Gilad Atzmon Interviewed by Shabana Syed
Time for world to confront Israel: Gilad Atzmon
According to the famous Israeli-born Jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon, "The ideology that carried out execution-style killings on the Gaza aid flotilla the 'Mavi Marmara' is the same ideology that carried out the massacres at Deir Yassin, Qibya, Sabra and Shatilla, Qana, Gaza, Jenin and the murder of Rachel Corrie — more than that it is the same ideology that killed Christ."
He continues: "there is no biological, racial or ethnic continuum between the ancient Israelites and the contemporary Israelis. The attack on the aid convoy is a continuum of the same ideology that killed Christ. Christ's killing is a symbol of a brutal assault against goodness, in the same way the attack on the aid convoy was against humanity and compassion." Speaking to Arab News after the deadly attack on the aid Flotilla where 9 peace activists were shot dead and around 50 injured Atzmon was scathing against Israel's actions and demanded that it should be stripped of its UN membership.
Atzmon is a former Israeli soldier who now lives in London. He is not only a renowned author and writer but also a famous award-winning jazz musician. Described as a musical genius he has recorded with the likes of Robbie Williams, Sinead O Connor, Robert Wyatt Paul McCartney, Tunisian singer Dhaffer Youssef and countless others.
With a strong presence on and off stage and a disarming smile, Atzmon has a huge following not only for his music but for being a unique thinker and philosopher.
Admired for his fearless stance against oppression, he is also at the forefront of a taboo discourse that many will not venture into out of fear of being branded anti-Semite; and that is the discourse on the Jewish identity, Zionism and Israel.
Because of this stance, he has been branded a "Jew self-hater." Atzmon smiles: "in fact I correct them 'I am not only a self-hater but a proud self- hater.'" The accusations do not deter him as he is quite vocal about the self-hatred he feels for the Israeli part of him. He argues: "We are dealing here with a morbid collective that sets itself against humanity.” He believes the reason why he is at the forefront of this discourse is because he is more able than others to understand Israeli mentality because, "I come from them, and I know how they think." He himself has studied for many years the issue of the Jewish identity, and in his talks is often found quoting philosophers like the Austrian Otto Weininger, Kant, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Lacan, Marx as well as Eastern philosophers.
He explains: "Israel has violated all international laws, it has never been held accountable for the countless massacres." However, he argues the latest massacre of peace activists on the aid flotilla with the emerging forensic reports which suggest Israeli execution-style killings of the 9 peace activists has resulted in shock horror around the world.
"The remarkable fact is they don't understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn't understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others." In his latest article titled "Jewish Ideology and World Peace," he argues: "Within the discourse of Jewish politics and history there is no room for causality... Within the Jewish tribal discourse every narrative starts to evolve when Jewish pain establishes itself. ...It also explains why for most Jews the history of the holocaust starts in the gas chambers or with the rise of the Nazis. I have hardly seen any Israelis or Jews attempt to understand the circumstances that led to the clear resentment of Europeans toward their Jewish neighbors in the 1920s-40s.”
Born and brought up as a Zionist in Israel, Atzmon believes it was his love of music that first opened his eyes to the world. "I was brought up to believe that Jews were the chosen people and no one was better than us. Then I discovered jazz and found out that many of the great jazz musicians were black Afro-Americans. That was the first dent in the theory of our greatness and as I picked up the stones more truths began to come out." At 19, Atzmon was stationed as a soldier to Lebanon where he saw for the first time thousands of Palestinians living as refugees. "We were told that the Palestinians had left and gone to other Arab countries, so when I saw thousands of refugees living without the basics I realized that we had stolen their land." Atzmon also witnessed the atrocities the Israeli Army was committing against the Palestinians; so as soon as he could, he left the army and left the country for good.
"My studies have shown me that the Jewish identity is foreign to humanism, it is tribal and has evolved as an outcome of an exilic culture." He argues that we can learn a lot about Jewish collective ideology by looking closely to the biblical "Story of Esther" which he argues teaches Jews the art of infiltration into politics and governments.
He continues: "This form of infiltration is clearly evident in America today where the Jewish lobby (AIPAC) dominates the political discourse. Also in Britain we have the British Jewish lobby, and the 'Friends of Israel', we also have people like David Aaronovitch, The Times columnist and Nick Cohen of The Observer, who advocated for war with Iraq. Both write for the Jewish papers, are known sympathizers of Israel and have contributed extensively to the growing Islamophobia in Britain. Lord Levy, a rabid Zionist was funding the Labour Party when it went into an illegal war with Iraq which led to over a million Iraqi fatalities.”
He continues: "We have the likes of David Miliband the Labour MP; I wonder how many people know that he is listed on the Israeli propaganda site as an Israeli propagandist author. Did you know that under the last government, when everyone was talking about Israel's killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai by using forged British passports, David Miliband was busy attempting to amend the laws of universal jurisdiction so Israeli war criminals could enter Britain.”
In his latest article Atzmon writes: "Enough is enough; it is time to name and shame every Israeli and Zionist infiltrator within political circles, media and academia." Maybe it is the soldier in him but there are not many subjects that Atzmon is not afraid to confront. The biggest taboo subject today is to question the holocaust. In many European countries one can be jailed for questioning the numbers killed or to what extent gas chambers were used? Atzmon however has no fear when he says: "I do not deny that Jewish suffering took place, I also lost family in it. However if the established holocaust narrative is true why do we need laws to protect it?" He continues: "We want a coherent narrative open to scrutiny. We owe it to ourselves, to history to find out the truth and I don't mean the truth through emotionally charged Hollywood films. Also I reiterate that those involved in an academic and historic inquiry should not be threatened with law suits and abuse.”
To stop further world conflicts, Atzmon believes that governments should confront Israel. He argues that unlike the last Labour government that indulged Israel to continue its brutal assaults, while its leaders Blair and Brown were honorary patrons of the Jewish National Fund UK, the new government has to take a stronger stand. "In order to end one of the most brutal occupations of Gaza we need to ban Israeli aircraft from British airspace, impose EU trade sanctions against Israel and strip Israel of its UN membership." For Atzmon the tide is turning and humanity which is bound together by human ethics and morals need to stand together against Israel before it takes us to war with Iran which according to him "is its next step.”