Silvia Cattori: As a jazz musician, what brought you to use your pen as a weapon against the country where you were born and against your people?
Gilad Atzmon: For many years my music and writings were not integrated at all. I became a musician when I was seventeen and I took it up as a profession when I was twenty four. Though I was not involved with, or interested in politics when I lived in Israel, I was very much against Israel’s imperial wars. I identified somehow with the left, but later, when I started to grasp what the Israeli left was all about, I could not find myself in agreement with anything it claimed to believe in, and that is when I realised the crime that was taking place in Palestine.
For me the Oslo Accord was the end of it because I realised that Israel was not aiming towards reconciliation, or even integration in the region, and that it completely dismissed the Palestinian cause. I understood then that I had to leave Israel. It wasn’t even a political decision — I just didn’t want to be part of the Israeli crime anymore. In 1994 I moved to the UK and I studied philosophy.
In 2001, at the time of the second Intifada, I began to understand that Israel was the ultimate aggressor and was also the biggest threat to world peace. I realised the extent of the involvement and the role of world Jewry as I analysed the relationships between Israel and the Jewish State, between Israel and the Jewish people around the world, and between Jews and Jewishness.
I then realised that the Jewish “left” was not very different at all from the Israeli “left”. I should make it clear here that I differentiate between “Left ideology”— a concept that is inspired by universal ethics and a genuine vision of equality – and the “Jewish Left”, a tendency or grouping that is there solely to maintain tribal interests that have very little, if anything, to do with universalism, tolerance and equality.
Silvia Cattori: Would you argue that there is a discrepancy between Jews and left?
Gilad Atzmon: Not at all. I should explain here that I never talk about Jews as a people. I differentiate between Jews (the people) Judaism (the religion) and Jewishness (the culture). In my work, I am only elaborating on the third category, i.e. Jewishness. Also it should be understood that I differentiate between the tribal “Jewish Left”, and Leftists who simply happen to be Jewish. Indeed, I would be the first to admit that there are many great leftists and humanists who happen to be of Jewish origin. However those Jews who operate under a “Jewish banner” seem to me to be Zionist fig leafs: they are solely there to convey an image of “Jewish pluralism”. In fact, when I grasped the full role of the “Jewish left” I realised that I may end up fighting alone against the strongest power around.
Silvia Cattori: Do you fight alone?
Gilad Atzmon: More or less alone. I like to fight alone; I take responsibility. Along the years, there have been a lot attempts to destroy the few of us who have stood up against Jewish power. I found myself in trouble for supporting people like Israel Shamir and Paul Eisen, for standing up for their right to think freely and to express their opinions and ideas openly. I remember one of those infamous “Jewish Left” activists telling me, “listen Gilad, once you shun Shamir we will let you be”. My answer was simple: I was not about to bargain with intellectual integrity. For me, freedom of speech is an iron rule — I would never silence anyone.
Within the liberation movement and the solidarity movement, I do not actually believe that we have any intellectuals. And why we do not have intellectuals? Because in the name of “Political Correctness”, we have managed to destroy every single English speaking creative mind within our movement.
What we see here may be an endemic problem with “the Left”. To speak in broad (or rather Germanic philosophical) terms, “the Left” is “forgetful of Being” — Instead of understanding what Being in the world is all about, it tries to suggest to us what being in the world ought to be. “The Left” has adopted a preaching mode that has led to a severe form of alienation, and this is probably why “the Left” has failed to come to terms with, fully understand, and grasp the significance and power of Islam. And this is why “the Left” is totally irrelevant to the current revolution in the Middle East. As we know by now, “the Left’s’ tolerance”, somehow evaporates when it comes to Islam and Muslims. I find it very problematic.
Silvia Cattori: Can you explain why the Left is irrelevant?
Gilad Atzmon: Let us look at the current events in the Arab and Muslim world: where is “the Left”? All those years they were trying to tell us, the “public will rise”, but where is the left now? Is it in Egypt? Is it in Libya or Bahrain? We hear about the Muslim Brotherhood, the middle class, the young Arabs and Muslims – indeed, we are hearing about anything but “the Left”. Did you see any interesting Left wing analysis of the regional emerging Intifada? Not really. Recently, I was searching for an analysis of the Egyptian uprising in a famous Socialist paper. I found one article — I then realised that the words “Islam” and “Muslim” did not appear in the article even once, yet the word “class” appeared no less than nineteen times. What we see here then, is actually an example of the ultimate form of detachment from humanity, humanism and the human condition.
