For more than a decade and a half I have been subjected to a relentless and sometimes violent smear campaign. I have been accused of all sorts of ‘hate crimes’ including the totally ludicrous claim that I advocate the ‘burning of synagogues,[ ‘incitements of violence,’ and have routinely been labelled, among other slurs, a ‘notorious anti semite’ and a ‘Holocaust denier.’ Of course, if any of these accusations had merit, I would have spent time behind bars. The truth, as should be embarrassing for the name callers, is that I have never been charged with hate speech or any other crime. No law enforcement authority anywhere has ever even questioned me about anything I wrote or said. I perform and teach all over the world, including in Germany and Austria, where ‘holocaust denial’ is vigorously prosecuted.
My detractors boast that they intend to ruin my reputation, smear and impoverish me and any others they deem improperly critical of Israel. I should have written this piece long ago but I found it demeaning to deny baseless accusations founded on lies and misquotes. For the record, I am not an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, nor a conspiracy theorist.
My detractors are now terrorizing the extended music community in an attempt to accomplish their insane mission. I defy the idea that we live in a ‘post truth era.’ Athens, for me, is a core of inspiration and truth seeking and is my life time adventure. Here, in response to the fabrications attributed to me by various Jewish institutions such as the JC and the CAA, are the actual statements I made.
Gilad on Burning Synagogues: Rationality vs. Justification
Zionist pressure groups have claimed that I advocated burning synagogues. The origin of this preposterous assertion is a misquote attributed to me in a Guardian article in 2005. According to the Guardian “Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestine advocate, gave a talk to students this month, arguing: ‘I’m not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.’” A week later the Guardian agreed to publish my letter in which I explain and refute this claim. “Your quote …[of me] is inaccurate and taken out of context. By no means did I justify any form of violence against Jews, Jewish interests or any innocent people. In the School of Oriental and African Studies we were debating the question of rationality of anti-semitism. I claimed that since Israel presents itself as the ‘state of the Jewish people’, and bearing in mind the atrocities committed by the Jewish state against the Palestinians, any form of anti-Jewish activity may be seen as political retaliation. This does not make it right.”
At the time, pro Zionist online discussion groups complained that the police failed to charge me with incitement of hatred. The reason for that is obvious, there was no evidence, I never advocated burning synagogues. I have always opposed any form of violence against Jews or anyone else! The British authorities understood that I was discussing the ‘discourse of rationality’ (Reasoning) and not the ‘context of rationalisation’ (Justification). Horrendous war crimes are grossly unethical but may also be rational. The decision to nuke Hiroshima, for instance, was a rational decision although insanely immoral. The same applies to Israel shelling Gaza with white phosphorus. A calculated military decision was made to engage in these vile war crimes. Examining the rationale for such crimes may be our best hope to prevent them. Rationality and morality are categorically distinct concepts as my actual words made clear.
Is Gilad a ‘Holocaust Denier?’
I have been accused of being a ‘Holocaust denier’ or a Holocaust revisionist. This is simply false. I have never denied the Holocaust nor have I written a single revisionist text as I am not an historian of any sort. I guess no need to mention once again that my mother’s family suffered enormously in that terrible period.
I am a philosopher. As such, I argue that this chapter in our past should be treated not as a religion or dogma, but must, like all other past events, be subject to scrutiny and open discussion. If history is the art of narrating the past as we move along, then revising our understanding of the past is the true meaning of the historical endeavour. In my work I argue that engaging in a discourse of history that is open to revision is at the core of the ethical insight.
It is also crucial to mention that the notion of ‘holocaust religion’ was actually coined by the legendary Israeli philosopher prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz back in the 1970s. Leibowitz was followed by Adi Ophir, another prominent Israeli philosopher who offered his own criticism of the Holocaust religion in his paper On Sanctifying the Holocaust: An Anti-Theological Treatise.
Did Gilad really say that Hitler was right after all?
My words as they appear in my 2011 book, “The Wandering Who?” shows that I said the opposite: even the thought by some that Hitler might have been right is presented as an unacceptable scenario.
“We, for instance, can envisage an horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ nuclear attack on Iran escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might have been right after all.’ The above is obviously a fictional scenario, and by no means a wishful one, yet such a vision of a ‘possible’ horrific development should restrain Israeli or Zionist aggression towards Iran.” (The Wandering Who? pg 179)
As you can read, my actual words are diametrically opposed to the manufactured misquotes attributed to me by various Zionist pressure groups. I used the extreme example of a nuclear war to argue that Israel should finally seek peace with its neighbours to deny anyone the thought that Hitler was right after all.
Did Gilad ask Jews to apologise for the Holocaust?
