Anti Fascism,  antisemitism

The Dean of Bradford should apologise to Hope Not Hate

On Saturday 19th November, the Dean of Bradford the Very Reverend David Ison left a comment on the Hope Not Hate blog, stating:

We do not countenance or give permission for any form of racism or fascism, including anti-Semitism, to be given hospitality at Bradford Cathedral. Having asked for more information about Gilad Atzmon, it has only been in the last few days that we have received clear evidence of the nature of his public statements.”

Hope Not Hate copied and pasted this comment, and turned it into a full blog entry entitled “Dean of Bradford calls for Atzmon’s invite to be withdrawn“, which they then published on Tuesday 22nd November.

Then a churchgoing, Bradford-based Atzmon supporter, Raise Your Banner performer and PSC organiser Karl Dallas tweeted on Wednesday 23rd November:

Statements that Dean of Bradford Cathedral has called for Gilad Atzmon concert to be cancelled are UNTRUE.

Two hours later, Gilad Atzmon published a blog entry, clearly arguing that Hope Not Hate had deliberately misrepresented the Dean’s words. Atzmon’s post carried a statement by the Dean of Bradford, and it was entitled “HOPE NOT HATE CAUGHT FALSIFYING DOCUMENTS AGAIN“:

“I have become aware of the controversial nature of Gilad Atzmon and the statements made about him, since being contacted by the Council for Christians and Jews a few weeks ago. The concert was recently withdrawn from the Cathedral owing to slow ticket sales, but had the venue not changed I would have considered not allowing it to take place as,although I have had no clear evidence of anti-semitism or racism, the perception of this around Gilad Atzmon would have made it an inappropriate concert to hold in a religious building.”

Compare these two statements:

  1. “We do not countenance or give permission for any form of racism or fascism, including anti-Semitism […] Having asked for more information about Gilad Atzmon, it has only been in the last few days that we have received clear evidence of the nature of his public statements”
  2. “although I have had no clear evidence of anti-semitism or racism, the perception of this around Gilad Atzmon would have made it an inappropriate concert to hold in a religious building”

They cannot both be true.

Within the space of four days, the Dean has switched from having “clear evidence” and “information about” of Atzmon’s racism, to having “no clear evidence” and simply “the perception of” Atzmon’s racism.

The Dean does not acknowledge his change of heart. Instead, the Dean of Bradford chose to focus on Hope Not Hate’s reporting of his words. He argued:

The headline on the Hope not Hate blog of 22 November, which says that I have called for the concert to be cancelled does not relate my words to their context.

Really?

Surely – the Dean was originally arguing that:

  1. To “give hospitality to” racism is wrong.
  2. Hosting Gilad Atzmon would “give hospitality to” racism.
  3. Thus, “the authorities at Kala Sangam” will be made aware of this in writing, by the Dean himself.

In this context, the blog headline “Dean of Bradford calls for Atzmon’s invite to be withdrawn” used by Hope Not Hate was perfectly proper.

So the Dean’s comments here are problematic, unhelpful and untrue. Were the Dean of Bradford to have published his reversal on Atzmon in a newspaper, or as a comment on the Hope Not Hate blog, or on the website of the Bradford Diocese, that would be bad enough.

However, the Dean chose to publish his retraction of his “clear evidence” of Atzmon’s racism, exclusively, on the blog of Gilad Atzmon himself.

Bear in mind, that Gilad Atzmon wrote a piece on Sunday 20th November against Hope Not Hate’s expose of his racism. Atzmon’s piece was entitled “Hope Not Hate? Truth Not Lies More Likely!

Atzmon had adorned his blog entry with this image:

The Dean knows that Atzmon thinks Hope Not Hate are liars. Atzmon publicly accuses Hope Not Hate of acting in bad faith.

To prove this, Atzmon turned to the website of the BNP-front group Civil Liberty for information. Lancaster Unity noted this fact. Atzmon also wrote of Hope Not Hate’s Nick Lowles:

In case anyone has failed to grasp it, Nick Lowles has every reason to oppose me. My latest book, ‘The Wandering Who’ is there to expose the high and sophisticated level of duplicity of Sayanim, AZZ, Shabbos Goyim and other forms of infiltrators in our midst.

Gilad Atzmon then wrote:

Lowles was lying. He made it up. When I read the Dean’s words, it was immediately clear that his ‘statement’ was, like other Nick Lowles’ productions – just a stitching together of carefully selected sentences.”

“[T]oday, the Dean was in touch with both a member of his congregation and myself and confirmed that he has become “aware of the controversial nature, not only of Gilad Atzmon”, but also of the statements made about Atzmon. The Dean also confirmed that he had asked those who had contacted him to provide proper evidence of anti-Semitism on the part of Mr. Atzmon, but, as he says, he received very little, some of which I could identify as being mis-reporting out of context of the kind to which you and Mr Atzmon have drawn attention.”

The Dean also stated that the statement which he did make had been ‘removed from its context’.

The Dean of Bradford is now accusing Hope Not Hate twice over.

