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Jerusalem Quartet disrupted again at a UK festival. This must stop.

A performance by the Jerusalem Quartet at the Brighton Festival was disrupted yesterday by a tiny clique of pro-Pal demonstrators. The Quartet played on and refrained from comment. It is the third or fourth time their concerts have been attacked in Britain.

Never mind the rights and wrongs of the Middle East conflict, which may be debated elsewhere. The musicians have a right to be heard and the audience who paid to hear them have an equal right to do so undisturbed.

Since the disrupters are few and familiar, it should not be fairly easy to deny them entry to classical concerts. If that fails, they should be injuncted by law from attending. Action needs to be taken by the classical music industry to protect its venues. Failure to do so will encourage further disruptions in this and other causes.

UPDATE: We have been informed that the concert organiser was sufficiently prepared to remove three known disrupters before they made much noise.

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  1. What a shame. They are such a fine ensemble, and music lovers should have the chance to hear them live without such disruptions.
    The 2nd violinist in our quartet ( Valentin Berlinsky Quartet ) is Chinese. Are we to expect demonstrations against the regime in China if we are fortunate enough to play at the Brighton Festival ourselves?

  2. Why do they attack the Jerusalem Quartet? Is it just because they have “Jerusalem” in their name and (I don’t know) the members come from Israel?

    - If the quartet are all proud Israelis and are funded by the Israeli government, then they are a fair candidate for protest

    - If however they are entirely “innocent” musicians (although they do call themselves Jerusalem so they are to an extent pinning flags to masts) then they aren’t a fair candidate and there are better (but perhaps less soft) candidates elsewhere.

    @David Greenless, re your Chinese member. Similarly if he’s there supported by the chinese government in some way then sorry but your quartet is a justifiable candidate for protests. However if he’s simply just a chinese guy (or gal!) in a quartet then to protest at your quartet on that basis is just racism isn’t it.

    • I think one can be a ” proud Israeli ” yet not funded by the the Government of Israel.

      • Yeah, of course you can. I should probably have said “Zionist” but didn’t want to be any more inflammatory than one already is automatically by daring to suggest that not everything about Israel is necessarily wonderful.

        Oh and I did carefully stipulate “and”, not “or”!

        I know nothing about this quartet other than they get protested at. I’m just interested to know why people protest at them, is it simply because of their name and ethnic origins or is there a more substantial reason?

        • Mathieu says:

          political matters aside, it is one of the finest quartets today in my opinion (and God knows I am prone to criticize the Israeli government, but I consider this to have very little bearing on my musical tastes, not like those stupid disrupters). Just listen to their Haydns: there is no equivalent today on the market.

        • Sam Adler says:

          Yeah, zionism–the nationalism that dare not speak its name.

    • Paul Ricchi says:

      You write “if however they are entirely ‘innocent’ ”

      Innocent of what? Being Israeli? There is guilt attached to citizenship? It would seem more intelligent to judge people by their acts.

      And those who protest governments at concerts do so out of cowardice, otherwise they would be at embassies and government buildings where there are scari security people.

      But, in general, disrupting a concert is an effective tool for the inarticulate.

      • What is it with people, as soon as one even hints that you might be criticising Israel, people wilfully misread what you say.

        Entirely innocent of: being funded by the Israeli government and therefore being their representatives, their cultural ambassadors.

        Disrupting a concert on that basis is entirely a legitimate form of protest.

        You probably already know this, but those who peacefully oppose the Israeli government already protest in many life-threatening ways, regularly beaten up and bombed by these “scari” (sic) security people.

        I don’t care two hoots about those who fire rockets indiscriminately at Israel, that’s terrorism not a form of protest. However, it harms no-one (except middle class sensibilities maybe) to peacefully protest at a concert. Music should drive powerful emotions. The heightened emotional state (hopefully) of the audience is perfect for an act of protest such as this. I think more concerts should be disrupted, especially on grounds of bad music being played, or good music being played badly, for example. I mean it’s not as if they are blowing themselves up at a concert, is it?

