Who the Hell are We? Uri Avnery

...Might better be asked, What The Hell Are We? — OR, Adventures in the Occupied Mind


by Uri Avnery, … with Gush Shalom

“We are not temporary tenants in this country, ready at any moment to go and join our brother and sister Jews around the globe. We belong to this country…” – Uri Avnery 

[ Editor’s note: Uri explains a piece of history about the evolution from being Jewish to being Israeli – a question that many casual observers have wondered about – and he uses the analogy of British people moving to America where, after a couple generations, the immigrants decided they were American, not British. But, it’s the same old colonial story, an unending cycle of repression and revolution, followed by repression.

Atzmon’s Being in Time is a substantive critique of identity politics and Jewish political ideology, and is an essential read for understanding authoritarianism and beyond

We have still have the freedom to work on Uri’s weekly puzzle below and to find the truths and fallacies in it. Some good analysis is intermixed with an attempt to justify Zionistic principles and Identitarian politics.

It would seem, Israel’s breech-birth existence 70 years ago from a dystopian culture of fear is only sustained now by a hunkered-down group supported by big money interests, resorting to a form of reverse terrorism to demean human dignity.

Uri’s weekly apologist articles remind us in some way about how weathered and ineffectual the controlled media appears to be. And that’s why VT is here — to keep shining a light on this, after all other lights have been extinguished.

For a bonus sentimental journey back to the 1990s, take a moment to watch the classic Norman Finkelstein video at the bottom, where he debates Blitzer (you can set the video to 1.25 speed and hop around) … Jim W. Dean ]

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Jim's work includes research, field trips, Heritage TV Legacy archiving & more. Thanks for helping. Click to donate >>

“You’re either with us, or agin’ us.” – Dubya

– First published August 4, 2018

Years ago I had a friendly discussion with Ariel Sharon. I told him: “I am first of all an Israeli. After that I am a Jew.”

He responded heatedly: “I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!” That may look like an abstract debate. But in reality, this is the question that lies at the heart of all our basic problems. It is the core of the crisis which is now rending Israel apart.

The immediate cause of this crisis is the law that was adopted in great haste last week by the rightist Knesset majority. It is entitled “Basic Law: Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People”.

This is a constitutional law. When Israel was founded during the war of 1948, it did not adopt a constitution. There was a problem with the Orthodox religious community, which made an agreed formula impossible. Instead David Ben-Gurion read out a “Declaration of Independence”, which announced that “we are founding the Jewish State, namely the State of Israel”.

The declaration did not become law. The Supreme Court adopted its principles without a legal basis. The new document, however, is a binding law.

So what is new about the new law, which at a first glance looks like a copy of the declaration?

It contains two important omissions: the declaration spoke of a “Jewish and Democratic” state, and promised full equality between all its citizens, without regard to religion, ethnicity or sex. All this has disappeared. No democracy. No equality. A state of the Jews, for the Jews, by the Jews.

The first to cry out were the Druze. The Druze are a small and close-knit minority. They send their sons to serve in the Israeli army and police and consider themselves “blood brothers”. Suddenly they have been robbed of all their legal rights and sense of belonging.

Tens of thousands of members of Israel’s Druze minority and their Jewish supporters, some chanting “equality,” packed a central Tel Aviv square Saturday night to rally against a contentious new law that critics say sidelines Israel’s non-Jewish citizens.

Are they Arabs or not? Muslims or not? That depends on who is speaking, where and what for. They threaten to demonstrate, to leave the army and generally rebel. Binyamin Netanyahu tries to bribe them, but they are a proud community.

However, the Druze are not the main point. The new law completely ignores the 1.8 million Arabs who are Israeli citizens, including the Bedouin and Christians. (No one even thinks about the hundreds of thousands of European Christians, who immigrated with their Jewish spouses and other relatives, mainly from Russia.)

The Arabic language with all its splendor, which until now was one of the two official languages, was demoted to a mere “special status”, whatever that means.

(All this applies to Israel proper, not to the 5 million or so Arabs in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who have no rights at all.)

1-Minute Video…

Netanyahu is defending this law like a lion against mounting criticism from within. He has publicly declared that all the Jewish critics of the law are leftists and traitors (synonyms), “who have forgotten what it is to be Jewish”. And that is really the point.

Years ago, my friends and I asked the Supreme Court to change the “nationality” entry in our identity cards, from “Jewish” to “Israeli”. The courts refused, stating that there is no Israeli nation. The official register recognizes almost a hundred nations, but not an Israeli one.

This curious situation started with the birth of Zionism in the late 19th century. It was a Jewish movement, designed to solve the Jewish Question. The settlers in Palestine were Jewish. The whole project was closely connected with Jewish tradition.

But once a second generation of settlers grew up, they felt uneasy about being just Jewish, like Jews in Brooklyn or Krakow. They felt that they were something new, different, special.

