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Breaking: 4 players suspended from London orchestra for anti-Israel letter

Four members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra who wrote a letter to the Independent calling for the Israel Philharmonic to be banned from the BBC Proms have been suspended by their board for up to nine months, the JC reports.

The four signatories are cellist Sue Sutherley and violinists Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild. Earlier, a player was reported to have been suspended indefinitely for a verbal assault on members of the IPO in an pre-Proms events.

This is the most severe public penalty inflicted on London orchestral musicians in memory. It is a mark of the passions generated among supporters of the orchestra, who resented players using its name for propaganda purposes.

The LPO is owned by its players and governed by a mixed board of players, executives and financial supporters.

 

(the picture is taken from Iranian TV)

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Comments

  1. I congratulate the LPO.

  2. Norma Procter says:

    The letter from the musicians created waves of emotion which led to an extremely healthy exchange of views. It allowed many people to put forward their knowledge and re-establish in the minds of us all the history behind the protest. Both sides were given a platform of free speech. Surely, where ever we as individuals stand on this complex issue, we must allow all opinions to be aired in any legal manner. I am not aware, on what I have read, that anyone actually broke the law. Verbal assault is another matter, surely also covered by our laws. The BBC took the step of terminating its broadcast of the disrupted concert, and while it is sad that the concert was affected, such a severe penalty as a nine month suspension of the musicians/people involved, on the brief comments given above, surely cannot be a way forward in the debate.

    • Simon Twigge says:

      If any of us effectively brought our employers into such an argument in the national press without their agreement we too would no doubt be facing disciplinary action and possibly/probably summary dismissal depending on who your employer was and how sensitive the issue was to their business. Can you imagine if a Civil Servant at the Foreign Office spoke out about this matter and declared their employment status – summary dismissal I would have thought. I don’t think had these 4 musicians signed the letter in a private capacity there would have been a problem for the LPO to object to. They obviously thought declaring their status would loan more weight to their letter and if so they cannot object to their employers having a dispute with them as a consequence because presumably they did not clear it them first. I cannot believe that given one of them is married to a media savvy blogger/journalist, who’s opinions I often find my self in tune with, and who blogged on how to seek PR for musicians would not have known this. It is very unfortunate for them all

      • This is the only relevant point here. As Simon mentioned, if I had dragged my employer’s name into this international scandal, I would surely be severely censured (if not fired outright). I’m always very careful with what I post online, making sure my employer’s name is NEVER associated with anything even remotely controversial. These musicians should not not have signed their names with ‘LPO’. Write whatever you like, but do it in your own name only!

        I wonder if these musicians will be reinstated. If not, who will hire them now, after all this negative publicity??

        • @ Stefan

          “This is the only relevant point here. As Simon mentioned, if I had dragged my employer’s name into this international scandal, I would surely be severely censured (if not fired outright). I’m always very careful with what I post online, making sure my employer’s name is NEVER associated with anything even remotely controversial. These musicians should not have signed their names with ‘LPO’. Write whatever you like, but do it in your own name only!”

          That’s very interesting. If you look at this link

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/apr/19/highereducation.uk

          you will see a letter opposing an academic boycott of Israel. Which is fine, of course – people should write to newspapers to express themselves on political issues & matters of conscience. You will also see that each signatory gives the name of her or his institution / employer. (Either Prof David Abulafia or The Guardian can’t spell Cambridge, but hey ho). If you look at all often you will see that this is common practice in newspapers: when a professional writes regarding something which concerns them professionally. It serves to situate them, not their organisation, in relation to the topic at issue.

          What has happened here has happened not because the four musicians appended LPO to their letter; it has happened to punish them for holding the wrong views & to shut people up in future by frightening them / compromising their ability to earn a living as musicians. As Mr Lebrect says elsewhere “they will not reoffend.” Can we cut the hypocrisy, please?

          • Or “Mr Lebrecht”, even. That will teach me not to point out other people’s spelling mistakes.

          • One expects academics to hold political views, sometimes controversial ones. Therefore, professors are afforded some degree of freedom to express themselves publicly in a manner doesn’t exist in other professions. Indeed, publishing writings and opinions is a vital component of the academic’s work. Universities are (supposed to be) places of dialogue and discussion.

