Daniel Barenboim, the world famous pianist and conductor – who is also known for his rabid leftist views – is to be nominated as a candidate for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, an Israel Radio report said Thursday.
Barenboim is to be nominated for his work in using music to promote peace in the Middle East, and in 1999 established, together with his good friend, the late Edward Sa'id – an Arab professor at Columbia also known for his vociferous anti-Israel views – established the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which consists of Israelis and Arabs from PA-controlled areas and other Arab countries.
The orchestra performs at various venues promoting peace; for example, next week the orchestra is conducting a concert at the border between North and South Korea. Speaking Tuesday, the 68-year-old Barenboim said that "music cannot solve conflicts but music has the ability to make people interested and passionate about the same thing. But when they have shared the musical experience, sometimes it makes dialogue a little bit easier.”
Barenboim was born in Argentina to a Jewish family that immigrated from Russia, and made aliyah when he was ten. He also holds Spanish citizenship – and has a passport from the Palestinian Authority, which he received in 2008. “It is a great honor to be offered a passport,” he said at the time. The fact that an Israeli citizen can be awarded a Palestinian passport, can be a sign that (peace) is actually possible.”
Barenboim has written and spoken extensively against Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria. “In any occupied territory, the occupiers are responsible for the quality of life of the occupied,” Barenboim wrote on his personal website, “and in the case of the Palestinians, the different Israeli governments over the last forty years have failed miserably. The Palestinians naturally must continue to resist the occupation.”
However, he suggests, that for their own good, PA Arab “resistance must not express itself through violence.” Despite his fawning admiration of “Palestinian resistance,” the PA forced Barenboim to cancel a planned concert in Ramallah several years ago because he had played in Israel.
Barenboim committed another major faux pas in 2001, when he publicly conducted a piece by Richard Wagner, Hitler's favorite composer, at the Israel Festival. Wagner's works had, until then, been banned in Israel, and his decision to play the piece – with a large number of Holocaust survivors present in the audience – was sharply condemned by many Israelis.
It led to his being declared persona non grata by the Knesset Education Committee until 2004, when he apologized for the performance before he was awarded the Wolf Prize by the Knesset. However, he took even that opportunity to sharply criticize Israel, saying that Israelis “allow themselves to be indifferent to the rights and suffering of a neighboring people. Can the State of Israel allow itself an unrealistic dream of an ideological end to the conflict instead of pursuing a pragmatic, humanitarian one based on social justice?”
Last May, Barenboim and his orchestra, in secret collusion with the United Nations, sneaked into Gaza illegally to perform a concert. Speaking at the event, Barenboim said that “everyone has to understand that the Palestinian cause is a just cause; therefore it can be only given justice if it is achieved without violence. Violence can only weaken the righteousness of the Palestinian cause.”
Barenboim, who has not given up his Israeli citizenship, currently lives in Berlin.