The Jerusalem Quartet have called the disruption of their performance at London’s Wigmore Hall “irrational” and “ignorant.”
The lunchtime performance, being broadcast live on BBC Radio Three, was taken off air partway through the concert on Monday afternoon after protesters disrupted the event. But the musicians played on and completed the Mozart and Ravel concert programme.
In a statement, the Jerusalem Quartet musicians said the protesters should have been surer of their facts. Only one of the musicians is a native Israeli and all four served in the IDF not in combat but as musicians.
Two perform as part of the Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an Arab-Israeli music initiative.
The statement said: "To identify our conscription, particularly since it was so long ago, with support for government policies is irrational.
“It is destructive of our attempts to foster Israel-Arab relations for us to be the subject of demonstrations of the kind we suffered yesterday.
"We no more represent the Government of Israel than the audience at the Wigmore Hall represented the Government of the United Kingdom."
"We are musicians. We want our audiences to enjoy our music, whoever they may be, whatever their religion or nationality or ethnicity, without unthinking interruptions."
The clash came after four or five pro-Palestinian protesters bought tickets for the concert, and, about five to ten minutes into the music, began shouting and heckling the Israeli musicians.
They shouted: “The Quartet, who are cultural ambassadors for the state of Israel, are promoting the interests of Israel and all its policies against the Palestinians, to the British public.”
The demonstrators were taken away by Wigmore Hall security officers and a decision was taken by the concert hall management to take the broadcast off-air "in order to deny these people publicity."
A clearly shaken John Gilhooly, director of the Wigmore Hall, told the JC: "It is such a pity that music has become politicised."
In September 2008 members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign broke up a performance by the Jerusalem Quartet in Edinburgh, and are currently still facing legal proceedings over that demonstration.