By Gilad Atzmon
I am amused that as the Zionist smear campaign against me and my work has faded, the so called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists, A.K.A AZZ (anti Zionist Zionists), are ever more infuriated by my thoughts. They are desperate to silence me. They don’t have a chance, but, let’s face it, they have some really good reasons.
The recent events in Palestine have proved beyond any doubt my interpretation of Jewish nationalism and Jewish identity politics. It is not a coincidence that I was the only one to predict the Israeli defeat even before the first Israeli soldier entered Gaza. Since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, its actions and atrocities must be understood within the context of Jewish culture and heritage. This is my line of thought and this is what I am known for.
Leading commentator, Jeff Blankfort, argued recently that the Jewish Left is not the solution, it is actually a continuation of the problem. I believe that the Jewish Left is not merely a continuation of the problem, it is actually at the heart of the problem. Jewish power, as I see it, is the capacity to silence criticism of Jewish power. In that regard, AIPAC and the Jewish Lobby are not ‘Jewish power,’ they are symptoms of Jewish power. The institutional attempt to silence any debate about Jewish power is provided by the Jewish Left and the so called Jewish anti Zionist network (JVP, Mondowiess, Chomsky, Blumenthal, etc.). It is the Jewish Left that attempts to set the boundaries of the discussion and dictates what can and cannot be said.
For instance, we may talk about Zionism and Israel but we must never elaborate on the Jewishness of the Jewish state. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, it attests to its affinity to Jewish history, and it draws its vile inception from the Old Testament, yet, the Jewish pro Palestinian outlet Mondoweiss, changed its comment policy to ban discussion of Jewish culture in the context of criticizing Israel. To sum it all up, I am not just an anti Zionist, I am actually critical of all forms of Jewish politics, both Zionist and Anti. I contend that all forms of Jewish politics are ethno-centric and to a certain extent, racially driven. And in my latest book The Wandering Who I substantiate this point and yet to see any attempt to prove me wrong.
In the last few days I have came across several attempts to defame me. I am cheered by each of them. I tend to see these attempts as an acknowledgment of the importance of my contribution to the discourse.
Earlier today I read a clumsy diatribe written by Nick Cooper, a Jewish ethnic campaigner as well as a Klezmer artist from Texas. In his article, Why Other Critics of Israel Won’t Work With Gilad Atzmon Anymore, Klezmer Cooper engages in a Dershowitz like cherry-picking exercise but, instead of exposing me, he conveniently provides us with an example of morbid Jewish Left ideology and tactics.
Ali Abunimah Did Ask Me To Lie
Cooper is convinced that my words are too often “defamatory, inaccurate, and self-aggrandizing.” He accuses me of “fabricating” a statement by Ali Abunimah. Cooper quotes a line of mine from an email exchange. “Abunimah,” I wrote, “calls Israelis Zionists because he needs the so called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists to support his operation. The last time I communicated with Ali Abunimah he wrote to me, ‘Just refer to Zionism instead of Jewish identity and everything would be fine’. He basically asked me to lie.. I obviously refused’…”
If Cooper bothered with even minimal research he would find out that Mr Abunimah admitted that he sent me a message along this exact line. The email is available on Ali Abuimah’s web site:
From: Ali Abunimah
November 30, 2010 at 5:16 pm
Dear Gilad, I appreciate your note… What you describe as “Jewish” might perhaps be more accurately described as “Zionist,” – and then we might find grounds for a lot of agreement..
Rather than ‘fabricating’ Abunimah’s words, I described his embarrassing non- ethical offer pretty accurately.
Klezmer Cooper is correct in claiming that in our correspondence I told him that he wasn’t intelligent enough to grasp the relatively simple argument that Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist organizations are exclusive to Jews. No doubt, Jewish organizations are happy to collect subscription fees from Goyim (gentiles). But can a Goy become the secretary of Jewish Voice for Peace or the spokesperson for the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network? Not really, and why? Is it because the Goyim aren’t racially qualified or is it because they are ethnically unfit for the job? The answer should be embarrassing to the Jewish Left, as it seems even the Israeli Knesset is more tolerant than Western Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist organizations.
Cooper is also correct that I see “Jewish exclusivity everywhere.” And I further contend that Jewish anti-Zionists are a ‘racially oriented exclusivist culture driven by chosenness.’ But in order to prove me wrong Cooper argues that “Anti-Zionist Jews often have non-Jewish partners.” If Cooper were familiar with Jewish heritage and culture he would know that those ‘partners’ are tagged within the tribal discourse as ‘Sabbos Goyim’- Gentiles who toadie to the every wish and whim of the Jews, especially in politics. Cooper is even kind enough to provide us with a list of his favourite Sabbos Goyim. They are all there at the bottom of his article. Arab sounding names first, English names later, for Sabbos Goyim are set in a hierarchic manner based on the primacy of Jewish interests.
Killing Christ on a daily Basis
Cooper accuses me of racism, but there is one thing he forgets to do; produce a single reference made by me in which I criticize Jews as a race or ethnicity.
“Gilad compared the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to the killing of Jesus,” Cooper writes. I did and would do it again! But is this racism? In the last 5 weeks I have interpreted Israeli crimes in Gaza in the light of Christ killing. Is it racist? Not at all! The murder of Christ symbolizes the killing of the innocent. As far as I am aware this is exactly what the Jewish State has done in turning Gaza into a pile or rubble and murdering children, women, elders and medical workers.
But Chirst Killing also embodies the killing of the messenger. Isn’t that exactly what Nick Cooper attempts to do in struggling to silence me in such a transparently deceitful fashion?
Cooper writes, “Invoking the Christ Killer slur invokes past centuries of anti-Jewish racism and violence in Europe and the US.” I would suggest to Cooper and other Hasbara merchants that if Israel were to stop killing innocent people in Palestine in the name of the Jewish people, that would be a very useful tactic in combating the ‘Christ Killer’ slur.
Distortion of truth
Klezmer Cooper writes at the end of his piece, “Several years ago, I collaborated with Gilad Atzmon on the Klezmer Musicians Against the Wall Compilation CD”
This is simply not true. I have never collaborated with Cooper. His playing wasn’t in line with my standards (Cooper owns a drum set). I allowed Cooper to use a few tunes from my parody album “Artie Fishel and The Promised Band” – a comical musical project that mocks Klezmer music and Jewish identity politics, on his Klezmer compilation. Cooper was obviously too dim to grasp that Artie Fishel was a spoof character mocking the Coopers of this world.
Watch Artie Fishel (on Jazz in my Jihad) http://youtu.be/oCJ4De0POGs
[youtube oCJ4De0POGs ]
Back To The Ghetto
I understand Cooper’s frustration as much as I understand his fear. The popularity of my criticism of Jewish identity politics is well established by now. It has been endorsed by the greatest scholars and commentators ever associated with the solidarity movement.
If Jewish activists and Klezmers alike want to be part of a true solidarity movement, they better sneak out of the ghetto and join a universal discourse. I don’t hold my breath for that to happen any time soon.
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity politics and Jewish Power in particular – 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.”
His new book The Wandering Who? is now availble at Amazon.com
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