Genesis Of A People

March 25, 2021 Category: History, Religion
Moses preparing to part the Sea, leading the Israelites out of Egypt

A Semantic Bait And Switch:

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to means–neither more nor less.” –from “Through The Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

To understand the confusion that stems from the rhetorical brouhaha surrounding this issue, it is important to understand a simple bit of prestidigitation that is used.  Today, the qualifier “Jewish” has two meanings (which are often conflated): one pertaining to bloodlines (Hebrew people), the other pertaining to religious affiliation (subscriber to Judaism).  Thus, to be a so-called “Jew” is to be a member of a (posited) race and/or of a religion.  Which is more salient depends on who one asks.  This twofold nomenclature (born of a hermeneutic dualism) causes confusion; and problems.  For if one intends to comment on a group of people who subscribe to a certain dogmatic system (Judaism), one is stuck with the same moniker as if one were intending to comment on a group of people defined by race.  The former is a perfectly legitimate way to talk about people (in terms of their beliefs); the latter is, by definition, racial-ist (and thus a recipe for racism).

This taxonomic glitch is exploited by Judeo-Supremacists (esp. RZs), who parlay the conflation into the accusation that anyone critical of their ideology is somehow being anti-Semitic.  (As is often the case, an ill-conceived nomenclature enables such prestidigitation.)  More than merely the fulcrum for rhetorical sleights-of-hand, the duel meaning of “Jew[ish]” also allows Judeo-Supremacists to obfuscate THEIR OWN racism: While they judge people according to ethnicity (Yehudim vs. goyim), they can then plead that they are merely referring to a demarcation of Faith traditions (practitioner of Judaism vs. Gentiles).  Such legerdemain is typical of right-wing ideology.

The rhetorical maneuver of clandestinely defining “Jewish” one way (when it suits one point) and then another way (when it suits another point) is a semantic bait and switch that often passes without notice.  Such casuistry enables xenophobia to operate under the aegis of sanctuary.  The hypocrisy becomes blindingly evident when a person (rightfully) denounces White Nationalists for calling for a racially-pure ARYAN ethno-State in one breath…and in the very next breath defends the call for a racially-pure JEWISH ethno-State in Canaan.  Both enterprises are deplorable for the exact same reasons; yet all the arguments properly leveled against the former are seen as entirely beside the point when it comes to the latter.

And so it goes: “Jew[ish]” has a twofold semiotic.  It is a racial designation on the one hand; a religious affiliation on the other.  This is a recipe for onomastic confusion and semantic wrangling; and the source of interminable embroilment.  “Jew[ish]” is an Anglicized version of the Old French “giu”, which was derived from the Gaulish “juieu”, which was derived from the Latin “Iudaeus”, which was derived from the Koine Greek “Ioudaios”, which was derived from the Aramaic “Y’hudai”; meaning people of “Yehud” [Judea / Judah].  Hence JoN would have called himself a “Y’hudai”.  The Hebraized version of “Y’hudai” was–and still is—“Y[e]hudi[m]”.  However, several languages simply refer to Jews qua ethnicity as Hebrews (e.g. “Ebri” in Persian and “Ebreo” in Italian), thus not making a distinction between the two terms.  This poses problems, as “Jewish” can designate an ethnic background AND/OR a religious affiliation.  This has proven to be cause for endless vexation; yet provides an opportunity for what might be called a semantic “bait and switch”.  I’ll start with the RZ use of this (perfidious) rhetorical maneuver, then explain how diagnosing it helps us understand similar maneuvers made by other kinds of unscrupulous ideologues.

RZ is an ultra-right-wing (read: fascistic) ideology that has little resemblance to “Zionism” as originally conceived: a secular movement seeking a place of sanctuary for an ethnic minority that was being systematically oppressed / persecuted–primarily by fascists–in Europe UNTIL 1945.  RZ emerged as a full-fledged ideology in the advent of the Second World War (that is: after 1945).  It is predicated on those of Jewish ethnicity arrogating to themselves (a group identity defined by bloodlines) unique entitlements (viz. colonization of the Levant); a privilege they deny to anyone else.  (Goyim are allowed to have a presence only at the pleasure of those in charge.)  That is to say, RZ is based on racial supremacy (imbued with Messianic zeal), rationalized via an obsession with bloodlines, which is itself derived from a literal reading of ancient Judaic lore.  So far as RZ see it, this gives them license to brutally oppress–and even viciously persecute–anyone who stands in the way of them fulfilling what they see as their divinely-ordained destiny: establishing an ethno-State in Canaan (styled as a Jewish State) under the pretext of “democracy”.

