Saturday, April 9, 2005


Gilad Atzmon Interview – It Ain’t Necessarily So

Gilad Atzmon is an acclaimed musician, writer and political commentator. He was born and raised in Israel, but has chosen the path of “exile” to England in 1994. Mary Rizzo of peacepalestine asked him some questions on the occasion of the publication of his second novel, My One and Only Love and ninth disc, entitled MusiK, which is nominated for the BBC’s Jazz Album of the Year Award. His previous album, Exile, won the award.

Mary Rizzo: I want to ask you some questions about your career and your activities as well as to talk about some of your ideas and opinions so that those interested can learn something about where you find yourself at this moment in your life. Let me begin with your most recent accomplishment, your second novel, “My One and Only Love”. Does it pick up where your first novel left off?
Gilad Atzmon: Not necessarily. I think that it is very different book and yet, it presents another form of deconstruction of the Israeli Identity.

MR: Do you consider your fiction to be political writing?
GA: I do not consider myself as a political being, thus neither my music or writings should be considered political. I am engaged in critical thinking.

MR: There is a certain amount of criticism claiming that your male characters are sexist and your female characters are generally empty. What is your opinion on this?
GA: I assume that this claim is probably grounded, if anything, I find my male characters to be pretty much broken beings. I think that there is a major lack of understanding between the sexes, I find it fascinating and stimulating. For me female sexuality is the ultimate explosive dimension of human craving. It is the ultimate desire. At the same time, it is the embodiment of male fear. As it seems, men prefer to die in the battlefield rather than to fail in bed.

MR: In your writing, most of your characters are heavily involved in autobiographical personal disclosure. Why do you use this technique?
GA: Mainly because I try to ridicule this research field. I think that a lot of Jewish power is based on the transformation of personal narrative into a historic one. A contemporary young Zionist would answer a humanistic challenge by referring to his grandfather’s personal story (Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc.). I am engaged in presenting the fictitious character of the personal narrative. Your story is the story you want it to be. It isn’t a historic narrative and it isn’t even your fable. It is a mere construction.

MR: Identity and identification are recurring themes in both your fiction and your essays. Why are they that central a theme?
GA: Identity dominates the post war 20th century ‘intellectual’ discourse. It is presented as the true revelation of the ‘real self’. I ridicule this concept and argue that it is the other way around. Identity politics just alienate one from oneself. To say I am a Jew, a zio, a gay, a lesbian is to identify. It is a form of self alienation. It is very different from saying: I am ‘I’, which is probably the ultimate form of genuine self-reference. And yet, saying I am I is hardly revelatory. It is basically a form of tautology (very much like saying: ‘a’ is ‘a’). In short, I argue that the essence of identity politics i.e. the assumption that ‘the personal is political’ is an intellectual joke. The personal is personal whatever that means. By the time the personal becomes political it is nothing but personal.

MR: You have mentioned at times that there is a tendency for mainstream critics to censor voices that do not propagate the accepted Zionist narrative. Yet, taking the case of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” into account, could they perhaps inadvertently, or even not so inadvertently be giving free publicity? I personally don’t think his film would have been such a box office success without the aid of the ADL.
GA: For sure, I agree. I think that the Jewish organisations as well as Jewish people are very clever in winning small battles but are far better in losing the entire war. They are pretty clever in small tactical manoeuvres but they always lose the big war. The holocaust proves it beyond doubt, by the time Jews were almost in control of central European finance, culture and politics, the European Jewry was basically erased. By the time Israel is threatening the entire Middle East with its nuclear might, Israel’s population is dominated by non-Jews. In other words, it can’t be considered a Jewish state. By the time the American Jewry managed to dominate the new American right wing policies, their Zionist agenda is exposed and it is just a question of time before the American people will turn against their Jewish neighbours. By the way, this is far from being good news for our Palestinian brothers. As you can see, we are seeing impressive tactical manoeuvring but a severe lack of comprehension of the big picture.

MR: Is there a risk that an artist seeks scandal for the reason of the exposure it gives, and do you see yourself as running that risk? That is – is the actual work overshadowed by the personalisation of the artist and his own opinions?
GA: For sure, I am fully aware of it. I leave it to my audience/readers to decide.

MR: There aren’t that many writer/musicians whose creations have a consistent world view. The very few who come to my mind are Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. Is there some difficulty in dedicating oneself to these two forms simultaneously, or is it fear of failure or fear of criticism which leads to some other creative block?
GA: To start with, my work is far from being consistent and I am very happy about that. I try to be consistent within a specific argument. If I understand you correctly you are referring here to the dual artistic activity. I think that by now my writing and music are complimentary. And I feel great about it. They stimulate each other, I have two Gilads that are growing on me independently, so far they are friendly. When they stop loving each other I’ll be in serious trouble.

MR: There is a very common tendency for Israeli-born writers to make political commentary, much more so it seems than writers of a different national origin. Think of Yehoshua, Grossman, yourself. Why do you think this is so?
GA: I think that it is pretty simple. The Israeli existence is tragically entangled with a severe guilt. To be an Israeli means to be a racist, a nationalist and a colonialist. Once you are an Israeli intellectual and I assume that Grossman is one (Yehoshua just insists to be one), you are doomed to try to resolve this tension.

MR: Some of your critics complain that you are an outstanding musician, and it would be better if you would just “shut up and play”, as if Gilad Atzmon the artist and Gilad Atzmon the commentator are distinct categories or separate entities. What do you have to say about your right to express your opinion, and the consequence that it gains resonance because you are an artist?
GA: Those critiques of mine are basically heard within very different Jewish ghettos, whether in Israel or posted in some Judeo-Cyber Shtetls. Obviously, those people fail to realise that I am a Jazz musician. Being who they are (segregated Jews) they fail to realise what does it mean to be a Jazz musician. To be a jazz man is to be a philosopher in the most radical German sense. It is ‘to search for the condition of the possibility’. It means to ask what Jazz is all about, what art is all about, what being in the world is all about and what Israel is all about. This is what I am doing sometimes with my sax shoved up my mouth and some other times with my laptop squashed under my heavy fingers.

MR: Have you noticed that there is an overlap in your audiences, that is, those who appreciate your music are open to your other outlets and vice versa? Or is the genre of music you compose dedicated to a more limited audience?
GA: I don’t really know, I think that as far as my music is concerned we (the Orient House Ensemble) are expanding all the time. As far as my novels are concerned, I attract some new readers. I would say that when it comes to the papers, we are dealing with very small circle of devoted readers. I do believe in the impact of popular culture.

MR: Not that many musicians have written about Israel, and when they do, it is largely unnoticed by the general public and the critics. The example that comes to mind is Patti Smith’s song about Rachel Corrie, “Peaceable Kingdom”. Yet, in every review I have read of your latest album, while there is no concrete suggestion that the songs are about Israel, the reviewer stresses your political ideas. Do you think that your music conveys this by itself, or that there are some preconceived notions about your message?
GA: I think, actually I am sure that most Europeans are utterly disgusted with Israeli expansionist and racist methods, and yet, they find it difficult to talk about it openly. I assume that to a certain extent, the OHE, a multi-ethnic band helps to express this voice. Mind you that I use the stage to say what I think about Israel and its young sister (America).

MR: In the brilliant song “Re-arranging the 20th Century”, there is a medley of standards, some very startling sound effects and a very dense arrangement. What do these juxtapositions mean?
GA: For me, to ‘Re-arrange the 20th century’ is to say; ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’. It is to point at the Anglo-American victorious narrative and asking why did you murder almost one million innocent German civilians in the bomb raid on German towns while you could have clearly ended the war in 2 months targeting German logistic and industrial centres? Why did you raid Normandy in June 1944, wasn’t it only because Stalin was winning in the east? Why you had never found the time to bomb Auschwitz? Isn’t it because you didn’t want to admit to knowing about the German industrial killing machine, just in case you found yourself in an armistice with Nazi Germany… Why did you throw an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did it have something to do with the fact that Stalin (again) was about to interfere with your Pacific agenda? For me, Re-arranging the 20th century is to allow in all those questions, to allow in some other and very different narratives.

