The antisemitic saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, has withdrawn from his scheduled gig at the 606 Club tomorrow evening. The club had flatly rejected significant opposition to his performance by the Jewish community, until Campaign Against Antisemitism said that we would picket the venue on multiple future dates if Mr Atzmon was allowed to perform. Mr Atzmon said: “This morning I decided that in the light of the CAA’s threats, I am withdrawing from the gig.”
Mr Atzmon, billed as a “wonderful sax and clarinet player with a powerful sound and unique approach,” albeit one with “well-documented views on the Middle East that may provoke and challenge the listener,” had been scheduled to perform with his band at the iconic jazz venue tomorrow night.
However Mr Atzmon is a notorious antisemite. He was reported to have blamed the Grenfell Tower tragedy on “Jerusalemites” as well as reportedly telling university students that “the Jews were expelled from Germany for misbehaving.” His antisemitism is so brazen that he told a Jewish Twitter user in 2014: “I am not a Jew any more. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left). I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”
Initially, 606 Club doubled down on its invitation to Mr Atzmon, despite his record. Its owner defended Mr Atzmon, reportedly saying that although Mr Atzmon “sailed way too close to the wind sometimes”, nevertheless “having just spoken to Gilad he insisted he’s not racist and went to great pains to say that he does not have an issue with Jews, of which he is obviously one, the religion or the culture.” The owner added that he had never heard Mr Atzmon speak pejoratively of Jews.
However, after Campaign Against Antisemitism warned 606 Club that it would picket future events there in order to publicise to its patrons the venue’s tolerance of anti-Jewish prejudice, Mr Atzmon has apparently decided to back out of the performance, stating that it was because of “CAA’s threats”.
606 Club announced that Mr Atzmon had “decided to stand down” in order to “protect the venue’s reputation”, adding that the club would “liaise with concerned parties while it investigates allegations” against Mr Atzmon, which it claims are “so far unsupported”. The club’s owner reportedly said that he was doing “more due diligence on the matter”.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “It is appalling that 606 Club invited Gilad Atzmon to play yet again and then defended the decision even when confronted with his record of antisemitism which is well documented and well known. At a time when antisemitism in public life and on our streets is surging, it is disgraceful that the club resisted disinviting Mr Atzmon and apparently left it to him to do so under pressure from Campaign Against Antisemitism.”
This incident is not the first time that Campaign Against Antisemitism has succeeded in preventing Mr Atzmon from being given a platform.
Following efforts by Campaign Against Antisemitism to have Mr Atzmon banned from various musical venues, he penned an article in which he claimed that the then-Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism “fabricated” antisemitic incidents as part of a “business plan” to defraud the British taxpayer and earn money for himself. After being sued for libel, Mr Atzmon attempted to crowdfund “tens of thousands of pounds”, telling his supporters: “I have made the decision to fight this crucial battle for freedom of expression even though this fight poses a real risk of bankrupting me and my family.”
Faced with the impossible task of substantiating these libels, Mr Atzmon instead capitulated and agreed to settle the case, admitting that all of the claims were false and agreeing to pay substantial damages and costs. Mr Atzmon did not show his face in court, instead sending his solicitor to read an apology on his behalf.