Jew baiting is a terrific pastime that has been attracting enthusiastic followers for well over 3000 years.
The buffoons who disrupted the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in the Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London last week were following a tradition that probably started in the Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt—or thereabouts.
The worst aspect of the wrecking of the concert, which was being broadcast by the BBC, was that the majority of the 30 disrupting protestors were professional musicians. The protest/demonstration was more than likely organised under the banner of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, a Leftist onslaught against Israel.
This was the campaign that was embraced by Sydney’s Marrickville Council, last year, during the Federal election. It saw the defeat of the Greens’ candidates, and the Marrickville Council eventually reversing its anti-Israel boycott.
There is a certain ugliness surrounding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
This is not a grass roots movement populated by rednecks, the mob or the rabble from the streets. No, this is a political campaign that sprang from intellectuals and academics from the Left.
In the United Kingdom it started on 22 April, 2005, at the Council of the Association of University Teachers, who voted to start a boycott of the University of Haifa and Bar-Ilian University in Israel. The implications of this move suggested a far more targeted boycott of things and people Israeli, and therefore it was an anti-Semitic enterprise.
The American version of BDS identified companies such as Motorola, L’Oréal, The Body Shop, Estée Lauder, Sara Lee and Victoria’s Secret as targets for protest and boycott while the Australian BDS movement thought the Jewish chocolate chain, Max Brenner, would make an excellent target. Apparently they imagined anti-Semitism and chockies were a good mix.
One definition of anti-Semitism is “suspicion, hatred towards, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage”. The Palestinian group Hamas and the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Hezbollah cleric Hassan Nasrallah (he of the 20,000 rockets aimed at Israel), might be said to be anti-Semitic. Whatever the issues involved in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, having three countries vowing to wipe Israel off the map, and kill all its Jewish population, would seem to be the most serious issue at hand.
Yet BDS holds the opposite view.
Meanwhile, back at the Royal Albert Hall and this year’s Proms the audience both present and those at home, experienced a demonstration of disruption. The protesters weren’t there for the music, they were there to destroy it. The only disruption to the Proms, before this, was during the German blitz in World War II when the Queen’s Hall was destroyed by bombing, and when a fire alarm went off in 2006.
Spokes-demonstrator for the action, Ms Deborah Fink (a soprano) said:
The performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the previous night’s Prom was so exciting we decided to treat the audience to our own version of ‘Ode to Joy’.
We thought we’d liven up the Webern [the Passacaglia] a bit.
The first disruption to the concert came when the group of “professional” musicians broke into the opening piece, by singing the Beethoven Ode, (to their own pro-Palestinian words) from amongst the crowd standing in the concert hall. The conductor, Zubin Metha, to his credit, kept his back to the audience while security guards removed the group. They called themselves “Beethovians for Boycotting Israel”. As the demonstrators were removed the audience of 5,000 shouted “Out! Out! Out!”
Ms. Fink should cast her mind back to the Nazi boycott of the Jews which began on April 1, 1933. Perhaps she might also read a bit about the Nazi’s Reichskulturkammer and their attitude to Jewish musicians, artists and performers. Jewish musicians weren’t sent to the gas chambers because they were musicians; they were sent there because they were Jewish.
Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions has a rather weird slant on what is going on in Israel and its neighbourhood in the Middle-East. One of the BDS objectives is for action against Israel until “it complies with International law and the Universal Principles of Human Rights”. It is extraordinary that the BDS mob fail to recognise that Israel is the only country that does actually comply with the above. Strangely there is no BDS against Syria, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Sudan or Saudi Arabia.
Little old Israel, one quarter the size of Tasmania, manages to oversee the “human rights” of its 5,000,000 Jews and 2 million Arabs and an assortment of Christian groups. It has both Jewish and Arab members of its parliament, and Jews and Arabs manage to live and work together. The Jews grant the Arabs control of the former Jewish Temple Mount, and satisfy themselves with only a small section of the Wailing Wall. The Temple was built by a Jewish king, Solomon, and re-built by Herod. The Jews could claim the real estate as theirs.
In his new book, Jerusalem -The Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore writes about the history of the Jewish people in relation to the city, and their extraordinary saga of survival. It is a frightful story of persecution, slaughter and exile. It tells of possibly two elements in their refusal to submit to millennia of attempts to destroy their race and beliefs. One is their possible substitution (in exile) of The Book as their country. The other is their 3000-year old belief in a return to their homeland.
In the Nazi era, almost universally, German universities and German academics were totally silent about the Jewish persecution that surrounded them. Australian academics really should be speaking out against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is not a pleasant thing to be associated with.