Acclaimed Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, author of The Wandering Who? -A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, offers a theory of cognitive ability distribution to explain Zionism, Jewishness, anti-semitism, and identity politics generally. September 29, 2014 video by Joe Friendly
Atzmon writes on political matters, social issues, Jewish identity and culture. His papers are published on very many press outlets around the world. Here is just a short list of his recent publications: World News, Press Tv, Rebelion, The Daily Telegraph, Uprooted Palestinians, Veterans Today, Palestine Telegraph, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Aljazeera Magazine, Information Clearing House, Middle-East-Online, Palestine Chronicle, The People Voice, Redress, Shoa (The Palestinian Holocaust) , The Guardian, transcend and many more.
Gilad Atzmon's New Book: The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics
Jewish identity is tied up with some of the most difficult and contentious issues of today. The purpose in this book is to open many of these issues up for discussion. Since Israel defines itself openly as the ‘Jewish State’, we should ask what the notions of ’Judaism’, ‘Jewishness’, ‘Jewish culture’ and ‘Jewish ideology’ stand for. Gilad examines the tribal aspects embedded in Jewish secular discourse, both Zionist and anti Zionist; the ‘holocaust religion’; the meaning of ‘history’ and ‘time’ within the Jewish political discourse; the anti-Gentile ideologies entangled within different forms of secular Jewish political discourse and even within the Jewish left. He questions what it is that leads Diaspora Jews to identify themselves with Israel and affiliate with its politics. The devastating state of our world affairs raises an immediate demand for a conceptual shift in our intellectual and philosophical attitude towards politics, identity politics and history.
Alimuddin Usmani: The new play by Bernard-Henri Levy, "Hotel Europe," that opened in Paris in September, was scheduled to run until January but will close in November due to a lack of people willing to play audience. BHL induced Sarkozy, Hollande and Valls to promote his play but apparently that didn’t help its reception.
A Swiss comedian, Matthieu Béguelin, commented on Hotel Europe’s aborted run by saying: "La pièce de BHL fait un four." In theatrical vocabulary, the expression means that BHL’s play was a flop. As you probably know, the French word "four" means "oven" and the media were quick to react with commentary that BHL is Jewish and ‘oven’ can evoke the Nazi crematoriums. The comedian replied amongst other things that he was amused that nobody who talked about the walloping of BHL had dared to use the same common expression.
Do you have any comments on this story?
Gilad Atzmon: As I have said before, if contemporary Jews insist upon building their identity around the primacy of their suffering, the Shoah and its symbolism (gas chambers, ovens, death march, etc.), it should not come as a surprise to them that other people also refer to Jews by their tragedies.
Alimuddin Usmani: Two Israeli soldiers recently shared their Gaza war diaries.
Their testimonials reveal a spiritually unmotivated army. You have said before that this is related to the hedonistic nature of Israeli society. Do you think this hedonism is a sign of the end of Israel?
Gilad Atzmon: Indeed, very revealing testimonials, and the fact that that they were published by the most popular Israeli media outlet is even more revealing. Israel is a hedonistic society, yet, not exactly a Western society. It is a unique blend of technology, fanaticism, hard-core Jewish supremacy, materialism and hedonism. This isn’t exactly the ideal cultural and ideological amalgam necessary to sustain a society that insists on living on other people’s land.
By Gilad Atzmon
A few days ago, I came across a disturbing article on Buzzfeed. The headline read; “U.S. Journalist Regrets Attending Conspiracy Conference In Tehran.” According to Buzzfeed, Gareth Porter, a respected journalist and critic of the Jewish lobby and Israel, reported that he would have never have attended the “conference in Tehran if he had known the real views of his fellow attendees.”
But the report didn’t stop there. In an attempt to justify his position, Porter proceeded to breach the ethics of journalism -- he published an email correspondence with a top Iranian official without requesting permission to do so. Porter didn’t even bother to correct the spelling and typos of the Iranian official.
