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United against Cultural Fascism – A Letter to Every Cultured Person in This Country

18 Nov

This open letter was cross posted from Gilad Atzmon’s website. It deserves the support of all socialists, defenders of democratic rights and opponents of racism and imperialist war.

By Gilad Atzmon

There was a time when Jewish politics and culture were associated with liberalism, human rights, pluralism and freedom of expression. Those days are clearly over. Nowadays, it is pretty much the opposite.

Here in Britain, Jewish nationalist lobbies are engaged in several kinds of repressive behaviour. Their practices include: bullying and harassment, disinformation, and smear campaigns.

This kind of activity does not serve the Jewish community or its interests. In fact, it gives the Jewish community, as a whole, a thoroughly bad name.

Last week, American academic Norman Finkelstein and I were on the front of the Jewish Chronicle  (JC). We were presented as Public Jewish Enemies Number One. We were branded together with BNP leader and a racist Nick Griffin. This was obviously a clear outburst of Zionist hysteria.

This week, in an embarrassingly crude attempt to stop my new book The Wandering Who, the JC now appear to be launching an attack on music. Together with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other Jewish groups they attempted to pressure the British Arts Council to withdraw its funding from a music festival I am playing at.

To read the JC, click here.

What we see here is scarily similar to the experience of  Jazz musicians in Germany during the Nazi era. Astonishingly enough, it is Jewish representative bodies such as the Board of Deputies  that are actively engaging  in trying to restrict artistic expression. Apparently, some people out there, really drew the wrong lesson from that disturbing era.

Needless to say, they didn’t get far. The Arts Council, stood by its principles of freedom of expression and in a statement responding to the JC’s demands, they suggested that The Arts Council shouldn’t “restrict an artist from expressing their views.” They stated that the council believes in funding events and artists that show “a diverse view of world society”.  Once again, their campaign had backfired.

Of course, the JC wasn’t at all happy. It appears to want to transform the British music scene, cultural gatherings and festivals into Stalinist enterprises and demands the right to dictate its own political agenda to the British public. The JC even went as far as to openly call for its subservient lobby-funded politicians to impose an “immediate sanction”.  Reading the JC today, I wonder how long it will take before Hava Nagila becomes a compulsory part of our national musical curriculum.

This is the reality: The most radical exponents of the most vile form of Jewish racist and supremacist ideology are accusing me, an anti-racist campaigner, of being an anti-Semite. Considering that I lead one of the most ethnically varied musical ensembles on this planet – this accusation is absurd, amusing or sad and probably all three.  But here’s the good news. On every possible front they are failing. No matter how much these Zionist supremacists convince themselves that I am the ultimate Jew-hater, they have failed to convince anyone else.

By bullying British cultural institutions and harassing artists in the name of the Jewish community, Jewish organizations are achieving nothing but the defamation of the whole of British Jewry.

So, to the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies of British Jews: You are acting against openness, pluralism, freedom of expression and artistic freedom – probably the most precious values this country has. Perhaps it is worth bearing this in mind.

All the best

Gilad Atzmon

 

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5 responses to “United against Cultural Fascism – A Letter to Every Cultured Person in This Country

  1. redscribe

    November 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Actually, the only thing I would really demur from in this letter is the remarks about Hava Nagila.

    It actually would be an aesthetic improvement if this haunting and lovely piece of music was on the curriculum instead of the dreadful royalist dirge that currently is.

    But that is probably me being a bit frivolous.

     
  2. John Cable

    December 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    <>

    The experience of Jazz musicians in Nazi Germany was not at all similar to the experience of Gilad Atzmon. The Nazi-run state persecuted Jazz musicians; Atzmon was invited to play at a festival sponsored by a state-funded body.

    The attempt to stop Gilad Atzmon performing was unrelated to the fact that he is a Jazz musician. It was his views to which there was an objection, not the music genre in which he performs.

    Jazz musicians were persecuted by the Nazis because the Nazis objected, on racist grounds, to Jazz music. In principle, it would have possible for a Jazz musician in Germany to have sympathised with the Nazis, but the Nazis would still have objected to the music that he or she played. It was not the overt views of the Jazz musicians to which the Nazis objected; it was the music itself.

    Gilad Atzmon would have been criticised for his views if he played classical music.

    Gilad Atzmon has confused a discriminate attack with an indiscriminate attack. The attack on Jazz musicians was an indiscriminate racist attack. The criticism of Atzmon is discriminate, and even if some of those criticising Atzmon could be classed as racist with respect to Palestinian Arabs, this particular attack on Atzmon does not appear to be racist in nature.

    If a campaign is launched to ban a Jazz musician from performing on account of objections to his political views, that is not the same thing as persecuting musicians for playing Jazz.

    The statement by Atzmon quoted above is a wild exaggeration. In my opinion it is self-aggrandising and belittles the suffering of Jazz musicians in Nazi Germany.