Firstly, the Dean accuses Hope Not Hate of misreporting Atzmon’s racism. Secondly, the Dean accuses Hope Not Hate of distorting his comment about Atzmon’s racism.

The Dean was made aware of claims surrounding Atzmon’s racism, and the Hope Not Hate campaign against Gilad Atzmon. Surely the Dean could have read about Atzmon citing a racist BNP website, in order to attack and smear Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate.

Yet the Dean chose to publish comments accusing Lowles of misreporting this situation twice over, on the blog of a widely-known racist who uses the racist smears of BNP front groups, to attack Lowles.

Since the Dean’s statement on Atzmon’s blog, Atzmon has published these images:

So we have a churchman (the Dean of Bradford), aware of a racist’s racism (Atzmon), endorsing an anti-racist campaign on 19th November (Hope Not Hate). Then, he changes his mind. Rather than admit he changed his mind, the Dean accuses Hope Not Hate of misrepresenting what he wrote.

Bear in mind the recent history between Anglican clergy in the North, and Hope Not Hate.

Two years ago, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu backed Hope Not Hate’s anti-racist campaigns against the BNP:

Anglican Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has thrown his weight behind the Hope Not Hate campaign against racism, following the example of many other civil and faith groups.

Hope Not Hope was established by the anti-racist campaigning magazine Searchlight, which has a long history of exposing groups like the British National Party – and predecessors in the neo-fascist movement like the National Front.

Dr John Sentamu has spoken out strongly against racism, but around the time of the European elections he expressed concern about giving too much coverage to the BNP before denouncing them after encouragement from others in the churches.

The archbishop stressed that all people are “made in the image of God”, irrespective of their ethnicity, and said he hoped Christians and others would get behind Hope Not Hate.

“It is an important campaign […] What matters in this life is turning enemies into friends – not friends into enemies,” the prominent black Anglican leader added.

Hope Not Hate remains an important anti-racist campaign, for which the Church should be grateful.

Hope Not Hate stood solidly with the Archbishop of York, when various BNP spokespersons accused him of being an “ambitious African” from “a nation of spear-throwers“.

Now Hope Not Hate is taking a similarly principled stance, against the Mein Kampf-enthusiastHitler-admiring, the-sea-is-too-good-for-the-Jews and Belsen-was-a-gas, anti-Jewish conspiracist Gilad Atzmon.

For doing so, the Dean of Bradford is now attacking Hope Not Hate.

If the Dean of Bradford wishes to support Gilad Atzmon, and withdraw his previous comment to Hope Not Hate, he should at least do so honestly. He should acknowledge why and how, he has changed his mind from having “clear evidence” of Atzmon’s racism, to having “no clear evidence” of this.

He should not accuse Hope Not Hate of misrepresenting his words, and he should apologise for assisting Gilad Atzmon’s racist campaign against Hope Not Hate.

If the Dean of Bradford makes no further comment on this matter, then the Bishop of Bradford should definitely make a statement, acknowledging the vital anti-racist work of Hope Not Hate, the continuing dangers of racism and fascism – including antisemitism, and the unsatisfactory way in which the Dean of Bradford has spoken of Hope Not Hate in recent days.

Gilad Atzmon is now reporting:

Acording to Bradford activists, the following wil be distributed ahead of my Bradford concert

http://friendsofgilad.wordpress.com

Once again, the unholy alliance of Zionists and Islamophobes which has been trying to stop Gilad Atzmon playing his saxophone in Bradfordhas shot itself in the foot. Not content with misquoting and misrepresenting Atzmon’s analysis of his own Jewish identity, it has now stooped to similar tactics, aimed at a senior Anglican clergyman at the city’s Cathedral.

On November 22, Nick Lowles’ misnamed “Hope Not Hate” website – which would better be called Lies Not Truth – proclaimed: “Dean of Bradford calls for Atzmon’s invite to be withdrawn.” This was a lie.

Immediately Lowles’ claim was drawn to the Dean’s attention, he denied it. He said that he had become aware of the controversial nature, not only of Gilad Atzmon, but also “of the statements made about him”. The Dean has confirmed that he had asked those who had contacted him to provide proper evidence of anti-Semitism by Mr Atzmon, but he says: “I received very little, some of which I could identify as being mis-reporting out of context of the kind to which Mr Atzmon [has] drawn attention.”

And a malpractice to which David Ison has now been subjected.

This is quite remarkable.

Given the way the Dean of Bradford’s name is being used in the racist Friends of Gilad campaign, the Church of England must not sit on the fence, regarding this issue.

Furthermore, given the Dean of Bradford’s public show of bad faith in Nick Lowles, it would be appropriate too, for the Bradford Diocese to offer an apology to Hope Not Hate. They should apologise swiftly, clearly, and unambiguously. One must also wonder, whether the Archbishop of York will choose to comment on this matter.

If you agree, then please share this post with others, and do contact clergy and officials within the Bradford Diocese, urging them to take appropriate action.

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