Dienstag, 20. September 2011




STATEMENT OF IJAN (International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network) regarding Freiburg Conference - classification: TOXIC MATERIAL

ANSWER FROM DR. GABI WEBER, sent to IJAN on October 5th 2011.
Obviously IJAN didn´t publish this answer on their homepage. Until now people who dare to read and spread Gilad Atzmon´s texts are embarassed by so-called Anti-Zionists.

Betreff: Re: In response to Atzmon's video
Datum: Wed, 05 Oct 2011 22:49:22 +0200
Von: Dr. Gabi Weber drgweber@yahoo.de
An: ijsn@ijsn.net

Good evening "International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network",

thank you for your email and the statement you sent me, as well as .....

In Gilad Atzmon´s video nobody accused Hajo G. Meyer personally that he "caved into relentless pressure from anyone". Gilad Atzmon simply said that "Sarah Kershner and Mich Levy were relentlessly putting pressure on some of our panelists". What you forgot to mention is that Hajo G. Meyer was - initially - provided (by IJAN) with wrong quotes of Gilad Atzmon´s texts. And you also forgot to mention that Mr. Meyer never accused G. Atzmon of being a Holocaust denier or an anti-Semite.

Interesting that you talk about "growing numbers of those refusing to share a platform with Gilad Atzmon". Is four or five persons a "growing number"?
By chance I know, that Ghada Karmi was abroad for several weeks and could not be part of the panel in London.
Also by chance I was participating at Stuttgart conference last year. Ali Abunimah expressed his opinion about what Mr. Atzmon had said the day before and that he didn´t agree with it. Is this "to dissociate"? http://vodpod.com/watch/5048037-ali-abunimah-palstinakonferenz-in-stuttgart-am-28-november-2010.
Heidar Eid didn´t refer to Atzmon´s adress publicly. He gave his speech on Friday, 26th of November. Gilad Atzmon was on the panel on Saturday, 27th.

To call Gilad Atzmon an "anti-semitic ideologue and promoter of holocaust denial" is insulting, defamatory and condemnable.

Could you please provide us with the true sources of your quotes? Actually it is Karl Marx who said “Jewishness is capitalism and vice versa” and not Gilad Atzmon. You find these words in "The Jewish Question", written in 1843 by Karl Marx.

As much as I would expect you to be more familiar with Jewish dissent culture, I expect you, who accuse Gilad Atzmon of being an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, to REALLY read his texts.
Taking quotes out of context, forging them, putting sentences together in a different order as the original one is simply pathetic. Spreading this kind of material is unaccountable.

If you really shared the "collective responsability with those committed to a more just and humane world" you would never act like Israeli Hasbara agents.

Kind regards

Dr. Gabi Weber, Freiburg

P.S. Below you find some of the endorsements of Gilad Atzmon´s new book. I guess that compared to this impressing number of adademics, journalists, activists and thinkers, the "growing number of those refusing to share a platform with Atzmon" you are referring to is quite miserable. http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/the-wandering-who-is-out-this-week.html