In 2014, in the light of huge anti Jewish protests in Paris, I wrote a piece titled Holocaust Day – The Time Is Ripe For A Jewish Apology. In the article I briefly elaborated on historical hatred of Jews and the Zionist promise to prevent the Jewish fate by ‘fixing’ the Jews and making them ‘people like all other people.’ I closed the article with the following paragraph. “Many Jews around the world are commemorating the Holocaust this week. But if I am correct, maybe the time is ripe for Jewish and Zionist organisations to draw the real and most important lesson from the Holocaust. Instead of constantly blaming the Goyim for inflicting pain on Jews, it is time for Jews to look in the mirror and try to identify what it is in Jews and their culture that evokes so much fury. It may even be possible that some Jews would take this opportunity to apologise to the Gentiles around them for evoking all this anger.”
Nowhere in the article did I suggest Jews apologise for the Holocaust. I accept that my words may be infuriating to those who are contemptuous of conciliatory efforts. I reckon that it would not be such a bad idea for Campaign Against Antisemitism to apologise to Labour members and Jeremy Corbyn whom they smeared mercilessly. The British Chief Rabbi could join them, as might the editors of the three British Jewish papers who literally referred to Corbyn as an ‘existential threat’ and practically equated him with Hitler. Such a peace-seeking approach on the part of some Jewish institutions will help to diffuse the anger these bodies engendered during the GE 2019 amongst many segments of the British Left.
Is Gilad a “promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories?”
According to the ADL, I’m an “outspoken promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and a fierce critic of the State of Israel.” I am indeed a fierce critic of Israel and I am outspoken. But not only do I not promote ‘antisemitic conspiracy theories,’ as I repeatedly state throughout my entire body of work, ‘there are no Jewish conspiracies. Everything is done in the open’ and in front of our eyes.
What I do observe is that we cannot speak about any of that: Jewish power, as I define it, is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power. The Israel Lobby dominates American foreign policy, it pushes for a conflict with Iran. Similarly, the Congress’ performance of one standing ovation after the other for Netanyahu wasn’t a secret ritual. In Britain, Jewish institutions such as the Jewish papers, the Chief Rabbi and a Jewish charity declared an open war on the opposition party and its leader. None of that was ‘conspiratorial’ or secretive. We are dealing with mainstream news, yet we dare not talk about it let alone criticise it.
Evoking animosity in others
In 2013 I was interviewed by Swiss writer Alimuddin Usmanani who asked me to define what it means to be a Jew. My answer was short and conclusive: “To be a Jew is to evoke animosity in others.” My answer was provocative and at least as challenging as the official Tikun Olam’s answer to the same question, i.e., ‘to be a Jew is to fix the world.’ However, while there are no statistics that show that Jews are actually engaged in fixing the world, my critics within the CAA, the ADL, The Jewish Chronicle and other Zionists institutions publish polls on an almost daily basis that suggest that Jews are hated globally and locally.
The ethos that drove early Labour Zionism both ideologically and politically was the acceptance that, for one reason or another, Jews can’t assimilate and would be safer somewhere else where they would become, through political training, into ‘people like all other people.’ I do not say that Jews should be hated. Rather like those early Zionists, I contend that Jewish institutions must self-reflect. Instead of accusing Goyim, Brits, Labour members, Americans, etc. they should engage in a true introspective process. Crying about antisemitism and/or terrorising jazz clubs and music venues won’t solve the Jewish problem, it will make it worse and the situation is clearly deteriorating as the AD L/CAA/CST statistics on anti semitism reveal.
Is David Duke a humanist?
I oppose all forms of biologically oriented politics. I oppose all forms of politics that are defined by race, gender or sexual orientation. I contend that politics ought to unite us as equals rather than divide us on the basis of biology. David Duke and I hold distinctly opposite positions on this and other fundamental issues.
In March 2014 I gave an interview to larmurerie.fr/ I can’t trace the original French article but a Google translation of the French original exists on my site. I was asked by the French Journalist the following question: Many French people share your opinion. For example, there is a French thinker, Hervé Ryssen, who uses the same metaphor as you when you talk about the mirror, saying that when a Jew accuses you of being an anti-semite, you just have to read the mirror image of the argument to reveal his racism towards goyim.”
My answer was as follows. “I actually use the word projection, but the mirror image is no doubt similar. And projection, by the way, is something that Freud taught us about. You know, we have to admit that some of the most interesting humanists in the history of the West are Jews: Christ, Spinoza, Marx were Jews. Why is that?…Now there is something very interesting and it’s again the first time I’m saying it. The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man. He’s interested in nationalism, in the culture of his own people, so he understands things that I am not even allowed to think about. Believe it or not, even as a Jew, I wasn’t allowed to think of myself as a racist. I was a racist, maybe I am still one, but I was not allowed to acknowledge it. Once he acknowledges that he’s talking about white people’s rights, in a way he thinks like Avigdor Lieberman! But in fact, he is way better than Lieberman. David Duke is a humanist because he says, «I want to celebrate my right and you should celebrate your rights» whether you are Muslim or black or whatever. He believes that all people should celebrate their rights, this is his current philosophy . Avidgor Liberman is not a humanist, because he wants to celebrate his rights at the expense of other people.”
In my book. Humanism is primarily a universal adventure. Duke, today, is no doubt a separatist. He prefers to see people living in partitioned enclaves, he opposes immigration and his political thought is racially oriented, yet, if I understand it correctly, he believes that all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, skin colour or religion should enjoy such a right. At least in comparison with the right wing Zionist philosophy that adheres to the idea that one people should celebrate their self determination on the expense of another people, Duke’s current offering is more ethical, universal and humane. I understand that some Jews may be upset by the comparison, however, the way to deal with disagreement is to produce a counter argument rather than terrorising the music community. I myself hold completely opposing views to Duke’s on the matter: I believe that people should learn to live together and seek harmony. This is why I left Israel. However, despite of my disagreement with Duke on some fundamental and crucial issues, in consistance with the Western intellectual tradition, I take pride in making an effort to understand positions before I criticize them.
Does Gilad Hate Jews?
As I have stated time and time again, I have never criticized Jews or anyone else as a people, a race, an ethnicity or a biology. I challenge my detractors to produce a single reference in my work that contradicts this. No one has ever produced the goods. In my work there is no hatred whatsoever, against Jews or anyone else. Many years ago, I accepted that some Jews regard me as a ‘self hater’ yet, I fail to see how me hating myself is so unsettling for other Jews.
In 2014 I produced a statement that some mistakenly saw as an admission of ‘Jew hatred’ and racism. At the time, I engaged in a brief twitter exchange with @OnePoundOne, an Israeli nationalist who frequently urged the murder of Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs.
On one occasion @OnePoundOne insisted that ‘as a Jew’ I should support his violent anti Arab/Muslim rampage. I replied:
“@OnePoundOne 1. I am not a Jew anymore 2. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left) 3. I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”
@OnePoundOne’s twitter account was suspended shortly after our exchange for spreading hate speech and advocating violence.
Despite the suspension of @OnePoundOne’s account, some examples of his hateful communications survive on the internet in the form of screenshots.
I have never before publicly addressed the criticism over my answer to @OnePoundOne. Anti-Semites are people who hate Jews for being Jews. Anti-Semites do not accept that Jews can stop being Jews and morph into something else. My response to @OnePoundOne dismantles this racist doctrine:
1. I suggest that one can choose to stop being a Jew. In this view, Jewishness is a cultural or religious construct and is not either racially or biologically determined.
2. To the extent I myself retain that culture, I admit that I detest that cultural aspect in myself.
3. Further, I rejected any cultural impetus that may exist in @OnePoundOne’s hateful statements that called for violence against Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims ‘as a Jew’.
But there is a fascinating intellectual exercise to apply here that helps explain my reaction to @OnePoundOne’s vile incitement of violence. Replacing the word ‘Jew’ with ‘Protestant’ in my answer to @OnePoundOne would read as follows: “1. I am not a Protestant anymore 2. I indeed despise the Protestant in me (whatever is left) 3. I absolutely detest the Protestant in you.” While some might find this offensive, it is not racist as Protestantism is a belief system rather than a racial identification. If we proceed with this exercise and replace the word Jew with a biological category such as skin-colour or race, the statement collapses instantly as ‘I am not Black anymore’ is a meaningless statement for someone who is Black. Similarly, ‘I am not Caucasian anymore’ is just as silly and hollow. In other words, my answer to @OnePoundOne could never be grasped as a ‘racist’ offensive statement as it defies the idea that Jews are actually a race, as I myself managed to stop being one.
I am afraid to inform my detractors once again, that at least intellectually, I operate as a philosopher. If they want to fight my ideas, they will first have to invest some energy in understanding what I am saying.
Look at these clueless British students recycling misquotes without verifying their authenticity or their meanings:
Final words on the matter
I accept that my deconstruction of Jewish Identity politics upsets some Jews: no one likes to be scrutinized or criticized. But my work is limited to questioning politics and culture. I have never criticized Jews or anyone else in racial, biological, physiological or ethnic terms. I dig into ideology, politics and culture assuming that these three must be subject to criticism. The fact that I am smeared and defamed for doing so, only suggests to me and others that in the eyes of some self identified Jews, their politics, ideology and culture are beyond criticism. In fact, this is exactly the supremacist view I deconstruct in my work.
I would expect that by now, considering their relentless efforts to destroy me, my detractors would have managed to spot a single incriminating line in my work so they don’t have to keep fabricating quotes and taking words out of context while terrorizing jazz clubs in between. So far they have failed to do so. This raises the assumption that their insane campaign against me, one that reflects very badly on my detractors, suggests that I have something very important to say.
I honestly believe that if my detractors would engage with my writing instead of attempting to burn my books, anti-Semitism wouldn’t be an issue in Britain or anywhere else. Jews would enjoy their lives and live in harmony with their neighbors. I guess that in the minds of some Zionists crucifying me is the way forward. Some people must be foolish not to see that they turn me into an intellectual martyr, a Jazzus figure.