        • C Brookes says:

          “Disrupting a concert on that basis is an entirely a legitimate form of protest”.

          No its not, protesting outside and seeking to persuade people not to go in is legitimate.

          I don’t know anything about the Jerusalem Quartet and its funding, but are the UK artists who receive UK government subsidies held to account for supporting the war in Iraq/ Afghanistan or University fees?

          Sickening double standards are being applied.

          • “are the UK artists who receive UK government subsidies held to account for supporting the war in Iraq/ Afghanistan or University fees?”

            No they aren’t but if they take that money to act as some kind of cultural ambassador they should be. I think there were a few artists around the time of 2001-2 who quickly realised in 2003 that it was a bad idea to be cultural ambassadors for a government that invades Iraq like that. Cool Britannia etc.

            Arts Council subsidies are a different thing, that’s supposed to be an arms-length organisation, it’s not supposed to be political in a government way.

            I would like to point out again that I have no idea if this is what the Jerusalem Quartet are doing! Does anyone here have any facts about it?

          • C Brookes says:

            So its all about being some sort of cultural ambassador which may or may not apply to this particular group. I don’t think so.

            This is about stigmitising an entire nationality. Leonard Cohen was to be boycotted because he merely wanted to play in Tel Aviv! Not Israeli, not funded, not a cultural ambassador for Israel.

            Here is an article about a traditional Irish music band cyber bullied this week out of visiting Israel. Who were they being “cultural ambassadors” for?


        • I look forward to offending the “middle class sensibilities” of your own audience who, presumably, are unaware that you “don’t care two hoots about those who fire rockets indiscriminately at Israel”.

          • Hi Barry,
            I care very much about the consequences of the rockets, and I care about the people who are used as human shields by the rocket-firers. But I don’t care about the people who fire them, they deserve what they get.

            They would be welcome to come and shout at my concerts, at least they’ll have to buy a ticket from me to get in and will probably make the whole thing all the more interesting! But no rockets or suicide bombers please…

        • What we saw at the Jerusalem Quartet concert was a group of mindless idiots committing cultural vandalism on the premise that Israel somehow is guilty of ‘apartheid’ – the word used to bring South African to it’s knees. There is NO apartheid in Israel but there is a constant threat from the Hamas Islamic terrorist regime in Palestine who have pledged to ‘wipe Israel from the face of the earth’.

          Concert organisers should work with the police that have files on these campaigners who can be identified from photographs taken on other mindless activities. Concert goers should be able to sue people like Tony Greenstein who seems to organise these events with his out of work mates. If we do nothing these disruptions will continue until someone gets injured, then the police might decide to get involved.

          • Excellently put, Tommo!

          • I agree tommo. I was at university at Sussex in the early 80′ s and green stein was around then. He is not someone you want to spend any time with

          • You’re either naive, Tommo, or you haven’t spent any length of time in Israel.

            However, the Jerusalem String Quartet is not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, nor should their performances be disrupted because they’re Israelis. Classical concerts held by private individuals have nothing to do with the politics of a country.

  3. Michael Smith says:

    Another depressing outburst by the ‘Kauft nicht bei Juden’ brigade. If this continues, concertgoers will, I hope, take their inspiration from Cable Street and get rid of these offensive extremists.

  4. The surest path to peace and justice is found through listening. By the symbolic act of shouting people down, they discredit their cause.

  5. EricHeinze says:

    @ Tim Benjamin:

    (1) “Similarly if he’s there supported by the chinese government in some way then sorry but your quartet is a justifiable candidate for protests.” Well, now, there’s a novelty! The problem being, of course, that none of the BDS crowd have suggested anything like a boycott of China. It’s not even on their radar. It seems that when you proclaim the ideals of a “democracy” (or at least a Jewish one), then it’s open season, but when you proclaim the ideals of a “People’s Republic”, you’re welcome in Europe, indeed in exponentially greater numbers, with open arms, and certainly without boycott threats. I haven’t heard anyone disrupting Lang-Lang lately. To the contrary, they can’t get enough of him.

