Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When I was seventeen, I was preparing myself for my compulsory IDF service. Being a well-built teenager fuelled with Zionist spirit and soaked in self-righteousness, I was due to join an air force special rescuing unit. But then the unexpected happened. On an especially late night Jazz program, I heard Bird (Charlie Parker) with Strings.

I was knocked down. It was by far more organic, poetic, sentimental and yet wilder than anything I had ever heard before. My father used to listen to Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw, these two were entertaining, they could play the clarinet, but Bird was a different story altogether. He was a fierce libidinal extravaganza of wit and energy. The morning after, I decided to skip school, I rushed to “Piccadilly Record”, Jerusalem’s No 1 music shop. I found the jazz section and bought every bebop album they had on the shelves (probably two albums). On the bus, on the way home, I realized that Bird was actually a Black man. It didn’t take me by complete surprise, but it was kind of a revelation, in my world, it was only Jews who were associated with anything good. Bird was a beginning of a journey.

At the time, like my peers, I was pretty convinced that Jews were indeed the chosen people. My generation was raised on the Six Day War magical victory, we were totally sure of ourselves. Since we were secular, we associated every success with our omnipotent qualities. We didn’t believe in divine intervention, we believed in ourselves. We believed that our might is brewed in our resurrected Hebraic soul and flesh. The Palestinians, on their part, were serving us obediently and it didn’t seem at the time as if this was ever going to change. They didn’t show any real signs of collective resistance. The sporadic so-called “terror” attacks made us feel righteous, it filled us with some eagerness to get revenge. But somehow within this extravaganza of omnipotence, to my great surprise, I learned to realize that the people who exited me the most were actually a bunch of Black Americans. People who have nothing to do with the Zionist miracle. People that had nothing to do with my own chauvinist exclusive tribe.


  1. Why does this man upset so many people?

  2. The real provocation was his article On Anti-semitism

  3. someone wrote to me a couple years ago and said do you really want to link atzmon? he's an antisemite. and i said, get outta here, if he's an antisemite than i'm an antisemite. and they showed me that and said look, he promotes the jewish plot. and i skimmed that and said okay, okay, yeah, jewish plot, i'll unlink. and i did. i didn't really read it. it's actually pretty good.

    but i think only members of our tribe can afford to be associated with atzmon; because its just too easy to intimidate the goyim with that jewish plot rhetoric, even though it has a certain irony and theatricality. it's just, i think, for people open to charges of antisemitism, for people who want to oppose Israeli policy, for people who want to support the struggle of Palestinians, not worth it to defend atzmon. he's talking to a kind of insider group; he's counting on his own biography and sincerity to ground all his remarks...out of context and floating around they're just prickly. I think for a lot of people it's just not worth argument - easier to say "atzmon is driven from the community" than to take on the wearying task of reading and interpreting his comments in vain efforts to convince people who are hostile and disingenuous and just intend to avail themselves of any rhetorical opportunity to spin and propagandise.

  4. i have a friend, couple days ago we're talking; he lives in LA, and there's this ancient story with his neighbours. they're israeli. he has problems with them, they're loud and inconsiderate. so he and his fellah are for years saying we need a fence and some hedges. they stall and stall. then they built a pool and the law requires a fence. and my friend says "they just will not acknowledge the property line". so, more time, noodhzing, noodhzing, notes, discussions, promises not kept, finally they build a fence, not the kind they're supposed to, open, see through, hear through, child and dog get through fence, and moreover, its on my friend's property, considerably enclosing his property, and attaching to his garage. he and his beau even get a friend of theirs, who speaks hebrew, to help them writing notes of begging for compromise in hebrew. they stall and stall. finally, couple days ago, my friend tells me "i asked -- [his israeli colleague who speaks hebrew] what can we do? and he said, look i can say this to you, because you are jewish. forget the talking. call in the builders and TAKE BACK YOUR LAND." So my friend, when the neighbors are away for the holidays, called in some people, put up hedges, and an 8 foot wall, on their property, and he hasn't heard a word from them.

    and i was laughing when he told me this story, because of that "i can say this to you..." part. but it's how people think.

  5. That's so funny. And it's really Atzmon, "I can say this because I'm Jewish, I can say even more...", but like you said very difficult for goyim to associate themselves with; the first time I saw it I was really puzzled, but then I thought, well, I'd love anti-Dutch Dutchmen, so maybe I should hold "anti-Semitic" Jews to the same standards.