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In defence of Gilad Atzmon in Sweden

Picture: Anders Lindberg

Why did Aftonbladet’s (1) Editorial Blog take part in the Witch Hunt against Gilad Atzmon, trying to stop him participating in a Jazz Festival in Sweden in October 2011? (Published in Swedish in November 2011)

By Lasse Wilhelmson

The world-famous jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, born in Israel, was invited, with his band, to the Umeå Jazz Festival and played there on October 9th, 2011. Atzmon has also attracted much attention as a successful critic of Jewish mentality/ideology, Zionism and the Jewish lobby. He has a Jewish wife and Jewish children, and some of his band are Jewish. Atzmon has lived in exile in London with his family for more than ten years, something he chose himself because he does not wish to live, in his own words, in a ” stolen country”, proclaimed in his name and the name of all Jews.

Along with a few other Jewish dissidents, Atzmon has chosen to turn his back on, and free himself from, his Jewish identity in favour of the independent and humanistic approach of an intellectual artist and writer. He has just published his latest book ”The Wandering Who?” that, even before publication, had attracted much attention and seems all set to becoming a bestseller.

As a result of his appearance at the Umeå Jazz Festival, the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, SKMA (Swedish ADL) through its chairman Willy Silberstein and Mathan Rawid, has started a smear campaign against Atzmon and attacked the festival organisers, duly followed by Expo (Swedish Searchlight). Västerbotten Kuriren (2) latched on to the Witch Hunt, publishing on its website an interview with the festival’s head organiser, entitled ”Anti-Semite to the Jazz Festival in Umeå”. Atzmon contacted the editors, the article was removed from the digital edition and he was interviewed in the newspaper. The publisher, Ingvar Näslund, probably lost his nerve. Atzmon has legal expertise at his disposal. The procedure is familiar. SKMA initiates the process, Expo sends it on to the entire Swedish massmedia, some of which later refer back to them.

However, one would hardly have expected Aftonbladet’s editorial blog writer, Anders Lindberg, to act as a megaphone in this media hunt. The message is repeated without any reference to facts or questioning of sources, but always boils down to individual interpretation of random quotes and general mudslinging. Gilad Atzmon is portrayed in a manner that fits the desired agenda.

I sent the following comment to Aftonbladet’s editorial blog:

“You do not seem to have done your homework, Anders Lindberg. SKMA and Expo are engaged in a systematic Witch Hunt against all who criticise the Jewish state or the Jewish lobby (AIPAC in the US) or those who support them and wish to discuss World War II as a historic event and more. SKMA’s and Expo’s ”anti-racism” means that they never criticise Israel’s apartheid system, or Jewish racism in Sweden. They are, in fact, Zionists and Zionism is Nazism in our times.

SKMA and Expo indulge in vilifying those who criticise Israel thus ruining their lives. Imagine they were organisations doing the same when humanists were criticising the racist apartheid system in South Africa. And Israel is worse because they have stolen Palestine from the Palestinians and, furthermore, driven most of them away. SKMA and Expo are like thieves that cry ”Stop thief!” and support all racism that has anything to do with Israel and Jews. Thus, they are racists themselves.”

Anders Lindberg replied:

”In the statements Atzmon has made, see the links above, he does not criticise Israel’s policies, the illegal settlements and crimes against human rights in Palestine. Listen to the interview yourself, among other things about Mein Kampf, or read his article on the Holocaust as a religion. It is way, way over the limit of pure Jew-hatred of a kind we have seen in Europe, and the world, all too often.”

To which I rejoined:

“You, Anders, call Expo anti-racist in order to give credibility to your blogging which is a mere copy of the campaign against Atzmon, initiated by SKMA, hence my criticism of these organisations and their witch hunt. Mein Kampf is an interesting historic document, well worth reading in order to understand what happened in World WarII. What has this got to do with Jew-hatred? Have you yourself read Mein Kampf, or are you frightened of catching something? However, I can assure you that The Old Testament is much worse (I don’t suppose you have read that either), but an interesting historic document nonetheless.

The opinion that the ”Holocaust” has become a religion, is based on the fact that all who discuss WWII as a historic event, and the crimes committed against various groups of people, including the Jews (by the allies too), are considered by the Zionists to be ”Holocaust deniers” if the official picture of what is usually called the holocaust is not treated as an axiom. This anti-intellectual approach is similar to the one previously reserved for ”God deniers”. I imagine you are familiar with the fact that the ”Holocaust” is included in the rhetoric motivating the politics of the Jewish state and the neocolonial wars. What has this got to do with Jew-hatred?

Yes, I have listened to the whole of the interview with Gilad Atzmon you refer to, and I hope those reading your blog will listen too (have you really done so yourself?). Indeed, Gilad Atzmon is not interested in Jews as a group, he discusses Jewish religion (very little), but is mainly concerned with Jewish mentality (Jewishness), Jewish ideology, Zionism and Jewish power. What has this got to do with Jew-hatred? Surely you would not be against discussions about the need to empower the Romani people, or the mentality behind what is usually known as honour killing among Muslims?”

However, this all seems to have been too much for Anders Lindberg; as he did not publish my reply.

The fact remains that Aftonbladet’s editorial blog took part in the Witch Hunt, but is not prepared to discuss it. Is Anders Lindberg just ignorant or is he simply doing his job for the boss and looking out for himself? Along with most of the other journalists in the world of mass media in Sweden?

Note. The following complaint has been made against Anders Lindberg’s blogging and was sent to me:

I filed a complaint against his article and comments, ticked the box for ”Lack of respect for human specificity, private life, cultural affiliation and nationality” and wrote:

Anders Lindberg claims that Atzmon is ”Way, way over the limit of pure Jew-hatred of a kind we have seen in Europe, and the world, all too often.” In his article Lindberg calls Gilad Atzmon a Jew-hater. Gilad discusses Jewish ideology and Zionism. Articles such as the one written by Anders Lindberg, and referred to in this complaint, can be examples of Zionism – in the sense of claiming, with no provocation, that a person is an anti-Semite and Jew-hater, with intent to discredit anyone who critically scrutinises undemocratic and racist ideologies. Gilad Atzmon should be given the chance to comment on the article, given that it is a good example of how to violate an individual, and adversely affect that person’s career opportunities. If the article does not reflect Aftonbladet’s values and views on the Human Rights Convention, Anders Lindberg should make an added statement that the ideas he expresses are entirely his own.”

1) Aftonbladet: owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) and Norwegian media group Schibsted, and its editorial page describes it as an ”independent social-democratic newspaper”.

2) Västerbotten Kuriren: liberal daily newspaper, one of the biggest in northern Sweden.

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