Atzmon in concert, February 2007
9 June 1963
Tel Aviv, Israel
Formerly Israeli (renounced)
|Education||Rubin Academy of Music, University of Essex|
|Known for||Music, political activism|
Atzmon has written novels, journalistic pieces for such publications as the Unz Review (where he has a regular column), CounterPunch, Uruknet, The Palestine Telegraph, and polemical works on Jewish identity. His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on Holocaust denial and Jewish history, have led to allegations of antisemitism and racism from both Zionists and some leading anti-Zionists.
Atzmon was born in a secular Jewish family in Tel Aviv, Israel, Ashkenazi on his father's side, and grew up in Jerusalem. His great-grandmother was a victim of World War II, but he refuses to assign her death a special Holocaust status. His grandfather was, he states, a commander in the paramilitary Irgun during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, who subscribed to the doctrines of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, hated Germans, despised the British, was angry with Palestinians for living on land that God had given to Jews, and loathed Jewish leftists. For Atzmon he was a 'veteran Zionist terrorist', and he himself grew up in what he describes as a 'happy childhood' imbued with a spirit of 'militant enthusiasm.'
Atzmon first became interested in the British variety of jazz when he came across some recordings of it in a British record shop in Jerusalem in the 1970s, and found inspiration in the work of Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes and regarded London as "the Mecca of Jazz." However, at 17, while readying himself for induction into the army, he happened to hear a radio broadcast of a recording of Charlie Parker's With Strings and was swept off his feet. Atzmon has said of the album that he "loved the way the music is both beautiful and subversive – the way he basks in the strings but also fights against them." He skipped school to visit Jerusalem's Piccadilly Records outlet, and bought up every Bebop recording they stocked. Two days later, he purchased a saxophone.
Atzmon was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in June 1981. He began his service as a combat medic and participated in the 1982 Lebanon War. Aztmon was transferred to a position within the Israel Defense Forces Orchestra and spent most of his military service in the Israeli Air Force orchestra. He explains this as a reflection of the fact that '’(p)laying scales at the speed of light seemed to me far more important than killing Arabs in the name of Jewish suffering.’ Three weeks before the end of his military service, in the wake of the war, his troupe visited an IDF detention camp at Ansar, Lebanon. He later wrote that this was a 'life-changing' experience, coming into direct contact with the conditions of captured Palestinians, some locked in solitary confinement in what he took at first to be 1 metre square concrete boxes for guard dogs. During a guided tour, he states that, as he peered across the barbed wire at the POWs, he felt that ‘the place was a concentration camp. The inmates were the 'Jews', and I was nothing but a ‘Nazi’.' After he was demobilised, he travelled to Europe in December 1984, living as a busker.
In the following years, he trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. During the late 1980s and 1990s Atzmon was a popular session musician and producer, recording extensively and performing with Israeli artists such as: Yehuda Poliker, Yardena Arazi, Si Himan, Meir Banai and Ofra Haza. Additionally, he started the first incarnation of the "Gilad Atzmon Quartet", and a group named "Spiel Acid Jazz Band", with fellow Israeli Jazz musicians and performed regularly at the Red Sea Jazz Festival.
In 1994, disenchanted with the implications of the Oslo Accords, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, attending the University of Essex, earning a master's degree in Philosophy, while landing a residency as musician at the Irish Black Lion pub in Kilburn.
He has lived subsequently in the UK, becoming a British citizen in 2002 and renouncing his Israeli citizenship. He has defined himself as "a British, Hebrew Speaking Palestinian" and a "proud self-hating Jew".
While Atzmon's main instrument is the alto saxophone, he also plays soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones and clarinet, sol, zurna and flute. Atzmon's jazz style has been described as bebop/hard bop, with forays into free jazz and swing, and seemingly inspired by John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Atzmon sometimes plays the alto and soprano sax simultaneously.
Atzmon's works have also explored the music of the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. Atzmon told The Guardian that he draws on Arabic music which he says cannot be notated like western music but must be internalised, which he calls "reverting to the primacy of the ear". Atzmon's musical method has been to play with notions of cultural identity, flirting with genres such as tango and klezmer as well as various Arabic, Balkan, Gypsy and Ladino folk forms. Atzmon's recordings deliberately differ from his live shows. "I don't think that anyone can sit in a house, at home, and listen to me play a full-on bebop solo. It's too intense. My albums need to be less manic."
