For the Israelis, this is the bad, bad, bad news.


    2: The Best-Case Scenario

    If I remember correctly, it was round about the time when the former League of Nations was created, or just prior to the Balfour Declaration, that the idea was bandied about to allocate to the Jews a National Home. Regions that were mentioned were Angola ( or part of it), Kenya and some others. Of course nothing came out of it. I use this as my starting point for what I suggest next. With this precedent in mind and now that the US and Israel are in such good and friendly terms (an historical peak!) it would not be outrageous for the US government to offer the Israelis a new Homeland in one of its vast deserts, compatible in size, climate and terrain to that of present Israel.
    They would move en masse, lock, stock and barrel there. They wouldn’t even need a Moses to split asunder the waters of the Atlantic Ocean for them to make the long journey on foot to America. They would fly comfortably over, Jumbo jet, courtesy the American tax-payer.
    Wasn’t the old London Bridge dismantled, shipped across and reassembled somewhere in America? So could also the Wailing Wall and all the sacred sites revered by the Jews, be carved out and shipped in containers and reassembled in their new home. There! A NEW ISRAEL, plonk in the middle of America, a fully independent nation, just like Switzerland is in the middle of Europe, too.
    Now, securely surrounded by friendly states, the Israelis would then be able to devote all their energies praying at the Wailing Wall, until they’re blue in the faces, for the coming of their Messiah, who is not likely to come round in such a hurry, since they missed out badly on that other One, 2000 years ago.

    Though, it may appear I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek, it is a scenario well worth considering, and sooner rather than later. Israel may be today America’s darling but there is no guarantee that it will be so 10/20 years down the road. This window of opportunity is wide open today, but just as quickly can be slammed shut tomorrow. By then, Americans may get so fed up with Israel’s antics in the Middle East, costing them lives and billions of dollars in Aid, and in the end reaping solely the opprobrium of the rest of the world. Then the Israelis will be left “frying” on their own where they are now, and for a long, long time.

    Wouldn’t this be wonderful?
    The Jews would be happy, the Americans would be happy, the Palestinians would be even happier, and the rest of the World would just sing, dance and rejoice!

