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Friday, 2 April 2010

Jerusalem Quartet - Liars and Ambassadors on Behalf of the Israeli State











Well the furore caused by our action against the Jerusalem Quartet continues to grow apace. Apart from this blog receiving record hits, we have had 2 major articles in yesterday’s Independent, a Feedback on Radio 4 and growing international coverage such as YNet.

But throughout all this is the argument that we disrupted, horror of horrors, a classical music concert and thus spoilt the enjoyment of London’s concert-going chattering classes. So there are two obvious questions:

It is Acceptable to Disrupt a Classical Music Concert Because of the Musicians' Complicity with Israeli Military Repression?

and

Was it Acceptable to Protest and Disrupt Concerts by Wilhelm Furtwangler and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

This attitude is best put by Steve on one of the comments when he says that:

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.’

In fact we had no particular view of the audience, knowing nothing about them. True I didn’t have a particularly high regard for those who, spitting with anger, attacked me physically, but then one expects that from Zionists and their supporters.

But our concern was solely with the Jerusalem Quartet. We were very gratified at the reaction of a woman who walked out and sought us out to congratulate us. Clearly she was in a minority but then whites who opposed apartheid in South Africa or Jews who oppose Zionism in Israel are in a minority.

That is why we cherish those like the Shministim, high school students, who start their lives off with repeat prison sentences rather than serve in the Israeli army.

And that is why we do have contempt, total contempt, for the JQ who have gone out of their way to demonstrate their support for the Israeli Military. Below are the reasons why we have no regrets and indeed feel immense pride at our actions and the wider debate it has caused.

And if we have given offence to the narrow-minded little elitists of the chattering classes who think their 'cultural' enjoyment is more important than a Palestinian being brutalised by the Israeli army then that is an added bonus.

JERUSALEM QUARTET - CULTURAL AMBASADORS OF ISRAEL

The Jerusalem Quartet should be boycotted because they:

1. perform for Israeli Ambassadors
2. accept they are cultural ambassadors for Israel
3. are sponsored on tours by the Israeli Government
4. were introduced to the audience by an Israeli Ambassador on stage
5. have an official status inside the Israeli Army as Distinguished IDF Musicians, a status reported around the world, a status that was never withdrawn and never repudiated by them
6. are seen by Palestinians as a legitimate target for the cultural boycott on the basis of accurate information.


Funded and Supported By the Israeli State & Zionist Organisations
The JQ are created, supported and promoted by the Jerusalem Music Centre

‘the quartet was founded within the framework of the Young Musicians' Group of the Jerusalem Music Centre and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation [AICF] in co-operation with the Conservatory of the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance’.

“the Quartet has been busy playing concerts in Israel and abroad, including a concert in Amman at the residence of Israel's ambassador to Jordan; the Israeli premiere of 12 Microludes by Gyorgy Kurtag in the presence of the composer; a European concert tour sponsored by the Israel Foreign Ministry featuring concerts in Oslo, Stockholm, Vienna, The Hague, Copenhagen, and Bratislavia; a concert tour to South Africa under the auspices of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation…”

The JQ are supported and promoted by the Jerusalem Music Centre?

The JMC, which worked to get the Jerusalem Quartet into the Israeli Army, was established by the mainstream Zionist organisation, the Jerusalem Foundation, which PACBI refers to in their support for a boycott of the Jerusalem Quartet.

As a 2007 JMC report indicates: The JMC secured

“funding [for] a part-time coordinator for the Outstanding Musicians in the IDF program, which had been run by JMC staff up until then on a volunteer basis…IDF Outstanding Musicians now have [support to]… reconcile the demands of military service with those of their musical training (and make sure they make the best of both)…”
“The Jerusalem Music Centre is the Quartet’s “home base” in Jerusalem.”

“Our "headquarters" is situated in one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque corners - Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jewish neighborhood established outside the walls of the Old City”

“… we cooperate regularly with practically all leading organisations of music and music education in Israel: the Buchman-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv University; the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; the New Israeli Opera; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Science, Culture & Sports; pre-academic music schools all over the country; and so on. “

Funded and supported by the America Israel Cultural Foundation – A nakedly racist Zionist group

In case anyone is under any illusions about the AICF’s real agenda, then its own web site clears up the confusion: They have a special programme for I.D.F. Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles’, whose purpose it is to ‘Support to maintain and acquire musical instruments and sound equipment for the IDF’s musical groups.’

