By Gilad Atzmon
This time back to Germany. Reuters reported yesterday that “…for London rabbi Julia Neuberger, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has had a very personal impact: she has decided to seek German citizenship, laying to rest her family’s painful legacy of the Nazi era.”
It seems that “…a significant number of Jewish Britons whose dismay over Brexit has led them to invoke a German law allowing people stripped of German citizenship by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, and their descendants, to have it restored.”
But here’s the good news. Rabbi Neuberger feels she finally has made her peace with Germany. If only we had known that all it takes for a Jew to forgive Germany and to put the Holocaust behind is a bit of British patriotism well, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and energy. And by the way, if the Jews are now returning to Germany, maybe we Brits can reclaim their Imperial War Museum, now reduced to a permanent holocaust shrine.
But why does the Rabbi and other Jews want to be Germans again? The answer lies in the ‘Wandering’. Jews just love to travel and, as Rabbi Neuberger said: “German passport holds the promise of a future with full access to the EU and its practical benefits such as freedom to travel” and she went on to say “We can then live and work anywhere in a bloc that has 27 other nations – rights that Britons may no longer enjoy after Brexit is enacted.”
Astonishingly enough, the Rabbi is a member of the House of Lords. Now, I could be wrong but is her behaviour here the kind of patriotism one would expect from a British Lord? Rabbi Neuberger offers an explanation. Deep inside, she is admits to be German: “there is some German in me after all and it goes very deep,” she said.
Reuters suggests that “It is a remarkable twist of history that Jews who lost family members in the Holocaust are now using such old documents to obtain modern Germany’s maroon-colored passports.” No, it’s not remarkable at all. Berlin has been attracting Israelis for at least a decade.
Apparently the Rabbi is not going to flee immediately. “Like other British Jews seeking German citizenship, Neuberger intends to stay in Britain.” I suppose this is because there is just too much for the Rabbi to lose. Rabbi Neuberger’s family has reached prominence in Britain’s public life – “her husband is a leading academic and her brothers-in-law include the president of the supreme court.”
And the Rabbi is not alone. Michael Newman, chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees told Reuters”We all don’t know what the future will hold and want to make sure that we, but also mainly our children, continue to have access to Europe.”
So, is it not the case that here Newman expresses the true meaning of Jewish Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Jews are always ready and waiting for the next Shoah and the take-home message is clear: rootedness and dwelling are probably not characteristics associated with Jewish culture and identity. Wandering is and remains a prime Jewish trait.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history, have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than the music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”
His new book The Wandering Who? is now available at Amazon.com