Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good Reviews in the News

Two rave reviews are in for rabidly anti-Israeli jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. One comes in the February IAJRC Journal (evidently hitting mailboxes a little late), and the other comes from David Duke (Democratic Underground’s latest heartthrob).

The IAJRC Journal is a labor of love for a few members, desperately soliciting contributions from the general membership, so it wouldn’t be fair to belabor their publication of the review. However, Andy Simons seriously glosses Atzmon’s politics when he suggests Atzmon’s “deeply serious CDs, mostly on ENJA, have made some way toward uniting Jewish and Arab culture.” In truth, Atzmon, the decidedly former Israeli, is not a uniter, but a divider, having chosen sides.

It turns out David Duke approves of the Atzmon’s chosen allegiance, reprinting an extended excerpt of one of Atzmon’s article on his website. Simons writes of “sharing much of Atzmon’s political and moral outlook,” but one assumes that does not extend to Atzmon’s cynical polemics on the Holocaust. Atzmon writes (and Duke approves):

“the Holocaust has become the new Jewish religion. ‘The Holocaust’ [Atzmon’s quotes] is far more than historical narrative, it indeed contains most of the essential religious elements: it has its high priests (Simon Wiesenthal, Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt, etc.) and prophets (Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and those who warn about the Iranian Judeocide to come). It has its commandments and dogmas (‘never again’, ‘six million’, etc.). It has rituals (memorial days, Pilgrimage to Auschwitz etc.). . . Most interestingly, the Holocaust religion is coherent enough to define the new ‘antichrists’ (the Deniers) and it is powerful enough to persecute them (Holocaust denial laws)."

When playing, Atzmon has a distinctive, passionate tone. When writing polemics, that tone becomes strident. Too often writers and critics whitewash the extent of his extremism (examples here, here, here). Even if his playing moves you, his constant attempts to minimize the Holocaust and embrace the advocates of terror should give one serious pause. As for his latest "Artie Fishel" project, a mean-spirited satire of klezmer music and Jewish culture, Simons describes it as “a single listening session concept album.” Talk about a euphemistic turn of phrase.