Jerusalem Quartet taken off air by protesters' disruption

Report by ISM London

The ISM were amongst six activists, from London, Brighton- and Cambridge-based Palestine solidarity groups who interrupted a concert by the Jerusalem Quartet today, in protest at Israel’s apartheid policies and war crimes against the Palestinian people. The live broadcast by BBC Radio 3 was cut short and taken off air:

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Click the play button above to listen to a clip of the sung interruption and the BBC announcer saying that the broadcast was halted “due to disruption”, or click here to download the clip as an MP3. After this Radio 3 did not go back to the concert instead playing recorded versions of the same pieces, not by the Jerusalem Quartet.

During the course of the recital, the event was stopped five times and despite persaverance by the quartet, the BBC finally took the event off air.

The action was held in response to the Palestinian call for a cultural and academic boycott of Israeli-government sponsored events.

The six also acted to show solidarity with the Scottish PSC who previously disrupted the Jerusalem Quartet. Despite originially being arrested under charges of public order offenses they are now being charged with racially aggrevated offenses.

The press release put out by the activists is below.

Updated 11.30pm. The previous version of this article stated that “at least five activists” had taken part. This has been amended to clarify that six activists took part in the disruption.

Update, 30th March: Tony Greenstein – one of the activists- has another report on the action over on his blog.

Update, 1st April: See also coverage in today’s Independent: “Protesters silence Israeli musicians in London” and the website of the BBC Music Magazine.


Press release from Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Monday March 29th


Protesters disrupted a lunchtime performance by the Jerusalem Quartet in London today. The concert at the Wigmore Hall was being broadcast live by the BBC.

They were protesting that the Quartet, who are cultural ambassadors for the State of Israel, are promoting the interests of Israel and all its policies against the Palestinians, to the British public.

The protesters drew attention to the Quartet’s strong links to the Israeli Army, Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, particularly its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, its ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, the apartheid nature of the Israeli state, and its attempt to starve the people of Gaza into submission.

In the words of one protester who interrupted the players with a sung objection to the tune of the well-known Christian anthem “The Holy City”:
‘Jerusalem is occupied:
Settlers destroy her peace.
We’ll sing out, until apartheid
And ethnic cleansing cease.’”

There were no fewer than five interruptions: some were quite lengthy, and the live broadcast by the BBC had to be abandoned. Demonstrators outside the hall included members of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, and the audience were given leaflets explaining why the concert was being disrupted.

No arrests were made, but the protesters were ejected from the hall, and the players made a statement attempting to distance themselves from the Israeli state and excuse their service with the IDF.

This protest was part of the 2nd Global Day of Action on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel on 30th March 2010. A spokesperson for the group, said:

‘As long as the state of Israel maintains its illegal occupation of Palestinian land and commits crimes against civilians, it does not deserve to be invited to any kind of cultural event. Such events give support to Israel and approval of its brutal occupation.’

Mick Napier from Scottish PSC said: ‘Scottish PSC congratulates the protesters in London today, and would like to see all other supporters of Palestine do the same every time the Jerusalem Quartet appear as ambassadors of the apartheid state’

Notes for editors:

1. The members of this Quartet are ‘cultural ambassadors’ for Israel and the Israeli army. The Israeli Press Service says: ‘For the three immigrants [3 of the Quartet came from Russia], carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement’. Their record label hypes their status within the army: ‘They now enjoy the status of Distinguished IDF, playing for troops thrice weekly when the JQ is in Israel.’

2. For decades Israel has flouted international law, dozens of UN resolutions and the International Court by: stealing Palestinian land, building over 150 unlawful settlements (deemed illegal by the British and other governments) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and building its illegal Apartheid Wall. The Israeli army keeps a military stranglehold over every aspect of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with repeated attacks on the Palestinian population – the latest in Gaza, with over 1400 deaths and terrible injuries to civilians including many children, and war crimes attested to by the UN and many human rights organizations.

Its latest ethnic cleansing activities in East Jerusalem flout international law and evict Palestinians from their homes while importing settlers in their place.

3. The Palestinians are calling urgently for an international consumer and cultural boycott after decades of failed talks. As with Apartheid South Africa, we must respond – until Israel meets its obligations under international law and a just solution is agreed.

4. Aharon Shabtai, Israel’s greatest living poet, wrote recently:

‘I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural event. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel, and… that sustains the occupation.’

5. For more information contact:
Amy Harris – 0782 554 0307