Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jerusalem String Quartet faces U.K. boycott threat

The Jerusalem Quartet is planning to perform in Edenburgh's Queen's Hall on August 29 (read here). They're planning to perform the Haydn String Quartet Op 76 No 5, Smetana's String Quartet No 1 ‘From my Life', and the Brahms String Quartet Op 51 No 2 in A minor.

Now the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) is promoting a boycott move against their concert with a scurrilous sort of propaganda which must be seen to be believed. (Read here.)

In case anyone has any doubt about the bigotry behind this boycott, they should be aware that Kyril Zlotnikov, the Jerusalem Quartet's cellist is a student and friend of musician and peace activist Daniel Barenboim (read here). In fact, Barenboim has loaned Jacqueline Du Pre's ‘Sergio Perresson’ cello to Kyril Zlotnikov for this tour. Read pdf here.) Zlotinikov is also a member of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (read here). This orchestra, founded by Barenboim and Edward Said and managed by the Barenboim-Said Foundation, includes both Arab and Israeli musicians. Its reason for being is to campaign for peace and cooperation between Arabs and Jews through artistic cooperation. With that in mind, would someone remind me of the reason for being for the group boycotting the concert?

I've written about a similar boycott effort against an Israeli Philharmanic concert in Los Angeles by the groups Women in Black -- Los Angeles and Jewish Voice for Peace (read here). That boycott was, in some respects, worse in that it entailed a demand that the musicians sign a sort of loyalty oath drafted by the boycotters. When the musicians understandably did not comply with this demand, the boycotters protested outside the concert hall with signs reading "Boycott Israel".

Here's a suggestion for groups such as Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Women in Black and Jewish Voice for Peace which advocate boycotting Israeli artists. Rather than working for that, why not emulate the Jerusalem Quartet's Zlotnikov and work to encourage Arab-Israeli cooperation in the arts?

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