If they want to burn it, you want to read it!

Gilad Atzmon

Jewish history is a chain of disasters: inquisitions, holocausts and pogroms. Time after time, throughout their history, Jews find themselves discriminated against, persecuted and expelled and, to most Jews, this continuum of tragedy is largely a mystery. Yet one would expect that Jews, clever people for sure, would peer into their past, understand it and take whatever measures necessary to change their fate.

I was born and raised in Israel and it was many years before I realised that Israel was Palestine. When I was a young Israeli boy, the Holocaust and Jewish suffering were somehow foreign to me and my peers. It was the history of a different people, namely the diaspora Jews and we young Israelis didn’t much like their Jewish past. We didn’t want to associate ourselves with those people, so hated by so many, so often and in so many different places. Erasing two thousand years of imaginary ‘exile’, we saw ourselves as the sons and daughters of our Biblical ‘ancestors.’ We were proud youngsters and we were disgusted by victimhood.

So Jewish suffering has, in many ways, been a riddle to me. But yesterday, at the London School of Economics (LSE), I witnessed a spectacle of Jewish bad behaviour, so incredible, that much that hitherto had been unclear, suddenly became all too clear.

Yesterday, at a talk given by one of the greatest humanists of our generation, Professor. Richard Falk, it took Israel-advocate Jonathan Hoffman just sixty minutes of intensive hooliganism to cause him to be ejected from the hall.  As Hoffman and his associate were thrown out of the building, the entire room expressed their feelings by shouting “Out, out, out”

Hoffman wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill thug. Waving his Jewish nationalist symbols, he was acting openly as a Jewish-ethnic activist. Later I learned that he is associated with many Jewish and Zionist institutions: BOD, Zionist Federation and so on.

Behaving as he did with total disrespect to an academic institution, did Hoffman think that the LSE was some kind of yeshiva or perhaps just his local synagogue? I guess not. My guess is he just assumed that, like so many spaces in our country today, the LSE was simply ‘occupied’. It seems that merely the presence in a room of just one Zionist is enough to transform that room into occupied territory.

Never in my life have I seen an entire room so united in its outrage and if anyone within the Jewish community believes that hooliganism a la Hoffman & co is going to make Jews popular, they are wrong. Judging by the reaction I witnessed in the LSE yesterday, there is now total fatigue with Zionist thought control, book burning and brutality.

But I would also like to use this opportunity to issue a sincere apology. In Falk’s book launch yesterday, I suggested to a Palestinian supporter that, rather than reading Jewish historian David Cesarani on the Holocaust, he may like to give David Irving a try. Some Jewish students were outraged by my comment so I would like here to correct my statement, to make it more inclusive and categorical. Don’t just read David Irving. If you genuinely want to understand the world around you, make sure you hear every voice these people want to suppress and read every text these people try to burn.

If they want to burn it, you want to read it!

Once you’ve read it, you decide whether the text should make it to your bookshelves – or to the pyre.

So to Jewish thought-controllers and book burners, both Zionist and ‘anti’: You have clearly launched a war against academic freedom. You are engaged in thought-control and book burning. You have begun a fight with core Western values: openness, scholarship, tolerance. All those things associated, not with Jerusalem, but with Athens. I have no doubt that in this war you may win some battles, you may manage to cancel a talk here and there, you may even manage to burn a book or two.  But you will lose the war. Freedom will prevail, for the yearning  for freedom is engraved in the human soul.

I urge Jews and Jewish institutions to consider carefully whether their behaviour really serves Jewish interests. As the author of the most read book on Jewish identity politics, I can see in the making, a disaster.


Israel National News Against Gilad Atzmon

December 10, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Gilad Atzmon

Jews can be anti-Semites too!” is the title of Jewish settlers outlet Israel National News’ article dedicated to my work by one Manfred Gerstenfeld.  Needless to mention that being subject to a smear campaign led by the Israeli ultra nationalist outlet is pretty much the kind of publicity I wish for. However, I would point out to Gerstenfeld that his title is slightly misleading. Jews are not Semites and I haven’t even been a Jew for two decades now.

Settler Gerstenfeld is desperate to prove that yours truly is an ‘antisemite’. Let’s examine his arguments, one by one. I am genuinely quoted as saying that I am totally “against Holocaust denial.”  I clearly resent those who deny the genocides taking place in the name of the Holocaust. Palestine is one example…” (http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/after-all-i-am-a-proper-zionist-jew-by-gilad-atzmon.html)

I guess that in the eyes of settler Gerstenfeld, supporting Palestine equals anti-Semitism.  But considering the obvious fact that the Palestinians are Semites*, taking their side is actually the ultimate form of philo-Semitism. But I will dutifully address Gerstenfeld’s concern regarding the Holocaust and its denial. I believe that history must be subject to revision. This applies, as well, to the Holocaust otherwise it becomes alienated from history and alien to historicity. The Holocaust in its current state is reduced into a religion, a dogma. To insist that the Holocaust is subject to revision is by no means a form of denial. On the contrary, it integrates this chapter into our human past. It becomes a universal ethical lesson instead of another celebration of the primacy of Jewish suffering.  Such a transition in our take on the holocaust can prevent the Jews and their institutions from repeating the same mistakes that they have made throughout their history, having made the Jewish past look like a Shoah continuum.

Gerstenfeld, who writes in an ultra right-wing settler outlet curiously complains that in my work I “attack”, as well, some Jewish anti-Zionists. In an article titled Goyim Must Obey, Atzmon accuses the Jewish anti-Zionists of telling “Goyim and even Palestinians what they may or may not do and who they may or may not listen to.”  Here, Gerstenfeld’s language lacks accuracy. I do not “attack” people. This is what Israel does to its enemies. I actually criticize people whom I believe to be wrong. My weapon is my pen. However, the quote above is genuine and I stand by my words. I believe Jewish political lobbying is a total disaster.  It is very dangerous for Jews, in particular.

I am indeed critical of all forms of Jewish politics, left and right, Zionist and ‘anti’. I challenge Jewish political identification because it is racially oriented. I argue in the open that from a Judeo-centric perspective Israel and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) are identical. We are dealing with two racially exclusive Jewish clubs. In fact, and this is slightly embarrassing, Israel may even be mildly less racist than JVP, for in the Israeli Knesset the 3rd biggest party is Arab, yet JVP leadership is purely and exclusively Jewish.

Gerstenfeld mistakenly writes, “Atzmon even attacks Jews who completely disavow Judaism and Zionism.” Once again the settler believes that I have “attacked” Shlomo Sand and Avigail Abarbanel. I have great respect for Sand and dedicated to his work a chapter in my previous book, “The Wandering Who.”  I am critical of some aspects of the work of Sand and of Abarbanel. And yet, I wonder, does intellectual criticism of Jewish writers equate to anti-Semitism? If it does, it suggests that Jews are actually beyond criticism. This is probably the real meaning of  “chosenness” in the eyes of some rabid Zionists.

Gerstenfeld is desperate to prove that I am an anti-Semite. But the one thing he can’t find is where I express hatred to Jews for being Jews. Instead, he seeks the help of the IHRA’s (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism. According to the IHRA “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews, as such, or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy, or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions, is an example of anti-Semitism.”

Gerstenfeld suggests that some of my remarks fall in the above category. Gerstenfeld then attempts at cherry-picking but fails to find fruit.  “Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say, ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past?” (www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2016/8/28/utopia-nostalgia-and-the-jew) Gerstenfeld is kind enough to also quote my answer. “The progressive Jew grasps that the working class is nostalgic for a pre-Jerusalem-dominated society – a time when American politics wasn’t controlled by the likes of Saban, Soros, Goldman Sachs and other global capitalists who are isolated from production, manufacturing, and farming.”

Gerstenfeld foolishly fell into a trap here. He actually admits that my reference is not to the Jewish people, per se, but to the progressive Jews which is a politically identified sector within American Jewry.

I do accept that Gerstenfeld is not happy with me pointing the finger at Jewish oligarchs like Soros, Saban and, more precisely, at their corrosive role within American politics. But maybe Gerstenfeld should make sure that Jewish press outlets stop bragging about Jewish billionaires being the ‘Five Top Democratic Donors’ as they do here, here and here

Gerstenfeld, who is probably not the most developed thinker, repeats the same mistake. The IHRA definition asserts that “accusing Jews ‘as a people’ of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews is anti-Semitism.” I totally agree with the IHRA definition. Jewish people shouldn’t be implicated collectively by the crime of a single Jewish felon, a sex offender, or a tyrant.  But in the following quote I suggest the complete opposite. “Talking of apologies, the Board of Deputies (BOD) has yet to apologize for Lord Janner allegedly raping British orphans when he was their president and therefore pretty much the representative of British Jews.”


Rather than asking Jews, or British Jews, for that matter, to disassocite themselves from Lord Janner, I expect the Board of Deputies of British Jews to apologize for the sex crimes allegedly committed by their President, especially because the BOD claims to represent British Jews. Is it truly anti-Semitic, I wonder, to expect Jewish institutions to take responsibility for their actions and associations?

In my recent satirical dictionary “A to Zion” I define anti Semites as ‘brutally honest people, often of Jewish origin.’ I guess that I should confess. I am brutally honest and I was a Jew for thirty years.


* I am fully a ware that Semite is a reference to a set of languages rather than race.

The Wandering Jew

September 22, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

the wandering jew.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

This time back to Germany.  Reuters reported yesterday that

“…for London rabbi Julia Neuberger, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has had a very personal impact: she has decided to seek German citizenship, laying to rest her family’s painful legacy of the Nazi era.”

It seems that

“…a significant number of Jewish Britons whose dismay over Brexit has led them to invoke a German law allowing people stripped of German citizenship by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, and their descendants, to have it restored.”

But here’s the good news. Rabbi Neuberger feels she finally has made her peace with Germany. If only we had known that all it takes for a Jew to forgive Germany and to put the Holocaust behind is a bit of British patriotism well, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and energy.  And by the way, if the Jews are now returning to Germany, maybe we Brits can reclaim their Imperial War Museum, now reduced to a permanent holocaust shrine.

But why does the Rabbi and other Jews want to be Germans again? The answer lies in the ‘Wandering’. Jews just love to travel and, as Rabbi Neuberger said:

“German passport holds the promise of a future with full access to the EU and its practical benefits such as freedom to travel” and she went on to say “We can then live and work anywhere in a bloc that has 27 other nations – rights that Britons may no longer enjoy after Brexit is enacted.”

Astonishingly enough, the Rabbi is a member of the House of Lords. Now, I could be wrong but is her behaviour here the kind of patriotism one would expect from a British Lord?  Rabbi Neuberger offers an explanation. Deep inside, she is admits to be German: “there is some German in me after all and it goes very deep,” she said.

Reuters suggests that 

“It is a remarkable twist of history that Jews who lost family members in the Holocaust are now using such old documents to obtain modern Germany’s maroon-colored passports.”

No, it’s not remarkable at all. Berlin has been attracting Israelis for at least a decade.

Julia Neuberger with her grandmother's J-stamped passport (Photo: Reuters)

Julia Neuberger with her grandmother’s J-stamped passport (Photo: Reuters)

Apparently the Rabbi is not going to flee immediately. “Like other British Jews seeking German citizenship, Neuberger intends to stay in Britain.”  I suppose this is because there is just too much for the Rabbi to lose.  Rabbi Neuberger’s family has reached prominence in Britain’s public life – “her husband is a leading academic and her brothers-in-law include the president of the supreme court.”

And the Rabbi is not alone. Michael Newman, chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees told Reuters

“We all don’t know what the future will hold and want to make sure that we, but also mainly our children, continue to have access to Europe.”

So, is it not the case that here Newman expresses the true meaning of Jewish Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Jews are always ready and waiting for the next Shoah and the take-home message is clear: rootedness and dwelling are probably not characteristics associated with Jewish culture and identity. Wandering is and remains a prime Jewish trait.

A Reply to Angry American: Another Reading of Struggle with the Zionist Entity


In his Article titled July Victory is not eternal and have the shelf life, the Angry American (know as Angry Arab) claimed that Hezbollah’s July victory has expired, the strategy  of Hezbollah in the face of the Israeli enemy is no longer clear. He presumed that the resistance can’t «live» by «consumption» of this victory?

“To continue as a resistance movement, Hezbollah should  clarify his position and duties as a resistance movement against the Israeli enemy. Hezbollah can’t depend on his historical performance in Resisting Israel to Justify his military intervention in Syria (which began with the slogan protection of religious shrines). “

The Angry American claimed that the resistance do not agree on every Hezbollah acts.

Hezbollah’s resistance should be confined and must be limited to fighting the Zionist occupation, within Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah’s resistance is legal only, until the liberation of the remaining occupied Lebanese territory?

Moreover, according to the Angry….hole

The Syrian regime spent the legitimacy of the October War to avoid another war to liberate the Golan Heights, because the regime claimed, he was always busy in preparing for the battle did not come».

Hezbollah can’t remain in the state of no peace and no war, and should not follow the Syrian regime’s behavior after the Yom Kippur war.

The Party of God, and the Syrian regime, in order not to lose the resistance, «legitimacy», should give the absolute and permanent priority to liberate the occupied by the Zionist enemy. [MOST LIKELY THE AMERICAN ANGRY “ARAB” IS REFERING TO SHEBA FARMS AND GOLAN HEIGHTS, NOT TO PALESTINE FROM RIVER TO SEA]

In his reply, Mr. Ghalib Abu Musleh criticized the Angry American, because:

  • Hezbollah never claimed being a comprehensive Lebanese national liberation movement
  • Hezbollah never been a Lebanese Entity, confining his main concern and aspirations of the land of Lebanon. He did not say one day that the Zionist entity is the only enemy. Hezbollah is a  «Shiite» structure, ispired by several sources, the most important is of his community and its struggle throughout Islamic history.  Hezbollah is a Lebanese, Arabic and Islamist party, who fought the «Israeli» American «Atlantic» the invasion of Lebanon, and their local allies and followers. According to the Party the «arrogance»states, the global capitalist system centers in the phase most monopolistic and globalization, must be fought as an enemy not only over the Lebanese territory, but also on the level of the Arab and Islamic surroundings.
  • Moreover, Hezbollah is not Palestinian a party, even though, he somehow, the largest faction resistant to the Zionist entity, and aspires to participate in the liberation of all Palestinian soil. Hezbollah operational vision, was established cross-resisting the invasion of «Israeli» American «Atlantic» of Lebanon in 1982, and through the structure of Islamic resistance , and through its association with the Iranian revolution, Khomeini, and his alliance with Syria. Through the practice of resistance, Hezbollah realized the local, regional and international dimensions and the complex nature of the enemy.
  • Victories are not like sardine cans, and have no expiry dates. According to the Marxist Angry american July victory is not “final” like  Algerian and Vietnamese revolutions victories, and the victories of the Soviet Union over Nazism.  He ignore that the Great Soviet revolution fell after seventy years of the establishment of the soviet union, and Russia today do not reflect the aspirations of Lenin and his comrades. And the inspiring Vietnamese revolution And the Vietnamese revolution suggestive of the peoples of the world, contrary to communism,  is moving toward neo-liberalism and not on the road to building socialism.
  • July victory is the first complete defeat of the aggression by the Zionist entity on the Arab arena, not only Lebanon. Israel Army could not achieve any tactical field goal… So, the war in July formed a historic turning point in the conflict with the Zionist entity, and in the poor Arab time, and pushed towards the end of this entity is inevitable, in conjunction with the acceleration of global variables, and changed the balance of power, and the end of empires. So why the writer asserts that the legitimacy of the victory in July limited, and presumed that the resistance «live» by «consumption» of this victory? ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Assaad Abu Khalil is an American and like many of Arab “Activists” he has to prove his loyalty to the Anglo-Zionist Empire and the shortest way for that is to criticize for being a member of the Axis of Resistance, and to attack real friends of Palestine such as Gilad Atzmon who dared to  talk about Jewishness, Jewish identity and power

In Case You Missed It


The Angry (Arab) Collaborator

Gilad Atzmon: It took me many years before I realized that the place I was born in was in fact occupied Palestine.

Consequently Gilad, the Hebrew Speaking Palestinian as he call himself, decided to leave Occupied Palestine to return when Palestine is liberated from river to sea

مع جلعاد أتزمون عازف الساكسفون العالمي ,كاتب سياسي

ماذا يخبرنا الجندي الاسرائيلي السابق و عازف الساكسفون العالمي جلعاد أتزمون عن آرائه و أفكاره السياسية و الفلسفية الحديثة و المثيرة للجدل عن الهوية اليهودية و سيطرة اللوبي الاسرائيلي على السياسة البريطانية و التي دفعت الكثيرين من اليمين و اليسار الى مهاجمته.

من الداخل
برنامج حواري مدته نصف ساعة مع وجوه سياسية وبحثية غربية، محوره مقاربة القضية أو الشخصية “من الداخل”. باللغة الانكليزية مترجم للعربية.

According to the “Angry American” calling himself the “Angry Arab” Atzmon is  “anti-Jewish”  and should be rejected from the pro-Palestinian advocacy movement

” People have been asking me about him a lot as of late: in the UK and the US. I make it very clear: this is somebody that we should reject from the pro-Palestinian advocacy movement. He is anti-Jewish and his offensive language against Jews and Judaism should be categorically rejected. I would put the name of Israel Shamir in the same category. Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.

Posted by As’ad Abu Khalil 28.February 2012.

رد على أسعد أبو خليل : قراءة مغايرة للصراع في المشرق

غالب أبو مصلح

من واجب المثقف الحريص على المقاومة واستهدافاتها نقدها، دون تردد، إذا ما ظن أن هناك أخطاراً تهددها، أو مزالق تواجهها. وحتى النقد الذي لا يصيب مواقع الخطأ يكون مفيداً، إذا ما أثار نقاشاً عقلانياً حول المقاومة.

ربما كان بعض النقد للمقاومة نتاج سوء فهم لبنيتها وفكرها واستهدافاتها. بعض المثقفين يقرأون في المقاومة ما يتمنون، فيلبسونها عباءة لا تتناسب مع حقيقتها. وهناك من يقرأ في المقاومة أكثر مما فيها، فيراها أداة التغيير الثوري الشامل للنظام اللبناني، والقادرة على انتشال النظام من مأزقه البنيوي، السياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي. ولكن مقاومة حزب الله التي حققت الكثير من الإنجازات العسكرية والأمنية على الصعيد الوطني، غير مهيئة وغير قادرة على أن تكون أداة التغيير المطلوب. ولم يدّعِ حزب الله يوماً أنه حركة تحرير وطني شامل، تسعى إلى الإمساك بالسلطة وتحرير الإنسان، اقتصادياً واجتماعياً، مع تحرير الأرض من الاحتلال.

كما أن حزب الله لم يكن يوماً كيانياً لبنانياً، يحصر همّه وطموحاته بأرض لبنان. لم يقل يوماً إن الكيان الصهيوني هو عدوه الأوحد. حزب الله ذو بنية «شيعية»، يستقي ثوريته من منابع عدة، أهمها تاريخ طائفته ونضالها عبر التاريخ الإسلامي. هو حزب لبناني عربي إسلامي، قاتل الاجتياح «الإسرائيلي» ــ الأميركي ــ «الأطلسي» للبنان، كما حلفاء هؤلاء وأتباعهم المحليين. يرى الحزب في دول «الاستكبار»، أي مراكز النظام الرأسمالي العالمي في مرحلته الأكثر احتكارية وعولمة، عدواً وجب قتاله والتصدي لعدوانيته، ليس فوق الأرض اللبنانية فقط، بل أيضاً على صعيد محيطه العربي والإسلامي.

وليس حزب الله حزباً فلسطينياً، رغم كونه، بشكل ما، أكبر فصيل مقاوم للكيان الصهيوني، ويطمح للمشاركة في تحرير كامل التراب الفلسطيني. تبلورت رؤية حزب الله العملانية، عبر مقاومته للاجتياح «الإسرائيلي» ــ الأميركي ــ «الأطلسي» للبنان سنة 1982، وعبر بنيته كمقاومة «إسلامية»، وعبر ارتباطه بالثورة الخمينية الإيرانية، وتحالفه مع النظام السوري. ومن خلال ممارسته للمقاومة، تجذر وعيه لطبيعة العدو المركب الذي يقاتل، مما أعطى مقاومته أبعاداً محلية وإقليمية ودولية. من خلال هذا الفهم لحزب الله، يمكن نقده ومطالبته بتغيير أدائه وإعادة ترتيب أولوياته واستهدافاته المرحلية والعملانية.

في مقالته المنشورة في «الأخبار»، بعنوان «نصر تموز، هل له مدة صلاحية، أم أنه أبدي الأجل»، يضع أسعد أبو خليل قوانين «تاريخية» لا يهتم كثيراً في تبريرها وعقلنتها، وهي بحاجة إلى نقاش جاد. يقول أبو خليل:

«الانتصارات، مهما كبرت، مدى صلاحية، وآجالها ليست لا نهائية، إلا في حالات تتحقق فيها كل أهداف الحركة الثورية أو التحررية».

ويضع الكاتب في خانة الانتصارات «النهائية» الثورتين الجزائرية والفييتنامية، كما انتصارات الاتحاد السوفياتي على النازية.

لا نستطيع تجاوز ركاكة لغة بعض الجمل، بما فيها العنوان، كما سوء استعمال بعض الكلمات، والذي يموّه المعاني المقصودة، مثل «صلاحية الانتصارات وآجالها». فالانتصارات ليست مثل علب السردين، ذات صلاحية محددة لتناولها بعد مدة معينة من تاريخ إنتاجها. وأعتقد أن الكاتب يعني «وهج» الأحداث وإيحاءاتها ومعانيها بالنسبة للشعوب، واستمرار مفاعيلها وما حملته من تغييرات. وحتى حسب هذا التفسير، فقول الكاتب غير صحيح. كل شيء في هذا الكون إلى زوال، وكما يقول المعرّي «ولنار المريخ من هذيان الدهر مطفٍ، وإن علت في اتقاد». فالثورة السوفياتية العظمى سقطت بعد سبعين عاماً على قيامها، وعلى يد سكّير روسي متأمرك. وروسيا الاتحادية اليوم لا تجسد طموحات لينين ورفاقه. والثورة الفييتنامية الموحية لشعوب العالم، تسير اليوم في ركب عدوها الأميركي، ونحو الليبرالية الجديدة المناقضة للشيوعية، وليس على طريق بناء الاشتراكية.

لكن الأحداث الكبيرة الموحية، انتصارات كانت أم هزائم، تحتفظ بالكثير من وهجها وقدرتها على الإيحاء بالنسبة للشعوب. فالصهاينة يحتفلون حتى اليوم بالـ«ماسادا»، بعد آلاف السنين من حدوثها المفترض، ولا زال الصهاينة يُذكّرون العالم يومياً بـ«المحرقة» النازية، ويستغلونها على كل الصعد، السياسية والاقتصادية والثقافية. وتتذكر الجماهير العربية، والسورية منها خاصة، معركة ميسلون، كما يتذكر العرب، والفلسطينيون خاصة، مجازر قبية ودير ياسين. وما زالت انتصارات صلاح الدين وخالد بن الوليد وطارق بن زياد، كما نضالات عمر المختار وعبد القادر الجزائري وسلطان الأطرش، موحية ونابضة حتى اليوم. فلماذا تكون «شرعية نصر تموز محدودة»؟ كلمة «شرعية» هنا في غير محلها، ولا معنى لها.

مثّل نصر تموز أول هزيمة كاملة لعدوان الكيان الصهيوني على محيطه العربي، وليس على لبنان فقط. لم يستطع جيش الكيان الصهيوني تحقيق أي هدف تكتيكي ميداني له، وهُزم على يد مقاومة شعبية، لا تُقاس قدراتها بقدرات أي جيش عربي قاتل «إسرائيل». واستطاعت مقاومة حزب الله، ونصر تموز صفحة من تاريخها، أن تُسقط أسطورة «الجيش الذي لا يُقهر». بذلك، شكّلت حرب تموز منعطفاً تاريخياً في الصراع مع الكيان الصهيوني، وفي الزمن العربي الرديء، ودفعت بهذا الكيان نحو نهايته المحتومة، بالتزامن مع تسارع المتغيرات العالمية، وتبدّل موازين القوى، ونهاية الإمبراطوريات. فلماذا يجزم الكاتب أن شرعية نصر تموز محدودة، ويفترض أن المقاومة «تعيش» عبر «استهلاك» هذا الانتصار؟

ربما كان بعض النقد للمقاومة نتاج سوء فهم لبنيتها وفكرها واستهدافاتها

يقول أبو خليل:

«لم تعد استراتيجية حزب الله في مواجهة العدو الإسرائيلي واضحة. كان الحزب في موقف جلي في كل سنوات الصراع مع إسرائيل بعد اجتياح 1982 وبعد انطلاقته، يمارس المقاومة الشاملة ضد جميع أهداف العدو».

ثم يقول:

«إن مهمة الحزب، لو أراد أن يستمر كحركة مقاومة، تتطلب منه إصدار موقف واضح في مهامه كحركة مقاومة في مواجهة العدو الإسرائيلي. لا يستطيع الحزب أن يستعين برصيده من الشرعية السياسة التي استقاها من المقاومة في تدخله العسكري في سورية (والذي بدأ بشعار حماية المزارات الدينية)… لكن حلفاء المقاومة، كحركة مقاومة ضد العدو الإسرائيلي، لا يوافقون على كل أفعال الحزب».

إن الكاتب من بلدة «القليلة» في ضواحي صور، أستاذ العلوم السياسية في جامعة كاليفورنيا في الولايات المتحدة، والتي ربما يحمل جنسيتها، ويوقّع مقالاته في موقعه على الإنترنت باسم «العربي الغاضب»، شاهد الاجتياح «الإسرائيلي» للبنان سنة 1982، قبل أن يغادر إلى الولايات المتحدة لإكمال دراسته. ولا شك في أنه تابع بدقة مسيرة الاجتياح ونمو المقاومة من هناك. وهو يدرك طبيعة الصراع في لبنان وعليه، إبان الاجتياح كما بعد اندحاره. هو يدرك أن اجتياح لبنان جاء عبر خطة «الصنوبرة المتوسطة»، بقيادة أرييل شارون للقوات «الإسرائيلية»، وقيادة فيليب حبيب للاجتياح ككل. واحتفلت الولايات المتحدة بسقوط بيروت، ناسبة الفضل في هذا «الإنجاز» لفيليب حبيب، وليس لشارون وبيغن. وشهدت شواطئ لبنان حشداً من البوارج وحاملات الطائرات «الأطلسية»، ما لم يشاهده شرقي البحر المتوسط منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية.

وشاهد الكاتب، ولو عن بعد كبير، قصف البوارج الأميركية والطائرات الأميركية والفرنسية المنطلقة من حاملات الطائرات، لمواقع المقاومة في الجبال المطلة على بيروت. وشاهد سقوط مقاتلتين أميركيتين بصواريخ «سام 2» السورية.

وشاهد تفجير مبنى السفارة الأميركية في بيروت، بينما كانت قيادات المخابرات الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط مجتمعة فيها، كما شاهد تفجير مقر الـ«مارينز» والمظليين الفرنسيين في بيروت، على يد رجال «المقاومة الإسلامية».

ويدرك الكاتب أن اجتياح لبنان كان ضمن استراتيجية أميركية، تشمل الشرق الأوسط كله، للتصدي للتمدد السوفياتي في آسيا الوسطى والشرق الأوسط، كما نتيجة «الثورة الإسلامية» الإيرانية، التي هددت المصالح الإمبريالية الأميركية في الخليج، وأصبحت تهدد وجود قاعدته الأساسية، الكيان الصهيوني. كان اجتياح لبنان من قِبل عدو مركّب، له استهدافاته اللبنانية والإقليمية والدولية. ومهّدت الولايات المتحدة لهذا الاجتياح بإشعال تمردات بعض دول أوروبا الشرقية (بولندا وتشيكوسلوفاكيا خصوصاً)، كما تمردات الإخوان المسلمين في سورية، وبموجة عارمة من تدفق السلاح الأميركي والدعم المادي لـ«إسرائيل»، وبتمويل سعودي ــ أميركي لـ«القوات اللبنانية»، وربطها بالموساد «الإسرائيلي»، تدريباً وتسليحاً، وهجماتها على قوات الردع السورية في لبنان، بعد أن أنقذتها هذه القوات من هزيمة محققة على يد تحالف الجبهة الوطنية اللبنانية وفصائل الثورة الفلسطينية. كما أن ضباطاً أميركيين قد أمسكوا بقيادة الجيش اللبنانية في اليرزة.

فكيف يدعي الكاتب أن مهمة مقاومة حزب الله انحصرت، ويجب أن تنحصر بقوات الاحتلال الصهيوني فقط، وفوق الأرض اللبنانية فقط، وهو «العربي الغاضب»، وليس اللبناني الانعزالي المتقوقع؟

وكيف يقرر أن «مشروعية» مقاومة حزب الله مشروطة بتواصل قتاله «إسرائيل» فقط، حتى تحرير ما تبقى من أرض لبنانية محتلة؟ ألا تتناقض هذه «النصيحة» مع مسيرة حزب الله إبان العدوان الأميركي ــ «الإسرائيلي» وبعده؟

ويعتقد الكاتب

أن النظام السوري «أنفق شرعية حرب تشرين لتجنب خوض حرب أخرى لتحرير الجولان، لأن النظام، حسب زعمه، كان دائماً منهمكاً في التحضير لمعركة لم تأتِ».

وكذلك الأمر بالنسبة لحزب الله،

«لا تستطيع المقاومة في لبنان أن تدخل أو أن تبقى في حالة اللاسلم واللاحرب، التي طبعت سلوك النظام السوري بعد حرب تشرين»

.يعتقد الكاتب،وحسب رؤيته الاستراتيجية الشاملة،

أن على حزب الله، كما على النظام السوري، إعطاء الأولوية المطلقة والدائمة والوحيدة للعدو الصهيوني، لتحرير الأرض المحتلة من قبل هذا العدو، كي لا يفقد النظام، كما المقاومة، «شرعيتهما»،

ويغيّب التهديد الاستراتيجي لداعش والنصرة وأخواتهما، من عشرات التنظيمات التكفيرية التي ربّتها الولايات المتحدة وموّلتها أشباه المستعمرات الأميركية في شبه الجزيرة العربية، واحتضنتها تركيا، لتكون حليفة موضوعية لـ«إسرائيل»، وأداة اجتياح وتدمير أميركية ــ «أطلسية» للوطن العربي بأكمله.

ولا يرى الكاتب في جرائم هذه القوى التكفيرية وممارساتها ما يوجب قتالها، ربما لأنها تدمر «النظام السوري» الذي لا يحبه.

لست أدري كيف يحتسب الكاتب رصيد المقاومات أو الأنظمة من «الشرعية» التي تكتسبها بالقتال، إذا ما توقفت عن القتال لاستكمال استعادة أراضيها المحتلة. وإذا طبقنا مقاييسه لاستهلاك شرعية الثورات التحررية والأنظمة، يكون النظام الصيني قد فقد شرعيته منذ عقود طويلة، لأنه لم يحرر جزيرة تايوان، التي كانت وما زالت تحت الحماية الأميركية. وكذلك الثورة الكوبية، التي لم تقاتل لتحرير «غوانتانامو» من الاحتلال الأميركي. وكذلك إسبانيا، التي لم تحرر جبل طارق من الاحتلال البريطاني؛ واليابان التي لم تحرر جزر «كوريل» من الاحتلال الروسي.

يذكر الكاتب في مقالته كيف أقامت الولايات المتحدة الجسر الجوي لنجدة «إسرائيل» في حرب تشرين 1973، حيث دفعت بكميات هائلة من الأسلحة والطائرات، بطواقمها الأميركية، وتحت العلم «الإسرائيلي»، لمنع انهيار قاعدتها الأهم في الشرق الأوسط. ويدرك الكاتب أن الحرب على العدو الصهيوني المحتل كان مستحيلاً لولا تعاضد الجبهتين الشرقية والغربية، ولولا مظلة الاتحاد السوفياتي وأسلحته المتطورة.

فكيف يسمح عاقل لنفسه بالتهجم على النظام السوري الذي لم يشن حرباً لتحرير الجولان بعد تفكك النظام العربي، وصلح نظام أنور السادات مع «إسرائيل»، وبعد تراجع قدرات الاتحاد السوفياتي بعد عهد بريجنيف، وانهياره أواخر الثمانينات؟

أية مزايدة هذه، وما المقصود منها؟

وليس صحيحاً أن النظام السوري، القابل للكثير من النقد القاسي، لم يخض حرباً بعد حرب تشرين؛ والكاتب يعرف ذلك. فقد تعرضت قوات الردع السورية في لبنان للاعتداءات «الإسرائيلية» المتكررة، ثم للاجتياح الأميركي ــ «الإسرائيلي». وقاتلت هذه القوات دفاعاً عن لبنان، كما دفاعاً عن سورية. وكانت أحد الخيارات الاستراتيجية الأميركية الثلاث للاجتياح، «الصنوبرة الكبرى»، التي تقضي باجتياح كامل الأراضي السورية بعد اجتياح لبنان.

ثم كانت سورية الدولة الثانية في برنامج الاجتياحات الأميركية لست دول عربية وإسلامية عند بداية الألفية الثالثة، وبعد أن أفلتت الإمبريالية الأميركية من عقالها إثر انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي. والذي أنقذ سورية من الاجتياح الأميركي، بعد اجتياح العراق وتدميره، هو المقاومة العراقية التي غذتها سورية بالسلاح والمقاتلين. ثم كانت الحرب التي تعرضت لها سورية، وما زالت حتى اليوم، وهو في الواقع اجتياح أميركي بالواسطة.

فلماذا يُسقط الكاتب واقع الحرب على سورية، ونضالات الجيش العربي السوري، منذ حرب تشرين وحتى اليوم؟

يدرك الكاتب أن حزب الله أصبح قوة إقليمية، تدافع عن لبنان ضد التهديد «الإسرائيلي»، كما التهديد الداعشي في سورية ولبنان. ويقاتل الحزب في سورية دفاعاً عن كل المهدَدين بالحركات التكفيرية، فوق الأرض العربية وخارجها. ويدرك الكاتب أنه إذا ما انتصر التكفيريون في سورية والعراق، أصبح الدفاع عن لبنان مستحيلاً.

أما أسئلة الكاتب التسعة «الملحة» لحزب الله، فقد أجاب الحزب عليها ميدانياً وإعلامياً منذ أمد طويل؛ ومخاوفه على المقاومة في غير محلها.

* كاتب لبناني


Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon

July 31, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

GA: A very interesting piece of writing by Eric Walberg. Along the years I have learned a lot from Walberg, one of the very few creative thinkers left within the Left.

Source: http://ericwalberg.com/

Renouncing Jewishness: Shlomo Sand and Gilad Atzmon

By Eric Walberg

For years now, I’ve known there was something wrong when my well-meaning anti-Zionist Jewish friends found it necessary to join Jewish anti-Zionist groups opposing Israel. In the US, Jewish Voice for Peace, in Canada, Not in Our Name; in Britain, Jews Against Zionism — every country has its group, usually more than one. “I am a Jewish witness against Israel,” I would be told. Sounds good, even brave. Sand’s latest deconstruction of Jewishness and Israel, How I Stopped Being a Jew (2014), makes it clear why my suspicions were well founded.

Barely 100 pages, it is a page-turner, a precis of his earlier more scholarly works, arguing that the romantic, heroic age of Jewish nationalism, as embodied in the creation of a Jewish state, is coming to an end. Israel will not disappear, but it is an anachronism, an embarrassment in the postmodern age. A reminder of the horrors of Nazism, but not as the Zionist crafters of the “holocaust industry”, or “holocaust religion”, would have it. The Zionist project is exposed by Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir and many more Jewish critics as reenacting the same policies of yesteryear. A flawed answer that is doomed, “an insidious form of racism“.

For the Israeli Sand, the Jewish “national” identity is a fraud (an Israeli identity is fine); the only viable Jewish identity is a religious one, and as a nonbeliever, he logically concludes,  “Cogito, ergo non sum.”

Gilad Atzmon takes Sand’s logic further. He tore up his Israeli passport, becoming an ex-Israeli as well as an ex-Jew. 

What’s so wrong with a secular, ethnic Jewish identity? Well, it can be based on only one of two things: persecution (being “forced” into being a Jew whether one likes it or not, as in the Nazi’s racial laws) or being “born” into the Jewish people. The former is no longer an issue and the latter is full of holes, and based on a dangerous myth.

When was the Jewish People invented?

Sand’s answer is simple:

“At a certain stage in the 19th century, intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people ‘retrospectively’, out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people.”

For Jews, this required a homeland, and the westernized Jewish elite were able to provide this. As the West suffered one mortal blow after another (WWI&II), Zionism took on a new meaning. Voila! Israel.

But the exile legend is a myth. Sand is a historian and couldn’t find any texts supporting it. The Romans did not exile peoples.

“Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.”

Jews continued to live in the Holy Land through thick and thin, freer under Muslim rule than Christian, but even the latter never “ethnically cleansed” them. Most converted to Christianity or Islam. Voila! The (Christian, Muslim) Palestinians. However, a tiny core stuck stubbornly to the original monotheism, nurtured by the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC (the only bona fide exile–from which they returned, the earlier Egyptian exile legend being crafted much later, when the Torah was written down and collected in the 3rd century BC).

Jews are not a race but rather a collective of many ethnic groups who were hijacked by a late 19th century ‘national’ movement. There is no racial or ethnic basis for being Jewish any more than there is for being Christian or Muslim. The great majority of those who today consider themselves Jewish are descended from converts in Central Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa, not from ancient Hebrews expelled from the Holy Land by the Romans. They are not ethnic “Semites”, of near eastern origin, or ethnic anything else.

Atzmon is a noted jazz musician, and deconstructs a popular 1970s Israeli pop song by Shlomo Artzi: All of a sudden a man wakes up in the morning. He feels he is people and to

Scene from Shoval’s ‘Youth’ (2016)

everyone he comes across he says shalom.Artzi’s youth suggests Jews suddenly became “people” thanks to the state of Israel, conflating being Jewish with being Israeli, suggesting only Israelis can really feel free as Jews. What Artzi ignores is that feeling proud to be an Israeli is only for those Israelis who have “Jew” stamped in their passport, and, among them, only those who are blind to the bloody colonial basis for this privilege. Hardly a recipe for a healthy feeling.

Can a liar tell the truth?

Israel is a “democratic and Jewish state” according to Israeli law. The “Jewish” nature was first defined in the Declaration of Independence of 1948. The “democratic” character was added by the Knesset in 1985. This is a contradiction in terms, as Jewish by definition determines the state according to race, making it undemocratic for those in the state not Jewish. In cartesian lingo, both ‘A’ and ‘not A’ are true.

This flawed logic now lies at the heart of what it means to call oneself a secular Jew, either Israeli or ‘diaspora’. Sand joins other ex-Jews, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir, and Will Self, who have renounced Jewishness, either as secularists, or as converts to Christianity, shedding a contradictory, now empty, signifier.  Given what Israel has become, “democratic” and “Jewish” are no longer compatible. Sand rejects the faux Jewish nationalism served up by Zionism, which excludes non-Jews from the narrative, and is left with nothing except himself, his books, his sense of right and wrong. A lonely world.

