Jazz musician at centre of antisemitism row denies he breached Islington gig ban, saying: It was Santa Claus on the sax, not me

PUBLISHED: 09:54 31 December 2018

Gilad Atzmon was not allowed to play at the Islington Assembly Hall. Picture: Tali Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon was not allowed to play at the Islington Assembly Hall. Picture: Tali Atzmon


A famous jazz musician banned from performing with The Blockheads in Islington after accusations of antisemitism says the saxophonist who appeared wasn’t him – it was Father Christmas.

Town hall chiefs banned Gilad Atzmon from appearing with Ian Dury’s old band at its Assembly Hall venue on Friday after a ticket-holder said they’d feel unwelcome given his views.

The saxophonist, who is also an author, describes himself as “critical of Jewish identity politics” and he has likened the Israeli government’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians to the Holocaust.

The anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate considers him to be “an antisemite who has promoted the work of Holocaust deniers”.

But despite his ban, concertgoers reported he performed anyway – dressed as Father Christmas.

Caledonian ward’s Cllr Paul Convery said Gilad “snuck in” to the “dismay of the crowd”, adding: “Ian Dury would have been horrified”.

When asked if it was true, Gilad told the Gazette: “Some people say that it was me who played. I can’ tell you. As far as I can tell Santa Claus wasn’t prohibited.”

Islington Council said it was “considering its options” in regards to taking action.

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