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Music mixed with conspiracies and blatant anti-Semitism

Reuben Bard Rosenberg reviews Gilad Atzmon's website

Up until last night my interest in the debate over Gilad Atzmon had largely been informed by articles and statements and by extracts I had seen of his speeches and writing. And so it was with interest that I finally came to look through his website, to see Atzmon's public image, his thoughts and his ideas laid out exactly as he wanted.

The front page could be that of any other major artist - it contained a large picture of Gilad looking serious above a slightly smaller a picture of his new album. Much of the site also seems fairly typical of what you would expect of a top notch musician - pages filled with good reviews, gig listings, places to click if you want to 'Buy Gilad's Music'. Yet intertwined with all this is mixture of political thought and cultural criticism. In discussing his new album Musik, Atzmon meditates - albeit in slightly blunt and clichéd terms - on the commercialisation of music and art. In appealing to fans to vote for Musik as the Album of the years his website reads 'You can vote for us now,
you can oust Tony Blair on 05.05.05, why not do both.'

What is really interesting however is the politics section. This section contains many essays by Atzmon mostly focused on the middle east. An article which is immediately eye catching - given the current debate on Atzmon in one entitled 'The J word, the J people and the J spot '. Playfully written (Atzmon throughout refers not to the Jews but to 'the J's') the article moves from cheap shots about Jews being not particularly good looking to textbook Jewish conspiracy type ideas. 'You can see them running the show' he writes 'running American political life, running American show business, running the ‘new Middle East’, running the Communist revolution'. After reading this particular summary of everything Atzmon dislikes about the Jewish people I was left astounded. Not astounded that he had nasty things to say about us - that much I had already gathered - but surprised by how blatant he was. Given the number of people on the left who seem to have a hell of a lot of time for Atzmon I had always assumed he was a fairly cryptic anti-Semite who buried his less defensible opinions deep in articles. ' The J word, the J people and the J spot ' proved otherwise.

It would be wrong to pretend that such articles are all that Atzmon's site has to offer to somebody interested in Middle Eastern politics. His article 'On Sharon' is an interesting exposition of the political and military doctrines that have dominated Israel since Ben Gurion. The article is nonetheless marred towards the end by his sweeping assertion that 'world Jewry and American administration prevent themselves from criticizing Sharon publicly, hence, we can conclude that Sharon is committing his war
crimes both in the name of the Jewish people and the American nation.' In fact Sharon has been heavily criticized not only by the Jewish hard left but by liberal rabbis both inside and outside Israel.

To conclude, while Atzmon may have attached himself to worthy causes, both in supporting the Palestinian people and in attempting to provide an alternative to music as a commodity, his site does not contain any particularly fresh insights into either. More to the point those interested in the question of peace and justice in the Middle East can find a whole range of other websites and blogs which support Palestinian rights and explore the problems with Zionism, but do not resort to the anti-Jewish rhetoric which sadly crops up on the Atzmon site. If your a big fan of Atzmon's music you may wish to check it out. But if you are a socialist and an anti-racist its not a corner of the web in which you'll want to spend too time.

If you want you can check it out for yourself by clicking here.

June 2005


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism