Culture at Wigmore

This is a guest post by AKUS

Guardian reorganises editorial executives:

“Georgina Henry, who formerly oversaw Guardian print and web comment, is becoming head of culture output across the paper, its GNM sister title the Observer, and, as announced in January. GNM also publishes”

What can one expect from Georgina Henry as the Kultur-meister of the Guardian after her success in turning “Comment is Free” into one of the most widely recognized sources of Israel bashing, anti-Semitism, and delegitimisation of the Jews and their history on the Web?

It might be a coincidence, since I don’t know if she has actually taken up her new position, but here’s a clue from a recent article in the “Culture: Arts diary” section of the Guardian:

Yes – we may now be treated to a series of alliterative headings that tie Britain’s cultural events to the Israel-Palestine conflict:

“Gershwin in Gaza”

“Beethoven and Bilin”

“Mozart in the Middle East”

“Romancing Ramallah”

“Handel’s Hebron”

Of course, the West Bank never came to Wigmore Hall. What happened was that a group of Israel-haters organized a systematic series of boorish disruptions of a concert given by the Jerusalem Quartet, similar to that carried out during Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine. Wigmore Hall director John Gilhooly said:

“One stood up and started singing and shouting, and while we were removing him, another one started up somewhere else, and so on.””

The group included, notably, Tony Greenstein, a crank of the first order whose hatred for Israel and its Jews is second only to ex-Israeli Gilad Atzmon.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind.

First, we apparently are seeing a new strategy designed to disrupt civilized discourse (in the case of Oren) or cultural events (in the case of the Jerusalem Quartet). What these boors do not seem to realize is that events such as these are critically important for outreach and bridge-building. The first step to reconciliation is to recognize the humanity of the other. By disrupting cultural events they actually harm the very people they presumably think they are helping. Furthermore, since humans have an unparalleled capacity to learn by imitation, it is only a matter of time until other groups, espousing causes far removed from the Israel-Palestinian conflict, start using the same tactics to disrupt causes with which they do not agree. Perhaps even those that some of these boors hold dear when they can wrench themselves away from their obsession with Israel.

But there is a second aspect to this that I find more disturbing. One of the key themes of Nazi Germany was the elimination of “Jewish culture” and “Jewish science” from Germany. There was the dismissal of academics, the firing of professionals from their places of work, the destruction of orchestras as the Jewish members were forced to leave, and the infamous books burnings.

This is the issue that the Guardian missed – not that “the West Bank came to Wigmore Hall” – that Wigmore Hall became a battleground for culture and tolerance orchestrated by a group who have more in common with Nazi thugs than any “liberal” leanings they may imagine they possess. Even more shocking is that in this case, there are Jews leading the assault with the enemies of Israel – Greenstein, Fink, “Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods” in cahoots with the Brighton PSC. This is something that could never have been imagined in Nazi times with few exceptions. Those collaborators earned the deserved title of kapo-Jews. The goal of these kapo-Jews and their gleeful manipulators was to make sure that Israelis – of all the nations in the world – cannot perform music in Britain. Fortunately, they were escorted forcibly from the hall, and after a while the recital continued.

The challenge for Britain is to continue to stand up to these haters. If nothing else, it is important to do so in its own interests. We have seen a country go down that path before, and know the results.

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