BBC radio cuts its radio coverage of the London event because of the disruptions • British Culture and Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, who was in the audience, says, “Demonstrators seem to have turned the entire audience pro-Israel.”
Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a Thursday night concert in London by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, causing so much disturbance that the BBC had to cut short its live broadcast of the show.
The orchestra, under the direction of acclaimed conductor Zubin Mehta, was performing at the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms, an eight-week summer series of daily classical music performances in London.
The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, a British pro-Palestinian organization, called for a boycott of the concert. “The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s services to the Israeli army continue up to the present day, performing for Israeli soldiers at their army outposts. This is the same Israeli army that kills Palestinian men, women and children who are living under an illegal Israeli occupation. There is nothing beautiful in celebrating Israeli occupation,” director Sarah Colborne said in a press release days before the concert.
The activists interrupted the concert on multiple occasions, notably booing and whistling while violinist Gil Shaham performed his solo. A BBC journalist who was at the event reported: “As Zubin Mehta stood up and began each piece a small group of protesters each time tried to stop the music,” he said in his report. “They [the protesters] sang, they shouted, they were met with boos by the audience and they had to be removed by security staff.”
The BBC, which has been broadcasting the daily summer series performances live, decided to take the Israeli orchestra's performance off the air because of the disruptions. “We regret that as a result of sustained audience disturbance tonight's concert was taken off BBC Radio 3,” the Proms tweeted Thursday night.
A BBC spokesman said the broadcaster was “disappointed” the coverage had been taken off the air, but said the performance had continued in the hall. Eventually the disruptions petered out and the IPO was able to perform its musical pieces in their entirety. About 30 people were removed by security over the disturbances, according to the BBC report.
Ed Vaizey, Minister in the Coalition Government with responsibilities for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, and Conservative MP for Wantage and Didcot, who was in the audience, posted on Twitter: “Demonstrators seem to have turned the entire audience pro-Israel.”