This Crusade entails slaughtering civilians, destroying homes / infrastructure, denying goyim of civil rights, and stealing land with impunity; as such deeds are given the imprimatur of the Creator of the Universe, who’s been stylized as a cosmic real estate broker.  The idea, it seems, is to make sure that Arabs (subalterns, depicted as “savages” as a matter of course) pay for what the Nazis did to European Jews. (?!)  

It is an untenable gambit to blame contemporary Germans for pre-1945 persecution / oppression of the Jews, so the restitution must come at the expense of someone else.  Since those pesky Palestinians are residing in Canaan, we’ll make it payback time for THEM.  In any case, “collective punishment” is the name of the game; just as it was for the militant anti-Semites from whom they initially sought refuge.  It becomes easier to perpetrate this sham once an entire ethnic group is deemed inferior to the anointed group.

There is a duplicitous use of the epithet “anti-Semite” leveled by unscrupulous interlocutors to smear anyone who criticizes the government actions / policies of the nation-State of “Israel”.  Such slander is beyond cynical; it is perfidious.  For it deliberately treats a stance against humanitarian atrocities (or even a lock of full-throated support for crimes against humanity BASED ON racism) with racism against those supporting those atrocities.  Being against a theocratic ethno-State perpetrating war crimes is not the same of being bigoted against the ethnicity on which said State is based.

In recent times, proponents of RZ have refashioned the State named “Israel” as a “Jewish State”–demanding that all others recognize it as such.  Though duplicitous, the strategy here is quite simple: By associating a State with an ethnicity (standard practice in any ethnocracy), support for the deeds of a government can be equated with support for an entire ethnic population (i.e. the chosen group).  (Recall that support for German’s Third Reich was conflated with supporting the Volk, ethnically-defined.)  Conversely, any grievance with the State qua institution–or with its policies–can be equated with bigotry against the ethnic group by which it defines itself.

This is a semiotic swindle. {28}  It enables those who criticize the official policies of the Israeli government to be accused of slandering Jews-in-general; or, if the critic is Jewish, somehow being a traitor to his “own people” (whatever that means, god only knows). {29}  According to this specious logic: To voice grievances with the so-called “Jewish State” is IPSO FACTO a grievance against all Jewish people.  Q.E.D. {30}

Another variation on this is equating criticism of specific policies–or of the underlying ideology–with organizations that might have an ax to grind with said policies (or with said ideology).  Some accuse those who criticize the iniquitous deeds of the IG of being in league with, say, Hamas (which is also critical of the Israeli government).  This would be like holding that those who criticize the Roman Catholic Church are in league with the KKK, because the Klan was also vehemently anti-Catholic.  One may as well have contended that protestation against Soviet pogroms was tantamount to Nazism (also animated by animosity toward the “communists”).  These false equivalencies (based on defective analogical thinking) is commonplace in vilification campaigns: guilt by (fraudulent) association.

Tragically, such legerdemain is often effective–as demonstrated by Judeo-fascist organizations like the AMCHA Initiative and the Canary Mission.  To say criticism of a government’s policies (in this case, crimes against humanity perpetrated by a Judeo-fascist regime) is equivalent to anti-Semitism is the sort of McCarthyist smear tactic indicative of ANY totalitarian ideology.  One may as well contend that criticism of a sacrament (e.g. “holy communion”; or its underlying dogma, trans-substantiation) in Roman Catholicism is tantamount to a slight against all Latinos…and/or against all Poles…and/or against all Filipinos…and/or against all Italians…and/or against all Quebecois.

We should recall that McCarthyism was made possible by sewing paranoia (about the incursion of a menacing OTHER, an enemy at the gates that was putting all god-fearing Americans in imminent peril).  This was done with the Orwellian “Committee On The Present Danger”, whereby Colder Warriors stoked mass hysteria to rationalize their militarist ambitions (and to syphon public funds into the military-industrial complex).