But I take it further: where is ‘the Left’ in Europe? Where is “the Left” in America? Why can’t they stand up for the Muslims? Why can’t they bond with, or make allies with millions of Muslim immigrants, people who also happen to be amongst the new European working class? I will mention here what I consider to be a most crucial insight: It is an idea I borrowed from the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan contends that love can be realised as making love to oneself via the other. The “Left solidarity” with Palestine in my opinion can be similarly grasped as making love to ourselves at the expense of the Palestinians. We do not want them to be Muslims. We tell them to be democratic — as long as they don’t vote Hamas. We tell them to be progressive, “like us”. I just can’t make up my mind whether such an attitude is rude, or simply pathetic.
Recently I came across a critical Trotsky-ite take on my work. The argument against me was as follows: “Gilad is wrong because he manages to explain Zionism without colonialism; he explains the holocaust without fascism. He even explains the recession, the global economic disaster, without capitalism.”
I couldn’t agree more. We do not need “working class politics” anymore. The old 19Th century clichés can be dropped — and the sooner the better. In order to explain why our world is falling apart, we just have to be brave enough to say what we think, to admit what we see, to call a spade a spade.
Actually, I would love to see “the Left” resurrecting itself. Yet, for that to happen, it must first remind itself what equality and tolerance really mean, because for “the Left” to be meaningful again, it must first grasp the true meaning of “love your neighbour.”
Silvia Cattori: When we listen to your political comments we forget that you are primarily a musician.
Gilad Atzmon: The truth of the matter is that I am not actually interested in politics — I am not a member of any party and I do not care about, or seek any political power. I am not interested in the binary opposition between “left” and “right,” and I do not care about the banal dichotomy between “progressive” and “reactionary”. And let’s face it from a Marxist point of view I am associated with the most reactionary forces: I support Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and I support Hamas. What do you want more than that! I am the ultimate reactionary being and I am delighted and proud about it all.
Silvia Cattori: You are really a free spirit.
Gilad Atzmon: That is because I am not political. I am an artist and a musician; it is very simple.
Silvia Cattori: We can hardly imagine what would you be if you had stayed in Israel?
Gilad Atzmon: It would be impossible to imagine.
Silvia Cattori: Are you an exception among Israelis?
Gilad Atzmon: It is very interesting; when it comes to the “Jewish left” abroad, I know very few Jews whom I can trust on that level of commitment. They always go along with you, but then as soon as you question the tribal bond and their own role within the “Jewish universe” you will be stabbed in the back. Very rarely does one come across courageous Jews who are willing to engage in deep self-reflection: I refer here to people like Paul Eisen, Jeff Blankfort, Norman Finkelstein, Hajo Meyer and Evelyn Hecht Galinsky. In Israel however, it is different. You have quite a few people who are actually brave beyond belief. They are really putting their life on the line. These are the people who send us information about the army, about military secrets, about war crimes and names of war criminals. So there are quite a few Israelis who are doing incredible work.
Silvia Cattori: Is writing on political matters and composing music a way for you to contribute to a better world and to beauty? Is one inseparable from the other?
Gilad Atzmon: At the moment I am trying to establish a continuum between my music and my writing. I believe that unlike our politicians — whether they are right wing politicians, conservative politicians, left politicians, all of whom are seeking power — artists are searching for beauty. And I believe it is beauty that can unite people.
I will tell you something that I really plan to write about. For many years our so-called “political analysts” have been talking about Israel being a “settler state” and Zionism being a “colonial project”. But what kind of colonialism is it? Is it an accurate comparison?
For if Israel is a “settler state” – then what exactly is its “motherland”? In British and French colonial eras, the settler states maintained a very apparent tie with their “motherland”. In some cases in history the settler state broke from its motherland. Such an event is a rather noticeable one, and the Boston Tea Party is a good example of that. But, as far as we are aware, there is no “Jewish motherland” that is intrinsically linked to the alleged“Jewish settler state”.
The “Jewish people” are largely associated with the “Jewish state”, and yet the “Jewish people” is not exactly a “material” autonomous sovereign entity. Moreover, native Hebraic Israeli Jews are not connected culturally or emotionally to any motherland except their own state.