  8. Shabnam said on March 22nd, 2008 at 5:15pm #

    Mr. Atzmon:
    This is an excellent and important paper discussing an issue which is used by both the left and the right, to implement hidden agenda to expand their power.
    Mr. Atzmon writes:
    “[The] right to self-determination can be celebrated only by the privileged who can mobilize enough political power or military might to make this right into a practical reality.”
    This is absolutely true. Today, the hidden agenda of the empire lies behind the phony “war on terror” slogan, to give them the power to invade and place one against the others to divide Muslim countries to reward those new “allies” who have cooperated with them and therefore calling for the partition of Iraq along ethnic and religious lines.
    Some of the left in Iran, who are dominated by Trotskyite agenda, have criticized Komoleh (Kurdish fighters) and other Kurdish communists who have changed the course and is cooperating with Mossad and state department for abandoning “universality” concept.
    Iran is an ancient country with over 5 thousand of civilization consists of many ethnic groups. Since the revolution and especially after the Zionist administration in the US, the Clinton, Iran like Iraq became a targeted country for break up by Israel to eliminate strong states in the region to help her agenda, “the greater Israel” which I think goes from Mauritania to Afghanistan, working among different ethnic groups, providing military training and using opportunist individuals to act on her behalf as “leaders” to work among worker, women, students to internationalize their grievances which has strong economic component because Iran is subjected to illegal sanction imposed on Iran by resolution after resolution enforced by the Zionists under Clinton; the most Zionist administration, against Iran to force Iran toward destabilization and future partition. The same policy applied to Iraq as well. You write:
    “The right to self-determination is often cited as the acknowledgment that “all peoples have the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
    These lines do not explain the limitation and restriction of the concept. This lines are written to be used against those states consider obstacle
    for the expansion of influence of the dominant power who are holding all the cards, including the “veto power.” The “self determination” rhetoric is going to violate the right of a sovereign nation in the process in order to establish a tribe favorable to particular power.
    The invasion of Iraq is seeking division of Iraq based on “self determination” concept to establish a Kurdish puppet state to benefit Israel and turns north of Iraq into a military base for Zionist and
    Imperialist agenda. Today, Kurds are seen as another “Israel” in the region who are working hand in hand with the enemies of the region and contributing to the enslavement of people of the region by Americans and European settlers known as the Zionists.
    Since World War I the Kurds have placed their trust in the United States to support their bid for nationhood, it provided cover for CIA operations against Iraq. The CIA has been meddling in Iraq with disastrous consequences for over four decades. After working with the corrupt Nuri Said, the USA went after Abdul-Karim Qassem, who eliminated the old British agent Nuri in 1958. Among those whom the CIA recruited to do its dirty work were the Iraqi Baath Party, including Saddam Hussein. The Baath did finally succeed in overthrowing and killing Qassem in 1963. The CIA let the Baath into power and gave them a long list of Communists to be killed. A secret agreement was reached between the CIA and Mulla Mustafa Barzani in August 1969. Barzani had promised to turn oil fields over to the U.S., repeatedly saying that he wanted Kurdistan to be the 51st state.
    American used the Kurds many times for their agenda and then left them to be attacked by Saddam because they had other powerful states under their control, Iran, Turkey and the Arab States. But Israel continued working and relying on Kurds to get information on Saddam by building a hospital in the north of Iraq and put her agents, Mossad, as doctors in charge.
    Kurdistan has come to the attention of the West in the wake of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, in which the U.S. shaped coalition virtually destroyed Iraq and its people, again during Clinton administration. The violation of Iraq sovereignty let to establishment of a “safe haven” for Kurds. This safe haven turned out to be a base for CIA maneuvers against the Iraqi regime, utilizing Kurdish “assets” as a backstop for its destabilizing initiatives in Iraq.
    Doaa El-Bey from Al Ahram has asked the following questions:
    Are the Kurds creating the case of another Kosovo, or could the contiguous Kurdish tribal settlements in four sovereign states follow the example of Jewish settlements in Palestine under the British mandate and stake a claim to a national home for the Kurds with international assistance? Was the US Senate’s non-binding resolution calling for the partition of Iraq along ethnic and religious lines a misguided step or the work of pro-Kurdish lobbyists, particularly from Israel?
    Israel has a strategic interest in breaking up Iraq, the only Arab country that once had serious ambitions of acquiring nuclear technology under Saddam Hussein. Israel bombed out the nascent Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 and is agitating to have the US do the same in Iran. Israel would build a political-military- economic alliance with a semi-independent Kurdistan Regional Government, with oil wealth that would be considerably enhanced by the prospect of taking over Arab Kirkuk and Mosul. This would allow Israel to break out of its isolation as a non- Arab pariah in the Middle East and join hands with another non-Arab entity in a mutually reinforcing alliance. The new Kurdish stronghold would benefit from Israel’s military power and technology, and Washington-backed policies, to build and strengthen other Kurdish minorities in Iran, Syria and Turkey for the ultimate objective of building the independent state of Kurdistan on territories sliced off these countries. Israel would benefit from extended Kurdish family alliances to destabilize its opponents, dominate the Middle East and reshape it in its own interests. That would be the new Middle East the US is hoping for, with Israel hovering over the oil and gas riches of the region.
    Therefore, the concept of “self determination” is at play which is going to destabilize the region for further wars and destruction for decades to come.
    In an interview with an intellectual, the role of Israel, their puppets, Kurds, and internal facilitators for the war, deliberately are not discussed to hide Israel agenda and to protect the interest of Israel. One of the premises of the war is the establishment of a state based on “self determination” concept pushed by the power on behalf of a weak entity to establish allies for herself which demanded violation of a sovereign state to topple Saddam and to kill more than 1.2 million people, to displace over 4.7 Iraqi and to change the map of the region to save an apartheid state.
    Thus, I repeat your question again:
    “We should stand up and ask openly why exactly Jews or anyone else deserves a right to self-determination. Isn’t it true that the right to self-determination always comes at the expense of someone else?”

  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 23rd, 2008 at 11:35am #

    How is it everyone is an expert on international law except lawyers? During October, 2003, I spoke to a radical ex-Stanford Law School Professor friend of mine, regarding organizing some students at Yale Law School (where he was then teaching), to publicize the notion that the Chipmunk’s strike on Iraq was a gross violation of international law. He demurred, saying radicals already had so little influence with the Bush Administration, it would be counter-productive to do as I suggested. I accepted that with a considerable grain of salt, and comforted myself with the thought that Well, International Law is Complicated and Rather Abstruse. The real irony here was that I attended Stanford Law School in the middle sixties, where I took International Law, and the basic position of the Stanford Law professor who taught the course was: “There’s no such thing as International Law, but the UN is useful for participants because it provides a nice atmosphere for them to meet develop mutual interests and understandings.”

