First Published: 2009-03-27

Anti-Semitism to be debated in Oxford

Gilad Atzmon, Denis MacShane, David Aaronovitch debate 'anti-Semitism' at Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival.


Middle East Online

Gilad Atzmon: 'Zionism is fuelled by anti-Semitism'

LONDON - The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival announced holding a debate on anti- Semitism as part of its 2009 events.

The debate, entitled "Anti-Semitism - Alive and Well in Europe?", will host Gilad Atzmon, renowned Israeli saxophonist and devoted opponent of Zionism; Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham; and David Aaronovitch, Orwell prize-winning 'Times' journalist.

The three participants will address pressing questions related to anti-Semitism; whether it is still strongly present in Europe and if the recent Israeli bombardment of besieged Gaza has further fuelled it.

When the controversial topic springs up, different debaters usually side with one of two rival camps.

One side accuses critics of Israel as 'closeted anti-Semites', while the other argues that anyone who is critical of the policies of Israel or its occupation of the Palestinian territories is automatically labelled an anti-Semite in order to give the Jewish State free reign to continue 'business as usual'.

Atzmon, who was born as a Jew in Israel and served in the Israeli military, has been himself accused of being an anti-Semite by supporters of Israel.

He often writes on Jewish identity and Tel Aviv's policies against Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Observers say Atzmon's participation will give the debate an "insider's view" on Jewishness, Israeli strategies and accusations of anti-Semitism.

Many of his critics link his anti-Zionist stances to anti-Semitic sentiments, but Atzmon argues that anti-Semitism itself has been a useful tool for Zionists.

"Zionism is fuelled by anti-Semitism. The Zionists need anti-Semitic acts in order to justify the state of Israel as the only viable option for Jewish existence," he wrote in one of his articles.

The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival is held on 29 March-5 April 2009, where over 350 writers are expected to take part.

The debate on anti-Semitism will take place on Wednesday 1st April at midday in the Garden Marquee, Christ Church.


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