By Gilad Atzmon
JVP is moving from strength to strength. Though it didn’t liberate Palestine yet, it certainly managed to convince a few Jews that Jewishness is actually a good thing.
Today we learned that the legendary activist and scholar Noam Chomsky appealed to the general public to donate to the Jews-only Group.
In the letter, Chomsky admitted that “these days, there are really only a handful of Jewish organizations that honor the traditions of universal equality that inspired me to be an activist so many years ago.”
Chomsky is no doubt a clever boy, he surely knows why there are only a handful of Jewish organizations that subscribe to universalism. Jewish culture and identity politics are tribal. In other words, Jewish politics is anything but universal.
Chomsky knows very well that JVP is a Jews-only group. Though it is happy to take donations from everyone, its leadership is Jewish. Accordingly, Ahmad, Salem, or Ali wouldn’t become JVP’s leaders. They are not racially qualified.
So I am left wondering what Chomsky has in mind when he refers to “Jewish organizations that honor the traditions of universal equality”? Can a Jew-only organization be universal? I guess that Chomsky would say ‘yes’, as long as it is universally Jewish.
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.”