Unlike yesterday’s letter to the Daily Telegraph, which was signed by hardcore pro-Pal sympathisers, today’s in the Guardian draws on the whole on academics with no past stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Several are known to me as reasonable people and good thinkers.
Nevertheless, their reasoning is profoundly flawed. The thrust of their argument is to take a statement by the LPO chairman Martin Hohmann that ‘music and politics don’t mix’ and contrast it with the LPO’s recent video in support of Dutch orchestras who are suffering swingeing government cuts. If the LPO can intervene in Dutch politics why, they demand, can’t some of its players demand a ban on the Israel Philharmonic?
Let me spell it out. The Dutch video was a gesture of solidarity, musicians to musicians, no politics involved.
The call for an IPO ban was musicians against musicians, using the LPO’s name to align it with one side of a political conflict. If they had asked permission to use the LPO name, it would have been refused. If they had gone ahead anyway, they would have been sanctioned by their colleagues in the orchestra – as, ultimately, happened.
This is not a political or free speech issue, simply a matter of unprofessional behaviour.
Let me add, I hope for the last time, that I believe the punishment was too severe and should be set aside, and have said as much in print.