Sunday, August 31, 2008

31st August.

I'd bought a ticket for the Jerusalem Qusrtet. Without thinking at all, really, about the implications. I simply wanted to hear Haydn and Janacek and get to know Brahms.

The concert was at the Queens Hall at 11.00 am. These are generally impeccably well mannered affairs, and so i was a little surprised to see protesters picketing the entrance.

I never grasped why this particular group was targeted by pro-Palestinians. It's true they have served in the Palestinian army; but then every Israeli adult is obliged to; and it's also true that 3 of the quartet members belong to Barenboim's East-West Divan Orchestra, which is profoundly committed to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

Nonetheless, i was grateful to be reminded of the political dimension to their presnce by the protesters at the door.

I walked past them, however: I don't believe in cultuiral boycotts.

What was harder to deal with were the protesters who, in a very well organised way, disrupted each of the movements of the first quartets.

I felt for the artists; I know I would feel it very unjustified to be held to account for my government's war crimes.

I felt for the protesters, too. Though i could not help but wonder how they would respond to Zionist protesters barracking a group of Palestinian musicians.

And I felt for dear Haydn. Whose beautiful slow movement was such a totally beautiful and dignified assertion of the human centred values the Middle Eastern conflict so desperately needs.

But I did not feel for the audience. These supposedly cultured and civilised music lovers responded to the very dignified actions of the protesters - who were communicating undeniable truths - with a petty minded rage I found utterly repulsive.

And that is why I left. I did not want to be part of such a vile bunch of ignorant and prejudiced people.
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