Spitting On Other People’s Prophets Is Not A Western Value

In a BBC interview following the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Jewish Chronicle writer David Aaronovitch advised those who do not approve of ‘freedom of speech’ to ‘move to Pakistan.’ It is not surprising to find a Zionist Jew advocating voluntary cleansing; after all, expulsion is a Jewish nationalist favourite adventure. Judging by Aaronovitch’s endorsement of elementary liberty, I am happy to announce that the appeal for freedom of expression is the immediate and very positive outcome of the disastrous events in Paris.

But I am not convinced that those protesters who call themselves ‘Charlie’ are genuinely advocating the notion of universal freedom. Are they willing to accept Muslim clerics exploring that freedom? And what about Dieudonne challenging the Holocaust religion? And if Israel defines itself as ‘the Jewish State,’ can we, once and for all, put Jewishness under scrutiny? Is Aaronivitch, himself an arch Neocon Zionist and prime advocate of the Iraq War, willing to accept that some may consider the Holocaust an historical chapter, not a religion? This would be a revolutionary shift because Aaronovitch has gone out of his way to silence any discussion of historical revisionism, Jewishness or the powerful Jewish lobby.

Freedom of Speech and the West

The first question is whether Freedom of Speech is a universal western value. The answer is , of course, in the affirmative. Freedom of Speech is embedded in Athenian thought. The idea is well illustrated by Greek orator Demosthenes who states that in ‘Athens one is free to praise the Spartan constitution, whereas in Sparta it is only the Spartan constitution that one is allowed to praise.’ Unlike Athens that stands for pluralism, ethics and a relentless search for the truth: Jerusalem represents the suppression of freedom and a dismissal of ethical and universal thinking. Jerusalem is guided by ‘commandments’ and legalism. The ‘legal’ replaces the ethical mode by setting boundaries to speech.

Such a reading may help us to grasp the role of political correctness within the wider notion of freedom of expression: if freedom was born in Athens, the tyranny of correctness has been imported from Jerusalem and it is, by far, the bitterest enemy of Athens, of freedom and the West.

Political correctness should be understood as a political view that doesn’t allow political opposition. Bizarrely enough, the same definition could be applied to dictatorship. Yet, in reality, political correctness is far more repressive than dictatorship. While dictatorship entails a form of negation between a subject and an authority, political correctness is driven by self-suppression. It is a vicious instrument that defeats authenticity. It teaches you to ‘think before you say,’ instead of simply ‘saying what you think.’

If freedom of speech is an Athenians cultural asset, then correctness is the Guardian; it is a crude attempt to set the boundaries of integrity, ethics and the human experience in general.

Spitting on Crosses, Spitting on Churches and Spitting in General

Charlie Hebdo, as we are learning, wasn’t a publication that specialized in free speech. It was a neocon, philo-Semitic magazine that supported Zionist wars, and was dedicated to otherize minorities and Muslims in particular, while at the same time silencing criticism of Jewish power and the American war machine. Charlie Hebdo went about acting as the Israeli cultural attaché in Paris. At least ideologically, it was the French ‘Guardian of Judea.’ But unlike its ideological sister across the channel, the former was uniquely tasteless and extreme , apparently on a suicidal scale.

Supporters of ‘Charlie’ such as Aaronovitch may rightly argue that if Freedom is a Western value, then spiting on other people’s prophets should also be considered a Western adventure. After all, freedom of speech is the liberty to express whatever crosses your mind.

Aaronivitch and the Charlies are wrong on this point. While tolerance and loving one’s neighbor are embedded within the Western Christian ethos, spitting on the cross, spitting on churches and spitting in general are not necessarily Western values. They are, once again, a product of Jerusalem.

Crucifix in Prague erected as punishment for Jewish desecration

In 2009, the Jerusalem Post published an exposé of the growing tendency of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem to spit on their Christian neighbours. ((‘Mouths Filled with Hatred’, Larry Derfner, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2009.)) Israel Shahak also commented on Jewish hatred of Christianity and its symbols, suggesting, “Dishonouring Christian religious symbols is an old religious duty in Judaism.” According to Shahak, “spitting on the cross, and especially on the Crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, have been obligatory from around AD 200 for pious Jews.”

Interestingly, Jewish spitting has had an impact on the urban landscape of Europe. The following can be read in a Travel Guide for Jewish Europe:

In Prague’s Charles Bridge, the visitor will observe a great crucifix surrounded by huge gilded Hebrew letters that spell the traditional Hebrew sanctification Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tzvaot, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.” According to various commentators, this piece, degrading to Jews, came about because in 1609 a Jew was accused of desecrating the crucifix. The Jewish community was forced to pay for putting up the Hebrew words in gold letters. Another explanation is that a Jew spat at the cross and for this he was to be put to death as a punishment. When this man begged for his life, the king, seeking to have good relations with the Jews, said the Jewish community had to rectify the offence….” ((To read more: Travel Guide for Jewish Europe, p. 497.))

In fact, physical spitting is not the problem here. Spiting is just a symptom of a deeply imbued cultural categorical dismissal of ‘otherness.’ Tragically, the same can be said about Charlie Hebdo. A quick glance at the magazine covers reveals a disgraceful disregard and disrespect to otherness, minorities and Muslims in particular. Charlie Hebdo is a symptom of the Jerusalemisation of the French liberal and the new left.

Though the first reaction to the massacre in Paris was a worldwide editorial vow to republish Hebdo’s cartoons, it took less than 36 hours for Western editorial writers to change their minds; in fact hardly anyone published this Zionist dirt. Though some editorials argued that such publication would put their personnel at risk, it is more likely that no one actually saw Hebdo’s cartoon fit for publication. And this is exactly the Athenian answer to Jerusalem. It is our ethical judgment that prevents us from spitting on other people and their prophets. It is ethical judgment that sustains Western tolerance as opposed to political correctness that creates the illusion of tolerance yet kills the ability to tolerate.

Joe Sacco, The Guardian Of Athens

Guardian cartoonist Joe Sacco expresses this form of moral awakening very well. As opposed to the Jerusalemite Aaronovitch, the Athenian Sacco ends his post-Charlie Hebdo massacre comic strip with a desperate call for reconciliation. Let us at least try to fit into each other’s world, Sacco suggests.

Last panel in Joe Sacco’s cartoon about Charlie Hebdo

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is a devastating alert to all of us. The choice between Athens and Jerusalem is long overdue. The choice is between the universalism of Sacco and the banal tribal exclusivism of Charlie David Hebdo Aaronovitch.

Instead of preaching to us about Western values and freedom it is about time the Aaronivitches and the Charlies understand the true meaning of the ‘Western ideal’ and its cultural foundations. Christian tolerance fuelled by Athenian polytheist universal pluralism is the heart of western thought. Western ideal is the love of beauty, the polis, the civil, the ethical, harmony; it is the rejection of zealotry and the Judeo-centric binarism. Instead of spitting on other prophets we have to learn to cherish other’s Gods, even the Jewish one, and to expect others to do the same.

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.