Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews – History Vs. Chicken Soup


Review by Gilad Atzmon

On the day we learned that the BBC’s new Middle East editor, Raffi Berg, urged colleagues to downplay Israel’s siege of Gaza, the British broadcaster launched Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews.  I have only watched the 1st episode of this new BBC 2 grandiose series.

But I already learned from Schama about Jewish greatness, the formation of his people, and the continuum between the ancient Israelites and their contemporary followers: Schama and his local reform Synagogue in North West London.  I also learned about Jehovah, the God that was invented by the Jews to choose them over all other people.

But will Schama or the BBC manage to answer the most crucial questions to do with Jewish history and identity? Will he be able to put current Jewish politics into a ‘historical’ context?  Will he be able to tell us why the Jewish lobby in the USA, Britain, and France push relentlessly for global conflicts in general and wars against Iran and Syria in particular? Will Schama manage to enlighten us and suggest why Jews were  “Stalin’s willing executioners” as Yuri Slezkin suggests in his invaluable book The Jewish Century?

Will the BBC manage to elaborate on Israeli prominent writer Sever Plocker’s confession that “some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish”?  Will the BBC be able to elucidate the crime committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people? Will the BBC manage to delve on Anti-Semitism, It’s History, and Causes following the incredible enlightening work of Bernard Lazare or will they fall into the same trap and agree amongst themselves that something is ‘pathologically wrong with the Goyim’?

I don’t hold my breath.  Schama is obviously a master of concealment. When he speaks about the ‘godless Jew’ Freud, he presents him as a refugee ‘driven out by the Nazis’ but for some reason, he fails to mention Freud’s vile contempt for the Aryans in particular (which predates Nazism and the rise of Hitler) and the Goyim in general.

History becomes a meaningful event when it exchanges with the present and our imaginary future -when the past throws light on the present and the future gazes at its origin with hesitance.

The Jewish past, as we know it, is an endless chain of blood baths and holocausts. Lame Jewish history, which is all too common, is an attempt to conceal this past. Will Schama unveil the concealed? Will he or the BBC manage to reduce all those Shoas and disasters into a historical principle?  Did Schama learn the only valuable lesson from his godless Jew Freud and ‘unveil the concealed’, or is he cooking another therapeutic chicken soup?

We will have to wait and see.


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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,[4] 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." His new book The Wandering Who? is now availble at