people want to come here, either fleeing persecution or seeking
better life, they play by our rules and our way of life
Were angry about what theyre doing to our country.
Were angry about abusing our good nature and toleration."
Prime Minister Tony Blair, Aug 5, 2005
to Britain 11 years ago. Originally I came here with the intention
of finishing my post-graduate studies in Philosophy. I didnt
nurture any plans of staying, but I fell in love: first with London
and later with Britain. When I came here just over a decade ago,
I met a society that was trying to reconcile itself with the twilight
of its long, disastrous history as a colonial power with the morally
orientated liberal view it adopted in the aftermath of the Second
When I decided to settle here I had the impression that the days
of the empire were really over. This was obviously a few years
before Blair took over. At the time Britain was searching for
different ways to transform its expansionist heritage into one
that could survive just as well as a tolerant, peace seeking nation.
Small, but without the shackles of needing to dominate and impose
its will upon others.
British society presented itself as a multi-ethnic society with
a multi-cultural horizon. Any visitor to London would admit that
this image of openness is more than apparent in almost every aspect
of the life of the capital; the very many languages, the extreme
wide range of foreign cuisines and restaurants, the music, the
people and their varied dress codes, etc. London is no doubt an
amazingly colourful international cultural hybrid. It is the most
welcoming city on this planet, it doesnt matter who you
are and where you come from, you can always turn it into your
would prefer to think of a society
in which collective tolerance is an
authentic and genuine tendency rather
than a legally imposed political agenda.
The idea of authoritarian multi-cultural
ideology always appeared to me
as a shaky cover up.
that, I have never been convinced by the general idea of multi-culturalism.
I would ideally prefer to live in a society that tolerantly celebrates
its differences rather than a society that identifies itself with
an ideology, be it the most open and tolerant ideology. I would
prefer to think of a society in which collective tolerance is
an authentic and genuine tendency rather than a legally imposed
political agenda. The idea of authoritarian multi-cultural ideology
always appeared to me as a shaky cover up. It is there to hide
clear latent chauvinist and even racist tendencies. But I
learnt to live with it. I learnt to accept the fact that in Britain,
art centres are receiving public funding only when they present
a multi-cultural program with a discernible number
of marginal artists, be it Indians, Blacks, Pakistani, Jews, women,
etc. Although I could never support such an approach, I learnt
to respect it. I thought to myself; if this is what it takes for
so many people to live together in peace, who am I to raise any
Mr Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, exposed the essential
deceptive character entangled with the idea of multi-culturalism.
"The rules are changing" Blair says these days. From
now on 'we', the British, will decide what really fits into our
'way of life'. 'They', on the other hand, will be deported or
even stripped of their citizenship. I tend to believe that Blair
knows very well who the 'we' and who are the 'they' must be. Blair
surely believes that he knows what the British 'way of life' is
all about as well.
really knowing whether I fall into Blairs 'we' category
or rather into the 'they' one, I would confess that my personal
interpretation of the British 'way of life' is very different
from Blair's. This is not very unusual considering the fact that
I am a 'Johnny foreigner'.
But then, surprisingly enough, I realised
lately that my personal account on the subject isnt that
remote from Ken Livingstones vision of the British capital.
In a press conference following the 7/7 bombing, the Mayor said
it all: "London is the town of the people who want to be
themselves". Ken had tears in his eyes that cloudy afternoon,
and I found myself sobbing with him. It
was Ken Livingstone who managed to explain to me in a single sentence
why I fell in love with London and why I settled in Britain a
decade ago. Kens philosophy is simple: Let yourself and
Tony Blair exposed the essential
deceptive character entangled with the
idea of multi-culturalism: From now on
'we', the British, will decide what really
fits into our 'way of life'. 'They', on the
other hand, will be deported or even
stripped of their citizenship. I tend to
believe that Blair knows very well who
the 'we' and who are the 'they' must be.
I feel at
home in Britain and especially in London because it was here where
I could initiate a search for myself. It was here where I managed
to stop identifying myself as a Jew, it was here in London where
I ceased being an Israeli. It was here where I started to write.
It is here in Britain where I stopped being an Americanised bebop
clone and became Gilad Atzmon (whatever that means). I love London
and Britain because I am allowed to be myself or even just to
But it goes further, it is here in London where I could spend
an evening in a Lebanese restaurant, it is here in London where
I meet, talk and make friends with Palestinians without having
them become intimidated by my Israeliness. It is here
in London where I realised that I am a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian.
I owe a lot to this town and to people who made this town into
what it is, be they British or not.