MR: Do you feel an affinity with other artists or is every artist an island unto himself?
GA: First I am leading an ensemble surrounding myself with very great musicians but to your question, the answer is yes, If anything I am very inspired by the golden era of jazz, Parker, Dizzy, Miles, Coltrane. They were revolutionary artists and this is where Jazz should be.

MR: You have collaborated with some very important musicians. What, if any, is the collaboration you really want to do?
GA: I am not a session musician anymore. I want to play my own music and to contribute my own voice to people who appreciate my personal voice. I really loved working with Robert Wyatt. A real genuine natural artistic spirit engaged solely with the creation of beauty!

MR: Religious parody taking the piss on Christianity is often appreciated by the masses, “The Life of Brian” being the most apparent example. But, for some reason, when the “target” is Judaism, it is instantly called anti-Semitic. What do you think of the case of Dieudonné?
GA: You know exactly what I think about anti Semitism…. Anyhow, I can hardly recall any ‘piss take’ of Judaism. If anything it is usually Jews that are ridiculed mainly for their greed and victim mentality. But then we should ask ourselves, why are they greedy. I argue that the lack of the notion of the Other is the core of this problematic identity. This is the core of the severe lack of authentic ethical thinking.

MR: What books have you been reading lately?
GA: The Voyeur - Alberto Moravia. What a shocking writer. The Jewish Century-Yuri Slezkine. Again, a very important book for anyone who really wants to know more about the current phase of Jewish supremacism.

MR: You know I love Mojo, so, in that vein, what are the ten tracks by others you would list as the most important to you?
GA: Oh no, I wouldn’t go for it, it will take me days, but I can tell you that Coltrane will be there and so are Piazzola, Bach, Bird, Brahms, Robert Wyatt, maybe the Beatles.

MR: The society we live in is greatly dependent on consumer values, which have positive aspects, such as easy access to culture to ample sectors of society, as well as the negative values culminating in the mad destruction of the world’s resources to feed our fuel dependence. In the Western world, it seems that our lifestyles and the acquisition of leisure are not negotiable. We are all to a greater or lesser degree part of the mechanism. Where should the line be drawn? What if anything should we start renouncing?
GA: As you probably know, I called my album musiK, emphasising the capital ‘K’, for me it is the K of musiK rather than the ‘c’ of music that stands for the aim towards beauty, towards the sublime, towards aesthetics.While the K is standing for the beauty, the C symbolises the Anglo-American commercialisation. This differentiation puts a categorical demarcation line between the superior ‘Kulture’ and the inferior mass-produced low ‘culture’. Saying that I argue that Kulture must be mass distributed. I do differentiate between the supreme philosophy of Emanuel Kant and the inferior market philosophy presented by the c**t Milton Friedman. I think that we are getting ready for the ‘no thanks’ revolution. When people would just say, no thanks I am not interested (in buying).

MR: Let’s talk about culture: are culture and politics strange bedfellows, such as Soviet Realism being deeply tied to the hegemonic system in power, or, can the patronage a political system provides allow for the development of culture at its highest level, taking into account an example of Renaissance Florence, where art was at the service of power. Does it only function when there is an illuminated power, and does such power exist or is that a myth?
GA: This is a very good question and cannot be answered briefly, I wrote a lot about the subject in the past. While in the past it was aristocracy and bourgeoisies that supported art and artists, in the liberal democrat society this role is taken by the politician. Those who fund artists and artistic projects. As a result, Western artists are far from being a critical voice. The other source of support is the cultural industry, again, not much of a chance of those artists to rebel. I assume that Jazz is the only form of possible critical voice. We simply need very little to make our art noticeable.