"Gilad Atzmon decided to open Pandora’s Box, and ignite a debate that has been frustratingly dormant for too long. His experiences are most authentic, views are hard-hitting, and, at times, provocative. It must be read and discussed."  Ramzy Baroud,  Palestine Chronicle
"A transformative story told with unflinching integrity that all (especially Jews) who care about real peace, as well as their own identity, should not only read, but reflect upon and discuss widely." Professor Richard Falk
"Essential to an understanding of Jewish identity politics and the role they play on the world stage." Professor John J. Mearsheimer 
 "Atzmon’s insight into the organism created by the Zionist movement is explosive." Professor William A. Cook
"A pioneering work that deserves to be read and Gilad Atzmon is brave to write this book!" Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo
 “Gilad's escape from spiritual claustrophobia towards a free and open humanitarianism is fearless” Robert Wyatt
 “In his inimitable deadpan style, Atzmon identifies the abscess in the Jewish wisdom tooth – exilic tribalism – and pulls it out. Ouch!” Eric Walberg, Al Aharam Weekly
“It is more than an academic exercise. It is a revelation!” Lauren Booth, Press TV
 "A brilliant analysis that makes what appear to be contradictions in Jewish identity based political behavior not only comprehensible but predictable." Jeff Blankfort
 "Atzmon has the courage - so profoundly lacking among Western intellectuals" Professor James Petras
“Having known Gilad for 25 years, I read the book in English, I heard it in Hebrew and reflected on it in Arabic. Gilad Atzmon is astonishingly courageous” Dr. Makram Khoury-Machool
 “Gilad Atzmon is someone who encompasses what it means to be an intellectual.” Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice
 “Gilad Atzmon is the Moses of our time, calling all of us out of the Egypt of our boneheaded nationalisms and racialisms and exceptionalisms and chosen-people-isms toward some form of humanistic universalism.”  Dr. Kevin Barrett
 "Perhaps only a musician could have written this sensitive, perceptive lament over how so many Jews, believing themselves to be doing 'what is good for the Jews,' have managed to carve the heart out of the Palestinian nation and make this tragedy look like the natural order of things." Kathleen  Christison
“Gilad's The Wandering Who? would have been a welcome delight to Albert Einstein just as it will be the irritating nemesis for Abe Foxman ideologues.” Dr. Paul Balles 
 “A book that will shake up a few people….” Gordon Duff
 “Engaging, provocative and persuasive.’ Jeff Gates
 “When you finish reading this book, you may likely as well see a different face in the mirror.” Professor Garrison Fewell
 “The Wandering Who deconstructs the unique political identity that shapes the reality of the Jewish Nation and the crimes committed in its name. As a non-Jew, I found it illuminating!” Sameh Habeeb, Palestine Telegraph
 “The Last Jewish Prophet”  Professor William T. Hathaway
"Atzmon is an iconoclast.” Dr.  Paul Larudee
 “Like all truth tellers of any merit Atzmon can expect the wrath of the powers that be and their minions as a reward for what he is exposing.   People like Atzmon will have played a vital role in saving us from ourselves if indeed we do manage to survive.  Love and respect to my brother Gilad Atzmon.” Ken O’Keefe
 “The magical and yet extremely subtle gift that Gilad Atzmon offers through his personal journes in The Wandering Who? is the wisdom of disillusionment.” Shahram Vahdany, MWC News
  “Atzmon's writing respects no sacred cows. His wit is biting, his insight and logic compelling.” Richard A. Siegel
 “Sometimes a brash, abrasive provocateur is what is required as a catalyst for genuine debate.” Sunny Singh
 "This is a very perceptive and instructive book" Roy Ratcliffe

Samstag, 17. September 2011


Guten Morgen,  meine Damen und Herren,
im Namen des Cafe Palestine Freiburg möchte ich Sie ganz herzlich zu unserer Konferenz Palästina, Israel, Deutschland – Grenzen der offenen Diskussion begrüßen.
Mein Name ist Gabi Weber. Ich habe vor eineinhalb Jahren gemeinsam mit Annie Sauerland das Freiburger Cafe Palestine in Anlehnung an das Café Palestine in Zürich gegründet.
Viele von Ihnen sind von weither angereist. Wir haben Teilnehmer aus Israel, aus den USA, aus Frankreich, England, der Schweiz usw. usw. Ihnen allen und natürlich auch unseren deutschen Besuchern danken wir, dass Sie gekommen sind.
Es ist mir eine große Ehre, Ihnen die besonderen Gäste des heutigen Tages vorstellen zu dürfen:
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski aus Marzell
Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo aus Dallas
Gilad Atzmon aus London
Ibrahim El-Zayat aus Köln
Sameh Habeeb aus Gaza, London
Alan Hart aus London
Ken O´Keefe aus London
Dr. Makram Khoury-Machool aus Cambridge
Und Ramzy Baroud aus Seattle, der heute leider nicht persönlich anwesend sein kann – uns aber eine Videobotschaft geschickt hat.
Dear Ramzy, I hope that you will see the video of this conference and would like to let you know that we really regret that you cannot be with us. Thank you so much for your important contribution on video. We hope to see you in Germany next year.
Unsere Graphikdesigner
Viq Ali aus Wien, der uns die Konferenz –und Konzertposter designed hat
David Borrington aus London, der in Anlehnung an die Reden, unglaubliche Graphiken hergestellt hat
Unsere Moderatoren
Ulrike Vestring aus Bonn
Dr. Lüdke vom Arnold-Bergsträsser-Institut Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Dr. Uhde von der katholischen Fakultät der Universität Freiburg

Unsere Übersetzer
Ulla Philips-Heck aus Freiburg
Timothy Slater aus Augsburg

Projekte werden vorgestellt von
Stefanie Landgraf, FrauenWegeNahost, Hans von Wedemeyer, Marcello Faraggi.
Ich danke Ihnen allen im Namen des Cafe Palestine Freiburg von ganzem Herzen, dass Sie hier sind.
Ich möchte unseren Filmemacher Gerd Münzner aus Ludwigsburg begrüßen, der die heutige Veranstaltung aufzeichnen und in den nächsten Tagen online stellen wird. Außerdem wird die Konferenz vom jordanischen TV-Sender 7Stars TV über NileSat ausgestrahlt werden.
Jamal Inan ist mit seiner Gruppe für Ihr leibliches Wohl zuständig. Auch ihn begrüße ich ganz herzlich.

