Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gilad Atzmon in Geneva, New York

BobFromBrockley reminded me that Gilad Atzmon is now on a tour of the United States, and one of the places he visited was Geneva, New York, not too far from Ithaca, where I usually live. I found an article about his visit on the Finger Lakes Times website. He was, as usual, sponsored by Daniel McGowan's outfit, Deir Yassin Remembered. He was accompanied by his regular sidekick and fellow antisemite, Rich Siegel, playing at the Cracker Factory (no, I did not make up this name!).

At the same time, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) sponsored a showing of a documentary entitled "The Anatomy of Hate," by Mike Ramsdell, who also led a discussion about the film. The Geneva Human Rights Commission attended the film screening instead of going to hear Atzmon, something that McGowan complained about The Commission also placed an ad in the Finger Lakes Times called “10 Ways to Fight Hate.” About 110 people attended the film screening, while only about 30 went to hear Atzmon.

I don't know if the movie was scheduled purposely to counter Atzmon's visit. McGowan is a former professor of economics at HWS and has gotten into hot water in the past with the administration for his open advocacy of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

The March 14, 2012 issue of the Finger Lakes Times reported on Atzmon's visit: "Controversial Israeli-born musician draws sparse crowd; more attend film on hate."
Mellow jazz mixed with controversial politics Tuesday night at The Cracker Factory, where about 30 people gathered to hear Gilad Atzmon play the saxophone and denounce his native Israel as a state “dominated by Jewish racist expansionist ideology.”

Across town, another group gathered for what the Geneva Human Rights Commission promoted as a positive alternative to Atzmon’s performance: A showing of the award-winning documentary “The Anatomy of Hate” at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

... Atzmon denounces Zionism, the movement that founded Israel as a Jewish state and defends it as such. He also believes Israel and Jewish Americans influence U.S. policy and use it to defend a system that discriminates against Palestinians.

Critics say Atzmon, at best, creates an atmosphere that fosters anti-Semitism and, at worst, makes anti-Semitic statements himself.

He lived up to his controversial reputation Tuesday, describing himself as a “self-hating Israeli Jew” and comparing Israeli policy to Nazism.

Siegel, who once led a Zionist youth group, likened Judaism to a “cult” and himself to a “cult survivor.” Atzmon, however, drew a distinction between people who follow the Jewish faith and people who consider themselves Zionists or adhere to what he described as Jewish ideology.
Karen Baer, the director of the Human Rights Commission said, as reported in in the same article, “The timeliness of ‘The Anatomy of Hate’ screening is perfect and significant in that it can serve as a positive alternative to the Gilad Atzmon concert taking place at the same day and time at The Cracker Factory. The concert is an event, we believe, that is intended to target, demonize and stereotype valued members of our diverse community.”

The article also reports more complaining by Daniel McGowan.
In a written statement, he said she was trying to smear two Jewish performers and the Deir Yassin Scholarship Fund he leads.

“Is our director an anti-Semite?” he wrote. “Or is she so philo-Semitic [biased toward Semitic people] that she cannot accept the charge of apartheid levied against Israel by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and even President Jimmy Carter. ... ‘The Anatomy of Hate’ is an excellent film that promotes dialogue and understanding. But for the Geneva Human Rights Director to promote that film simply as a tool to bludgeon two Jewish performers whose work she has not read and for whom she has no time for dialogue is manipulative and shameful.”
The author of the article should have known better - "philosemitism" means that one is pro-Jewish. The word should be read as the opposite of antisemitism - hatred of the imagined quality of semitism that is characteristic of Jews, not of all "Semites" (an imaginary racial category).

So, another victory for sanity - 110 people decide to attend a film combating racism and antisemitism, while 30 decide to attend Atzmon's failed tour of the US.

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