Cultural BDS against Israel exploding everywhere


Film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, theatre director Michael Attenborough and actress Dame Harriet Walter are among the 117 signatories to a letter of protest over the “harsh” punishment. They claim that artists should be allowed to express themselves freely “without fear of financial or professional retribution”.

The four musicians – Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild, all violinists, and Sue Sutherley, a cellist – had called for the cancellation of a September 1 Proms concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

They added their names and LPO [London… Philharmonic Orchestra] affiliation to a letter published on August 30 which stated that “Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians fits the UN definition of apartheid”.

The four were handed a suspension of up to nine months by the LPO, which declared that “the orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely [but] such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself”.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Leigh and his fellow signatories said they were “shocked” and “dismayed” by the suspension.

“One does not have to share the musicians’ support for the campaign for boycotting Israeli institutions to feel a grave concern about the bigger issue at stake for artist and others,” it reads.

“There is a clear link being forcibly created here between personal conscience and employment, which we must all resist.

“A healthy civil society is founded on the ability of all to express non-violent and non-prejudiced opinions, freely and openly, without fear of financial or professional retribution.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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