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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Jerusalem Quartet Disruption - Gets More Coverage




But It's a Music Event - Nothing to Do with Politics

Well it's been quite a day with lots of messages to my inbox and increasing coverage across the web, including for the report I compiled yesterday.

The Guardian today has also reported what we did and our protest is described as very well planned. Well naturally! But at least, unlike in Dubai we didn't murder anyone.

As has the BBC's own music mag.

But the most pathetic whine of those who object to our attempt to interject a bit of context into the Jerusalem Quartet's performance came from those knee-jerk liberals who inhabit haunts like the Wigmore Hall. I say knee-jerk because, as I said in a previous post, scratch a liberal and you often find an angry Tory underneath.

So I went back to an article that a famous Israeli poet, Yitzhak Laor wrote in Ha'aretz of 31.7.2008. concerning the contracts that most Israeli artists, and there is little doubt that the JQ have also signed such a contract (though of course the Culture Ministry of Israel doesn't provide the names of those who contract with it)! And what does the contract say?
The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel."

Well that's pretty clear isn't it? The "purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the Israeli state via culture and art." So the actions of those like the JQ are considered a service with which to promote the policy interests of the state via culture and art." A Marxist couldn't have put it better!


And as SHELLEY KLEIMAN of the World Zionist Press Service reported "The Quartet now serves as Distinguished Musicians, performing for troops three times a week." That was their national service, providing a morale booster for those who had to go out and smash a few heads or break a few bones.


And the Jerusalem Independent in 2003 reported that "the bulk of their IDF service was as a quartet, performing for soldiers all over Israel. When their military service ended three years ago, they changed status to Distinguished IDF Musicians and continue to play for troops three times a week when they're in Israel. "

Note they don't play for the IDF's victims, they don't refuse military service, quite the contrary. They have no criticisms whatsoever of the role of the Israeli Occupation Forces. Their role is not dissimilar to that of Leni Riefenstahl, Ezra Pound and many other distinguished people of culture who lent a willing hand to repressive regimes.

They are supported by the Jerusalem Foundation, set up by the late Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek. As Ruth Cheshin, Jerusalem Foundation president explained "Supporting the quartet until they are financially independent will help the city as well as the players." Quite. And what kind of Jerusalem will that be? One which is ethnically cleansed of its Arab inhabitants who are slowly being dispossessed by Jewish settlers. But according to Cheshin 'The quartet will be a magnet in Jerusalem, promoting music education and love of music in schools and community centres citywide." And what better way to pretend that the indigenous people don't exist than to retreat into violin and string sonatas and the like?

And if there is any doubt about their stance, then as Zlotnikov explained:

"We feel good... We love to play, whether it's in an international contest or a renowned concert hall, at an IDF base somewhere in Israel or in the city that's our home."

Quite. And that's why we are putting you bastards in the front line of the Boycott campaign.

31 comments:

Deborah Fink said...

Well, it's great that your blog has now been mentioned in the Guardian and Music Magazine! The latter mentions J-BIG too.

But given that they'd read your blog, you'd have thought that they would have got my sex right- and surely the director of the Wigmore Hall thought that my soprano tones came from a man! Maybe it was a typo..... I don't think they want to admit that a fully trained classical singer had disrupted the concert, but at least you have! Thanks.

PSC and JfJfP never get this sort of publicty as they are too pre-occupied with being respectable and not prepared to be controversial.

jock mctrousers said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of coverage in the media, but NOT on the BBC website. As it was a BBC concert that was disrupted, you would have thought they would have been the first to post an item! There seems to be a deliberate policy by the BBC of suppressing much information about Palestine - particularly protests (as with the initial coverage of the Gaza Freedom March). I have complained to them about lack of coverage of the protest, saying it could be construed as censorship, but don't have hopes of much of a reply.

Anonymous said...

Good job...by the way, did your group hear about a similar protest at the University of Irvine in California? In early February of this year Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren came to speak and students one by one stood up, spoke out, and left. Many were arrested by campus police, and a big U of I wheel spoke to the audience beforehand stating that any disruption would be dealt with by the highest sanctions (i.e.; expulsion.) It was an open event and there were many Los Angeles residents in attendence. Most of the protestors were African-American Muslims, and they seemed to get the harshest treatment by the cops, including handcuffing on the spot. The site
www.irvine11.com has more details.

Keep on sticking it to the Jerusalem Quartet and any other Israeli propaganda team!

- Strelnikov

Natalie said...

Disrupting an event is not the same as street demonstrations. There is an aspect of the disruption in the Wigmore Hall which may have been overlooked. Every member of the audience would have incurred considerable costs coming to London to listen to music. The people who disrupted the concert robbed those members of the audience as effectively as if they had mugged them and stolen their wallets - an action which I am sure you would regard with horror.

The Wigmore hall protest could be summed up as “We protest against the Zionists stealing Palestinian property”.

It would be great, and generate good publicity, if the organisers extended this theme and announced:-
“We do not believe that people should steal. If members of the audience who feel they have been robbed by our actions would let us know what they spent on tickets and transport, we will gladly refund their wasted costs. We apologise that we cannot also compensate them for the hours of their lives that they wasted trying to attend this disrupted musical event.”

Could you use your organisational talents to arrange for this compensation scheme to be put in place.

Not all publicity is good publicity, and the reactions of members of the general public I have listened to have not been favourable to the cause. I do find that activists spend most of their time speaking to other activists and so are not always aware of the effect of every action.