    (2) “What is it with people, as soon as one even hints that you might be criticising Israel, people wilfully misread what you say.” I don’t know about “wilful”, but lets not pretend that criticising Israel is like criticising any other state. No other state is so openly threatened by neighbours, no other state has its legitimacy questioned to the same extent, and no other state — however sadistic in its repressive practices — has any such boycott movement against it. As the old Yiddish saying goes: “Please don’t piss on our backs, then tell us its raining.” By extension, please don’t provoke and provoke and provoke Israel, far more than China, Russia, or other far more repressive states, and then tell us that Israel is “too sensitive,”



    • Is Lang Lang some sort of chinese cultural ambassador? I would have thought he made his money from record deals with western companies and appearances at the White House etc etc…!

      But a good comparison is protests at the Olympic torch being carried through the UK in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

      And by extension I would say that targeting the London Olympics (including the so-called Cultural Olympiad) would be an extremely good way of highlighting our own government’s fondness for pissing money up the wall in the cause of Olympic willy-waving, yet are quite fervent in seeking to cut everything else in sight.

      • EricHeinze says:

        @ TB: “Is Lang Lang some sort of chinese cultural ambassador?” He is one of literally hundreds of examples of Chinese artists who have visited London with no disruption whatsoever — not to mention artists from other repressive regimes, including Muslim states, who are welcomed enthusiastically. Israeli writers and artists are boycotted and protested now almost without exception. If you can explain the ethics behind those discrepancies, I’d love to read it.

        @ TB: “But a good comparison is protests at the Olympic torch being carried through the UK in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.” And an even better one would be the almost 800 events staged in Britain in 2008 by China, in the run up to its Olympic games, with scarcely any protests at all — at least none to compare with those against Israel. Again, the double standards are breathtaking, and, again, I eagerly await reading your justification of them.

        • @EH – I don’t have any double standards mate, I’m equally intolerant of all those who decide to use spin to cover up their human rights abuses. Especially those who try and use music to win hearts and minds and cover up their despicable actions. China, Israel, America, US, Russia, Muslims, etc etc, they are all welcome to some of my spleen :-) Don’t feel picked on.

          • EricHeinze says:

            @TB — Good to know, and my point is more about the double standards of the BDS crowd, not about your views in particular. Many in the BDS crowd also pretend to “condemn” violations everywhere. But they do not boycott everywhere. They boycott Israel, no one else. And they scarcely go out of their way to defend that double standard. So hard, then, not to feel “picked on”.

          • Those who oppose Israel will boycott it. Perhaps they don’t care about any other issues and don’t boycott those. But there are plenty who care about all sorts of issues who will boycott them. Lots of countries and other organisations are protested against, it isn’t just Israel by any means. Even composers who write atonal music get heckled!

            I don’t know what this “BDS” is to which you refer. I know what BDSM is, but I didn’t come to this website for that… :-)

          • zhaomafan says:

            they may be welcome to some of your spleen but that is bullshit because in fact none of it appears to be vented towards those other countries. this is hypocrisy

    • Indeed you are right, EH. Double standards should always be condemned.

      One can also argue that a people, which has faced thousands of years of persecution and isolation behind walls in ghettos, should be sensitive enough not to put other people behind walls in ghettos.

      • EricHeinze says:

        Oh bravo, Tom V, that’s one of the favourite lines of the little England Guardianista. “How dare you Jews think you know anything about oppression? Shut up, and pay attention to us righteous little Englanders. We’ll teach you what oppression is” — or rather, to use Tom V’s words, what “sensitivity” is. Curious, of course, that the same ones who shout “How dare you call Israel’s critics anti-Semitic” are perfectly happy to bring the Jewish element back in as soon as it suits them.

