Anti-Semitism from Beyond the Grave – Muslimgauze’s Jihad

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Bryn Jones started making music in the early 80’s under the name E.g Oblique Graph. In 1983 he changed the name of the project to Muslimgauze in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Since then he has been producing an abundance of material with an ever increasing frequency of releases, a situation that hasn’t changed with his death in January 1999. On the contrary, there has been a plethora of re-releases and dozens of CD’s of previously unreleased material.
Muslimgauze’s music can be described as usually monotonous “ethnic” percussion, interspersed with Middle Eastern sounds and atmospherics, with some excursions into ambient or slightly more dance-floor oriented material. This is however only half of what there is to Muslimgauze: The other prime aspect is the political impetus behind the music, without which, as Jones never tired to continually emphasize, there would be no music. This inspiration is provided by the adulation of Arab political and religious leaders such as Arafat, Khomeini, Gaddafi, Saddam, Abu Nidal etc. as well as organizations such as the PLO, Hamas and Hizbollah. In short, everybody and everything that is waging war against Israel in the region. The records are a platform to propagate this war, and so are his appearances in the media.
While Jones used to blame his anti-Israel stance as a reason for his media-underexposure, it’s on the contrary surprising how many papers allowed him to voice his hateful propaganda. One example being an interview article in the Village Voice, where Jones is given a platform to justify suicide bombings, and the journalist has nothing better to say than to suggest that maybe there would be other means (to be contradicted by Jones). The article wraps up with the idiotic claim that “Jones’s tactics epitomize the ‘nomad art’ espoused by Deleuze and Guattari: a flowing, deterritorialized music anterior to any orthodoxy whatsoever. Despite the stridency of his opinions, no one could accuse Jones of formal analysis. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his political convictions; in fact, I admire their untethered energy. (…) Muslimgauze albums sell only a few thousand copies each. Yet they make small yet powerful statements, each a paradoxical nexus of soothing art and hard politics.”
A reviewer in the magazine Fringecore is a bit more critical, but he too wants to be at peace with his subject and suggests that in order to propagate his views more successfully “Jones needs to raise credentialisation, by demonstrating a deeper insight into his subject matter.” This is something Jones obviously has not done. But the journalist fails to understand that this is entirely secondary: Jones is absolutely not interested in gaining any insights.
In fact Jones never had any contacts with Arabs, he wasn’t a Muslim, and he never traveled to the Middle East. Nor did he ever have any interest. His much repeated credo is: “Muslimgauze are pro-Arab/Palestinian and detest the vile stench of Israel”. One has to conclude that he is much less pro-Arab than anti-Israel. The country of Iran (a non-Arab Islamic country) seems to be a source of great joy for him – he dedicated a record to the flogging and hanging of a murderer in Tehran, as well as one to the Iranian female table-tennis team – because they had to play veiled!

Usually Muslimgauze is associated with the “industrial” scene, a scene with a fair share of far right ideas floating about. Usually these are confined to neo-folk or power electronics circles, and have more to do with neo-paganism and are usually euro-centric. But did Jones even have any political views besides his obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his admiration for Iran in particular and any Arab dictatorship as long as it supported the Palestinians? Hardly any interviewers asked him these question, so it needs to be reconstructed from a few fragments we have. Does it make sense to position him on the far right?
In the Eskhatos interview he is asked: “How do you feel about nationalism in general?” and answers: “It’s pretty important, it’s about where you belong so its very important.” Occasionally a certain anti-communism is seeping through.
In any case, his position is not the one that left-wing anti-zionists are usually taking. Namely they keep emphasizing the supposed difference between anti-zionism and anti-Semitism, as well as their support for the more secular and “left-wing” forces in Palestine and also on the Israeli side.
Jones certainly doesn’t spent time with “subtleties” like that. He totally and explicitly supports the most radical Islamo-fascist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and he justifies suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as “legitimate targets”. He accused Arafat of betrayal when he engaged in peace talks and later said that Arafat and Hamas were waging a two-pronged attack on Israel by talking on the one hand and bombing at the other. (This of course a realistic assessment usually denied by Palestine supporters on the left and the centre).
In Network News he showed himself as convinced that “The time is coming when everybody and every country will have to take sides, pro-PLO or pro-Zionist, the war to resolve this is not far away.” This suggests that he saw this as a worldwide conflict involving every individual everywhere.
The same interview shows him displaying some strong feelings in an entirely different matter: He was opposed to sampling (other people’s records) and says: “I view samples as theft (…) by people with no ideas of their own, these people should be taken to court and erased from view.”
One can only guess what he thinks should happen to the Jewish population of the Middle East, or possibly of the world, if he thinks musicians who sample should be “erased from view”.
As all interviews with Bryn Jones that are known to me show an extremely narrow scope of opinion he nevertheless thinks of himself and his fans as open-minded. He also calls the method of hanging people by suspension which causes a slow and painful death by strangulation as used by the Iranian regime “Justice.” (A “justice” that is also meted out to women for having extra-marital sex, as in the case of 16 year old Ateqeh Sahaleh in August 2004 for example. Usually cranes are used for these public executions).
Now people may have different opinions about what constitutes a “vile regime” (a term he uses against Israel in practically every interview). His vision of a worldwide intifada, and his denial of a place “where you belong” for the Jewish people, the emphasis on this particular conflict over everything else happening in the world, the naming of Jewish civilians, implicitly including children as “legitimate targets”, and at the same time his apparent disinterest in Arabs all point to a fanatical anti-Semitism.