Anonymous said...

Marvellous!

I'm especially glad that unlike the BBC Music report the Guardian had the good sense to report what the protest was about and quote on you criticising "apartheid Israel".

Slowly but surely there is growing awareness about the ghastly policies and actions of Israel against the Palestinians.

Waiting for our politicians to catch up.

Tony Greenstein said...

Nice try Natalie but I don't remember that we promised to refund the ticket prices of those who attended disrupted Rugby matches when the Springboks toured in 1970.

If people come to apartheid events they do so at their own risk.

Deborah Fink said...

It's shame that we spoilt the concert for the audience and had I been in the audience, I'd have been upset, but that's the price you sometimes have to pay. The inconvenience suffered by the audience is nothing compared to the inconvenince suffered by the Palestinians, and as Tony has pointed out previously, it was not about the audience there but the general public, and wider message.

I wouldn't say that people go to apartheid events at their own risk. One has to remember that not everyone knows what we know, i.e. that Israel is apartheid and the quartet are its cultural ambassadors; nor does everyone think like us and is politicaly minded. (I've only been political in recent years). Even one of my pro boycott friends would have gone just to hear the music, without thinking about the implications. I'm sure there are some brands of clothing or food that I shouldn't by on the grounds that peoele/animals/the environment are exploited, but they many not be my areas of expertise.

I think the most important thing is, we have sent a message to Israel that wherever it's representatives go, we will be there and that it can't get away with its atrocities.

Actually, in my previous post I meant to write, surely the Wigmore Hall director didn't think my soprano tones came from a man!

Steve said...

I think Natalie hits the nail on the head. Actions like this demonstrate contempt for the people in the hall who have paid to hear the event. I was at the disrupted concert in Edinburgh and the feeling of contempt was reciprocated by every audience member I talked to. And that's coming from someone who opposes Israel's expansionist policies.

People are more important than ideals. If you can't respect the person next to you then you don't truly care for those thousands of miles away. We're all human, even Zionists, believe it or not

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve is wrong. We did not have contempt for the audience, still less the woman who came out to give us her support. I have contempt for those who think their own little pleasures are more important than throwing Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah onto the streets of Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers.

The Jerusalem Quartet are funded and supported by the Jerusalem Music Centre and Jerusalem Fund as well as the American-Israel Culture Fund. Their political purpose is openly stated as being to convey the image of Jerusalem as a centre of culture and all nice things, whilst obliterating the presence of the indigenous Palestinians.

Those who cleanse and purify ethnic cleansing are as guilty as those who perpetrate those actions.

The audience in this case is irrelvant. Or maybe, when the German Philharmonic Orchestra was touring the 1930's, paid and supported by the ruling Nazi government, protestors should have done what Steve says? The enjoyment of concert goers was more important than the Jews of Germany? Because that was why the Nazis supported the GPO, to sanitise their actions.

I have heard this argument before, be it over South African apartheid or its Israeli variety and I am left cold each time.

So we have the cliche about people being more important than ideals. Opposition to oppression is not an ideal it is dealing with a current reality. What is argued for is simply the prioritisation of British concert goers over those who suffer daily deprivation as the actions of the settlers inside and outside Israel are legitimised.

We weren't prepared to take this typically racist viewpoint that relegates dispossession, murder and torture to the needs of white liberal concert goers.

Yes even Zionists are human beings however their whole practice and ideology is based on their superiority to other human beings. Hence Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is a necessary tactic for which no apologies are necessary.

Steve said...

"Steve is wrong." Who are you talking to? Can't you address me directly?

"The audience in this case is irrelvant." This also suggests your contempt for them, or to put it another way, a complete disregard for their feelings. Read Deborah's second comment here - she recognises that there is a trade off: hurting people in the audience for a greater goal. There's nothing in your blog to suggest you've make the same calculation. If anything, it looks like you rather enjoy the fact you inconvenienced people.

I've got a question - why do you assume the people who were hitting you with programmes were Zionists?

Ruben said...

Well done! - and shame on the BBC for not reporting the reason for this very valid disruption to an Israeli PR event.

It's remarkable how "cultured" and presumably intelligent people keep their heads resolutely in the sand when politics is mentioned.

Same criticism applies in sports where government politicking is rampant yet any politicising denied.

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve,

I don't have contempt for the audience per se but those who prioritise their little pleasures over say a family thrown outon the street in Sheikh Jarrah in order to make way for a Jewish settler, for example.

Of course we didn't go out of our way to hurt anyone's feelings but to make a point, viz. that you can't enjoy the cultural fruits of Zionist Apartheid whilst reinforcing the oppression of another people.

If I had lived in the 1930's, when the Zionists were doing their trading deals with Nazi Germany and undermining the world-wide anti-fascist boycott then I hope I would have done exactly the same if German artists had toured.

Would I have been concerned at hurting the feelings of those attending such events? No, not particularly. It is as you say a trade-off and in the words of the founder of Revisionist Zionism, Zeev Jabotinsky, it's a question of hunger vs appetite.

Anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians are not all cut from the same cloth and I have many disagreements with Debbie Maccoby.

I don't assume all those trying to hit me were Zionists! Though of course violence and Zionism go together like tom and jerry.

Steve said...

Tony:

"I don't have contempt for the audience per se but those who prioritise their little pleasures over say a family thrown outon the street in Sheikh Jarrah in order to make way for a Jewish settler, for example."

