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".

Ode to Joy

Zubin Mehta, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra: "People who make music have to be politically aware"

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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  • Comment number 424.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    You can start with things like the British Broadcasting corporation you are commenting on. As far as this goes its a none story a few loud mouths got into a concert and drew attention to something that most know and ignore from whichever side they come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    I am completely objective on this, but interested in hearing about both sides. It is a GREAT shame the BBC cannot discuss this on air!, BBC Radio especially BBC London would be ideal...and yet they wont touch anything to do with Gaza, Palestine or Isreal with a barge pole...why is this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    I hope that anyone suggesting to convert to islam gets moderated as well, Just like mine did when I suggested people should converted to christainty, but just look how much pro-convert to islam on the bbc website?

    Just like the ramadan road trip? where chistians have converted to islam, i guess that ok to say but not the otherway round

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    Israel is far more civilised than the brutal Saudi regime, the totalitarian Syrian regime anime in Gaza.d Hamas reg

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Jews have been expelled from all Arab countries, from Morocco in the west to Iraq in the east (Morocco and Tunisia, to be fair, still retain approx. 1% of their indigenous Jewish populations - respect). The only Middle eastern/North African country they can now reside in is Israel, which they share with over 3 million Arabs.

    I hope this clarifies a) who the racists are and b) who has tolerance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    5 Hours ago
    What??? Are you having a laugh mate? I think it was the Israelis that invaded Palestine (remember that country?) at the start of the 20th century so who is reacting to who exactly???
    I think you need to learn about history, like the 7 arab states who tried to invade israel and they lost. Well tough luck and they lost land because of their bully boy actions.

  • Comment number 417.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    What the difference between a Zionist and a Islamist?

    A Zionist wants Israel to be Jewsih

    An Islamist want's the world to be muslim.

    Be careful what you wish for, as Hamas is an Islamist party

  • Comment number 415.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    @Colin Wright: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (still) and is a perfectly acceptable member of the family of nations. Turn your ire and focus on those who truly deserve rebuke fo mistreatment of their own citizens, e.g. Syria, Iran, Burma, China, etc?

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    If it wasn't for the selective media coverage of events in israel and palestine, then israel would be regarded much the same as South Africa was during apartheid.

  • Comment number 412.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    One does have to draw the line somewhere, and if concert goers were 'angry at the disruption of their evening,' it is also wrong to act as if Israel were still a perfectly acceptable member of the family of nations. It's not, and it should be excluded from that family. That means no tours for the IPO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Israel is killing innocent people everyday and yet nobody does anything about it! Impose sanctons on them just like Syria.

    The UN is not afraid to impose sanctions on Syria, but yet are afraid to even criticise Israel. Israel kills innocent people everyday. Those innocent people just want their freedom and nobody gives a monkeys!!!

    That's why protests like these happen!Bet I'll get criticism

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    By the way I do hope that people on this site know the difference between anti semitism and anti Zionism. And just for the record I abhor any forms of anti semitism! By the way criticism of Israel does not make one anti Semitic!

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    ronnie you make as much sense are FOX NEWS, and panchopablo
    The people in those regions you mentioned wanted to be free from their former rulers IE Serbia Etc, OK this is different Israel is occupying land and majority Arabs who want NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM, WHEN WILL PEOPLE USE THEIR BRAINS ?

  • Comment number 407.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    The reason the left get accused of racism, is because they focus all of their ire against the only Jewish state. You have to question someone who does that. Turkey occupies Cyprus against UN resolutions. Turkey killed 160 Kurds the other day. Can you imagine the international condemnation if Israel killed 160 palestinians in one raid like the Turks?

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    Everyone seems to be throwing curve balls! So here's mine. If you check history, terrorism works! I believe that some countries were born this way! But dont believe what I say, intelligent people do your research and then all will be revealed!

    However let's hope that maybe the UN can help avoid a repeat of history! But sadly I think the UN are a bit powerless due to the power of veto!


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