    It’s refreshing more than disturbing, however, that everyone including more and more lawyers are lately become experts in international law. And that this law has not changed much, or at all really, regarding pre-emptive aggressions.

    After all, international law IS part of the United States Constitution.

    And MANY of us have at least vague recollections of what that is.

  10. hp said on March 23rd, 2008 at 3:41pm #

    What’s a “radical” these days? Someone who uses Dusseldorf mustard instead of dijon?

  11. Lloyd Rowsey said on March 23rd, 2008 at 7:44pm #

    If I wanted to name a name, hp, I would have. But I make you an offer. You provide your real name, here, now, and I will check it out and if I think it is valid, I will provide the name of my friend who teaches at Yale Law School. Here, then.

    What I said about him, you see, is true. And he is not Gore vidal, a socialist who probably likes mustard at his villa outside Rapallo. Dusseldorf mustard instead of dijon, indeed. You been sniffing it?

    Lloyd Rowsey

  12. hp said on March 23rd, 2008 at 9:20pm #

    The question was what, not who.
    A little satire Lloyd.
    You name dropper, you.

  13. dan e said on March 24th, 2008 at 7:56pm #

    Hehe:) I know who hp is, but I’ll never tell:) no it’s not me in drag, try again.

    Well much as I admire Gilad’s dissection of “the Jewish Ideology”, insights into the psychological Holocaust Syndrome that preceded the historical event itself, etc etc, and much as I’m automatically in sympathy with anybody who plays something like Jazz on the tenor saxophone, I find GA’s take as unsatisfying as I find the limited portion of his saxophonical ouvre to which I’ve so far been exposed.
    I have to admit to being a little spoiled when it comes to tenor players, having spent nine afternoons jamming with Eddie Harris, and several months as Bob Cedar’s designated stooge. I could drop some other names but Bob was the best I ever heard close up, so why go on. Did hear Pres at a cpl JATPs, but from way in the back.
    Well, wait a minit, I forgot that night Hawk was on the bill at the Jazz Workshop, backing up Witherspoon with Freddie Redd’s trio. Oh this is a classic, cant help myself: the Workshop’s policy was no neon sign, just a wooden sign out front hung on a pole straight out above the door, one of those burnt-in-letters kind: Jazz Workshop. That board had little eyehooks on the bottom, to hang the name of the act featured that week. So it started out “Jazz Workshop”, “Jimmy Witherspoon”. Then Hawk was in town, so Art Auerbach the owner put him on the bill too: Jazz Workshop, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ben Webster with the Freddie Redd Trio. There was just room to walk under the F Redd Trio sign, but the drummer Freddie had for the week was Philly Joe Jones, who took exception to all these lightweights like Spoon and Freddie having their names up in burnt mahogany, while Philly Joe was sposta toil in anonymity:) So Philly Joe starts shucken/jiven, carryin on like he’s really upset. & Philly J Jones was nobody you wanted to have getten upset in yr immediate vicinity; he carried an aura of back alley crap games etc? So Art put on another shingle. Customers had to dodge it to get in, but the joint was packed so no biggie.
    So they played, it was HOT. Then took a break; Philly continued to rant & rave down by the bandstand. Most present assumed he was jiven, just putten everbody on, haven some fun. But Spoon took no chances, he staid up by the bar & did his complaining about egotrippers etc from there, at about a mezzoforte. Meanwhile Philly Joe was around triple FFF with an occasional Sfortzando:)
    Next set Armondo Peraza came in, just set his tumbas on the stand & commenced to drive it all to the next level, smiling his ass off:) Rafael Garret was the bassplayer. Nobody ever played better than Ben Webster, as good as maybe but not better. esp the low register.

    Anyway: Self-Determination. Looks like Gilad ain’t never read Joe Stalin’s dissertation on the subject, which is where all intelligent discourse on the topic starts. Surprise, surprise: Unca Joe may have been mean, but he was not as dumb as Lev Bronstein wanted to believe. And wanted everybody else to believe, so help me Victor Navasky:)

    I found Mr Atzmon’s essay tortured. Like he had an idea there but just couldn’t quite catch up to it.