            An orchestra, like most other kinds of organizations, is not really generally regarded as a forum for dialogue and discussion of controversial topics – just as if I signed my full name and job title to this discussion, there would undoubtedly be, at the very least, some raised eyebrows on the faces of my superiors.

      • In response to Simon Twigge – your analogy with the Civil Service does not hold water. Civil Servants above a certain grade are explicitly forbidden to engage in certain types of political controversy, including those relating to the activities of their own departments. Unless there was a clause in their contracts forbidding these players from using the LPO’s name, the analogy is false.

        Arcades is right – it’s routine for people in academic and cultural life to mention the institution to which they are affiliated – it establishes their credentials. In the days when I was still affiliated to an academic institution I did it myself. In replies to me and others, the LPO’s management has stated that “Right-minded people would not think the views of four of our players were those of the company”. So why did the LPO Board suspend the players?

        We have been told nothing of feelings within the orchestra itself. My suspicion – I don’t know obviously – is that this is another case where the Israeli state’s powerful lobbying machine has got to work/

        • @ Stefan

          “One expects academics to hold political views, sometimes controversial ones.”

          Well you might expect it Stefan, but I fear that as universities become more reliant on private funding & sponsorship they will be less encouraged to express them. Suspensions down the line. & doubtless there will be plenty to defend that (‘it’s not generally considered the business of mathematicians etc.”). But I really don’t think the idea that academics are uniquely permitted to express politically controversial views & everyone else had better watch out offers an encouraging vision of our society & politics.

          Besides – if you look in the papers you will see architects addressing controversial issues concerning planning, doctors on NHS reform, business people on the economy etc. & over & again they identify themselves by organisation though not as speaking for that organisation.

          • Yes, but architects addressing planning and doctors addressing NHS reform are speaking about topics directly relevant to their professions, and presumably with some degree of authority on those subjects.

            Orchestral musicians are NOT regarded as experts on the Middle East, and therefore their comments must come as rather unexpected, and obviously quite worrying, to their employers.

            I’m not here to offer an encouraging or discouraging vision of the future of society – but the fact remains that technology today allows one’s views to be instantly broadcast to a much larger audience than ever before, and as a result, we must exercise some degree of caution with what we choose to associate our names (and the names of our employers). Based on what I have seen in the news over the past few years, it is now alarmingly easy to cause a great scandal by a few seemingly innocuous comments.

    • Making a call for a boycott is now deemed to be grounds for suspension? What if the call was to boycott the Chinese National Orchestra because of Tibet? Would they still be suspended? I highly doubt it.

      Very sorry to see a clamp-down like this. Also I thought it was strange in going to the author’s blogpost about the letter, he deemed it necessary to say the people involved were not “musicians of note.” People who denigrate principled stands by making smears like that betray their own lack of principle.

      • Julian Rowlands says:

        Why do you think a call to ban another nation’s orchestra would be treated differently? Do you have any evidence for that?

      • @ Stefan

        So it is OK to write a letter to a newspaper, add the name of the organisation who employs you, provided you are a specialist in the subject at issue? How would that be defined in this instance? Who would do the defining?

        Whatever my views on the IPO at the Proms may (or even may not) be, I would be just as concerned if the situation was reversed & the letter had praised the BBC for inviting the IPO & the musicians had been suspended for writing that. & I would be making the same case wherever.

        A letter to a newspaper from a chief executive of a company naming that company who praises the BBC for inviting the IPO to the Proms should be suspended or sacked? Or who says that the recent riots were caused by a breakdown in family values should be told to keep his thoughts to himself & given the push? & so on. How does it “cause a scandal” to defend a point of view which may anger / disgust some, but which is not illegal, not offensive in any absolute sense (that’s not the same as causing offense to people)? It is fantastically dangerous, corporate silencing of people. As Norman said elsewhere “they won’t reoffend.” If you really want a country where people are afraid to defend what the believe in … I find that very sad.

  3. Viol Santos says:

    Even Norma, whose comment I found refreshingly level-headed, seems to assume that these musicians had something to do with the disruptions inside the hall at the Israel Philharmonic Proms concert.
    My understanding was that they had nothing whatsoever to do with that.

