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332 Landslide

332 Landslide

July 18, 2008

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - Arabs and Jews Making Musical Connections

Winner of the prestigious Wolf Prize at the Knesset and Conductor of the Arab Israeli youth orchestra West-Eastern Divan, Mr.Daniel Barenboim in a speech before the President an audience and member of the Wolf Foundation, relates that when he was 10 years old in 1952 four years after Israel's declaration of independence his parents and he immigrated. The declaration of independence, to him, was a source of inspiration. The declaration expressed an obligation he quotes:

"The State of Israel will dedicate itself to the development of this country to the benefit of all it's people. It will be founded on the principles of liberty, justice and the welfare of all its people guided by the visions of the prophets of Israel. Regardless of the differences of faith, race or sex, it will guarantee all its citizens equal social and political rights. It pledges the assurance of freedom of religion, opinion, language, education and culture. On behalf of all, the signatories of the declaration of independence vow their allegiance to: 'Peace and Good Neighborly Relations will all bordering states and their peoples.' With profound distress I'm asking today: 'Does the occupation of another state and rule over its people accord with the declaration of independence? Is there any sense in the independence of one country at the expense of the fundamental rights of another? Can the Jewish people, whose history is one of persistent suffering and persecution, allow itself to be indifferent to the basic rights and the sufferings of a neighboring state? Can the state of Israel permit itself to indulge in the unrealistic dream of an ideological end to the conflict, instead of striving for a pragmatic, humanitarian solution based on social justice? I have always believed that there can be no military solution to the conflict, neither on moral nor on strategic grounds. Now that is has become apparent that a solution has to be found, I ask myself: Why should I wait until such a solution materializes? This is why, together with my late, lamented friend, Edward Said, I have established a workshop for young musicians from all the countries of the Middle East, Jews and Arabs alike. By its very nature, music can elevate the feelings and the imagination of Israelis and Palestinians to new unimaginable spheres. Accordingly, I have decided to donate the monies that come with this award to the musical education activities in Israel and Ramallah. Thank You!"

He was promptly chastised by the chair of the Wolf Foundation and minister of education culture and sport Limor Livnat for using the arena and podium to what she called, "Attack the state of Israel". The relatively small crowd came to life at this point, some cheers some boos and a small sign that said "Music makes you free" held by an elderly gray haired man. Explaining that it was a difficult decision for her to take part in the ceremony and give Daniel Barenboim the award and it was not only difficult for her. She goes on to say that she was unable to dissuade the chairman of the Knesset who had elected not to be present, and she believed it was not right. She thought she would be able to conduct the ceremony without offense and outrage. Linvat says she respected the decision of the jury and hoped that her audience would respect her view also. She expressed sorrow that Mr. Barenboim had decided differently and immediately left the podium to retake her seat.

Again Mr. Barenboim takes the podium, looking a little startled and slightly confused, He asked to be allowed for one minute to remind the minister of education Limor Livnat that she has recalled the fact that freedom exists here, thus giving him the opportunity to say what he had said. "But I should also like to point out that I have not attacked the state of Israel, I have taken the liberty of quoting from the declaration of independence, and asking some rhetorical questions. Madam minister, it is your undisputed right to give different answers to them. Thank you."

The man holding the sign, the design which was found to be hanging over the gate at Auschwitz, was Menahem Alexenberg, member of the Wolf Foundation Council. "I held it up after Barrenboim started talking about the arts, he made a political speech. The idea that you can completely ignore the political situation here and think that you can make peace with people who want to kill you. The Arab and Islamic world trying to destroy Israel as an independent Jewish state" He goes on to say Mr. Barenboim is a party to that. The next scene is of the Arab and Israeli youth from the orchestra, made possible by Mr. Barenboim, swimming and playing together in a swimming pool looking very much like teenage friends or family members at a summer gathering here in America.

People take what they want from words and experiences, sometimes what they want is a surprise to them. I found it hard to understand the anger from Limor Livnat and Mr. Alexenberg completely confused me with how he could hold that sign after listening to the music made by an orchestra of Arab and Israeli youth, and then listening to the man that made it possible quote liberty, justice, equality, freedom of religion and thought, Peace and Good neighborly relations from the Israeli declaration of independence, his own declaration of independence, then accuse him of being a party to the process of "the Arab and Islamic world trying to destroy Israel as an independent Jewish state".

The entire program was shown today on OVTV, but I don't see it scheduled anywhere again on TV. Here is a link for the speech noted above:

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1 comment:

  1. JIWON: Just in case… Daniel Barenboim does NOT participate in Bashkirova’s West-Eastern-Divan-Orchestra 2008, and therefore, will NOT appear in Prom 38-39. If you want to know WHY, please visit my blogs. I’ve been running two blogs since January: (Music-blog) and (Knesset-blog)
    If you click (My Request to Barenboim), you will find anything you want to know; about what has been happening to Barenboim since mid-90s. These blogs are now open to public, so if you think it’s valuable enough, please tell all your friends to visit these places.
    I am not a normal spammer. If anyone spreads false information about me, without finishing reading ALL my writings, I will take everything into the legal case. Thanks.


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