Ali Abunimah on History & Culture

Gilad Atzmon

Ali Abunimah and Gilad Atzmon at the OK Corral

In the clip [on the left], I elaborate on Ali Abunimah’s attitude towards history and culture.

I contend that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols, we are entitled to ask ourselves who are the Jews and what is Judaism and Jewishness? In my work I try to grasp the role and the impact of Jewish culture on Israeli and Jewish politics - something I believe necessary to bring peace to the region and beyond.

But Ali Abunimah doesn’t agree. In reference to a talk I gave at the Stuttgart One State Conference (Dec 2010), he suggested that history and politics are detached from culture - an unusual approach which contradicts all recognized, intellectual and philosophical understandings of humanity, history, politics as well as culture. Abunimah says

Talking about Jewish culture, is wrong because such arguments can be made about anyone. We could blame German culture for the history of Germany...

Someone should tell Abunimah that this is exactly what intellectuals, historian and political scientists do. They search for the origin of political thoughts in culture, ideology, religion and heritage. For instance, those who study the Nazi eratry to comprehend the impact of Wagner, the German symphony, Protestant culture, German philosophy, Martin Luther’s “The Jews And Their Lies”, Hegel and the German Spirit, German Early Romanticism, Lebensphilosophie, Heine, Athens vs. Jerusalem and so on.

It is obvious to me that, Abunimah didn’t think it through. However, it is never too late to admit a mistake and get it right.

To view Atzmon’s Stuttgart presentation follow, [click on this video:]


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Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and had his musical training at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). As a multi-instrumentalist he plays Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxes, Clarinet and Flutes. His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He has been described by John Lewis on the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz". His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East. Until 1994 he was a producer-arranger for various Israeli Dance & Rock Projects, performing in Europe and the USA playing ethnic music as well as R&R and Jazz. Coming to the UK in 1994, Atzmon recovered an interest in playing the music of the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe that had been in the back of his mind for years. In 2000 he founded the Orient House Ensemble in London and started re-defining his own roots in the light of his emerging political awareness. Since then the Orient House Ensemble has toured all over the world. The Ensemble includes Eddie Hick on Drums, Yaron Stavi on Bass and Frank Harrison on piano & electronics. Also, being a prolific writer, Atzmon's essays are widely published. His novels 'Guide to the perplexed' and 'My One And Only Love' have been translated into 24 languages. The Wandering Who? can be ordered HERE. Gilad Atzmon's Blog is HERE. (Photo: Eamonn Mccabe)
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Video 1: http://youtu.be/6hrJcMO88EI
Video 2: http://youtu.be/MlvaN2c-Oto
Article published here: Gilad Atzmon's Blog
URL: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/2012/04/03/ali-abunimah-on-history-aamp-culture/font

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