  4. Linda Grant says:

    The letter in the Independent did not represent an exchange of views. It called for the concert to be banned, not played, the orchestra censored. In other words the signatories to the letter were denying the right of free speech to the musicians of the IPO.

    • Viol Santos says:

      I’m pretty much “on the fence” with a lot of this, but actually I think the point was the opposite — that the IPO had the freedom to travel and perform, while representing a government that denied those same human rights to others. I don’t think the freedom of speech argument works, no more than it worked re South Africa.

      • Alexander Radziewski says:

        Dear Viol Santos, the point you mentioned is wrong. Freedom of speech doesn’t include the right to tell lies or constructing your personal story of right and wrong independant from facts and even you should know that the IPO is not representing the present government of Israel but is the cultural ambassador of the entire State of Israel and their whole population. Nobody is seriously suspecting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is the personal Queen’s orchestra and even fanatic antimonarchists don’t think about disturbing a performance of this orchestra to announce their point of view about monarchy.
        The point of the LPO is obviously that the four mentioned members are suspended not because of their political point of view but for the call for a boycott. It doesn’t matter if the persons or the group in the target is jewish, muslim, christian, coloured or anything else. Orchestra playing is teamplaying on the highest level and that includes the highest level on tolerance and acceptance. Calls for boycott are calls for segregation and every team is commiting suicide if accepting this inside the own team. The LPO is doing right in setting a stop sign and suspending the four members because of the call for boycott. Maybe they take the time to visit the middle-east to collect first hand impressions – if they are interested to learn.

    • Norma Procter says:

      Not really, Linda. These musicians could have also responded in the same manner had they thought it necessary. Didn’t Norman carry a comment from an Israeli musician shortly afterwards? I cannot find a letter to a newspaper that was deemed fit to print worthy of what has happened to these musicians.Santos point above has clear relevance, too. He is also correct to point out that I didn’t make clear that the musicians were not involved in the actual protest at the concert.

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      Indeed the letter was not just an attack on the IPOs freedom of expression; by calling for the concert to be cancelled they were trying to ban these musicians from working here, for no other reason than their Israeli nationality. When UCU tried this with academics they received legal advice that it was unlawful.

  5. Linda Grant says:

    Let me get this straight, in order to defend the rights of those who cannot travel, you demand that another group cannot travel?

    Politics always find a a reason to say that it’s more important than art. Because it always thinks it is, whatever the cause. See the censorship of Vasily Grossman’s Life and fate, a danger to ‘the people.’

  6. Linda Grant has clarified she does not support the suspensions

    http://twitter.com/#!/lindasgrant/status/114109808134721536

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      And who would “support the suspensions”? They are just a terribly sad consequence of this awful attack on our cultural life.

    • I thought that Linda Grant had given up on hasbara. Apparently not.

      If she doesn’t support the suspensions, why doesn’t she say so here?

      She is not opposed to censorship. She used to routinely get critical comments removed from Cif, she got me banned altogether and she threatened to have my blog pulled altogether. http://tinyurl.com/zumle

      Also, I must say that in her support for the State of Israel her logic is appalling. I am sure she is old enough to remember that when South Africa practiced segregation the anti-apartheid movement responded by segregating South Africa from the rest of the world’s cultural and sporting life. It wasn’t considered so outlandish in the case of that racist state and in many ways Israel is worse. Also, when South Africa was boycotted it had nothing like the supportive propaganda that Israel gets in the media and elsewhere. If the IPO didn’t play at the Proms, they could always find other prominent hosts or outlets. The issue really is whether it is appropriate for the Proms and the BBC to be promoting the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