The number of Muslimgauze releases has risen considerably since Jones’ death, in fact – while it’s hard to keep an overview – it appears that it has nearly doubled. So clearly there are people wishing to continue his work. As Muslimgauze’s music has been largely instrumental (except found sound snippets) a strong element to convey the message has been the packaging of the records and CD’s. Already during his lifetime this was partly handled by the various record labels that released his productions. One has to wonder then, what the involvement of these labels is regarding the quite explicit positions Jones took. An article in Industrial Nation gives (a) little insight into this. In one of the relatively rare mentions of his anti-Semitism in the music press two of the label owners are given the opportunity to defend him against the “slur” leveled against him. This is done in a rather unconvincing way, considering what is on record from the man himself. It’s done in the usual deflective manner of statements such as “he did (an) interview with an Israeli paper” (as if that was a proof for anything). Staalplaat, an originally Dutch label now based in Berlin, has put out the most Muslimgauze material since his death. Geert-Jan Hobijn from the label states in the same article that “He would not be my friend nor be on Staalplaat if he was [anti-Semitic].” Jones himself was less concerned, and when asked to respond to criticism he stated “tell them to fuck off”.
It appears that the marketing employed is similar to supposedly “controversial” bands such as Death In June, where it is deliberately left unclear whether or not they are “fascist”. In the case of Muslimgauze this hide and seek is less constructed through the ambivalence of statements and more by switching back and forth between the very explicit statements on covers, song titles (“Tel Aviv Nailbomb”) and in interviews and the mostly instrumental music. Like this they achieve in propagating extremist views and still get good reviews in the music press, which often prefers not to deal with any of the contents in depth. Nevertheless, the “controversial” aspect is a necessary ingredient for the marketing of otherwise often tedious and uninspired tracks.

the main source was the “official” Muslimgauze website:
http://pretentious.net/Muslimgauze/

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17 comments yet

  • 1 Josh Haden // Mar 22, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I understand your anger but I feel it is misplaced.

    As a huge Muslimgauze fan, and, as a Jewish person, I must say that, in a free society, an artist must reserve the right to say one thing and mean another when it relates to, is a integral part of, and communicates his art.

    Just because Bryn Jones said he believed, for example, in the destruction of the state of Israel, doesn’t necessarily mean he actually believed this sentiment.

    It is quite possible that Bryn Jones made extreme statements to bring attention to the post-1947 conflict in the Middle East, and to the greater question of violence and conflict in the world and society in general.

    The art of Bryn Jones does not frighten me. Not in the same way that, for example, Benjamin Netanyahu does when he calls for peace in the region, but then simultaneously says that the lives of Palestinian children are not worth as much as the lives of Israeli children. Not in the same way that the Iranian leadership frightens me when they call for the violent destruction of Israel.

    I don’t think anyone can afford to question the sentiments of political leaders.

