Gilad Atzmon's anti-Semitic beliefs
Editor's note: On July 13, SocialistWorker.org published an interview with jazz musician and anti-Zionist writer Gilad Atzmon. After the interview's publication, we learned of many allegations that Atzmon has made not just highly inflammatory, but anti-Semitic statements about Jews, be they supporters or opponents of the state of Israel--and that he has associations with deniers of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. The evidence for these serious charges is damning.
We knew that Atzmon was a controversial figure among opponents of Israel when we ran our article, but not the full extent of these allegations. Needless to say, there was no trace of such ideas in his interview with SocialistWorker.org, or it never would have been published.
Nevertheless, we believe that our Web site, which is committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people and to the struggle against anti-Semitism, should not have published the interview without any reference to the controversy over someone who could make the comments and advance the ideas that he has--whatever his motives or reasoning. We therefore withdrew the article from our site.
I WAS very surprised to go to SocialistWorker.org and see an interview with Gilad Atzmon ("Each village is a reminder," July 13).
While Atzmon is a very talented artist and outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights, he is also an anti-Semite who should be totally marginalized by the Palestinian solidarity movement.
Atzmon's sharp critiques of Israeli brutality may draw praise from U.S. listeners, who see major artists take a clear stand on this issue far too infrequently. But the body of Atzmon's writings show his critique of Israel to be based in a deeper animus towards Jews in general, something of an improvisation off of the themes of classical Anti-Semitism.
In his essay "Tribal Marxism for Dummies," for example, Atzmon draws a sharp line between Marxism and "Jewish Marxism." In this noxious formulation, "Marxism is a universal paradigm" while "Jewish Marxism is basically a crude utilization of 'Marxist-like' terminology for the sole purpose of the Jewish tribal cause." According to Atzmon, Jewish Marxists do little more than employ the language of Marxism as a ruse to control leftist movements.
He even goes so far as to say that Jewish Marxists are worse than Zionists: "It is the Jewish Marxist rather than the 'Zionist' who exposes the Jewish political ugly attitude in its worst crude form. This is good enough reason to monitor the Jewish left and to understand its philosophy." Such language would not be out of place in the newspapers of the Black Hundreds.
Atzmon also takes particular aim at the analysis of Israel held by the International Socialist Organization. Moshe Machover, the pioneering Israeli socialist who played a key role in building international socialism in Israel, is for Atzmon little more than another "tribal" Jewish Marxist.
Atzmon dismisses Machover's detailed description of the class dynamics of the Israeli colonial-settler state as "trivial," arguing that "The reasoning behind such a lame intellectual spin is obvious. As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time."
In other words, the failing of the Marxist critique of Israel is that it doesn't recognize that the problem is really Jews themselves.
This kind of racist abuse is particularly loathsome in light of the courageous role played by Jewish activists all over the world in exposing Israel's crimes. Anti-Semitism, though exaggerated and instrumentalized by Zionist apologias, is real, and it has absolutely no place in our movements.
Someone who repeatedly declares that Jewish Marxists are doing little more than hijacking the movement to further their "tribal" interests is poison to our struggle. They should be treated as such.
Paul Heideman, Newark, N.J.