A Written statement (30 Mar 2010) by Jerusalem Quartet in response to disruption of their Wigmore Hall concert the day before states: "The demonstrators were mistaken because we are not representatives of the Government of Israel. We are Israeli citizens, but have no connection with or patronage by the Government." The statement said much more which was untrue, but the above point is crucial. It is understandable that the Jerusalem Quartet attempt to distance themselves from the State of Israel, and therefore the criticism that comes with their status as Cultural Ambassadors of an apartheid state.
Unfortunately, facts can be a nuisance for those seeking to defend the indefensible.The item below proves the Jerusalem Quartet to be lying, or to be disingenuous. If they have ended sposnsorship with the Emnassies of the State of Israel, when did this happen?
Or perhaps they don’t consider $8000 FUNDING BY THE ISRAELI EMBASSY “connection with or patronage by the Government":
More recently, "The Israeli Government provided about $8000 towards the costs of the[ir Nov 2009 Australia] tour. Mary-Jo Capps, the chief executive of Musica Viva, the Australian touring organisation that has brought the quartet out annually for the past four years, said this was only a minuscule proportion of the total cost." (See original article)
Perhaps they don’t consider BEING INTRODUCED ON STAGE BY THE ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE US “connection with or patronage by the Government":
In April 2007, “the Library of Congress played host – together with the Israeli Embassy – to their [the Jerusalem Quartet’s] Washington return”. A music lover reports a speech by the Israeli Ambassador to the US as he introduced the Jerusalem Quartet on stage in Washington:
“We continue to sing and dance, even as we are under attack from all sides. We need to defend ourselves, but we’ll still make beautiful music.”
The concert-goer describes the Israeli Ambassador’s introduction as “shockingly clumsy”, and opines:
“Those are lines that are perfectly appropriate for a speech given, or concert held, at the auditorium of AEI or an AIPAC event. They probably were not well chosen for the Library of Congress, where music generally does the speaking, not politicians. The very presence of the Jerusalem Quartet (and their program) was (successful) public diplomacy – the kind of cultural diplomacy that countries should engage more in. To go beyond that, to really rub in the propaganda aspect of the event, was unnecessary and arguably in bad taste.” Link
The four are on record as “performing a concert in Amman at the residence of Israel's ambassador to Jordan”;
The role of a Cultural Ambassador
As Israeli poet, Yitzhak Laor points out in Haaretz, July 31, 2008 that sponsorship or funding by the Israeli state comes with strings attached:
“the contract that authors and artists sign with the Foreign Ministry in exchange for funding” is “Between the State of Israel, via the Foreign Ministry, Division for Cultural and Scientific Affairs”.
“The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel."
Note: their job is not to promote Israeli art and culture, but rather to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art.
History of the Jerusalem Quartet
“The Jerusalem Quartet… were created, nurtured and launched onto the world scene from the JMC [Jerusalem Music Centre]. The JMC was in turn founded “Through the enthusiastic contributions of AICF [America Israel Cultural Foundation] patrons”, which “provides vital scholarships for musical study, including numerous chamber groups such as the Jerusalem Quartet.” Link
“The mission of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation” is to “depict the State of Israel as a thriving cultural environment that stimulates creativity and artistic life.”
AICF boast that “In the past five years alone, AICF has awarded over $6.5m in scholarships to Israeli students of the arts, supporting the next generation of Israel’s cultural ambassadors.”
When seeking donations, the AICF noted, "These artists and institutions represent Israel throughout the world. Israel's need to allocate scarce resources to defense and security necessitates AICF's vital contribution to the arts."
According to the JMC, “the Quartet has been busy playing concerts in Israel and abroad, including a concert in Amman at the residence of Israel's ambassador to Jordan; the Israeli premiere of 12 Microludes by Gyorgy Kurtag in the presence of the composer; a European concert tour sponsored by the Israel Foreign Ministry featuring concerts in Oslo, Stockholm, Vienna, The Hague, Copenhagen, and Bratislavia”.
According to a World Zionist Press Service article entitled, Israeli musicians also have military strings attached—Jerusalem Quartet members serving in nation's army:
“For the three immigrants, carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement.”It's something our parents could hardly have imagined ten years ago," says Zlotnikov.”
“Bressler (second violin) says his only fear then was that something would happen to his hands.”
This 2007 concert review refers to a media release from the group's record label:
"They now enjoy the status of Distinguished IDF [Israel Defense Forces], playing for troops trice weekly when the JSQ is in Israel".
Zlotinikov also noted in a 2006 article, “'People say we are the best ambassadors from Israel, and we are happy about that,'' [The Australian, 14th March 2006: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/ (pay-for article)]
Cultural Boycott of Israel includes the Jerusalem Quartet
It is understandable that The Jerusalem Quartet attempt to distance themselves from the State of Israel, and therefore the criticism that comes with their status as Cultural Ambassadors of an apartheid state.
But while they continue to be just that, they will continue to attract critics of the state whose “policy interests” they are contractually obliged to “promote”.
CORRECTION: Previously, this article referred to the headquarters of the Jerusalem Music Centre at Mishkenot Sha’ananim as being situated across the Green Line in the Occupied West Bank. We have now received confirmation that this is not the case and that in fact it is situated in what was previously 'no-man's land' but inside the Israeli state as it was from 1948-1967.
Please accept our apologies for this error.