Article: Nigel Kennedy, Prom 34 And The BBC Censorship Of Kennedy's 'Apartheid' Statement (2013/08/26)
The full story of Nigel Kennedy's innocuous little remark at the end of this year's BBC Prom 34 on 8th August 2013 that in all probability no-one would even have taken more than passing notice of, but that the 'J-Lobby' took exception to and that the BBC has spinelessly caved in to in censoring this remark from its BBC 4 TV broadcast scheduled for Friday 23rd August. Includes messages of support from fellow artists such as Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) as well as a statement on behalf of Kennedy himself.
As part of the annual BBC Proms season, Prom 34 on 8th August 2013 featured violinist Nigel Kennedy with members of his Orchestra of Life and the Palestine Strings in a performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
At the end of the performance, Mr. Kennedy remarked to the audience, '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 amazing things to happen.' (Jubilant applause.) A recording of this remark can be found here.
The full radio recording of the event, including Kennedy's 'apartheid' remark, was available on the BBC's online iPlayer for a week afterwards.
So far, so good. It is doubtful whether this little remark would have caused any great ripples or indeed that anyone would have taken more than passing notice of it, had things been left at that and the remark left in the television broadcast. Approve of Kennedy's sentiment or disapprove if it, agree or disagree, you cannot possibly seriously claim that this was some earth-shattering statement that would set the world on fire with media coverage and propagation among the masses, who would suddenly rise up in protest against Israeli Apartheid. If only it had been left alone.
But that would probably have been asking too much of the 'J-Lobby' and sympathisers. On 17th August, Mondoweiss duly informed that, according to The JC (Jewish Chronicle), quoting the Jerusalem Chronicle Online, August 16, 2013 (Marcus Dysch, 'BBC to cut Kennedy slur from Proms broadcast'), 'BBC governor Baroness Deech called for an apology from Mr. Kennedy and said that “the remark was offensive and untrue. There is no apartheid in Israel.” Not only is there no apartheid in Israel, she claimed, but nor is there any in Gaza or the West Bank. (She made no mention of East Jerusalem.)'
Baroness Deech, purely coincidentally, happens to be a 'member of the tribe.' A first-rate illustration of the exercise of 'J-Power' and penetration of the 'J-Lobby' into even the BBC? Is there no spine left in the BBC? It would appear not, when it caves in so easily to the Zionist lobby and abandons the principles of free speech and impartiality and censors Kennedy's comment from its television broadcast.
On 18th August, Nigel Kennedy, who does not use a computer, sent the following message to the Facebook community via his friend and bassist, Yaron Stavi:
'Dear Guys And Dolls - some of you have communicated with me concerning the censorship of a few words I said (mentioning the apartheid suffered by Palestinians in their own country) at the end of my Proms concert with The Palestine Strings.
The following day, 19th August, Roger Waters (ex Pink Floyd) published a message of support for Nigel Kennedy on his Facebook page 'Roger Waters The Wall.' It is here quoted in full.
'18th August 2013 Warsaw
To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll
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
25th July 2013
To My Colleagues in Rock and Roll.
'In the wake of the tragic shooting to death of un-armed teenager Travon Martin and the acquittal of his killer Zimmerman, yesterday, Stevie Wonder spoke at a gig declaring that he will not perform in the State of Florida until that State repeals it’s “Stand your ground” Law. In effect he has declared a boycott on grounds of conscience. I applaud his position, and stand with him, it has brought back to me a statement I made in a letter I wrote last February 14th, to which I have referred but have never published.
The time has come, so here it is.
This letter has been simmering on the back burner of my conscience and consciousness for some time.
It is seven years since I joined BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) a non violent movement to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank ,and ,violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. The aim of BDS is to bring international attention to these Israeli policies, and hopefully, to help bring them to an end. All the people of the region deserve better than this.
To cut to the chase, Israel has been found guilty, independently, by international human rights organizations, UN officials, and the International Court of Justice, , of serious breaches of international law. These include, and I will name only two:
1.The Crime of Apartheid:
The systematic oppression of one ethnic group by another.
On 9 March 2012, for instance, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to end its racist policies and laws that contravene the prohibition against racial segregation and apartheid.
2.The Crime of Ethnic Cleansing:
The forcible removable of indigenous peoples from their rightful land in order to settle an occupying population. For example, in East Jerusalem non Jewish families are routinely physically evicted from their homes to make way for Jewish occupants.
