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ISRAEL

Berlin orchestra angers Israel with Iran concert

Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim is hoping to take one of Germany's top orchestras to Iran to perform a concert there, the Berlin State Opera said Thursday, drawing angry protests from Israel.

Berlin orchestra angers Israel with Iran concert
Renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim is under attack by Israel's government. Photo: DPA

Barenboim, 72, who is general music director of the German capital's flagship opera house, the State Opera, “is in talks with Iran about a possible concert in Tehran by the Staatskapelle Berlin,” the house said in an emailed statement.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had agreed to take over the patronage of the concert as he “supports Daniel Barenboim's dedication to making music accessible to all people, irrespective of national, religious or ethnic boundaries,” the statement said.

Further details of the concert would be announced “once the negotiations have been concluded,” the opera house said.

Barenboim's plans have nevertheless angered Israel.

The Israeli culture minister Miri Regev had said Wednesday that she intended to send a letter of protest to German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on her to block the concert.

“In my letter I shall stress that Daniel Barenboim's appearance in Iran harms Israel's efforts to prevent the nuclear agreement and gives encouragement to de-legitimisation of Israel,” she wrote on her Hebrew Facebook page.

“Iran is a state which supports terror, is behind Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas and its leaders have blood on their hands. I believe that Germany would be acting rightly if it were to cancel the appearance of the orchestra and its conductor,” Regev continued.

She accused Barenboim – who founded a ground-breaking youth orchestra called the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in 1999 that brings together Israeli, Egyptian, Iranian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Palestinian musicians – of “using culture as a platform for his anti-Israel political views.”

Barenboim, who has also taken honorary Palestinian citizenship, conducted the Divan Orchestra in a concert in Ramallah in 2005.

He is also controversial in Israel for his efforts to have the music of Richard Wagner, the German composer adored by Adolf Hitler, performed in the Jewish state.

Iran reached a deal with world powers last month which will see Western-led sanctions against Iran lifted in exchange for a new inspections regime and curbs on Tehran's atomic programme.

ISRAEL

Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street

A former Israeli soldier was attacked in the German capital Berlin, police said Saturday, with one or several unknown assailants spraying him with an irritant and throwing him to the ground.

Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street
Israeli soldiers on operation near the Gaza Strip. Photo: dpa | Ilia Yefimovich

The 29-year-old was wearing a top with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) logo when the attackers started harassing him on Friday about his religion, the police added, calling it “an anti-Semitic attack”.

Officers are seeking the assailants, who fled immediately after the attack, on suspicion of a politically-motivated crime.

Saturday is the second anniversary of an attack by a far-right gunman on a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, who killed two in a rampage when he failed to break into the house of worship.

It was one of a string of incidents that led authorities to declare the far right and neo-Nazis Germany’s top security threat.

Also this week, a musician claimed he was turned away from a hotel in eastern city Leipzig for wearing a Star-of-David pendant.

While the allegations prompted a fierce response from a Jewish community unsettled by increasing anti-Semitic crimes, several investigations have been mounted into contradictory accounts of the incident.

In 2019, police recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, an increase of 13 percent year-on-year.

“The threat is complex and comes from different directions” from jihadists to the far right, the federal government’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism Felix Klein said recently.

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