Am 10. Jahrestag der tragischen Ereignisse des 11.September 2001, die zu viele Menschenleben  in den USA forderten,  steht fest, dass 911 eine Ära nicht enden wollender von der NATO und den USA finanzierter  Kriege eingeleitet hat - mit Hunderttausenden unschuldig getöteter Menschen, begleitet von wirtschaftlichem Chaos, zunehmender Armut  und Manipulationen der Finanzsysteme. In vielen Ländern weltweit führte und führt der angebliche Krieg gegen den Terror zu immer mehr staatlicher Überwachung, zu immer autoritäreren Staatssystemen, zu Einschränkungen der  bürgerlichen Rechte, zur Kriminalisierung des Kampfes um Gerechtigkeit und dazu, dass man uns vorschreiben möchte, was wir zu denken und zu glauben haben.
Nachdem alte Feindbilder nicht mehr herhalten konnten, wurden neue Feindbilder geschaffen, die unter anderem zur Folge hatten und noch haben, dass Menschen aufgrund ihrer Religionszugehörigkeit und/oder ihrer Staatsangehörigkeit  durch Geheimdienste und andere staatliche Apparate entführt, gefangen genommen, misshandelt, gefoltert und getötet werden. Der durch einzelne Staaten verursachte Terror in Form endloser, ressourcenorientierter Kriege scheint keine Grenzen mehr zu kennen.
Das für alle Menschen eigentlich gültige Menschenrecht der Meinungsfreiheit und freier Meinungsäußerung wird zunehmend limitiert.
Diese Konferenz ist aus dem tiefen Wunsch heraus entstanden, die Grenzen der Meinungsfreiheit, denen wir alle unterliegen und die dazu führen, dass wir uns in manipulierten Lügengebilden zu verstricken drohen, aufzuzeigen und wenn möglich, auch Lösungen zu finden.
Um diesem hochkomplexen Thema gerecht zu werden ist es uns gelungen, ein Podium von außergewöhnlichen Referentinnen und Referenten zusammen zu stellen.
Wir alle, von unserem jungen palästinensischen Musiker angefangen  ( der gestern Abend ein unglaubliches Konzert mit Gilad Atzmon gegeben hat), über unsere Graphikdesigner,  über jeden einzelnen Teilnehmer dieses Podiums  bis zu uns als Veranstalterinnen, wurden in übelster Weise beschimpft, beleidigt und in Verruf gebracht. Für einige unserer Gäste gehören Morddrohungen zwischenzeitlich schon fast zum Tagesgeschäft.
Trotzdem sind wir alle hier, um entgegen des Drucks von außen, für unser aller Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit einzustehen. Ich kann guten Gewissens behaupten, dass Sie heute einige der mutigsten Menschen, denen ich je begegnet bin, hören werden.
Egal welcher persönlichen Ansicht Sie/wir über die Ursachen der tragischen Anschläge vor 10 Jahren auch sein mögen, so bin ich mir sicher, dass uns alle ein Gedanke eint:
Jeder einzelne Mensch, der am 11.9.2001 oder in einem danach begonnenen  Anti-Terror-Krieg getötet wurde, jeder Entführte, jeder Gefolterte, jeder Hungernde auf dieser Welt ist  einer zu viel.
In jedem von uns steckt  Potential, sich nicht länger mit diesen Zuständen zufrieden zu geben. Jeder hat Fähigkeiten, die helfen können, diese Welt ein kleines Stückchen besser zu machen. Jeder von uns kann dazu beitragen, dass weniger Ungerechtigkeit auf unserem Planeten herrscht. Wir sind alle verantwortlich.
Im Gedenken an die am 11.September 2001 und danach getöteten  Menschen möchte ich Sie bitten, sich zu erheben und eine Schweigeminute einzulegen.

Zum Ablauf …….

Mittwoch, 14. September 2011

Dear ALL

Dear ALL,

after the success of Freiburg Conference about the boundaries of open discussion concerning Palestine, Israel and Germany I am pleased to announce the publication of the first four important and interesting speeches on our two blogs http://paltagefreiburg2011.blogspot.com/
http://cafepalestinefreiburg.blogspot.com/We will soon publish the videos of each speaker who attended the conference, Ramzy Baroud´s video, as well as the video of the concert with Gilad Atzmon, Frank Harrison and Moamen Khatib.

