Tag Archives: BBC

NIGEL KENNEDY LOOKS FORWARD TO END OF “ZIONIST APARTHEID”

Violinist Nigel Kennedy, whose remark about the “apartheid” conditions faced by Palestinians was censored from a BBC Prom concert broadcast, has vigorously defended his comment, adding more fuel to the row about the BBC’s decision. See the Jewish Chronicle’s coverage here and here.

In an open letter to young  musicians of the Palestine Strings with whom he shared the stage to spectacular effect on August 8, Kennedy, who is billed to play at the Last Night of the Proms on September 7, wrote:

Your performance at the Royal Albert Hall was something to be proud of and demonstrated the benefits of people being treated equally as opposed to being decimated and robbed by an apartheid system.

As you have seen, there is huge support for stopping the abuse of your human rights. My short comment [about apartheid] was purely observational and humanist. It surely wouldn’t have been censored if it had been referring to the benefits of the demise of the apartheid in South Africa when playing with an African ensemble. Many thanks however to [everyone] for giving a world platform to the important discussion concerning Zionist apartheid.

I hope life is treating you ok. We all miss you over here. I’m sorry to hear that the “normal” treatment of Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities led to you being detained for twelve hours. I am looking forward to playing with you again soon and to the days when we can play on a level playing field in Palestine and throughout the world.

No further information is available at the time of writing about the detention of the young musicians Kennedy refers to.

The BBC has insisted that Kennedy’s “apartheid” remark was cut for purely editorial reasons. But an article in the Jewish Chronicle before the TV broadcast on August 23 referred approvingly to lobbying efforts by Zionists, among them Baroness Deech, a well-known pro-Israel advocate and former BBC governor.

The decision to censor has provoked serious online discussion in musical and activist circles, with writers’ organisation PEN and Index on Censorship weighing in in Kennedy’s defence. The Daily Telegraph published a letter signed by 32 Jews opposed to the BBC’s decision, among them actress Miriam Margolyes and writer/comedian Alexei Sayle.

An online petition - Don’t Censor the Palestine Prom – has gathered more than 1,100 signatures and remains open.

NIGEL KENNEDY CONDEMNS BBC’S “CENSORSHIP AND IMPERIAL LACK OF IMPARTIALITY”

The following statement has been issued on behalf of violin maestro Nigel Kennedy in response to the BBC’s decision to censor a remark he made  during a Prom concert with young Palestinian musicians on August 8 (see previous post for details).

Will the BBC now have the courage to restore Kennedy’s comment to its rightful place in the TV broadcast of the concert on August 23?  Will they continue with his scheduled appearance as one of the stars in the gala Last Night of the Proms on September 7?

As Kennedy says,  the BBC may have done us a favour by inadvertently generating “discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”

A spokesperson for Nigel Kennedy said:

“Nigel Kennedy finds it incredible and quite frightening that in the 21st century it is still such an insurmountable problem to call things the way they are. He thinks that once we can all face issues for what they really are we can finally have a chance of finding solutions to problems such as human rights, equal rights and even, perhaps, free speech. His first reaction to the BBC’s censorship & imperial lack of impartiality was to refuse to play for an employer who is influenced by such dubious outside forces.

Mr Kennedy has, however, reminded himself that his main purpose is to provide the audience with the best music he can deliver. To withdraw his services would be akin to a taxi driver refusing to drive their customer due to their political incorrectness. He, therefore, is not withdrawing his services that he owes to his audience, but is half expecting to be replaced by someone deemed more suitable than him due to their surplus of opportunism and career aspirations.

Mr Kennedy is glad, however, that by censoring him the BBC has created such a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.

Mr Kennedy believes his very small statement during his concert was purely descriptive and not political whatsoever.”

BBC PLANS TO CENSOR NIGEL KENNEDY PROM BROADCAST

This picture from the Proms website beautifully illustrates  the collaboration between Kennedy and the young musicians from Palestine Strings. BBC/Chris Christodoulou

This picture from the Proms website beautifully illustrates the collaboration between Nigel Kennedy and the young musicians of the Palestine Strings. BBC/Chris Christodoulou

In an astonishingly supine display of cowardice, the BBC has bowed to pressure from Zionist lobbyists and said it intends to cut out an allusion to Israeli apartheid  when it broadcasts a Promenade concert by the brilliant and mercurial violinist Nigel Kennedy.

