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Mar 15

Misrepresentation and moral cowardice: Gilad Atzmon responds to Ali Abunimah and company

By Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon debunks a statement signed by Ali Abunimah and others in which they misrepresent his critique of Jewish identity politics, and he vows to continue his fight for the truth. By publishing this, we reaffirm our support for Mr Atzmon and hope that the signatories of the statement will turn their focus to the real enemies of the Palestinian people.

Ali Abunimah and company tend to present themselves as advocates of “One democratic state in Palestine.” This leaves me puzzled: what kind of democracy do they have in mind, exactly? For by calling for my “disavowal”, they prove beyond doubt that they cannot tolerate even some elementary cultural criticism – criticism that is endorsed and praised by some of the most respected thinkers within our movement and beyond.

In fact, I am pretty delighted with the outraged reactions to my thoughts. I guess it enables us to map the discourse and its boundaries – and means that those boundaries are now official. Not only has my latest book The Wandering Who? rocked the boat, but it has also managed to unite Alan Dershowitz and Abe Foxman with Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal. That is pretty encouraging: it means that peace may prevail after all.
Water off a duck’s back

However, I also have some bad news for my would-be silencers, Palestinian and Jewish alike. I do not have any plans to slow down or drift away. I am a jazz musician and an independent thinker. I am basically a free agent – I say what I think and think what I say. The popularity of my writing among Palestinians, solidarity activists and truth seekers is the direct outcome of my sincere approach to the subject matter.

Whether my detractors accept it or not, the strength of my arguments is grounded on the transparent and truthful nature of my premises. Until now, not one of my opponents has been able to point out a single discrepancy within my argument or the facts I cite. For instance, I contend that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish state – its tanks and planes decorated with Jewish symbols – it is our duty to ask: Who are the Jews? What is Judaism? And what is Jewishness all about?

The fact that some activists shy away from asking those questions doesn’t mean that the rest of us also should behave cowardly.

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