There are others.
Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments, or the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Israel to cease these violations, and make reparations to the victims, it falls to civil society and conscientious citizens of the world, , to dust off our consciences, shoulder our responsibilities, and act. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel, to shed light on these problems and also to support all our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel who are struggling to end all forms of Israeli oppression and who wish to live in peace, justice, equality and freedom.
I am writing to you all now because of two recent events.
Word came to me, the first week of last December that Stevie Wonder had been booked to headline at a gala dinner for the Friends of The Israeli Defence Force in LA on 6th December 2012. An event to raise money for the Israeli armed forces, as if the $4.3,000,000,000 that we the US tax payers give them each year were not enough? This came right after The Israeli defence Force had concluded yet another war on Gaza, (Operation Pillar of Defence), according to human rights watch, committing war crimes against the besieged 1.6 million Palestinians there.
Anyway, I wrote to Stevie to try to persuade him to cancel. My letter ran along these lines, “Would you have felt OK performing at the Policeman’s Ball in Johannesburg the night after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 or in Birmingham Alabama, to raise money for the Law Enforcement officers, who clubbed, tear gassed and water cannoned those children trying to integrate in 1963?”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu also wrote an impassioned plea to Stevie, and 3,000 others appended their names to a change .org petition. Stevie, to his great credit, cancelled!
2. Earlier that week I delivered a speech at The United Nations. If you are interested you can find this speech on YouTube.
The interesting thing about these two stories is that there was NOT ONE mention of either story in the mainstream media in the United States.
The clear inference would be that the media in the USA is not interested in the predicament of the Palestinian people, or for that matter the predicament of the Israeli people,. We can only hope they may become interested as they eventually did in the politics of apartheid South Africa.
Back in the days of Apartheid South Africa at first it was a trickle of artists that refused to play there, a trickle, that exercised a cultural boycott, then it became a stream, then a river then a torrent and then a flood, ( Remember Steve van Zant, Bruce and all the others? “We will not Play in Sun City?”) Why? Because, like the UN and the International Courts of Justice they understood that Apartheid is wrong.
The sports community joined the battle, no one would go and play cricket or rugby in South Africa , and eventually the political community joined in as well. We all as a global, musical, sporting and political community raised our voices as one and the apartheid regime in South Africa fell.
Maybe we are at the tipping point now with Israel and Palestine. These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament. Each and every one of them deserves freedom, justice and equal rights. Just recently the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa, has endorsed BDS. We are nearly there. Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
The same day (18th August) as Roger Waters' statement, Gilad Atzmon highlighted the affair on his web site and on Facebook and Twitter.
And so what should have been a mole hill grew into a mountain, a little stir in a tea cup into a storm. Nobody would have taken much notice, but the BBC's decision to sensor Kennedy's comment drew everyone's attention to it. Bravo, BBC! In spinelessly caving in to Zionist pressure, the BBC actually did the pro-Palestinian movement a favour, drawing attention to Nigel Kennedy's otherwise rather insignificant remark about Israeli Apartheid and the fact that a renowned artist such as Kennedy supports the Palestinians, although the latter certainly should already have been well known to fans.
On 19th August, bassist and friend Yaron Stavi published the following statement on behalf of the non-computerised Kennedy on Facebook.
'A spokesperson for Nigel Kennedy said:
“ Nigel Kennedy finds it incredible and quite frightening that in the 21st century it is still such an insurmountable problem to call things the way they are. He thinks that once we can all face issues for what they really are we can finally have a chance of finding solutions to problems such as human rights, equal rights and even, perhaps, free speech. His first reaction to the BBC’s censorship & imperial lack of impartiality was to refuse to play for an employer who is influenced by such dubious outside forces.
Mr Kennedy has, however, reminded himself that his main purpose is to provide the audience with the best music he can deliver. To withdraw his services would be akin to a taxi driver refusing to drive their customer due to their political incorrectness. He, therefore, is not withdrawing his services that he owes to his audience, but is half expecting to be replaced by someone deemed more suitable than him due to their surplus of opportunism and career aspirations.
Mr Kennedy is glad, however, that by censoring him the BBC has created such a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.
Mr Kennedy believes his very small statement during his concert was purely descriptive and not political whatsoever."'
