Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: Following is Jeff Blankfort’s email to Paul Jay (The Real News Network) after reading his ‘deconstruction’ of my work. Jeff allowed me to publish his straight forward and illuminating text.
I am writing this late in the evening because I am now only just getting to my email having spent a good part of the day watching the House Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the Syrian war resolution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting to vote out their own pro-war resolution, and most of an hour and three quarter CSPAN recording of a Jewish Inst. of National Security Affairs panel, featuring Dennis Ross, and chaired by the NY Post’s Morty Zuckerman, which focused on the importance of attacking Syria on Israel’s behalf because “we” need to send a message to Iran that it will be next. That was a recurring theme in all the hearings.
What does this have to do with your refusal to give Gilad a chance to respond to Max Blumenthal’s vilification of him on TRNN?
Quite a bit because, you see, none of what I have written, none of what went on today, will be commented on by the leading Jewish spokespersons of the Palestine solidarity/antiwar movement, Noam Chomsky, Phyllis Bennis, and Norman Finkelstein. In the tradition of Left Jewish activists, they will continue to ignore what was described in yesterday’s NY Times (until it was pulled from its online edition), “the 800 pound gorilla in the room,” namely AIPAC.
Paul, I have been active on the Palestinian issue since spending 4 1/2 months in Lebanon and Jordan in 1970, and the biggest obstacles to my work has not been AIPAC or the ADL, which I successfully sued, but Jewish leftists, from the members of the Communist Party and fellow travelers who were ready to lynch me then they heard I had been with the Palestinians, to all of the left groups, CP, Line of March, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Action, etc., who combined their efforts to keep the Palestinian issue off of the movement agenda during two major marches in 1985 and 1988, the first in opposition to US intervention in Central America and the latter, for “peace, jobs, and justice,” four and a half months into the first Intifada.
Whereas Jewish activists were prominent in the Central American movement and instrumental in getting Congress to vote down $15 million for the Contra (at a time when Israel was getting that much from the US every day), every effort to raise the issue of stopping aid to Israel was blocked by the Jewish activists who dominated the movement groups.
It continues to this day. In 2011, at what was billed as Move Over AiPAC, several of us were on a panel on AIPAC, the only one in the two day conference and our large room was packed with every seat taken, and we only got the panel through the help of a couple of the panelists in taking care of the logistics.
In 2012, at OccupyAIPAC, we were not invited back but were able to have an expanded panel at the same church venue, after Occupy’s program had finished and fortunately a good number from that conference stayed on to hear us. This year, they turned us down cold, leaving no space or time for us. The eminence gris behind all three events was Bennis, a very clever and articulate speaker who is to “damage control” for the Lobby on the activist side what Chomsky is in the guru department. Neither will debate the issue because, as both have written, “it wouldn’t be useful.” To whom, they didn’t say. Eleven years ago Bennis, who I have known for years, told me the issue of the lobby was “dead.” They will not acknowledge, for example, that Congress is “Israeli Occupied Territory,” something that is a given in Washington, and so they continue to peddle what is essentially AIPAC propaganda, that the US supports Israel because it is a strategic asset.
I know of or am acquainted with a half dozen former CIA analysts. While they don’t agree with each other on every issue, they do agree that Israel is a liability not an asset to the US, from every way you look at it. But you will never hear them asked to speak about it on Democracy Now! Have they been interviewed about in on TRNN?
When Mearsheimer and Walt wrote their book on the Israel Lobby, Amy Goodman, very unprofessionally, instead of interviewing one or both of them, brought on Chomsky (who obviously hadn’t read it) to dis their work. Have you, BTW, interviewed either one of them about it?
Reading Gilad’s book put it all together for me. The problem with all these folks was that they are Jewish tribalists. Whether they think of themselves as that or not is irrelevant. They have been so inculcated from childhood with the belief that Jews are the world’s eternal victims and eternal scapegoats, that they will not accept colelctive Jewish responsibility for anything. Which is why they have to blame first British and later US imperialism for the success of Zionism refusing to acknowledge, for example, that both the 48 and 67 wars, the two major events in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, were launched by Jews and supported by the majority of Jews around the world without any imperial power pushing or guiding their way.
Today, with the American Jewish establishment uniquely supporting both an attack on Syria and on Iran, unless it kneels down before the only nuclear power in the Middle East, it is more than appropriate to analyse and criticize the Jewish role in US and European politics, it is absolutely necessary to do so.
Gilad is a pioneer in this field and understandably what he has to say and write will make people uncomfortable, and not only Jews. Palestinians like Abunimah who have been colonized by Jewish activists fail to realize the movement that Jews have been heading has been an utter failure by any measurable standard, both in Palestine and the US. That it has been largely Jewish led accounts for that sad fact in no small measure.
All that being said, I think you have an obligation, as a responsible, ostensibly progressive journalist, to allow Gilad to answer Blumenthal on TRNN. Otherwise, I will conclude that my hunch that the whole interview with Blumenthal was actually set up to “get” Gilad was correct.
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.”