Porter purported to speak on behalf of other activists and writers, again, without obtaining their consent. And as if all this was not sufficient, Porter went on to smear other activists and condemned their elementary exercise of freedom of speech.
But the entire story is not all bad. While most non-ethical conspirators operate in a clandestine manner, Porter exposed his methods. For some reason he provided a precious glimpse into the entire spectrum of ugly tactics that are employed to keep the gates sealed. It is not a secret that instead of choosing to be a guardian of the truth, the contemporary progressive operates as a guardian of the discourse, or, more accurately, ‘the progressive discourse.’
The Buzzfeed article is a very sad piece. It conveys an image of a weak human being desperate to save his reputation. In order to do so he tries every trick he knows. Sadly, he achieves the opposite. In his attempt to smear Mark Glenn, the man behind The Ugly Truth Radio Network, Porter quotes Glenn out of context. He fails to comply with even the minimum journalistic standard of fairness and provide a URL reference for his quotation. One would expect this from Dershowitz, but not from a ‘progressive dissident’.
The crucial question not answered by his article, is who is Porter trying to appease? Why does he defame Mark Glenn who didn’t even attend the conference? Is it possible that veteran progressive journalist Porter is breaching every journalist ethic just to convey the image that he is committed to Jewish primary interests?
I wonder what made Porter, who isn’t a novice, perform in such an unprofessional, non-journalistic and non-ethical manner. I initially thought that he was under some horrendous Zionist pressure. I decided to approach Porter and find out whether he could offer some explanations. I was hoping to hear that his computer was hacked, that his HD was stolen, that he doesn’t know how all that information leaked to Buzzfeed, but I soon realised that my expectations were far too lofty.
Gilad Atzmon: Hello Gareth, Gilad Atzmon here. Any chance we could have a short chat followed by an interview?
Gareth Porter: For Whatsupic? (a new anti Zionist outlet that reported on Porter’s fiasco earlier this week)
A Review of Schlomo Sand’s How I Stopped Being a Jew
by Kevin Barrett,
Unproblematically, it can mean professing the Jewish religion and participating in its rites, symbols, and discourses. In this sense, being a Jew simply means adhering to Judaism, just as being a Muslim or Christian or Buddhist means adhering to Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism.
Yet there are many self-styled Jews who do not profess the religion of Judaism – or any religion. What can this possibly mean?
Two great Israeli-born thinkers – Gilad Atzmon and Schlomo Sand – have summoned up the courage to think seriously and systematically about Jewish identity and its associated identity politics. And they have arrived at essentially the same conclusion: “Jewishness” without Judaism is both vacuous and pernicious.
Interestingly, neither Atzmon nor Sand has solved the problem in the obvious way: by returning to the religion of Judaism. Instead, both have chosen to embrace secular humanist, universalist values and identities. Atzmon has left Israel while retaining a certain ambivalent connection to Jewish identity; whereas Sand has resigned from Jewish identity while retaining an ambivalent identification with Israel.
Like Atzmon’s The Wandering Who?, Sand’s How I Stopped Being a Jew evinces horror at what Jewishness means in Israel today: “…first and foremost, being a privileged citizen who enjoys prerogatives refused to those who are not Jews, and particularly to those who are Arabs…In the State of Israel in the early twenty-first century, does it not appear that being a Jew corresponds to being a white in the United States in the 1950s or a French person in Algeria before 1962? Does not the status of Jews in Israel resemble that of Afrikaners in South Africa before 1994? And is it possible that it might soon resemble the status of the Aryan in Germany in the 1930s?”
While renouncing Jewishness, Sand still considers himself an Israeli – a seeming contradiction, since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State. What he means is that he speaks the main Israeli national language (which, he points out, should not be called Hebrew) and participates in a distinctive Israeli culture…but wishes to see that language and culture become non-exclusivist, non-racist, and de-coupled from any particular religion. Though he doesn’t say so, this would require ending the Jewish State and making Israel (or Israel-Palestine) a state for all its rightful citizens – including any of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinians who wish to return and be compensated for their losses and suffering.