I agree with the sentiment: it would be monstrous to suggest that the 'pain' of the audience is worse than the pain of oppressed people, but that's only a valid point if there's any reason to inflict that 'pain' on the audience. You gained publicity; maybe that's enough reason for you. In my opinion attacking people for being forced to do military service is unjustifiable and counterproductive, but we disagree on that; fine. My point is, you've not shown any interest in the feelings of the audience at all. Surely it's simple human decency to think "Well I'm sorry these people are going to have their concert ruined but my cause is too important to let that disuade me." As Deborah says, in fact. Perhaps you think, 'What relevance are the feelings of the audience compared to those suffering in Palestine?' But that's exactly the point: you dehumanise the audience - their feelings are irrelevant to you - and the dehumanisation of others is a crucial part of what eventually leads to all the atrocities you object to.


"I don't assume all those trying to hit me were Zionists! Though of course violence and Zionism go together like tom and jerry."

You wrote: "Instead as I began to contribute to the concert’s proceedings people began to get animated and started hitting me with their programmes! Not that I was hurt and nor did it distract me from the message I was getting across but it illustrates the Zionist mentality." So you're clearly implying those hitting you were Zionists. Have you changed your mind now?

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve,

I'm glad we agree. At least on some things. I had this argument with those who were lukewarm, at least initially, on Palestine solidarity sites.

Basically the protest was never aimed at the audience, even though of course they could hear it. It was aimed at the JQ and via them at the wider world. In that we succeeded.

The audience isn't of course homogenous but I didn't see a Black face, it was overwhelmingly upper middle class at least, 50+ etc. So I wouldn't have a lot of time for people like this anyway, whose first and only concern is themselves. This may well be the most traumatic moment in their impoverished lives.

I think I have a great deal of compassion. I work at an unemployed centre which I helped set up and work with the poor, asylum seekers and refugees, and provide legal advice on employment rights to those badly treated at work. I really don't have any conscience or feelings of guilt to those who are among the most conservative layers of society, would have been the first to oppose immigration before the war and now and whose main complaint will be the level of taxes, immigrants etc.

And no there was no contradiction in what I wrote. Not all maybe even not even most of those in attendance were Zionists. But the mentality they displayed was a Zionist one. Arrogance that their needs trump all others.

No we don't disagree on whether it is fine to target those who have only done military service. Maybe I should but I don't. Most Israeli Jews do military service and if that is their only crime then I can live with it. If the JQ's only offence was 3 years of service for which they were conscripted. I don't know how many times I've said it but I don't expect them to be like the Shministim, those quite wonderful young Israeli Jews who refuse to serve and get sentenced repeatedly to prison. Those are the people, the people of conscience you should cherish. And in Israel's fervently racist and chauvinist atmosphere they are the real inheritors of the Jewish tradition of opposition to injustice.

If you read the 3 posts I've done you will see that we are targetting the JQ because they themselves were happy to be ambassadors for Israel. They took money to that effect. They are based in what is an illegal settlement. Their plea that they believe in this dialogue nonsense therefore doesn't wash. To say you believe in dialogue whilst having nothing to say about the society that prevents dialogue is mere hypocrisy.

If the JQ chose to respond by saying that they oppose the actions of the army they have deliberately associated themselves with then the targetting of the JQ would be at an end. They have a choice, to support the oppressor or the victim.

Steve said...

Tony, I think compassion is a complicated business. You have compassion for the Palestinians but not the audience (or, I presume, Zionists). That's the same as many on both sides of the conflict - "I care about these people but not those". That allows brutalities to continue - your enemy's feelings are dismissed as irrelevant. Think about the Truh and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa - in my opinion that was a really smart way of trying to untangle all the resentment on both sides because it allowed both sides to have their say; as a result the transition was relatively peaceful. Compare that with the humiliation of the Germans after the 1st World War and what that led to.

I've seen a lot of arguments between pro and anti-Zionists and they all go the same way - complete intransigence on both sides, absolute certainty that the opponent is wrong. I just don't believe that anything good can come out of this kind of extreme thinking. Having said that, I appreciate the tone of your last message, which is much more human than what you write on your blog. It might be worth considering who you write this blog for - are you wanting to convince undecided people of your views or only preaching to the converted? Because I don't see anyone being drawn in by such aggressively expressed sentiments.

As for the audience being Zionists or not, your explanation doesn't really make sense. Why not say "It really illustrates the blacks' mentality"? If the audience aren't Zionists then why compare them to Zionists? The sense was pretty clear in what you wrote - 'these are my Zionist enemies'. This is what is so off-putting.

As for conscription, I partly agree with you. When people are willing to stand up and be counted, that's a really heroic thing. It's also very rare, because it so damages one's life, and so we have to assume that the same would be true of us if we were in that situation - very few of us would have the guts to do it. Quite possibly you would be one of them. But look: I'm a musician myself. I recently got a grant from the government for a musical project - should my concerts be protested because I haven't publicly repudiated the Iraq war? What right do you have to insist that the quartet sacrifice themselves for your cause? You pick on them because they are a soft target, you dehumanise them, convince yourself they are complicit in bloodshed so that you can justify trying to destroy their career.

I recognise how extremely difficult this issue is - you feel passionately about your cause and are desperate to find a way to move it forward. But until you can see your enemy as your equal I think you're doing more harm than good. There will be no solution to the conflict until both sides agree to compromise or else one side is wiped off the face of the earth. Which do you hope for?

