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Helping Palestine?

Triggered by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's visit to the BBC Proms in London at the beginning of September 2011, and already mentioned here in Malcolm Miller's review of the concert, a series of well-organised demonstrations both outside and inside the Royal Albert Hall caused the BBC to discontinue its broadcast of the event.

Feelings run high about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and, in a letter published in The Independent, two days before the concert, various musicians, including Reem Kelani, Deborah Fink, Miriam Walton, Derek Ball, Raymond Deane, Catherine Ford, John Claydon, Roy Mowatt, Susie Meszaros, Ian Pace and Leni Solinger, called for the concert to be cancelled.

'Our main concern is that Israel deliberately uses the arts as propaganda to promote a misleading image of Israel', they wrote. 'Through this campaign, officially called "Brand Israel", denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is perhaps Israel's prime asset in this campaign.'

Sue Sutherley, Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild, four musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, used the orchestra's name when adding their signatures to the letter, which was also signed by music photographer Malcolm Crowthers and artist manager Chris Somes-Charlton.

The LPO has suspended these four musicians from their jobs for nine months, issuing a statement indicating that the company had no wish to end these talented musicians' careers, nor to restrict its players' rights in expressing themselves, but that 'for the LPO, music and politics do not mix.'

Since the LPO suspensions, many people in the music business have called for the LPO to reverse its decision.

If you support Palestine's cause as it seeks recognition by the United Nations, but don't believe in violent or disruptive protests, then you may like to donate to the strictly non-political Al-Quds Foundation for Medical Schools in Palestine (FQMS), which is holding its annual dinner in London on Friday 4 November 2011, at which music will be provided by soprano Zeina Barhoum.

Information: www.fqms.org

Posted: 30 September 2011 by Keith Bramich

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