        No, Tom, in fact I happen to think that ALL states bear an EQUAL duty to be, in your precious little words, “sensitive.” And most states who fail that standard are very far from facing the kind of criticism Israel faces from you terribly “sensitive” little Englanders. I don’t happen to think that it’s the historical task of Jews to be proving to safe and comfortable European middle-classes how “sensitive” they are. Your pretense of conceding the point about double standards whilst re-introducing it through the back door is as lame as it is transparent.

        Please, go preach your little-England “sensitivity” to a bunch of 5-year olds, in the generous assumption that it’s even intelligent enough for them.

      • The walls are there to stop Palestinian terrorists from coming into Israel and killing people. Since the barrier between Palestine and Israel has been there, terrorist attacks have dropped considerably. What are Israelis supposed to do – let Hamas have free reign to rob, rape, abduct and kill Jews? Whose being naive now?

  6. If what is said on this site (found by googling “jerusalem quartet funding” – it’s nothing to do with me) about the funding and purpose of the Jerusalem Quartet is true, then the protests are completely fair game:

    I do say “if” of course. Just as it was right to boycott South African sports and various other disreputable governments’ sports events in history.

    • EricHeinze says:

      @ TB: “But a good comparison is protests at the Olympic torch being carried through the UK in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.” And so, back to square one. I’ll be interested for you to list all the BDS supporters who also supported a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. I’m sure that list will be worth reading.

    • Even if they are true (and I haven’t a clue whether or not) I cannot see how they make the JQ ‘fair game’. The claims are:

      1) The Israeli Government wishes to promote the arts in Israel. No mention of the JQ or any role attributable to them in this process.

      2) The JQ are based at the Jerusalem Music Centre, which is located in Israel. So what? (JMC president is Murray Perahia: its website says ‘we cooperate regularly with practically all leading organisations of music and music education in Israel: the Buchman-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv University; the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; the New Israeli Opera; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Science, Culture & Sports; pre-academic music schools all over the country; and so on.’ Scarcely then a particularly polticized or politicizing institution.

      3) The JQ are supported by and get funding from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.

      If these are reasons for ostracization, then no musician based in any country’s musical institutions, getting support from any cultural organisation, or stemming from a country keen to promote its culture, should be free from disruption unless that country’s standards are judged acceptable (I nearly said kosher) by… whom? Well, we know where this clearly independent website stands by its reference to ‘the Israeli apartheid regime’.
      I rather doubt, looking at this and the other ‘independent’ items on this website, that most people would like it to make their moral judgements for them.

      • ..and I now see that on a recent post here Mr. Benjamin refers to Israel as ‘a similarly fascistic place’ to South Africa….If Mr. Benjamin is so prejudiced (‘ and [like him] I do say “if” ‘) we can hardly account his own views as unbiassed…..

        • Their government are behaving a lot like South Africa’s did, in many ways. Obviously “fascistic” is a loaded term where Israel is concerned but I don’t use it lightly. By using it I imply brutal repression along racial / ethnic lines and the creation of ghettos. I guess you don’t agree and I know lots of very vocal and articulate people who don’t. That’s your prerogative and I won’t brutally repress you for expressing it. You are even welcome to come and shout about it at one of my concerts but please buy a ticket first!

          • Tim If I may), if I go to a concert of your music and don’t (or do) like it, I may write a review or post a comment or two on the internet, but I won’t ‘fascistically’ impose my opinions on my fellow auditors – whether I have your permission to do so or not! This attitude is known as respect – it’s your prerogative to demean it, of course, and I won’t brutally repress you for doing so – indeed, you repress yourself thereby.

          • Yes that’s all fair – I think in order to actually disrupt my concert you would have to do so on the grounds that you don’t think it should be taking place at all; and that the act of putting on the concert in the first place supported some cause with which you have differences.

            If you just don’t like the music then the correct thing to do is either walk out (ideally without making a scene unlike a lady in Somerset once) or to boo at the end. (Or if you really want to offend the composer, come to him afterwards and say it was “interesting” with that kind of look that says you really didn’t like it but can’t summon up the courage to say so because you don’t feel qualified to explain why you don’t like it. I mean if you don’t like it, you don’t like it, I don’t mind!)