To quote Gilad Atzmon who put a comment on his homepage:

"The conference was a gathering of some of the most articulate and innovative minds within our discourse and beyond. We had a list of panellists  who did not follow any particular party line but were dedicated to the principles of justice, ethics and universalism. We are talking here about public figures who manage to withstand Zionist and crypto Zionist pressure, including physical threats. We were lucky to be facilitated by an organisation (Cafe Palestine Freiburg)  that is genuinely interested in Palestine and justice.  Our audience were willing to listen and engage in open  discussion.  The entire event was smooth and productive. It left us with hope and fuelled  many of us with a renewed belief in a better future."

I myself and the incredible and wonderful "CafPal" team would like to thank our extraordinary speakers, our extraordinary moderators, our extraordinary graphic designers and of course all the other people who made this conference into an extraordinary event.
You, the public, were showing us support and interest and in the end of the day we are convinced that THE TIDE HAS CHANGED as Gilad Atzmon predicted months ago.

Kind regards

Gabi Weber
Cafe Palestine Freiburg e. V.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbtL8AlZTRM Civil Liberties in the aftermath of Sept. 11

Dr. Samir Abed-Rabbo

The attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 by Muslim Individuals was a criminal act that had profound implications for the Muslims, the United States and the world.  My contention is that the Muslim/Arab community in the west as a whole has been subjected to extrajudicial measures and is paying a heavy price for the criminality of the few. But this is not the subject of my talk. I was asked to speak about Civil liberties in the US in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and I shall oblige.
Prior to delving into the essence of my subject, I would like to make this damming observation: The Bush administration which was caught napping by al-Quaida, rather than engaging in an honest or serious study of what went wrong it opted to deconstruct the very civil liberties enshrined in the American constitutional. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA said “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” To that I add, there should be no tradeoff between civil liberties and security. Those who advocate for security over liberties are giving those behind such violent attacks a victory over our way of life! Now let me turn to my presentation.

Civil Liberties as enshrined in the US Constitution
The United States Constitution was written in 1789 and ratified by the original 13 States within two years thereafter. This written document establishes the structure and powers of the US government, the relationship between the Federal and states governments, and enumerates the liberties and rights vested in the people.
The original constitution includes one major right that is considered the corner stone of civil liberties: Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution says "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." This concept was written into the text of the US Constitution to preserve the basic legal right of individuals to be free from unlawful imprisonment, except only during the most extraordinary national emergencies, even greater than "war" or hostile attack. The government has to show that it is following the law, when it arrests, detains or imprisons People for reasons of state security duringRebellion or Invasion.” In the last 222 yrs. this writ was suspended during the civil war and again after Sept. 11, 2001.
The most important legal protections of individuals' civil liberties in America are found in the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The first five are part of the first 10 Amendments that are known as the Bill of Rights and were adopted in 1791. The 14th Amendment was adopted after the Civil War in 1868. These Amendments include the following rights:
The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
The Eighth Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The Fourteenth Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Threats to Civil Liberties in the aftermath of Sept. 11
In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush Administration became extremely involved in spearheading the attack on and the erosion of all the above legal rights and protections.
Starting with the USA PATRIOT ACT, the Bush Administration was essentially engaged in a grab for police powers that have been sought and rejected long before September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act was rushed through Congress with no time for most legislators to read its provisions before voting on it. There was no debate and no demonstration that this statute would cure any of the specific law enforcement problems that enabled the 9-11 attacks (such as lax airport security and the failure to keep track of known terrorist suspects who entered the USA after they were identified). Rather, it was a case of "do something, anything," regardless of the monumental human and civil rights issues at stake. When a bipartisan group of Representatives offered an alternative bill that received some actual debate, it was almost immediately voted down in favor of the administration's "PATRIOT Act".

What did this panic button legislation do? There are four major inroads it made into previously well-established legal rights. The four areas are:
The first is secrecy: it provides for secret "sneak and peak" searches, secrecy of government and legal case information, secret evidence, and secretly collected personal information. On June 18, 2003, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a split 2-1 decision, upheld the government's power to withhold information about those thousands of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians it secretly detained for months in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. As the Sixth Circuit Appellate Judge Damon Keith said in a case involving secret immigration hearings, "Democracies die behind closed doors."
The second area is the criminalization of dissent: This was already well underway before 9-11, in the series of massive confrontations between the anti-globalization movement and the instruments of government as in Seattle in November of 1999. After the attack of 9-11, guilt by association, deportation and exclusion of foreigners based only on membership in suspect groups, increased penalties for donating money for humanitarian purposes through the wrong organizations, and the overnight creation of a new category of "domestic terrorist" groups, took on a vigorous new life in government circles. The tragic consequences for First Amendment freedom of association, as well as Fourteenth Amendment equal protection and due process, are increasingly glaring us in the face.