MR: There is a great binary relationship between religion and culture, especially in Europe’s history and in the period of Classic Arab expansion, to name those which are the most known to us Westerners, which has always been an important aspect in the past. Is that concept outdated?
GA: Interesting question again. You know I’ve never thought about it but as you may know, it is American Jews who control the Western cultural industry……It is more than likely that this is the reason that such a little spiritual context is filtering into our mass culture. And yet, let’s go back to Jazz, so much of the Jazz music was so entangled with religious thinking. Not any more though. In the end of the day, industry is there to accumulate money, and so is the culture industry. They must assume that Madonna’s ass sells better than a real spiritual revelation. I assume that they will be proved wrong but it may take some time only because Madonna does have glorious buttocks.

MR: Is there a problem with the notional focus of current culture? For example, at most levels of society, people are familiar with Don Quixote, but I don’t think many of us have had the opportunity to read Cervantes. The reasons for this are probably that all nations share a provincial idea of cultural diffusion, concentrating on local linguistic criteria. As a man of culture, do you see a solution to this, or is it in our day and age unavoidable or even positive?
GA: It is more than that, we live an image of global village just to make sure that we will never expand our views beyond the horizon. In fact our critical capabilities are shrinking by the second.

MR: Can culture be considered as escapism from reality or current events? Can it somehow be considered an alibi to political indifference or inactivity?
GA: Art, as much as art is culture, is there to suggest a possible alternative reality. And yet, I don’t think that art serves as an alibi as such. I think that the reason behind political indifference is pretty obvious. Once you tell me that I am entitled to vote for my future, I may as well lose interest in my future. Once a women tells you that you are welcome to challenge her liberal tendencies you may as well lose an interest in doing so.

MR: Alongside your other accomplishments, you are a Doctor of Philosophy. Drawing on your studies, do you have any views on the absolutism which is in vogue in our age, such as the counter-position of extremes such as internationalism vs unilateralism, secularism vs fundamentalism, non-violence vs the resorting to violence in international conflicts?
GA: I am not a Doctor of Philosophy, I was trained to be one but never made it to the final line, my music career took over. Now, to your question, I do not have any problem either with absolutism or with extremism. I do have a problem with shallow thinking mode. I do have a problem with Anglo-American colonialism presented as an aim towards the liberation of the Arab world. I have a problem with left Zionist righteousness. I have a problem with political correctness, with people who claim to know what is right and what is wrong.

MR: Following the events of 9/11 in the USA, Islamophobia, or in general, a diffidence of Arabs seems to run rampant in the West. Is it somehow different from the view of Arabs that Israelis have? Is there a way to counter this tendency?
GA: I agree that the similarities are shocking, I would as well admit that so far the Americans managed to copy every Israeli mistake. They copied right wing Israeli political strategy terrifying their own people with the possible consequences of terror. Mind you that I am not there to save America, I would just say that America is at the moment a single super power. Thus the only force who can bring it down is the Americans themselves. I must admit that Bush and his neo-cons are the right people for the job. They have my blessing.

MR: Do you think racism is based on ignorance, is a consequence of an active adhesion to an ideology, or is it based even partly on objective elements?
GA: To start with, people are racially aware creatures, then the question to be followed is what are they doing with their awareness. We must admit that people do look different, and may have some different physical and intellectual qualities. Racism is when one favours one race to the other. This is not necessarily something to do with ignorance, it is usually the consequence of a supremacist view. Something that is well brewed in Talmudic thinking. So by the time you are a Talmudic scholar you must be a racist. It has nothing to do with ignorance, if anything it is the other way around. In Judaism, racism is a subject of education.

