I Was Born in Israel Many Years Before I Realized Israel Was Palestine
First published on February 12, 2015 / Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon: I was born in Israel, and it was many years before I realized that Israel was Palestine. I was relatively patriotic. I was looking forward to serving in the army, and then I grasped that there was little truth in the Jewish historical narrative. I then gathered that I was living on someone else’s land. At the same time, I discovered the saxophone. By the age of 30, I left Israel and never went back.
Q: There is some kind of rebellion in your music; how do you explain this?
A: My music can be very soft and reflective. Sometimes it is very funny, and occasionally it is furious. There are too many reasons to be angry. I’m far from happy when I see Israel flattening Gaza. I’m furious when I find out 80 percent of British conservative MPs are ‘friends of Israel’. I’m angry when I find out the Jewish lobby is pushing America into another World War. Instead of becoming violent, sometimes I use music as a channel to express my anger.
Q: What type of music is close to your music in the world?
A: It’s very simple. I’m a jazz artist, a bebop player. But I’m inspired by Near East music – whether it is Arabic, Turkish, or Greek. I find my own way to fuse the Arabic mawwal with John Coltrane….
Q: What do you think of the social and political state of Turkey?
A: Listen, I’m really against any forms of interventionism, so I’m definitely not the right person to judge the situation here. I can only talk about my impression, and it’s not an academic observation. I’m touring all over the world, and I see a lot of sadness. I see impoverished countries, people with no work, with no prospect of production. I see youngsters who are third-generation poor, and in their deserted main street, they don’t eat their own food anymore; they instead eat McDonalds, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Starbucks. And I’m here in Turkey and see a lot of people on the streets, and I see fish from your sea and tomatoes from your fields, and I see a lot of people working in the restaurants that have Turkish names and don’t even offer a menu in English, and it makes me happy for you. You have managed to maintain your authenticity and culture. This is a great victory. You are so lucky that Islamophobic Europeans didn’t accept you into the EU. Your country is now a superpower.
Q: You were born in Israel, but you are against Israeli occupation and its politics. You are living in the West; how do you cope?
A: Let me tell you something, and it is crucial. In my entire career, I have never been subject to abuse by the British government, never been subject to abuse by the American government. Although the infamous Alan Dershowitz, who is now implicated in a huge sex scandal with minors, labelled me as ‘the number one enemy of the Jewish people’, I’ve never been subject to direct abuse by the Israeli government. Even the NSA doesn’t harass me. The only people who stalk me continuously are the Jewish left and the Guardian newspaper. I can say that it’s not a problem, but I came to the realization that the biggest enemy of our elementary freedoms are the progressives, and I’ll explain why.
In the West, and maybe in Turkey as well, we have issues with political correctness. What is political correctness? Political correctness is politics that doesn’t allow political opposition. This is clearly the definition we associate with dictatorship. But political correctness is far worse than dictatorship. Why? Because in the case of dictatorship, you experience an opposition to a regime that is distinct from you; but in the case of political correctness, it is you who silence yourself. Political correctness is a form of self-censorship. The Jewish left and the progressives made us into a collective of impotents. Our task is to move on and to erect our resistance against this cancerous ideology.
Q: Can we separate Judaism from Zionism?
A: No. Israel isn’t called the ‘Zionist State’; it defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’. The parties in the government are called ‘Israel Our Home’ and the ‘Jewish Home’, not the ‘Zionist Home’*. Now the Israeli cabinet has approved the National Bill that defines Israel as the Jewish state, not the Zionist state. Zionism from an Israeli perspective died in 1948. Zionism was a promise to erect a Jewish state in Zion (Palestine). Once Israel was established, Zionism was finished with its role. The only people who maintain the Zionist nonsense are the Jewish left, because they want to differentiate between Jewishness and Zionism. This is why they call Israel colonialism. But Israel is not colonialism. Colonialism is a clear exchange between a mother state and a settler state. Israel is a settler state, yet there is no Jewish mother state. This is why they call it apartheid. Israel in not apartheid. Apartheid is a racist system of exploitation. But Israel doesn’t want to exploit the Palestinians; it wants them gone. Israel is a Hitlerian ethnic cleansing model. The Left uses the terms ‘colonialism’, ‘Zionism’, and ‘apartheid’, in an attempt to divert attention from the ‘J’ word. For solidarity with Palestine to be meaningful, we have to de-Judify our terminology. Not to kick out the Jews, but to prevent Jewish interests from defining the boundaries of the discussion.
