Protesters Silence The Proms

BBC Radio 3 was forced to cut its live Proms concert broadcast Sept. 1 because pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside London’s Royal Albert Hall were getting too loud.

From the moment conductor Zubin Mehta stood before the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign started a noisy protest regarding Israel’s “persistent violations of international law and human rights.”

The BBC said the concert was cut as a result of “sustained audience disturbance.”

The pro-Palestinian group earlier called on people to boycott the concert and urged the BBC to scrap it, claiming the national public broadcaster was “whitewashing” what it sees as Israel’s poor human rights record.

Security measures outside the RAH were stepped up, including bag searches and a heightened police presence.

A crowd of about two dozen protestors waved banners and sang songs protesting the Israel Philharmonic’s appearance.

A BBC spokeswoman said it appeared each piece of music had been targeted by different protesters seated around the hall.

She said up to 30 people had been removed by security but there hadn’t been any arrests or violence.

“They sang, they shouted, they were met by boos by the audience and they had to be removed by the security staff,” said the BBC’s Tom Symonds.

“The first [protest] was in a quiet passage of the first piece,” said regular Proms-goer Chris Keating.

“About a dozen protesters in the choir seats stood up with a banner saying ‘Free Palestine’ and started chanting and singing to the tune of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy.’”

The BBC Proms Team tweeted: “We’re sorry that the concert was taken off air following the hall disturbance. Glad both pieces were heard by the audience in the RAH.”

This isn’t the first time anti-Israel protesters have targeted classical music concerts.

In 2008 five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign disrupted a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall.