There is a classic non sequitur in James Oestreich’s account of Salzburg’s sacred prelude to its summer festival, in Wednesday’s New York Times. In praise of an Israel Philharmonic concert consisting of Schoenberg’s Kol Nidrei and Noam Sherriff’s Mechaye Hametim, Oestreich writes:
The concert was greeted warmly, even clamorously, by an almost full house. This, in a city with a long tradition of anti-Semitism, came in striking contrast to, say, the Israel Philharmonic’s reception last September at the London Proms, where hecklers, injecting current Middle East politics, disrupted a concert.
Hello? What’s the connection? The Israel Phil’s concert at the Proms (not attended apparently by Mr Oestreich) was also greeted warmly, even clamorously – the more so after a handful of protesters were ejected. Other concerts in London by the Israel Phil have been equally well received.
The disrupted Prom was an isolated political incident, relating to the Middle East and with no direct antisemitic connotation (though some of the protesters might not stand up too well under racialist questioning). It happened. It’s over. London was the capital of the war against Hitler. It is a tolerant, multicultural city.
To compare London and its audiences unfavourably on antisemitic traditions with Salzburg, where Jews were expelled and murdered within living memory, is a travesty of logic and history. As criticism goes, it’s off the wall – sloppy, misinformed and prejudiced.
It reads like a Mitt Romney review.