Tuesday, May 28th | 20 Iyyar 5784

Subscribe
May 15, 2024 9:40 am
0

Famed Amsterdam Concert Hall Called ‘Cowards’ for Canceling Israeli String Quartet Performances Due to Anti-Israel Protests

×

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Picture taken August 16, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Eva Plevier

A world-famous concert hall in Amsterdam announced this week the cancellation of two upcoming concerts by the Israeli music group Jerusalem Quartet because of concerns regarding anti-Israel protests scheduled to take place at the venue and around the city.

The Concertgebouw said on Tuesday the decision was made “due to announced demonstrations, and the recent developments surrounding protests in Amsterdam.” The music hall said it could not guarantee the safety of employees, visitors, and musicians and thus decided to cancel the group’s performances of music by Felix Mendelssohn, Claude Debussy, and Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim on Thursday and Saturday. The string quartet is comprised of two violinists, a violist and a cellist.

The decision was met with backlash from pro-Israel supporters and the Jerusalem Quartet itself, which said on Tuesday the Concertgebouw is surrendering to “bullying and terrorism” by canceling the shows. Others called the move “horrible,” “disgusting,” “shameful,” and “a disgrace.” Some social media users called Concergebouw “a bunch of cowards” and “antisemitic idiots.”

“Your actions have given new meaning to the word ‘cancel culture.’ You capitulate,” the Central Jewish Consultation (CJO) wrote in a letter to the venue. “Yes, the Jerusalem Quartet consists of four musicians from Israel. This in no way justifies opposing their concert. Your choice for this quartet was based on musical considerations. Stick to it and don’t let anything stop you from doing what your goal is.”

In response to the intense scrutiny, Concertgebouw’s General Manager Simon Reinink released a statement on Wednesday further explaining concerns regarding the security and safety of those at the music venue. He said Concertgebouw received “a flood of messages from people and organizations opposing the quartet.” Two anti-Israel demonstrations were scheduled to take place, and social media users urged the public to demonstrate at the Concertgebouw as well.

“What finally made us decide not to go ahead with these concerts after all has everything to do with the security situation in The Concertgebouw,” it explained. “The Concertgebouw itself is responsible for that. With two simultaneous concerts in the Main Hall and Recital Hall, there are 2,500 people in the building. With that, the security situation can quickly become precarious.”

“Until recently, the demonstrations were peaceful and no reason for us not to allow the concerts to go ahead,” the music hall added. “However, recent developments in and around the University of Amsterdam made that, after extremely intense discussions, we came to the decision not to allow the concerts to go ahead. We could not guarantee the safety within our building of staff, visitors, and musicians. We are very sorry for all visitors and not least for the musicians of the Jerusalem Quartet.”

Concertgebouw said it has been in contact with the Jerusalem Quarter about finding a later date for the shows “where safety can be guaranteed.”

In February, anti-Israel activists interrupted a concert by the Jerusalem Quartet taking place in the Theater Diligentia in The Hague. They waved Palestinian flags and shouted over the music, accusing the music group of “promoting genocide” and distracting people from Israel’s alleged “war crimes.” They were removed from the venue by security guards. A performance by the Jerusalem Quarter was also disrupted by protesters in January in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam and the same happened in 2010 during a BBC live broadcast in London.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner

Algemeiner.com

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.