A furious row has erupted after a prestigious music college cancelled the concert of a controversial jazz musician.
Gilad Atzmon, 51, was previously a member of 70s star Ian Dury’s band the Blockheads. He was due to perform at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) tonight.
However the Oxford Road venue have now pulled the show after complaints about Israeli-born Mr Atzmon’s previously-expressed views about Jewish identity.
Bosses insist their decision to cancel the concert by the saxophonist, who has also played with Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd, was not politically motivated and was instead made on ‘safety grounds.’
Atzmon, also a political activist and author, was born in Israel but has written several books which are critical of Jewish ‘identity politics’ and he has been accused of making anti-semitic comments.
A petition was launched on Monday against his concert in Manchester by the North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI) calling for the show by Atzmon and his band the Orient House Ensemble, to be scrapped.
It said: “What sort of signal does this send, not only only to the people of Manchester but across the UK generally that the highly reputable RNCM will likely be an unwitting partner in allowing Azmon the platform to spout his blatantly anti-Semitic diatribe to an unsuspecting audience?”
But Mr Atzmon, who denies anti-semitism, has criticised the decision to pull the gig and has threatened legal action.
Atzmon claimed the move was an example of “Zionist violence making it to Britain” and said he was considering legal action.
In a statement on his website he said: “It seems that the venue felt ‘unable to guarantee my safety.’
“Given that I’m now a pretty big boy, this would be somewhat amusing except that the terrible implication is that Zionist’s violence has now made it to Britain.
“They (NWFOI) suggested that my concerts were “fostering anti Semitism” which is obviously a complete lie in fact not once has anyone logged a complaint about my concerts or my talks.
“They also referred to the ‘sensitivity of Jewish students’ ignoring the fact that since its day of inception,
“The Orient House Ensemble has always included Jewish musicians and, if this is were not enough, many of our promoters and supporters are Jewish.
“Yes, my book is indeed critical of Jewish identity politics and exposes the exact same Jewish political lobbying which the North West Friend Of Israel yesterday exercised in Manchester”
A petition calling for the college to reverse their decision has so far attracted 1,952 signatures.
In a statement the RNCM said: “Over the past few days the RNCM has received a significant amount of negative correspondence relating to the booking of Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble on Thursday 5 March.
“After careful consideration, and to ensure the safety of all involved, the RNCM decided to withdraw the concert.
“This decision was taken and actioned prior to the launch of an associated petition and in no way reflects any political view of the College.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Sign a petition in support of the Gilad Atzmon and the OHE: https://www.change.org