Tel Aviv University announced Monday evening that it would not hold a concert of the infamous German composer Richard Wagner after it sparked vehement public protests.
Attorney Yonathan Livni, founder of the Israel Wagner Society, had submitted a request to hold a concert, conducted by Asher Fisch, scheduled for June 18 in the university’s auditorium.
The university denied the request, accusing Livni of deliberately concealing the intention to perform the anti-Semitic composer’s music. The university also claimed that Livni did not mention the name of the organization he represented.
"To our amazement, we recently learned that the concert was going to feature works by German composer Richard Wagner,” the university said in a statement. “This basic fact, as well as the name of the organization behind it, was intentionally concealed from us.”
“The issue is of public sensitivity,” it added.
Deputy chairman of the Holocaust Survivors Center, Uri Chanoch, wrote a letter to the president of Tel Aviv University, Yosef Klafter, calling for a ban on the concert saying that it was intolerable that Wagner's music, which was heard in Nazi concentration camps, would be performed on a stage at Tel Aviv University.
The university stressed that the decision not to allow the concert to proceed as scheduled was due, in part, to the vast public outcry. "We've had serious complaints and angry protests calling to cancel the controversial event, which is crossing the red line and will cause hard feelings Israeli public, in general, and in Holocaust survivors, specifically. “
Although he died years before the Second World War, Wagner is known for his intense hatred of the Jews and his ideological influence on Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. His music has been banned in Israel since the late 30s and attempts to circumvent the ban have generated heated controversy in the Israeli public.