    Critics of Zionism are often labelled anti-Jewish. If such critics are Jewish, they are labelled by some as “self-hating Jews”. It is clear from this usage that the label “self-hating Jew” refers to a Jewish person who is anti-Jewish. If a person adopts the self-description “self-hating Jew” this will be interpreted as meaning that that person is a hater of all Jews.

    Zionists are wrong to call all anti-Zionists anti-Jewish. As far as I know (and I know very little about what the man has written) Gilad Atzmon is not anti-Jewish. However, if he calls himself a “self-hating Jew” then he should expect that many people will take exception to him, as they will conclude that he hates all Jews.

    Those White British people who have campaigned against racism in Britain have been described by some racists as “self-hating Whites”. If a White British anti-racist were to adopt this label, I am sure that most anti-racists would consider that person to be furthering the cause of the racists. To oppose racism or anti-semitism or any other form of bigotry does not make one “self-hating”. The very concept of a “self-hating [insert appropriate ethnic category]” is racist.

    If it is indeed the case that Atzmon has adopted the label “self-hating Jew” then he has in practice furthered the cause of Zionism, by giving support to the idea that those who criticise Zionism are anti-Jewish.

    {NB I prefer the term “anti-Jewish” to “anti-Semitic” because I think it is clearer. Jews are not the only “Semites”}.

     
  3. redscribe

    December 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Well, as I do say in my review of his book, I do think that some of Gilad Atzmon’s views and rhetoric are an overreaction against the crimes of the Zionists. However, while John is right to say that the attack on Atzmon is not about an objection to his musical genre per se, but to his political views, that is not all there is to it. I think John is wrong about the ‘self-hating Jew’ usage, and this is connected to the motives of many of those campaigning against Atzmon. If this term were simply the preserve of an extremist minority, then obviously someone using it would be playing into the hands of that extremist minority by using it themselves. It would not be any real offence to call yourself a ‘self-hating white’, certainly for professed ‘anti-fascists’ to wage a campaign to silence such a person would be pretty mad, but the person using such a self-designation would deserve criticism and ridicule.

    The fact is that the use of ‘self-hating Jew’ as a term of abuse by Zionists, in Israel and outside, against Jews who support the Palestinian struggle, is ubiquitous and hegemonic. Including among those Zionists who claim to be ‘progressive’ and ‘anti-racist’. I have even heard representatives of one particular UK far left group – I’m sure most people can guess which one – describe Jewish members of other far left groups in the UK as ‘self-haters’. In that context, using it as a positive designation can be seen as an act of defiance. The turning around of derogatory epithets by the targets of such abuse is not unknown and is a valid tactic – look at the use of ‘queer’ by some gay activists for instance.

    There is a totalitarian element in Zionism that seeks to humiliate, crush and dehumanise those who dissent against it, including on an international scale. Particularly those who speak out against the Israel lobby in the West. The latest victim of this is the longstanding anti-war Labour MP Paul Flynn, who spoke out against the appointment of a Jewish Zionist who is complicit in the Fox-Werrity ‘shadow foreign policy’ scandal, as the UK ambassador to Israel. What this is really about is war preparations against Iran.

    This parallels the previous witchhunt of Tam Dalyell MP for speaking about against similar Zionist lobbying in favour of war against Iraq in the early 2000s. It is interesting to note that, as far as I can see, this time round the only prominent individuals speaking out against the vilification of Paul Flynn have been … Gilad Atzmon and Craig Murray. No one else on the left seems to have spoken out in his defence. Flynn has now apologised for his supposed ‘anti-semitic’ remarks about this conspiratorial warmonger, which were in fact perfectly reasonable.

    This is still quite an unusual occurrence in the UK so far. In the United States, such examples are legion of people being humiliated and having their political careers – or even non-political ones – destroyed for speaking out against the Zionist lobby. This is deeply disturbing and reminiscent of McCarthyism, though I agree, not actually Nazism itself. I do recall, however, that for those on the receiving end of such things it is not incomprehensible to draw such comparisons. James P Cannon, for instance, called McCarthyism ‘American fascism on the march’. So while its right to be critical, one also needs to understand why such positions come to be.

    Mind you some of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is reminiscent of Nazism, prior to the exterminationist final phase from 1942 onwards at least.

    Gilad Atzmon’s letter above, whatever its foibles, was a just appeal for support against this kind of attack on democratic rights, which is why I cross-posted it here.