Collaborations and groups
Atzmon joined the veteran punk rock band Ian Dury and the Blockheads in 1998, and continued with the Blockheads after Dury's death. He has recorded and performed with Shane MacGowan, Robbie Williams, Sinéad O'Connor, Robert Wyatt and Paul McCartney. He has recorded two albums with Robert Wyatt, who describes him as "one of the few musical geniuses I've ever met".
Atzmon has collaborated, recorded and performed with musicians from all around the world, including the Palestinian singer, Reem Kelani, Tunisian singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef, violinist Marcel Mamaliga, accordion player Romano Viazzani, bassist Yaron Stavi, violinist and trumpet-violin player, Dumitru Ovidiu Fratila, and Guillermo Rozenthuler on vocals. He played tenor saxophone and clarinet on one track, "Anisina", on the 2014 Pink Floyd album, The Endless River. He has worked with leading bands as a musical producer.
Atzmon founded the Orient House Ensemble band in London in 2000 with Asaf Sirkis on drums, Frank Harrison on piano and Oli Hayhurst on bass. In 2003 Yaron Stavi replaced Hayhurst. In 2009 Eddie Hick replaced Sirkis. The group was named after Orient House, the former East Jerusalem headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization, later seized by the Israeli Defense Forces. The band has recorded eight albums. Orient House announced a 40-date tour in 2010.
Robert Wyatt, who has said that Atzmon combines "great artistry with a sense of the intrinsically non-racialist philosophy that's implicit in jazz," worked with Atzmon and others on his album Comicopera (2007). Wyatt collaborated with Atzmon and Ros Stephens, as well as lyricist Alfreda Benge, on the album For the Ghosts Within (2010), released on Domino Records.
Atzmon produced and arranged two albums for Sarah Gillespie Stalking Juliet (2009) and In The Current Climate (2011). Both albums were critically acclaimed. He has toured extensively as a member of Sarah Gillespie's band, playing saxophone, clarinet and accordion.
Atzmon is on the creative panel of the Global Music Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in December 2004 which runs residential educational and performance workshops and events in different countries around the world. and also offers personal workshops to students. A musical transcription of ten saxophone solos by Atzmon was released in 2010.
Jazz reviews and awards
Atzmon and his ensemble have received favorable reviews from the Financial Times, The Scotsman, Birmingham Post, The Sunday Times and The Independent. Reviews of his 2007 album Refuge included:
- Manchester Evening News: "The individuality of the music is extraordinary. No one is more willing to serve his music with raw political passion, and that curious cantor-like tone on clarinet is immediately arresting, like Artie Shaw writhing in his death throes."
- BBC: "...the OHE is finding its voice in an increasingly subtle blend of East and West, that’s brutal and beautiful."
In February 2009 The Guardian jazz critic John Fordham reviewed Atzmon's newest album In loving memory of America which was described by Atzmon as "a memory of America I had cherished in my mind for many years". It includes five standards and six originals "inspired by the sumptuous harmonies and impassioned sax-playing of (Charlie) Parker's late-40s recordings with classical strings". While music journalist John Lewis has praised much of Atzmon's work, he notes that "trenchant politics often sit uneasily alongside music, particularly when that music is instrumental". In a 2009 profile in The Guardian, Lewis criticized his 2006 comedy klezmer project, Artie Fishel and the Promised Band, as "a clumsy satire on what he regards as the artificial nature of Jewish identity politics." While Lewis described Atzmon as "one of London's finest saxophonists", he observed that: "It is Atzmon's blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read."
Atzmon has defined himself variously as a "secular Jew", a "proud self-hating Jew" in the style of Otto Weininger, an "ex-Jew", "a Jew who hates Judaism", and "a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian".