Succinct and to the point. One of the key issues here, that blew this whole affair up as much as it did, is the repression of free speech by the BBC in censoring Kennedy's little comment. And what of impartiality of the BBC? It is now clear that both of these have as it were gone down the toilet at the BBC. Not that this should come as too much of a surprise, let alone shock. At any rate in relation to impartiality. That, at the latest, seems to have gone with the infamous Panorama programme about the Peace Flotilla interception by the Israeli forces a couple of years or so ago. Who could still have accused the BBC of impartiality after that infamous propaganda affair? What credibility did the BBC's news department have left after that?
But is it only free speech at the BBC that is the issue? How far, indeed, does the principle of free speech really still exist in our society? For some considerable time, it has appeared to me to be rather limed already - express a non-conformist opinion, and you will soon be made to feel like a dissident in the former pre-Glasnost Soviet Union. (The worst and indeed most dangerous aspect here is the difference, in that it is so-called peers that seem to 'police' this, rather than any instrument of the state! People have become intolerant of non-conformist opinion!) Or at best, you might become regarded as a maverick, as in the case of Kennedy and Atzmon. Free speech seems to be in a very precarious condition, teetering at the edge as it were, and the BBC's exercise in repressing it in relation to Kennedy's little remark may be less surprising than it seems.
Thank goodness, now and then issues like the BBC's censorship of Kennedy's Prom 34 comment still raise hackles about free speech and such! There is still hope. So perhaps in its very suppression of free speech, the BBC has done even the very cause of free speech a favour. And in so openly caving in to 'J-Power' and 'Zio-Power,' in the form of one of its own governors Baroness Deech, the BBC has just possibly even done the wider society a favour in exposing these, as Atzmon might have it.
On 25th August, Yaron Stavi issued the following on Facebook.
'My dear friend Nigel Kennedy has asked me to publish this open letter he has written to the members of Palestine Strings.
Nigel Kennedy’s Open Letter to the Palestine Strings
Dear Friends in the Palestine Strings,
I was so happy to see the work we did on dynamic contrast, intonation and really listening to each other being realized at such an extraordinary level. Congratulations! I am looking forward to working on Bach with you and other styles of music in which we can further progress the musical parameters we have already established. Your performance at the Royal Albert Hall was something to be proud of and demonstrated the benefits of people being treated equally as opposed to being decimated and robbed by an apartheid system.
As you have seen, there is huge support for stopping the abuse of your human rights. There are many people who are neither infatuated nor indoctrinated by the evil of Zionism.
The sequence of events as described so succinctly by my brother Roger Waters seems to imply that the Head of Radio 3 is at the beck and call of Baroness Screech (who has undermined his position with no right to do so) but we should remember that he gave us the chance to play that beautiful concert. Perhaps we should also remember, title, or no title, Baroness Screech’s opinion is no more important that yours or mine, so one would have thought that none of us should have the right to censor the BBC or the general media in any way. The myth that the BBC is too pro-Palestinian, by the way, has obviously been completely dispelled when a few relatively innocuous words from a violinist can so easily be deleted from a TV broadcast. My short comment was purely observational and humanist. It surely wouldn’t have been censored if it had been referring to the benefits of the demise of the apartheid in South Africa when playing with an African ensemble.
Many thanks however to the people mentioned above and everyone else for giving a world platform to the important discussion concerning Zionist apartheid.
I hope life is treating you ok. We all miss you over here. I’m sorry to hear that the “normal” treatment of Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities led to you being detained for twelve hours. I am looking forward to playing with you again soon and to the days when we can play on a level playing field in Palestine and throughout the world.
Love and respect,
PS Mostafa – I really look forward to playing Melody in the Wind with you in Hyde Park on September 7th. See you at rehearsals on the 5th.'
Nicely put, Nigel Kennedy.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Kennedy (and Waters) on the definition of Israel as an Apartheid state is a different matter. I happen to disagree and see something far more sinister. The aim of Apartheid is to create a disenfranchised, repressed, cheap source of labour. Israel's aim seems to me to be the creation of a 'racially pure' Jewish 'Greater Israel.' Its methods speak for itself. Does this ring any bells in relation to the past?
I also happen to not support any kind of artistic and scientific boycott of Israel, I have to make clear here. Think back to what Paul Simon's Graceland album did for black South African musicians and culture (and even earlier, Malcolm McLaren's seminal Duck Rock), and the conclusions are inescapable.
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