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So why aren’t there any Arabs in the Israel Philarmonic?

One out of every five people that live in Israeli is an Arab. Yet the same surely cannot be said of the 230 or more musicians and managers that work for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Not only are we talking basic lack of proportionality here, but I have even read claims that not one single person on the payroll is an Arab. I am unaware of any refutations or denials, although I am willing to be corrected on the point.

Supporters counter merely that the IPO is ‘open to’ Arab musicians. That might well be true, in the same sense that Eton is ‘open to’ council estate kids, or that the British National Party is ‘open to’ black recruits. Even Rangers sign Catholics these days.

But in the circumstances, it hardly seems enough. At the very least, a de facto policy of racial segregation stands as a rebuke to the orchestra as an institution.

While I am critical of those who refer to Israel as an ‘apartheid state’, the IPO can fairly be branded an apartheid orchestra. Saying that, a South African colleague informs me that the Cape Town Symphony was accepting blacks by the 1980s.

I do not normally endorse those who disrupt artistic performances for whatever end. But I do have a question for those who have been quick to condemn the actions of Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists at the Proms last night; if the Hallé for some reason was refusing to recruit from the Jewish community of Manchester, wouldn’t they be tempted to adopt a similar tactics? And wouldn’t they be right to do so?

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