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Interview with Israel Shamir

Kim Petersen


May 1, 2006

Israel Shamir is a prominent and controversial Russian-Israeli thinker, writer, and translator who lives in Jaffa. Shamir brings to his political writing a refreshing candor, sharp insight, and inspiring humanity. His principled stand supporting the Palestinian refugees’ right of return and the rebuilding of their destroyed villages led to his firing from the “progressive” Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Following Israeli attacks on Palestinians in January 2001, Shamir became dedicated to political writings in English.


For the intellectual Karl Marx, the Jewish question was an “unreal subject.” Marx was baptized a Lutheran and married to a gentile.


Shamir has renounced Judaism and embraced Christianity.


He is a strong proponent of the “One Man, One Vote, One State” solution for a united Israel-Palestine.


I interviewed the unflinching maverick writer Israel Shamir.


Kim Petersen: You wrote recently that the historian David Irving, who the corporate media reports as being sentenced for holocaust denial, was sentenced for denial of “Jewish superiority.” Could you elaborate on this and what holocaust denial means for you?


Israel Shamir: I wrote about it, in “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” and in the “Vampire Killers,” at length. No free man can agree with the proposition that Jewish death (and life) is more important than that of a goy. But the ban of Holocaust revisionism is the only legally enforced prohibition in our society. The Armenians were envious of this elevated status of Jews, and actually succeeded to protect their tragedy of 1915 by a similar law in France. The result was tragicomic. They brought an important Jewish historian (and warmonger of first degree) Bernard Lewis to the court of Paris, and he was found guilty of denying their tragedy, just like David Irving. But David Irving has got three years in jail, and now his name is always preceded with the title “discredited” (see an interview with him in the Observer), while Bernard Lewis was fined one franc and he still appears everywhere, and his name graces various petitions. He was not discredited, but the Armenians were. Apparently, Jewish blood is redder than Armenian, not to mention lesser species. I quoted an article by a Jewish American historian denying the genocide of the native Americans. He was not discredited, either. The scourge of Irving, Debora Lipstadt, denied the fiery holocaust of Dresden, and was not discredited, either. Face it, Kim: the very concept of H is a concept of Jewish superiority.


This has an important religious meaning: Christianity is the denial of Jewish superiority. Whoever believes or accepts Jewish superiority, denies Christ for He made us equal. The French Jewish filmmaker Claude Lanzman, the creator of “Shoah,” said: if you believe in holocaust, you can’t believe in Christ. I am ready to take his challenge: I believe in Christ. We can rephrase the words of Lanzman: belief in a special historical meaning of death of Jews is a sign of apostasy. Indeed, the creed of holocaust competes with the Church: we believe that Christ suffered for us and came back to life. The H believers believe that the Jewish people suffered and came back by creating the Jewish state. In this competition, the Jews win: as opposed to H, you can deny Crucifixion and Resurrection and your career won’t suffer a bit.


Thus the question of H denial is the question of apostasy: will our society stand on the rock planted by Christ, or will it worship the Jewish state. This is an important discovery of eternal religiosity of human spirit: the attempt to create a secular society did not work out. After an illusionary short break, the gods came back.


KP: Is it appropriate to use such loaded terms as "goy"? 


IS: Well, I am not aware this is a loaded term. I translated some Hebrew books, from Samuel Yosef Agnon, the only Hebrew Nobel Prize winner, to the Book of Lineage by Rabbi Zacuto, a 15th century Judaeo-Iberian sage, my most recent translation into English. They all used “goy” and so do Israeli newspapers. The word "goy" has a meaning: this is a non-Jew as seen by Jews. If you think it is not a complimentary term, you mean that in your view Jews look with distaste at a goy. Maybe. But we should deal with problems, not with words. Dealing with words is easier, but brings no relief. If we were to use 'gentile', would it change the Jewish attitude to one? This is also a sign of weakness. When (in 19th century) Jews felt weak, they liked to be called Israelites, or Hebrews. Now they do not mind being called "Jews."


KP: You have described the US as a “greater Jewish state.” You laud Jeffrey Blankfort as having taken “an important next step” in rejecting the views of Noam Chomsky and others. Is the influence of the “Jewish lobby” preponderant over US corporate imperialism?


IS: I wrote about it in “A Yiddishe Medina.” The US corporate imperialism is not a bodiless spirit; it is the sum of desires and actions by the US elites. And the US elites are Jewish, to great extent, and they have accepted Jewish values and ideas, to even greater extent. A few years ago, an American Jewish writer Philip Weiss wrote in the New York Observer: “I don’t claim to know how Jewish the membership of the establishment is. Twenty percent, 50 percent? I’m guessing 30.”  Jews compose at least 30% of Harvard students, reported The Forward, a Jewish American newspaper. The Hillel Society gives such numbers: Total Undergraduate Population: 6658; Jewish Undergraduate Population: 2000 (approx.); Total Graduate Population: 10351 Jewish Graduate Population: 2500 (approx.). Thus the US elites are Jewish to a great extent, in the ordinary meaning of the word. As for spirit, Karl Marx spoke of “Jewish spirit” of the Yankees. A less known Marxist, Sombart, wrote about it at length. Thus in my view it is a mistake to speak of “Jewish Lobby” -- we may refer to a takeover, a displacement of the old WASP elites. The Jews constitute some three percent of the US population. The Brits took over India with much less percentage; so did the ruling minority in Syria. Normans ruled over Britain for centuries with less than that. All Russian nobility in the Tsar’s days was 2-3% of the population, while upper castes of Hindu societies constitute some 5% at most. Now, the Jews are well integrated in the “US corporate imperialism” on many levels, and they do not have to fight it, they use it. The Jewish Lobby is an additional mechanism, consisting of hard-core Jewish nationalists. The problem is that the rest, the non-Jewish-Lobby part of the US establishment consists, as I have said, of not-so-nationalistic Jews to great extent. They reach compromise, and this compromise is the middle ground of mild-Jewish-nationalism.