Note there is nothing about those at the sharp end of the IDF’s actions.

But then the AICF give the game away. They use the term Israeli citizen, though they know full well that their purpose is to support Israeli Jews, with Arab Israelis as window dressing. Education in Israel is segregated and as in all apartheid societies, Arab education is vastly underfunded compared to their Jewish counterparts, so most Arab children never have an opportunity to reach the standard of Jewish students

So slipping unconsciously into the Zionist mode, and signalling to donors that it is Jews they are really about (with a few token Arabs to ward off criticism and Daniel Barenboim’s East-West Divan Orchestra is a useful foil in this respect), the AICF brochure explains that:

“Music is in the heart of the Jewish people, and it has been a core focus of the AICF for more than six decades.”

Up till then everything has been about Israelis but at its heart is ‘the Jewish people’ – a racist concept that assumes all Jews belong to one organic unit. But of course Israel is the State of the Jewish People and the AICF is one of its soft supporters.

And what was that the JQ said in their statement issued this week?

‘The demonstrators were mistaken because we are not representatives of the Government of Israel. We are Israeli citizens, but have no connection with or patronage by the Government. We no more represent the Government of Israel than the audience at the Wigmore Hall represented the Government of the United Kingdom.’

What does the AICF proclaim?

“In the past five years alone, AICF has awarded over $6.5m in scholarships to Israeli students of the arts, supporting the next generation of Israel’s cultural ambassadors.” (my emphasis)

And what about the allegations that the JQ are and see themselves as Israeli Cultural Ambassadors? Well one can only take them at their word!

''People say we are the best ambassadors from Israel, and we are happy about that,'' cellist Kyril Zlotnikov said in Melbourne yesterday."The Australian, 14th March 2006:

This is unsurprising given that the AICF’s mission is to “Depict the State of Israel as a thriving cultural environment that stimulates creativity and artistic life.” i.e. obliterate the actual, living experience of the Arabs of Palestine, their expulsion and apartheid treatment.

Here are a few of our most prominent artists and the years they were funded:”
Jerusalem Quartet: Alexander Pavlovsky, violin, 1992-1999; Sergei Bresler, violin, 1991-1999; Amihai Grosz, viola, 1993-1999; Kyril Zlotnikov, cello, 1991-1999

“Through the enthusiastic contributions of AICF patrons, millions in early support was given … towards the founding of the Jerusalem Music Centre (JMC). Responding to the needs for Israel’s growing pool of talented musicians, the AICF provides vital scholarships for musical study, including numerous chamber groups such as the Jerusalem Quartet, who were created, nurtured and launched onto the world scene from the JMC.”(page 4)

However, as I have written previously, every cloud has a silver lining. And though he was an undoubted crook and swindler, Bernie Madoff probably did more for the Palestinian and anti-Zionist cause than most Palestine solidarity groups put together. He deprived them of billions of dollars! Hence on the AICF homepage we learn that "Unfortunately, the bulk of AICF's endowments were invested with Bernard L. Madoff Securities". [the statement is now not there but it has been recorded for legal purposes]

The AICF homepage asks for donations; "funding for the arts is scarce with most resources going to security" [this link seems to have been changed too] Of course they don’t question the scarcity of resources and why those that are available go to ‘security’ i.e. repression. [the wording has subsequently been change to ‘these troubling economic times’ as even ardently Zionist organisations learn the art of diplomacy]

As Joseph Kalichstein explains on their donation page:

"I have always thought of AICF as a lifeline, an essential, vital, and integral part of the cultural, artistic, and spiritual life of Israel, and as such, a lifeline to Israel's very existence. It is imperative, especially in these times, for all who love art and love Israel to work together to ensure that the AICF survives, and, once it does, continues to thrive."