A third major area is the balance of powers upon which the American model of constitutional liberty theoretically rests: The authority of courts as a check on unaccountable powers by the Legislative and Executive branches has traditionally been the last resort for protecting American liberties. The USA PATRIOT Act limits courts' authority to issue warrants, limits appeals, and limits the basis for constitutional challenges to executive branch at overreaching. Congress of course, simply abdicated its power, leading directly to the establishment of executive branch supremacy in this crisis. Some of the first major tests of this fundamental deconstructing of government powers came in the Habeas Corpus cases filed on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals held, in another split 2-1 decision, that they are outside federal judicial jurisdiction, and thus effectively without enforceable legal rights.
The fourth major area is in the lowering of protections against criminal investigation: The long-established distinction between law enforcement and intelligence operations has been eliminated in cases involving suspected or alleged terrorism, opening the door to systematic abuses. The requirement of probable cause for initiating an investigation, tapping phones, monitoring internet and e-mail use, and other intrusive police actions has been eliminated in such cases, opening the door wide open to police confrontation and harassment of dissidents, and leading to continually escalating politicization of "law enforcement" in the name of fighting terrorism.
This civil liberties crisis does not end with the USA PATRIOT Act. A series of executive orders, Department of Justice Regulations, and government memos have allowed the executive branch to extend its power even further, without being effectively challenged by the other branches of government or the People. On September 21, 2001, the Chief Immigration Judge issued a memo closing certain immigration hearings to the public. On October 31 the Justice Department issued regulations for detaining people on Attorney General Ashcroft's sole discretion, a provision that was severely abused in practice by extended periods of detention. Prosecutors and prison officials began to monitor attorney/client communications without judicial authorization, and commenced a prosecution of Attorney Lynne Stewart for her statements and actions in representing a convicted terrorist, sending a clear message to other lawyers about the consequences of defending fundamental rights of suspects. The previous Freedom of Information Act presumptions were reversed, so that if any reason was articulated to withhold documents, they would not be provided. All of this was accomplished without any judicial or legislative action at all, by the mere stroke of a bureaucratic pen.
The case of military commissions established by executive order for those arrested abroad deserves attention. The original proposal for such tribunals was completely lawless. It provided for execution without appeal, without a unanimous decision of military judges, and without any right to counsel of one's choice. The most severe deficiencies in these regulations were modified after a public outcry. However the military commissions set up retained the option to use secret evidence, and with the ruling that the camps in Guantanamo Bay are outside federal courts' jurisdiction, the imminent prospect of secret military trials and summary executions there cannot be ruled out.

In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11 the immigration authorities went into high gear. They interviewed thousands of Arabs and Muslims, including interrogation about visa status that in some cases led to deportation. They asked questions about religious and political beliefs. They discovered no significant information about terrorism whatsoever in this orgy of racial profiling. The government abused the material witness statute to detain innocent immigrants, who may have had some incidental contact with either the 9-11 hijackers or some other suspects, for prolonged periods. Most notoriously, approximately 2000 People were swiftly "disappeared" in secrecy, and the government refused to release information about them to their families or attorneys. This was the program recently upheld by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, the government aggressively moved to "seize and freeze" the assets of numerous suspected "terrorist organizations," without any distinction between legal functions and activities these organizations may be engaged in fighting anywhere in the world, especially of course in the Middle East.
Even the issue of torture has been raised, with psychological pressure placed on family members, physical mistreatment of immigrants in custody who were never even charged with any crime, deportation to other countries that are known to practice torture systematically, and respectable academic discussions of hypothetical circumstances--such as where it might lead authorities to a "ticking bomb"--when torture could allegedly be justified. The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom recently published a shocking investigative report on the use of what authorities call "torture lite" at the US Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Techniques such as binding prisoners in awkward and painful positions, forcing them to wear hoods, sleep deprivation, 24-hour lighting, and withholding painkillers are being systematically used at an unspecified number of secret CIA detention centers for terrorist suspects. What may be even more shocking is the fact that US officials are more or less openly bragging about it. "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time," one reportedly told the Independent, "you probably aren't doing your job."
In conclusion:
In conclusion, what is happening is a comprehensive government campaign to undermine constitutional civil liberties. The government’s onslaught on political dissent and free speech; spying on groups and organizations without probable cause to believe they are engaged in any criminal activity; targeting of people because of their beliefs, speech and associations; suspending of due process; and practicing torturing, people will not be able to defend themselves. When the government is allowed the opportunity to use evidence obtained throw torture; of dubious quality; and free from challenge, the cause of liberties is not served. Those alarmed with government overreaching need to re-examine the relationship between the people and government. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Thank you!



