Brockley goings on - what to think?

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing out that Gilad Atzmon is playing in my manor, as noted at the excellent local blog, Brockley Central: Brockley's latest music venue aims for sell-out opening night.

The singer Jane Siberry is doing something lovely: a "salon tour", playing in people's sitting rooms across the world. (She also operates a "self-pricing" policy at her music downloads store.) She is performing a forthcoming gig in the front room of local singer-songwriter Sarah Gillespie.

Gilliespie has a great voice, and her songs are good. Sarah will support Siberry at the Brockley salon, along with our old friend Gilad Atzmon. Now, Atzmon is a very talented musician. Having seen him perform a fair few times some years back, I can tell you is a dynamic live presence.

But... Atzmon has truly horrible views. If you don't believe me, ask jazz critic David Adler, or Greens Engage, an anti-racist campaign within the Green Party, or veteran hardcore anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein, or leftie poet Michael Rosen. Here's Greens Engage summing him up:
Gilad Atzmon is a jazz saxophonist and racist campaigner who has repeated ( the old libel that “the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus”. He talks about a “Jewish lobby” and calls for Britain to “de-Zionise” itself. He calls for “de-judaisation”. He is frankly and comfortably antisemitic, and fights for anti-Jewish politics in the Palestine solidarity movement.
He is critical of those who compare the current Israel with Nazi Germany because he says Israel is a more radical evil: “Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison.”
Gilad Atzmon pushes classic anti-semitic Jewish conspiracy libel (
“American Jewry makes any debate on whether the “Protocols of the elder of Zion” are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.”
I wonder if Jane Siberry knows?

I notice that Sarah Gillespie is at least tangentially part of this slimy milieu. She has written a piece for Palestine Thinktank blog, a site which among other things promotes Holocaust denial. The peice is about the BBC's supposed pro-Israel partiality. She writes:
Perhaps the most menacing aspect of this tragic debacle is Mark Thomson himself. A quick bit of research online ploughs up a surfeit of information proving the man is far from 'impartial'. His Jewish wife, the scholar Jane Blumfeild, hails from an American family that attends Yeshivas. Evidence suggests that she recently signed a petition campaigning against the anti-Israeli content of the Washington Post. In 2005 she traveled together with her husband to Jerusalem to engage in talks with Ariel Sharon in an attempt to build bridges between the BBC and Israel.
This is awful. Thomson's wife is actually called Jane Blumberg. The fact she comes from a family that "attends Yeshivas" (she went to a Jewish school) means nothing other than that she comes from a Jewish family; to say this in itself means she has some dual loyalty to Israel is an old antisemitic trope, akin to saying if your dad is Irish you must support the IRA. The "evidence suggests" is someone sharing her name, and hailing from somewhere entirely different, as far as I can make out, signing a petition. And I have googled in vain for a credible report that Blumburg accompanied Thompson on his trip to Israel - a trip, incidentally, where he met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas too.

Another piece at Palestine Thinktank concludes thus:
On 9th April 2007 Blair, a man who, among his many sins, incarcerates Muslims for months on end without charge, dubbed Iran a ‘cruel and callous’ nation. So complicit are we in the demonisation of an entire civilization, we knowingly consume this fantasy of cruelty rather than consider the real possibility of humanity.
I would like her to read that out to, for example, the family of Mohammad-Amin Valian, the twenty-year-old (Muslim) Iranian facing execution for throwing rocks.

By the way, minor point. The Brockley Central comment thread mentions he was once a Blockhead. Indeed, he still is, but he only joined in 1998, at the very end of Ian Dury's life.

Previous: all posts mainly about Atzmon; all posts mentioning Atzmon.


Crofton Parkster (anon from before, meant to give a name!) said…
Thanks for this Bob.
Jim Jepps said…
When I first heard the fuss about Atzmon (a few years ago now) I thought this might be a fuss about nothing but went a read what he had to say for himself, I have to say I was very shocked.

He's not just obsessed about Jews, he used to take very little effort to hide his anti-seitism. He started being a bit more circumspect but even his most recent writings are still extremely disturbing, Jew obsessed ramblings.

I've never listened to his jazz though. Not in much of a rush to either.
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Anonymous said…
Dear Bob, Is it not relevant, at least in passing, to mention that Atzmon is himself Jewish? Perhaps you thought it too obvious to mention, or perhaps your omission is deliberate. In any case, he is, and it is relevant to any discussion of his character.

He is not, therefore, against Jews or Jewishness. He is against Judaism and Zionism. Perhaps, in order to understand these differences, you should try serving in the Israeli army for a few years. It will all suddenly become very, very clear.

All the best to you,
Sam Wynn Geldfarbb
Anonymous said…
Atzmon is Jewish and so is his band as far as Im aware. A friend of mine who knows him said Atzmon left Israel where, he was born, because he didn't want to kill Arabs in the name of a Jewish-only State. Sounds fair enough to me! More importantly he is a phenomenal composer and musician. I heard also that he has just produced Robert Wyatt's latest album.

Saw him with Gillespie at the 606 Jazz Club last year. Amazing. Haven't stopped listening to her album since. Wish I was home to catch the gig. Have fun if you manage to get tickets.

Jim Boy
Brockley Nick said…
Bob, thanks for bringing this to my attention - I was not aware of these articles at the time I ran the feature. Let's hope the gig is all about the music...
bob said…
Atzmon does not in fact consider himself Jewish. He calls himself an "ex-Jew".

He is not "just" against Judaism and Israel; he is against Jews and Jewishness. For example, he has said (in 2009) "Without justifying any violent act whatsoever, the reasoning behind resentment towards Israel and Jews is rational." Not Israel and Judaism, Israel and Jews.

He has said "We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously." Not Israel, but the Jewish people.

He has said "Jewish ideology is driving our planet into a catastrophe." Not Zionism in particular, but Jewish ideology in general.

To me, it doesn't matter what his ethnicity he is. It's the content of what he says, and the way that his Israeli origins give some twisted legitimacy to a very dangerous worldview, that matters.
ModernityBlog said…

You know that anytime you post on that racist Atzmon you'll normally find your blog inundated by his sock puppets.

And you get to hear the same excuses.

Atzmon is so open about his racism I can only conclude that those who still support him share his racist views?

Thanks for the inspiration!
Flesh said…
Atzmon's music is said to be lovely. Art and artistic sensibilities are entirely compatible with hateful motivations. Antisemitism is unproblematically compatible with Jewishness.
bob said…
My favourite comment from the Brockley Central comment thread:

Does Bob ever post anything on the Internet that isn't either about Jews for anti-Semites?

Agnosticism, people.

Jim Denham said…
Atzmon is a good sax player. Not a *great* sax player, but good. He's got horrible politics. Not that he's pro-Palestinian: that's fine and dandy. Not that he rejects his Jewish origins: that's his right.

But he's a holocaust deniaer. He's a conspiracy-theorist. He thinks the Protocols of mthe Elders of Zion might not be a forgery. he's a racist, anti-semitic nut-case.

Being a good-ish sax player from a Jewish background doesn't stop him beingn a racist. Even his long-time supporters the SWP now (I'm told)accept that he's gone over to the other side.

Sadly, Chris Searle, the 'Morning Star''s generally excellent jazz reviewer, continues to defend Atzmon.

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