After his Rochester performance, Atzmon sat down with Brian Lenzo to discuss music, politics and his thoughts on the future of peace in the region.
The Palestinian refugee community of Shu’afat sits behind Israel’s separation wall, cut off from other Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem (Jeremy Price)
YOU GREW up in Israel, right when the Palestinian National movement had come on to the scene. Were you aware of it? What was it like growing up in Israel at that time? THIS IS a very interesting question. When you read what Jews have written about their suffering, the philosophers and historians, they always talk about the magmatic effect of irrational hatred. About the Germans: “It was madness.” Now the Turkish: ‘They are mad!” And the Palestinians. We asked, “Why do they want to come here? There are so many Arab places to go?” As kids, we thought, “Everybody is mad!” The mentality was–and still is–us versus them. The Jewish world is divided into a binary opposition of us and them. This was my vision of the Palestinians. We were shocked to wake up in the morning and find out there was a ‘terror’ attack, then another terror attack. It took me years to understand that these were people who were fighting for their land–land that belongs to them and them alone. It took me some time before I realized that the Qassam rockets are a love letter from the Palestinian’s stolen land. The Palestinian movement is a poetic movement. And it’s through the poets that they will be able not just to liberate their land, but to liberate all of us.