More Atzmon

As some will no doubt have already heard, racist fuckhead, Gilad Atzmon, is to play the Raise Your Banners festival in Bradford, Friday 25 November.

Obviously, this is unacceptable from a (militant) anti-fascist perspective.

There have been two main defences of this.  The first is from the Arts Council, who are funding the festival.  They claim that Azmon is attending the festival:

as a musician and not in his capacity as a political writer

Even if we leave aside the question of whether its acceptable to host far right racists in a purely musical capacity (the old bastards among us will recall Steps being given a ‘formal warning’ for what were actually far milder comments than Atzmon has made), the very nature of RYB means this isn’t the case.

Raise Your Banners 2011 is proud to present its festival of political song in Bradford once more. It is sixteen years since Sheffield Socialist Choir organised the first Raise Your Banners in celebration of the great Wobblie union organiser and songster Joe Hill. Raise your Banners unites political choirs with soloists and bands to celebrate committed and campaigning music that constantly renews the vision of equality for all the world’s peoples. Raise Your Banners is music to celebrate ordinary people joining together to struggle for something they want, whether it is local childcare or opposition to the ravages of global capitalism. We seek the best artists who will celebrate popular struggles in their music and song, and aim for all to have a rollicking good time.

As is clear from their own description, RYB does not separate music and politics in the way the Arts Council suggests.  Atzmon is there as a political figure- the remit of the festival means he couldn’t be anything else.

The other attempted defence is from RYB secretary, Sam Jackson, in response to complaints from the Jewish Socialist Group & festival supporters:

we have discussed the matter with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are satisfied that PSC have no boycott of Gilad Atzmon or events that he is involved in

That’s a bizarre statement by any stretch of the imagination.  Firstly, surely the fact the JSG have raised concerns about Atzmon’s antisemitism is, by itself, a major issue.  Regardless of the stance of the PSC.  Apart from anything else, this isn’t actually within the PSC’s remit, so of course they don’t have a strong position on Atzmon specifically.  This isn’t about Palestine/Israel at all.  It’s an anti-fascist issue first and foremost.

So, what do we do about this?

The obvious point is that no genuine anti-fascist should be attending the festival this year, whether as a member of the audience or a musician.  If anybody has contact with anyone planning to do so, it’s certainly worth discussing the problem with doing so with them.

Do any of my readers have contacts at the 1 in 12 Centre? They’re currently listed as participants in the festival.  And they really should be withdrawing, as a centre that has a history of supporting anti fascist activity.

Apart from that, there’s the gig itself.

Is anyone either planning to demonstrate or interested in doing so?  I’m up for it on the date, but there’s obviously no point in me trying to do so if we can’t get a vaguely decent turnout.

Disruption is probably out, although I’m open to persuasion on that point.  I am fucking bored of the idea that it’s somehow more acceptable to host Atzmon gigs simply because jazz appeals to a more genteel well-heeled audience than the likes of Skrewdriver.  But I doubt we’ll have the logistical ability to do so at this short notice.

If a demo isn’t possible at this time, this really does illustrate why we need to kick up anti-fascist networking.  With both this issue and the EDL, the need for a militant voice is stronger than ever.  And we’re currently lacking badly in that area.

If anyone wants to contact me privately to discuss possible activity you can catch me on

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