            Anyway, I think the point here is that the JQ are allegedly helping Israel’s government to portray itself as just another nice cultured Western-style democracy, and that therefore the protesters think the concert itself must be prevented or disrupted, to stop this impression from being given. I.e. the propaganda itself is to be torn down, rather than other propaganda to be distributed nearby. It seems to have worked – rather than a nice review somewhere (if they are lucky), instead we have a debate on Mr Lebrecht’s website about it.

  7. As long s the protests are peaceful and offer no threats or physical damage, the protestors should continue to protest.

    Why should classical music be kept in a political ivory tower? Ask Verdi, Sibelius or Beethoven about political involvement.

    • EricHeinze says:

      @ James: “Why should classical music be kept in a political ivory tower? Ask Verdi, Sibelius or Beethoven about political involvement.” Well, since they’re not here, I’ll ask you. What do YOU think those composers might have said about the fact that, for years, these actions have taken place in Britain ONLY against Israeli musicians, and none others, however repressive their states of origin? What do you think they would have thought about that kind of hypocrisy, that kind of ethical double-standard?

    • Surely their political voice was through their music. Hypocritical, self righteous displays by members of the audience have nothing to do with it.

    • Victor says:

      Yes, but if they come to my house and protest loudly at 3 AM, I would call the police. And classical music requires more silence than sleep.

  8. EricHeinze says:

    TB: Unfortunately, things are not nearly as relative as you suggest. The anti-Israel campaign in Britain has far exceeded actions against any other state, as the labour union positions, and the frightening level of university activity, make glaringly clear. it’s not China, Russia or Saudi Arabia they target, but Israel, and Israel alone.

    I won’t attack you for not knowing about BDS. But that suggests that you have not really followed the issue, which has been raging for ages now, and are therefore unaware of the lengths to which the anti-Israel campaigns have gone. That is presumably why it all looks to you like sheer hpersensitivity on an issue which, in your eyes, is just like any other. If you’re willing to read up on the ongoing BDS campaigns, and then post back on here your conviction that Israel is no different in Britain from any other political targeted, I’d be very interested to read your views.

    • Well once again I point to the example of South Africa, a similarly fascistic place a few years ago, and similarly attacked and boycotted by the public in the UK. It just so happens that they tried their spinning via sport rather than via music, but I put it to you that the protests against South Africa were just as strong, if not stronger, than these quite mild ones against Israel. E.g. putting broken glass on rugby pitches to prevent matches taking place.

      Israel are also very good at articulately trying to counter the protesters, who therefore have to be more and more vocal. Who’s to say that you aren’t One Of Them, taking the spin battle to cyberspace?

      • EricHeinze says:

        TB: “the protests against South Africa were just as strong, if not stronger” As you have just declared on here that you’ve never even heard of BDS, which has dominated the entire campaign for ages, it seems safe to say you’re all but announcing that you haven’t a clue what has gone on in Britain. You are, by your own very loud admission, speaking out of utter ignorance. As part of that ignorance, you apparently know no more about Israeli and Palestinian history than about that of South Africa.

        “Who’s to say that you aren’t One Of Them, taking the spin battle to cyberspace?” I don’t doubt that you intended that broadside to sound precisely as McCarthyite as it sounds. For someone who’s never heard of BDS, you fit them like a hand in a glove.

        • That’s very classy of you, an ad hominem attack!

          Why on earth I should have heard of this “BDS” is beyond me. When I was a teenager I was a very active supporter of the ANC (I assume you have heard of it) hence I know a little bit about South African apartheid. Other than that I do rather pick and choose my causes. What clearly little, ignorant and pathetic amount I know about Israel leads me to draw the comparison, which I believe to be a fair one.

          I just googled BDS and apparently it’s the British Deer Society. I don’t know what they have got to do with it, are you some kind of radical vegetarian perhaps?

