Together with three friends who went to the Nigel Kennedy/ Palestine Strings concert last week, I’ve sent this letter today – Tuesday 20 August – to Tony Hall, the Director General of the BBC.
Dear Mr Hall,
As music lovers who attended the late night Prom on Thursday 8 August we write to express alarm and dismay at reports that the BBC intends to edit out of its broadcast of the Prom the statement by Nigel Kennedy in favour of “giving equality and getting rid of apartheid” in Israel.
We refer to a report in the Jewish Chronicle on 16 August, which claimed that the BBC intends to edit out Kennedy’s remarks from the broadcast of the Prom due to be shown on BBC Four on Friday 23 August.
Kennedy is hardly the first person to use a cultural or sporting forum to express a political view. For example, last week the BBC reported on athletes who took advantage of media coverage of sporting events to express their views on Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Is there one rule for them, and another for Kennedy?
Kennedy’s view that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid is hardly outlandish or extreme. As you are well aware, nearly all aspects of apartheid as defined by the UN (dividing populations along racial lines, expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group, etc) are practiced there.
We call on you to ensure that the most basic principles of free speech and fair reporting are upheld, and that Kennedy’s remarks are broadcast together with the rest of the event. To edit them out would be an egregious act of censorship.