The incorrigible Roger Waters of the rock group Pink Floyd seemingly needs no excuse to deride and demonise Israel.
But famous British violinist Nigel Kennedy's remarks at the BBC Proms (described below) have been characterised by Waters as the "inspiration" for issuing a new open letter denouncing Israeli "apartheid" and calling on fellow musicians to boycott Israel (see here for details).
Note, in this extract, the reference to pro-Israel Baroness Deech's maiden name, just in case her Jewishness might not be at once apparent (incidentally, this distinguished lady's father, Josef Fraenkel, was a renowned Yiddishist and co-author of Theodor Herzl, which appeared in 1943):
"Nigel Kennedy the virtuoso British violinist and violist, at The Recent Promenade Concerts at The Albert Hall in London, mentioned that Israel is apartheid. Nothing unusual there you might think, then one Baroness Deech, (Nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement. Baroness Deech produced not one shred of evidence to support her claim and yet the BBC, non political, supposedly, acting solely on Baroness Deech’s say so, suddenly went all 1984 on us. Well!! Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man. So here follows a letter last re-drafted in July.""If 'music is a great equaliser ... a bridge'," why boycott Israel?" That's the question I'd put, if I could, to Nigel Kennedy (who used that phrase; see below), and not only to Mr Kennedy, but to Waters and other musicians who refuse to perform in Israel and who encourage others to follow their example.
Speaking from ["East"] Jerusalem in 2007 Mr Kennedy told the leftist Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz:
"I grew up in South London. There were Christians and Muslims and Jews, people from all over the world: the Balkans, India. As a boy, when I had no idea about religion, I nevertheless understood that there were many types of people with different beliefs, that there are many religions and that you have to respect all of them because they are all valid. That's what made me have diverse interests, and not be single-minded."But he went on to say:
"I became aware of the Palestinian story while I was a student in New York. My girlfriend then was Palestinian, and, through her, I began to familiarize myself with and understand the problem even before the [separation] wall and the other atrocities. She had to return home every year or she would lose her citizenship, and, like it was for all of us students, that wasn't exactly her thing. Then I understood that it was simply a way to harass the Palestinians and prevent them from studying.
And today, I was really shocked when I saw the wall here. It's a new type of apartheid, barbaric behavior. How can you impose collective punishment and divide people from one another? We are all residents of the same planet. I would think that the world learned something from South Africa. And the world should boycott a nation that didn't learn. That's why I won't perform in your country." [Emphasis added]Recently, speaking on BBC Radio 4 about his appearance at the BBC Proms, where he performed Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the young members of the Palestine Strings, Mr Kennedy said (listen here; hat tip: reader Jean Vercors):
"Music is a great equaliser and you can't make music unless it's a collaborative affair .... [It] represents an idealistic form of politics.... These problems of apartheid in Israel at the moment are extreme. And when it was South Africa people did something about it [BBC interviewer enthusiastically "Yeah ..."] .... [Music's] a bridge whih shows that every human being from whatever background can get on with another human being from whatever background. People can work together. "And here he is at the concert itself, using that "apartheid" word again, to a standing ovation.
"Just marvellous!" says Al Beeb's news anchor at the end of this report on rehearsals, in which the appearance of the young players from the Disputed Territories is presented as a "boost for Palestine"; I assume she's paying tribute to the musicians' undoubted skills and not to the political propaganda:
Mr Kennedy, who in 2007 also said
"I have lived [in Krakow] for the past seven years.... My life in Krakow is very rich when it comes to music.... I also play with a Klezmer trio, Trio Kroke. Kroke is the Yiddish word for Krakow. We play everything, from Jewish music to Balkan music...."is undoubtedly well-meaning, but his and Waters' characterisation of Israel as an "apartheid" state is wrong, for it is not that at all, as this black South African leader's daughter, who knows what real apartheid is, eloquently explains (hat tip reader Ian).