Saturday, September 3

Daniel Barenboim refuses to be interviewed by Israel Army Radio

Daniel Barenboim, in many ways, is to be admired for initiatiating joint music projects between Israelis and Palestinians. This is very positive for improving relations between two sides who have been victims of terrible tragedy. His relationship with the late Edward Said in this common endeavor is laudable. There is nothing anti-Semitic about that at all. The contrary is true, as any method used to promote peace and understanding between the two sides should be encouraged.

However, Barenboim did show a severe lack of tact towards his interviewer on Army Radio by his attitude and rude behavior. He could have made many new friends as well as muster more support for his projects of good will. This is very unfortunate for a talented musician and humanitarian of his international stature. It has left a blot on his character. The reason given - the Israeli Army uniform that the interviewer wore - is pathetic and shows a certain immaturity on his part if not spitefulness.

Staff on Israeli Army Radio has to wear uniform when they are on duty. The fact that a correspondent on Army Radio interviewed Barenboim and he disagreed with her wearing a uniform is ludicrous. She was interviewing Barenboim in her line of duty. His demand that she change her uniform for the interview is illogical. It is the same as telling a surgeon not to wear green, sterile uniform when he is in the operating theatre performing an operation. Many places of work involve wearing a uniform.

Many people in the world do not understand the concept of Israeli Army Radio. This radio, apart from its entertainment value for soldiers, also supplies news and updates. It is a radio station like any other. It does not have any political viewpoint. Many of its staff members serve on the Army Radio staff as part of their compulsory service. Army uniforms are part of the conditions of employment. It has nothing to do with waging war. Embedded journalists who are on assignment in war zones also wear army gear as we saw in Iraq. Why should Barenboim object to this? Surely, he must be aware of Israel Army Radio policy if he grew up in Israel. It is not clear whether he served in the Israeli Army or not.

Contrary to what many people think, Daniel Barenboim is not a self-hating Jew. If this were the case, he would never come to Israel to perform or gain such accolades from Israeli Academic Societies. Limor Livnat, the Minister of Education, accuses him of anti-Semitic behavior is way off the mark! It shows her up as being paranoiac and her ignorance as to what is true anti-Semitism.

Perhaps it would be more correct to accuse Barenboim of indiscretion and lack of insight towards the workings of Israel Army Radio. His reaction towards his prospective interviewer was degrading and unnecessary. This is a great pity because of his contribution towards music and furthering peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

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