Philadelphia Orchestra Ignores Israel's Ongoing Murder, Wounding Of Palestinians In Gaza As Philly Groups Enter 4th Week Of Protests

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The Philly Don't Orchestrate Apartheid coalition will gather for the fourth week in a row outside the Kimmel Center to protest The Philadelphia Orchestra's upcoming trip to Israel.

The orchestra's trip is part of "Brand Israel," an Israeli propaganda initiativ that exploits visits by International Artists to divert attention from their crimes against the indigenous Palestinian people. We feel this collaboration is morally indefensible.

Last week, actress Natalie Portman turned down an invitation to receive a prestigious award in Israel. Her representatives said they were "following the news lately on Gaza with concern" and worried it would not be "appropriate to hold the ceremony given the government actions and the recent escalation." Ms Portman herself later clarified that "The mistreatment of those suffering from today's atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values." She is referring to Israel's murder of 41 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza and wounding of over 5000 in the span of just four weeks.

We applaud Portman and use her example to remind The Philadelphia Orchestra that artists are accountable to the ways in which they use their art, or allow it to be used by others.

The orchestra claims the "tour [is not] a political mission," but at the same time says the visit is "in celebration of its [Israel's] 70th anniversary," which marks the year when Israel expelled over 80% of the non-Jewish indigenous Palestinians, stealing their homes and heritage.

The orchestra also feted the tour at a gala event, led by Israeli Consul Dani Dayan, a longtime leader of Israel's right-wing settlement movement. Alongside the tour, the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia is advertising a "journey" for patrons, in "partnership" with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and featuring the orchestra's logo.

The itinerary includes a "VIP visit" to an Israeli army base, plus a June 4 performance with military musicians. A previous version of that itinerary included an event with Israel's right-wing anti-Palestinian, anti-African Culture Minister Miri Regev. Regev's name was removed from the itinerary just after the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighted her involvement.

The Philadelphia Orchestra should be held accountable for using Philadelphia's music in the service of a foreign government repeatedly accused of war crimes, and they are answerable to moral questions surrounding the use of art to trample the struggle of an oppressed people pleading for solidarity.

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