Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: The following article is probably the first valid academic and intellectual criticism of The Wandering Who. Rather than the usual repetitive, banal and futile attempts to silence me, it actually offers a deep and comprehensive reading of my thought followed by an educated criticism of my ideological, philosophical and political stand. Professor Norton Mezvinsky is one of the world’s leading authorities on Jewish history and Israeli politics. He is currently the president of the International Council for Middle East Studies (www.icmes.net) a new academic think tank in Washington, D.C. His book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, which he wrote with the late Israel Shahak, is regarded as one of the most important critical texts on Israeli politics and culture.
Needless to mention that I am delighted with Professor Mezvinsky’s review of my work. But I also agree with some of his criticism. I addressed most Mezvinsky criticism in our last month Washington DC public session organized by the Washington Report (www.wrmea.com).
A video of this very interesting session can be watched here or at the bottom of this article.
Delinda C. Hanley, News Editor, for the Washington Report described the unfortunate events proceeding my public meeting with Professor Mezvinsky. “The night before Prof. Norton Mezvinsky’s March 14th interview with Atzmon at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church a controversy shook up our plans for a thought-provoking event. Ali Abunimah and 21 other respected Palestinian writers and activists issued a statement calling for The Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon. Puzzled, and probably deeply hurt, Atzmon penned a thoughtful response. (The Washington Report sent both statements to thousands of readers on our “Action Alert” list.) Hours after Professor Mezvinsky’s interview concluded, there was a sea change in the blogosphere—Atzmon received a barrage of encouragement from his supporters and won scores of new visitors to his Web site, <http://www.gilad.co.uk>.”
Delinda C. Hanley concludes, “while he was in the U.S., Atzmon shook up friends and foes alike, and started a conversation which must continue. We learned that in addition to Zionists who are quick to label anyone who disagrees with them anti-Semitic or racist, there are also well-meaning, self-appointed, pro-peace gatekeepers who don’t want to allow others to speak. But to achieve true lasting peace, and uphold the values of a free society, we need to hear every voice. This, after all, has been the Washington Report’s goal for the past 30 years.”
I couldn’t agree more. Freedom of thought and expression are at the heart of the spirit of resistance, dissent and change.
From the May 2012 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
Gilad Atzmon and The Wandering Who?
By Norton Mezvinsky
Not content to be merely a successful, world-class jazz musician, Israeli-born Gilad Atzmon has emerged as an extremely controversial critic of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, the Jewish state, Zionism, many forms of anti-Zionism, and what he calls Jewish identity politics. It did not surprise me to learn that Alan Dershowitz and some other Zionist colleagues had severely attacked Atzmon and his ideas. It did surprise me, however, when some Jewish and Palestinian friends of mine, who are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, counseled me not to meet Atzmon, and thereafter scolded me for agreeing to interview him publicly. These friends, together with others of like opinion, advocated disavowal and boycotting of Atzmon and his ideas.
In contrast, another friend, an Orthodox Hassidic rabbi, a major authority on the Halacha (Judaic religious law) and an advocate of Israel’s remaining a Jewish state and not relinquishing any presently held land, urged me to interview Atzmon. My friend and I obviously disagree about Israel and the Palestinians, but we have mutual respect for one another. Regardless of our disagreements, the rabbi spent many hours reading Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who? Although he disliked the book and disagreed with Atzmon’s major assertions, he sent me bullet point criticisms and suggested I use them in my interview.