My friend Steven Isserlis, vociferous in his condemnation of the recent attacks on the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, has published a letter in the Times expressing ‘dismay’ at the suspension of four London Philharmonic players who called publicly for the IPO to be banned.
The two events are not linked, except inasmuch as the LPO players’ letter to the Independent could be seen to legitimise the subsequent assault on the Israeli players (one of the LPO players went on to assault the Israeli musicians verbally at a public meeting).
Here is Steven’s letter; The Times does not publish online. My own view is that the suspension was justified but its length too severe.
Sir, I was outraged by the antics of the protesters at the Israel Philharmonic Prom concert a couple of weeks ago; but I am dismayed now to learn that four members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra have been suspended for signing their names to a letter that appeared in advance of that concert, in which it was claimed that the invitation to the Proms sent out the wrong signals to the public.
Profoundly though I disagree with the contents of that letter, it was neither disruptive nor illegal, and in no way merited such severe disciplinary action. Why is it that anything pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian issue almost invariably results in such massive over-reaction on both sides in this country? I am reminded of the Monty Python bed salesman who was quite alright until the word ‘mattress’ was mentioned – at which point he would immediately put a paper bag over his head. Come to think of it, that might not be such a bad idea for some of the protagonists in this sorry affair.
Steven Isserlis, London N1