Jerusalem String Quartet will be performing at the Town Hall of Birmingham on Sunday the 6th May 2012, but the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign have their worries.
Naeem Malik, Chair of West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote an email to AWMW expressing the concerns of the members of The West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in which he wrote on their behalf “West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its supporters would have been excited at such an accomplished group of musicians performing in our city. Indeed, some of our members and sympathisers would have liked to attend the performance. However, many of us are concerned that the Jerusalem String Quartet in their own words are acting as ambassadors for Israel’
Mr Malik was referring to a report quote from the Quartet in 2006 in which the Quartet bragged about representing Israel “People say that we are the best ambassadors from Israel, and we are happy about that”.
Mr Malik explained “Given, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, many hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike due to their humiliating treatment at the hands of the Israeli prison services and its defence force, I as chair of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity campaign wrote to the Quartet seeking clarification on the links they may have with the Israeli Defence Force and the Israeli government. We are yet to receive a reply.In the absence of an acceptable response from the quartet we will be picketing the performance outside the Town Hall on Sunday the 6th of May 2012 from 2 pm onwards”.
Arab Women Media Watch in UK received a copy of the letter sent by The West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to the Quartet on Monday the 30 April 2012 in which their Chair asked the Quartet few questions and requested some answers to clarify their stand. The letter says.
Dear Jerusalem String Quartet
I understand the Jerusalem String Quartet will be performing at the Town Hall in Birmingham on Sunday the 6 May 2012.
I know you will have many admirers living in the West Midlands . Some of our own supporters would have preferred to attend the performance.
However, there are some concerns that the Quartet has strong links with the Israel Defense Forces and is used to defend Israel against the events in Palestine and the occupied territories.
It is also reported many of the Jerusalem Quartet’s concerts are sponsored by the Israeli government and they enjoy status in the Israeli Defense Forces as ‘Distinguished IDF Musicians.’
In view of these concerns I, on behalf of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign would like to seek some clarification on the following of our concerns.
• Your relationship with the Jerusalem Music Centre, which is located in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank .
• Contractual arrangements that you have entered into with the Division of Cultural Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.
• Tours or performances for which you have received support from the Israeli government.
• Your status as “distinguished IDF musicians”.
• Your designation as official Quartet-in-Residence at the IDF.
• The fact that, performances overseas are frequently attended by, and introduced by Israeli ambassadors, and that some of these performances have been held in the embassy itself.
• Your quoted statement of 2006 “People say that we are the best ambassadors from Israel , and we are happy about that”.
Of course, we accept that past events may not reflect your present relationship with your government. We therefore need to know what that present relationship is.
If you have now dissociated yourself from these Israeli state bodies, we will publicize this fact to our membership in the West Midlands . If your reason for doing so is related to the continuing occupation of Palestinian and other territories, or Occupation Cast Lead and the siege of Gaza , then a statement from you to that effect would help to dispel any mistaken impressions that exist about your relationship with your government.
I hope that you or your management will be able to help us by clarifying these points for us.
Your early reply will be appreciated both by our members in the West Midlands and widely as many of them would like to attend your concerts with a clear conscience.
Chair West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Media colleagues who want to interview Mr Malik on this issue can call him on this number
Mob 07721 427690