Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Anti-Israel extremists disrupt Jerusalem Quartet concert in Edinburgh

From Harry's Place comes the infuriating news that the Jerusalem Quartet concert in Edinburgh was interrupted repeatedly by hecklers led by Mick Napier, head of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. (Read here and here and here. My earlier piece on the protest plans can be read here.)

Napier justifies his actions by portraying the Quartet as Israeli agents when traveling overseas and as overzealous IDF soldiers who "put down their rifles (to) hold violins" when in Israel. (Read here.) Neither is true. In fact, three of the four members of the Jerusalem Quartet participate in a joint Palestinian - Israeli orchestra founded by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, and sponsored by the Barenboim-Said Foundation. This orchestra, called the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, exists to foster artistic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Napier and his cohorts deliberately spread distortions and lies to encourage those who would disrupt concerts, deny freedom of expression and stifle attempts to foster international cooperation. What the world needs more of is precisely what Napier acts against. May he continue to fail in his mission, only, one hopes, more quietly.


Rob said...

First of all, let me say that while I support the demonstration outside the Queen's Hall (which seems to have gone off perfectly peacefully, good-naturedly even) I think disrupting the performance itself was neither big nor clever.

The Jerusalem Quartet have been granted "Distinguished Musician" status by the IDF. While taht doesn't make them "overzealous" they're not simple national sevicemen either, but receive funding and benefits in return for being IDF poster boys. They have a perfect right to do that, of course, but I don't have to apporove of it any more than I would be happy if the Kronos Quartet were to announce that they were sponsored by Lockheed Martin. I am aware that some members play for Daniel Barenboim's laudable ensemble (I have only been able to confirm the viola and cello players as members, so I'm not sure whether it's two or three), and if the East-West Divan Orchestra played in Edinburgh I would be fully supportive of them all. However, last Friday's concert was not by Barenboim et al but by the Jerusalem Quartet, so their membership of it is irrelevant.

The Quartet were happy to play up their IDF credentials when being interviewed for an American Jewish readership, and I note that none of the disavowals of their military links have come from the quartet's members but from folk like yourself and the Queen's Hall administrator. I suspect the quartet know what they are rather better than you do: and actually I find it rather admirable that they have had the courage to stick to their guns, so to speak.

Adam Holland said...


They are justifiably proud of their military service. My understanding is that they're no longer on active duty. This fellow Mick Napier, however, is making them out to be like Attila the Hun with fiddles.

By the way, I'm surprised to here how supportive you are of the IDF! The rest of your comments wouldn't lead me to that conclusion.


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