Silvia Cattori: However, for some of the strongest advocates of the Palestinian rights, such as Ilan Pappe, Israel is a colonial State. They put forward this argument to challenge Israeli policies.
Gilad Atzmon: I am afraid that most activists and academics cannot tell the entire truth on this sensitive matter. Maybe no one can survive telling the truth. Indeed, we are daily terrorised by different measures from the thought police. I am convinced that most of the scholars who insist upon calling Israel a “settler state” are fully aware of the problems entangled with the “colonial paradigm”. They must be aware of the uniqueness of the Zionist project. It is indeed true that Zionism manifests some symptoms that are synonymous with colonialism — however that is not enough: Zionism is inherently a racially oriented “homecoming” project driven by spiritual enthusiasms that are actually phantasmic. It intrinsically lacks many of the “necessary” elements that we understand as comprising colonialism, and cannot be defined in solely materialist terms.
It seems to me that here, we come across a crucial problem of understanding and analysis within our movement, and within Western intellectual discourse in general. Our academics are suppressed, and scholarship is silenced, for within the tyranny of political correctness, our academics are forced to primarily consider the boundaries of the discourse — they first examine carefully what they are allowed to say – and then they fill in the empty spaces, formulating theories or narratives.
This pattern is unfortunately common. Yet, such an approach and method is foreign to my understanding of truth-seeking and true scholarship.
It is crucial to mention at this point that I do not claim to know the truth. I just say what I believe to be the truth. If I am wrong, I welcome people to point it out to me.
It appears to me that “the Left” mislead us and itself by depicting Zionism solely as a colonial project. The “Left” likes the colonial paradigm because it locates Zionism nicely within their ideology. It also leads us to believe that the colonial/post-colonial political model provides some answers and even operative solutions; following the colonial template, we first equate Israel with South Africa, and then we implement a counter-colonial strategy, such as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).
Yet, whilst I fully support all of those actions, they seem to be in some regards, not entirely effective at all. The BDS has not in fact, led to any metamorphic change within Israeli society. If anything, it has led to further intensified radicalisation within the right in Israel. Why has the BDS not worked yet? The answer is simple: It is because Israel is not at all entirely a colonial entity – as we historically understand that term – and it needs to be understood that its power and ties with the West are maintained by the strongest lobbies around the world.
So, if the Left wants to stop Israel for real, then it must openly question the notion of Jewish Power and its role within Western politics and media. But can the Left do it? I am not so sure.
Let us return now to further comparison of Israel with the colonial model — Israel is also markedly different, for example, from earlier colonial states such as South Africa, because Israel implements genocidal tactics. South Africa was indeed brutal — but it stopped short of throwing white phosphorous on its indigenous population. South Africa was a settler state, and was exploiting its indigenous population: but it wanted to keep them alive and oppressed. The Jewish state, on the other hand — would much prefer to wake up one morning to find out that all the Palestinians had disappeared, because Israel is driven by a Talmudic racist ideology. For those who have not realised it yet, the Zionism that presented itself initially as a secular project was, in fact, a crude attempt to transform the Bible into a land registry document, and an attempt to turn God into a nasty estate agent. It should be understood that Zionism follows a completely different political operative mode to any other settler state, and the colonial paradigm is simply incapable of fully addressing that.
But here is the good news: interestingly enough, it has been artists rather than “intellectuals” who have been brave enough to speak out. At a certain stage they started to equate images of Palestine with those of the Jewish holocaust, and it was artists who were brave enough to juxtapose Palestinian kids with Jewish ones.
Silvia Cattori: Yes, but can we really compare the two?
Gilad Atzmon: Why not? We compare between two ideologies, between two racist ethnocentric precepts. It was the artists who came up with that simple and essential truth. It was the artists who dismantled the colonial paradigm in just a one swift move. Seemingly our artists are well ahead of our “intellectuals”.
Silvia Cattori: I would like further understand your objection to those who consider Israel a colonialist State. Already in the sixties, South Africa severed institutional relations with Great Britain and had withdrawn from the Commonwealth. Thus there was no more a “motherland” outside South Africa. And yet the Black population fought the “settlers” who had installed the apartheid. In that sense, can we not consider that there is a similarity with the present struggle of the Palestinians for their rights against Jewish settlers who settled on their land, and that this struggle is, in a way, a struggle against colonialism? It is true that white South Africans did not implement murderous tactics against the natives. Is it because you’re focusing on this point and emphasising the comparison with the Nazi holocaust that you put forward the uniqueness of the Zionist project, instead of colonialism?