You get it? AICF is a ‘a lifeline to Israel's very existence’. Despite the wittering and dishonesty of some of nature’s born liberals here in the West, the Zionist ‘cultural’ organisations are quite clear. Culture is a means of ensuring ‘Israel's very existence’ i.e. the same old Zionist existentialism when it is the Palestinian’s existence which is at stake and their homes and future.
SPONSORSHIP BY THE ISRAELI STATESponsorship or funding by the Israeli state comes with strings attached as Yitzhak Laor, himself a famous Israeli poet, but a stern critic of Zionism, points out in Haaretz of 31.7.08:

Section 12 of the contract that all Israeli artists who receive state sponsorship must sign, states that:

"The service provider undertakes to act faithfully, responsibly and tirelessly to provide the Ministry with the highest professional services. 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."
THE JERUSALEM QUARTET’S IMAGE TO THE WORLD
The JQ started were described thus:

for the three immigrants, carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement)’The World Zionist Press Service in 1998:

This article explains the support given by the Jerusalem Music Centre (JMC), and the link to the military. As Kyril Zlotnikov explains:


"We feel good… The four of us share the same work ethic. The first vacation we ever took was after playing together daily for nine years, and that was only for two weeks. 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."

Jewish Independent of British Columbia, 21 March 2003:

The same article also reveals that they are based on an illegal settlement:

‘… it's the Jerusalem Music Centre that the quartet calls home. Having been allocated one of two recently built studios there, they put in three to four hours of practice each day.
Located in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood, the centre was established 30 years ago by the Jerusalem Foundation at the joint initiative of master violinist Isaac Stern and then-mayor Teddy Kollek, as a meeting place for visiting maestros and talented young Israeli musicians.

Their own CD booklet in 1996 explains how
“The four members of the Quartet joined the Israeli Defense Forces
in March 1997 and are serving as Distinguished Musicians”

TOURS CLEARLY FUNDED BY THE STATE OF ISRAEL
2001
‘The quartet played at a public concert for Musica Viva at Llewellyn Hall, but on Sunday, their concert was for guests of the Israeli ambassador, Gabby Levy and his wife, Irit.’
Canberra Times, August 21, 2001

2004The Jerusalem Quartet are sponsored on their tour of Australia and NZ by the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, according to the Canberra Times of May 5, 2004.
The same day’s Courier Mail from Queensland, reported that the Jerusalem Music Centre actually helped to facilitate the Jerusalem Quartet’s entry into the Israeli military. They also confirm the Jerusalem Quartet’s official Israeli Army status up to at least 2004

‘The Jerusalem Music Centre even negotiated with the Israeli army for the ensemble to be conscripted as musicians. This was an unprecedented move and the quartet remains today the official Quartet-in-Residence, a role they juggle within their busy international concert touring schedule.’

2007
Jerusalem Quartet concerts from the Library of Congress in April saw the Israeli Ambassador introducing the JQ. An admirer, IONARTS, in April 2007 quotes a contemporary media release from their Record Label that

‘They now enjoy the status of Distinguished IDF’ and went on to say that

a group of angry Palestinian students succeeded in stopping a performance in Manchester, England.’

1. He also expresses irritation at the Israeli Ambassador’s ‘crude’ and ‘clumsy’ introduction of the Quartet that ‘really rub[bed] in the propaganda aspect of the event’ in Washington:

2. During autumn 2007 the JQ played in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel, clearly and obviously sponsored by the Embassy of Israel.

3. Jerusalem Quartet concerts from the Library of Congress were advertised as “Co-sponsored by the Embassy of Israel

2009November tour of Australia funded by the Israeli Government

ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UK REPLY TO OUR ACTIONBut as Ron Prossor, Israeli Ambassador to the UK has explained re the Scottish PSC Protest at a Jerusalem Quartet concert:

"We must not give in to the attempts to sabotage the marketing of Israeli art and culture in Britain.” The Jewish Chronicle 4 Sep 2008

Could there be a better reason to boycott the Jerusalem Quartet?
 
Amendment
In keeping with our policy to correct mistakes when they come to our attention, we withdraw the assertion that the headquarters of the Jerusalem Music Centre at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, is situated across the Green Line in the Occupied West Bank. We have now received confirmation that this is not the case and that in fact it is situated in what was previously 'no-man's land' but inside the Israeli state as it was from 1948-1967. Please accept our apologies for this unintentional mistake.
Tony Greenstein

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