In Defense of Gilad Atzmon

Sarah Gillespie

Herodotus is an historian who trains you as you read. It is a process of asking, searching, collecting, doubting, striving, testing, blaming, and above all standing amazed at 'the strange things humans do’. (Poet and translator of ancient Greek, Anne Carson, Nox, 2011)

Gilad Atzmon’s intellectual expedition into the daunting terrain of Jewish identity politics has always evoked a storm of controversy. Still, when I first met Gilad, it was hard not to suspect he was exaggerating the extent of abuse he received from various UK pressure groups. Primarily, it’s not easy to wrap your head around the notion that a person can plausibly be branded as ‘a racist’ when they tour the world with a gypsy violinist, a black drummer, a Jewish bass player and a token English white boy on piano. However, as I began to understand the full complexities of Gilad’s arguments – a process, which, for me, required as much unlearning as it did learning – I reluctantly grasped the problem. And, to my utter horror, I also fathomed the full measure of pathological bile wielded against him. Indeed, some of it hemorrhaged in my direction.

After the 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza I organized a concert for ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ featuring iconic violinist Nigel Kennedy. Campaigners launched an onslaught from all sides - the right, the left, the Zionists and the anti-Zionists - individually and collectively, lobbied the owner of the venue, the director of MAP and myself, demanding that we cancel the event. Some even accused us of mobilising art to fund rocket attacks on Jews. I was shocked, upset and embarrassed that I had inadvertently dragged my friend, who owns the club, into such a shameful debacle.

After the concert (a huge success, btw.) I was labeled a Holocaust denier. Not only was this accusation ludicrous and totally unfounded it was potentially damaging to me. It is clear that in this culture, you could query the extent of the Holodomor, the Nakba or the annihilation of American Indians without raising much of an eyebrow in the public domain, but to do the same with the deaths of Jews in the Second World War is tantamount to career suicide. My lawyer advised me to get the accusation removed from the Internet but I think it best serves as a small, cyber monument to the preposterous and baseless sewage in which some people are content to swim.

Super Committee Deadlock: Heads They Win, Tails We Lose

Ellen Brown

United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (WP)

It is no great surprise that with only days to go, the congressional “super committee,” given the herculean task of carving an additional $1.2 trillion out of the federal budget, has failed to reach agreement.  Why should six Republicans and six Democrats with diametrically opposed views agree in a few weeks, when Congress couldn’t shake hands on it after months of wrangling, despite the guillotine blade of a federal default hanging over their heads?      

Whether the super committee reaches agreement or not, however, the deficit hawks win.  If they agree, either $1.2 trillion gets cut from the budget or taxes go up by that amount; and the committee co-chair has categorically stated taxes are not going up, so that means the budget will be cut.  If agreement is not reached, $1.2 trillion in cuts automatically kick in, split evenly between domestic and military spending.  Either way, the economy will wind up with $1.2 trillion less in the way purchasing power.  The result will be to reduce demand, kill jobs, and put more people on the streets.
For the deficit hawks, however, it all seems to be going according to plan.  The super committee is characterized as an emergency measure that was rushed through to avoid an arbitrarily imposed August deadline for freezing the debt ceiling, but it has actually been in the works for years.  In 2009, it was called the “Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action”.  That plan died when its Senate sponsors, Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad, failed to secure 60 votes for passage in the Senate.  The Gregg-Conrad bill was criticized as railroading through legislation that would unconstitutionally slash domestic services without congressional debate, but its task force would actually have been LESS autocratic than the super committee, which has sweeping powers and needs only a simple majority among its 12 members to prevail.

What has been forced out of the debate is whether cutting the budget is a good idea at all.

Messenger's Report at Vigil for Peace with Justice Outside Cornerstone Church, Nashville TN

Charles E. Carlson

Pastor Maury Davis's church website tells that "he was arrested at age eighteen for the crime of first-degree murder. Following his trial and conviction, he served eight and one-half years in the Texas Department of Corrections." He claims 3900 members at Cornerstone church, where he emphasizes that if Jesus can forgive him, anyone can be forgiven. We do not disagree.

It is not our business to judge God's work, but if indeed Maury Davis repented for killing just one middle-aged woman, why did he sponsor a "Preserving Freedom Conference," inside his church which openly promoted hatred and fear of Muslims. Most of the Conference participants openly called for preemptive war upon Iran. Nor is this the first Muslim bash Davis has sponsored, for Geert Wilders who is under criminal indictment for hate speech in his native Holland, was a guest in Cornerstone earlier this year, and beat the drum for war. Several of the speakers at Cornerstone, including Wilders, were cited as authorities in Anders Brievik's Manifesto, left behind as his logic to murdered upward to 90 Norwegian students in May.

Does Pastor Davis not know that killing is the purpose of war? I have reason to think he knows. Does Jesus repeatedly forgive those who go on killing, or encouraging others to kill time after time? We asked this question of Maury Davis in a letter delivered to him, and to most members of his staff by e-mail a week before the conference. Has Maury Davis repented of his sin if he calls for war that can not help but kill tens of thousands, most of whom will be every bit as innocent as was the woman he murdered 35 years ago for accidently spilling paint on his boots. Jesus' last words to a woman to whom He forgave of her sin of prostitution was, "sin no more." He did not say, sin some more. We understand from this Jesus forgiveness was conditional upon her repentance.

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