Israel Philharmonic: a farewell summary

Israel Philharmonic: a farewell summary


norman lebrecht

September 25, 2011

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra ends its European tour tonight in Verona, before returning home for the Jewish New Year.

The only disruption to its concerts was in London. Other pro-Pal actions promised elsewhere failed to materialise. In Spain, Queen Sofia attended their concert (pic’d here with Zubin Mehta).

Zubin with Queen Sofia

What can we conclude? Not much, except that London now has the best organised anti-Israel mob in Europe (possibly excepting Oslo) along with the most receptive left-wing media for encouraging concert disruptions. Last week, Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian warned that the London Philharmonic, which suspended four players for anti-Israel statements,  ‘will have only itself to blame’  if its concerts are ‘disrupted by protests’.

The Guardian is effectively inciting further attacks on live orchestral concerts, is it not?


  • Janet Green says:

    Maybe you could try seeing the London protesters as for Palestinian Human Rights rather than anti-Israel.

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      How will screaming doggerel at a symphony orchestra concert improve anyone’s human rights? This is the politics of the lunatic asylum.

  • Warren Maxwell says:

    Norman, I completely agree with your perspective.

  • Geoff Pahoff says:

    The BDS campaign is antisemitic, pure and simple. This is because it has as it’s objective the eradication of the Jewish state, for the sole reason that it is not a Muslim state. It is an attack on human rights.

    It also openly uses antisemitic rhetoric. It has nothing to do with the promotion of human rights, the Palestinians’ human rights least of all. It is astonishing that there are still voices in respectable intellectual circles that don’t seem to get that.

    It is also astonishing that there are those who think it relevant, or even particularly interesting, that there are a few Jews upfront for cover. There always have been. Besides the hard left would have been making a special effort to recruit them for years. When it comes to useful idiots, these are especially useful right now.

    This anti-Israel hysteria that you have allowed to build up in London culture to the point where the world saw that incident at the Albert Hall a while back should shock and shame you. The fact that there were musicians involved, either in the actual attack or as signatories to the precursor letter, should shock and shame you more.

    I have the luxury of not caring a ratsarse about the fate of a bunch of musos too stupid to know the difference between their politics and their craft. But I do care about London.

    Those who genuinely care about the human rights of the Palestinians should do their very best to persuade them to accept the Jewish state and to accept the Palestinian state and to accept peace.

    End of issue.

    All the rest is bogus. Lies and propaganda.

    This nasty and incessant anti-Israel talk, identical to the antisemitic chatter of the 1930’s, should not be acceptable in polite circles, let alone in intellectual forums.

    You have seen what it can lead to. You must know where it can go from here. Whenever the subject of these musicians comes up, it would be good to hear that occasionally, just occasionally, that subject comes up as well.

  • On my blog I called for a moratorium on injecting politics into music. When I go to a performance I don’t want to hear the artists giving a little rant beforehand–no matter what side they are on! Even worse are disruptions of concerts by people wanting to tout their cause. I don’t care what cause they are promoting; it is a mild form of terrorism. Instead of flying a jetliner into an office building, I’ll just shout out at your concert. If you want to build awareness of your cause, try arguing for it instead of acting like terrorists.

  • This series of posting about the Israel Phil protests and the comments that followed them have to be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen on ArtsJournal – which is saying quite a bit, given the nature of the arts world. It is interesting how 70 years of war (if not a 3000 year old blood feud) makes people on *both* sides so irrational. They abandon almost any sense of fairness and develop a hallucinogenic vision of their opponent’s actions and motives. Maybe the best commentary is some good old British humor via Monty Python:

    Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
    Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
    Sir Bedevere: A newt?
    Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.
    Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!

    • Julian Rowlands says:

      Well at least it’s allowed you to feel smugly superior, William

      • Monty again (and on that theme about politics and music):

        Minstrel: [singing] He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin His head smashed in and his heart cut out And his liver removed and his bowels unplugged And his nostrils raped and his bottom burnt off And his penis…
        Sir Robin: That’s enough music for now, lads.

        • Geoff Pahoff says:

          Dear me. There certainly is a lot of mangling and cutting and witch burning and pent up anger in general really, in British humor, isn’t there, when you come to think of it? I wonder what has given rise to that do you think?