Tomislav Sunic and Kevin MacDonald on Gilad Atzmon & The Jews

Who is Gilad Atzmon? According to Wikipedia, he’s an Israeli-born British jazz musician. “His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on Holocaust denial and Jewish history, have led to allegations of antisemitism and racism from both Zionists and leading anti-Zionists.”

Kevin MacDonald is also a musician and that connects directly with his scholarship because his musical ear gives him an advantage at spotting cultural dissonance.

Kevin reviews Gilad’s book The Wandering Who. Gilad replies.

Kevin tells Croatian-American intellectual Tom Sunic: “He has quite a few blind spots. He thinks that prior to Zionism, it was purely a religion and had nothing to do with race. In reality, Judaism over its history has been very concerned with inter-marriage, very prop up the borders and not let other people in. He sees Zionism as the original sin of Judaism and I see these tendencies as going back in history.”

Who is Kevin MacDonald? He is the most formidable critic of the Jews in history. He’s the first person to crack the code of how Jews relate to their non-Jewish host countries. MacDonald views anti-Semitism as a function of competing interests rather than as manifestations of irrationality.

Kevin: “If you’re a Jew and you’re opposed to Israel, [Jews] will ostracize you. You’ll be on the outside. You won’t have much involvement with Jewish community affairs. They push you out.”

Tom: “How would somebody in the United States recognize a Zionist as opposed to a Judaist?”

Kevin: “You just have to talk to the person and see what they believe and look at their actions too. Atzmon and Philip Weiss are opposed to Israel. There are some Jews opposed to Zionism and some Jews are apathetic. They’re not the problem. The problem is people who are 24/7 Jews and Israel is foremost on their mind.”

What does Kevin mean that this is a problem? He means that if they are residing in non-Jewish lands but their primary national loyalty is to Jews and the Jewish state, this is a problem for the host nations. If these Jews seek to make their host lands more multi-cultural and multi-racial through increased immigration and through weakening the goyim’s racial, cultural, religious and national ties (as many leading left-wing secular Ashkenazi intellectuals such as the Frankfurt School have done), this is a problem for non-Jewish whites.

Kevin: “The vast majority of Jews who support Israel have no problem calling themselves Zionist. Zionist is very respectable in the Jewish community.”

Haredi Jews are not Zionists.

Kevin: “Zionist is not pejorative in the American media but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in Europe. Europe is cutting its ties with Israel. They’re not on board with the American gung-ho unconditional support for Israel.”

Tom: “What is a self-hating Jew?”

Kevin: “A Jew who opposes some idea that Jews hold dear. If you are opposed to Israel, you’re a self-hating Jew. Atzmon feels he’s doing the wonderful thing. He’s a classical liberal. He’s a child of the enlightenment. He strongly believes in Western civilization. He realizes that western individualization, freedom, liberty are wonderful. He thinks that Zionism is the opposite of that. I think he’s right. Zionism is racial politics, it’s exclusionary and all about ethnic cleansing and apartheid. He hates what Judaism and Israel have become. He’s very opposed to the Israel lobby in America. He says that the American army is the tool of the Israel lobby. It’s true. We have gone off and fought these wars [Iraq and Afghanistan]. He realizes that western culture is far superior to what he saw in Israel growing up.”

Israel did not push for the US to invade Iraq and Afghanistan but many of Israel’s supporters in America (the neo-cons) said that these wars would be good for Israel.

Tom: “It’s normal to be critical [of your own kind]. I can be critical of the Croatian people and about the whites, but when it comes to Jews being critical about themselves, it is rare to come across some deep analysis like Gilad Atzmon, Yuri Slezkine, and Norman Finkelstein.”

Kevin: “These core Jews who run the Jewish community set the boundaries and anyone outside of that gets a label as a self-hating Jew, an anti-Semite. Atzmon asks, why were Jews hated so much throughout history? Now that is something you cannot ask as a Jew and still be considered part of the Jewish community.”

“People who agree with me politically, we often talk about white people as self-hating whites. This guilt that white people have. We excoriate them for that. You’re just self-hating. We’re trying to draw the same sort of boundaries. We want to develop a community of people who are strongly identifying and we want to have labels for those who are not on page… It’s something that any strongly identifying in-group has to do.”

“People who are anti-Jewish love it when they can find a Jew who fits with their point of view. They enjoy citing Jewish authors who are critical of Jews in some way.”

“Jews in general do not want non-Jews meddling in their affairs. Jews certainly write about Europeans and they analyze European culture. Part of the problem I’ve always had in getting my books accepted is that Jews do not want to deal with the fact that someone else is analyzing them.”