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve

How can I have compassion for an audience whose only suffering is a disruption of a concert? You are avoiding choices. So a simple question.

Would it have been right to boycott and disrupt a tour by the Berlin Philharmonic and their famous conductors Wilhelm Furtwangler, who was not a Nazi but a traditional conservative Prussian?

Would it have been right to disturb the pleasures of the well-heeled in order to highlight the position of the Jews? Because in the 1930's the position of the Jews was no worse and in some ways better than that of the Palestinians, especially those on the West bank and Gaza?

It is like freedom. There are no absolutes. The freedom of a racist to spout their nonsense is not the same as the target of the racist. As R H Tawney, an old social democratic writer said, freedom for the pike means death to the minnow.

Yes the Truth & Reconciliation Committee did a wonderful job though I think it was too easy on people like PK Botha. But that came AFTER liberation. Likewise in Palestine. Of course there are 2 sides - but one is oppressed and the other, however much it like similar colonial populations fools itself - is the oppressor.

In other words Jewish Israelis have a material interest in their oppression of Palestinians and of course it leads to e.g. that video I showed of 2 Zionists telling Jewish demonstrators at Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem that 'Hitler was right' - an increasing Zionist form of abuse incidentally.

Ok. I should have used 'a typical settler/Tory/cultured chattering class/Daily Torygraph mentality' rather than Zionist on reflection. But only on reflection!

My blog is primarily for activists and those wanting to read stories that aren't highlighted widely as well as some well-researched articles. It is an eclectic mixture but I just write and those who want to read will read. But it was set up initially to deal with the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon who was hovering around the Palestine Solidarity movement. We've cleared him out and moved on.

It's not therefore a question of seeing my enemy as my equal but of politically defeating her/him. As long as there is a powerful western concensus behind supporting Israel, as a watchdog over its interests in the Middle East, then Zionism will continue to play itself out. In fact, if you read some of my articles, on zionism and anti-Semitism you will understand that Zionism represents nothing so much as a danger to Jews too.

Should I protest against you because you didn't protest against the Iraq War? Of course not. I would oppose targetting Israelis solely because they are Israelis. That Eurovision star who is the target of all these 'don't marry a goy' articles isn't a target. Nor are many Israeli artists. The Jerusalem Quartet though have gone out of their way to identify with the Israel armed forces. That is why they are a target. Just as we would have boycotted a white South African who played for the Apartheid army.

Anyway I'm glad that we have had a civilised discussion!

joe90 kane said...

Steve says,
I've seen a lot of arguments between pro and anti-Zionists and they all go the same way - complete intransigence on both sides, absolute certainty that the opponent is wrong. I just don't believe that anything good can come out of this kind of extreme thinking.
- Personally speaking
I'm not particularly interested in convincing zionists of anything. As the current discussion threads on TGB over the JSQ protest at Whigmore Hall, London, illustrate zionists are a lost cause.

What I am interested in is getting my own UK government to change its foreign policy with regards to Israel, and start to implement the wishes of the majority of the British electorate which is appalled at behaviour of the Israeli regime.


As for conscription, I partly agree with you. When people are willing to stand up and be counted, that's a really heroic thing. It's also very rare, because it so damages one's life, and so we have to assume that the same would be true of us if we were in that situation - very few of us would have the guts to do it.
- I don't think you realise
the bravery and courage of TG and the rest of the Whigmore Hall protesters.
They deliberately put themselves at risk of prosecuation/persecution by the British state as evidenced by the treatment of the Scottish PSC 5 and, more recently, British protestors at a march for Gaza some of whom have been actually put in jail for throwing empty plastic bottles.


What right do you have to insist that the quartet sacrifice themselves for your cause? You pick on them because they are a soft target, you dehumanise them, convince yourself they are complicit in bloodshed so that you can justify trying to destroy their career.
- Israelis in Britian are no 'soft target' at all and have the full weight and protection of the British state behind them.
Compare and contrast the treatment the British Government and British corporate media in their dealings issues to do with Israel and Palestine. It's almost black and white - to have to cite individual examples of pro-Israeli/anti-Palestine bias by governemtn and coprorate media would be ridiculous. British foreign policy alone is no better and important an example.

joe90 kane said...

steve says,
I recognise how extremely difficult this issue is - you feel passionately about your cause and are desperate to find a way to move it forward. But until you can see your enemy as your equal I think you're doing more harm than good.
- Not if British, European and world public opnion polls are anything to go by. TG and others like him are doing and have done exactly what they set out to do which is infuence public opinion. All that needs to be done now is get the British government to abide by the majority wishes of the British electorate and change its foerign policy of supporting the racist Israeli regime.


There will be no solution to the conflict until both sides agree to compromise or else one side is wiped off the face of the earth. Which do you hope for?
- I disagree.
The solution to the illegal occupations of Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Territories will come when western governments (especially the US) stop supporting the racist war crimes regime that currently runs Israel. Once a full sanctions and boycott regime is put in place then Israel will have no option but to abandon, at the very least, all the lands it currently illegaly occupies.
Indeed, it is the very active intervention on behalf of Israel by western governments that has to stop.
There is no need for outsiders to intervene in the so-called Israeli-Palestine 'dispute' but the need is for them to actually stop intervening - such as stopping the annual US billion dollar subsidy to Israel.

