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Friday, November 06, 2009

Yeshayahu Leibowitz versus Talal Asad

[I apologize that this blog entry requires Hebrew or German to appreciate the contrast between the two thinkers.]

I met Yeshayau Leibowitz at Lowell House when I was an undergraduate at Harvard.
He advocates complete separation of religion and state in the first videoclip.
He was not much of a thinker. He should be contrasted with Talal Asad, whose videoclip on Religion and Politics can be found after the Leibowitz segment below.*
At Lowell House Leibowitz expressed very bigoted and racist attitudes toward Poles, and his ideas were littered with völkisch racist concepts.
His issue with Ben-Gurion is rather superficial.
Yes, Ben-Gurion wanted to subordinate Jewish religion to the state, but more fundamentally Zionism rewrote Jewish religion into ethnic narcissism, state worship, and Holocaust obsession. Because Leibowitz was in many ways an ethnic narcissist himself, he never managed to address the real issue.
In addition, Leibowitz did not understand that Zionism was Judeo-Nazism long before the 1967 occupation: Zionism, Fascism, Nazism for Dummies.
Note on Background of Speakers
Leibowitz was an extremist and fanatic Litvak Jewish racist, who was born in Riga, Latvia. He joined the Zionist invasion of Palestine in 1935 and never expressed any qualms about the Zionist assumption of an inherent Jewish right to plunder and to kill non-Jews with impunity.
Leibowitz objected to settling the Occupied Territories not because stealing Palestine land was wrong -- he himself lived on stolen property in a stolen country -- but because he worried that the Occupation would undermine the legitimacy of the Zionist state, to which he was firmly devoted.
There may be a specific Latvian Jewish cultural component in Leibowitz' complete ethical cluelessness. Latvian Soviet Jewish communists were definite overachievers in planning and perpetrating Bolshevik crimes from radical violence in Czarist times through WW2.
Napoleon described Tallyrand as a piece of shit in a silk stocking. To me Leibowitz was the human equivalent of a gołąbek stuffed with shit.
Talal Asad is the son of Muhammad Asad, who was born Jewish in Austro-Hungarian Lwów in 1900. Talal Asad is thus a Galitsianer on his father's side. In the 1920s Muhammad Asad (then called Leopold Weiss) emigrated to Palestine, where he quickly realized Zionism was evil and embraced Islam in 1926. Muhammad Asad traveled throughout the Muslim world and had a distinguished career as a Muslim politician and thinker. Talal Asad is an eminent anthropologist at CUNY. Talal specializes in religious studies and post-colonialism.
Yeshayu Leibowitz

Talal Asad


* The Asad video can also be found at the blog entry KABOBfest: Talal Asad: Thinking about Religion Belief and Politics, which provides biographical information along with discussion related to the Jewish Zionist attack on Columbia Professor Nadia Abu el-Haj.

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