    But when it comes to the sentiments of an artist, I don’t think an artist’s words, be they musical or verbal or written, should necessarily be taken at face value. If they did, there would be no such thing as art.

  • 2 Lilana // Jan 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

    To Josh HADEN, i don’t know if you are “jewish” or really Muslim… but to deminish Jones’ fascism (that calls for genocide, just like all the Hamas/Hezbollah Jihadists who openly declare war on ANY LIVING JEW [adults like babies] in the region) as trivial, is dangerous.

    To be true toi the fact… Islamofascism by virtue will not accept anything other than radical Islam [which’s why moderate Muslims are targets like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc…], the easiest first target is Israel or the Jews.

    Nothing has changed since the 1920’s Jerusalem Islamio-Arab fascist Mufti amin Al Husseini (who met with Hitler) declared to “kill All Jews” (Itbach Al Yahud – their slogan) until today.

    Because the reason for the “conflict” is still the same, pure hatred to the non-Arab, non-Muslim entity in the M.E. by the racist Arab (Arabism = racism!) and the bigoted Islamists, this was always called the : twin Fascisms in the middle east.

  • 3 Hase // Feb 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    @Lilana
    your post can be summarized in one word: prejudice. you could add “fanatism” acutally, since you even go as far as to question whether josh is jewish or an evil supporter of the “islamofascistic” cause.

    as long as people accuse anything and everyone raising the tiniest bit of critique against israel of antisemitsim i won’t take people like you seriously. but hey, i’m german anyway i guess i’m just a fascist nazi, huh?

    regarding muslimgauze… he expressed his (in my eyes quite idiotic and unreflected) opinion via art. what’s wrong with that? why even bother writing this article? i don’t quite get it.

  • 4 Dennis // Sep 14, 2013 at 12:51 am

    So, is the music any good?

  • 5 Michael K // Sep 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    The music is excellent and this reviewers’ claims benefit from the fact of the accused not being around to offer a ;defence’. Yet more self-appointed red police from the wanker end of the left wing.

    I knew Jones and he was one of the few people in London who EVER understood what Northern Ireland was about. And he didn’t have to go THERE either. You old punk fucks can pc wank as much as you like but your politics are strictly sheepish

  • 6 Izlamic Songs – Muslimgauze | La Chroniquothèque // Sep 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    […] in Palestine’, ce qui lui vaudra sans surprise d’être qualifié d’antisemite (http://datacide-magazine.com/anti-semitism-from-beyond-the-grave-muslimgauze%E2%80%99s-jihad-2/ : à gerber). Il rendra l’âme de prématurément, à l’âge de 38 ans, raison pour […]

  • 7 discofreak // Dec 12, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I don’t get it. The west can support the brutal Israeli regime which is responsible for murdering innocent Palestinian civilians and perpetuating a fascist theocratic, xenophobic state and no one accuses them of being anti-muslim, but if someone supports the other side they are immediately labelled anti-semitic. You have to decide, Is this a political issue or religious issue? Because to my knowledge Bryn Jones never said anything about Judaism, only Israel. If he supported extreme islamic groups that voiced anti-Semitic messages, how is this any different from people voicing support for Israel despite Israeli voicing extremely anti-mslim messages? If you listen to Israeli politicians or follow Israeli policies you recognize immediately that they represent a Jewish state, one which has an adament hatred of muslims and foreigners. The problem with Israeli is that since it is a theocracy, any attempt to argue against it claimed to be antisemitic. People are willing to pretend that Israel doesn’t contain a horribly racist xenophobic violent element.

    Check out this recent video documented the efforts to deport African refugees from Israel.
    http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=dPxv4Aff3IA

  • 8 Rainy // Jan 18, 2014 at 12:17 am

    This deeply truthful post is on a loop as the occupation continues !

    I don’t get it. The west can support the brutal Israeli regime which is responsible for murdering innocent Palestinian civilians and perpetuating a fascist theocratic, xenophobic state and no one accuses them of being anti-muslim, but if someone supports the other side they are immediately labelled anti-semitic. You have to decide, Is this a political issue or religious issue? Because to my knowledge Bryn Jones never said anything about Judaism, only Israel. If he supported extreme islamic groups that voiced anti-Semitic messages, how is this any different from people voicing support for Israel despite Israeli voicing extremely anti-mslim messages? If you listen to Israeli politicians or follow Israeli policies you recognize immediately that they represent a Jewish state, one which has an adament hatred of muslims and foreigners. The problem with Israeli is that since it is a theocracy, any attempt to argue against it claimed to be antisemitic. People are willing to pretend that Israel doesn’t contain a horribly racist xenophobic violent element.