I could go further and say that western government's should start to listen to the majority of their own domestic electorate and change their foreign policy of actively intervening to support and keep the racist war crimes regime of Israel from dying a death - which it surely would, just like Aprtheid South Africa died after governments adopted as their foroegn policy the boycott and sanctions regime of grassroots anti-Apertheid campaigners.

Steve said...

[cont] My point about Truth and Reconciliation is that if you had been in charge, it would probably never have happened - your concern is only for one side of the conflict. I take your point that there is a great imbalance of power but that doesn't mean you have to dehumanise your enemy - look how the Dalai Lama treats the Chinese, for example. And it should be clear that no side has a monopoly on atrocities. Palestinian - 'they sent white phosporus, we'll send suicide bombers'. Israeli - 'they blew us up in the market, we'll hunt them down and kill them'. Etc etc etc etc

"Ok. I should have used 'a typical settler/Tory/cultured chattering class/Daily Torygraph mentality' rather than Zionist on reflection. But only on reflection!" I accept it's not quite as snappy....

"Anyway I'm glad that we have had a civilised discussion!" Me too.

Steve said...

"How can I have compassion for an audience whose only suffering is a disruption of a concert?" I'm surprised you have to ask the question. There's the sadness and shock of having a pleasurable experience spoiled, and the fear of possible violence from the protesters (that was part of the feeling in Edinburgh). How can you not care at all that you create that stress for others who have done nothing to deserve it? On the face of it, it seems to me a nonsense for you claim you are a compassionate person if it's so easy for you to disregard the feelings of hundreds of people. It's a cop-out to say they are not the focus of the protest because they are the ones that primarily have to suffer it.

"Would it have been right to boycott and disrupt a tour by the Berlin Philharmonic and their famous conductors Wilhelm Furtwangler, who was not a Nazi but a traditional conservative Prussian?" In my opinion, no, this would be unjustified, unless the conductor or orchestra were actively promoting Nazi policy - speaking in support of them during the concert or in interviews. A country consists of far more depth than its ruling class. The arts are a way of showing that there is more to a country than its politics. You don't seem to want to accept this. You write the quartet are ambassadors for Israel, as if it's a bad thing. Why is it bad? They show that some wonderful things can come out of Israel. They don't try and hide Palestinian suffering, they simply play music.

In your writings about the quartet you keep mentioning their links to the Israeli government as if this proves their complicity, but receiving government aid no more makes them complicit in Israeli atrocities than me receiving a grant makes me complicit in the Iraq war. You say "The Jerusalem Quartet though have gone out of their way to identify with the Israel armed forces". How have they done this? The fact of their position as IDS musicians (do you know if they still are?) was predictably emphasised by Jewish newspapers, but how have the quartet traded on this? Have they ever spoken in favour of Israeli military policy? Do you know if they still play for the army? Have you even contacted the quartet to ask them? Quotes like "violin in one hand and a rifle in the other" are ridiculous to use against the quartet. That's just tabloid journalism. Likewise the quote: ""We feel good... We love to play, whether it's in an international contest or a renowned concert hall, at an IDF base somewhere in Israel or in the city that's our home."" Who talks like that? The jounalist has put it together. Maybe he asked, "Do you enjoy playing at military bases?" and they answered, "Yes, we enjoy playing everywhere". I've had enough experience with being interviewed to know that you often ending up looking like an idiot once the journalist has finished mangling what you said. I just don't see anything in what you write that suggests the quartet aligns itself with Zionist policy. So, again, you might as well come and picket the concerts of any Brit who hasn't denounced the Iraq war.

[cont]

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve

What is printed about the JQ is universal. They are an integral part of the army and its support mechanisms. They have consciously acted as ambassadors for a state that is committing ongoing ethnic cleansing. They should dissociate themselves from the actions of that army, instead they entertain its troops.

They have not dissociated themselves from any of the printed statements and interviews. I can only assume they are happy with them, especially as the same themes come up. They use Daniel Barenboim's EWD Orchestra but unlike him they played at Israel's 60th anniversary, an anniversary of the dispossession of 3/4 million people and the massacre of probably 10,000+. That is shameful.

Israel is not like any other country and therefore the comparisons don't fit. No other state calls itself the State of XXX or refers everything to its right to exist. Remember all those demands for the PLO to change its Charter to recognise Israel and when they did they were told, tough. We have no partners for negotiating.

As I said, I am a socialist so I would have argued for a complete and total divorce and boycott of Nazi Germany. Just as I cut my teeth in the campaign against South Africa in 1970. Racist regimes are special.

I suspect we are going to agree to disagree because at the bottom of it is Zionism - an ideology, practice and movement committed to a Jewish state in a colonial context.

Steve said...

Hi Tony,

"They are an integral part of the army and its support mechanisms."

Even if they still play for the army, which you haven't demonstrated, I just don't agree. The army can't function unless it hears string quartet concerts? They are not integral to the army at all.

"They have consciously acted as ambassadors for a state that is committing ongoing ethnic cleansing."

I think this is our central disagreement. As far as I can see (and you've not given me evidence to the contrary) they have not acted as an ambassador for ethnic cleansing but for Israel. Those are 2 different things, no matter how much you want to conflate them. When I go to play abroad, I'm an ambassador for Britain not it's foreign policy. Again, they have never spoken in favour of ethnic cleansing or any political objective, as far as I'm aware. Am I wrong?

