Protesters disrupted a lunchtime performance by the Israeli chamber music group the Jerusalem Quartet in London on March 29, halting a live BBC broadcast from the prestigious Wigmore Hall in central London.
Radio listeners heard classically trained soprano Deborah Fink, a member of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, singing the words “Jerusalem is occupied” before a BBC announcer interrupted the broadcast.
Fink continued singing lyrics highlighting Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing until security staff removed her.
The protest, organised by Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign, continued as four other demonstrators intervened in the live concert at regular intervals. All were removed from the hall but no arrests were made.
Protest was aimed at the four Israeli musicians because, as cultural ambassadors for the State of Israel, they promote the interests of the state and provide a cultural veneer for its policies against the Palestinians.
Outside the Wigmore Hall, demonstrators handed out leaflets explaining to the audience Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, its ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and its attempt to starve the people of Gaza into submission.
The Jerusalem Quartet issued a statement calling the protests “mistaken, ignorant and inconsiderate”. They said they were “musicians, not politicians” and held up the involvement of two of them with Daniel Barenboim’s Israeli-Arab West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as proof that they did not deserve to be confronted with protest.
However they made no reference to Israel’s injustices against the Palestinian people, nor to their participation in Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations that Barenboim had refused to attend. They also kept quiet about Israeli state funding for their tour of Australia last year.
“Their claims that music is separate from politics are as baseless as the same arguments used against the cultural boycott of South African apartheid,” said one of the protesters.
Monday’s demonstration came the day before the 2nd Global Day of Action on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel.
It also coincided with the appearance in court in Edinburgh of five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for disrupting a Jerusalem Quartet concert last year.
Following their actions Israel’s ambassador to the UK complained of “attempts to sabotage the marketing of Israeli art and culture in Britain.”
Mick Napier from Scottish PSC said:
‘Scottish PSC congratulates the protesters in London today, and would like to see all other supporters of Palestine do the same every time the Jerusalem Quartet appear as ambassadors of the apartheid state’.
See the following links for media discussion of the Jerusalem Quartet protest.
Discussion on BBC World Service “Europe Today” programme, 30.48 minutes in via this link.
West Bank reaches Wigmore Hall
http://www.guardian .co.uk/culture/ 2010/mar/ 30/jerusalem- quartet-wigmore- hall-protest
Protesters silence Israeli musicians in London
Protesters disrupt Jerusalem Quartet recital
http://www.rhinegol d.co.uk/magazine s/classical_ music/news/ classical_ music_news. asp
Jerusalem Quartet concert disrupted by anti-Israeli protests
http://www.bbcmusic magazine. com/news/ jerusalem- quartet-concert- disrupted- anti-israeli- protests
7 ways to stop musical ‘ambassadors’ for Israel
http://www.indymedi a.org.uk/ en/2010/03/ 448318.html