Last night, a concert given by the Israel Philarmonic Orchestra led by renowned conductor Zubin Mehta at London’s Royal Albert Hall was disrupted by agitators from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign chanting “Free, Free Palestine!!!” The audience, to its credit, wasn’t having any of it chanting, “Out! Out! Out!”
The disruptions forced BBC Radio to suspend it’s live broadcast of the concert. The performance by the Israeli Philharmonic was part a long standing summer series known as The Proms where audiences hear orchestras the world over play every night for eight weeks.
It is not the first time that the Israeli Philharmonic has been subject to protests. Back in February, my parents saw the Israeli Philharmonic play at Carnegie Hall and they encountered protesters outside the legendary venue who accused Israel of racism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. As obnoxious as these protests were, at least they weren’t brazen enough to actually disrupt the concert itself.
Brendan O’Neill of The Telegraph has an interesting take on the whole sordid affair:
No matter how much activists try to present this as a political campaign, designed to challenge Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, there is no doubting its visceral component. Modern-day Israel-bashers bring to mind those loopy people who claim to suffer from Chemical Sensitivity Disorder and who thus never wear deodorant or perfume or certain kinds of clothing and only eat organic foodstuffs lest they get poisoned by pesticides. Only middle-class radicals suffer from what we might call Israel Sensitivity Disorder, where they fight tooth and nail to ensure that they – and the whole of Britain – are never subjected to any idea or item that has its origins in poisonous Israel.
Later in his piece, O’Neill laments:
The great and terrible irony is that anti-Israel activists claim to be fighting against Israel’s imposition of an apartheid system in the Middle East, yet they themselves practise a kind of cultural apartheid against Israel, demanding the expulsion from polite European society of everything that originates in that country. The end result is the cultural ghettoisation of Israeli thinkers, artists and musicians. Perhaps the Israeli Phil should only play behind tall brick walls, so that the rest of us no longer have to hear their apparently political, oppressive music.
I am sure anti-Israel activists would not only prefer the Israeli Philharmonic to play behind tall brick walls it would come as no surprise to me if they were to favor that its members wear yellow stars during their performance. In case you think I exaggerate, take a wild guess as to who wrote this passage concerning the Jews:
Culturally, he contaminates art, literature, the theater, makes a mockery of natural feeling, overthrows all concepts of beauty and sublimity, of the noble and the good, and instead drags men down into the sphere of his own base nature.
Ladies and gentlemen, this comes straight out of Mein Kempf from the warped mind of one Adolf Hitler.
So while O’Neill might make the case that middle-class radicals suffer from Israel Sensitivity Disorder. I would diagnose them with a far more ancient malady: anti-Semitism.
Now some will invariably argue that being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic aren’t synonymous. Yet one must wonder if these protests have been so visceral if Israel wasn’t Jewish? When it comes to how Iran, Syria and for that matter the Palestinian Authority treat their own people, these protesters are nowhere to be found. Apparently, only the world’s lone Jewish state warrants their hatred and contempt.