According to an editorial by Alan Dershowitz in the New York Daily News (read here: Gilad Atzmon, vile anti-Semite, makes new Friends), Holocaust denying sax player Gilad Atzmon gave a concert last night at New York's Friends Meeting House. Atzmon was reportedly invited to play there by the Friends Seminary, a K-12 private school affiliated with the Quakers. [I have thus far been unable to find any other news reports on this. If readers know of any, please forward them to me here at firstname.lastname@example.org]
According to the school's mission statement posted on their website:
We want to foster a community that addresses the challenge of valuing difference and making every individual feel welcome, supported, and safe: a community in which each person is asked to make the rigorous commitment to recognize the Light within every other, to hear that piece of truth each person brings to the continuing dialogue which is the foundation of our community. We want our daily interactions to demonstrate that maintaining respect and pursuing the hard work of understanding difference creates strength as we work to define and move toward common goals.
The school should clarify how hosting a bigot like Gilad Atzmon could possibly "foster a community" which "value(s) difference" and "make(s) every indvidual feel welcome, supported and safe".
UPDATE: (Jan. 13, 2011 11:00 AM)
Atzmon has confirmed in a blog post that he did perform at the Friends Seminary concert last night. He writes that he was invited to perform at the concert a year ago. Based on the fact that the concert was held in comemeration of Martin Luther King Day, Atzmon counters Alan Dershowitz' editorial as follows:
(O)ne particular Zionist ethnic-cleansing advocate, seemed a little less than happy. Just hours before the event, the infamous Alan Dershowitz decided to destroy the party. In shame and desperation he attempted to pressure the organizers to cancel this concert. Perhaps the Hasbara mouthpiece truly believed that destroying a Martin Luther King Memorial was good for Israel and/or the Jews.It might be argued that preventing a bigot from participating in an event in honor of Martin Luther King is the opposite of trying to destroy the event.
UPDATE: (Jan. 14, 2012 9:00 AM)
I have been able to find (via Facebook) a poster for the concert on which Atzmon's name does not appear. It's possible that he was invited to participate by the event's musical coordinator as a member of an ensemble, but did not play as a solo act. It also seems possible that the school's administration had no awareness of his history or even his participation.
I've put in a call to Friends Seminary to give them an opportunity to comment. If they choose to do so, I will add their comment to this post.
UPDATE: (Jan. 15, 2012 10:00 PM)
The principal of Friends Seminary has issued a statement indicating that the school's administrators were unaware of Gilad Atzmon's political beliefs in general or his bigotry in particular prior to Alan Dershowitz' column in the Daily News. He also writes that Atzmon a) was invited to perform by the musical director of the event on the basis of his musical ability and not his politics, and b) Atzmon did not distribute offensive political literature to students at the school.
In his op-ed, Dershowitz refers to a visit by Atzmon to classrooms and the distribution of an essay from his website to students. We have confirmed that Atzmon visited one class, a jazz ensemble class, where, according to the instructor, he spoke about listening and ear training and not politics. I want to emphasize that at no point did Atzmon engage our students in the questions or scenarios detailed in the Dershowitz op-ed.
Friends Seminary does not endorse anti-Semitism nor Gilad Atzmon's political beliefs . . . Please be assured that the School will not tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism, bigotry, or hateful speech of any type.
While the facts about Atzmon's being invited to perform and lecture at the school are still not entirely clear, I do find the school's disavowal of Atzmon's hate-speech to be a positive development and very much in the spirit of the man whose spirit the concert was intended to remember.
NOTE: I apologize for the editorial problems with this post. Editing it on the fly, I made two cut and paste errors which inadvertently put the deliberately offensive words of Gilad Atzmon outside quotes, making them seem to be mine. I apologize to anyone who was offended and thank the readers who informed me of the problem.