When people are told that they are in peril, they reflexively defend those who share their ethnic identity (i.e. those who have the same creed / ideology).  Tribalism thrives on insecurity.  Delusions about one’s identity (especially if it is a function of a collective identity, whereby the exalted in-group was THE ONLY ONE anointed by God) make the world seem to make sense; to be predictable and ordered.  Fantasies that remove trepidation and doubt are attractive no matter how groundless (nay, ESPECIALLY if they are beguiling).

We should bear in mind that the authoritarian mindset is characterized by deference to self-ingratiating dogmas; and a nagging suspicion of–nay, hostility toward–the out-group.  Hence a belief that the world is INHERENTLY threatening to the in-group, which is singled out as uniquely special.

But how is this in-group to be defined?  Again, we encounter the dual meaning of “Jewish”: defined either by ancestry or by religiosity, as the occasion warrants.  This casuistic way of framing the discussion enables racists (in this case, Judeo-Supremacists) to be racist without admitting that they are racist…and to subsequently accuse anyone who calls them on their (actual) racism of being “racist”.  This is done as if anti-racism were itself a form of racism.  We are all enjoined to enter this brave new world of Doublethink. {32}  Such mendacity is enabled insofar as one can dictate the terms in which (and BY which) the issue-at-hand shall be discussed.

RZ apologists insist that they be singled out from everyone else…and then call foul whenever they are singled out from everyone else.  In other words, they demand to be seen differently (in ways that are advantageous to themselves), yet then complain when the demand is honored (in any way other than one that favors them above all others).  One might call this identity-schizophrenia.

The bait-and-switch often perpetrated by RZ apologists is popular because it may well be the only way to rationalize the tribal chauvinism (read: Judeo-Supremacy) on which the Judeo-fascist government of Israel is based.  In this scheme, haughtiness is passed off as a necessary defensive measure.  For what?  For a “Jewish homeland”, fabricated for the purposes of promoting RZ ideology (see my essay on “The Land Of Purple”).

The conflation of religiosity and racial background is the most invidious form of sophistry.  Pretending “Jew[ish]” refers exclusively to RACE at one moment, then pretending it refers exclusively to RELIGIOSITY the next moment, as it suits one’s rhetoric, is casuistic.  This hermeneutic jujitsu should be called out whenever it occurs.

Throughout history, whenever anti-Jewish pogroms were undertaken, the perpetrators did not care if one was a RELIGIOUS Jew, they only cared that one was an ETHNIC Jew.  (When they come to round up “the Jews”, they don’t care whether one is secular or not; because for them, Jewishness is about bloodlines, not about beliefs.)

It is a perverse irony that RZs depend on the same conflation.  When anti-Semites oppress / persecute Jews, they do so based on RACISM, not because of some disagreement on any given doctrinal point.  When Birthright Israel seeks to bolster the Aliyah, there is no consideration about how religious one might happen to be.  It is based entirely on one’s racial profile.

Albert Einstein shed light on the crucial distinction.  He–like any humane person on the planet–was for a safe haven for a persecuted people.  He even entertained a hospitable State FOR Europe’s Jews.  But what he decidedly did NOT endorse was a Jewish State (qua ethno-State).  Instead, what he—along with every decent person in the world—endorsed was a safe haven for the world’s oppressed / persecuted Jewish people: a measure that was urgent until the defeat of the Nazis.  Such a sanctuary could be ANYWHERE—be it Uganda or Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Yet the loaded term, “Jewish State” tends to conflate this estimable vision with the mandate for an ethno-State.  This hermeneutic sleight-of-hand can be quickly exposed the moment one tries to apply the same logic to any other State, anywhere else in the world, at any time in history.  Imagine a group trying to establish an Aryan State; replete with its own “Birth-right” recruitment program.  The logic would be exactly the same. {31}  Upon seeing the implications after universalizing the salient maxim, such coy linguistic prestidigitation is harder to pull off.

Undoubtedly, some anti-Israel sentiment spawns from genuine anti-Semitism; but the vast majority of the racism involved in the post-War conflict in Canaan is on the part of RZs–who insist on making the conflict ALL ABOUT race (their own vis a vis everyone else’s).  To call them out for making it about race (and insist that things NOT be made about people’s ethnicity) is to court accusations of anti-Semitism.

