BBC to censor violinist Nigel Kennedy’s statement about Israeli apartheid from TV broadcast

Israel/Palestine
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Nigel Kennedy  (photo: Chris Christodoulou/BBC)

The BBC has confirmed that it will censor a statement made by violinist Nigel Kennedy from its television broadcast of his performance with the Palestine Strings at a prestigious music festival last week. In his statement at the Proms, Mr. Kennedy used the word “apartheid” to describe the world in which his Palestinian colleagues live.

Click here for a recording of the actual statement the BBC is excising from its broadcast[1]. The following is a transcript:

“It’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from the experience of this night of music, that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.”

According to The Jewish Chronicle[2], former BBC governor Baroness Deech called for an apology from Mr. Kennedy and said that “the remark was offensive and untrue. There is no apartheid in Israel.” Not only is there no apartheid in Israel, she claimed, but nor is there any in Gaza or the West Bank. (She made no mention of East Jerusalem.)

In fact, nearly all aspects of Apartheid, as defined by the UN, apply to Israel in all four of its guises: domestically, its military occupation of the West Bank, its military ‘annexation’ of East Jerusalem, and its siege of Gaza.

This legal definition includes [3]:

• Any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

• Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

• Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person;

• The infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

Arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

• Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

• Inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.

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1. The volume of Mr. Kennedy’s voice has been raised slightly for clarity.

2. Marcus Dysch, “BBC to cut Kennedy slur from Proms broadcast“, The Jerusalem Chronicle Online, August 16, 2013.

3. Source: UN, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Bold emphasis added.

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