I might be
completely wrong here, but I tend to believe that as far as the
subject of British way of life is concerned, we better
listen to Ken rather than to Tony. Unlike Blair who was re-elected
indirectly in spite of himself, Livingstone was directly elected
by Londoners, by people who believe in their Mayor and his universal
and Blair represent two different and opposing worldviews. While
Ken describes a liberal society comprising many different people
searching for their own authentic voice, Tony is articulating
some radical nationalist thoughts. For Blair, the whole is far
greater than its parts. For Blair, society is by far more vital
than its members. The state is more important than its citizens.
Blair articulates his worldview by cluttering it up with pronouns
and assigning them intrinsic value. For Blair, the we
is obviously far more valuable than the they.
was Ken Livingstone who managed
to explain to me in a single
sentence why I fell in love with
London and why I settled in Britain
a decade ago. Ken's philosophy is
simple: Let yourself and others be.
may raise an eyebrow and state that there is nothing innovative
about the worldview Blair has adopted. In polite company, it is
called nationalism, at times even patriotism, but on the face
of it, it is nothing less than fascism. Yes, Ladies
and Gentlemen, we may as well take this opportunity to admit that
our PM is introducing us to fascist ideology and practices. We
may as well acknowledge the horrifying possibility that our society
is heading towards fascism through the byways of nationalism and
But then, even fascism is a matter of degree. Some fascists are
better than others. Fascists do believe that the state is greater
than its citizens. And yet, exclusion isnt essential to
fascism. Apparently, it is essential to Blair who is politically
engaged in mobilising the darkest xenophobic forces within British
who still fail to see it, based on his recent declarations and
intentions, Blairs political tendencies, mirroring some
of the principles of fascism, are of the Zionist type. The man
truly believes in the Zionist notion of cultural clash in which
we stands for Judeo-Christian goodness and they
stands for Muslim fundamentalist evil.
may raise an eyebrow and state
that there is nothing innovative about
the worldview Blair has adopted.
In polite company, it is called
nationalism, at times even patriotism
but on the face of it,
it is nothing less than fascism.
One may correctly
argue, that the most racist form of fascism should be better described
as a form of Nazism rather than Zionism. Admittedly, I could see
the logic behind such a claim and yet, I insist upon not equating
Blairs policies with Nazism for two important reasons:
predates Nazism. If this is not enough, while Nazism has been
defeated over 60 years ago, Zionism is still an active successful
political practice that inflicts pain on millions of people, and
shows little sign of being in decline. Moreover, Blairs
illegal war in Iraq is in practice a Zionist war against the Arab
pockets of resistance. The War Against Terror is just
another example of a major Zionist battleground. As sad and mad
as it may sound, Britain and America are operating currently as
a Zionist mission force.
is traditionally associated with the industrialised murder of
innocent civilians. Thank God, Blair isnt there yet. Anyhow,
we better remind ourselves that it took the Nazis a while before
they even considered the possibility of industrialised murderous
not only does Blair flirt with fascism in his stance as an all-knowing,
all-powerful leader of his nation, even as a watered down tyrant,
he appears to be a complete failure. To start with, he is far
from being popular amongst his people which is something that
disqualifies him from becoming the British Fuhrer. Take my advice
Tony, you cant become a Fuhrer in a society that lacks the
notion of a balcony.
Muslim fundamentalists want
to challenge our so-called
'Western liberal ideology'.
Evidently, Bush and Blair were very
quick to lacerate the notion
of liberty and civil rights.
are occasionally good at making wars, but Blair is anything but
a military genius. So far he has managed to fail in every possible
front. Blair was very quick to surrender to terror. His endorsement
of the we and they philosophy, is exactly
where his enemies want him to go. The Muslim fundamentalists want
to challenge our so-called Western liberal ideology.
Evidently, Bush and Blair were very quick to lacerate the notion
of liberty and civil rights. Furthermore, militant Islamic fundamentalists
may aim to prevent Muslims from assimilating within their host
terrorists want British Muslims to feel rejected, humiliated and
segregated. Blair provides the fundamentalists with the goods.
His newly proposed legal measures alienate the British Muslim
communities. I better say it loudly, with Tony Blair in No. 10
Downing Street, the British people do not need an enemy from beyond.
British PMs at war, unlike Churchill who led the nation through
the gloomy days of Dunkirk and the horrendous nights of the Blitz,
unlike the Iron Lady who at least showed some backbone by standing
firmly in spite of repetitive IRA raids, Blair has managed to
raise a white flag just after a single successful terror attack
on the capital.
On the face
of it, only divine intervention can save Britain right now. In
my despair I went back and checked the lyrics of the British national
anthem. I vaguely remembered that there was some kind of an appeal
to God right in the very front. Of course there is: it says God
save our gracious Queen'. OK, I think to myself, our Queen may
be saved but what about the rest of us?
Gilad Atzmon is a jazz musician residing in London. Email - [email protected]