A moral vacuum

November 17, 2011
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In recent weeks we have had fine words from both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister on the evils of antisemitism.

This week the chair of the Conservative Party and the leader of the Labour Party have made speeches focused on their commitment to fighting antisemitism. And yet, for all the shared sentiment, their words clearly count for nothing in some quarters. Next week the Arts Council is funding the appearance of Gilad Atzmon, a "proud self-hating Jew".

When informed of Atzmon's long record of antisemitic campaigning, the Arts Council responded with a statement that seems almost to welcome his antisemitism. The Arts Council, it said, should not "restrict an artist from expressing their views." It believes in funding events and artists that show "a diverse view of world society".

On that basis it should also welcome, indeed encourage, the appearance of self-proclaimed paedophiles and Ku Klux Klan members at Arts Council events. They too would present a diverse view of society. To say that there is a moral vacuum at the Arts Council barely comes close. When a body responsible for allocating taxpayers' money considers a self-proclaimed antisemite to be an appropriate recipient of its largesse then it deserves nothing less than contempt and, if the words of politicians have any meaning, immediate sanction.

    Last updated: 11:23am, November 17 2011