Being in Time in Freiburg

Gilad Atzmon

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.

I will begin my talk with an unusual confession. Though I was born in Israel, in the first thirty years of my life I did not know much about the Nakba, the brutal and racially driven ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population in 1948 by the newly born Israeli State. My peers and myself knew about a single massacre, namely, Deir Yassin but we were not at all familiar with the vast scale of atrocities committed by our grandparents. We believed that the Palestinians had voluntarily fled.  We were told that they had run away and we did not find any reason to doubt that this had indeed been the case. 

Let me tell you that in all my years in Israel, I have never heard the word Nakba spoken. This may sound pathetic, or even absurd to you -- but what about you?  Shouldn’t you also ask yourself -- when was the first time you heard the word Nakba? Perhaps you can also try to recall when this word settled comfortably into your lexicon. Let me help you here -- I have carried out a little research amongst my European and American Palestinian solidarity friends, and most of them had only heard the word Nakba for the first time, just a few short years ago, whilst others admitted that they had only started to use the word themselves three or four years ago.

But isn’t that a slightly strange state of affairs? After all, the Nakba took place more than six decades ago. How is it that only recently it found its way into our symbolic order?

The answer is, in some respects, quite a straightforward one: to be in the world means to be subject to changes and transformations.  It entails grasping and reassessing the past through different present realisations. History is shaped and re-shaped as we proceed in time. Accordingly, we seem to understand the Palestinian expulsion and plight through our current understanding of Israeli brutality: In the light of the destruction Israel left behind in Lebanon in 2006, followed by our witnessing of the genocidal crimes performed in Gaza in ‘Operation Cast Lead’, and observing the footage of the IDF execution of peace activists on the Mavi Marmara -- we have subsequently, managed to amend our picture of the scale of the 1948 Palestinian tragedy.  As we grasp more fully what the Israelis are capable of -- we are also able to re-construct our vision of Israel’s ‘original sin’ i.e. the Nakba. We are able to empathise more deeply with the expelled Palestinians of 1948 via our current evolving comprehension of Israel, the Israeli, ‘Israeli-ness’, Jewish nationalism, global Zionism, and the relentless Israeli lobby. 

The meaning and significance of it becomes clearer -- the past is far from being a precisely sealed off set of events with a fixed meaning, pre-decided for us by a fixed viewpoint and then closed off from further debate. Instead, our understanding of the past is shaped and transformed, constantly, as we progress and grow in knowledge and experience. And, as much as our current reality is shaped by our world vision -- our past too, is shaped, re-shaped, viewed and re-viewed by the narratives we happen to follow at any given time.

This is the true meaning of ‘being in time’; this is the essence of temporality, and this is what historical thinking is all about. People possess the capacity to ‘think historically’-- to be transformed by the past -- but also to allow the past to be constantly shaped, and re-shaped, as they proceed towards the unknown.

Deir Yassin Remembered

But here is an interesting set of historical anecdotes that deserve our attention: Indeed, one may be left perplexed on learning that -- just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 -- the newly-formed Jewish state ethnically cleansed the vast majority of the indigenous population of Palestine (1948). Just five years after the defeat of Nazism -- the Jewish state brought to life racially-discriminatory return laws in order to prevent the 1948 Palestinian refugees from coming back to their cities, villages, fields and orchards. These laws, still in place today, were not categorically different from the notorious Nuremberg race Laws.  One may also be totally perplexed to find out that Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, is located on the confiscated land of a Palestinian village Ein Karem, next door to Deir Yassin, which is probably the ultimate symbol of the Palestinian Shoa.

One may wonder what is the root cause of this unique institutional lack of compassion that has been exhibited and maintained by Israel and Israelis for decades.  One might expect that Jews, having been victims of oppression and discrimination themselves, would locate themselves at the forefront of the battle against evil and racism. One might expect the victims of discrimination to resist inflicting pain on others.

Yet, some deeper and far more general questions come to mind here -- how is it that the Jewish political and ideological discourse fails so badly to draw the obvious and necessary moral lessons from history and Jewish history in particular? How is it that in spite of ‘Jewish history’ appearing to be an endless tale of Jewish suffering, the Jewish State is so blind to the suffering it inflicts on others? 

On the face of it, what we see here is a form of alienation from historical thinking.  Israeli historian Shlomo Sand has noted that Rabbinical Judaism could be realised as an attempt to replace historical thinking: instead of history, the Torah provided Rabbinical Judaism with a spiritually-driven plot. It conveyed an image of purpose and fate. However, things changed in the 19th century.  Due to the rapid emancipation of European Jewry together with the rise of nationalism and the spirit of Enlightenment, assimilated European Jews felt bound to redefine their beginnings in secular, national and rational terms.  This is when Jews ‘invented’ themselves as ‘people’ and as a ‘class’: like other European nations, Jews felt the urge to posses a coherent narrative about themselves and their history.

Inventing history is not a crime – people and nations often do it. Yet, in spite of the rapid process of assimilation, Jewish secular ideology and politics failed to encompass the real meaning of historical thought and historical understanding. Indeed, the assimilated secular Jew was very successful in dropping God and other religious identifiers. And yet, at least politically, the assimilated Jew failed to replace divinity with an alternative Jewish anthropocentric secular ethical and metaphysical realisation.

Temporality and Alienation

I only recently understood that the ‘Jewish Identity political discourse’ is not only foreign to history; not only is it actually antagonistic towards historical thinking, but it is also detached from the notion of temporality.

Temporality is inherent to the human condition: ‘To be’ is ‘to be in time’. Whether we like it or not, we are doomed to be hung between the past that is drifting away into the void, and the unknown that proceeds towards us from the future.

Through the present, the so-called ‘here and now’, we meditate on that which has passed away. Occasionally we hope for forgiveness; and sometimes we are cheered by a pleasing memory. At other times we become angry with ourselves for not having reacted appropriately at some moment in our past. And from time to time we may recall a sensation of love.

In the present we can also envisage the future, and in the awareness of that presence we may sense the fear of the unknown. But we can also experience waves of happiness and optimism when the future seems to smile at us. 

More often than not, we draw lessons from the past.  But far more crucially important and interesting perhaps, is the idea that an imaginary future can easily re-write, or even re shape the past.

I will try to elucidate this subtle idea through a simple and hypothetical yet horrifying war scenario:

For instance, we can easily envisage a horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iran could escalate into a disastrous nuclear conflict, in which tens of millions of people in the Middle East and Europe would perish.

I would guess that amongst the few survivors of such a nightmarish imaginary scenario, some may be bold enough to say what they ‘really think’ of the Jewish state and its inherent  murderous tendencies.

The above is obviously a horrific fictional scenario, and by no means a wishful one, yet such a vision of a ‘possible’ horrendous development should restrain Israeli or Zionist aggression towards Iran.

But as we know, this hardly happens -- Israeli officials threaten to flatten and nuke Iran all too often.

Seemingly, Israelis and Zionists around the world fail to see their own actions within a historical perspective or context.  They fail to look at their actions in terms of their consequences. From an ethical perspective, the above ‘imaginary’ scenario could or should prevent Israel from even contemplating any attack on Iran. Yet, what we see in practice is the complete opposite: Israel wouldn’t miss an opportunity to threaten Iran.

My explanation is simple. The Jewish political and ideological discourse is foreign to the notion of temporality. Israel is blind to the consequences of its actions; it only thinks of its actions in terms of short-term pragmatism. Within the Jewish political discourse the time arrow is a one-way road. It goes forward, yet it never turns the other way. There is never an attempt to revise the past in the light of a possible future.  Instead of temporality, Israel thinks in terms of an extended present.

But Israel is just part of the problem. The Jewish lobby is also blinded to the immanent disaster it brings on Diaspora Jews. Like Israel, the lobby only thinks in terms of short term gain. It seeks more and more power. It never looks back , and neither does it regret. 

To sum up, the notion of temporality is the ability to accept that the past is ‘elastic’. The notion of temporality allows the time arrow  to move in both directions. From the past, forward, but also, from the (imaginary) future, backward. Temporality allows the past to be shaped and revised in the light of a search for meaning. History, and historical thinking, are the capacity to re-think the past. Ethics is bounded with temporality, for ethics is the ability to judge and reflect on issues that transcend beyond the ‘here and now’. To think ethically is to produce a principled judgment that stands the test of time.

Looking at the Past

To a significant extent then, the ability to revise one’s perspective on, and understanding of the past, is the true essence of historical thinking -- it allows us to reshape our comprehension of the past through an awareness of an imaginary future perspective, and vice versa. To think historically becomes a meaningful event once our past experience allows us to foresee a better future.

Revisionism then, is imbued in the deepest possible understanding of temporality, and therefore inherent to humanity and humanism. And it is obvious that those who oppose proper and open historical debate are operating not only against the foundations of humanism, but also against ethics.

