For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Proteus Arrested

A review of Joachim Martillo’s lecture on Failure of Jewish Studies in America


November 19, 2002


The extensive lecture of our friend and correspondent Joachim Martillo[i] contains some very good ideas which could be used in discourse. He rejects Zionists’ equation of ancient and modern Jews and reminds us that the term ‘Jews’ is an anachronism. Indeed, one can reject the idea of Jewish continuity, and say that there is very little connection between the Banu Israel of the Bible and the Jews of Hasmonean and Herodian Kingdom, between them and the Jews of Talmud, between them and Jews after 9th century etc. In other words, the name and the idea lived though its ethnic bearer changed. This deconstruction of Jewish pseudo-history is in line with works of Arthur Koestler, Paul Wexler, Leon Gumilev and other scholars.

For us, familiar with some ideas of Martillo from Internet, there is a chance to understand his outlook, usually obscured by brevity and jargon. Martillo tries to put Zionism in historical and geographical context of Eastern and Central Europe. He gives the Jews another name, Ashkenazi. In his opinion, an East European name will help to reduce the question to its normal proportions. He points out the similarities between nationalism and confessionalism of various East and Central European nations and Zionism. He describes Zionism as an ‘organic’ movement with ‘primordialist’ ideas, and objects to exceptionalism of Jewish scholars.


Alas, this reduction does not work. Much as one dislikes exceptionalism, it is not out of place dealing with this question. If Ashkenazis are an ordinary East European folk full of organic primordial ideas, just like Serbs, according to Martillo, why, then, in the dominant mainstream discourse all East European, indeed all organic movements bar Zionism are damned? Why this exclusion? Why nor Serbs, neither Japanese are allowed by the NY Times to have organic movement and primordialist drives? If the Jewish movement is so similar to the German Nazism, why one is damned and another one is blessed by mainstream? How come this small East European folk succeeded to dominate the discourse of the US and Russia, and to smaller extent, Europe? How come the biggest and most devastating financial weapon of our days is called George Soros? How come that the ideas of these ‘almost Serbs’ became the paradigm of the day under brand name of neo-liberalism? How come one can say whatever one wants about Serbs, but the very hint of anti-Semitism freezes ink in fountain pens?

Martillo’s comparison is very interesting but misleading. Zionism has indeed some features similar to organic European movements (“Nazis” etc), but are these features inherent or superficial? Is Zionism organic? Surely not, as it is the movement of eradication of all real traditions of Ashkenazi Jews and of all nature in their new habitat, in Palestine. It pretends to be organic in order to appeal to supporters of organic movements. Or, rather, it pretended in 1920s and 30s, when organic movements were on the rise.

Zionism has also some features similar to Socialist movements, but are these features basic? Kibbutz appears a socialist feature, until one looks closely and finds unique, “exceptionalist” quality of total racism, of military order, of brainwash.  Is Zionism socialist? No, it pretended to be socialist in order to appeal to the socialists, and with great success.

Nowadays, Zionist State appears to be an open society and democracy. Again, it is an appearance only, created to mislead and attract. There is no need for many examples, as you are aware of the real nature of murderous Israeli apartheid.

This is my objection to the attractive thesis of Martillo. Zionism, or the Jewish Movement, deserves exceptional treatment because it is exceptional by its ability for mimesis[ii], or mimicry[iii]. Nazi, Socialist, Democratic, whatever you wish, Protean if anything, Zionism can’t be comprehended in separation of other Jewish-led movements, from anti-Zionist Bund to non-Zionist Neo-Cons. The Jewish activity in Palestine appears to be part and parcel (and not the most important) of a bigger framework.

It is felt by leaders of the world who send their best ambassadors to our small and poor land. In Tel Aviv, they search for keys to the hearts of mighty, to the destroyer of treasuries George Soros, to the darling of Conservatives Conrad Black, via Michael Levy to the chief of Labour Tony Blair, via Richard Perle to George Bush, via plethora of media lords to the hearts of the American people. Prudence forces me to place a caveat: it is perceived as an integrated and interconnected whole, though it is very possible that whenever these important people meet they discuss golf on Bahamas.

A scientist in his heart, Martillo wants to classify Zionism and place it on a needle in his collection of East European monsters. But this monster is too big, and it calls for a spike, instead of a needle.



From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur

Alijah Gordon is hard as nails. Pennsylvania-born and bred, she belongs to the same almost extinct breed of Americans as Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs, and Paul Bowles, much-travelled, composed, knowledgeable, eternal expatriate completely at home in the tropical paradise. The chain-smoking clear-eyed slim old lady recently published a most tender and poetic memoir, In the Time of the Mishmish, telling of the days of her rebellious youth in Egypt.

Her rhythmic prose reminds of Joyce’s attempt to create a fugue. “A correspondent of the Christian-belief newspaper, a clean-looking fellow as all their men must be, moseys over”. Her descriptions of Egyptian daily life as seen by a young girl freshly from the States, are precise like a poem: “Boys romp, loosely housed in green and red stick-candy pyjamas, day’s happy, uninhibited dress. Men float in gallabiyas, a night-dress made grand, generous sleeves flapping as a swan’s wings clapping the amenable air, grace not a woman’s preserve”.


She came to discover world and discovered “Egypt the embodiment of her self’s projection, a nation like unto herself”. It is an absolutely personal book, sharing with us sensations, feelings, desires: “I walked on the surface of the world, slid on the utter flatness, at the edge of the east; an area for a dance, an expanse stealthfully entering and pushing our minds’ more circumscribed range”. In Egypt, she experienced this strange and familiar feeling of discovering one’s true home land far away from one’s place of birth. Alijah was not the first European charmed and captured by the Orient, but she was decisive and wise: she dismissed her background, embraced Islam and remained in the East.


The book gives an idea of ideological struggles of 1950s, when colonial powers, Islam, Pan-Arabism, Communism competed for the future of the biggest Middle Eastern country. Young Alijah meets Anwar as-Sadat, “a brown thin man, agile frame. He prays and smokes his Lucky Strike from a Dunhill holder. A long history has he, a plotter’s history, a history of assassins”. She goes on the train with Nasser, “full of chest, structurally the leader type, black, tightly knitted hair, kinked around his head, beak of a nose, eyes comprehending everything”. The Time of Mishmish does not deal directly but hints on events that made Alijah Gordon an important and influential figure in modern political Islam. That is why I placed this slim volume of suitable apricot colour on my bookshelf, between the Sheltering Sky and the Pilgrim’s Progress.


I sincerely recommend you to read this pleasant, poetic and insightful book, subtitled ‘A Painting in Twenty Parts’. Orders by email to the publisher.



[ii] The word is Greek and means “imitation”.

[iii] in biology, phenomenon characterized by the superficial resemblance of two or more organisms that are not closely related taxonomically. This resemblance confers an advantage—such as protection from predation—upon one or both organisms through some form of “information flow” that passes between the organisms and the animate agent of selection..