By Gilad Atzmon
I learned from the Jewish Chronicle today that Berkshire Jews are “horrified” because yours truly has “challenged Holocaust denial legislation.” What caused the present outbreak of Pre Traumatic Stress? Apparently, my Sunday book launch at the Reading International Festival.
First, I am sorry to hear that my questioning of Jewish identity politics and culture have created a state of Jewish collective horror. I would be pleased if any Berkshire Jews would bravely dare to attend my talk on Sunday, they may discover that they agree with most of my observations.
But what is it in my new book Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto that inflicts ‘horror’ on Berkshire Jews and other Jewish institutions? No one knows. The book has been well-reviewed and no one has yet found any factual mistakes or a methodological flaws in the text. Ifthey want to burn it then you certainly want to own a copy.
In the last few days, British Jewish institutions have used every trick in the Hasbara book in an attempt to cancel my coming talk. The notorious CAA and the ultra Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews mounted pressure on the venue, they contacted the local council, they harassed local politicians; they even attempted to recruit ‘LGBT activists’ who were asked to pursue thevenue.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that Rabbi Zvi Solomons of the Jewish Community of Berkshire said that Mr Atzmon is “a notorious antisemite. He has promoted Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to the Nazis.” Other political organizations have taken the accusations against me seriously. They have carefully examined the matter and have found that the claims levelled against me are baseless, malicious and often duplicitous.
The Rabbi wrote, “The event organisers did not seem concerned that they were going to be providing a platform to a known peddler of hatred.” I believe that the Rabbi should accept that outside of his congregation, criticism of ID politics, and Jewish culture are considered a legitimate intellectual and ethical adventure. Further, I have been writing on Jewish and Zionist matters for 20 years, and in spite of the strict anti hate legislation in the UK and other countries, I have never been questioned by a single law enforcement body about any of my writings or public speeches, neither here in Britain nor anywhere else around the world.
The Rabbisaid, “They are giving a platform to someone who is lauded by white supremacists. Surely that is not the intention of a venue like that.”
There is an element of truth there. My work has been praised by a wide spectrum of intellectuals: Right, Left and Centre (see here and here). One explanation is that I am dealing with meta-political issues. Rather than advocating a political standpoint, I attempt to offer a method to engage in ethical discussions within a critical philosophical framework.
Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies, said no “reputable event should feature Gilad Atzmon.” He reiterated that the Board was “extremely concerned that the Solidarity Centre and the festival organisers appear happy to host someone with such a track record for openly racist views.”
The one thing, neither Arkush, Rabbi Solomons nor any other detractor of mine has ever managed to do is to point at a single critical reference to race or biology in my entire body of work. I do not criticise people, I dissect culture and politics and dig into their meaning.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that a small number of congregants from Rabbi Solomons’ 50-strong community plan to hold a protest vigil if the event goes ahead. Two weeks ago I encountered a similar vigil in Berkeley, California. The event organiser was able to persuade the entire Zionist group to attend the talk. At the end of the talk, some of the Zionists admitted to the organiser that they were persuaded by my argument and were impressed by my delivery. I am looking forward to meeting the Rabbi and his followers. I will, of course, invite them to join the peace lovers inside the Reading International Solidarity building.