Atzmon told interviewer Theo Panayides: "I don't write about politics, I write about ethics. I write about Identity. I write a lot about the Jewish Question – because I was born in the Jew-land, and my whole process in maturing into an adult was involved with the realisation that my people are living on stolen land." Atzmon has said that his experience in the military of "my people destroying other people left a big scar" and led to his decision that he was deluded about Zionism. He has condemned "Jewishness" as "very much a supremacist, racist tendency", but he has also stated that "I don't have anything against Jews in particular and you won't find that in my writings". Regarding the one-state solution, Atzmon concedes that such a state probably would be controlled by Islamists, but says, "That's their business".
Atzmon has compared "the Jewish Ideology" to that of the Nazis and has described Israel's policy toward the Palestinians as genocide. David Hirst, in his 2003 book The Gun and the Olive Branch, quotes Atzmon as saying America was "about to lose its sovereignty...becoming a remote colony of an apparently far greater state, the Jewish state.” In 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cited Atzmon's written comment "Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty" during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres.
Atzmon's A Guide to the Perplexed, published in 2001, is set in 2052 when Israel has been replaced by a Palestinian state. It largely reviews memoirs of the alienated Israeli Gunther Wunker's rise to fame as a "peepologist", or voyeur. The perplexed are defined as "the unthinking Chosen" who "cling to clods of earth that don't belong to them." The novel excoriates what it describes as the commercialization of the Holocaust and "argues that the Holocaust is invoked as a kind of reflexive propaganda designed to shield the Zionist state from responsibility for any transgression against Palestinians."
Matthew J. Reisz, a reviewer for The Independent, wrote that "As a viciously black satire on Israeli life" the book "is grandiose, childish and nasty, but with just enough connection with reality to give it a certain unsettling power". Atzmon's novel, Reisz thought, "represents a completely false start". Darren King in The Observer noted of this "provocative debut novel" that it is "odd to mix knob gags with highly serious assertions", but thought it works because "Atzmon writes with so much style and his gags are so hilarious". According to Publishers Weekly, "his approach is so familiar that few readers will take the bait".
Atzmon's second novel, My One and Only Love was published in 2005, and features as a protagonist a trumpeter who chooses to play only one note (extremely well) as well as a spy who uncovers Nazi war criminals and locks them inside double bass cases which then tour permanently in the protagonist's orchestra's luggage. The book is also a comedic take on "Zionist espionage and intrigue" which explores "the personal conflict between being true to one’s heart and being loyal to The Jews".
The Wandering Who?
In 2011, Zero Books published Atzmon's book The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics whose publisher states the book "examines Jewish identity politics and Jewish contemporary ideology using both popular culture and scholarly texts."
According to Jean Bricmont in a preface he wrote for the French edition, La Parabole d’Esther, Atzmon starts by making three definitions of the word 'Jewish': (a) it may refer to adherents of Judaism, and he has no quarrel with them; (b) secondly, it may refer to ethnic Jews, and, likewise, he sees no problem in that; (c) thirdly, it can refer to a third category, those who, without being religious in particular place great emphasis on their Jewish "identity" as something more important than their basic membership in the human race. Bricmont then adds that it is very easy to mount a case to 'prove' Atzmon is an antisemite by consistently construing his criticisms of (c) as though they were aimed as (a) or (b) or both. Marc H. Ellis, professor of Jewish studies at Baylor University, likens Atzmon's rhetorical extremism and harsh censure of Jews to the prophetic voices of the Old Testament, arguing that, for Atzmon, diasporic Jews are asked to construct their identity on the basis of the State of Israel and the Holocaust, an identity he regards as without foundation. He adds that Atzmon considers charges that he is antisemitic as 'last ditch attempts' to validate that identity. In Ellis's view, there may be, in the perceived anxiety in these repeated attacks, a reflection of the same anxiety Atzmon himself arguably embodies. [a]
Ten authors, including Laurie Penny and Richard Seymour, all of whom have also been published by Zero Books, publicly condemned the publisher in an open letter for releasing the book. They signed a statement arguing:
The thrust of Atzmon's work is to normalise and legitimise anti-Semitism. We do not believe that Zero's decision to publish this book is malicious. Atzmon's ability to solicit endorsements from respectable figures such as Richard Falk and John Mearsheimer shows that he is adept at muddying the waters both on his own views and on the question of anti-Semitism. But at a time when dangerous forces are attempting to racialise political antagonisms, we think the decision is grossly mistaken.