MR: In Italy, there is a trend in the mass media to present “Good Arab” commentators, who spend a great deal of time openly criticising Islam, largely unchallenged, because they are deemed as moderates. At the same time, the “Good Jew”, which is often referred to by pro-Israel supporters is a detrimental term, meaning, one who criticises Israel, but does not touch upon Judaism, rather, avoids commenting on religion at all costs. Why do you think this is so? What purpose is it serving?
GA: I think that this is obvious, we are in the launching a modern day crusade here. But if to be more precise, I myself try to avoid the Judaic topic. For me it is the Jewish Identity rather than Judaism. I am familiar with many texts to do with the Judaic and Talmudic supremacist code and yet, for me it is the secular Zionism appears to be the embodiment of modern evil.

MR: You have on occasion criticised people referring to themselves as secular Jews and arguing against Zionism in that capacity. Yet, it seems evident to me that often they are quite effective in diffusing the message that it is possible for Jews to combat Zionism to those who think that all Jews demonstrate blind loyalty to Israel. Why is this combination problematic for you, even if it is effective?
GA: I would like to summarise my thought about the subject into 2 sentences:
1. If Zionism is inhuman then one’s argument against it should stand for itself, in other words, one’s ethnic or social belonging, religious belief or sexual preferences are all irrelevant to the argument.
2. To debate Zionism as a Jew is to surrender to the Zionist idea that Jewishness is the most relevant predicate attached to Jewish people.
Now, I can see that some of those attacks are effective, but at the same time they may as well serve the Zionist cause. It presents the Jewish world as a plural and polar society. This fits very well into the Zionist strategy. If anything it provides Israel and Zionism with an intellectual body armour. Since I find the arguments stated in the name of Jewish secularism empty, I feel an urgent need to deconstruct them. I may as well mention that I welcome Judaic objection to Zionism. I truly support Neturei Karta and any other form of Jewish religious objection to Zionism.

MR: Those calling themselves atheist Jews present another problem, for if God doesn’t exist, then the premise of a Jewish State is empty. What then is it that causes so many atheist Jews to support a Jewish State if it presents a major philosophical problem in that it is an oxymoron?
GA: True, in fact, Zionism, in its early days, was a secular marginal movement. It suggested an interpretation of the Bible as a legal document (a land registry) rather than a spiritual text. In practice, this is a form of Jewish Evangelism that is much more dangerous than any religious school.

MR: Why do you think that the US supports Israel so much? Will this continue for a long time?
GA: Zionism offered itself as a servant of Western colonialism. First it was the British empire, now it is America. As long as there is conflict in the region, the Americans are involved. Nowadays, we are facing a major shift, it isn’t anymore Israel serving America but rather the other way around, the Americans are fighting the last pockets of Arab resistance to Zionism. I assume that it is just a question of time before the American people realise where their Zionists are leading them.

MR: Will the American Century that is upon us come to an end? Or is the very unilateral nature of Pax Americana preventing any other areas of the globe to express themselves in full development?
GA: It will come to an end, probably with end of America. Mind you that from many different aspects America is already going through a process of disintegration: legally, socially and diplomatically.

MR: Why don’t mainstream Jewish groups criticise Israel?
GA: Because there is no such a thing (mainstream Jewish groups). Jewishness is a radical identity based on chosenness and supremacism.

MR: Do you make a distinction between Israel and Israelis?
GA: Not really, Israelis are people who colonise Palestine, Israel is the concept of the colonisation of Palestine.

MR: If a person is ill, it is necessary to administer medicine so that he can operate at maximum efficiency to the best of his potential. Let’s make the analogy with societies. What medicine would you prescribe for Israel?
GA: NONE, Israel has no right to exist, it is the biggest threat to world peace. Israel should become a state of its citizens but when that happens it will be called Palestine.

MR: For the USA?
GA: None, America is doing all the right things. It’s destroying itself efficiently. I think that America should stop putting the interests of the Israelis first, a sort of ‘Jewnited state of Jewmerica’, it better start being the United State of the American people, it may take some time.

MR: For Palestine?
GA: Palestine will be OK, time works on behalf of the Palestinian people.

