Sunday 11 March 2018

Mandatory inclusivity

Passive antisemitism: the new normal. I too saw Angel Epstein on BBC Breakfast discussing a concert organised by Italian musician Francesco Lotoro, soon to be performed in Israel. It’s unusual because it consists of lost music 
“Thousands of songs, symphonies and even operas composed in Nazi concentration, forced labour and prisoner of war camps in Germany and elsewhere before and during the second world war.” 
As already noted on this site, Angela Epstein was in conversation with Naga Munchetty. Epstein expressed her admiration for the extraordinary creativity of the Jewish concentration camp victims despite the horrific circumstances; quick as a flash Naga Muchetty piped up: “It wasn’t just Jewish people though, it was Gypsies and others as well…” This is staggering. 

As if to rub salt into a wound, (it seemed so to me anyway) a few moments later in the next news bulletin Naga announced in shocked, empathetic tones that nasty threatening letters have been sent to some Muslims.


  1. Here's a transcript of it:

    BEN THOMPSON: This is an amazing story in the Express. A concert that's going to be held in Israel of music composed by people 70 years ago in concentration camps. Talk us through this.

    ANGELA EPSTEIN: So there's an Italian composer and conductor who has gone around the world gathering together music from people who had composed during times of absolute dire circumstance. The Holocaust, as we all acknowledge, was the blackest moment in human history and yet in the death camps there were people who still managed to have that creative outlet and there were people who carved notes onto walls or on pieces of cutlery, or they'd buried little scraps of paper. He's even interviewed survivors who notated things in their heads during the times they were in death camps, places like Treblinka and Auschwitz, and he's been to interview them and they have relayed the tune note by note to him. And this has all come together in this extraordinary mass of musical output which is going to be performed at a concert in Israel. And I think it just focuses the mind, in terms of the rise of antisemitism in this country, particularly in political parties - the allegations against Labour - we must remind ourselves at this very dark moment, the darkest moment in human history, where it can lead. But equally, how something incredibly beautiful came out something so, so beyond description, so harrowing and awful.

    NAGA MUNCHETTY: And what's lovely I think is how encompassing this piece of music has been because initially he was looking for music written just by Jewish people but as he got into the project, he expanded the search to include gypsies, Spaniards, survivors from Japanese war camps, French, British and Germans. as well.

    ANGELA EPSTEIN: Absolutely. I mentioned the Holocaust in particular because somebody who's every moment of their existence is under the barrel of a gun just because they're Jewish, and they are literally occupying spaces next to gas chambers and they still have the ability to create. It is absolutely mind-blowing. And he's doing it as an act of remembrance. He says it is our duty to remember. What an extraordinary way to remember this time!

  2. Naga negates...

    The implication of her words is obviously that the project wouldn't have been so lovely if confined exclusively to Jewish composers. It's a view...but would she ever express that view to a Muslim talking about something exclusively Muslim? Hmmm...what do you think?

    That said, Naga isn't the sharpest tool in the box. Did she mean to suggest that Jews couldn't be French, British or German? Or was that just another example of her inability to think properly?


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