Engage
Antisemitic Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon Plays SOAS
Added by David Hirsh on February 19, 2006 12:59:31 PM.
Antisemitic Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon Plays SOASThis coming Tuesday, 21 February, Jazz musician, antisemite and Holocaust denier, Gilad Atzmon will be performing at SOAS, University of London.

The SOAS website says that Atzmon's Quartet 'play a fascinating mix of Jewish, Balkan and Arabic styles that has considerable political as well as musical impact.’

Atzmon, writes David Adler in Jazz Times, is a ‘staunch anti-Zionist, ... is the darling of Britain’s Socialist Workers Party — in fact, a return guest lecturer at the SWP’s annual Marxism conclave. But read Atzmon’s political writings (at gilad.co.uk) and you’ll find a sensibility about as progressive as Idi Amin’s.’

‘There Atzmon writes: “[W]e must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ [sic] are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant.” He has also written: “To be a Jew is to be a victim and to enjoy your symptoms. To be a Jew is to believe in the holocaust [sic], to be a Jew is to believe in a historical narrative constructed around endless merciless sagas of persecution and harassment…. The victim strategy is the latest and most sophisticated form of Jewish supremacist segregation.” It’s little wonder that Atzmon has helped to distribute Paul Eisen’s The Holocaust Wars, a Holocaust-denial tract.’

‘Oliver Kamm, a columnist for the Times of London, has been waging a campaign against Atzmon on his blog (oliverkamm.typepad.com). Fierce critics of Israel are also weighing in. Sue Blackwell, an anti-Zionist activist in Britain, has removed all links to Atzmon from her Web site (sue.be). Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish, no friends of the pro-Israel lobby, have denounced Atzmon’s fellow traveler Israel Shamir as an anti-Semite (Atzmon’s site features a prominent link to Shamir’s). Members of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and Jews Against Zionism have condemned the SWP for giving Atzmon a platform.’ See also Adler’s defence in Jazz Times of his characterization of Atzmon.

Oliver Kamm writes that ‘Atzmon leaves you in no doubt where his sympathies lie: they are with the racist Right. For example, he proudly parades his association with, and admiration for, Israel Shamir, who praises the neo-Nazi National Alliance as an ally in the struggle against Zionism. David Adler does a public service in making these connections better-known among jazz aficionados, who have thus far apparently been willing to accept Atzmon as nothing more a dissenting political voice.’

Even ‘antiracist’ Jewish anti-Zionists like Roland Rance, Stephen Marks and Tony Greenstein have recognised that Atzmon is an antisemite, perhaps because he denounced them using the language of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Sue Blackwell has removed the link from her site to Atzmon’s consciously antisemitic site. Tony Greenstein, a man filled with hatred and loathing for that which he denounces as ‘Zionism’, which he thinks is a form of Nazism, wrote a piece entitled ‘Why Palestine Solidarity activists must reject antisemitism’, criticising Atzmon as a Jew-hater.

The British Socialist Workers Party invited Atzmon to their showpiece Marxism 2005 event and they gave him a platform to speak at their bookshop. Those anti-Zionists who recognised Atzmon’s antisemitism campaigned against the SWP’s support for Atzmon. They picketed his talk at the SWP bookshop and they collected names for a petition.

The SWP stand by Atzmon pretending that he is not an antisemite or a Holocaust denier. The SWP have for some time occupied the anti-Zionist territory that Engage has described as politically or institutionally antisemitic. By embracing Atzmon, they have taken a tentative step into a new territory; they are dipping their toe in the water of open and conscious antisemitism.

Gilad Atzmon is influenced by Israel Shamir and he links to Shamir’s website from his own site. Shamir wrote the following about the anti-Zionists' campaign against Atzmon’s antisemitism and the SWP support for him:

'This is a talk he gave in Bookmarks, London’s Marxist bookshop; while outside, a group of Jews picketed and demanded to shut him up. ... As Gilad was speaking in a Marxist bookshop, they [the Jews] sent antizionist Jews. Thus these protesters revealed their most important inner quality - they felt they weren't antizionists of Jewish origin, but representatives of Jewry within the antizionist Left…. It is hardly a question of religion as these picketers are irreligious. Indeed, it is a question of spirit, the Judaic spirit we find at the basis of Zionism.'

For more on the relationship between 'antiracist' anti-Zionism and the new breed of openly antisemitic anti-Zionists, see this piece and this piece from Engage.
Close this window