Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gilad Atzmon, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, and Hate Speech

In our previous post, we noted that the anti-Israel Bay Area Women in Black are co-sponsoring a fundraising concert by the openly anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon. Now we knew that there was no chance that BAWIB, or their partners in this event, the International Solidarity Movement, didn't know about Atzmon's record. But perhaps the church that is co-sponsoring the event, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, would respond to being informed about Atzmon's record and do the right thing by cancelling the concert. After all, churches of the liberal Protestant variety are not going to want someone whose vicious trail of anti-Semitic slime is easily visible to even a casual Internet search, right? Wrong.

The BFUU may not have been aware of Atzmon's own statements, or his support of the fascist Israel Shamir or the Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, when they agreed to host and co-sponsor this event. (The church will claim that because it was just their Social Justice Committee that this doesn't imply sponsorship by the church itself. That's a difference without a distinction.) But as of last week, they were made aware of it. But somehow, the straightforward statements by Atzmon still leaves at least one prominent member of the church "unconvinced by this evidence".

I'm not sure what is unconvincing about the following statements that iterate classic anti-Semitic tropes:

"Throughout the centuries, Jewish bankers bought for themselves some real reputations of backers and financers of wars [2] and even one communist revolution [3]. Though rich Jews had been happily financing wars using their assets, Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, found a far more sophisticated way to finance the wars perpetrated by his ideological brothers Libby and Wolfowitz."

Source: http://palestinethinktank dot com/2008/09/30/gilad-atzmon-credit-crunch-or-rather-zio-punch/ (note: to avoid linking to some of these sites, I have replaced "."with "dot")

Another Jews-run-the-government line, this one from his own website www dot gilad.co.uk/html%20files/onanti.html :

" The 'Elders of Zion' syndrome: Zionists complain that Jews continue to be associated with a conspiracy to rule the world via political lobbies, media and money. Is the suggestion of conspiracy really an empty accusation?
The following list is presented with pride in several Jewish American websites.
Jews in Bush's Administration (a list of some 30 names follows…)
Let me assure you, in Clinton's administration the situation was even worse. Even though the Jews only make up 1.9 per cent of the country's population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so."

The same article trots out the old "Christ-killer" charge:

"I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus who, by the way, was himself a Palestinian Jew. …..Why is it that the Jews who repeatedly demand that the Christian world should apologise for its involvement in previous persecutions, have never thought that it is about time that they apologised for killing Jesus?"

The careful reader will note that the words "Israel" or "Zionism" do not appear in the above quotes. Yes, they appear elsewhere in those screeds. But the record is clear. He is spreading anti-Semitic hate.

There's so much more. There's a treasure trove of Atzmonia collected over at Harry's Place --just type in "Atzmon" in the search box

In 2005, the Guardian reported one of his statements that is clearly incitement.

"Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestine advocate, gave a talk to students this month, arguing: 'I'm not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.'"

There's nothing ambiguous, nothing that can be misinterpreted about THAT.

Concerned readers can contact the BFUU. However, calls or contacts should be constructed politely; after all, the people in the office who answer calls may have had nothing to do with this! And e-mails shouldn't resort to calling BFUU members anti-Semites, or use hate speech similar to that which Atzmon uses. Your goal is to help them realize how far off the mark they are in this matter. Just ask them what they would do if someone was using similar hate speech against African-Americans, or LGBT individuals, or Moslems-- would they permit such an event to go ahead? Then why is it OK if it's just against Jews?

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Unversalists
1606 Bonita Avenue
Berkeley CA 94709


  1. It's a shame that this UU church can't tell the difference between reasoned opinion and hate speech. If I had more of a stomach, I'd go inside and listen to this creep spew his mediocre music and then blast him for his racism in front of his clueless UU fans. Instead, I'll stand outside with the loyal opposition. Much better for my digestion too.

  2. In response to the negative publicity the Fellowship is receiving regarding this event, they have decided to tell people they are only renting space for the "performance"- of course, the promotional literature sent out for this event, via Craigs list, yahoo events, email , etc, proves that to be a lie. BFUU's social justice committtee is listed as a sponsor much of what has been sent out.

  3. So what is the latest news regarding this U*U shituation?

  4. Gilad Atzons own commentary on the Berkeley event: Sit down for this one, folks:

    http://palestinethinktank dot com/2009/06/16/gilad-atzmon-yearning-for-a-minyan/

    " They are pointing their finger at themselves saying, “we are Zionists, we are a racist rightwingers, we are loud, proud and as you can see we are openly promoting our tribal interests.”

    (Well, actually the people protesting were progressive activists in the peace and justice movement embarrassed by the presence of hate speech in our community.)

    "I told my audience in Berkeley that the bunch of noisy people"

    (it was a silent protest)

    "whom they met in the entrance were crucial for the understanding of Zionism and its violence. The people out there were exactly the same people as the Israelis, they were motivated by the same supremacist ideas. They were using exactly the same intimidating tactics."

    (A silent protest is an intimidation technique? Quick, someone tell Dr. King! )

    "They just lacked the means to put us all behind barbed wire, to starve us or to spread white phosphorus over our heads. The picketers in Berkeley were waving the Israeli flag and carried placards, they were foreign to the calm evening scene as much as their settler brothers are foreign to the hills of Judea and Samaria. "

    (There was only one "foreigner" on the scene. The rest of us were community activists)

    "They basically brought Israeli ugliness to an innocent Californian street. Funnily enough from a light PA system "

    (it was a radio. An old radio. Is this man clueless or what?)

    "they brought along they played some horrible Israeli folk music, they probably didn’t realise that I could recognise my saxophone and clarinet on most of these badly played and horribly arranged songs. "

    (Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't he complaining about the music and taking credit for it simutaneously?)

    "The night was a great success."

    (This certainly shows how utterly divorced from reality this man is. There were fewer people attending his concert than protesting it outside. That counts as a great success?)