Adonis Diaries

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Born in Israel before I knew it is Palestine: Gilad Atzmo

By Whatsupic with 7sabah

I was born in Israel and it was many years before I realized that Israel was Palestine. I was relatively patriotic.

I was looking forward to serving in the army and then I grasped that there was little truth in the Jewish historical narrative.

I then gathered that I was living on someone else’s land.

At the same time I discovered the saxophone.  By the age of 30, I left Israel and never went back.

Q: There is some kind of rebellion in your music; how do you explain this?

A:  My music can be very soft and reflective. Sometimes it is very funny and occasionally it is furious. There are too many reasons to be angry.

I’m far from happy when I see Israel flattening Gaza. I’m furious when I find out 80% of British conservative MPs are ‘friends of Israel.’

I’m angry when I find out the Jewish lobby is pushing America into another World War and instead of becoming violent, sometimes I use music as a channel to express my anger.

Q: What type of music is close to your music in the world?

A: It’s very simple. I’m a jazz artist, a Bebop player. But I’m inspired by near east music whether it is Arabic, Turkish or Greek. I find my own way to fuse the Arabic Mawwal with John Coltrane…

Q: What do you think of the social and political state of Turkey?

A: Listen, I’m really against any forms of interventionism, so I’m definitely not the right person to judge the situation here. I can only talk about my impression, and it’s not an academic observation.

I’m touring all over the world and I see a lot of sadness. I see impoverished countries, people with no work, with no prospect of production.

I see youngsters who are third generation poor and in their deserted main street they don’t eat their own food anymore, they instead eat McDonalds, Burger King, Coca Cola, Starbucks.

And I’m here in Turkey and see a lot of people on the streets, and I see fish from your sea, and tomatoes from your fields, and I see a lot of people working in the restaurants that have Turkish names and don’t even offer a menu in English, and it makes me happy for you.

You have managed to maintain your authenticity and culture. This is a great victory. You are so lucky that Islamophobic Europeans didn’t accept you in the EU. Your country is now a superpower.

Q: You were born in Israel but you are against Israeli occupation and its politics. You are living in the West, how do you cope?

A: Let me tell you something and it is crucial. In my entire career, I have never been subject to abuse by the British government, never been subject to abuse by the American government. Although the infamous Alan Dershowitz, who is now implicated in a huge sex scandal with minors, labelled me ‘as the number one enemy of the Jewish people,’ I’ve never been subject to direct abuse by the Israeli government.

Even the NSA doesn’t harass me. The only people who stalk me continuously are the Jewish left and the Guardian newspaper.

I can say that it’s not a problem but I came to the realization that the biggest enemy of our elementary freedoms are the progressives and I’ll explain why.

In the West and maybe in Turkey as well, we have issues with political correctness.

What is political correctness? Political correctness is politics that doesn’t allow political opposition. But this is clearly the definition we associate with dictatorship.

But political correctness is far worse than dictatorship. Why? Because in the case of dictatorship you experience an opposition to a regime that is distinct from you, but in the case of political correctness it is you who silence yourself.

Political Correctness is a form of self-censorship. The Jewish left and the progressives made us into a collective of impotents. Our task is to move on and to erect our resistance against this cancerous ideology.

Q: Can we separate Judaism from Zionism?

A: No. Israel isn’t called the ‘Zionist State,’ it defines itself as the ‘Jewish State.’ The parties in the government are called “Israel Our Home” and the “Jewish Home” not the “Zionist Home”*.

Now the Israeli cabinet has approved the National Bill that defines Israel as the Jewish state not the Zionist state. Zionism from an Israeli perspective died in 1948. Zionism was a promise to erect a Jewish state in Zion (Palestine).

Once Israel was established, Zionism was finished with its role.

The only people who maintain the Zionist nonsense are the Jewish left because they want to differentiate between Jewishness and Zionism.  This is why they call Israel colonialism.

But Israel is not colonialism. Colonialism is a clear exchange between a mother state and a settler state. Israel is a settler state, yet there is no Jewish mother state. This is why they call it apartheid.

Israel in not apartheid: Apartheid is a racist system of exploitation. But Israel doesn’t want to exploit the Palestinians, it wants them gone.

Israel is a Hitlerian ethnic cleansing model.

The Left uses the terms ‘Colonialism’, ‘Zionism’, and ‘Apartheid’ in an attempt to divert attention from the ‘J’ word.

For solidarity with Palestine to be meaningful, we have to de-Judify our terminology. Not to kick out the Jews, but to prevent Jewish interests from defining the boundaries of the discussion.

Q: Can we see Israel and Palestine as two states?

A: No.

Q: Will the Palestinians be able to return to their county?

A: This is what they are fighting for. And any person who doesn’t accept the right of return is not a genuine supporter.

Q: What do you think about what Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust?

A: I agree 100% with everything Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad basically said that Holocaust must be treated as a historical chapter.

At the moment it is treated as a religion. And if it is a religion I want to maintain my right to be an atheist. In contemporary Judified reality it is OK not to believe in God but if you don’t believe in Auschwitz you will be penalised and severely. I don’t accept it.

Q: What does the US gain from supporting Israel?

A: We cannot think of America as an independent entity anymore. America’s political system is a Jewish occupied zone.

America, Britain, France, [and generally] the West woke up one morning to realize that there was a loop hole in their legal system that facilitated the ability of invasive foreign lobbies such as AIPAC, CFI, CRIF to interfere with their foreign affairs.

America has sacrificed its foreign interests on the Jewish alter. It is a disaster. But history teaches us that this Jewish political impunity always comes to an end in a totally tragic circumstance.

Q: Do you agree that a Holocaust is happening in Gaza?

A: I don’t know what the Holocaust is anymore. I’m like Ahmadinejad in that regard.

When I was a kid they taught me that the Nazis made soap out of Jews. And then I grew up and realized it was all a fantasy.

They taught me that the Arabs were going to throw us into the sea. And when I was mature enough to learn the history on my own I realized that it was actually the Jews who threw Palestinians into the sea.

Then I realized that Jews (like everyone else) tend to project their cultural symptoms on others. The Jews are fearful of the Palestinians because the Jews witness their army engaged in murderous activity.

They must believe the Palestinians are as murderous as the IDF happens to be.

I don’t want to talk in terms of the Holocaust because it is too Jewish. I don’t want to compare Israel with Nazism because Israel is bad enough.

From some perspectives Israel is worse than Nazism (Israel is a Jewish democracy it implies a collective responsibility).

When I compare Israel with Nazism I reaffirm the Holocaust religion and sustain the primacy of Jewish suffering.

We have to establish a new discourse where Israelis are the worst enemy of humanity and the Palestinians are the ultimate sufferers. Auschwitz was indeed bad, but not as bad as Gaza.

 Q: Iran is not after nuclear arms the whole world knows that. How do you explain the fuss around the Iranian nuclear project?

A: I have no problem with Iranian nuclear arms. I want Iran to have a bomb.

Just One Iranian bomb will bring peace to the region. Because all this mess in the Middle Ease caused by Israel and America is because they know they can kill with impunity and endlessly.

And my problem with the Islam Shia sect is that they are too nice. They really don’t want to bomb anyone. An atomic bomb is Haram they say.

Q: What is your opinion about Iran’s role in the Middle East?

A: Iran is the most beautiful political power. It supports the Palestinians. It supports the resistance. Iran has developed very strong industry. This country that was a client state of America 34 years ago now produces submarines, airplanes, drones, very strong computers. It is beautiful.

Q: Obama is the first black president of America but statistics show scores of black people are shot dead every year. How do you analyze this contradiction?

A: We like to think in terms of racial division because this is the heritage of the left, but it is wrong. In the west and in the last 50 years there has been a collapse of manufacturing partially because of automation, machinery, and computerization but also because Milton Friedman taught us that is better to be a service economy.

The meaning of it in America, Britain, France, etc. is that we don’t need working people. The people who used to be working class are now workless class, and they are doomed to poverty with no hope, they are called under-class.

As things stand, existing jobs demand very high cognitive ability (very high I.Q.) such as engineers, financiers, bankers, PRs. This group of privileged people is what I call the ‘cognitive elite,’ and they are few in number.

We live in a society where we witness the under-class growing rapidly and a small cognitive elite maintaining its power. Obama is well within the cognitive elite and not because he is black, but because he is clever and he clearly found his way to the top.

When it comes to the under-class we realize that there are a lot of immigrants including many Hispanics and Blacks. They are the primary sufferers of the new cruel, merciless division not between the rich and the poor but between the able and the less able.