Kennedy, a long-standing supporter of Palestinian rights, used the word “apartheid” in a brief reference to the hostile life circumstances of young Palestinian musicians performing with him at the Royal Albert Hall in London on August 8.

At the end of a warmly received re-working of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons involving Arabic, Jazz and many other styles, Kennedy said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from experiencing this night of music tonight, that given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”

The concert had indeed shown that, in the face of adversity, Palestinian musicians could hold their own on one of the most prestigious of world stages. Audience reaction on the night was rapturous and reviews by music critics in the TimesGuardianIndependent and Telegraph were overwhelmingly favourable.

An in-depth advance piece in the Financial Times had offered a valuable insight into the way music and politics are intertwined in the lives of Palestinian players.

It must have been fury at the granting of a such a high-profile platform to Palestinian cultural self-expression that sent the pro-Israel camp into a vengeful frenzy. Marcus Dysch, political correspondent at the incorrigibly Zionist Jewish Chronicle, wrote that former BBC governor Baroness Deech had demanded an apology from Kennedy for his “offensive and untrue” remarks.

Tweeting about the story he had written, Dysch celebrated a deliberate attempt to undermine the growing boycott movement directed at Israeli crimes:

“Another #BDSfail - BBC to cut Nigel Kennedy’s anti-Israel rant from Proms broadcast”

Even the JC editors thought “anti-Israel rant” was a bit strong, preferring to label Kennedy’s innocuous words a “slur”.

The BBC said: “Nigel’s comment to the audience at his late-night prom on August 8 will not be included in the deferred BBC 4 broadcast on August 23 because it does not fall within the editorial remit of the proms as a classical music festival.”
 
This excuse is similar  to the BBC’s lame justification for beeping out rap artist Mic Righteous’ shout  of “Free Palestine” on Radio 1Xtra in February 2011 and for the last-minute pulling of an advertised TV documentary about archaeology in the Holy Land earlier this year.

A campaign is now underway to stop the BBC redacting Kennedy’s offending truths from its August 23 Prom broadcast.

Sign the petition.

Comment on the Proms Facebook page

Write to BBC chairman Chris Patten (chris.patten@bbc.co.uk or lord.patten@bbc.co.uk), copying the BBC Trust (trust.inquiries@bbc.co.uk) and asking them to make sure your letter goes to Patten and relevant executives.

 

Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row

New Statesman 15 ‎September ‎2011

By Ben White

The London Philharmonic Orchestra management has some serious questions to answer.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended four of its musicians for up to nine months for putting their names to a letter, published in the Independent, that called for the BBC to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic.

For expressing support for the Palestinian boycott call, these individuals have received what has been called “the most severe penalty inflicted on London orchestral musicians in memory”.

Plenty of people have been disturbed by the LPO management’s response, including those who disagree with the views expressed by the four musicians. Classical music journalist Gavin Dixon, for example, has written that “the efforts by the LPO management to distance themselves from the views of these players has clearly been an over-reaction”.

Norman Geras, someone who thinks that boycotting Israel is “contemptible”, has written of his concern about “whether a nine-month suspension from one’s job for writing a letter to a newspaper isn’t rather excessive”. Geras also raises the legitimate questions about LPO internal disciplinary policy, and asks:

“Why should members of an orchestra not be free to signal their professional affiliation when publicly expressing their views? Academics do it as a matter of course, and no one assumes that the University of Edinburgh, or Oxford, or Birmingham, or wherever, is implicated in the views that their members have publicly espoused.”

There are many unanswered questions here.

First: the letter appeared in the Independent on 30 August. On 2 September, in what seems like the first official public response to enquiries, LPO chief executive Timothy Walker told the Jerusalem Post:

“The views expressed by four members of the LPO concerning the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Proms are the views of the individuals and not the company.”

A reasonable (and rather obvious) clarification statement – but no indication that the musicians were liable to face internal disciplinary action, let alone the severity of a 9-month suspension. What happened between 2 September and the decision to mete out the punishment?