  7. Ari from Israel says:

    Unfortunately, most Brits, and many others, are the innocent victims of HEAVEY arab and Moslim libel propaganda regarding human rights in Israel and in the occupied territories. And it is the British meadia that is so biased AGAINST Israel which is responsible for this. In biased I can give many examples of “watering down” information which would show Hammas and Hizbullah as “freedom fighters” or “militants, but NOT showing them up for what they true are – TERRORISTS, backed by Iran and other extreme Islamic fundamentalists. Events which show the DAILY shelling of Israeli towns (whithin Israels legit borders) aiming to blindly cause carnage of Israeli civillians,women and children, are simply ignored by the British media.
    Why don’t we see bleeding hearts in Brittain calling out for ending these war crimes commited by Hammas who hold hostage the population in Gaza ? Who have butched their own people who back the PLO ? Are we Israelis to believe the Brits are hypocrits ? Why do we not hear the Brits calling out for FAIR reporting by their own news media ? Is it arab money ? Do you guys not want to know the pure truth ?
    Yes, my country is not perfect, but compared with other countries arround the world, it is far from topping the list of bad guys. Where is the British outcry against what is going on in Syria ?? The Turks denying the Kurds basic human rights and self determination ? Who cares if the UN report on the Gaza Flotilla justified Israels actions as being totally legal ?? Allow me to remind you guys that the German “volk” were also victims of viscious Nazi propaganda in WWII. How can the Germans ever justify or clear the stain on their national herritage ? Unless the Britts change their biased attitude, they will be held responsible for allowing themselves to become the victims of propaganda. It is time to remove your PC attitude to the Islamic takeover of Europe. Israel is just a the red cloth waved in fromt of your eyes to distract you from the sword concealed behind it. Jihad and Killing the Crusaders is the true agenda of Islam (ALL Islam – just take a peak in the Kuraan).

  8. “With Justice Comes Peace”?!? I guess, there’s a certain amount of truth to that. After all, the Palestinian definition of “justice” includes the end of Israel, so once there’s no more Israel, there will be “peace.”

  9. Joanna Pieters says:

    ‘It is a mark of the passions generated among supporters of the orchestra, who resented players using its name for propaganda purposes.’

    Sadly, this sounds all too likely. Would those supporters would have called for the suspension of players had they taken a stance on a different political issue, on the basis of ‘using its name for propaganda’? If it’s about a principle rather than this instance, then expressing any kind of view with political implication (including Israel, or China, but also music education and arts funding) must be treated in the same way. Never mind the debates over freedom of speech; over the ethical position of stating the basis of one’s personal connection to the music world; about the different views on the role of the IPO or what the letter to The Independent was designed to achieve. This stinks of a decision made to pacify rich donors and supporters, allowing them to use economic clout to promote censorship. I deplore it.

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      So you are saying that because it is about Israel “rich donors and supporters” would have influenced the decision? Is that based on evidence or just prejudice?

      • @ Julian Rowland

        Mr Lebrecht appears to think the LPO’s supporters have something to do with it

        “The band needed to protect its brand. It has prominent Jewish supporters and one board member, Sir Bernard Rix, who will have made their views known. Its chief conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, is proud of his Jewish heritage.”

        http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/analysis/54750/a-punishment-without-precedent

        (It is very wrong to continue to elide Jewish & Israel / Israeli like this. It is perfectly possible to be proud of a Jewish heritage without supporting or being proud of the policies & actions of Israel).

        • Julian Rowlands says:

          @arcades So where is your evidence that donors and supporters would not have objected if another nation’s artists had been attacked in this way?

          • @Julian Rowlands

            (apologies for misspelling your name earlier).

            I’m simply reproducing what Mr Lebrecht said. Again: “The band needed to protect its brand. It has prominent Jewish supporters and one board member, Sir Bernard Rix, who will have made their views known. Its chief conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, is proud of his Jewish heritage.” It’s pretty clear he thinks the response specific to Israel – (though he insists on writing Jewish. Which is I think not insignificant. Because, of course, the letter did not in any way or sense say that an invitation to Jewish musicians to perform at the Proms should be withdrawn).

            I think perhaps your question to me would be better directed to Mr Lebrecht. I’m merely the messenger, as it were!

            Incidentally – did you see my link above to a Guardian letter criticising calls for an academic boycott of Israel? Each signatory adds the name of her or his institution. So the LPO’s view that appending LPO to the signatures to the Independent letter was abnormal, compromised the orchestra, doesn’t appear to have been taken in that instance by those famous universities / institutions. My point is, it’s common practice in letters to newspapers to offer some professional identification. It isn’t a claim to represent an organisation.

