Steeds meer bijeenkomsten en activiteiten die ook maar in de verste verte iets met Israel te maken hebben, worden verstoord door anti-Israel activisten. Het laatste voorbeeld is een strijkkwartet van Mozart in Londen, dat werd uitgevoerd door het Jeruzalem Kwartet. In Nederland hebben anti-Israel activisten eerder o.a. een voorstelling van een kindertheatergroep uit Israel verstoord, en in Zweden moest een tenniswedstrijd achter gesloten deuren worden gespeeld vanwege de vele en luidruchtige protesten tegen de Israelische tennisster. Het feit dat je uit Israel komt is reden om je als crimineel te behandelen. Dat is de kant die het opgaat met de anti-Israel hetze, de totaal eenzijdige berichtgeving en de overdreven aandacht voor ieder Palestijns schuurtje dat al dan niet terecht door Israel werd afgebroken.
Protest is fine, but heckling string quartets is crude and insulting
Jonathan Rée 2nd April 2010
Jonathan Rée 2nd April 2010
There's something strangely erotic and incomparably touching about a successful performance of chamber music. The musicians lay themselves open to each other, they make themselves mutually vulnerable, and they do so in a public space. And if the audience is a good one, it will know how to eavesdrop on their music-making without disrupting its intimacy.
String quartets are especially good at it. The variety of effects they get from the dialogues of two violins, viola and cello is astonishing; and then they all do it so differently: the austere Emersons, the dignified Tokyos, the wild Takacs and then the relative newcomers, the young and tender Jerusalems, who manage somehow to be bold but tentative at the same time.
Their lunchtime concert at the Wigmore Hall on Monday got off to a wonderful start, with Mozart's late Quartet in D, K575. But then a shrill voice started some fortissimo yodelling in the back of the hall. After a few bars the four musicians, looking utterly shocked and dismayed, gave way and came to a halt. The rogue soprano was removed, and the live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 was, I gather, suspended. We in the audience were shaken, but our musicians took up their instruments again and picked up where they had left off, though without entirely regaining their former perfect poise. Then an elderly upper class lady stood up and started shouting about how the Jerusalem Quartet were really paid agents of the Israeli government, and complicit in genocidal atrocity. The music came to a halt again. 'What do you want us to do?' inquired the cellist Kyril Zlotnikov, mournfully. 'Of course we get nothing from the Israeli government' said the much-fancied violist, Amihai Grosz: 'we just play music.'
A brief pause and back to Mozart, everyone worrying whether there were more musical terrorists in our midst, and wondering what their plans might be: maybe throwing bottles next time, smashing musical instruments, a little hand-grenade, or just breaking a few string-playing fingers . In the event there were three further interruptions two in the Mozart and one in the Ravel and the mutilated concert ended half an hour late with a passionate expression of support for the unlucky musicians.
That at least is how I recall, though I must confess that I was so upset that my memories may have got scrambled. I felt as though I had been forced to witness a prolonged act of torture against a set of meek and helpless victims. You may ask me: what harm? There is much not to like about Israel is there? The musicians will have got their fee, no one was injured, and Mozart and Ravel have not really suffered any irreparable harm.
But I am reminded of what William James once said: that one of the things that we lose with the decline of religion and the rise of militant secularism is the capacity to speak simply and sincerely about what works of art can mean to us, and how they come to be not just sources of pleasure and topics of debate but objects of love and devotion. You do not have to be a believer to feel that an insult to a work of art is not just boorish and unpleasant, but sacrilegious, blasphemous, damnable.
The Palestinian cause deserves better friends.