Gilad Atzmon: The big question I try to raise here is: why can’t we practice coherent scholarship? The issues surrounding the appropriation of the colonial paradigm is obviously just one example. We are subject to a lethal tyranny of political correctness.
You are right suggesting that some settler states drift away from their respective motherlands; however, Israel didn’t drift away from any motherland because it has never had a motherland. Zionism was never a colonial project in that sense — The colonial paradigm is a spin.
The big question to ask is; why are “the Left” and Jewish anti-Zionists desperately clinging to the colonial paradigm? And here is my answer:
1. It is safe; it makes the criticism of the Jewish state look legitimate.
2. It conveys the hope of a resolution: If Israel is indeed, just a settler state like any of the other earlier historical examples it will eventually assimilate into the region and become a “normal” state.
Where is the problem in such an approach, you might ask? Well, it is pretty obvious — this entire discourse is actually completely irrelevant to the Zionist disease. It is like treating a patient who has bowel cancer with some strong diarrhea pills — just because the symptoms are slightly similar.
Disastrously enough, this is the level of our left-intellectual discourse at the present time.
Silvia Cattori: But those within the solidarity movement, who denounce “Israeli colonialism”, criticise Israeli racist agenda and support the right to return— aren’t they saying exactly the same thing as you are saying?
Gilad Atzmon: To start with, we are indeed part of the same movement, and I guess that we are driven by the same ethical intuitions.
However, there is a clear difference between us, because by employing the “colonial paradigm” their intention is to communicate the idea that the Jewish national project is entirely reminiscent of a 19Th century national trend. This is to say that, just like most other European settler nations, the Jews happened to celebrate their “national symptoms” — it is just that they did so after everyone else.
The “colonial paradigm” is then, invoked to also support the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, and pretty much like most other earlier colonial settings. My approach is totally different, because I would argue that Israel and Zionism is a unique project in history, and the relationship between Israel and the operation of the Jewish Lobbies in the West is also totally unique in history. I would even take it further, and say that whilst the Palestinians are indeed at the fore front of a battle for humanity, the fact is that we are all subject to Zionist global politics. According to my model, the credit crunch is in fact a Zionist “punch”. The war in Iraq is a Zionist war. I would argue forcefully that Zionism has a long time ago moved from the “promised land” narrative into the “promised planet” nightmare. I also argue that it would be impossible to bring peace to the world unless we confront the true meaning of contemporary Jewish ideology.
Interestingly enough, many of those who enthusiastically support the “colonial paradigm”, were also very quick to denounce the work of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the Israeli Lobby. If Mearsheimer and Walt are correct, and I think that they are, then it is Jewish power which we have to confront.
And this is exactly what the “Jewish Left” and Jewish intelligentsia are there to prevent us from doing.
Silvia Cattori: Your views clearly oppose intellectuals such as Bernard-Henry Lévy who support Western expansionism and Israeli policies. For you Israel is the danger. Don’t you think that some people see there an element of provocation?
Gilad Atzmon: Provocation is not a bad thing. I wrote an article recently about Bernard-Henry Lévy. The man is lame beyond belief. We have more than a few “Bernard-Henri Levys” here in Britain too, Jews who portray a false image of scholarship. And as it happens, we intellectually smash them, one by one. We expose them for what they are. By the way, Norman Finkelstein did a great job with Dershowitz. We should not be scared about it all.
Also, I think that by the time people don’t have enough money to put petrol in the car let alone buy bread, they will start to look at who is to blame, and when that happens, the Israeli State and its relentless lobbies will emerge at the top of the list. I think that some people are starting to see it now, already. The change will be drastic. I guess that in retrospect, some people can look at my writing now, and admit that I was warning the Jewish lobbies for years.
Silvia Cattori: What differentiates Gilad Atzmon from those who say, “I am a Jewish anti-Zionist”; “We are Jews for peace”, etc, yet always highlighting their tribal identity?
Gilad Atzmon: It is very simple: for me, the fight for peace is a fight for a universal cause. For me, to support the Palestinians is an ethical necessity. And if it is a universal cause and an ethical necessity, I do not see any reason to fight it “as a Jew”, “as a man”, or “as a jazz artist”. When I come across those who call themselves “Jews for peace” and “Jews for justice”, I stand up and say “what do you really mean by calling yourself a ‘Jew’? Are you religious?” When a Torah Jew says he identifies as a Jew I know what he refers to. When Torah Jews say “we are religious Jews and we support Palestine in the name of our faith”, I say “go ahead, you have my support”.