In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg quoted Atzmon as claiming that Jews 'specialize in the trafficking of body parts', referring to Atzmon's blog which cited an Israeli investigation into suspected trafficking of body parts. Goldberg also referenced Atzmon's belief that "the Jews persecuted Hitler", quoting a statement in Atzmon's blog that the Nazi boycott against Jewish stores and goods was simply a response to "the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership". Goldberg also took John Mearsheimer to task for "endorsing the writing of a man who espouses neo-Nazi views.” Mearsheimer replied via his co-author professor Stephen Walt's blog that "There is no question that the book is provocative, both in terms of its central argument and the overly hot language that Atzmon sometimes uses. But it is also filled with interesting insights that make the reader think long and hard about an important subject."
In The New Republic, Alan Dershowitz argued that Atzmon is an antisemite and criticized Mearsheimer and Falk for recommending the book, and encouraging colleagues, students, and others to read and "reflect upon" Atzmon's views. Dershowitz cites the following statement from Atzmon's blog: "With Fagin and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum" to infer that Atzmon believes 'Jews are evil and a menace to humanity'. He also asserts that Atzmon claims Jews seek to control the world and are a threat to the rest of humanity. Dershowitz wrote that "Atzmon regularly urges his readers to doubt the Holocaust and to reject Jewish history", and quotes him as writing that "Jews are corrupt and responsible for ‘why’ they are ‘hated’, and Israel is worse than the Nazis." Dershowitz said that "Even the most radical anti-Zionists in England have distanced themselves from Atzmon", such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, while "hard-core neo-Nazis, racists, anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers” endorse Atzmon, including David Duke, Kevin B. MacDonald and Israel Shamir. Dershowitz also criticised other academics who have defended Atzmon, including Brian Leiter, William A. Cook, Oren Ben-Dor, and Makram Khoury-Machool.
Dershowitz challenged Mearsheimer and Falk to a "public debate about why they have endorsed and said such positive things about so hateful and anti-Semitic a book by so bigoted and dishonest a writer." Falk rejected Dershowitz's call to debate. Atzmon offered to debate Dershowitz "any time". He called various criticisms "a typical Hasbara smear & intimidation campaign.” Atzmon replied to the MacDonald review referenced by Dershowitz writing his own book "is a study of Jewish identity politics and Jewish culture, it is not concerned with Jewish ethnicity or racial origins."
Allegations of racism and antisemitism
Several of Atzmon's statements regarding Jews and Judaism have led to allegations of antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League describes Atzmon as "antisemitic" and the Southern Poverty Law Center as "a self-described 'self-hating ex-Jew' whose writings and pronouncements are rich in conspiracy theories, Holocaust trivialization and distortion, and open support of anti-Israeli terrorist groups." According to Jewcy writer B. Lana Guggenheim, Atzmon is "widely derided as anti-Semitic for his conspiratorial views concerning a shadowy Jewish global cabal". In 2004, the Board of Deputies of British Jews criticized Atzmon for saying, "I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act." Atzmon responded in a letter to The Observer that "since Israel presents itself as the 'state of the Jewish people’ ... any form of anti-Jewish activity may be seen as political retaliation. This does not make it right."
For several years from 2004, Atzmon was invited by the UK Socialist Workers Party to speak at some of its events; the Socialist Workers Party now distances itself from Atzmon. In a 2005 piece David Aaronovitch criticized Atzmon for writing in his essay "On Anti-Semitism" that "We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously" and "American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least". Aaronovitch criticized Atzmon for defending Israel Shamir, whom Atzmon defends as "a very civil and peaceful man and probably...the sharpest critical voice of 'Jewish power' and Zionist ideology", circulating an essay by Paul Eisen defending Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel's "right to think, speak, and write as he pleases," and for supporting many aspects of Zündel's Holocaust denial theories.
In a 2006 piece in The Guardian, David Hirsh cited Atzmon's "On Anti-Semitism" essay, and particularly its Jewish deicide claim that "the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus," as an example of Atzmon's "openly anti-Jewish rhetoric." In response to a question about this quote from Lenni Brenner, Atzmon replied that he meant "I find it astonishing that people today happen to be offended by such accusations."