“It’s a marker of how intensely their group is defended. They just don’t want criticism. If the criticism is going to come from anyone, it is going to come from the inside who make most of the assumptions they would have. There are very few Jews who are truly renegade Jews.”

“If I were to write Atzmon’s book, it would be ignored more than if Atzmon wrote it because he is Jewish and he has all these Jewish contacts.”

“Atzmon is aware that if anti-Semitism did not exist, strongly identifying Jews would have to create it. Zionism is maintained by anti-Semitism. The perception of anti-Semitism creates a bunker mentality that justifies everything… When a group is under threat, they become more bonded to each other. There’s a stronger in-group sense. They become really defensive. It’s a very good strategy. As a result, Israel is beset. The people around them, these Muslim societies, don’t like Israel at all. And a lot of it is because of Israeli behavior. At the same time, all this hatred produces a sense of threat, which then justifies everything they do. For example, the Holocaust could be used as an excuse for attacking Iran. You attack Iran because Iran is supposedly threatening Jews with extinction. It justifies anything.”

Kevin says: “I don’t like Israel.” Well, he’s expressing a feeling there, so I can’t do much with his feeling, but I’m going to try.

If Kevin had to live somewhere in the Middle East, I think Israel would be the only place he’d find acceptable because it is the only first-world democracy with the rule of law and freedom of speech. Kevin and Tom say that Israel deals harshly with its enemies and again it gives me joy to differ. Considering the nature of its enemies and the difficulty of its existence, I can’t see how Israel could have been more gentle with its enemies and still survived as a distinct nation.

In my view, if Israel acted like the most righteous nation that ever existed in history (while still surviving intact), Muslims would hate it just as much.

Kevin and Tom talk about the possibility of a righteous Jew assassinating Gilad Atzmon and while that could happen, it is unlikely as Jews participate in criminal violence at a much lower rate than do non-Jews. You don’t fear for your life walking through a Jewish neighborhood. When was the last time Jews in the diaspora assassinated a critic? I can’t think of an example.

Critics of religion, for good reason, have much more fear about criticizing Islam than about criticizing Judaism. When was the last time Jews rioted over mockery of their sacred text? I can’t think of an example. It’s inconceivable that cartoons poking fun of Moses and the Torah would cause Jews to riot in such a vicious way that dozens of innocent people would be killed (unlike the Muslims over the Mohammed cartoons in 2005).

The Jewish state has about as free a press as European countries. Israeli newspapers feel free to criticize the government and to critique Jewish behavior. There’s no similar freedom in Islamic countries. Israel is much more like the West in these things than it is like third-world or second-world countries.

I disagree with Kevin and Tom about the lack of Jewish self-criticism. It seems to me to be more widespread than they say. No religious text is as critical of its own group as the Torah. Philip Roth and other great Jewish writers have carried on that tradition. It would be weird if Jews only used their high intelligence, education and capacity for analysis of others and not themselves.

Kevin: “Gilad Atzmon talks about all these socialization forces in the Jewish community. This pre-traumatic stress syndrome to make Jews feel like they are about to be destroyed. That everybody is against them. That the entire UN is just anti-Jewish and wants their destruction and they are about to be extinguished and the only thing that can save them is to be really aggressive and to deal with their enemies. He calls the Holocaust a religion because its got prophets like Elie Wiesel and Simon Wiesenthal, it’s got commandments and dogmas, it’s got memorial days, symbols, temples. The culture of the Holocaust pervades the West. You can’t question it. It has become this rationale for anything that Israel does. Since he opposes what Israel does, he’s naturally going to question this aspect of the Holocaust.”

“Jews have all these theories that anti-Semitism is completely irrational. But if Jews have been hated everywhere they’ve gone, then the idea that it is irrational says all people are crazy, insane and irrational. When I talk about anti-Semitism, I talk about real conflicts of interest.”

“With the bunker mentality, …when there’s any sign of anti-Semitism, when someone paints a swastika on a synagogue, we have to stamp it out… This eternal threat. That things are gruesome and about to get worse. That’s their mentality.”

“He sees these tendencies in the Old Testament to destroy everyone… Then he says that this is the way Israel is acting. That Israel is acting like these Old Testament kind of people who are getting rid of their enemies totally.”

“If you are a serious Jew and you are looking at the Old Testament, it says you should get rid of these people. You should be willing to kill them. In the Old Testament, God promises Abraham all the land between the Nile and the Euphrates.”

Kevin makes clear that there is no evidence for the Khazar theory about the origin of Ashkenazi Jews.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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