Jerusalem and Athens are the two roots of Western civilization, with Jerusalem representing biblical revelation and Athens representing philosophical rationality. Their relationship is one of “fundamental opposition,” an opposition that constitutes the vitality of western civilization. According to Leo Strauss, to choose between Jerusalem and Athens is to choose between “life in obedience to divine law or life in freedom.” Martin Heiddeger seemed to express the same philosophy. In a recent article published at the Veterans Today website controversial author of “The Wandering Who?”, Gilad Atzmon, takes to task The Guardian newspaper for an article criticizing the publication of Martin Heidegger’s ‘black notebooks’. Heidegger was one of the 20th Century’s most famous philosophers, almost best known for having joined the Nazi party during the war years and, thus, gaining the reputation for being anti-Semitic. Heidegger’s reputation seems to have become an important subject of late–Prospect magazine recently devoted an article to him which attracted several hundred comments from readers disputing not only whether he was anti-Semitic, but also the importance of his philosophy Atzmon criticizes The Guardian for being a “lame Zionist mouthpiece”. It is true that The Guardian often publishes articles that are favorable to Israel and neglects to publish anything negative about Israel when it comes to the Palestine/Israel conflict. Coincidentally (or not), the New York Times published an article by Jennifer Schuessler (March 30 2014) on Heidegger’s ‘black notebooks’, not unlike The Guardian article. I suppose if Atzmon had read that, he would have included it in his attack. I would like to do it for him. For years I have been a reader of the New York Times via its European edition, the now defunct International Herald Tribune, known today as the International New York Times. I haven’t been able to avoid noticing, as the Palestine/Israel conflict has become more and more newsworthy over the past years, that the Times has filled its pages with articles praising Israel or critical of Palestine. But even beyond the conflict itself, the Times fills its pages with articles about Judaism; how the Jews have been victimized, how accomplished Jews are compared to other ethnic or religious communities. Not a day goes by that one doesn’t find an article about Nazi despoiling of art with emphasis on Jewish collectors, or an op-ed by Roger Cohen, or some other journalist complaining about Iran, or the Jews in Ukraine. Atzmon refers to The Guardian as a light Jewish Chronicle for Gentile’s consumption. I would go further and call the Times a stalwart Zionist mouthpiece, or the Jerusalem Post of New York. One awaits an Athens Post, where finally we can find some rationality in our daily newspapers. Eugene Schulman lives in Geneva, Switzerland.
April 2, 2014