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Friday, March 29, 2013

'The night ignorance and evil beat me'

A piano recital by Israeli-born Yossi Reshef (who lives in Berlin) was sabotaged by pro-'Palestinian' protesters two weeks ago at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand.
Pianist Yossi Reshef was jostled by protestors on arrival last night for a recital at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Members of the audience were kicked and pushed as they entered and a performance of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata was disrupted with screams, shouts and vuvuzelas. Reshef, who is based in Berlin, is Israeli born.
The university offered a qualified apology:
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, deeply regrets that a concert held on its campus last night was disrupted by some members of the University community and representatives of external organisations.
The diversity of people, programmes and ideas at Wits leads to the richness and robustness of the institution. This is indeed one of the greatest qualities of excellent higher education institutions, and one which Wits cherishes.
Prof. Loyiso Nongxa
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Here's a fuller account
On the evening of Tuesday March 12th 2013, Yossi was scheduled to play a paid recital at Wits University which was open to the public and fully booked. However, when he arrived at the concert hall on Wits East Campus he was met by a delegation of Sixty plus Anti-Israel and Anti-Zionist protestors which included members of the PSC, the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) and the MSA. He was quickly ushered in by security that was guarding the entrance to the building. When guests began to arrive, the protestors started to become restless and rowdy toward them.
According to eye-witnesses there were a number of unruly incidents that took place, where guests were accosted by the members of the so-called “silent” protest. Among those accosted was a lecturer from the Wits Music Department who was apparently pushed and kicked as he attempted to enter the concert hall. Security had to use minor force to help both the lecturer and a number of other guests get into the hall without being injured by the protesters.
Eventually all the doors were closed and the concert was finally allowed to begin. However, as Mr Reshef began to play the protestors outside were blowing vuvuzelas and chanting loudly as a means of trying to disrupt the piano recital.  During this time, the security remained outside to guard the main door. After some time, things became quiet. Suddenly, while Mr Reshef was in middle of playing Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, another door within the concert hall burst open. The protestors started streaming into the venue whilst chanting and making loud noises as they attempted to sabotage the recital. It was later discovered that the protesters had actually broken into a fire exit and come in through that door. Security swiftly arrived on the scene and managed to push the protesters out of the hall for a time. Nevertheless, the protestors became so forceful that the security officers were actually pushed backward and once again they came into the main hall screaming, jumping and blowing vuvuzelas. Yossi Reshef was ushered out of the venue very quickly as chaos began to reign within the hall. An eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous even stated he saw the Vice-President of the Wits SRC, cheer one of the protestors who began to violently hit the piano keys of a Steinway Piano that was being used by Mr Reshef. One of the music professor’s, who was truly horrified by what was taking place quickly, ran over to close this very expensive piece of musical equipment.
By this time, five members of the Wits SRC, including the President were present in the hall watching this all take place but were doing nothing to put a stop to it. The guests were all forced to leave as security was unable to get a handle on the pandemonium taking place within the venue. As the guests left in a hurry, the protesters began to shout in unison “down with Israel.”
Eyewitnesses have described the protestors as “hooligans” who were purposefully trying to destroy a beautiful evening that was supposed to be memorable; unfortunately for the wrong reasons. It must be noted that Yossi Reshef resides in Berlin and is not in any way politically affiliated with Israel. This hate action against Mr Reshef and the guests was done purely because he was just born in Israel.
With regard to the last paragraph, is the author suggesting that the action might have been justified if Reshef lived in Israel? Does she see why the fact that Reshef does not live in Israel in no way makes the protest more unjustified than it already was?

Read the whole thing.

If you go here (pdf link) there's a letter from Reshef himself (from which the title of this post is taken) and another letter from Professor Jean Ziedel-Rudolph of the Wits school of arts.

There's something really wrong when a concert becomes an occasion for this type of vicious assault on the public, and something even more wrong when the venue tries to justify the action and refuses to punish the perpetrators.

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