Atzmon takes Sand’s attack on identity politics a step further, arguing in The Wandering Who that secular Jewish anti-Zionism feeds into the Zionist narrative, the do-gooder counterpoint to the more sinister role of the diaspora, taking Sand’s concerns to an even more uncomfortable conclusion: The Jewish Diaspora is there to mobilize lobbies by recruiting international support. The Neocons transform the American army into an Israeli mission force. Anti-Zionists of Jewish descent (and this may even include proud self-haters such as myself) are there to portray an image of ideological plurality and ethical concern.*

Sand dismisses both religion and nationalism as the basis for his identity. Atzmon argues both are legitimate, though they both are perverted in the case of the Israeli state. Nationalism is an authentic “bond with one’s soil, heritage, culture, language”, a cathartic experience, not at all “empty” as a signifier.  Though nationalism may well be an invention, it is still “an intrinsically authentic fulfilling experience”. It can be misused, is often suicidal, but nonetheless, “it sometimes manages to integrate man, soil and sacrifice into a state of spiritual unification.”

What is especially moving about ex-Jews like Sand, and ex-Israel ex-Jews like Atzmon, is that they are trapped by their own Israeli heritage, whether or not they emigrate. Reading Sand’s book in Hebrew, writes Atzmon,

“is for me, an ex-Jew and ex-Israeli, a truly authentic experience that brings me closer to my roots, my forgotten homeland and its fading landscape, my mother tongue or shall I simply say my Being.”

He is confronted not by some “‘identity’ or politics but rather the Israeliness, that concrete nationalist discourse that matured into Hebraic poetry, patriotism, ideology, jargon, a dream and a tragedy to follow.” Israel’s present state has “robbed him of that Israeliness which was once to him a home.”

Hollow identity

Most still yearn to keep a diaspora Jewish identity alive. Judith Butler’s Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2013) is by a liberal-leaning Jew who feels she must salvage her Jewishness from Israel’s nationalism and occupation policies. “A new Jewish identity might emerge that connects Tel Aviv with New York’s Upper West Side, Berlin, Paris, London and Buenos Aires — and all of them on an equal footing,” writes Carlo Strener in hisreview.

For Sand and Atzmon, there is no “new Jewish identity” possible, because there is no diaspora. French Jews are French. Canadian ones are Canadian. It’s fine to be a believing ‘person of the Book’, and even an Israeli, speaking Israeli (really a new language) and being a citizen of a well-behaved multi-ethnic nation state, based on universal norms, like France or Canada. But everyone eats matzo balls already.

Assimilation is not like extermination, despite Golda Meir’s cries of “Wolf!” Non-religious Jewishness will continue to evaporate, along with Christian and Muslim identities for those who abandon their faith. There is no shame in calling oneself an ex-Christian or ex-Muslim. 

Occam’s Razor: less is more

Anti-Zionists “rightly see [Zionist] policies as threatening the renewal of Judeophobia” that identifies all Jews as a “certain race-people, and confuses them with Zionists.”** Yes, but, as Atzmon argues, this “confusion” is part of the agenda, pushing Jews outside of Israel to support Israel unthinkingly and accept the resultant resentment they experience as “anti-Semitism”.

And even if they protest–as Jews–they inadvertently support the “Zionist world conspiracy”:

If those who call themselves anti-Zionist Jews without having lived in Israel, and without knowing its language or having experienced its culture, claim a particular right, different from that of non-Jews, to make accusations against Israel, how can one criticize overt pro-Zionists for granting themselves the privilege of actively intervening in decisions regarding

Codepink’s Medea Benjamin

the future and fate of Israel?* 

The Jewish signifier undermines the anti-Zionist one. Slots muddy things. Medea Benjamin, a “one percenter, a nice little Jewish girl” founded the now legendary peace group Codepink. QAIA (Queers against Israeli apartheid) folded when its organizers realized by highlighting their ‘gay’ signifier, they were doing more harm than good. The queers don’t have the luxury of renouncing their queerness, but thoughtful Jews like Benjamin similarly downplay their own tribalism, and Sand and Atzmon have renounced it, as the honorable way out of their Catch-22.


* Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who?, Zero Books, 2011, p70.
** Shlomo Sand, How I Stopped being a Jew, Verso, 2014, p94–95.

Insight Vox – Identity Politics with Gilad Atzmon and David Scott

July 08, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

Introduction By David Scott, UK Column: Love has many definitions; but one is certainly to have the patience and care to point out the errors and flaws in another so that they may reform themselves, and by doing so avoid repeating self-destructive behaviour and the mistakes of the past. By this definition, Gilad Atzmon has a great love for the Jewish People although at times he has received great hatred in return. This is because in addition to being a Jazz Saxophonist of note and delight, writer and philosopher, he is also the sharpest and bravest of the critics of contemporary Jewish identity politics.

The central role of the modern State of Israel in middle east affairs, and the central role of the Jewish lobby in shaping the policies of the United States of America make his insights into Jewish power, Jewish identity and Jewishness of vital and pressing interest to all men and women with an interest in the forces which shape our world and affect our future. His views and observations are also an antidote to the narrow politically correct mindset which prevents honest discussion of vital matters due to fear of the label “anti-Semite”

Certain of Gilad’s insights, such as the issue of temporality- the short time horizons which characterise the Jewish world view, and the exilic nature of the Jewish religion will likely be entirely new to anyone not familiar with his writings as he has been almost alone in examining these issues which are at the heart of so much of contemporary Jewish culture and politics. These themes are explored further in Gilad’s first book “The Wandering Who”

In this interview we expand on his observations on Jewishness and take an occasionally more universal snap shot of the human condition, looking at issues for Great Britain, The United States and the Arab world. In particular comparisons and contrasts between our two nations; Scots and Jews, are used to illustrate the problems of exceptionalism, national exclusiveness and the effects of a powerful political elite upon national thriving.

This interview was a pleasure to be involved with and I hope the warmth and frankness of our discussion comes across to the viewer.

Creativity in exile

May 22, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

GA: This is a large segment of an interview I gave to Melissa Hekkers (in-cyprus.comlast week in Nicosia. I had  a fascinating discussion with Melissa and I am happy with the way in which she delivered my thoughts.

Melissa Hekkers interviews Gilad Atzmon

Listen to the OHE and Dhafer Youssef playing La Cote Mediterranee 

Listen to the OHE and Dhafer Youssef playing La Cote Mediterranee


The Wandering Who?
We meet in the old town of Nicosia, in the basement of the Windcraft Centre. I’m perplexed as to what we’re going to talk about; there are so many sides to Atzmon’s story I’d like to address; I’d like to know what he thinks about the world we live in today, from an expat Israeli’s point of view.

