Pro-PA Conductor Barenboim: Persona Non-Grata in Ramallah

Wall-to-wall Arab coalition announces its opposition and boycott of the Israeli orchestra conductor, despite his strong pro-Palestinian positions.

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Hillel Fendel,

A wall-to-wall Palestinian Authority coalition announced its opposition and boycott of the Israeli orchestra conductor, despite his strong pro-Palestinian positions.

The acceptance of Palestinian Authority citizenship, strong support for the PA side in its dispute with Israel, continuing biting criticism of Israel, and Israeli nationalist opposition to him – all this is not enough to enable world-renowned musician Daniel Barenboim to perform in Ramallah without incident.


Video: Daniel Barenboim speaks to Ramallah audience about shared Jewish and Arab rights to land

Barenboim appeared in Ramallah on Wednesday night in a Ramallah hall, conducting the Jewish-Arab orchestra – but a large coalition of PA elements loudly objected and called for a boycott of the event. Among those opposing Barenboim were the PA’s Union of Authors and Poets, the Union of Artists, and those involved in the official PA-wide campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Barenboim, a Jew who once lived in Israel, received Palestinian Authority citizenship in January 2008 in a ceremony in Ramallah, explaining, “I believe that the fate of the Palestinian people is interwoven with that of the Jewish people… We are either blessed or cursed to live with each other, and I prefer the first option.”

The noted pianist and conductor caused outrage in Israel even prior to that, refusing to be interviewed by an Army Radio soldier in uniform and insisting on performing compositions of the notorious Nazi icon Richard Wagner despite widespread protests.

Barenboim has also accused the Israeli government of “moral abomination” in its current ongoing defensive war.

Despite the above, the PA groups declared that their opposition to him is based on his diplomatic stance and their opposition to normalization with Israel. The joint Israeli-Arab orchestra that he established together with the late Arab-American anti-Israeli Edward Said, the statement said, “does not truly seek to struggle against the occupation and various forms of oppression of the Palestinian nation.” 

The groups said that the orchestra seeks to overcome the hostility via music and dialogue, “without even mentioning the occupation and racism against the Palestinian nation.”

The opposition to Barenboim also cites his support for Israel’s right to defend itself, as well as his close relationship with Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who died in 1973.