Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, March 2012
Misrepresentation and Moral Cowardice:
A Response to Ali Abunimah and Others
By Gilad AtzmonRedress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 26, 2012
Gilad Atzmon debunks a statement signed by Ali Abunimah and others in
which they misrepresent his critique of Jewish identity politics, and he
vows to continue his fight for the truth. By publishing this, we reaffirm
our support for Mr Atzmon and hope that the signatories of the statement
will turn their focus to the real enemies of the Palestinian people.
In fact, I am pretty delighted with the outraged reactions to my thoughts. I guess it enables us to map the discourse and its boundaries – and means that those boundaries are now official. Not only has my latest book The Wandering Who? rocked the boat, but it has also managed to unite Alan Dershowitz and Abe Foxman with Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal. That is pretty encouraging: it means that peace may prevail after all.Water off a duck’s back
However, I also have some bad
news for my would-be silencers, Palestinian and Jewish alike. I do not have
any plans to slow down or drift away. I am a jazz musician and an
independent thinker. I am basically a free agent – I say what I think and
think what I say. The popularity of my writing among Palestinians,
solidarity activists and truth seekers is the direct outcome of my sincere
approach to the subject matter.
Sadly, Ali Abunimah has misrepresented my thoughts. Clearly there is no racism, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial in my writing. As determined as my detractors are to find it, they have failed to identify a single bit of evidence of such tendencies in my work.
Ali Abunimah says on my behalf that “one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist.”
What a ludicrous interpretation of my writing, in which I go out of my way to define the issue in categorical terms. What I am obviously opposing is Jewish racial exclusivity. I argue that that if Israel is in the wrong for being a Jews-only state, then its Jewish critics had better fight it using an inclusive, universalist ideology and practice.
I am indeed critical of Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Jewish ideology. I am also critical of the Jewish cultural attitude toward history. I am critical of Jewishness and any form of exclusive Jewish political activism. And yet, I wonder, why would any person who seeks justice and peace object to my approach? Is Jewish culture or identity politics beyond criticism? Are Jews chosen after all.The wrong model
I am sorry to disappoint my Palestinian
and Jewish league of opponents, but it seems as if their terminology is
faulty and misleading: Zionism is not colonialism, for colonialism is
defined as a material exchange between a mother state and a settler state.
The fact that there is no Jewish mother state suggests that Zionism doesn’t
fit the colonial model.
I suggest that my detractors spend some time and think this through, so they can understand that the issues involved in this conflict and its resolution go far beyond mere political discourse.Counterproductive intolerance
I would like to take this
opportunity to advise my opponents that their campaign is counterproductive.
Those who are interested in my ideas realize that we are living in a
post-political and post-ideological era. Like myself, they are interested in
an ethical argument. They are not “party members”, and they are not taking
“orders” from any sectarian group or ideology. Instead they listen to their
hearts. Those pro-Palestinian organizations sponsoring my current US book
tour realize very well that my work galvanizes a demarcation line between
truth and its enemies.
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