But when secular Jews tell me that they work for Palestine in the name of their Jewish values, I must ask them “What are your ‘Jewish secular values’”? I have studied and carefully considered the subject, and, as embarrassing as it may sound, there is no such thing as a “Jewish secular value system”.
Those who refer to such ideas are either lying, misleading others, or even misleading themselves.
Silvia Cattori: If I understood well, those who identify themselves as “anti-Zionist Jews” or “Jews for peace” believe that this makes their voice louder than others’ voice.
Gilad Atzmon: For sure, and that is a valid point. But again, I still have some reservations, because if I say “I am a Jew for peace,” and I believe that this is enough to make my voice more important than yours, what it really means is that I am still consciously celebrating my chosen-ness. And isn’t that exactly the problem we have with Zionism?
So, fundamentally, Jewish anti-Zionism is still just another manifestation of Jewish tribal supremacy. It seems peculiar that peace activists, who claim to be universalist leftists, end up operating in racially oriented cells.
Silvia Cattori: Is this consciously a way to humiliate non Jewish people?
Gilad Atzmon: That is possible; but I do not think that Jews who succumb to Jewish tribal politics are really conscious of the effect it has on others.
Silvia Cattori: Israelis who describe themselves as ex-Israelis, ex-Jews, are very rare. Are you the only one?
Gilad Atzmon: I may as well be the only one. However, I do not really talk as an ex-Jew — I talk as Gilad Atzmon. I avoid collective banners. When you read me, you read what I think. You see it for what it is, and you either agree, or you don’t agree. I do not need flags or phantasmic identities to hide behind.
Silvia Cattori: Few famous artists have had the courage to stand up openly and firmly for victims of Israeli oppression. We know that, in general, well known people are afraid to be placed on the “anti-Semitic” list. Rogers Waters has dared to break the taboo. David Gilmour, Robert Wyatt, followed. What do you say to those who are still scared?
Gilad Atzmon: I believe that the only way to liberate ourselves is to begin to talk. The only way to fight is to express ourselves openly. I have taken that risk and if I can do it, then I think that everyone can do it. I have paid a price in that my career has suffered a little, and I make less money. But I can look at myself with pride.
Silvia Cattori: To those who would argue that your political positions are, let’s say, “borderline”, what do you answer?
Gilad Atzmon: I do not actually know what “borderline” means. For years I encountered endless attempts to silence me, but they all proved to be counter effective because if anything, the repressive measures taken against me brought many more people to read my materials, and encouraged more people to think things through for themselves. I was accused by Zionists and Jewish anti-Zionists of being racist and anti Semitic, but embarrassingly enough for them, not a single anti Semitic or racist argument has ever been found in my many papers. On the contrary, there is ananti racist attitude that stands at the very core of my criticism of Jewish identity politics and Jewish ideology. I have been writing now for ten years, and for all those years, I have had a note on my web site saying “If you find something racist or anti-Semitic in my writings, let me know. I will apologise and remove it immediately”. And not a single person has ever come up with anything.
As I mentioned before, I differentiate between Jews (the people), Judaism (the religion) and Jewishness (the ideology). I am against Jewish ideology — not against Jewish people or Judaism. If this makes me into a “borderline case”, then I will have to live with it.
Silvia Cattori: Your voice helps people to understand what Israel is all about. In general, covering this subject is not easy. However, should not journalists take more responsibilities in exposing the power games that devastate the Middle East? What have been the responsibilities in this regard of Western media?
Gilad Atzmon: I will be very honest with you; Western media has failed all the way. Western media has betrayed us. It has failed to understand that Palestine is not that far from our “Western haven”. The media have failed to see that we are all Palestinians — Palestinians are at the forefront of the battle against evil, but the rest of us are fighting in exactly the same battle, and we are all confronting the same enemy. What happened in America with the credit crunch and evolved into economic turmoil is the direct outcome of global Zionist politics.
America invests its tax payers’ money maintaining the Jewish State and it launched its people into a war to “save Israel”. Consequently, we are all facing a financial disaster, and as we speak, the Arab masses are rising: they demand liberation, and they want an immediate end to the Zio-political grip. What you see now in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen is there to prepare us all, and we may well see the same thing unfolding soon in Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, and New York City, because we all face the same enemy.
