Proms interrupted by Palestinian protest

By Alex Stevenson

Anti-Israel protesters disrupted last night's Proms, forcing the BBC to take the concert off air.

Conductor Zubin Mehta was about to lead the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in a performance of Bruch's violin concerto when the initial interruption took place.

Further disruption took place whenever he tried to resume new pieces of work. Members of the audience booed the small group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had managed to evade heightened security outside the Royal Albert Hall.

"We believe that the time has come to apply pressure on Israel in the form of boycotts, divestment initiatives and sanctions, as was done successfully in the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa," the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which had called for a boycott of the concern, said in a statement on its website.

"Israel must not be allowed to flout international law and precepts of international humanitarian law with impunity.

"Israel's cultural ambassadors play a pivotal role in covering up Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people; they must be held accountable for their shameless complicity."

The BBC said it had decided to take the concert off air because of "sustained audience disturbance".

Prommer Michael Stern told the Mail newspaper that there were four to five disruptions at the start of each piece.

"The protesters started singing in the middle of the performance. It was obviously rehearsed. They were singing in tune to Beethoven's Ninth," he said.

"They are musicians not politicians, they are here to play. It's fair to make a protest outside but not to take it in. All of us paid good money to come here."