If they want to burn it, you want to read it!

By Gilad Atzmon, GiladAtzmon,
March 21, 2017. Jewish history is a chain of disasters: inquisitions,
holocausts and pogroms. Time after time, throughout their history, Jews find
themselves discriminated against, persecuted and expelled and, to most Jews,
this continuum of tragedy is largely a mystery. Yet one would expect that Jews,
clever people for sure, would peer into their past, understand it and take
whatever measures necessary to change their fate. 

I was born and raised in Israel
and it was many years before I realised that Israel was Palestine. When I was a
young Israeli boy, the Holocaust and Jewish suffering were somehow foreign to
me and my peers. It was the history of a different people, namely the diaspora
Jews and we young Israelis didn’t much like their Jewish past. We didn’t want
to associate ourselves with those people, so hated by so many, so often and in
so many different places. Erasing two thousand years of imaginary ‘exile’, we
saw ourselves as the sons and daughters of our Biblical ‘ancestors.’ We were
proud youngsters and we were disgusted by victimhood.

So Jewish suffering has, in many
ways, been a riddle to me. But yesterday, at the London School of Economics
(LSE), I witnessed a spectacle of Jewish bad behaviour, so incredible, that
much that hitherto had been unclear, suddenly became all too clear. 

Yesterday, at a talk given by
one of the greatest humanists of our generation, Professor. Richard Falk, it
took Israel-advocate Jonathan Hoffman just sixty minutes of intensive
hooliganism to cause him to be ejected from the hall.  As Hoffman and his
associate were thrown out of the building, the entire room expressed their
feelings by shouting “Out, out, out”

Hoffman wasn’t just a
run-of-the-mill thug. Waving his Jewish nationalist symbols, he was acting
openly as a Jewish-ethnic activist. Later I learned that he is associated with
many Jewish and Zionist institutions: BOD, Zionist Federation and so on.  

Behaving as he did with total
disrespect to an academic institution, did Hoffman think that the LSE was some
kind of yeshiva or
perhaps just his local synagogue? I guess not. My guess is he just assumed
that, like so many spaces in our country today, the LSE was simply ‘occupied’.
It seems that merely the presence in a room of just one Zionist is enough to
transform that room into occupied territory.

Never in my life have I seen an
entire room so united in its outrage and if anyone within the Jewish community
believes that hooliganism a la Hoffman & co is going to make Jews popular,
they are wrong. Judging by the reaction I witnessed in the LSE yesterday, there
is now total fatigue with Zionist thought control, book burning and brutality.

But I would also like to use
this opportunity to issue a sincere apology. In Falk’s book launch yesterday, I
suggested to a Palestinian supporter that, rather than reading Jewish historian
David Cesarani on the Holocaust, he may like to give David Irving a try. Some
Jewish students were outraged by my comment so I would like here to correct my
statement, to make it more inclusive and categorical. Don’t just read David
Irving. If you genuinely want to understand the world around you, make sure you
hear every voice these people want to suppress and read every text these people
try to burn.

If they want to burn it, you
want to read it!

 Once you’ve read it, you
decide whether the text should make it to your bookshelves – or to the pyre.

So to Jewish thought-controllers
and book burners, both Zionist and ‘anti’: You have clearly launched a war
against academic freedom. You are engaged in thought-control and book burning.
You have begun a fight with core Western values: openness, scholarship,
tolerance. All those things associated, not with Jerusalem, but with Athens. I
have no doubt that in this war you may win some battles, you may manage to
cancel a talk here and there, you may even manage to burn a book or two. 
But you will lose the war. Freedom will prevail, for the yearning  for
freedom is engraved in the human soul.

I urge Jews and Jewish
institutions to consider carefully whether their behaviour really serves Jewish
interests. As the author of the most read book on Jewish identity politics, I
can see in the making, a disaster.