"Hooligans." That's putting it politely. Even more politely, and much more accurately, they are called the "Palestine Solidarity Campaign."
From the Globe Theatre Arts Desk, via Gates of Vienna:
Police. Placards. Protests. And bag checks. It meant only one thing. Jews were performing at the Proms. Here we were in the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2011 witnessing a stage of musicians being barracked [jeered at] and abused for having the gall to be Jewish. . . . No, not a portrait of Europe in the early 20th century, but Britain in the 21st. I wonder. In a few years, will Jews be able to make music publicly in Britain at all?
. . . A few minutes into a fuzzily luxuriant performance (even the triangle was being vibbed) of Webern's Passacaglia, Op 1, a bunch of protesters in the choir stands got to their feet and began to barrack. To the strains of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, they sang their anti-Israeli chants. I imagine a few of the audience and orchestral members would have been familiar with this sort of public abuse, from when they were children in mainland Europe.
They made it difficult to concentrate on the Webern, though Mehta made sure some of their fortissimos sliced through the taunts. They returned to dog the start of the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor. Zubin Mehta, the Israel Philharmonic and Gil Shaham . . . stood still, silent and calm, while the ushers and security swept out the protest. Amid this maelstrom, Mehta and Shaham, their patience wearing thin, tore into the opening bars. The work achieved a level of meaning and fury that no one will ever witness the like of again.
|Zubin Mehta, Gil Shaham and non-protesting members of the Proms audience © Chris Christodoulou|
I wish I had a photo of that bearded Palestinian "sympathizer" with that brave music lover's walking stick around his neck. That's one woman who knows what to do now.But while it was all sparks and springs in the outer movements, in the slow, both soloist and orchestra bowed to the softest, gentlest, most tender sound imaginable, as if they were reaching down to plant a kiss on a baby's crown. Not even the Neanderthals dared break this spell. Nor dared they interrupt Shaham's elegantly sculpted performance of the Preludio from Bach's Third Partita.The BBC had by now switched off their live Radio 3 broadcast after the audience began barracking the barrackers at the beginning of the Bruch. [Listen to the BBC broadcast here.] It was understandable - no point giving the protesters publicity - but disappointing, considering that, if the listeners had been given an opportunity to hear the whole Prom, they would have heard the Prommers shouting down the protests, and the Israeli Phil[harmonic] ploughing on valiantly through their programme, to repeated standing ovations. That is, they would have heard us win.Was it because of the feeling that the BBC had deserted him and his orchestra that Mehta and his musicians came out on stage looking deflated? The continued protests must have demoralised them. It did me. They never quite recovered the responsive vim of the first half. There was another moment of comedy among the PSC disrupters - before the depressingly repetitive boredom of it all set in - as two whiskery old men started to hound the orchestra from a box and a lady next door hooked one of their necks with her walking stick [emphasis mine].. . . What do we do now? What can we do now? The protesters have all now walked free to hound some more Jews. The recorded concert - what's left of it - will be salvaged and aired next week. One thing we do know: the Israel Phil[harmonic] won't be coming back to these shores in a hurry.
Western governments, take notice.