            Whether you or I agree with what the four musicians put their names to is irrelevant. They did not advocate breaking the law. They did not write anything offensive in itself (though it might offend you & others very much. But that’s a different matter. “I find their argument offensive” is not the same as “Their argument is offensive”). If the two are treated as the same we are all in a great deal of trouble.

      • Joanna Pieters says:

        No, I’m saying this is about a principle, which at this time takes the form of the particularly controversial issue of Israel/Palestine. My issue is that the LPO’s justification that ‘music and politics don’t mix’ is disingenuous and inconsistent; that it would appear that this is a principle which has been applied selectively to suit particular, non-musical agendas. I don’t believe this serves music, artists, free speech, or indeed our society. We are innately political, as human beings, and our artistic expressions inevitably reflect that. If we cannot tolerate non-violent, legal expressions of views which differ from our own, I fear for our society.

        • Julian Rowlands says:

          @Joanna Pieters, again: where is your evidence that “this is a principle which has been applied selectively”?
          This call went beyond freedom of speech because it was about banning musicians from working in this country because of their nationality. Those of us who defend the right of musicians to work without intimidation, bans and blacklists, would also absolutely defend freedom of speech. This attempt to hijack the cause of free speech to defend a tawdry and embarrassing attack on the arts is simply dishonest.

  10. Irrespective of the faiths of LPO supporters, and irrespective of the antics inside the Royal Albert Hall that night, any self-respecting organisation (musical or other) would discipline its employees after such behaviour. Write letters to the press & lobby, by all means – but do not expect your employers to look kindly upon you, when you associate them as an entity with your personal views.
    Arguing (again) over the rights or wrongs of this incident, & the IPO , is circular & gets nowhere; it only demonstrates that this topic does not encourage any degree of forethought on the consequences of one’s actions. The actions of these few have had a consequence: why are people surprised?

    Though nine months does seem a bit lengthy – footballers get less, for worse behaviour.

    • @Zena

      Here

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/apr/19/highereducation.uk

      is a letter to the Guardian from a number of academics opposing an academic boycott of Israel. Each adds the name of her / his university to the letter. Are you saying that it is OK to associate an organisation with views that (in your view – not the organisation’s, since the letter isn’t signed by a representative for each university as an organisation) are acceptable (to you) but not if you find those views unacceptable (generalising from you, to anyone who finds the idea of cancelling an invitation to the IPO to perform at the Proms unacceptable)?

      What is really happening here is that people are being punished for having the ‘wrong’ views. (Would you, honestly, have expected the LPO to suspend four musicians for signing a letter as ‘X – LPO’ praising the BBC for its invitation to the IPO?). I think it is very worrying that we have now reached a stage where saying the wrong thing, within the law & without being offensive though some may take offence, leads to the sort of “consequences” you speak of (& they could well be severe, long past the suspension, given what this incident suggests about the management of – part publicly funded, by the way – musical organisations in the UK).

      • Julian Rowlands says:

        The musicians concerned did not just express views. They associated themselves with a protest that disrupted the concert, and the first person to be suspended had apparently also disrupted the pre concert talk.

        The other LPO signatories may not have wished to be associated with the act of disruption itself, but the protest movement they were working with is well known for carrying out similar acts in the past and are not shy about their tactics, so this should have been understood by the musicians.

        I am not privy to the actual reasons for the action taken by the LPO against these members, but this claim that they are free-speech martyrs is bogus.

        The BDS movement is an embarrassment to serious campaigners for Palestinian rights and it is unfortunate that these musicians became associated with a tawdry act of cultural vandalism by a tiny group of fanatics; we are now dealing with the fallout from this sad occurrence. Hopefully the musicians will be reinstated soon and the opportunity to use the event for pseudo-political point scoring will cease.

        • @ Julian Rowlands “The musicians concerned did not just express views. They associated themselves with a protest that disrupted the concert, and the first person to be suspended had apparently also disrupted the pre concert talk.”

          The letter reads:

          “As musicians we are dismayed that the BBC has invited the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to play at the Proms on 1 September. The IPO has a deep involvement with the Israeli state – not least its self-proclaimed “partnership” with the Israeli Defence Forces. This is the same state and army that impedes in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform.

