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'Social Democrats invited known anti-Semite to seminar'

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12:15 CET+01:00
The Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism (SCAA) has criticized the Social Democrats for inviting controversial British-Israeli musician and political commentator Gilad Atzmon to speak at a seminar on Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan, which was held in Stockholm on March 18th.

Writing in newspaper Expressen on Thursday, SCAA chairman Jesper Svartvik urged the party to distance itself from the decision of its Christian organization, Broderskapsrörelsen, and the Workers' Educational Association (Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund - ABF) to bring Atzmon to the capital.

Atzmon, a jazz musician regarded as one of the finest saxophonists in the world, has long been accused of anti-Semitism.

"We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously," he said in 2003.

"American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world, by proxy," he added.

The 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion', a document describing a Jewish plot to achieve world domination, is widely accepted to have been an anti-Semitic forgery drafted by the Russian secret police in 1903. It was later used as a propaganda tool in Nazi Germany.

Atzmon, himself born a secular Jew, is also credited with having said that "the victim strategy is the latest and most sophisticated form of Jewish supremacist segregation."

According to Jesper Svartvik, Azmon describes Israel as a Nazi state that must be eradicated.

"It is of course legitimate to criticize Israel's politics, but democratic forces need to react when debate about the Middle East is used to legitimize the hatred of Jews," he said.

Svartvik concluded by requesting that the Social Democratic party leadership clearly distance itself from the seminar.

In a statement released to The Local, Ulf Carmesund, international secretary of the Christian Social Democrats, rejects the allegations made by SCAA.

"Gilad Atzmon is himself a Jew, and when the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism starts calling Jews anti-Semites there is a risk that they undermine the term anti-Semite and do the fight against anti-Semitism a disservice," said Carmesund.

"Atzmon is critical of the state of Israel's politics and of Jewish organizations that support the state of Israel's politics in the name of all Jews. Atzmon belongs to that group of Jews that refuses to be associated with the Israeli occupation and the state of Israel's breaches of international law.

"He aims his criticism not at Jewishness but at the politics and ideology that lead to breaches of international law," he added.

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