Outrage at Wagner



July 9, 2001

A world-famous conductor has broken a decades-old Israeli taboo by playing a piece by Richard Wagner, an anti-Semite who was Hitler’s favorite composer.

Daniel Barenboim, who is Jewish, stunned the crowd at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem when he announced, “I’m now going to play a piece from Wagner’s opera ‘Tristan and Isolde.'”

He invited anybody who was offended by the choice to leave, prompting protesters to bang doors and shout, “Go home!” “Fascist!” and “Juden raus!” — which means “Jews out!” in German.

Jerusalem’s Mayor Ehud Olmert slammed Barenboim’s move as “brazen, arrogant, uncivilized and insensitive.”

Ephraim Zuroff, Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, said what Barenboim did amounted to “cultural rape.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: “I would rather it hadn’t been played. There are a lot of people in Israel for whom this issue is very hard, and it is perhaps still too early.” With Post Wire Services