Gilad, Who?


Gilad, Who?  
By June Terpstra, Ph.D.

The biographical film, Gilad and All That Jazz, poses the fundamental question of supremacy in this Dark Age where many intellectuals, artists, academics and politicians still don’t “get it”.  Over five hundred years of imperialism, colonialism, Zionism, white supremacy, and Euro-American exceptionalism, has shaped human’s being and consciousness through assigned categories of race, religion, ethnicity, class, and creed despite scientific evidence that there are no biologically determined characteristics of any of these. However, the musician-philosopher, Gilad Atzmon poses that there is a pervasive social construction, a set of positions in a global structure, for which Zionism and the identity of being an Israeli and a Jew are assigned categories that influence the socialization one receives, the life world in which one moves, the experiences one has, and the view one develops.

The film shows through Gilad’s life and music how  Zionist ethnocentrism so structures the Israeli world as to have negative ramifications for every sphere of Palestinian and ultimately, Arab and Muslim life—juridical standing, moral status, personal racial identity, epistemic reliability, existential plight, political inclusion, social metaphysics, sexual relations,  and aesthetic worth. The dominant moral code within the Jewish State is based on a racialized religious anthropology similar to, if not the same as, the Herrenvolk ethic.  Moreover, the film tells us how Gilad is compelled to bring to consciousness the assumptions and mechanisms of this ethic, and ultimately to subvert it so that the Jewish State and the world can see it for what it is—an oppressive Herrenvolk state.

In the film, Gilad asks us to ask ourselves, “Have you ever considered yourself chosen”?  I cannot imagine.  As a child raised in a strict misogynist and abusive Calvinist environment accompanied by the leitmotif that I was born in sin, the question is unthinkable.  I cannot wrap it around my brain–neither my mother nor any of my ancestors will allow it.  However, when I get a glimpse of the concept of “chosen-ness” it translates as decidedly sinful.  By sin I do not mean an individual, private, or merely interior reality.  Sin here is regarded as a social, historical fact, the absence of the humane and love in relationships among all people.   Zionism is sinful specifically because it has embedded systems of oppression and exploitation encompassing the Palestinian people while excluding everyone except the Jews.

The film demonstrates Gilad Atzmon’s inner jihad, his uphill battle to bring this code to the fore of people’s consciousness and the effects of his quest on his family whom the film portrays with integrity and warmth.   Atzmon’s assertions are making many people uncomfortable, because people fear being called anti-Semitic, the purge alarm of the 21st century.   Yet, Atzmon points out that an anti-Semite is really someone the Jews hate and the Jews hate him.  In fact, progressive Jews and their electronic supporters hate Atzmon for pointing out that Jews today are heirs of the same centuries old supremacist system-the Herrenvolk ethic which rewards the chosen ones.   Despite what Atzmon calls “pre-traumatic stress syndrome”, Jews perpetuate this ethic through their desire for privilege and their desire for what they feel is their “due.”   The fearless Gilad does not silence these enemies.  The film also features those who criticize him.  I especially liked the guy in the film who says Atzmon is a narcissist and phallic imperialist—a classic example of psychological projection where the speaker calls out someone for acting in the very manner of the speaker.

Gilad and All That Jazz is also a film every person in the military should see.  His story shows what it means to stand against invasion and occupation and ultimately the necessary process of self-correction and ultimately, the serious commitment to social justice of the artist in exile.  Gilad Atzmon should be knighted, the time-less lord, the Wandering Who.

June Terpstra is an activist educator and university lecturer in Justice Studies and Sociology. She has founded numerous programs for homeless, abused, youth and oppressed people in the USA. She is presently teaching courses on Law and Terrorism, Social Justice, Resistance, Human Rights, and Media. For more information see:

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