You say "Israel is different". Well, you have to, or else you have no defense for your actions. But your explanation why it's different doesn't make any sense to me. Sure Israel have done and continue to do some really shitty things. Just like many countries in the world - US, Zimbabwe, and China to name 3. And, actually, the Palestinians too, though I'm sure you'll disagree. Both sides feel they are acting in self-defence in this conflict.

"They should dissociate themselves from the actions of that army." Again, you've no right to make that demand of them.

"They have not dissociated themselves from any of the printed statements and interviews. I can only assume they are happy with them". 2 points: firstly, what exactly do they have to dissociate themselves from (in other words, what are they in print as explicitly supporting)? Secondly, when an interviewer makes you sound dumb, you generally don't go on a media offensive to correct the misstatements - you just think "Goddammit!". For this reason, to assume the quartet stand by everything written about them is ridiculous. I can see why you do it, though, because there is so little real evidence that the quartet are Zionists. So they played at Israel's 60th anniversary. Does it not occur to you that there is more to Israel than it's foreign policy? Should Americans cancel 4th July because of the Iraq war and Abu Ghraib? Is there nothing to celebrate in Israel? The way you write about the quartet suggests you are determined to make the strongest possible case against them, regardless of the truth. Again, did you ever try to contact them, to ask their views, to discuss why you think it would be great for them to come out publicly against Israeli policy? Or did you simply assume they were the enemy?

I'm sure you're right that we're going to disagree. I admire the passion you have for this. My reason in discussing it with you is to suggest that the way you are channelling it is victimising people that don't deserve it, and to me that seriously undermines the morality of your cause.

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve,

Even if they still play for the army, which you haven't demonstrated, I just don't agree.'

Well in the Jewish Independent of 21.3.03. they state that 'We love to play, whether it's in an international contest or a renowned concert hall, at an IDF base somewhere in Israel or in the city that's our home."

They are also part of the JMC's Distinguished IDF Programme.

Of course the army can function without musicians playing but these things raise morale, help the troops feel loved and wanted when they tie a child to a jeep and drive through a town (on the basis that people won't throw stones if it is their own children who'll be hurt)

YOu distinguish between acting as an Ambassador for Israel and an Ambassador for ethnic cleansing. If Israel was a normal society I would agree. But it isn't. Zionism is a continuous process of 'redemption' of land. That means the continuation of eviction of Arabs in Jerusalem and on the West bank and also in the Negev and Galilee (doesn't it worry you that the term Judaification is but the mirror side of 'deJewisfication' which the Nazis practised?).

No other state in the world does this and if there were one it should be excoriated. Regardless I'm Jewish and Israel calls itself a Jewish State.

I have the right to go to Israel and claim citizenship and all the perks. I have a greater right to a house in Arab Jerusalem than the Arabs living there. That is an abomination and you should direct your attention to this. People will not stand for this any longer and you can take (or not take) my word for it when I tell you that when I became an anti-Zionist 35 years ago I was almost alone. I knew no one with my views who was Jewish. Today there is a flourishing of opposition to Zionism and Zionists are seen as the equivalent of computer nerds.

You write that when I say Israeli is different 'you have to, or else you have no defense for your actions.'

Agreed. But that's not why I say it. Even the most barbaric and reactionary society does not claim not to be a state of its own citizens. And I have campaigned for Boycott of South Africa and Chile in my time. I do say Israel is unique. A Jewish State is as much an anachronism as an Aryan state.

The people who love it most are the anti-Semites. Look at my blog. The holocaust deniers of the British National Party are all over israel for its treatment of Muslims. That is the company that Israel keeps.

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve (cont.)

You are wrong re the Palestinians. I am a vehement critic of the Palestinian Authority, Fateh and Hamas. I won't bore you with my analysis though you can find it on many of the posts but I am a Marxist and the failure to develop a social programmelike the ANC has been a major drawback of the Palestinians. For understandable reasons - no working class to speak of - but it is a terrible handicap, hence why, when Israel sponsored Hamas (who are reactionary politically) they found takers back in the 1980's.

You say I've no right to make a demand of them to dissociate themselves from the actions of the army. Yes I do. They are still identified with the IOF and if you're not part of the problem you are part of the solution.

No I've never attempted to contact the JQ nor the Springboks who I demonstrated against or....

I don't doubt that the JQ didn't or haven't seriously thought about these issues. They took it for granted that you support the army. But then they stepped into the public arena and that is a different thing.

Instead of the EW Divan Orchestra, which is irrelevant, since it's not about people not talking but structures that prevent them, come on board. Be an Israeli who sticks his neck out. Of course it is difficult. You will be subject to the most vile abuse. You may even be told, as the video on this site shows, that it is a pity that Hitler didn't get you.

I've had all of this and that is why I understand that underneath Zionism is a form of Jewish anti-Semitism.

Steve said...

Tony, I'm off tomorrow on holiday, so this will be my last comment. I will read any response if you give one.

I was asking if you knew whether they play for the army and you quote a 7 year old newpaper article. You surely can't honestly think this substantiates your case. How do you know the are still in the distinguished IDF programme? Keep in mind artist biographies are frequently out of date.

As for territory, it simply isn't true to say Israel is alone in ethnic cleansing. Sudan is one example from recent history. Maybe part of your disgust is that it's your own people that are committing the acts.

"Even the most barbaric and reactionary society does not claim not to be a state of its own citizens." Surely this is in part a reflection of the circumstances of Israel's foundation, on the back of the terrible Jewish persecution of WWII. Semantics are not the real issue - actions are.