In 2007 the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism criticized the Swedish Social Democratic Party for inviting Atzmon to speak, saying he had worked to "legitimize the hatred of Jews." The party defended its choice of speaker. Nick Cohen, in a 2009 piece for The Observer, criticised Atzmon's declaration that "Jewish ideology is driving our planet into a catastrophe" and "the Jewish tribal mindset – left, centre and right – sets Jews aside of humanity".
In 2008, Jews Against Zionism wrote that "Three years ago when Jews Against Zionism first encountered Atzmon we hesitated to call him a holocaust-denier. Today there can be no doubt that Atzmon has crossed the red line from anti-semitism to holocaust denial, despite his previous assertion that he only tries to 'scrutinise its role within western politics and discourse.'”
In 2009, jazz critic John Lewis wrote that some Palestinian activists see Atzmon's "anti-Jewish" rhetoric as "discrediting their cause".
In a 2010 blog for The Times, Oliver Kamm charged Atzmon with antisemitism for his article "Truth, History and Integrity", in which Atzmon writes, "As it happened, it took me many years to understand that the Holocaust, the core belief of the contemporary Jewish faith, was not at all an historical narrative for historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and politicians. . . . It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense." In a review of Howard Jacobson's 2010 Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Finkler Question, Edward Alexander wrote, "the novel's Holocaust-denying Israeli yored drummer is in fact based upon one Gilad Atzmon, who is better known in England for endorsing the ideology of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and describing the burning of British synagogues as a 'rational act' in retaliation for Israeli actions."
In September 2011 trade unionist and blogger Andy Newman writing for The Guardian also described his writing as "anti-Jewish hate-speech". In his view, Atzmon's political writing are "a wild conspiracy argument, dripping with contempt for Jews". In a letter printed by the Guardian, Atzmon wrote that Newman had "misrepresented" his views and that "how to define a Jew is a loaded topic since Jews define themselves in many different ways, some contradictory, and use those definitions to try to achieve political aims."
In 2011, David Landy, an Irish academic and former chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, wrote that Atzmon's words, "if not actually anti-Semitic, certainly border on it". Tzofia Hirschfeld in August 2011 cited Atzmon as an example of Jewish antisemitism: "Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli jazz musician, defines himself as anti-Jewish and sees the torching of synagogues as a rational move."
In November 2011, Hope not Hate, a UK anti-fascist and anti-racist campaign group, issued a call to cancel an Atzmon performance at the "Raise Your Banners" festival of political song, stating "Bradford TUC has long been at the fore of the anti-fascist movement in the area and it is in this tradition that we demand the withdrawal of Atzmon’s invitation". Bradford's Trades Union Council condemned the appearance and the Board of Deputies of British Jews asked the Arts Council, which had funded the festival, to stop the performance. The Arts Council refused the request. Gerry Sutcliffe, Labour MP for Bradford South, and the Right Reverend David Ison, then Dean of Bradford Cathedral also called for the festival to rescind their invitation to Atzmon. The Raise Your Banners director said organisers did not believe the claims of antisemitism. Atzmon said the Trade Union Council's letter "stitched together” into one quote phrases from five separate paragraphs to make him look racist. He said he wanted an apology. In 2017, Hope not Hate added that "Atzmon is an antisemite who has promoted the works of Holocaust deniers".
The Community Security Trust report on antisemitic discourse in the UK in 2011 described Atzmon as increasingly regarded among anti-Zionists as an unwelcome antisemite: "Atzmon's analysis of Jewish history, identity and culture introduces an unusually explicit and quite new antisemitism into far left-wing politics. Leading Jewish anti-Zionist figures have denounced Atzmon as an antisemite. Most anti-Zionists have followed suit and now also condemn Atzmon, but some factional splits have occurred due to a minority of activists defending him.
A group of leading Palestinian activists issued a statement in March 2012 calling for "the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people". Describing him as a racist and antisemite, the statement affirmed that "we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism." Signatories to the statement included Ali Abunimah, Naseer Aruri, Omar Barghouti, Nadia Hijab, Joseph Massad and several others.
