October 25, 2017, New York, NY - Forty-five New York human rights advocates protested outside a performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) at Carnegie Hall this Wednesday evening.The IPO is a self-proclaimed cultural ambassador representing the state of Israel, helping to convey a positive image of Israel and divert attention from its human rights abuses, as part of the “Brand Israel” initiative.
Standing fifty feet from Carnegie Hall’s entrance, the protesters held signs, chanted and sang to tunes played by a radical marching band, capturing the attention of attendees and passersby. A small group of protesters from the anti-Arab hate group the Jewish Defense League came out to show support for the IPO, waving Israeli flags and displaying a sign that said “Level Gaza,” in keeping with Israel’s violent, militaristic policies.
The Orchestra is not an apolitical cultural institution. At this evening’s protest, Thai classical musician Sainatee Suárez said, “Let’s not pretend that music is a single, universal language (it is not) that magically generates rainbow bridges surpassing social and political and economic entanglements --- rather, let's directly confront the Israeli state's violent project of appropriation and erasure using the IPO as its instrument.”