  9. James Inverne says:

    I’ll pitch in if I may to make the point that someone else has made but has got rather lost in these feedback comments – protesting OUTSIDE events is legimitimate, whatever the cause, Disrupting the events and so stopping the vast majority who not only want to listen to the concert but have PAID to do so, is not only cultural vandalism and bullying, it is also actually burglary – audiences have exchanged money for the right to hear these performances, and these paid-for ‘goods’ if you like, are now being witheld from them by the protestors. You don’t think Israelis should perform in the UK? I strongly disagree. But fine, let’s discuss it outside and you try to persuade me. From the moment I walk in that hall though, your right to prevent me from hearing what I have paid to hear ends.

    • I’d also add that it’s extremely cowardly. Members of classical concert audiences are a mild mannered lot, so the risk is minimal. Go for easy targets – nice and safe.

    • Hear, hear! I used to get very cross when a certain P Hain tried to disrupt Welsh rugby in the 70s – there’s no difference. Once you’re inside the venue, you’ve bought a ticket and should be able to watch & listen without disruption. You either don’t buy the ticket in the first place, or you can be persuaded by discourse outside. Though protestors usually just go for the hammerhead of disruption (didn’t Fascists use these tactics in the 30s?)..

  10. Victor says:

    Were they fined or arrested?

  11. There were protests inside the RAH when Rostroprovich performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto with an orchestra from the USSR. It was in close proximity to the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
    Of course, a number of countries are built on questionable foundations (occupation,forceful removal of the original inhabitants etc.) but there’s a rawness and frustration when the events are so recent.

    • EricHeinze says:

      “there’s a rawness and frustration when the events are so recent.” Well, yes, at least in Israel’s case. I can only ask again: Where is the “a rawness and frustration” about China? Why have countless Chinese artists been welcomed, usually with no protest? Why a protest now over just about every Israeli writer, musician, etc., who visits? Why the labour union feeling of “rawness and frustration” only about Israel? Why were they moving to boycott Israel during the very years that Saif al-Islam Gadaffi and Bashir al-Assad were being wined and dined, living like princes, in London? Were the decades-old repression in Libya and Syria not “raw” enough? This is the oddest “rawness” that any human experience could possibly witness.

      Sorry, but I doubt very much that this has anything to do with feelings of “rawness and frustration”, — “rawness” is not quite so deliberately selective. Rather, it has a whole lot to do with Israel, and Israel alone. And, as you’ll note from TB and others, little care goes into justifying that discrimination, because it cannot be justified on even remotely ethical grounds.

      • Thanks EricHeinze, for ramrodding right through the usual and oh-so-painful-and-prevalent hypocrisy surrounding the blissful condemnation of Israel for its own sake. South Africa wasn’t formed out of the need of an decimated people; Israel was. It has been on the defensive since the evening of its ratification. Repudiating the country is a cause celebre among semi-pseudo-intellectuals who don’t read more than a headline and paragraph one.

  12. Michael Wilkinson says:

    I was at the disrupted concert. As far as I know, there were no arrests, merely ejections. A few thoughts. I do not see how the style of protest inside the venue would have gathered any support for the cause, and I think it probably detracted from the force of any arguments made by leaflet-givers outside. The internal protest contained no arguments and might have increased hostility to the cause supported. There are many means of supporting Palestinians, which I and others follow. But in any protest, there is a distinction between effective protest – which is about capturing hearts and minds – and simply the feel-good of the righteous ‘I shout louder than you’. Effectiveness matters; and this was not effective but probably hurtful to the cause. It is worth remembering that conflict resolution – as Northern Ireland and South Africa have shown – requires the parties to move beyond hatred to new self-understanding. Mere hatred breeds more hatred. And it is very hard to hate someone with whom one has shared something sublimely beautiful.