How I Stopped Being a Jew carries the argument of Sand’s earlier book The Invention of the Jewish People to its logical conclusion. If the whole notion of “the Jewish people” is mythical, vacuous, and (at least today) pernicious, non-religious people from Jewish backgrounds ought to relinquish their Jewish identities.
Like Atzmon, Sand is thinking through one manifestation of a larger problem: How relatively benign traditional religious identities are, in the modern world, mutating into vicious, potentially genocidal tribal and nationalistic shibboleths. German Christians may not have always been Christ-like, but when they changed from Christians into Germans and then Aryan Nazis, their collective behavior took a turn for the worse. Likewise, young, relatively non-religious people from Muslim backgrounds behave badly when they become “Islamic State” nationalists, just as Jews turned genocidal when they lost their religion and began worshiping the false god of Zionism. (One might even say that the tragedy of “Jewish State” is being farcically re-enacted in the antics of its “Islamic State” imitators.)
Ynet published this week Two combat soldiers journals from the recent battlefield in Gaza. The following is Sergeant Yaniv Tuvitz, Givati Brigade. My verdict is simple -- Israel can't count on its military anymore.
Saturday evening, 12.7
The battalion gets scrambled to the assembly area for the first time. There's an air of tension among everyone. There we get an idea of the force with which the battalion is going in – D-9 bulldozers, engineering forces, dog handlers, Sky Rider drones. But we also understand that a ground invasion isn't something to be taken lightly, that the State of Israel is trying to avoid such a step. The talk about a lull intensifies.
We speak to our parents and girlfriends from the assembly areas, and somewhat nonchalantly inform them that we'll speak to them again in a few hours. But the picture changes this time, and in an instant. "20:30, everyone on their feet, we start moving," they tell us. Your heart starts pounding.
Shouts ring out at the assembly area. They tell us to get into the vehicles as quickly as possible and to be ready to head out. I'm completely stressed and afraid, wandering around among the Achzarits and not really knowing what to do. The first thing that comes to mind is to call home. I manage to get my hands on a phone, but I'm having a major blackout and can't remember the numbers.
I call a very good friend from home, a combat soldier too, in the hope that he'll answer and give me the numbers of my older brothers. I manage to get hold of him and he gives me the number of my brother, Yoni. I quickly write it down and say to him: "Love you, wish us luck." He understands that we're both going into the Strip today.
I call my brother. He answers, and I say to him, all-a-stutter: "Yoni, you'll hear all about it tonight already. Be with Mom and give her strength; I love you and promise to be in touch."
20:30 – the battalion begins moving towards the fence. We're all in the Achzarit, primed, tense, trying to accept the situation we are here for and that we've been waiting for all the time. The battalion moves forward slowly.
22:30 – we cross through the fence. Everyone realizes now that it's happening and we look at one another. The radio is packed now with the various voices of the commanders. Huge explosions can be heard in the background – the air force and armored corps have started their shelling.
Sergeant Yaniv Tuvitz (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
The Sky Rider operator is sitting with us in the Achzarit. He moves his aircraft through the sky by means of a computer, conveying various warning to the battalion while he does so. Just then we get a warning about a booby trapped jeep and ambulances they they're trying to detonate against us, and the air force destroys them. A huge blast rings out. I look through the Achzarit's periscope and see a huge flame from the blast. That's the moment I truly comprehend the force with which we entered Gaza.