          Our main concern is that Israel deliberately uses the arts as propaganda to promote a misleading image of Israel. Through this campaign, officially called “Brand Israel”, denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen. The IPO is perhaps Israel’s prime asset in this campaign.

          The Director of the Proms, Roger Wright, was asked to cancel the concert in accordance with the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI). He rejected this call, saying that the invitation is “purely musical”.

          Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians fits the UN definition of apartheid. We call on the BBC to cancel this concert.”

          There is nothing there about a protest that disrupted the concert. To repeat: just because you disagree or disapprove of a point of view doesn’t mean people should be punished for expressing it. There are people who disagree & disapprove of the argument that an academic boycott of Israel is wrong. That does not mean that the academics who wrote to the Guardian expressing that argument with the names of their universities should have been suspended for so doing.

          “the first person to be suspended had apparently also disrupted the pre concert talk.”

          “Apparently” is a poor basis on which to proceed, no? In any case: the suspensions have to do with the letter to the Independent. Not something that “apparently” occurred.

          “this claim that they are free-speech martyrs is bogus.” The word “martyrs”” isn’t one I’d use. I find the negotiable version of free speech which says people can say what they want as long as they don’t say the “wrong” thing, something you or the management of the LPO approve of, disturbing. Rather more than disturbing, actually. Because I can that sort of attitude becoming more & more prevalent in universities now that universities are becoming so reliant on private funding.

          “Hopefully the musicians will be reinstated soon and the opportunity to use the event for pseudo-political point scoring will cease.”

          The musicians should be reinstated immediately, with an apology from LPO management & an acknowledgement that management have acted improperly. If the remark about “pseudo-political point scoring” (why pseudo-, by the way) includes me i find that interesting because, if you look closely, I’ve not once said whether or not I agree with the letter to the Independent or agree that the IPO should not have been invited to the Proms.

        • @Julian Rowlands

          “a tawdry act of cultural vandalism”?

          “On one memorable occasion I remember how shocked my parents were when, twenty-five odd years ago, a group of us disrupted a concert of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Half way through the performance, we shed our outside clothes to reveal the striped “prison uniforms” we were wearing underneath, and handcuffed ourselves to the railings of the balcony in the auditorium, yelling our Soviet Jewry slogans and shaking our fists. As the cellos and violins and violas of the Moscow Philharmonic came slithering to halt, we knew, in the dealthly silence that followed, that our Refusenik brothers and sisters would be listening thousands of miles away on the BBC World Service. It was only a few minutes before infuriated police officers arrived on the scene with large metal pincers to cut us free from the railings, but it was enough.

          I speak of it now as if it were a childish prank, but it was not an easy thing to do. We were young and idealistic, but we were also nicely brought up middle-class Jewish girls and boys. We had all been taken by our parents on one Sunday evening or another to hear a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. We had learned to sit politely and not fidget and not applaud between movements. For years we had enjoyed Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens and Schubert in this bastion of British culture, and now we were more or less spitting in its face.”

          http://aryeh-israel.blogspot.com/2008/01/miracle-girl-on-rachel-sharanskys.html

          “the first person to be suspended had apparently also disrupted the pre concert talk.” Hmm. The first- hand account I was given was that the ‘disruption’ consisted of asking a question which other audience members took exception to. & that’s from someone who thinks the argument that the IPO is representative of the policies & actions of Israel is wrong.

  11. Here

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rZH0eeyTl8

    is a video of the LPO & Vladimir Jurowski performing to support a campaign against cuts to public subsidy for music in the Netherlands. It is (a) clearly political (no ‘music must rise above politics’ here) & a supporter of the Dutch government would strongly disagree with it. Should Vladimir Jurowski be suspended by LPO management for associating it with a political cause?

  12. Viol Santos says:

    Julian Rowlands, please don’t invent misinformation.

    The four LPO musicians did NOT “associate themselves with a protest that disrupted the concert.” They had NO part in that. The letter they signed advocated no such thing, and as far as we know they were not even in the hall.

    And the “first person to be suspended” did not “disrupt” the pre concert talk, unless you consider the attempt to raise a question (after being called on to do so) “disruption” simply because they didn’t like the statement and question.

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      @viol, the letter was signed by members of the LPO and members of the group that disrupted the concert, and who are known for carrying out these actions, as a simple google search would have told them.

      However I don’t know why the LPO suspended the players and I hope they are reinstated ASAP.

  13. Geoff Pahoff says:

    I can see now I should have placed that comment here after having read this thread. I have not changed a word.

    I also agree entirely with Mr Lebrecht. This is not and should not be about punishment and some individuals with passionate but dangerously deluded political opinions about Israel. But why is there such a reluctance to discuss what this is about and that is antisemitism?

    The letter and the outrage at the Albert Hall are part of a global campaign aimed at tearing down the Jewish state that has seen protesters chanting about “blood in your hot chocolate” outside chocolate shops in Melbourne and Sydney. They must know what they are saying especially given here as in Britain some of them have or claim to have Jewish backgrounds. Of course they do.

    This is being identified as an antisemitic campaign at all Australian political levels with resolutions denouncing BDS by the Senate and the NSW Legislative Council so far. Of course it is antisemitic and there are many people here saying so.This “anti-Zionist” cover they use is too thin for Australians not to see straight through. A global campaign to tear down the only liberal democracy that protects human rights in the region solely because it is the Jewish state?. Even the master anti-Zionist theorist himself, Noam Chomsky says that is antisemitism as Julian Rowlands very helpfully pointed out the other day. Noam Chomsky is due in Sydney in early November to pick up the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize that has been awarded to him by the Sydney Peace Foundation of the University of Sydney. Last year’s winner was local boy expatriate John Pilger. Yes, there is a pattern.

    Antisemitism is an aggressive and infectious psychological illness but it can be cured with the snap of the fingers. This is not about individuals or punishment.. It is about any concept that there should be no room for the Jewish state anywhere between the river and the sea and therefore Israel must be torn down, peacefully or otherwise, is an antisemitic notion to the core that should be unacceptable in rational circles.

    These campaigns that are aimed at demonising Israel, and only Israel, guilty of barely a fraction of the human rights abuses of the Palestinians and other Arabs that the Palestinian and other Arab leaders of all stripes have been are clearly and obviously antisemitic . Saying Israel is just like the old apartheid state in South Africa and that it will dissolve like a pillar of salt just like the old apartheid is a racist lie.

    This needs to be said more often. One of the most successful nations on the planet is to be torn down on the sole ground that it is the Jewish state? Please do not pretend this is not antisemitism and through deploying these BDS tactics the campaigners have shone a torch on the very heart of the problem.

    Why will they not accept the Jewish state?

    Those looking for moral certainties in this old and horrible conflict will find them in the answer to that question.

    Sorry. Not on. Not sorry really. I saw somewhere a British journalist in Libya reported an “old Arabic saying” he picked up from fighters in Libya closing in on Tripoli.

    “You can piss on me but don’t tell me it’s raining”

    A little crude but says it all really.

    Of course this is antisemitism hiding behind noxious labels as it always does and with a few Jews up front as cover as there always have been as well.

    No state for the Jews. No peace for the Palestinians.

    BDS has made this very plain.

    They have the audacity to call this a humans rights campaign.

    Huge mistake.

    • @ Geoff Pahoff

      Mirjam Hadar is anti-semitic? http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2009/hadar190509.html

      It seems to me the charge of anti-semitism is a convenient & scandalous way of bullying people into silence; the equation of Isareli / Israel with Jewish a way of enforcing that & of disallowing Jewish opposition to Israel’s policies & actions.

      There is racism on this page, of course. It comes @ Ari from Israel:

      “It is time to remove your PC attitude to the Islamic takeover of Europe. Israel is just a the red cloth waved in fromt of your eyes to distract you from the sword concealed behind it. Jihad and Killing the Crusaders is the true agenda of Islam (ALL Islam – just take a peak in the Kuraan).”

      Change some of the words & that could be a rant about another so-called takeover of Europe / conspiracy written any time from the late C19 – 1940s.

      Getting back to the subject of this discussion, I’m glad you agree that the LPO management is wrong to suspend the four musicians. “This is not and should not be about punishment ….” Since, of course, they’ve done nothing to entail ‘punishment’ of any kind.

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