"They are still identified with the IOF and if you're not part of the problem you are part of the solution." I'm sorry but this is meaningless rhetoric - someone can be on the sidelines, neither aiding nor hindering. The quartet does nothing meaningful (and quite possibly nothing at all) militarily.

"No I've never attempted to contact the JQ nor the Springboks who I demonstrated against or....
I don't doubt that the JQ didn't or haven't seriously thought about these issues."

So you're trying to damage their career without even having the curiosity to find out their views? You're relying on 7 year old news reports and assumptions? If you think it is acceptable to sacrifice a few innocent people for the greater good, then that's one thing; you can argue that case. But don't make out you that you are doing something moral when you excoriate someone who's opinion you haven't even sought. What is so difficult about talking? Maybe they wouldn't talk to you. Fine, but you'd have at least tried. Who knows, maybe they would talk. Maybe you'd find that you'd have a real discussion about the issues. Maybe you'd even influence them. Maybe they'd influence you. But that would require a genuine curiosity about them on your part, and it seems that you're not really interested in what they think - you just want them to be a symbol of Zionist oppression so you can use them to protest against. At least be honest about what you're doing.

Thanks for discussing in a civil manner. Good luck.

Tony Greenstein said...

Steve

Well have a good holiday!

The JQ played 2 years ago at Israel's 60th anniversary. Daniel Barenboim didn't. Given their long association with the Israeli military then it is incumbent upon them to clarify their position - playing for ambassadors etc. and saying that they are cultural ambassadors.

None of us can research their present status like they can. All they need to do is to issue a statement e.g. dissociating themselves from the siege of Gaza. the attack on that area and the apartheid wall. That would end any boycott of them.

They won't do it and one reason is that they are dedicated Zionists. People say that only one of them is actually Israeli born but that is the problem - 3 Russian immigrants who have greater rights than the indigenous population.

And incidentally the irony is that the Soviet Jewry Campaign, which helped bring them over (& which opposed lowering the immigration barriers indeed campaigned to stop Russian Jews going to the USA) did repeatedly disrupt Soviet concerts abroad!

You say that Israel not being a state of its citizens is a consequence of WWII. I disagree. The fundamentals of the Israeli state were laid in the 1920's if not before. The Jewish Labour/Land policy led to the apartheid principles of Zionism.

But in one sense only are you right. Israel did indeed become a mirror image of Nazi Germany. Literally it was its bastard child. That is why, and you can look up the books e.g. Lucy Dawidowicz's War Against the jews (a right-wing Zionist) p.118 from memory about the indisputable fact that Zionism was the favourite child of the nazis. Francis Nicosia goes into this in more depth.

The only way is a secular unitary state. Yes I agree it's good to have a civilised discussion.

dro said...

Mr. Greenstein,

I am writing to you after having read your blog and your account about the
JQ concert, and am CCing a forum in which many Israeli musicians are a part
of.

I do not know who you are or why you think that disturbing a concert was
somethign to brag about, but as a musician, I do know what 'interpretation'
is...and it feels terrible to me to hear someone who CHOOSES to interpret
facts he reads about or gets to know of, in a manner that will promote his
ideas...

First thing:

You claim that ALL israelis who serve in the IDF have blood on their
hands.....by saying that you are basically saying that ALL ISRAELIS have
blood on their hands, since as you probably know, we are obliged by law to
go to the military.

Unfprtunately to your theory - the people who serve in the army as musicians
are probably the ones that not only have NOT blood on their hands, they
usually dont have even machine gun oil on their hands...as they do not
participate in the fighting of any sort...

Now, blaming all Israelis for things decided (or not) by our government - is
as if I shall blame you as a British citizen/resdent for all that the
British govrenment does..and come and disturb your daily life...your
profession..

so, for me, your action there was a kind of racism of the worst kind...you
blame people of a certain citizenship of actions...

I do not claim Israel is innocent -I do claim there are many opinnions in
Israel, and many kinds of people, and that punishing the artists is the
wrong way, and in a way the cowardly way to go about -

The fact that we live here in a danegerous zone, and we insist on creating
art and connecting to the beauty in life, many of us, teaching Arab students
too, many of us volenteering to assist the Arab communities here, trying to
bridge the gaps, to bridge the disagreements...we are actually doing
something trying to reach a solution...

You - on the other hand, sit in a European capital, and of not go for
instance to Gaza to volenteer for whom you preceeve as victims...you are
busy going to concerts, and creating comossion ...

so that is not only racism, that is a very cowardly thing to do.

And please do not go on comparing this situation here to the 30"s in
Germany. My family lost 110 people in those terrible years, and there is
nothing to compare...

And another issue :
Do you see any Hamas people understanding that some people have a better
talent as musicians, and creating a whole sections of musicians in their
forces? do you see them trying to promoste art?

Do you see them allowing Gilad Shalot to meet the red cross people (as
needed by the international law?)

why are you so one sided?

Reality is never one sided...
D.

Tony Greenstein said...

Dro expresses astonishment at the fact that we disrupted a concert of Israeli musicians. Why? Israel has occupied the W Bank & Gaza for 40 years and it has occupied the land of those Palestinians who were drive out at the point of a gun for nearly 62 years.

If disrupting concerts is a principle then would it have been wrong to disrupt the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra or its conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler in the 1930's or maybe the Nazi sympathising pianist Wilhelm Gieseking?

