George Salzman <email@example.com>
initial posting 03 June 2007 - updated 29 Sept 2011
A peaceful, completely humane resolution of the Palestinian
Almost four years and four months ago I tried to make the case for so-called Jews, of which I am one, being genetically not in any significant way different from other human beings. At that time I was writing to my “adversaries” Norman G. Finkelstein, the friendly one, and Alan Dershowitz, the despised one. My tract then, almost exactly as I first wrote it, is as follows:
A long-time friend recently wrote me
(25 April 2007) “I am glad that I was born Jewish, I’m known as a Jew, and I’m known for supporting justice and opposing injustice. I don’t like to see Jews acting below their heritage, exploiting people, the environment, social and political systems, no matter if they’re a professor, CEO, plant manager, farmer or diplomat.”
Then I got in the mail (on 3 May) an article headlined “Promoting Hate: California Professor is Font of Anti-Semitism”, about a so-called evolutionary psychiatrist who believes Jews are genetically programmed to cause the destruction of Western Civilization.  As a devoted ‘enemy’ of the dominant culture of death and destruction misnamed ‘Western Civilization’, which I hope we can replace with a true civilization, I was intrigued enough to read it.
My friend had been noticeably unhappy at my strongly condemnatory position towards the State of Israel, and my unequivocally aligning myself with Norman G. Finkelstein’s assessment of the realitiy of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and hence my unambiguous view of where justice lay.  In a note to my friend, I responded briefly, “no one is ‘born Jewish’ or Irish or Russian or Gypsy.  Religion and nationality are part of cultural ethnicities with which a child, pure and pristine at birth, is clothed – perhaps ‘smothered’ is a more accurate verb. No one is ‘inherently’ Jewish or Catholic or . . . ” There’s nothing profound about this. It’s just true, and perfectly obvious when you think about it. Human beings are no more born with a given ethnicity than with other cultural traits. In an earlier essay I took as an example a different cultural trait, lying. 
You’ve probably heard it said, about someone who apparently lies effortlessly, that so-and-so is a ‘born liar’, as though it was a particular genetic attribute rather than something that had to be learned. Of course that’s not so. No one is born a liar. Clearly, from the very beginning of its life an infant is embarked on a miraculous search for understanding — everything — a search to comprehend the world of which it rapidly gains consciousness. Long before it can verbalize, long before it can decipher the sounds of speech, it discovers, much to the pleasure of adults, that it can smile and that its smile invariably elicits smiles in return, and human warmth. And it learns to cry. You have only to watch a small baby held by a parent or other familiar person if its eyes suddenly discover you in its field of view. With its eyes rivetted upon you, the intense, unabashed scrutiny to which you are subjected is one of total curiosity, a focused effort to understand you. The child tries to fit you into its perception of the universe. Clearly, at this stage, a small child is nothing if not totally open, totally honest.
I went on, in that essay, to explore why people learned to lie. Again, nothing profound, pretty obvious when you give it a moment’s thought. Like all social behavior, whether it be stealing, lying, self-identifying with a particular ethnic group, whatever, none of it is an expression of genetic determination, but a result of cultural assimilation. From that first moment of birth the new person-to-be is inescapably immersed in an entire complex cultural milieu. There are of course genetic variations among different population groups, the results of evolutionary changes, but these have nothing to do with social behavior. The hocus-pocus promoted by some so-called evolutionary psychologists, for example that Jews are genetically driven to be destroyers of so-called Western Civilization has about as much intellectual traction as, for example, the equally absurd notion that ‘white people’ are genetically predisposed to favor capitalism.
trying to hide Israel’s crimes?
Initially, as mentioned in , I learned of the Jewish American Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz trying to have Norman G. Finkelstein fired, probably with the vain hope that his voice would thereby be somewhat silenced. Soon afterwards friends pointed out that it wasn’t just Dershowitz but an entire (primarily Jewish) Zionist infrastructure that was gunning for Finkelstein, in an effort to hide the truth of Israel’s insufferable actions towards the Palestinians. Why is it that many so-called mainstream Jewish American organizations are fiercely committed to the State of Israel? Once we set aside the self-promotional fairy tales of evolutionary psychiatrists that attribute social behavior of particular ethnic groups to their supposed genetic uniqueness (Swiss as makers of precision watches and fine chocolates, and so on) then we must look to the historic specificity of each ethnic group.
