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Sep 21

Gilad Atzmon: On Jewish Loyalty

Recognizing Israel as uniquely Jewish is one of the key demands  made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest  talks with the Palestinians. However, Foreign Minister Lieberman took it one step further. He demands all Israelis swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. Liebermann’s campaign slogan is “no loyalty, no citizenship.”

“We can’t continue to ignore issues like that of Hanin Zuabi, who identifies completely with the other side,” Said Lieberman on Sunday. He was referring to an Israeli Arab member of Knesset who was stripped of her parliamentary privileges after sailing aboard the heroic Mavi Marmara, and being witness to the Israeli massacre in high seas.

So here we are : Israel is basically a Western liberal ‘multi cultural’ society where all different ethnicities and minorities are demanded to swear loyalty to the ultimate form of chauvinist  Jewish tribal practice.

Issues to do with loyalty are of the essence within Jewish political discourse. It was the doubt regarding  Dreyfus’ loyalty that transformed Herzl into a Zionist.  It was loyalty to the Jews that made Jonathan Pollard betray the USA.  It was Mordechai Vanunu’s ethical and universal commitment that pushed him away from Jewish loyalty. As we know, he still pays a heavy price for that commitment. As it seems, ‘loyalty to the Jews’ is a crucial demand within the Zionist discourse.

But here we face a clear difficulty. Though it is clear that political Jews demand loyalty, it is far from being clear what this loyalty is.  Neither Liebermann nor anyone else has ever suggested what ‘loyalty to the Jewish state’ stands for. Clearly, no one, not even the Jewish left has ever managed to point to a Jewish universal, moral or ethical value system for there is no such a system.

I guess that Jewish loyalty is an empty signifier: it is a dynamic notion; it changes constantly; it is impossible to pinpoint.  As it happens, Jewish loyalty is removed from any notion of universalism, ethics or integrity. All it means in practice is,  ‘Jews come first’.

In his recent video Max Blumenthal managed to collate a few Jewish morbid youngsters who were enthusiastic to swear loyalty to the Jewish state, its Jewish army and its commanders. Clearly the Goldstone report didn’t make enough waves in Israel or young Zionist circles around the world. One of the American Jewesses was happy to send Palestinians away from her land if they fail to swear an oath to Jewish primacy. Another Jewess admitted that when it comes to loyalty, Israel comes first while her motherland, Canada, comes second.  This obviously raises a question. Political Jews; who are they loyal to?

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