  13. Paul Mann says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with James Inverne.

  14. Mathieu says:

    I think everybody needs to cool off. I think that the current Israel politics towards the Palestinian people is short-sighted, catastrophic, and suicidary. This said, I do not see how disrupting a concert by the Jerusalem Quartet is helping the palestinian cause, except that buying a good conscience to those who do it.
    What does mean “cultural ambassadors” mean ? I mean, do they play the Haktivah before every concert ? No. Do they play patriotic songs? No. Do they take any public position on the Palestinian problem ? No. If they are funded by the Israeli government, it just proves that Israel (not like all countries) still funds the arts. So I have to agree with D. Conway on this.
    You can boycott them all right, but preventing them from playing is another kind of game. While I may boycott Israeli hummus (which I don’t, although the Lebanese one is much better, but less cheap), I do not prevent the importer from distributing it in my country. Boycotting is very different from disrupting.
    The comparison with South Africa is compelling (since in many regards there are similarities), but of very little use when one think of it. When you boycott the Olympic Games, you boycott an event with a high degree of international visibility. A concert by the JQ at Wigmore Hall has not the same impact, I think!

  15. Keith Ellis says:

    I tried to protest at a Rolling Stones concert once and nobody could hear me.

  16. Art and politics blend about as well as oil and water, so they get tossed into a blender and it is turned on “high” setting in the vain hope that that will do the trick.

    Disrupting the performance of art is barbaric. Regardless – in most cases – of the policies of their country of origin.

    When DO you start banning and/or protesting another country’s artists because they represent a politically odious government?

    Nobody banned German orchestras or artists after Hitler came to power. Au contraire, they were welcomed everywhere and they travelled a lot under Hitler, even after the Kristallnacht when the heinous nature of the nazi government was clear for everyone to see. To the best of my knowledge, nobody banned or protested Chinese, Greek, Argentinian or Spanish artists and composers when those countries were led by military juntas/dictatorships with quantities of blood on their hands.

    The NY Phil even travelled to North Korea in a pathetic and disgusting grab for publicity. There, they performed not for the average person who was freezing and hungry in his small apartment, but the elite, which supported a dictator who didn’t care if his own people died of hunger so long as he could build nuclear bombs. I’m sure Kim Jong-Il sent them a thank you letter for making his country look good.

    Using the arts as political tools were invented by that unholy trinity of Stalin, Hitler and Mao to show the superiority of their brand of government. Sadly, that example was quickly applied by just about every dictatorship or government with PR issues as a show of their support for the brotherhood of man. We can’t put that genie back into the bottle, alas. This past use of the arts has sadly rubbed off on artists, who are now perceived as tools of their governments, whether they agree with that government or not.

    As I know them, musicians are pretty apolitical, peaceful and highly supportive of human rights on the whole. The composers they are playing are no more, and very few of those composers, such as Wagner, were politically radical in their time. So what is to be done? You can’t make every artists fill out a questionnaire about their political beliefs to decide if they agree with their government’s policies or not before allowing them to perform. Regardless, a string quartet playing Haydn or Beethoven is hardly any kind of political statement.

    The Jerusalem Quartet, and any other Israeli artists, should be allowed to perform in peace unless their government behaves so horrifically that a boycott is warranted world-wide. Examples of such governments would be Syria, Iran and North Korea. Israel is very, very far from being anywhere in the league of those dictatorships. Yet had North Korea not insisted on an imbecilic rocket launch, the U.S. would be welcoming a North Korean orchestra now. Talk about double standards!

    Very few countries have clean political consciences, so let the citizens of the country without dirty political laundry in its closet be the first to throw out the musicians of another country. Great Britain played a major role in creating the mess in the Middle East, so I say to the demonstrators: Protest in front of the statues of your former political leaders if you protest outside and inside the concert hall where the Jerusalem Quartet performs.

