Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Artificial Humor of Gilad Atzmon

“Welcome to rock-bottom,” was one of Jim Ignatowski’s memorable lines on Taxi. Those who read the statements of rabidly anti-Zionist Gilad Atzmon (background here and here) keep hoping each new low will finally hit rock-bottom, below which it is impossible to descend, yet Atzmon always finds a way to sink lower.

The multi-reed jazz musician and self-described Israeli-born Palestinian has become the darling of Counter-Punch and the British Far-Left for his willingness to dash off incendiary screeds, like his August 12 piece in Al-Jazeera in which he argues Israel should not be compared to the National Socialists, because they are in fact, far worse. According to Atzmon’s warped world view:

“Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison.

Hence, there is no room for comparison between Israel and the Nazis. If a comparison is to be made, then it is the Israelis who win the championship of ruthlessness.”

Unfortunately, this is just par for the course for Atzmon. Atzmon has another project going right now, that like past propagandists, seems intent on using ridicule to de-humanizing its target: Jews. His pseudonymous Artie Fishel (get it?) band seems based on Jewish jokes that would be groaners in the Catskills, except they are not told with any affection. The Fishel website features a game where you can shoot rocket-launched bagels into the streets of Lebanon. It also features a supposedly humorous glossary featuring this nugget of mirth:

“Klezmer: Gypsy music played badly to a degree of genuine art form. Artie expertise.”

Most artists respect other forms of music, even if they are not their cup of tea. Musicians like Don Byron and John Zorn, not exactly right-wingers, have been inspired to experiment with Klezmer music. For Atzmon, it is a target for scorn and mockery.

While it is tempting to dismiss Atzmon’s rhetoric as the rants of an extremist who flirts with open anti-Semtism, his acceptance by elements of the far-left is some cause for concern. Are we at rock-bottom yet? Probably not.