Sunday, January 30, 2005

From the New York Times last week, a report on Daniel Barenboim's (the conductor and pianist) recent speech at Columbia University in which he Criticizes Israeli Views: "Mr. Barenboim said that the failure of the Israeli government to accept the Palestinians' 'narration' had led to a new wave of anti-Semitism, and that suicide bombings in Israel had 'to be seen in the context of the historical development at which we have arrived.'" Doesn't this sound like a justification of suicide bombings? I find it amazing that an Israeli could possibly say such a thing - hasn't he had friends or relatives either injured or killed by suicide bombings? The Times article also reports that "Mr. Barenboim said Wagner's anti-Jewish vitriol had to be placed in the context of 19th-century European nationalist feeling. He said that he understood the pain of Holocaust survivors but that it was hypocritical to keep Wagner off the concert stage when audio and video recordings of his work were available, and even cellphones in Israel rang with 'The Ride of the Walkyries.'" Doesn't Barenboim understand that the same people who are offended by listening to Wagner are unlikely either to listen to Wagner recordings or have cellphones with a Wagner ring? And what is this about placing Wagner's anti-semitism in the context of 19th century European nationalism? In that context, Wagner is one of the originators and popularizers (in his essay "Jewry in Music") of racial anti-semitism! That doesn't make him a Nazi - but it does mean that he is part of the intellectual stream that led into the development of Nazi racial anti-semitism.

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