Israel’s kosher philosopher
By Gilad Atzmon
Jews and philosophy have had a pretty troubled relationship. The collision between “the tribal” and “the universal” or, more accurately, between Jerusalem and Athens, is inevitable. The few great Jewish thinkers who transcended the tribal, such as Benedictus de Spinoza or Otto Weininger, have been harassed and labelled by the rabbis as “self haters” and enemies of the Jews.
Some contemporary Zionist merchants insist upon wrapping their Judaeo centrism in crypto philosophical arguments. Bernard-Henri Levy, for instance, advocates his Zionist warmongering using a pseudo “moralist” terminology.
Today I came across a uniquely banal rant by Asa Kasher, a Jewish “philosopher” at Tel Aviv University. Kasher, who also authored the Israeli armed forces’ “ethical code”, defended Israel’s military conduct in the recent Gaza campaign in an article published in the Jewish Review of Books.
The Talmud and The Old Testament are suffocated by goy [gentile] hatred and stories of Jews and their God pouring their “wrath on the goyim”.
Kasher wrote: “Hamas unscrupulously violates every norm in the book.” And I wonder, what book? I would like to find out, at a minimum, what “book” grants the Jewish state the right to uproot an entire nation in the name of a Jewish homecoming? Is there a book that permits the Jews to turn a city into an open-air prison? Is there a book that legitimises reducing Gaza into a pile of rubble?
I am afraid that the answer is affirmative. There is more than one such book. But these books aren’t exactly philosophical texts. These books are the prime Judaic texts. The Talmud and The Old Testament are suffocated by goy [gentile] hatred and stories of Jews and their God pouring their “wrath on the goyim”. Rabbinical Judaism has historically been very careful in the way it treated some of those vile and barbaric Judaic verses and teachings. But Israel and Zionism draw inspiration from those genocidal verses, and the outcome is evident in the shattered urban landscape of Gaza.
Unlike the very few Jews who actually contributed to humanity by means of self-reflection (such as Jesus, Spinoza and Marx), Kasher prefers pointing at Hamas. He denounces Palestinian militants for indiscriminately rocketing Israeli cities. I wonder if the same “Kosher Aristotle” would go out of his way to denounce Jewish militants in Auschwitz if they had possessed the ballistic capability to rocket Berlin and had acted upon it? I doubt it.
Back in the 18th century, in a remarkable attempt to formulate an anthropocentric, ethical requirement that was justified by means of reason, Immanuel Kant presented the Categorical Imperative: “act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law”.
…Kasher blurs the crucial distinction between civilians and combatants and between the innocent and the perpetrator.
Let’s examine Kasher’s thoughts in the light of Kant’s imperative. If the Israeli army operated ethically in Gaza, as Kasher foolishly suggests, then every military force should be expected to follow the Israeli army’s “universal law”: flatten entire cities, uproot nations, murder innocent civilians, and so on. Perhaps a Zionist Jew can follow such awkward reasoning.
Kasher further asks: “Does the presence of large numbers of non-combatants in the vicinity of a building that is directly involved in terrorist assaults on Israelis render that building immune to Israeli attack?” Kasher continues: “The answer is, and must be, no. Israel cannot forfeit its ability to protect its citizens against attacks simply because terrorists hide behind non-combatants. If it did so, it would be giving up any right to self-defence.”
Consciously or not, the banal Israeli so-called “philosopher” evinces the complete opposite of philosophical, ethical or universal principled thinking. Instead, he provides a glimpse into Jewish tribal ethno-centrism in which “goodness” is defined solely by Jewish interests.
In a total dismissal of international conventions and of ethical judgment, Kasher blurs the crucial distinction between civilians and combatants and between the innocent and the perpetrator.
The verdict is obvious. That Israel repeatedly behaves unethically goes without saying, but reading Kasher reveals that the Jewish State also lacks the notion of an ethical horizon. Even its academic authority on the subject is totally incompetent.
This is disturbing but not surprising.