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BBC Won't Air Violinist's Comments on 'Israeli Apartheid'

The BBC will cut comments made by violinist Nigel Kennedy about “apartheid” in Israel when it broadcasts his concert with a PA troupe.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/18/2013, 6:39 AM

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BBC Logo
Arutz Sheva: BBC

The BBC will cut comments made by violinist Nigel Kennedy about “apartheid” in Israel when it broadcasts his concert on British television channels next week, Al Arabiya reported on Saturday.

The concert, which was held at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week, featured 17 musicians from the Palestine Strings, a group of Palestinian Authority Arab artists. The troupe performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons alongside Kennedy.

Kennedy likened the situation in Israel to apartheid in South Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a bit facile to say it but we all know from experiencing this night of music tonight that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid means there's a chance for amazing things to happen," Kennedy was quoted by Al Arabiya as having said.

The decision to cut Kennedy’s comment was made due to “editorial reasons” and they removed because of “the way it fitted in with the program,” a BBC spokesperson told Al Arabiya.

“Nigel’s comment to the audience at his late-night prom on August 8 will not be included in the deferred BBC 4 broadcast on August 23 because it does not fall within the editorial remit of the proms as a classical music festival,” the spokesperson said.

Kennedy has previously refused to play concerts in Israel, but has participated in the PA-run Jerusalem Festival in eastern Jerusalem.

In 2007 he told Haaretz, “It’s no coincidence. I became aware of the Palestinian story while I was a student in New York. My girlfriend then was Palestinian, and, through her, I began to familiarize myself with and understand the problem even before the [separation] wall and the other atrocities.

“She had to return home every year or she would lose her citizenship, and, like it was for all of us students, that wasn't exactly her thing. Then I understood that it was simply a way to harass the Palestinians and prevent them from studying,” he added.

Kennedy dedicated his performance at the Proms to “Palestinians”, according to his introduction as quoted by Al Arabiya.

“The concert tonight is very emotional, because I am performing for people who are imprisoned, to give them two hours of fun and show them that the world has not forgotten about them,” he said.

The BBC is known for its blatant bias against Israel and in the past has deliberately erred on naming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In June, the network insisted that “no offense was intended” after it reported that Tel Aviv is the capital of the Jewish state during a commentary on the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

BBC has made the same “mistake” numerous times before, most notably during the 2012 Olympic Games when it similarly referred to Tel Aviv as the capital of the Jewish state.

Some artists have refused to perform in Israel, citing its “apartheid” policy against PA Arabs, while failing to acknowledge remarks by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that any future Palestinian state will have no Jews or Israelis. At the same time, several artists recently refused pressure to cancel concerts in Israel.

In July, popular rhythm and blues artist Alicia Keys refused to cave in to pressure by anti-Israel activists and gave a sold out concert in Tel Aviv.

Keys announced that she had decided to go ahead with her concert in Tel Aviv despite calls from a number of anti-Israel activists to boycott the Jewish state.

The pop duo Pet Shop Boys also recently rejected calls from pro-Palestinian Authority activists to cancel a Tel Aviv concert. The concert went ahead as scheduled on June 23.

An anti-Israel group had claimed that the act of performing a concert constitutes tacit support for Israel's "policies of discrimination."

Pet Shop Boys member Neil Tennant, however, said he did not “agree with this comparison of Israel to apartheid-era South Africa.”

Most recently, Eric Burdon, the former lead singer in the British band The Animals, decided to perform in Israel after all, after having earlier cancelled his performance because of political pressure.