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Don’t Let Atzmon Hoodwink America’s Jazz Scene

This is a guest post by David Adler, jazz critic and political commentator, crossposted from Z Word.

The bloggers of Mondoweiss have worked very hard to convince the public that antisemitism does not exist among the Palestine solidarity movement – indeed, that all such charges of antisemitism are mere subterfuge concocted by “Zionists” to tar critics of Israel, who are by definition pure of heart.

So it’s important to note that Mondoweiss is now voicing support for the Israeli-born, UK-based jazz musician and virulent antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Atzmon, who has declared, “One of the things that happened to us was that stupidly we interpreted the Nazi defeat as a vindication of the Jewish ideology and the Jewish people,” is scheduled to play two concerts in upstate New York with Rich Siegel, a pianist, vocalist and bandleader from New Jersey. Siegel is author of the Mondoweiss posts, here and here, alleging that the Rochester concert was nearly canceled thanks to what he calls “Zio-pressure.”

The Mondoweiss posts paint Atzmon in benign colors as an “anti-Zionist.” They cite Atzmon’s defense that he is “often quoted with ‘cherry-picked’ quotes taken out of context,” which is amusing, since the entire context of Atzmon’s political writing is coterminous with Israel and the Jews – and in any case, I’m not sure what “context” would render the above-mentioned verbatim quote morally acceptable. Or for that matter, this quote:

American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ [sic] are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy.

A nearly identical argument about the Protocols appears in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Or this quote from Atzmon, also verbatim:

Carpet bombing and total erasure of populated areas that is so trendy amongst Israeli military and politicians (as well as Anglo-Americans) has never been a Nazi tactic or strategy.

It’s ironic that Rich Siegel, speaking about the Rochester venue’s decision to ignore complaints from a local rabbi, writes: “It seems that they came to a realization … that the rabbi was part of an agenda that they don’t want to support.” But apparently Siegel is comfortable supporting Atzmon’s agenda.

I am not familiar with Siegel’s work, but his website lists appearances with highly respected and important jazz musicians such as Art Baron, Cameron Brown, Eliot Zigmund and Bob Kindred. I’d like to believe that Siegel’s been taken in by Atzmon’s self-whitewash on the matter of antisemitism. Or it could be that Siegel has read Atzmon’s racist, lunatic writings and is in full agreement with them. I’ve emailed Siegel to get some clarity on that question. Meanwhile, we cannot sit by and allow Atzmon to hoodwink others in the American jazz community.

See Alan A’s earlier post about Gilad Atzmon’s Nazi flirtation.