Another slight-of-hand is found with the elision of the distinction between “Israelite” (a pre-Judaic, Iron Age people in Canaan, assigned a name according to Biblical nomenclature) and “Israeli” (a citizen of the modern nation-State of “Israel”).  In modern Hebrew, both are referred to using the same adjective: “Y’Israeli[t]”.  This semantic conflation enables one to refer to the former, then in the next breath pretend it pertained to the latter, thereby obfuscating what is a fundamental difference.  By (implicitly) equating two different things, one can pretend there is somehow an unbreakable lineage from the former to the latter.  Such legerdemain serves an obvious ideological purpose.

Making the Jewish citizens of the modern nation-State seem equivalent to (that is: a continuation of) the Hebrew community in Canaan dating back to the late 2nd millennium B.C., one can hold that Jews are justified in asserting territorial entitlements–doing so under the auspices of reclaiming an ancestral “moledet”.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We have explored the Judaic tale of contrived provenance—one of many such tails.  As I hope to have shown, rarely is such a narrative benign.  In their attempt to exalt Beth Israel, RZs infuse the collective Jewish memory with a toxic hallucinogen, turning what would otherwise be a mere conceit (chosen-ness) into a malignancy.  When the Creator of the Universe is fashioned as an unimpeachable real estate broker; and the Torah is treated as an incontestable title-deed; things are bound to go amiss for those who happen to stand in the way.  In this scheme, “birthright” is a mantra rather than a sign of pathological hubris.

It is a breathtaking irony that RZ is undoubtedly the most significant instigator of anti-Semitism in the world.  If one sincerely aims to mitigate anti-Semitic views, then opposing RZ is step number one.  There is no greater fuel for anti-Semitism in the world than the (current) policies of the Israeli government qua Jewish State.  Such policies are deliberately antagonistic.  That is to say: Such policies fuel antipathies by exacerbating resentments, thereby driving those on each “side” further into partisan rancor…creating a vicious cycle…which is EXACTLY how the impresarios of RZ want it.  For without a justification for their crusade (read: a rationalization for their siege mentality), their ideology would evaporate. It is the manufactured jeopardy that gives them an excuse to consolidate power. Antagonism has always been the lifeblood right-wing extremism.

A persecution complex entails that one insists that one is still the victim even when one becomes the PERSECUTOR. As discussed, bullies often feign victimhood, passing their aggression off as a defensive measure.

A (positive) feedback loop of acrimony ensues. This is a matter of mutual demonization: a recipe for self-fulfilling prophecy for both parties. Fanaticism feeds off of counter-fanaticism.  Recriminations are exchanged; hostility escalates.   The ideologues on both sides thrive off of the enmity they stoke, using it as an excuse to become even more antagonistic…thereby validating the alarmism of the opposite side.  Each side can then sew further resentment.

The fanatics on both sides of a conflict ruin things for everyone else; even as the abetted conflict is used to legitimize their fanaticism.

The right wing on BOTH sides of most conflicts thrive on conflict.  Enmity (that is: seething resentment directed toward THE OTHER) is their lifeblood; as conflict is an excuse to galvanize followers, and consolidate power.

In 1975, the U.N. Resolution 3379 recognized the far-right incarnation of Zionism (RZ) as a racist ideology; also noting the ethnic cleansing it had countenanced, and the crimes against humanity it has systematically perpetrated.  But it’s not so simple.  Ideologues are reticent to concede that crimes against humanity were committed by members of their own group–as such a concession means the jig is up. This is why in Turkey, it is a crime to refer to the persecution of the Armenians (the “Aghed” during the First World War) as a “genocide”; as doing so impugns the honor of the in-group (the Turks).

The same goes for RZ.  It is very difficult for proponents of this execrable ideology to fess up to their atrocities.  The toxic cocktail of a siege mentality and DGW syndrome is the dark underbelly of Providentialism–which is to say that it is based as much in neurosis as in delusion.

What is lost on proponents of RZ are the most vaunted tenets of the Faith they claim to espouse.  They might recall the words of Hillel The Elder: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.  That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.”

There are several prayers recited during the Passover dinner.  One is, “All tyrannies are abominations.  May the struggle for all who fight for liberty and equality be our struggle.”  (We can only guess that if any proponent of RZ has ever uttered this statement, he has not grasped its full implications.)  This is a prayer that ALL people of the world can make; and one that all should heed.

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