Saturday, 19.7 Shabbat in Gaza. We begin the morning with sad and spirit-breaking news. A Golani APC was hit and 12 fighters were killed. Your heart begins to pound. Two friends of mine from Golani went into the Strip, both from the same battalion. I start to feel really bad about them and I am constantly hounded by terrible thoughts. They come and tell us that the Golani Brigade commander was lightly wounded, a deputy battalion commander was killed, and a battalion commander is seriously hurt. We all look at one another in disbelief. Everyone's in total shock. I'm just about to go on guard duty. I'm wound up, looking in every direction with the machine gun and waiting for a confrontation. The fear that Hamas is going to fire an anti-tank rocket at us won't leave me, so I try to think about other things and sing songs. When I come back from guard duty, I head off to rest. Until they wake me. When I get up, it's already evening. It's dark inside the house. The battalion commander shouts that they've received word about a strike planned against our forces by two terrorists, and he asks everyone to be ready for a confrontation. The IDF is intensifying its invasion of the Strip.
Shabbat in Gaza. We begin the morning with sad and spirit-breaking news. A Golani APC was hit and 12 fighters were killed. Your heart begins to pound. Two friends of mine from Golani went into the Strip, both from the same battalion. I start to feel really bad about them and I am constantly hounded by terrible thoughts. They come and tell us that the Golani Brigade commander was lightly wounded, a deputy battalion commander was killed, and a battalion commander is seriously hurt. We all look at one another in disbelief. Everyone's in total shock. I'm just about to go on guard duty. I'm wound up, looking in every direction with the machine gun and waiting for a confrontation. The fear that Hamas is going to fire an anti-tank rocket at us won't leave me, so I try to think about other things and sing songs. When I come back from guard duty, I head off to rest. Until they wake me.
When I get up, it's already evening. It's dark inside the house. The battalion commander shouts that they've received word about a strike planned against our forces by two terrorists, and he asks everyone to be ready for a confrontation. The IDF is intensifying its invasion of the Strip.
"The Palestinians are devastated, but the Israelis are the big losers following the bombardment of Gaza".
We spoke about 'solidarity', controlled opposition, political paralysis and activists' impotence. I also spoke about the structures and the building of cognitive elite. I attempted to explain the difference between Palestinian subservient elite (Ramallah) and combatant one (Gaza).
Documentary produced by Béatrice Pignède, with footage shot by Jonathan Moadab, Sylvia Page, Jean-Sébastien Farez and Saber Farzard. Music by Gilad Atzmon.
By Eric Walberg
Why can westerners join the IDF while westerners joining IS are despised and killed? In what sense is the IDF scenario any less reprehensible than the IS one?
In recent weeks there has been a spate of articles about western youth flocking to Syria and now Iraq to join the IS “caliphate”. An estimated 11,000 such fighters have already made the leap. Up to 130 Canadians have joined them, including Hamiltonian York University student, Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, a Somalian Canadian, known to his friends and family as sociable and well-adjusted, wearing the latest fashions, listening to pop music and watching teen movies like all the rest of Canada’s multicultural happy family.
In September, Mohamud was declared the first Canadian killed by US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.
As Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper enthusiastically volunteers Canadian bombers and ground forces -- 70 of the proposed 600-member contingent are already there -- soon Canadian soldiers will be targeting Canadian jihadists like Mohamud far from home. Few Canadians feel that Canada’s Afghanistan mission, which killed 158 and has left almost 2,000 Canadian soldiers traumatized and wounded, produced anything of value for Afghans. Nor does anyone believe that it contributed to Canada’s security, which is presumably the purpose of armed forces. Now he is eager to repeat this disaster, even as frustrated Canadian youth react by joining the latest jihad against western occupation of the Middle East.
By Gilad Atzmon
In a symbolic vote that has zero practical impact on British policy, MPs have voted to recognise Palestine as a state.
Palestine won yesterday the support of 274 to 12, a majority of 262 MPs, on a backbench motion that may suggest that Israel’s popularity is non existent.
The British vote followed an announcement by the new Swedish government that it would recognize Palestine as a state. However, following the outcry in Israel, the Swedish government toned down its position and said the recognition would take place only after peace talks.
The motion had been tabled by Labour’s Grahame Morris, who said it was right to take the “small but symbolically important” step of recognising the Palestinian right to statehood.