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Alleged Austrian neo-Nazi band:
Tel Aviv performance  postponed


by Hilary Leila Krieger
Jerusalem Post, 04.10.2004

A Tel Aviv concert organizer has postponed the upcoming appearance of an Austrian band following widespread criticism that it is a neo-Nazi, pro-fascist group.

Minister-without-Portfolio responsible for Diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky, MK Yossi Sarid of Yahad, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and the Anti-Defamation League have been some of the loudest voices in a chorus calling for Albine Julius's group Der Blutharsch to be barred from the country ahead of a Tel Aviv show scheduled for Saturday.

"They are identified with fascist, neo-Nazi segments of European society, and I don't believe they should be invited to Israel," Sarid said. Despite organizer Igor Simkin's decision to delay the performance by several months, the Tel Aviv Municipality plans to take the matter to court and use its authority to close down the club hosting the show.

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, said that though her office has not received visa applications from the performers, it is monitoring the situation and will make a decision about whether to allow their entry once their applications are received. "They are saying they are neo-Nazis, but we can't be sure just because some people say it," she added.

Julius and Simkin have both maintained that "Der Blutharsch" is nothing of the sort: "We are an unpolitical band and are not open to be pocketed by any ideology or political direction," Julius said. "We do not spread hate, racism, or promote National Socialism. We are artists and use provocation as part of the art. Banning us would be the real fascism. I mean, the last time artists have been banned from doing their art was in the Third Reich, wasn't it?"

He said he chose the name (which means "dried blood" and is associated with front-line casualties in Germanic wars of the Middle Ages) because "it sounded good and I like the phonetics of it." He described his "industrial" and "experimental" sound as "kinky march music" that relies heavily on percussion, acoustic guitars, and sampling.

But that sampling, according to German historian and editor of the German-Jewish magazine haGalil onLine Andrea Livnat, who has researched the band from her home in Tel Aviv, includes excerpts from Hitler youth songs, video imagery including swastikas, and the use of symbols connected to the Nazis.

A Chicago concert was cancelled earlier this year amid pressure from an activist group concerned about the band's fascist politics. Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim Derogatis, however, wrote that an Internet search turned up little damning information. "There is little evidence of the Austrian band Der Blutharsch preaching hatred in its music."

Livnat, however, said the group has been removing the most incriminating imagery.
"In Europe in general, it's not so easy to have all these anti-Semitic texts and get away with it," she said. "The really anti-Semitic groups are really under fire from anti-fascist groups and legal groups."
She added that the group doesn't have to be overt to be a problem: "Every right extreme group is against Jews in the end, so this is like inviting the enemy."

Both Simkin and Julius counter that a trip to Israel proves the band isn't anti-Semitic.
"If I really was a Nazi, I do not think I would come to perform in Israel and release a CD for the Israeli people, do you?" Julius said. He explained his desire to perform in Israel as interest in learning about the people, seeing the "Holy Land," boosting a country which many musicians have shunned, and checking whether "people there make felafel better than my favorite felafel place in Vienna."

A senior Tel Aviv Municipality official, however, attributed the trip to more sinister motives. He said that club owners considering hosting Der Blutharsch believe performing in Israel represents a "challenge" for such groups and is a way of "spitting on our face with words."

"It's very clear why they are interested in coming to Israel – to be legitimized, to have an 'Israeli passport,' " Sarid maintained. "With this legitimacy and Israeli passport, they will be persona grata everywhere."
He explained that they would be able to say to people such as those in Chicago or in the Netherlands, where a Der Blutharsch concert was nearly cancelled recently, "Who are you to tell us that we're neo-Nazis and Fascists... The remnants of the Holocaust invited us."

According to Livnat, that legitimization is what makes their visit here so dangerous.
"I'm not concerned about the 100 Israelis coming to a concert here. I'm worried about the fight against anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism in Europe," she said.
She added that the more pressing question is "why anyone would like to invite them" to play here.
She answered by suggesting that "people think they are listening to something very avant-garde and breaking a taboo."

ADL spokeswoman Laura Kam Issacharoff posited that the audience would be made up of the same troubled youth, predominantly from the former Soviet Union, who have been behind the recent sprouting of anti-Semitic graffiti around the country. "To us it's not anti-Semitism as we know it. It's disaffected youth. It's a social problem."

Simkin, however, said the audience would be a mix of all types of Israelis, not just those like himself who immigrated from there, but a small group of 50-100 people interested in this type of alternative music. He added that he himself is Jewish and would never have invited a band he believed was anti-Semitic.


Vorwurf zur Bunker-Nacht:
Treten in Israel Nazi-Bands auf?
Wie kann das sein? Ist es möglich, dass eine Band, die in Israel auftritt neo-nazistisch ist? Manche sagen "Ja!"... 04-10-2004

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