MR: One of the possible prospects in the near future is the adhesion of Israel to the European Union, and that of Russia is hardly taken into consideration. Could this adhesion exacerbate the current ideological impetus of the Atlantic Alliance, seeing as how the new nations have been granted automatic entry into the NATO, or could it pave the way for a Mediterranean focus?
GA: I am not an expert in EU affairs but I do not see apartheid Israel joining the EU in a million years.

MR: Do you follow Israeli politics?
GA: Not closely, anyhow, not anymore.

MR: Do you think that Zionism is a historical movement that will someday cease to be relevant such as most other dynamic and nationalist movements such as Garibaldism, Jacobinism and Nazism which were specific to a historical period, or is it a mutable, permanent ideology which adapts to historical situations and can be applied to other aspects beyond the Israeli nationalist movement of a Jewish State in Palestine?
GA: Interesting, as a matter of fact, Zionism was already dead between the late 1970s and the beginning of the 2nd Intifada. Zionism is a form of negation, as long as Jews can present with a conflict Zionism would be fuelled.

MR: Do you believe that there are different types of Zionism, such as Buber’s Cultural Zionism, or the “light” Zionism practiced by Peace Now? Is there any type that has positive characteristics?
GA: No, the differences are marginal and negligible. Zionism is the belief that Jews are entitled to a national home in Palestine. This concept is unacceptable. First, because Jews are not a nation. A nation are people who are already dwelling on a land. And second, because Palestine is not free. Besides, Zionism is racist. It is the state of the Jews, but Jewishness is racial definition. It is religious fundamentalist, with the transformation of the Bible into a legal document, (read above). It is as well Colonialist, a legal system that favours the foreign over the indigenous. All forms of Zionism fall into these categories. They are unacceptable.

MR: I know many people who believe that your approach to Israel is all wrong, even if the ends you seek are acceptable. They insist that the realisation of Israeli crimes is a slow awakening, and any progress they have made in adopting this world view, which runs contrary to most of the information they have been taught and have believed in good faith, has been made with a non-accusatory, non-confrontational approach. What do you think of this?
GA: I am not interested in talking to Israelis or Jews. I am talking about Israelis, Israel and ‘Jewish Identity’ This is a big difference. Moreover, I am not a politician and I don’t have a political aim. I want to say what I have to say, the fact that some people are found to be extremely unhappy about my views makes me feel very comfortable.

MR: What are the fears of the Israelis, and what is preventing them from accepting a peaceful coexistence with the native population? Is there any justification to their mindset?
GA: For sure, peacefulness is a very non Jewish concept. Needless to say that history proves it beyond doubt. Look at post WW2 peaceful Europe, look what happened to the Middle East as soon as the Zionists decided to immigrate there en masse, look at contemporary America serving Zionist interests. When Zionist politicians talk about peace they would say: “we like peace, but we want to define its terms and conditions”, this is just to show how remote the Israeli subject is from any notion of reconciliation. Peace is to engage oneself in an empathic relationship with the Other, this can never happen as long as one perceives oneself as chosen. For Israelis, peace is a form of burgeoning, it is the materialisation of empathy, to live in peace means to enjoy different forms of security.

MR: Many people have recently been investigating the issue of Jewish Denial as being an intrinsic part of the lack of progress in recognising the suffering of the Palestinians. Others have concentrated on the victim mentality which is expressed in a macroscopic way with the emphasis on the Holocaust. You focus on these elements both in your fiction and your essays. Is this a situation which can be altered in some way, or is it impossible to intervene collectively on a culture?
GA: I assume that it is possible, I am surrounded with Israeli Jews that de-Judify themselves. I assume that to be a Jew is a mental state, I assume that with the right assistance Jews can easily find their place amongst others, the question is whether they want to be amongst others.

MR: Do you believe in the possibility of a sincere peace between Palestinians and Israelis? Is it possible to forgive and to overcome the mutual distrust?
GA: I am not interested in peace but rather in reconciliation. I assume that by the time the Israelis will acknowledge defeat they will encircle themselves with ghetto walls. As a matter of fact thinking about the emerging walls they erect around themselves they are already acknowledging defeat.

