My One and Only Love
London, England: Saqi Books, 2005. 239 pagesBook
Review by Karin Friedemann
A comical narrative of Zionist espionage and intrigue, "My One andOnly Love" is a psychological and political commentary on thepersonal conflict between being true to one's heart and being loyalto "The Jews." This book is about basing one's life on Zionist liesto the point where a moment of truth and love is perceived asmadness. Gilad Atzmon makes fun of famous Zionist historicalfigures, events and propaganda techniques while exploring themystery of what it means to be a Jew. This genuinely entertainingbook illustrates many ironies of Jewish existence, in particular theopportunistic use of Jewish suffering to promote the State of Israel.
Danny Zilber is a world-famous trumpet player who, despite livingthe glamorous life, remains innocent. His band is not only wildlypopular but is part of a secret Zionist plot to protect a Nazi warcriminal while they profit off German guilt feelings. His boss,Avrum Shtil believes that any dastardly deed is justified for thesake of propagating the Zionist cause. When Danny falls head overheels in love with a mysterious German woman, his boss sees in historment a chance to make mega-bucks. He prefers glorifying Danny'sdespair to divulging the lady's identity. At first, Danny's careeris enhanced by the pain of unfulfilled desire as his music becomesincreasingly soulful. Yet the intense and prolonged suffering isunsustainable. Human nature demands that one connect with humanityand be real. As the web of lies becomes increasingly transparent,one must either give up the Zionist cause or self-destruct.
It will be much to the relief of his female admirers that GiladAtzmon's portrayal of women is maturing. In his first book, "A Guideto the Perplexed," the most exciting woman was a plastic blow-updoll. Here we find Danny drawn to the mystery lady's "intelligentand gentle eyes." While the previous protagonist's heart wascompletely shut down, Danny consciously suffers feelings ofunbearable pain and emptiness from his inability to truly love andbe loved. It hurts, but it is progress. An emerging sense ofpersonal integrity still shields itself behind a wall of sarcasm.Danny's refusal to see the cause of his pain results in the loss ofhis soul. Danny is not fully conscious of the extent to which hismanager is willing to hurt, mislead, and use him for profit, but hiswillingness to believe Avrum's deceptions turns Danny's life into aperpetual hell.
Asking God to liberate him from his self-inflictedmisery never even crosses his mind. As the author demonstrates, a Jew prefers to self-destruct rather than to repent, acceptforgiveness, and henceforth lead an honest life. The Jewishexperience is a state of exile from one's true self, the separationof the soul from God.Is there a way for Jews to transcend their spiritual exile, achieveinner peace, and stop hurting other people? Although no one in thebook has the courage to go through with it, "My One and Only Love"sheds some light on The Way: Danny's love for the mysterious German woman leads him for a briefmoment to transcend apparent reality and become like Jesus walkingover the water. He no longer has any interest in objectifying Germans as targets of manipulation. Danny's secret desire to have an authentic personal relationship with a German person reveals the keyto personal salvation. Learning to love one's enemy is what isrequired for the spiritual redemption of the Jews. Danny attains aninner state of harmony and ecstasy which his Zionist boss dismissesas a psychotic delusion.
The problem with becoming Christ-like isthat you will be crucified. Danny's one and only love is a lie. While it is ironic that Danny's true self is accidentally unleashedby a lie, he is ultimately destroyed by an even deeper lie. In the end, this book was frustrating. Not a single character was redeemed. They were all Zionist scum who deserved to be utterly destroyed, but Atzmon played a nasty trick on us by making us like them and feel bad for them. Those who once experienced a moment of truth yet failed to reject Zionism suffered a far worse end than those who were simply evil and enjoyed being evil.
Nevertheless, we emerge with the knowledge by which we can save ourselves from a similar fate. Life always leads you to truth if you let it. Even if all we can see are kaleidoscope distortions of lies upon lies, the intuitive grasp of the patterns within the patterns can serve as our escape route if we actually want to be free.