KP: On the invasion of Iraq, you stated: “Too many coincidences for a purely American war.” To what extent do you see a Zionist hand behind the attack and occupation?


IS: Yes, I partly agree with the Chicago-Harvard duo, the conquest of Iraq and present threat to Iran are caused by the Zionist affiliates within the Administration. The old canard of Oil Interests was debunked by reality: oil costs more, oil companies leave Iraq, none of their executives supported the war. Probably your readers do not even think of Iraqi WMD or the silly stuff of “bringing democracy” to the Arabs. Thus the Zionist plot is the first and obvious explanation.


But the Iraqi war, as a part of War on Terror, has a second leg: this is an even more scary totalitarianism, the drive to create a caste-based oligarchy of the Iron Heel, in Jack London’s terms. Fear is its important tool; dismantling of civil freedoms and of cohesive natural society is the first goal. Without War on Terror, the US rulers wouldn’t be able to read our emails, listen to our conversations, store in their data banks every bit of information about our lives. This totalitarianism was predicted by George Orwell, an avid reader of the Protocols, and it was lauded by Leo Strauss, a guiding light of Neo-Cons. Strauss endorsed a society with dictatorial powers of elites; a follower of Hobbes, he distrusted the people. Though his views were formed before the WWII, after the war he frequently referred to the Holocaust as a phenomenon that is liable to come back unless the society is firmly kept in check. I called the supporters of this paradigm by the name “Mammonites,” mammon-worshippers. The Iraqi war, and the War on Terror in general, is a joint product of Zionists and Mammonites, while these two groups often coincide, as is the case with the leading Neo-Cons.


That is why our struggle is with Zionists and Mammonites; this is not only a laudable campaign of support of the peoples of the Middle East, but first of all the decisive battle for preservation of democracy and freedom in the US and Europe, for a chance of better life for our children, for creation of a more egalitarian and more spiritual society, against the Dark ages were are being led to.


KP: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken a lot of flak from the western media for citing the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini about wiping Israel off the map. Apparently, judging by the western media’s silence, it was okay to wipe Palestine off the map though. Is the state of Israel a legitimate entity?


IS: No, it is not. We can’t consider legitimate a state that gives no rights to its inhabitants and officially belongs to World Jewry. It is in our interests to achieve full independence from the Jews, and to shift the whole lot of rights and responsibilities to the population of the country. The sovereignty should be ours, of the people of Palestine/Israel, not of the Jewish People, the extra-territorial worldwide body. I call upon my country-fellows to give up their “Jewishness” and to become adoptive Palestinians, brothers and sisters to the native folk. I hope eventually it will happen; we shall integrate and forget the overseas connection. Meanwhile we follow the colonial paradigm and exclude the natives in the name of “Jewishness.” We should follow the example of Mexico, where immigrants from Spain and Italy form one nation with the descendents of Montezuma.


KP: What does the election of Hamas mean for you? Should Hamas recognize the state of Israel?


IS: I wrote about the results. The Palestinians rejected the Fatah rule because they made too many concessions to Israel, and received nothing in return. Hamas should not recognise the state of Israel, at least until the Israeli rulers recognise the Palestinian independence, remove their armed forces and stop to interfere with the free traffic of Palestinians within and without Palestine. This is reciprocity. I can imagine an even better solution: Hamas may call for full integration of all Palestine from the River to the Sea, and for general elections on the basis of One Person-One Vote. But until it happens, Hamas should be guided by reciprocity principle: mutual recognition, inter alia.


KP: You are an ex-Jew, a convert to Christianity -- why is this? You have written of “many ex-Jews.” Is this for the same reason as you? Do you think a growing trend in Jewish apostasy would be effective in bringing about justice for Palestinians?


IS: Christianity and Judaism are strongly connected religions. A Christian, Karl Marx said: Christianity is sublime Judaism, while Judaism is sordid Christianity. A real Christian knows that a goy is not worse than a Jew; so the idea of Jewish exclusivity is not acceptable to a Christian. In our country we have many Russian Orthodox Christians (some of Jewish origin, and some not), and they pray and celebrate holidays together with our Palestinian Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. I was baptised by the Palestinian priest, Archbishop Theodosius Attalla Hanna, and it helped me to sort out the question of identity. The important point is not to create a separate Jewish “Christian” set-up, for such an arrangement defeats its purpose. Thus I am worried that there are “Jewish Christian” churches that are devoutly Zionist. In short, yes, baptism is a solution, but only in connection with rejection of Jewishness. If it is done as an addition to Jewishness, it is void, and brings no benefit.


Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi'kmaq homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org 


Israel Shamir writings can be read at his website. His essays are collected in three books, The Flowers of Galilee, Our Lady of Sorrow, and the Pardes.


:: Article nr. 22995 sent on 02-may-2006 02:56 ECT


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