Silvia Cattori: I wonder whether your readers understand what you refer to when talking about Zionism and global Zionism.
Gilad Atzmon: That is indeed a very crucial point. You may find it hard to believe but even Israelis do not understand what Zionism is all about. Zionism is the belief that Jews (like all other people) should be entitled to celebrate their right for a national homeland, and this homeland is Zion (Palestine). Though this idea sounds almost innocent, it is entangled with very problematical ethical issues, because Zionism has morphed into political reality in the shape of a Jewish State, built entirely at the expense of the ethnically cleansed and abused Palestinian people. Moreover, along the years, the Jewish State has been utilising some very powerful lobbies and think tanks in our Western capitals; and these bodies promote global Zionist interests such as endless confrontation with Islam and the Muslim world.
While early Zionism presented itself as a promise to redeem all the Diaspora Jews by means of settlement in the so-called “promised land”, in the last three decades Zionism has changed its spots in some regards — The Jewish State actually prefers some of the Diaspora Jews to stay exactly where they are so they can mount pressure on their respective governments for the sake of what they interpret as their Jewish interests.
The role of Jewish lobbies such as of AIPAC, J-street (USA) andConservative Friends of Israel (UK) is far more advantageous to Israel than any wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine could be. This transformation in Zionist thought signals a shift from the local to the global, and therefore, Zionism should no longer be solely perceived as a demand for a Jewish home in the “promised land” — Rather it must be grasped as a global operation, seeking a safe haven for the Jews within the context of “promised planet.”
The Israelis and their allies know very well why they promote Islamophobia. But what is Islamophobia? What, and who, does it serve? It serves Zio-centric Capitalist interests. Islamophobia is the true face of Hasbara (Israeli propaganda). It is there to make sure that Israel’s “survival war” is actually a Western war.
This is obviously misleading, and for the sake of Western interests, shunning Israel immediately would be the right thing to do.
Silvia Cattori: When do you see the emergence of Islamophobia and what was the cause?
Gilad Atzmon: That is a good question — historically, it probably first arose in the seventies, soon after the energy crisis. I think that by 1973, we could clearly detect the first signs of modern political and institutional anti-Muslim antipathy as the Western public began to realise the strategic role of the Middle East. The shift towards a “popular anti Muslim culture” was exacerbated further by the success of Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”, and I would argue that by 9.11. 2001, the Western public was primed for an outbreak of “Muslim bashing”. I will never forget Ehud Barak being interviewed on that day, spreading bile and Islamophobic accusations on every Western media outlet. For Israeli Hasbaraagitators, 9/11 was proof of the “unified ethos” shared between Israel and the (Western) Goyim.
I would like to elaborate more on your question regarding Islamophobia. I realised some time ago that the general acceptability of certain minorities can always be measured by the popularity -or unpopularity- of its “self-haters”. The growing popularity of Muslim “self-haters” in the 1970-90’s era could have suggested that a wave of anti Islamic feelings was on its way to our shore. Similarly, the antagonism towards Jewish “self-haters” in the last decade confirms the success and influence of Jewish lobbies within media and politics. I guess that the rise of my popularity certainly indicates that the tide has indeed turned. We can firmly anticipate a tidal wave of resentment towards Israel.
Silvia Cattori: What is fascinating about you is your freedom of speech. You can’t stand the truth being “half told”. Isn’t it the case?
Gilad Atzmon: I think that is a good way to put it. I have developed a severe allergy to spins and deceitful narratives. As I said before I do not claim to know the truth; however, I am pretty effective in detecting lies, ploys and diversions. Being a philosopher I am also effective in raising questions and deconstructing inconsistencies. I am puzzled by the activists around us who believe that we can beat Zionism by sketching out some phantasmic narratives of resistance. I honestly believe that truth-seeking and total openness will prevail. If you want to grasp the growing popularity of my writing, I guess that this is what it is — instead of playing political games I really try to get to the bottom of it all. I try to understand what it is that drives and fuels Zionism, Israel, Jewish lobbying, neoconservative expansionist wars and even Jewish anti Zionism.
And I guess that by now, you realise that I identify Jewish Ideology — rather than Jews or Judaism — as the crux of these precepts and political views.
Silvia Cattori: Thank you.
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist, novelist, political activist and writer.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”