BBC censors violinist at Proms
At the end of the performance of Vivaldi by the Palestine Strings, a group of musicians aged 12 to 23 from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music,
violinist Nigel Kennedy remarked “It’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from the experience of this night of music that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for things to happen.” His remarks were applauded by the audience and went out live over Radio 3, but the BBC said it would remove the remarks from a rebroadcast on BBC Four.
The BBC has often acted as a mouthpiece for Israel and rarely given Palestinians a voice. The BBC should allow Kennedy's short remark to stand as part of the record of the event; others can make up their mind as to whether they agree or disagree.
Kennedy's use of the word apartheid is not too harsh. While the exact actions differ from those of South Africa, both suppress a people on racial grounds, and both require the condemnation of the world to bring about their end.
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Report from Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP)
Report in Telegraph
Report in Jewish Chronicle
Additional links from Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP)
From the letters page of the Telegraph:
SIR – Some of us were present at the exhilarating celebration of musical artistry of Nigel Kennedy’s Four Seasons Prom, with the Palestine Strings. We congratulate the BBC for giving young players from the Edward Said Conservatory an all-too-rare opportunity to demonstrate the vitality of Palestinian cultural life, despite all the obstacles they face.
It now appears that the BBC intends to censor tomorrow’s broadcast of the concert, redacting a statement by Kennedy in which he hinted at the harsh conditions under which Palestinian musicians live. He said the Prom performance showed that “given equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen”.
The BBC said these words do not “fall within the editorial remit of the Proms as a classical music festival”. Kennedy responded with a statement condemning an “imperial lack of impartiality”. We note the Jewish Chronicle’s report indicating that the BBC has been subjected to pressure from pro-Israel advocates.
As Jewish campaigners for equality, justice and freedom for all in Israel/Palestine, we urge the BBC to acknowledge his comments as an integral part of a performance which was warmly received by an enthusiastic Proms crowd. The BBC owes television viewers the right to see the event uncensored, in its entirety.
Dr Les Levidow
Prof Moshé Machover
Dr Simon Pirani
Prof Jonathan Rosenhead
Chair, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
Dr Joan Safran
Secretary, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods