Protests disrupt Proms concert by Israel Philharmonic


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside the hall were greeted by boos when they tried to protest

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Protesters have disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's BBC Proms concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Several demonstrators in the hall shouted as Zubin Mehta stood to conduct Bruch's violin concerto. Many other audience members booed in response.

BBC Radio 3 said it had to interrupt its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance".

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had earlier called on people to boycott the concert and urged the BBC to cancel it.

In a statement published on its website ahead of the Proms, the pro-Palestinian group claimed the IPO showed "complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights".

The BBC Proms Team tweeted: "We're sorry that the concert was taken off air following hall disturbance. Glad both pieces were heard by the audience in the RAH."

It later added: "We regret that as a result of sustained audience disturbance tonight's concert was taken off BBC Radio 3."

The performance, which consisted of four parts, was interrupted at about 19:45 BST and coverage was cut off again an hour later after more protests.

A spokeswoman for BBC Proms said it appeared each piece had been targeted by different protesters seated around the hall.

She said the broadcaster was "disappointed" the coverage had been taken off air but said the performance had continued in the hall.

About 30 people were removed by security but there were no arrests and no violence, she said.

The BBC's Tom Symonds said: "As Zubin Mehta stood up and began each piece a small group of protesters each time tried to stop the music.

"They sang, they shouted, they were met by boos by the audience and they had to be removed by the security staff."

Outside the concert hall a group of about 20 campaigners waved banners and sang songs in protest against the appearance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).

Several pro-Israeli groups met them with their own protest outside, our correspondent said.

He said it had been a "pretty disruptive" but the orchestra was said to have "taken it all in their stride and had smiles on their faces".

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Regular Proms-goer Chris Keating said there were six or seven disturbances during the performance.

"The first was in a quiet passage of the first piece," he said.

"About a dozen protesters in the choir seats stood up with a banner saying Free Palestine and started chanting and singing to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

"They were drowned out by the orchestra as the passage of music got louder and were ushered out."

'Riot atmosphere' music reviewer Igor Toronyi-Lalic, who was at the show, said: "The whole hall was groaning and trying to slow clap them out.

"It had the atmosphere of a riot."

There had been increased security measures for the concert, including bag searches and a heightened police presence.

Police confirmed there had been no arrests but there were heated exchanges between not only supporters of both political sides but also concert-goers angry at the disruption to their evening.

Anti-Israel protesters have targeted classical music performances before.

In August 2008, five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign disrupted a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall.

The BBC said it would broadcast part of the concert on 7 September at 14:30 BST.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    Check out Pallywood and a news channels that isnt called the BBC.

    Remember the great lie that was Jenin?.

    Maybe you will then realise Israel's action are actual re action to Palestinian violence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    @352 Mayna. But you need to know your history to try and create a future! And it's true, maybe they will continue to fight like dogs over a bone while the rest of the world suffers! But maybe if we arm both sides up to the max, put some huge dome over the area, allow them to fight and the last one standing can be the winner and have whats lefts! But like most people, I'm sick of the fighting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Pathetic....tell me if ALL the inhabitants of Gaza or Lebanon have their freedoms???? Freedom under Hamas or Hezbollah??? are kiddin...Under both of these male dominated ( hiding behind black masks) do what you are told...NO debate. It is a pity these 'men' cannot BUILD a country...but that would require that they WORK instead of playing toy soldiers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    AT 350 Ian

    LOL dont make me laugh the country is full of religious fanatics that are intent on destroying a peace loving people, which btw they were living there first!!!

    Israel like the USA are slowly imploding with East taking over.

    Wakey wakey LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    ref #318 please tell us all why you think the "Western left" universally hates it so?
    alot of that university left believe the U.S govt did 9/11 and have an extreme pc attitude. Prime example of why tenure should be eliminated

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    By the way,just in case you don't know,and I dare say that many will be shocked,Zubin Mehta is neither Israeli nor Jewish.
    He's an Indian Parsi who has been associated with this orchestra for many years.
    So much for Israel being a racist apartheid State.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    ref #345

    It never occured to you that this is just a contiued racicsm against Jews. Which is still acceptible in much of the world

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    @krokodil, sadly politicians and many other people are too scared (due to political pressure) to publicly call Israel a fascist state.But then again maybe other countries in the ME may be considered fascist. However I doubt those other coutries have the same media and hype machine to protect themselves against constructive criticism!

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    I think it is reasonable to protest about injustice. Clearly the Jewish people were on the receiving end of an horrific injustice in WW2, but that cannot be used as a justification for heaping another ghastly injustice on the Palestinian people.

    Unfortunately this always seems to be a very polarised debate, but a little even handedness in apportioning land and human rights would go a long way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    was there a specific reason for the protest, possibly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    The proms is about music. Take your politics elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    People check out a film named Occupation 101, see the real IDF in action and how the right wing Israeli government is slowing forcing all the Palestinians from their homeland.

    The IDF are murderers and the more protests against Israel the better.

    Its on the news so good for them for getting much needed attention against a fascist gov that is intent on the total removal of all Palestinians

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.


    Is not the past the problem, both sides fighting likes doges over a bone saying it legitimises their view. IMO history is what holds them back from peace not what will help them find a peaceful future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    "the orchestra was playing "Hatikvah" and David Ben-Gurion was reading the proclamation of independence. By nightfall, Israelis were dodging bullets and bombs. What was happening to the nation also involved the orchestra. And, throughout the 50 years since then, the Israel Philharmonic has been involved with the nation's military and diplomatic life to an extent unheard of in any other country."

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    #345 "Are you not aware that it is Israel that is considered fascist "
    Really?By whom?Looks like another anti-Israel lie put out to see if it'll fly.You have to be really biased not to recognise that Israel is a western,liberal democracy with all the usually expected standards.The ONLY one in that region.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    Histjunkie who exactly considers Israel fascist? Can you name some politicians who have stated that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    People, people, people! Much heated debate. But can I ask people to look history and the facts. Looks like britisher is the only one! The reality is that people are suffering immensely! & the Middle East is changing in a big way. Also American is slowly loosing it's grip as the leading world power! So maybe it might be a good time to find a peaceful & just solution! Otherwise we all may suffer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    325. londonsound. excellent point. If you took a Bible into Saudi Arabia then may your God help you!
    I think a great many Israelis want peace, and to co-exist with all other countries, of which only a rabid few e.g. Iran refuse to acknowledge that right.
    Alas, many in the World see Israel's aggressive unpunished acts alongside many of the comments on this blog, and wonder if peace will ever reign

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the protest it doesnt really appear to have succeeded in having an effect on the viewpoint of the audience, does it? They might want to rethink their approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    @162 You are accusing pro-Palestinian supporters of being fascist.
    Are you not aware that it is Israel that is considered fascist today?
    That is why world opinion is turning so strongly against it.


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