     
  4. leo

    December 13, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I agree with redscribe and I think that John should get more information about Atzom.He is using self hater like; “Ok guys,you have already called me an antisemite 300 times,and now I am a self hater,guess what I am a proud self-hating jew! get lost”,
    And I am not sure the protesters at the concert did it because of the self hating thing.David Kovics(a northamerican songwriter of jewish descent) was attacked by the “anti germans” in germany,Those maniacs go after anybody who is pro palestinian, They do not care if you are a self hater or not.If they were involved in the atzon concert then …By the way,after writing “children of Jesusalem” David was dis-envited from an international folk singer concert in Israel.This is a case of not letting some kind of music to be played.You sort out the differences and similarities in the 2 cases.Of course the nazi may put you in jail or even kill you; in 2011 western style democracy uses different ways;Still if there is no music we have silence.
    Being part (or at least coming) from the “revolutionary left”, in my case Autonomia Operaia, I disagree with many of Atzmon’s writings. The real question is: if he is right in stating that some groups that have been created in the name of a jewish antizionist position are 1) trying to dominate the discourse of the pro palestinian organizations 2) have a form of delusion in thinking themseleves as jews(in the sense that I would be deluded if I called myself christian,while I am not one)
    I live in a muslim country in south east Asia and even here there is some debate about Atzmon. In general I believe that most people,muslim and non muslim, are considering the campaign in a very negative way,as I do.
    I rarely post on the net but I did send a comment to T greenstein where I adviced him to use a more civil tone in his attacks,Recently TG’s accusations have escalated to the top of things you should not say to anybody unless you do not mind being considered an informer.
    But I have still to make my point,sorry;
    TG,evildoer and company probably believe that they are winning the war.Post after post Atzon is called a nazi, a denier,an ignoramus who does not undestand Lacan, a racist, a zionist etc etc
    In the real world I am pretty sure things are different.It is well know that Azmon’s blog is very high in the number of visitors.He is usually posting good stuff,with the occasional over the top nonsense,
    But he is not getting much support and I think I know why. Most pro palestinian activist or comrades know very well that if you do not agree with the antizionist you are going to get involved in never ending discussions,So we usually do not post,Look at you,Rscribe,evildoer called you names,but he did also write” with your new friends”.Is is a waning for things to come? Redscribe is defending Atzon(you did not,you pointed out things),A has published his review! R is like A
    I have a request: it would be important for us who are far away to know a few things:
    how many people are involved in the jewish anti zionist groups
    is any group distancing from it
    is the recognized extreme left buying into the campaign, if so why?
    I do no want to create any trouble,do not go into this if it may isolate you,
    Personally I am open to any interpretation and it is logical that we have to get infos from people of the “ground””.
    Final point: I think that A is very isolated,I have not seen anybody in the left opening its door,He wants to promote the book but he can only get in podcasts of the extreme right and some music stations.I could not put up with listening to Rense, but I heard the podcast with M Glenn, where actually A was smart enough to cut down Glenn when he was developing a clear cut antisemitic point.I would really wish that the individuals accusing A of antisemitism should do some research of racist podcast networks.Than they would know how real antisemitic operate.
    Sorry again for my bad english; in other languages I am able to articulate myself,
    Ciao and take care
    Leo

     
  5. redscribe

    December 13, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Just on this, my position on Atzmon is that he is obviously not a socialist and therefore in that sense not on the left in the traditional meaning of the word. He is a Jewish liberal thinker who is fundamentally motivated by disgust at the crimes of his contemporaries in terms of the Israeli ruling class and its extensions/sympathising network in the West. Unfortunately, though perhaps inevitably given the subject matter, once you start dealing with the question of the Israel-Jewish lobby people on the anti-semitic right start becoming interested, and you have to be very careful in sifting out these people. Probably as a liberal GA is not as discriminating in spotting all of them as I would be, but while his stuff has been publicised by some of these people, his orientation seems to be to progressive-minded people concerned about the Palestinian issue. Indeed, his book is as he says, aimed at winning over Jews to his position just as much as non-Jews.

    Is GA isolated? Yes and no. Isolated from the far left, certainly. But then the far left is pretty socially isolated also – it really does not amount to much at the moment in the UK or anywhere as far as I can see. There is no section of the far left defending him – the SWP have capitulated to the Zionist outcry – but hardly anyone campaigning against him either. The Jewish leftists who are attacking him are pretty small groups. When they act on this they are just a sideshow to the Zionists who having much more power, inevitably will take charge of the campaign against Atzmon. But they are so arrogant that they rub people up the wrong way and inevitably generate opposition. Do people like Evildoer have a lot of power? Not really I don’t think, they do not dictate what goes on on the left – though if you are involved in specific Palestine-centred campaigns they have some influence. But there are not enough of them to carry out a witchhunt in PSC, they are relying on the bureaucratic structures and ethos of an ex-left group called Socialist Action to purge people. The problem is with this is it is not likely to drive people out of politics, but just produce a more fragmented campaign, as many of the people they are driving out have roots and could carry on campaigning in other effective ways. It is a foolish policy anyway, and since they are not Zionists, they inevitably will not like the results.

    To be honest though, the left is such an awful state that being ‘isolated’ from it is no great hardship. It may also be a benefit, as I find the company of political hacks depressing and prefer discussing with more normal people. I have many aspects to my politics, the Atzmon issue is just one of them, and indicative really of a number of unresolved political questions regarding the Middle East that need to be addressed by the left.

     

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