Is it Kosher to Kill Palestinians?


“No universal history leads from savagery to humanitarianism, but there is one leading from the slingshot to the Megaton bomb. It ends in the total menace, which organised mankind poses to organises men, in the epitome of discontinuity.”
When Adorno wrote these lines, millions of Palestinians were undergoing ethnic cleansing by Irgun and Lehi. Half of its population was expelled with no right to return to their native land. Even those who wanted to assimilate had met the identical grisly fate as the one that awaited the assimilationist Jews in Nazi Germany.
“Anti-Semitism,” Adorno said, “is unleashed in a situation, when blinded people, deprived of subjectivity, are let loose as subjects. Their actions – for those involved – are lethal yet meaningless reactions. The mindless pastime of beating people to death confirms the drab existence to which one merely conforms.”
The drab existence is innately associated with capitalism, but the pastime of mindless beating to death and shooting babies in their cradle can have real motives. Those committing these atrocious crimes may not be carrying out the hideous business for blindness or a lack of subjectivity, but to meet the temporospatial needs demanding expansion and for the capitalist necessity of accumulation through dispossession. The Nazi slogan of Blut, Boden, and Lebensraum was music to Zionism but there was a rub: in the stolen land, the chosen people were in a minority. To turn the balance in their favour, they resorted to the ethnic cleansing of the natives.
For Adorno, the concept of enemy is divided into “rigid dichotomies such as good and bad, we and others, I and the world, belong to the earliest developmental phase of humankind.” Such stereotypes, he explained, were the products of the stunted experience and anxiety and “point(ed) back to the chaotic nature of reality and its clash with the omnipotent fantasies of earliest infancy.”
“Our stereotypes”, he said, “are both tools and scars: the ‘bad man’ is the stereotype par excellence.”
There is always an ambiguity inherent in using stereotypes, “the child who is afraid of the bad man is at the same time tempted to call every stranger ‘uncle,’” to soften the threatening alienness. It is a contradiction: the reality principle cannot coincide with it but that is the only means of adjustment to a society whose political and economic reality is false and concealed by the class rule.
The price of stereotype, he said, is paid by personalisation, which stands in the complete opposite. Since stereotyping is a consequence of the cold realities of the system—including technology, the chaotic economic structure, and the tensions of daily life—, helpless human beings look towards a person, who could magically solve his problems. “Both stereotyping and personalisation are inadequate to reality,” but they can help to understand the “complex of psychotic thinking which appears to be crucial characteristics of fascistic character.”
The failure to grasp reality is not for psychological impairment exclusively but the opaqueness of reality, which helps regress the ordinary people “to the infantile level of stereotype and personalisation.”
For its preconceived notions and overgeneralised ideas, stereotyping misses the reality by attributing them a kind of magical omnipotence. Conversely, personalisation masquerades the objective cause of his helplessness hidden in property relations.
“Stereotypes and personalisation are two divergent parts of an actually non-experienced world, parts, which are not only irreconcilable with each other, but which also do not allow for any addition, which would construct the picture of the real.”
Adorno’s analysis can be applied to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict where the Palestinians, in the words of Terry Eagleton, “have been implicated in a calamity without having done wrong.” They are stereotyped as aliens, terrorists and a festering wound on the body politics of Israel in their land. This stereotyping reveals “the stunted experience and anxiety of the Zionists, pointing back to the chaotic nature of reality,” which could be the outcome of the massacre of an innocent guilty through settler colonialism. “Its clash with the omnipotent fantasizes of earliest infancy,” and has its origin in the European anti-Semitism that culminated in the holocaust. The stereotyping and personalisation involving Palestinians have the same fascistic character that Adorno alluded to.
Does Zionism or the world community need a eureka moment to know who perpetrated crimes against the Jewry? For some, it was European guilt. They chose Palestine and shifted their horrors from the Jews to the natives. But guilt relates to human psychology and not to imperialism that deals with horrors. “Horror,” for Adorno, “is beyond the reach of psychology.” Both Europe and the US, being imperialists, are guiltless. They persecute, and “the persecution of the Jews, like any persecution, cannot be separated from the system of order. However successfully it may at times be concealed, force is the essential nature of this order”.
If capitalism, an innately inhuman system, was responsible for the atrocious crimes perpetrated against the Jews, ironically Zionism – to begin with, a small bourgeois cult in Germany – remained and continues to be closely aligned with the system. It collaborated with the Nazis, made the Haavara pact and traded for them. The pact was justified by the World Zionist Organisation. It received backing from Von Mildenstein and Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS security force. Haganah even offered to spy for the Nazis.

For Ilan Pappé, a distinguished Israeli historian, “Zionism is a settler-colonial project whose only objective is ethnic-cleansing of native Palestinians, settler colonialism is not about removing the native…. or taking a very superior attitude towards them as it happened in South Africa, it is also a part of dehumanization of the locals.”

Israeli Zionists and people consider Palestinians mere animals. Both Ilan and Gideon Levy, award-winning journalist of Haaretz, share this opinion. “Auschwitz”, Adorno said, “begins when someone looks at the slaughterhouse and says they are animals.”

Dehumanisation and debasement of natives make ethnic cleansing of the natives easier for the settlers.

“Anti-Semitism”, Adorno said, “has proved immune to the charge of inadequate profitability.”

For the Zionist ruling class of Israel, anti-Semitism has become a hot commodity; a weapon not only to masquerade its ethnic cleansing but also to bludgeon its opponents, including the nonconformist Jews. Zionism could not label the ever-increasing number of nonconformist Jews as anti-Semites, but they are condemned and denigrated as self-hating Jews, though for Hayim Greenberg, “to be a good Zionist one must be somewhat of an anti-Semite.”

In recent times, among the political heavyweights, James Corbyn has become the victim of anti-Semitism. “Its usefulness for the rulers”, Adorno said, “is evident. It serves as distraction, a cheap means of corruption, a terrorist warning. The respectable rackets condone it and the disreputable ones carry it out.”

Anti-Semitism is no more a rumour about the Jews. It is a potent weapon to kill all dissenting voices.

Zionism, an inherently reactionary, anti-communist, pro-Nazi, and anti-Jew movement, was supported, Ilan revealed, by the left before it was adopted by the right. It abhorred mass struggle and as believed by Herzel, “the political history of humanity is made by a few people… and what they arrange among themselves becomes the content of political history.” (Lenni Bernner)

Hence, it did not initiate a single anti-Nazi movement, sacrificed the old Jews for the young, coordinated with the anti-Semitic Petliura, Balfour, and Eichmann, and with their help, took over 78 per cent of Palestinian land, expelling five million natives out of their homes without a right to return, and was never condemned by those who taught the world nonconformity and critical thinking. If poetry after Auschwitz was barbaric, it cannot become kosher after the addictive massacre of Palestinians.

The writer is an academic and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at