Sunday, June 28, 2009

Atzmon in Berkeley Redux

The ripples generated by the Berkeley visit of the anti-Semitic activist Gilad Atzmon continue to cause some mal de mer among those who never imagined that inviting someone who calls burning down a synagogue "a rational act" would create problems.  There will be a conclave in several weeks at which various activists, both pro- and anti-Israel, as well as members of the BFUU, will get together to review the controversy.  I'm actually not expecting anything to come of it, except perhaps getting the BFUU contingent to recognize that the various and sundry published statements that constitute Atzmon's trail of slime really are old-style "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" anti-Semitism.  I'm not holding my breath.

Now of course, Atzmon himself could not resist posting about his experience in Berkeley (while calling the Jewish religion a "cult" and himself a "proud self-hater"-- if Atzmon can readily admit that he hates Jews, why can't others take him at his word?) .  Of course, with typical grandiosity he posits that (as a result of previous criticism by a number of prominent Jewish anti-Zionists who found his hard-core anti-Semitism too extreme for even THEM to tolerate) "my views were rather accepted in wide circles".  I guess if you only travel among syncophants, you must find that everyone agrees with you!  

Here's the core of Atzmon's rant:

"I do want Zionist tribal activists to expose their symptoms.  I want them to shout and to point their finger at every person whom they suspect to be an anti-Semite. By doing so, all they achieve in practice is admitting who they are. They are pointing their finger at themselves saying, “we are Zionists, we are a racist rightwingers, we are loud, proud and as you can see we are openly promoting our tribal interests.” "

Well, at least Atzmon can generate a half truth:  we WERE proud to admit who we are-- we are Zionists, we believe that the Jewish people, like any other people who share a unique history and a tie to a specific land, are entitled to self-determination in that land.  To grant that right to all other peoples and deny it only to the Jewish people is the true racism here.  Most of us actually are moderate leftists (the kind who vote Democratic, support issues like LGBT rights, etc.).  Many of us support Palestinian rights of self-determination-- just not as the Palestinians and their extremist supporters define it, making the elimination of Jewish self-determination an indispensible part of their demand.  Funny how Atzmon doesn't see it as a problem for Palestinians to advocate for what they see as their "tribal interests".  Double standards, anyone?  

 "I told my audience in Berkeley that the bunch of noisy people whom they met in the entrance were crucial for the understanding of Zionism and its violence. The people out there were exactly the same people as the Israelis, they were motivated by the same supremacist ideas. They were using exactly the same intimidating tactics. They just lacked the means to put us all behind barbed wire, to starve us or to spread white phosphorus over our heads. The picketers in Berkeley were waving the Israeli flag and carried placards, they were foreign to the calm evening scene as much as their settler brothers are foreign to the hills of Judea and Samaria. They basically brought Israeli ugliness to an innocent Californian street.  Funnily enough from a light PA system they brought along they played some horrible Israeli folk music, they probably didn’t realise that I could recognise my saxophone and clarinet on most of these badly played and horribly arranged songs. "

Intimidating tactics-- standing with flags and signs and playing music.  To paraphrase one participant in the rally, if that is intimidation then Dr. King's efforts to desegregate America were also intimidation.  And Atzmon is completely and knowingly disingenuous when he refers to the Israelis living in the West Bank-- to Atzmon and to his supporters, there is no difference between Tel Aviv and Hebron, because they don't accept a Jewish state anywhere.  And frankly, I couldn't care less whether Atzmon can play Israeli folk music on his instruments or not.  Given what he stands for, the Horst Wessel song is probably more appropriate for him.   

"A young Palestinian man who stood near to me asked the picketers, “why do you insist upon living on my land?”  A blue flag waver turned to him, he had a massive star of David hanging on his chest. Here is what he said, “because, Israel is our promised land, we were waiting for 2000 years…. And don’t forget the holocaust”. As stupid as it may sound, this is basically what the Zionist argument is all about: the promise, the bible, the yearning and then of course the holocaust.  Add to this Zionist lethal dish a lot of American weapons and Western backing and you have a ‘Jewish only state’ pushing for a global war. Israel got away with all of it for too many years. But after Gaza, the tide is changing. People out there see it all. The resentment towards Israel is growing by the day. This is something that I see in my concerts and talks around the world. I could see it again in Berkeley, in spite of all the pressure those Zionist operators mounted on the church for weeks, the event went ahead according to plan. The night was a great success."  

Well, Atzmon is being disingenous again. Having once been Israeli, he knows all to well that the answer is that Israel was not founded because of the Holocaust; as a matter of fact, the Holocaust delayed the process of Jews returning to their land--by purchase, and by legal immigration-- that was well underway before the start of the Second World War. And if Israel is a Jewish only state, how does it have Arab members of the Supreme Court, the Knesset, and the Foreign Service?  Of course, the claim that Israel is pushing for "global war" is absurdity on its face--the Jewish people certainly fared really well in the last global war, didn't we?

Yes, perhaps his night was a great success. Another 2 dozen people came to hear his hate speech.  And an equal number protested him outside.  He most likely encouraged ongoing jihad against Israel.  We sang songs of peace.  

I'm going to Israel tomorrow.  I'm going to see a country that is far from perfect, that has tension between its religious and secular elements, between those who ancestry is European and those whose families left (or to be accurate, mostly fled) from homes in the Arab world, and between its Jewish citizens and its Arab citizens.  But, for all its faults, it has done an incredible job of absorbing refugees from countries where they were never granted basic rights (such as the right not to be slaughtered on any pretext), of building a state that is both Jewish and democratic, and of maintaining civil rights for its Arab minority even while its elected representatives in the Knesset refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state.  And all of this while under ongoing attack from its neighbors for decades.  Yet those who want to destroy Israel claim that they would replace it with a democratic state in which an Arab majority would supposedly respect the rights of a Jewish minority.  (Of course, the Islamic world is replete with examples of how minorities are treated-- Christians in Gaza, Bahai in Iran, Copts in Egypt.  And we are to believe that somehow the hatred implanted into Palestinians from the vile incitement against Jews-- not only from Hamas but also from the Palestinian Authority-- would magically be eliminated?)

Atzmon can fester in his hatred.  I'm going to celebrate the fact that there is indeed a Jewish country in the Jewish homeland--and that it's not at all the way that Atzmon describes and defames it.


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