By Gilad Atzmon
The Israelis are not very impressed with Hassan Rouhani, the new Iranian president. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel’s delegation to boycott his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday and later denounced Rouhani’s address there as “a cynical speech that was full of hypocrisy.”
But Israel seems to be alone this time. Both the United States and other Western nations appeared to warmly welcome the new Iranian president at the UN.
But did Rouhani present any radical change? Did he deliver new promises? Not at all. Like his predecessor, he made it clear that Iran is not going to give up on its right to proceed and develop nuclear energy. Like Ahmadinejad, Rouhani contended that “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions. Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.”
The President also suggested that the world should recognise Iran’s basic right to carry out all parts of its nuclear fuel cycle. In short, Iran is going ahead with its nuclear project. And this is indeed very good news.
So what changed really? Only one thing, I guess. The nations seem to have changed their appetite. And they are somehow brave enough to admit it to themselves.
Due to some intense Jewish lobbying and the submissive nature of contemporary Western politicians, not many Western governments dare criticise Israel. They clearly fear Netanyahu and his network of ‘800 pound gorillas’. By means of kindness towards Israel’s ‘enemy’, our weak politicians have managed to find a way to deliver a message to Israel. Welcoming Rouhani at the UN was a clear message to the Jewish State and its supportive lobby: beware, we are gradually becoming tired of your dirty politics and pushing for wars.
Being an avid reader of Jewish history, I allow myself to say that the failure to read the writing on the wall is intrinsic to Jewish identity politics and culture. One might expect Israel and the Lobby to back off at this point. But this is not going to happen. Israel and the Lobby will act more obnoxiously. They will use every trick in their book to close this opening window of a dialogue and reconciliation.
Israel is doomed to bring a tragedy on itself and the region. Even God won’t be able to save his chosen people from themselves. But there is something the UN can do: stripping Israel of its chemical, biological and nuclear arsenal. I can see such a demand brewing up and I would love to see it materialising soon.
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics, available on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk
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.”