Berkshire Jews are “horrified” over the scheduled appearance of an antisemitic author at the Reading International Festival.
Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli jazz musician and writer who has challenged Holocaust denial legislation, is due to appear at the Reading International Solidarity Centre on Sunday.
The event has been billed as the launch of Mr Atzmon’s latest book, Being In Time – A Post Political Manifesto, and is being staged by Reading Friends of Palestine.
Rabbi Zvi Solomons of the Jewish Community of Berkshire said Mr Atzmon was “a notorious antisemite. He has promoted Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to the Nazis.
“He is not the sort of person any liberal outfit should want to be connected to.”
Rabbi Solomons said he had contacted Reading Borough Council leader Cllr Jo Lovelock to express his concern.
“I know the council are not happy. He should not be allowed to speak at an event or in a building that promotes the message of solidarity.”
Rabbi Solomons added that he was “troubled” by the response of the solidarity centre when he alerted representatives to Mr Atzmon’s views.
“The event organisers did not seem concerned that they were going to be providing a platform to a known peddler of hatred.
“They are giving a platform to someone who is lauded by white supremacists. Surely that is not the intention of a venue like that.”
Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies, said no “reputable event should feature Gilad Atzmon.
“The Jewish community are right to raise concern over this.”
He said the Board was “extremely concerned that the Solidarity Centre and the festival organisers appear happy to host someone with such a track record for openly racist views.”
Mr Arkush pointed out “Atzmon’s appearance at events is routinely cancelled when organisers learn about his views and track record.”
A small number of congregants from Rabbi Solomons 50-strong community plan to hold a protest vigil if the event goes ahead.
The centre and Reading Friends of Palestine were unavailable for comment.