Protesters silence Israeli musicians in London

Performers stop to debate Israel's policy in Occupied Territories with activists

A lunchtime concert in central London by a renowned classical quartet became a platform for protests against Israel in the latest manifestation of how culture has become enmeshed in the bitter politics of the Middle East.

Within the first 10 minutes of the performance by the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall a woman stood up to "sing out" her condemnation of Israeli policy, setting the pattern for interruptions by people strategically positioned among the audience.

The result was that BBC Radio 3's live recording of the concert had to be broken off under extraordinary scenes with the musicians engaged in a debate on stage with the protesters over the conduct of Israel in the Occupied Territories.

Campaigners against the perceived excesses of the Jewish state have been increasingly using education and the arts as means of exerting pressure, and calling for boycotts which have led to heated debates. The Jerusalem Quartet has been at the receiving end of this going back to 2008, when five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign faced charges for disrupting a performance in Edinburgh.

Bloggers described yesterday's protests. One wrote: "A woman rose to her feet and made a noise. For a split second, I was unsure what it was; then I realised that she was singing. 'Jerusalem' was the first word, followed by 'is occupied'. She proceeded to shout out denunciations of Israel, 'an apartheid state', the attack on Gaza, the use of phosphorous, and so forth, seeming to implicate the quartet".

Protesters claim the ensemble is tied with the Israeli state and point to the Jerusalem Music Centre's website which states: "The four members of the Quartet joined the Israeli Defence Forces in March 1997 and are serving as distinguished musicians."

Military service is compulsory for any Israeli citizen at the age of 18 and people such as the violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov have served their time with the Israeli Defence Forces. However, as Jessica Duchen, the classical music writer, noted: "That means they're regarded wherever they go as representatives of the Israeli government, the IDF and their policies, such as the dropping of phosphorus on Gaza, the building of the 9-metre-high separation wall and the continued building/enlarging of settlements that, according to international law, are not legal. I'm afraid they do become fair game for the hecklers... It's a horrible dilemma if you love their playing but hate what their government is doing."

The Quartet pointed out that only one of their four is now a native Israeli, with one living in Portugal and another in Berlin. All four did serve in the army, but as musicians and not in combat. Two are also regular performers with Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which brings Arab and Israeli musicians together for classical concerts.

The director of the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly, said: "The protesters completely take away the meaning of an artistic event, which is something which transcends politics."

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Administrator - London - £26,000

£26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London