And yet, in Israel some lawmakers insist that commemoration  and historical debate of the Nakba should become illegal. And, interestingly enough,  Jewish anti Zionists also oppose any attempt to deconstruct or revise Jewish past. I, for instance,  have been criticised recently for being an ‘anti Semite’ for suggesting that Zionism is not colonialism.  In case you do not know, this conference was under severe pressure mounted by some leading Jewish anti Zionists who insisted on preventing any discussion about the history of Jewish suffering.  

But I guess that it is pretty clear by now that my philosophical outlook is not very flattering to Jewish political and ideological discourse. Yet, the truth must be spoken: Jewish  political discourse openly opposes any form of revisionism. Jewish politics is there to fix and cement a narrative and terminology. 

Though the Zionist ideology presents itself as a historical narrative, it took me many years to grasp that Zionism, Jewish identity politics and ideology were actually crude, blunt assaults on history, the notion of history and temporality. Zionism, in fact,  only mimics an historical discourse. In practice, Zionism like other forms of Jewish political discourse, defies any form of historical discussion. Thus, those who follow the Zionist and Jewish political ideologies are doomed to drift away from humanism, humanity and ethical conduct.  Such an explanation may throw light on Israeli criminal conduct and Jewish institutional support for Israel.

Self-Reflection Is Overdue

Inventing a past, as Shlomo Sand suggests, is not the most worrying issue when it comes to Israel and Zionism. People and nations do tend to invent their past.

However, celebrating one’s phantasmic past at the expense of others is obviously a concerning ethical issue. But in the case of Israel the problem goes deeper.  It is the attempt to seal the yesterdays that led to the collective ethical collapse of Israel and its supporting crowd.

However, as much as I enjoy bashing Israel and Zionism, I will also have to ask you to self-reflect. Sadly enough, Israel is not alone. As tragic as it appears to be, America and Britain also managed to willingly give up on temporality. It is the lack of true historical discourse that stopped Britain and America from understanding their future, present and past. As in the case of Jewish ‘history’, American and British politicians insist on a banal, binary and simplistic historic tale regarding WWII, The Cold War, Islam, and the events of 9/11.  Tragically, the criminal Anglo-American genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan, AKA ‘The War against Terror’, is a continuation of our self-inflicted blindness. Since Britain and America failed to grasp the necessary message from the massacres in Hamburg and Dresden, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, there was nothing that could stop English-speaking imperialism from committing similar crimes in Korea, Vietnam,
Afghanistan and Iraq.

And what about you, my dearest Germans. What about your past? Are you free to look into your past and to re-shape your understanding of it as you move along? I don’t think so. Your history, or at least some chapters of it, are sealed by some draconian laws. Consequently, you younger generation do not attempt to grasp the true ethical meaning of the holocaust. Clearly,  Germans do not understand that the Palestinians are actually the last victims of Hitler, for without Hitler, there wouldn’t be a Jewish State. Your young generations fail to see that the Palestinians are certainly victims of a Nazi-like ideology, which is both racist and expansionist. Let me also advise you, if any of you feel guilty about anything to do with your past, it should be the Palestinians whom you should care for. The fact that Germany is detached from its past clearly explains German political complicity in the Zionist crime. It certainly explains why your government provides Israel with a nuclear submarine every so often. But it also explains why you may remain silent when you find out that Yad Vashem is built on Palestinian land stolen in 1948.  

But it isn’t just Israel, Zionism, Britain, America and Germany. Let us look at ourselves, the supporters of Justice in Palestine. Even within our movement, we have some destructive elements who insist that we shouldn’t dare to touch our past: in the last month, Café Palestine Freiburg and the organiser of this conference were subjected to relentless attack by some established elements within the Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist movement.  They were demanding that the conference should drop me because I am a ‘holocaust denier’. Needless to say, I have never denied the Holocaust. I also find the notion of ‘holocaust denial’ to be meaningless, and on the verge of idiotic.

However, I do indeed insist, as I did here today, that history must remain an open discourse, subject to changes and revision, I oppose any attempt to seal the past, whether it is the Nakba, Holocaust, or the Armenian genocide. I am convinced  that an organic and ‘elastic’ understanding of the past is the true essence of a  humanist discourse, universalism and ethics.  

I clearly don’t know how to save Israel from itself, I do not know how to liberate Jewish anti Zionists from their Judeo centric ideology; but as far as America, Britain, Germany, the West, and us here today are concerned, all we  have to do is to revert to our precious values of openness.

We must drift away from a restrictive, monolithic Jerusalem, and reinstate the ethical spirit of pluralist Athens

Italian Translation of Gilad Atzmon´s Freiburg speech "Essere nel Tempo"