No choice but to speak out - Israeli musician
By Martin Gibson – Gisborne Herald January 23, 2009
Now a resident of London, Gilad Atzmon is a world-renowned saxophonist and the author of two novels, which have been translated into 22 languages.
He left Israel in 1994 after service in the Israeli military convinced him Israel had become a racist, militarised state that was a danger to world peace.
"I was born in a place that happens to be very strategically crucial to quite a few empires, and I was indoctrinated to take part in these idiotic wars and I managed to escape eventually. When I was there I started to see the scale of the atrocities that are committed on my behalf by the Israelis in the name of the Israeli state, with the support of the Jewish people around the world.
"Now and then you hear about one Jew here and one Jew there who is against it, but institutionally this war is supported by world Jewry inside-out."
While he believes people run a risk speaking out against Israel, Gilad Atzmon says he has no choice.
"I think we are under severe danger. We are fighting against the most powerful people on this planet. Seemingly the national state has proved in the last couple of weeks that murdering is not any concern to them, so we have good reason to be afraid or be aware, but I want to tell you something - this planet is at the moment in a devastated state. I have two kids who I love a lot and this is their planet. I'll be here another 20 years, 30 years, maybe tomorrow I'm gone. But they are going to stay here.
"Mossad (the Israeli secret service) probably realise that shooting a saxophonist would not reflect well on them. I don't feel suicidal and if you hear I fell off a cliff you know who did it."
There have been numerous attempts to silence Mr Atzmon, including inevitable charges that he is anti-Semitic, although he is Jewish himself.
"I wish I could shut myself up and not care, but every time somebody tries to silence me, I know it must be because I'm saying the right thing, pointing on evil, on the core of evil.
"I think Jewish ideology is driving our planet into a catastrophe and we must stop."
When you grow up in Israel, the anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian sentiments expressed by Gina Hughes are common, he says.
"I'm familiar with the voice, and my voice is much different. My voice may be slightly more interesting, but we are far fewer and we are not operating as a political collective.
"The difference between me and 99 percent of Jews on this planet is that I do not believe they have the right to a state.
"Considering the crimes they committed since the state was born, along with the murderous extravaganza of the past weeks, not only do they not have the right to a state, the state should be dismantled immediately before they turn our planet into a fireball."
Mr Atzmon says the brutality we see in Israel, that is reminiscent of the Nazis, has arisen through a simple failure of logic.
"One of the things that happened to us was that stupidly we interpreted the Nazi defeat as a vindication of the Zionist ideology and the Jewish people.”
"The Nazis were indeed ... evil. They did things that were disastrously inhuman and unacceptable. But this doesn't mean the Zionist ideology is correct, because in fact Zionist ideology and Nazi ideology were very similar."
There is less excuse for our sitting idly by while the mess in the Middle East grows progressively more brutal than for Germans in World War 2, he says.
"They themselves were a victim of tyranny, and still we vilify all of them, while it is democracies from America and Britain that launched an illegal invasion of Iraq which has killed two million Iraqis.
"In Israel, 80 to 93 percent of people support this genocide of the Palestinian people, and by the way, the Israeli state is a theological state so it is in the name of the Jewish people - we are dealing here with a major criminal, political identity."
"It is perplexing - you would expect that after what the Jewish people had gone through, after it was very clear to them that the European nations, not just the Germans, but the French, the Ukrainians the Romanians and the Poles spat them out, you would expect they would start a new page where they would be very reflective and very, very careful.
"Some Jewish philosophers were completely sure this was what was going to happen; one philosopher, Emanuel Levinas, said: 'Now we must be at the forefront of the fight against racism. We must make sure this never happens again'.
"Not only was this not the case, but three years after the liberation of Auschwitz they were ethnically cleansing the population from Palestine and their brutality is now far more obvious, manifested, celebrated.
"They're living in a ghetto in the Middle East. They're threatening the entire region with their idiotic nuclear bombs. They're throwing their white phosphorus on civilians.
"Gaza looks like a place that was nuked, and these are the people who are supposed to be the victim, and the bodyguard of humanity?"
Growing up, Mr Atzmon could never work out the anger of people towards Israel, but now he can - the actions of Israel are sowing seeds of hatred throughout the world, he says.
"What they are doing brings so much rage in so many people, including myself. I never felt any anger or rage towards anyone except my people. So I think if I feel it, an Arab or Muslim or person who was ethnically cleansed, or someone whose neighbours or kids have been wiped out? They are not going to forgive.
"They are really dragging us into a level of violence that this world has never seen. It's the quality, the essence of what they're doing. It is the strongest army in the world against innocent civilians.
"To drive with tanks over innocent people, to see their houses demolished. To see babies cling for days to their dead mothers because Israeli armed forces don't allow the UN to come and rescue them, and these were the people who were meant to be the guards of humanity? No. They definitely maintained evil."
Where a charge of anti-Semitism will not stick to Jewish people who criticise Zionism, it is replaced by the label of "self-hating Jew", but this does not bother Gilad Atzmon.
"When you try to think of the biggest humanists ever, Spinoza Marx and Christ were basically proud self-hating Jews also.
"Why? Because of growing up in this kind of racist, nationalist, tribalist, chauvinist, supremacist society - and this is exactly what they stood up against."
"Many people ask me about peace and I say you cannot have peace with people who do not internalise the concept of 'love thy neighbour'. This is almost a paradox, because if they love their neighbour, they cease to be who they are.
The word Judeo-Christian is an artificial construct, he says.
"It's a joke. A joke. It's obviously a political campaign to try to unite the power of America to fight the Jewish enemies, because if the Americans are convinced that there is Judeo-Christian, so then the enemies are the Muslims."
The rockets launched into Israel do not justify the killing of 1000 Palestinians in Gaza over the past few weeks, he says.
Last updated 02/02/2009