I want to ask him about migration and refugees. I want to know what it feels like looking back on his homeland. I’m curious about what brings him to the island so often. I want to pick his brain about sharing his time between music and academia.

Aware of his profound sense of humour, counting the number of sheftalia he’s eaten since he arrived on the island breaks the ice as he reveals the essence behind his attraction to the island.

“Cyprus is basically as close as I can get to my homeland, I cannot go back home – to go back is easy, whether they let me leave is another question – which is understandable: I really oppose everything they do, not as Israel, I oppose all forms of Jewish politics, including the Jewish anti-Israelis and the reason that I oppose all forms of Jewish politics is because it is racially-oriented,”Atzmon declares as we get comfortable.

Carrying Gilad’s book “The Wandering Who” on Jewish identity politics in my bag, I’m dubious about getting too deep into politics. I interrupt him. “Who do you speak to when you write books?” I ask.

“It’s quite an interesting question,” he retaliates as he throws his saxophone neckstrap to the side.
“Rather than talking to Jews, which I may as well do, I talk about Jews and it’s very important that I refine that: I don’t talk about Jews, the people, I talk about their culture.

“One would have expected that considering their history that is basically a continuous holocaust with a few tea breaks, they would be the first people to locate themselves at the forefront of anti-racism, anti-oppression and it’s a quite embarrassing fact that just the three years after the liberation of Auschwitz, they wiped out Palestine, they ethnically cleansed 75% of the population, they wiped out the entire civilisation.”

I remind myself later that evening that he was playing with some of the leading local jazz musicians, Ermis Michail, Irinaeos Koullouras, Stelios Xydias to name a few, without dismissing his collaborations with Ian Dury, Robbie Williams, Sinead O’Connor, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd…

And although I’m relieved when he turns the conversation towards a local front, I also accept that steering away from talking about what he knows best is not feasible.

“Two days ago I went to meet my best friend on the island; he’s now living in a house near Polis that was disserted by a Turkish family. He took it when it was a complete wreck and he rebuilt it, but you are in the village and you see the Turkish village is still there.”

“Palestine should have been the same, the houses should have still been there. Israel was very quick to wipe it out.”

I refer to the strong identity Palestinians hold, regardless of their fate.

“It’s very interesting because the Jews, as we know them, never had a home, and this is something that is quite crucial. Judaism was born in Babylon when Jews were in exile and they were starting to assimilate, they were a very friendly, very tolerant society.”

“Eventually, some Jews became horrified at the possibility that Jews won’t be Jews again, so, in a way, the situation in Babylon 2,500 years ago was similar to the birth of Zionism in Europe in the 19th century.”

“Then they invented Judaism as we know it today and it is an exilic culture; this is very different from all other cultures that you can think of. It’s a culture that is based on the fantasy of return, this is why Jews are set to live in a negation with their surrounding reality; this is why they isolate themselves.”

I grasp at the notion of the fantasy of returning home and try to revert our conversation back to a local front.

“That friend of mine (in Polis), is a refugee, he’s like a Palestinian, I speak to a lot of refugees (in Cyprus). It’s very interesting because the situation is very similar…

“A lot of refugees want to solve the issue, to bring peace, to settle it, they have a lot of issues, it’s not simple, there are a lot of empires involved, but I don’t see any of that within the Israeli society. Israel still hasn’t acknowledged the fact that the Jewish state wiped out an entire civilisation, this is quite unusual.”

Breaking away

But how easy is it for one to break away from their homeland, without return?

“To start with, I got a lot of things from Israel, I grew up there, I got a very good education, I became a musician, I think freely, unlike most western people now, this is something that I got in Israel…

“I didn’t have any problem to break away from it; I don’t even miss the place that much. In the early years when I missed it, I realised that what I miss is the country, and the country is Palestine, I was missing the sun, and the smell of the spring and hummus!”

Now living in Killburn, London, Atzmon has made Britain his home.

“I never thought that I would go to England, I never liked England as a tourist… but when I moved there, I felt at home immediately…”

“I cannot think of people being more tolerant and welcoming than the English people. I had really incredible years in England, an incredible career, within two three years I joined the Blockheads, Robert Wyatt and I continue to play with a lot of great British musicians.”

He had a choice between London, Chicago and Berlin.

“Berlin wasn’t an option because my wife’s family were kind of holocaust survivors and her mother would find it hard to cope… had I moved to America I would have been an American by now…not that England is a vivid intellectual environment.

“Being in Europe, being here (Cyprus) every three months, touring, being in France, being in Germany, being part of this very lively society that is part of the EU, but still multi-ethnic, multi-ideological, diverse is a great opportunity.”

Upholding our identity

So who is Atzmon and how does he define his identity?

“Identity is a very ugly business. It’s in practice a form of identification, Identification is set to remove you from yourself.”

“I’m disgusted with identity politics, you will never hear me speaking ‘as a saxophonist’, ‘as an ex Jew’.”

“All this ‘as a’ is a wrong approach, it’s anti-human, it is there to split us. I don’t have to speak as a saxophonist, I am a saxophonist, I’m here in Cyprus, I played three or four gigs, I just gave a master class, if I were not a saxophonist of a reasonable calibre, I wouldn’t do it.”

“I’m making a living being me, I’m making a living doing Gilad. I write books, I write papers, I play fast and loud, and I’m often very funny, this is me, there is no mediator, there is no ‘as a’…”

What ties us, however, is the land we live on.

“Once you settle on land you become part of it; soil, being part of the land, being part of the culture and loving the sky is the real meaning of patrio-tism, this is the real meaning of nationalism and I think this is a wonderful thing.”

“It’s something that I received in Israel, it was fake nationalism, but I can see how strong it is and I think that we are moving towards being natio-nal socialists… I’m not saying that we’re becoming big dictators and we hate foreigners and so on, but if global capitalism is cancer, the answer to global capitalism is national socialism.”

We live in a frightening world, I exhale.

“I think we have come to a point where we have reached a plateau.”

“The credit crunch in 2008 happened because were not productive anymore, so we started to buy credit and kept buying and buying, we’re living in a consumerism society, politicians’ role is sustaining consumption rather than looking after people, and eventually they realised that we were buying with money what we didn’t have…”

“Now the bubble is growing again and we have come to a point where in order to fuel the system, we have to push it down to zero.

“Cyprus, against all odds, is in a reasonable shape because you’re a small country… Even if everything becomes very dark out there and the EU collapses, you’ll still have sheftalia here, you have good tomatoes, you have lemons, you have oranges, maybe you won’t have a Mazda, but even if you have to walk, you have a small country.”

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