In Rewriting History: Holocaust Revisionism Today, a book-length assessment of the Holocaust denial movement published in December 2012 by Hope not Hate, Atzmon was listed among the "Who's who of Holocaust Revisionism": "For some time left-wing anti-Zionists defended Atzmon’s views, but since he embraced Holocaust Revisionism, publicised the work of outright Holocaust deniers and came out with other irrefutably antisemitic comments, his support base on the anti-Zionist left has waned. Nevertheless, there are still some left activists and academics who are prepared to defend him in spite of the evidence and have praised The Wandering Who?" In the book's foreword, Nick Lowles wrote: "Despite being Jewish himself, Atzmon has promoted Holocaust deniers and claims that the established history of the Holocaust is misleading. He attacks Jewish identity in a way that would clearly be recognised as racist if it were about any other minority identity and claims that people might think that Hitler was right about the Jews because of their behaviour today. He tells crude antisemitic jokes and mocks any concerns about antisemitism."
Keith Kahn-Harris argues that Atzmon's view of the world in Being In Time (2017) is inherently antisemitic. Kahn-Harris describes Atzmon as "deliberately apathetic about the Holocaust and other atrocities against Jews, nodding towards without completely embracing both justification and denial". Journalist Donna Minkowitz pondered in March 2017 why "progressives", such as former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who contributed the foreword to this book, should support the work of someone who puts forward such "blatant anti-Semitism".
At a talk by Richard Falk at LSE in March 2017, Atzmon shouted "raus", the German word for "out", at a group of students in the audience, and telling them that Jews had been "expelled from Germany for misbehaving" and recommending that they read Holocaust denier David Irving. A protest accusing him of antisemitism was held outside an Atzmon talk in Reading in October 2017. The protest, organized by local Labour councillors, was attended by the Jewish Community of Berkshire, the head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and members of Reading's LGBT+ community.
In July 2018, Atzmon was forced to apologise to Gideon Falter, the chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism over a libel. Atzmon had falsely alleged that Falter had personally profited from fabricating antisemitic incidents. He will be ordered to pay legal costs and damages.
Atzmon refers to charges of antisemitism as being a "common Zionist silencing apparatus." He denies that he is an antisemite and states that, "Because 'Anti-Semite' is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist which I am not or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism, which I have." In 2009, Atzmon said "I've got nothing against the Semite people, I don't have anything against people — I'm anti-Jewish, not anti-Jews." He added that "Stupidly we interpreted the Nazi defeat as a vindication of the Jewish ideology and the Jewish people"; however, "in fact Jewish ideology and Nazi ideology were very similar." Atzmon has also stated that he does not deny the Holocaust or the "Nazi Judeocide” but insists "that both the Holocaust and World War II should be treated as historical events rather than as religious myth. ... But then, even if we accept the Holocaust as the new Anglo-American liberal-democratic religion, we must allow people to be atheists.”
Oren Ben-Dor wrote in 2008 "I am firmly convinced that these vulgar attempts at silencing of Gilad and other courageous voices offends against supremely thoughtful, compassionate and egalitarian intellectual endeavours."
In April 2009, Atzmon debated with David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen on the topic of "Anti-Semitism – Alive and Well in Europe?" at the 2009 Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. Atzmon wrote: "I was there to argue that antisemitism is a spin, it is a myth, I was there to deliver a very simple message: there is no such a thing as antisemitism." "My plan was simply to read out what Atzmon had written, which I did", wrote Aaronovitch in The Jewish Chronicle. According to Aaronovitch, Atzmon "began by suggesting" Aaronovitch and Cohen, "as if it were (a) true and (b) a bad thing", had "learned our debating tactics 'in the synagogue'. From there it was downhill, mostly a diatribe about warmongers, in the course of which Atzmon said that he stood by every Judeophobic word of his that I'd read out."
Atzmon has said his statements have lost him performance contracts, especially in the United States. Atzmon has had conflicts with anti-Zionists who have attempted to stop his performances.