  17. Even though our clarifications have been ignored so far. I would like to clarify again that:
    1) The Jerusalem Quartet’s concerts are not presented by, or sponsored by the israeli government.
    2) The Jerusalem Quartet does not receive funding or support from the state of Israel,
    3) Our mandatory military service did not exceed or go beyond what is required by Israeli law for the general population.
    4) We have no affiliation with the Israeli Military.
    5) The Jerusalem Music Center is not a government institution, and is mostly funded by private donations. It is located in West Jerusalem, well behind the 1967 “Green Line” and is in now way located in a settlement.

    Everyone here is discussing this issue in a very politically correct way, giving credence to all views. But I’m sorry to report that these protesters base their activity on a false premise, namely that the Jerusalem Quartet’s concerts are a part of some diabolical cover-up campaign instigated by the state of Israel. This is ludicrous.

    We are 4 private citizens of the state of Israel. Our personal political opinions are of no consequence here. Neither we, those who present our concert, nor the state of Israel use our performances as a political or propaganda tool.


    If they are so passionate about their cause, they could actually make a difference. Their current activities do nothing more than fulfill their misguided theatrical aspirations. I would be glad to point them in the direction of regional organizations who work daily to make a positive difference in the region’s gloomy situation.

    • EricHeinze says:

      Ori Kam: It’s horrendous that you and your colleagues should be backed into a corner like this, forced to defend yourselves, when musicians and artists from far worse states are showered with welcomes in Britain and throughout Europe.

      Don’t loose heart. Beyond the thugs, there are people who want to hear your music.

    • Mathieu says:

      Thank you, M. Kam. To be honest I believe the disrupters do not even know who you are. They see “Jerusalem” in your name, and bingo. Had you named your quartet the Wolfgang Quartet, or the Las Vegas Quartet, or whatever, you would not face such annoying events.
      And by the way (isn’t it more important?), all my congratulations on your impressive artistic achievements. When I first listened to your Haydn recording (thanks to a friend of mine who is even a bigger fan of yours), I just could not believe it.

    • Mr. Kam,

      You should not be put in a situation where you have to write an explanation like this. It is disgraceful that the “demonstrators” have achieved this much.

  18. José Bergher says:

    Oh God, another stupid show by those brainless thugs of the Palestinian Racket that has been trying to destroy Israel since 1948…

  19. Eric Hoffman says:

    It is very sad that a handful of deranged fanatics not only have managed to disrupt an excellent performance, but with their stupid action also have been given too much media attention, which they don’t deserve.
    Music and classical music in particular is the international language par excellence which can bring people together and make them enjoy beautiful works of most talented and gifted composers.

    Those who wish to make ‘political’ statements should seek other forums. With the disruption caused at the concert the demonstrators in question not only have forcefully attempted to ruin the pleasure of music lovers, but most certainly have excelled in showing off their complete ignorance of the situation in the Holy Land. With their action they are not helping a ’cause celebre’. On the contrary they are very much helping the corrupt regimes, such as Fatah, Hamas en Hezbollah, who are entirely responsible for the fate of many innocent Palestinians. Was that their intention?

  20. zhaomafan says:

    Yes, Tim Benjamin — Lang Lang is indeed a Chinese cultural ambassador. I know China very well and I can assure you that the PRC Government has actively promoted the development internationally of this very talented pianist. I first saw him perform in Beijing some years ago — everyone in China knows he was promoted and supported by the Government, and his well-earned international success coheres perfectly with the PRC Government;s new doctrine of “soft diplomacy”. The same is true of Yao Ming. Even HK-born stars such as Jackie Chan are sometimes enlisted, especially if they are considered 爱国家(“patriotic”). My point is that you are being entirely hypocritical to focus on whether the Government of Israel has subventioned in any way Israeli performers or artists. If that is your standard, then you should be protesting against Chinese artists as well. But you don;t actually give a damn, because in fact you are totally focussed on Israel, along amongst the nations. WHy? The question cries out for psychoanalytic investigation. What animus propels you in this way? we really all do want to know (although we suspect we already know the answer, even if you will never admit it……)

  21. Graf Nugent says:

    Let’s have a look at those demographics closer to home and then see who’s occupying whom.

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