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BBC To Cut Israel 'Apartheid' Comments From Nigel Kennedy Proms Broadcast

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The BBC is to cut comments made by violinist Nigel Kennedy about "apartheid" in Israel when it broadcasts his Proms performance with Palestinian musicians on BBC Four.

The concert, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, featured 17 young musicians from the Palestinian Strings who performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Kennedy on August 8.

As the applause rang out, Kennedy, who is a long-standing supporter of a cultural boycott of Israel, addressed the audience saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's a bit facile to say it but we all know from experiencing this night of music tonight that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid means there's a chance for amazing things to happen."

nigel kennedy

Violinist Nigel Kennedy made the comments at the BBC Proms

"Nigel’s comment to the audience at his Late Night Prom on 8 August will not be included in the deferred BBC Four Broadcast on 23 August because it does not fall within the editorial remit of the Proms as a classical music festival" a BBC spokesman told HuffPost UK.

He met with a heckle from one audience member, according to Arab lifestyle magazine The Majella.

Dressed in the Palestinian national dress of a kaffiyeh scarf, the musicians from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, played a specially-curated fusion of classical work with Arab and folk music, broadcast live on BBC Radio Three.

Speaking to the the Jewish Chronicle, former BBC governor Baroness Deech said: “It is inappropriate to allow the Albert Hall to be used for inflammatory comments such as this. Imagine if a conductor with Spaniards in his orchestra used the Proms to attack UK ownership of Gibraltar," Baroness Deech told the newspaper.

Kennedy has refused in the past to play concerts in Israel, but has participated in the Palestinian-run Jerusalem Festival in East Jerusalem.

In 2007 told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "I became aware of the Palestinian story while I was a student in New York.

"My girlfriend then was Palestinian, and, through her, I began to familiarize myself with and understand the problem even before the [separation] wall and the other atrocities.

"She had to return home every year or she would lose her citizenship, and, like it was for all of us students, that wasn't exactly her thing. Then I understood that it was simply a way to harass the Palestinians and prevent them from studying.

"I was really shocked when I saw the wall [that divides the Israel and the West Bank] here. It’s a new type of apartheid, barbaric behaviour.

"How can you impose collective punishment and divide people from one another? We are all residents of the same planet. I would think that the world learned something from South Africa. And the world should boycott a nation that didn’t learn. That’s why I won’t perform in your country.”

In 2011, protesters disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's BBC Proms concert at in the same venue.

BBC Radio 3 said it had to interrupt its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance".

And in August 2008, five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign disrupted a concert by the Jerusalem String Quartet at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall.

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