And if it so reprehensible to disrupt a music concert then presumably all those Zionists proclaiming how terrible it is will also condemn the protestors from the Soviet Jewry campaign in the 1980's who regularly disrupted concerts by Soviet musicians?

As for the JQ not having blood on their hand. This is a nonsense argument. They play for, give comfort to, are styled as Distinguished IDF musicians and have, by their own description, acted as the best ambassadors for a state which has plenty of Palestinian blood on its hands.

I have made it clear that our objection was not to the fact that they served in the IOF but that they continued to associate with it, entertain its troops and act as its cultural ambassadors.

By your narrow standards ('not even machine gun oil on their hands') the same is true of Himmler who never, as far as we can see, actually shed blood personally.

No I don't say all Israelis have blood on their hands because they are conscripted into the army. I'm a Marxist not a moralist. But I do say that those Israelis who do not condemn what that army does, who don't protest against its actions and those of the settlers and who have nothing to do with the systemic discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, because it is a Jewish state, then yes, they have blood on their hands. Is that so difficult to understand?

As Eldridge Cleaver, one of the founders of the Black Panthers said, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Music is not neutral. It has always played a part alongside and part of social movements. It might be Wagner in Nazi Germany or Boby Dylan at the time of the civil rights movement.

But then we have the clincher when Dro says that 'blaming all Israelis for things decided (or not) by our government - is
as if I shall blame you as a British citizen/resdent for all that the British govrenment does.'

There is just one problem with this 'logic'. Britain isn't Israel. Israel is a settler-colonial state. A state whose foundations rest on institutionalised racism. It is after all a Jewish state.

Tony Greenstein said...

As the Afrikaner press asked: 'Is there any difference between the way the people of Israel are trying to maintain themselves amid the non-Jewish peoples and the way the Afrikaner is trying to remain what he is? The people of Israel base themselves upon the Old Testament to explain why they do not wish to mix with other people. The Afrikaner does this too.'

Dr Verwoerd, former South African Prime Minister and the spiritual father of Apartheid noted: “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a 1000 years. In this I agree with them. Israel like South Africa is an apartheid- state.”

And the Jerusalem Post made it clear in April 1976 on the conclusion of a. pact between Israel and South Africa, after John Vorster's visit there (an ex-Nazi incidentally):
'The Afrikaners were especially enthusiastic... seeing a similarity of interest in two 'white' nations at the head and foot of the African continent waging lonely fights for survival against overwhelming black numbers.'

In short Britain and Israel are different types of state. In Britain you are a citizen regardless of race, religion or any other criteria if you fulfill certain criteria. Your access to State land (read JNF/ILA) isn't dependent on being non-Jewish. Nor is education segregated or racial barriers put on jobs (army service). There is no Law of Return which entitles me to go and claim my patrimony but Palestinians cannot.

Comparison with Nazis? As Hanna Arendt noted in Eichmann in Jerusalem, when the prosecutor Gideon Hausner attacked Nazi Germany as a place where a Jew could not marry a non-Jew, no one saw fit to mention that this is true of Israel too! In Germany demographics were important. So too in Israel where the numbers of Arabs is fearfully counted in case Jews are outnumbered by Arabs.

In Israel Arabs can't buy state land (93%) in Germany they were barred. Israel seeks to construct a Jewish racial state, Nazi Germany did too. Nazi Germany conducted the holocaust from 1941 onwards. Before then it was not dissimilar to Israel in its racist discrimination. That was one reason why the Zionists were favoured over and above the 'assimilationist' Jewish parties.

In Israel 'left' and 'right' have different meanings than in Britain. In your country it relates to peace, not economics and not even that now since the Zionist left has disappeared along with most of the rest of the left. Class struggle and socialism are not things that detain the Israeli left or its labour party which was, first and foremost the party of the state.

Tony Greenstein said...

Yes Israel is is in a dangeerous zone. Unsurprisingly since it is an armed gendarme of the United States and West.

You say that you are 'teaching Arab students too, many of us volenteering to assist the Arab communities here, trying to
bridge the gaps, to bridge the disagreements...we are actually doing something trying to reach a solution...'

No - don't fool yourself. You are not only doing nothing you are perpetuating the existing system. The very fact that you talk of 'assisting' the Arabs speaks volumes. Are they children? You sound like the benevolent colonial.

Maybe you have something to say about the nationality law which prevents Israeli Arabs from taking spouses from the West Bank? Ah I hear you say, 'security'. Yes security was the excuse for the Nazis' actions on the steppes of Russia too and the deportations.

50% of Arab villages are 'unrecognised' and like the Bedouin villages of the Negev are subject to instant demolition. Do you protest this naked expression of Zionist expansionism and racism? If not then all your 'dialogue' groups are so much hot air. You chat to Mohammed in the day-time and say goodbye to him as he goes back to a house without electricity or sewerage in the evening.

Even the model Arab-Jewish village Neve Shalom, so beloved of the hypocrites of Mapam sits not on Jewish State land. God forbid. It is owned by Carmelite monks since even a propaganda symbol like this cannot be allowed to undermine your apartheid.

Hamas is your creation not mine. You decided to pursue a policy of pitting Islamists vs Secular Nationalists. That is the way of all imperialists.

As for Gilad Shalit you again demonstrate your racism. WHy not mention the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Administrative Detention without trial or the 300 Arab child prisoners? Why is Shalit so important? You talk of the Red Cross (yes they had a wonderful time before 1945) visiting - do they visit the Palestinian prisoners before or after torture or never?.