Noel Ignatiev's Blog

Memoir of an Ex-Jew 8

A nation is commonly thought of as a group of people who share a language and culture and who have developed together in a region. While nationalism may be progressive or reactionary, or a mixture of both, race doctrine is invariably reactionary. The difference between them can be seen by comparing Herder and Hitler, or Abraham Lincoln and the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Defenders of Israel howl with rage when it is pointed out that Israeli society is based on an ideology of race.[1] How can that be so, they ask, when Israeli Jews come in all colors? That is beside the point: So do the people in America known variously as African-American, Afro-American, Black, black, Negro, colored, etc., as anyone will see who looks—actually looks—at them. So, too, do Palestinians. Race is a social, not a biological, category. The key is not appearance. It is  not even descent measured by neutral biological standards. (DNA studies have suggested that modern-day Palestinians are more directly descended from the ancient inhabitants of Canaan than the European settlers who displaced them.) The key to race is the assigning of individuals to a social position based on descent as ascribed by those in authority. In the Zionist entity citizenship is assigned on the basis of descent (true or falsified), or the approval of the dominant race. That system is the very essence of race.[2] The Zionists brought people from fifty countries, speaking different languages and practicing different religions (or no religion at all), and defined them as a single people based on the fiction that they, and only they, are descended from the Biblical Abraham. The claim is so patently false that only Zionists and Nazis even pretend to take it seriously. What gives it force is the power of the State. The steps that created the Jewish race—the Conquest of Land and Labor, the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, etc.—have been recounted in any number of places.[3]

Zionist authorities have mobilized an army of archeologists to search the soil of the Holy Land looking for evidence of the ancient glories of the “Jewish people.” To that army they now have added brigades of geneticists. I recently heard a talk by Nadia Abu El-Haj, “Return to Jewishness: Phylogenetics, Recognition and the Liberalism of a Colonial Imagination.” She talked about how some supporters of Israel are using DNA testing to “discover” new “Jews” around the world. The “science” is questionable at best (for obvious reasons, they do not compare the “Jewish” DNA with the DNA of indigenous Palestinians), but it is useful to Zionists who are running out of Jews in Europe and North America willing to “return.” She told stories of people in the U.S. who upon discovering their “Jewish” ancestry developed an interest in “their culture.”

People “rediscovering” a culture they never had is the reflection in thought of people “returning” to a land they never inhabited. It is the mirror image of the Woody Allen film in which the main character, dissatisfied with Judaism and seeking spiritual fulfillment in a Catholic church, returns home with a crucifix, a loaf of white bread and a jar of mayonnaise.

In 1990 the New York Times reported the existence of people in New Mexico who lit candles on Friday and performed other Judaic rites. They were evidently descendants of New Christians (Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity) who settled there after 1598. Some of them knew of their Judaic ancestry and kept it secret. Others had no idea of why they performed these acts except that they had “always” done so. They had lost all consciousness of themselves as Jews. More important, other than these few rituals, they lived in no way differently from other descendants of Spanish settlers of New Spain in the area, and maintained no special ties with the thousands of Jews of Eastern European ancestry living in Santa Fe and other cities of New Mexico. They, too, will undoubtedly be claimed as part of the “Jewish people” and invited to “return” (to Israel, not Spain). If they have any sense they will stay where they are.

In 2002, the Israeli press reported on a group of Indians from Peru who had converted to Judaism and moved to Israel, where they were relocated on what was once Palestinian land. Nachson Ben-Haim (formerly Pedro Mendosa) said he had no problem with that. “You cannot conquer what has in any case belonged to you since the time of the patriarch, Abraham.” Ben-Haim said he was looking forward to joining the Israeli army to defend the country. Ben-Haim and his coreligionists had moved to Israel with the agreement of the Jewish community in Peru, which did not want them because of the Indians’ low socioeconomic status. Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

[1] They were especially outraged by the UN resolution declaring that Zionism is racism. Under pressure Palestinian authorities capitulated and the resolution was overturned. But if Zionism is not racism then the term has no meaning.

[2] In the U.S. the white skin brought citizenship, freedom of movement, the right to sell oneself by the day or month instead of being sold for life, access to land, education, etc. Never mind that from 1790 to 1965 U.S. courts faced a series of problems determining who was white, just as Zionist courts have twisted themselves into contortions trying to determine who was Jewish: it worked to dampen conflict between otherwise antagonistic classes, and that was enough. Many people have written extensively on this subject. If before the French Revolution the aristocracy had been of one color, the bourgeoisie of another and the masses of peasants and urban poor a third, then historians would treat it as a race war. That would be mystification, because the conflict among the classes would have been the same without a difference in color. Race as a social formation exists where color or some other inherited marker has social value independent of wealth, gender, nationality or any other factor that assigns rank. In Ireland and Palestine the inherited marker was “religion” instead of color, hair texture, etc.

[3] See Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State.

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