The most extreme were a small group of young poets and artists, who in 1941 formed an organization nicknamed “the Canaanites”, who proclaimed that we were a new nation, a Hebrew one. In their enthusiasm they went to extremes, declaring that we have nothing to do with Jews abroad, and that there was no Arab nation – Arabs were just Hebrews who had adopted Islam.

Then there came the news of the Holocaust, the Canaanites were forgotten and everybody became remorseful super-Jews.

But not really. Without a conscious decision, the popular language of my generation adopted a clear distinction: Jewish Diaspora and Hebrew agriculture, Jewish history and Hebrew battalions, Jewish religion and Hebrew language.

When the British were here, I took part in dozens of demonstrations shouting “Free Immigration! Hebrew State!”. I don’t remember a single demonstration where anyone shouted “Jewish State!”

So why does the Declaration of Independence speak of a “Jewish State”? Simple: it was alluding to the UN resolution which decreed the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The founders simply stated that we are now setting up this Jewish state.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, the legendary forefather of the Likud, wrote an anthem declaring “A Hebrew is the son of a prince”.

Actually, this is a natural process. A nation is a territorial unit. It is conditioned by its landscape, climate, history, neighbors.

When the British settled in America, they felt after some time that they were different from the British they had left behind in their island. They became Americans.

The British convicts sent to the Far East became Australians. In two World Wars, Australians rushed to the rescue of Britain, but they are not British. They are a proud new nation. So are Canadians, New Zealanders, and Argentinians. And so are we.

Or would have been, if official ideology had allowed it. What has happened?

First of all, there was the huge immigration from the Arab world and Eastern Europe in the early fifties – for every one Hebrew there were two, three, four new immigrants, who considered themselves Jews.

Then there was the need for money and political support from the Jews abroad, especially in the US. These, while considering themselves full and true Americans (try and say they are not, you bloody anti-Semite!) are proud to have a Jewish State somewhere.

And then there was (and is!) a rigorous government policy of Judaization of everything. The present government has reached new heights. Active – even frantic – government actions try to Judaize education, culture, even sports. Orthodox Jews, a small minority in Israel, exert immense influence. Their votes in the Knesset are essential to the Netanyahu government.

When the State of Israel was founded, the term Hebrew was exchanged for the term Israeli. Hebrew is now only a language.

So is there an Israeli nation? Of course there is. Is there a Jewish nation? Of course there isn’t.

Jews are members of an ethnic-religious people, dispersed throughout the world and belonging to many nations, with a strong feeling of affinity with Israel. We, in this country, belong to the Israeli nation, whose Hebrew members are part of the Jewish people.

It is crucial that we recognize this. It decides our outlook. Quite literally. Are we looking towards Jewish centers like New York, London, Paris and Berlin, or are we looking towards our neighbors, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo? Are we part of a region inhabited by Arabs? Do we realize that making peace with these Arabs, and especially the Palestinians, is the main task of this generation?

We are not temporary tenants in this country, ready at any moment to go and join our brother and sister Jews around the globe. We belong to this country and are going to live here for many generations to come, and therefore we must become peaceful neighbors in this region, which I called, 75 years ago, “the Semitic Region”.

The new Nation Law, by its clearly semi-fascist nature, shows us how urgent this debate is. We must decide who we are, what we want, where we belong. Otherwise we will be condemned to a permanent state of impermanence.


Finkelstein Dismantles the Logic of Zionism


The Difference Between Judaism and Zionism


Celebrities Speaking About Zionist Jews


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  1. Dear “Uri” “Avnery”

    You are a Hebrew only if the Eskimos are Hebrews. How does a German get the nonsense that he the white man is a Hebrew? Based on what? If the “Uri” were to visit some Arab villages, the children will run away scared because he looks so alien to them. Here – look at him at this link. We do not have people who look German like the “Uri” does. Accept the white or pink skin you were born with and leave our region alone.


  2. Norman Finkelstein is a ZIONIST, is he not?

    They do play very sophisticated games on us. For example, Finkelstein
    almost always debates hardcore Zionists like Dershowitz or Wolf
    Blitzer. Well, that is very easy for him to do, a five year old could
    win hands down since Zionism is devoid of logic. Therefore,
    Finkelstein is always paraded as the ‘good Jew’, the caring Jew in
    comparison to ,say, Dershowitz or Wolf Blitzer. But see what happens
    when he agreed to debate his former teacher James Petras. Petras
    just shredded Finkelstein to pieces and he would have demolished him
    totally had the interviewer, a Jewish woman, not interrupted Petras
    repeatedly when the going was getting tough for Finkelstein. As you
    watch to this video, you will notice that she would allow all the
    time Finkelstein wanted but interrupted Petras repeatedly.


  3. Finkelstein deceptively pretends he did not hear the question:
    “Why Palestine?”

    I almost knew what Blitzer was going to say, the problem was with Finkelstein, the pretender, the deceiver. The question was quite straightforward: why are the Jews in Palestine? Finkelstein completely changed the question. Finkelstein is like all ‘the good Jews’ who say they came to live ‘alongside but not instead of’.