Second: On 8 September, the Jewish Chronicle reported that an LPO violinist had been suspended for launching “an anti-Israel tirade at a question and answer session”. The article said that “LPO chief executive Timothy Walker confirmed she had been suspended indefinitely” and that “the LPO board will decide on what disciplinary action to take”. But the recent confirmation of four suspensions by LPO is reported as because of signing the letter — not for “an anti-Israel tirade”. Which is it?

Third: On announcing the suspension, the official LPO management statement said “the board’s decision in this matter will send a strong and clear message”. This indicates that the severity of the punishment is motivated by deterrence, rather than being an appropriate response guided by established practice or policy.

Finally, it was Gavin Dixon who pointedly noted that the LPO is “obviously trying to appease somebody. It would be indiscreet to speculate as to who and why”.

www.newstatesman.com – Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row

What you can do:

Write a politely worded post on the LPO Facebook page expressing your opposition to the decision to suspend four musicians for signing a letter supporting justice, human rights and the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. Thank you!

“We will picket the Proms”:

BRICUP calls on ‘music-lovers of conscience’ to boycott the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

J-BIG endorses this statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine protesting the scheduled appearance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms in London on September 1.

Add your voice by sending protest emails to Proms Director Roger Wright c/o his assistant: yvette.pusey@bbc.co.uk

Hard copy letters to:

Roger Wright,
Controller BBC Radio 3
Director BBC Proms,
Broadcasting House,
Portland Place
London W1B 1DJ

PRESS RELEASE 7th August 2011

BRICUP, the organisation promoting academic and cultural boycott of Israel within the UK, today called on promenaders to shun the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra when it plays at the Royal Albert Hall on 1st September.

BRICUP was responding to the open letter sent to the Proms organisers on July 18th by PACBI, its Palestinian counterpart.  PACBI referred to “the IPO’s complicity in whitewashing Israel’s persistent violations of international law and human rights”, mentioning specifically the IPO’s services to the Israeli army dating back to the ethnic cleansing of the Nakba in 1948 and the occupations of 1967, and continuing up to the present day: “the IPO proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts”.  On behalf of the leading Palestinian musical and cultural organisations, PACBI called on the BBC to withdraw its invitation to the IPO.

BRICUP wrote its own letter to Roger Wright, Director of the Proms, on 31st July, attaching a copy of PACBI’s Open Letter for good measure. In it BRICUP’s chair, Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, wrote: “By inviting the IPO, a pillar of the Israeli state system and of its cultural propaganda campaign, you provide the Israeli government, perpetrator of the Cast Lead invasion of Gaza and of so many other violations of international law and of human rights, with the support that they crave.  Cancel the concert!”

Like PACBI, BRICUP has received no reply from the BBC.

“This is no surprise to anyone who knows what the BBC is like regarding Palestine”, said Dr. Sue Blackwell, one of 19 people who pursued an appeal to the BBC Trust concerning bias in the Panorama programme about the Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara.  “The BBC would not even screen the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for civilians in Gaza who had had their homes and schools bombed in Operation Cast Lead, and they recently bleeped the word ‘Palestine’ out of a rap performance by Mic Righteous.”

“We can only assume they are ignoring us” said BRICUP’s Chris Burns-Cox.  “They are mistaken if they think we will just go away.  We are now calling on all music-lovers of conscience to boycott this Prom, and to call on the BBC to cancel it.  We will be picketing and leafleting outside the Royal Albert Hall on 1st September”.

Prof. Rosenhead said: “For years now the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been promoting ‘Brand Israel’, a deliberate PR campaign to divert people’s gaze from what they are doing to Palestinians. The idea is to craft a new image by focusing on Israel’s cultural and scientific achievements. This Prom concert by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra is part of the Brand Israel campaign.”

Notes for Editors

1.            Details of the Prom appear on the BBC website here:

2.            The PACBI (Palestinian BDS campaign) call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel:

3.            PACBI’s open letter: “Out of Tune with Human Rights”

   BBC Proms: Cancel Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Invitation

4.            BRICUP’s letter to Roger Wright:

July 31 2011

Roger Wright,

Controller BBC Radio 3
Director BBC Proms,
Broadcasting House,
Portland Place
London
W1B 1DJ

Dear Roger Wright

Israel Philharmonic at the Proms

You may already be aware of the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel for the invitation to the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra to perform at this year’s Proms season to be cancelled. In case you have not, I attach a copy of their Open Letter.