It is very devastating.  This is why Turkey is so important. You manage your economy and currency in a manner that facilitates manufacturing.

(Reporting by Mehmet Gurhan).

Read the interview in Turkish on 7sabah.

 *The Zionist Home party was formed a month after this interview was conducted.

Note: Most revealing, clear and bold position.

Beirut Metropolis: Orientalism with a surgical twist

For much of its contemporary history, Beirut has been characterized as the Paris of the Middle East, a cosmopolitan metropolis that misfortune has placed in the middle of a region otherwise hostile to the civilized pleasures of material excess, free-flowing alcohol and exposed female skin.

Beirut’s Parisian charm has tended to become less apparent during periods of mass sectarian slaughter.

In the introduction to his Orientalism, the late US/Palestinian author Edward Said notes repercussions of civil conflict in Lebanon on the European consciousness:

“On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that ‘it had once seemed to belong to the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval [18th- and 19th-century French Romantic writers] ‘. This journalist was right about the place, of course, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences.” (See link in note 2)

Belen Fernandez published in AlJazeera on Nov. 6, 2012 “Orientalism with a surgical twist: Beirut”

The ‘New York Times’ advertised Beirut as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009 [Reuters]
Can the representation of Beirut as a “Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth” function on behalf of imperialism?
“The civil war may indeed have upset a regional landscape constructed over time by European scholars, poets, travelers and other self-appointed authorities, who, as late Edward Said argues, helped institutionalize Eurocentric prejudice, deny agency to the actual inhabitants of the romanticized exotic lands and thus facilitate imperial and colonial conquest.

The civil war did not, however, halt Orientalist traditions – made quite clear in manuscripts like From Beirut to Jerusalem, unleashed to wide acclaim in 1989 by former New York Times Beirut bureau chief Thomas Friedman.According to Friedman’s account, civil war-era Lebanon was populated by “buxom, Cleopatra-eyed Lebanese girls“, whose presence threw invading Israeli soldiers for a loop:”This was not the Sinai, filled with cross-eyed Bedouins and shoeless Egyptian soldiers“.

That such caricatures were permitted to pass as insight, exposes the delusional nature of Friedman’s subsequent complaint that “a toxic political correctness infected the academic field of Middle Eastern studies“.

Paris revisited 

In recent years, Beirut has reclaimed its image as the Paris of the Middle East, outfitted with expanded shopping opportunities and a spiffy new downtown erected on the former dividing line between the Muslim and Christian halves of the city.

A spate of Times articles about Beirut’s various amenities offers such trivia as that “[i]n a city of many faiths – Christian, Sunni, Shiaa, Druze – at least one religion is universally practiced: sun worship“.

The New York Times has dutifully taken on the role of PR firm for the resurgent Lebanese capital, advertising it as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009.

Given that the specified temples of worship are high-end beach clubs where “hordes of heliophiles absorb ultraviolet rays and cultivate their bronzed exteriors”, it would seem that said religion is not so universal after all

– either from an economic perspective or one that recognises the incompatibility of certain prominent faiths with public bronzed exterior cultivation.

On the new Zaitunay Bay waterfront promenade, a “luxury playground” where “tablecloths gleam white and bottles of wine sweat in silver coolers”, the Times observes that the boardwalk planks, “a nod to maritime authenticity, present a design flaw perhaps foreseeable in this city: Women with Louis Vuitton handbags are forever extracting their spike heels from the cracks”.

Additional sights at Zaitunay Bay, itself described as “Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the prewar 1960s – when Brigitte Bardot was a regular and Beirut was a fashionable port of call”, include an Iraqi immigrant in “leather miniskirt, thigh-high boots and a fur vest and whose fire-engine-red lipstick and long yellow hair” would have appeared out-of-place in her native land but “were right at home in Beirut”.

In other Beirut-centric dispatches, the Times raves about gay nightlife and restaurants offering beef and duck flown in from France.

The point of taking issue with such idealised odes to money and fashion is not to deny the affluence that exists in the city or the comparatively liberal nature of its society.

However, the marketing of a Beirut brand of “joie de vivre“, so blatantly equated with material wealth becomes morally problematic when we acknowledge the glaring economic disparity in the country, visible in the capital itself.

Consider, for example, the aesthetic differences between the refurbished downtown and the overcrowded and neglected Palestinian refugee camps and primarily Shia southern suburbs.

