Tony Greenstein | 02 September 2011 | Post Views:

Thanks to Lee Whittaker for 8 of the photos

Proud to Disrupt the IPO

18 months ago I was proud to take part in the disruption of a concert by the Israeli Occupation Forces ‘Distinguished Musicians’ – the Jerusalem Quartet at London’s Wigmore Hall. But this was even better.

The Wigmore Hall has a capacity of around 300. The Royal Albert Hall holds around 4,000 and is a truly massive venue so it was always going to be much more difficult. It is therefore doubly gratifying to learn that we got the concert pulled from BBC Radio 3 with all the massive publicity that entailed.

We were promised enhanced security, bag searches etc. but this was all bluff. My bag search was cursory, there were no spotter cards of disruptors and I had no difficulty whatsoever getting to my seat! But I didn’t take any chances and with another Jewish comrade, Bruce of Ahava fame [yes we’re both Zionists according to Gilad Atzmon] we made our entrance via Hyde Park which was opposite, thus not giving the Zionist demonstrators any opportunity to pick us out. And the gods were with us because I made straight for an entrance away from the Zionists and it was the right one first time!! Clearly god isn’t always on the Zionists’ side!

I must confess that when I was approached earlier this week about taking part I was first hesitant, as I am still suffering from whiplash and the effects of a nasty car crash less than a month ago. So I didn’t particularly want to get into a bundle with security if it could be helped. I also didn’t like our seats, high up in the circle, as heights and me don’t mix, but it was the only way to display the flag!

And the organisation of the protest was impressive for its security and attention to detail. I think I can now reveal that choir practice was held on Lincoln’s Inn Field, amidst all the barristers’ chambers at 5.00 p.m.!

The turn-out for the demonstration from London and the lack of any mobilisation by Palestine Solidarity Campaign nationally was extremely disappointing. However a good 30 of us were in the hall and it seemed like half the Brighton branch of PSC were there. I counted 9 people.

There are of course those who say that this is cultural and musical and not political. This argument which the BBC puts out was, of course, the same argument that the BBC used to use to defend its coverage of cricket from White South Africa and why it refused to boycott Apartheid ‘culture’. And no doubt during the Nazi era, when the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Wilhelm Furtwangler toured abroad as cultural ambassadors for Hitler the BBC would have used the same argument.

We though say, loud and clear, culture is an inextricable part of the tools of an oppressive state. It legitimises the oppression. it pretends that a state which loves the revolutionary Beeethoven couldn’t possibly be repressive. Those who listened to the IPO last night are of the same ilk who would have justified not disrupting Furtwangler. No doubt enjoying the BPO, Hitler’s musical ambassadors, was more important than protesting about the Nuremburg Laws and the stripping of Jews political and civil rights in Germany (prior to their later deportation).

I just hope that if I’d lived through the 1930’s that I would have been part of those who gave the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra a warm welcome. Because the BPO, just like its Israeli counterparts, was subsidised by the State to portray a softer, kinder, gentler face of repression. All repressive states are Janus like. With one face turned towards international approval whilst the other face is armed and snarling.

And being Jewish it was doubly important for us to send the message that Israeli culture is the other side of the expulsions and massacres. What is more important? The child blinded by plastic bullets and beaten up in a military jail or the right of British toffs and Zionist racists to enjoy their ‘culture’? And when Israel raids and detains workers at the Freedom Theatre in Jenin and attacks Palestinian Cultural Festivals only the worst hypocrite can protest about boycotts.

For further information see the BBC’s own report of what happened , coverage in the Electronic Intifada, the Guardian and a Zionist site bemoaning our triumph.

And the Zionists, being hypocrites, will moan and wail about the terrible disruption of their cultural enjoyment as they held a counterdemonstration alongside the fascist EDL of course. Strange that they forget that in the 1970’s and 1980’s during the Soviet Jewry campaign (a campaign aimed at getting settlers from Russia to come to Israel – primarily by stopping them emigrate to the USA where over 90% of them went – the Zionists campaigned for the US to impose immigration barriers and Begin went over to lobby Reagan!) the Zionists regularly disrupted the Bolshoi and Russian performers and artistic performances.

Strange that sauce for the Zionist goose isn’t sauce for the Palestinian gander!

But the last word to Aharon Shabtai, Israel’s greatest living poet, who wrote refused to take part in the Paris book fair, who wrote:

Aharon Shabtai

‘Dear Edna,

Thank you for your letter.

I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural week. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel, and even to France that sustains the occupation. And I do not want to participate.”

Kind regards,

Aharon Shabtai

7 December, 2007’

Tony Greenstein

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