Sunday, 4 September 2011

Ode to Palestine

Fine, harmonious work by the Beethovians for Boycotting Israel (BBI) who managed to disrupt a BBC Proms performance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

There's a bogus argument, predictably expressed by outright adherents of Israel, that cultural events like this should be exempt from protest actions. 

Tell that to the bombed and imprisoned people of Gaza and the West Bank, while such 'artistic ambassadors' go around the world fabricating a clean image for Israel.

Amid all the blustering outrage, such as that from Stephen Pollard in the Telegraph, declaring the protest 'anti-semitic', it's also good to note the prominent involvement of conscientious Jews and Jewish-Palestine-supporting groups.

As noted in an article from the New York Times:
"The possibility of disruption had already been well flagged. Earlier in the week, a letter signed by 23 professional musicians, including Ms. Fink, a music teacher who has been active in Jewish groups opposing the Israeli occupation of pre-1967 Palestinian territory, was published in a newspaper, The Independent, castigating the BBC for inviting the Israeli orchestra. 
“Israel deliberately uses the arts to promote a misleading image of Israel,” the signers said. “Through this campaign, officially called ‘Brand Israel,’ denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen.”"
A press release for BBI noted: 
A new vocal ensemble, Beethovians for Boycotting Israel (BBI), gave its debut performance at a Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.
Their first piece was intricately interwoven with Webern's Passacaglia, played by guest artists the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).
"We thought we'd liven up the Webern a bit" said Deborah Fink (soprano). "The
performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the previous night's Prom was so exciting that we decided to treat the audience to our own version of the Ode to Joy". 
The lyrics of the BBI's "Ode to Boycott" have an unmistakeably Beethovian ring: 
Israel, end your occupation:
There's no peace on stolen land.
We'll sing out for liberation
'till you hear and understand 
Ethnic cleansing and apartheid
Should belong to history.
Human rights cannot be silenced:
Palestine will soon be free.
Uplifting sentiments.

A standing ovation for this imaginative chorus of dissent.


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