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Music for Antisemites


This is a guest post by David Adler, and was first posted on Z-Word. A leading writer on jazz, you can visit David’s other site here for essays, reviews and criticism.

Can you imagine a journalist for a liberal newspaper referring in neutral, even vaguely congratulatory terms to an artist’s “provocatively anti-gay rhetoric,” or “provocatively anti-black rhetoric,” or “provocatively anti-Arab rhetoric”?

Well, have a look at John Lewis’s profile of Gilad Atzmon for the Guardian, in which we read about the saxophonist’s “provocatively anti-Jewish rhetoric,” his “firebrand political outbursts,” his “furious attacks on Israel,” his “blunt anti-Zionism.” Sounds like laudable stuff, a challenge to the status quo, hooray!

Lewis, to be fair, does mention the fact that some Palestinian activists want nothing to do with Atzmon. But he refuses to see Atzmon’s message for what it is: hatemongering. And Lewis is hardly the only one.

To remind readers: Atzmon is an apologist for the Third Reich; he’s endorsedthe antisemitic writings of Wagner. In this viciously racist screed, published just this day, Atzmon’s line of attack against Nick Cohen is to call him a Jew (Cohen is not Jewish). He also declares: “Without justifying any violent act whatsoever, the reasoning behind resentment towards Israel and Jews is rational.”

It’s become a truism on much of the left that Jews who make charges of antisemitism are simply blowing smoke on behalf of Israel.

I think the opposite dynamic is evident. On much of the left, you can’t call an antisemite an antisemite. That would make you an evil Zionist.