Yediot: Israel says no to Barenboim Gaza concert “because of Schalit”
Itamar Eichner, Yediot, April 13 2010
Israel has rejected a formal request by the Spanish government to allow the famous Israeli conductor, Daniel Barenboim, to hold a concert in the Gaza Strip.
Barenboim asked permission to enter via the Erez crossing along with his musical ensemble to hold a concert for peace in the Gaza Strip. The ensemble is comprised of young and talented musicians from Israel, Europe and Arab countries. The Spanish prime minister submitted to Defense Minister Ehud Barak the request to hold the concern in Barenboim’s name.
A number of consultations were held on the matter in Israel, culminating in a decision to refuse the request. The reason cited for the refusal was that Israel would not permit a concert to be held while Gilad Schalit was still being held captive. Barenboim was told that if he wanted to hold a concert for peace, he could do so in Jenin or Ramallah, which were open to him. In response, Barenboim attacked Israel. In an interview to El Pais the conductor noted that whereas the Spanish government had supported his initiative, the Israeli government had opposed it.
Barenboim is known for his staunch criticism of Israeli policy on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2003 the conductor accused the Israeli government of committing a “moral abomination and a strategic mistake.” Barenboim has held a number of concerts for the Palestinians as a way of expressing his solidarity with them. Most of those concerts were held in the West Bank. In the course of Operation Cast Lead he cancelled two performances that his ensemble were to have performed in Cairo and Qatar. He said that he cancelled the performances due to “concern for the welfare of the performers because of the mounting violence in Gaza.” Last year the UN secretary general appointed him as a UN ambassador for peace.