A whiff of Weimar in London

Wikipedia helpfully explains that the Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events presented by the BBC and held annually, predominantly in London’s Royal Albert Hall in London. The concert series dates back to 1895. In the context of classical music festivals, Jiří Bělohlávek has described the Proms as “the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival”.

This past Thursday the Israeli Philharmonic, led by Zubin Mehta, suffered the repeated disruption of its concert by demonstrators, to the point that the BBC cut off its live broadcast and played recordings of the evening’s program instead. John Burn’s New York Times report characterizes the demonstrators as “pro-Palestinian,” but Stephen Pollard observes in the Telegraph:

Thursday night’s events can only be understood in the context of anti-Semitism. When have there been similar protests against “violations of international law and human rights,” as was chanted on Thursday, by any other country? And this in the middle of the Arab Spring, when genuine protesters for human rights are daily risking their lives in Syria against a murderous dictatorship.

If, indeed, this was a protest against the actions of the Israeli government, rather than against Jews, where have been the similar disruptions of performances by Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian or any number of other nations’ musicians? What about disruptions of British national companies, in protest at British human rights abuses? To pose the question is to answer it. There’s little doubt in my mind that this was an action motivated specifically by the fact that the performers were playing in the national orchestra of the Jewish state.

Verum Serum has posted two videos of concert disruptions here. The phenomenon on display extends to precincts well beyond London, but it is probably no accident that this episode took place in what Melanie Phillips calls Londonistan.

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