Q: Can we see Israel and Palestine as two states?
Q: Will the Palestinians be able to return to their county?
A: This is what they are fighting for. And any person who doesn’t accept the right of return is not a genuine supporter.
Q: What do you think about what Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust?
A: I agree 100 percent with everything Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad basically said that the Holocaust must be treated as a historical chapter. At the moment, it is treated as a religion. And if it is a religion, I want to maintain my right to be an atheist. In contemporary Judified reality, it is OK not to believe in God; but if you don’t believe in Auschwitz, you will be penalized – and severely. I don’t accept it.
Q: What does the US gain from supporting Israel?
A: We cannot think of America as an independent entity anymore. America’s political system is a Jewish occupied zone. America, Britain, France, and generally the West, woke up one morning to realize that there was a loophole in their legal system that facilitated the ability of invasive foreign lobbies such as AIPAC, CFI, and CRIF, to interfere with their foreign affairs. America has sacrificed its foreign interests on the Jewish altar. It is a disaster. But history teaches us that this Jewish political impunity always comes to an end in a totally tragic circumstance.
Q: Do you agree that a Holocaust is happening in Gaza?
A: I don’t know what the Holocaust is anymore. I’m like Ahmadinejad in that regard. When I was a kid, they taught me that the Nazis made soap out of Jews. And then I grew up and realized it was all a fantasy. They taught me that the Arabs were going to throw us into the sea. And when I was mature enough to learn the history on my own, I realized that it was actually the Jews who threw Palestinians into the sea. Then I realized that Jews (like everyone else) tend to project their cultural symptoms onto others. The Jews are fearful of the Palestinians, because the Jews witness their own army engaged in murderous activity. They must believe the Palestinians are as murderous as the IDF happens to be.
I don’t want to talk in terms of the Holocaust, because it is too Jewish. I don’t want to compare Israel with Nazism, because Israel is bad enough. From some perspectives, Israel is worse than Nazism (Israel is a Jewish democracy – it implies a collective responsibility). When I compare Israel with Nazism, I reaffirm the Holocaust religion and sustain the primacy of Jewish suffering. We have to establish a new discourse, where Israelis are the worst enemy of humanity and the Palestinians are the ultimate sufferers. Auschwitz was indeed bad, but not as bad as Gaza.
Q: Iran is not after nuclear arms; the whole world knows that. How do you explain the fuss around the Iranian nuclear project?
A: I have no problem with Iranian nuclear arms. I want Iran to have a bomb. Just one Iranian bomb will bring peace to the region. All this mess in the Middle East caused by Israel and America is because they know they can kill with impunity, and endlessly. My problem with the Shias is that they are too nice. They really don’t want to bomb anyone. An atomic bomb is haram, they say.
Q: What is your opinion about Iran’s role in the Middle East?
A: Iran is the most beautiful political power. It supports the Palestinians. It supports the resistance. Iran has developed very strong industry. This country that was a client state of America 34 years ago now produces submarines, airplanes, drones, very strong computers. It is beautiful.
Q: Obama is the first black president of America, but statistics show scores of black people are shot dead every year. How do you analyze this contradiction?
A: We like to think in terms of racial division, because this is the heritage of the left; but it is wrong. In the West, in the last 50 years, there has been a collapse of manufacturing – partially because of automation, machinery, and computerization, but also because Milton Friedman taught us that it is better to be a service economy. The meaning of it in America, Britain, France, etc. is that we don’t need working people. The people who used to be working-class are now workless class, and they are doomed to poverty with no hope; they are called underclass. As things stand, existing jobs demand very high cognitive ability (very high IQ), such as engineers, financiers, bankers, public relations practitioners. This group of privileged people is what I call the ‘cognitive elite’, and they are few in number. We live in a society where we witness the underclass growing rapidly and a small cognitive elite maintaining its power. Obama is well within the cognitive elite – not because he is black, but because he is clever, and he clearly found his way to the top. When it comes to the underclass, we realize that there are a lot of immigrants, including many Hispanics and blacks. They are the primary sufferers of the new, cruel, merciless division – not between the rich and the poor, but between the able and the less able. It is devastating. This is why Turkey is so important. You manage your economy and currency in a manner that facilitates manufacturing.
*The Zionist Home party was formed a month after this interview was conducted.
(Reporting by Mehmet Gürhan)
Read the interview in Turkish on 7SABAH.