In 2010, reviewer Chris Searle defended accusations against Atzmon's "crude anti-zionist rhetoric”, writing "No jazz musicians have done more to honour, publicise and spread solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinians than Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble.” In 2011, John Mearsheimer defended Atzmon, writing with regard to the charge that Atzmon is antisemitic, "to be perfectly clear, he has no animus toward Judaism as a religion or with individuals who are Jewish by birth. Rather, his target is the tribalism that he believes is common to most Jews, and I might add, to most other peoples as well. ... The more important and interesting issue is whether Atzmon is a self-hating Jew. Here the answer is unequivocally yes." Richard Falk described Atzmon "a de-Zionized patriot of humanity". In 2012, Norton Mezvinsky wrote that "Gilad Atzmon is a critical and committed secular humanist with firm views, who delights in being provocative."
- The Spirit of Trane (Fanfare Jazz, 2017)
- World Peace Trio (Enja, 2017)
- Songs of the Metropolis (World Village, 2013)
- The Tide Has Changed (World Village, 2010)
- In Loving Memory of America (Enja, 2009)
- Refuge (Enja, 2007)
- Artie Fishel and the Promised Band (WMD, 2006)
- MusiK (Enja, 2004)
- Exile (Enja, 2004)
- Nostalgico (Enja, 2001)
- Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble (Enja, 2000)
- Juizz Muzic (FruitBeard, 1999)
- Take It or Leave It (Face Jazz, 1997)
- Spiel: Both Sides (MCI, 1995)
- Spiel Acid Jazz Band (MCI, 1995)
- Spiel (In Acoustic & H.M. Acoustica, 1993)
- A Guide to the Perplexed. Translated by Philip Simpson. London: Serpent's Tail. 2002. ISBN 1-85242-826-0.
- My one and only love. London: Saqi Books, 2005. ISBN 0-86356-507-7 (pbk.). ISBN 978-0-86356-507-6 (pbk.)
- The Wandering Who?: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics. Zero Books. 2011. ISBN 978-1-84694-875-6.
- Being in Time: A Post-Political Manifesto, Newbold on Stour, Warwickshire: Skyscraper Publications, 2017. ISBN 978-1911072201
- Ellis also notes that Atzmon considers the bible 'bogus'. Atzmon himself cites evidence 600 passages in the OT are violent, and argues that this 'lethal spirit of the scriptures has infused the essence of modern Jewish political discourse,' underwriting in his view even the secular mindset of military commanders conducting war in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
- Jeffrey St. Clair,'Gilad Atzmon's "A Guide to the Perplexed",' CounterPunch 17 July 2003
- Karen Abi-Ezzi, 'Music as a Discourse of Resistance: The Case of Gilad Atzmon,' in Olivier Urbain (ed.), Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics, I. B. Tauris, 2015 pp.93–103, p. 93
- Cite error: The named reference
CryFreedomwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
- Gilchrist, Jim (22 February 2008). "'I thought music could heal the wounds of the past. I may have got that wrong'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
- John Lewis "Manic beat preacher", The Guardian, 6 March 2009
- Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 23. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
- Examples of Gilad Atzmon in CounterPunch:Vengeance, Barbarism and Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, 18 September 2009; Collective Self-Deception: The Most Common Mistakes of Israelis, 28 August 2003; The Left and Islam: Thinking Outside of the Secular Box, 10–12 July 2009.
- Gilad Atzmon, Purim Special, From Esther to AIPAC, Uruknet, 3 March 2007.
- Example of Gilad Atzmon in The Palestine Telegraph: 'Israeli Ideology and World Peace,' 7 June 2010.
- Nick Lowles, 'GILAD ATZMON: Supporting Holocaust deniers and spreading hatred,' Hope Not Hate blog 24 November 2011
- "Palestinian writers, activists disavow racism, anti-Semitism of Gilad Atzmon". Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Not Quite "Ordinary Human Beings" — Anti-Imperialism and the Anti-Humanist Rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon". Monthly Review. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
- "Beauty as a political weapon; Three in one: jazzman, writer and activist – A conversation with Gilad Atzmon". Archived from the original on 3 April 2008.
- Frid, Yaron (15 October 2010). "Haunted by Ghosts". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who, p. 175 "Historical narratives do not need the protection of the law and political lobbies. It took me years to grasp that my great-grandmother wasn’t made into a ‘soap’ or a ‘lampshade’ as I was taught in Israel. She probably perished of exhaustion, typhus or maybe even by mass shooting. This was indeed bad and tragic, but not that different from the fate of many millions of Ukrainians, on learning the real meaning of communism".
- Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who? A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, Zero Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84694-875-6
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- Cite error: The named reference
JazzHotwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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- Theo Panayides, 'Wandering jazz player,', Cyprus Mail, 21 February 2010: "My ethical duty is to say the things that I know and feel. I’m an artist. Do you know.. this is something I learned from Otto Weininger, the Austrian philosopher. He was a clever boy, killed himself when he was 21. ..He was definitely a proud self-hating Jew! I’m not a self-hating Jew: I’m a proud self-hating Jew! It’s a big difference… I celebrate my hatred towards everything I represent – or better to say [everything] I’m associated with".
- "Why A 'Proud Self-Hating Jew' Asked Me To Tout His Book". The Forward. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
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דווקא בתור יהודי ששונא יהדות, אני שם את עצמי תחת זכוכית מגדלת ובוחן כל אספקט יהודי בתוכי. (As a Jew who hates Judaism, I put myself under a magnifying glass and examine every Jewish aspect in me).
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- Goldberg quotes Atzmon fromAtzmon, Gilad (18 April 2010). "Symbolic Identifiers and Jewish Stereotypes". "Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum." As an example of "organ trafficking" this cites Roffe-Ofir, Sharon (7 April 2010). "Reserve general suspected of organ trafficking". Ynet.
- Gilad Atzmon 'Judea declares War on Obama',:'Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods. . .The Express said that Germany was "now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry....in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade." Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler's March 28, 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In a Jewish history book, you won’t read about ‘Judea’s declaration of war against Nazi Germany’. In Jewish history texts chronology always launches when Jewish suffering begins. Jewish history transcends itself beyond the notion of causality. It persuades us that persecution of Jews occurs out of nowhere.'
- Jeffrey Goldberg, "John Mearsheimer Endorses a Hitler Apologist and Holocaust Revisionist", The Atlantic, 23 September 2011.
- Stephen Walt, "Mearsheimer responds to Goldberg's latest smear", Foreign Policy, 26 September 2011.
- Gilad Atzmon at Gilad Atzmon website, Dershowitz’ Lies and Glitches, 9 November 2011 and "If Dershowitz Wants a Debate, I Will Meet Him Any Time", 23 October 2011.
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- Tony Greenstein 'Anti-Zionist' holocaust denier, Weekly Worker, 856, 10.03.2011
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- Hirsh, David. Openly embracing prejudice, The Guardian, 30 November 2006. Hirsh also refers to the statement in "What charge?", "The Guardian", 3 April 2006.
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- "Social Democrats invited known anti-Semite to seminar", The Local, 23 March 2007.
- Nick Cohen "The unlikely friends of the Holocaust memorial killer", The Observer, 14 June 2009
- The first quote is contained in Martin Gibson, "No choice but to speak out – Israeli musician 'a proud self-hating Jew'", originally published in Gisborn Herald, 23 January 2009, and the second in Gilad Atzmon, Anatomy of an Unresolved Conflict, published at PeacePalestine blog, 8 May 2008.
- Tony Greenstein Time to say goodbye, Weekly Worker, 709, 21.02.2008
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- Barnaby Smith, Sax With An Axe To Grind, Interview with Gilad Atzmon in London Tour Dates magazine, 5 October 2006
- 1001 Lies About Gilad Atzmon,' Gilad Atzmon com. 18 June 2011 "I am an anti Zionist and oppose the Zionist mindset. I look at questions of Jewish identity and I do question the ties between a Jewish world view and Zionism. I refute totally that I am anti-Semite. In fact I also believe that the current concept of an Anti-Semitism is meaningless. Once the Zionists had managed to establish their Jewish state, any form of anti Jewish sentiments should be comprehended either as a private case of xenophobia or as a political retaliation to Israeli/Zionist atrocities. In other words, the title Anti-Semite became an ‘empty signifier, i.e. a signifier with a vague, highly variable, unspecifiable or non-existent signified. It is an empty verbal utterance that exists merely to serve a political cause (very much like Blair’s WMD and Bush’s Axis of Evil). Because Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist which I am not or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism, which I have".
- Manuel Talens, 'La belleza como arma política,' Rebelion.org 19 December 2005,
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