It isn’t just the joy of watching Atzmon say all the things about Jewishness that need to be said, but that hardly anybody has the guts to say.
It isn’t just the irrepressible voice of Gilad Atzmon, the inspired thinker and jazz artist whose words and ideas are almost as beautiful to listen to as his music.
Most of all, I love this book for its larger message: Identity politics is a dead-end.
For Jews, the end of that dead-end road is the cul-de-sac they’re stuck in over in Occupied Palestine.
For Muslims, who stand at the beginning of the dead-end road, Atzmon’s book is a stark warning and a wake-up call: Do not let Islam turn into just another version of secularized Western identity politics.
Identity politics always tends toward the kind of politics espoused by zio-nazi neocon guru Leo Strauss, and his nazi mentor Carl Schmidt: The politics of loving the Self and hating the Other. Schmidt, and the even more radical Strauss, defined politics as the realm of human relations defined by enmity. All “political” activity, according to nazis and neocons, is just people banding together against an enemy.
“Jews” define themselves by despising “the goyim” – and the tables naturally turn. The same process underlies all nationalisms and tribalisms, including such subcultures as “gays” and “feminists”…perhaps even the “leftists” these subcultures lump themselves with. (The leftists I know do spend a lot of energy despising “the right”…)
What would be a more authentic way of doing politics? A way prophetic in its insistence on truth and justice…universal in its refusal to divide humanity into artificial categories…spiritual or religious in its consciousness of the weight of ethics and morality in the face of the infinite. It would be an anti-nazism, an anti-neoconservatism, a politics in line with universalist ex-Jew Leopold Bloom’s attempt to explain to an anti-Semite “Love. The opposite of hatred.”
If we ever transcend neocon/neonazi politics, it will be in part thanks to Gilad’s book. As I have said elsewhere: Gilad Atzmon is the Moses of our time, calling all of us out of the Egypt of our boneheaded nationalisms and racialisms and exceptionalisms and chosen-people-isms toward some form of humanistic universalism. My own is Islamic: One God, one humanity.
For God is the ultimate Other, and an orientation of absolute surrender to God (the correct orientation, the prophets tell us) amounts to an attitude of complete openness to the Other. Secular identity politics offers the opposite: A badly-disguised worship of self.
Today, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Jews are supposed to reach out and ask for forgiveness from those they have wronged. They are supposed to reach out to the human Other, in obedience to the ultimate Other, God.
True Torah Jews like Rabbi Weiss are doing that.
Zionist secular Jews, for the most part, are not.
When will Zionist Jews ever finally reach out and beg for forgiveness from the people they have not just wronged, but are in the process of genociding?
As Alan Hart asks: Will God forgive?
Remember, Alan: God’s mercy is limitless – like human stupidity.
If the stupidity that has produced Zionism and its toxic brood of identity politics ever gives way to wisdom, Gilad Atzmon will deserve much of the credit. For if Joshua at the battle of Jericho could knock down the enemy’s walls with his trumpet, maybe Gilad can knock down the Wall (not just Israel’s, but also Pink Floyd’s) with his jazz saxophone…and his inspired writings.
Rock on, Gilad! Allah bless you, brother!