MR: Persons such as Leah Tzemel and Juliano Mer Khamis have said that they at times feel that their work is used as a fig leaf to demonstrate that dissent is acceptable in Israel. Does this thought make sense to you and is it a danger that Israeli activists often face?
GA: For sure, this is the reason that I insist never to be presented as an Israeli, but rather as an Israeli born, ex Israeli, Ex Jew, Hebrew speaking Palestinian. Nothing but Israeli or Jew.

MR: You have often written that you respect Judaism as a religion, but reject it as an alibi for a political paradigm (“this land was promised to us and that gives us the right to it”). Yet, you are critical of aspects of the Jewish religion, such as the concept of chosenness. Do you think this religion can be reformed without endangering its basic tenets?
GA: Chosenness isn’t a Judaic concept but rather a clear Jewish misinterpretation of Judaism. Within the context of the Jewish religion being chosen is a heavy moral duty. Jews are chosen to stand as a symbol of supreme ethical behaviour. Saying that I am fully aware of the different outrageous Talmudic racist and immoral laws.

MR: Do you have political ambitions? You once half jokingly said you’d return to Israel once it became a united Palestine, and you’d be happy to serve in the Ministry of Culture. Sooner or later, politics is a siren song to many. Do you think it possible to participate in political life?
GA: No political ambitions here. When the time comes, I will come to Palestine to play my music to the Palestinian people.

MR: Jean Daniel has recently written in “The Jewish Prison” that Israel has maintained a ghetto mentality, which runs against a more modern concept of the idea of the cosmopolitan. Do you agree, and if so, is there a way to break out of this, or is it endemic in many aspects of Jewish culture and therefore a difficult situation to change?
GA: I agree, and as you may remember I dealt with it in Guide to the Perplexed. Gunther Wünker was called to Palestine to get the Jews out of the Ghetto. The emerging apartheid wall proves beyond doubt that Zionism failed categorically.

MR: Do you have any opinions on Abu Mazen, or predictions about the upcoming Palestinian elections?
GA: I am very interested to see the role of the Hamas.

MR: You have been away from Israel for a long time. Given that your children are still quite young, but obviously aware that Israel plays an important part in their parents’ lives, how do you recount Israel to your children?
GA: A year ago my daughter, seven years old at the time, had to reveal in class the origin of her parents, when it came to me she said: “my father is a kind of a Palestinian” I think that she got the message.

MR: What words do you think Israelis should say to Palestinians?
GA: They don’t have to say a thing, they had enough time to say, anyhow I would advise the Palestinians not to listen.

MR: What words do you think Palestinians should say to Israelis?
GA: Just to repeat the same laconic message, no solution without the addressing the refugees issue and Jerusalem.

MR: Can Israel somehow redeem itself if it throws off Zionism? Or is redemption a Christian concept that is not transferable to a State founded upon Jewish principles?
GA: I think that you answered yourself.

MR: The conflicting views on how the Middle Eastern situation should be handled have traditionally had opposite readings between the Left and the Right. But, lately, it seems that both of them are moving towards a line of “moderation”. While not exactly a new frontier, do you think that a new focus should be made that does not counterpoise Left and Right, so that the discourse can be less sterile and more productive?
GA: I argue that left and right are dated concepts. I am interested in an authentic moral thinking, something that is not found amongst our contemporary politicians.

MR: Lev Grinberg has written about “Cultural Genocide” operated against the Palestinian people. Do you believe such a situation is possible, and if so, is there a way to stop it?
GA: For sure it is possible, the way to stop it is to stop Israel and to dry out the Israeli culture, to boycott Israeli academics and artists, to turn the Israelis into a cultural desert. We aren’t that far already.

MR: Are you satisfied with your accomplishments?
GA: I live in peace.

MR: What are your future projects?
GA: Every night I perform, every night I have to reinvent myself. My future project is my next concert.

An Italian version of this interview, translated by Miguel Martinez, will be made available shortly on Kelebekler



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