In these areas, recent infrastructure projects have included the rampant flattening of apartment blocks by the Israeli air force in 2006.

Needless to say, less sanitary aspects of life in Lebanon – such as the enslaved status of many migrants employed in the domestic help sector – have no place in the portrait of Beirut as a paradise of wealth, where tantalising opportunities await foreign visitors and their pocket-books.

Cleopatra on Botox 

Three decades after Thomas Friedman discovered buxom Cleopatra in Lebanon, another Western voyager by the name of David J Constable has confirmed that the women still “look like Cleopatra”, and that they have acquired new methods for enhancing their appearances – becoming in the process veritable ambulatory showcases for “tucks, lifts, firming, lipo, implants, grafting, tightening, otoplasty, mammoplasty, rhinoplasty and many other physical manipulations”.

A member of the Royal Geographical Society, Constable approaches his anthropological subjects with Orientalist vigour, compiling his findings in a Huffington Post report entitled “Boobs, Botox, and the Babes of Beirut“.

Constable dispatch begins with the curious hypothesis:

“For a largely Arab country it’s a bizarre thing that in Lebanon (Beirut specifically), women care more about their appearance than men.

Males lead a rather sullied existence, priming their closely cut mini-beards and, from my own observations, eating rather a lot.

The formula in Lebanon’s capital for women is fashion-forward, from their choice of cloth to the decisions they make surgically.”

Non-experts on Arab grooming habits might of course be surprised to deduce that men usually spend hours preening in front of the mirror while women mope about in filth.

Undeterred, Constable rumbles on: “Muslim, Christian and Druze women in Beirut dress surprisingly skimpy. There are vests and silks and bikinis and cashmere and come-hither off-the-shoulder numbers.

Constable warns, however, of occasional inauspicious outcomes among operated females: “Some look as if a drunken Picasso has drawn a face on to a balloon”.

In the very least, Picasso’s inebriated doodles attest to the European role in literally shaping the Orient.

Indeed, in 2006, the Israelis were presumably just as pleased as they’d been in 1982:  They discovered that not all Arabs were cross-eyed Bedouins, and Lebanon is still inhabited by bikini-clad plastic surgery recipients (and their slovenly overeating menfolk).

Field notes 

The Orient’s existence as a spectacle for the Westerner to behold and interpret is meanwhile made especially clear during Constable’s expedition to a nightclub “to witness the dolls and their dates myself”.

A power outage interrupts the exotic display but is fortunately resolved:

“The lights slowly raise and the permafixed smiles return. The waxed, toned limbs of party women begin to pop and gyrate again.

They’re back on show, electrified so their surgical enhancements, botoxed-brows and designer names can bounce off my eyes, competing in a variety of silk-cut blouses, Louboutin heels and over-night handbags.

At another rooftop bar, Constable surmises that “there are benefits to marrying/dating/having sex with a plastic surgeon, since surely no one can afford to spend that much of their own cash on reconstructive surgery and blow-me-up operations”. Case closed.

As with the New York Times‘ fixation with Beirut glamour, the effect of essays like Constable’s is to reduce the Lebanese to a superficial existence in which personal concerns are limited to inflating one’s lips and breasts and not getting one’s designer heels stuck in boardwalk planks.

Never mind that many Lebanese are faced with more pressing preoccupations, such as a southern neighbour with a penchant for massacring civilians, upending infrastructure and saturating portions of the country with unexploded cluster bombs to serve as post-conflict population control.

Some may argue that the Times Constable approach is less detrimental than other reductionist portrayals of the country, such as Lebanon equals terrorist den.

These reductionist statements helps propagate an ethnic stereotype that has been exploited to justify more than one imperial project in the Arab/Muslim world.

However, the representation of Beirut as a Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth and cleavage – a place the West can relate to on account of its fervent materialism – can also function on behalf of imperialism, eliminating as it does all context legitimizing other aspects of Lebanon’s identity, like resistance to Israeli regional designs.

Note 1: Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Workreleased by Verso in 2011.

She is a member of the Jacobin Magazine editorial board, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blogAl Akhbar English and many other publications.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/culture-and-resistance-by-edward-w-said/

Note 3: I think Miss Lebanon of 2012 is the one on the far left, the tall blonde one?

Around the World Social Event Miss Lebanon 2012 In Las Vegas Lebanon


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