  • 9 Rainy // Jan 18, 2014 at 12:21 am

    As the late great Tony Judt stated, the Zionists cannot hijack the victim narrative. To take another’s land will never lead to peace. No Justice ! No Peace.
    RIP MUSLIMGAUZE.

  • 10 Toolsy // Feb 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Bryn Jones was antisionist, because shocked by the Israel behavious toward palestinians… Media angle (he never went there).
    Loads of his musics are focusing on Palestinians situations, but none attack jewish people as a people or even as a religion. The some tunes about israel are just talking about israel.

    None of his tunes titles are talking about the usual antisem’ propagandas (like Dieudonné did), never using any of the nazis images (like Death In June ‘d did)… So, i think that the “antisemarketting” was never used.

    Pro-ismam does not necessary mean to be a racist.

  • 11 Joe // Apr 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    It’s really very simple, anti-zionism is not the same as anti-semitism.

  • 12 fraggle234 // May 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Bryn jones. he was prolific. what started out as a protest in musical form about something that from his perspective through his own eyes was more than likely captured from the news footage of the time gained momentum. I like some muslimgauze music. I doubt bryn jones music turned anyone anti Semitic or inspired anyone to strap on a bomb. I lived in Israel for a few years when I was a teenager. I stand for all the people who just get on with life on both sides of the fence (wall) cough cough.

  • 13 fraggle234 // May 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

    ooh. ooh. incoming news from reuterpedia::’

    “When asked what he would do if conflicts in the Muslim world were peaceably resolved, Jones replied his music would champion other conflict regions such as China’s occupation of Tibet. He also admitted Muslimgauze music could be appreciated outside a political context as the majority of it is instrumental; politicized only by track and album titles as well as occasional newscast and ethnic music samples. It was his hope that listeners would read album and track title references and verify for themselves the meanings through independent research and thought.”

  • 14 butters // May 23, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    oh look… another moron who can’t tell the difference between anti-zionism and anti-semitism. or more evilly… chooses to pretend their isn’t a difference.

    what a waste of internet space.

  • 15 Augure // Jul 1, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Byrn not only was jewish but also anti-zionist.

    People who try to force their propaganda on you and want to prevent your from discussing Israel policy under the guise of anti-semitism are discrediting both.

  • 16 Petroff // Jun 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Anti-Zionism is not always the same as anti-Semitism.

    But to pretend the two cannot overlap in anyway is absurd. This Jones fellow seems to come dangerously close to crossing the line.

  • 17 I. Khider // Aug 5, 2016 at 12:17 am

    “Semite n. member of an ancient group of people including the Hebrews, Arabs, Phoenicians, Assyrians, etc. 1847, probably a back formation from Semetic, perhaps formed by influence of French Semite (1845 from late Latin Sem Shem, one of the three sons of Noah, regarded as the ancestor of Semites, from Greek, Sem, from Hebrew Shem…” (Barnhart, Robert K.. The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology. The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988. Print)

    “Semetic: noun any group of Afro Asiatic languages including Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic, spoken by the Semites, a group of people said to be descended from Shem, the eldest son of Noah.” (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. Edinburgh:Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd., 1999. Print)

    “Semite: a member of any number of peoples of ancient Southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs. b) descendant of these peoples 3) member of modern people speaking a Semetic language.” (Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary [11th edition]:USA, 2003. Print.)

    “Semite: A member of any of the people supposedly descended from Shem, son of Noah including the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Phoenicians.” (The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print)

    “Semite: A member of the group of Caucasoid peoples who speak a Semetic language including the Jews and Arabs as well as ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Phoenicians.” (Collins English Dictionary. Aylesbury: Harper Collins, 1994. Print.)

    “Semite: A member of a people speaking a Semetic language 2. A member of any peoples descended from Shem, the eldest son of Noah.” (Random House Websters College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 2001. Print)

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