  14. hp said on March 24th, 2008 at 8:37pm #

    dan e,
    I could be Edgar Winter in disguise.
    Seen better tans on a snowman..

  15. dan e said on March 25th, 2008 at 2:49pm #


    who is/was Edgar Winter?

    mil grazie,


  16. hp said on March 25th, 2008 at 3:56pm #

    dan e,
    Edgar is Johnny’s brother, the sax player.
    He won the Playboy jazz poll once or twice in the 70s.
    The early 70s. Incredible singer also.
    They’re both albinos..
    Maybe I should have said Roland Kirk?


  17. dan e said on March 25th, 2008 at 7:36pm #

    Fuck the Playboy “jazz poll”. Don’t mean shit. Don’t mean he wasn’t pretty good, but you seriously put him in a class w/ the 5000lb Man?

    Since we seem to be talking Jewish, ever chckd out Flip Phillips? Lew Tabackin is prty gd, technic-wise Brecker Bros is bad. Greatest Jewish saxoftenist, not a tenor player, IMHO was Serge Chaloff.

    Bob Cedar/Seder was an alcoholic, never practiced, put the horn in the corner for months/yrs at a time, like when he was teaching Math at the High School & tryna be married. But I heard shit come out that bell I never heard before or since. He had Prez cold, ever solo note4note, knew all his tunes front/back/upside down — & if the mood struck him cd out-dolphy Dolphy. He’d say Well I may be fairskint but I aint no honky, I’m a Russian Gypsy Jew & I don’t give a fuck. & he didn’t.

    Hehe- we usta play in Chinatown for the tourists, front the World Trade Center, no not that one, the SF one, just a fancy name on a Chinese business assoc, like the chamber a commerce, out on Grant St. Anyway he’d be playen some ballad, Tis Autumn, Ask Me Now, sthn like that, and he’d be worken my emotions, just gettin so tender, so nostalgic, so sedimental… I’d think I was about to cry or sthn. & he’d take the horn out his mouth & spit onto the concrete, fart, clear his throat-spit again, then go on playing like nothen happened, not miss a beat, right on the change, sweetern Tommy Dorsey.

    We did prty gd on the Touriss, putten ones/fives/casional Andy in the case. But what pleased us was when one them Chinese FOB ladies worken one them sweatshops, din’t spk no Inglese much as Apaloosa knows about Xmas — wd put a quarter in the horncase. We knew somebody had understood, which is all that matters.

  18. hp said on March 25th, 2008 at 8:06pm #

    Dan e,
    you are way out of my league.
    I did have a Rahsaan Roland Kirk album though, that was one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. “Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle.” Roland, who was a Sufi, could breathe in and out at the same time. He could play two saxes at once, a different melody on each. Or a sax and a clarinet, etc. This album started out and Kirk never stops once the entire album. When you turned it over it just continued to the end. An entire album without ever stopping to take a single breath!!!

  19. dan e said on March 26th, 2008 at 5:00pm #

    hp, “breathe in & out” — it’s a standard Woodwind technique, squeeze your cheeks makes air go into mouthpiece while nose inhales, called Circular Breathing. Dunno if its in the Universal Saxophone Method but it’s well known, Coltrane & my ol’ buddy Farrel “Little Rock” Sanders aka “Pharoah” had it down. Good oboe players do it.

    Two saxes: a Stritch and a Manzello. Guess you mist the comment to Lloyd re setten in the 5spot NYC 1965 writing rhetoric for PLP convention @ 3/4AM listening to Rahsaan & Lil Jazz trade sets?

    But I’m a fossil nowadays. Gotta chk out this Pink Martini band, goes from Gypsy to Jimmy Scott to Korean funk?

    “leagues” — hey, I’m just a halfassed wyt jazzpicker, been around the periph long time, by accident acquired some v. good ancecdotes. I had some high spots though, in between disasters. Like coming back from Bremerhaven on the boat with Eddie Harris. the Green room, “passenger lounge” had a piano & an old alto saxophone, plus a jive set of German Band trapdrums, big ol’ bass drum w/ an elk on it:)

    So we played ever afternoon, chess and bebop, trading sets. needless to say he won evertime, both pursuits:) He come out the projects Chi South Side, by twentyone owned hi rise real estate 63rd & Cottage Grove — from being House Piano on “bird” records — you know, like The Ravens, The Crows, The Orioles… doowop grps: 1 6 2 5, straight triplets all the way to the bank:)