    Here is the question and watch how Finkelstein pretended not to know what the question was.
    To Wolf Blitzer: You imply that Israel has the right to exist because of what happened to the Jews during WW2. Why in Palestine? Don’t the Palestinians too have a right to a secure homeland? Why do they have to suffer and make way to the Jews.

    Blitzer: Lots of arrogant statements – did not answer the question

    Finkelstein: The question that was put to him was if we accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel, why don’t we also accept the legitimacy of a Palestinian state? And Mr. Blitzer went on to tell us all the good reasons why we should accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel – something by the way which I concur with. But that still does not answer the question. If one does accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel, why doesn’t one also accord the same rights to self determination and statehood to the Palestinians? That was the question as I understand it that was put to him.


  4. “Avnery” Years ago I had a friendly discussion with Ariel Sharon. I told him: “I am first of all an Israeli. After that I am a Jew.”

    Me: Israel+i is word invented the day the Jews of Europe declared a state on stolen land and they simply copied from Arabic and Islamic nationality names of Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali and so on. A people without shame who would steal anything that is Arabic.
    “Avnery” “Basic Law: Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People”.

    Me: Not of the African or South American Jews who have been prevented from entering Palestine.
    “Avnery” When Israel was founded during the war of 1948

    Me: Yea, white Europeans simply invaded our land. What distresses me about this white delusional dude who thinks he is is a Hebrew is that he occupied our land for 70 years and his body will occupy our soil when he dies.

  5. ” is only sustained now by a hunkered-down group supported by big money interests”
    For me Israel is a “Hideout”. Lord Rothschild has the deed of possession for this place. This bunch of Devils know very well why Israel was needed and it has nothing to do with poor ol’ Jews. It is a sort of cave where they can do whatever they want without anyone sticking their noses in there to find out what is being planned. You could say it is Insurance. Insurance such that if try to go after these sharks you can bet your bottom dollar that the counter reaction will come from here. That’s why getting nukes was very high on their list of requirements so that if anyone got in the way of this they WERE eliminated.

  6. Well. I would argue that America is an amalgamation of bloodline monarchy and religious dominion. A joint venture of capital and thought dominion. The people who came were not all ‘British’, but people who sought refuge from monarchy and religion, only to see it follow them again, and establish dominion again. The struggle is not over as we are an experiment, where Israel was an intentional occupation with a specific focus on a specific religion and bloodline. The US constitution was based on the Iroquois Confederacy, and should be held to that, and as we see now, Rome and Israel, and Britain hold the upper hand. The alliance between Saudi’s Israeli’s Catholics and the monarchies of Europe work together. If we want to be free of that , Tax the religions.

    • Islam in the US would be the least affected religion if property taxes were applied. I would think Islam would be heavily in favor of taxation of religion run the US. Besides, all religions are constantly talking of “kicking the money changers out of the temple “,.. well,.. we should do it, and stop talking about it. No religion is forced to apply for tax free status…..it is a conscious choice, with only one motive.

  7. When one listens to arrogant folks like Wolf Blitzer or Netanyahu or most of the rest, they obviously do not know how to be a good neighbor. They falsely believe that it is ok for them to steal lands from neighbors, move the property markers surreptitiously at night, and then wonder why the neighbor hates them in the morning after. It is just like Finkelstein stated. One set of rules for the selfish Jews, another set of rules for everyone else like lower class Palestinians. All the world hears every day is new about whiny selfish, egoists, arrogant liars, cheaters gang rapists of human rights in Israel against others, the most recent being the mercy ship from Norway which was hi jacked by Israeli thugs. How many UN resolutions condemning Israel has the U.S. vetoed? All this must end and will end at some point, likely a world war. Israel must stop treating others differently than they themselves expect to be treated. Evidently they need to return to grade school and have a teacher give every bully a good thrashing in front of the others. How ignorant, arrogant insolent and stupid and blind can a group continue to be?
    The late Henry Ford was absolutely 100% correct about them about a century ago in his newspaper the Dearborn Independent. You can’t expect to receive respect from a neighbor if you steal his land at night. It is that simple. In fact, many have been shot dead doing this crime of trespassing.

    • Correction: In line 7 above the word new should read news.
      Abridged from the original as published by the world renowned industrial leader,

      Appearing originally in the periodical published by the Ford Motor Co.
      “The Dearborn Independent.”
      https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-4294304-stock-footage–s-the-funeral-of-henry-ford-in.html Look at this very long line of people, on a cold winter day in Detroit in 1947, waiting to say good bye to the single man who did so much to improve their lives. Henry Ford was a genius with little formal education born on a Farm in Michigan in 1863. Pray for more Henry Ford’s to come along and save America from the selfish thieves he sought to expose in his great newspaper the Dearborn Independent.

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