Festival news

IssueOctober 2008
Feature by Sarah Young

Five protestors were arrested on 29 August, and charged with disrupting the performance of the internationally-acclaimed Israeli Jerusalem Quartet at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall.

The Quartet were playing as part of the official Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) program and have other tour dates in the UK. The protest, organised by Scottish Palestine Solidarity (SPS), stopped play on four occasions during the concert, whilst a leafleting protest took place outside the building.

One of the protestors arrested, Mick Napier, commented: “We had expected only hostility from the audience, but about a dozen returned their tickets at the gates after learning of the Quartet’s links with the Israeli state. A further small but significant number of the audience left and expressed their support, one couple thanking the demonstrators ‘for awakening our consciences’. One audience member who had complained inside about the harsh ejection of a demonstrator from the hall was told to leave as well! He will be a witness in the forthcoming trial.”

Napier also referred to the EIF director Jonathan Mills, who states in the Festival ’08 brochure that: “Culture does not exist in a vacuum, but represents an expression of the ideals and ambitions of a civilisation in its totality”. In this spirit, the SPS planned the action to build support for a cultural boycott of Israel.

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