Each particular ethnic group has had every aspect of its social behavior shaped by its unique historical experience. That of the Jewish peoples was greatly determined by Christianity. Raul Hilberg marks the beginning of (state mandated) anti-Jewish policy to early in the fourth century,  following the Emperor Constantine’s adoption of Christianity and his decision to make it the state religion. “Unlike the pre-Christian Romans, who claimed no monopoly on religion and faith, the Christian Church insisted on acceptance of Christian Doctrine.” From the early fourth century “the state carried out Church Policy. For the next twelve centuries, the Catholic Church prescribed the measures that were to be taken with respect to the Jews.”
Hilberg places the heart of the conflict, I think correctly, in religious dogma. The view of the early Christians “was changed abruptly when Christ was elevated to Godhood. The Jews have only one God. This God is indivisible. He is a jealous God and admits of no other gods. He is not Christ, and Christ is not He. Christianity and Judaism have since been irreconcilable.” Though Rome prohibited forceful conversions, gradually the Jews, the vast majority of whom rejected conversion, were prevented from participating in social activities and thereby separated from the population at large. Intermarriage was forbidden. Jews were barred from public office. Discussion of religious questions was forbidden.
The twelve-century long effort to convert the Jews from their dogma to Catholic dogma failed. “The unsuccessful church”, writes Hilberg, “began to look on the Jews as a special group of people, different from Christians, deaf to Christianity, and dangerous to the Christian faith.” Martin Luther, writing in 1542, just four years before his death, was bitterly convinced of the impossible blindness and lack of common sense that prevented Jews from accepting the true God. “The Lutheran manuscript was published at a time of increasing hatred for the Jew. Too much had been invested in twelve hundred years of conversion policy. Too little had been gained. From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, the Jews of England, France, Germany, Spain, Bohemia, and Italy were presented with ultimatums that gave them no choice but one: conversion or expulsion.”
In the twelve years 1933 to 1945 the Nazi government managed the slaughter, according to Hilberg, of five million European Jews. As he emphasizes, “The Nazi destruction process did not come out of a void; it was the culmination of a cyclical trend. We have observed the trend in the three successive goals of anti-Jewish administrators. The missionaries of Christianity had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The Nazis at last decreed: You have no right to live.”
No sane and informed person can fail to be revulsed at the terrible carnage visited upon those millions of ordinary people. This includes of course the bulk of those Americans who identify ourselves as Jews, whether or not we believe in Jewish religious dogma. Call it tribal identity, ethnic identity, whatever. There’s a particular sensitivity to the realization that people not all that different from us could be methodically swept up and murdered. If them, why not other Jews? I believe there is this innate fear among many American Jews that the State of Israel is the only shield protecting Israeli Jews from possible extermination, and that therefore, no matter what Israel does must be accepted and legitimized. Since Israel’s military, financial and diplomatic dependence on the United States is essential for continuing its current course, that support must in their view be maintained at all costs. I believe this is why the American Jewish mafia strives to hide Israel’s crimes.
Nothing cripples the human mind so effectively as giving oneself over to acceptance of dogma. If we forego the practice of questioning many things we lose an essential characteristic of what makes us human. Children display their humanity continually with their endless, totally natural questioning. We all want to understand, to know. But the process, if it is to be more than superficial, has to involve our own judgments. We need to question whether what we are told, even if by a supposed authority, makes sense. Is it consistent with other things we know? In brief, we must keep testing, keep searching for information that is trustworthy, that is reliable, a search that never ends. We must engage in critical thinking.
It’s well to remember that during the twelve-century span from Alexander’s conversion to Catholicism until Luther’s exasperation with what he regarded as the Jews’ blind dogmatism, the driving force that socially constructed the Jews as a distinct (and despicable) human group was religious dogma pure and simple. By denying Jews the possibility of living in the same ways professed Christians could, they gradually were forced into modes of social behavior that served to set them apart from the general population. They increasingly were seen as different, not just in behavior but inherently. This mistaken belief occurred both among Gentiles and Jews. The belief itself became a widely accepted article of faith, a dogma, which still has enormous and disastrous effects.
A basic part of Zionist dogma is the belief that Jews and Arabs are inherently different, not just culturally but in effect irrevocably separated into distinct population groups as though they are genetically disparate. Jews were so regarded by the Nazi dogma that dominated the thinking of many Germans. The terrible consequence of this dogma is that it makes possible the dehumanization of ‘the other’ in the eyes of the dominant group. And once dehumanized the weaker group can be slaughtered without compassion, in fact with a sense of satisfied cleansing by the murderers. So it was with the Indians in the eyes and actions of the settlers of the Americas, with the Jews in the consciences and behavior of the Nazis, and now with the Palestinians as seen and treated by the Jewish majority in Israel-Palestine.
Another deadly dogma is the widely held belief that security is to be found only within the framework of a national state. The Zionists’ belief that Jews are irreducibly different from other peoples and their historical experience of centuries of anti-semitism in European Christian nations led them to seek security in a Jewish nation state, specifically, a nation state with a dominant Jewish majority. As I see it, that is the genesis of Israel’s drive for ethnic cleansing. [5.1]
Jews who are trapped in these two dogmatic beliefs – 1) the essential difference of Jews from other people, and 2) the necessity of citizenship in a nation-state to live in security – can imagine no acceptable alternative for Israeli Jews but an Israeli state that is overwhelmingly Jewish. This dogma, integral to Zionism, shapes the thoughts of almost the entire Israeli political spectrum, from the extreme right-wing to the moderate left. It underlies, for example, the commitment of some of the most humane Jewish Israelis, such as Uri Avnery, to the so-called Two-State Solution. Avnery criticizes those who call for a One-State Solution.  He wrote, “I listened to a lecture by Professor Ilan Pappe of Haifa University, one of the leading spokesmen for this idea . . . These were the principles: There is no sense in opposing just the occupation, nor any other particular policy of the Israeli government. The problem is the very essence of Israel as a Zionist state. This essence is unchangeable as long as the state exists . . . [I]n Israel there is no essential difference between Right and Left. Both are accomplices in a policy whose real aim is ethnic cleansing, the expulsion of the Palestinians not only from the occupied territories, but also from Israel proper.”
Avnery, in substantial (though only partial) agreement, states, “There is no doubt that the real disease is not the 40-year long occupation. The occupation is a symptom of a more profound disease, which is connected with the official ideology of the state. The aim of ethnic cleansing and the establishment of a Jewish State from the sea to the river is dear to the hearts of many Israelis, and perhaps Rabbi Meir Kahane was right when he asserted that this is everybody's unspoken desire (emphasis added).” However, a little later Avnery reinforces what I believe is the truth, that ‘adequate ethnic cleansing’ of Israel is not only ‘official ideology of the state’, but is culturally embedded in the Jewish Israelis, when he writes, “There is no doubt that 99.99% of Jewish Israelis want the State of Israel to exist as a state with a robust Jewish majority, whatever its borders.” My guess is that Avnery places himself in that 99.99%, and that the remaining 0.01% consists, in his mind, of Ilan Pappe and a few other misguided utopian individuals. In the final paragraph of his article, Avnery, speaking of “the great majority of Israelis”, says, “They are shackled by the beliefs they acquired in early childhood. They must be freed from them — and I believe that it can be done.” Avnery too is shackled, as are many Jews (and others), by dogmas 1) and 2) of the preceding paragraph.
tongs’ approach shake Israeli dogma?
The conflict — no, disagreement is the right word — between those in the Israeli peace groups that advocate a so-called two-state solution, the camp to which Uri Avnery belongs, and those who argue for a so-called one-state solution, as called for by Ilan Pappe, is over how to end the oppression of the Palestinians and build a healthy society in the ancient land of Palestine. They agree that the overwhelmingly dominant dogma of the Israeli Jews is virulently anti-Palestinian. Avnery says he believes they can be freed from “the beliefs they acquired in early childhood.” Pappe is convinced it will not happen from within Israeli society. He supports a world-wide boycott to force a change of consciousness, and behavior, among Jewish Israelis. I think Pappe is correct in seeing the need for pressure from outside Israel.
However, even a world-wide boycott, if it did not include the United States, would be inadequate to force change, because, indisputably, Israel can act as it does solely by virtue of the military, financial and political support of the United States. Thus, if indeed outside pressure is necessary to change Israeli policy, that immediately calls attention to the role of the United States and of so-called organized mainstream American Jewry, what I’ve referred to (in my 22 April 2007 paper http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-22.htm) as the U.S.-based Jewish Mafia with its ‘Israel Über Alles’ commitment. There has been considerable discussion about whether this Jewish Mafia has exercised a good deal of control over American foreign policy in the Middle East, as Mearsheimer and Walt maintain,  or whether it has aligned itself with the overall geopolitical interests of the United States, which largely dovetail with those of the government of Israel, as Joseph Massad argues convincingly. 
Norman G. Finkelstein, one of the most effective researchers in exposing the manufacture of propaganda in defense of Israeli policy, also argues that the Israel Lobby is far less important than the major geopolitical interests of the United States.  He says, “[G]iving primacy to either the Israel Lobby or to U.S. strategic interests — isn’t, in my opinion, very useful. Apart from the Israel-Palestine conflict, fundamental U.S. policy in the Middle East hasn’t been affected by the Lobby.” He concludes, “[A] crucial dimension of this debate should be the extent to which the Lobby stifles free and open public discussion on the subject. For in terms of trying to broaden public discussion here on the Israel-Palestine conflict the Lobby makes a huge and baneful difference. Especially since U.S. elites have no entrenched interest in the Israeli occupation, the mobilization of public opinion can have a real impact on policy-making — which is why the Lobby invests so much energy in suppressing discussion.”
I agree with Ilan Pappe, and thus support efforts to develop a world-wide blockade of Israel. To be succesful I think it must be nearly world-wide, in particular it must include the United States. But a change of U.S. policy will not happen readily, because most U.S. elites – Jews and non-Jews – are pleased with their personal benefits derived from the current policy, and are not about to give up the status quo. Some of them may prefer ‘better management’ of the empire by Democrats, but are not for abandonment of the goal – universal rule by the U.S. on their behalf. In order to initiate real change in U.S. mideast policy, along with an end to backing Israeli aggression, I think massive popular opposition would be needed, an unlikely development unless the level of economic hardships suffered by the American people became unbearable.
In the absence of unsupportable hardships, the bulk of the American people are kept compliant with national policy by the massive propaganda machinery of the media and the state and by the terror tactics of the government against those in open opposition. Just as Pappe believes external pressure on Israel is necessary to force a change of that government’s policy, I believe external pressure on the United States is required to force a change in this government’s policy, as I wrote previously.  Though it’s more than four and a half years since my appeal for using a ‘hammer and tongs’ approach on the U.S., and enormous damage has been done to our world since, the idea still is worth trying to implement. A successful application of force to the United States would, as one consequence, also force the Israeli government to give up its policy of conquest of the Palestinians. But the impact of a U.S. abandonment of its effort to dominate the world would also have many other desirable results. Anti-democratic regimes that now support the U.S. would lose U.S. backing and popular struggles would be strengthened by a lessening of oppressive actions by their governments.
have suffered the most”
American Jews are not an ethnic group that can legitimately lay claim to have suffered more than any other groups. I believe it is likely true, as historian Jon Wiener, in a very provocative review of The Holocaust in American Life,  notes, “Despite the fact that after World War II Jews became the best-educated, most politically effective and wealthiest ethnic group in American society, official Judaism since the seventies has increasingly drawn on the Holocaust to portray Jews as victims, pitting them against other groups seeking redress — especially through affirmative action — for their own victimization” (emphasis added). Peter Novick, whose book Wiener reviewed, maintained that “the Holocaust”, as it exists in American consciousness, “was constructed twenty-five years after the war in a way that would not have been recognizable to Jews or gentiles in 1945.”
Jon Wiener’s review, titled appropriately by The Nation ‘Holocaust Creationism’, casts a good deal of light on the underlying motivation of the current campaign by the American Jewish Mafia to make sure Norman Finkelstein is fired (denied tenure) at De Paul University. As one of the most effective writers and speakers to expose the lies and mythology on which much of the American public’s sympathy and support for ‘poor little Israel’ is based, he is much more damaging to the Jewish Mafia than simply a thorn in the side. The notion that the (Jewish) Holocaust, an indisputable historical event, is absolutely incomparable to any other mass slaughter, had to be constructed. It had never before occurred to me either that this was a construction or that it did not take place until a quarter century after the end of World War II, a period I lived through. What Novick  and Wiener write accords with my own experience. I do not know whether my perception gradually changed during that period. If so, I certainly did not realize that it was the result of deliberate propaganda efforts. Wiener writes