I shall not repeat here the arguments in that letter, signed by an impressive array of Palestinian cultural organisations. They are supported also by British organizations concerned to see justice for Palestinians. Boycott is a non-violent way, requested by Palestinian civil society, to bring the pressure of world civil society to bear on the Israeli public and government. By inviting the IPO, a pillar of the Israeli state system and of its cultural propaganda campaign, you provide the Israeli government, perpetrator of the Cast Lead invasion of Gaza and of so many other violations of international law and of human rights, with the support that they crave.

 Cancel the concert!

Yours sincerely

(Professor) Jonathan Rosenhead

Chair, BRICUP

Please reply to: [ home address supplied ]

www.bricup.org.uk

BBC: Gaza crisis shows fault lines among UK Jews

By John McManus BBC News

3 June 2010

“They’ve been brainwashed…with Israeli propaganda”

Deborah Fink of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. 

Up to 500 demonstrators from Britain’s Jewish community have held a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London, to offer support to the country following the death of nine activists on a ship bound for Gaza.

They say that Israel is being unfairly demonised.

They were opposed by a smaller counter demonstration of pro-Palestinian activists.

Police say one man was arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

Britain’s Zionist Federation organised the protest at short notice, using Facebook and e-mails to urge people to come to the embassy in west London.

Protestors from both sides were herded into pens on Kensington High Street, while the gates leading to the private road on which the embassy is situated remained closed and guarded by several police officers.

“We want people to know that people aren’t starving in Gaza” The chairman of the Zionist Federation, Andrew Balcombe, told the crowd that Israel had enforced the blockade to protect itself.

He said that Hamas were terrorists, and had fired thousands of rockets into Israel. He said that – by comparison – Israel’s actions on the high seas were perfectly legal.

“Israel and Egypt both blockade Gaza, it’s not just Israel, it’s Egypt as well and more people and goods go in through Israel than anywhere else”.

Mr Balcombe also said that the situation in Gaza was not at crisis point.

Unfair demonisation?

“We want people to know that people aren’t starving in Gaza. You go and have a look at the adverts for the clubs in Gaza, they’re doing very very well thank you very much.

“There’s lots of food. Israel takes in a day into Gaza, more than those ships brought”.

Many of the people supporting Israel were teenagers, and several of them expressed their frustration at what they saw as unfair demonisation.

Both sides say they will continue to voice their opinions loudly
Douglas Stewart, 17, said that the media have used the situation in Gaza to target Israel.

“We’re not here to support all of Israel’s action – every state has its weaknesses – but we’re here to support the image of Israel as a haven for the Jewish people, as a haven for any community.

“It’s the most democratic state in the Middle East. There are so many good aspects about it”.

He denied a charge made by some Palestinian supporters, that he and other young British Jews had been misled by their elders.

“There’s some Jews over there [at the opposing demonstration]. I think they’re indoctrinating the nation. They are a small minority of people.

‘Brainwashed’ by propaganda?

Mr Stewart also said he thought that British Jews who supported Israel were also more likely to back the British state than Palestinian supporters.

“The vast majority of Jews support Israel, and support Britain. We’re very patriotic”.

Further down the road at the opposing demonstration, Deborah Fink from the organisation Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), said it was “disgusting” that so many children were present to support the Israeli state.

“There will never be peace while there is an occupation of Gaza” said Deborah Fink of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. “They’ve been brainwashed. We wouldn’t bring loads of children out to things like this. They go to schools where they’re brainwashed with Israeli propaganda”.

Ms Fink is one of many British Jews who campaign for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

“There will never be peace while there is an occupation of Gaza”.

Ms Fink also said that she believed that some supporters of the English Defence League were also at the protest.

Organisers of the pro-Israel protest said they had made it clear that the EDL, who have been accused of Islamophobia, were not welcome but that a separate space had been reserved for them.

Both sides say they will continue to voice their opinions loudly, and more demonstrations by pro-Palestinian groups are expected in London this weekend.